Wyoming

jackson hole.

[our roadtripping soundtrack].

We had no idea it would take us 22 hours. Potentially due to the fact I unwittingly punched the wrong thing into Google maps, but what we thought would take us 15 hours…somehow turned into a whole day and night of roadtripping adventure! An epic, mountainous journey from sunny Santa Barbara, California through Utah, then Idaho and into Jackson, Wyoming – without stopping. Just the way we heroines roll, I guess.

Accompanied by my mountain-loving-photographer-adventuring friend, laden with spicy bravado, and my somewhat-less-mountain-adventuring friend (but what said-friend lacks in adventure she makes up for in wit and vivacity) with cooking skills to rival those of Alice Waters. We were prepared. Well equipped, well fed and with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood to keep us revived. The most perfect roadtripping combination.

The town of Jackson, Wyoming, draws adventurers of many kinds. In a low-lying valley, surrounded by the spectacular Teton Mountain Ranges, and on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, this attractive mountain town is an example of nature at its finest. A winter wonderland. So breathtakingly beautiful, I was completely flawed at every turn. Wilderness lovers flock here for the National Parks and the extraordinary wildlife on offer, and skiers come seeking powder perfection. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – which opened in 1966 – is known as one of the most formidable resorts in the US. It has abundant steep terrain and one of the highest vertical drops in North America, at 41329ft (1262m). In summer time, these same adventurers return for river surfing (so awesome), paddle boarding and whitewater rafting along the Snake River; mountain biking; hiking through the Tetons, and horseback riding.

Jackson has something for everyone.

Elk, bison, antelope, and raccoons run wild. We saw the lot. Bears, too...but not in winter (thank goodness). Over our three day stay, we snowshoed through the Tetons – “mountains of the imagination” - to remote and peaceful hot springs; we skied the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; we boot-scooted with local cowboys at the Silver Dollar Bar; we tried our luck in getting rich (and failed) playing “shake-a-day” at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar; drank local brews at the Snake River Brewery; and kicked up our heels to local favorite all-girl band, The Miller Sisters (not just once, but two nights in a row. Dedicated groupies).

So make sure you hot-foot it to some of these places on your next Wintery escape to Jackson:

1. To caffeinate...

Persephone Bakery: our most favorite option. Persephone serves up Intelligentsia coffee, out of the cutest and most charming, white weatherboard cottage. Cozy, warm and friendly…this is a great place to while away a couple of hours (they offer free wifi). A beautiful bright and welcoming aesthetic, the bakery serves up delicious homemade sourdough breads, pastries and cakes, and offers a substantial breakfast and lunch menu as well. We kept coming back for the ricotta on toast, served with honey and roasted pumpkin seeds. A perfect way to fill up before hitting the slopes. Huge serves.

2. To eat...

Breakfast at Persephone Bakery: see above.

Lunch at Lotus Café: come here for all sorts of healthy and organic goodness – not only vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, but meat dishes as well - with American, Asian, Indian, Thai and Latin influences.

Dinner at Teton Thai: this cute spot, at the foot of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, has been serving up authentic Thai food for over ten years. Real-deal Thai chefs serve up all your favorites: rice-paper rolls, spring rolls, soups, stirfrys, noodle dishes, curries…our local friend especially likes and recommends the Duck Curry. Always busy and bustling, this is a great dinner option.

Dinner at the Q Roadhouse: fun bar/restaurant, with open fireplace and great atmosphere. Order the Korean Breakfast. An unusual name for a dinner menu item, of course, but deliciously wonderful. Think char-grilled marinated Meyer Farms NY striploin, housemade kim-chi, fried rice, and organic sunny side up eggs. So good! We also recommend the braised beef cheek ravioli, with fresh horseradish and san marzano tomato….and the Ballard Farms tokotsu ramen – a pork broth with lemongrass braised pork belly, fresh noodles, nori, bean sprouts, shitakes, snap peas, cilantro, and organic soft boiled egg. Lastly, try the Ebony & Ivory salad (white quinoa, black lentils, spinach, kale, cashews, dried apricots, peanut-lime dressing), and the Buffalo Burger – a juicy, tender beef pattie, tomato bacon relish, smoked gouda and chipotle aioli combo.

Local: a modern American steakhouse and bar – come here to enjoy a good steak, accompanied by local brews, oyster shooters and seasonal cocktails.

3. To drink...

Silver Dollar Bar: a Jackson institution, aptly named because of the silver dollar coins that line the bar top. A great atmosphere – packed full of local cowboys and visitors alike. Live music (we saw the Miller Sisters here), good burgers and brews.

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar: another classic. You absolutely can not miss this Jackson experience. From the street, you will see a big neon sign shaped like a cowboy riding a horse. Inside, funky dive bar meets millionaire cowboys, and more taxidermy than you can poke a stick at, with a bar stacked full of bourbon and whiskey. Check out the life size grizzly bear (which is one of only a few grizzlies to be killed by a man with his bare hands, without a weapon!), timber wolf in pursuit of a bighorn sheep, and a life size mountain lion! Grab a seat on one of the saddle stools at the bar, and watch live swing dancing (6 nights a week). Lastly, you can not leave without trying a round of the Jackson staple “shake-a-day”. A dice game played at the bar. Rules can change from bar to bar, but there are a few consistencies: dice, dollars, drinks and potential payouts. Roll five of a kind and you win the jackpot! The night we were there, the jackpot was up to $500. The catch – you only get one turn.

Snake River Brewing: a more modern-style brewery - great for an afternoon drink (and pretzel) by the open fire, before heading somewhere else for dinner. Busy and fun atmosphere, and friendly service.

Bin22: Jackson Hole’s premier wine bar / bottle shop / tapas bar and specialty grocer. Come here to drink prosecco and other delicious wine varietals, in the lovely wood-planked ceiling surrounds of this elegant tasting room bar.

4. To do...

Ski: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. As per above, this is one of the most formidable resorts in the US, with one of the highest vertical drops in North America. Plenty of runs to choose from, at all levels. Great options for backcountry skiing as well.

Listen, sing and boot-scoot: to local girl band – The Miller Sisters.

Visit: the National Elk Refuge. Established in 1912 to provide winter habitat and preserve the Jackson elk herd. The Refuge receives almost 1 million visitors each year.

Visit: the National Museum of Wildlife Art. This timeless structure perfectly reflects the natural beauty of Jackson, blending seamlessly into the native terrain. We love how the Museum is perched dramatically on the side of a cliff, overlooking the National Elk Refuge – a perfect vantage point by which to view the area’s wildlife in their natural habitat.

Snowshoe: through the Grand Teton National Park. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and explore over two hundred miles of trails – passing glaciers, lakes, hot springs and wildlife galore. Spectacularly beautiful.

Catch a film: at the Teton Theatre in town. We love this old-school cinema.

Joshua Tree

[spotlight series. kathrin smirke and kristo torgersen]

[joshua tree soundtrack. sunshine]

Located in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree is a remarkably special place. We love time spent here. The magic is undeniable. The Mojave first cast its spell over us after a chance invite back in March 2013. A friend of a friend invited us to a birthday event they were hosting at the Integratron (see below), a magnetic dome in the middle of the high desert that was built on a powerful energy vortex, where sound baths are conducted. On our first visit, we found ourselves with twelve random new friends, lying on yoga mats inside the dome, listening to the resonating sounds of the quartz bowls bouncing off the rounded walls of the dome and trembling through the floorboards. A meditation like no other. We were even lucky enough to spend the night inside the dome. It was magic. We hiked through the National Park, weaving between the funny looking yucca trees. We drove out to explore Giant Rock. We shopped and snacked in the main street in town. And we spent hours gazing at starry-filled desert skies. From that weekend on, we were hooked.

Returning again last month, the experience was equally as intoxicating.

In Joshua Tree, you will swim in a sea of Mojave calm. It’s a place for solitude and clarity. It is easy to see why it has long attracted nature lovers, musicians, artists, New Age spiritual seekers and other urban refugees. A perfect, peaceful and private Idaho in which to soak up all the best of the desert wonders.

Below you will find all our updated recommendations. We are also excited to introduce Kathrin Smirke, owner of Dome in the Desert and fashion label, Gypsan, as one of our new desert insiders.

To eat.

Natural Sisters Café: for decent coffee and lots of organic, healthy favorites. Great juices, smoothies, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and vegan options as well.

Crossfoods: for good breakfasts, burgers, tacos and more.

Joshua Tree Health Foods: for all your healthy staples.

Pappy and Harriet’s (see below): where all the food is amazing. Definitely order some meat from the grill. The steak equals perfection. The ribs are famed. And we love their veggie burger as well.

To shop.

Joshua Tree Farmers Market: held every Saturday (8am-1pm) just off the Twentynine Palms Highway.

The End: for recycled designer finds. Contemporary and vintage. Anything from Band of Outsiders to Opening Ceremony.

BKB Ceramics: for beautiful pottery and other handcrafted goods. BKB’s ethos is pure, sustainable, conscious, handcrafted design.

Hoof & The Horn: a cute, well-curated boutique in the Yucca Valley for modern and vintage desert gems. Stocked full of hi-desert essentials, as well as some great brands including Commune, Minnetonka moccasins and local jewelry designers.

Ricochet: we love this cute spot for unique vintage finds. Dresses, bags, sunglasses, cowboy boots and more. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

To do.

Explore the National Park. This can take hours, days, weeks. Take as long as you need. Hike. There are so many trails to choose from. One of our favorites is the 49 Palms Oasis Trail (a 3 mile return trip) where you hike into a desert oasis filled with the coolest looking pineapple-palm trees. We pretended it was hundreds of years earlier and how stoked we would have been to find this shady little patch of desert heaven.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: no trip to Joshua Tree is complete without a visit to this awesome honky-tonking, BBQing, live music venue in nearby Pioneertown. A town that was built solely to be used as a country and western film set, Pappy’s stands alone here as the go-to destination in this faux town. Hang out with desert-rats and escaped city-slickers. Hoedown to the local Sunday band (the Hot Fudge Sunday). Or if its around Coachella time, catch one of the side shows under the stars – War on Drugs play 15 April, Jamie XX plays 15 April.

Integratron: come to this magical and powerfully energetic site (mentioned above) – the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the US – to rejuvenate, meditate, and to take part in one of the incredible sound baths.  With your heads in the center of the dome, you will lie on yoga mats, and listen as a series of quartz bowls (all of various frequencies) are played. The sound waves are incredibly meditative. Hard not to find this an incredibly positive and healing experience. Come also for the meteor shower party.

High Desert Test Sites: founded and administered in 2002 by the queen of the hi-desert’s art community, Andrea Zittel, HDTS is a series of open-desert locations providing an experimental way for emerging and established artists to show their experimental art installations, and performances, exploring desert themes of “contemporary art and life at large.”

Noah Purifoy Joshua Tree Outdoor Desert Art Museum: over ten acres of crazy outdoor sculptures, this desert museum has to be seen. Using recycled materials, Noah Purifoy created these surreal sculptures using castoff metals, burnt wood, blown-out rubber tires and more, over a fifteen-year period from 1989 to 2004.

Take a side trip to Idyllwild. Nestled into the San Jacinto mountains, this peaceful mountain getaway is perfect for day hikes, longer hiking journeys and rock climbing. Perfect in Springtime. Rent a cabin.

Salvation Mountain: a whacky art installation covering a hill in the Colorado Desert (kind of in the middle of nowhere) near Slab City, and further on than the Salton Sea. Created by local resident Leonard Knight (who passed away last year), Salvation Mountain is made from adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint. It is filled with bright colored murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses. It is a big detour from wherever you are, and wherever you are going, but it’s a brilliant photo opportunity if nothing else.

