Discovering Anglesey Beaches

Anglesey, Wales, Holidays, Short Breaks, Travel, United Kingdom

Newborough Forest on the way to the beach.

It can be difficult to  find a nice beach in England.  Much depends on where you live and if you like sandy beaches or pebble beaches. I love Anglesey and I have been there many times but I have never visited the West coast of the island.  Based on friends suggestions I planned a two day itinerary driving from the West Coast to the East Coast of Anglesey.

Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom, Beach, Holiday, Short Break, Travel

Newborough Beach in Anglesey

 

On the first day our first stop was in Newborough Beach which is located just next to the Newborough Forest near Llys Rhosyr, on the west coast of Anglesey. It was nice driving to Newborough, because you drive through the middle of a forest to finally find a massive beach. The landscape is beautiful with views of Snowdonia, and there are public toilets and shower facilities. Not very far from there is  Llanddwyn Island also known as ‘Love Island’. This is a special place for those in love as apparently couples get engaged there. We had a nice picnic lunch at Newborough beach before heading to Trearddur Bay, the second beach on our list.

Trearddur Bay, Wales, Anglesey, Beach, Travel, Short Breaks

A view from the rock pools at Trearddur Bay

 

Beach North Wales, Anglesey, Trearddur Bay, Travel, Short Breaks

Late afternoon in Trearddur Bay

Trearddur Bay has it is own charm, it is a small  beach on a promenade and it is a favourite for people who love kayaking or sailing. The rockpools are a favourite for children and my son was happy exploring and looking for small fish and crabs. There are nice hotels and guest houses if you decide to stay there. We booked one night in the Travelodge Holyhead, which is a very small basic hotel, quiet and clean. The next day we visited South Stack Light House (which is near the Travelodge), this lighthouse was built in what is called Ynys Lawd a small island on the northwest coast of Holyhead. There is a coffee shop that belongs to the RSPB, this is near the parking area and they offer lovely options for breakfast or light meals. We didn’t get the ticket to get inside the lighthouse and instead we went to the RSPB South Stack Visitor Center, which has an amazing view of the cliffs where many birds species breed during spring. Also there is lots of information about many sea creatures that visit the area, it is great they keep a daily record of the whales or dolphin sightings in the sea and they also have binoculars for hire.

South Stack LIghthouse, Anglesey, North Wales, Short Break

South Stack Light House

Just before midday we went across the island to explore the east coast to visit  a couple more places. But before that we went for a drive to Church Bay near Rhydwen Village. I heard about this place and it came up when doing my research of the places to visit in Anglesey. Church Bay is a small pebbled beach with stunning views of the cliffs. It was lovely  to drive from Rhydwen to Moelfre, perhaps it took about half an hour and we enjoyed the views of the island.

Church Bay, Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom, Holidays, Travel

Church Bay

Moelfre is a small village with a pebbled beach, people love fishing, having picnics or just going for a walk. It was lunch time so we stopped at  Ann’s Pantry Restaurant where they have lovely sandwiches, ciabattas and salads . Near Moelfre is Lligwy Beach, a big beach great for children as it is a shallow sandy beach, very clean. The beach has a a cafe and toilet facilities, and it is dog friendly too. We spent most of the day on this beach before  heading to Beaumaris, our last stop.

Lligwy Beach, Anglesey, Wales, North Wales, Holiday, Short Break, Travel

Lligwy Beach

 

Beaumaris, Wales, North Wales, Travel, Holiday, Short Break

View from the promenade at Beaumaris

Beaumaris has always been one of my favourite places in Anglesey, there is a beautiful castle and I love walking along the promenade. Also there is a restaurant called The Pier Bistro, the ideal place for seafood lovers because they offer Anglesey sea bass,  scampi, calamari, steamed Menai mussels, also they have Welsh beef meals and they have many meal options in the menu for adults and children. Sometimes they have lobster meals available too.

steamed mussels, Anglesey, Food, Sea Food, Welsh Restaurants, Travel, Wales

Lovely Steamed Menai mussels

 

And this was our short break to Anglesey, the summer weather will be gone soon and we are very happy we visited the island and discovered beaches we haven’t been before. There are still many places that I want to go in North Wales, so I am  looking forward for the next family break.

