Being back in London after travelling extensively in June and July, I am beginning to miss travel sooner than I thought I would. Maybe cold rainy weather in the UK at the moment are making me feel nostalgic. Maybe it is thinking about all the fun I had while travelling this summer and wanting to experience it again. Or maybe it’s just my nature. Most likely, it’s the combination of all three.
My next trip is not until 18th September. There are plenty of things to enjoy in London in the meantime. Plus, a break from travelling gives me the time I need to write about my experiences and relive them again.
I will start with Cataluña in Spain. I had a magical holiday break there last month. Unexpectedly magical, given the fact that I have been a frequent visitor to this part of Spain for the past 12 years…
We started our trip in Southern Cataluña in the Tarragona region. A small town called Cambrils has been my family’s holiday destination for years. Not many people know about it and that’s part of the appeal for me. Cambrils is a former fishermen’s village that grew into a bigger town. Main attractions for me include: numerous stylish restaurants serving delicious regional food, including an elegant Michelin star restaurant Can Bosch, a beautiful marina, several beaches with a wide strip of golden sand and stylish boutiques. Not a beach resort in sight.
Can Bosch, Michelin star food
If you are in the region, I highly recommend a trip to Tarragona. It is an old Roman city with a lot of Roman architecture to enjoy if you are a history lover. When it’s hot, you can seek shade in the narrow streets of the old city centre while popping into small cafes for coffee or tapas. The views and colours are breathtaking.
Monochrome outfit to avoid colour clashes with the background
Our next destination was Northern Cataluña, a picturesque part of the country close to the French border.
Calella de Palafrugell was our first stop on this leg of the journey. Tucked between the hills, this beautiful tiny seaside town has numerous pebble beaches, white washed houses and cozy outdoor restaurants. Our hotel room with a sea front view was simply perfect. This idyllic town infused me with inspiration and joy. I had forgotten what it felt like to discover a new place and do absolutely nothing (not even sightseeing), but have fun, luckily, a few days in Calella helped me to reconnect with fun.
Perfect writing spot
Brightening it up in Spain
Hotel room view
Calella de Palafrugell
On the beach in Cataluña
With very fond memories, we left Calella to visit our next destination – romantic Cadaques. This beautiful town is famous for being Salvador Dali’s summer home and his house is now a popular museum (that needs to be booked in advance during the busy summer period). Cadaques is stunning. There is something about it, perhaps its old charm of an early 20th century resort town, or perhaps its geographic location behind mountains on a dramatic coastline that draws you in immediately. Our hotel was in a quiet part of town overlooking the mountains. Smell of lavender and aromatic flowers made me want to come back for a longer stay. My most memorable part of the Cadaques stay is an exquisite meal at La Sirena, a small local restaurant, hidden in the small streets of old town – enjoying a typical local dish called Zarzuela (fish stew). It’s a must if you are in there area.
Clashing prints, inspired by Dali
Hotel Sol Ixent
Hotel Sol Ixent
For me, gastronomy is one of Cataluña’s main attractions. Other delicious local dishes to try include: fedaua with seafood (vermicelli paella), chipirones (fried baby squid), pulpo (octopus) in all forms, sea salt baked fish. Fresh fruit, exquisite local vines (we particularly liked the Priorat region wines) and my favourite way to enjoy coffee – cafe cortado (espresso with a bit of milk) are all reasons why I love Spain so much.
Our final destination was one of my favourite cities in the world, Barcelona. Each time I come here, I cannot get enough of its relaxed vibe, beautiful architecture and amazing yet seemingly effortless stylishness in everything. Our hotel, H10 Art Gallery, with art-inspired decor and a rooftop pool in Eixample was a perfect base to enjoy the city from. The street we were on, Career d’Enric Granados, had numerous stylish cafes and restaurants within minutes.
If you want to try something less traditional, you may like Imprevist, a restaurant in Raval we discovered on our first night. A relaxed local vibe coupled with an interesting menu made up of experimental versions of Catalan dishes make it a good choice if you want a quiet night out. Deserts are particularly experimental.
