After years of swooning over the Soho Farmhouse via Instagram, I (Kay) finally made it there! I had a work trip in New York and since my friend/colleague and I were practically halfway to London, we decided to jump across the pond to have some fun after a big meeting. We split the trip up into two parts – Central London + Countryside. I am going to focus this post on the countryside since it was my first time to Oxfordshire…and definitely won’t be the last!
Tokyo. Full of life, sushi, peace signs and bright lights. That’s what everyone envisions the Japanese capital to be, but we saw some different areas of Tokyo that proved those stereotypes to be 80% true. Part of the reason we ventured off the beaten path and didn’t go to the shrines, was because we spent time in Kyoto and Kobe before Tokyo. We were shrined out! So, if you are looking to do the less-touristy route for Tokyo, follow our guide. Two days of fun!
Where’s the beef??? Duh – it’s in KOBE, Japan! There were three reasons we were in Kobe: (1) work (2) the beef (3) karaoke. And not particularly in that order! Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and sits on the Osaka Bay. Known for it’s signature marbled beef and scenic setting of mountains framing the harbor, Kobe is a fun adventurous port town with a mix of modern and tradition. In this post you will find out how we spent the most of the work trip touring this lively city! Well one of us worked and the other had too much fun eating gyoza in Izakayas!
Kon’nichiwa! Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan before Tokyo took over. It’s a charming city with history and culture that makes you feel like you are in traditional Japan. Kyoto’s famous for its many classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also home to geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district. We made Kyoto our first stop on our 1 week trip in Japan. Find out more about how we spent our two days in Kyoto!
For a couple years now, Puglia was on the top of our travel list. It wasn’t until this year we had a chance to go to this lovely region in southeast Italy. After months of research we decided on an itinerary and still feel like we just skimmed the surface of the region. Read more to find out about our 6 days in Puglia!
Lecce, also know as The Florence of the South, is a beautiful quaint town filled with Baroque buildings, windy allies, piazzas, churches, shops and restaurants. We enjoyed strolling the streets and getting lost in this city. We only had a couple hours to explore, before we went to our cooking class, but we made the most of it! Seeing Lecce at night was even more spectacular…don’t stay indoors! Continue reading “Lecce, Italy”→
Upon arrival in Otranto we were welcomed by the Italian version of the “Blue Angles” Fleet Week Airshow. It was so special since Fleet Week in San Francisco is one of my favorite weekends of the year. The town was filled with spectators that continued the celebration through the night in the Old Town with live music, dancing and food. What a fun way to spend the first night!
Otranto is technically in Salento (not Puglia). It’s the most Eastern city in Italy with a beautiful Old Town, harbor and coastline. We discovered some great shops in Old Town – purchased some linens, towels and shoes. It was hard not to buy more – but we didn’t have any way of bringing it home unless we shipped. Next time, bringing an empty suitcase! Italian linens are BEAUTIFUL!
Relais Valle Dell’Idro
We stayed at Relais Valle Dell’Idro. The hotel was considered four stars and I would not 100% agree with that. The rooms were a little dated and the outside amenties were as depicted in the photographs. The hotel was clean and the breakfast was delicious. Being about a 5 minute walk from Old Town, we would have rather stayed closer to the beach. Our first choice of accommodations was B&B Lungomare, but that was already booked. Highly suggest staying here and if we end up back in Otranto we will book earlier! (Though, we also suggest staying at Masseria Muntibianchi…see below for more details)
We arrived in Oranto on a Sunday which also happened to their “Fleet Week”, so a lot of the restaurants were closed early. Luckily the restaurant we wanted to try, Blaconcino d’oriente was open! It’s a quaint restaurant outside of Old Town that is part of a B&B. We started with burrata and selected two types of pasta – orecchiette and strozzapreti with tomato sauce. The strozzapreti melted in my mouth – it was soooo fresh. The orecchiette was devine – the sauce that covered the pasta was light yet held enough flavor to coat the mini-bowl style pasta. It was such a lovely restaurant and the staff was friendly. We ended our meal with gelato – one of the best gelato we had on our trip!
We discovered Masseria Muntibianchi through our captain/owner of Tortuga boat. He had suggested it to us while on our trip and made us reservations for dinner. After looking at photos online, we feel in love and wanted to change our hotel to stay there! Unfortunately they were fully booked, so we couldn’t change. Being about a 10 minute tuk tuk drive outside of town, Masseria Muntibianchi exceeded our expectations. The property was in the middle of olive trees and was the most dreaming location for a wedding. We were seated at a table on the patio underneath twinkle lights. The ambiance was low-key and relaxing. We could hear nature….the bugs making noise (it was a peaceful sound), the olive tree branches swaying in the light wind and of course wine bottles being popped! For dinner, we started with the fried squash blossoms and then each ordered a pasta dish. Seafood pasta and the tortellini. AMAZING! The tortellini was my favorite dish. The light sauce – chunks of yellow and red tomatoes in a white wine sauce complimented the oversized cheese filled tortellini. After eating and touring the property we truly wish we were staying here….next time! BOOK EARLY! As a souvenir I purchased some olive oil that is made on the property and used by the restaurant. Very good !
