Tag Archives: travel tips

Beauty products that will get you ready for Spring and Summer travel

Great to use now or for your warm weather travel adventures…


Sisley White Ginger Leg OilA silky leg gel that invigorates the leg muscles while smoothing the skin. Smells divine of a light refreshing ginger that tingles a bit when first put on. Legs look radiant and even helps with soreness from walking all day long.



Nars WANTED eye shadow palette – The beauty of this makeup selection is not only the range of colours but of the finishes as well. A combination of silky, matte, and iridescent eye shadows in warm pinks and browns can create both dramatic and subtle looks. Great for travel as it gives you many options.



La Roche-Posay sunblock face mist I discovered this last summer and it was not only a life saver but game changer when it came to sunscreen for my face. While I am always diligent about putting on sun protection in the morning I don’t always reapply as often as I should especially on days I am not on the beach but rather just walking around in the sun. Another problem is that many sun products are greasy. But this small spray can of face mist is a sunblock with SPF 50, easy to apply regularly and leaves your face free of the shine that goes along with most sun protection face products.



Tom Ford Neroli Portofino – In warm weather sometimes fragrance can come off too strong yet if you are like me you always want to smell nice. This is where a lighter version of a fragrance comes in handy as not only is it not as strong, it doesn’t contain alcohol that causes skin to burn. For a fresh yet sophisticates summer scent Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino body mist is perfect.



Kiehl’s Butterstick tinted treatment – On the go beauty that adds a bit of colour to lips while providing SPF 25 protection and moisturizing treatment. One of Kiehl’s most popular products, if comes in 3 light shades and clear. My favourite is the Rose which is a juicy pink shade.



Dolce & Gabbana Passionate Eyes waterproof mascara –  Even if you are not swimming or at the beach, warmer temperatures and humidity in the city causes eye make up to run, smudge and come off. Its a good idea to switch in a waterproof mascara on the hotter days and this one by Dolce & Gabbana is kind to lashes while making eyes stand out.


Nars The Multiple – This multi purpose make up stick has been a summer and travel staple of mine for too many years to count. In a variety of colours, this easy to carry, easy to use, cream stick can be applied to eyes, face, and lips with shimmery effect. The silvery Copacabana is the one I use the most, but peachy Portofino is my go to for summer. If you can’t decide on which shade, he iconic Orgasm is a popular favourite.



Where to go next in 2018

New Year and all the new travel possibilities…

Every year there is a buzz about new ‘in’ places to go. Unfortunately by the time they are on the radar they are already ‘discovered’ by hoards of tourists. So this year on my wish list of destinations I’ve picked places often passed over to go somewhere else more popular. Yet all these places are exciting in their own right and will definitely entice travelers in the near future for they are gorgeous destinations with loads to offer. Get there first…


BolognaMany times one goes through Bologna by train on the way to Venice or Rome, yet Bologna offers as much history, charm, and most importantly food! as its more famous neighbours. Medieval streets and historical sights in a town almost free of tourists and crushing crowds. Want to taste the real Italy, this is it, from its locals only atmosphere to some of the best food in the world. They don’t call this region of Italy the “Belly of Italy” for nothing, some of the best produce comes from this region along with a legacy of top notch producers keeping the Slow Food movement alive and well. A must see destination for foodies and historians alike.

AmsterdamIs having a moment, a very trendy moment. And wait too long to go and you will get there when it has already become the hipster destination in every Instagram post. It already has the coffee houses. But Amsterdam possesses romance and magic, canals and delightful architecture that win everyone over with its easy appeal. 

Boston – The first proper North American city, Boston is as American as it comes. From Paul Revere, the Freedom Trail, and the Boston Tea Party, the birth of a nation began here. And it is fun and easy to access in this handsome city.  Often passed over for the Big Apple, Boston while smaller, can boast of its own culinary place with choice restaurants and first class cuisine, much of it local seafood. Some great museums makes Boston a cultural city as well, and the continual variety of events means there is lots to do no matter what you fancy.

Antwerp – Yes Brugges is a gem, but Antwerp too is a jewel of its own. While Brugges has  charisma, Antwerp has elegance and sophistication. Astonishing architecture, the city shows off gilded details of its past while incorporating new and exciting design forward modernity. Definitely a destination for designers.

Milos – The allure of the beauty of Mykonos but on a smaller, less traveled, less partied island of Milos is near heaven on earth for those looking for a quieter Greek holiday. Breathtaking views, all turquoise and white, picturesque stone streets covered with cascading branches and vines is the place of dreams.

