I recently published my first Children’s book, “The Christmas Wreath”. The book consists of four tales – each representing an Advent – and is dedicated to our adorable baby daughter who inspired me to write this book.”The Christmas Wreath” is a book about the spirit of Christmas and the resonating message of the importance of kindness and generosity. The tales are set amidst snowy mountains, cozy fireplaces, winter huts and Christmas markets.
Writing and illustrating this book was a lot of fun and brought back precious memories of Astrid Lindgren’s and Grimm’s fairy tales which my mother used to read to me when I was a child. The book has been published on Amazon. Check out below link should you be interested in learning more:
The vibrant city of London is always worth a visit. La bonne vivante aims to travel to London once a year for a fresh breath of the cosmopolitan air of this dynamic, ever-changing metropolis. This time around and given my advanced pregnancy the trip’s essential focus was to Shop Eat & Repeat. And so we did.
Theatre shows: We opted for an all time classic: “ The importance of being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde which was hilariously funny and well played by a great cast. Not to be missed.
Restaurants: Arriving late on Friday night we chose a small, family owned Italian restaurant called Da Corradi, conveniently located at Shephard’s market which – hands down – served the best Pasta All’ Arrabiata I have eaten in a very long time followed by a delectable, creamy Tiramisu. Whilst the combination of pasta and Tiramisu will have the foodies amongst you yawn we believe there is an art to creating a simplistic yet delightful plate of pasta and this restaurant definitely has the hang of it.
The Ivy is an institution and we reserved at this sophisticated restaurant after our theatre show.
The ambiance and interior is simply stunning with an art deco, 30ths style to it. The bar is centered in the middle of the dining room and serves a variety of classic cocktails. The crowd is a mix of tourists and locals who head here for a late after show dinner. In terms of the food, the restaurant failed to enthuse our taste buds however prices are within reason and the interior makes up for it.
For a lazy late lunch head to Roka Mayfair, a refined Japanese restaurant which serves an all day menu of beautifully crafted Sushi and Japanese delicacies. Take a seat at the counter, indulge in the serene atmosphere and try the Dumplings which are simply delightful. Our favourites also included the Tempura shrimps.
No London trip is complete without a stint at one of its many museums. This time around we went to visit to the iconic British Museum with its vast selection of historic artefacts.
Where to stay:
We picked the Chesterfield at Mayfair as it is perfectly located for some Oxford Circus shopping – a mere 10 minute walk will get you there. Shephard’s Market with its offering of cute little restaurants is a 2 minute walk. It is the service that makes this charming 4 star hotel a great option for a weekend stay. Typical for London the rooms are relatively small with little storage room making it a good option for luggage minimalists or those planning for a brief weekend trip.
The Chesterfield also boasts an excellent concierge service full of valuable tips on dining and wining options. The breakfast too is great and we loved the crunched avocados with poached eggs. If you are in for a treat try the pancakes which are also delicious.
The colorful city of Lisbon is always worth a trip however it is best to be enjoyed in the warmer season when its countless terraces, restaurants and roof top bars invite visitors and locals to enjoy its balmy summer nights. There is no denying that Lisbon is trending as an increasing number of visitors discover the city and its culinary delights. It is a true playground for any real foodie and offers just the right amount of culture and sights to justify a trip for more than its edible pleasures.
Castelo São Jorge
Located in Lisbon’s ancient neigbourhood Alfama the citadel dates back to the ninth century. Located on a hill, it offers breathtaking views of Lisbon and Tagus river.
The wooden Trams and Tram 28 in particular have become unanimous with Lisbon. Take a tram ride to discover Lisbon’s historic center. It starts at the foot of Barrio Alto, passes Baixa and Chiado all the way up to the Alfama neighbourhood.
Torre de Belém
This tower above the Tejo offers fantastic views of the Atlantic and is a symbol of Lisbon’s maritime past.
If your travel itinerary allows for it, venture out of Lisbon and check the pittoresque beach town of Cascais. Located only 30 minutes from Lisbon it offers countless restaurants and shopping options and is located close to Guincho beach which is famous amongst surfers.
Sintra, another beautiful town is only a 20 minute drive from Cascais and boasts a pretty medievel town and pretty little stores offering everything from the ubiquitous Portuguese tiles to tea towels.
When it comes to restaurants you will be spoiled for choice. There is a wide array of restaurants ranging from affordable to high end offering anything between traditional Lisbon cuisine, tapas and Peruvian fusion.
This trending restaurant scores with its beautiful and sophisticated interior designed by Lázaro Rosa-Violán .complete with velvet covered dark green chairs, a delightful open cooking station and a skeleton of a dinosaur. The stylish interior comes as no surprise given that its owners have several high end boutiques located only steps away from the restaurant.
