Monday, 29 June 2015

Cinque Terre - Tips on Planning Your Holiday Itinerary


Cinque Terre comprises of a group of five coastal villages in Liguria, Italy. Boasting spectacular views of the Mediterranean, Cinque Terre is a designated National Park and has very well developed hiking trails across the 5 villages, making it the perfect destination for people like me who needed a little break from rather immobile nature of urban life...

Anyway, Cinque Terre is such a beautiful region I would highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Italy - it's easily accessed via trains from Milan and Pisa. So if you ever visit or are planning a trip, here are my top tips on making the best out of your stay in Cinque Terre :)

Corniglia (view from hiking route 7a)

1. STAY
Unlike other European destinations, many of the hotels/B&Bs in Cinque Terre aren't listed on major booking websites like booking.com. Your best bet would be to look at tripadvisor for recommendations, then email each hotel individually.

Or, you can just take my recommendation and stay at La Rose dei Venti, a lovely guestroom in Vernazza (one of the 5 villages). I loved my stay there and it is easily the best value guestroom I've stayed in, ever. It is newly renovated, very clean and spacious and has the prettiest mauve pink wallpaper! The owner of the guesthouse is really sweet and helpful, and even stocked up our minibar for free!

   Via Gavino 19 - Vernazza
+39.333.7624679

Vernazza and Italy's characteristic colourful houses

2. HIKE

If there is one thing you must do in Cinque Terre, it is hiking. There are trails joining all 5 villages together, and I would even say the hike is more interesting than the villages themselves (which are generally crowded and full of tourists, restaurants and shops selling not very exciting memorabilia).

 Look at all the blue!

Lovely spring/summer flowers spotted along the way

While some trails have closed due to landslides (see here for live updates), you can still get around using alternative hikes that detour up the hill then back down again. The climb is worth it though, and the detour we took between Corniglia and Manarola (take path 7a and 6d) brought us through lemon trees and rows and rows of vineyards set against the uplifting blue of the Mediterranean.

TIP: The detoured hike towards Manarola from Corniglia ends in a very steep decline that comprises of some more than 200+++ steps. It'd be best to plan your hike such that you go towards Manarola instead of towards Corniglia unless you want an climbing workout!


A closer view of Corniglia perched high atop the cliffs - this is the only village that isn't by the sea

Endless blues

Vineyards - the Cinque Terre region is a famous vine producing region. I'd recommend you try the Sciacchetra Wine, a sweet white wine unique to Cinque Terre that is absolutely delicious.

If you only have limited time to spare, however, the easiest and most picturesque hike in my opinion is the one between Vernazza and Monterosso - which rewards you with stunning views of both villages from the cliffs. Make sure you catch a photo at twilight too - the warm interior lights makes the village look very different!

Vernazza at sunset and at twilight (as taken from the Monterosso-Verezza trail)


3. EAT

We snacked more than we ate proper meals when we were there, and frankly the food we tried in Cinque Terre wasn't the best Italian I've ever had so unfortunately I cannot give food recommendations. But I had so much gelato, and had a lovely breakfast on my last morning, so I will talk about that.

Italy is famous for its gelato, and Cinque Terre is full of tiny gelatarias whipping up what you would crave to have after 3 hours of hiking in the summer sun. Many of these gelatarias concoct interesting local flavours using local produce like basil, lemons and Sciacchtera.

Besides gelato, this gelataria we visited in Corniglia also served fresh fruit iced popsicles, which was so refreshing and I loved it so much!

I had the raspberry and basil popsicle! Yummeh.

Italy is also famous for their coffee, and we had a lovely breakfast just beside our guesthouse. Italians don't eat eggs for breakfast unlike the rest of the world, but we still enjoyed the coffee, pastries and focaccia nonetheless.

Breakfast @ Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
(beside the Vernazza post office)

Yay! That's all I have to say about Cinque Terre. Hope you enjoyed my guide and photos and hopefully it's of some help to you when you're planning a visit! Feel free to ask questions if you have any - I'd be happy to help xx

Saturday, 27 June 2015

#shuuootd Summer Stripes

 

Striped Maxi: Brave Soul on ASOS/ Backpack: Urbancode London
Sunnies: Calvin Klein Jeans

I pieced together this simple no-frills ensemble for my summer trip to Paris. Stripes are all the rage this season, and this scoop-back cotton maxi ticks all the right boxes for a summer vacay - comfy, lightweight, and goes perfectly well with sneakers so I can walk all I want on holiday. I love walking so much, and European cities are so well designed and planned for walking that I always avoid taking public transport as much as possible.

xx

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

#shuuootd Spring Greens

 
Top from Love Bonito/ Floral organza skirt (on sale!) from Style London on ASOS

I've seen this floral print many times already, but my favourite rendition of it is this sheer pencil skirt I saw on ASOS which I think balances off the big floral motifs quite well. It's the perfect length for my petite 5"3 frame too, hitting just under my knees. I'm a big fan of simple no-frills dressing, so I paired this printed skirt with with a loose tank in a contrasting lemon yellow. I'd love to have worn brown sandals with this, but no-frills dressing me just keeps going for the same trusty Melissa pumps. xx 


MILF 7 (My Incredible London Food List): WA Cafe (Review)


I love visiting japanese bakeries! Unlike the usual western pastries, Japanese ones always manage to strike a balance that gives full intense flavour and yet is easy and light on the palate. Today's food hunt brought us to WA cafe, a cute little Japanese patisserie at the corner of Ealing Broadway. We arrived on a Saturday morning, and the place was packed! There are only 3-4 tables so we had to wait around for quite a bit!

WA Cafe
32 Haven Green
Ealing, London W5 2NX
Open everyday but Tuesday


The cakes here are not cheap, averaging about £3-4 each, but they have a very wide selection of cakes and everything looked so tempting! I didn't manage to take a photo of every cake we ordered, but our favourite cakes had to be the Sakura cake (middle photo), the strawberry shortcake (first photo) and the white sesame cheesecake (not pictured). The white sesame cheesecake is absolutely heavenly and a must try if you're a sesame fan like me! It's unbaked, very smooth in texture and the intense sesame flavour hits you straight on. Yummmeh.

 

They also had a wide variety of savoury breads on offer, which were considerably cheaper than the cakes. I loved the infusion of Japanese flavours and ingredients (teriyaki!!) into these breads. Also, Japanese buns are usually characterised by their light and fluffy texture, which goes really well with the intense sweetness/saltiness of Japanese flavours.

 My favourite of the lot we tried was definitely the karaage roll (last photo) - soft white bun filled with karaage (Japanese fried chicken), salad, BBQ sauce and Japanese mayonaise.


Drinks were somewhat disappointing though, which was so unfortunate! My matcha latte was not as thick and strong as I would have liked it to be, and the cafe latte was just average. The yuzu tea (last picture) had a refreshing citrusy fragrance which was fortunately not reminscent of household cleansers but worked very well to wash down all the yummeh food we had earlier in the cafe. It'd be my pick for a drink here for sure!

Hope you enjoyed my review! With both savoury and sweet dishes on offer, I'd definitely recommend WA cafe for a quick weekend brunch. I only wish they expanded their premises so it'd be less busy and more leisurely!