Detour | Jodhpur, The Blue City of Rajasthan

Jodhpur

After a few days in Mumbai, thinking I was totally immersed in the culture by that stage, I was kept on my toes and made to realise that the culture shock had only just begun.  Jodhpur in Rajasthan was certainly no international city with almond milk flat whites like Mumbai.

We flew to Jodhpur, landing mid morning, and jumped on a tuk-tuk to our accommodation.  Arriving at our haveli hotel, we realised our ‘let’s get things done quickly’ London mentality wasn’t going to fly, and I think check-in took ooh around 1.5 hours, with lots of stories told, info given, general chit-chat and us left wondering when we’d actually ever see the room.

When we eventually did get the keys to our room, I dropped my bags and made my way to the roof top, to soak up the afternoon sun and gaze at the views of Jodhpur that surrounded me.  Known as the Blue City, I spent ages looking down over the blue buildings, watching sari-clad women hand washing in buckets, curious locals waving at me from another roof top nearby, and seeing eagles soar high above Mehrangarh Fort.

In the late afternoon, a worker from our haveli guided us to a perfect vantage point, to watch the sun set.  We made our way through a tangle of tiny winding alleyways, ascending stairs, and becoming terrified as lots of over protective female dogs growled and barked at us, protecting their puppies.  I am obsessed with dogs, and I’m that person that stops to pat as many as I can each and every day, but this was definitely not one of those days!  Thankfully our guide acted as our dog protector and we made our way to the top.

We spent an hour or so watching the most beautiful sunset and taking hundreds of pictures.  AND I met more dogs at the sunset spot, the type that were feeling very unprotective and were happy to become my best friend immediately.  If you’re a dog lover, your heart will melt a million times over in India.

Back at our haveli, the staff phoned one of their trusty tuk-tuk guys to take us to a factory selling everything from rugs to pashmina’s, and later to a restaurant.  We sat in the back seat of the tuk-tuk, our driver started the engine, and within a few minutes, we were in the heart of the market area.  It was full of colour and lights, people EVERYWHERE, and our driver thinking he was in a Formula One race.  I think this moment was one of the highlights of my trip.  ‘Moustache Man’, (it’s what we nicknamed our driver) was completely mad, and the more we laughed, the faster he drove, dodging oncoming traffic, cows and people, laughing his head off as we went.  It felt like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

Arriving at the factory, we were ushered in and introduced to a man named Praveen.  Praveen looked like he’d just been shopping in Selfridges here in London.  Very well dressed, and very well spoken he began his two hour sales pitch.  We fell hook, line and sinker, as he produced pashmina’s in various qualities, and therefore prices too, duvet covers, dresses, and jackets.  You name it, we saw it.  Praveen knew every name of every upmarket department store in London, and any name I threw at him he was familiar with too.  So we put our trust in him, and walked away that evening with some goodies, vowing to return the following morning.

We then ate dinner at the most amazing rooftop restaurant, a fancy establishment with the staff dressed exquisitely, and the food tasting so, so good.  The contrast of life out on the streets of Jodhpur, compared with this restaurant was quite mind blowing.  The difference between rich and poor in India is an eye opener.

The following day started with the discovery of a cold shower, a situation that would become all too familiar during the trip.  We liked to begin our days in India slowly with a cappuccino in a coffee shop.  We Googled and found one that was recommended by other travellers, and made our way in that direction.  Two cappuccino’s later, it was time to pay another visit to Praveen.  This time we decided on purchasing sari’s.  Fabric after fabric was laid out in front of us, sari’s were draped over us, and finally we both settled on one each, and handed over more money than I’d intended to spend.

After our sari purchase’s, we wandered through the markets, with the endless noise of shop sellers asking us to come into their store.  This constant can get tiring pretty quickly when you just want to have a browse, but it’s impossible to do so without being asked if you’d like to buy whatever you’ve glanced at, and questioned when you say that you’re just looking.  I totally get that tourists are likely their biggest buyers, but I’d like to start a customer service course in India to show the shop sellers they’re doing more harm than good by hounding their customers the way they do!

