Sweden - treehotel

sweden - treehotel.

[spotlight series. kent lindvall]

[treehotel soundtrack. crazy little thing called love]

It’s hard to put into words what we recently experienced at the Treehotel in Harads, Northern Sweden, just 60km south of the Arctic Circle.

The sweetest of Swedish hospitality, uniquely beautiful in design, and backed by breathtaking nature and 24 hour sunshine – the Treehotel is like no other hotel experience we have enjoyed.

Our special journey started with a 13 hour night train north from Stockholm, bound for Luleå. After pulling into Boden however (one stop before Luleå), there was a knock on our cabin door and we were greeted by a man introducing himself as Kent. It was 6am, we were a little dazed and confused. Who was this Kent character? Was he one of the train guards? But he shared the same name as the co-founder of the Treehotel? If so, why was he on our train? And weren’t we still one stop away from arriving at our destination? It was all very confusing. It turned out it was in fact Kent Lindvall – co-founder of the Treehotel – who had my train itinerary on email. Kent knew it would be quicker for me to get off in Boden, so he drove to the station, boarded the train, and got me off. He then drove me to Harads. The first, of a number of examples, where Kent (and his wonderful wife Britta) would go above and beyond their duty as hosts to deliver the kindest, most warm and generous hospitality we have ever experienced anywhere.

Harads is a tiny village of just 600 people, approx. 40mins from Boden. On arrival into Harads, you approach Britta’s Pensionat which sits on the main road into town. Britta has run this 30s style Swedish guesthouse for 20+ years. The guesthouse is run in association with the Treehotel, and is where all of the meals for both the guesthouse and Treehotel are served. From the guesthouse, it is a 500m walk through a stunning meadow to get to the Treehotel. On approach, as these amazing hanging structures become visible through the trees, you are immediately transported to some sort of fantasy land. What all childhood dreams are made of. The Cabin (which Kent tells us is the most favoured treehouse by guests) is the first treehouse you see, and also our favourite. With spectacular views of the Lule River valley, and miles of forests, these uniquely sustainable treehouses provide a striking contrast to their surrounding environment. With six treehouses in total, after The Cabin, you come across the Dragon Fly, then the Bird’s Nest, the Blue Cone, the Mirror Cube, and the UFO. Each wonderful canopy room designed by a different leading architect of Sweden. The story of how these treehouses came about is at once amazing and inspiring – the ever entrepreneurial and creative spirit of Kent Lindvall shining through.

It was a great privilege to sit down with Kent one-on-one to hear the full story, and we are excited to share it with you here.

Kent, who has an incredible knowledge and passion for the local region, has spent his whole life here in Harads. Kent and Britta both grew up here, on different sides of the river. A beautiful love story (we will let Kent tell you the details!), Kent was just 15, and Britta 16, when they first met. They became a couple five years later. Three daughters, and their family was complete. Passionate for the environment, their village and their family – these two are a dynamic and impressive team – incredibly special people.

At the Treehotel, guests can do as little or as much as they like. The spectacular natural environment (together with the sauna house) is one that obviously encourages rest and relaxation. Grab a book, hang in the trees, or relax in the sauna.

It is definitely worth getting out to explore the local area as well. In summer, Kent can arrange fly-fishing tours, kayaking tours, the onsite zipline, sightseeing tours and more. In winter, the most popular activity for guests is dog-sledding (we are definitely coming back for this). Northern lights tours are popular, as are ice-fishing…when the river freezes over and you dig holes in the ice, lie on moose skin and drop your fishing line down the hole.

As well as this, the oldest fishery in Sweden is only 20mins away. Kent took me here for a visit. With roots back to the 1300s, the original village is still set up here, and it’s a beautiful and peaceful spot for a picnic and to read up on the history of the area. Jokkmokk is also not far, and less than one hour away, lies Storforsen - a rapid in the Pite River, with an average flow of 250 m3/s (some of the biggest in Europe ). The energy here is amazing.

While at the Treehotel, you will be spoiled with traditional Swedish home-style cooking, using local produce to showcase dishes typical of the Swedish Lapland region. Britta, together with a small team (including Kent and Britta’s daughter Sophia) run the kitchen. An abundant breakfast offering, a huge lunch, and then a 3-course dinner as well - you certainly wont go hungry. Over our two night stay we tried everything from smoked reindeer (sorry Rudolph!), moose balls, and palt (balls of potato filled with pork).  We were even lucky enough to try some of Kent’s homebrew – his very own birch-flavored schnapps, vodka infused with local birch from the surrounding forest.

A visit to the Treehotel is the perfect answer for anyone wanting to escape to a remote fantasy location. An incredibly special hotel, where not only design is key, but sustainability as well. There are very few other places we know that have been so thoughtfully built on nature’s terms.If you get a chance, at least once in your lifetime, please consider a visit here. Kent, Britta and their beautiful treehouses will remain close to our hearts forever.



[spotlight series. yvonne knapp & dion amor]

[stockholm soundtrack. klapp klapp]

valkommen till stockholm!

our first time in sweden’s capital, and we fall in love in a flash. it is easy to see how this beautiful city – spread over fourteen islands of the archipelago – has consistently held a top ten position in the most livable cities in the world list. clean, green, friendly, efficient, easy, accessible, polite, stylish, and full of beautiful things (people, places, architecture and nature)…it’s beautiful here.

a creative urban scene and sense of community. a great mix of history and culture. a rapidly expanding food and music scene. a focus on healthy living. all surrounded by awe-inspiring nature – open waters, parks, endless light (in summer time anyway!) - and beautiful architecture. we admire the strong focus here on equal opportunity – free education, free healthcare – and we certainly noticed more men pushing prams here than anywhere else in the world (besides copenhagen, perhaps).

getting around stockholm is as easy as pie. wander the historic cobblestoned streets of gamla stan (the old town), bike along the countless bike paths, or hang by the water or in any of the beautiful parks. we love östermalm for its shopping and restaurants, but we spend most of our time in södermalm, nytorget (sofo – south of folkungagatan) and hornstull for more bohemian vibes.

with just three nights to explore this glamour, we pounded those cobblestones and did our best to hunt and gather some beautiful things.

to caffeinate…

drop: located near mariatorget subway station in soder, this is our favorite place for a caffeine hit. outdoor seating and a number of cute, pale-wooded rooms inside. a small food offering, its all about the coffee. service can be a little slow, but its worth it. expect to pay approx. usd$6-8 for your coffee.

gilda’s: we love the kitsch and color of this cute and cosy cafe. outdoor seating, across the road from a park, and an indoor room filled with mix and match vintage furniture, random eclectic pieces. good coffee and lunch options.

kaffe: in Söder. for good coffee and good sandwiches.

wienercafeet: a beautiful, old-school bistro-style café in the heart of östermalm (opposite cos!). great for breakfast or lunch.

juiceverket: for when you are craving a fresh juice. this cute pressade frukter & bar has a number of locations around town.

mellqvist: located on rörstrandsgatan (or “little paris”), mellqvist is a bit of an institution. Come here for excellent people watching and some hang time with the locals. One of stockholm’s original espresso joints.

to eat…

bread. our favorite food! and swedes do it well, very well. there are bakeries on every corner, but we liked:

petrus: we were so excited to stumble across this little beauty when looking for drop coffee. we were sad to discover though that they were closing the following day for their 5-week summer break! come here for the raisin frulla! yum.

brod&salt: bread, bread and more bread. Delicious.

reggev: for hummus. this place came recommended by a random australian (thanks stephen!) we met while drinking coffee at drop. the best recommendation of our trip. this tiny, cosy, friendly place pumps our hummus, hummus and more hummus. reminding us of our time living in tel aviv, this is our favorite cheap eats in the city. closes at 9pm, so get in early. lunch or dinner.

pelikan: for your best swedish experience. dion amor brought us here for schnapps and caviar and herring and reindeer and köttbullar(meatballs!) - all the Swedish favorites. Exceptional service in a grand old Swedish beer hall. A must.

östermalms saluhall: opening in 1888, this swedish foodhall is somewhat of an institution. come here for a long lunch, or quick tasty snack. try all of sweden’s favorites.

judit & bertil: a cute little bar in Hornstull that also serves a light dinner. Great music, great atmosphere. Very local.

8t8: raw food store on swedenborgsgaten. Come here for all your healthy staples.

