February 2015

Travel Guide: Venice

The best way to describe Venice is beautifully melancholy. Venice can remember once being the most powerful city in the world, and knows how far it has fallen. Somehow though, that melancholy just adds to the beauty of the city. It is a photographer's dream - endless tiny streets and bridges and canals. It's like nothing else in the world.

Where to go

Palazzo Ducale

If you want to understand the power Venice once wielded this is the place to go - the palace of the Doge, who once ruled Venice. The receiving hall defies description, every surface is painted with astonishing frescoes and it is enormous. We walked through endless beautiful halls and even spied several secret passages (which naturally sent me into transports of delight). I didn't really take many photos because photos cannot capture it - you have to see it to understand it.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Maritime Museum

The history of Venice is one of sea faring, so of course it was incredibly interesting to check out the Maritime Museum. Mike gravitated to the weaponry and I drifted over to the letters and maps and paintings. It was really interesting - though Mike and I's attention flagged a bit around the turn of the 20th century.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Walking the backstreets

There is something around every corner of Venice, and a lot of the best bits are hidden away in little back streets. Aside from the Palazzo Ducale and the Maritime Museum Mike and I spent most of our three days walking through the streets - we crossed the Rialto Bridge, saw Piazza San Marco, we even stumbled on the Castello neighbourhood where most Venetians actually live these days.

It is a city of astounding beauty and the best thing you can do is to just walk. Plus it's strangely hard to get lost - we always ended up back at the ocean or the Grand Canal. One foggy night we went for a walk along the water and it felt like you were back in the 17th century, surrounded by the intrigue of the court with ladies in long dresses swishing past you on the arms of handsome gentlemen.

Where to eat

Eating in Italy is a joy - Mike and I ate everywhere, from cheap cafes filled with older men having their lunch time pasta and wine to incredibly fancy restaurants. Aside from one slightly average pizza every meal - even the ones in the tourist areas - was delicious. The best thing I can recommend is to get out there, find the places near your hotel, order a spritz and just enjoy yourself.

Osteria Enoteca San Marco

This was our first meal in Italy and it was so memorable. We stumbled on it almost by chance, and actually went back on our last night as well because it was just that lovely. Let's start with the incredible wine list - wine varieties are very different in Europe compared to Australia (and possibly other places as well) so do not be afraid of asking for a recommendation - we did and we had the most beautiful bottle of red wine and for only 20 euros! When told the waitress that we were amazed that such a beautiful bottle would cost so little, she explained, as though this was the most obvious thing in the world, that the price of wine doesn't matter, the taste is independent of price. Suffice to say at that moment I fell in love with Italy. The food was beautiful - inventive but classic at the same time. Just thinking about it is making me sad because I would love to go there again.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Where to stay?

Hotel Al Codega

Hotel Al Codega is a fairly new hotel - and is styled as a boutique hotel with a nice little lounge for pre dinner drinks, breakfast in the morning and beautiful rooms. We had a lovely time staying there, they were so helpful and friendly. The only thing I will say is that because it's new, it felt like it hadn't quite relaxed into itself yet - but I think that will come with a bit more time and certainly didn't impact our stay. One thing to mention is they send you a map of the hotel location - you will absolutely need it - the hotel is down the most nondescript alley. You will never find it on your own.

further reading

Beth of Local Milk hosted a workshop in Venice and her photography is spectacular

Mimi & Alex Ikonn made a follow me around Venice video


Travel Guide: Switzerland

In 2012 on our first trip to Switzerland we only stayed three days because the people we had spoken to who had been to Switzerland weren't particularly over the moon about it. When we got there though we knew had to go back - it was the most beautiful place we had ever been and we fell completely in love with it.

Travel GUide: Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

Lucerne

What to do?

Lucerne is probably the most beautiful and peaceful place I will ever visit. The best way to see Lucerne is get out and go for a walk. It has a beautiful old town on the lake and if you're lucky enough to come in winter there are Christmas markets full of delicious Swiss food.

Travel Guide: Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

Where to eat?

Shamrock Pub

Mike and I ate here both nights and had a great time. It's not exactly haute cuisine, but the beer was great, the music was good and the food tasty. The atmosphere is really what makes this place possibly helped by the fact we made friends with an Australian barman; Daniel. He made us feel so welcome. If you aren't sure what to drink I recommend Feldschloschsen beer. It's really refreshing and I know this sounds like a trick but I swear my husband and I drank about 1.5 litres each and woke up at 6:00 am the next morning to catch a train with no hangover.