The Salton Sea: a shallow, saline rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault line, in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys. We detoured via here on the way to Joshua Tree (its quite a detour!). The Salton Sea, with an estimated surface area of 343 square miles (890 km2) or 350 square miles (910 km2), is the largest lake in California. The day we visited (a Sunday) we were lucky enough to stumble across a cute local farmers market, mainly Mexican stallholders, selling homemade tamales, tostadas, and tacos. 

 

To sleep…

Dome in the Desert: this magical little dome is our most beloved Airbnb find so far. Only 5 minutes from town, you have your own little patch of desert here. This dome itself has a modern-gypsy aesthetic, a beautiful mix of mid-century modern and vintage furnishings. Fully self-contained, it also comes complete with a meditation loft, vintage palm-reading books, hanging chairs, a guitar, and miles and miles of clear open skies made perfect for star-gazing. We wanted to stay forever.

29 Palms Inn: surrounded by the vast Mojave Desert looking up to the National Park, this 70-acre property is a desert institution. Stay here for cute bungalows and wood-frame cabins all set in an oasis of palms. Peacefully and perfectly located for trips into the National Park, it’s a great base for your desert stay. There is a cute pool, and a simple-looking (but delicious) restaurant. The service was uber-friendly and the steak was on point. There is a lovely organic garden to wander around, and hammocks to chill out on. The stars here shine brighter than ever. A perfect desert base, bursting with character and good vibes.

Hong Kong

hong kong.

[spotlight series. jessica baird walsh]

[hong kong soundtrack. stolen dance]

this crazy, smoggy, chaotic city might not be everyone’s cuppa tea…but we love it here for a quick stopover on our way somewhere else. its busy, its loud, its dirty, the traffic is painstaking, people are pushy…but there is still a lot of beauty to be found if you give it a chance. apart from the big city fix you will get in bounds, hong kong also offers an abundance of natural beauty – hidden beaches, beautiful hiking trails, and endless boating opportunities.

to caffeinate…

since our last fleeting visit here a couple of years ago, we are happy to find that things are looking up on the hk coffee scene. with only 48 hours here this time, we were still able to sniff out a few super cute spots for good caffeine brews.

unar: our favorite of the lot, in our favorite neighborhood – tai hang. no indoor seating, just a long outdoor bench. grab your cup of choice (they do a great flat white) and grab a perch. look out for the delicious bakery goods from googg bakery as well (at the unar coffee star ferry outpost).

rabbithole coffee and roaster: we like this super cute spot down landale street in wan chai. you can choose your blend of choice, as you order. wifi as well.

coco espresso: two locations (the original in central). we love the gorgeous little oasis on anton street, which also has a cute courtyard out the back, and the most adorable aqua green coffee cups we have seen.

the nest coffee shop: a great little initiative opened by the nesbitt centre, a vocational training organization for adults with learning challenges. really good coffee, made by people with special needs, giving them a supportive environment to prepare for heading out into the wider world.

to eat…

bakery goods: googg bakery, not far from the hustle and bustle of hong kong’s sham shui po in kowloon, for fresh biscuits made into novel shapes. also available at unar coffee outpost at the star ferry.

burgers from the butcher’s club: this new burger joint in wan chai is proving hugely popular. and rightly so. their meat here is from black angus cattle from nsw in australia! and its all organic hormone-free, and grass fed. juicy, quality burgers, and good vibes.

grassroots pantry: a very cute lunch spot in sai ying pun – focused around healthy, nutritious, plant-based dishes. unprocessed, local, sustainable and organic ingredients are used where possible.

dumplings: dumplings for days… a shanghai specialty, hong kong also does these precious parcels of deliciousness with ease and expertise. so popular, arriving early at any of the stellar dumpling joints can alleviate the time spent potentially waiting for a table.

check out: tim ho wan (two locations) in mong kok, and sham shui po – for renowned michelin dimsum. or otherwise, din tai fung – a big world chain – but don’t let that deter you. fast, efficient service and amazingly delicious dumplings. you can watch the chefs in the kitchen painstakingly make each dumpling from scratch. the steamed shanghai dumplings still remain our favorite – but you must also try the black truffle ones, and the spicy shrimp as well.

little bao: if you like buns, this is the place for you! vietnamese buns filled with all sorts of goodness. the standard flavors are pork and fish – and then add some crazy sides to go with them as well. worth checking out, but be prepared to wait. in central.

a chicken dinner at yardbird: almost exclusively chicken-based, focused around yakitori. try the kfc (a must), and the yardbird caesar. no ressies.

no.5 italian: a cute and charmingly authentic italian joint in tai hang. always busy, so make sure you book. a cute little courtyard as well.

tung po: a super local canto joint at the top of the north point municipal market – way off the normal beaten track. bookings essential.

chachawan: for great thai food on hollywood road in sheung wan.

chef studio by eddy: a private kitchen in an old industrial building in aberdeen (middle of nowhere from a tourist perspective). come for the experience, not necessarily the food.

italian from 121 bc: from the same people behind vini and 121 bc in sydney, come here for authentic italian, cute wine bar and bottle shop.

for the spectacle more than the ice cream itself, check out this sciencey ice cream joint – lab made, which dishes up ice cream made from liquid nitrogen, right before your very eyes.

to drink…

café gray on the top floor of the upperhouse: its definitely no secret, but its by far and away the best place for amazing views of the harbor from the 49th floor, while sipping deliciously good cocktails.

honi honi tiki cocktail lounge: meaning “kiss kiss” in polynesian, honi honi is a fun place for cocktails in central.

pastis: a cute little sidewalk café/bar, pastis is popular with the french expat community and offers classic french bistro food, with a good range of french wines, beers, aperitifs, and cognacs. cosy, casual and always busy.

china club: located in the old bank of china building – this is member’s only club is an oldie, but a goodie. a beautiful outdoor terrace, perfect for before or after dinner drinks. great food as well.

to shop…

our number one store in all of hong kong: cos. the same swedish owners as h&m, their clean, structured lines make us weak at the knees!

tai hang: a cool little neighborhood only 10min walk from causeway bay. wander through the little sidestreets and stumble across goodness. we like the little retro store feel so good, selling a great range of vintage pendant lights, and other homewares. volume one is a cute little boutique somewhat hard to find. part teahouse/part fashion and accessories – we like the space itself more than the actual contents of the store – but its definitely cute for a quick squiz.

wai chan: wander the streets around star, ship and sun streets. we love vein – a store that stopped us in our tracks when walking past for the first time – beautiful scandinavian labels in hong kong. perfectly curated. we also love themonocle store in st. francis yard. monocle is one of our favorite magazines, and we love this edit of monocle collaborations and old issues of their awe-inspiring mag.

gough street: a great little street in central to poke around in. some super cute vintage stores. some of our favorites include mr blacksmith, a design ware store for industrial homewares…andhomeless (various locations) for more modern home goods.

peekaboo: a cute little store in causeway bay filled with simple, well-structured, korean designed pieces.

reverie: for beautiful vintage pieces in the heart of central.

to do…

find this secret beach – ham tim beach - in sai kung. this is our favorite place in all of hong kong. just off the coast of the new territories, you can access the beach by a bus from sai kung town and then you need to find the walking trail which will take you down to the beach. it’s a bit of a mission, but this magical hidden beauty is definitely worth it. you can even camp on the beach overnight, and camping stuff is available from the basic restaurant down there, making it really easy. don’t miss this.

happy valley: for laidback wednesday evening horse racing.

take a junk trip: grab a group of buddies and set out for a day of fun on the sea.

hike up to the peak for some amazing views (and a good workout).

practice tai chi with the oldies in victoria park, causeway bay, or kowloon park in tsim sha tsui on the kowloon side.

visit the oil street art space in north point to check out the i’mperfect xchange. a project run by designers, hung lam and eddy yu, doing good through creative collaborations focusing on the acceptance of imperfection. i’mperfect xchange has a barter system for making transactions. bring a can of food, or other produce, and in return, you will be given a little herb plant. all food collected is taken directly to those in the community who are in need.

eat dumplings, and more dumplings (see above)…

visit the beaches of stanley, chung hom kok, and repulse bay.

nails: be pampered. a couple of spots we like….iyara, and the nail library.

blow dry: get a blow out at hk’s first blow dry-only salon, airplay (for the full blow dry bar service complete with champagne and big tv screens showing project runway!), or mina de’vwil - a reliable alternative on cochrane street (next to iyara nails). a bargain at 88hkd (usd10) for a wash and blow dry.

Hamburg

 

[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

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.

Catskills

catskills [upstate new york].

[spotlight series. Robert Earl Thomas and Inez Valk-Kempthorne]

[Catskills soundtrack. girl from the north country.]

It may only be two hours from New York City (a super easy and beautiful drive or train ride), but once here, you will feel a million miles away. Come to this stunning part of the world to do a lot, or nothing at all. The Catskills region certainly does, however, inspire adventure. Spectacular mountains to hike or bike, creeks to jump through, rivers to float down, forests to get lost in, and breathtaking views to take in. Amazing food, wilderness, farm stands, farmers markets, orchards, colors (especially in fall), peace, calm, stillness, sunsets, cosy suppers, arts and culture, bookstores, antiques, roadside diners, small-town bars, swimming holes, ziplines through the forest…you can find it all. On the way up, be sure to stop at the Storm King Art Centre – a definite highlight of our three-day adventure (and only one hour out of New York). And check out as many of the region’s little towns as you can – each with their own quirks and charm – we found much to love.

HUDSON.

There’s an urban vibe here in Hudson, or “Rubarnism” (as described by Ann Marie Gardner, a local resident and founder of the Modern Farmer magazine), “when urban expats bring their cultural touchstones and appetites with them when they move to a place like Hudson”. With echoes of Brooklyn, this quaint little town offers a young, creative, simple aesthetic, with country-town vibes. You can feel the momentum build as new shops, galleries and hotels (we are excited to see what comes of the old Warren Theatre/Inn development) continue to pop up.

To eat and drink.

There is much your stomach will get excited about in these parts. Here are our favorites:

Bonfiglio and Bread: for breakfast. Order the poached egg bowl (on avocado, croutons, lardons, yoghurt and chilli oil); take home a loaf of their sourdough bread, and try the apple cake as well.

Café le Perche: a cute bistro and boulangerie for huge (bigger than your head) sandwiches, on delicious homemade bread, and an open fire.

Swallow: for good, Brooklyn-style coffee (we like that they rotate their coffee providers on a weekly basis. They were serving Heart (our favorite) from PDX on the days we visited).

Hudson Food Studio: for a locally sourced menu with a southeast Asian accent. A cute, narrow space to eat in, or a perfect option for take out as well. We opted for take out on our first night and were blown away by its awesomeness. We wanted to try it ALL…but ended up ordering the Coriander Roasted Carrot Salad (with pickled beets, turnips, baby kale and roasted garlic miso dressing) – which was so market fresh it was amazing – and then the Pork, Greens and Rice (with tofu, ginger, garlic). Hudson Food Studio is a must.

Swoon Kitchen and Bar: a cute and cosy bistro on Warren Street, come here on Thursday nights for burger night – Kinderhook farm all natural grassfed beef served on a toasted brioche bun.

Grazin’: its pretty amazing to find an old-school American diner that serves local, sustainable and organic/biodynamic, and animal welfare approved everything (where possible).

Fish and Game: for something more fancy. It’s a prix fixe, seven-course, omnivores-only menu here. Come here for civilized weekend eating and drinking. 

Truck Pizza: for delicious wood-fired pizza out of the window of a panel van, in the food truck area at 347 Warren Street.

To shop.