Falafel baren: we like this casual and delicious falafel joint near herr judit.

urban deli: just across the park from gilda’s, this is an amazing stop for coffee, breakfast, lunch…anything. Come here for any of your deli needs as well. fruit, veg, meat, cheese…you name it, you can find it here.

il tempo: this cute corner spot in Söder does a good pizza and pasta.

café bla lotus: a charming little café serving healthy organic food. colorful, homely and kitsch.

pa&co: a tiny corner spot just up the road from the story hotel. always busy. ambitious young chefs serving up great things to an artsy crowd.

other things that come highly recommended from good, local sources, but we ran out of time to try:

linje 10: cute restaurant and bar in Hornstull, same building as Roy & Son.

barbro: bistro, bar and movie theatre

sosta: for coffee.

vurma: in for coffee, pastries and breakfast (a few locations).

snickarbacken 7: in the city centre, this is a café, exhibition space and concept store all in one - they do a good coffee as well.

delikatessen: cosy restaurant in a former fire station.

oaxen skafferi: deli of the renowned oaxen krog.

bio rio: catch a film here in this old-school movie theatre.

matbaren: for something more fancy, come here for a beautiful dinner – often recommended as one of Stockholm’s best restaurants. They open at 6pm, and you will find queues out the door from 5:30pm.

lydmar hotel: for lunch, dinner, drinks.

vassa eggen: great drinks, djs (from thursday to saturday), and stylish crowd.

to drink…

babylon: we were taken here on our first night (after a huge swedish dinner at pelikan) and love this outdoor neighborhood spot. great cocktails and wine. good music. fun crowd. closes at 1am.

mosebacke: come here for drinks at sunset. amazing views from the top terrace bar, and a wonderful beer garden. live music sometimes too.

teaterbaren: for beautiful views over the water and the city.

riche (preferably “lilla”, the smaller bar to the left): a small, cosy and friendly bar, great cocktails, djs. a stockholm institution.

to shop…

nk: this is a beautiful department store in central stockholm, showcasing all of the best Scandinavian (and other) brands…acne, filippa k etc. a must visit for lovers of scandifashion.

cos: owned by h&m, but a slightly higher-end version, this is our go-to swedish brand. great collections, great prices. if you visit towards the end of june, enjoy the huge summer sales.

aplace: probably our favorite store in stockholm. we love the local brands on offer here, as well as other Scandinavian designs incl samsoe and samsoe, and the great range of shoes (adidas, nike etc).

sweden does vintage well. really well. check out some of these favorites:

herr judit: (two different shops in stockholm) a mix between selected clean vintage and some new stuff from brands like barbour, ralph lauren, a.p.c., acne and more lesser known brands. also with a lot of accessories like scarves, sunglasses, ties etc.two stores, one in södermalm  and one in östermalm.

brandstationen:also in södermalm. owned by the same people behind herr judit. situated in an old fire station, this “mad men” inspired store offers vintage furniture, decorations and accessories.

lisa larsson : for well-kept designer clothing at a fraction of the price.

acne: a fashion powerhouse, this is one of sweden’s most iconic and successful brands. many locations, but be sure to visit the flagship store in norrmalmstorg which is located in a building that once housed the bank where the 'stockholm syndrome' heist took place; you can still see the vaults.

acne archive: come here for sample stock and big discounts.

stutterheim: for luxury, handmade raincoats and wellies.

konst-ig: we love this store for their amazing selection of art books and magazines.

grandpa: we love this store in Södermalm (they have two other locations as well). Scandinavian and international fashion and interiors. On the last Thursday evening of each month, you’ll find a dj spinning tunes and complimentary wine.

gram: an adorable new store in södermalm (having opened in june), come to this tiny white-washed space for new kicks.

parlans konfektyr: for deliciously tasty, and beautiful packaged, nougat.

sns: for the best sneakers in town.

for records: try fade or pet sounds.

roy and son: for classic shaves.

adisgladis: for men – organic / recycling / off-grid.

möbelmakeri: a gorgeous, happy and bright interior and design store by mimmi staaf, in Hägersten.  

svenskt tenn: for iconic swedish interior design.

to sleep…

story hotel: this is our favorite sleeping option inÖstermalm. a great location. easy 2min walk from Östermalm T station (50m down the road). self check-in (with a passcode you are emailed before arrival, which also acts as your room key). Buzzing bar and restaurant downstairs. cute rooms. and be spoiled with a delicious and plentiful breakfast each morning – great muesli, fruit, yoghurt, juice, breads, cheese, meat, eggs, etc etc.

scandic malmen: great value rooms – clean and simple, and a fabulous location – right in the heart of Södermalm, very close to nyorget. this is the perfect sleeping option for those on a smaller budget who want to be right in the eating/drinking/more hipster action.

to do…

head north to the swedish lapland to visit the phenomenal treehotel (read more here), our most favorite swedish experience yet.

fotografiksa: stockholm’s contemporary photography museum is housed in a stunning warehouse building on the water. An absolute must.

take a boat to the archipelago. head for the waterfront, jump on a boat to the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago. the closest island if you just want to go for a day trip is calledfjäderholmarna. more traditional (less touristy) island options can be found a bit further away (3 hours plus).

spend an afternoon out on djurgården (with its forests, green parks, rose gardens and bike paths) and don't miss rosendal trädgård for coffee. for the organic garden, rosendals trädgård, “the rose valley”. its plots and greenhouses yield a wide selection of biodynamic greens, most of them sold in theplant shop and the garden shop, or used for cooking in the garden café.

Visit the Moderna museet: stockholm’s contemporary art museum.

millesgården: gorgeous sea views from this lovely haven for art and culture. a cute café as well.

visit sven-harrys: in the vasastan area. a spectacular all brass building next to vasaparken, where locals hang out during the summer.

coffice: co-working space.

for yoga: we didn’t get a chance to try it, but we did like the look of yoga inuti in sofo.

to know…

the airport train is the quickest and most efficient way into the center of stockholm. 250sek one way (or buy two tickets at the same time for only 280sek, a big saving). journey is super easy and takes only 20mins into t-centralen – from there it is only one stop on the red line to ostermalm (and the stop for story hotel in riddargarten).

buy subway tickets from the convenience stores at the subway station (rather than the ticket window) for 36 sek (compared with 44 sek if you buy from ticket window). A small, but welcome, saving!


peniche [portugal].

[spotlight series. Tim Latte]

[peniche soundtrack. it’s you]

Just a short 45 minute drive north of Lisbon lies the sleepy fishing town of Peniche. Regarded as one of the best surfing spots in Portugal, it may not be the prettiest town, but what it lacks in beauty, it certainly makes up for in good waves and, as of recently, the best boutique surf accommodation we have found so far.

It was the Surfers Lodge Peniche that attracted us here in the first place.

We arrived in Peniche by bus from Lisbon and were met at the bus station by John Malmqvist, the super sweet Swedish (ex-national surfer) owner/designer of the Lodge. As we pulled up, we were wowed by the beautiful design of this all glass and wood building which sits on a street corner in Baleal. With a Nordic-inspired, 1960s surfer style aesthetic, the Lodge is full of beautiful reclaimed wood, floor-to-ceiling windows, bespoke furniture, and an amazing Moroccan-inspired rooftop (complete with pool, hot tub, comfy lounges and bar).

The vibe here is totally laidback and friendly, and the feeling is more of a home than a hotel. Bedrooms are simple, chic and cosy, and the lodge offers surf, food and yoga packages. We met some amazing people during our 3 night stay – pro-surfers, beginner surfers, or not surfers at all – just cool people wanting to chill out and enjoy the slower, friendlier pace that the lodge has to offer. Once a DJ, Malmqvist has also nailed the music – perfect beats drifting through the Lodge all throughout the day.

We were lucky enough to have daily surf lessons with three of the Lodge’s awesome, local surf instructors – Pedro (who bizarrely talks with an Australian accent!), Marlene and Francisco. After a massive breakfast (think all things healthy – fruit, yoghurt, muesli, eggs and homemade breads with cheese and ham, plus the best coffee we found in Portugal) – we would meet downstairs at 830am, put on our wetsuits, grab our longboards, and then walk the 10 minutes down the road to get to the little beach, Prainha, where the lessons were held. 

The rest of our days were then spent either doing Pilates on the deck (I was lucky enough to be traveling with expert Pilates trainer – Colleen Ferguson of Atwill Wellness), grabbing lunch at the Lodge restaurant (try the gazpacho – amazing!), reading, working, doing some yoga, checking out some of the other nearby beaches, or going for big walks along the beach and cliffs of Baleal beach.

At dusk, it was time to hit the rooftop deck – a totally chilled out space filled with beautiful Moroccan rugs and cushions – to watch the sun go down. If you are lucky, there might be a live band or dj spinning some tunes. The restaurant – which is open all day – dishes up incredibly fresh, local and seasonal food, and was such a lovely place to hang out. We tried everything on the menu.

There is no honestly no better place to stay. Malmqvist has created the perfect boutique accommodation experience - high-end, yet super relaxed and bohemian. Good vibes. It’s beautiful here.

Highlights: the design, the food (we love the fresh, local and seasonal menu), sunsets on the roofdeck, the beats throughout the day, the surf lessons and instructors, and the friends we made.

To eat.

Surfers Lodge: every meal.

Bar Do Bruno: for a laidback lunch with beachy vibes and ocean views.

Sushi Fish Baleal: we were shocked to find such fresh, delicious and amazing sushi in such a sleepy beach town like this. Highly recommend.

Cantina de Ferrel: for authentic and delicious Italian, just up the road from the Surfers Lodge. Come here for great pasta and pizza.

To drink.

Surfers Lodge: on the rooftop at sunset, or downstairs on the comfy lounges. Cold beers, local wines and cocktails. No need to go anywhere else.

If you are wanting a change of scene though…check out Bar Da Praia (Largo amigos do Baleal) for sunset drinks.

To shop.

You definitely don’t come here to shop! But we were super impressed to discover (only on our last day however) A’Mercearia: a cute little grocery store for organic fruit and veg, snacks, fresh juices, surf art and more.

To do.

Surf: so many waves to choose from. For beginners, grab lessons at the Surfers Lodge.

Skate lessons: also from the Surfers Lodge.

Walk the beach and cliffs at Baleal.

Check out Supertubos: renowned as one of Europe’s best beach breaks, and home to the annual ASP World Tour Championship presence each October.

Hire a boat: pack a picnic and venture out to the beautiful Berlenga islands. Sunbake, swim, snorkel, kayak.

