[Paris] Hopping around in ‘le gay paree’

We hopped on the Eurostar for a few days of sun in Paris back in August this year. I feel like having been to Paris for so many times, I know the city pretty well that I know where to go and what to do during my days out here.

My go to place for crepes is definitely Crêperie Suzette which is in the hustle of Le Marais where you have your quirky coffee shops and non stop shopping. My favourite is the galette Barbette which is a savoury pancake made from buckwheat with cheese, potatoes and bacon inside topped with crème fraîche and a drizzle of basil dressing. It’s amazing – just get it!

Nothing is complete without an early lunch at the famed Carette in Place des Vosges. We opted for the French onion soup, a sandwich platter (Parisien ‘Duo’) and a lemon crêpe for afters.

We were on our way to the Eiffel Tower when a small Popellini caught our eye. Must go to get my pistachio fix! Deliciousness every time, small but filling and one is certainly enough.

We lazed around on the grass with a view of the tower in sight. It was a lovely afternoon before saying ‘Au revoir Paris’ and then ‘Hello London again!’

[Seoul] Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

When walking past bakery shops, I always have to stop and peep inside for any pastries, buns or cakes to satisfy my sweet cravings. I passed by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse and was immediately drawn to the baby pink neon signs (especially the cute peace sign) outside the shop and OMG cruffin alert!

We opted for the chocolate brioche donut and the famous cruffin! Two of these should be enough to share between the three of us! We found the donut was a little bit sweet but the cruffin was really moreish. The pastry was crispy but flaky at the same time and the chocolate creme really complimented it well. But definitely these delights are to be had once a few months! I really recommend the cruffin which is great for sharing. I have also heard that there is now a concession in Shinsegae department store in Gangnam so there is now another place to go to if you want to avoid the crowded Garosugil.

[Jeju Island] Hyeopjae Beach 협재해변 & Hamdeok Beach 함덕 서우봉해변

I was very excited to visit Seoul this summer along with a one day trip to Jeju Island! I have always wanted to visit Jeju Island but summer seemed like the only season to go and I am one who tries to avoid the hot weather as much as I can… Anyway it was a really good time to go (mid-June) and I travelled with my sister, our friend and her husband who only had two hours of sleep the night before and drove us around all day in Jeju Island (while we slept in the car…thank you again!!!).

Our first stop was at Hyeopjae Beach which was a two hour drive from Jeju Intl Airport. We arrived at around 9:30am and the sky was grey! We walked towards the left side of the beach as there were less people and there we could see the black rocks.

As you can see from the photos above, it was cloudy but still pleasant enough to enjoy the views of the sea. It was just lovely gazing at this wonderful place which we did so for the next hour or so.

We moved to our next destination once we felt refreshed and it was Hamdeok Beach – which was another two hour drive. I do recommend to rent a car once at Jeju Island because public transportation may not take you to all the places you want to go and exploring by car is the best option (in my most honest and humblest opinion!).

Once we arrived at Hamdeok Beach, the sun came out to play! Can you see the difference in the sky? The aqua green water was breathtaking and we even stood on the black rocks to get a better view of the scenery.

There is a cafe on the beach called Cafe Delmoondo so you can stop by for your coffee / cold drink fix before heading over to the beach. Unfortunately we were not dressed to play in the water which was a shame, given that the weather was lovely for playing in the water.

We left Jeju Island around 9pm that evening, having had a fun filled day even though we were all knackered from the lack of sleep! But hey, once you’re still young, you still have it in you to seize the day! I definitely recommend Jeju Island for a short trip if you plan to stay in Korea for more than a week in the summer months.

[Seoul] Eungbongsan 응봉산

Having visited Seoul during three out of the four seasons, I finally managed to plan a trip in early April which means yes, I have now completed my trips to Seoul during the four seasons! I still must say that Autumn is my favourite in Seoul but Spring is a close second followed by Winter and then Summer.

So as you all may or may not know, Spring means bloom which means flowers, flowers and more flowers! South Korea in particularly is popular during Spring where they have many festivals and not to mention the cherry blossom festivals where thousands flock to see their blooming beauty.

After an unsuccessful viewing of the cherry blossoms in Yeoido due to bad weather and time limit, I was taken to capture the less popular but still lovely forsythias in Eungbongsan. To my surprise, the mountain and park is in the centre of Seoul – between Oksu and Wangsimni station on the Gyeongui-Jungang railway line which made the trip ever so easy and accessible.

We were lucky as the weather was simply perfect for a relaxing hike up the mountain whilst being able to see the forsythias in full bloom – a field of sunshine. The walk from the train station up to the mountain was not difficult and not as high compared to Haneul Park. One could make it to the top easily within 20 minutes.

