Marseille Part 2: Boat Trip and Bouillabaisse

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The final part of my trip involved a boat trip  to the stunning islands of Frioul. The most famous one is If, which is the where the Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned ( I don’t know much about the story but found out its fictional) but I was only able to go to Pomegues and Rattoneau- more than enough! The boat ride in its self was an amazing experience- I love being near, on or in water so will never pass the opportunity for a boat trip but this one was really special. The views of Marseille were some of the best I’ve seen and even rivalled those from the top of the hill at Notre Dame de La Garde cathedral. The actual Islands were one of the most serene places I’ve ever visited but due to my spontaneous decision to go quite late I seemed to be the only person there which was a bit creepy at times, especially for a Londoner! I was still able to make the most of the serenity and stand in awe of mother nature and the beauty of my surroundings.

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The Mucem is a Fort transformed into a concert venue!

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One of the many stunning views of Notre Dame de la Garde

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The Island of If with the infamous prison

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One of the many hiking trails on the islands I visited- this is the only one I managed thanks to the steps!

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The walkway connecting Pomegues and Ratonneau

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To make the trip even more memorable the friendly ticket guy invited me into the drivers cabin on the way back and also treated me to a serenade with songs in French plus his native Russian and Italian- He even added a little dance!

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Back on land I took in stunning views of the Vieux Port harbour at night

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After my mini hike (even if there were steps) I had a well deserved Bouillabaisse (fish stew) for which Marseille is famous. I went all out having mine with lobster. It was a very messy but worthwhile eating experience which involved adding whole not deboned fish- plus the lobster into the  stew so there’s were lots of splashes, bones and lobster shell everythere- not the best dish for someone as clumsy as me- but tasty.

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On the last day the sun ironically decided to shine- I sadly left in the afternoon but at least got an hour of it and enjoyed a view of Notre Dame de La Garde without the clouds. I wore a bright dress to celebrate the sun’s appearance and took one last photo of a sunny Marseille from the plane before heading back to a cold London- where I will remain until further notice.

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J’Adore La France; Marseille Part 1

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I’ve always wanted to check out Marseille as I intend to gradually make my way to all the major cities and the quaintest villages of France. I’ve made a small dent in the country having visited the Cote D’or, Cote D’Azure, Lille, Bordeaux, Limoges, La Plagne (French Alpes), Versaille, and have the fondest memories of my Erasmus year studying in Paris ( a million years ago). Marseille has always been near the top of my list despite it taking me so long to get there. Its known as being one of the most multicultural places in France which in my mind, and rightly so, translates as lively. Plus its on the coast so what more can you ask for than a vibrant setting and a beach! Sadly going in March meant my swimwear had to stay put but I still got to enjoy the harbour and the stunning landscape which still were breathtaking on the gloomiest grey days.

En route the sun was shining over La Manche (English Channel) but sadly didn’t make it Marseille in time for my weekend there. At least I got to experience some sun even if still on the plane!

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I stayed with a friend in the very chic Panier district which hosts a pristine shopping mall with its own terrace and harbour.

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The Musee de Beaux Art (Museum of fine art)/ Palais Lonchamps lives up to its name as the building is one of the most impressive works of architecture I have seen and the variety of art on the inside was surprising for such a small museum. It was great to see dignified portraits of Africans & Arabs alongside those of French aristocracy plus a vast collection of imposing sculptures. Plus I loved the random Giraffe in front of the Giraffe theatre which is located in the building in addition to the Natural History Museum.

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Another lofty heritage site is the church Notre Dame de La Garde which I couldn’t help comparing to Montmartre in Paris due it being situated on a hill with Panoramic views of the city. I can’t decide which I loved more about Marseille’s guardian church , the details of building, its striking interior or the views – it was an overwhelming experience and the pictures don’t really do it justice but I tried!

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The Vieux Port (Old Port) is the heart of Marseille surrounded by restaurants and bars  serving the cities signature dish, bouillabaisse (fish stew which I’ll show in my next post) and an array of wonderfully fresh seafood- so a paradise for me.

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Mussel soup

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Prawn Tagliatelli

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I also stumbled across the smallest and cutest market ever selling traditional Marseillaise soap which the city is famous for (amongst other craft, jewellery and gourmet food of course).