Whilst perhaps not the most innovative of cuisines, the menu is a solid mix of intercontinental comfort food and includes meat, pasta and fish and does not disappoint. Its scrumptious deserts are prepared by next door’s pastry shop Laduree. The service, managed by a young crew is friendly and quick. Downstairs there a delibar with counter seating and club music which offers a somewhat more relaxed vibe.
It is however its restroom setting which we found most intriguing. Toilets are arranged in a semicircle attended by a lady wearing a maid’s uniform whilst a DJ has been placed in the middle of it all, operating his turntables. What a wonderfully bizarre set up!
Av. da Liberdade 182-184, 1250-146 Lisboa, Portugal
Located within José Avillez’s dining fortress called Bairro do Avillez which hosts various of his restaurants Cantina Peruana is managed by Diego Muñóz who is originally from Lima. The location itself, a former cabaret is quite spectacular and Cantina Peruana is located on the second floor. Tables are set on a balcony overlooking another restaurant located below. The setting is relaxed yet trendy and provides a great setting for a date night or larger groups.
The menu is an interesting mix of Peruvian cuisine such as leche de tigre ceviche and rice with chicken and cilantro. You can order a la carte or opt for the surprise menu. There is also a Pisco bar which offers four types of Piscos.
Nova da Trindade 18, 1200-303 Lisboa, https://www.cantinaperuana.pt/pt/
Where to stay:
This small boutique hotel offers an intimate setting amidst the neighbouring luxury stores on Avenida da Liberdade. Retro furniture and warm colors provide a unique townhouse charm. Its rooms vary in shape and size. Breakfast is served in its idyllic patio which also offers a swimming pool.
Avenida da Liberdade, 164, 1250-146 Lisboa, Portugal, http://www.valverdehotel.com/sobre-o-hotel.html
Its central location and functional rooms provide for a good base for explorations of the city. Rooms are decently sized and modern and the hotel provides spa facilities and a swimming pool.
Castilho 64, 1250-071 Lisboa, Portugal, https://www.iberostar.com/en/hotels/lisboa/iberostar-lisboa
Endless hours of sunshine paired with sizzling heat. Sevilla in August is nothing for the faint hearted. This is when Sevillans desert their city, head to the beach and leave Seville to sun worshipping tourists. A sun seeker by profession, La bonne Vivante took the opportunity to escape the cold front which had spread across Switzerland and head to sunny Andalucia!
Seville, Andalucia’s capital offers amazing food and a fascinating mix of Moorish and Spanish design. Sevilla is a compact city and its major sights can be visited within a day. However, Seville isn’t just about its admittedly impressive historic sights. Instead, its relaxed atmosphere invites visitors to indulge in long leisurely lunches “tapeando”, an activity which consists of hopping from one Tapa restaurant to the next, strolling through the cobbled streets of Santa Cruz and enjoying the flamenco filled atmosphere. In August the sweltering heat reduces anybody’s urge to move to a bare minimum, making Seville an excellent place to decelerate.
What to do:
Cathedral: Sevilla’s cathedral is an absolute must see. It is the world’s largest gothic church and the third largest church only surpassed by the Vatican and Westminster Abby.
The cathedral hosts various monuments and tombs amongst them. Its most famous “resident” is Cristofer Columbus whose tomb rests upon four carriers who represent Spain’s former kingdoms.
Make sure you climb up the Giralda, the Cathedral’s impressive bell tower which offers a stunning 360 Degree view of Sevilla.
The Alcazar is another absolute must see. A deserving Unesco world heritage, this gem combines gothic and Moorish architecture, historic paintings and beautiful gardens. It has been the setting of many historic events and also served as a set for movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and, more recently, for the 5th session of Game of Thrones.
Tip: To ditch the queues and learn more about this impressive sight, take a guide.
Flamenco Show: Visiting a Flamenco show is an absolute must when in Seville. The unusual tonation paired with a dance performance which express a full range of emotions anywhere from utter rage to sheer euphoria can be a bit unusual for a Flamenco newbie. Go for a 1 hour show to see if you like it. Whilst I won’t be downloading Flamenco songs for my Sunday afternoon chill play list any time soon, the dance performance and guitar play were interesting to watch.
Where to eat:
Seville is arguably the capital of Tapas and whilst you will find non-Spanish cuisine here we indulged in Spanish local food. The small plate concept of Tapas makes it particularly easy to snack your way through the menu and by the end of your trip you will have selected your all-time favourite Tapas. A downside of visiting in August is that some restaurants will be closed due to the holiday season. Therefore, we were left with a somewhat smaller set of choices.
Azotea: This restaurant has an overall 3 branches spread across Seville. Compared to Seville’s mainly traditional Tapas Restaurants, Azotea’s menu is a refreshingly innovative take on Spanish cuisine. The tomato burrata salad topped with lemon sorbet was delicious and so was a chocolate cake served with orange blossom ice cream.
