Getting The Most from a Villa Holiday

Sure, you could always take the usual holiday where you go to the city or even just decide to stay home. You could tell your friends and colleagues about your predictable plans and watch their eyes glaze over as they nod in disinterest. These plans aren’t anything new. They’ve been done over and over again.

Or you could avoid all the dullness and just plan an out-of-the-ordinary holiday right from the start? Loving Apartments‘ suggestion for you – a villa holiday.

We’ve got loads of villas to offer you. We actually offer around 35 villas in Provence, 30 villas in Tuscany and 5 villas in Côte d’Azur. All of these locations allow you to enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside, and some of villas are even located near cities – so you can have the best of both worlds. Another huge advantage of taking a holiday in a villa is the space that you are afforded. You can take your entire family and more with you. Take your friends or your extended family.

I’ve chosen some of my favourite villas from Loving Apartments’ portfolio to feature. Take a look and just image the holiday that is waiting for you there.

Provence

Mas le Cailletier:

This five bedroom villa is located within 50 hectares of land. The home is surrounded by orchards, creating a wonderful landscape to admire. Not only does the villa hold the appeal of the beautiful surrounding countryside, but the villa is also outside of a larger resort so it includes access to a garden and a children’s playground. Guests also have a private access to the lawn, swimming pool, pool house and table tennis. The villa itself offers air conditioning, wifi, a TV and a DVD player. It can sleep up to 9 people, so start thinking of your invite list. Here are some photos to get a peek into the countryside haven:

Mas le Cailletier I                 Mas le Cailletier II

Mas le Cailletier III                 Mas le Cailletier IV

Col de l’Ange:

Col de l’Ange is a charming, 3 bedroom villa located in Draguignan, Provence. The villa includes a large lawn with flowers, trees and a private swimming pool. It’s only a short drive away from the beach and also several lakes. Not to mention the villa also has a high definition flat screen TV, wifi, air conditioning, a dishwasher and all the other necessary kitchen appliances. It also has a terrace with a BBQ, mosquito net and a beautiful view of the French countryside. It has everything you need for a memorable summer holiday with your friends and family.

Col de l'Ange I               Col de l'Ange II

Col de l'Ange III              Col de l'Ange IV

Tuscany

Villa ll Salicone

This bright and spacious villa in the Italian counrtyside sleeps up to 16 people. That’s a number of guests that you probably won’t be able to accommodate in your home, just another good reason to stay in a villa for your summer holiday. The villa is located near an observation tower of the Montalbano Hills where you are rewarded with a exquisite view of the countryside, olive groves, vineyards and the stronghold tower of Serravalle. The accommodation also includes a swimming pool, a private garden, wifi and room cleaning weekly. For added convenience and interest, it is also situated near a pretty Tuscan town.

Salicone I                 Salicone II

Salicone III                 Salicone IV

 La Veduta

This charming villa is a slice of heaven. Its home is on an organic farm that produces wine and oil. La Veduta is situated upon a hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves with a view of Siena. You can’t get more Tuscan than that. It will be a haven of peace and quiet. If you desire, the owner can arrange tennis matches, tasting tours of local produce, cooking courses or wine  tasting. The villa has 8 bedrooms that can sleep up to 16 people – plenty of room for all your guests. The accommodation also includes a large swimming pool and a 12-person jacuzzi with exquisite views of the Siena hills. You’ll never want to leave.

Veduta I              Veduta II

Veduta III              Veduta IV

Côte d’Azur

 Terrasse Croix Gardes

This modern french villa, located near Cannes, includes a swimming pool, private garden and BBQ. It’s also conveniently located only 2.5 km from the beach for a sunny afternoon with your family or friends. The villa also comes with air conditioning, wifi, TV, DVD player, a terrace and a balcony – all the ingredients for a relaxing summer holiday. Terrasse Croiz Gardes can sleep up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms, and it has 3 bathrooms. It’s the perfect size for a family.

Villa              Villa II

Villa III            Villa IV

Street Food of Berlin

Would you consider yourself an international foodie? Traveling to Berlin soon? Then look not further,because here are some suggestions of street food you can find in Berlin. We have collected cult classics around the city and they have left us salivating while contemplating the next trip to Berlin.

> Currywurst – Curry 36

The spicy sausage and mayo crisps have become the fan favorite street food among Berliners. The most common way to eat this delicious snack is to order it with “ohne darm” which means boiled and naked (without skin). The fast food dish is pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup; topped with curry powder.The dish often time served with fries with mayonnaise. There are many contenders for the best Currywurst in town,however, Curry 36 boasts to the best. The sausage at this snack bar is so popular, they’ve even started a range of merchandise sporting their logo.Make sure you get here early, because the queues for this street snack can get a bit lengthy. But this snack shop would be the perfect ending after a day of sightseeing things like Gemaldegaleire or the Berlin Zoo.