Bagno Marino Archi (Santa Cesarea)
An Italian Beach Club doesn’t get any better than this! We spent the day at Bagno Marino Archi in Santa Cesarea. To get there, we hired a driver Blue Line (+39 329 565 5235) to pick us up round trip. Cost was 30 Euro total…worth it! We reserved beach chairs and an umbrella a couple weeks before going – highly suggest especially if you go on the weekend. Onsite, the beach club had a restaurant (pizza was tasty!) and beverages for purchase. We had such a relaxing day jumping in and out of the water, capturing those “Italian moments” on camera. If you are looking for a traditional Italian beach club – go to Bagno Marino Archi!
Tortuga Excursions Boat Day
Boat Days are always my favorite part of the holiday. We took Tortuga Excursions out for 3 hours on our first full day in Otranto. Fabrizio was the best ! He packed us a lovely lunch and took us to his favorite spots on the coastline. We even swam in the most eastern point of Italy! For the food – we had some typical food of the region – bread with tomato and olive oil, eggplant stuffed with tuna and some mini zucchini frittata. Or course some vino too! One of the highlights of the trip was taking the GoPro (Fabrizio let us use the one he had on the boat) and took it in the caves with us. The water was unreal and the cliffside of these coves were picturesque. Highly suggest hiring Tortuga for the day – its well worth the money!
Agli Angeli Ribelli
On our last night in Otranto, we wanted to eat in Old Town. We decided to dine at Agli Angeli Ribelli. We sat outside and enjoyed watching people walk by with views of the Castle Wall. A beautiful sight at night – all light up! For food, we ordered burrata, ravioli and orecchiette prepared two ways…with the broccoli rabe and then typical tomato sauce. Both were delicious, but the broccoli rabe was so unique and delicious! We had a 2.5 hour dinner – nobody was rushing us and we made friends with the couple sitting next to us. We enjoyed their company so much, we grabbed some drinks at the seaside bar before calling it a night. Perfect last day in Otranto!
On our last day in Otranto, we had a couple hours until our car service picked us up to take us to Lecce so we decided to go to the beach. We had previously reserved two chairs and an umbrella a couple days before just incase the beach was crowded. On this day, the beach wasn’t that crowded, there wasn’t a need for reservations – maybe it had to do something with being in the middle of the week or that the weather was a little cloudy….there was only a handful of people lounging. It didn’t bother us though – almost like your own private beach! For lunch we grabbed sandwiches at Skafe Baguetteria just a 2 minute walk from our lounge chairs. This place was PACKED and now I know why…the sandwiches are delicious! You get to build your own sandwich…just mark all your selections on the paper give it to the cashier and 5 minutes later your sandwich is ready! They have a wide variety of selections, so you have to be decisive! If you aren’t feeling like being decisive, they have a selection of “pre-made” sandwich ideas on the board you can order from. After grabbing our sandwiches and Peroni (of course) we headed back to the beach and chowed down. I still think about my sandwich!
Otranto, you were beautiful and if the Beckhams holiday there, T.W.O. can too !! Grazie Mille.
Who wants to play see Monopoli ?? Of course you are going to want to see Monopoli and maybe in fact you will get the chance to play Monopoly in Monopoli! Unfortunately we didn’t since we were only there for one night. Upon arrival, we were dropped off right at the walls of Old Town and we were able to walk to our B&B. The town of Monopoli is a fishing town that dates back to 500 B.C. The town was explained to us as quaint..which it was, but I would have to say it felt bigger than Polignano a Mare. Still the narrow cute streets, shutters and flowers but more people filled the streets at night. Scroll down more to find out about our 36 hours in Monopoli.
The best part of Puglia is that the region is relatively small, so day trips are very easy! We hired a driver to pick us up from Polignano a Mare and take us inland to three cities. Find our more about our day trip below!
PUGLIA. It’s the heel of the boot in southern Italy and its one of the best kept secrets. But I think the secret is already out. In the next couple posts we will be highlighting all the place we traveled with a summary at the end giving you an overview of our itinerary and some travel tips. So first stop, Polignano a Mare