Monaco

Monaco

Monaco is a small state that sits on France’s Mediterranean coast. It’s most famously known for its Formula 1 Grand Prix held on the Circuit de Monaco, as well as the luxurious lifestyle, yachts and famous casinos. Monte-Carlo is the most visited part of Monaco filled with everything that money can buy.

The best of view of the Grand Prix race track is from Fairmont hotel – which is where I stayed. Fairmont is also famous for Nikki beach club and has a great vibe over the weekends. The hotel has a unique design built like a luxury ship with an unbeatable view of the sea.

My dream is to have a beautiful old house in Monaco

Eva Herzigova

The Monte-Carlo Harbour is one of the best places to enjoy the view and people watch. You will see the most luxurious yachts, stunning views of the ocean and an endless selection of restaurants and cafes. It is the best place to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the yachts. The view at night is magical.

Jardin Exotique is a beautiful garden located on the edge cliff overlooking the bay of Monaco. Make time to visit these amazing gardens – great for families. It truly is worth the visit. Another place to visit is St Nicholas Cathedral – a beautiful catholic church and also the resting place of most of the Grimaldi’s including Grace Kelly. Port de Fontvieille hosts Monaco’s automobile museum which displays the world’s top car collection in Monaco, worth a visit.

Monte-Carlo Casino is a must-see when in Monaco. It is as grand as seen in the movies. My top recommendations for restaurants are Le Grill, Twiga, Nobu, Buddha-bar, Cafe de Paris, Le Salon Rose. For a great night out try The living room, Jimmy’z and Sass Cafe.

Larvotto Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the world. It is open to the public and only a short walk from Monte-Carlo. Be sure to get there early if you want to grab a good stop.

My trip ended with a lovely relaxing massage from Carol Joy Spa.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends

Why Zanzibar should be your next destination

Why Zanzibar should be your next destination

Location: Tanzania – East Africa

Flight Time: From Europe: 9-10 hour to Dar es Salaam, then 30 min flight to Zanzibar

Language: Kiswahilli, English, Arabic

Located off the coast of Tanzania is Zanzibar, a small island covered in white sands and crystal blue water. It is the birthplace of Freddie Mercury and the home of the spice trade. I often recommend 7-10 days for a visit to Zanzibar simply because, there is so much to see and do. March-May is the rainy season, try to avoid these months because the weather might ruin your beach plans. If you planning to visit in December for the New year, book well in advance. This is a very popular time for people to travel and hotels get booked up very quickly. Zanzibar has a conservative culture and the majority of the residents are Muslim. While they are used to seeing tourists, it is always better to respect the culture by covering up when out and about. The locals are very friendly and greeting is part of the culture. Be sure to say Jambo or Mambo when greeted by locals. Island life is slow and requires some adjusting, try to be patient.

Getting there

There are two ways of getting to Zanzibar (Zanzi) from Dar es salaam. You can either take a 30 min flight or a 2-hour ferry ride. When I fly to Zanzi, I normally use Coastal aviation. I have flown with them very many times and it’s always been pleasant. I have also taken the ferry with Azam Marine – Kilimanjaro Fast Ferries. Taking the ferry is a great way to enjoy the fresh ocean air and the view on your way to Zanzi. It’s also much cheaper than flying. The ferry terminal is a bit chaotic, so here are a few tips when booking the Ferry to Zanzibar.

There are four ferry departures a day: 7AM, 9AM, 12PM, and 4PM. Try to book your tickets a day or two in advance. If you decide to book on the day, make sure you get there very early as the tickets often sell out and there are very long queues. You can also reserve your ticket online but will need to collect and pay for it at least 3 hours before departure. There are four types of tickets to choose from, Economy, Business, VIP and Royal class. Prices vary for residents and non-residents. For non-residents the prices range from $35 to $60 per adult depending on the class of travel. You could also get your tickets booked through an approved booking agent.

Stone Town

You will arrive in Stone Town, which is a great place to start. Stone Town is an ancient city which was declared a UNESCO cultural heritage site in 2000. The food market in the main square -Forodhani comes to life at night. You will be spoilt for choice – from fresh seafood to fresh sugarcane juice, there is plenty to satisfy the appetite. Emerson on Hurumzi Hotel is a great Tea House that offers the Zanzibar tea ceremony from the rooftop with Tarab music. It is a great way to enjoy the view as the sunset.

Walking through the narrow roads and alleys of Stone Town is a great way to see the city, local art, clothe shops and mini markets – Darajani market is worth a visit. You will also come across the resident of the late Sultan of Zanzibar, ‘Tip Tip House’. For a deep dive into the slave trade history, visit Zanzibar Slave Chambers – The Anglican cathedral Church now stands on the sight of a past slave market. Then head over to Prison island – this is where slaves with contagious diseases were kept to recover before being returned to the mainland . The island itself is very beautiful and worth the visit. To get there, go to Forogani where there a ton of boats that can take you. You will need to haggle the price.

