ESCAPE… Weekend in Sofia

My trusty travel companions were The Brewer holdall  which contained all I needed clothes wise for the weekend ( it was just an escape after all) and my Hoxton bag which was perfect for keeping my wallet and phone whilst strolling, people watching and eating of course.

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I travelled from Heathrow to Sofia with British Airways /club class £670 return /duration 3 hours ( correct at time of writing)

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Stayed at: Hotel Marinela , prices start at £100 per night for a King room with city views. Comes complete with loud peacocks in the morning ( not kidding) and loud music at night so..if you are looking for a quiet hideaway this hotel is not for you. But if you want to see some life, this hotel is quite an adventure and the rooms are nice and spacious.

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Stroll down pedestrian Boulevard Vitosha for a spot of people watching and a good coffee. If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of snow on Mt Vitosha, which hangs over at the far end of the Boulevard and looks like something out of a film set.

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Then head on round the corner to Tsar Shishman Street and Angel Kanchev Street-here you will find a complete melting pot of  the very old and somewhat run down with the very trendy and excitingly new- designer boutiques, artisan cafes, artisan eateries, speciality shops and downright traditional ones too.

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Highly recommend:

Made in Home or Made in blue– home made food, good for veggie lunches, chill vibe

The Tea House serves teas, vegetarian food and has live jazz music nights

Bistro pesto Little Italian place serving salads ,two types of pasta and that’s it  !! but who needs more?

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If you want to try the best homemade Bulgarian ‘Banitsa’ ( pie) some great bakes and perfect coffee, do not miss a pit stop at Daro  I absolutely loved this place!!

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And if you scream for Ice Cream you can queue and get the best one at Gelateria Naturale

Other things to do, which do not involve food are…

Visit the famous Alexander Nevsky Church  the interior is truly stunning, then pick up a Sofia Free Tour , they also do a free hiking and a free biking tour.

Visit the Borisova Gardina Park, for some street entertainment or a little rest, then the park in front of the National Theatre for some live Jazz

If you’re tired and need a taxi download the Taxime app and only use that, if you pick one up from the street you could be charged as much as triple

And if you want a different eating adventure come night time try Umami  complete with landscaped gardens, ponds and exotic birds… it’s an experience!

 

Travel….Off to Lyon

Photography and content: Brian Minkoff photography

Bag: The Islington bucket bag from Not on the High Street

  • Eurostar from Kings Cross directly to Lyon: 4hrs 40 mins prices start from £90 return
  • Stayed at: The Carlton Lyon,  which thankfully had brilliant air conditioning throughout-it was 37 centigrade outside. Prices start at £195 for a double in July

 

Comfy:

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Waiting for the lift:

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Off for an iced something and a quiet read:

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  • Many, many ice creams were essential given the heat. The best was Terre Adelice,  Green Chartreuse was my favourite flavour-but was almost tempted by the Goats Cheese or Tomato and Basil, Check out  some of the flavours here

Love at first sight:

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  • Boat trips to and from the modern Confluence were a mere 2 euros each way

Dive in:

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My new friend Paul Bocuse:

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Great meals to be had at:

  • Institute Paul Bocuse –where his trainees learn the ropes ! We had a fantastic slow cooked beef rib on a bed of macaroni cheese and a shoulder of Moroccan lamb with spices were the stars. And it would have been rude not to try the Macaron desert – a macaron with a mousse of mango and passion fruit filling, with salted caramel ice cream or the Chocolate bomb with very very rich melted chocolate inside, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce !!!!
  • Le Cintra terrase, in a beautiful square near the Town Hall- where we indulged in some fantastic home cured salmon and whole sea bass.
  • It was too hot to wander the vast shopping mall but we did salad it on the Terasse of Le Paradis du Fruit , Red Mullet and Tempura Prawn salad was lovely. As was the Passion fruit smoothie.

Blending in with the locals:

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Many quirky buildings along the Confluence including The orange Cube behind the bag

 

 

ESCAPE…. LES BAINS D’OVRONNAZ

If you are looking for a quick escape, scenically beautiful and restorative for body & soul, the Thermal pools at Ovronnaz Switzerland might just hit the spot.

The Rena at Lac Lemand

Ovronnaz is a sleepy, quiet village, 4,300 feet high and nestled at the foot of The Muverans mountain range , in the Valais region. On route you will pass sprawling vineyards and unspoilt valleys finally reaching the bubbling thermal springs of Ovronnaz, offset by glaciers and majestic mountains. Ovronnaz offers outdoor thermal pools and terraces as well as a full panoramic SPA, it’s an absolute treat. Open both summer and winter, with late night openings on a Friday (babies and children welcome  and children under 6 go free). This  gem of a place is surprisingly low key, quiet and a unique opportunity to be pampered at the heart of nature.