That afternoon we walked up to Mehrangarh Fort. Built around 1460, it’s one of the largest forts in India, reached by following a winding road up to the gates, 125 m above the city.  We were blessed by a hindu priest who marked us with some red powder on our forehead, but what we mostly did, was take selfies with Indian tourists.  I’m talking 20 or so photos with a school group, another dozen with some teenage boys, then a photoshoot with a family and their baby, and other families who all insisted on getting a photo on each one of their mobile phones, and when there’s half a dozen family members, this can take awhile!  It was amusing and we obliged, because it was very sweet that they wanted to take photos with us.  But believe me, further on in our trip, this novelty wore thin!

As the sun went down in Jodhpur, we bartered with a tuk-tuk driver for a fair price and drove through the bustling streets towards a restaurant for dinner, on our last evening there.  We loved this city, and it was the perfect first stop for our adventure in Rajasthan.  And wow were there adventures ahead of us! ….

Until my next post. x

Oh and P.S, the sari and pashmina’s we bought from Praveen, the ones we were told were top quality, were questionable according to many other locals along the way.  It’s a long old story, but just a warning, keep your wit’s about you and don’t get caught up in the moment like we did!

Detour | Dharavi Slum Tour, Mumbai India

Dharavi

For two and half weeks in November 2017, I took a trip to India that turned out to be one of the most incredible, heartwarming, often frustrating, and eye opening adventures I’ve ever experienced.  I took thousands of photos to capture as many moments as possible and to help me share my story.

Then I wondered to myself, how on earth do I even begin to tell my story?  How can I explain everything I saw?  Because there so many amazing moments.  The smiles on people’s faces when their lives were full of hardship.  The frustration of being asked daily, on repeat, over and over ‘Ma’am, you want pashmina?’.  The amusement of being shoved out of the way by a cow passing me on the street, YES a cow, for goodness sake!  The look on the young boy’s face as I handed him a box containing a huge piece of chocolate cake, which was clearly so much better than anything he’d been rifling through the bin for moments earlier.

Where do I begin?

So I decided, the beginning.  In Mumbai.  On the Dharavi Slum Tour, guided by fabulous Mohammed.  Friends of mine recommended Inside Mumbai Tours and having seen photos of their adventure with Mohammed, I contacted him and was so pleased when he replied saying he had availability to show my friend and I around his neighbourhood, Dharavi.  We opted for a full day tour, which meant we had the comfort of a driver and an air conditioned car to take us to all of Mumbai’s top sights.

Mohammed arrived at our hotel reception on the day of our tour with his trademark big smile and his welcoming demeanour.   We jumped in the car, exchanged hello’s with our driver, and were off in the direction of Dharavi, the third largest slum in the world, and where Mohammad’s family has been living for 52 years.

Having been to a slum in Medellin, Colombia I thought I might have some idea as to what it would look like.  But it was much more eye opening than I could have possibly imagined.  The sheer size of the place is something that shocked me to start with, and as we descended down some stairs into Dharavi, I was greeted with so many different moments all happening at once.  Children running barefoot amongst the rubbish, roosters pecking at the rubbish, and people going about their day from workers to mothers with babies.  The place is busy!

We wandered down alleyways whilst Mohammed explained to us about the various businesses that ran successfully inside the slum.   We met factory workers, saw recycling plants, and pottery makers, we even visited a leather boutique.

As we walked further and further inside the labyrinth walls of the Dharavi slums, getting a glimpse of people’s homes – one room for sleeping, eating, cooking and rest that a whole family shares, we started to be greeted by so many sweet little faces.  The local kids.  And my goodness are they cute!  Especially those in their school uniforms, that were dressed to perfection, looking every bit as smart as any private school kid does here in London.

One thing that stood out as we walked through Dharavi was the happiness of people.  Smiling faces everywhere.  It was the first time it dawned on me just how first world my life is, and everyone around me in UK or New Zealand.  We want, want, want, and moan, moan, moan, and yet here I was witnessing happy people who lived with their whole family in a space smaller than my sitting room.  I witnessed this exact same moment over and over again throughout my trip in India, and it definitely gets you thinking about what’s important in life.

Near the end of our tour through Dharavi, we stopped outside a house, which happened to be Mohammed’s family home.  It was such a privilege to be invited inside, and to experience his world.  It was there that Mohammed shared his story as to how a guy from Dharavi, who was destined to help his father with his shirt selling business, dreamed of a bigger life for himself.  There was a moment in his life where, in my opinion, it felt like fate intervened, setting Mohammed on a path to live his dreams.  He currently studies sociology at university, supporting himself through his tour business.    His story is amazing, his tour is amazing, and I cannot recommend it enough.  Please do yourself a favour if you’re in Mumbai and contact Mohammed, so he can share his fascinating world with you too.

