A slice of tropical paradise in Port Douglas

You know I’m not a big fan of big, global, heartless hotel chains where you end up waking up in the same room whether you are in Paris, Rio or Sydney.  As you have already read here and seen on my Instagram, I’m a big fan of boutique hotels and quirky accommodations that have a personality and do things differently.

So, when I was invited by QT Resort for a stay at their slice of tropical paradise in Port Douglas, I couldn’t decline the offer!

QT is not quite what you’d think, it’s not your ordinary hotel, it’s an eclectic mix of design and art, it’s style and luxury, with a touch of quirk all in #QTstyle!

The Experience

My day started with a wonderful SPA treatment at their spaQ where my incredibly talented masseuse managed to magically soothe each and every knot around my shoulders and back after five months of wild (read uncomfortable) camping around Australia. I literally felt like I had a new body when I left.

QT ResortAfter the restoring treatment, we were welcomed for lunch at Estilo where we had gorgeous mini-burgers and smashed avocado on toast… Yum!

We later went for a few laps at the olympic pool and I once again promised myself to learn how to play tennis while watching a couple hitting hard the ball.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sipping fantastic cocktails at the pool where the young brilliant barman asked us for our favourite spirits instead of a name which made every round a nice surprise to our thirsty palates.

QT Resort

Dinner was served at Bazaar, a beautifully-designed restaurant inspired by international street stalls, souks and bodegas that recreates a traditional marketplace which offered various options of vegetables, meat and fish. I obviously went for half a dozen oysters and some fresh salad before trying a couple of those cute mouthwatering desserts. Everything was of course washed away with a beautiful South Australian sauvignon blanc. I am not a big fan of buffet especially at dinner and I would have much preferred the usual experience of ordering a la carte instead, but still the idea behind is very original, but in my opinion it would work much better at lunch time.

QT Resort

 

Breakfast was probably my favourite meal at QT since it has about five or six different types of yoghurt (HURRAH!), LOADS of fresh fruit, pancakes and hash browns, eggs, sausages and bacon, and plenty of pastry. I think that nowadays hotels which want to really stand out from the mass should offer real espresso coffee along their breakfast: it would make everything so perfect rather than the usual instant coffee…

EXTRA

While away Bookshop & Cafe
This cute little cafe quickly became my favourite in the week I spent in Port Douglas. Not only they have a great selection of books about all topics, but they also serve wonderful coffees and delicious cakes. I went back there day after day and the staff won my personal award for the most welcoming and friendly service in the whole of Australia. Well done!

THE FACTS

I was a guest at QTResort Port Douglas, all views are my own. You can book your own stay through their website here. I enjoyed my QT 2 Bedroom Villa Garden View which is $439 per night with breakfast included or $395 if you are a QT Member: it’s completely free to join and you can earn points towards FREE nights!

QT is perfect for…. stylish tropical breaks and romantic weekends away

Address: 87 – 109 Port Douglas Road, 4877, QLD, Australia

 

What do you think of this hotel? Are you planning a trip to Port Douglas and considering a stay here? If you enjoyed this post or have any questions about this hotel, please leave me a comment in the box below! x

Want to read more about other special accommodations? Check out my brand new DREAM section here

Port Douglas

 

 

Hotel Hotel – Canberra | Australia

Hotel Hotel is more than a place to stay, it’s more than a hotel, it’s a Hotel Hotel. With two capital Hs.

Nestled in the New Acton precinct area and part of the Nishi building, Hotel Hotel is the result of an deep partnership between more than fifty designers, artists, artisans and fantasists. Hotel Hotel  was created with people – people in mind as it’s stated on the doors at their other entrance. The founders chose a stylish design over a flashy luxury one. It’s cool, without being overbearing.

On the first night I managed to stay in one of their apartments which was oh! so well-decorated and beautifully thought through that I immediately felt at home. I normally don’t feel 100% comfortable in hotels, there is something that is too pretentious and fake in some of them, so it’s hard sometimes to feel good. But Hotel Hotel -and handful others I had the opportunity to visit in the past year- have this feeling that just makes you feel more than welcome, they make you feel at Home. A home away from home, basically what a nomad like me needs from time to time. On the second night I moved to a Creative Room which was equally beautifully designed with concrete walls and columns and work art and books all around. Both rooms had the largest king sized bed I have ever seen, dressed with the whitest and softer sheets ever and six (six!!) pillows. Little details like the French Press, Aesop bath products, vintage lamps, a granny-style rug on the bed, the last bestsellers next to the classics on the shelves are the ones I look for whenever I stay in a hotel. They are the little touches that make everything different and special.

