TRAVEL: FILM, FISH AND FRITES, St Malo & Dinard

 

Images and details: Brian Minkoff Photography 

Travel Bag: The Camden tote in Mustard

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Travelled with: There and back overnight on Brittany Ferries   from Portsmouth to St Malo .  There’s an excellent buffet ,so a pretty good start

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Commuted: There’s a small ferry boat that goes from St Malo to Dinard and back every hour

Stayed at: Castelbrac  St Malo, 5 star luxury in a unique setting

castel

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Ate at: Brasserie du Sillon, right on the St Malo beach, where my starter (slightly not kosher) Plateau de fruits de mer  (oysters, langoustines, king prawns, whelks and winkles) and the Mrs’s  mackerel fillets marinated in Muscadet were fantastic as were the whole grilled  snapper (my favourite fish) and C’s Chateaubriand in a creamy mustard sauce with thin, thin chips. Followed by a pistachio pavlova with strawberry sorbet and crème brulée with Madagascan vanilla

 Le Sept Mers in St Malo overlooking the beach where we indulged in foie gras, crab with grilled avocado and fennel, pork belly with sage, smoked cauliflower and mash, cod baked with sea greens, a chocolate ganache with absinthe and a fruit soup with ginger and yogurt sorbet.

 

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Stayed at: Le Nouveau Monde, St Malo and highly recommend,

Ate at:  our favourite restaurant, La Gonelle, overlooking the bay where they bring the fish fresh from the tank. We indulged in fresh sardines and then shared a whole turbot baked in beef juices with rosemary potatoes and a bottle of local cider.

St-malo

 

 

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Visited:  The Dinard Film Festival,  This  film fest offers access to paying punters and is very friendly.

dinard-film-fest

Bag verdict: The Mrs loved the bag-very soft leather and a lovely colour and lots of room. The attached purse was neat too.

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A bientot!

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ESCAPE… Amsterdam inspiration

I try and make sure that every work trip I do is also a source of inspiration. I see something that catches my eye and imagination everywhere.  What interests me I capture , save, then reference. My recent trip to Amsterdam was particularly inspirational , it’s a city I love full of colours and tucked away corners. So here we go, I am sharing my ‘inspirational highlights’ with you, will be interesting to see what of these filters down to my next collection

Amsterdam is:

Cheese & cheese newspaper

Edam

cheese-newspaper

Van Gogh:

VG-1

VGogh-museum

Flowers & Urban gardening:

red stars (3)

Florist

Canal side living:

main canal

Allyway

Bakeries:

bakery

 

some of the best Indie shops I’ve seen ( Matter.of.material)

matter-of-material

Lovely Paris, The Boss!!

Boss-Paris

Bold colours in doorways, that match my Brewer Travel bag to perfection

red stars (1)

 

ESCAPE..THAILAND’S ISLANDS-PART 2, RAILAY

Having gotten over my jet lag and effortlessly adjusted to life in Koh Samui (see Part 1, Koh Samui) I headed on down to the Andaman Coast, destination Railay.

There is 1 airport in Koh Samui, it is privately owned so flights in and out of here are not cheap like other internal Thai flights but they are quite spectacular. The airport resembles a resort with lush landscaped gardens,boutique style shopping and pretty swanky toilets!!  Passengers are ushered to the planes via the runway, in converted golf carts and the views of Koh Samui from the air are breath taking

Flight: Koh Samui to Krabi with Bangkok Air, approx 50 mins flight, £87 with in-flight snack

Krabi airport to Ao Nang by shuttle: 30 mins

Ao Nang to Railay by long boat (there is a hire booth on the beach) approx 15 mins

Railay long boats

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suitcases

Railay is accessibly only by boat and yes, you do have to climb in and out of a ‘long boat’ clutching your suitcase through the sea, but it is so worth it. Laid back, chilled and welcoming I can’t recommend it enough.  In my books it is as close to a slice of paradise as it gets. I would go there again in a heartbeat.

