So happy to be a part of today’s launch of Clover & Sloane - a brand new brand offering the sweetest dresses and jumpsuits. All of their pieces are so ideal for dressing up or down! I paired the Soho black jumpsuit with sneakers and a leather moto for daytime (above), and dressed the same jumpsuit up the day before with tan block-heeled booties and an oversized peacoat to go to the art gallery. The Carroll dress features my fav print of the season, cherries!!! I wore it out for a coffee date with a cozy cardigan, tights, and sock booties, though I really need it to be summer ASAP so I can wear it bare-legged with a straw hat… Clover & Sloane’s pieces feature sweet feminine details like ruffles, bows, and girly prints, done super tastefully in the most wearable styles and silhouettes. Shop now at cloverandsloane.com
Happy 2018 guys! It's been a while since I've posted... The holidays and work have totally taken up my time but I'm hoping to get back on track with regular posting. I have a few posts lined up over the coming weeks! These photos were taken over the holidays at Elliot's family cottage in Muskoka. I have always been a warm weather person and I liiiiive for the summer. Winter and I just aren't meant to be, but the beauty and allure of winter up north is undeniable and this year I finally can say I appreciate it.
We drove up from the city late one night and the forecast was clear. As we drove further north, however, we were suddenly enveloped into a complete whiteout. The snow was falling fast and heavy, it completely shrouded our vision to the point that we could only see a few feet ahead of us. The storm was completely mesmerizing and it felt like a winter fairytale. Pine trees heavily coated with snow tightly surrounded the road and everything was so quiet. There was something so magical and ethereal about it all and as corny as it sounds, I felt so at peace and lucky to be able to experience winter at its finest. It was probably way more nerve-wracking for Elliot since he was behind the wheel, but I trust his driving and the fact that our lives were in his hands haha. We made it to the cottage safely and went straight to bed, and the cold morning came clear and bright. During our stay, we headed to a nearby road to take some pictures in my very appropriate winter attire. I'm wearing these jeans by Tobi. Love the wash and the rise! So easy to wear, even in the winter... toss on a cute pair of booties and a cool coat and you're set :)
Teamed up with Zaful on a style post to make my fall looks shoppable. I have recreated all of my looks with items available on Zaful, plus you can use code brandrewardZF for 12% your entire purchase (including sale), in case you weren't tempted enough by their prices already! As you can see I have been pretty enamoured with my beret and newsboy cap so far this season. As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, fall has been pretty fantastic so far and I have definitely felt a shift in my style towards layering and texture. Read on to see the looks and click the links below each collage to get shoppin'!
Just about the most charming and picturesque region you could travel to in Italy, the colourful cliffside towns that make up Cinque Terre are a dream destination. In my previous post from the area, I outlined where we stayed and a few other noteworthy bits. This post will focus solely on the 5 towns in the Italian Riviera which are (from N to S): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Aside from the obvious beauty of the towns, one of the major reasons they have become so adored is due to the seaside hike that takes you from one town to the next. Due to the earthquakes in 2012, some of the hikes are still undergoing remediation and are closed to the public. As of currently, the closed trails are between Riomaggiore & Manarola, and Manarola & Corniglia. Unfortunately, those are said to be the least challenging of the trails. Clearly for me an easy jaunt > a strenuous hike. The only one I personally did was one of the most challenging, between Levanto (NOT one of the 5 towns) and Monterosso. Honestly it was a pretty tough hike, but luckily you are shaded for most of it, and Monterosso waits at the other end! For those who want to avoid hiking altogether (like I did every other day), the train system is easy, reliable, and fast. Make sure to stamp your day passes though because they are always patrolling the train cars! And word to the wise: do not use the boat system! It sounds great in theory but we decided against it. When we were in some of the towns we saw the insane lines of people waiting for the boats… it looked like mayhem and far too crowded to be enjoyable.