 

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Loving the food in Copenhagen

Hello Copenhagen!, here I am again ready to have fun!.

 

I was recently  in Copenhagen visiting a good friend of mine and every time we meet it is like having a party! . Copenhagen is one of my favourite destinations, a place where I would go back again and again, the streets are safe and clean, the people is kind, and there are many historical places like Amalienborg Palace, The Little Mermaid, Nyhavn, Tivoli Gardens and the list is big. Well, this time my visit was a ‘girl break’, to do shopping and discover places to eat. Something we have in common  is that we are food lovers so together we decided to break the diet!.

 

 

seafood, Copenhagen, travel, Denmark, Illum rooftop, food

Seafood for lunch was perfect!.

On day one we went to have lunch to a place located on the rooftop of the Illum mall, the restaurant is called ‘Skagen Fiskerestaurant’. This place has good options for those who like seafood and we ordered the fish and chips Skagen style, the dish consists in flounder, monk fish, baby Norwegian lobster, and it is served with garlic mayonnaise and fried chips. I absolutely enjoyed it and we also ordered elderflower drinks. The menu has beautiful fish options, so I would definitely go back.

La Glace, dessert, raspberry mousse, Denmark, Copenhagen.

Having dessert at La Glace is an experience.

La Glace, dessert, cakes, Denmark, Copenhagen, travel.

The window at La Glace, you will get very hungry looking at those cakes!.

 

After lunch we went shopping and  did a ‘must’ stop in a place where they make delicious cakes. I am talking about ‘The Conditoriet La Glace’, people say that prices are expensive, but I must say that this place has the best cakes in all Denmark and maybe in all Europe. ‘La Glace’ it is a name with history and it was opened in 1870, you pay what you get, and what you get is  the most beautiful and unique cakes you have ever tried in your life. My favourite one is called ‘Forarskage’, a smooth cake with raspberry mousse, chocolate truffle, raspberry puree, and almonds as a base (marzipan). You may need to queue and get a number to be seated, so you just need to be patient.

Food, Vietnamese restaurant, travel, Copenhagen, pork , Lele

Lunch time at Lele, looks small but it is a good portion for lunch, very tasty!.

 

La Rocca, Italian Restaurant, Copenhagen, Travel, Food, Sea food.

Dinner time at La Rocca, Italian Restaurant.

 

The next day we decided to try something different for lunch, so we went to Lele Street Kitchen, Vietnamese Cuisine. The restaurant is small and also does take-away, it is well located at  the entrance of the shopping mall Fisketorvet. My friend suggested to have Caramelized Pork and it is served with jasmine rice, kimchi and vegetables. That was lovely, I have never tried a dish like that before,  and they have a cold lemonade mint drink that goes perfectly with this meal option. After lunch we went to visit a  food street market called Torvehallernekbh, my friend said I was going to love the place and she was right. This street market has stalls with food, meat/fish, vegetables and drinks from countries around the world, there was even a small sushi stall.

 

Food Market, Copenhagen

Visiting the Food Street Market

Copenhagen, Food Street Market, Sea Food

It is always exciting to see so many products in just one place!.

 

Before coming back to England my friend had a lovely surprise for me.  She baked a Peruvian Guanabana cake, a beautiful gesture as I love Guanabana and it is a fruit very difficult to find. It is always sad to say goodbye to friends  and always sad to go back to the diet. A short break is always needed to escape from the routine, and Copenhagen is a great short break destination.

Food, Peruvian cake, Guanabana, dulce de leche.

Home made Peruvian Guanabana Cake, love it!!.

Hasta la Vista Copenhagen!!.

The Biddulph Grange Garden

 

Garden, Biddulph, Travel, England, National Trust, Nature

Let’s explore!!

The English countryside is always beautiful, rain or shine many places are waiting to be discovered. England is known by its many castles and also Victorian houses or mansions rich in history. In Staffordshire not far from Stoke on Trent it is located the Biddulph Grange Garden, a National Trust property, a place I have been years ago and I was looking forward to visit again. It was a rainy day and all we needed was our raincoats and wellington boots.

Trees, England, Travel, Nature, Garden

One of the many trees in the Pinetum

Garden, Travel, Nature

A lovely corner in the gardens.

