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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.

Ten years ago, I went on a road trip from London to Amsterdam then Paris with friends. I was studying in Exeter at the time, and short trips around Europe were a must. So off we went, in the middle of the night. While on the bus from Amsterdam to Paris, we passed by Brussels. I got to see the Manneken Piss (peeing boy statue) and thought it was enough for Belgium. I had heard from people that the manneken was the only thing to see there, so I was content I could check Brussels off my list.

That was until my mom and her friend returned from a Euro trip last week, having spent two days in Brussels.

As promised, contributors to Breadonbutter will be sharing more of their experiences on the blog. The first article is a Travel one by the talented and bubbly Carla Richa, a multimedia journalism student at LAU. She writes about her days in Barcelona and how it felt to go back after visiting when she was young. Enjoy the read as she takes you through the streets of this colorful city, its culture and the 3 p’s.

We visited Athens on the last week of October for a mix of personal business and pleasure. The city is great for a quick getaway not far from home (1h15 flight). As we planned our trip before our departure, I still had in mind the Athens I once knew as vibrant, full of life and happy people, and in keep-up with trends. In my head, it was still a mix of Beirut and organized European countries. The last time I was there, it was 2013. The economic crisis had just hit but it wasn’t quite obvious yet. This time around, it was pretty palpable. What the economy had done to this vibrant city was a complete shock. 

Mykonos or any other Greek island for that matter 🙂

Last week, I had the most relaxing time in Mykonos with my aunt, mom and sister. It felt so refreshing to be on a trip where all we could do was laze by the sea and walk around a town full of happy people on holiday.

We basically perfected our tan, swam in the freezing, clear water of the Aegean sea and walked around the cutest and most preserved island town I’ve ever seen.

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. 

This week, it’s all about workweek lunch. Here are 5 places to grab a quick lunch in Soho/Covent Garden.

Grabbing a cheap and delicious lunch in soho / covent garden can be a bit of a struggle when you’re indecisive and looking for a good value and satisfying meal. The overwhelming choices and the fear of falling into a tourist trap can be paralysing (too dramatic?) next thing you know, it’s 2 pm and you still haven’t decided where to eat!
After months of exploring, we bring you 5 great places to eat a cheap (ish) and exciting lunch:

Koshari st (A small Egyptian shop on St Martin’s Lane which serves only a couple of dishes – perfect for a filling and cheap meal. Try the hot sauce which is not killer hot and will add flavour to your dish!)
Wellbeing kitchen (A low budget korean cafe in covent garden which serves a number of Korean favourites for a surprisingly low price. The chicken katsu curry is one of the best we’ve ever had. The free miso soup that comes with almost every meal is a real treat.)
Smack lobster (A small cafe style space on Dean street that serves a variety of lobster rolls and lobster chowder. The seven samurai lobster roll is a must. The buttery soft but slightly crunchy bun is heavenly)
Pepe (An all time favorite, also on St Martin’s Lane, serves a variety of italian food. Get a box with a combination of two different pastas and thank us later. Unless you’re on a diet, then we’re really sorry)
Tobiko (Although slightly on the more expensive side, this small sushi shop on Garrick street is well worth it. Their hand rolls are honestly the best, with a proper crispy seaweed wrap – as it should be! The crab and avocado hand roll is so good you’ll feel a bit sad when it’s over.)
Bon appetit!

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When we need an escape from our routine and a change of scenery, we immediately plan a trip to explore a new country. Yet, we more often than not stop right in the middle of that booking because we think twice about the budget.

What we rarely think of is a weekend away in our own country that has many places left to explore. Places you never thought existed a few kilometers away.

Last weekend, the lovely people of Via Mina Hotel in Tripoli, invited us over for a relaxing stay. Believe me when I tell you I woke up on Sunday morning not sure of where in the world I was. The old souks of Tripoli are the miniature reproduction of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. The pubs we visited at night were the reflection of Rome’s laid-back Trastevere. The streets around Al Mina region resemble the Old Croatian towns. This can give you a clear picture of the mixed feelings you get during your two-day stay.

That weekend was a huge eye-opener on the possibility of things to do in Lebanon. Here’s what you can do during a weekend in Tripoli.

Where to Stay:

Via Mina Hotel. This refreshing and cozy Bed & Breakfast is all you need to relax and unwind away from work and busy Beirut. What was an old inhabited house became the coziest place to stay. Just that smell of organic green tea soap gives your mind peace the entire time.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

What to do:

Visit the souks in the center of Tripoli. You’ll get the same experience as visiting the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul if you’ve been. Make sure you go to “Khan el Saboun” (i.e. the soap market), where you’ll find loads of organic soaps.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

Take a walk along the Mina. If you’re staying at the Via Mina Hotel, the Mina is a three-minute walk away. If you’re an early riser, you can visit the fish market  where people place bids on the freshest fish. You can also walk around the Mino area in the morning and witness fresh bread-making, live foul and hommos cooking and a joyful atmosphere.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

In the evening, there are pubs two minutes away from the hotel. Timmy’s is one of the crowdiest. Its architecture is also something you don’t see every day.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

If you’re craving for a nice seafood meal, Borj El Samak (which is right next to Via Mina) is a good choice.