Yoga: try a post-surf yoga class (or get a massage) at the Yoga Center Peniche. 12 euro classes.


beautiful, stylish and jam-packed full of hidden treasures, history and romance…paris is one of (not alone on this we realise!) our favorite cities in europe.

ever evolving, always buzzing, the energy here is one of creative inspiration; a juxtaposition of old and new.

wander, cycle, get lost. eat cheese, drink champagne, dance, shop. get cultured. find secret gardens hidden behind big old doors. sit by the river. picnic in the park. soak it up. and repeat. every little thing. it’s so beautiful here.

we spend most of our time in the 10eme (canal st martin: by the canal – young, laid-back, fun, creative, arty, kind of boho) and the 3eme (marais: beautiful cobblestoned streets, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, galleries). only 10mins apart.

here are a few of our favorite things right now.


Paris soundtrack

all i want









to caffeinate…

boot: still very new, this adorable pint-sized (literally just 4m2) storefront in the marais is one of our new favorites. an old shoe repair studio, come here for amazing coffee by belleville, fresh coconuts, banana bread and sunny, friendly vibes. 3eme.

fondation café: run by an amazing aussie, chris, and designed by his equally amazing swedish wife,emelie, come to this cute spot in the marais for great coffee, cakes and lunch. 3eme.

ten belles: for great coffee (belleville) and ridiculously amazing, freshly baked cakes and scones. 10eme.

holy belly: seriously good breakfast and really great coffee. a must. 10eme.

tuck shop: in the same street as holy belly, and bob’s, come to tuck shop when you cant face another croissant. avocado toast, and other australian favorites on the menu. great coffee as well. 10eme.

bob's juice bar: cute stop for green juice and healthy options. 10eme.

telescope café: good coffee in a quiet and charming little area. 1eme.

** we just read that a whole bunch of our favorite parisian places right now have been designed by the same amazing paris (via cali and nyc) duo,david rager and cheri messerli (under the nameweekends – responsible for ten belles, le mary celeste, broken arm, candelaria and  glass…among others). no wonder they are all so beautiful. no wonder they are all on our list of favorites (without knowing the design connection).

to eat…

café pinson: a gorgeous vegan café, great for lunch, right in the heart of the marais. in the same street as nanashi. 3eme.

rose bakery: love this famed organic bakery (kitchen opens at 11am on weekdays – amazing lunch, or 10am on weekends – brekkie is delicious!). come here for tantalizing baked goods, savoury tarts, pizzas and more. all dishes prepared using organic and seasonal produce. two locations. we frequent the one in the marais.3eme.

hoja: this adorable scando-style café has only been open a few weeks, but is already impressing with their ‘jus presses frais’ and delicious healthy treats (as well as the bright and happy scando design – look upstairs). 3eme.

breizh cafe: for the best crepes in all of paris. a true destination. people come from all over the world to try this spot! book a table or go at a weird time like 3pm. 3eme.

lunch at merci: for delicious salads and quiche, in a seriously beautiful setting. see more below. 3eme.

le bon marche: for lunch on the run. aside from the incredible shopping upstairs, the downstairs food court is amazing. grab picnic stuff, and eat it in the park nearby. a beautiful thing to do. 7eme.

les marche des enfants rouges: another great option for lunch on the run. this is the oldest covered market in paris, a true hidden gem. be spoiled for choice with incredible food options from around the world. 3eme.

le mary celeste: our favorite dinner spot right now. cosy, fun, and ridiculously amazing food and cocktails. try the deviled eggs (sounds weird, but trust us on this), the tacos, the quinoa cake, and the grilled cauliflower with aubergine. All so good. Note: on monday and tuesday they don't have their full menu, just bar snacks. 3eme.

bones: very popular right now. australian chef – james henry – leading the charge. very meat (and offal) focused. small plates. cosy. if you cant get a table, grab a seat a the bar. 11eme.

frenchie: a super cute tiny spot, down a laneway in the 2eme. hard to get into (i.e. they are booked out for months), but you can always try the wine bar across the road, or the new ‘frenchie to go’ for take-out instead. 2eme.

la pulperia: cosy and charming, argentinian/french-influenced shared plates. great wine list. must book. 11eme.

au passage: cute spot for an interesting menu of small plates. can book. 10eme.

le comptoir generale: come here for coffee or lunch during the day, or for dinner and drinks in the evening. this “temple of ghetto culture” offers up african-inspired food, a vintage shop, and vines that grow up the walls. its weird and its wonderful. 10eme.

clown bar: great food, excellent wine and beautiful terrace if the weather is kind (as recommended by bones’ chef, james henry).

le verre vole: this is a fun neighborhood spot in canal st martin. traditional french. cosy and casual. great organic wine list, and excellent food. 10eme.

derriere: this is an unexpected, hidden gem. start late, and finish late. a mash up of vintage furniture and flea market finds, come here for a fun night out, interesting food, and a great terrace. 3eme.

l'office; and richer: both great french bistros, with a modern twist. 9eme. 

le baratin: come here for traditional french food, mama and papa style - soo good. the chef here, raquel carena, is argentine and cooks from the heart. her husband, matali crasset, looks after the wine. a beautiful experience. 20 eme.

roseval: traditional tasting, must book. Cool young chefs doing really interesting and inventive food. 20eme.

robert et louise: looking for a good steak? look no further. steak from the open fire inside the restaurant. delicious, and always packed. 3eme.

benoit: for classic paris, but expensive. 4eme.

cafe dei cioppi: if you are sick of french, come here for incredible pasta. great italian food. 11eme.

nanashi: a super cute, modern japanese if you are still sick of french. come here for organic Japanese-french style bento. fun and colorful.the chef used to be at rose bakery. can book. 3eme.

guilo guilo: come here for high-end japanese, with a no-choice seven course changing seasonal menu. Located on a quiet road, this tiny restaurant is a little gem hidden away from the craziness of montmarte. 18eme.

clamato: it’s no reservations here at Chef BetrandGrébaut and Théo Pourriat’s seafood tapas bar. Already a local favorite, having only opened in November. Grab a seat at the long bar, or at one of the cute tables at the far end of the room. A changing daily menu. Delicious. 11eme.

to drink…

candelaria: channeling nyc’s la esquina’s-hidden-mexican-joint kinda vibes, this cosy cocktail bar in the 3eme is at the back of a cute tacos to-go shop. come here for cocktails, tacos, nice tunes and romance! voila. 3eme.

le perchoir: on sunny afternoons, come to this amazing rooftop. It’s beautiful here. 11eme.

le mary celeste: as above. most delicious cocktails in paris (we think!). try the cucumber martini, or the campari cocktail. 3eme.

verjus wine bar: cosy and beautiful. come here for delicious wines and great food as well. 1eme.

lockwood: brought to you by christophe, olivier and thomas lehoux – three brothers who have done amazing things in the drinks world so far (thomas, with coffee at ten belles in paris; and christophe in sydney at pocket bar, button bar and stitch bar)! lockwood is a great option not only for coffee during the day, but great for drinks at night. 2eme.

glass: for great beers and fun tunes. in the pigalle. 9eme.

little red door: for cocktails in the marais. 3eme.

to shop…

merci merci: it’s a must (for beautiful fashion, interiors and food and coffee). spread over three levels. the basement is amazing for lunch as well. 3eme.

broken arm: we adore this gorgeous concept store on a marais street corner, with a very, very cute café attached. 3eme.

colette: a mad-house, but a must-see (for high end, quirky and amazing merchandising). 1eme.

le bon marche: amazing one stop shop for everything. two buildings. check out the beautiful building next door (grand epicerie - the fancy food market they own). 6eme.

violette et léonie: for a well curated mix of vintage and modern labels. 3eme.

ofr.: for art and fashion books. 3eme.

and…just wander the charming little streets of the marais: we especially like the stores in rue vielle du temple, rue du temple, and rue de francs-bourgeois (and the streets that interconnect these). too many stores to mention…but all our french favorites (isabel marant, vanessa bruno, sandro, maje, apc, etc…plus so many other cool little independent labels).

to do…

check out the flea markets (marché aux puces), especially at clignancourt. the best place to roam if you are in the market for interiors. expensive, but has it all. the saint-ouen flea market is the largest concentration of antique dealers and second-hand goods dealers in the world. located in the 18eme, the markets happen here on saturdays, sundays and mondays.

marché raspail: come to this huge organic market on a sunday morning, for your weekly fix of incredible produce (fish, meat, fruit, veg, cheese, wine etc etc). nibble on everything along the way. so fun. 6eme.

walk, sit, hang along canal st martin. nothing better on a sunny sunday afternoon. byo wine. 10eme.

check out these galleries/exhibitions:

yvon lambert: in the marais. we love the mario testino exhibition on now until 24 july 2014.

* the grand palais…for robert mapplethorpe’s highly stylized black and white portraits, nudes and still lifes (until 13 july); and most celebrated video artist, bill viola (until 21 july 2014).

galérie blumann in the place des vosges for their current rolling stones photo exhibition. we also love the tribute to brigitte bardot.

la maison européenne de la photographie.

musée d'orsay.

take a ride on the bateaux mouches. what may seem a little touristy, is actually quite magical.

to sleep…

*hotel paradis: this is our favorite sleeping spot in paris right now. a super cute and charming boutique hotel, perfectly located in the 10eme…close to both canal st martin, and the marais. walk and cycle everywhere from here. with design features reminiscent of the ace / marlton (in nyc) hotels…we love every single little detail here, from the stunning wallpaper (different on every floor), the mid-century furniture, the letterpress coasters, the toiletries by malin + goetz, the full breakfast each morning. it has it all. It’s beautiful here.