Eat | Baked Banana Oatmeal

Baked Banana Oatmeal

Baked Banana Oatmeal

 

Happy New Year everyone! Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve hung around here and written a blog post.  After I got back from India at the end of November, I tried to prioritise everything that needed doing on my to-do list, so blogging got pushed to the side for a bit!  Anyway, here I am, I’m back!  I hope you all had a lovely time over the festive season, and toasted 2017 with a glass of champagne on New Years Eve.  I’m glad to see the page turn over to 2018, and I’m determined to make this a year of bravery, continuing to feel the fear and go for my goals, and to create a happy chapter of my life.

Baked Banana Oatmeal

We’re in the depths of winter here in the UK, though I really haven’t found it all that miserable.  Working from home the majority of the time can be a lonely set up, especially when the days are short and dark over these next few months, and the only person you talk to all day is yourself.  But I’ve been getting out every afternoon, grabbing my longboard – I’m literally obsessed – and skating down the road to grab a coffee whilst working on my laptop.

The other thing that gets me through these colder months is really delicious food.  I find myself reaching for my cookbooks more, flicking through the pages, and finding recipes that look tasty and belly warming.  This Baked Banana Oatmeal recipe is exactly that, super delicious and a warm breakfast treat that I like to top with coconut yoghurt.  I used gluten free oats, so it’s adaptable for both gluten and non-gluten eaters, and I sliced up the leftovers, wrapping each piece separately in cling film and freezing it.

I hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as I did! Happy eating! x

Baked Banana Oatmeal

Eat | Baked Banana Oatmeal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 grated apple with skin on (I used bramley or granny smith)
  • 310ml coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g light brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 ripe bananas cut into thin slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Generously grease an oven proof dish.
  3. Mix all the ingredients, except for the banana, together in a large bowl.
  4. Pour in half the mixture, top with half of the sliced bananas, and then add the remaining batter, again topping that with the remaining banana.
  5. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of sugar.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top.
  7. Leave to cool for around 15 minutes before serving.

 

Baked Banana Oatmeal

Eat | Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts Recipe

Gluten free apple cider donuts

Gluten free apple cider donuts

 

Gluten free apple cider donuts

 

Hooray for Autumn!  The cosy nights in, soft blankets to pull up around you, whilst you sip warm cider and binge watch Netflix.  But wait there’s something missing.  You’ve got the cider, but you’re missing the Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts!

These donuts are suuuuuper easy to make, they’re fall apart soft, with just a hint of apple cider, and that delicious combo of cinnamon and sugar.  I made a batch, and put the remaining donuts in the freezer, where I constantly find myself reaching into, grabbing one and warming it up, to have as a snack. I recommend using the flour blend I use, to ensure they actually rise, and don’t taste like cardboard (which is the case for so many gluten free bakes!).  You can find the link to the flour blend I use here.

Us gluten free lot get used to missing out on delicious cakes and bakes, but I was determined not to miss out on Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts!  And you shouldn’t too.  AND the gluten eating lot will never be able to tell the difference, I promise!

Happy baking, and Happy Autumn!

Annmaree x

Gluten free apple cider donuts

Eat | Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-15 donuts
 
Ingredients
  • 210g gluten free flour (I recommend using the flour blend I make at home)
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (leave it out if your flour blend already contains it)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 84g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 178ml apple cider
  • extra cinnamon & sugar to roll the doughnuts in
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 163°C.
  2. Grease a donut pan and set it aside.
  3. Mix the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, cream of tartar, nutmeg and sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Add the butter, eggs and cider, and mix to combine.
  5. Spoon the donut batter into the donut pan until they are each around ⅔ of the way full.
  6. Place the pan in the centre of the oven and bake for around 8 minutes, until the tops of the doughnuts spring back when pressed.
  7. Allow the donuts to cool for a few minutes,
  8. Make some cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together in a bowl, then dipping the donuts in to cover both sides.
  9. Keep in a sealed container. They're also suitable for freezing.