Lately, I’ve been pessimistic about Lebanon and long to travel the world.  The most important lesson I learnt that weekend is to never make up your mind about something before you experience it yourself. We all have our made-up ideas about certain places and it’s easy to get influenced by the media, our parents’ anxieties, and even our own stubbornness.  But I promise myself, here and now, to be more positive and appreciate what we have.

Thoughts? 🙂

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Our wanderlust levels have been kind of fine lately, what with the business of Christmas and the new house. Then again, like any chronic condition humans have, it has strike again. My sister Mia went to Morocco not long ago and she succeeded in awakening the wanderlust beast in me again. Here’s a summary of her trip.

If you’re planning a short three-day trip to Morocco, the best itinerary would include Marrakesh and its surroundings. The ideal would be to book a nice atypical hotel in Marrakesh and visit the surroundings based from there.

Where to stay

La maison des oliviers is a small oasis of peace full of flowers and a nice pool located along a rural road just outside of Marrakesh. The house is called a “riad” which means a big villa surrounded by a wall. It’s a traditional house with passages and lots of beautifully-designed common areas and a traditional Moroccan decor. The pool is amazing, surrounded by flowers and  a bar area. The weather was beautiful in December (23-25 degrees celsius during the day and 7-10 degrees celsius at night).

What to do, what to see and where to eat

Jemaa el fna.

morocco | breadonbutter

Do that twice: once during the day and once at night because the square transforms into two different scenes.

During the day, you’ll see snake charmers and henne tattoo women, monkeys (not dangerous), orange juice stands (a must-try), merchants, and other exotic sights. Make sure you have an ice coffee or mint tea at one of the terraces overlooking the square (Les Terrasses de l’Alhambra is recommended by Lonely Planet and tried by us).

During the night, it transforms into a street food paradise with grilling smoke everywhere, lanterns and tents with benches to sit, and barbecues to grill a million things. You’ll often see huge trays of tea with all kinds of spices in a huge barrel, and mountains of weird-looking chocolate cakes.

morocco | breadonbutter

morocco | breadonbutter

Souks of el medina.

That’s the place where you’ll find lots of merchants for all your needs. You’ll see olive merchants selling succulent olives that you mus try. In the spice market, they sell spices and oils, chameleons and water turtles. There, you have to eat at Cafe des Epices or on the other side of the square at NOMAD, a very cool and trendy restaurant with a nice authentic view and a really cool terrace. Book yourself a table in the evening, cover yourself with a cape because it gets cold at night, and have a lamb Tagine – delicious!

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For leather lovers, you can visit Les Tanneries where they make leather goods.

morocco | breadonbutter

Jardin Majorelle.

It’s a huge garden where the artist Majorelle planted all types of green from all over the world. He bought this house and made it his Art studio and grew exotic plants. Later on, Yves Saint Laurent renovated it and lived in that house which, when the great couturier died, became the Yves Saint Laurent memorial. In the Jardin, there’s the Berberian museum that is quite interesting if you have the time to visit. You can find cool Yves Saint Laurent postal cards at the museum shop. Jardin Majorelle is like a paradise in the middle of Moroccan chaos.

You can also grab a bite at the restaurant (taste the kefta, tomato and egg tagine, it’s to die for).

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Camel ride.

When at the Medina, book a camel ride in any little shop that organizes them. They’ll come and get you from your hotel and take you for an hour ride on a camel.

Tourism

Madrasa.

You can visit the largest Islamic college in Morocco to get a sense of the culture and heritage. Tile lovers, get ready to be amazed.

Koutoubia Mosque.

The largest mosque in Marrakesh.

Bahia Palace.

A Palace built in the late 19th century with a set of gardens.

La Mamounia.

The most luxurious hotel in Marrakesh is definitely worth a visit.

Day Trip

Essouira is a three-hour car-ride away from Marrakesh. When you get there, you absolutely must get a surf lesson then head to the port where you’ll find a fresh fish market. Instead of going to a restaurant, choose your own fish from the market then head to a small stand where they will grill it and give it to you with bread and salad. You’ll end up with a perfect and very affordable lunch! You can book this day trip with the same guide who took you for a camel ride.

morocco | breadonbutter morocco | breadonbutter

Relax

Enjoy the pool and the hammam at your hotel when you find the time!

morocco | breadonbutter morocco | breadonbutter morocco | breadonbutter

 Have you ever been? Anything we might have missed?