Lots of cute little stores (largely antiques) dot Warren Street, making it the ideal place to poke around. These were our favorites:

Hawkins New York: the most beautiful store. We loved the tiled entryway. A curated lifestyle brand (showcasing their own brand, and a bevy of other designers as well). All our favorite things. Candles, rugs, throws, books, and the most beautiful of Burmese Mountain Dogs to keep an eye on everything - Charlie.

Flowerkraut: a stunning space, so so swoonworthy you will want to linger awhile. Come here for homemade sauerkraut, fresh blooms, cute cards, ceramics and all things pretty…by Scottish girl Mairead Travins, and her husband Seth.

RueDePapier: handmade leather bags, made with love by Robyn, a cute Swedish (via Brooklyn) expat.

Hats: by Bosnian-born milliner, Behida Dolic. People travel far and wide (direct from Paris we hear) to order these custom-made hats by Behida.

Red Chair on Warren: for beautiful old antique tables and chairs, and other random beauties.

The Spotty Dog Books & Ale: purely because it’s a bookshop in a bar, and how often do you see that! Once Hudson’s firehouse (from 1889-20022), this space is now a bookstore that has over 10000 titles on its shelves, and a rotating selection of craft beers on tap.

To do.

Visit Basilica Hudson: an amazing arts and performance space in a reclaimed 19th century glue factory on the Hudson waterfront, opened by ex-Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist – Melissa Auf der Maur – and her husband Tony Stone. If you are lucky enough to be in Hudson over Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to check out the 2nd annual Farm and Flea market – showcasing a diverse range of products from regional makers, farmers and vintage collectors.

Saturday Farmers Market: for the freshest and the best local county produce (9am-1pm every Saturday from May until November).

If the Union Street Guesthouse is full, we recommend sleeping here: Hudson Merchant House.

PHOENICIA.

To sleep.

The Graham and Co.: we love this spot. One of our most favorite, laidback North American mountain motels. With an Americana aesthetic reminiscent of the ACE, and super friendly bearded staff who will offer you a beer as you check in, this is an idyllic mountain getaway. The perfectly refurbed 1940s motely is located in small-town Phoenicia, and is just a short 5min walk into the centre of (the kitschy) town. It’s a quiet, peaceful and restful place to hang out, and a great base to access the surrounding mountains, and other towns. Rooms are simple and comfy, with whitewashed walls and grey and woody tones. The Graham throws weekend bonfires through winter. In summer, when the weather is good, you can hang by the pool (with good tunes), or bike around. They also put on summer movies on Saturday nights at dusk, near the pool. And they will always sort you out with the best recommendations of where to go and what do in the local area. Breakfast is light but delicious, and showcases local favorites such as fresh breads, cider donuts, eggs, fruit, juice and coffee. There are always good tunes on the stereo, and warm and friendly vibes. Its beautiful here.

To eat and drink.

Peekamoose: for dinner. Sit at the bar (where you can choose from both the bar menu, and the restaurant menu). Amazing hearty soups. Fresh home made bread. Burgers. Steak. Gnudi. Onion Rings. Red wines. Open fires…and a fire pit, complete with complimentary marshmallows and sticks for toasting. Good cosy vibes. Hailing from one of NYC’s finest restaurant groups (think Grammercy Tavern) this is a must stop.

Phoenicia Diner: on Route 28, not far from The Graham, this is the perfect stop for or an amazing post-hike (summer) or post-ski (winter) brunch or lunch. Super friendly and authentic, using only local and seasonal ingredients. Order the skillet and a bloody mary.

To shop.

Scandinavian Grace: a big warehouse space on the side of the highway, showcasing home goods and furniture from Scandinavia and beyond. Good coffee as well. A lovely stop.

To do.

Town Tinker Tubing: plenty of tubing opportunities during summer. Find Town Tinker in downtown Phoenicia, walking distance from the hotel. Keep it mellow and opt for a more slow, and lazy ride – or amp it up and go full deliverance down the faster, bumpier course. Town Tinker will dump you in the river, and after floating all the way down, they will then scoop you up from the other end. FS Tubing: same deal but closer.

Hunter Mountain Zipline: we love a good zipline. This one takes you 600 feet about ground, at 50miles per hour – over the spectacular Catskill mountains.

Kaaterskill Falls Swimming Hole: this is the highest two-tiered waterfall in New York State. From the parking area, walk down to the bridge (be careful, its narrow along the shoulder of the road). Near the bridge is Bastion Falls. Continue on the trail for about .5 miles to the base of Kaatersjill Falls. The water drops 260 feet in two stages. The first drop is 180ft while the second is only 80 ft. The official trail ends here.

If The Graham & Co is full, we recommend sleeping here: at the new Spruceton Inn.

Also, keep an eye out for an ACE Hotel…the word on the street is that there will be one here in these parts very soon…

WOODSTOCK.

To eat. To shop.

Cucina: for a beautiful Italian dinner in a rambling farmhouse in Woodstock. Warm, cosy and impossibly chic and beautiful. On sunny days, request a table on the large wraparound porch. If you would prefer to be inside, ask for a table in the bigger room, its better.

Sweet Sue’s: for pancakes the things that dreams are made of.

Peace, Love and Cupcakes: for other sweet stuff.

Woodstock General Supply: shop here for a curated mix of outerwear, gifts and accessories. Buy a cute Catskills vs. Hamptons sweater.

KINGSTON.

To eat. To shop.

{outdated}: for a light breakfast in an antiques store, where you can literally buy everything you see – including the plate you eat your breakfast from. Or the cup you drink your coffee out of. Sit amongst antique furniture and art. After breakfast at {outdated}, wander around Kingston's Stockade/Uptown District for some shopping.

SAUGERTIES.

To eat.

Miss Lucy’s Kitchen: a cute little spot that feels like something a granny has been running forever. A seasonal market menu inspired by the Hudson Valley, showcasing the finest local produce. All natural and antibiotic free meats; sustainable seafood; pork that is smoked in house; fresh herbs and veggies from their garden; house baked bread; and desserts made from scratch.

To do.

Find Big Pink: as other Dylan fans will know, "Big Pink" is the house that Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson recording music out of with Bob Dylan in the 60s and 70s. Located down a rough unpaved private dirt road somewhere between Woodstock and Saugerties, this is a bit of a mission to find, but if you love Dylan as much as we do, it is a fun little mission. Ignore the “private property” and “no trespassing” signs and keep driving. If there are cars around, feel free to even knock on the door. The musicians who spend time there now are always happy to welcome visitors.

BLOOMVILLE.

To sleep. To eat. To drink. To shop. To do.

Table on Ten: is our kind of heaven. Located in the teeny tiny town of Bloomville (with a population of just 200), this beautiful, warm and inviting “public house” is pretty much the only reason to stop here…but be sure to make it an essential part of your western Catskills itinerary. Run by the ever-lovely Inez Valk-Kempthorne (a former model) and her partner Justice, Table on Ten is not only a café/ wood-fired pizza restaurant, but also a providore showcasing local artists and farmers goods, as well as a 3-bedroom hotel. If the hotel is full, come here on a Friday or Saturday night for “pizza night”. Incredibly delicious wood-fired pizza with interesting and inventive toppings – our favorite, the lemon-marinated fennel, feta and parsley one. And as recommended by Table on Ten collaborator, Julian, enjoy your pizza with a bottle of Italian Lambrusco – the perfect partner. After dinner, make sure you have room for their signature affogato. This was, without a doubt, the best affogato we have ever experienced – a double shot of espresso (from their very own Table on Ten A3 blend by Irving Farm coffee roasters), coupled with two scoops of their signature homemade fennel seed ice cream. A serious taste sensation. After dinner, spend some time swooning over the shelves of their in-house microstore. We left with a bag full of goodies - homemade (by Inez) granola, stunning 100% Irish linen glass-cloths (from the last traditional damask weaver in all of Ireland), a hand-sketched children’s book "The Wild Unknown" by local artist Kim Krans, and a box of her stunning tarot cards as well. If you are lucky enough to snag one of the three lovely bedrooms, spend the rest of your days hiking (up Mount Utsayantha), riding Icelandic horses (with Heleen Heyning), doing yoga at Table on Ten, skiing at Plattekill (if its winter), or tubing and jumping in swimming holes at Table Rock (if its summer). There is no need to leave. Table on Ten will keep you entertained, well fed and lovingly looked after for days.

Check out these nearby farmers/producers:

Byebrook Farm in Bovina for raw milk, eggs and yogurt.

Bea’s bacon, avocado, Swiss and tomato breakfast sandwiches at Russell’s.

Glen Burnie farm for milk-fed pork, a quart ofMoonshine Maple and half-wheel of Danchego.

Last Harvest‘s farmstand for a big bag of sugar snaps.

Lucky Dog Farm Store for meatloaf sandwiches.

Ommegang Brewery for the obvious.

Harpersfield for aged Tilsit.

Stone & Thistle for farm-raised meats and poultry, and their goats’ cheese fudge.

Brooklyn

[spotlight series. maggie hansdorfer and laura o’neill]

[Brooklyn soundtrack. heaven]

There is something about the charm, authenticity and ever-present feeling of opportunity here, that makes Brooklyn a very special place. The Brooklyn Mag nails it when they describe this borough of New York as being the “darling of Hollywood-weary celebrities, avant-garde chefs, and independent-minded New Yorkers”. Made up of so many different pockets and neighborhoods, Brooklyn is so much bigger than at first thought. We have spent most of our days in Williamsburg (fast becoming known as “little Australia”) and Greenpoint, but we have also dabbled around in Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene –hoods that all seem to have a lot of goodness to offer. Get bikes and cruise around. More low-key than its big city NYC neighbor, we have highlighted some of our favorite things below.  

WILLIAMSBURG

So close to the city (just a stop or two on the L-train), this hip little hang-out offers so much. We love it here.

To caffeinate…

Toby’s Estate: yes, they are Australian (and we might therefore be slightly biased), but this open, airy space is so beautiful, the staff friendly (albeit hipster to the holt), and the coffee is good. Damn good. The pastries are also amazing…and you can get some awesome Aussie favorites like vegemite or avo on toast. Not to be missed. (Note: if they are still doing the caramel dipped macaroons, it would be a crime not to try one. The start of something good).

Blue Bottle: An awesome brick building on Berry Street that was once filled with glass blowers, and metal smiths, and barrel makers…but now houses Blue Bottle’s coffee roaster and café. It’s a great space, and very good (serious) coffee.

To eat…

Café Colette: another Berry Street favorite of ours, we adore this cute little French corner spot. Grab a seat at the bar, or a cosy corner booth. Brunch is amazing, but anytime of day will do. This little local haunt will impress, always.

Café Mogador: Moroccan deliciousness on Wythe Ave. Come here for the eggs. Brunch here is awesome. Packed full of Moroccan spices, or poached in a za’atar pita, so many delicious flavors, it’s crazy. Queues can be long.

Egg: good for brunch or casual lunch. Light, airy, good vibes.

Walter Foods: another great brunch spot, and raw bar as well. We are told not to miss the French dip at dinnertime. Can’t say we have tried it yet though.

La Superior or Rosarito Fish Shack for tacos.

Roebling Tearoom for eggs for brunch, or for the burger for lunch.

Pastries from Bakeri: super cute French-style bakery on Wythe. Come here for sweet treats or something delicious for lunch. Love the aesthetic, and cute server get-up.

Dumont: for burgers on Bedford.

Saltie: for sandwiches in a super cute little storefront.

Brooklyn Whole Foods Market: the most exciting new addition to the Williamsburg scene (we love a good Whole Foods!). It’s beautiful here. We challenge you to find another whole foods store that has a record store inside it…?! Doesn’t get more Brooklyn than that !