The Biddulph Grange Garden is a place created by plant collector James Bateman, his love for plants was a big inspiration to design a unique garden which would contain plant collections from around the world. The garden is divided in places like Italy, China, Egypt and the Americas.

Garden, Biddulph, National Trust, Nature, Victorian House

Cheshire Cottage

 

Garden, stumpery, travel, nature

The Stumpery

On arrival to the Biddulph Grange you will be given a map and this will help you decide where to start the tour.  We started walking along the Italian garden area, where there is a lovely terrace and a big lake (which by the way was frozen). After that we had a walk along ‘The Americas’ where there are many different trees and, after going through a tunnel there is an area called the ‘Pinetum’ with many pines, short and tall ones.  At the end of the path we found  The Cheshire Cottage, once inside after a few steps you will be in  The Stumpery. This would be the first time I saw a Stumpery, a rockery made of old oak trees or dead trees, many of them!, the place has a science fiction touch and I absolutely loved it!. We kept on walking and suddenly we were in the Egyptian garden which  is nicely decorated with replicas of Egyptian sphinxes.  

Garden, travel, nature, Egypt, Biddulph

The Egyptian Garden

 

Zen, Garden, China, Nature, National Trust

Entrance to the Chinese Garden

But we were not finished yet, there was still a lot to explore and the next area to visit was the Chinese Garden. This garden is absolutely lovely, it looks very much like a Zen garden as it has a  pond decorated with rocks  and  red bridges. There is a pagoda with bells dangling from the roof ( the children love playing with the bells), and inside the Pagoda there are places to sit and enjoy the view.

 

Garden, Zen, BIddulph, nature, travel, England

The Pagoda in the Chinese Garden

 

Garden, Nature, National Trust, Travel, England

A place to relax, the Chinese Garden

 

We did the Dahlia Walk even though there aren’t flowers yet. The best months to see the Dahlias in bloom is between August and October, so we will come back to see them. After the tour we went to the National Trust souvenir shop which sells many lovely gifts and there is also a coffee shop that has cakes, cold sandwiches and hot drinks.

The Biddulph Grange garden is a place for all the family to enjoy!

 

Winter at the Bodnant Gardens

Bodnant Gardens, Wales, United Kingdom

The House at Bodnant Gardens

Near Snowdonia in North Wales, there is a special place I love for doing  walks and it is called  the Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust property. I always  like visiting  the gardens at the start of the new year with my family during the winter. The Bodnant Gardens have a collection of plants and trees from around the world and it is divided in areas like, the Winter Garden, the Old Park Meadow, Yew Dell and the Far End. On arrival to the gardens there are maps available so you can plan on doing a trail.

Wales, Snowdonia, Parks, Holidays

A view of the hills in North Wales

The gardens have Italian style terraces with waterfalls and benches  so you can just sit, relax and enjoy the smell of  grass, listen to the many birds  or just enjoy the view. The winter scenery is lovely and you can see snow on the hills, if you visit during summer then the gardens will be colourful with roses, magnolias and many variety of flowers.

Bodnant Gardens, Wales, United Kingdom, Forest

The river near the Far End

Something I especially like are the trees, and the most beautiful ones are in what is called ‘The Far End’.  There are conifers from America and Asia, they are all very high and old.  So following my mother advice (she is a plants lover like me) I would always look for a big chunky tree to wrap my arms around it, just  like giving it a hug. This is a way of connecting myself with nature.  After hugging a tree I always  feel energized and relaxed, spending time in the forest has health benefits, it definitely makes you feel good.

Trees, Wales, Bodnant Garden, Nature

One of my favourite trees

After a long or short walk it is always nice to have a snack or something to drink, and the gardens have two tea rooms where you can enjoy cold meals or hot welsh dishes. I highly recommend the  chestnut and vegetable casserole (perfect for a cold day)  I think it is  the best casserole ever. People is welcome to bring picnics, and dogs are allowed but not in all areas so it is better to check on the National Trust website before your visit.

Food, Wales, Casserole, Chestnut Mushrooms

Chestnut and Vegetable Casserole

 

 

During winter I will be visiting more National Trust properties and write about them, my family and I have been members for many years now and we enjoy visiting so many places rich in culture and nature. The weather in the UK has been colder than other years but that is never an excuse to go out for walks and explore!.

