TRAVEL GUIDE | TAORMINA, SICILY ITALY ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

High on Monte Tauro on the east coast of Sicily sits the resort town of Taormina. With sweeping views of the Ionian Sea, Mount Etna as its backdrop and an ancient Teatro Greco โ€˜Greek theatreโ€™, this seaside location is the perfect escape for a taste of Sicilian dolce vita.

We packed a lot into our three nights in Taormina thanks to travel tips and recommendations from friends. I hope this list keeps you satiated.

Views of Mount Etna

Views of Mount Etna

Villa Hotel Belvedere Taormina Travel Guide

STAY | HOTEL VILLA BELVEDERE
๐Ÿ“ via Bagnoli Croci, 79

Hotel Villa Belvedere has all the charms of a traditional Sicilian private villa with its terracotta floors and parlour rooms. Nestled on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna and only a short walk to the town. We loved our three night stay here. Read my review here.

Villa Hotel Belvedere Taormina Travel Guide

SEE | PIAZZA IX APRILE
๐Ÿ“ Corso Umberto

The main square of Taormina is Piazza 9 Aprile, the heartbeat of the town. Named after an important date, 9 April 1860, when mass in the Taormina cathedral was interrupted to announce that Garibaldi had landed at Marsala to begin his conquest of Sicily. Avoid the overpriced cafรฉs that line the square, find a bench and enjoy some people watching whilst taking in the views. 

Taormina Travel Guide

SEE | TEATRO GRECO

The ancient Greek amphitheatre hosts almost all cultural events in Taormina. What a spot for a film festival?! HEAVEN.

The construction of the Teatro Greco dates back to the third century BC and is an awe-inspiring historical sight. Plus you'll love the stunning backdrop of the Calabrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and Mount Etna. 

Taormina
Chiesa Santa Caterina D'Alessandria

Chiesa Santa Caterina D'Alessandria

SEE | VILLA COMUNALE
๐Ÿ“ Via Bagnoli Croce

Wander through the stunning public gardens to escape the hustle. Created by English aristocrat and conservationist Lady Florence Trevelyan in the late 19th century. Take a book and enjoy this lush paradise overlooking the sea. 

The Odeon, a modest Roman-era theatre of the AD 2nd century.

The Odeon, a modest Roman-era theatre of the AD 2nd century.

SWEETS | GELATOMANIA
๐Ÿ“Corso Umberto, 7

Look, Iโ€™m no gelato expert but Iโ€™m about two years into my Chicho Gelato addiction. That weekly hit of the good stuff has certainly refined my palate. Of all the gelato I tried in Taormina, Gelatomania was by far the best. Nearby town Bronte grows the best pistachios in the world, so make sure you get a scoop!

Taormina Travel Guide

SWEETS | PASTICCERIA MINOTAURO
๐Ÿ“ via di Giovanni 15

A local pointed out this little pastry shop. The glossy fruits will dazzle you if youโ€™re a marzipan fiend. Otherwise go for the stuffed cannoli and keep going back until you are dead certain youโ€™ve found your fave flavour.

SWEETS | BAM BAR
๐Ÿ“ via Giovanni di Giovanni, 45

An absolute must. This bright and lively granita bar is a favourite with locals and tourists. Endless granita flavours with in-season heroes. Order the Granita con Briocheโ€ฆ eat like the Sicilians by tearing off the brioche and dipping it past the cream into the granita below to get the full experience. YUM!

EATS | TISCHI TOSCHI
๐Ÿ“ via Francesco Paladini, 3

Cutest name, best little spot! My friend Alicia raved about this hidden gem. Tucked away from the main tourist drag, Tischi Toschi is a family-run trattoria with a focus on slow food. The limited menu changes with the seasons and youโ€™ll find an interesting take on regional specialities. Dive into the wine list and let them steer you towards the local Sicilian winemakers. You have to order the baked goat cheese. Out of this worldโ€ฆ salty, stringy, hot and loaded with garlic and herbs.

Tischi Toschi Taormina travel guide
Tischi Toschi Taormina

EATS | TIRAMISรš TRATTORIA
๐Ÿ“via Cappucini, 1

Another gem from my friend with the good tastebuds. Tiramisu is located nearby Porta Catania and has an intimate and cosy vibe.

