Spring is here!

Spring has definitely come to London and with the cherry blossom blooming, I decided to step away from the books and head out into the sunshine.

Of course my little walk had to include some architecture/educational element 😉

This is St. Mark’s in Primrose Hill. It looks like a little chapel on the outside but is quite spacious inside. The local community host regular classical music concerts here, and there is a beautiful eighteenth-century Italian organ inside. I like.

St Mark's Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark's Church, Primrose Hill

St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill

 

The Lion of St. Mark

The Lion of St. Mark

This picture takes me back to Venice, with its Lion of St. Mark symbolism scattered all over the city.

Lotta from Stockholm

Lotta from Stockholm

Sun’s out and so are the toes. Ripped jeans and Lotta from Stockholm’s Swedish clogs.

Pastel Primrose Hill

Pastel Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill becomes a world of its own in the Spring with its paint pastel houses. Regent’s Park Road is probably one of my favorite streets in London. Often walk towards Regents Park daydreaming, in another world where I’m a millionaire, which one of these houses would I call my own?

Juliette Balcony

Juliette Balcony

Walking down Chalk Farm road, towards Camden Market from Chalk Farm, on my right was Harmood Road. What might appear to be just another street, in another town, happens to be a lovely little road with probably one of the best second hand bookshops I have seen in London. These guys have a phenomenal selection of second hand Philosophy books from Socrates, to Descartes, Aquinas and Kant. They also have impressive poetry, fiction and arts sections. I got myself a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy (seeing as my tutor has mentioned it on numerous occasions now). Don’t go anywhere else, come here!

Walden Books

Walden Books

 

 

Check out Walden Books here

Lotta from Stockholm here  (In serious need of a third pair…)

 

Advertisements

My Favorites: Vintage Shopping in Paris

Why is it that the French are painfully stylish? Every time I visit Paris (which is often) I learn something new about how to dress well and yet when I’m back in London I simply cannot replicate what I’d learnt in the city of light. The answer is simple, scattered around Paris are the most amazing vintage shops, vintage shops that are far and few in London. They’re not your typical second hand shops but true vintage boutiques. Quality items of clothing are sourced (and God knows from where because I am yet to figure out that little secret) and sold at affordable prices. By affordable I don’t mean £20 for a pair of vintage high-waist denim shorts (a la London Portobello Market) but five Euros for a pair of leather shorts or 15 Euro for a faux fur jacket. I once even scored myself a pair of cowboy boots for 5 Euro! This is why the French do fashion better.

I’ve even started doing most of my vintage shopping in Paris as it’s still much more affordable to look good on the other side of the river.

Here are my top Parisian vintage shops:

 

Free’P’Star

Everything you can possibly imagine, Free’P’Star have it. With two branches in Le Marais, you will be sorted for all of your vintage shopping needs. This is where I source out most of my vintage goods from leather satchels to faux fur coats and battered converse high tops. They also do summer discounts on winter clothes and vice versa so you can always stay ahead of fashion for half the price.

You can find Free’P’Star at these locations:

8 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie

61 rue de la Verrerie

20 rue de Rivoli

nearest metros: Hotel de Ville and Saint-Paul

check out their website:

http://www.freepstar.com/

Free'P'Star

Free’P’Star

 

Kilo Shop

Vintage Kawaii  as they call it at the Kilo Shop in Paris. Does exactly what it says on the box: choose, weight and wear. With an array of summer dresses, autumn jackets and winter boots, the Kilo Shop has various branches scattered around Paris from Le Marais to Saint-Germain and Beaubourg.

Check out their website and look book here:

http://kilo-shop.fr/fr

 

Vintage by Ramin

Another little vintage beaut in the heart of Le Marais. Check out their fantastic stock of accessories and be sure to visit the shop on a Thursday when shop ‘muse’ Yva of Paris offers her services as personal stylist to customers. If you are keen to be spoiled by your very own personal stylist for the day make sure you book in advance.

Vintage by Ramin can be found on at no. 17 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie.