Lake Geneva

I travelled to Ovronnaz via Easyjet cabin luggage only with my Rena bag and a stopover at Lausanne and Lake Geneva

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The Rena at O'vvronaz

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Location: Thermal pools at Ovronnaz, Valais, Switzerland

Bag: The Rena bag in Dove

Travel: London Luton to Geneva with Easyjet , £127 ( at time of travel, June 2017) flight time 1hr:30mins

Train and local bus to Ovronnaz : 3hr 38mins mins from Geneva train station/ approx. £85 per person return journey ( at time of travel, June 2017)

Day pass to Spa and pools: Day passes for the outdoor pools and SPA facilities start at 50 SF/£40 per person and can be bought in advance online. Accommodation at the resort starts at SF205/£166 per person per night including SPA and pool pass.

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California Dreaming

As far as ‘Busman’s holidays’ go, my recent sojourn to LA served up a pretty balanced combination of work and pleasure.

For those who know me and in true ‘Nadia style’ I made sure that I maximised every minute of my 10 days, as well as every opportunity I had to enjoy the blue skies.

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Having spent the first part in Downtown LA showing our Nadia Minkoff London collection at the California Market Centre I spent the latter part visiting vineyards, driving along the coast, exploring desolate beaches, collecting moonstones ( for real) and finally back to LA for some much needed retail therapy.

My chosen ‘companion’ on this journey? The Richmond midi tote in yellow and I am happy to say it didn’t disappoint.

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Going to let the photos do the talking as they are SO good. A big thank you to Director of Photography Dennis Madden for these beautiful captures.

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My travel lowdown:

I flew out from London Gatwick  to LAX  with Norwegian Air on the brand new Dreamliner, can’t recommend enough! Return trip with luggage and x 2 meals from as little as £500

Stayed at the  Millenium Biltmore Hotel, in downtown LA. This hotel has seen more glamorous days the lobby is grand but alas the rooms are in need updating, still the location is great. Rooms start at  £150 per night.

Don’t leave downtown LA without trying Pitchoun Bakery, the raspberry croissants are as tasty as they are beautiful! You will be spoilt for choice

For some of the best handmade noodles you will ever try and an impressive selection of beers to boot visit Peking Tavern

Mexican with a twist at B.S.Taqueria, so bloody good, take me back today!

The Landsby boutique Hotel in Solvang, Scaandi interiors to die for, wanted to move in. Double rooms start at US$350 per night

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Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach, if you are after spectacular ocean views, moonstone collecting and sea lion viewing, this is the perfect location… complete with your very own in room  fire place , Doubles start at US$ 200 per night

Rock n Fish restaurant, Manhattan Beach LA, for some regional food and super fresh fish dishes, beautifully served in this gorgeous seaside corner of LA

The Griffith Observatory, immerse yourself in La La Land, watch the stars, the Hollywood Hills, the view of LA, have a dance if you want!

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Luxembourg with my Hoxton Bag

Low cost air travel has meant that weekends away with your ‘besties’ are doable, now and then.

Yes, the cheaper the flight the more ungodly the time of departure often involving long queues at the departure gate, very limited leg room and of course there is the dilemma of taking hold luggage at an extra cost or making do with the one, albeit small, piece of hand luggage.

Now, the hand luggage option does mean either a small suitcase or a handbag but not both.

No handbag?? Girly weekends without a handbag are just not the same. Yes, you can pack your handbag in your small suitcase but this leaves little space for shoes and other important necessities.  Make way for The Hoxton bag, a neat little 3 in 1 bag which can be used as a small hand held bag, worn on the shoulder or cross body as well as the perfect clutch.  Best of all it is so flat and so compact so as not to take up any space in your luggage.

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Our merchandiser Sawako jetted off to Luxembourg for a weekend with her best friends, The Hoxton bag to hand ready to test drive the bag whilst enjoying the city.

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Small and strategically placed in the heart of Western Europe, Luxembourg is one of the three richest countries in the world renowned for its natural beauty, historical monuments and high standard of living.

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Well, it stood up to its reputation: beautiful, interesting and relatively expensive.

So here goes:

  • Flew out of Heathrow with BA, flights during January average at £90
  • Stayed at the Hotel Central Molitor approx. £95 per night
  • Visited… too many to list but top 3 in no particular order would be:

Mudam Museum of Modern Art, a wander in the Grund area with its picturesque river and village feel, The Chocolate House for hot chocolate and giant cakes.

  • Drinks are expensive! just saying…. the virgin cocktail at one of the trendy bars cost 14 Euros and that was the cheap one!

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