Monthly Archives

August 2015

Beach Travel

Agios Nikolaos, Peloponnese

August 27, 2015

Greece has always been my favourite place to explore – from treks up volcanoes in Santorini with only flip flops between my feet and the burning sand (bad choice of footwear here), to BBQs on pirate ships and quad biking across Corfu. Inappropriate shoes aside, there is no culture I love more, no food that comes close to my love of tzatziki, and no other place I’d rather spend a relaxing week in the sun. And luckily for us, in the tiny fishing village of Agios Nikolaos you’d be hard pressed to do anything but.

This was my first trip to the mainland, and I can genuinely say it was the most beautiful part of the country I’ve visited yet. Whilst the likes of Santorini and Mykonos might be the headliners when it comes to picturesque settings and whitewashed walls, the undiscovered beauty of this quiet, traditional village was unlike anywhere else I’ve been. So I’m sharing the love for my new favourite hideaway with my top reasons to visit the beautiful Agios Nikolaos.

You can really, really get away from it all
No, really – we quickly learnt that there was only one place in the village with wifi that actually worked. At first it feels impossible to wind down from the stress of the office and the constant buzz of London, but when your nearest neighbouring village is an hour’s walk along the coast and your biggest worry is which taverna to drink your next Mythos in, life gets simpler.

Almost two hours drive from the airport through mountains that resemble Jurassic Park, when you reach this sleepy village you’ll realise things run at a much slower pace, and quite frankly it’s better that way. You also can’t help but notice how untouched the area seems. Sure, there’s tourists in the tavernas and Brits drinking the odd beer on the marina after dinner, but Kavos this is not.

Pack a pile of books, pick a favourite cafe, and forget the rest of the world even exists.

You can watch your dinner being caught each morning
Okay, so you might need to wake up a little earlier than your average holiday brunch (how does sunrise sound?), but if you make it out on time you can see the local fisherman leaving the harbour to catch the evening’s meal. From what we could tell most of the restaurants serve whatever has come straight from the sea hours earlier, and it genuinely doesn’t get fresher than that. With most fish dishes served simply grilled and covered in lemon juice, it’s an authentic experience you’ll want to repeat every night.

You’ll eat incredible food
I’ve been to a fair few Greek resorts, and as much as I’ve always found beautiful places to eat at in each, there’s also usually a few spots that miss the mark. We tried almost every taverna whilst here, and every evening dinner was incredible. Try Hidden Garden on the harbour for sardines and souvlaki, Veusuvious for stuffed peppers and mounds of taztiki, or Gregg’s for an authentic home-made buffet – serving traditional dishes including meatballs, fried fish and greek salad. Even better, you’d struggle to spend more than 25 euros on dinner for two, including wine and beer.

Tip: If you’re on a budget, try the two euro gyros at the cafe next to Medusa – they’re really good. In fact, even if you’re feeling flush I’d still give these a go.

You can look at the view above whilst lying in a hammock
If you ask nicely, the waitress at Cafe Lithos will even bring you a frappé to sip on as you wonder whether life has ever been this good. I got a bit carried away here, and spent hours sitting on the harbourside daydreaming and instagramming the view (yes, this is the one place in the village with decent wifi). If there was a single place in the world I had to name as my favourite, it would be this very spot.

Where in Greece would you most recommend? I’m already planning next year’s trip!

Emma x

Beach Travel

Things women do on beach holidays

August 20, 2015

… that we don’t always admit.

1. Pack things you will never, ever need
A beach holiday in 40 degree heat, you say? Better have an emergency jumper at hand. Or what if you randomly decide to go to a nightclub in this tiny, quiet fishing village? Then you’ll wish you’d packed the second pair of heels. Or you might all of a sudden fancy wearing the necklace you bought four years ago for a night out and haven’t looked at since. What if the mood takes you? WHAT THEN? Better safe than sorry you decide, and pack the entire collection.