Dinning in Stone Town

There are plenty of restaurants from which to dine in Stone Town but The Beach House is one of my favourites. With a terrace deck that overlooks the beachfront, the Beach House is one of the best places to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset. Try the Beach House G&T cocktail. As the sun goes down, there is a DJ set and on some nights live entertainment.

My recommendations

The Bougie Experience

Nungwi and Kendwa

For the best parts of the beach, head up north to Nungwi or Kendwa. This is also where you will find majority of the 5 star resorts.

Swimming with dolphins

This is one of the reasons why Zanzibar should be your next destination – swimming with dolphins. The water north of the island is crystal clear which makes it great for snorkelling, taking great photos of the coral reefs and of course swimming with dolphins. Sadly I wasn’t able to capture the moment because I run out of battery but it was truly magical.

Shabuta spice farm

Make time to visit the spice farm in the western region of the island- Shabuta spice farm grows tropical fruits and spices. Beware, you may have to book in advance of your trip if you would like to do the full tour. The spice market is a great place to shop for your favourite spices. I usually stock up cinnamon, turmeric and nutmeg

Baraka natural aquarium and buggy riding

Another magical place to visit in Nungwi is swimming with turtles. Yes, swimming with turtles at Baraka natural aquarium. You get to see, swim and feed theses amazing animal. It’s an amazing experience and one that I highly recommend.

For the adventure seekers, enjoy a four hour off road buggy tour in Nungwi and some local towns. This a great way to experience the local lifestyle, get to know the culture and see the island.

Mnemba Island

For a more exclusive luxurious experience, try a few days on Mnemba Island which is located off the north east part of Zanzibar. This place will truly change your life. The water here is so clear that you can literally see the boat’s shadow on the ocean floor. There are a variety of activities to indulge from jet skiing to kite-surfing on the Island but why not try yoga on the beach or just sit and watch the sunset. This is the ultimate relaxing place. A few days here is bound to refresh the soul. But don’t just take my word for it, go visit it yourself.

Full Moon party

For a bit more excitement, look out for Zanzibar’s Full Moon party. This is normally planned around the full moon and occurs monthly on Saturdays . The party has live performers from fire eaters & acrobats to music on the beach until late. its a great way to unwind.

Yacht day and Nakupenda sand bank

For the ultimate relaxation I often finish my trip off with a chilled afternoon on a yacht. A great place to sail to is Nakupenda sand bank or any of the other islands. Watching the sunset on the boat deck is the perfect way to end your trip.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends

Marrakech

Marrakech

LocationMorocco, Marrakech, North Africa

Flight timeLondon Stansted to Marrakech – 3 hours

LanguageArabic, French, English

The first thing I felt when I arrived in Marrakech was the heat. It was 36C but that sunshine felt so good on my skin.  After a few minutes outside, the cold air-conditioning from the taxi I entered was just what I needed. The taxi took me straight the Movenpick Mansour Hotel located in the new town which is just outside of the Madina. The city is split into New Town – where a majority of the hotels and resorts are located, and Old Town – where a majority of the Riads are located.

The city itself felt like stepping into the past while remaining very much in the present.  (It no doubt reminded me of Cairo). On arrival, I was immediately taken up with the gorgeous decor of the hotel. There was a hidden revolving door that opened as soon as I approached it. Through the doors, in the middle of the space, was an amazing large hand sculpture painted in white with beautiful unique patterns. That lead to the main reception and lounge area. The check-in process was swift and the staff were very welcoming. I arrived at the hotel around 10 am and although my check it was not until 2 pm, the friendly staff allowed me to check in early and enjoy the hotel’s full facilities at no extra cost. As soon as I finished unpacking, I booked a spa treatment for my last day and headed straight to the pool for some much-needed relaxation.

TIP: Always book your spa treatment in advance of travelling or as soon as you arrive because the slots get filled up quickly.

Bougiebelles

Le Jardin Majorelle and Yves Saint Laurent Museum

My first stop was the Yves Saint Laurent museum and Le Jardin Majorelle Garden. Sitting on two and a half acres, is this botanical garden – Le Jardin Majorelle will take your breath away. It truly is the best place to recharge. This paradise has plenty of fountains and beautiful flowers. I spent an afternoon there, taking lovely photos and enjoying the splendour of the space.  Like most places, the afternoon is a popular time for tourists to visit so it was crowded.

TIP: Consider visiting attractions earlier in the day to avoid large crowds

Good travel sense

The Yves Saint Laurent museum houses beautiful works and collections from Yves Saint Laurent. The display takes you on a historical journey of some of his best works from inception to present day. He designed his haute couture collection in Marrakech and throughout his career, his pieces were influenced by the colours in Morocco. 

Quad biking in the desert

I am definitely an adventure junkie, so the idea of quad biking in the desert sounded like a day well spent. It was an exhilarating experience. Palmgrove and rock desert itself was absolutely stunning. We drove for the first forty minutes through the pure desert at approx. 30 mph. It felt a lot faster because of the quad bike. Our first stop was up a hill where you could see the entire desert horizon and the mountains in the distance.