@JessicaSpengler / Flickr

@JessicaSpengler / Flickr

Address: Mehrindamm 36, 19061 Berlin Kreuzberg

Website: http://www.curry36.de

Email: info@curry36.de

> Doner Kebab – Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap

As we all know, you can find a Kebab stand on every corner. But for the best Kebab stand in Berlin, you must visit Mustafa’s. Located in Kreuzberg– just down the street from Curry 36- Mustafa’s has quite the following of fans that line the streets and wait to have his wonderful kebabs. Mustafa employs his family to aid him in serving a vast range of kebabs including chicken, vegetarian and durum kebabs. What makes the Kebabs so good is that Mustafa uses fresh fried veggies, tender meat and his very own secret sauce recipe.

@AlexKehr/ Flickr

@AlexKehr/ Flickr

Address: Mehringdam 32 10961 Kreuzeberg, Berlin Germany

Website: http://www.Mustafas.de

> Grilled Bratwurst- Witty’s

Located in Schoneberg, Witty’s has made its home in West Berlin is known as the best joint on the square. What makes Witty’s special is that they only uses local meat and vegetables, and offers its customers a monastery-brewed bio beer called Weissenoher. The Bratwurst come complete with Chunk Belgian fries – all liberally drenched in your choice of sauces. Not too far from Kaufhaus de Westens, this snack shop would is a must see before you leave Berlin.

@aelam / Flickr

@aelam / Flickr

Address: Wittenbergplatz 5, Schoneberg, Berlin Germany

Website: http://www.wittys-berlin.de

Phone: +49 30 211 9496

>Loving Apartments offer a range of apartments Located in Kreuzberg and Schoneberg. Find the right place to rest your stomach for you next holiday in Berlin.

 

Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Getting to Know Us, Loving Apartments

Since 2003, Loving Apartments has offered quality self-catered accommodation around the world. FromParis to Moscow, we offer apartments, villas and houseboats in some very special places. In order to highlight these locations we have created this blog as a way to inspire other to visit and create their own experience in foreign places. This passion for travel is apparent in our posts, and quite frequently we offer reasons to travel, but we have never gave an answer as to why we love to travel.

So we asked our Executive Managing Director & Customer Service Director, about their thoughts on travel.

> Iain Macaulay, Event Managing Director

1. Why do you love to travel?

I love to travel because I like new experiences-  new streets, new cities, new food, new people. I like to try things that are different because I think it broadens your horizons; its makes you a better and more open person.

2. When is the your favorite time to travel?

Anytime, I love travelling – especially spontaneous travel. I like the idea of disappearing next week or tomorrow, but I also love having lots of things planned. So a bit of both, I guess. If one goes to London in winter it’s a different city to London in the summer- but there is still things to do as is the same everywhere else.

3. The best travel advice is….?

I do think doing a bit of preparation is needed as  some trips are special and you might never get to visit that place again. It is always good to have an idea of what your destination has to offer, but it does not warrant extensive planning. I think traveling is great when you give yourself time for spontaneity and wonder the streets.

4.Where is one place you’ve always wanted to go?

I have been to a lot of the places I’ve wanted to visit. But, I have never been to Antarctica or the Arctic. It’d be fun to see the polar bears and the penguins there.

5. In your suitcase, you have to pack…?

The one thing I would have to bring in my suitcase is my phone charger, which I do sometimes forget. I think I’d be quite lost without it, to be honest.

>Kate Norman, Customer Service Director

1. Why do you love to travel?

Travel allows me to escape from the day to day to another world; different landscapes, a new culture, foreign tongues, better weather, new experiences. All of those departures from my normal life are exciting, exotic and fascinating. Travel is an escape for a while, a time to forget the mundane and to let in the new, light, bright experiences of somewhere other. It is a time to re-charge, to expand my horizons and to create wonderful new memories.

2. When is your favorite time to travel?

Summer is when I usually travel, and travelling then in Europe lets me soak up some sun and warmth. Being British I find that by January or February I am in real need of some summer sun to look forward to, so researching where to holiday that will guarantee great weather and amazing experiences really helps get me through the winter in the UK, and have something exciting to look forward to.

3. The best travel advice is…?

Always go somewhere new that you haven’t been to before. If you thought the place you went to last year was the absolute best ever, so will the next new place be. It is a big world so take in as much as you can.

4. Where is one place you’ve always wanted to go?

Australia is on my bucket list. I want to do the tour – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, the Goldcoast, Uluru. I want to take in the beauty of the country, experience it’s history and heritage, oh and sample the delicious food and wines… and then pop across to New Zealand. Sorry that’s more than one destination!