For a lively night out head to El Born in the old town next to Ciutadella Park. Here you will find numerous bars, restaurants and tapas bars with stylish design, delicious food and great atmosphere. You can have picnic in the park during the day or go to Barceloneta beach.
Barcelona has something for everyone – whether you like modern or traditional, quiet or buzzy, beach or history. These pictures show the Barcelona I love. Have you been to this beautiful city? What do you enjoy doing, seeing, experiencing there?
Beauty of Gaudi’s creations
Lindy Hop on Sundays along with vintage market, Barcelona University
Charm of Barcelona – no two buildings are the same
I am writing today from sunny San Francisco with a huge cup of coffee (it’s a bowl really) on my table, looking at stylish shops, cafes and people around me. All my worries, to-do lists, cold London weather seem so far away, 11 hours of flying time away to be precise.
When I was on the plane yesterday I was thinking how much I actually enjoy flying. For me this is time to relax, catch up on my reading, movies, flick through fashion magazines without any guilt or distractions and simply daydream.
But, as you all know, flying long-haul is not without downsides. It can be very tiring, not to mention dehydrating, bad for posture and leaves us looking far from our best. What makes it less tiring and stressful for me is being comfortable (obviously) and stylish. Why stylish? Because coming out of a plane looking tired, scruffy, with bad skin stresses me out more than the flight itself. Looking stylish helps me to start experiencing my destination (be it holiday or business) immediately. This might seem an insignificant detail but it makes a big difference.
Here are my 10 tips on how to be comfortable during a long-haul flight and stay stylish when you leave the plane.
1. Cashmere. This is my absolute favourite fabric to wear on flights. It is warm, soft and so comfortable. It feels luxurious and looks elegant. It ticks all the boxes. I usually go for a cashmere sweater dress, soft tights and ballerina flats or flat boots,depending on a season.
2. Bring a beautiful warm scarf or pashmina to stay warm. It’s also the easiest way to dress up a plain outfit.
3. Easy to wear jewelry. I usually go for something chunky but light to add an instant elegant touch.
4. Hydrating mist to spray on your face. I love Avene thermal spa water or Julrique hydrating rosewater.
5. I drink herbal tea on long flights and avoid caffeine. We are all told to avoid caffeine on fights. I like to bring my own herbal tea bags, my favourite is currently ginger and orange, in case the airline does not offer what I want.
6. Silk eye mask. It feels so much better against my skin than the masks given by airlines.
7. Essential oils mix to relax and get some sleep. I love lavender and camomile.
8. Journal or notebook to jot down ideas. I don’t know about you but I always get ideas on flights. It must have something to do with being with myself and having the space in my head away from daily worries. Feeling inspired light me up, relaxes my face and body and puts a smile on my face (the best accessory).
9. Dry shampoo to freshen up before stepping off the plane.
10. Is it only me or does dry air on planes ruin everyone else’s beautifully manicured nails? Cuticles become dry, nail polish chips… Neglected looking hands can easily ruin the entire appearance no matter how well dressed a woman is. I use coconut oil or Moa Green Balm to hydrate dry lips, keep cuticles looking neat and any other areas that need extra care.
What do you do to look good after a long-haul flight? Please share your tips in the comment area below.
Just over 10 days ago I took myself on a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate the fact that I have joined the exciting world of entrepreneurs. I couldn’t pick a better destination to celebrate my new lifestyle and career, get my creative juices flowing and treat myself to delicious food, gorgeous views and of course get a much needed dose of style inspiration.
This trip was everything I had imagined and so much more. Traveling solo, I was able to only do, see, experience, enjoy what I desired without having to compromise even for a minute. And what I desired was to discover the secret formula behind Parisian women’s style. I have long admired Parisian chic, that je ne sais quoi (excuse the cliche) that many Parisian women have. To say I was excited to finally dedicate an entire weekend to this subject would be an understatement.