For dinner…

Marlow & Sons: an old favorite. This cute spot has been tucked away under the Williamsburg bridge for almost ten years now. Cosy, always busy, American goodness. We love the back bar. Great food, try the brick chicken. A romantic little dinner option.

Diner: we came here to this 1920s-restored dining car restaurant on our first ever trip to New York in the year 2000. Armed with a hitlist of recommendations, we quickly tried to tick this one off, and it quickly became one of our Brooklyn favorites. American Nouveu food and good vibes. Brunch also good.

Fette Sau: this is the place to come for meat. Good ol’ fashioned no-frills meat. Ribs, steak, pork belly…the choice is yours. Busy and fun. You pay by the pound.

Dotory: Korean is the flavor of the month for us right now, and Dotory is just the place to fix that hankering.

Reynard: within the beautifully-restored Wythe Hotel warehouse building, come here for seasonal deliciousness in a gorgeous environment.

For something sweet…Momofuko Milk BarBakeri, orSaltie.

To drink…

Wythe Hotel Rooftop: our #1. This is our favorite place for a sunset drink in all of New York. The views from the bar and rooftop are spectacular. Nothing screams New York City more, than looking back over the East River to Manhattan as the sun goes down over the Manhattan skyline. Great cocktails, delicious wines, good vibes.

Hotel Delmano: we love cocktails here before or after a fun dinner in the hood. Grab one of the leather banquettes or sit up at the long marble bar for some seriously tasty drinks.

D.O.C. Wine Bar: our favorite Williamsburg wine bar.

Vine Wine: when you are feeling like a night in, or a few wines by the riverfront, grab a bottle from our favorite neighborhood wine store. A great range of wines…and always a bunch in the “under $15” section that are super affordable and really delicious.

The Commodore: fun bar and good, easy bar food.

For music…

Pete’s Candy Store: don’t be fooled by the name, you wont find candy here – rather, a music venues / bar / club.

Brooklyn Bowl: according to Rolling Stone magazine, this is “one of the most incredible places on earth”! This is a bowling alley that not only acts an awesome performance space, but also serves high-quality, delicious food care of Blue Ribbon, bars offering local brews, as well as 16 bowling lanes. Located in the former Hecla Iron Works (built 1882), this is definitely worth checking out.

The Red Bull Music Academy: an awesome concept. The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals. Two groups of 30 participants have been chosen – producers, singers, djs, etc from around the world – to come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of recording sessions, lectures, collabs and performances around town. A platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape. The Academy began back in 1998, and was set-up in Williamsburg last year. Now in 2014, the Academy will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

To sleep…

Wythe Hotel: our favorite hotel in New York. This is the only place to stay, in our opinion. Unbeatable views, beautiful design, the best rooftop bar New York has to offer, our favorite and most perfectly well-curated mini bar (on par with the ACE anyway), and a great restaurant downstairs. Oh and super friendly staff. It doesn’t get any better.

If you’re not on a hotel budget, there are some really awesome rental apartments to be found on Airbnb.

To do….

Enjoy a Sunday Supper: a communal cooking center in Williamsburg. Shared meals, communal cooking, and seasonally, market-fresh food. The founder used to host these suppers in their home, but the dinners have evolved and are now housed in a beautiful space documenting food, travel and life. A great supper last year offered produce sourced from local North Brooklyn Farms, in a stunning location in Havemeyer Park with a view of the Williamsburg Bridge and a summer sunset behind the Manhattan skyline. For only $45, you were presented with a delicious seasonal menus by notable local chefs, and cocktails from Sailor Jerry.

Brooklyn Grange Farm: we came to this – the world’s largest rooftop soil farm (located on two roofs in New York City) – for a communal rooftop dinner party last September. Crazy sunset views from our Long Island location back over Manhattan. Quite spectacular. On what we thought would be a warm evening though, we freezed our little bottoms off as the winds set in!! Nevertheless, the setting was breathtaking…and if more prepared, with some winter woolies, we would have been toastie and much more content. An interesting food offering, paired with local Brooklyn craft brews. This is a space where 50,000lbs of organically-cultivated produce is grown each year. Brooklyn Grange also provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to clients worldwide, as well as partnering with numerous non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm: the chickens in the coop here on this impressive rooftop urban farm in Greenpoint, have the best views of Manhattan we have seen. Three stories up, on the banks of the East River and with a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6,000 square foot green roof organic vegetable farm located atop a warehouse rooftop.  During growing season, a farmers market is held here on the roof, and the farm also supplies local restaurants with produce. As well as that, the farm also hosts a range of farm-basededucational and volunteer programs. Open to the public, during growing season, on Sundays between 1pm-4pm.

MoMA PS1: we stop here at least once on visit to the city. A branch of MoMA, this is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the US. An exhibition space with a constant rotation of super interesting and thought-provoking experimental art on display. “A catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses, and trends in contemporary art, MoMA PS1 actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art”. This is a unique artistic environment, and we also love the cute school-style café downstairs that has a great little menu for after-art downtime.

Definitely check out the Domino Sugar Refinery. An abandoned old building in Williamsburg – once a processing plant – is currently filled with a sugar-coated (literally) 75 ft. long, lily-white mammy in the shape of a sphinx, by artist Kara Walker. On display only until July 6.

Cheese, cheese and more cheese from the Bedford Cheese Shop: a visit here is essential. An old-fashioned cheese shop, you will find some amazing cheeses in here, from all across the world.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: this is what ice cream is (and should always be) about. Made from scratch, locally in Greenpoint, there is nothing artificial in this creamy goodness. Using only fresh hormone and antibiotic free milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and the best fruits, chocolates, spices and nuts from small producers locally and around the world. Van Leeuwen celebrates ingredients perfected by nature, not science. Starting out with just two Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream scoop trucks in the Spring of 2008, they now have six trucks and three stores around Brooklyn and Manhattan serving their seriously delicious and quality ice creams, fresh pastries and Toby's Estate Coffee. We love the fresh mint. Wow.

Mast Brothers Chocolate: handcrafted, locally-made, quality single estate and single origin chocolate. This space is amazing and definitely worth checking out.

Hang out riverside along the N4th Waterfront.

In need of a mani/pedi? Check out Hello Beautiful.

To shop…

Baggu: we love their colorful leather coin purses, and fun plastic make up and travel bags.

Catbird: our favorite jewelry spot in New York. Dainty little rings, and other beautiful pieces.

Mocium: we love this light-filled, airy store in North Williamsburg. Come here for gorgeous, delicate handcrafted ceramics, textiles and jewelry.

Brooklyn Flea (held in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays): a classic Brooklyn experience. So many awesome vintage and antique vendors, local food stalls, and an incredible location smack bang on the East River with views back to the city. It stays open through winter, but moves to the former Williamsburg Savings Bank.

Vintage shopping: what Brooklyn is known for. So many places to check out. We always hit up Artists & Fleas (for a rotating selection of vendors, in an old warehouse building); and Beacons Closet (a “cavernous temple of cheap clothes”, for second-hand and vintage clothes and accessories).

Kinfolk: the new Kinfolk studios in Williamsburg are housed in a beautiful lofty warehouse space. At this stage, dedicated entirely to menswear – this building is super impressive and there are big plans for an event space in the future.

Main Drag Music: check out the wide range of music here, all handpicked by musicians themselves.

SOME OF OUR OTHER BROOKLYN FAVORITES…

GREENPOINT

After Williamsburg, this is where we have spent most of our BK time. We love the strong and happy sense of community here. A hive of creativity. Everyone seems to be doing something different, interesting and inspiring, and often for the benefit of the community as well. A dining destination in its own right, there are some amazing eating options here (and the odd Lena Dunham-fan cruising around on Girls sightseeing tours!).

We especially love Franklin Street. Some great little spots to stumble across here.

To eat…

Five Leaves: our #1 favorite brunch spot in all of Brooklyn, on a Bedford Ave corner. Australian/American owned, come here for seriously good food at any time of day. For brunch, it’s always a toss up between the Mushroom Toast (with sautéed kale and poached egg), or the Moroccan Scramble (with chickpeas, crushed avo and sourdough)…or go the burger. Oh and truffle fries. They are a must. Be prepared to wait, especially on weekends. It is absolutely worth it though.

Selamat Pagi: our favorite Balinese resto outside Bali itself. A super cute, warm, welcoming, cosy neighborhood feel-good number. Fresh, seasonal, traditional and inspired dishes from Bali. We have tried everything on the menu, and can safely recommend it all. You can’t go wrong. A cute little bar as well. Pale woods and creams. Good tunes. Happy vibes. It’s beautiful here. 

Paulie Gees: a beautiful old warehouse space dishing up seriously good pizza (be prepared to wait – but wait you can, at the craft brewery next door). Our pick – the Greenpointer: white base, Fior di Latte, Arugula (rocket to us Australians!), Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Also famous for their pizzas with hot honey on top.

Calexio: for tacos and margaritas. Lots of locations, a mix of restaurants and food carts.

Alameda: this beautiful neighborhood bistro is a perfect option for your daily hang. They do a mean burger.

Acapulco: come here for old-school Mexican action, this is part-taqueria, part-American diner. Authentic, and cheap. Think sombreros on the walls and colored Mexican rugs as tablecloths. Order the homemade guac, and try their chorizo tacos.

To drink…

Nights and Weekends: come here for great drinks and nachos.

Broken Land Bar: a cosy neighborhood bar, run by locals. Hand-crafted cocktails, beers, fine wines. Oh and a lovely back courtyard.

Dandelion Wine (aka Dandy): a cute boutique wine shop, with a stack of carefully curated and hand-picked little gems. Large selection, many organic or biodynamic, and seriously well priced.

To shop…

Spina: a super cute combination flower and coffee shop…serving Blue Bottle coffee and Dough donuts, together with flowers, plants and lots of local BK designer goods.

Bklyn Curated: this cute interiors store on Franklin Street immediately caught our eye. A gorgeous fit out, and cute back yard, there are heaps of vintage and antique Americana goodies to be found.

DUMBO

Dinner at Vinegar Hill House: a long-time favorite of ours. We love the aesthetic here…somewhat reminiscent of Freemans (where the VHH owners met), more vintage though, but similarly cosy, warm and candle-lit. Seasonal American-style food, flavorsome and delicious. A fun, cosy, winter spot to hang…and brunch good as well.

Pop in and support the artists at LAND Gallery. We were introduced to the LAND studio and gallery a few years ago, which features the work of artists with neurological diversities. We were lucky enough to have a piece commissioned by artist Michael Pellew, who dreams up vignettes of celebrities of his own preference, staged together in any random combination. For me, Michael created a picture of “President Obama, Michael Jackson, Georgia Hopkins, Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Mayor Bloomberg, Mr.T and Lady Gaga, and don’t forget Georgia Hopkins”. Pellew’s pop culture drawings have become so popular hey are now available as greeting cards, and sell-out items, at stores like Opening Ceremony. TheACE even hosted a special exhibition for LAND’s artist’s last October. Worth checking out for sure.

Also, if you happen to be in DUMBO in September, check out Photoville: an awesome photographic event held in the Brooklyn Bridge Park– housed in old shipping containers, overlooking Manhattan.

Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park: a beautiful green park, on the banks of the East River, in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge. Great views back over Manhattan, and check out the beautiful Jane’s Carousel.

Shop at (or at least swoon-over) ZOE: high-end designer stuff: somewhat rare for this side of the river - in a beautiful space.

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN

Sleep here…at the 3B boutique bed and breakfast coop. Run by 8 young creatives (artists, singers, writers and designers) out of their original home, this is a great little taste for Brooklyn-style communal living. We stayed here in 2012 and loved the warm and welcoming vibe, and beautifully renovated space, in an awesome location in Downtown Brooklyn. Interesting conversation around the cute and charming kitchen table, you will be cooked a delicious, home-made breakfast each morning.