5. In your suitcase, you have pack..?

a good book, my hairdryer, and usually too many clothes. But most important is the good book.

Boozing and Brunching Across the Channel: London & Paris

Let’s face it. The only way to recover after days of visiting tourist attractions and a night on the town is to pay your respects to the weekend institution with Sunday Brunch. Menus and drinks  vary from borough to borough, but the constant is good meal with friends  while sharing the antics that occurred over the past few days. London and Paris are wonderful places to try brunch.

No matter what your taste-buds are craving, whether it be a traditional Sunday Roast or Creamy Eggs Benedict, London has something to offer you.

Smokehouse

Smokehouse is a highly recommended local gastro pub in Northwest London. The restaurant specializes in smoked and grilled meats. They also feature seasonal food and craft beers. Trust me, their Sunday Roast is like non-other with succulent beef and fresh grilled veggies. Smokehouse is not to be missed. Smokehouse offers pork shoulder, pork rib-eye and, for those interested, a venison roast as well. The gastro pub opens its doors around midday and stays open until nine.

bruncpost-smokehouse

 

Location & Information:

63–69 Canonbury Rd, Islington London, N1 2DG  T: 020 7354 1144

Monday–Friday :6pm–10pm

Saturday :11am–4pm / 6pm–10pm

Sunday & Bank Holidays: Midday–9pm

The Breakfast Club

If Brunch is an institution, The Breakfast Club is its manifestation. The little yellow cafe that originally opened its doors in Soho in 2005 has since grown and opened up an additional 4 locations across London. As expected, the Breakfast Club specializes in breakfast, and their ever expansive brunch menu can satisfy the most picky of eaters. To complete the perfect brunch, the Breakfast Club offers spicy a Bloody Mary that is reminiscent of Helen Mirren according to its description. If you do happen to find yourself in the youthful  breakfast cafe, make sure you try their Hemingway Daiquiri.

Location & Information

5 Locations around London : Angel, Soho, Spitafields Market, Hoxton, Battersea Rise, & London Bridge

(Hours Vary: Check here)

Kopapa

If you consider yourself a fusion fanatic, Kopapa is for you. Located in Convent Garden with a revolving Mediterranean- influenced menu, guests are always eating something new. The Brunch menu at Kopapa revolves around the incredible, edible egg. The “Turkish eggs” is a favorite and comes complete with 2 poached eggs with whipped yoghurt, hot chili butter & 2 slices of toast.  The menu is available from 9:30am to 4 pm.  This place is perfect for recuperating and is close to the West End, which makes it perfect for catching a matinee performance.

bruncpost-kopapa

Paris has recently embraced the Brunch movement and has restaurants that take eggs to a whole new level and even have Asian infused brunches. Having set menu ‘s is popular among theses restaurants in the city of lights

Location & Information

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London, UK WC2H 9HA

Monday- Friday: Breakfast/ 8:00am-11:30am Lunch/ Midday- 5:00pm Dinner/ 5:00pm – 11:00pm

Saturday:  Brunch/ 9:00am-4:00pm Dinner/ 4:30pm- 11:00pm

Sunday: Brunch/ 9:30am – 4:00pm Dinner/ 4:30pm- 9:45pm

Coquelicot

By far the best way to start your day is with the fresh smell of bread. Montmarte’s Coquelicot with its own bakery on site and exclusive brunch menu offer guests just that. Although, this bistro serves brunch daily, however, if you plan on dining with them on a weekend – a reservation is required as its popularity has become astronomical. Although, Coqulicot dos not serve alcohol it makes up for it,by the size of portions given. The Weekend Brunch is a favorite as it offers a full meal complete with mini hamburgers and Camembert Cheese with salad just to name a few.

pains-et-baguettes-coquelicot

Location & Information:

24 rue des Abbesses Paris 18e T: 01 46 06 18 77

The bakery: 7:30 am – 8 pm

The restaurant: 8 am- 5:30 pm (from Tuesday to Friday) and 8 am- 6:30 pm (on weekends)

Egg & Co

The wonderful thing about Eggs & Co is that no matter what or time it is, they continue to serve Brunch.  Reviews note that Oeuf Coco as a fan favorite, the dish is to poached eggs over English muffins with a bacon and onion sauce.  Do be prepared for slight wait if you insist on brunching on a Sunday, as Eggs & Co has quite the following. The portions are generous as they are delicious and most meals include fruit juice, and a coffee.

paris brunch eggs & co

Location & Information:

11 rue Bernard Palissy, Paris 75006,  T: 01 45 44 02 52

Daily: 10am – 6pm

 

Miss Ko

Miss Ko offers an East Asian influences for Brunch and an explosive and vibrant dining atmosphere. This 500 square meter amalgamation of poly-chromatic Asian outlets as they are used to decorate the restaurant’s interior.  Known for their “European Tastes with Asian Influnces” Miss Ko boasts an impressively unique and distinctive menu that includes foie gras gyoza, Thai Cucumber Martini’s and Black Salmon Burger. Their sushi is also well reviewed and would be a great alternative to the traditional Sunday Brunch Menu.

beef tataki

Location & Information:

49/51 Avenue George V 75008 Paris Phone +33 1 53 67 84 60

Open 24 Hours.