Check out their rather enticing website here:

http://www.vintagebyramin.fr/

 

Chine Machine

Slightly pricier but definitely worth a visit, Chine Machine at the butte of the Sacre Couer in Montmartre houses some fantastic vintage designer goods at a decent price. The staff are super friendly and sweet too 🙂

 

You can find them hidden away on rue de Martyrs, take rue la Vieuville and follow it up on the right side.

Nearest metro: Abbesses

Check out their blog here:

http://www.chinemachinevintage.com/

 

And there are plenty more to discover, especially in Le Marais. Enjoy!

 

 

My Favorite Paris – Montmartre

My preference for arrondissements has changed over the years. From historical centre 1st, to spreading out slightly to the 2nd, trendy 4th over to Latin Quarter 5th, back to 3rd, pass by 11th, touristic 7th to the canal in the 10th… but the 18th shall always hold a special place in my heart.

Montmartre lies perfectly at the tip of the 18th. Though a popular tourist attraction, the crowds of tourist with flashy cameras can easily be avoided if you know how…

The Sacre Coeur is one of my all time favorite displays of magnificent French architecture. I always pay homage to it on my visits to Paris. It sits peacefully and elegantly on top of the hill. One place I do avoid (at all costs) is the Place de Tetre behind the church, which is heavily populated by tourist and souvenir shops.

Sunny Day at Montmartre

Sunny Day at Montmartre

IMG_9315

Eating out in Montmartre can either be expensive or disappointing if you end up in a tourist trap. One lesson I’ve learnt is never to order a crepe from a place that has a pile of precooked crepes on the side waiting to be filled. The French are famous for their emmental filled crepes though it’s best to look for a place that makes them fresh from the batter on the spot, unfortunately I haven’t yet found a decent creperie in Montmartre. What I have found are fantastic bakers and cheese shops (yes shops that solely sell cheese).

I Heart French Cheese

I Heart French Cheese

Rue des Abbesses and the roads that follow down from it to Pigalle, such as Rue Lepic are my favorites for boulangeries, fromageries, fresh fruit and veg and fresh fish (oyster bar anyone?).

I’ve blogged about it before and I’ll blog about it again. Le Relais Gascon is my favorite restaurant in Paris. I like to convince myself that I’m eating healthy by ordering one of their huge salads. The food is a treat, the wine is decent (and decently priced) and the service is quick, most of all it’s not pretentious and doesn’t try to be “typically French”, it just is. I especially love sitting outside as the view down to Pigalle is great for people watching, even on a rainy day.

"salad" at Le Relais Gascon

“salad” at Le Relais Gascon

I’ve come to realize that the main reason people in Paris dress so well is the availability of inexpensive fashion a la vintage shops. Though not the centre of vintage (which I shall discuss in a later post), Montmartre has it’s fair share of decently priced vintage boutiques (5 Euro boyfriend coats for example…). My friend and I spent well over an hour inside one particular shop that not only sells vintage clothing but shoes, bags, furniture, books… you name it, they sell it.

The shop: Les Billes de la Gamine, the owner: Cecile. Cecile is a connoisseur in all things vintage. She just has to look at you to pick out the perfect item that you will instantly fall in love with. The star buy was my friend’s 30 Euro pair of Doc Martins boots in ivy green. Cecile’s little shop can be found at 66 Rue d’Orsel, at the very tip of Rue des Abbesses.

Vintage Cool at Les Bille de la Gamine

Vintage Cool at Les Bille de la Gamine

IMG_9249

IMG_9251

Other great vintage shops that I shall definitely be visiting again include:

Chine Machine

100 Rue des Martyrs

75018, Paris

and Vintage Desir (for those 5 Euro boyfriend coats)

28 Rue Yvonne le Tac

75018, Paris

(sadly they don’t have a website or a Facebook page)

Sunday is flea market day in Montmartre, Rue de Clignancourt boasts stretches of market stalls selling all sorts. I felt absolutely chuffed to have discovered it by chance one day! Nearest Metro stop in Montmartre is Chateau Rouge though it’s a 5 minute walk from the Sacre Coeur. You can also stop at the very tip of the market at Metro stop Porte de Clignancourt where they have the bigger more serious stalls, I believe these are also open on Fridays and Saturdays.

early morning just as the flea market was opening

early morning just as the flea market was opening

Most of all I love Montmartre for it’s slopes and slides, green open spaces and quiet little back streets. The sky always appears bluer in Montmartre, I can only imagine the influence the landscape would have had on the great French Impressionists who populate this area.