Staff were hilariousโ€ฆ this guy thinks he is a dead ringer for Vin Diesel. Go for the jokes, Risotto alla Marinara and Linguine Polpa di Ricci (sea urchin) and stay for its namesake, the tiramisu.

Tiramisu Trattoria Taormina

EATS | PIZZERIA VILLA ZUCCARO
๐Ÿ“ 5 Piazza Carmine

This open-air pizzeria was absolutely heaving. Love the bustling vibe and watching pizza pans fly by. Beautiful big pies cooked the Neapolitan way. I have a soft spot (yep that jiggly bit around my waist) for cheese, so the quattro formaggi was my pick. Loved the prosciutto and pistachio number too. Wash it down with an Aperol Spritz. Mangia mangia!

WINE | AL GRAPPOLO D'UVA
๐Ÿ“  via Bagnoli Croci, 6

You'll find charming enotecas dotted through the town. We stopped in for prosecco at Al Grappolo D'Uva before dinner. Highly recommend having an early dinner and then settling in for the evening, letting the staff talk you through the local and natural wines.  

TRAVEL GUIDE | PORTLAND, OREGON USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

'Portland is where young people go to retire.' Portlandia

For a girl that loves local produce, artisanal purveyors, design driven products and those community feels (did I mention food carts?), Portland was everything I could ever ask for! We spent four nights in Portland based at Ace Hotel over the New Year's break. It was absolutely freezing but we found warmth and comfort in the city's friendly hospitality and incredible offerings. 

Ace Hotel Portland

STAY | ACE HOTEL
๐Ÿ“
1022 SW Stark Street

For me, Ace Hotel is Portland. It's located on the edge of the Pearl District and smack bang in the middle of it all. The lobby is a hive of social activity with people tapping away on Macbooks whilst sipping on Stumptown coffee. We kept going back to Clyde Common (it's just off the lobby), and it's right nearby the Alder Street food cart pod and so many great eateries. 

Loved the personalised touches like the locally crafted cookies with a hand written welcome note on the bed and a list of where's best to celebrate NYE.  The rooms had an industrial feel, a little no frills but super comfy with big fluffy pillows and a hard (enough) bed. Attention to detail was 10/10... honour bar full of the best local brews and wines, Malin & Goetz products (like you actually want to use these!) in the shower and impeccable service.  Check out my blog post here.

Portland Travel Guide

โ˜•๏ธโ˜•๏ธ | STUMPTOWN COFFEE
๐Ÿ“various locations

Need coffee in Portland? Stumptown Coffee is the answer. You'll find plenty of locations around the city but my favourite is right next door to the Ace Hotel. Grab a coffee, sink into the green canvas lounge and watch the world pass you by.

Clyde Common
Clyde Common

EAT | CLYDE COMMON
๐Ÿ“
1014 SW Stark St

Clyde Common is also right off Ace's lobby, but that's as hotel restaurant as this place gets. Start your day with a hot breakfast, a hit list of staples right through to more decadent offerings to slam down with a coffee. Stop in for a quick snack, biscuits with housemade jam or pull up a spot at the bar and graze on snacks.  

Tasty & Alder
Tasty & Alder

EAT | TASTY & ALDER
๐Ÿ“
580 SW 12th Ave

Tasty & Alder is a trailblazer in Portland's brunch scene, they've even published a cookbook 'Hello My Name is Tasty' that pays homeage to the hits. Much like Clyde Common, we kept going back to this bright and cheery corner eatery. Morning, noon, night.. it doesn't matter just make sure you are hungry.

Pepe Le Moko

DRINK | PEPE LE MOKO
๐Ÿ“407 SW Tenth Ave

Right underneath Clyde Common is Ace Hotel's basement bar Pepe Le Moko. An intimate spot for a cocktail or two and late night nibbles. I loved our spot at the bar watching the mixers do their thing. 


FOOD CART POD | ALDER STREET
๐Ÿ“
Southwest Alder & Washington Streets

Alder Pod boasts biggest downtown collection of Portlandโ€™s food carts. Located between Southwest Alder and Washington Streets, from southwest 9th to southwest 10th Avenues. Hot favourite includes Nong's Khao Man Gai and Mac & Trees. 