Puebla – Two hours outside of the massive Mexico City is a much smaller colonial city of Puebla. The historic center is the essence of Mexico and visions of what most people conjure up when they think of this country. Known for its majolica tiles Puebla is stunningly pretty and a region of over 365 churches, one for every day of the year, most covered in these decorated tiles. Streets are brilliantly colourful from the painted houses to the balloon sellers walking along bustling in clouds of shiny bubbles. It is Mexico like you want it to be.

Sorrento –  Most people forgo Sorrento for the more celebrated destinations such as Positano and Ravello. And you are missing out. Granted Sorrento is a bit more town than village, but it has real charm and character. Also this is where the Italians go when they want to spend time on the Amalfi Coast. So, if its good enough for them…




Rooms with Views: Hotel de Russie

Not only is Rome’s Hotel de Russie fashionable, it is a tranquil oasis in the middle of all the action of La Dolce Vita…

Rome has many hotels to choose from depending on your design wants and luxury needs.  There are opulent styled rooms and hip boutiques and of course location is key. The Hotel de Russie just off the Piazza del Popolo not only has one of the best locations, it has effortless style and grace. Very polished and design forward yet without all the coldness that can bring with it. Instead the hotel is warm and welcoming, extremely comfortable not to mention remarkably quiet considering the usual noise of Rome’s trafficked streets. And of course the big draw is the enchanting garden space right in the center courtyard. All with the rest of Rome at your feet just out side the door.


Artistic touches throughout…

From the minute you step inside  the glamorous Hotel de Russie it all feels quite zen covered in luxurious touches. The dramatic flower displays done by in house florist Sebastian Flowers are works of art themselves. Alongside the floral art are actual artistic pieces throughout the hotel. Contemporary sculpture mixed with classic roman styled pieces show what the hotel is about, the city of Rome, a city that is ancient, modern and transcending. At one point the famed painter Pable Picasso stayed here and they even have a suite to comemorate that fact. Perhaps it gives off creative vibes? But my eye moves past all of that to the light terracotta and green colours of the courtyard calling to me… “Come sit and have a prosecco…”

IMG_9935.JPGView of the center courtyard and garden


But first to the room which was upgrades to a Junior Suite which gave me a little added sitting area. Calming contemporary decor in warm neutral colouring that was immediately inviting and cozy. The bed was heavenly and so comfortable, I slept like a Roman goddess to be sure. And the bathrooms were spacious, with a luxurious size bathtub to soak in, and a well lit sink area. Housekeeping kept the place immaculate and managed to always clean and pick up before my return to the room. Always a BIG plus for me. The room came with a pretty good view of the Piazza del Popolo to my right, and sweeping views of Via del Babuino below.


What makes all good hotels exceptional is always the service. The Concierge desk was excellent, being able to arrange tables and transport for me. I did not require tickets to many of the sights but I am sure they could have done if I had asked. Importantly their restaurant suggestions did not go off a rehearsed list of recommendations for tourists but rather were well thought out depending on the criteria given. They were knowledgeable about what was worth going to and what was new. The public spaces were impressive and service, like all Rocco Forte hotels was flawless.

The hotel boasts a restaurant, bar, and spa. The breakfast buffet can be taken in the garden during warmer months. The fashionable bar is popular among Romans as well especially the garden terrace. But I did also enjoy the indoor bar which was very stylish and the bar is also known for its exciting cocktail menu.

IMG_9936Inside the bar

I was very impressed by the Hotel de Russie and count my stay there as one of my favourites. While Rome can be an assault on all the senses, this hotel gives you a place to relax while still having all that Rome has to offer outside your door. It is easy to walk to shopping down Via de Babuino and not far from the Spanish Steps, while the charming Via Margutta is less than a minute walk from the front door. For a bit of Dolce Vita the famed Bar Canova and Piazza del Popolo is just to the right as you go out. But lets face it, if you really want to live La Dolce Vita then you need to stay at the Hotel de Russie!


Please note I paid for my own stay at the Hotel de Russie and my review is based on that stay.

Hotel de Russie Via del Babuino, 9, 00187 Roma, Italy




September getaway…

Once the tourist crowds have left September becomes Summer’s last hurrah!

If you’re like me, you are itching to go away again somewhere by mid August. But that is the busiest time of year for so many European destinations and the last thing you want is to be body checking your way through a sea of people. So if you can hold on just a while longer… long enough for families to return, kids go back to school and high season prices to go down, a September getaway might just be the prefect tonic to get you through the colder months ahead. Here are some suggestions to get you started…

Madrid – A sophisticated metropolitan city with sunshine and more importantly tapas bars! The appealing historic center and the open spaces makes it a great combination of culture both indoors and out. Whether it be taking in a museum or taking in the sun at the Plaza Mayor with a glass of sangria, Madrid makes for a warm cultivated break.


