Weekend getaway

The Perfect Weekend Getaway: Florence

I feel like in our stay in Florence we only got to scrape the surface of what it could offer, we were there in that weird gap between Christmas and New Years so a lot of things were closed or being repaired. I will say the food was the best on our trip, so I’m very excited to share the places we’ve found.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Friday night

After checking in to your accommodation it’s time for happy hour! Head down to the cellar door for Spumantino Verrazzano. It’s been producing wine since Roman times and is the perfect place to sit and have a few beverages before dinner. Then head on over to Trattoria Nella for dinner. I personally recommend the pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas) - it’s so hearty and delicious and (bonus points) is a local Tuscan dish.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Saturday

Time for an adventure! After breakfast it’s time to head to the Galileo Museum. It tracks the history of science from the 15th century to the present day, and shows the instruments people (like Galileo) used to solve the mysteries of the universe (long before computers). It also has an incredible astrolab that has to be seen to be believed.

After stopping for lunch at one of the cafes along the river it’s time to cross the famous Ponte Vecchio which was the centre of trade in Florence for many years, and then go for a walk in the Boboli Gardens.

After relaxing in your accommodation for awhile it’s time to head for happy hour at Mangiafoco Cafe. Feel free to have cheese with your Aperol spritz, but make sure to save room for dinner because you are in for a treat. Dinner tonight is at Vini e Vecchi Sapori (make sure to book ahead!). It’s one of the most popular restaurants in Florence, and for good reason! The food is fantastic, the wine selection is really good and the owners are very friendly and determined to avoid becoming a tourist trap. Be warned you might need to share your table with someone (they only have 18 tables) but we found it just added to the experience.

Perfect Weekend: Florence | Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

After an evening out at Vini e Vecchi you might not be up for this - but if you can manage to get up and head down to the river to watch the sun rise it will be worth your time. It’s an amazing experience - you really understand what people mean when they talk about the Tuscan sun. Depending on how much time you have you could then either head to the Uffizi Museum or go for a walk to the Cathedral of Santa Maria di Fiore (or both if you have the time!).


The Perfect Weekend Getaway: Rome

I have wanted to go to Italy ever since I read “Jamie’s Italy” by Jamie Oliver in 2007. There is something about the food and culture of Italy that instantly captivated me. I’m so excited to share some of that magic in this guide to the perfect weekend in Rome!

Friday afternoon

After you check into your hotel or Air B & B it’s time to head out for the evening. The afternoon is the perfect time to check out the Vatican (from the outside at least). What I find the strangest about the Vatican is that you expect it to have a wall or a gate or something to separate it (I mean it is a different country after all). Instead it’s just a low chain fence that separates it from Rome. From there you can wander down to the Castel Sant’ Angelo and across the St Angelo Bridge and down to my favourite piazza to have dinner - the Piazza Navona. One thing about Rome is that if you’re open to the idea of having lots of pizza and pasta you can wander into almost any restaurant and be treated to a delicious meal.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

Saturday

If you have read a few of my perfect weekend guides you know that I love to explore a city on foot - and Rome really is perfect for wandering. We’re getting started with a pastry and cappuccino (preferably standing at the bar) of a cafe. Then it’s time to head to the trio of the Roman Forum, Colosseum and Palatine Hill. Start at the Forum - you can buy a ticket for all three sites at the Forum which will avoid one of the queues at the Colosseum.

Spend an hour or so try to wrap your head around how impressive the Forum would have looked at the height of the Roman Empire. Next up is Palatine Hill, a beautiful manicured garden above the Roman Forum. I had never heard of it, and it has a fascinating history (as well as being gorgeous). Last up is the Colosseum; and no matter when you go, be prepared for crowds and hawkers. Dodge the “Roman Centurians” roaming around outside and head off for a lunch break at one of the nearby bistros.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

After lunch it’s time to head to the Pantheon, but stop on your way to check out the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. It’s run out of the Largo di Torre Argentina ruins (it's where Julius Caesar was murdered - and legend has it that he was the one who introduced cats to Rome in the first place) and it’s a wonderful place to give some kitties a bit of love and feel generally good about humankind.

At this stage I imagine you’ll want to head back to your accommodation and have a rest before heading out again for dinner. If you want some dinner inspiration; Deb of Smitten Kitchen has a very helpful list.