You need to go and experience it first hand to understand what I am talking about, but I hope the pictures below will help a bit to give you an idea of what I mean.

You might think that I have spent the entire weekend in bed (which in fact I was really, really tempted to do), but my gorgeous luncheon and Canberra adventures were awaiting…(read more about my weekend in Canberra here or download my complete Canberra CREED guide here)

PERFECT FOR: a business, romantic or family stay
ADDRESS: NewActon Nishi, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra ACT 2601

WEBSITE: www.hotelhotel.com.au
INSTAGRAM: @hotel_hotel

Hampi’s Boulders, where Genius meets Nature

Hampi

If you haven’t heard of Hampi, don’t worry, you are not alone. I didn’t either until some Indian friends told me about it and showed me some pictures. It  took me about 3 minutes then to change my route and plans (once again!), and decide to go and see this beautiful city with my own eyes. Thankfully, I was invited to stay at the best and most magnificent resort I have ever seen and below there is a little photo essay to show you why, you should stay there too!

About Hampi
Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India located near Hospet town in the Karnataka state. Today, Hampi is a laid back village by the banks of Tungabadra river, but this was the capital of Vijayanagar, one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms in India’s history.
Hampi is probably more peculiar and fascinating in its current, ruined state, and in fact it attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Dotted around the hills made of boulders, rice fields and valleys there are more than 500 monuments, including temples, palaces, pavilions, elephants bastions, water tanks and much more.
Walking around Hampi is like stepping back in time, every corner is a surprise and if you keep your eyes open you might find yourself in a hidden village among the boulders…

Hampi’s Boulders
Hampi’s Boulders is the  first and only luxury option in the area. But it is not luxurious in the traditional sense of the word, but completely quirky and surely memorable. Hampi’s Boulders is an ‘eco-chic-wilderness’ resort that offers a choice of 13 themed rooms, but by far the best are the Star and the Crocodile Cottages with their royal furnishing, river views and outdoor showers. Nestled on the banks of the Tungabadra river, Hampi’s Boulders is situated 7 kms from the world heritage site of Hampi and it’s the perfect location for travellers who love nature, want to travel ethically and want to stay away from the tourist buzz of the village.

On top of a playground-like park, there is also a stone-carved swimming pool, barbecue and beach volley facilities. They also organise a wonderful “Walk of the Island” where you will enjoy unique and stunning views over the entire surroundings as well as Hampi ruins.
Don’t miss the opportunity to sit on one of the large boulders at sunrise and don’t forget to walk along the river at sunset; you can be lucky enough to spot some otters,  crocodile and all sort of tropical animals here.

Delhi – There is all India here.

New Delhi or Delhi as people still call it, it’s the reason why I am still here. I could blame the fact that it was my first  stop in India or maybe because there is so much India in Delhi, but the truth is that, on that very first day of my trip two months ago and as soon as I touched Indian soil and looked around, I knew that the three weeks officially planned weren’t going to be enough. I knew this country would have been mine for longer. I would have been hers for as long as possible.

Eight weeks later and with still four more to go, I can’t get my head around it or why I love it so much, I don’t know why it has a magnetic effect on me. What I know it’s that I’ve “post-poned” countries like Mynamar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from the first leg of my trip because of Delhi. I can’t get enough of this country and its people and I’m seriously thinking of moving here.
To Delhi? Possibly, the coffee scene here is spectacular and there is such a huge variety of bookstores.
My fundamentals are there, I just need to find a job now. Can you help me? 🙂

Here’s your:

Delhi’s Creed

COFFEE

Hauz Khas Social
This uber-cool, stylish and vaste co-working space in the Shoreditch-y part of Delhi, blends the best of the office and the café. At Social, you can buy a membership and swap your boring office desk with one of their hip booth. Combining work and play, Social turns into a urban hangout where cocktails are served and music start pumping on the speakers after 6pm.

