Tuscany

I wanted to visit Tuscany for our honeymoon. We had researched a stunning resort in the Tuscan countryside but we never ended up booking it because my husband wanted to complete a short course in luxury marketing in Paris so Paris it was! Nine years and two kids later, we got the time to visit our dream destination. And I was not going to let go of this once more.

We had just 5 days off so we had to use them wisely. Of course we had to see Florence for all its history and fashion. We spent 3 days in Florence and 2 in the countryside. It was one of the most memorable holidays for me. The tiled roofs and yellow houses is how I remember Tuscany. Florence is a big city full of tourists any time of the year. Hence, it is better not to visit Florence in the summers when there is a sea of tourists. We went there during Easter and it was perfect. The weather was also superb-not too hot to be sweating in those beautiful dresses and not too cold to enjoy an ice cream! We were walking with our two young kids for 5 to 6 hours everyday and they hardly complained. The children were high on gelatos, my husband on espresso and I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful clothes!

Florence-Best streets to shop

Florence is a type of city where one can always find clothes to your taste. Two of the streets I particularly enjoyed were Via dei Calzaiuoli and Via del Corso. They both had lovely boutiques ranging from high end to modern styles. You are sure to find something of your choice.

Florence-Must visit places

I did not visit any of the museums because the queues were a little too long for children but if you are travelling on your own, you will find a plethora of museums to visit. We took a walk around the Ponte Vecchio. It’s the stoned arch bridge built over the River Arno. It’s a beautiful walk with street artists painting sketches of people and sights all over. As you keep walking you will end up at the Piazza della Signoria which has always been considered as the political hub of the city. This Piazza also houses the ostentatious Gucci garden, which comprises of the Gucci store, Gucci museum and the Gucci café. I loved the store and the museum but the café failed to impress me too much. We continued walking down from there and ended up at the Duomo, which stands out in terms of its architecture. It is a must visit when in Florence. The next morning we thought of visiting a beautiful Renaissance garden, opened recently to the public. It’s called the Giardino Bardini. It is a lovely walk up a small hill. You have one of the most amazing views of the entire city from up there. The children really enjoyed the garden and the lavender flowers blooming everywhere. You can do an amazing photo shoot up there!

Florence-Where to eat

My list would be incomplete if I do not mention about the coffee scene in the city. To be honest I expected it to be bustling with interesting cafes. On the contrary, it was bustling with coffee but not many new ‘3rd wave’ cafes. The one that my husband had researched on was called Ditta Artigianale and it had very good coffee and a great selection of food including many vegan options. There are two outlets of this cafe in the city and we spent a good amount of time in both of these on our short 3-day visit here.

The countryside

This is the part I was most looking forward to! Usually when you are coming from a different country, you don’t always think of visiting the countryside. You do the big cities with all the famous places and go back home. However, I have always wanted to see the vineyards and the quaint little towns of Tuscany. So we hired a car for two days and started our drive from Florence to a beautiful resort tucked away somewhere in the vineyards. On our way we visited many remarkable little towns but one of the more beautiful ones was certainly Siena. It has an exquisite piazza. This is the same piazza that holds the much-loved Palio horse race twice a year! I can’t believe how lucky the people living there are. The town had everything from Michelin star restaurants to amazing high end fashion stores. I was totally in love with this place. We had planned on spending a couple of hours here but ended up spending more than double the time. 

We headed towards our resort right after. Instead of taking the highway, we took the country roads and it was one of the most memorable drives for me till date. The vineyards go on till the horizon. There were hardly any other cars in sight. I think we chose the right time of the year to be here. We did not get traffic at all apart from the high on adrenaline bikers zooming past. We drove through the Chianti region and it was magnificent. I wanted to stop in so many towns on the way but we would have never reached our resort had I been driving! Finally, we reached our hotel and I was in heaven. Its called Hotel Villa La Palagina.  Vineyards and the gorgeous Tuscan hills surrounded us and the hotel itself has absolutely 5 star service. We tried out all the beautiful house wines and even got them packed to bring along for our friends in Switzerland. We swam in the large infinity pool followed by a meal in their outdoor restaurant next to the fountain. In the morning we had breakfast in the indoor restaurant with complete glass walls all around us so that it feels like you are a part of the nature even on a cold windy day. It was really an experience. I did not want to leave that place but as they say, all good things come to an end and so we drove straight back to Florence to catch our flight! One thing I know for sure is that we just have to go back to Tuscany.

