Category: International Adventures

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When my favourite, Claire suggested we make a spontaneous trip to Istanbul, I was pretty excited (I do love an overseas adventure!). ‘It will be 12 degrees and sunny’ she said… Well, lets just say, her prediction was a little out (love you lady, but you/Google were wrong!), so wrong in fact, even the Turks were surprised. But we dug deep into our intrepid British spirit, stuffed on enough clothes to make Sir Ranulph Fiennes proud, and set about exploring the wonderful city. Here’s the first instalment of highlights from the trip, and my recommendations for adventure.

Cocktails at the Pera Palace Hotel

This luxury hotel is absolutely teeming with history, you can literally breathe it in as you cross the threshold. The Pera Palace has played host to some of the heavyweights of literature, including Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie. Although the property is now managed by the Jumeirah hotel empire, it has retained it’s individuality as opposed to becoming another faceless hotel.

The vast lobby is the perfect place to sit and have a cocktail, while soaking up the glamour of times past. Or, as this means for Claire and I, embarking on one for our random conversations, featuring topics such as ‘what did Jesus actually look like’, and ‘the concept of family in the Fast & Furious films’, seriously, we have the BEST conversations. A special shout out must be given to the Palace’s amazing cocktails that are brewed in a silver teapot and served in a beautiful teacup – divine!

Pera Palace

 

Visit The Blue Mosque

Arguably the most famous landmark in Istanbul, and quite rightly so. I have been fortunate to travel to many places in the world, but the Blue Mosque, or to refer to it by it’s correct title, the Sultan Ahmed Camii, is truly breath-taking. It’s beauty is not just confined to the outside. Once inside, it is impossible not to be amazed not only by the building, but by the devotion and reverence of the worshippers. Find a quiet corner (not easy at certain times, I grant you!), sit against a pillar, and just be present.

Prayer occurs at the Mosque 5 times a day, so make sure you time your visit around these as the Mosque is closed to the public at these times. If however, you manage to arrive precisely when you aren’t supposed to (as we did!), I thoroughly recommend attending one of the presentations that are run by the Mosque Maintenance Association.

Our talk was led by Elif Zeynep Yilmaz, who is the first female guide in the Mosque’s history (TOTAL kudos to her for being such a pioneer), who explained not only the about the building so many come to visit, but also about the philosophy of Islam. In my book, every religion would do well to take note of the work that is being done here by the guides.  The environment was warm and welcoming and as well as providing weary guests with refreshments, an open floor was given to address any questions they may have. Oh yes, and did I mention that this was all totally FREE. It was a place where preconceptions could be addressed, and evidence of a ‘living’ faith could be seen being worked into modern life.

Blue mosque

 

Baklava at The Kybele Hotel

OK, so I’m not going to lie, this was one of those chance discoveries (my favourite!) that was dictated by circumstances. Just to set the scene, we had been out in temperatures of -8 degrees most of the day, in snow storms that where more akin to scenes from disaster film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ as opposed to ‘White Christmas’, so let’s just say, we were a little cold and wet. Oh and did I mention that it had just started to thunder too… Yes, it can thunder and snow at the same time apparently, in fact this phenomenon had many meteorologists very excited that day! So, after walking around in the snow all day, broken up with intervals of stopping to record videos of us, (OK, Claire, me) singing ‘Do you wanna build a snowman..’ we decided it was time to head in doors.

Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows how much I love a neon sign, and to be honest this was the initial attraction which led to discovering this little gem! Once inside, the riot of colour continued, with the ceiling covered in the most beautiful Turkish lamps. The hotel was so warm and cosy, it is just like sitting in someone’s front room.  Especially as the staff were so lovely and welcoming. This hotel is not to be missed.

Kyele Hotel

 

Order the best chocolate in Istanbul, and tuck into the Baklava. Take a moment to enjoy the renowned Turkish hospitality. Oh, and did I mention it’s just around the corner from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – perfect way to end the day!

Coming next… going underground, and visiting Paris… in Istanbul.

Love always,

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P.S. Big love to my photographer of choice, Claire xxx

International Adventures

Paris At Your Feet

There is magic in Paris that can be found nowhere else, not in the city that never sleeps, nor the sweet tropics of the Maldives. From the moment you step on the Eurostar that speeds you towards happiness, to the moment you have to leave, Paris is the city that gives you a thousand emotions. Where else in the world can you find Orlando Bloom look-a-likes working in The Louvre, or drink champagne on fabulous hot nights at 3am while watching the hustle of the Champs Elysees. Home to some of the biggest powerhouses in fashion, to the worlds greatest hot chocolate (Hotel de Crillon). No matter what the weather, rain or shine, your heart always shines in Paris. When there is such love and indulgence to be found in Paris, it seems perhaps only natural that this fabulous city has a reputation as one of the most romantic cities for lovers. I pose this to you however, that Paris is perhaps the ideal place to be single, and further more,  for you to fall in love with yourself. A place to renew, explore and inspire the unattached among us. A place where there is always something new to discover, and form an opinion on. If its quiet contemplation you are after of any kind, this can be found in Paris, indulgent shopping, no problem, to die for food, you got it. To take you away from the mundane of every day life, and present you with a brave new world of opportunity, Paris is the place for indulgence on your terms, as the single girl.

With that in mind, I bring you a selection of the most fun, and diverse adventures Paris has to offer the single girl.

