Don’t go to the Melbourne without reading this first
My first time in Kotor was super short and very last minute. We were on a Balkan backpack trip and arrived in Podgorica after a 13 hour train trip from Belgrade. One of the girls we met on the train told us there was nothing going on in Podgorica and recommended Kotor.
After 3 hours in Podgorica we had seen it all, so we took a bus to Kotor and arrived in the late afternoon, and knew this was the best decision we had taken: ten steps in we learned that Kotor was picturesque, historic, and just plain beautiful. The one hostel I had written down was full (this was way before the Hostelworld app!) but the staff managed to find us a room that an old lady rented (this was also pre Air BnB). Sadly, by the time we dumped our luggage and wanted to hike up the fortress we learned it was closed and the bus we HAD to take was leaving at 7 AM the next morning. I knew one day I had to come back.
And I did, five years later I woke up at 6 AM to walk up to the fortress and to see what the fuss was about, it was well worth the wait. I grabbed a watermelon on the square where my friend had lost her earring and 10 people helped us search for it. I made friends with new cats, probably related to the ones I saw years ago. I noticed the restaurants hadn’t changed at all and they still offered pasta, pizza and schnitzel. I challenged myself to walk up the Ladder of Kotor, stopped for homemade grapefruit juice and cheese at this tiny farm house halfway in the mountains and stayed for too long and listened to stories from the couple that live up there.
And I still think I would go back, but more importantly: I want you and everyone I know to add it to their wanderlist. But if you’re like me and have a wanderlust for pretty much everywhere, it won’t be too long, but just in case here are some photos to inspire you to visit Kotor.
I’ve heard a lot people say that the city reminds them of entering another world and I hope this comes across in the pictures.
This summer is set to break the record of hottest summer ever (what global warming?) in the UK and this weekend the thermometer exploded past the 30 degrees mark in London. Oxford Street might be too hot and crowded to walk around, a train to the nearest beach might be too expensive or you just might want to escape your boiling hot room. So what do you do when you’re melting in the capital?
Get Wet at the Lido
Go dust off that swimsuit, grab a towel and lather up the sunscreen, and you’re good to splash your way through the day. Some of my favourite and easily accessible outdoor swimming pools include the Serpentine Lido, Hampstead Heath Ponds and Brockwell Lido.
Indulge in Frozen Treats
It’s cold, it’s sweet and it will make things better. There’s Chin Chin Labs, which serves liquid nitrogen ice cream in flavours like tonka bean, strawberry hay and burnt butter caramel. Snow Flake gelato have a guilt-free sorbetto range or perk up your ears to listen out for the ice cream van tunes and bag yourself a classic 99 Flake.
That other Ice
When everything is melting outside, the best thing to do is jump into a fridge, so if you are not into the above-mentioned kind of ice why not go to the Alexandra Palace or Queens ice rink to cool off and show off your moves?
Chill Out at the Movies
I don’t know about you but sometimes on a sunny day all I need is a blockbuster in a cool dark theatre, air-con to the max and a big ‘ole bucket of popcorn and a cold drink of your choice. For art house movies, head to Curzon in Soho or Picturehouse Central and for the blockbusters shimmy on down to the nearest Odeon/Vue multiplex.
Check out Museums and Exhibits
Hot days are perfect for exploring a museum and London’s museums have some amazing collections, exhibits and most of them are free, but most importantly they all have air-conditioning systems -for keeping paintings safe that is, they don’t really care about you. The British Museum and the National Gallery are two of the big ones where you can easily spend hours and hours of discovery.
Enjoy a Cooling Drink on a Rooftop Bar
I have to start with saying that water is of course the essential part of staying cool – either drinking it, swimming in it or pouring directly over your head. But at end of the day why not take in the city skyline with a refreshing cocktail or a cold beer or six in hand. Mondrian London, Frank’s and Netil 360 are some of the best spots to do this.
What is your ultimate heatwave tip for the city?
Last month I watched Steve Backshall’s Japan’s Northern Wilderness documentary and I loved it as it was so passionate and took me to a world I didn’t know. So I was excited to see a new documentary called The Art of Japanese Life, but the first episode soy didn’t do it for me (like, what’s with the suit Dr James Fox?) Anyhow … it did remind me some of my favourite Tokyo memories which I want to share with you.
The visit to Studio Ghibli museum was probably one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Japan. But before I went, online tickets were sold out for the period of my trip and I almost didn’t want to go, because how could I possibly not visit the birthplace of one of the things that introduced me to the country? Thank God my friends and me managed to find arrange tickets in the end and I cried. The museum itself was small but packed with intricate secrets and magic and I felt like Kiki discovering her new place. (Yes Kiki is one of my favourites, I know it’s not their most artistic or heartbreaking one but to someone who loves coming of age stories and finding your way in the world this has to be a favourite). The only down side was my mouth hurt afterwards from smiling so much.
I arrived at Asakusa directly from the airport and after having dropped my suitcase at the hotel and taking Asakusa in from the top it was time to go out and explore. It was a warm Sunday afternoon, so it meant everyone was out and about and I got thrown into it the best way possible without getting too overwhelmed after a long flight.
The stay at a ryokan was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! Who would have thought I loved sleeping on a thin mattress and boiling in an onsen bath? It was almost a little adventure within an adventure and the walk to the ryokan cuts you off from Tokyo business life. I loved everything about it, from stepping into the traditional, to finding a kimono set in your room and making green tea and pot noodles after a long day out. If you are heading to Japan I highly recommended booking one if you’re looking for a step back in time and for a quiet stay away out of the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.
Like any basic white girl I’ve dreamt of crossing at Shibuya ever since seeing ScarJo and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. And it all was there: the crowds, the chaos, the see-through umbrellas, the neon lights, the loud music and the traffic. Bucketlist moment.
100 Yen Shops, Don Quichot, Tokyo Hands and pretty much every supermarket was an attraction that needed exploring. Baby’s first chopsticks? Hello Kitty battery? 15 types of green tea? Did I need it? No! Did I want all of it? YES. I’ve posted a selection of my some of my favourites here.
Have you been to Japan or are planning to go? What was your favourite place you visited or thing you did?