For accessibility, vibe and value, we think this is the best place to stay in Downtown Brooklyn. These guys have been written up a bunch (in New York Magazine,Budget Travel MagazineHuffington PostThe Paris Review and more.) So check them out, if you are looking for a more budget option.

FORT GREENE

We love Fort Greene. A neighborhood that is filled with classic brownstones, lots of trees, good restaurants and a strong arts community. Filmmakers, musicians, writers, and dancers now call Fort Greene home. We love its old-school, laid-back feel.

A SMOOCH weekend brunch (or any day breakfast actually) is essential. Owned by a super friendly Australian legend – you will be so happy you found this little beauty. Great organic coffee, food and wine. Cosy, laid-back atmosphere. Cute bench seating on the pretty tree-lined street. Some awesome Aussie-named menu options as well. We love it here. Say hi to Basquali !!

Brooklyn Flea at Fort Greene: on Saturdays (as above). It might not be along the waterfront, but we love the laid-back feel of this neighborhood market – same vendors, different vibe.

Dinner at Roman's: good vibes resonate from this great Italian bistro-style spot, courtesy of the same people behind Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg. Come here for delicious, reasonably-priced pastas and other Italian goodness.

Smoke Joint: for low-key BBQ hang out time. We once read that the “Smoke Joint feels likes the Fort Greene version of Cafe Gitane. Less models, more Baby Back Rib Sauce.” Couldn’t agree more. Come here for ribs and good times.

Franks Cocktail Lounge: this place has a totally local vibe. ‘80s in style, R&B jukebox, always good tunes – think rap, R&B, house, reggae – sometimes djs, sometimes live music. Fun times.

To shop…

Feliz: this cute store on DeKalb Avenue is full of well curated bits and pieces. Cards and jewelry and homewares and cute baby stuff. It’s a lovely spot to check out after brunch at Smooch, just around the corner.

Dossier: what started out as a twice-yearly fashion magazine called Dossier Journal, has now evolved into this cute little boutique. Books, jewelry and vintage finds.

BOERUM HILL

Boerum Hill is another BK neighborhood we love, known for its independent boutiques, restaurants and brownstone-filled streets. Many artists end up here, and there are galleries galore. Arts and culture thrive here in abundance – we came here for a music festival at BAM, but it is also well-known for The Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette and Issue Project Room, the thriving Smith Street restaurant row and Atlantic Avenue Design district.

BAM: the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been a BK staple for more than 150 years. BAM is home to artists, audiences and ideas. Theatre, dance, music, opera, film and so much more. We were spoiled to catch the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry back in May 2012, witnessing Brooklyn-locals The Walkmen kill it on stage, as well as another fav, Sharon Van Etten.

We loved dinner at this cute and rustic Boerum Hill favorite, Rucola. Inspired by the slow food movement in Piedmont Italy, the menu here is seasonal and constantly changing. Cosy, warm and very inviting, this is a great choice for dinner before or after a show (and just walking distance from BAM).

PARK SLOPE

Sun in Bloom: BK neighborhood favorite for all things gluten-free, vegan and raw! They do amazing cold-pressed juices, coffee with fair-trade, organic beans, and hot drinks using cashew and almond milks. There sweet stuff is amazing as well. We love it here.

BUSHWICK

You’ve got to visit Roberta’s. You will literally wait hours. But the wood-fired pizza is definitely worth the wait (and the extra few stops on the L train). If it’s warm, grab a table outside. On second thoughts, just take whatever table you can get. It will be so busy, you wont have a choice! We love the fact that most of their ingredients come from their very own co-op garden outside.

Try Bunna for fresh and delicious Ethiopian food.We love this story. Friends threw a launch party in June 2011 to celebrate the launch of their new project – Bunna Café. Having only met months earlier, they both shared a desire to promote Ethiopian food, coffee and culture. After hosting a series of popups, dinner parties, appearing at street fairs, fundraisers, music fests, flea markets, and so on…they then raised funds on Indiegogo to open their first permanent location, here on Flushing Ave in Bushwick. These guys feel that Ethiopia has so much to offer the rest of the world, and hope to change the common perception that it is a country in need. Amazing good and really lovely vibes. Check it out for sure.

Brunch at Northeast Kingdom: we love brunch here. The husband-wife team behind Northeast Kingdom offer a contemporary-American menu emphasizing the seasonality of the Northeast. They have their own farm in Ghent NY, and grow vegetables, raise hens and bees, press apples and make beer. A great little spot.

PROSPECT HEIGHTS

Franny’s: a Brooklyn institution, Franny’s has been churning out some of the best pizza and locally-sourced food in Brooklyn for almost 10 years. Having recently moved to a new (and bigger) location – just five-minutes walk from the previous one – you will queue. And queue. And queue. But it’s worth it. Like Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in San Francisco, Franny’s was one of the early adopters when it came to introducing sustainable and seasonable food to the New York food scene. And it still remains the flagship.

Weather Up: chilled vibes, good tunes, friendly service. Come here for a drink. If you are hungry, grab dinner across the street at The Vanderbilt. Tribeca (and Austin TX) location as well.

CARROLL HILL

Pok Pok: this Portland-favorite headed East, and people here in BK are going just as crazy for it.  Fresh takes on Thai classics. Try their yummy Thai-inspired cocktails as well.

OTHER BK RANDOM…

Make your way to Lefferts Gardens in Prospect Park to witness “Drummer’s Grove”. Established in 1968, these Congo Square Drummers come here every Sunday from April to October from 2pm to dusk. Grab a drum and get involved, or just watch and hang out.

Big Sur

big sur.

[spotlight series. josh gold]

[our big sur soundtrack.]

there is a pleasure in the pathless woods; there is a rapture on the lonely shore; there is society, where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar: i love not man less, but nature more.*

The isolated beauty of Big Sur is breathtaking. Nestled into the steep curves of the Santa Lucia Mountains, surrounded by remarkable redwoods and rocky beaches, there is magic in the air here. A long and windy journey north of Los Angeles, or south from San Francisco, the scenery along the Pacific Ocean is totally awe-inspiring. We were wowed by a pod of gray whales, on their migration north back to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific. These amazingly humble and beautiful creatures, perhaps ten of them, entertained us for what seemed like hours. Seals, dolphins, birds as well, as if on queue, on stage, showing off in their stunning surrounds. The air is clear, the nature wild and free, and the energy intoxicating…and as Henry Miller said, there is at once, an “eloquent silence” here. Just wait to be swept away by the magical energy.

1. To sleep…

Sleeping options are somewhat limited…but there are definitely a couple of choices for every budget. If you are craving a little bit of luxe, and don’t mind spenny, then I would definitely recommend Post Ranch Inn orVentana (where the “rustic charm of Ventana’s weathered cedar buildings belie the luxury within”). For something a little more affordable, try Deetjen’s: a charming bed and breakfast nestled into a lush and windy part of the coastal drive; or Glen Oaks: an updated 1950s motor lodge/turned cabins (I hear good things about their River View cabins. Or lastly, save your pennies altogether, and pitch a tent. There are countless campgrounds to choose from. Be one with nature - so many magical spots. We loved the look of the Andrew Molera State Park Trail Camp, perfectly located within walking distance of the Big Sur Rivermouth. Bordered on one side by the Big Sur River, this campground is in a grassy meadow dotted with large trees, and is just a short walk to the beach. None more perfect a place to set up camp.

2. To eat…

Eat at the Big Sur Bakery: breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner - or all of the above! A Big Sur staple. We love starting the day here, and then ending it here as well. Take home a copy of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: filled with Big Sur history, Big Sur personalities, and some seriously delicious recipes.

Deetjen’s: for the best eggs benedict in town (according to my beloved Big Sur aficionado – Skye Byrne). A charming, rustic and woody atmosphere, on the edge of the redwood forest in Big Sur.

2. To drink…

Our favorite place for a sunset drink is the Cliffside restaurant and bar at the Post Ranch Inn. We couldn't quite afford the $1500+ price-tag to stay the night, but figured a bottle of rose, watching the sun go down from the outside bar, was just as good. Clear skies, so many stars, pure magic.

Nepenthe: a great place to grab a drink or bite at sunset. Killer views over the Pacific as the sun goes down. If you have already eaten, or have dinner plans later, just pop in for a drink…and cosy up by the fire if it’s chilly outside.

Night cap at the Big Sur Village Pub: we had a very fun night at this quaint little pub, just meters down the hill from the Big Sur Bakery. Friendly service, live music [ryan dishen was playing the night we were there: so good, we took home a copy of his album, new windows. the kid can sing], and good brews. A perfect way to end the most perfect of days.

3. To do…

Hike: to the McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – a picturesque waterfall, which drops over jagged cliffs into the Pacific Ocean, just a short walk from Highway 1. Sadly, you can’t get down close to the waterfall, but this is a main feature of the park and definitely worth checking out. Just go early, as the crowds start to roll up pretty soon after breakfast.

Visit: the Big Sur River Mouth, through the Andrew Molera State Park - a lovely beach you can access by walking through a stunning meadow. We had the beach completely to ourselves when we visited shortly after sunrise.

Surf: exploring the rugged Big Sur coastline on a surfboard is an experience not to be missed. Jaw-dropping coastal scenery, empty lineups, and enough wilderness to get truly lost in! The ocean here demands respect. The Big Sur Rivermouth, for example, can sometimes have good waves, but beware of fast currents that can close out the waves, and the shallow sandbar.

Get nude: at the Esalen Institute’s Public Night Hot Springs (1am-3am). A spectacular setting – natural hot springs, which hug the cliff-side of the Pacific Ocean. Reservations essential. Relax, unwind and get naked. The famed (and famously private) Esalen Institute opens to the public for 2 hours each evening. A maximum of 20 visitors are allowed each night. The hot springs can reach temperatures of 115 °F (46 °C), but are cooled significantly by the coastal air. Total darkness keeps this sanctuary shrouded in secrecy.

Hikes: so many wonderful options, for all different levels. You can’t go wrong.

Whale Watching: watch these stunning creatures – gray whales – pass Big Sur in December and January, on their migration south to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. In March and April, they can be seen returning north to their summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific.

A MUST: if you are very lucky, and you time it right, catch a live show at the Henry Miller Library. An unbelievably magical and hidden experience – a little stage tucked deep in the forest, among the big Reds, secluded and only for an audience of 300. Grizzly Bear, Beach House and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs all played in this mystical place last summer. Doesn’t get more radical than that.

Barcelona

[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.

Austin

[spotlight series. will martinbrittney nicole costello,scott cook]

[austin soundtrack. ho hey]

Now this is a city that knows how to have fun.

Texas’ capital is laid-back and progressive, with a strong emphasis on music, outdoor brews and good food…and where BBQ is a religion!!

The stereotype is true. Southern hospitality is alive and well in Texas. From pedicab cyclists to food cart vendors to skateboarders to shop owners and boot-scooters; locals here are warm, sweet and welcoming.

A full-of-fun, honky-tonking town on any occasion, our favorite time to visit is in March for South by South West (SXSW): the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival, where 70,000 of the world’s movers and shakers take over the town. October is another perfect time (for the Austin City Limits (ACL) festival), where Zilker Park explodes with a sweet line-up of bands.

At any time of year though, Austin will impress.

On our first ever visit here, our taxi driver took great pleasure in educating us on “Stevie” Ray Vaughan, as we drove past his memorial statue in Austin’s Auditorium Shores Park. Vaughan was an American guitarist/singer-songwriter/record producer who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 1990 and was then posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. We sat there listening to the legend’s tunes belt out of our cab driver’s stereo. A fitting introduction to what would be the beginning of an Austin love affair for all things music, and more.