Seville – A two hour train ride from Madrid takes you to the quintessential Spanish city of Sevilla. Decorative tiles, romantic architecture and colourful streets capture the true spirit of Spain alongside its breathtaking cathedral and Plaza de España. Have drinks and tapas at El Rinconcillo before taking in a flamenco show.


Ostuni, Puglia – Sea breezes touch this white washed hill town. Puglia is where Italy meets Greece sharing that same blue Aegean sea. And not far from this sea, surrounded by olive trees is the White City of Ostuni, an almost fairy tale like town with charming small cafes and mystical winding streets. It is quiet, laid back yet stylish. The boutique hotel Relais La Sommitá offers a chic stay with a wonderful fine dining restaurant Cielo that makes it easy to sit back over a glass of wine and look out to the sea in the distance.


Taormina – A perfect late summer escape with the temperatures still quite warm, the seacoast and a charming town to walk in. For cooling off, excellent granita can be found at Bam Bar or an aperitivo on the piazza. Enticing restaurants and choice local wines make it a substantial getaway for foodies, while a selection of refined hotels make it easy to keep everything within walking distance.


Rome – is always a good idea but in late September when the Italians have resigned themselves that beach days are over and normal life continues there is a relaxed hum of people getting about their business just not too quickly yet. Yes there are still tourists but a few less so the line for gelato at Giolitti is not as long if you want an afternoon treat. The weather still allows for a lazy afternoon prosecco in the gardens of the Hotel de Russie while autumn fashion fills the shops in anticipation. A bit of both worlds and changing seasons.




The delightful surprise that is Palermo

Get ready Palermo is about to have its moment…


Long passed over as a tourist destination, this dusty capital city is about to regain its grand status. Palermo is a stage, an opera stage. Decorative buildings, noisy and a bit parched, but stately just the same. Centuries of influences from countries all over the Mediterranean make Palermo a cosmopolitan blend of many cultures. A city dense with stunning attractions,  yet scuffed by years of mafia fears which have driven tourists away. But that is all about to change as Palermo has taken steps to clean up its city and its image in hopes to attract visitors once again to this dynamic historical destination.

Getting ready for my first trip to Palermo I didn’t know quite what to expect. I had both excitement and apprehension as my travel date approached. While I had been to Sicily before, I had never been to Palermo and it felt a bit overwhelming given its unfortunate mafia history, and I was a woman traveling alone in a very old world and traditional part of Italy. I would come to find quite rapidly that this was not something to be overly concerned about, the city is vibrant and quite modern. More importantly I was about to discover just how inviting a city it was.

From the start the city was quite welcoming, pleasant and much prettier than I expected. The grandeur of the city, and the Palermitani are very proud of it. Sicilians can be a bit reserved before you get to know them, and here in Palermo it is no different yet people were helpful and eager to show off their hometown. Taking photographs can be met with a bit of apprehension but if you ask first the people are usually very willing and jovial. It is important that you are always polite when traveling but here especially where old customs remain part of daily life. Always say hello or “buongiorno” when entering a shop as these places are usually family run and it is considered an extension of their homes. All that said, travel freely and explore. Palermo is full of expressive winding streets and a soft dilapidated patina. The everyday feels very much like any small village in Sicily just with more people. The bread gets made and delivered, people linger over coffee and walk together in the piazzas.  Prepared to be wowed and won over…


The travel basics, a general overview:

Hotels: It was difficult to find a hotel I really liked. Unlike most major cities the luxury travel market is sadly lacking in such a choice destination. Many major hotel brands have yet to settle on properties here and the hotel selections are are limited. I chose to stay at the Grand Hotel des Palmes because of its central location and for its historical prestige. It was quite shabby and in need of a serious refurbishment but did capture the essence of a bygone era. (Read my review here Sicily:The tale of two Grand Hotels) But generally speaking this was probably the best I was going to find and it would behoove the city to entice reputable hotel businesses to open new properties in the city.

Taxis: The other tricky situation to maneuver is the taxi situation. There are taxis available but not always where you need them to be. What you mainly find are car services which while safe overall are really interested in giving you a tour of the city or taking you on an excursion to Monreale, the must see church about half an hour out of town. Trying to get them to just take you from point A to point B comes with a discussion (and pressure) of them trying to set up a bigger job with you. Thankfully from my hotel I was able to walk to a great deal, but I did find at the end of a long day of walking the need to jump in a cab and go back to the hotel which is when I was stuck having to take one of these cars. And these cars were the same ‘private car’ the hotel reserved for me on the day I wanted to go to Monreale. And while the driver was charming and got me to my destination I found him insisting on ‘just stopping for a moment’ to show me this or that, never mind that I had made it clear that all I wanted was to go to Monreale and back. I had to finally put my foot down or this would have gone on all day. Alternatively, public buses offer good service and can be fairly reliable.