IMG_9258

IMG_9325

 

 

 

 

 

A Day Trip to Venice

So it’s been barely a year since I was last in the island city. We took a train from Sacile into Venice, which took a little under an hour. I didn’t think it possible but I am even more in love with this city.

One of the dead end back streets we discovered when weaving our way through Venice

One of the dead end back streets we discovered when weaving our way through Venice

This time round we tried our best to avoid the main streets that led either to the Rialto Bridge or to the Piazza San Marco. Surprisingly, though we tried to stay away from the masses, we either ended up taking a back street short cut straight to the Rialto Bridge or running around in circles. Once we orientated ourselves there was some room for discovery…

Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

This is Santa Maria Della Salute. This beautiful example of Baroque architecture is located in Dorsoduro, it can be seen across the river from Piazza San Marco and sits at the very tip of the Canal Grande.

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

Walking back on ourselves we crossed over to the other side of the canal to pay a quick visit to the Piazza San Marco, which was relatively peaceful and tourist free at 10:30 am.

Basilica San Marco

Basilica San Marco

I am particularly interested in the Basilica San Marco for it’s Islamic influences. I absolutely love all the gold mosaic work and Byzantine glory to this church. For a long time Venice had a strong alliance with Byzantium and this church reflects these ties.

Basilica San Marco

Basilica San Marco

Islamic influences at the Basilica San Marco

Islamic influences at the Basilica San Marco

This is one of the most beautiful architectural facades I have ever witnessed. As you can see there is a clear influence of Islamic decorative technique occurring on this facade of the Basilica San Marco. The door way imitates typically Islamic mihrab decorative techniques.

I do love my greens and clearly so do Italians. I’d be convinced to move to Italy purely for their dedication to fresh fruit and veg markets. Market foods in Venice are seasonal, fruit smells like fruit appear to like something out of this world. Just look at these giant tomatoes!

Ripe for the picking. Fresh tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Ripe for the picking. Fresh tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Beautiful sun dried tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Beautiful sun dried tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Shopping for the right mask in Venice is tricky. Many are fooled by the cheaper masks sold on stalls and in gift shops along the Canal Grande and around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. On visiting Venice you will see that masks are often ‘repeated’ as you walk along the heavily populated tourist regions. These plastic masks are more often than not, mass produced in China.

As a general rule, I would suggest walking around the quieter parts of Venice and not buying a mask at impulse in the first mask shop you encounter. You can usually tell a genuine hand made mask from a cheap Chinese plastic one by the quality and feel of the mask or by the ‘official’ made in Italy sticker inside masks. Genuine masks are hardly ever mass produced, each mask is usually individual as masks are handmade. The artists more often than not will be inside the shop, busily working away at new creations. A sign of a good mask shop is it’s artists so feel free to ask questions about their works and techniques, they are a friendly, creative and happy bunch!

 

They're all my favorites. Mask shopping in Venice

They’re all my favorites. Mask shopping in Venice

 

Pretty Faces

Pretty Faces

If you’re looking for genuine, handmade Venetian masks, the following shops are worth paying a visit to:

La Bauta

Campo San Toma 2867, San Polo, Venezia – 041 740095

Crosera San Pantalon, Dorsoduro, Venezia 041 5233461

la.bauta@yahoo.it

They don’t have a website, you’ll have to visit one of their shops to see for yourself. These masks are absolute masterpieces.

 

Atelier Marega 

Fondamenta dell’ Osmarin 4968, Venezia – 041 5223036

www.marega.it

This is one of my favorite little mask shops. The artists sit at the entrance working their magic. It’s a 5 minute walk from Piazza San Marco, towards Castello.