Address: Haus Khas Village, 110016, New Delhi (but also in Mumbai and Bangalore)

Indian Coffee House
Like the one in Jaipur, this venue in Connaught Place is an iconic cafe in New Delhi. It’s open from 9am to 9pm and the food, which is great, is also very, very cheap. Coffee is also very special as it’s made with old coffee machines. Unlike many modern cafes, you can stay here reading your book or chatting with your friends for hours and no-one would ask you to order something else or to go. Vintage vibe, no wifi.
Address: 2nd Floor, Mohan Singh Palace, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place, Near Tivoli Cinema, New Delhi, Delhi 110001
Ph. Credits: BBC News

Kunzum Travel Cafe
With a similar concept of Ziferblat in London, at Kunzum’s idea of “Pay what you like”,  you are not under any obligation to even pay for coffee or food or wifi.  It was Ajay Jain, a traveller and photographer who started this cool cafe where travellers still meet in person and interact.
Address: T-49, GF, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, Delhi 110016

Chill & Chai This cute cafe is part of Khoj, a not-for-profit contemporary arts organisation which offers space and programs to local artists, since 1997. You should totally order some food here as they change their menu every day and maybe also enjoy a cappuccino as I did. Free wi-fi comes as a bonus if you have emails to check or upload your cuppa on Instagram. Address: Khirki Extension, opposite to Select CityWalk Mall, Saket

READ

A person that doesn’t read lives just one life whereas a person that does lives a thousand.

For all of you, like me, gifted with a burning passion for reading and books, Delhi will satisfy your hunger as it offers a wealth of bookshops and all sorts of stories.

Cha Bar
I couldn’t include Cha Bar in the above section as this is not just the regular cafe, but it’s a house library also known for its wide variety of teas (more than for coffee). The place can be crowded sometimes, but you should always be able to find a quiet spot to enjoy your cuppa.
Address: Oxford Bookstore, N-81, Barakhamba Road, Block N, Cannaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001

Galgotia Book Shop
Walk around CP’s (Connaught Place) Inner Circle and on top of the various book stalls you will come across this fabulous bookstore tucked away in the corner of B Block. Your nose will awake right away by the musty smell of old books and then your eyes will be pleased by the endless shelves of literature treasures. There is any kind of book you are looking for here, from children’s stories to enciclopedias, from travel guides to dictionaries passing through adventures and romances.
Address: 17 B, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi-01

Full Circle
A very special bookstore with a cafe attached and owned by a publishing house. It sits in the heart of Khan Market and it also offers a great terrace where you can watch one of the most spectacular sunset in Delhi while forgetting you are actually IN Delhi. This bookshop is also stocked with a number of books on a wide variety of topics.
Address: Shop No.23, Khan Market, New Delhi-03

Books

EAT

Ivy & Bean
Great “Aussie”-style cafe in the Fashion district of New Delhi. Not sure there is much of Australia in their menu which included Italian and local dishes, but it’s surely a good place for some tasty food and good coffee.
Address: 119, Sishan House, Shahpur Jat, Siri Fort, New Delhi, Delhi 110049

Zen Restaurant

It might happen after some weeks of travels that you will get tired of Indian food, so this is a great Chinese option right in the center of the city.
Address: B-25, Connaught Place, Near Rajiv Chowk Metro Station Exit-2, New Delhi, Delhi 110001

Cafe Lota
This is the perfect place for a local cuisine bite and a good coffee inside of the National Crafts Museum. It’s very popular with locals as well as expats and tourists.
Address: National Crafts Museum, Bhairon Marg, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, Delhi 110001

DREAM

Once again, after Udaipur, I was kindly invited to stay at The Leela Palace in New Delhi and how could I possibly say no to the opportunity of being the princess of a fairytale once again?
I don’t know if it’s the fourteen thousand roses in display (read more below), the majestic interiors, the love for details, the art that takes your breath away or maybe the mouth-watering food that is served in all its four and award-winning restaurants, but The Leela has surely taken a predominant spot in my preferred luxury hotels in the world and I would recommend all of you to stay there while in Delhi.
This venue is one of the Leela flagship hotels and is one of the finest architectural marvels built from ground up in the last thirty years in downtown Delhi. Built in the shape of a butterfly, architecture inspired by Lutyens, art and embellishment by Mrs. Madhu Nair, The Leela in New Delhi takes luxury to a completely different level.