Weekend Getaway: Rome | Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

On the last day, it’s time to choose your own adventure! Either head to Villa Borghese for a morning of wandering through incredible gardens, finishing by exiting near the Spanish Steps for a knockout view of Rome or head to the Capitoline Museums (the oldest museum in the world) to dive deeper into the history of Rome. Of course if you’re ambitious (or have the time) you can try and go to both!


The perfect weekend getaway: Paris

The perfect weekend: Paris

There’s something about Paris. I can’t explain it but the second I landed in Paris for the first time I experienced two different emotions simultaneously. The first feeling was one of belonging, in a way I cannot explain - though I have since read many people who have had a similar experience. The second one was a feeling of not really seeing Paris, of knowing there is more to Paris that I haven’t found yet. I still feel like that - and that’s what motivates me to go back to Paris.

This perfect weekend is a bit different from others because I’m not going to give any specific recommendations for places to eat. I don’t think I have found the best places to eat just yet,instead I have linked some helpful articles down the bottom to (hopefully) point you in the right direction. 

Friday afternoon

Once you arrive it’s time to check in to your hotel and personally I love Hotel Caron De Beaumarchais. Behind a sweet blue door (and just off the Rue de Rivoli) it is cozy and fantastically baroque. What’s great is one you’re checked in you can head out to one of the many bars in the Marais for a pre dinner drink. The French eat dinner around 8 so having an apertif isn’t just a fantastically French thing to do - it’s also a great way to pass the time until dinner.

The perfect weekend: Paris

Saturday

I hope you bought walking shoes because today is going to be an adventure, and the best way to experience it is walking. Weekends are a busy time for the museums of course so it’s important to get an early start. For breakfast I cannot suggest anything other than the breakfast at the hotel. It’s a bit expensive but it is the best breakfast I have ever had. You get a normal croissant, a chocolate croissant and a baguette (with butter, jam and honey). You also get a soft boiled egg, a kiwi fruit, some yoghurt and cheese. Oh and coffee that converted me from a mocha drinker to a coffee freak.

Properly satiated it’s time to walk down to the Louvre. The first time we went to Paris we were walking down to the Rue de Rivoli trying to find the Louvre, wandering past all these high street shops I turned my head and there it was. The Louvre was just sitting across from a H & M like it belonged there.

I tell this story because for an Australian, where no building in the city I grew up in is more than a few hundred years old, the casual clash of history and modern life was (and continues to be) the most mind boggling thing about travelling in places like Europe.

Anyway so the Louvre; it is definitely worth a visit but it is HUGE so pick your battles and don’t try and see everything in one go. In case you were wondering, seeing the Mona Lisa is worth it. I didn’t try and get close because of the crowd but it was more beautiful then I was expecting. 

After the Louvre it's lovely to go for a wander in the Jardin des Tuileries - in winter it’s beautifully barren and in summer it’s a leafy wonderland so you really can’t go wrong.

Then it’s time to head over to my favourite museum in Paris (and if I’m honest - one of my favourite in the world); the Musee D’Orsay. It has an amazing collection of Impressionist art, and it’s housed in an old train station. It’s a joy to wander through, plus the museum cafe is upstairs behind the old station clock. It’s the perfect place for a lunch break.

After lunch it’s time to wander back across the river; you can head to the hotel for a nap, go for another walk in the Jardin De Tuileries or maybe do some shopping on Rue De Rivoli. No matter what you do definitely stop at a boulangerie for some kind of afternoon pastry treat. Remember dinner isn’t until 8 so it’s totally acceptable to get an afternoon snack.

Perfect Weekend: Paris //Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

After the intensity of Saturday, Sunday is the day for a more leisurely pace. There are lots of sweet places to get breakfast (if you can drag yourself away from the breakfast at the hotel) and then it’s time to strap your walking shoes on again and go for a walk on the Siene.

The aim is to get to the Eiffel Tower - and yes this is quite a walk. But it is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. Once you get to the Eiffel Tower it’s time to find somewhere for lunch before wandering back. On your walk back you should take a brief detour to Notre Dame. Now - the cathedral is beautiful - but I’ll let you in on a secret. Underneath Notre Dame is the history of the island on which is stands, the Ile de la Cite. And there is a museum that takes you through the foundations of the Ile de la Cite. For those of you that are Vikings fans this is a must.

Lot of food inspiration

Wander Guide: A Weekend in Paris by Local Milk

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


The perfect weekend getaway: Athens

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

I think since the Global Financial Crisis, Greece and Athens has gotten a bit of a bad reputation (or at least among my friends it has). So I was completely surprised by how much I loved our time in Athens. The Greek people are some of the kindest and most wonderful humans I have ever been lucky enough to meet, and Athens is home to so many incredible things to see and do. 