*hotel amour: once pretty sketch, the red-light district of pigalle is slowly cleaning up its act, and fast becoming cool – especially thanks to the likes of this great boutique hotel. designed by swedish-born, paris-raised graffiti artist and nightclub entrepreneur andre saraiva (the guy behind le baron in london and paris, as well as le bain at andre balazs’ nyc standard) – a great sleeping option, and beautiful lush courtyard as well for lunch or aperitif.

*mama shelter: located in an unlikely part of town (the northeast of paris), this philippe starck-designed beauty, is an affordable sleeping option which attracts creative types on a budget. You can find mama shelters now in marseille, lyon, istanbul and bordeaux as well (with la to come).

airbnb: there are some seriously amazing apartments to be found. we recommend looking in the 10eme (canal st martin – boho, laidback, young, fun vibes), or the 3eme (marais – fun, beautiful streets, restaurants, boutiques, cafes – only 10mins walk from canal st martin).


spotlight series. susanna brambillaChiara faloppa andpaolo passoni]

[Milano soundtrack. Volare (but, of course!)]

Our love affair with the North of Italy began at the age of 18, when a strapping, young Italian boy from Milan, named Diego, came and lived with our family in Melbourne for a few months. Quickly becoming our Italian “brother”, we have since spent the next 17 years going back and forth between our hometowns.

Perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing and romantic as say Florence, or Venice…and with fewer secrets to uncover than in Rome…what Milan lacks in history and beauty, she makes up for in wealth and style. We love Italy’s largest city for the smell of jasmine in the air, the beautiful green spaces, the Milanese food and way of life, her style, the aperitivo, the coffee, the shopping, and the close proximity to the lakes region, and the coast. Oh and the Duomo – how could we forget Europe’s third largest church (after St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome, and Seville’s cathedral) – this Gothic beauty dominates the great piazza, and is a feast for the senses.

La Dolce Vita.

For coffee and breakfast…

Al Buon Convento Bistrot Caffetteria: this cute little spot was located at the bottom of our apartment building. Great coffee and delicious pastries. We also found another great local spot two doors down from Al Buon Convento (walking away from the Duomo) as well.

Gattullo: this is our favorite place in the city. Gattullo has been a Milanese institution since 1961. Come to this incredibly beautiful corner pasticceria for excellent coffee, delicious pastries and incredible old-school decor. Check out the staff uniforms. Supremo. Great sandwiches as well.

Marotin: we love this super cute and colorful corner bakery. Great croissants to-go.

Giacomo Pasticceria: in the same area as Marotin, another excellent option for a breakfast croissant on-the-run.

Bastianello (near our favorite shoe store): for great coffee and breakfast.

Pandenus: a few locations around town. Good coffee and cakes.

Sant'Ambroeus: it has been in the heart of the Milan Fashion District forever: a real classic, anytime of day.

Pavé: very popular at the moment. Desserts are amazing. Brunch is good too.

Sissi: for croissants.

For brunch…

Radetzky: it's been the bohémienne Milanese circle's meeting point forever. Always packed at aperitivo time. A beautiful spot for a late lunch on sunny Sundays.

Al Fresco: for brunch, lunch or dinner in a beautiful outdoor courtyard.

California Bakery: there are a few of these in town. A chain, yes, but great for an easy lunch – we like to grab a picnic basket from the Sant'Eustorgio one and take it to a park on a sunny Spring afternoon.

Ceresio 7: owned and designed by the twins from DSquared - on a rooftop with a pool, in the building of their DSquared HQ.

For lunch….

Baretto: a classic. Perfect for a lunch break on a shopping day

Al Mercato: for a break from pasta and pizza…come here for great burgers!

Eately: this amazing food and beverage company was founded in Turin, Italy, but has made waves in a whole host of other countries. We have been regular visitors at the NYC outpost…and were blown away by this, eately smeraldo – their most impressive retail showcase – located here in Milan. Located at the teatro smeraldo, this is a gourmet paradise. Come here and grab lunch to-go…or check out the in-house library for amazing cook books, or even try a cooking class. It’s all here, and it’s amazing.

Excelsior food court: another great spot for lunch to-go…this beautiful food haven, in the basement of the Excelsior, is worth checking out even if you are not hungry. Super impressive.

Il Salumaio: come here for the amazing courtyard.

Paper Moon: a traditional restaurant in the heart of the Fashion District. Nice pizza. Also try the beef with artichokes.

Martini Bar: located within Dolce&Gabbana’s men’s boutique. A nice verandah and great (people-watching) crowd. Perfect for a casual (Milan-style) lunch.

Refeel (Porta Romana area): also nice for aperitivo and breakfast

For the best gelato in town…Gelateria della Musica. Second best, try Rivareno.

Great for an afternoon break: Biancolatte. Come to this gorgeous spot for coffee or gelato.

10 Corso Como: always beautiful on any afternoon. Great for afternoon tea in the magnificent courtyard.

For dinner…

The Small: our favorite dinner spot at the moment. A cute, colorful and kitsch bistrot. The owner Alessandro is unbelievably friendly and hospitable and will ensure you have an amazing night. More a “home”, than a restaurant. Great food. Grab a table outside.

U Barba: we love this spot. Located as part of a bocce ball court that is still operating. Serving amazing food from Liguria. Grab a table out the back, and play a few rounds of bocce throughout your meal.

Petit Bistro: always busy, grab a table outside and enjoy the people watching (and good food).

Head to Navigli for lots of cute bars and restaurants dotting the canals…. a few favorites:

Pont de Ferr: for something more high-end. Influenced by Ferran Adrià, among others, chef Matias Perdomo is a friendly Argentinian who favors molecular gastronomy. This kind of cooking can be a little fancy for our tastes these days, but this one Michelin restaurant offers a beautiful experience and gorgeous setting along the canals of Navigli.

Rebelot: for great tapas and sangria, and good vibes.

Erba Brusca: for a beautiful farm-to-table dining experience. Come here and grab a table on the beautiful garden terrace, surrounded by their veggie patch, and enjoy delicious Italian favorites.

Temakinho (there are two in town – one in Navigli, and one in Brera): Japanese/Brazilian fusion. Come here for an awesome combo of Japanese temaki + caipirinhas! Great cozy atmosphere.

Finger's and Finger's garden (weird name!): but more great Japanese/Brazilian fusion, an amazing location and amazing service. Finger's Garden offers a beautiful Japanese garden for Summer time.

Yuzu: a tiny spot, offering some of the best sushi in town.

Giacomo Bistrot: this great bistrot is loved by the Fashion industry. Giacomo all’Arengario: located right on Piazza Duomo, next to Museo del Novecento, has a unique and stunning view over the Duomo. Same chef as Giacomo, but super chic and elegant. Not to be missed.

Osteria del Corso: for soccer player and showgirls spotting. Traditional Italian food. The Sicilian owner, Mimmo, is a Milanese classic.

Mimmo Dondup: same owner as Osteria del Corso. Great for lunch as well.

Porteno: very cool Argentinean restaurant.

La Briciola: a Milanese classic – best cotoletta and meatballs. Located in Brera area. Also check out “Il Giallo”: same owner, same area and same food, though slightly more casual and open till late at night.

To drink…

For apertivi (our favorite time of day!).... you can find a great little bar on every corner, sometimes the more low-key the better, but here are a few we also recommend:

Straf (next to Rinascente): cool crowd and music. Everybody stands out on the street, pretty casual.

Hotel Bulgari: always very chic. Love the garden in Summer time, a beautiful oasis under the trees in the heart of Milan.

Bar Rinascente: come here for the amazing views of the Duomo, if nothing else. A great rooftop.

Diana Majestic: grab a table in the beautiful garden.

N'Ombra de Vin (Brera): nice enoteca. A favorite among the banker/lawyer crowd.

Bodega del Tasca: according to our local friends, this is popular with the Milanese bohemian and wealthy crowd.

Rita (Navigli): best cocktails in town, fun after dinner as well.

For after dinner drinks…

Bar Principe di Savoia: this is the place to be during Fashion Week…but ONLY during Fashion Week. Rest of the year is not recommended.

Frank: (Porta Venezia area).

To shop…

The Excelsior: our new favorite department store, reminiscent of Colette, Merci etc. This luxury hub opened its doors three years ago, taking over a former movie theatre along the Galleria del Corso. Amazing luxe brands – cosmetics, apparel, shoes, accessories. All brands sourced by Antonia Giacinti – the talented buyer behind renowned Milanese boutique, Antonia. An amazing food court downstairs as well.

Antonia (Brera): do it.

Marni outlet: our favorite of all the Italian designers, this hidden-away outlet store (at the bottom of a residential building in the middle of a non-descript neighborhood), is an essential stop on any visit to Milan.

If you are an outlet-shopper, check out: D-Magazine; and Il Salvagente.

For shoes: La Vetrina di Beryl.

For everything, including a coffee break in the gorgeous courtyard, check out 10 Corso Como.

Others… Gio Moretti (Via Sant’Andrea); Banner (Via Sant'Andrea); Biffi (Corso Genova): and by the same owner of Banner, Antonioli (Navigli): best selection of Givenchy, Rick Owens etc; Profumeria Mazzolari: any beauty or hair products you need can be found here.