That established this dramatic city is ripe to be explored with some truly stunning sights to see. Palermo is a stage of delights…

A quick view of the highlights: Start in the heart of Palermo, at the Quatro Canti which is like being in the center of a music box. Thus named because of the four street corners, each representing one of the four seasons and always one corner exposed to the sun. Not far from there is the striking Piazza della Pretoria, with a tiered renaissance fountain in the middle originally made for the city of Florence. While the pride of Palermo is their massive cathedral, the real jewel not to be missed is the Palatine Chapel, a jaw dropping beauty of mosaic work from the floors to the ceiling, this small chapel shines. The walk between the cathedral to the chapel takes you under a massive arch, the former old gate of the city and look at the two whimsical faces carved on the sides. And for die hard Godfather fans the famed opera house is right in the middle of the city. For something truly Sicilian, a visit to the Museo dei Pupi, is a museum dedicated to the craft of wooden puppets, a tradition in Palermo. If there is a puppet show on definitely stay and see it!


The Markets: Like all great Italian towns, food markets are a must and in Sicily they are particularly spirited. Palermo’s oldest and most famous is the Vuceria, a popular street market selling anything from faux antiques, old photographs and of course fruit and veg. Street food and other food shops also abound. The Ballarò offers the best in produce and is a lot more of a true food market.  If you have time visit both.


Monreale: If there is one place you must visit it is the glorious church of Monreale just outside of the city. A bus ride or a short cab ride takes you 25 minutes out of the city to the charming town, which is also worth a look, and the famed church. The church itself is breathtaking. Both inside and out the care and workmanship extends from the intricate designs, to the the mosaic floor and ceilings and the painted woodwork. It is perfection. After seeing the inside do not miss the cloisters and gardens.


Cafes and Restaurants: While I didn’t spend a lot of time there, I did eat at the well regarded Osteria dei Vespri offering an innovative take on traditional Sicilian dishes and flavours. Wonderful place with attentive service and a cozy atmosphere. Antico Caffe Spinnato is Palermo’s Grand Caffe and is great anytime of day for a light bite, coffee, or aperitivo.


Palermo is buzzing… It has been chosen as the Italian City of Culture for 2018 making it a center for Italian tourism. And equally if not more prestigious, the famed Sicilian fashion designers Dolce&Gabbana based in Milan have finally open a boutique in Palermo and to celebrate launched multiple fashion shows around the city of Palermo. Historical sites such as the Piazza della Pretoria and the Cattedrale were the red carpet runways for the latest collection, heralding that Palermo is open for business and an extremely fashionable destination.

A peak at the Dolce & Gabbana fashion show showcased around Palermo


Travel Tips: My packing basics

Here are a sample of my stylish ‘must-haves’ when I travel…

I wish I could count myself as one of those uber fashionable travelers that look ever so chic catwalking down airport lounges in well put together outfits while traveling. I really try, but given the amount of walking I do when on trips, and limited packing space there is only so much a girl can do when on the road. Yet I am not one of those back-packing, wear only two outfits girl either. I like to look put together, especially for city travel. This means I pack some modern basic pieces that are classic in style but at the same time dashing and comfortable. I want to look good when I am on tour.

Pick your base colour – I tend to stick to black as it doesn’t show dirt, but if you prefer navy blue, beige, or white, by all means use that as your ‘base’ and work around that. So I have basic pieces in black and work a travel wardrobe with those basics.

Stylish Coat or Jacket – If there is one piece of clothing that should make a statement it should be your outerwear.  A leather jacket, a wool coat in winter or a lightweight jacket in Spring is a must. A knee length wool coat can go day to night, and a classic Mac jacket works perfectly in any situation.

Cashmere –  A classic crew neck with jeans or trousers is one of the most timeless looks around. It can take you day to night, casual to elegant. And a cardigan, even in summer makes a lightweight item to pack and wear on the overly air conditioned plane flights.

Scarf – Takes up no room and can transform your look and change your base outfit with a dash of colour. I like to take at least two of different sizes and wear one on the plane so to have added warmth but also it makes you look a bit more put together at airport check in.

