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Back in August, we decided with my sister to spend a long weekend in Prague. We’d never seen the city and its always been on my list, so off we went! In the weeks leading to our trip, we infinitely pinned things to do and places to see in one of Europes most magical cities. One pin led me to a food tour. I’d always wanted to see cities through the eyes of locals and discover how they spend their time, their weekends and holidays. After a bit of research, I found a tour called Prague Food Tour. From their website, we saw that it was something simple, fun and truly local. The guides were Leona and Georges and we were set for a few hours around local places.

If you’re faithful readers of this blog, you’ll know that half of my heart lives in London, the city of my childhood travels and last student year. What’s more, is that my sister’s been living there for the last four years so I’ve been visiting frequently. Inspiration strikes when I’m there and we constantly find loads of things worth sharing. So if you frequently visit London for work or to visit family and friends, here’s a series destined to give you a glimpse of the city through our eyes.

If you’re faithful readers of this blog, you’ll know that half of my heart lives in London, the city of my childhood travels and last student year. What’s more, is that my sister’s been living there for the last three years so I’ve been visiting frequently. Inspiration strikes when I’m there and we constantly find loads of things worth sharing. So if you frequently visit London for work or to visit family and friends, here’s a series destined to give you a glimpse of the city through our eyes. 

Fall weather is fast approaching. This means the movies are the best place to be. Here are 5 small and cozy cinemas in London.

Sunny weekends are still ahead of us and we’re all looking for creative things to do. One of my favorite places in Lebanon is Batroun. The beautiful scenery brings you back refreshed and ready for another busy week after the weekend. There are so many things to do there other than lying on the rocks and soaking up the sun. Be it during summer or on sunny winter weekends, Batroun and its surroundings is a great destination for all kinds of activities.

Here are some ideas around the region for weekends ahead. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone!

When I say Batroun, I’m also talking about its surrounding towns, like Tannourine, Chekka, Anfeh, Douma and others. So here goes:

1- Tannourine: Start with an early morning hike in the beautiful reserve. The Tannourine forest is actually the biggest one. It starts in the Batroun casa and ends in the Bechareh casa.

batroun | breadonbutter

2- Saydet el nourieh: On your way down from Tannourine to the beach, pass by Saydet el Nouriyyeh for a spiritual hour and a breathtaking view on the shore.

batroun | breadonbutter

3- Make sure to pass by ‘Helmeh’ for a nice and refreshing lemonade!

4- Visit Batroun’s old town, it’s beautiful and untouched.

5- You can now go lie down on the rocks and take a dip in the sea. There’s a lot of choice when it comes to which beach you can go to. You can choose between Bonita Bay, White Beach, and Pierre and Friends, or go to Joining beach or Dany’s Bar for a less mainstream experience and great fish.

6- Make sure you stay there till sunset, you won’t regret it a single minute. Those places are great for those who love fishing as well.

batroun | breadonbutter

7- If you choose to sleep and spend the weekend there, two of the best places I’ve been to are Beit el Batroun and Mayouli. Beit el Batroun is simply the loveliest and most relaxing place. Mayouli is a bit different than Beit el Batroun as it’s more of an ecological place, with the freedom to have barbecues in a corner of the garden.

batroun | breadonbutter

8- Go up to one of Batroun’s vineyards the next day for some wine tasting. Ixsir has the most magical setting, and Aurora is another great choice.

batroun | breadonbutter

9- Have a late BBQ lunch on the rocks. You can find a lot of public beaches with clear blue water and settle there.

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10- For a nice late afternoon drink, try Colonel Beer. The setting is relaxed and the beer is excellent!

batroun | breadonbutter

There you go! A perfect weekend in Batroun 🙂 I’d love to hear about your suggestions!

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When it comes to exercise, the farther I can get from a gym, the better. I prefer the type of exercise where you don’t really feel you’re having it and count the minutes until it is considered enough. So let’s say that whenever I can, I consider nature to be my gym. Hikes are one of my favorite things to do on a weekend or even on a trip. I’ve also noticed it kind of restarts my brain and gives me more energy to think and start my week afresh. Not to go into too many details, I highly recommend a good hike to reduce your anxiety and stress, to boost your immunity, to give you energy, to make you more productive and help you concentrate.

kadisha valley

In Lebanon, we are spoiled with beautiful places to hike, and they’re all two hours away or less from Beirut. We spent the last two weekends hiking so today I’m sharing one of those days in the Kadisha Valley for inspiration.