The region is known for white wines, limoncello, seafood, focaccia, and pesto. And probably some things other than food & alcohol, but who cares about those? To be honest, I find the food in southern Italy just incredible and way more to my own personal liking, but who can hate on pesto and focaccia? Though after a week it did get a bit tiresome, and almost all restaurants have a slight variation on the same menu, but you will definitely enjoy it while you are there! See below for restaurant recommendations by town, as well as any other town-specific info I picked up on while there!
Monterosso: The largest of the 5 towns, situated right on the seaside, with a small but very recognizable beach covered in orange and green striped umbrellas. This town is possibly one of the busiest, although they ALL get very busy which is a shame. We came here most often, as it was the closest to where we were staying in Levanto. It is not worth it (in my opinion) to try to lay out on the beach here. It is all paid spots and they fill up so early in the morning. It is also super overpriced (in Levanto we paid half of what we would have paid in Monterosso for a beach chair). Two restaurants that were fantastic were Torre de Aurora (just opened this summer, in a castle on a cliff top with different patio levels all the way down) and Miky (a Michelin starred restaurant that was incredible).
Vernazza: Did not have the best luck in Vernazza! I wanted to do a partial hike from Vernazza to Riomaggiore, as supposedly the best view of the town is about 30 minutes into the trail, but it was ridiculously hot that day and we got too frustrated trying to find the start to the trail. We were also dying to eat at Ristorante Belforte (in my photos, it’s the place with the blue stripey umbrellas. SO DREAMY.) but we learned that most people make reservations months in advance so we were SOL! We ended up having dinner at a cute spot called Gianni Franzi that overlooks the main beach.
Corniglia: The only town I did go to. Corniglia is the only town of the 5 that is not on the sea. It is high up on a clifftop and has incredible views. My family ended up doing the hike between Corniglia and Vernazza and their photos were pretty incredible.
Manarola: Painfully perfect. Like, I look at the photos I took from the lookout point in Manarola (facing back towards the town) and feel physical pain at how pretty it is. It looks like a painting! Colourful buildings spilling down the cliff to the rocky sea where people swim. It is heaven. Two restaurants that you can’t miss are Trattoria del Billy (great views if you can get a spot out on the patio, amazing food) and Nessun Dorma (the best view you could ask for of Manarola… the entire restaurant is on a patio covered in tropical flowers and plants, and the food is so delicious and fresh. After eating pesto and focaccia for days on end, we were able to get amazing salads and bruschettas here, along with ridiculously good drinks).
Riomaggiore: Started our day here one day and did lots of wandering. So many pretty look out spots! Did not do much in Riomaggiore other than walk around, but it’s just as pretty as the rest of the towns, and I love the photo of the little harbor with the bright buildings snuggled up around it.
Prior to going to Santorini, we stayed on the heavenly island of Ios. We arrived right at the beginning of September and immediately noticed how quiet the island felt (in the BEST way possible). We asked our taxi driver about it as she drove us to our hotel, and she said that during June, July, and August, Ios is a party island filled with students, but as soon as September rolls around, the island becomes a lot more calm and quiet. Um, literally music to my ears. The island was not dead by any means, but in September there are a lot more couples and mature groups of friends. Absolutely ideal if you ask me. We stayed at Ios Palace Hotel, which is right on Mylopotas Beach (Mylopotas Beach is the main “tourist” area, and Chora is the main town). The hotel was clean and comfortable with two beautiful pools and a great bar/lounge area that we had breakfast in every day. Also, it was beyond affordable. Really great value for how fantastic this place was. Read on for other tips and recommendations for Ios!
Harmony – such a little gem. This place serves Mexican, which you might not think you want when you’re in Greece, but trust me when I say you do haha. The food is so fresh and healthy with tons of vegan options, and they even have acai bowls. The atmosphere is so chilled out and relaxed, it’s a place you could just hang out at all day. It’s a bit up on the rocky cliffs, so you get a stunning view of the sea. They have hammocks all over, tons of tables low to the ground with cushions to sit on, lots of white curtains, hanging lanterns, rugs, and plants scattered around. It’s dreamy.