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I had a taste of the Marseille night life in the White Rabbit bar which had a Shoreditch (east London hipster area) vibe. I think the rule for working behing the bar here is to be bearded, tattooed or both (the latter for men only thankfully). It was fun but not an out of the ordinary experience for me but I’ll definitely remember the delicious cucumber cocktail.  I did my part to represent east London wearing jewellery from my boutique http://www.realmoftreasure.com which is also sold at East London’s finest, Broadway Market, but showed my respect to the locals by wearing a dress  & shoes that I bought there. Oh and I spotted a fellow Brit- Susan Boyle.

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Finally- a random cheapo shop with an ironic logo tee stating ‘I love to see your money hanging in my closet’- well not if you buy the 5 euro boots?!

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Daydreaming About Gourmet Food

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Amazingly strong and tasty Soju and passionfruit cocktail at Jinjuu Soho

Its that time of the day where I count down to my lunch which I eat almost religiously at 12pm. During this time I often think about the culinary pleasures that have enriched my life and recently I’ve really been spoiling myself. My previous post hinted at my favourite travel destinations South Korea and Japan so this months I’ve sampled some of London’s finest Korean and Japanese cuisine. Firstly I finally made it to Jinjuu in Soho, the brainchild of TV chef Judy Joo, who also creates menu’s for Gordon Ramsey. This place is a far cry from many of the traditional restaurants I visited in South Korea with a trendy bar ( I spent my first night there dancing with the DJ), but the food is equally delicious. Jinjuu is the place for a modern fun night of signature Korean dishes such as Bibimbap and fried chicken ( I was surprised how popular fried chicken is in the country but its actually everywhere- and nothing like KFC thankfully!)

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Bibimbap

Then I headed to Tenshi in Angel (not on the same night- or even the same week!) for some heartwarming Japanese grub. I have moments when my stomach can only tolerate warm comforting food so I opted for Gyu Don- rice with thinly sliced cooked beef which I was surprised to see is very similar to bibimbap- I was clearly having a rice and beef craving. In comparison it was equally full of flavour absorbed beautifully by the veg (making me feel healthy) but the beef was slightly more thinly sliced which I loved. This place is not the best location for sufferers of food envy like myself. Even though I was craving hot food the sushi platters surrounding me looked spectacular and I couldn’t help but stare wide eyed. Will definitely be going back for Sushi.

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Gyu Don

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Octopus balls

Finally I had to mention some of my favourite treats at Broadway market where I do my market stall for www.realmoftreasure.com . This is just a quick mention of a couple of things I’ve tried recently but over the past few months I’ve seen , tasted and LOVED so much of the food there so I will do a fuller post on it soon! For now here’s a taster.

Bad Brownie moved back to the school Yard just a few spots down from me so I couldn’t resist! I went for what is officially Londons best brownie, salted caramel flavour with a caramel layer!

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Who knew you could do so much with Marshmallows like making cakes and filling them with lemon curd. Dulci Bella are clearly experts!

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Competition; Win $150 from Wolftress

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Wolftress is a brand after my own heart selling ethically made fashion and jewellery plus celebrating different cultures from around the world. I was excited to find out about their Instagram competition giving a lucky winner the chance to win $150 to spend on their beautiful collections. Wolftress are looking for the next cultural gem on which to base their new collection so to enter you need to upload a travel photo on Instagram suggesting a country of your choice using the hashtag #inspirewolftress and tagging @wolftresspack. Head over to my instagram to see my choice- If you’ve been following my blog for a while you could probably guess where! I hope you all take part and good luck!

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International Women’s Day; My Fabulous 5

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International Womens Day which was celebrated this Sunday, March 8th, got me thinking about who my female role models are. I don’t pay too much attention to celebrities and at the same time I’m not aware of many of the most amazing activists so with my limited knowledge I gathered some inspiring girls / women who have varied achievements but are equally awesome.

Janelle Monae is one of the quirkiest musicians I know- her style and sound doesn’t easily fit into any category and is truly unique. She has most definitely not conformed to the requirements expected of many up and coming artists as she rose to fame when still wearing her signature black and white Tuxedo- and wouldn’t be seen in anything else for a considerable amount of time. She later attributed the look to her parents who wore uniforms in their humble jobs, one of them being a caretaker (Janitor). She mentioned this at her very moving BET awards speech giving the world an insight into the authenticity of her character, someone proud of her humble beginnings and never boastful of her huge accomplishments! And her hair- no words to describe how cool it is!