The Kadisha Valley, located in Bcharre (click here for the map), is full of important Lebanese history (you can read more about it here). It was my second time hiking there and we spent approximately 6 hours walking down the valley and up again, passing by the Qannoubine monastery. Since it’s the end of winter and the snow is melting, it’s the best time to hike there as you get to see waterfalls and enjoy the perfect weather for hiking. The greenery is also impressive and striking.

kadisha valley

After a long tiring but fun hike, we headed to one of the most popular restaurants in the region, situated in Ehden, called Fardaous (meaning ‘paradise’ 🙂 ). The food was delicious – my opinion here being biased because of extreme hunger 😉 and the view was just perfect.

Here are some photos of the hike for you to get inspired.

kadisha valley kadisha valley hiking hiking wadi kadisha wadi kadisha wadi kadisha | breadonbutter

Don’t forget to stock up on snacks for energy as well as water to keep hydrated and to protect your muscles from cramps that can last days. Our favorite snacks when we go hiking are raw nuts, dried fruits, bananas and coconut bars. Jean has developed the pattern of having a Snickers before the hike, because you’re not you when you’re hungry 😉

Also, if you want to learn more about the region and get a guide who knows all the hiking ways well, you can contact a great guy called Jhonny Bou Ghosn on this number: +961 (3) 290 571

Who here is a fan of hiking? And where do you go? I’d love to know!

   Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips #breadonbutter

Every single time I visit Byblos, I conclude it’s one of my favorite places in Lebanon. Just knowing I’ll be spending a day or weekend in this lovely city makes me smile. I go there quite often and at any time of year. See, what’s great about this city is that it’s beautiful during all seasons.

In winter, a walk in the fresh and crisp winter air after lunch or right before dinner is the most favorable pick-me-up. Head up the beautiful alley from the main port and take a walk around the old Souk, then sit down for a cuppa’ in one the local coffee shops.

byblos | breadonbutter

byblos | breadonbutter

Head to the Byblos Citadel and absorb its architecture. You can then hurry to Byblos Sur Mer, the loveliest hotel, for a nice and cozy dinner by the chimney. You can even spend the night there in one of their charming rooms with the fluffiest bed ever.

byblos | breadonbutter

Byblos Sur Mer is not only a hotel. You can have lunch or dinner at Tournesol, their indoor restaurant during wintertime and relax by the chimney. Instead of getting a snowy view, you get to admire the sea during winter, which I’ve always found fascinating. We did exactly that 2 weeks ago and got a long reinvigorating weekend. We felt warm, relaxed and ready to face our busy lives again.

byblos | breadonbutter
View from Byblos Sur Mer

During Christmas time, you can also enjoy the decorations and one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world according to the Wall Street Journal. You can check the link here

In spring, you can do the same walk but also enjoy the flower market that takes place in the souk around March, and grab a chocolate crepe or frank’s hot dog for street food.

byblos | breadonbutter

Summer is also wonderful in Byblos, as you get to relax and have a delicious mezzeh and fish lunch by the sea at Dar el Azrak. Great fish, the smell of the sea, and then later on take a walk and watch the sunset right before heading to one of the concerts going on during Byblos Festival season. I will be sharing the festival calendar in due time.

byblos | breadonbutter

In fall, the weather gets cooler, you enjoy the end of summer without the heat and the crowd.

byblos | breadonbutter

Byblos Sur Mer is a really great hotel, where the staff is friendly, the interior is so cozy you’ll want to do the same at home, and the food is worthy. You get to enjoy the benefits of a hotel and yet feel like in a guesthouse, welcomed with open arms every time.

The excellent news is: Breadonbutter Readers, you get a discount at Byblos Sur Mer!

Whether it’s for lunch or dinner at Tournesol or Dar el Azrak, or even a night in, just use the code “BOB” to get your 15% discount. To benefit from this offer, all you have to do is email Mona Mounzer before heading there on mona.mounzer@byblossurmer.com for all reservations (don’t forget the code: BOB). The offer is valid till March 31rst, upon availability. 

hotel

room

You can check their website on this link.

Don’t forget to tag @breadonbutter_ on social media when you’re there and snap a picture! 🙂

Having just returned from there, I am sharing with you today a summary of our Croatian diary.

Like other European countries, Croatian cities (or at least the ones I saw – Dubrovnik, Split and their islands and surroundings) have preserved their old town cachet. More than in any other place I’ve been to, I’ve enjoyed walking inside the old city walls, and we had so much fun visualizing the lives of their ancestors walking on those same stones we were exploring.

If you’re heading to Croatia anytime soon, here are some tips for things to do.