Salt – just about the most chic and bohemian open-air restaurant I have been to. White wicker and wood furniture, plants and bougainvillea everywhere, striped pillows, loungers hanging from the ceiling by ropes… the décor of this place is what really drew me in, but the food and drinks are great as well.
Cantina Del Mar – the food here is just amazingly fresh and delicious, as well as ridiculously affordable. We were only on the island for 3 days and we ate here twice. I had the best Greek salad with tuna I have ever had here, as well as a really great grilled halloumi and avocado sandwich. They have delicious cocktails, juices, and smoothies too.
Grandma’s – if you’re looking for an elevated culinary experience on Ios, Grandma’s is the best bet. It’s located in the Liostasi Hotel in Chora which is just exquisite. It’s the most high-end accommodation you can find on Ios, way up on a cliff with a huge pool and enormous patio right at the edge for prime views and sunset-watching. We came here on our last night for dinner and let me tell you, it.was.perfect. The service was almost TOO good, the food and drinks were amazing, and the atmosphere of the hotel was beautiful.
The only other advice I can give is to really just relax and enjoy. The beaches on Ios are positively stunning with soft golden sand and warm, clear water. On Mylopotas Beach, you’ll have to pay a few euros to lay out, but it was definitely worth it as you get a comfy lounger and an umbrella. There is a section on the beach that is public and unpaid, but you’ll just be on your towel with no shade. There are also countless rocky cliffs and swimming spots all around the island. When we got to our hotel, we were given a map of the island (it’s quite small) showing where all of the lesser-known beaches were on the island, and I can pretty much guarantee we would have had a lot of them almost to ourselves. Also, rent an ATV and go exploring! It’s the best way to see the island. Just make sure you get a good one with a stronger HP as we unfortunately got stuck with a dud that could barely get up a hill. I had imagined us whipping around the island happening upon glorious beaches, but unfortunately our ATV wasn’t cooperating so that vision of mine did not come true haha… the only disappointment of our entire time on the island. Overall, Ios was so uncomplicated, beautiful, and laidback, and I hope to visit again someday!
Santorini has been one of my dream vacation destinations for years now, so I had my expectations set sky-high for our trip there. I went with my boyfriend after parting with my family in Italy and we were so excited to get there. So umm... Without sounding like a complete whiner, I was unfortunately underwhelmed by our experience. Don't get me wrong, the island is absolutely beautiful and photos can't do it justice. It's pretty magical being in the whitewashed towns just barely clinging to the crumbling cliffsides. The landscape is absolutely surreal... the island is literally a massive red rock rising from the sea, created by a volcanic eruption a bazillion (approx.) years ago. We kept looking around in amazement wondering how the heck they even decided, "hey, let's build some white houses in the side of the cliff OF A VOLCANO!" Of course, this is an amazing sight to see, so Santorini has become a worldwide destination for honeymooners and also anyone else with a pulse. I'm not sure if this revolving door of tourists has led to the inhabitants becoming hardened jerks, knowing that their hospitality (or lack thereof) will not affect vacationers from visiting, but I sadly found that the a lot of people on Santorini were not the friendliest. Obviously this did not apply to everyone and we DID have encounters with some absolutely lovely people at some restaurants and hotels. Will give recommendations on these spots below. However, this leads me to my next issue (I PROMISE THERE ARE SOME REDEEMING FACTORS COMING UP!): the ASTRONOMICAL prices of everything. I know, I know, Santorini is not the place to visit if you're on a budget (unless you want to stay somewhere not central, use the bus system to get around, and seek out inexpensive meals). I am by no means a cheapskate, but we felt like we were getting ripped off at every turn. For example: a taxi from the airport to the port was quoted 30 euros by our taxi driver. First of all, it's only a 10 minute drive. On top of that, we asked another couple who was also heading to the port if they wanted to share a taxi with us, and the driver says "IF YOU SHARE IT IS 25 EUROS PER COUPLE, TOTAL 50 EUROS." I'm sorry but that is notttt how taxis work sir. We are all going to the same dang destination. Meals, hotels, and excursions are all also off the charts expensive. Finally, Oia (the main town), while absolutely stunning, is too crowded to be able to enjoy yourself. The streets are narrow, winding, steep… and completely clogged with people. If you value personal space and sanity, you will likely not enjoy yourself. Imerovigli/Thira have a very similar look to Oia, and they are located near the middle of the island (Oia is on the north part). These two towns are much quieter and more pleasant to walk around. A lot of the most amazing hotels are in Imerovigli, and both Imerovigli and Thira have their share of great restaurants. Much more enjoyable!