Travel Guide: Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

Where to stay?

Hotel de la Paix

Hotel de la Paix is a little bit back from the main tourist area of Lucerne. We managed to score a room with a balcony that looked out over the mountains. One of the balcony doors was in the bathroom, and I had two glorious baths listening to Serial and looking out the window. Utter bliss. Breakfast is included and was a great mix of hot and cold options. 


Interlaken

What to do?

Schilthorn

Interlaken is known as a bit of a jumping off point for many of the adventures you can have in the Swiss Alps - and that's why we were there as well. We had one aim with our trip to Interlaken - see snow. It may sound strange to some of you, but for Australians snow is an exciting and rare experience. 

Because this was our aim I can't really tell you what to do in Interlaken. I can however tell you about the adventure we had when we went on up the Schilthorn.

Travel Guide: Interlaken // Miss Sweet Nothings

Our choice of the Schilthorn (also known as Piz Gloria) is all thanks to the manager of the hotel we were staying at. She suggested it to us and talked us through getting up the mountain. It isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination but I can honestly say it is worth the price.

It was quite the adventure to get there - we took a train, then a bus, then a cable car (which almost gave me a heart attack). When we got to the top - words and pictures cannot describe how breath taking it was. We had lunch at the revolving restaurant (so kitsch but so awesome at the same time) and then went down to the ski ramp to play in the snow. It was a spectacular day, one I won't forget for a long time.

Where to Stay

Hotel B & B Alphorn

Hotel B & B Alphorn was such a sweet little place. It almost felt like a hostel in many ways; small and quaint but really cozy. It's a bit out of town, but not so far that it feels cut off. The highlight (aside from the coffee and helpful service) was the shower that had LED lights built in which changed colours as you showered. Such an unexpected feature but actually really cool.

Further Reading

Emma & Trey of A Beautiful Mess made a video of their honeymoon in Switzerland


Travel Guide: Paris

I'm so excited to share some of our honeymoon over the next few weeks; we had a fantastic time and I want to tell you about some of our must do's and must eat's.

First up is Paris. Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world - we've been there three times now, and each time I have fallen a little more in love with the city of lights. There's just something about it that has completely captured my heart. I never feel like I've explored enough or eaten enough when I'm in Paris.

What to do?

Paris is a city full of things to do. Even after three visits we still have things we haven't done yet - which is exactly how it should be. I always think you should leave a reason to come back. Below are our favourites (so far):

The Louvre

We didn't go on our most recent trip, but we did the first time we visited. It is worth a visit, though I do suggest going on a weekday and getting an early start to try and skip the lines. I swear this is true - we went on a Wednesday about half an hour after it opened and we just waltzed straight in - and by the time we left the queue was massive. It is important to note most other museums in Paris are closed on Monday (aside from the Louvre) so if you can don't go on Monday as it will be busier. 

The Louvre is huge, and you won't see all of it in one day - thankfully their maps are divided into sections, so you can just pick the bits you're most interested in. We did end up getting to the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo in our morning there. I was very surprised to find the Mona Lisa much more beautiful than I expected. 

Jardin des Tuileries

These are the gardens attached to the Louvre, and well worth a wander. We've only ever gone in winter, but still have found it really lovely. Paris is winter is bleakly gorgeous - all bare trees silhouetted against the sky. I adore it. I definitely recommend going for a walk first thing in the morning - and there are even some little cafes where you can stop for a morning cappuccino. 

Musee D'Orsay

If your time in Paris is limited and you can only fit in one museum please pick the Musee D'Orsay over the Louvre. You will not regret it; the Musee D'Orsay is housed in a giant converted train station and specialises in Impressionist art. It's constantly expanding, and unlike the Louvre it was worth a repeat performance on our most recent trip. Aside from the amazing artwork one of my favourite parts of the Musee D'Orsay is the upstairs cafe, it's behind the former train clock and it is seriously cool.

Travel Guide: Paris // Miss Sweet Nothings

Les Catacombs

So, the Catacombs are not for the faint hearted, not so much for the six million people interred - I found that to be quite peaceful. Far more disconcerting is the fact that you are 60 metres beneath Paris and I don't like to use the expression "with crushing rock above you" but I certainly thought it at several points. Also the stairwell out of the catacombs is a cork screw nightmare. However if you think you can get past that it is completely worth it - the Catacombs are beautiful, serene and almost spiritual. I was so glad I fought past my initial terror.