EAT | NONG'S KHAO MAN GAI

Khao Man Gai. Hainanese chicken. Chicken and rice. Whatever you want to call it, just make sure you get there early and before the fried chicken skins sell out. Nong Poonsukwattana knows chicken rice and it is easily Portland's most popular food cart. So good you'll try and recreate it at home using Munchies recipe when those cravings kick in.

Nong's Khao Man Gai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

EAT | MAC & TREES

Is there anything better than mac n cheese?! Mac & Trees has been serving up the good stuff since the summer of 2015. Choose from the specials or build your own. I've noticed they started adding vegan cheese to the menu too.  

๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ | BLUE STAR DONUTS
๐Ÿ“ 
1237 SW Washington St

Holy smokes! The donuts at Blue Star are mind blowing. The bright hued Blueberry, Bourbon & Basil glaze is a must! Made onsite using fresh blueberries, fresh basil, sugar and a splash of Bulleit bourbon. Now that I'm home wish I'd also had a Hard Apple Cider Fritter.

There is a bit of hype around Voodoo, another donut joint, but a few different foodie sources said not to bother. 

Mother's Bistro

EAT | MOTHER'S BISTRO
๐Ÿ“
212 SW Stark Street

Homely, hearty food just like Mom would make. You'll find no fuss breakfast, lunch and dinner at Mother's Bistro. You won't be blown away but sometimes a little simplicity and wholesome cooking is all you need.


Portland Food Trucks Carts Pod

FOOD CART POD | CARTOPIA
๐Ÿ“1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Portlandโ€™s late night food cart pod has some of the best. Grab some eats and gather around the fire in winter or find a spot under the marquee.

๐Ÿฅ”๐Ÿฅ” | POTATO CHAMPION
๐Ÿ“ 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Located in Cartopia is Potato Champion! A food cart dedicated to the humble spud. I would do anything to dive into another serve of the PB&J fries. Fries topped with satay sauce and smoky chipotle raspberry goodness. Bam!

Potato Champion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

EAT | PBJs GRILLED
๐Ÿ“ 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Toasted sandwiches done good.
*Update Jan 2017 - looks like these guys are now closed. 


Pok Pok

EAT | POK POK
๐Ÿ“3345 SE Division St

No matter how early you head to Pok Pok, you'll still be last in line. But don't worry.. it's absolutely worth the wait! An ode to Northern Thailand street food by US chef Andy Ricker. Opening in 2005, it's the stuff of legends and cemented Division Streets row of restaurants. Order the famous Ike's wings and let staff talk you through the menu. 

Pok Pok Portland

EAT | WHISKEY SODA LOUNGE
๐Ÿ“3131 SE Division St

Scoring a table at Pok Pok straight away is unlikely, wait nearby at Whiskey Soda Lounge and order yourself some soda, drinks and try the  Plaa Meuk Ping (toasted dried cuttlefish).

Whiskey Soda Lounge

๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆ | SALT & STRAW
๐Ÿ“3345 SE Division St

Salt & Straw is a cult artisanal ice cream shop. Focusing on local produce and seasonal flavours, the team often collaborate with like-minded purveyors. If you only limit yourself to two scoops... go for these awesome collabs Pear and Blue Cheese (w/ cheesemongers Rogue Creamery) and  Arbequina Olive Oil (w/ Red Ridge Farms' Oregon Olive Mill ).

Salt & Straw Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Portland Travel Guide

SEE | PORTLAND FARMER'S MARKET
๐Ÿ“ 1010 SW Park Ave

Located in the the quintessentially American surrounds of Portland's State University, the Portland Farmer's Market are open all year round. I wish we had travelled during spring or summer as the markets would have been plentiful. Go to stock up the kitchen in your AirBNB and enjoy street food from the stall holders. The money bowl and tamale were two of my fave eats on the whole trip, all the pics are here. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Portland Art Museum are close by and also worth checking out.

Portland Travel Guide
Portland Travel Guide

SEE | PITTOCK MANSION
๐Ÿ“ 3229 NW Pittock Drive

Built by owner of The Oregonian newspaper Henry Pittock in 2914. Pittock's Mansion is bursting with history and remarkable stories. We were there during the Christmas holidays and every room was adorned with festive decorations. Make an afternoon of it and take in the breathtaking views of Portland.