Ceviche and Peruvian Street Food

 

Ceviche, sea food, Peru, travel, Lima, fish

A perfect Ceviche!

It has been a short but wonderful visit to Lima, the capital of Peru, a place I love with all my heart as it is my birth place. Every time I go to Peru I have a special mission, and that is to eat the food I miss the most. So during my stay I was happy to enjoy a favourite of many, the popular Ceviche and also the Peruvian Street Food.

Ceviche can be found in many South American countries, but the original recipe is from Peru. Ceviche is fish marinated in lemon and served with onions, if you wish you can eat it together with giant corn and sweet potatoes. Nowadays many restaurants around the world offer ceviche in their menus, but the truth is that when it comes to cook a good ceviche it is about having the right and original ingredients in order to obtain that unique Peruvian flavour. First of all it is important to get a good fish which is tricky if you try to cook Ceviche in Europe. There are many ‘Cevicherias’ in Lima, that’s how we call a restaurant specialist in ceviche and sea food. The best ceviche is prepared with a fish called lenguado (expensive Peruvian fish) or corvina, but in the UK you can use white fish like sole, and you will need fresh lemons (not the ones in bottles). In Peru the best lemons are from Piura, a city located in the North of Peru, the lemons are small but very juicy. I prefer the Ceviche without chilli but others love it with lots of chilli.

Peru, food, Lima, Salchipapas, take away, travel, viajes

Salchipapas, don’t be shy and eat it .

The best Peruvian restaurants were mentioned by the CNN this year, and most of them belong to big chefs like Gaston Acurio or Virgilio Martinez, because those restaurants are always on demand then it is better to book in advance. But going to a posh restaurant in Peru is optional, and something I was missing a lot was the Peruvian Street food. One night I found myself looking for what it is called ‘Salchipapas’, the name comes from the main ingredients, the words salchichas and papas (sausages and potatoes). We ordered a ‘Mixed Salchipapa’ which not only had sausages and chips but also had pieces of chorizo and chicken. The portion is big enough to share between two and there is a variety of sauces you can eat it with, like ketchup, golf sauce, mayo, olive sauce and avocado sauce. Peruvian street food is simply big, there are many meal options and places with tasty big sandwiches and I am not talking about American franchises, because Peruvian burgers are really tasty, like the ones in Bembos Burger, with combinations you have never imagined. Also people’s favourites are ‘Pollo a la Brasa’ ( chicken bbq with chips), Chinese food (called Chifa), Anticuchos which is cow’s heart bbq cooked in spices and served with roasted potatoes, it looks like a kebab. Also something sort of new in the Peruvian Street food choices is Japanese/Peruvian fusion which is by the way amazing,

Anticuchos, food, Peru, travel

Anticuchos with chicken satay sticks, red pepper filled with beef and potatoes.

While we went for a walk to the San Miguel Shopping Mall we found a small place called Toku,this is actually a small stand selling makis and California rolls. We gave it a try and it was seriously good. Toku has something called the ‘Katsubun’, which is a furai crispy chicken served with a Ceviche sauce or ‘salsa acevichada’ and it is simply lovely!. Also, I was told about a Japanese restaurant in the Pueblo Libre district called ‘Naruto’ so we went one day to have lunch there. Naruto is a favourite for children as it is decorated entirely in anime and Japanese cartoon characters. The food is really good and it is served in big portions, they offer drinks like aloe vera and green tea. I have been surprised to find more places with Peruvian/Japanese fusion food, friends suggested me new places for Japanese and Korean Fusion food, so I already have a list of restaurants to go next time I go back to Peru.

Peru, food, travel, Japanese, Naruto, restaurant

At Naruto, Japanese Restaurant.

My advice for all those going to Peru is to be open minded about food, as you are visiting a country rich in agriculture so you will experience new and incredible flavours, you will fall in love with the Peruvian cuisine.

Paleokastritsa – Discovering Corfu Part 2

 

Corfu, Paleokastritsa, Greece, Beach, Paradise, Travel

Beautiful Paleokastritsa

Corfu is an island rich in culture, nature, with many places to visit and explore. My family and I did a tour called ‘Discover Corfu‘ which included visiting Kerkyra Town ( mentioned in my last post), and we also visited the north west of the island where there is a village that is like a paradise because of it’s turquoise-blue waters, a village called Paleokastritsa.