 

Johnathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

The Coolest Place in Town: IceBar London

A scion of the original ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, IceBar London gives “cold cocktails” a new meaning. For those unfamiliar with ICEHotel or IceBar London, imagine sleeping and sipping cocktails in a -5 Celsius igloo of sorts. No matter where you visit, the bar or hotel are completely made of ice. The design of the hotel and bar changes almost quarterly, and the design revolves  around a theme. In the past, themes have included Architecture andGalactic Frontiers, and the latest creation for IceBar London is Frozen Food. Designed by Jens Thoms Ivarsson, Frozen Foods showcases various food ice sculptures including a large pineapple and a cupcake that could satisfy the strongest sweet tooth.

2014-09-28 20.53.04-1

The IceBar London opened in 2005, and since then has been the toast of the city. Situated right off of Regent Street, IceBar is in heart of London-just steps away from Piccadilly Circus. Somewhat hidden on the side street Heddon, which makes customers feel as if they stumbled across a secret of the city. Entrance fees vary on the time of your visit, but the bar offers three types of bookings. The standard ticket gets visitors entrance, a cocktail and probably the most important – thermal cape with gloves. Anything upgraded from there allows guest to glasses of Champagne or additional drinks. The bookings are operated in 40 minute time slots, which sounds relatively short, but, if you look at the review 40 minutes is quite long enough to stay in this frozen creation.

I recently visited IceBar after visiting Leicester Square and was surprised at how comfortable I felt when first entering. Maybe its my brisk Chicago winters upbringing, but I did not mind the climate. As expected many were snapping pictures to share with their soon to be envious friends and dropping ice themed jokes within their conversations, but what was most surprising was the music. The music was in a way-warming; I expected to have relaxed and chilled out beats to match the interior, but it was lively and made my friends and I want to dance. Upon reflection, I assume that they want patrons to keep moving in order to retain body heat. Although the booking was only 40 minutes, time passed slowly as I climbed inside the various interactive ice environment. I learned while speaking with the staff, that the ice comes from the Torne River- the same river that ICEHOTEL uses for its construction.

@Ewan-M / Flickr

@Ewan-M / Flickr

Before you book your next trip to IceBar London, here are some top tips to consider:

1. Charge your phone

– I quickly learned that cold weather will make your phone shut off. In the middle of snapping pictures, my phone died at 55%. Last time I checked that was normally enough power to take cheeky pictures with my mates, but it wasn’t. I advise to charge your phone before in order to maximize your time to take that perfect Instagram picture.

2. Use the Restroom

– You should know that cold temperatures can shrink your bladder, which can be an inconvenience. There are no bathrooms available in the cold part of the bar, only in the warm. In order to use the loo, you must leave the cold room; and once you leave, you may not return. So make sure to use the restroom before so you can stay for the entire booking.

3. Wear Closed Toe Shoes

– My good friend made the mistake of wearing sandals. Although the sandals were quite stylish, they were not sensible in -5 degrees.

4. Bring Cash

– As I stated before, electronics do not fare well in cold weather, which also applies to card readers. Therefore, the cold room in the IceBar is cash only. If you would like to purchase additional cocktails, you’ll need to bring some pounds with you.

5. Go with Friends

– Probably the most important tip. IceBar London is quite fun, but its even more enjoyable when you are with a group of friends. Who else is going to laugh at your ice puns or awkwardly dance in the large thermal cape and hoods with?

@superba_/ Flickr

@superba_/ Flickr

> IceBar London is situated between the Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street underground stations and is within walking distance of Loving Apartments’ listings.

 

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Vintage Shopping in Paris

Haute Couture can be linked back as early as 1700s with ties to the French fashion designer to Queen Marie Antoinette. Since then, the French have been credited  as being the forefront of fashion and haute couture. If the French have the culture of fashion, Paris is the manifestation of haute couture itself. Every fashion designer dreams of showcasing during Paris Fashion Week and having their designs seen by the world. But, what happens to the clothing that becomes last season? Well, it has the title of vintage now, and the best vintage shops or “Depots-vente” are in Paris. Paris has some of the most unique, quirky and characterful vintage shops in the world. If you find yourself  in Paris, these are the best shops you cannot leave the city without visiting.