Travel Guide Portland

PORTLAND FOOD GUIDES

I spend more time reviewing food and travel guides than I do on the damn accommodation! Here are some guides and platforms I'd highly recommend you check out before you embark: 
* Food truck nerds can well.. nerd out on Portland Food Carts
* Are you a glutard? So is my soul sister Andjelka. If you are into gluten free delights, wholefoods, yoga and a slower style of living you'll love her curated guide to Portland on Life Curator
* My good friends at The City Lane are building a gastronomers guide to eats around the globe and have rustled up a nifty guide for Portland (great for beer lovers!).
* Citizens of the States swear by Yelp. You'll find it super handy when travelling for honest peer reviews. 

Portland

WISH LIST | FOR NEXT TIME
Le Pigeon
Kachka

If you've got any questions on my Portland adventure, get in touch via comment below. 

TRAVEL GUIDE | VANCOUVER, CANADA ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

Stunning vistas and walkable neighbours, coupled with a dynamic culinary scene and flourishing focus on craft producers, Vancouver has all the attributes of a great city. 

Our Vancouver holiday was over the Christmas break and we had a quick trip to Whistler spending time with family. We stayed at Westin Bayside located in Downtown. It was comfortable, a little dated but what to expect of big chain corporate hotels. The views overlooking Stanley Park and Dead Manโ€™s Island were beautiful and it was a leisurely walk into town along the Vancouver Harbour. If I had my chance again, Iโ€™d choose an AirBNB in the cobbled old-town Gastown where we spent most of our time. 

Each morning we would kickstart out day with coffee from Revolver then find a breakfast joint before venturing off to explore the neighbourhoods. Gastown was definitely a highlight and the majority of my recommendations below are in this โ€˜hood. I wish we had gone to seaside town of Kitsilano and spent more time in Chinatown. Be careful at night in the troubled neighbourhood of East Hastings as itโ€™s a little scary and the homeless situation and drug-use is sadly very dire.

The dining scene is absolutely incredible and we managed to tick lots off our list. I hope this travel guide gives you some highlights on your adventure in Vancouver.  

Vancouver

SEE | DIGITAL ORCA
๐Ÿ“ Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place

A breathtaking vista that makes you pause, Digital Orca is a 2009 sculpture by Douglas Coupland. The perfect backdrop for your orca selfie and mandatory 'sucked in we are on holidays' snap.

IMG_0625.JPG
Revolver Gastown Vancouver

โ˜•๏ธโ˜•๏ธ | REVOLVER
๐Ÿ“325 Cambie Street

Revolver is founded on two things; coffee and the ultimate experience. The crew here live and breathe the bean. Top of my list by a long shot for your daily caffeine fix. Hell, next time I'd book an AirBNB close by just to ensure I could grab a Revolver coffee every morning. 

Check out my blog post

Revolver Coffee Vancouver Gastown

EAT | MEDINA
๐Ÿ“ 780 Richards Street

A brunch time institution in Van City. Take a trip to sunnier shores with Medina's Mediterranean style brunch.  Favourites include spicy Moroccan lamb meatballs, tagine and paella. Interesting cocktails and waffles take breakfast to the next level. Head in early to avoid the lines. Check out my blog post.

Taco Fino Vancouver

EAT | TACO FINO
๐Ÿ“ 15W Cordova Street

From humble food truck beginnings to bricks and mortar in four locations, Taco Fino has been slinging Mexican eats to taco lovers. Casual eats with swagger so order up big so you can try the everything on the menu. Check out my blog post.

Taco Fino
IMG_0594.JPG
IMG_0092 (1).jpg

DETOX | KROKODILE PEAR
๐Ÿ“ Plenty of locations around Vancouver. 

Holidays should be about balance right? Get a vitamin dose with a side of detox from cold pressed juice legends Krokodile Pear. You'll see their fresh juices pop up all over the city.   