Friday afternoon

If you’re going to be staying in Athens you may as well stay somewhere with an amazing view of the Acropolis. And the Plaka Hotel is perfect for that. It’s nice, affordable and has a really great rooftop view of the Acropolis.

Once you’re settled in I suggest heading upstairs to the rooftop bar for a pre-dinner drink and the aforementioned view of the Acropolis. Then it’s time to head out for dinner at Efcharis; a fantastic restaurant with live music, enthusiastic helpings (seriously I thought I was going to die after our first meal there) and really friendly staff. If you’re lucky you might even get to experience their home brewed raki (I’m not certain it’s called raki in all of Greece but that’s what they called it on Crete).

This is also a good time to warn you - the smoking laws in Greece are pretty much non existent. Throughout Europe the laws are a lot more lax than they are in Australia but it was at it’s most blase in Greece. So if the weather is clement definitely sit outside if you don’t want to marinate in smoke.

Saturday

It’s time for a day of adventure! My personal recommendation is the breakfast buffet at the hotel (because if it’s not obvious from all of my perfect weekend articles so far I really approve of hotels where the breakfast is included). But if that’s not your speed there are some super cute bakeries right near by and Greek pastries are fantastic.

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

After breakfast it’s time to go to the Acropolis! You can buy a ticket that includes a lot of different sites around Athens; the Acropolis, the north and south side of the Acropolis (which is also very cool), Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Olympieion and Lykeion. You probably can’t get all these sites in over a weekend but it’s always good to have all these locations up your sleeve.

The best place to start is the Agora; which was the centre of life in ancient Athens. It has been allowed to return to nature which really just adds to the atmosphere. It’s a beautiful place and it’s really hard even when you see it to imagine the scale of it - trying to imagine it at it’s height, with Socrates lecturing and the market bustling.

After the Agora it’s really easy to head straight up to the Acropolis. Although there is a lot to see on the Acropolis, one thing to look out for is the Erechtheion, in high school my classics teacher spoke highly of the beauty of the columns (which are Greek maidens) because it is able to support the roof without making the women's neck look stocky.

The perfect getaway: Athens // Miss Sweet Nothings

After a morning of adventure it’s time for a lunch stop and then it’s time to hit up the Acropolis Museum. This museum is very unique; it’s built over an archaeological site and rather than cover this up the floor is glass to allow visitors to see the dig in action.

In addition the top floor is dedicated to a scale replica of the frescoes that surround the Parthenon (the largest temple on the Acropolis) which allows you to get up close with the incredible carvings.

Around now I imagine you’ll need to head back to hotel to relax before heading out for dinner. The street where Efcharis is also has a lot of other delicious dinner options; and they’re always happy to spruik their restaurant as the best which helps (or hinders - depending on your preference) you to pick a good place.

Sunday

First thing after breakfast it’s time to head to the National Archaeological Museum. In general the Acropolis Museum is more interesting but the one thing you shouldn’t miss in the National Museum is the Antikythera mechanism. It’s housed in its own permanent exhibition and is considered the first “computer” that was used in the second century BCE to calculate various astronomical phenomena. It’s incredible to see something so ancient that holds up to our understanding of science today.

After marvelling at one of the true wonders of the ancient world it’s worth trying to take in some of the remaining sights on your Acropolis pass; I liked Hadrian’s Library and the Olympieion (which is pictured below). They’re dotted all over the city so it’s a nice way to soak up some more of Athens; plus gives you lots of chances to stop in at various bakeries for snacks. It’s the perfect way to wind down your trip in Athens

The perfect weekend getaway // Athens

The perfect weekend getaway: Venice

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

The best way to describe Venice is beautifully melancholy; full of tiny streets, ancient buildings and its famous canals. Here is my guide to a magical winter getaway in Venice.

Friday afternoon

On arriving it’s time to check in to the hotel; I recommend Hotel Al Codega. It’s right in the centre of Venice but is quite affordable, and a really lovely hotel to boot! Then it’s time to go out!

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

We’ll save the proper exploring for tomorrow so tonight we’re just going to walk down to the famous Ponte di Rialto. Like everywhere else in Europe there are some lovely markets at Christmas in the square near the bridge. I would recommend the Italian pastries - they’re a lot sweeter than I was used to (as an Australian) but they were very delicious.