Railay-cove

Stayed at: Railay Bay resort and spa prices start at £150 for a double room

visited: Nang Phra beach, a beach like something out of the Jurassic period, with towering rocks, caves and stalagmites. No dinosaurs , but plenty of monkeys in the surrounding forest. It’s a busy tourist destination and at the weekends the traffic from Ao Nang to this beach is quite overwhelming, so avoid if you’re looking for solitude.

Railay stalagmites

Tham Phra Nang fertility caves, a shrine full of carved wooden phalluses

fertility-cave

fertility cave

walked: through The forest to Tonsai beach, welcome to the chill-out zone!

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Tonsai beach

 

Ate : fresh grilled fish at the local style restaurants between the East and West beaches

Chilled: roof top balconies of the local bars

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watched: the sunrise and the sunset

Railay sunset

indulged: in some early morning canoeing off Railay Beach and the nearby rocks. For those of you into rock climbing , this is the ultimate jungle gym

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rocks

Next: Part 3, Kamala, Phuket

Escape… Thailand’s Islands, Koh Samui

My travel bags: The Brewer Holdall, The Angel bag 

Angel Koh Samui

Travelled with: Thai Airways from Heathrow /£750.00 return ( Mid Feb) , 12hrs to Bangkok/13 hrs return to Heathrow. Perfect service and customer care from start to finish.

Connecting flight Bangkok to Surat Thani with Thai smile £35 single ( mid Feb ), 55 mins. Great service, you even get served drinks and a snack

Bus from Surat Thani to Don Sak port, then boat to Koh Samui approx 2 hrs, spectacular scenery and air conditioned decked cabin. I chose to sit on the deck and watch the views.

temple

Mandara

Stayed at: Bandara resort and spa from £85 per night including breakfast. The breakfast is on the beach restaurant and quite spectacular, not to mention the views

Bo phut

Bophut fishing village is a 5 minute walking and is totally charming with a large selection of chill out cafes on the beach as well as restaurants and a weekly market selling just about everything from fried grasshoppers to suits.

Chaweng

sunset

Optional day trips:  Chaweng, Big Buddha

fruit

 

Eat: fruit- lots of it, Fresh fish- sold by weight, grilled in front of you, Phad Thai- it’s so, so good

coconut

Drink- Coconut Cappuccino, as many fresh coconuts as you can

Relax- enjoy the sunsets

Angel sunset

 

NEXT: Escape Thailand’s Islands, Krabi and Railay

Travel Japan, part 2… Miyajima,Hiroshima, Kamakura & Tokyo

If you’ve made it to Kyoto, a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island should be your next port of call.

For all details relating to Kyoto, flights and internal travel visit the 1st part of this blog ‘Travel Japan… Kyoto in Autumn’

Miyajima is a small Island off the coast of Hiroshima known as the ‘Island of the gods’, home to the Itsukushima Shrine and its iconic Floating Torii Gate.

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Make sure you take time out to indulge in some Momiji Manju ,a steamed bun filled with a bean jam filling

food Hiroshima

We headed on down from Hiroshima to Tokyo by train, taking time out to check out Harajuku. Tokyo is a blog all on its own, too much to do, too much to say. But this is how Harajuku makes me feel:

Tokyo Ginza

an opportunity to do some essential gift shopping, with so much cuteness how does one even choose?

kyoto cutness

And of course it is vital to check and see what Muji flagship store have on offer, food things we never get to see in our UK Muji shops

food Muji

Next a day trip to Kamakura  which is full of beautiful shrines and temples. From the Great Buddha of Kamakura

Kamakura Budha

to the local Totoro

Kamakura pokemon

Before  boarding the train to head on back,taking great care to depart without causing oneself serious injury 🙂

warning-sign

TRAVEL JAPAN.. KYOTO IN AUTUMN

Photography and travel: Sawako Muraoka

(Featured image: Kiyomisu-Dera Temple in autumn)