Tip: You can’t reserve a table here however if you call them in advance, your name will be put on the waiting list and you’ll be given seating priority when you get there. To reduce your waiting time come early (anything prior to 9.00 pm is considered early for dinner in Spain).
Lobo Lopez is a rather new outlet which offers Spanish cuisine with an interesting twist. The restaurant doesn’t offer outdoor seating however the airconditioned patio is lovely too. Try the truffled carpaccio which is amazing! The service is beyond friendly and helpful and will go out of their way to ensure that you have a good time here.
Where to have a drink:
The bar of EME hotel offers a great view of Seville’s Cathedral and barkeepers who will fill your glasses very generously. Head here for a night cap (or perhaps two).
If your itinerary allows for it, take a trip to Cordoba which is only a 40 minute train ride from Seville. This cute city houses the Mezquita, a mosque which was transformed into a church showcasing impressive Moorish architecture coupled with Castellian design. The dimly lit Mezquita provides a feel of what it must have been like to live in Cordoba 500 years ago. The city itself is well worth a stroll.
There might be people considering “dolce far niente” overrated. After a stressful 15 months completing an MBA whilst working full time, La Bonne Vivante decided to actively indulge in complete passiveness. Sounds like a contradiction? Not at all, it is an art to elegantly display yourself on a sunbed at a fashionable beach club, take a “tuffo” in the dark blue, crystal clear waters and contemplate difficult decisions such as whether lunch will be fish or linguine all’astice. Normally an active traveller, this week was all about delightful passiveness and I loved every minute of it. Let’s begin our journey where it started, in beautiful Positano.
What to do:
Positano is lives and breathes stunning views. Stroll around the pittoresque town, have an aperitif at the Sirenuse, Positano’s most luxurious hotel and pick a restaurant for dinner. This might a tough decision because most restaurants here offer fantastic pasta and seafood and beautiful views. There is also some last minute beach outfit shopping to be done here and you’ll find some cute little shops offering cotton dresses, hats and sandals.
Where to eat:
There are plenty of great restaurants at Positano. This time we had dinner at Next2 which offers an elegant setting, fantastic fish, friendly service and excellent truffle pasta, a rare non seafood option for my seafood detesting travel companion.
Where to stay:
This time La Bonne Vivante stayed at Hotel Miramare. Its rooms have a decisively local appeal with stone floors and Italian décor. The balcony offers a spectacular view and as this hotel is not so high up it is only 5 minutes to the beach and ferries.
From here, head to Capri, the most glamorous of the islands in the Napoletanian sea. The ferry takes approximately 1 hour and offers scenic views. Upon arrival you will be met with Capri’s epic beauty which has inspired countless movies and made it a jet set all time favourite. During the day the island can feel rather cramped due to the many day trip tourists which land here by ferry from Sorrento, Positano and Ischia but it depends where you go and there are places which offer a more intimate feel even in high season.
What to do:
Explore by sea: No Capri vacation is complete without a boat trip. A half day trip will cost approximately 250 Euros. A boat trip provides an overview of the island’s shape and will take you to the most important grottos, amongst them of course the famous grotto azurro. There will be a 20 minute waiting time to switch to one of the small wooden boats which will bring you into the grotto azurro. Mind the entrance which is very small and your boatman will ask you to lean on the floor so that you don’t dump your head. Inside the grotto enjoy the shades of blue which have made this grotto so famous. Swimming isn’t allowed here but take a swim at the Grotto Verde which offers beautiful green water. Have your captain drop you off at one of the beach clubs for lunch and spend the rest of the day there.
Lounge in the sun: Spend the day at the beach club. Fontelina is Capri’s most famous beach club but if you can’t score a sun bed there Da Luigi is only a few meters from Fontelina. In my view it offers more stunning views right in front of the famous Faroglini roks, a more relaxed atmosphere, a great restaurant.
Where to eat:
As the name suggests, Restaurant Panorama offers a breathtaking view of Capri and traditional Italian cuisine.
La Terrazza Brunella offers good food, and a traditional and uber-romantic dining room complete with candles and roses. The food is excellent (try the stuffed Zucchini) but the room can get a bit sticky in the summer and the loveky jazz music seemed a tad too loud when we were there.http://www.terrazzabrunella.com/
Da Paolino is somewhat off the beaten track. Once you get there you will be rewarded by a dining garden full of lemon trees which provide much needed shade. The restaurant is large but the beautiful setting give it a romantic and intimate air. The food is nothing to write home about but decent enough and of course the Limoncello is godly. https://paolinocapri.com/it/
After 3 days we leave this stunning island for Ischia, Capri’s more rustic sister. Only a 1 hour ferry ride, Ischia couldn’t be more different. It responds to Capri’s glamour, international jet set steep prices by being proudly Italian, authentic and affordable.