  • Madame De- The Unique One

This vintage shop located in Montparnasse takes its name from the 1951 Max Ophius film, in which a Parisian heroine is forced to pawn her beloved diamond earrings, which causes her trouble. However, this delightful vintage shop is not so dark. Shop owner Armelle Franz takes pride her quality pieces. She promises to her customers that pieces are not well worn, rather they look and feel like new. Applauded for the quality merchandise, the shop has recently garnered accolades from the Public dans Actualities, Presse. From Couture to silver spoons, Madame De definitely has some one of a kind pieces.

madame de

@EP/ TimeOut Paris

Address: 65 rue Daguerre  14e, Paris

Phone: 01.77.10.59.46

Website: madamede.net

Email: depotvente@madame.net

Transport: Metro- Denfert- Rochereau

  • Chercheminippes- The Queen

Many regard this Depot-vente as the queen of vintage shops in Paris. Located near St. Germain, Chercheminippes has been been open to Parisians for four decades. Today, the brand has six shops. Each is located in St, Germain each with a specific purpose. The shops include ready-to-wear, designer, men’s, children’s, accessories and home decor. Just like a queen, people clamor to see it, so be prepared to deal with crowds as you rummage through to find hidden gems.

@ashton / Flickr

@ashton / Flickr

Address: 102 rue du Cherche-Midi , 6e, Paris

Phone: 01.45.44.97.96

Website: http://www.chercheminippes.com

Transport: Metro: Vaneau

  • Lorette et Jasmin – The New Girls

Lorette et Jasmin opened its doors in 2011 and in just three short years has made a considerable name for themselves. Featured in Le Journal du Dimanche ,Tellerama and other media outlets. Owner Laurence notes that the success of the shop comes from its loyal clientele that visits the shop frequently for their favorites. Lorette and Jasmin blends luxury garments with ready-to-wear on its racks located only steps away from La Seine and our apartments.

Lorrette&Jasmin / Facebook

Lorrette&Jasmin / Facebook

Address:  6 rue Francois Millet, 16e Paris

Phone: 01. 45.25.41.36

Website: www.lorretejasmin.com

Metro: Jasmin ou Mirabeau

  • Reciproque – The Largest Consignment  

From Kenzo and Moschino to ungaro and Balmain, Reciproque can boast as the largest consignment shop, and it is rightfully so. The shop is over 7,500 square feet with 7 boutiques  inside the massive construction. This is the location where true Parisians buy their designer duds. Discounts can range from 20% to 80% depending on each item, brand and the demand. The shop is nestled in the chic 16e , that many Parisians aspire to live in, with its stunning view of the Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire. It is the perfect place for this perfect shop.

@RobertoTrm / Flickr

@RobertoTrm / Flickr

 Address: Rue de la Pompe, 16e, Paris

Phone: 01 47 04 30 28

Website: www.reciproque.fr

Metro: Rue de la Pompe

  • Catherine Max- The Largest Designer Clearance

You know a shop is good when it employs its own security guards for crowd control. Yes, you read that correctly, Catherine Max’s deals are so amazing that it employs security guards. Justly so, this gigantic 12,00 square foot store is an outlet for fashion designers, jewelers, perfumers, and high-end home accessories. You must be a member to shop here for a reasonable price of €20 per year.  Members receive emails notifying them of special events and clearance sales that should criminal for the steals that people get. It sounds to good to be true, but the shop does offer designers such as Dior, LaCroix and Louboutin for a steal. Due to its rapid turnover, the floor space is  constantly monitored. The next time you’re having your holiday in Paris, make sure to visit this shop in 16e.

@dbPhotography/ Flickr

@dbPhotography/ Flickr

 Address: 17 Avenue Raymond Pincare, 16e Paris

Website: www.catherinemax.com

Metro: Trocadero, Victor Hugo

 > Loving Apartments offers 70 apartment locations near these vintage shops. Before you  go on an extravagant shopping spree, choose a relaxing place to rest your credit card hand with us.

 A few notes:

  • Consignment – is the act of consigning, which is placing any material in the hand of another, but retaining ownership until the goods are sold.

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

15 Top Travel Hacks

After you’ve booked your next trip and all of the travel details have been sorted, the last thing you want to worry about is a weight limit.  The best way to maximize your luggage space is through clever thinking and quick wit. But, if you don’t have the time to create your own travel hacks, here are some for you to use on your next holiday.

1. Store your camera in a soap container.

DIY Hack1

2. Store hairpins in a Tic-Tac Box.

DIY Hack2

3. Sort your earrings with a pill box.

DIY Hack3

4. A Binder clip can be used to protect razors.

DIY Hack4

5. Use eyeglass cases to store chargers.

DIY Hack5

6. Medicine bottles are great for Q- tips.

DIY Hack6

7. Put dirty shoes in shower caps.

DIY Hack7

8. Forgotten your charger at home? Most hotels have USB plugs in their TVs.

DIY Hack8

9. Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes fresh.