To do… 

A day trip to Lago di Como (A MUST): for apertivo at Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, followed by lunch atTrattoria del Glicine. This is quite possibly the most beautiful place we have ever laid eyes on in our life. Spend the day (or lots of days) cruising the lakes…by car, by foot, by boat…or all of the above. Heaven on earth.

Teatro alla Scala: come and experience a show at this, Italy and Milan’s world renowned, Opera House.

Visit the Naviglio antique markets that take place once a month; also check out the Saturday markets in the old streets of Brera.  

For Spa and Beauty…Violette: for the most chic manicure in town. A Vogue favorite. The Studio by Davide Diodovich: amazing peaceful hair salon. Best colorist in town. A fashion industry favorite. Hotel Bulgari, if you want to splurge on a spa treatment. Hotel Armani, for another amazing spa experience (on the rooftop).

To note…

Malpensa Airport is a long way from the center of town (a cab will cost 90euro). Much better to jump on the train, super easy.

City bikes easy to use, and a great way to get around town.

Aperitivi (6-10pm) is crucial to the Milanese day: be sure to embrace this daily routine, Campari and bar snacks. The best.

Coffee etiquette: caffè/espresso is a single shot, doppio is a double shot, Americano is a long black. And if you request milk in your coffee after lunchtime, you will get some strange looks. Cappuccinos and lattes are only for breakfast!



[spotlight series. elizabeth polkinghorne andThorsten keller]

[Hamburg soundtrack. Enjoy the Silence]         

Hamburg wasn’t part of our plan. We had a few days to fill-in on our way to Berlin, and after hearing a lot of good things about Berlin’s neighbor, we decided last-minute to stop by and check it out. Only 90mins from Berlin by train, Hamburg has a different energy. It is the center of Germany’s insurance, internet and newspaper industries; it is also home to the second largest port in Europe; its where the Beatles called home before they became famous (and the cute ivy-covered place they rented is next to one of our favorite restaurants in St. Pauli, Krug); and as well as that, it’s the birthplace of Karl Lagerfeld, and apparently Germany’s second fashion capital. It has a grungy/artsy vibe. We are not a massive fan of the Repperbahn (a street in St. Pauli full of strip clubs, neon lights and brothels), but we like the little streets around it. We love the Lake, wow. The Alster is huge and surrounded by beautiful green space and some gorgeous homes in the surrounding neighborhoods of Winterhude and Rotherbaum. Grab bikes and ride around. You’ll find more than just pumpernickel, sauerkraut, spaetzle, bratwurst and leiderhausen here! We were lucky to be there right in the beating heart of World Cup fever. We saw Germany beat France. The streets were on fire!

We have listed here some of our favorite things from our short three day stay…but for even more insight, check out our interviews with Australian-expat Liz Polkinghorne, and Hamburg local,Thorsten Keller, who know this city inside out and have kindly shared some of their amazing local secrets.

To caffeinate…

Less Political: one of Hamburg’s best ‘third wave’ coffee spots – this old warehouse-turned-café specializes in espresso, cold brew, filter coffee, as well as their own hand-roasted beans to take home. Located right near the Saturday flea market, it’s the perfect spot to drop into after a bit of shopping. Pale wood, minimalist design. Its beautiful here.

Luncheonette: we love this new-ish café in the heart of Ottensen. Offering great barista-style coffee, they had a basic lunch menu when we visited in July, but were just about to extend it to breakfast as well. Right in the heart of Bahrenfelder Strasse, you will find some other cute stuff along here as well.

To eat…

Breakfast at Café Paris (or for wine, dinner etc): this beautiful old building and café is a Hamburg institution. Feeling very European,  you will have a great coffee and breakfast here. If you are in the mood for something sweet, try the hot chocolate. Come back for lunch, aperitif and dinner as well. All so good.

Erste Liebe: located on Michaelisbrücke 3, at the end of the Admiralitatssrasse (home to many galleries and bookstores) – this spot is great for coffee, breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon drink.

Dinner at Vienna: this was our favorite dining experience in the three days we spent in Hamburg. A cute, cosy neighborhood favorite in Fettstrasse. No bookings, but plenty of room (and a cute bar to wait at), so make sure you stick around. Delicious Viennese food.

Dinner at Krug: located in St Pauli on Paul-Roosen-Straße. This super cute little place is housed in a gorgeous ivy-covered building. South German food. Good wine list. Open kitchen. Lovely service. Bookings essential. Some useless trivia – the house next door is where the Beatles lived for some time during the 70s !

Dinner at Chapeau: very hip and happening at the moment. Known for its burger.

We didn’t make it here, but wish we had have had time… Oberstübchen (St. Pauli Fischmarkt 27). A new one by the guys who run Krug. Located right next to the Pudel Club in the Park Fiction. A perfect place for a drink on their sunny terrace, or looking out over the harbor from the cosy inside space. They do a great weekend breakfast as well.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner at Alexandros: we ran out of time to get to Alexandros, but it came very highly recommended to us by Jorg, one of the barmen at Le Lion. A charming local place, just off busy Mönckebergstraße in the city center, apparently this is more like stepping into Alexandros’ home, than a restaurant. A small space – just one room with only a handful of tables. We will be sure to check it out next time. Apparently meeting Alexandros alone is worth the visit. The restaurant used to be a bookshop and some furniture and lovely stuff was kept by the owner.

For something quick and easy, pizza from Slim Jims – close to the Superbude hostel in St Pauli – is a good choice. Grab a seat out on the street.

To drink…

Le Lion Bar de Paris: a gorgeous little hidden cocktail bar, opposite the famed Café Paris. ring the doorbell in the lion’s mouth to be let in. best to make a reservation. brilliant and carefully crafted cocktails .

Toast Bar (Wohlwillstr. 54): on a warm night, locals spill out of this cosy little spot on to the street. Cheap drinks, spinning records, and friendly neighborhood vibes. Djs and good tunes. We really like it here.

The Boilerman Bar: by the same clever guys behind Le Lion (Jorg is the MAESTRO) – another awesome spot for fancy cocktails, they serve “fine Highballs, American Whiskey and a small selection of beer”.

Check out some of the “beach” bars down by the port. Kind of cheesy, but kind of fun. Look out forStrand Perle, and Strand Pauli. A mixed crowd.

Cruise along Sternschanze: lots of bars to choose from.

To shop…

Flohschanze Flea Market: the perfect start to your Saturday morning. This weekly vintage market gets cracking at 8am. It is run out of an old cattle slaughter house building in St Pauli – antiques, jewelry, clothes, second hand bikes, shoes, and more. Stop for a coffee at Less Political on the way. Easy to get to, just jump off the U-Bahn at Feldstraße (Heiligengeistfeld). Not far from here is Marktstrasse (see below) - a quiet little street full of cute boutiques and frequented by a younger, hip crowd.

Markstrasse: for cute boutiques. In particular, we love the vintage shoe store – U2 Schuhe (Marktstr.1A) – some seriously good kicks to be found.

Sternschanze: for cute back streets filled with interesting little boutiques and cafes.

Coffee Table Mags: available at Public Coffee Roasters @ Wexstrasse 28.

Farmers Market: every Tuesday and Friday (from 8:30am-2:00pm) Hamburg’s Isestraße becomes Europe’s largest outdoor market: the Isemarkt(Isestraße 1-37). Set in a charming residential neighborhood with beautiful art nouveau buildings, there are over 200 vendors on display, selling all sorts of wonderful things – flowers, herbs, cured meats, fish, bread, chocolate etc.

Property of…: this male accessory store, new to Hamburg, can also be found in Amsterdam and Singapore. also with stores in Amsterdam and Singapore. Great men’s bags etc, but our favorite bit – free barista-style coffee for customers while they shop (such a nice touch), and on top of that,the brand has a social conscience, too, and donations are welcomed in aid of local homeless charity Hamburger Tafel.

To do...

Get on the gallery circuit…starting of course with our favorite, the Galerie Herold (Colonnaden 5) right in the heart of the city center. If you have time, try to get to the island of Sylt as well, to visit Herold Galerie’s Kampen or Keitum outposts. Its beautiful here.

Also check out the Circle Culture Gallery: for the current exhibition (until 13 September) – Nothing Is What It Seems, by Olivia Steele. A collection of photographs and her latest neon sign installations. Open by appointment.

Try to track down the Kitchen Guerilla: an underground mobile dinner club. Run by Koral, a Turkish ex-pat living in Hamburg, and local Hamburger, Olaf…this is a super fun mobile, pop-up dinner movement. Known to hijack restaurants, boats, construction sites, or even sail boats on the Med! Check the website for dinners, dates and locations.

Go for a run, or ride bikes around the Alster (the lake in the middle of the city). Nothing better on a sunny day. Check out the beautiful homes in the surrounding neighborhoods of Winterhude and Rotherbaum.

Speicherstadt (near the water): good for a little wander around.

Wander around the Port: one of the busiest in the world – and check out the fischmarkt. Hamburg’s oldest fish market has been thriving since 1703 !

To sleep…

25 Hours Hotel (Number One): there are a few of these hotels around Europe (and a couple in Hamburg itself) all promoting “style at an affordable price”. The vibe is young and creative. Somewhat retro in design, you will notice cute (sometimes a tad tacky though) design features incl bespoke bedroom and bathroom furniture, bare concrete ceilings, string curtains, an awesome in-house magazine (our favorite part of the whole hotel !!) curated by the ever popular and super-dialed in, Freunde von Freunden, as well as cute (environmentally-friendly) bathroom products, and a pop-up burger stand out the front (housed in a vintage airstream). The design is simple and modern (perhaps a bit too modern for our tastes), but makes for a very affordable and easy sleeping option. Free bikes a nice touch as well.