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Nelson & The Seagull

EAT | NELSON & THE SEAGULL
๐Ÿ“315 Carrall Street, Gastown

Craving a no-fuss breakfast and ๐Ÿฅ‘ on toast? Then this place is for you. Check out my blog post

Nelson & The Seagull

๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ | CARTEMS DONUTERIE
๐Ÿ“534 W Pender Street

New York has Underwest and Dough, Portland has Blue Star and Vancouver has Cartems. Artisanal doughnuts galore! Including glazed, cake, raised-yeast and huzzahhhh gluten-free! I loved the gluten-free cake version of Honey Parmasen and the seasonal Christmas beauties. Check out my blog post.

SEE | THE STEAM CLOCK
๐Ÿ“ 305 Water Street

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Steam Clock Vancouver

๐Ÿซ๐Ÿซ | BETA5
๐Ÿ“413 Industrial Ave

Chocolate lovers! Attention please!

BETA5 was everything I'd dreamed of. Taking chocolates and those smashable cream puffs to the next level. Absolutely blown away with the attention to detail and love that goes into every morsel. Check out my blog post here.

Old Faithful Shop Gastown

SHOP | OLD FAITHFUL SHOP
๐Ÿ“ 320 W Cordova Street

Stumbled upon this gorgeous homewares store on Cordova Street in Gastown. Full to the brim of locally made goods. Don't leave without a bottle of Bourbon Maple Syrup by Noble, handcrafted from fine Quebec tapped maple orchard. Stash a few baby bottles in your luggage as presents for the fam and avoid the tourist traps.

Noble Maple Syrup
Vancouver Travel Guide
Meat & Bread Cambie

EAT | MEAT & BREAD
๐Ÿ“370 Cambie Street

No trip to Vancouver is complete without a Porchetta. An absolute must for food adventures!

Sandwich lords Meat & Bread have been dishing out the good stuff for over six years now and still have a line out the door. 

Check out my blog post here.

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L'ABATTOIR
๐Ÿ“217 Carrall Street

Lโ€™Abattoir is located in the center of Gastown between historic Gaolerโ€™s Mews and Blood Alley. The restaurant was built in the 19th century and is the site of Vancouverโ€™s first jail. Originally buttressed to the cityโ€™s main butchery and meat packing district, the name Lโ€™Abattoir pays homage to the neighbourhoodโ€™s colourful past.

L'ABATTOIR VANCOUVER

Must try on the cocktail list is the Avocado Gimlet. A savoury take on the classic, 
rosemary and olive-infused Beefeater gin, fresh avocado, Apfelkorn schnapps, lime. 

Pull up a spot at the bar whilst you wait for a table. L'Abattoir is a hotspot and definitely one to book ahead. Missed out on weekend brunch, so check it out and report back!


EAT | ASK FOR LUIGI
๐Ÿ“305 Alexander Street

Ask for Luigi is a little off the beaten track in Downtown Eastside. Pasta is king in the buzzing little Italian joint. You will have to line up to nab your table. Handmade fresh pasta, Luigi's meatballs and olive oil cake are an absolute must. Check out my blog here.

Notturno

DRINK | NOTTURNO
๐Ÿ“280 Carroll Street - Sorry this is now closed 

This tiny bar serves seasonal Italian small plates, wine and excellent cocktails.  We popped in for a pre-dinner drink. Negroni and a Felice. This seasonal gem fired with grappa, lemon peel and coffee bean essence, Cinzano Rosso vermouth, red wine reduction, white truffle syrup and Aphrodite bitters.

TRAVEL | 'SHIMOKITA'

Just a couple of stops away from the mayhem of Shinjuku is a little place where Tokyo's flickering tempo slows right down to an almost lazy pace. Here the bright lights fade into two storey pastel buildings dotted with vintage shops and record stores.  Its easy to lose yourself in the intricate labyrinth of tiny lanes beckoning you to explore.  The cafes are kitsch, hidden in basements or up an unassuming flight of winding stairs. 

'Shimokita' as it is affectionately known has a charming, untouched organic vibe, a haven for artists, musicians, Tokyo-ites and travellers wanting to tap into hipster Tokyo.  By day the streets are peaceful but as dusk settles, the laid-back alleyways come alive with Shimo's vibrant bar and rock n roll music scene. Do yourself a favour on your next trip to Japan, book a homely airbnb and spend a few days uncovering the gritty magic of Shimokitazawa.