DIY Hack9

10. Use cereal containers as garbage bins during long car trips.

DIY Hack10

11. Put belts in the collar of shirts to keep the collars stiff.

DIY Hack11

12.Store your cell phones in plastic bags while out in the rain or on the beach.

DIY Hack12

13. Scan images of your passport, ticket numbers and other important information and email them to yourself.

DIY Hack13

14. Bring travel sized liquor bottles with you to take the edge of of flying.

DIY Hack14

15. Most Importantly, invest in a multi-plug.

DIY Hack15

 

 

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

5 Best Seafood Cafes and Restaurants in Lisbon

Known as a seafaring nation, Portugal has a well developed and unique identity when it comes to cuisine. Heavy Mediterranean influences and a myriad of spices have made a mark on the dishes served in this Atlantic country, most notably in Lisbon. Lisbon offers some of the best cafes and restaurants in Europe. Lisbon has Europe’s highest consumption per capita of fish, and amongst this list, one can get fish grilled, boiled, fried, deep fried or even roasted.

Cervejaria Ramiro, Intende

Cervejaria Ramiro first opened its doors in 1956 and was originally a small eatery. It wasn’t until some years later that the restaurant moved into selling seafood. It was a good choice made by the owner Mr. Ramiro whose restaurant is one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Lisbon. Expanding over three floors, this space indulges locals and tourists alike in spiky shell fish, scrumptious tiger prawns and the succulent oysters. Regarded as a family establishment, the restaurant has a steady clientele that queue each day to taste the menu. Cervejaria Ramiro values itself on speedy service with new age technology that allows customers to easily order via tablets. You can even order in advance and skip the queue.

Address: Avenida Almirante Reis 1

Phone: +351 21 885 1024

Website: www.cervejariaramiro.pt

@ArmandoAlves/ Flickr

@ArmandoAlves/ Flickr

Solar dos Presuntos, Baixa

Solar dos Presuntos prides themselves on a warm home like environment. Opening its doors in 1974, this traditional Minho kitchen gives customers a series of authentic Portuguese cuisines. Huge photographs and cartoons of their valued customers line the walls of the restaurant. The owners feel that it is necessary to showcase the pictures of their customers as if they were family, and it recreates the feeling of walking into the home of a family member.  However, if you want to visit this restaurant, you should book in advance. There are no “drop ins.” Once you make your reservation, make sure to try the Seafood Paella with lobster and prawns and the Black rice with cuttlefish, scallops,prawns, mussels and mushrooms.

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

@MarianaAurelio / Flick

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

Address: Rua Das Portas de Santo Antao, 150, Lisbon 1150-269, Portugal (Baixa)

Phone: +351 21 342 4253

Website: http://www.solardospresuntos.com/

Farol de Santa Luzia

Farol de Santa Luzia recently celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. With reasonable prices and signature seafood dishes, Farol de Santa Luzia has become a crowd favorite. Many customers have noted the friendly and welcoming atmosphere as they taste the Lulas à la plancha (grilled squid with baked potatoes and sauteed vegetables) or snack on Amêijoa à Bolhão Pato com toque de mostarda (clams cooked in olive oil, with coriander, garlic and a mustard). This rustic restaurant is housed in a 17th century building that offers customers a cozy viewpoint of Santa Luzia.

 

@avlxyz/ Flickr

@avlxyz/ Flickr

Address: Travessa de Santa Luzia, 5, Lisbon 1100-487

Phone: +351 218 863 884

Website: http://www.farolsantaluzia.com/

Cantinho do Avillez, Chiado

When compared to the other restaurants on this list,Cantinho dos Avillez, is the new kid on the block. Complete with modern industrial chic features, factory lights and concrete floors, this dream child of Chef Jose Avillez offers customers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine. Located in Chiado and close to Parque das Nacoes, Cantinho do Avilliez mixes traditional and modern food while prioritizing quality ingredients in its dishes. The menu includes a myriad of appetizers, pregos (steak sandwiches) and some unique main dishes including Pan fried scallops with tomato, green asparagus and Aljezur sweet potatoes. Make sure to finish your dining experience with the desert and try the Lemon Sorbet with basil and vodka.

Phone: + 351 21 199 23 69

Address: Rua dos Duques de Bragança, 7 1200-162 Lisboa

Website: www.joseavillez.pt

@stu_spivack/ Flickr

@stu_spivack/ Flickr

SeaMe, Chiado

SeaMe also offers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine, but specializes in seafood. The menu offers sushi, sashimi, seared tuna and fried Azores parrot fish. Famous for their raw fish specialties, SeaMe also contains its own Bar, Sushi Bar and Peixaria. Chef Filipe Rodrigues opened the doors in 2010. Since then, he has served the public in tapas style dedicated  to Japanese twists on traditional Portuguese cuisine.Make sure to book in advance. Many locals clamor to get a seat in  this popular hotspot. Close to the Igreja de Sao Roque, SeaMe is a wonderful way to end your day of sightseeing in Lisbon.