 

Gluten free apple cider donuts

 

Gluten free apple cider donuts

Eat | A London Sunday with Brunch Beirut

Brunch Beirut

I don’t know about you guys, but Sunday for me generally revolves around food.  Anything from a Sunday roast, to coffee and cake, or a really good brunch.  It will therefore come as no surprise that when the opportunity came my way to join the first ever Brunch Beirut event, I didn’t have to think twice.

Ribale (the creator and chef) and her husband Malek (the host) opened the doors of their home in North London to 12 strangers on a Sunday afternoon, ready to welcome us and take us on a Lebanese culinary journey.

From the moment I arrived and I had a little nosey around the long dining table, it was obvious no detail had been forgotten.  From the personalised name cards, to the printed menus, background music and arrival drinks, everything about Brunch Beirut felt promising.

After meeting other guests, which is always a fun part of a supper club, as everyone starts out as strangers, we were invited to take our seats and prepare for what I can only describe as a never ending feast of food!  It was that same feeling you get at Christmas, where dish after dish is laid out before you and you want to eat EVERYTHING, so you do, and then more dishes arrive and you find a second stomach for that food too.   No one goes hungry at Brunch Beirut, that I know for sure!

We were offered so many amazing dishes, that it’s impossible to say which were my favourites.  Everything from the halloumi, topped with mint and pomegranate molasses, to the fire roasted aubergine, mashed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil were all mouth watering experiences.  And just when you swear to your other guests there is absolutely no way you could take another bite of anything, dessert is placed in front of you.  A milk and rice pudding infused with mastic and rose water, garnished with a pistachio and rose petals crumble, that you decide is worth risking spontaneous human combustion over, and you find yourself spooning the delicious dessert into your mouth like you’ve not eaten for weeks.

It is such a fab way to spend a Sunday, chatting and eating, amongst the most beautiful setting of Ribale and Malek’s home (plant lovers you will love their place!!).  I can confirm there were no Sunday blues going on at Brunch Beirut.

If this sounds like something you want to sign up for, the good news is the next Brunch Beirut event is coming up on November 12th, so jump on over to the Grubclub website to secure your place, there’s only a few seats left!

Happy eating!

Annmaree x

The Midnight Hour With My New ADEXE Watch

Adexe Watch London

Adexe Watch London

Aaah Sunday morning you beautiful thing you, a whole day ahead to enjoy before the working week starts once again.  I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend so far?  I spent Saturday with a girlfriend, starting with brunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters near Old Street, followed by plenty of window shopping around Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market, admiring everything from scented candles to Halloween accessories. (Who’s dressing up for Halloween?!).

I’ve also been admiring my latest accessory, a gorgeous watch from ADEXE Watches London, based in Shoreditch, where we wandered the streets yesterday.   I haven’t worn a watch in years, and I don’t know why really.  As a child my parents bought me a tiny black watch for my birthday one year, with a regular clock face as opposed to it being digital, to help me learn to read the time.  I wore that watch for years, until I outgrew it and I think the strap snapped.  After that, apart from a moment with a Baby G watch I was obsessed with (remember those!?), I haven’t placed another on my wrist. Until now.

Adexe Watch London

My new ADEXE Sistine Petite Black and Rose Gold Watch reminds me of my childhood watch so much.  Simple, black, and petite, which is perfect for my wrists which happen to be ultra small, meaning bracelets and watches usually slip right off.  Accessories need to be simple for me to want to wear them, and my ADEXE watch fits in perfectly with my rose gold jewellery that I never take off.

Adexe Watch London

I’m hoping that wearing a watch means I might become accustomed to checking the time on it again, rather than pulling out my iPhone to look at the clock, which usually leads to me then unlocking my phone and losing ten minutes of my life on social media!  I’m trying to reduce my social media usage, which as we all know, is not easy, but I’m taking baby steps, and my ADEXE watch will hopefully help me with that!

If you’re in the market for a new watch, then I can help you out with that!  ADEXE Watches London are offering 15% off on their web shop as part of their #midnighthour campaign.  Just enter MIDNIGHTHOUR15 at the check out to receive the discount.

Let me know if you end up the proud owner of an ADEXE watch, I’d love to know which one you choose!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Annmaree x

Adexe Watch London

Detour | Down at the Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch

Garsons Esher

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve been having a good week?  I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, this week has flown by!  It’s almost the weekend again, and I’m trying to decide which Autumnal activities to tick off my list.