Superbude: this is effectively an upmarket/hip hostel - ‘Bude’ meaning a ‘simple cabin’ in German. A fun place to stay. Great communal areas. A couple of locations (make sure you are at the right one when you check in!). Basic rooms, but clean and cute design features. Very affordable.

Gastwerk: a carefully restored industrial building  (an old gas plant) located in Ottensen, this is a gorgeous boutique sleeping option. All brick and steel, this beautifully designed hotel is a bit more pricey than 25 Hours and Superbude, but is definitely the more superior choice out of the three. A lovely outdoor terrace restaurant as well.


ericeira [portugal].

[spotlight series. christoffer hartkopp]

[ericeira soundtrack. Hey mami]

This surfing mecca is home to one of the most sought-after surf beaches in Europe – Ribeira d’ilhas. Only 31 miles northeast of Lisbon, Ericeira is a small fishing village with a charming old town full of traditional Portuguese houses and winding cobblestone streets. With stunning views of the Atlantic ocean, lots of charm in the old town, beautiful Cliffside walking tracks, and amazing beaches – this is a heavenly place to stop for a few days.

We only had two nights here, but still managed to find some beautiful things…and these are our favorites:

To eat/caffeinate.

Magic Quiver Surf&Deli: more than just a surfshop, this cosy corner store in the center of Ericeira’s old town is all about surfboards, surf culture, good coffee, homemade snacks, and a well-curated selection of clothes and accessories. The coffee is excellent and their homemade granola with yoghurt and berries was so tasty – that this became our first stop each morning. Owner Rui has created a space where people can hang out and talk all things surf …he also hosts photography and art exhibitions, live music and movie screenings. A magical little spot.

Uni Sushi: for deliciously fresh sushi and sashimi and a great atmosphere, in one of the old town’s charming and bustling streets.

Pizzamobile (Estrada Nacional 247, Lugar de Ladeiras): we love this – pizza out of a mini-van. Two friends, who share a love for surfing and pizza, have been touring around Portugal in their van selling pizza – now based near São Lourenço Beach, just three kilometers north of Ericeira, they offer delicious pizza at good prices, good people, friendly service, good vibes and awesome views.

Restaurante Prim (Rua 5 de Outubro 16): perfect for delicious wood-fired grilled meats, caiprinhas – and a break from Portuguese (which we love) food. Grab a spot outside.

To drink.

Ribeira d’ilhas Surf Restaurant & Bar: a beautiful walk along the cliffs from Ericeira will bring you here – to Ribeira d’Ilhas - one of Europe’s most well-renowned surf breaks. The new-ish surf restaurant and bar (which was built to much controversy - transforming the once laid back beach into a modern, stylish place to hang)  has a great deck and comfy lounges and offers healthy breakfast and lunch options, delicious Portuguese tarts, great drinks, and then surf lessons, board hire, showers and more.

To do.

Check out all the nearby beaches, especially Ribeira d’ilhas for the surf.

Visit Nico at Wavegliders: this local legend has been shaping boards since 1988. Starting off in his parent’s garage, almost twenty years on, he now operates out of a huge warehouse space 20 minutes outside Ericeira. Super kind and humble, Nico was generous enough to give us a tour of his studio, and took us through the shaping process from start to finish. It only takes him two days to do a board. A variety of styles, his favorite is the “The pig” which he tells us is “More than surfing. It’s a State of mind. Sense of pride”. He also has a guest shaping room where he invites other shapers, once a year, to come and spend time with him. His first guest was Californian shaper Ryan Lovelace, who has since returned to Portugal a few times. Nico is a huge fan of Lovelace’s boards and lovingly showed us the board Lovelace left Nico as a gift. His clients are largely scattered throughout Scandinavia, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Our other favorite thing – together with the Surfers Lodge Peniche – Nico can custom shape a board to meet your needs, and then have it delivered to the Surfers Lodge so its there waiting for you when you check in. Muy bien.

Visit Skeleton Sea: an amazing property and art collective, not far from Ribeira d’Ilhas. Skeleton Sea is a green arts project that was started by three surfer friends in a bid to keep the ocean clean. During breaks between surfing, the friends began to salvage trash and other recycled materials they found on the beach – old Chinese glass buoys wrapped in ropes, whale and fish bones, driftwood, wooden and rust metal pars of ship wrecks, porcelain pieces, flotsam and jetsam – to create surf art with a positive message, while tidying up the beach and keeping the oceans clean. An inspiring story. Their works have been exhibited all over the world – from Portugal to Japan to Kenya and the Middle East. We were lucky enough to be there for one of their Friday night ‘summer sessions’ – a weekly bbq they held through summer – with live music, delicious food and really interesting company. Not only did we get to meet and chat with one of the founding artists - German Xandi Kreuzeder – but we also got to enjoy some crazy psychedelic didgeridoo-tunes with Winga Kan.

To sleep.

Airbnb: lots of options available. We rented a private room with some super friendly locals (a Portuguese guy and his Finnish girlfriend). A perfect and easy option.


[spotlight series. Manuela sosa and jordi mestre]

[Barcelona soundtrack. new track]

Barcelona. Known for its great quality of life (almost year-round sunshine, beaches and mountains), this artistic and cultural hub, is full of beauty and inspiration. “Barcelona nourishes creativity”, said Ferran Adria, chef and “Barcelover”. And you can feel that energy here. A perfect mix of all our favorite things – the beach, good food, design and architecture (hello Gaudi), open and dynamic people, lots of beautiful green spaces (and awesome views from Parc Güell) and great music – this is the perfect place to hang out for a few days. With streets full of history, there is nothing better than getting lost in the little narrow laneways that make up the Barri Gòtic. Hang with locals in Gracia, or find cool stuff popping up out of converted warehouses in El Poblenou.  

With so much to do, and so much to eat (but never enough time)…we have listed below just a few of our favorite things (from last summer) to get you started on a quick 2-day visit.

To caffeinate.

Over the past few years, specialty coffee has really taken off in Barcelona, and you will definitely be impressed by whats on offer. These are some of our favorites:

Coffee lab & shop by nomad productions: this is easily one of the most beautiful coffee corners we have found so far. Jordi Mestre found this stunning space, tucked away down Passatge Sert in El Born, after returning from life in London. He returned to Barcelona to do what he does best – coffee. You wont find any food here. No different kinds of milk. No sugar. Just straight up coffee. Jordi buys green beans, roasts them and turns them into delicious brews. It’s beautiful here.

Satan’s coffee corner: in a beautiful light and airy space, tucked down the end of a laneway in theBarri Gòtic – Carrer de l’Arc de Sant Ramon del Call – Satan’s young owner Marcos is doing great things in the world of coffee. Offering a great food menu as well, and even better, very friendly service (shout-out to Marcos’ hilarious brother), we love passing by here.

Sky coffee co (check their opening situation – we think they may have closed this summer (2015)): housed inside a big El Poblenou warehouse (which also plays home to an architecture firm), the Sky Coffee Co serve their delicious brews out of a cute 1972 Citroen HY. We love a good pop-up, and this little guy is no exception. Sky was the first to bring good coffee to the Catalan streets.

To eat.

Le Pepita (Costega 343): for tapas in a can! We love this little corner bar. Fun, noisy, and not only packed full of visitors, locals too. Try to book, or put your name down and wait awhile. We love sitting at the bar. Famous for their namesake – Las Pepitas (a thin sandwich filled with all sorts of different fillings – we like the tuna one with avocado, mitzuna salad and a ginger/soy dressing). Also try their homemade tapa in a can. These little ‘tapalatas’ are great. Not very Spanish, but we like the hummus with beet salad, mint and cucumber. Fresh and full of flavor. The argentine beef skewer with chimichurri was incredible.

La Paradetta: this place is not fancy, but if you are looking for good fish and something casual, come here. Choose your catch and pay by weight. It’s all about the food.

Mercat de la Boqueria: yes, it’s in every guidebook, but for good reason. A beautiful, lively market in the heart of Barcelona with great little food stalls, and fresh produce. Another one to check out is the (very similar) Mercat de Poblenou in the much less touristy neighborhood of Poblenou. Equally as wonderful, this mercat has been keeping the Poblenou neighborhood well-fed since 1913.

To drink.

Plaza del Sol: one of the loveliest plazas in Barcelona, in a very Catalan neighborhood, this is our favorite place to hang out on a sunny afternoon. With hippy vibes, this is where the locals come to drink when the sun comes out. Music from the surrounding bars fills the square, and people sit around drinking and eating tapas. Order tapas from Sol Soler – cheap, authentic and delicious. Drink at Sol de Nit (which also has good music).

Barcelona Pipa Club: most bars in Barcelona close at 2am…but one bar in Plaza Real found a way to get around that, and that is the Pipa Club. By claiming they are a “pipe association” they have a late-night license until 6am. Best to go after 1am or 2am. A really fun club. Ring the bell and go up to the second floor. Relaxed, old school bar with lots of dark wood.

Balius bar: in el poblenou. We stumbled across this beautiful corner bar by mistake. The colored mosaic tiles out the front luring us in. run by a friendly Scotsman and his Spanish wife, pioneers in the bar industry. They were responsible for introducing the G&T to this part of the world. Great cocktails, and a fantastic local and sustainable food menu.