Address: Rua do Loreto 21

Phone: +351 21 346 1564

Website: www.peixariamoderna.com  

@adactio /Flickr

@adactio /Flickr

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Gay Nightlife in Prague

Prague has become a haven for night life due to the growing number of tourists seeking small crowds, moderate drink prices and up-scale environments. It should come as no surprise the Prague’s night life extends to offer bars and night life to the LGBTQ community. This post will be dedicated to the most popular and trendy destinations that Prague offers. Loving Apartments offers accommodation in and around Prague as well, providing comfort and convenience after a night out.

The Saints

It’s no coincidence that I featured this bar first. The Saints is a well respected establishment located in the heart of Prague. In many ways this bar can be considered the heart of gay night life as well because the bar hosts an on-line website that allows for potential gay travellers to get the 411 before coming to the city. Beyond their own bar, The Saints offers opinions and inside tips to give visitors local knowledge. The bar itself is small, like most bars and clubs in Prague, but maintains a warm atmosphere with moderately priced drinks.

saint

Address & info:

> Polska 32, Praha 2, Czech Republic > +420 222 250 326

>www.saintsbar.cz  >  info@praguesaints.cz 

Klub 21Flickr/ @klub21

The basement pub has been on the local scene in Prague for a number of years. The brick walls are decorated with art from locals. Be careful, one crazy night could end with you purchasing some of the rare art, which might be a tad spendy. Many view this place to be a typical Czech gay pub and a friendly place  to share a beer with your party.

Address &  Info:

> Rimska 21, Prague 2 > +420 603 539 475

www.klub21.cz  > info@klub21.cz

Club Termix

Club Termix is widely known as the most popular gay nightclub in Prague despite its small size. The lack of square footage is compensated for by the pleasant atmosphere and fun crowd. During the week the the venue doubles as a bar; but on Thursdays, the space turns into a club like no other. If reviews are true, the bar staff is hospitable, and the music choices blend between current dance tunes and local pop music.  Club Termix is located right around the corner from Saints bar, so it would be easy to hit both in one night. The club has reasonable prices and no entrance fee.

Address & Info:

>Trebizskeho 4a, Prague 2  > http://www.club-termix.cz/

> +420 222 710 462   >  club-termix@club-termix.cz 

 

>Johnathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Paris Unleashed

When I was just a little tyke, my eldest sister travelled to Paris for a musical tour around Europe. I remember her stories about the romantic city – the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomph, Champs Élysées, the crepes and lovely street art.

I had fallen under a second-hand Parisian spell, and the city made it to the top of my life list. (I like to call it life list instead of bucket list because of some valuable advice I once got from my auntie, “You should focus on the living part. Not the dying part.” Amen to that.) Well over a decade later, I made a weekend trip to Paris with a group of friends, and I can finally cross the destination off my list.

*Caution: The trip itinerary you are about to read is jam-packed because we were only able to allot a few days in Paris before we had to return to London for class on Monday. We hit it hard. So if that type of travelling floats your boat, feel free to borrow our itinerary. If you prefer to slow down the pace and just take it easy, I suggest you pick and choose or finagle the itinerary a bit to suit your desires.

Thursday Evening:

We began our trip on a Thursday evening by hopping on the Eurostar from London to Paris. It’s extraordinary that we have the ability to travel under the ocean by train. That’s just an experience within itself.

Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I always get antsy to see the most iconic sight right away. In this case – the Eiffel Tower. We hopped on the Metro and found our way to this majestic monument, just in time to catch its light show on the hour.

Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The night continued to get even better when we bumped into a crepe stand by the tower, and I had my first Parisian Nutella crepe. It was nothing short of a religious experience. To say the least, it was a magical first night in Paris.

Friday:

Friday morning we got up bright and early and set out to the Eiffel once again to conquer the tower from the bottom up. I must warn you that the queue to catch the elevator from the ground to the top is quite long – even right at the opening time. So if you are physically-able, I suggest that you buy a ticket to walk halfway up to the second platform and then jump on a lift to the top. We only had to queue for a couple of minutes to get this ticket. I’ll be upfront with you. The steps are a bit strenuous, but you can take them at your leisure. They also allow you to better relish the view on the way up rather than being whisked immediately to the top. Once you’re to the tip, you won’t regret all the effort you took to climb those pesky stairs.