We were then guided to what looked like camp in the middle of the desert – and given traditional Moroccan mint tea with a snack. It was all laid out on these beautiful old Arabian cushions and tables inside a tent. What a great way to spend a day.

Hammam treatment

I highly recommend the Hammam bath experience when you visit Morocco. I enjoyed mine at  Lotus privilege spa. After my quick wash, I was sent into a warm room for five minutes, and then to a very hot room were my bather (she) was waiting to begin the treatment. She poured water all over me and began to slather my skin with black soap made from black olives. I instantly felt my skin soften up. I sat there for some time while the soap soaked deeper into my skin. Then she began the exfoliation all over my body with a rough textured glove called a kess. Then the rinse began and I could see all the dead skin cells wash off my body. After the exfoliation, she applied a clay masque rich in minerals that tightened the pores. Once that was rinsed off, she washed me in water that smelt like lemon and oranges. Did I mention that at this point my skin felt like a baby’s bottom! I was then taken to the cool room and offered mint tea before my sixty-minute argon oil massage. I must confess, fell asleep. It truly was a relaxing way to spend the day.

Shopping in the Medina

Jemaa el-Fna is located in the main square of Marrakech. It is the most popular souk for tourists to Shop. I visited during the late afternoon and stayed until the evening. The night souk has a completely different vibe. It’s super vibrant and lights up like a scene from Aladdin. From jewellery & perfumes to carpets & tea, it is every shopper’s paradise. I bought some black soup, a few scarves and kaftans for myself and my family. There are several restaurants and cafe to enjoy that will keep one occupied for hours.

Food, cocktails and dancing

Below is a list places I would recommend for food and a good vibe:

Rooftops, lounges and clubs

Remember to always stay safe

Miami and Art Basel

Miami and Art Basel

I first visited the great city of Miami in 2013 to see my brother Brian, who at the time was training to become a pilot. Needless to say, I fell in love with Miami. Unlike some other cities in the United States, Miami is an international city filled with Latin, Caribbean and Afro flavours. The vibrancy of the city deepens with every culture you encounter which makes your experience there all the more special. South Beach, in particular, is very art deco which is one of the reasons why it is so unique. You get an instant tropical feel from all the surrounding palm trees and the beach itself.

Once a year in December, the world descends upon Miami for Art Basel. But what exactly is Art Basel, I hear you ask! It is an international art festival that attracts the largest gathering of artists, galleries, dealers and collectors from all over the globe. It is a great way for galleries to reach the American audience. Basel also takes places in Switzerland and Hong Kong. In addition to the main Art Basel exhibition, there are several satellite fairs, private collector events and parties all around the city. Art Basel is a great way to discover new art but also appreciate historical artists such as Picasso.

Now, I am no art expert, so this is just an account of my humble experience at Art Basel Miami 2019. One of the reasons why I have developed such an appreciation for art over the years is because it is open to interpretation from the viewer. There are no right or wrong observation, only how the work makes you feel. Your interpretation of the work and its depth is subjective. In other words, you do not have to be an expert to have an equally special experience with the piece.

Majority of the works I saw were new and reflected on the world’s current climate. Some of the pieces challenged stereotypes while other pieces reinforced topical world themes from climate change to politics. I was able to visit many other Art Fairs that displayed an array of works including Untitled Miami Beach, Pulse Art Fair, Prizm, Scope, Art Miami, Design Miami and NADA. Courtesy of TAFETA gallery in London (specialising in contemporary African art), I was privileged to have a VIP pass to the main fairs.

Wynwood remains one of my favourite places to visit when in Miami simply because of its street art. Compared to modern art, street art or urban graffiti is something that anyone can get into – it feels free. The Wynwood Walls are major art statements that display murals of street art from artists around the world. The streets and galleries are truly a wonder to experience. Wynwood has its own vibe and comes to life at night, with plenty of bars, clubs and food trucks.

Beside visiting Art Fairs and galleries, there is plenty to do during Miami Art Week. From yoga on the beach to brunches and pool parties, I have listed a few spots worth checking out:

Restaurants:  • MC KitchenBeaker and GrayMeat marketLe Sirenuse at the surf clubGianni’s at the Versace MansionLeyniaMandolin Aegean BistroSantorini by Georgios

Lounge Bar: • Sugar The living room – Faena • The 1 hotelDream hotel FreehandSwan MiamiBlind Barber Le Sirenuse Champagne bar

Clubs: • The Miami EditionE11evenClub LIVCoya Taco – Wynwood has a hidden club bar • Rockwell StoryDream

Best for Pool Parties:  • Hyde Beach at SLS hotelMondrain South BeachW South BeachDelano HotelFontainebleau1 Hotel South Beach

Miami is a city of flash. People want to be seen and spare no expense. During Basel week you will find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebrities and high society. One of the great nights I had was Rum rooms sponsored by Barcadi hosted by Swizz Beats. If you are in Miami for Basel, be sure to look out for this party.

I hope to attend Art Basel 2020 if the worst of Covid-19 is behind us. I am staying positive.