https://www.instagram.com/p/9A772CMQ4w/

Capt. Nair, the founder of The Leela properties  a man with one of the most amazing entrepreneurial story  I’ve ever heard,  was a hotelier, a dreamer and a gardner. From his love for nature he planted over 1,000,000 trees and plants in their eight properties combined and thanks to Mrs Madhu Nair, every day, The Leela New Delhi has a minimum of 14,000 roses displayed in the hotel. They fly them in from Bangalore two times a week and in summers three times. Each silver urn holds 500 each and in addition, they have 2,000 international flowers that range from Australian or South African Banksia’s to Tulips, Hydrangeas from Holland.
What I love most about their love for flowers on top of the beautiful arrangements, is the fact that Leela recycles them in several ways: in winter they harvest all pedals and thereafter fill our fire urns inside the ponds outside Qube; in summers they support a local NGO, that turn them into Rangoli and vegetarian dye.

Address: Chanakyapuri, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi 110023

Dubai – The Future is Here

Dubai

Dubai is not only a world-record-breaking city in the desert with huge shopping malls and extravagant nightlife. Dubai is also a great place to enter a parallel, luxurious universe where ancient traditions meet with ambitious and revolutionary vision.
Personally, I wouldn’t see myself living there, but I’ll surely go back to explore more one day.

Here is your guide, as always divided in five sections:
Dream, Coffe, Explore, Eat and Read.
Enjoy and feel free to add suggestions by leaving your comment below.

DREAM 

Book your room at The Address,  right at the center of  downtown Dubai, where Burj Khalifa, The Mall and anything else you might need or want to do, is.
With its 196 rooms and suites, 7 restaurants, SPA, a magnificent view over the Burj Khalifa and its fountains shows, you can’t possibly find a better location in Dubai.

The Address The Address

BUT FIRST, COFFEE

Dubai doesn’t have a big coffee culture or maybe my research didn’t do so well there. I tried a couple of places I had found on the internet, one in Media City and the other in Internet City and both of them where shut, god knows since when (google mentioned them as both open). But I did find a little cute coffee shop very close to my accommodation.

Per Te

Per Te

Another very special place was at the Dubai Mall instead.

Shakespeare and Co. 

Shakespeare & Co.

EXPLORE

Old Dubai

Start your visit in Dubai on the old side
of the city, here, you will understand and see how Dubai was before becoming the world-known capital of finance and investments. Here it is the “simple”, no-frills Dubai, the one made of artisans and jewellers.
Make sure to get the boat to cross  the river for the true”old Dubai experience” .

Dubai Mall

As you know I’m a minimalist (or a I’m trying to become one…) so I really wasn’t keen to go to the biggest “entertainment” place in Dubai. But when you are there, even if you -like me- have no intention to spend a penny, you must visit this spectacular and fascinating architectural artwork. Not only the building itself, which breaths of genius creativity, but also each and every alley or souk has its own regional and unique style.

Desert Safari
Dubai was born in the desert. To be exact, it is not a super young city as most people think, in fact the first people to live there where back in 3000BC, when the area was inhabited by nomadic cattle herders. Yes, modern Dubai is young and striving to the future, but its history goes back a few centuries.
So, the desert, which surrounds the skyscrapers and the various malls is a must-see. Hire a jeep for a fun afternoon on the dunes, but I personally think you can easily skip the touristy evening at one of those fake and staged desert camps purposely created for us, western tourists.
Better if you ask your driver to stay on the dunes a little longer and to show you different perspective of the desert instead.
For info and booking of my driver please contact me directly via email.