2. Drink alcohol at the airport at any time of day or night 
So what that it’s 5am on a Tuesday morning and the bartender is eyeing you disapprovingly – you’re on holiday! This also applies to the trip home – technically still on holiday.

3. Diet for months and then eat like a horse the second you land
The 5:2 diet’s been going well, you’ve lost six pounds and you’ve finally been able to squeeze into last year’s denim cut offs – hurrah! But now you’re on holiday and it’s time to let loose. Two days in, four pina coladas, a carafe of wine and six hearty meals down, and you’re back to square one. At least you felt good on the plane.

4. Pray there will be sunshine when you open the curtains
Let’s face it – other than to relax and catch up on a bit of reading, you come on a beach holiday to tan (safely of course – as Bas would say, always wear sunscreen). It hasn’t rained in the resort for seven and a half weeks and the forecast is brilliant sun for the next month, yet each morning you hold your breath and pray for sun behind those curtains.

5. Check out other women on the beach
You could be comparing anything – tan lines, boob size, attractiveness of boyfriend, choice of drink… you name it. Are you sweatier/more dimpled/less tanned? There’s a lot to deliberate when you’re lying on a sunbed with not a care in the world (except for the fact that your tan is far patchier than hers). In fact, let’s not limit it to women – you’re nosey when it comes to anyone at the beach.

6. Make sure there is always someone further out than you in the sea so that a shark would go for them over you
Always thinking strategically whilst in the water, you ensure there is someone further from the shore than you at all times, just in case a Great White decides to make an appearance. Yes, it’s the Mediterranean and they don’t really get sharks, but you’d rather the chap swimming further out found out about it first if one did appear.

7. Check your tan lines in the bathroom mirror
What is it about bathroom mirrors? In every apartment in every resort you’ve ever been to, you look ten times darker in the bathroom mirror after a long day at the beach. Step out of the shower, check out your tan, continue.

8. Take balcony outfit photos in the ‘flattering evening light’
In the same vein, your tan also looks much deeper just before sunset so you take this opportunity to snap away on the balcony before dinner. The same pose every night in a carefully curated outfit, designed to bring out your darkening colour the most effectively. Everybody does it – and only the best will make it into the holiday Facebook album.

9. Detest using sun cream on a sandy beach
Annoyance sets in as you attempt to rub sun cream into your slightly pink and incredibly sandy skin. The more you rub the more sand covers your body, in a never-ending fight to keep the tiny particles from the bottle of Garnier. Will it ever come off? It’s not rubbing off. You’re starting to panic.

10. Silently curse people who left their towels out on beds before breakfast
Mainly because you forgot to do it yourself this morning. How selfish of them.

How many of these are you guilty of?

Emma x

London

Why London is incredible in the summer

August 20, 2015

1. Everyone is really, really happy when the sun comes out
By the time summer comes around we’re all so desperate for a bit of sunshine we get over-excited and may even stretch to eye contact with strangers on the tube. We don’t mind when someone stands on the wrong side of the escalator, or puts their armpit in our face on the northern line, because HEY GUYS – it’s sunny.

2. In fact, we’re so happy we don’t even mind spending those long summer days at work
Imagine going to work every day during the summer in Barcelona? Not only would you resent being stuck in the office whilst tourists bask in the thirty degree heat, you’d also turn up covered in sweat, and possibly wearing flip flops. Let’s position our ‘mild’ summers as a benefit, shall we?

3. We know what it’s like to truly love a square metre of outdoor space
Londoners know exactly what it is to love a patio when the sun comes out. Or a roof terrace. Or a really, minutely small balcony. Unlike people living in normal conditions who may take their gardens for granted, we understand what it is to appreciate that tiny bit of beautiful outdoors with all our heart, and are able to position a BBQ on any flat surface.

4. Same story with beer gardens and roof terraces
Never has a community of people enjoyed a small outside space more. Come Friday night (or midweek if it’s really sunny) we flock to the numerous beer gardens and roof terraces dotted across the capital and fight our way through the crowds for a seat. Add to this excitement some of the most beautiful city skylines on offer, great beer on tap, proper cocktails, decent food and all your mates, and it’s hard to imagine anywhere you’d rather be. Except Fiji.