A view from atop the Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

A view from atop the Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Next stop: Musée D’Orsay – which is a convenient walking distance from the Eiffel Tower (It all helps to save money on public transportation). This was my favourite museum in Paris (gasp that it’s not the Lourve) because its architecture as an old train station is breath-taking with a massive, ornate clock on the wall. I’m also a fan of impressionism, and the Musée D’Orsay has a large impressionist collection including Monet. I was also impressed with the number of Van Goghes they had. If paintings aren’t your cup of tea, the museum also has a plethora of other exhibits including photography, antiques, sculptures, glasswork and much more.

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The main Hall of the Musée D’Orsay. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The Love Lock Bridge, officially called the Ponte des Artes, was our next destination. Yes, I gave into the cliché and took part in the cheesy ritual of fastening a lock to the bridge and tossing the key in the River Seine. But hey, can you blame me? I’ve been waiting to do this since I was like 10. This practice is even more frowned upon since the bridge has started to collapse under the weight of all the locks. I suppose if a bridge is going to collapse it’s a good thing that it’s collapsing because there’s just too much love, right?

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Love Lock Bridge. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Not far from the Love Lock Bridge is Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was an unexpected gem for me. I had honestly never heard of the chapel until it was brought to my attention by my travel companions. It turned out to be one of the most gorgeous sights of the weekend, which is quite a feat when touring the beautiful city of Paris. Almost the entire second floor of the chapel is windows. The stained glass shone in the late afternoon light, showing off the vivid hues and design. I was mesmerized by the deep maroons, golds, blues and purples. If I had my way, I would have sat in that chapel for hours just simply staring at the glasswork.

Sainte Chapelle. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Sainte Chapelle. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

I had a preconceived image of Notre Dame from the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and it was actually pretty accurate – other than Quasimodo dwelling in the bell towers. The cathedral was quite busy, but it was worth the visit.

Being the thrifty college students that we are, my friends and I visited the Louvre Friday evening because it is free for anyone under the age of 26 from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm. You probably already know this, but that place is massive! We almost got lost. No rephrase that. We definitely got lost – even with a map. However, we were able to see the biggies like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Liberty Leading the People and The Raft of Medusa – and  everything in between.

The Louvre. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The Louvre. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Our evening ended atop the top of the Arc de Triomph, with a sweeping view of the city lighs, including all the Christmas displays as well. It was marvelous.

Saturday:

Our Saturday morning was dedicated to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. We arrived right when the estate opened, so it wasn’t too busy. The palace was magnificent and luxurious with the King’s Grand Apartments and the Hall of Mirrors. But perhaps the biggest treat of our trip to Versailles was the gardens with their majestic, gold fountains, well-manicured trees and hedges and all the autumn colours. It’s the perfect location for a long stroll.

On our way back to the city center from Versailles, we stopped off at the Grande Arch de la Defénse, located in a business district of Paris. Lucky for us, there was also a Christmas market in front of the Arch. We perused all the booths with jolly Christmas carols and the sweet aromas of goodies as a festive back drop.

Goodies at the Christmas market. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Goodies at the Christmas market. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Then in the evening we made our way to the vibrant Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre. Here we did some browsing of all the little souvenir shops and quaint boutiques. Things you definitely won’t want to miss while you’re there is the “I Love You Wall,” the Sacre Coeur and the Artist Square. The Artist Square was the most charming characteristic of Montmartre because you can watch artists in action as they work on their masterpieces. If you are looking especially smart that day, you can even hire one of the artists to draw a portrait of yourself.

We rounded out the evening with a photo opportunity at the infamous Moulin Rouge and a walk through the bustling Christmas market at Champs Élysées. Paris is such a festive, holiday city.

Sunday:

Our final day in Paris. One of the last things that we definitely needed to see before we left was the Catacombs. Now I had researched a visit to the Catacombs before we left, and I had gotten the advice that you should at 9:00 am in the morning even though it opens at 10:00 am. After my visit, I would have to pass along that same advice. We arrived around that time and were second in the queue to get in. If you arrive much later than that though, you will probably have to wait 2 to 3 hours to get inside. Prepare yourself for a very fascinating and slightly morbid  walk along the tunnels lined with human bones.

Entrance to the Catacombs. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Entrance to the Catacombs. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

My friends and I ended our Parisian excursion with some relaxation in the Jardin de Luxembourg as we watched people sail their little boats in the garden fountain. We also soaked up some sun in the Jardin des Tuilieries so that we could say farewell to the Louvre and a view of the Eiffel Tower just one last time.

I hope that you find this itinerary helpful or at least pick up some small morsel of advice to keep in mind during your trip to Paris. And what I hope you find even more helpful is that Loving Apartments offers over 400 apartments to stay in the city. Many are conveniently located near these points of interest. Enjoy your time in Paris!

>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.