BURJ KHALIFA

I normally don’t include the top landmarks in my mini-guides as they can easily be found in any #lonelyplanet or #roughguide, but I will make an exception this time as this is not only the tallest building in the world, but also a spectacular work of architecture, both from the outside – visible to everyone, anywhere in Dubai – and from the inside for the ones who go to the top.

dubai

Dubai Metro

Most people travel by taxi in Dubai, it is so hot there that walking from A to B is (almost) unberable, but while you are there, make sure to buy a daily travel card to taste the Dubai metro experience. Get a first class ticket so that you can stay on the front or last carriage and enjoy the spectacular view among the skyscrapers. Bring your camera!


EAT

The Farm

This fantastic venue, nestled in the heart of Al Barari and immersed in beautiful lakes and gardens, is a unique restaurant that focuses on healthy food and original recipes from all over Asia. Make sure to take a walk around the gardens after your meal to take in the magnificent settings.

The Farm

The Farm

READ

Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City, 2013 by Jim Krane
City Of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism, 2010, by Jim Krane 

I didn’t find any relevant bookstore or library in Dubai – except the ones in the malls, but if you do know of any university or historic library there, please leave a comment below so I can add it to this guide. Thank you!

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Freedom

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
– Albert Camus

 

Is that true? Is that possible?

I have been questioning what Freedom is for a long time. And I have been wondering if I was free. Am I? What does really mean to be free?

I had some great input and answers on my instagram pool and while I agreed with some answers, I couldn’t understand others.

For some it’s “the ability to positively direct our lives” (@simplysimmybee), for others is the sensation felt while sitting on the top of a moutain in Ireland or in front of the ocean in awe of Mother’s Earth beauty (@the.red.brick.road), and for some is “time to spend with loved ones and things for ourselves (@Janne)

But what is Freedom?

For the Oxford Dictionary, Freedom is

the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited.

Taking this definition as a parameter, I doubt we could really be free. In any society, there are restrictions that don’t allow us to say, do or sometimes even think what we want. We respect other people’s feelings so we wouldn’t tell them if they look fat or if they are boring, right? (Well, unless you are an a**hole!)  We wouldn’t kill someone, would we? Some thoughts are also forbidden by some religions or cultures around the world. So, are we really free? We can’t always speak our thoughts and we can’t do everything we want without hurting someone or being outlaw, i.e. living in a country without the legitimate visa, killing, hurting, offending….

So, are we really free?

I acknowledge that we are much, much free-er than our ancestors, most of all us, women, in the Western world have achieved more in the last 50 years than in the previous thousands.

But F R E E D O M as expressed by the dictionary would be only achievable in complete isolation on top of a mountain or on Mars, where our actions wouldn’t affect other people’s lives. That level of freedom isn’t possible on our world.

However, for me Freedom is not the ability to do or say what I want. Freedom is the possibility to choose. It is the possibility to do the right thing for me (and others) in the right way and in the right moment. Freedom is the ability to let go of things that don’t add value to our lives so that we can focus on those who do. Freedom is the capacity to spend time doing the things we love and enjoy rather than being caged in doing what we are supposed to do. It’s freedom of choice.

Our society doesn’t allow that. We live to work and no longer work to live. Of course basic needs have to be fulfilled but consumerism have pushed us to pursue more than we can spend. The American dream transplanted a bit all over the world has made us slave of money and material possessions, on an endless and non-sense pursuit of more. More of what, you are asking? More of everything. How many televisions have you got in your house? How many smartphones? How many dresses or pair of shows you own? Whatever is the answer, they are too many. Advertising and social pressure makes us believe we need all of this, but we don’t.

We are no longer devoting time to have E N O U G H , we are wasting our lives to have more.

We can never be free if we don’t free ourselves of useless needs and superficial necessities that weight us down and fill our days and weeks for the majority of our awaken hours.

Could we have a better life if we had all the money in this world?

The answer is yes, for some who struggle to survive, but the reality is that over a certain threshold, there is no difference. There’s luxury, of course, but what’s the purpose of that? It’s just like fake filling, not real, not necessary.

And so, like many people I believe, we are not really free.

Not in the true, purest sense of Freedom.

But like many others, I believe w e c a n b e f r e e, we can make decisions to free up space in our lives, we can change the directions when things are not going as we want. We can turn things around more often than we believe.

 

Notes – the above is obviously a generalisation of our society, I’m well-aware that there are so many people struggling to get to the end of the month, or even have enough for the day or that are submitted to live in poverty or slavery.