Paleokastritsa is one of the favourite places people want to see in Corfu, as it is famous for its unique beauty, and that it something you have to see by yourself. The distance between Kerkyra town and Paleokastritsa is about 25km, so it is a short journey and on the way the landscape is so beautiful, there are many olive trees, cypress trees and lemon trees.

Cave, Corfu, Beach, Travel, Sea, Fish, Diving

In the ‘Deep Blue Eye’ Cave

On arrival we enjoyed a lovely Greek lunch ( a post about Greek food coming soon!), and after that we went for a boat trip to the Paleokastritsa caves. The trip takes about 40 minutes and costs 10,00 Euros per person, we were taken to four different grottos to see the ‘deep blue eyes’ caves. My son was really amazed with the colour of the sea, there were many fish in different colours (he would be looking for Nemos’s and Dory’s look alike!). It was a beautiful trip, a must do for adults and children. You also have the option of doing a trip near the caves on your own and hire a small pedal boat which is more for couples or small groups of about four people. The weather is hot hot hot, and can get easily to it’s 40’s Celsius so I suggest using a high factor sun block, a hat and a bottle of water.

Corfu, cat, monastery

A cute cat having a nap at the Monastery

Paleokastritsa beaches are lovely but sort of crowded so it is up to you if you want to spend the day there. We were in a tour so our next stop would be not far away in the Monastery of Theotokou. This is a 13th century monastery, the walls are in a soft yellow colour, it is  a well maintained and peaceful place with a lovely bell tower. There is a dress code for visiting the monastery and women are given a sort of shawl to cover their shoulders, you may light a candle if you wish and make a donation or visit the souvenir shop.

Corfu, Heart, Love, Travel, Sea, Diving

The Heart Shaped Lagoon

Our last stop was in the village of Lakones, located in a hill not far from Paleokastritsa. Most tour coaches stop here because it is the perfect spot for taking pictures to the shaped heart lagoon, it will definitely take your breath away and it is one of the most amazing views I have seen in my life.

Soon I will be writing about all those delicious meals we had in Corfu, it will be a special post about Greek food.

Discovering Corfu, Part 1

 

Corfu, Greece, Holidays, Travel, Thomson, Mediterranean

Ready for landing in Corfu

It was our first time in Greece visiting the lovely island of Corfu, and we did so many things that I will be writing more than one post about this amazing holiday.

The flight from England to Corfu takes about 4 hours and we had a pleasant trip with Thomson Airlines. The pilot was actually giving updates of where about we were flying ( Germany and Croatia), and we were told it was very hot in the island. Corfu airport must be one of the smallest airports I have seen in my life, because it had only two runways so the plane was in a queue going in circles, before landing. On arrival Thomsons did the transfers to our hotel, the Iti Louis Grand in Glyfada beach, which is located in the west coast of the island. This hotel is perfect for families with children and recommended for weddings too.

Corfu, Glyfada, Holiday, Louis Grand Hotel

Louis Grand Hotel

Glyfada is a sand beach with a beautiful landscape, the rock formations make this beach exotic and the turquoise blue sea is calm most of the time, so it is safe for small children. There is a couple more of hotels in the beach and small shops that offer snacks, drinks and toys for the little ones. You can hire scooters or bicycles to tour the island, or rent a car, but the roads are narrow almost everywhere so scooters are ideal.

 

Corfu, Glyfada, Beach, Mediterranean

Glyfada Beach

 

We took the hotel complimentary bus to Corfu town a couple of times. The town is small and everything is in walking distance, don’t forget to bring your bottle of water as Corfu is very hot and I remember we had a day where the temperature was 41 Celsius, we were practically melting. Also bring a high factor sun block if you don’t want to end up sun burnt. I read about a saint called St Spyridon and decided to visit his church. St Spyridon is buried there and you are allowed to see the body inside the coffin.

 

Corfu, Island, Travel, Mediterranean

Mouse Island and Vlaherna

A lot of people visit the church and light a candle when making a wish to the saint. Corfu town has many narrow streets with shops and restaurants, the buildings and houses are very Italian, and in some places you will find yourself walking in marble pavement, Venetian style streets. In what is called the Esplanada it is the Palace of St Michael and St George, inside you will find the Museum of Asian Art with a beautiful collection of Japanese Art, well this is something I didn’t expect to see in Corfu and I loved it.