Aside from the recos below, grab a copy of ‘Rather Austin’. A cute little city guide that became our go-to – focusing exclusively on locally owned restaurants and stores. The perfect companion for navigating your way through Austin’s streets.

1. To caffeinate…

The espresso-based coffee scene is starting to take off in Austin. Perhaps not to the same extent as our favorite coffee town, Portland, but if you love good coffee as much as we do, there are definitely a few options...

Houndstooth: a handsome space with friendly service. You can even order a flat white.

Flat Track Coffee: a few locations, but their flagship store is a cute, tiny space with just six bar stools and an inviting bench out the front.

Wright Bros. Brew & Brew: we love this concept – equal parts coffee shop and classic bar, you will find specialty coffee and craft beer in a comfy setting.

Cafe Medici: good brews and snacks. You will find theBearded Brothers’ bars here. We are obsessed. Raw, vegan, gluten and soy free, organic goodness (made in Austin)! We have also found them at Jo’s Coffee at Hotel San Jose.

Vintage Heart Coffee: located on the East side. Fair trade coffee brews from local roasting company, Third Coast.

Frank: the purveyor of artisan sausage! Despite their moniker being all around hot dogs and cold beer, these guys serve up delicious Handsome Coffee. As passionate about their sausage as they are about their coffee!

Patika: great coffee from a little food truck in the Warehouse District. A good place to stop on the way to Franklins BBQ.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to be in Austin for SXSW this year – make sure you pop by SouthBites – the gourmet foodtruck area curated by celebrity chef, Paul Qui. Perfectly located on Driskill Street, at the top of bar-crazy Rainey Street, you will find our very ownHOUSE OF CARD pop-up coffee house. Our little cardboard house will be pumping out good quality Aussie-style coffee, including   flat whites, lamingtons and Tim Tam slams!

2. To eat…

Elizabeth Street Café: if you only eat in one spot (which you wont...but this is how much we love it!!) make sure it is here. A hybrid of Vietnamese and French deliciousness, this bright and aesthetically stunning café is by the same folk behind our seafood favorite, Perla’s. We love everything about this place – the minty color scheme, amazing food, friendly service, the waitresses in their cute 50s style smocks, the Stumptown coffee, and the stunning outdoor terrace shaded by oak trees. We find it hard to pass up the luscious banh mi sandwiches served on house-baked baguettes, and the big bowls of bun (order the shrimp!) that come with vermicelli noodles and fresh seasonal vegetables. No bookings, so get there early. Any wait, however long, is well and truly worth it. We promise.

Perla’s: for any meal – but we love the brunch here. Grab a seat out on the oak-shaded patio, with its little white lights and great views of the action on South Congress. If you’re brunching, order the lobster frittata.

Brunch at Hillside Farmacy: with vintage pharmacy charm, we love this cute east-side spot. With antique wooden display cases, tin ceiling and hex-tiled floor all intact, the pharmaceutical theme is played well here. Great farm-to-table food options. Finish off brunch with one of their seriously good ice cream sandwiches.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple: a cute spot for coffee and breakfast. This lovingly restored historic West 6th Street building now houses Walton’s bakery, café and sandwich bar, as well as a florist and interiors store.

Dinner at Uchiko: a sleek and contemporary Japanese, offering pretty extraordinary sushi. Uchi is also theirs (in another location)…but Uchiko is definitely the “Prince Harry of the pair”…the younger, hipper version.

Check out Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon: for drive through organic, charcoal chicken (by the same people behind Perla’s and Elizabeth Street)!

Justine’s Brasserie: cute upscale French bistro on the east-side, with a lovely outdoor terrace. Always busy. Consistently good food.

Pizza from Home Slice: when you want something quick and easy. Home Slice pizza is a great option. Thin base, great toppings. We love it here, especially late night (after the Continental Club).

Guero’s Taco Bar: for margaritas and tacos. Fun during festival times. Not the best Mexican you will ever eat, but definitely fun.

Franklin BBQ: for your first Texan BBQ experience, come here – but get in quick (by 2pm we hear), and join the queue outside this turquoise cinderblock building on a nondescript street corner. This place has such a good reputation that the whole restaurant will often sell out, and fast. During SXSW we have even heard of people paying $15 per hour for people to stand in line for them! Gotta love anyone so passionate about their brisket!

East Side King: located in East Austin – this was Paul Qui’s (Top Chef winner) first restaurant – come here for Asian fusion, with a second location having recently opened on South Lamar Blvd. Famous for their Thai Chicken Karaage and Beet Home Fries. Also try the Poor Qui Buns (steamed roasted pork belly buns) and Brussel Sprouts salad.

La Condesa: the perfect stop if you are craving some modern Mexican.

Josephine House: this bungalow-turned-lazy-lunching-destination has only 30 seats. A cute spot to kick back with a few afternoon cocktails.

Food Carts: Austin loves a Food Cart…trailer, cart, truck, Airstream, wagon…any way they come, they love them all…and they seem to be growing by the day. Set up in parking lots, on sidewalks, parked in groups, or set up solo, they really are everywhere.

3. To drink…

Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden: at the quiet end of Sixth Street, this “very Austin” hipster hangout has a bakery on street level, and a downstairs, tree-shaded patio and beer garden scattered with ping-pong and picnic tables. We love this spot.

East Side Showroom: industrial-ish, prohibition-style drinking den serving flawless cocktails.

Rainey Street: cruise down Rainey Street for a real nightlife block party. A whole row of bars and restaurants operated out of cute, historic weatherboard homes. We like Lustre Pearl.

Stubbs: come here for live music and BBQ. On Red River Street, this huge bbq joint with a dusty stage out back is an Austin institution. Regularly snagging massive headliners – Lady Gaga will be on a pop-up stage here at SXSW this year.

Boot scoot at the Continental Club on South Congress: an Austin staple, especially on a Sunday night. This is the Granddaddy of all local music venues. Awesome live rockabilly tunes. Be sure to check out Dale Watson: a local and legendary honky tonk and country singer.

The White Horse: another Eastside favorite. This hipster / honky tonk hybrid bar draws a crows of tattoo-covered rockabillies, two-steppin’ retirees, as well as hipsters. Showcasing some of Austin’s finest new country talent, the energy here is fun and debaucherous, and is best mid-week.

Contigo: created as an extension of Contigo Ranch, the beautiful elm-tree covered deck here is so popular that you better be willing to wait (sometimes two hours on weekends). A beautiful spot for a drink.

Midnight Cowboy: this secretish speakeasy spot is located downtown. With no sign, just find the door, ring the buzzer (titled “Harry Craddock”) and you will be let into this former brothel-turned-bar.

Péché in the Warehouse District: another hidden treasure serving up pre-prohibition style cocktails, specializing in absinthe.

Whisler’s in East Austin: a relative newcomer to 6th Street, lots of outdoor seating if you are looking for somewhere on a sunny day. 

The GatsbyScott Cook can be found behind the bar at this little 1920s speakeasy bar, with a pretty back patio. Great cocktails. Pop in after dinner at East Tiger.

Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon in North Central: this institution is worth a visit…especially on a Sunday, to catch a live show by Austin legend, Dale Watson. Stay for Chicken Sh*t Bingo (and free chilli dogs)!

5. To shop…

By George: for great vintage…check out our favorite store on South Congress. Think Isabel Marant, Helmut Lang and others, plus local artisans as well.

JM Dry Goods: If you really want to embrace the Texan spirit jmdrygoods.com : an eclectic, Mexican-influenced boutique, for your very own pair of vintage cowboy boots.

Another favorite is the Spartan Shop on South Lamar…”a carefully edited collection of beautiful, practical objects, influenced by the changing seasons without staying far from our core inventory of reliable, classic items”. We could literally buy every single thing in this stunning store!

Uncommon Objects: our favorite antique store. A huge space, choc-a-block full of fascinating things hanging from walls and the ceiling.

Waterloo Records: on North Lamar, this is the ultimate record store. An Austin institution.

6. To sleep…

Hotel San Jose: this is undeniable one of our favorite hotels in the USA. The epitome of understated cool. Polished concrete floors, music posters adorning the walls, an urban oasis. Ideally located on South Congress, this legendary Austin boutique hotel has a cute bar, pool, and lounge, and their very own coffee shop – Jo’s Coffee – next door.

Saint Cecilia: for something a little more fancy, check out the San Jose’s sister property - the Saint Cecilia.  A stunning, secluded estate just around the corner– tucked off the main drag, on manicured lawns, with a large swimming pool and gorgeous bar. Perfect for a big group or wedding party. You might find a piano in your suite, or a turntable, perhaps a real backyard.

7. To do…

Visit Barton Springs: a set of four natural hot water springs close to the city. Come here to seek respite from the often-scorching Texas heat. Cool off in the pool, or chill out under the trees. A great spot to cruise around on bikes.

Head to old-school bowling alley/karaoke bar/dance hall Highball for a nightcap and late-night round at the lanes (especially during their extended hours for SXSW).

Visit the original Wholefoods!! It might not be at the top of everyone’s list, but it certainly was for us! This is the Wholefoods mecca. The original. The best. Wine bar, vegan food bar, you name it – they have it. Our kind of heaven.

Out of town...

Roadtrip to Driftwood, Texas: home to the original and well-renowned Salt Lick BBQ – a BBQ fanatic’s paradise. This sprawling campus of BBQ has been smoking, searing and slow cooking meat over coals for years. Since 1967, in fact. A short, scenic drive from Austin, come here to experience a big, honking plate of some of the best of Texan bbq amongst rolling hills, beautiful oak trees and native flowers. It might take an hour to nab one of the picnic tables, but kick back and enjoy the live music and atmosphere with other BBQ enthusiasts. There is even an onsite vineyard producing some decent wines under the Salt Lick Cellars label. Given they attract 600,000 customers each year, we figure they must be doing something right.

Marfa: if you have time, hire a car and drive six hours west into the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas, to Marfa. An unlikely art oasis in a dusty desert town. If you can, wait until July so to catch some of the Marfa Film Festival action.

Stay here at El Cosmico: an awesome part vintage trailer, safari tent and teepee hotel and campground – come hang out under the stars with hippies, hipsters and artists – surrounded by high desert, art installations, an amphitheater and greenhouse. This place is something special.

Atlas Mountains

atlas mountains [kasbah bab ourika].

[atlas mountains soundtrack. slow it down]

Less than 45 minutes from Marrakesh, in the foot of the Atlas Mountains, lies this incredible mountain Kasbah. Perched majestically on a hill, overlooking the Ourika Valley and beyond, the Kasbah commands breathtaking views - quite possibly one of the most spectacular settings of any hotel we have visited so far.

In a former life, owner Stephen Skinner was a barrister in the UK. Stephen traveled to Morocco for the first time in 1998, and this is where his love affair with this country began. He bought (and renovated) a beautiful riad in Marrakesh (Riad Edward). And then in 2004, bought the land here. Taking 5 years to build, the Kasbah opened to the public in 2009 (in the heart of the recession). Stephen’s brief for designer Romain Michel-Meniere at the time was to create a simple, Berber-style oasis.

Bab Ourika extends well beyond a simple oasis, this heavenly retreat is at once not only stylish but also eco-friendly. Made from rammed earth – a traditional Berber building technique – the Kasbah has admirable eco-credentials and sustainability practices. Thick walls provide environmentally sound insulation so air-conditioning is unnecessary, hot water (and underfloor heating) supply is heated by solar panels, there is a water recycling system, and there is also a programme in place to generate its own electricity and to assist the local community with projects funded by the hotel for the benefit of local Berber schools and villages.