To shop.

Gang and the Wool: a little out of town, but absolutely worth a visit. There is something very magical about Manuela Sosa’s floristry and her very special little greenhouse.

Els Encants: the oldest flea-market in Barcelona. Originally called the “Old Charms” flea-market, this renovated open air complex near the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes is where you can find all things trash and treasure. Antique furniture, door handles, old records, vintage clothes, postcards, posters and more.

Iriarte iriarte: check out Caroline Iriarte’s original and beautiful handcrafted leather bags.

To sleep.

Casa Gracia: the epitome of a boutique hostel. Perfectly located on Calle Gracia, right in the heart of Gracia, this big old building with vaulted ceilings, large picture windows, and a wonderful sunny terrace, has a chic and minimal aesthetic and is the perfect place to stay. If your days in a dorm are over (as ours are!), choose one of the private rooms with private bathroom. A friendly and in-the-know concierge will help you with any local recommendations you need. A simple breakfast is served on the terrace each morning, and a little sangria bar is set up in the same space by night. Always hosting fun music events, themed dinners and parties, this is a fun and lively place to stay. You can choose to get as involved, or not, as you like. With big plans to grow over the coming years, it’s an exciting time to visit Casa Gracia.

El Paulauet: for something more fancy (and expensive), you might be interested in these beautiful suites housed in a 1906 art noveau building. Also located on Calle Gracia, each suite is assigned with a personal assistant who will act as your dedicated concierge for your stay. A lovely sleeping option.


lefkada [greece].

[spotlight series. chrissie argyros and cris soldatos]

[lefkada soundtrack. jubel]

Welcome to the precious natural beauty that is Lefkada (or Lefkas). One of the lesser known gems of the Ionian Sea. Connected to the mainland of Greece by a bridge, Lefkada is easy to get to. It is big. It is rugged. It is surrounded by insanely turqouise sea, and dramatic, jaw-dropping beaches. Charming little villages are scattered throughout, and olive trees dot the horizon. Locals sell honey from street stalls on the side of the road. Abandoned villages cling to the edge of mountains, narrow roads winding right through them. Fresh fish tavernas pop up everywhere. The Greek yoghurt tastes better; the tzatziki is life changing; and Greek salad is on tap. The locals are friendly and welcoming. Known for its watersports - Lefkada is one of Europe’s most popular windsurfing destinations. And as well as all of that, its conveniently positioned right near Kefalonia and Ithaca (two other islands we hear are equally as intoxicating). 

Lefkada would have never been on our radar had it not been for our good friend (and local insider) Chrissie Argyros, a Melbourne girl whose father Stathi was born on the island. Chrissie – whose mother Jane is Australian - was born in Melbourne, but has spent pretty much every European summer of her life here on Lefkas. Known by her friends as the unofficial “mayor” of the island, Chrissie has spent countless holidays here playing tour guide to hoards of visiting Melburnians. This woman is certainly down with all the best, most hidden and local spots. I was lucky enough to join the roll call last summer.

Here we provide some of the (many) things we fell in love with about the island. Chrissie - and our other local insider, Cris Solvates - chime in as well with their favorite hidden hotspots. If you are still tossing up ideas for your next european summer vacation - add Lefkada to the list. Its one of those places we want the world to know about, but at the same time, kind of want to keep to ourselves. It's so beautiful here.

Our Lefkada.

We recommend choosing one village as your base, then renting a scooter or jeep and doing a bunch of day trips from there. We chose Vassiliki (situated on a wide bay on the south coast of the island). Quieter and less touristy than the bigger towns of Lefkada and Nidri. And still close enough to all the good stuff.

Things we love:

More Faje yoghurt lining supermarket shelves than we have ever seen in our life.

The white paper tablecloths on top of restaurant tables that double as maps of the island.

Greek salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4 euro bottles of locally produced Rose.

Mythos beer.

“Greek time” – if they say it will take 15mins, it will take 45. Don't believe anything to the contrary.

Scooter life.

The gents club - the old local men who meet for hours on end at their local coffee shop each morning. We would love to know what they talk about.

The charming little villages that cling to the edge of the mountains, and the abandoned ones that are tucked away in the hills.

The Greek yoghurt at tavern oasis.

Restaurant “No menu” – for exactly that.

Rachi - in exanthia - for everything. This is our favorite place on the island. The view, the sunsets, the food, the beer, the wine, the good vibes. Oh and the best tzatziki we have ever experienced.

And finally - the beaches. Every single beach will completely blow your mind. Guaranteed.

To eat.

Rachi: in Exanthia for absolutely everything. As previously mentioned, this is our favorite place on the island. So much so, we visited 3 times over 10 days. The location will take your breath away. The food is fresh, local and seasonal (we are obsessed with the vegetable salad with yoghurt, and the zucchini fritters - but everything is good). The Rose is their own brew. And the view - well - thats something to behold. Go before sunset, and stay right through. Grab a table on the edge of the terrace if you can. This place is special.

Oceans: for excellent seafood. Order the stuffed calamari, and the grilled fish of the day (oh and the rocket and parmesan salad).

Kima: for moussaka. Emelia, the owner, has been making the same moussaka recipe since she was a 17 year old girl (now in her 50s). This is a local favorite.

The bakery in Vasiliki (opp service station): for their spanakopita.

The bakery in Vasiliki (in town, next to grill house): for their sourdough bread, and their sesame/raisin gingerbread cookies.

Yianni’s Grill House: for the best gyros on the island.

Selitas: for Greek-style tapas.

Ta Katamia (meaning “no menu): for literally that. They will ask if you want vegetarian or meat. Thats it. There’s no menu (as the name of the restaurant would suggest!). A great, colorful, friendly, open-air dining space in a busy (not so pretty) part of town (Nidri).

Tavern Oasis: a little family-run tavern on the road to Porto Katsiki. We stopped here for breakfast - amazing greek yoghurt with fruit, honey and nuts.

Stavros tavern: in Sivota for dinner.

Agios Nikitas: for all its cute bars and restaurants. We liked ‘Nikitas’ Fresh Fish Taverna.

To drink.

155: this is the best (and only) craft cocktail bar on the island. The two (brother) owners are ex-Athens, where they run a hugely successful cocktail bar there as well. Ask for the special marmalade cocktail (not on the menu, a trip from our Athens insider). 

Tunnel bar: grab a drink and sit on the street.

rachi: for potentially the best sunset drink you will have in your life.

Any of the bars in Sivota: a pretty harbor town.

Copla Beach Bar: on Kathisma Beach if you are in the mood for some party beats, and pretty amazing people watching!

To do.

Beach-hop. Obviously. Jump on a scooter and spend days bouncing between: Agios Nikitas, Milos, Pefkoulia, Kathisma, Kavalikefta and Megali Petra (Kalamitsi), Gialos, Egremni and the Island’s most famous beach ‘Porto Katsiki’.

Its hard to pick a favorite, but we will go as far as to say our favorite is Milos. Only accessible by boat (or a short, but steep, 15min hike from the village), Milos is long, wide and incredibly white (sand) and aqua blue (sea). It would be awesome for beach camping. There are no ameninites though, so be prepared. Pack a cooler. You might find the odd donut seller, but thats about it.

Egremni on the other hand, is probably a favorite among the masses, and rightly so. Its requires a bit of effort to get to (we counted 350 stairs). Theres a fun beach bar, playing perfectly chilled summer beats, and cold drinks (no decent food though - pack your own).

Porto katsiki - another crowd-pleaser - is out of this world. Only a small stretch of sand, every inch will no doubt be occupied by beach bums, umbrellas, and families. Its busy, but its beautiful.

Lastly, we really, really love all the little secluded coves that surround Vasiliki town (literally named first beach, second beach, third beach and so on). To get to fourth beach (our favorite), look out for the electricity shed at the top of the hill (about 5mins walk from town), and then find the tiny walking path that has been carved out of the forrest. The quietest, and most hidden, and our top pick.

Jump on board the waterspouts bandwagon - windsurfing, sailing, paddle boarding and more.


Yoga (check if Melina from Melina’s little shop is hosting any classes - she is amazing).

Take out a boat.

Visit the nearby islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca.

Explore the island (there is a small church - where 3 nuns still live - hidden away in the hills. If you find it, they will open it up for you and show you through. You can buy their honey. This is a special experience).

To shop.

Fabric: a well-curated selection of apparel and accessory brands, and very friendly vibes. The brainchild of our Lefkada insider, Cris Soldatos, be sure to pop in and say hi while in Vassiliki. If you pop a thong (or flip flop), you will find plenty of new ones here.

Melina’s little shop: opening in the summer of 2007, Melina’s little shop in Vassiliki is a cute and cosy corner boutique, full of bright and colorful jewelry, beach dresses, greek sandals, handwoven turkish towels, and other artisan products. Melina, who not only owns this cute spot, is a yoga instructor as well, and also the host of our favorite sleeping option (see below). She is a true darling.

Local goods (from the side of the road): honey, olive oil, beeswax cream, mountain tea, yoghurt, oregano etc.

To sleep.

Melinas rooms – this is our favorite sleeping option in Vassiliki. Right in the center of town, these clean, simple and bright rooms are totally gorgeous and very affordable (expect to pay between 50-60 euro in high season). Run by Melina and her husband (who owns cocktail bar, 155), this is a super friendly, family-run option.

Almalfi Coast

[spotlight series. Carla Celentano and Raffaele Mandara]

[Amalfi Coast soundtrack. Sinnerman]

“Positano bites deep…it is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” — John Steinbeck.