This is my second favourite time of the year (December’s festive season is my number one!), and I love to visit London’s parks whilst the trees are full of red and gold leaves, make belly warming meals at home, and browse through the Halloween section at stores, admiring all their creepy decorations.

The other must-have for me during this time of year, is visiting a pumpkin patch.  I find it sooo much fun!  Growing up in New Zealand, Halloween was a huge deal.  We spent weeks planning our outfits, and what our ‘trick’ would be if the person standing at the door didn’t offer a treat.  Trick or treating around my neighbourhood was the best, and such a highlight in my memories of childhood.  The one thing we never did however, was carve pumpkins.  Things may have changed now in New Zealand, but we never celebrated Halloween in that way when I was a kid.  Pumpkins were just for eating on a Sunday with a roast dinner.

I love visiting the pumpkin patch at Garsons in Surrey each year, wandering through the huge field, picking out the perfect pumpkins. I firstly use them to decorate our sitting room with and later carve faces into, placing tea lights inside and leaving them at our front entrance on October 31st, to let all the trick or treaters in the neighbourhood know they are welcome to knock on our door.  (Boo to all the grumpy people that give nothing to these little kids!  I really did not like those people as a kid, they are the grinch’s of Halloween!).

We’ve got three big pumpkins currently sitting in our fireplace from our pumpkin patch visit, and I’m now busy on Google finding scary pumpkin face templates so I can get busy with carving this weekend!

I also recommend pumpkin patch picking in these super comfy Lucy and Yak corduroy dungarees.  I’m so in love, they are so soft and cosy, and perfect for being ‘down on the farm’ at Garsons ;o)

Happy October and Happy Pumpkin Patch Picking!

Annmaree x







Lucy and Yak

Eat | Brick & Liquor Tooting

brick & liquor tooting

brick & liquor tooting

brick & liquor tooting

Hooray for Saturday! This week seems to have flown by, which probably has something to do with it being an extremely busy one, full of work commitments and travel planning.  But yay, it’s Saturday again, the sun is shining, and I’m planning on heading into Covent Garden soon to pick up a few bits and pieces for my trip to India.  After that?  Who knows.  I’ll see where the evening takes me, which may well just be down the road to Tooting for a drink at Brick & Liquor.

I’ve been living in Tooting for nearly 8 months.  A big change from Fulham, my previous neighbourhood of 14 years.  But you know what?  As beautiful as Fulham is, I really enjoy living in Tooting.  It was just voted one of the 10th coolest neighbourhoods in the world!  There are so many new businesses popping up around here, every time I walk down the street there’s a new bar, restaurant or cafe.  Good thing food and drinks are a major priority in my life!

Last weekend we enjoyed a few early evening cocktails at Brick & Liquor, a gorgeous, dimly lit, cosy cocktail bar in Tooting.  We sat by the window, sipping the most amazing cocktails and watching the world go by.  I started with a salted caramel espresso martini, which along with the presentation being exquisite, the taste also matched, sweet, salty and dangerously delicious, consisting of Absolut vodka, espresso, cafe liquor, vanilla, salted caramel and a hint of orange.  Greg chose the Ninety9, an alcoholic take on UK’s famous 99 ice cream cone, made up of Absolut vodka, apple, vanilla liqueur, & vanilla foam and yes it literally tasted like childhood – with the alcohol as an exception obvs!

Drinks sunk, we moved on to round two, Greg going for an Eton’s Mess, the alcoholic version of a very British dessert, made with Absolut vodka, Crème De Cassis, lemon, raspberry & topped with toasted meringue.  I took the advice of our fabulous bar host, and settled on a Deconstruct Reconstruct consisting of Beefeater gin, lemon, sugar, egg white and Crème de Mure.  They were so pretty, I took like a million photos before we even had a sip, but when we finally did, we were seriously impressed.

The food menu was placed in front of us, and we thought why not, ordering perfectly cooked sweet potato fries (gluten free!), teriyaki steak skewers (also gluten free!) and chorizo and mozzarella arancini (not gluten free, but Greg enjoyed them!).  To be honest, my hopes weren’t super high for the food, I mean it’s a cocktail bar after all.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, the food was so soooo good!