Once we reached the top, we were able to see a clear view of Seoul Forest and Han River which during the wonderful weather we had that day, was of course a lovely sight! There were not many people when we went so we had the enormous pleasure of taking pictures to our hearts content without any huge crowds in sight!

I highly do recommend this short trip to Eungbongsan as it is a lovely stroll through the park and whilst the forsythias are in full bloom, it is truly a wonderful experience! If you cannot survive the crowds when going to see the cherry blossoms then Eungbongsan could be your second choice as there are also some cherry blossoms in the park to gaze at. If you cannot make it this time around then mark it in your diary for next Spring.

[Seoul] Café Dior by Pierre Hermé

So as you casually stroll along the streets of Seoul, specifically in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam, you may come across Dior’s largest boutique in the world – House of Dior. This six floor flagship store opened in June last year and after getting word of it, we decided to plan a visit to check it out. I was even more intrigued when I heard that there is a Café Dior by Pierre Hermé on the top floor and they do the best macarons in the world (it’s true, trust me).

The best part of visiting during the weekdays is that there is absolutely no one in the entire shop that you need to squeeze past or maybe that normally occurs during the weekends which is why we avoid visiting at that time. Of these six floors, the first four floors consists of Dior’s collections – bags, clothes and shoes for men and women, the fifth floor is definitely worth a tour as it is the museum where you do surprisingly learn a lot about the Lady Dior bag. We then made our way to the top floor – the café!

The colour theme was a lovely inviting pale grey with mint and cream hints around. The café itself was not huge but they also had a seating area outside but since it was cold, we chose to sit inside for our little coffee and pastry break!

The mono chronic plates and cups gave a vintage French café feel and along with our order of macarons, this was a perfect break!

The seats were simple but stylish and they gave off a very chic and understated atmosphere. I do recommend a visit if you are interested in fashion or architecture or interior design (I’m into all three) as it is quite a building and to end it on a high note, it’s currently the largest Dior store in the world. Welcome to Seoul!

[London] Afternoon Tea at Ham Yard Hotel

As I have had my fair share of afternoon teas in London, it is a wonderful way to catch up with friends especially if tea, cakes and savoury bites are involved. I have wanted to try the afternoon tea at the new Ham Yard Hotel nestled behind Piccadilly Circus since it opened and being the latest edition to the Firmdale Hotels group, I was even more intrigued to go. Having had the afternoon tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel, the Haymarket Hotel and the Covent Garden Hotel (all part of Firmdale Hotels and the latter being the better one of the three), I was curious as to what Ham Yard would offer as their menu changes weekly and it is priced very reasonably at £19.50 per person.

Their afternoon tea can be served in either the main restaurant area or the orangery. If you prefer a quieter environment, then request to be seated in the orangery area otherwise they will by default seat you in the restaurant where the bar is. I requested to be seated in the orangery area and we had a table outside in the lovely garden.

The savouries were spot on and my favourite was the salmon bites. There were 4 plain and sultana scones hiding underneath the canvas bag which were both warm and crumbly to enjoy with the clotted cream, raspberry and strawberry jams. The sizes of the scones were perfect, not too big or small to devour at once.

The selection of cakes and desserts went down nicely as neither of them were overly sweet. Overall I was very pleased with the afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, it is closely tied with the Covent Garden Hotel, the only difference being that there is more than one choice of menu for the afternoon tea at the Covent Garden Hotel. However given the location of the hotel, the stylish decor, the lovely scones and the very reasonable price tag, what more can you ask for?

 

 

[London] Fabrique Bakery

Swedish bakeries have been making their mark across London and the latest addition comes from Fabrique who has just opened their second branch in Covent Garden. They open from 7:30am on weekdays and are famous for their cinnamon buns. I happened to be around the area around 8am so decided to make my first visit as I was very eager to try their buns after having read so many good reviews about them.

As I entered the cafe, I realised I was the only person there at that time which was great! The decor is bright and cosy with a hint of a middle eastern flair with their flooring but very much a Swedish affair all around. Most of the buns and bread were laid out behind the counter and I was greeted by two friendly staff. I opted for a cinnamon bun along with a latte to start my day.

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This was the first time I had sampled a Swedish cinnamon bun and it was soft and not too sweet. The flavour was neither too strong or weak and the slight stickiness of the bun made it a joy to devour. I was amazed by how large one bun is and took my time to finish it with my latte. I do recommend a trip to Fabrique and bring along a friend so you can share the bun between the two of you as one is definitely more than enough to keep you full for the next few hours. A delightful way to start your Monday or any other day of the week.

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