Sourcing most of the furnishings locally, designer Romani Michel-Meniere paired natural earthy tones with Berber textiles. The Moroccan influence both lovely, and subtle. We love the hand-made leather chairs (made by local craftsmen), rugs and lanterns.

The Kasbah has 15 rooms in the main building and 6 suites, with incredibly comfortable beds, and fine linens. Most rooms have private terraces as well. At the time of our visit, Stephen was putting the finishing touches on a new pool suite, which once revealed, will be beyond amazing. To the left of the most magnificent herb and veggie garden we have ever seen, this beautiful new suite will have a large terrace and infinity pool, with sweeping views of the entire valley. It is so beautiful here.

We fell in love with the completely mesmerizing 360 degrees views of the Atlas Mountains and the Ourika Valley, the endless sunshine, the changing colors throughout the day, the lush and shady terraces and hidden alcoves. In winter, you can cosy up by the fire in one of the many common living areas.

The restaurant and the service found here are both outstanding. Rashid, our porter, gets a special mention for his kind, sweet smile and warm hospitality. Despite neither of us speaking the same language, we were able to communicate easily over my two day visit and Rashid helped me find friendly hiking paths and gave directions into the nearby villages.

This is a breathtakingly beautiful retreat, and easy to see why it was named one of the Fodders Top One Hundred Hotels of the World in 2011. We cant wait to return.

To eat.

The in-house restaurant serves locally sources food, as well as seasonal finds from their very own (and very impressive) herb and vegetable garden. Traditional Berber recipes, with a more modern twist. Meals can be served in the garden or in the beautiful colonnaded indoor restaurant. Our beef tagine with peas was served with homemade Berber bread and local Moroccan wine. For breakfast, enjoy eggs anyway (try their Berber omelette), fruit salad, yoghurt, granola, and fresh bread. The coffee is good as well.

To do.

Lounge by the lovely secluded pool.

Hang out in the garden – find a shady spot under the trees – read, relax, play cards, nap.

Explore nearby Berber villages, and be sure to visit the local Monday Berber market at nearby Trine Ourika.

Hike, trek, ski or ride in the nearby mountains.

And visit Bab Ourika’s sister properties…

In Marrakesh…Riad Edward  // In Skoura…Dar Faracha (House of the Butterflies). A beautiful private house with 3 bedrooms. Can be rented with a maid/cook, or without.

orpheus island

[spotlight series. arie prabowo]

[orpheus soundtrack. without you]

Orpheus Island Resort is a little known jewel in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. A spectacularly beautiful, intimate and remote island resort surrounded by national park, this is a true tropical paradise. The island itself has 11km of coastline (most of which is bordered by the national park) and is surrounded by impossibly turquoise waters. This is the ultimate picture-perfect, pinch-yourself setting. Palm trees (have you ever met a silver “Bismarckia” palm? wow), tropical plants, a heavenly infinity pool overlooking the quiet beach, beautiful suites, outrageously comfy big white canvas hammocks, and endless options for action (think fishing charters, sunset cruises, paddleboarding, kayaking, day spa-ing, etc etc) or relaxation instead.

From the moment you arrive, the island’s super friendly staff welcome you like old friends. You are greeted with big smiles, trays of champagne and perfect chilled tunes that just float along in the background. Ranaul Crabb runs the show and is an incredible host. His lovely staff will have remembered your names within minutes of meeting you, they will remember your coffee order and have it delivered to your breakfast table each morning before you can utter the words “cappuccino please”, they will bring you sparkling water refills by the pool (because you opted for sparkling rather than still the day before), they will remember that you really, really like Aperol Spritzing (but with Campari instead), and that, if possible, you always prefer your scrambled eggs to be on the runny side. This is personalized service at its finest, and attention to detail like nothing we have experienced anywhere before.

All meals are included, and Indonesian chef Arie Prabowo, ensures you have something beautiful, interesting and delicious on your plate every time. He is also more than happy to tailor the menu to your liking. The onsite herb and vegetable garden (which is worth having a look at) plays a big part in meal time. Dinner time is quite fancy and there will be a personalized menu (with your name printed on top) waiting for you on the table setting out four courses you will soon enjoy. Where i had sashimi for my starter, my friend (who is pregnant) might have had something vegetarian instead. Or perhaps a grilled version of whatever raw thing i was eating. Thoughtful and considered each time. Some wines (by Victoria’s Fowles winery) are included. We loved their chardonnay and shiraz. If you are wanting to try something different though, there is a more thorough wine list on offer and those wines can be purchased separately. Our favorite meal of the day though was lunch - a different theme each day. We were taken from Indonesia to Mexico to Japan and on to the Middle East over the four days we were there. Lunch was more about big family-style, share plates with lots of color and flavor. The way we like to eat.

For lodging, there are four different room categories, each at different price points. If budget is no issue, we suggest going for south suite one or two. These large, spacious, light-filled suites are totally lush and come complete with your own private outdoor tub. Old black and white photos of the island back in the 50s line the walls, the beds are covered in pale pastel linens, the fridge is stocked with cold beer, wine and champagne, there is good coffee, iPod docks, robes, and so on. Enough to make you feel very much at home. You cant go wrong with any of the room types though (because lets face it, its not like you're going to be in the room much anyway).

Our island mornings would begin with a few laps of the pool, followed by a huge and delicious breakfast, and then some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking out to the mangroves (before the tide went out), followed by lunch and a walk (at low tide) to visit the sea garden full of giant clams (these things are amazing)!!! For those interested in reef life, there is a reef research centre on the island which is also worth visiting. In the afternoons, we would bounce between pool and beach (and pool and beach), until it was time for our afternoon spritz. A long and indulgent dinner would follow, and we would then be tucked up in bed by 930pm. The luxury of island days that seem to go on forever. Just perfection.

At some point during your stay you will also get to enjoy a cute concept they call “dining with the tides”. This is where two couples are set up on the jetty with a silver service degustation experience. It was a full moon the night we were out there, and the tides were high. We saw stingrays racing below us. It almost felt like we were dining on a boat. Dinner started with an appetizer of 36 Hour Marinated Ocean Trout (with preserved lemon, apple celery foam, green sauce and radicchio), followed by pan seared dive scallop (with cauliflower, turmeric crisp and macadamia), and then fillet mignon (with capsicum jus, garlic cream, beetroot, spiced red wine, and roasted potato swisschard), with a hazelnut praline semifreddo with salted caramel and spiced chocolate for dessert. Needless to say, we were so full (but so happy) that we pretty much had to be rolled off the jetty back to our room! It was a fun experience.

To get to Orpheus, you need to find your way to either Townsville (closer) or Cairns airports. From there, the lovely folk at Nautilus Aviation will take you across to the island by helicopter. From Townsville its a short 20min hop. We must say, it was quite the rockstar arrival. The views on the trip over the Great Barrier Reef were incredible.

The whole trip to Orpheus completely blew our mind. Not just for its spectacular natural beauty, but for every little detail we were lucky enough to experience from the minute we arrived to the minute we (sadly) had to leave. It was an island we knew very little about, but very quickly got to love. Its a special place, and one that we are so happy to share with you.

Oakland

oakland [california].

[spotlight series. lauren geremia]

[oakland soundtrack. sara]

What Brooklyn is to New York City, Oakland is to San Francisco. Still gritty in parts, but rich in culture, diversity and history. Cheaper living and constant growth has made it appealing to many finding it hard to cope with crazy rents in the city. We only had a day to explore this side of the bridge, but we loved what we saw (thanks to some awesome local lowdown from friends in SF) and we found lots of fun things to share. There were also a bunch of other recos that we didnt manage to get to, but we decided to include them below in case you might have more time. We know we will back there soon. The Oakland seed has been planted, and we want to see it grow.

To caffeinate.

Blue Bottle: our favorite of all the Blue Bottles we have found so far. Housed in the old WC Morse building, there are more beautiful big windows here than you could possibly imagine. A light, bright and happy space - the coffee, as is always the case with Blue Bottle - will not disappoint.

Bicycle Coffee: there is nowhere to sit or hang out, but the coffee is good (in the less pretty/more industrial part of town).

To eat.

Bakesale Bettys: an Oakland institution. You come here for a fried chicken sandwich, and you come here bang on 11am (because they are only open from 11am-2pm, and they sell out everyday). Founded by a fellow Australian - Alison Barakat - these sandwiches mean business. A must when in Oakland.

Curbside Creamery: for ice cream in the Temescal Alley. Quality, artisanal scoops - both dairy and (amazing) cashew-based vegan.

Ramen shop: a purveyor of artistic, organic, and sustainable ramen. A must.

To shop.

Temescal Alley: a cute little alleyway filled with bright boutiques and friendly faces. A barbershop, a florist, clothing, jewelery, ice cream, and more. We especially like:

Ali Golden: beautiful airy dresses, and other goodies, all handmade locally. 

Crimson Hort: the most gorgeous plant store, for all things hoticultural.

Neigbor: a gorgeous home and garden shop with artisan and vintage pieces for home decor, gifts and interior design.

Cruise along Piedmont Avenue, check out these:

Good stock: for gifts and accessories.

Mercy vintage now: for awesome vintage and consignment. 

To do.

Book a tour of St George Spirits, a Gin Distillery - their bottles are stunning. Im obsessed.

AND MORE…

We ran out of time to check out these awesome recos (shout out to Timmy Crosland, Lauren Geremia, Ali Hall) - so if you go, let us know what you think! Need to get back there, stat…

Eat.

Pizzaiolo. For pizza, obviously. Awesome wood-fired pizza. A neighborhood favorite. Get there early.

Chez Panisse, Berkeley. Enough said. If you are lucky enough to get a table, that is.

Ippuku: Japanese Izakaya style dining bar.

Penrose: for dinner.

Boot and shoe service: busy pizzeria.

Brunch outside at the colorful, Doña Tomás.

Kronnerburger: seriously recommended.

Real Miss Ollies: for Caribbean soul food.

Donut dolly: the daughter of chez panisse pastry chef, Hannah Hoffman now applies the same Alice Water’s simple, thoughtful cooking policy to her doughnuts. Amazingly interesting flavors. 

Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar: for toast and coffee: great after a hike in Berkeley Hills.

Camino: a rustic Californian eatery, very photo-worthy (we hear).

Drink.

Starline Social: a very new and eclectic restaurant, bar, and performance space on the edge of Uptown Oakland. Opened in April 2015.

Prizefighter: cocktails and patio.

Cafe van Cleef: for craft cocktails.

Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon: a super old, circa-1883 bar featuring cocktails & draft brews. And patio.

Shop.

Erica Tanov (Berkeley): for soft, beautiful, clean and pure women’s wear and home wear collections.

Tokyo Fish Market (Berkeley): Japanese grocery store, also carrying many household items.

Atelier Dion: for small scale, custom ceramics.

lefkada

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.

Hike.

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.

Broome

broome | australia.

[spotlight series. jo durbridge]

[broome soundtrack. the shine is brighter at night]

Broome had long been at the top of our travel wish list, so we were hugely excited to be invited by Tourism WA to come and experience the magic and wonder of this far north corner of Western Australia. A unique town situated on a peninsula, where one of the world’s last great wilderness regions meets the Indian Ocean, Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley - a land largely untouched and unchanged by man. The pearling capital of the world, Broome’s people are transient and multicultural. Travelers from all corners of the globe are drawn here by the sun, the heat, the changing landscapes, and the laid-back lifestyle. A slower pace and friendly vibe. Broome can offer up a holiday full of total relaxation or one jam-packed full of action, together with once in a lifetime, breathtaking experiences. Here, you can choose your own adventure.