Walks along the SEINE

Mike and I are big walkers on holidays - on one memorable day we walked 15 kilometres - and some of my favourite memories are of us walking down the Seine and enjoying the winter sunshine. On one walk we stumbled on a vintage car rally, on another we walked through a Christmas market.

Travel Guide: Paris // Miss Sweet Nothings

 Where to eat

Rather than give you a specific recommendation I thought I would give you some guidelines on how to think about food in Paris:

  • French bread: I have never eaten more delicious bread in my life than the bread I ate in Paris. At our hotel we were would order breakfast every day and the baguette was always my favourite part. I cannot even speak about delicious all the bread I ate in Paris was.

  • The French eat dinner late: 8 or later - I know it's hard to hold out but it makes you feel more at home in France (Europe in general in fact) if you wait until the "normal" service times.

  • Boulangeries are magic: They’re perfect for affordable lunches - and snacks - and eclairs.

  • This is more of a tip in general but that old myth of the unfriendly Frenchmen is simply not true. Mike speaks a little French and I speak French food (with appalling pronunciation)so we can't really say we're comfy with the language. However we smile a lot, we laugh at our terrible French and we are yet to feel unwelcome.

  • Just. Eat. French food is magical and incredible and so beautiful. They do simple so, so well it is an inspiration (at least to a foodie like me).

Where to stay

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais

On both our trips we have stayed at the same place, Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais. It's right on the Rue de Rivoli and it is so cute and quaint. The rooms are small (but they all are in Paris) but so beautifully decorated; elaborate and baroque.

We came back for a few reasons: the location is incredible, the staff are all wonderfully friendly and helpful and the breakfast is the best I've ever had: baguettes, croissants (with honey, jam and butter), yoghurt, a soft boiled egg, a kiwifruit and glorious rich coffee. Well worth the 13 euro. 

Further Reading

Alex the French Food Guy filmed a love letter to Paris

Smitten Kitchen shared where she ate in Paris

Alix of The Cherry Blossom Girl lives in Paris and shares some amazing articles

Alex & Mimi Ikonn shared a follow me around Paris video (Part One & Part Two)

I shared my perfect weekend in Paris


A Quick guide of where to eat (and drink) in Glenelg

When Mike and I lived in Adelaide we lived right near the most popular beach in the city; Glenelg and we spent many afternoons walking on the beach, eating ice cream and in the winter, drinking hot chocolate.

Travel Guide: Glenelg // Miss Sweet Nothings

So it was natural after our wedding to hot foot it down to the Bay for a few days to unwind. We ate, we drank and we went for walks along the beach. It was glorious, and the perfect tonic after the intensity of the wedding. We had such a lovely time I thought I would share a few of our favourite places, both new and old.

Travel Guide: Glenelg // Miss Sweet Nothings

The Moseley

The Moseley is a fairly new establishment in the Glenelg scene and comes complete with a more traditional restaurant downstairs, and a more relaxed pub style bistro upstairs. Since we were looking for a quick lunch we selected upstairs. We found it to have everything we expect from a modern pub - good range of beer (and bonus wines), yummy menu and quirky decor. Our pizza and chips were both delicious, and the open balcony kept everyone cool.

Perfect for: Casual lunch with friends

Pure Boutique

Pure Boutique was so good we went there twice! Once for dinner and again for breakfast. Both times were winners - the menu is a bit less traditional than the Moseley, with more of an emphasis on experimentation and unique flavours. Also it is delicious. The drinks menu is nothing to be sniffed at either, craft beers are an expectation these days in pubs, not a bonus and they have taken it up a notch with the selection and range.

Perfect for: Brunch or a late dinner with your lover

Travel Guide: Glenelg // Miss Sweet Nothings

Horizons Cocktail Bar

Horizons Cocktail bar is part of the Stamford Grand Hotel and looks super fancy from the outside; think leather coaches, dark wallpaper and old fashioned landscape art. We were semi convinced we wouldn't be allowed in with our thongs and beach hair but apparently it wasn’t an issue. Once inside the vibe is much more relaxed than expected, and the bartenders are both funny and talented. It's not cheap (are cocktails ever?) but it was so awesome to sit on the couches facing the beach, watch the sun go down and sip on something delicious.

Perfect for: Feeling fancy as fuck

Montezuma's

Montezuma's is not exactly haute cuisine - I mean it's a Mexican chain restaurant after all, but frankly, it's delicious. We had such a good time drinking frozen margaritas (so many flavours) and eating delicious food.

Perfect for: Tipsy dinner with friends (the more the merrier)