Dubrovnik

Sleep at

If you happen to be a fan of guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts, I suggest you book a room at Pupo Rooms or at Guesthouse Perica (both found on booking.com). Those are 2 of the loveliest guesthouses I have ever been to. Their hosts are so cute and helpful you won’t want to leave.

Eat at

Seafood ant meat stew are your typical Croatian/Dalmatian food. For lunch, just grab a few things from a nearby supermarket and head on an island for a nice picnic and swim. For dinner however, a nice meal in the Old Town is just lovely. We strongly suggest: Wanda Restaurant and Lady Pipi.

See

You should definitely buy a ticket to be able to walk the Old City Walls. It’s an hour walk, overlooking the whole city and it’s just amazing! You also shouldn’t miss the panoramic city view from the Dubrovnik cable car.

Do

Head to Dubrovnik’s lovely islands! The closest one is Lokrum, where you can sit around all day just relaxing by the sea. Just don’t forget to take your picnic with you as there are no restaurants on the islands except one and it’s just too touristic. One other beautiful island we visited was Mljet, 2 hours and a half away by boat. When you get there, buy your tickets to the national park and head to the lakes. It is just so calm and beautiful you’ll want to stay there forever.

Split (and surroundings)

Sleep at

Most of the people we met in Split were, like us, sleeping in Podstrana, a small village ten minutes away from the center of Split by bus. If you can get a good deal at Le Meridien, or at The Residences (right next to it), you’ll find the perfect place to relax and enjoy your vacations.

Eat and Drink

For lunch, a good pizza slice will do the trick. What is better, is also a traditional ćevapi – which resembles our version of Kebab, but with an absolutely tasty homemade bread and relish. You can have the best ćevapi at a small place called Kantun Paulina. For dinner, you must try Bajamont, a traditional domestic food place in the middle of Old Town Split. Lovely and yummy! And for my birthday, we enjoyed – among other delicious things – a great Croatian Bouillabaisse at Paradigma.

See

Walk around the old city center of Split and enjoy the history.

Do

You can also head to Hvar or Brač for a day on an island or even take a one-day boat trip on a katamaran (make sure to book your places a few days in advance at the Split port). Marjan is also a nice area to spend the day at the beach.

Here are some pictures. I will let them speak for themselves! Enjoy 🙂

dubrovnik-old-town-croatia
Old Town Dubrovnik
lokrum-island-picnic-dubrovnik-croatia
Picnic on Lokrum Island – Dubrovnik
Mljet-dubrovnik-island-croatia-2
Beautiful National Park Mljet Island – Dubrovnik
Mljet-Dubrovnik-island-croatia
Mljet
dubrovnik-old-town-port-croatia
Old Town Dubrovnik Port
Dubrovnik-view
Dubrovnik view
lokrum-island-dubrovnik-croatia
Lokrum
old-town-dubrovnik-croatia
Old City Walls walk – Dubrovnik Old Town
Things-to-do-in-Croatia-Split-architecture-old
Split Architecture
podstrana-beach-split-croatia
Podstrana beach
Kantun-paulina-split-croatia
Kantun Paulina for the best Ćevapi – Split
Croatia-Split-buildings-
Split Architecture
bajamont-split-wine-croatia
Bajamont – Split
Bajamont-split-dalmatian-seafood-stew-croatia
Dalmatian seafood stew – Bajamont – Split

 

Summer weekends in Lebanon are full of packed itineraries. Groups of friends discuss the weekend all week and brainstorm ideas for new things to do and new places to visit. The possibilities are many for such a small country. And that’s because trends are all we follow. The present trend is B&Bs and swimming pools (for us at least).

This weekend, I suggest you drive to Beiteddine, one of the most beautiful towns in Lebanon. There are 2 places I’d recommend there: Bouyouti for a nice sleep and amazing breakfast by the pool, and Mir Amine for a Sunday lunch and also the possibility to laze by the pool.

Bouyouti is nestled in one of the most beautiful valleys ever. The rooms are beautifully decorated with carefully chosen furniture to give the whole space a homey feel. Breakfast is delicious and you can enjoy the pool an beautiful weather before heading to lunch at Mir Amine where a huge buffet is laid out on weekends and you get to listen to live instrumental Arabic music. Here are some pictures:

Bouyouti’s garden and pool:
bouyouti-2

bouyouti-breakfast

bouyouti-pool-2

Bouyouti-pool

Bouyouti

 

The lovely detailed decoration of Bouyouti’s rooms:

 

bouyouti-chimney

bouyouti-rooms-1


bouyouti-room-details

bouyouti-room-details-3

 

bouyouti-room-details-2

 

And Mir Amine:

 

mir-amine
Mir Amine

mir-amine-lunch-2

mir-amine-lunch

 

For the end of 2013 and a colorful start of 2014, we decided to spend 5 days in Istanbul. Having been there before, we went further than the touristic places and explored the city as it is meant to be explored. We re-experienced the city’s dramatic street food scenery, ranging from mussels, to wet burgers (yes), kumpir, “lahmbaajune” and kokoreç (pronounced kokorech, from Balkan and Anatolian origin, it’s mainly the lamb’s intestines, cooked. It sounds horrible but it is really delicious, especially if you’re a spicy lover).