The Yawuru (pronounced ya-roo) people are the Native Title Holders of Broome and the surrounding areas. Warany-jarri liyan yargarrgi - means (in Yawuru) to agree with one spirit, one feeling and one mind, and the Yawuru people believe that once you have visited Broome, you will experience this spirit, this feeling and hold it always in your heart

We certainly will.

We loved our time in Broome, but even more so loved our time adventuring into the Outback. We spent time in the remote coastal areas of Cape Leveque, Cygnet Bay, and Eco Beach. Its hard to describe the intense richness of the colors in these parts - the redness of the dirt, the impossibly turquoise sea, the whitest of white sands - but hopefully our pics will give you some idea. 

Some things to note (bearing in mind we were visiting at the start of the wet season):

- its gets hot - really hot - early. Don't leave home without suncream, hats, sunglasses, and water.

- shops in town close early. By 2pm, Broome feels a bit like a ghost town.

To caffeinate.

The Zookeepers Store: our favorite coffee in Broome (especially when Paul is behind the machine - hi Paul). Great coffee, good breakfasts, and friendly vibes. Opposite the Cable Beach Club. Known for their “cronuts”.

The Good Cartel: great drive-through coffee, just get there early. Opening at 4am (!!), they shut up shop by 12pm.

Aarli Bar: good coffee (and great food) in a leafy courtyard in the centre of town. Popular with locals as well.

To eat/drink.

The Zookeepers Store: as above.

Aarli Bar: for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delicious asian-inspired menu. 

18 degrees: beautifully designed bar. Good cocktails. order the Threadfin salmon (local to these parts) - it was served ona super fresh and delicious watermelon salad the night we went. great cocktails as well. we loved our Campari spritz. Ryan, the owner, was previously in the music industry with EMI in Sydney, then moved to NYC for a few years, before deciding to move to Broome (talk about a change of pace) after he visited for a 2 week holiday.

Zensai: great Japanese. the host dave, originally from tassie, is super friendly and loves a chat. We loved the miso salmon, and green tea rice.

Cairo Cafe: when Aarli Bar was (sadly) closed the evening we tried to visit, we stumbled across this low-key cafe by mistake. We were greeted by a super friendly and smiling owner, and really loved our totally fresh and delicious vegetarian platter (fresh falafel, dolmade, fried eggplant, pita, humus, tahini and rice). Not somewhere you would dine-in, but perfect to grab something to-go.

Matso’s Brewery: a Broome institution. A beer and cider heaven. Try the Desert Lime Cider with Wild Ginger. Perfect for an afternoon drink on the patio.

Land of the Pharaohs: when all you feel like is a damn good kebab.

Cafe Amore: for homemade pasta, tucked away in a residential part of town. This was one of our favorite finds.

Sunset Bar and Grill: for a cold beer at sunset. The location is hard to beat. Even better, grab some Coronas and go and sit on the sand like the locals do.

The Roebuck Bay Hotel (The Roey): a real-deal Australian pub. Broome’s original. Cant say we were tempted by its Thursday night wet t-shirt competition, but if thats your thing…

To do.

Cable Beach: the quintessential Broome experience. 22km of white sandy beach. Walk it. Ride camels along it. Drive your 4WD around it. Sit on it and watch the sun go down. Wander down to the southern tip to check out Gantheaume Point to check out the amazing red rock formations and to see the giant dinosaur footprints at low tide.

Sun Pictures: the world’s oldest outdoor cinema. A cute spot to grab a deck chair and settle into a flick (they show new releases as well as golden oldies). You can even BYO food and drink (although they do have a candy bar as well).

Town Beach: near Roebuck Bay for sunrise. This is where the locals hang out. It is also the perfect spot to watch the staircase to the moon, and to kick back with a BBQ.

Check out the Staircase to the moon: a natural phenomenon where the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of roebuck bay at extremely low tide creating an optical illusion of a staircase reaching up to the moon. Most commonly watched from either Town Beach or the Mangrove Hotel (from March until October). Streeters Jetty: in Chinatown makes for some awesome photos when the tide is high. The water is like thick jade. Off Dampier Terrace.

Yoga: at the blue body buddha sanctuary. A beautiful open air community space just behind the Cable Beach Club. We did sunrise yoga here each morning.

Courthouse Markets: a broome institution. fresh local produce, locally made ice cream, and various crafts. every saturday (year round), sundays (from easter to october) and night markets (from easter to october).

Reddell beach: for sunset when the light hits the radiant red of the rocks.

Chakra readings and spiritual healings with Sage at the Ancient Earth crystal shop. Sage is an absolute character and downright legend.

Broome museum: for an interesting look at the history of this fascinating place.

A trip into the Kimberley (ESSENTIAL): more details in our guides to Cape Leveque and Eco Beach.

To sleep.

Cable Beach Club: easily the best place to stay in Broome. The location is unbeatable. The only hotel accommodation on Cable Beach. Lovely reception staff and family friendly (warning: there are kids everywhere). Great restaurants (Zensai our favorite) and some pretty luxe treatments in the day spa.

The Mangrove: our second pick. Located on Roebuck Bay, although it feels a little bit 90s-ish, the rooms have recently been renovated and it is fresh and clean. Beautiful sunrises, and close to Matso and 18 Degrees.

Athens

athens.

[spotlight series. Fanis fragoulis]

[Athens soundtrack. My Heart is on Fire]

It may at first seem somewhat intense and over-crowded, but there is a lot of richness to be found here in Greece’s capital if you have some time to get down and dirty. Unfortunately for us, we landed at 10pm and had to be out again by midday the next day, so there wasn’t a lot of time to really give this Greek Goddess a good go…but thanks to some awesome recos from our local friends – including our Athens insider– Fanis Fragoulis – we have managed to pull together a bunch of great little spots to give you a good kickstart for your visit to this city full of history and secrets.

Known for its vibrant nightlife, there is also an amazing creative energy here, a cultural edge - one that is even said to rival that of Berlin. Best to see for yourself...

To sleep.

Grecotel Pallas Athena: this is where we spent our sleeping hours, and we can absolutely vouch for this being the most perfect, and affordable sleeping option in the city. To be completely frank, we were a little concerned as we rolled up from the train station. The hotel building, with its super modern and shiny façade, was not our usual style….but once inside, it was a different story. We were greeted by the friendliest staff and shown to our room, which - complete with a ginormous blue hippo (!) - was light, bright and sparkling clean, with all the modern amenities and some great little design features as well. Perfectly located right next to the Athens City Hall, the Grecotel Pallas Athena is just a 5min walk from Omonia Metra Station (where the airport train pulls into), and only 10mins walk down straight down Athinas Street to the famed Acropolis. Each floor of the building has cute and unique design features – some amazing photography by an old Greek celebrity photographer (whose name we were unable to track down), and some great paintings on the wall. The highlight though – the breakfast! Possibly one of the best hotel breakfasts we have had to date. Plentiful options – Greek, Meditterean and Western – unlimited freshly squeezed orange juice, barista-style coffee, and amazing food (prepared using fresh products from the property’s farm, Agreco). A fabulous outdoor terrace as well. Concierge were super willing to help with directions, taxis (to Mount Lycabettus at sunrise; and also to the central bus station for our bus to Lefkada), recommendations, and printing services as well. It’s beautiful here.

To shop.

Leather sandals: they are everywhere. And they are cheap (especially having come from the Amalfi Coast where they will set you back 80 euro a pair. Expect to pay no more than 15020 euro here – different colors, different styles. Perfection.

To do.

Sunrise at Mount Lucabettus: start your day at 6am by getting a taxi to the base of Mount Lycabettus, and then walk the short distance to the top of the hill. This is Athens highest point (at 277 meters above sea level), and a beautiful place to see the sun rise over a new Athena day. Watch as the colors change, and the sun illuminates ampitheatres, the 19th century Chapel of St. George on the top of the hill, temples, green pines, and mountains. And of course what we came here for, to see the Acropolis shine. A beautiful, and peaceful, start to the day.

Visit the colorful Central Market on Athinas Street (the same street as our hotel). An amazing array of delicious food – fruit, nuts and spices, meats, cheeses (try all the Greek favorites – feta, graviera, kefalotyri). Its hectic, its buslting, and its lots of fun. You can also enjoy a meal at one of the small tavernas tucked into the market, and hang out with the locals. We love seeing all the old Greek men sitting on the sidewalk enjoying their morning coffees.

Visit the Greek Gastronomy Museum: located in a 150-year-old townhouse just behind the central food market, this museum of Greek cuisine was started by four young locals and is run by volunteers. There is a lovely courtyard café, and part of your admission price includes a half-hour cooking lesson. For reservations call +30 210 321 1311.

Yoga with Melina: if you are feeling like a good stretch, Ashtanga Yoga Kifisia is the only place to go. Melina is the queen of ashtanga, and offers a range of different classes at her lovely studio in Kifisia – a space dedicated to the teaching and practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

Haircuts and shaves at Barber Stories. Cute retro barber shop on Kountouriotou street, Piraeus. Panagiotis the barber pumpes out old-school British haircuts, and traditional shaves as well.

Other recommendations we were given, but alas, had no time to check out:

To eat.

Amin’s Falafel (Tsamadou 15): we ran out of time to find this friendly Iranian - Amin, but we have heard good things about this guy who sets up his stand on the pedestrian zone outside the Immigrant’s Lodge (near Eksarheia Square) and pumps out late-night falafel. Perfect when you are needing a break from gyros, but need a feed after a fun night drinking beers - Eksarheia style (i.e. buying them from a kiosk and drinking them in a park, or other outside place). Always packed. Serves from 1030pm until 2am on weekends. Not always there though. Risk it.

Pi Box (Levidou 11): consistently getting good reviews, this popular eatery was desinged by the forener editor of Greek ELLE Décor and is located in the northern Athena surburb of Kifissia. 

Santorinios (Dorieon 8): this beautiful taverna is located in a small enchanted garden, tucked away in the midst of the Petralona’s urban sprawl. You could easily forget you were in Athens here, more likely on some beautiful Greek island. Super friendly owners, service, lovely design, and great food (and prices) – this place is perfectly authentic, and a great spot to visit. Try the ‘fava’. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

To drink (these recommendations come from the king of cocktails – Spiros – owner of 155 Cocktail Bar in Vasiliki. The man can certainly be trusted when it comes to where to find a good drink.

42 Bar: one of the best cocktail bars in the heart of Athens. Amazing cocktails. Anything you can think of. (Closest Metro station: Panepistimio or Syntagma Station).

Baba Au Rum: this cute retro bar pumps out jazz and old “pop” tunes, and classic cocktails. An impressive list of non-alcoholic ones as well. (Closest Metro station: Panepistimio, Syntagma or Monastiraki Station).

And a couple of drinking spots we were recommended:

Tailor Made: one of the newer bars downtown. A special Micro Roastery serving some seriously good coffee, great teas, and beautiful cocktails as well. (Closest Metro station: Monastiraki Station).

Romantso (Anaxagora 305): right off Omonia Square, this is a cool modern bar and culture center named after the magazine that was printed in the same old industrial building for 60 years. The original neon sign still flashes on after dark. Also check out their other venue – an alternative arts space in Keramikos – Bios.

To note.

The train from the airport takes about one hour into the center of Athens and costs 8 euro. They only accept cash. There are no atms at the airport train station, so make sure you have cash on you, otherwise you will have to go back into the airport to find an atm (what we had to do)!

Also, Greeks have a bit of a habit of underestimating the time it will take to do things, or get places. So if you ask a local how long it will take to get from the hotel to the airport, and they say 30mins, always allow 45mins-1hour. We got caught out a few times because of this! Greek time. Got to love it.

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.

 

POSITANO

 

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.

 

SORRENTO

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.

CAPRI

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.

RAVELLO

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. 

NAPLES

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.

OTHER

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.