You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
It has taken me awhile to write this note as I wanted to really define the angle and the specific focus. New week. New month. New goals. New beginnings. We are already into the fifth month of the year and I feel like I have completed quite a few of my goals, to-do list and certain things crossed off my bucket list too.
Fresh from my Burma trip, I decided to book a trip to London and Paris. Lately, I've been putting a lot of things into perspective, which has prompted me to think clearly. I feel like as I'm going through it all, I'm also growing. Being transported to unfamiliar territory really does wonders for the soul. I only wish I had done it sooner.
As with a lot of beautiful holidays, I reflect on this trip every other day. I've been on the go constantly, so I decided to make time for myself, reflect on my London & Paris trip and collate the beautiful memories into this note. I was reminded to find a moment for myself as I spritzed the new and divine Elizabeth Arden White Tea fragrance. It is inspired by the simple pleasure that accompanies the first sip of tea and invites you to revel in the moment. So, what better way than to look at the photos and reminisce. I also printed some of the precious photos, thanks to Instax New Zealand for my handy little Instax printer.
It was over a day long journey from Auckland to London but to me, I think of it as only a few flights away. I flew over the Indian Ocean, the mountainous valleys over Pakistan and Afghanistan, eventually Poland and beyond, and finally landed at Heathrow Airport. Although I did the London leg of the flights by myself, it was exciting that someone would be waiting for me at the airport on the other side of the world, which made the lengthy flights completely bearable. Paris was another beautiful story altogether. It was everything I had imagined it to be, and more. They say as with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination. This couldn't be more truer in this situation. Without going into too much private detail, I made memories of a lifetime which I will never forget and am truly thankful to the few that made my trip really special, especially to that one person who kept me accompanied throughout and really defined this trip for me.
On board Emirates A380 Business Class. Buckled up.
Auckland - Brisbane - Singapore - London
Shangri-La @ The Shard, London.
The hotel prices are insanely expensive in London, you're looking at around $1300 per night. I'm all about spoiling myself, without a second thought. So, I decided that I would stay at various 5 star hotels and also to get a variety of photos. I stayed three nights at the Shangri-La @ The Shard. The panoramic views of the London city from Level 51 are amazing and I would recommend the Premier City view room. I loved going to the Gong bar at the highest floor ( I believe Level 52). We were joined by my friend Sarah and her boyfriend Miki.
And, just take a second to admire the indoor pool with a view.
View from the suite
Beautiful treats at Harrods
Whenever I'm in a big city, I'm always on the lookout for some Burmese food. So far, the best Burmese food I've tasted (outside of Burma, and my momma's kitchen of course) is in Melbourne, Australia due to the variety of the dishes available, the authenticity as well as the flavors being brought out in full force. It's usually a slight challenge, as it would normally be located out of the city centres, but nonetheless, a short journey that I'm always willing to make. I found one or two places in London, but the former was under-par. However, I did come across Lahpet through Google search, and the highlight for me was the Mohinga, which is one of the best I've had, and trust me, I've tasted so many versions of it and I never make such statements lightly. Thanks to Dan and his team for inviting us to their lovely restaurant.
sketch in Mayfair has always been a dream of mine and a goal on my bucket list of places to visit. When you think of high tea (afternoon tea) in a luxurious setting, sketch always comes to my mind. When you are in London, you have to visit this place, it's what dreams are made of. Spoilt for choice, with caviar and quail egg sandwiches to macarons to beautiful cakes and other delightful pastries, it's £58 per person, or a champagne afternoon tea for £72 per person. Thank you to the team at sketch for looking after Sarah and myself. We had a fabulous girly afternoon and can't wait to be back soon.
Most exciting bathroom I've been in my life, I'm not even kidding!
" The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you...Hopefully, you leave something good behind. "
~ Anthony Bourdain
A definite highlight during this trip was meeting my primary school friend Steph and we were reunited after 18 years, in London!!! We went to the same primary school in Brunei where our parents were working at the time. Had an amazing lunch and a great catch-up and it was like we never left off! She is an absolute darling and so much fun, and let's hope we see each other again sooner this time around!
Bvlgari Hotel, London.
I'd prefer to stay at several luxurious hotels, for the photos and experience whenever I am travelling for more than a few days.
In Gold Coast, Australia, I stayed at the Palazzo Versace, and prior to flying to London, I did a bit of a Google search and decided that I would stay at another designer hotel and realized the Bvlgari Hotel would be the perfect fit. And, let me tell you this, I've stayed at many luxurious hotels globally, and Bvlgari Hotel has to be one of the best hotels I've stayed at. It is utmost luxury and elegance personified.
As this was during London Fashion Week, the standard rooms which are around $1500 NZD were fully booked. I was blessed to stay at one of the stunning suites which were about £6300 a night. And, when you are in a stunning suite like that, you shamelessly selfie the hell out of it! And of course, in a suite fit for a princess, you gotta share it with a prince.
"And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end. "
W London, Leicester Square
I'm only highlighting the hotels that really exceeded my expectations over and beyond because after all, this is what my website is about. It's about places, things and people I love. I also stayed at the iconic Mayfair Hotel, however felt that it was not extraordinary enough to feature it on this note!
W London, in Leicester Square is worth mentioning. Not only is it luxurious, it exuded such a fun and vibrant vibe. I went to one of their monthly themed parties and I believe that night, the theme was Santiago. My girlfriends and I had such a fun and fabulous time. Location wise, it's amazing as there are a lot of eateries nearby. Another hotel in London that we stayed at was the Mandarin Oriental, it felt like being taken back in time, and the spa and pool facilities are amazing, although certain parts of the hotel are being renovated, so it'd be interesting to see the changes, on my next trip to London.
Paris pour le week-end
Paris has always been one of the places I told myself that I would visit in my twenties and I'm happy that I've been able to complete that. But, of course, I am heading back to France really soon. I've been told it's a city you either fall in love with or not, and as for me, I loved it, and it was everything I had imagined and more. It was purely magical and romantic. From London's St Pancras International (home to Europe's longest champagne bar!), we took the Eurostar on Business Premier.
They say, you never forget your first trip to Paris and that statement is so very true. I couldn't have asked for a better travel partner as well, who ensured that I got to see most of what I wanted to see. I'll be back for Disneyland Paris!
Evening strolls in beautiful Paris - Pont Alexandre III
Arc de Triomphe
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
It took me awhile to do some research on hotels in Paris because there are so many amazing hotels there, without a doubt! After much consideration, I chose Nolinski because not only is it a luxurious 5 star hotel, it had that intriguing mystery and allure about that hotel which captivated me. We were not disappointed at all, and the staff at Nolinski really took care of us. What really stood out for me, was their beautiful pool; absolutely romantic.
Musée du Louvre
As the saying goes...
"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accomodate. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again - to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. "