As night fell, and Tooting’s Mitcham Road filled up with night revellers and street lights, we made our way home, whilst in deep discussion about future plans to take friends to Brick & Liquor Tooting for a night out.  We highly recommend!

Happy Saturday everyone x

Eat | Dinner at Chicama, Chelsea

Chicama London

One of my favourite restaurants to visit for a delicious weekend brunch is Pachamama in Marylebone.  I’ve written about their gluten free waffles here.  So it was a no-brainer when the opportunity arose to visit Chicama, the Chelsea based restaurant from the founders of Pachamama.

Arriving on a slightly chilly evening, I soon warmed up inside, sitting down by the window, then let my nosiness get the better off me, and walked around the restaurant to admire the pretty interior.  My waiter appeared soon after to introduce himself and chat cocktails with me.  I took his lead, and ordered his recommendation, a good choice, one that definitely warmed the toes!

Chicama specialises in seafood, and I was lucky enough to visit on an evening when there was a guest chef, so I had not one, but two menus to choose from.  Again, I took the advice of the staff, who by the way were fantastic in dealing with my ‘I’m sorry but I’m gluten intolerant’ apologetic face.  They made suggestions, it all sounded delicious, so I said yes to everything and soon enough I had a table full of a-maz-ing looking food to try.

I devoured everything from smoked aubergine with artichoke, bonito and goats cheese, to baked scallops with green chilli butter and crushed purple potatoes.  And of course, there was my second stomach, ready and waiting for dessert.  When it was suggested I try two desserts, I said ‘yes’ without a seconds hesitation.  Placed in front of me was a sweet potato creme brûlée, which was sooo creamy and sooo good I could’ve eaten three in one sitting, and strawberry sorbet with frozen marshmallow, almond sponge and huacatay (Peruvian black mint).  I left a spoonful of that in my bowl, not because I didn’t like it, I was just trying to pretend like I actually possessed some self control ;o)

The evening sky became dark, and rain clouds threatened to make my trip home a very wet one, so I called it a night and left the buzz and chatter of a full house in Chicama, heading out into the cool, crisp air and walking off some of my dinner as I wandered along the Kings Road.

If the thought of Peruvian food and a glass of Pisco sounds good to you, then trust me, make a reservation at Chicama, it’s a guaranteed good time!

(Whilst I was a guest of Chicama, all opinions are my own).

Detour | Florence in a Day

 

 

Our final day on our summer trip to Italy was spent in Florence.  We were flying out from there early morning, so it made sense to spend a day in the city exploring.

Now I know I likely won’t be too popular saying this.  It was my second trip to Florence,  the first time it didn’t make my heart beat, and on this second trip I was beginning to feel the same.  I think if you’re an art and history buff, you’d be in your element, but being that I’m neither of those things, I guess the city is lost on me a little.

We arrived early morning and made our way into the city centre, sitting down for iced coffee right next to Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, which really is an amazing sight to see.  Wandering through the tiny streets, we stopped for gelato and strolled towards the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge to peek in shops and people watch.

It was sometime in the afternoon where we both looked at each and felt a bit like ‘Well? What should we do now?’.  I jumped on Google, and a few minutes later we walked in the direction of San Lorenzo, and discovered the coolest vintage clothing store, Desii Vintage, amongst some other lovely boutiques.  It’s amazing how a bit of retail therapy can perk you up right?  A little further down the street we stopped for a drink in the gorgeous Konnubio restaurant, who’s interior is so, so amazing!  We definitely felt more optimistic about the rest of the afternoon from here on in!

Heading once again over Ponte Vecchio Bridge, we decided to explore the neighbourhood of Oltrarno, and it was here that we found ourselves standing in the most beautiful mens bespoke shoe store, chatting to the owner and shoe mastermind Mario Bemer, about his amazing creations and the fact he makes them for Daniel Day Lewis!  The rest of the afternoon, we strolled through streets and alleys, looking at delicious food markets, shops and street art.

As we found a place for dinner a little later, I sat there convinced that Florence has many wonderful places to discover, if you know where you’re going.  And I’d definitely not done enough homework on the city.  We ended our day on a high, a sugar high actually, eating the biggest gelato we’d consumed throughout our vacation.  It was gluttonous and I loved every bite.

Darkness fell, and we wandered back in the direction of our hotel, another Italian vacation ticked off, and a bunch of memories to treasure.