Attach a Padlock… For yourself

The breath taking Pont des Artes, has become part of a new age tradition now reaching across the far corners of the globe. In the most romantic city in the world, lovers inscribe padlocks with their names, before flinging the key into the Seine to symbolise the binding of eternal love. The sceptic in me wonders how many of these fabulous love affairs outlive the padlock, let alone eternity. With that in mind, who better to pledge eternal love to than yourself. Paris is a place where hopes, dreams and love meet in glorious spectacular, so renew your promises to yourself, lock that padlock and bask in the romance knowing that you hold the key to a love affair that will last forever.

The Quest for the Ultimate Hot Chocolate

There is only one way to describe hot chocolate, and that is quite simply, ‘liquid heaven’. Although Paris is perhaps renowned more widely for its other gastronomic successes, it does not seem to have forgotten to turn its hand to this little beauty. The Angelina Salon de The’ puts its own spin on this classic, accompanying the steaming cup with a side of whipped cream (oh my goodness!!) But perhaps if you are looking for something a little bit extraordinary, there is only one place. The Hotel de Crillon provides a charming mix of old school glamour, (it’s the only place to be a debutante, don’t you know) and exceptional client service. The hot chocolate for me, demonstrates this perfectly. Served in the most exquisite silver service, the liquid chocolate is mixed with orange peel, providing a hidden surprise. So take your time, sit in the ornate salon, and savour every mouthful.

Marvel at the Most Fabulous Flowers

Take a trip to the Four Seasons George V to see how diverse flower displays can really be. Under the talented eye of Jeff Leatham, this floral feast for the eyes will leave you breathless with wonder. Known for ‘mixing it up’ in his designs, Leatham combines the delicacy of flowers with the edginess of modern design. The combination of daring colours, mixed with the aroma of the flowers will leave you breathless as you wonder through the hotel, happening upon new designs around every corner. Take your time enjoying the flower displays and really savour their uniqueness, these like so many of life’s beautiful moments, are one time creations. Sip a cocktail in the bar and admire the view.

Ride the Carousel at the Eiffel Tower

Doing this at night, while France’s most famous landmark after Bridget Bardot sparkles behind you, makes this experience even more magical. Embrace your inner child, grab some candy floss, and climb aboard the colourful horses, sit back and really savour Paris.

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Drive A Super Car

Another truly fabulous thing about Paris is that as your wonder the streets, you never know what you are going to come across next. Certainly not the sleekest of Lamborghini’s, parked on the Champs – Elysees just teasing you to drive it… Except you can drive it… for 89 euros. So for the petrol heads amongst you, this is an experience not to be missed. Cruise along the streets, while enjoying Paris in the fast lane.

Try on Breath-taking Jewellery

From the most intimate of shops on hidden side streets, to the luxury designers of the Place Vendome, feel like a million dollars as you try on the most fabulous jewellery. Most boutiques are happy to accommodate the discerning browser, so take time to marvel in the sparkles.

Sit and Just Be… In the Tuileries

Recommended for a sunny day, Paris can be VERY cold in the Winter, however you are more likely to be able to seek some solstice at this time. Sit on a bench, hire a deck chair and really feel Paris. The bustle of the surrounding roads and irate French drivers, melts away and makes Paris seem like an altogether more tranquil place. Look one way and you will see the modern pyramid of The Louvre, contrasted with the beautiful palace behind. Look the other way, and the Eiffel Tower rises majestically  from the Parisian skyline. Bask in the atmosphere of it all, and really savour Paris.

Go on a Quest to Find the Most Chic French Woman Ever

Now being in Paris, the home of Christian Dior and Haute Couture, and given the reputation of French women as a whole, one would be right to conclude that this would not be a difficult task… Wrong. The fabled chic woman, seems to be a little more elusive than our cousins over the water would have us believe. In a day I would say it was possible to find perhaps 3, or 4 TRULY chic women, with that little extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ about her. So if people watching is your thing, and you relish a challenge, then this is the quest for you! It’s likely as well that she will turn up in the most unlikely of places… So scour the streets, comb the banks of Seine and see if you can find a more chic madam than this fabulous lady we randomly stumbled upon in a small French café… (please excuse the pap shot but I just had to share her with you!)

Journey to Shoe Heaven

Trot down to 19 Rue Jean- Jacques Rousseau to the birthplace of the ultimate aspirational shoe. As a girl who love, love, LOVES her footwear, Christian Louboutin has to be on the list of essential places to visit in Paris. Marvel at shoes that look like they have dropped straight out of heaven, and landed perfectly on their own individual pedestals. Honestly, is there anything quite so divine as that?! Try them on, (buy if you dare) and contemplate the genius of the man who brought Louboutin to the world.

Eat Unique Macaroons

As Laduree continues in its quest for world domination, popping up in the most unusual of places,  (I am informed there is now one in Charles De Gaulle airport) journey back to the roots and visit the luxury of the Paris premises. Next to the traditional chocolate, and Strawberry macaroons, Laduree premieres unique seasonal flavours. These range from the incredible Marie Antoinette, described by Laduree as ‘ A pastoral walk at the Petit Trianon’ to its newest flavour – Yuzi-Ginger. Sample these presented on delicate china, accompanied by a cocktail (Laduree make an awesome Kir Royal), feel them melt in your mouth, while you muse over the meaning that Paris has for you.

Paris is many things to many people. So visit the city and take what you need, and know that a piece of this extraordinary city will forever be in your heart.

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With love dancing on a cloud in Paris,

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P.S. Thank you and much love to my beautiful friend Claire Noyelle for her photos xxxx

International Adventures