Flights: JAL from Heathrow, around £600 return London-Tokyo/Haneda airport  (Arriving at Haneda Airport is very useful as it’s only a 15 min train ride into Tokyo, it takes a lot longer from Narita. There is also a little shopping village inside the airport – useful for last minute gift buying and your final noodle fix)

Bag: The Rena bag in Moss Green

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Stayed at:

  • Self catering apartment which was fully equipped with a little kitchen and washing machine. Would especially recommend if you’re staying for a few nights as it’s a lot cheaper than most hotels and you have your own kitchen. Most hotel rooms are also very small so apartments can be more comfortable.
  • Highland Shimabara Guest House Approx. £65/night –  but this varies a lot depending on season

Dine out: Traditional meal served at a Kyoto’Ryokan’  (including the prettiest plate of pickles you’ve ever seen )food 3

food 2

food 1

Arashiyama Bamboo Groveso beautiful and the trees are so tall!

kyoto bamboo
“Ojizo San”  is what these little statues are called , you see them a lot round shrines, they are there to protect people.

kyoto statues

Fushimi inari – Shinto shrine with thousands of “tor-ii” gates lining pathways up a mountain. We didn’t make it all the way!

Kyoto shrine

 

 Travelling around Japan – with JR Pass: this is a train pass only available to people who are not resident in Japan. You can use it as often as you like and go anywhere as long as it’s on a JR train and you reserve a seat. (It doesn’t include the fastest Shinkansen called Nozomi fyi. The second fastest is fast enough though!) It costs from around £180/week. Definitely recommend getting this if you’re going to multiple places.

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Travel Japan.. part 2 to follow!

Travels to New York with my toddler… taking a bite of the Big Apple together

Karla Huang, Designer at Nadia Minkoff  travelled to NY with her 3 year old inquisitive toddler, Jo.

Leaving

Return flight to NY with British Airways approx. £540 return (correct in  July 2017)

Jo's meal

Bag: The Finsbury backpack from Not on The High Street

Brooklyn-Bridge

 

Stayed at: Park Lane Hotel, NY  Room for 3 starts at US$260 per night. Great location on Central Park and a minute away from 5th Avenue subway but can’t recommend: bad service, over crowded, short staffed, dated ( but clean), expensive for the standard and room price did not include breakfast, never a good thing with a toddler!

 We visited:

The statue of Liberty, of course! We took the Ferry from  Battery park,Manhattan

Statue of iberty

Madame Tussauds NYC  , Jo managed to catch a ride with ET

Tussauds

Ripleys New York, conveniently located on Times Square, Jo loved the optical illusions

Ripleys

High Line Park, such a fantastic public park built on the historic freight rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. A different view of the Big Apple

Highline

Chelsea Market– great for mum & toddler, plenty to eat and some great pop-up shops for much needed retail therapy. It was a cold day so we chose to have Jewish Chicken Soup at Friedmans

chicken-soup

9/11 memorial– Very impressive, the size and the concept works so well.

911

Rockefeller Centre-  Such an exciting place to be, inside and out. Beautiful Art Deco interiors, places to eat and great shops,  plenty of street performers outside. We chose to see if Bill’s burgers were really as good as they say… and they were

Bill#s

Ate at:

Lady M Cake Boutique- sometimes you just need to spend money on a piece of beautiful cake

Lady-M-cake

Peter Luger Steak House,  Best steak and fries but be sure to book a month ahead!

Brooklyn Flea Market/Dumbo–  Great market stalls and food ,we had Shanghai pancakes, they were spicy but they were good!

City Kitchen/Times Square- Hello to the American fast food court , just as you imagine it, with plenty of  great choice but it’s not cheap!

Jo’s Highlights were: The Ferry to The Statue of Liberty, Central park,  but best of all The  Sea Glass Carousel

Carousel

I loved my Finsbury backpack , trust me although I work for an accessory company I am a very fussy customer. It was just so comfortable, so great to have my hands free at all time , it’s lightweight and it looks great.

Departure (18)