Achilleion Palace, Corfu,

Achilleion Palace

 

Corfu, Achilleion Palace

The church at Achilleion Palace

Not far from Kerkyra (Corfu’s town) is the Achelleion Palace but before getting there we stopped at Kanoni, a lovely peninsula with restaurants and a great view of Mouse Island and Vlaherna, an island that has a convent. The Achelleion Palace was built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Empress Sisi. She was an unhappy woman, many terrible things happened in her life so she built the palace in Corfu and named it after her idol Achilles.

The palace has many Greek mythology statues, and one of them is the statue of Dyimg Achilles. Inside the palace there is a chapel with a lovely painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and the ceiling is also covered in paintings. The palace was built by Italian arquitect Raffaele Caritto.

In the north west of Corfu there is a town called Paleokastritsa which is well known for its clear turquoise water and amazing caves. We did a separate tour and I will tell you all about it in my next post.

Erdigg in Summer

Erdigg, Wales, Summer, National Trust, Summer, Holiday, Walking, Travel

There is a place my family and I love for doing weekend picnics and it is called Erdigg. It is located in North Wales  in the city of Wrexham, and it doesn’t matter if it is a rainy day or a sunny day because this place is perfect for doing walks, especially during the summer months.

Erdigg was for many years home of the Yorke family and the mansion now belongs to the National Trust of England. It is possible to visit the mansion or do a tour to see the rooms that have 20th century furniture, ceramics and textiles. Something special is the collection of servants portraits, the ones who worked very hard maintaining the house and grounds for many years. My favourite room is the kitchen, because it is really spacious and it had everything you needed for doing big banquets. Something you don’t expect to see is a small collection of carriages,old cars and vintage bicycles. Also the children would be happy to see horses in the old stable yard and they can also pet them while a  lady tells  about the life of the horses and how they look after them.

Gardens, Erdigg, Summer, Daisies, Flowers

The mansion has massive gardens with a great variety of plants and flowers. There are also many fruit trees, like apple trees and to my surprise also small banana trees as  they usually grow in warm climate countries. There is also a big pond with fish and ducks, that is one of the favourite spots to stop for a picnic.

Wolf, Children, Wales, Erdigg, Games, Holidays, Walking

When walking by the gardens you will find  a sign for the ‘Wolves Den’, this is a place with games for children, all made of old trees that have fallen and have been shaped. Children love this place and there is an ice cream kiosk near the entrance to the den.

If you don’t want to bring a picnic there is a restaurant and tea room with lovely cakes freshly made. Erdigg is dog friendly and has some areas where dogs are allowed, so you can bring your little canine friend with you.

Flash Break in Toronto

Toronto, Canada, Travel

Landing in Toronto

This was my first time in Canada and it was great!. I did a last minute booking and I travelled with only carry on luggage to make the trip easier. There was a very important family celebration with my niece getting married in Toronto, and that was the main reason for me travelling. I couldn’t stay very long in Toronto because of work reasons and I only had a four day short break.

Toronto, CN Tower, Canada, Travel

On the way to Toronto City Center

Toronto is a big and multicultural city, it is safe, clean and people are friendly. I was staying with family so it was easy for me to get around thanks to them. The weather in Canada is similar to the English weather so it is always good to have an umbrella handy.

One of the many places you can eat sushi.

I was very curious about Chinatown as my niece said I would love it and she was right. It was exciting to go for a walk to Chinatown and I felt like being in China. I was surprised by the many shops, restaurants, markets and spas, all with signs written in Chinese and English, but mainly Chinese. I was told there are eight Chinatowns in Toronto itself, so there are many Chinatowns to explore and there is also a Koreatown. I am a food lover, especially when it is about Asian food, and it is fascinating to see so many varieties of restaurants in Toronto Chinatown. We were walking along a road with signs for Korean food, all you can eat Sushi, Vietnamese Restaurants, and many more.