What to do:
A rather large island, it is advisable to rent a car for a round tour of the island and visit its thermal baths and beaches. At night head to Ischia town to stroll around the busy streets and have an aperitif.
Visit Sant Angelo by boat from Barano which will only cost you a 3 Euro ferry per person or drive there by car. The cute little village boasts some romantic restaurants and elegant shops.
Where to eat:
Despite its rustic appeal, Ischia houses two 1 star and one 2 star Michelin restaurants.
Our favourite restaurant by far and a definite must visit is Il Monastero which sits on top of the Castello Aragone, one of Ischia’s most famous sight s and offers absolutely breath taking views, fantastic food which can hold it up with Michelin starred restaurants coupled with very affordable prices and extra attentive staff. Before coming here for dinner visit the tower which is stunning. Bring enough time as it will take at an hour to visit the tower and take in all of the beautiful views of Procida, Naples and the Vesuvio.
Where to stay:
Hotels in Ischia tend to be more rustic than in Capri or Positano. If you prefer a more glamorous choice head to L’albergo Regina in Lacco Ameno or to Terme Manzi.
With this we say Arrivderci and vow to return soon.
After a few days in Kyoto it was time to head to Japan bustling capital. Tokyo blends ancient traditions and edgy modernism like no other place and although a 2.5 hour train ride from Kyoto, it evokes a completely different vibe. Dotted with countless Michelin starred restaurants and roof top bars offering jaw dropping views, Tokyo has what it takes to please even the most fastidious foodies.What’s more, countless stores ranging from edgy to elegant make it a shopping paradise.
Where to stay: The Conrad offers perfect luxury, spacious and tastefully decorated rooms and world class concierge service.
What to do:
The Sensoji is Tokyo’s unique landmark. The Buddhist temple is located in Asakusa. Completed in 645 it is also Tokyo’s oldest temple. The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon.
Meji Jingu is a Shinto shrine devoted to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji and his wife located amidst a serene park.
Tokyo’s Skytree is an unmissable sight in Tokio. The world’s tallest free-standing broadcast tower offers fantastic views of the metropolis.
Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine which commemorates Japan’s war deads. The shrine was founded in 1869. Yasukuni Shrine is however a controversial sight as 14 war criminals have been enshrined here. The televised visits by several Japanese prime ministers including Shinzo Abe lead to regular hot debates on the issue.
Sake Tasting: If you can spare some time head to a Sake tasting to explore the variety of Sakes and apply your newly gained insights when selecting a Sake to go along with your dinner. A good place to do so is Meishu Center. You don’t need to reserve and come by anytime within their opening hours. Although the name might suggest otherwise this is a small, simple standing bar with with English speaking staff.
Where to eat:
Let us turn to the quintessential – Food. Tokyo does have a lot to offer however if you’d only come here for one night to feast on Sushi, you’d be forgiven.
Japan’s food and its Sushi restaurants are simply unrivaled and will leave your taste buds in euphoria. Yes, it is that good. I’ll admit that during my 3 day stay I had sushi every night but je ne regrette rien!
Sushi Sora: For spectular food and views, head to Sushi Sora. Situated on the 38th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. With only 10 seats, the Sushi Sora provides an intimate and elegant atmosphere. The counter, made of Japanese Cyprus is a work of art and so is the amazing array of makis and sashimis all artfully prepared by our charming Sushi Chef.http://www.mandarinoriental.de/tokyo/fine-dining/sushi-sora/
Prior to Dinner, have an aperitif at the hotel’s bar located on the 37th floor and indulge in a variety of fantastic cocktails. My personal recommendation is the Grand Bamboo, a cocktail served with a rather unusual ingredient; smoke.
Ding Tai Fung:
For me, no vacation in Asia is complete without a Dim Sum meal at my favourite restaurant “Din Tai Fung”. With outlets in many large cities in the world, Ding Tai Fun initially started at an unassuming outlet in Taipei and has since become THE restaurant for dim sums which will leave you longing for more. We ventured to a branch in one of Ginza’s shopping centers but there are a couple of them in Tokyo. Do not miss the truffle dim sums and pair them with a refreshing Bellini – Absolute perfection!
The Hyatt’s New York Bar has been famous ever since “Lost in Translation” was filmed here. Nonetheless, the great life music and cosmopolitan atmosphere are reason enough to come here.
Secret Spot: High Five is a hidden gem. Located in the basement of a quite street of Tokyo’s posh Ginza district this tiny bar has a Woody Allenish feel to it. Most surprisingly there is no menu. Instead, you will be asked for your preferences and the bartenders will whisk up something for you. Enjoy their spectularly innovative cocktails while chatting away with the international bartenders and other guests. We had a delightful evening here.
How to get there: We flew KLM Business with a stop-over in Amsterdam. Although this will take you slightly longer than a direct flight from Zurich, it is somewhat more price savvy and the service and food are excellent.