Ca’ Macana 

Dorsoduro 3172, 30123 – 041 5203229

http://www.camacana.com/

Freakishly entertaining mask shop!

Papier Mache 

Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5174b, 30122 – 041 5229995

http://www.papiermache.it/

Another little artist’s workshop in Castello, not far from Piazza San Marco.

Shrine to Our Lady

Shrine to Our Lady

Gothic window arches

Gothic window arch

IMG_8561

 

 

 

 

 

I HEART Camden Town

Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been over a week since I last posted on my blog.

I have to admit that I have been busy with ‘other preoccupations’ including preparations for various trips such as my return to Italy in a couple of weeks. I have also been ill. I am very much bunged up with a cold which I assumed was just hay-fever. This hasn’t stopped me from venturing out and doing what I love most, which is a combination of discovering new and beautiful places as well as fine dining.

Yesterday I spent a sunny afternoon in my local area, Camden Town. Here are some things I love to do in Camden.

Let’s get the food part out of the way.

Market Food at Camden Town Lock Market

Market Food at Camden Town Lock Market

I love the Lock Market, especially the food court on the weekends. Nations unite as market stalls produce Latin America, Caribbean, Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Italian, British and other such world foods. My favorite has to be the stall that sells corn bread wraps. I love the black bean, meat and plantain wrap. It’s fresh, homemade, wheat free and delicious.

Savoury snacks and a coconut smoothie at Made in Brazil

Savory snacks and a coconut smoothie at Made in Brazil

Brazilians have quite literally taken over the gaff. Camden Town has a growing Brazilian population and with that comes fine dinning and food stalls. I love Made in Brazil on Inverness Street. This restaurant has been here for quite some time now though I am yet to be bored of their menu. Brazilians are big on savory snacks, yesterday I sampled their bolinho de bacalhao (salted fish cakes), coxinhas (chicken parcels) and cassava (manioc) chips. These were all watered down nicely with a fresh coconut smoothie. For mains my friend had the feijoada, the national dish of Brazil and I had the moqueca, a  fish dish from Bahia in the north.

Moqueca, a fish dish from Bahia, northern Brazil

Moqueca, a fish dish from Bahia, northern Brazil

After wolfing down our food we went in search of shoes (any excuse to go for a brisk walk in order to digest our heavy meals). I love shoes and especially shoes from Author. Author have recently branched out with stores in central London, East and in West London’s Portobello Market. They also have a cute little boutique in Camden Town. Yesterday I fell in love with these babies by MTNG Originals. Classic and perfect for the summer.

MTNG Originals Sandals

MTNG Originals Sandals

If I could spend a warm summer’s day anywhere in London, it would be on Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is a little world away from the world, a hill of a park in Chalk Farm that connects Camden with Regents Park. Many a fine summer’s days have been spent in Primrose Hill with friends and picnics. Check out the amazing view of the London skyline from the very top!

Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill

 

Catch a sunset on Primrose Hill

Catch a sunset on Primrose Hill

Regent’s Park and the Canal. My sister and I regularly walk down the canal. We love to check out the little boat houses that stretch down the canal from Camden Market to Little Venice in St. John’s Wood. I also love checking out the mansions in Regent’s Park, we walk past picking out our future homes for when we’re rich and famous. My current favorite is this one:

My Home (one day, hopefully, one day, probably not.)

My Home (one day, hopefully, one day, probably not.)

Regent's Canal

Regent’s Canal

Regent's Canal

Regent’s Canal

 

Boat Houses on Regent's Canal

Boat Houses on Regent’s Canal

Not Holland, Regent's Canal

Not Holland, Regent’s Canal

So if it’s a summer’s day, without a cloud in sight, visit Camden Town for some fine dinning, alternative shopping and a walk around somewhere quite nice.

 

 

 

 

Life’s A Beach (When You’ve Found the Right Bikini…)

    Here is a piece on beachwear in Rio de janeiro. One of my first ever posts was predominately focused on the beaches – Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and the stretch of Leme beach, I put up some nice pictures … Continue reading