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!

Lyon, France

A city of restaurants..yes, that would be the right description! Every street I walked on I would come across a café, every time I turned a corner I could find a Michelin star restaurant..and every time I ate (delicious) savoury food, I could always find a bakery next door to gorge on the yummiest desserts!

I’ve been to Paris maybe 7 or 8 times in my life and I always considered it to be The food capital of France. This was my second time in Lyon and I was forced to change my mind. My first trip to Lyon was a short stopover during our honeymoon and I didn’t get the chance to discover its secrets. Fast-forward to the present, as a mother of two young kids, my perspectives on travel and food have changed a bit (as I imagine it has for you in some form over the years) and food has become an integral part of our lives. I have to say that Lyon is an amazing experience with children. I found the people here very friendly and surprisingly chatty. I say surprising, as I don’t speak French (hmm maybe un petit peu) and the French – hmmm… let’s say they prefer their own language (J). So it came as a pleasant surprise that every local we interacted with – from the waiter in the restaurant suggesting local wines to the cab drivers showing us the trendy places- they were all eager to share wonderful insights on their city.

As I mentioned before, there are a plethora of Michelin star restaurants in Lyon. You would literally be spoilt for choice. However, I am not writing about one of them in this piece. One place that caught my eye was a place called Anticafe. It was a very unique concept. You basically pay for spending time there. They had a simple salad, cereal and coffee buffet. Eat all you want (or not) during the time that you are there. There was a fixed hourly rate, which was surprisingly affordable (EUR 5/hr). They even had a few games for the kids. You can visit this place if you would just like to spend some time working on your own or need to spend a few hours without stressing over what to order. It might not have the best tasting coffee but it certainly does have its USP.

My husband is truly passionate about coffee. He likes to taste coffee like some like to taste wine. Now there are coffee lovers and there are coffee lovers…he falls in the second category. Actually the word that describes him best is a coffee stalker. And I mean that in the best sense possible! He eats, breathes, reads, and dreams coffee. So we had to of course visit this ‘3rd wave’ café called Diploid. And it wasn’t serendipity that landed us there – it was carefully researched on 10 different attributes before it met my husband’s approval. Fortunately for us the coffee met its expectations. The in house barista, after having a long conversation with him, prepared a Costa Rica coffee brewed with a ‘V60’. In his words the coffee was “sweet, fruity with a lot of body”. Meanwhile the kids and I had some yummy banana bread and a delicious creamy cheesecake. It was delightful. The place itself though not so large, had the option of indoor and outdoor seating. I particularly loved the fun and cosy ambience of the place and it was completely packed with people on a Sunday afternoon. We had to make two rounds of the place just to get a seat!

Now, we always try to do one thing special for the kids wherever we go. This time we chose to visit the grand Musee des Confluences. It came highly recommended from our French friends and it did not disappoint! It was as if we were watching the story of the earth unfold. Starting from the evolution of the earth to the progression of humans, animals and technology. In addition, there was a Japanese art exhibit in one of the non-permanent halls which was very intriguing. I find art is a very nice way of introducing the children to a different culture. Our daughter (5 years) and son (3 years) both loved the visit. Our son particularly was fascinated with the fossils and the animal exhibits in the museum. Even I felt spellbound while walking through this section! My daughter loved the story of evolution. She still talks about it at home on some days. I would highly recommend putting the museum on your To-do list if you have children and if they happen to be of a slightly older age they would appreciate the different themes across the halls even more. It is definitely worth spending a couple of hours if not more.

Overall, this city had something for each one of us. You can definitely spend a lovely weekend here!

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!