Four green eyes stared out at me from a group of crooked white stones in Athen’s First Cemetery. The cats don’t move a muscle; they don’t run and hide and they don’t come any closer. They’re protecting their territory.
I have never seen as many stray cats in one place than by walking the streets of Athens. There are thousands. They sit atop stone walls, stalk for food outside of restaurants, sleep on tree branches and dart into broken windows of crumbling buildings.
Saint Lucia’s Hotel Chocolat sits on the lush grounds of the Rabot Estate where Jorge and I also took a tour of their cacao plantation. As I said before, they grow a ton of fruits that they can use in Boucan Restaurant - bananas, mangoes, soupsop – for cocktails and fresh juice but, combimed with fresh local produce, the theme of the restaurant and its menu is chocolate.
Last weekend was a lazy, relaxing, recovering weekend since I haven’t had many in London lately. I took a long slow walk from Chelsea to Marylebone through Hyde Park, spent an hour browsing the shelves of my favourite bookshop, Daunt, and then we went out for Spanish tapas in the evening. Sunday was a day for the park, for tea from Paul and catching up on things. After a few days at work this week, I headed over to Athens where I am now for the TBEX conference which lasts through this weekend in the company of a ton of fabulous travel bloggers. Last year’s TBEX Europe event was in Dublin and I shared some storytelling tips from fantastic writers I saw there. Athens is a gritty city full of street art, stray cats and a million winding streets where it’s fun to get lost. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this year’s conference brings!
What are you up to this weekend?
Photo: A beautiful cemetery we spotted in the south of Saint Lucia, October 2014
I usually give musems a miss when I travel because I like to be outdoors, just observing life in the city streets exploring, popping into boutiques or the occasional off-beat gallery, skipping down graffiti-scrawled alleyways, taking photos and walking until I can walk no more and then stopping for tea and a bite to eat in a random cafe.
As a chocolate lover, I’ve always wanted to tour a cocoa plantation and Saint Lucia was a perfect opportunity to do just that. After an incredible chocolate-laced lunch in the restaurant of Hotel Chocolat on the Rabot Estate (which is on the West coast of the island near the village of Soufrière), we found out they run a “Tree to Bar” tour.
Ah, a full week in London, a full inbox and an empty suitcase! I’ve spent much of this week playing catch up and editing photos from Saint Lucia, but I’m looking forward to going out and about to enjoy the Fall weather (hopefully not with an umbrella) this weekend.
Saint Lucia was a stunning place, lush, vibrant, colourful. I came home with almost 3,000 photos and obviously I won’t be sharing all of them, but I’ll put up a few more posts in the coming weeks. It was an island of both extreme poverty and excess built up for tourists (who drive the majority of the economy). There were wonderfully friendly people full of excellent advice for us, some waiting to pounce on white faces with offers of boat tours and necklaces made of islands plants and others with permanent scowls on their faces. We met and spoke with a couple of locals, enjoyed a homemade breadfruit pie, saw this amazing hand painted Rasta house below, traveled up and down both coasts, stopped in crumbling villages, palm tree-lined beaches, stayed in a private villa and experienced the tourist resorts in the north. All in all, a beautifully sunny place and a much needed relaxing break from reality.
What are you up to this weekend? Anyone have plans to look forward to?
Photo: An incredible hand painted Rasta house in Saint Lucia, October 2014
Whenever possible, I try to book cosy boutique hotels or local accommodation with a bit of character when I travel. I’ve used Airbnb, for example, in New York, Boston twice, Amsterdam and Saint Lucia – all of which were great experiences except for the first one in Boston which was horrible (but also dirt cheap, so I guess to be expected).
“How about I make you some of my breadfruit pie,” Marina suggested while we were deciding what to have for dinner the day she cooked for us in our Airbnb villa, up in the hills of Vieux Fort on the southern tip of Saint Lucia.
“What’s breadfruit?” I asked.
“Oh, you will love it,” She said by way of explanation. “Trust me, you will love it.”
Like last week’s post, I’m writing this in advance before I leave for St. Lucia so here’s hoping it’s been an amazing week for us and all of you! Next week I’ll be back to wring the usual Friday post introductions. Tell me all your fun news for the week?
Photo: Torvehallerne Market in Copenhagen, October 2013
On every foodie’s bucket list there surely is a trip to London’s Borough Market. If not, there should be. And for every history buff as well, because this year, the market celebrates what it thinks is its 1,000 year anniversary. The records aren’t 100% clear, but any excuse for a party, right? At any rate, we can rest assured the food will be to notch.