5. We have air con on tubes and bikes for hire
Look away now if you’re confined to the central line during the summer months, but the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines now have air con, and quite frankly it’s wonderful. Even better, you can hire a bike incredibly cheaply courtesy of our fine mayor Boris, and explore the city on a sunny day al fresco. If, like me, the chances of you being knocked off said bike on London’s roads are high, I’d recommend a trip along Regents Canal.

6. Every summer brings even more pop up street food markets
If the best street food in the world, brilliant cocktails and an outdoor DJ sounds like your thing, head to one of the many street food markets on offer over the summer. Dinerama is my personal favourite, but you can find all sorts dotted around East London from May/June onward. If you’re not a fan of pop ups, try one of the traditional outdoor food markets like Borough or Broadway market for some of the best food in the city.

7. There are seven million trees in London…
So there’s always somewhere to take shelter from the sun when it makes an appearance. Although you’d question this living in Whitechapel.

8. We have pools, lidos, ponds and ‘urban beaches’
On the two or three days a year that it’s actually warm enough to swim outdoors, Londoners like to take advantage of the pools, lidos and urban beaches available in the city. Yes, we have ‘urban beaches’… Sadly I’ve never managed to time being in London with a day hot enough to swim, but I’m assured the lido at Victoria Park is a great spot. Who needs Spain.

9. We’ve got you covered when it rains
Whilst you might struggle to fill your days in a beach resort when the weather turns sour, we here in London specialise in rainy day activities. From world class museums and galleries like Tate Modern, the National History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, to pubs, restaurants, shopping arcades, coffee houses, cinemas, indoor markets and more pubs, this is basically our thing.

And finally… where else in the world can you bask in the sun on a roof terrace, visit the beach, go for a swim in the pool, hit the bars, have a picnic in the park, go to a gig, take a stroll along the world’s best high street and cycle home for less than a fiver with a basketful of street food?

We have it good.

Emma

Style Travel

House of Summer

August 17, 2015

Combining three of my favourite things – summer style, sunshine and travel – I instantly fell in love with the story behind House of Summer, an online boutique showcasing pieces from young entrepreneurial women living and working all over the globe. I caught up with founder Aleksa to hear more about her travels and how they influence the collections, from the streets of Rio to the mountains of Morocco.

The concept for House of Summer sounds great! How did it come about?
Well, it’s a tough one because House of Summer had many beginnings. When I moved to London I found it really hard to find unique and quality beach wear and summer wear that was colourful, sexy and vibrant – so I always did a lot of shopping during my travels (especially in Brazil, where I’m from). I started to informally sell bikinis and accessories to friends here in London and decided that there was potentially a bigger market for unique stuff that you couldn’t get in the UK. I was also getting awfully tired of finding myself wearing the same thing everyone else was wearing on the high street – I’m talking your typical Zara florals – I knew there was much more to it than that. So after a long time studying and researching and talking about my niche, I decided to go for the theme of “Sunshine” and that every product I bought to re-sell would conjure the image of a sunny somewhere. And that’s when I launched House of Summer.

You source exclusive pieces from all around the globe. What do you look for when travelling and how do you know when something is perfect for the brand?
House of Summer is a happy place, so the products need to take me somewhere sunny and special where I can let my hair down and dance on the sand. You know that feeling you get where you’re in a far away place and no one knows who you are, you don’t care about your hair or makeup – you feel so free. There are a few key things I love and those are open backs, neons, bright prints, a little sex appeal… You get that from latin counties like Brazil, Spain, Italy… Before I travel I do a little bit of online research – I try to find some niche bloggers with great style that perhaps work with indie brands. I try to gather about 10 different boutiques to visit and collect designer’s names. Once I’m in the country I’ll pop in to have a look at the quality and try and buy a few pieces to test. If I think it can work, I’ll get in touch later and start some buying! I’ve found many cool designers through Instagram!