In Paris I engaged in conversations with stylish French women, went shopping and spent hours people watching in cafés in trendy neighbourhoods, determined to learn about the art of style and allure that appears to come from within. Here is what I now know about the key elements of Parisian style.
1. Looking good starts with a mindset
At the beginning of my research I was met with some obstacles. Even French women themselves struggle to define their style, claiming they are not doing anything special to look the way they do. Yet, those women looked very elegant. It is something so instilled in their mindset, in their daily life that they struggle to define it. The majority of women I came across were well dressed, stylish in their own way, one thing they all had in common is how effortless their style looked. Looking good is not something they only do when they have a date or a meeting. Effortlessness in style begins with a mindset.
2. Style can be practical
Many women, especially on weekends, are wearing very casual clothes, yet they still look stylish. Even when I went out in the evenings I didn’t see a lot of examples of full-blown glamour. Understated is an essential element of Parisian chic. “Your outfit can be practical but there are ways to stay feminine”, explains Maryvonne, a friendly and stylish shop assistant at a shoe boutique I visited. She explained that most Parisian women choose low heels (up to 5cm) because they are always on the go. There is even a name for this type of shoe – “Parisienne” – feminine and comfortable. Style has to be practical for a busy modern woman, according to my new Parisian connection. A Parisienne adds a scarf, an elegant pair of shoes or a stylish jacket to transform her outfit from day to evening. This does not require a lot of time and effort (which, let’s be honest, is what puts many women off style).
3. Embrace who you are
One thing Parisian women appear to do very well is dress in the most flattering way for their body type. They know what suits them and what doesn’t and they stay with what works, not being lured by fashion trends every 6 months. My friend Laure, a beautiful young French woman, who always looks chic, tells me over a glass of wine: “I don’t wear short skirts because I know they don’t suit me, I always go for pencil skirts, they work well for me”. This is an amazing level of self-awareness from someone who hasn’t even turned 30 yet. Instead of feeling bad about what you don’t have, be it bigger curves (I am talking to myself here), thinner hips or longer legs, and hiding behind baggy clothes, embrace you shape and show off what you love about your body.
4. Make pleasure part of your daily life
“A perfect macaroon is ‘croquant’ on the outside and melting on the inside when you bite into it, it has to be absolutely fresh”, says Cordelia, my charming shopping guide, a true Parisienne, as we pass by a beautiful patisserie. She is petite and slender and a self-confessed dessert addict. In France they eat desserts, chocolate, drink wine and have cheese. And then there is the bread. I saw women eating bread in very trendy cafés where bread shouldn’t even be on the menu! There is no guilt involved. How do they do it? Well, firstly no guilt means having a healthy relationship with food. Secondly, accepting pleasure as part of daily life means we stop actively depriving ourselves and this alone decreases the risk of overindulgence. They simply know when to stop. The proof is everywhere: I have not seen anyone who is overweight.
5. Inner confidence is key
As I walk around the vibrant Le Marais with Cordelia discovering new boutiques, we talk about the fact that not many women wear bright colours or attention grabbing outfits. She tells me demure is essential for a typical Parisian: a top with sheer back but not sheer front, clean lines, simple t-shirt with jeans and a good quality jacket. Parisians do demure so well. They don’t look too “polished”, they wear mainly neutrals or darks, very few women wear tons of make up, not much skin is displayed. Yet they are not hiding, they are strangely visible and project so much confidence. This natural confidence comes from being comfortable with who you are.
6. Accessories are essential
During the three days that I spent in Paris I do not remember seeing a single person without a scarf! Even small children had stylish scarves on. To be stylish a woman needs to learn to accessorise – there is no way around it. Accessorising is the simplest (and it can be a very cost effective) way to update an outfit, take you from day to evening or add a personal touch and make a plain outfit your own.