This glittering chunk of the southern Italian coast stole our heart back in 2000, when we first visited as young backpackers. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and totally fell under its spell. So much so, Positano ended up playing home for a couple of months that summer (while we romanced local boys and rode around the cliffs, barefoot and free, on the back of scooters). We were 21. Not a care in the world. We had one local friend (our Positano insider, Raffaele Mandara) who we had met in Melbourne earlier that year, who took us under his wing. Positano born and bred, Raf introduced us to his town - his family, his friends, their way of life. The rest is history. We have flirted with the magic of the Amalfi Coast for 15 years now. It is also the place we met one of our best friends, our Toronto insider - Amanda Blakely - a Canadian backpacker, also bopping around Italy as a 21 year old. We met on the street, as a local friend was recruiting cute girls to come to his birthday party that night! It is home to countless special memories. Last summer, we were back there again - firstly with Amanda and some other Canadian friends; and then with family. The first time my two sisters and i had been there all together at the same time. Positano is nothing short of breathtaking. We love the trellised walkways covered in vines and lavender flowers, the colored buildings jutting out of the jagged cliffs, the countless stairs (a serious workout), the hot blazing sun, the crazy views, the sight of lemons - everywhere - and limoncello, the smell of wood-fired pizza, the striped sun lounges, the sparkling blue waters of the mediterranean, the hidden coves and private beaches, Da Adolfo (one of our favorite places on the planet), and just the Italian way. The food. The Spritz’s. The music. The feeling of old-world romance. Its our everything. We have kept our recommendations to just a few, but hope it will guide you on your way on your next visit to this magical part of the world.




To eat.


Da Adolfo: our number one. See below.

Il Capitano: for dinner (go early, around 8ish, for the best sunset skies). Book a table on the edge of the terrace. Its heaven. Start with Campari, and then try the tuna tartare (wow). You cant go wrong with any of the pastas, as well. 

Delicatessen: when you want a low-key lunch, grab homemade sandwiches to-go from the deli in the centre of town (up the stairs) - out of control goodness - big ciabatta rolls, ham, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil, all lathered in a big dollop of olive oil. There is also another great deli opposite Hotel Poseiden on the main street into town.

Buco di bacco: this spot is always good for pizza and gelato (any time of day), but for dinner, go up to the very top floor. Not many people know about this spot, as it is generally reserved for hotel guests. Quiet, private, and spectacular views over the beach - more heaven. The food is excellent.

Casa e Bottega: this charming little cafe is a welcome addition to the Positano food scene. When you need a break from your daily pasta/pizza routine, come here for fruit salad, smoothies, healthy sandwiches and salads. Finish with a (not-so healthy) freshly baked dessert. All so good.

Case Mele: for something more fancy. Raf is an expert chef who has been cooking up a storm in Positano for over 20 years. His new space (summer 2014) is super modern, and a big departure from the traditional Positano-style restaurant aesthetic. He has an open kitchen, where he also hosts cooking courses. Try the raw fish plate, or any of his pastas. Raf is also a dessert whiz, so definitely try his trio of chocolate mousse, and the semi freddo. Tell him we sent you! Our Positano insider is quite the character.

Valle dei mulini: Raf’s original family restaurant. Good for pizza in a nice courtyard garden setting. You will often find live music. It can be found just down the road from Parcheggio Mandara (the garage). 


To drink


Bar Buca di Bacco: for coffee.

Cafe Positano: a great spot for aperitivo. Beautiful views. The food is good as well.

Le Sierunse: our favorite spot for something fancy. Stunning views from their pretty terrace, and some fancy people watching too.

Music on the Rocks: Positano’s one and only nightclub. This is a must.


To do

A day trip to Da Adolfo. This is also a must. Come here once, twice or as many times as you can. Our best recommendation for Positano. A super laidback seafood shack on a private beach (Laurito) a few beaches south of Positano. Jump on the little wooden boat (with the red fish on its mast) from the jetty on the main beach. It generally runs between 11-1pm each day. Spend the day eating mussels, drinking Campari, and sun baking on the rocks. Also try One Fire Beach in Praino - for the same kinda deal.

Hike/walk. Try ‘The Path of the Gods’: a simple walk, from Positano to Bomerano , with spectacular and awe-inspiring scenery all the way.

Day trip to Ravello (see below).

Day trip to Capri (see below).

Shop: at Lo Scrigno di Brunella for all kinds of linen. Locally produced, unique designs.


To sleep


Residence La Tavolozza: our favorite place to stay while in Positano. We stumbled across this cute Bnb by mistake last summer. It is just the best. Basic and simple, and affordably priced. A great location (right next to Le Sirenuse). Breakfast is not included (but the delicatessen is just down the road) and our bathroom was just across the hallway from our room (but it was exclusively ours) - but some of the ones have private ensuite bathrooms, if you would prefer. We paid 95 euro per night (summer 2014), which is an absolute steal for Positano. Its literally smack bang next to La Sirenuse which is prob the most exclusive hotel in town, where rooms go for 800+ euro per night.

Villa Maria Antoinetta: if you cant get in to the Residence La Tavolozza, another good one (at the same kind of level) is Villa Maria Antoinetta. Run by a super cute brother and sister - Giuseppe and Carla - its also right in the centre, and they serve a great breakfast each day on the terraCe. 

La Casa di Peppe: this beautiful guest house and villa is one of the oldest places in Positano. In a beautiful location, a little bit out of town, the private oasis is surrounded by a lush botanical garden surrounded by bougainvillea trees, hibiscus flowers, banana plants and tropical palm trees. La Casa Di Peppe is nice and secluded, offering a very private getaway.

Le Sirenuse: a luxury Positano institution, with a swimming pool and Michelin-starred restaurant. Only 10mins walk downhill to the main beach, this is a beautiful (high-end) place to stay. Gorgeous details throughout including handpainted Italian floortiles, an incredible line of fragrances made just for the hotel, beautiful linens on the beds, turndown service with chocolates, and a thoughtful handwritten nightly weather report, and a delicious breakfast each morning, served on the terrace.



We generally spend most of our time in Positano, so we only have a few recommendations for nearby Sorrento…but we can happily suggest the following things:

To do

Gelato. On repeat. And we can recommend Primavera. There will most certainly be a wait, but don't let that deter you. They offer over 30 flavors, and they are all life-changing. Make this a must-do while in Sorrento.

Book a boat trip with Sorrento Experience. Old-school Italian wooden boats (think George Clooney), this lovely family business (run by our Amalfi Coast insider, Carla Celentano) has been in the boating game for years, and know all the best places to take you. We used them for a trip from Sorrento to Capri, and were not disappointed. Highly recommend.

To sleep

Villa Serena: one of many beautiful properties listed through the Inspirato Collection, this large and luxury home - perched high on a hill just outside Sorrento - has views of the Med from every room. Perfect for a group, the property sits among a manicured garden, and is surrounded by a beautiful pool.

La Minervetta: a spectacular boutique hotel (originally a restaurant built in the 50s), sitting on the seacliff overlooking the Marina Grande. This breathtaking spot offers only 12 Mediterranean-style rooms and is a beautiful, modern, design sleeping option.


We only had one day in Capri, and were lucky enough to be accompanied there by the Sorrento Experience. We can recommend these things while on the island..

To do

La Fontellina: book ahead to spend a day at this beach club. Its lunch only, and reservations are a must. Our favorite beach club on the island.

Da Luigi ai Faraglioni: if La Fontellina is full, this is your next best option. Lunch (lemon risotto) and lounging on the rocks. Book in advance. An amazing spot to set up shop for the day. 

Al Piccolo Bar: for aperitivo (and amazing people watching in the Piazzetta). Grab a front row seat. 

Buonocore Gelateria: for the best gelato in town, served in house-made waffle bowls. Join the queue! Their pistachio cookings are amazing, as well.

100% Capri: for linen everything. Caftans, sheets, homewares, and more. 

To sleep

La Minerva: a beautiful 18-room hotel, located on a quiet street just minutes from the main shopping streets of Via Camerelle and Via Tragara, overlooking the beach of Faraglioni.


A day trip here is essential. If its in the budget, you will not regret (or easily forget) lunch at Hotel Caruso.

To do

Hotel Caruso: lunch here, beside the spectacular infinity pool, looking down on to the mediterranean is an incredible treat. The comprehensive menu offers a perfect example of southern Italian cuisine. Order seafood. Or pasta. Or anything. And start with Bellinis. This is an amazing eating experience.

Ravello Festival: if the timing works, be sure to check out one of the outdoor concerts, as part of the Ravello Festival. The tiny village welcomes all sorts of musicians - big or small names - who perform on a stage jutting out over the sea. 

Hike/walk: There is a great 2+ hour walk that will lead you from Ravello to Atrani. Its steep in parts, but wonderful. 


There is really no urgent need to spend any time in Naples, but if you do happen to have some time to kill (like we did before our train back to Rome), head to Pizzeria Pellone for some of the best (sloppy) pizza you will ever eat. A quick 5min walk from the train station (it is worth lugging your bags here - trust me), this pizza will stay in your mind forever. A Capricossa so saucy and cheesy and sloppy. The menu is Italian, and there will be a massive queue out the door, but do whatever it takes. You should not miss this.


Perisco Car Service: to get you from Naples along the coast (less hairy than the public buses). Friendly and efficient. They will sort you out with whatever you need, transport-wise.