You’re passionate about travel and the season of summer. How have you been able to explore these passions through House of Summer, and how have they influenced your collections?
I have indeed! I think I am a bohemian explorer meeting a chic modernity – I’m not only beach. House of Summer is not only about fashion, it’s very cultural as well. I feel like I need to understand cultural behaviours in order to find products my customers will love. I created House of Summer to give my travels a purpose. I travel not to sit down by the pool, I travel to meet designers, boutique owners, artisans – to understand how local fashion represents culture. Some designers come from big cities like Sao Paulo, others are artisanal – every product has a story, an origin and a meaning – and for me it’s always a memory of a place I explored.

How do you support emerging design talent?
I just love new designers! They are so full of life and want to do so much! I buy from them as much as possible, and we help each other with sales and cross promotion. Ultimately the biggest reason I work with small designers is because I like unique things that aren’t mass produced. What I try to pass onto my customer is the value in the product I sell and that’s a hard message to pass because people take their clothes for granted. There is so much cheap clothing out there no one even thinks of where their clothes come from! There is no relationship between designer, product and customer. It’s just a thing, disposable next season. My job is to tell the story so that there is a connection between designer and product – I’m the link.

Where is your favourite place in the world to spend the summer months?
Brazil and Ibiza – I’m lucky! I get two summers! In the northeast of Brazil (Bahia, Piaui) – there are all these hippie villages with cobbled streets, fairy lights and warm humid air. In the summer in Europe I go to Ibiza – I fell in love with the island, the people and the culture. Ibiza is a funny one, because it’s easy to get caught up in the “hype” yatchs, clubs, and materialism. But if you can go around June during early season, it’s bliss. Find a family run B&B in the middle of the island and walk around the lemon groves and the Old Town.

You’re originally from Brazil. What tips and advice would give you someone wanting to visit?
Brazil is HUGE – it’s basically the size of the whole of Europe so you need to pick your start. I would start in Rio for a quick glimpse into the care-free lifestyle of the “carioca”, walk around Lapa and Sta. Teresa and do the sites. I would then work my way up the Northeast coast of Brazil (Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Piaui and Maranhao). The beauty of Brazil is in the simplicity and the friendliness. The moment you try to be fancy in Brazil you go wrong! Aim for at least 3 weeks, and don’t take all your jewellery (especially in Rio)!

How do you find London compares to the other places you’ve lived? What do you love most about living and working in the capital?
I’ve only lived in Brazil, the USA and the UK. I love London, I hate London weather – Oh how I wish it were sunny here, it would be the best. What I love about London is my freedom. And this can be as simple as taking the bus, walking the streets home at night and sleeping without worries. It may sound weird to hear this but in a city like Sao Paulo you grow up very sheltered, mainly for security reasons. So when you’re a teenager, you don’t really have a lot of freedom. I love the open-mindedness of the people and the cultural diversity. I’ll go out for dinner with friends and we’ll have people from all over the world at the same table, that’s hard to get anywhere else in the world.

Where’s next on your list?
AFRICA!

What’s next for House of Summer?
So many things! But in a nutshell I want to start creating House of Summer’s own collection for SS16 (I don’t follow fashion calendars). There’ll definitely be a bigger push into ethical and sustainable fashion, recycling, and bringing awareness towards responsible consumerism – that is the direction I’m heading.

Your top tip for travel:
Don’t be a tourist! Go to a place and really try to get involved with the culture, speak to your waiter, to the person who runs your hotel. Talk to them, interact… are they happy? Is it a good place to work, to live? Sometimes we’re so obsessed with taking selfies and boasting about our travels, we forget that we are temporarily borrowing someone else’s home and land. So treat it with respect and love, above all.

Shop destinations from Italy to Australia at HouseofSummer.com, or follow on instagram for bikini shots and summer style inspiration all year round.

Emma x