All posts filed under: Travel

Food Tales: Beautiful Kyoto

After just a few hours on the Shinkansen (high-speed train), I was transported from a vast, vibrant city to the historical and cultural hub of Kyoto. As it was the old capital city, it comes as no surprise that Kyoto is filled with ancient sites, high culture and many traditional customs. Kiyomizudera Temple Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) is particularly beautiful in the spring. The panoramic views of the city are well worth the climb and there are many places of worship located within the site – you’ll find yourself walking around for hours!         On the way to the temple, I picked up some steamed beef buns from Cafe Kihachiro. While I’m used to Chinese steamed pork buns, these Japanese beef filled ones were a whole new experience for me. A soft, airy bun filled with a tasty, rich beef filling. A must-try if you’re in the area!     Gion Gion is the famous Geisha district in Kyoto and although sightings are rare during the day, you’ll often find them fleetingly pass between the restaurants and tea houses …

Food Tales: Waking up in Tokyo

After the first few hours of arriving in the city, I didn’t feel like I was there. The Japanese characters greeting me at every signpost in the airport, the train journey through quaint Japanese towns, the taxi ride through Shibuya – it just didn’t seem to register as reality. Was I really here? Was this really Tokyo? Forgive me, while this may sound like the ramblings of someone who had boarded the wrong flight, it was just a case of sleep deprivation and long-awaited excitement after an overnight journey. Plus the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a good few hours – after a few convenience store snacks to keep me going, it was time to explore the city. Harajuku Harujuku – animated, extravagant and brimming with contemporary Japanese culture. With so many colourful treasures lining the streets, the food is no exception. The first thing that I noticed was the abundance of sugar-laden snacks which were just as visually intriguing as their surroundings. Every other passer-by seemed to have their hands clasped around crêpes rolled up into cones …

Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan

There is no doubt that Hong Kong serves some of the world’s finest dim sum and in a city full of top class restaurants you’re hardly short of choice. My checklist normally includes the following points: high quality food with fresh ingredients, dishes that are innovative but not veering too far from traditional, and also something that is reasonably priced so that you can order as many dishes as possible (with some to take home too). Tim Ho wan is no secret – this is immediately evident from the large queue that gathers outside throughout the day. Although this place isn’t the most quirky or hidden, it is known to serve delicious food. Oh and did I mention that it has a Michelin star? There are a few different locations dotted around the city but I find the Central location most convenient. Although the queue looks painfully long, it moves very quickly and you’re in and seated within 15-20 minutes. The menu was split into different categories and the quantity can be selected next to the price. Dishes start at 16 HKD …

Shanghai: Guang Ming Cun

Shanghai has previously been described as the ‘Paris of the East’ and is known as a cultural and international metropolis, filled with excitement and bustling energy, which is why it will always remain one of my favourite cities. Guang Ming Cun is located in the popular area of Huaihai Road; one of the prettiest and quirkiest parts of Shanghai. One minute you’re walking past high-end retailers and fancy boutiques and the next you stumble across old style houses and tiny side streets – a glorious combination of old and new. Outside the restaurant, the queue of locals huddled underneath umbrellas was definitely a good sign. On closer inspection, I could see that they were in fact queuing for the meat pastries on the ground floor but several people were also headed upstairs which is where the restaurant part is located. Once upstairs it’s a battle of the hungriest. There is no reservation or queuing system, it’s simply a case of awkwardly hovering around tables and waiting for people to finish. I was able to get a table after …

To the Coast: Sorrento and Positano

I arrived in Sorrento after a good night’s rest in Pompeii. It was a bit of a shock to the system to arrive in a small ‘model village’ type town, especially after the hustle and bustle of Rome and Naples, but it was a welcome feeling nonetheless. I was casually taking my time to explore the small side streets and after a while it was evident that this place was serious about their lemons. Limoncello shops can be found at regular intervals and the lemon infused liquor is certainly worth raving about. It’s served ice cold and is sweet and sour with a feisty alcoholic punch. Most of the shops offer free tastings so you can ‘try before you buy’ – not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Aside from limoncello you’ll find lemon scented soaps, lemon scented candles, lemon flavoured sweets, lemon biscuits, lemon pasta, lemon infused chocolate – lemon everything! Fabrica Liquori was one of my favourite limoncello shops as you can also watch them prepare and make it at the back.    One thing …

Naples and Pompeii in a day

Setting off early, I arrived at Termini station to get the train to Naples. I hadn’t pre-booked my ticket but was able to buy one on the day for £19 which would get me to Naples in a couple of hours. If you get organised and pre-book your tickets you can get a single journey for around 9 euros but be aware that there are different speeds of trains ranging from the fast train (the most expensive) to the slowest which takes around 3 hours. As soon as I arrived in Naples I was greeted with complete chaos. Lots of characters milling around the streets and speaking to me in Italian, hundreds of cars passing through the main square honking their horns, and generally lots of noise. I liked this place already. Once I got to the centre of Naples and started exploring busy side streets adorned with shops selling anything and everything, I started to get hungry. I was on a mission to sample some of the legendary pizza that I had heard so much about. Had …

Three days in Rome

For someone who lives in London, I should have seen a lot of more of Europe. Many of my friends who have moved to London from further afield have not hesitated to take advantage of Europe ‘on our doorstep’ and it got me thinking it was about time I did too.  So it was decided, Italy would be next on my European hit list and I would see, do and eat as much as I could in one week. My itinerary was as follows:  3 days in Rome, a morning in Naples, an afternoon in Pompeii, a day in Sorrento and then the last two days in Positano. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the most organised of travellers so with little time to waste and a very rough plan, I was ready to go. The first thing I will mention is the the question of where to stay. If, like me, you hardly spend any time in the hotel and are just after something affordable, clean and basic then it is not essential to stay …

A London Girl in Paris: Part Deux

Our second and final day in Paris came around all too quickly but there was still a little more eating and drinking to do before we bid farewell. After a visit to the Eiffel Tour and walking round in the cold winter sun, we decided to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate or ‘chocolat chaud’ as the French say. Any true chocolate addict will have heard of Angelina – the world famous patisserie and home to the most luxurious hot chocolate I have ever tasted.

A London Girl in Paris

January is always a funny one. Most people are either off the booze, on some crazy diet which usually involves avoiding solids and/or spending all their free time overdoing it at the gym. I, on the other hand, normally hibernate and spend the first month of the year wallowing and generally being a bit of a wet blanket. However, this year I decided I would start the year as I meant to go on and take myself off on a little trip across the channel to one of my favourite cities in the world – Paris.