 

If you’ve been a Breadonbutter reader since its start, I had already written about a weekend in Istanbul and its street food a year ago (click here for images). But this time, I’m offering you a full guide for 5 days in the most significant city in History. Vibrant, crowded, and exotic.
First and foremost, choose your hotel. Istanbul is evolving as a trendy and very design-oriented city. We chose the Raven Suites Istanbul on booking.com and it turned out to be a delight. The staff is really friendly and the interior of the suites -that can easily pass for your own little furnished apartment during your stay- are furnished with carefully chosen items that make them unique. Here are some pictures.

Now for Day 1:

Raven Suites is situated next to Istiklal Street and we had just arrived on Saturday morning. So after checking the rooms, settling our bags and changing, we headed for Istiklal. We had a walk through all of it, had stuffed mussels in one of the perpendicular streets next to a place called ‘Champion’ (you can ask anyone there, they’ll guide you), all the way to Taksim, where we grabbed a wet burger and took a taxi to NiÅ›antaÅ›e (pronounced Nishantashe) where we sat in one of the street cafes for a delicious glass of wine. While you are there, do not miss the ‘City’s’ Mall food court.
Stuffed Mussels
City’s Food Court – Nisantase

At night, ‘Istanbul Modern’, a traditional Turkish food with a modern twist fusion restaurant right on the Bosphorus, is the ideal dinner destination for your first day.

 

Day 2:
After grabbing a “Simit” from one of the ‘Simit Sarayi’ branches that you can spot anywhere, head to Sultanahmet for touristic places, if you havent’t been yet. You just have to visit Agia Sofia and see Topkapi’s view. And make sure you grab your bag of Castana (chestnuts) to go with your takeaway tea.
Next, head to the Grand Bazaar and get lost in it, bargain, have fun, then ask your way to a restaurant called ‘Hamdi’, who serves one of the best lahm baajun ever made. Spicy lovers, it’ll make your day.
Your late afternoon can be a walk from Istiklal Street to the Galata Tower, visiting shops and buying cute souvenirs, and end with a drink and wine tasting at ‘Sensus’, facing the Galata Tower.
The Galata Tower
Sensus

On your way back, a delicious Sahlab from ‘Mado’ on Istiklal would be a perfect warm end of the night.

 

Day 3:
For the best breakfast experience, grab a cab and let him take you to ‘Sutis Emirgan’ on the second Bosphorus bridge. Make sure you get your order of “burek”.

After breakfast, head to Ortakoye by bus or by taxi (watch the insane traffic if it’s a Sunday), catch the Bosphorus boat ride, then sit back in one of the cafes and order a mixed Kumpir (i.e. a potato stuffed with all the possible toppings you have ever known).

Istanbul’s skyline viewed from the boat
Kumpir and Efes beer

At night, you can have a drink at the ‘360’ bar right on Istiklal Street and enjoy the spectacular view. If you can make it an early drink and watch the sunset, it would be better.

View from ‘360’

For dinner, you can either grab mussels again or spot a place called ‘Saray’ and order a delicious “Iskandar Kebab”, which is kebab served on yogurt and bread.

Day 4:
‘Gram’ is one of the cutest places we’ve been for breakfast. You just have to look it up and try their menu of sweet and salty items and enjoy their interior. Below are some pictures of the place.

 

During the day, just walk around, explore the shops and the food and discover the city, for at night, a mini trip to the Asian side would be great, especially if you have Turkish friends who can guide you there. We had a literally giant kebab at ‘S&K;’, Asian side. I will let the picture explain it.

 

Day 5:
On day 5, I would advise you to retrace your favorites spots and places and go through them all one more time before you leave.
During this trip, I learnt the importance of perspective. The thing is, you should always look at things through different perspectives every time. And you will see that this world, no matter how much you think you know it, is full of surprises.
To finish this in a fun note, here’s an entertaining video I made of Istanbul. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
//www.youtube.com/get_player