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The Savages are the polar opposite to your typical girl band and are in fact the only indy / rock girl band that I know of (which could be partially down to my limited knowledge of the genre to be fair). They definitely have their own simple style and make a point of being known solely for their music, demonstrated for their love of classic black and white photography. I was lucky enough to met one of the members at a wedding a while back and once again her humility was her defining characteristic along with friendliness. I was shocked to learn she was in a rock band let alone one taking the world by storm. The Savages have just finished a residency at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NYC, have performed on the Jimmy Fallon show and will be playing at Latitude festival this year amongst many other shows. Oh and Questlove (The Roots) is a fan and you can’t get cooler than that!

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I had to include Sophia Amoruso, founder of one of my fave etailers, NastyGal. her achievements are close to my heart as I would be over the moon if my boutique Realm of Treasure achieved a fraction of the success that this lady has. She’s also giving us aspiring ones a blueprint with her book Girl Boss which is soon to become my study manual! She started with an Ebay store selling vintage and now has a multimillion pound business and is one of the fastest growing retailers in the US!

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Malala Yousefzai is globally recognized as one of the bravest people on the planet. She actually started off as a blogger at the age of 11 writing about her passionate desire for girls in her homeland of Pakistan to remain in School. Her village was a Taliban base and these animals attempted to kill her in 2012 but she was destined for greater things and survived a bullet in the head! She has since been the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Travels around the world campaigning for girl’s education and she was particularly active in the bring back our girls campaign, even meeting the Nigerian president. She has unsurprisingly been nominated as one of the worlds most influential people by Time Magazine. I get chills down my spine thinking of Malala’s story, what she has achieved and imagining what she is going to accomplish i future. She was one of the people that came to my mind when I took part in Plan UK’s give child marriage the finger campaign and I’ll be eagerly following her no doubt inspirational next steps.

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Last but not least is Lupita Nyongo who whilst has become celebrated for her striking beauty, is also a talented actress who rose to fame after co starring in 12 years a slave, the film for which she became one of the few black, let alone African, men or women to receive an Academy Award, Golden Globe and a Bafta. She has the envious combination of brains and beauty being an Ivy League graduate (Yale). She has also produced and directed a documentary the experience of Albino’s in her homeland, Kenya. Like most of the women I love, she is also challenging conventional standards of beauty and recently gave a moving speech about the insecurities she faced  as a youth, when she was tempted to use skin lightening cream, a common practise amongst many black and Asian people. She herself was inspired to accept her own glorious skintone by the stunner supermodel Alex Wek and has in turn passed on the baton encouraging us all to be happy in our own skin. I’ll leave you with the final beautiful words of her speech; ‘And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty. ‘

 

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Bag Lust; Nathalie Trad

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Its hard for words to describe how in awe I am of Nathalie Trad clutches. I think her designs are some of the most unique on the planet with such an intense mix of textures, patterns, structures and general amazingness. Trad was born in Lebanon, raised in Dubai and has lived in Paris and New York, studied at Esmod and Parson’s,  and I can imagine that such a rich and diverse cultural background has without doubt fostered her extreme talent. Fans include Olivia Palermo, Whitney Port and Amber Le Bon. She takes inspiration from nature and art history which explains the versatility of her creations. Her philosophy is to ‘smell with your eyes, hear with your nose, see with your ears and taste with your hands’. Her bags can definitely excite the imagination and take you to a dream world where you engage all the senses. They are full of surprise and mystery in addition to being simply stunning.

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Mothers Day Gift Ideas

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With my mum being far away in the Caribbean, St Lucia, I really appreciate how special mothers are so have picked out some of the finest gifts you can find for this mothers day (in my humble opinion).

1. Recycled rubber necklace handcut in Indonesia from my boutique www.realmoftreasure.com or available at Broadway Market, London Fields, Hackney.

2. United Nude red leather shoes with their signature metal heel available at Shoeshoplive.

3. An adorable Hotel Chocolat set with pink rose, an eaton mess white chocolate slab and champagne truffles ( thank God I just had lunch otherwise I’d be drooling over this).

4. A beautiful canvas painting by the talented Hannah Adamaszek (Whom In interviewed in an earlier post).

5. A Ren Morrocan Rose Otto gift set with luxurious body lotion and shower gel. Nothing makes me feel more pampered than the sent of rose oil!

6. A Diptyque candle as every lady needs to have at least one of these at some point in her life!

7. Finally a stunning mother of pearl shell and black resin clutch from my new favourite handbag designer Nathalie Trad.

Don’t forget to treat yourself too- after or with mum of course!