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

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On my last trip to London, my sister and I decided to take a few days off from the city and go see something new in England. My mom was there with us as we hopped on a three-hour train to the Lake District. I was looking forward to a calm weekend in the British countryside, away from the city rush. Having lived in a small British town before, I missed that fresh air and tranquil rhythm. I was excited for a weekend of walking in nature, fresh scenery and local food.The Lake District is a mountainous region in the county of Cumbria in North West England. Cumbria is home to the highest mountain of England (Scafell Pike), as well as its largest natural lake: Windermere – which is where we spent our weekend. Lake District is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains, so we were in for a treat! We returned to London full of energy and a clear mind.

A weekend at Lake District, England

After checking in, put on your comfortable shoes and start walking around town. It is the friendliest place I’ve been to recently. Shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars are all close to each other. When you walk a bit further down, you get to the lake where you can enjoy an amazing scenery and relax.

lake district | breadonbutter

What to do:

Walk to Bowness on Windermere (i.e. the lake), enjoy the scenery along the way and book your seat on a boat tour for amazing scenery and a bit of History.

lake district | breadonbutter

The second walk should be on a path only locals are familiar with. We were told how to get to the path and walked down to another side of the lake. It has officially become my happy place.

lake district | breadonbutter

lake district | breadonbutter

On your third walk, which should be done close to sunset, walk up one the hills and get ready for the most beautiful view you’ll ever see.

lake district | breadonbutter

If you’re a fan of books and literature, Beatrix Potter’s museum is a must-visit. There, you’ll find Peter Rabbit and learn more about the great author’s life.

lake district | breadonbutter

Where to Eat + Drink:

We didn’t try all of Windermere’s restaurants and cafés, but I can tell you some of our favorites:

Wild & co. for an amazing sandwich and a great atmosphere

lake district | breadonbutter

Francine’s for a cozy and warm dinner

lake district | breadonbutter

Little Chippy for a nice Fish n’ Chips on the go

lake district | breadonbutter

Homeground Coffee & Kitchen for the most relaxing afternoon tea or coffee, with a scone on the side of course!

lake district | breadonbutter

This weekend will forever stay one of the happiest memories of my life. Also, I always read about finding your happy place for you to be able to go back to it in your mind whenever times are tough, and I can safely say that I have found it.

lake district | breadonbutter

If you live in London or if you’re visiting soon, I suggest you book your train tickets and head there for a break 🙂 

Have you ever been to the Lake District?

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Let’s start with what’s important. I love my country, despite its flaws. I chose to live here and no one forced me to do so. I love its warmth, its people and everything truly feels like home. I won’t lie; there are times all I wish for is to pack my bags and move to a better place. Today is supposed to be one of those times, but it isn’t. I admit here and now that I’m confused. I’m scared of more rain – where instead of embracing the smell of the earth, we’ll be fighting for breath, I’m scared of History of diseases repeating itself, I’m scared of oh-so-many things but I’ll be fighting anxiety today, tomorrow and as long as it takes for us to retrieve even a tiny bit of our dignity. It is no longer a choice. Amidst the horror of what is going on, I still have hope for a better future. Some may think it is naïve, I think it is a start. We owe it to our ancestors whose Lebanon was heaven on earth, we owe it to ourselves whose Lebanon is too hard to let go, we owe it to our children whose Lebanon should be the best place to be.

To remind everyone why we’ll keep on fighting, and in light of this article, here are 20 things about Beirut.

1) How everything seems to function against all odds – yes, we do have uber, online shopping and food delivery at all times.

2) The familiarity – most of the time, people are willing to help, smile and ask about your day.

3) How the trends blend in with the old – the Mar Mikhael and Gemmayze neighborhoods are the perfect examples.


4) The sunsets.


5) Life at night – where all the city lights are on, people are out and it smells like happiness.

6) Cab drivers (although not all of them) – they have the best stories.

7) The kaak and corn vendors.

8) The smell of thyme in the morning.

9) The easy access to the sea.


10) The variety of restaurants.

11) The constant festivals and fairs.

12) Music Hall.


13) Jogging at Waterfront.

14) How you can escape the city within the city.

15) The wide choice of things to do – you can go have coffee, take a cooking class, have dinner by the sea or happy hour drinks, there’s always somewhere to go and someone to see.

16) The vegetable/fruit shops on every corner.

17) The rooftops.

18) The view on the giraffes at the port.

19) The coffeeshops, pubs and other warm and familiar places – to mention a few: urbanista, dar bistro, papercup, bar tartine, kayan, Vintage shop (and their wine tasting), Paul gemmayze, st. elmo’s, Moto, sporting beach club, and so many more.

20) Eternal Hope.

People who live in Beirut, and those of you who have visited, it would be awesome if you could post in the comment section below one thing you love about this city! That way, we can look at the full part of the glass 😉

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