7. Elegance and style does not end when you get home
There are numerous boutiques and shops selling beautiful lounge and home wear in Paris. It is elegant and feminine: silky dresses, soft trousers, cotton and wool cover ups (not old pijama bottoms). I learn that French women stay elegant in their homes too. As a newly self-employed working from home, I am determined to embrace this particular style element from now on. Believe me, it changes everything – from the way you feel and relate to yourself to the way you show up with others.
If you read my previous blog posts this year you will know that I have recently come back from a two-week holiday in Mexico. There are many opinions out there about Mexico, some are exaggerated, some are true. I can honestly say that I tried to go there with an open mind, but of course I still had certain expectations and hopes. Mexico exceeded all my expectation. My experience of this wonderful country was so vibrant that I promised myself to go back while I was still there. These are my top 5 reasons for visiting or re-visiting Mexico.
From green, coral, red and bright blue colonial buildings to vibrant trajineras in Mexico City’s Xochimilc, to red blossom of tropical trees, to perfectly turquoise colour of the sea in Yucatan – Mexico is one of the most vibrant and colourful countries I have ever visited. For anyone who craves colour, especially after a dark and grey winter season, I could not recommend a more exciting place.
Mexico City old town
The most incredible colour of the sea in Tulum
Oaxaca – the most vibrant colonial architecture I have ever come accross
The Frida Khalo House
On a trajinera
Taking a boat (trajinera) ride in Xochimilco in the South of Mexico City
Even skulls are colourful
San Angel market – a must visit on weekend
Mexico is famous around the world for its cuisine. Having been to many Mexican restaurants in Europe (and some in New York), I was excited to discover that real Mexican cuisine offers so much more that burritos, fajitas and guacamole (although I love guacamole and could not have enough of it). Bring your appetite, get ready to savour and enjoy. If you ever feel that rich Mexican cuisine is too much, there is no lack of restaurants serving European and Asian cuisine.
Delisiousness made of cheese and plantain, Corazón de Maguey, Coyocan, Mexico City
Freshly made salsa
Tacos Dorados De Jamaica
international cuisine at stylish Alekzander, Roma, Mexico City
Chili pepper stuffed with prawns with mango sauce, la Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen
Chocolate caliente – traditional drink
Butternut squash soup at gorgeous Novecento in Polanco, Mexico City
Fresh tuna in Playa del Carme
Breakfast at La Casa de Azulejos, Mexico City
People rarely talk about Mexico in the context of style. It is very famous for being a stylish destination. If you think Mexico is only pyramids, mariachi music and big seaside resorts, be prepared to be surprised. Mexico City in particular is a stylish destination, with its trendy Roma and Condesa areas that have a very bohemian vibe and a unique mix of European influence and traditional Mexican heritage. Think fusion food, bars and cafes, stunning decors, stylish people. Playa del Carmen in Yucatan. the Ibiza of Mexico, has a unique style too.
Chairs at our Hotel Cortes in Mexico City
Combining the old with the new in an inspiring way, Cabrery 7, Roma
Beautiful Chapultepec Castle, very stylish floors…
Stylish Alekzander in Roma, Mexico City
Chill out area in our hotel, Quilnto Sol
Beach bed, Tulum. Gave me a major lifestyle inspiration
Terrace at Quinto Sol hotel in Playa del Carmen
Traditional can be stylish too
Turquoise is one of my favourite colours
Mountains, valleys, deserts, forests, coast – Mexico is a country of striking diversity when it comes to landscapes. Even if you are not into nature (like I claim I am not…), it is impossible to remain indifferent to these breathtaking views.
5. Fascinating history
Pre-Hispanic historical heritage in Mexico is simply impressive. It is hard to imagine how its ancient people built pyramids thousands of years ago without any of the technology that we have today. Equally impressive is its colonial architecture. The combination of both is what makes Mexico what it is.
Religious symbols, particularly La Virgen, is part of everyday life
Pre-hispanic influences in art and crafts
Tulum Mayan ruins
Teotihuacan with its impressive pyramids dating back nearly 2000 years
Casa del azulejos, Mexico City
Romantic colonial style in Oaxaca
Hotel Cortes in a colonial building kept many of each original features