Toronto University

We also went for a walk to the grounds of Toronto University, located in Queens Park. The University buildings are lovely with a Gothic style, it is just beautiful and looks like a small Hogwarts. There are black squirrels running everywhere and they seem to be friendly, maybe they expect you have nuts for them!. It is nice and peaceful to walk in Toronto and, after a long walk we stopped to have something to eat. We went to Kenzo a ramen restaurant where I had the best ramen ever! Also we went to Tsujiri, famous for their matcha icecream. Not far from there is Uncle Tetsu’s shop, an Asian franchise with the best Japanese Cheesecake. The cheesecakes are fresh and you can actually see how they make them.

ramen, Japanese, Toronto, food

At Kenzo, a place with a very good ramen.

On another day we went to the Pacific Mall, the largest Chinese mall in North America and it is located in Markham. It is a place where you can get many products at a good price, like Korean beauty products, Japanese and Chinese candy, Anime toys, clothes and gifts. My nephew and niece invited me to have lunch and I had a lovely Chicken Katsu meal, with rice and vegetables, it wasn’t very spicy and I really enjoyed it. After that we went to Happy Lemon where they have drinks you never imagined existed! like Salted Tea Cheese and a variety of lemon tea drinks. I tried the Mango Green tea and I loved it!

Cats, Neko, Japanese, Toronto, Charm

A shop that sells only Maneki-Nekos! or lucky charm cats.

Something I discovered is that people in Canada aren’t interested in Starbucks, and this is because they are all in love with Tim Hortons, a coffee franchise that not only sells amazing coffee but have their own delicious donuts. It didn’t surprise me to see Starbucks practically empty when Tim Hortons is next to them with a lot of happy clients. Well, I brought to England packs of Tim Horntons coffee, Japanese candy and Canadian Maple tea boxes, tasty souvenirs.

Toronto, Holiday, Travel

A day exploring Toronto Downtown

I would like to say thanks to Antonella and Dan who were fantastic tour guides and I enjoyed their company very much. I haven’t finished exploring Toronto, so I will be back and next time will be a proper long holiday.

A Winter Short Break in Tuscany – Day Three in Lucca

Lucca, Italy,  Cathedral,

Lucca Cathedral

It is our last day in Pisa and we decided to visit the walled city of Lucca. The city is about 20 minutes by train from Pisa, so it is easy to get there. Lucca has beautiful churches, and it is the place where composers Boccherini and Puccini were born.

The walled city is a perfect place for a long walk or a bicycle ride. My family and I love walking so I studied the city map and did our own walking plan. We started by visiting the Duomo at the Lucca Cathedral, also called Saint Martin. Inside we saw sculptures and the walls had many beautiful paintings. we follow the road ahead to a small Piazza where we there was an ice skating ring, it has been a long time since the last time I went ice skating and my son wanted to give it try. There were many families with children ice skating and having a great time.

Vespa, Cat, Italy, scooter, Lucca

An Italian cat sunbathing in a Vespa

The streets in Lucca are quiet, clean and there are many gift and ceramic shops, churches, buildings with balconies ( Rome and Juliet style ones), and there are many trattorias. It was lunch time and we were looking for a place to eat when we found this lovely trattoria called L’Oste di Lucca. The trattoria has walls with stones and bricks from years ago which makes the place very special, it is beautifully decorated. We had the biggest pizzas to share, one with Italian sausages and onions and another with prosciutto. This popular trattoria and offers home made pasta and many Tuscan dishes.

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After lunch we went to see the Roman Amphitheatre, well it was a proper Amphitheatre long time ago and now houses have been built on site. The old arches are still kept in place with a nice piazza or square. We realized it was siesta time in Lucca as many shops were closed when we were on our way to the Torre Guinigi, a 14th century tower. I have seen pictures of Torre Guinigi before and I have been curious about the trees showing on the top of the Tower. It is a very old tower and my husband and son were not very happy about going up, this is because to be honest the stairs look so fragile it was like they could break anytime. Once we arrived to the top we knew it was worth it as the tower has an incredible view of Lucca and the mountains near by. There is a small garden on top of the tower with Holm Oak trees, people say they symbolise ‘a new beginning’.

Lucca, Italy, Trees, Guinigi

Torre Guinigi

It was time to go back to Pisa so we took the train feeling a bit sad as we wanted to stay for a few more days. Tuscany has much more places to visit like, Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano, Cortona, and the list of towns is big. I miss Italy, the beauty of the towns, the delicious food and the kind friendly people.

See you soon again Tuscany!.

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