After some wandering it’s time for dinner at Osteria Enoteca San Marco and boy are you in for a treat. The food is traditional northern Italian fare, though usually with a twist. I had an incredible cacio e pepe (a dish I have a mild obsession with) and my husband still raves about the tiramasu. The wine list is extensive but very well priced - don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation!

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After dinner you can head to bed OR head down to the Piazza San Marco for a night time stroll. It is both creepy and beautiful at night. Our night walk was on a misty night and it felt very mysterious; I really felt like I had been transported back to the 1800’s. I kept expecting ladies in Victorian gowns to sweep out of the mist.

Saturday

Rise and shine! Time for the first full day of your adventure in Venezia! The breakfast in the hotel is really yummy, so feel free to have breakfast there - or head out to find a cafe and enjoy a latte.

When you’re fueled up (and if you’re like me, caffeinated) it’s time to start the day. First stop is the Palazzo Ducale; the palace of the Doge who once ruled Venice (and large chunks of Italy and Europe). I cannot explain to you how incredible this visit will be - it is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The Hall of the College literally cannot be captured in pictures.

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After marvelling at the Palazzo all morning it’s time for lunch. I know most people would urge you to “get away from the tourists areas” to find something to eat I disagree - at least where lunch and piazzas in Italy are concerned. My favourite way to eat lunch in Italy was outside looking out over a piazza. And there really isn’t a much more spectacular piazza than the Piazza San Marco in Venice. My one suggestion is to go to the left of the Basilica San Marco - the restaurants there are a lot less pricey (though still delicious).

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After lunch go for a walk along the promenade (on the other side of the Palazzo) to help work off the pizza or pasta you had for lunch and enjoy the beautiful views. When you get to the end you can loop through the park and through the suburb of Castello (where most actual Venetians live now) on your way back to the hotel.

After a few hours relaxing back at the hotel (and maybe a few drinks in the hotel bar) it’s time to head out for dinner at Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. It’s a really lovely and cozy restaurant that does amazing risotto (and I say this as a card carrying risotto snob).

Sunday

Sunday is going to have a slower vibe; but Venice is the perfect place for a more leisurely day. After breakfast it’s time to head out and wander the streets. It’s remarkably difficult to get lost in Venice, even with all the tiny side streets and back alleyways. Having the Grand Canal running through the centre of Venice is a great way to keep yourself centred. Plus you have the train station to the north and the ocean to the south to help keep you oriented.

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

If you do want to learn a little more about the history of Venice you can head down to the Maritime Museum. Venice built its fortune on sea trade and it is truly fascinating to learn more about.

And if you’re wondering where to have lunch - head back to the Piazza San Marco or take a chance on one of the many restaurants you wander past (Italy is the only place in the world where you can feel pretty safe about getting a good meal from almost anywhere you go). Either way; a great way to end your trip is a cocktail at the famous Harry’s Bar.


The perfect winter getaway: Lucerne

Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

Growing up I never really got the obsession with Switzerland that movies and TV seemed to have. Now having been there twice I can completely understand the obsession. Lucerne in Switzerland is hand on my heart the most stunning place I have ever visited. So come along with me as we spend 24 wintery hours in Lucerne.

4:00PM: On arrival it’s time to check in to Hotel De La Paix. It’s away from the tourist area of Lucerne but is a lovely hotel - very cozy and if you get lucky you might get a room with a balcony.

5:00 PM: Once you’re all settled in it’s time to head out to explore the town. You’re going to be heading towards Lake Lucerne for an afternoon stroll along the promenade. Don’t worry too much about what path to follow - if anything getting a little lost is a good thing - you never know what you might find. The picture below was taken when we stumbled on a lookout above a school car park. This is part of the magic of Lucerne. When you get to the lake it’s time to wander and amaze at how beautiful Lucerne is.

Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

7:00 PM: Now that’s your thoroughly chilled walking along to the lake it’s dinner time. Dinner is at Shamrock Pub. It’s the perfect place for dinner on a wintery night. It’s nothing fancy but the beer is affordable (I recommend the Feldschloschsen beer) and the food is hearty. What really makes this place a great one is the atmosphere. It’s cozy, cheerful and the staff welcoming.

10:00 PM: It’s time to wend your way home and go to bed - though I’ll understand if you want to stay later.

The next day

6:00 AM: If you can drag yourself out of bed at this early hour you are in for a treat. The sunrise over Lake Lucerne is worth the early start and the trek back down to the foreshore.

Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

8:00 AM: After your early start it’s time for breakfast. The hotel does have a really good breakfast (and it’s normally included in the price). Or you can go on an adventure to one of the cafes in the area.

Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

10:00 AM: Today is all about the Old Town of Lucerne. If you’re lucky there will be some Christmas markets up and running where you can get some delicious treats from Switzerland and all over the world. The old town is incredibly stunning, and it is lovely to wander around (and across the famous bridge of course).

Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings
Perfect winter weekend - Lucerne // Miss Sweet Nothings

12:00 PM: When we visited last time we had an amazing lunch in a traditional Swiss restaurant. The waiter was incredibly friendly and funny, and the rosti was delicious (and enormous). I wish I could tell you the name of this lovely place, but after an embarrassing amount of searching on Google Maps I cannot remember the name. If someone wants to fly me to Lucerne so I can work it out I am happy to do so. Otherwise all I can say is take advantage of Trip Advisor and find a good Swiss restaurant to visit. If you’re going to Switzerland you should take advantage of the awesome (if very filling) food.

3:00 PM - Assuming you can still move after your lunch it’s time to take another walk along the lake before heading back to the hotel. If you can tolerate the thought of food there is a lovely chocolate store across the road from the hotel called Bachmann. It also does coffee and hot chocolate and is a great place to end your trip to Lucerne.


The Perfect Weekend Getaway: Mclaren Vale, South Australia

If you love wine and good food you are going to LOVE this weekend adventure.

Weekend in Mclaren Vale // Miss Sweet Nothings

Friday afternoon

There are lots of accommodation options in Mclaren Vale but my personal preference is for this Air B&B. Regardless of your accommodation choice, once you’re settled it’s time to head into town for dinner. On a Friday night you really can’t go past the local Mclaren Vale Pub. Call ahead to book a table at their bistro and be prepared for a healthy serving of country charm alongside their buffet offerings of roasted potato and salad. The food is hearty and the wine selection is impressive.

Weekend in Mclaren Vale // Miss Sweet Nothings

Saturday

Rise and shine! Time to head out for breakfast at Blessed Cheese. You’ll need to stock up on your energy - you’ve got a busy day ahead! After breakfast take a moment to peruse the amazing cheese selection (and maybe pick up a few cheeses to have later).

Next it’s onto some wineries (I mean Mclaren Vale is one of the premier wine regions in the world after all). I cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated driver who isn’t going to drink. If you aren’t wanting to do that (or don’t have a car) might I suggest Chook’s Little Winery Tours? It’s a fantastic business and you can set your own itinerary.

Weekend in Mclaren Vale // Miss Sweet Nothings

First stop on the winery tour is Maxwell Winery. Although they are a winery Maxwell is known for it’s mead (and they make some killer cocktails with it). Next up is Gemtree Winery to enjoy the incredible view, sample some wine and maybe have a mid morning cheese platter (I mean it’s the responsible thing to do when you’re drinking wine all day, right?). After this it’s time to head to Lazy Ballerina, and if you didn’t enjoy a cheese platter at Gemtree you have to try one at Lazy Ballerina. Though of course there isn’t any rule that says you can’t both!

After your lunch break it’s time to head to Battle of Bosworth for some beautiful organic wine. Last on today’s adventure is Ekhidna Wines in their brand new location! Ekhidna does amazing wine and beer and will always have a special place in my heart as their original cellar door is our wedding location!

Now I’m sure after such a full day you’re really looking forward to a nice, filling meal, and that’s where Oscar’s comes in. You can relax inside or outside and the food is the perfect hearty end today (though maybe hold off on the pizza - I promise it will be worth it when you see what’s on the itinerary for Sunday).

Weekend in Mclaren Vale // Miss Sweet Nothings

Sunday

After our adventure yesterday Sunday has a much slower pace. No doubt there will be a few headaches after all the wine yesterday, and Bracegirdle's is the best place to go to help combat that. I would recommend the full breakfast (there’s a meat based and vegetarian option) and some of their amazing coffee (or if you feel up to it - a hot chocolate).

As for lunch… Well remember how I said not to get pizza at Oscars? That’s because the best place to have lunch on a lazy Sunday is Pizzateca. You do have to book ahead to get a table because it is very popular (and trust me, that’s justified). It really is the perfect place to relax on a Sunday before heading back home after a weekend away!.