Wrap – On a recent trip to Capri where the locals are very chic islanders I noticed every woman wore a stunning wrap in the evening. It gave the ladies a very dressy edge to even the simplest of outfits. I went straight to Missoni and picked up one of their bright, multi-coloured wraps to enhance my travel wardrobe.


Missoni knits

Say ‘no’ to shorts in the city – Unless you are on the beach, on a boat, or by the pool, wearing shorts even when it is hot makes you stand out like a tourist. Not only that, going into some places such as churches is not allowed in shorts (and skimpy tops). Even if you are young and having fun, you do better wearing skirts of all lengths to keep cool. City shorts are fine if they are dapper, but skirts are still better.

Long skirt – Especially in the warmer months, I find this a more elegant and fresher look then trousers or jeans. It is nice to have a feminine touch and very easy to pair with a t-shirt for a comfortable day look. Can double for an evening look when paired with a silk top.

Shoes – Thankfully in the autumn and winter months I can get by with some flat, simple leather ankle boots that go with just about everything. In the warmer months this can prove more challenging if you are trying to find something with support to walk endlessly, yet look fashion forward. I cannot pull off the chunky sneakers, so I resort to a pair of athletic ballerina slippers or espadrilles and a pair of low heeled sandals. I’ll also take a pair of Capri sandals but those are for destinations by the sea. For evening I do love Aquazzura shoes as they have some embellished styles on lower heels. I do love their low block heel sandals in a variety of fun finished like coloured pom-poms or fringed suede. I can easily walk around in the evenings while still being au courant fashion wise. For colder destinations, again it is much easier with a pair of lower heeled boots. A pair of classic pumps always work well no matter where or what season.

15741043_1209219402494966_7591364200863473177_nAquazurra Wild Things sandals

Accessories – Always pack an umbrella! As a matter of fact I have a small, collapsible umbrella I just leave in my suitcase ready to go when I travel. Purses take up a lot of space so while I like to have choices I might prefer to leave room for some shopping in my suitcase. I take a tote or larger bag for day, that way I can throw my camera, and any small items I might buy along the way. For evening a simple embellished envelope clutch packs well and looks elegant for evening, or a small evening bag that you can throw a credit card, lipstick, and go.

Evening – While I tend to do ‘smart-casual’ for most of my restaurant choices, meaning a lively but popular brasserie, or a trendy trattoria, I still take one piece for that possible nicer night out. My rule of thumb is to take a couple pair of black trousers, and around 4-5 silk tops that I can rotate with the trousers, one of those tops a bit more embellished for the possible fine dining evening. All easy to put on if you are rushing to dinner after a day of sight seeing, and easy to pack. I also tend to have a polished black on black ensemble, of a classic top such as a sleeveless simple silk tunic, button down shirt, or vest, with slim black jeans or trousers. Can be worn more than once, changed up with a scarf and will always look chic.

That perfect travel handbag – After years of searching I have found the perfect bag to suit my needs when I travel. It is a black leather Hogan bag big enough to throw my ipad and book in, and four large zipper pockets on the outside for my passport and ticket, iphone, and compact. It is city chic cool, has a strap to wear cross body, and handles if you want to carry it. Had it for years and is my biggest go-to item when I travel.


Hogan bag

No matter the destination do check the weather the day before you leave. Even the warmest of destinations can suffer from cold fronts and you don’t want to spend your travel time shopping around for warmer clothing. Also, I always pack an extra top or one outfit and an extra pair of knickers in my carry on just in case my suitcases are delayed somewhere. That way I have a change of clothes. And don’t forget to pack knickers and pajamas!


Where to eat and drink on Corfu

Corfu’s charming Old Town offers a very European feel…

When on Corfu it is worth taking time away from the beach and the imperial blue sea to head to the Old Town and enjoy some Greek cuisine. The town square has an elegant vaulted arcade with wonderful cafes and the historical center is filled with delightful places to eat and drink.


Cafe Bristol – Stylishly cool this small but hip locale in the centre of Old Town has a great DJ and flowing cocktails. Evgeniou Voulgareos 49, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

Azur – Right on the water, and just a short walk from the town square, Azur is a trendy outdoor lounge bar with a terrace, great atmosphere and sea breezes. Leof. Dimokratias 1, Kerkira 49100, Greece



Rex – Popular lively and centrally located just behind the main square, this typical taverna serves all the favourite Greek dishes. Corfu 491 00, Greece

Marina’s Taverna –  On a discrete side street in Corfu Old Town on the way to the Fortress is this picturesque traditional taverna serving simple but absolutely delicious Greek fare. The baked aubergines with tomatoes and feta was outstanding! Vellisariou 35, 49100