OK, now that I have explained why Santorini is THE WORST PLACE EVER IN THE WORLD (it's not.), I will say that there were several places/experiences that made our time worthwhile. See below:
Santo Maris Oia: My heart swells when I think about this hotel. No, it is not on the cliffside, but trust me, unless you either want passerbys peering onto your patio all day or want to spend $2500+ a night for a little privacy, you do not want to stay directly in Oia. Santo Maris is just off to the side of Oia main town, connected to it by a footpath that gets you into Oia in less than 5 minutes. The staff at Santo Maris are absolutely lovely. The resort grounds themselves are extremely spacious with 5 pools, a few bars, plus one restaurant that was very good. The suites are large, beautifully designed, and decorated in the most chic boho style you could imagine. We sprung for a suite with its own plunge pool, and it was absolute heaven. We seriously lucked out with our room as it was on the very edge of the property so we had complete privacy as well as panoramic views of the sea and insane views of the sunset. The wisest thing I did when we stayed here was take advantage of the proximity to Oia and head there at 8AM by myself one morning. The streets were blissfully quiet. Literally the only other people around were shopkeepers opening up, couples in their wedding dresses & tuxedos taking wedding photos, and some bloggers prancing around on rooftops with their photographers (lol, wish that were me. Darn Elliot just had to go to the gym.) I walked around and took tons of photos, admired the views and the town, and was able to seriously enjoy myself. By 11AM, Oia is too packed with people to even move around.
La Maltese: This is not a recommendation for the hotel (which we stayed in and did not enjoy), or the restaurant, or even really the bar haha (super overpriced)… this is a recommendation for the view from their rooftop bar/restaurant. La Maltese is one of the highest up spots on the cliff in Imerovigli, so this lends to some amazing views. I would suggest going for sunset if possible, and I suppose just suck up the cost of a cocktail and take in the views. Actually, our breakfasts here every morning were pretty fantastic, so that is certainly something I could recommend doing at La Maltese (double check to see if its available if you are not staying there). If you do go in the evening, be warned as this hotel closes down for private events very often. The 3 nights we were there, they were closed for 2 of them. Super annoying as we could not even enjoy the main area when it was booked out.
Anogi: One of my best memories from Santorini is having dinner at Anogi in Imerovigli. It is super authentic and affordable, and the food is delicious & traditional Greek. The staff were so wonderful and kind. We ordered wayyyy too much food and wine and spent a few hours eating and drinking. Cannot recommend this place enough.
Onar: Upscale restaurant in Imerovigli with a large outdoor space and beautiful views. The food is inventive and so good. The prices are a bit on the high side but we found it was well worth it as the portions were larger than we expected and the quality was there! The service was great as well.
Skaros Rock Hike: Easily accessible from any hotel in Imerovigli and well worth doing! The big rock in the background of lots photos of Santorini is Skaros Rock. There is a path you can follow all the way down through the streets in Imerovigli. Go past a church and the hike starts! It is not long or particularly difficult, unless you want to go to the very top of the rock which I probs don’t recommend unless you’re an avid rock climber. Instead, keep going on the main path to the very end. You’ll notice it continues downward towards a tiny church, called Ekklisia Theoskepasti. I think a lot of people miss hiking down to the church because you literally don’t know it’s down there until you start the downwards portion! It was amazing and I was so happy we kept going and found the church. I couldn’t believe that they had built one in such a remote cliffside location. The roof of the church is easy to climb on to fulfill all of your blue-and-white church rooftop photo dreams! Or am I the only one who really wanted to do that while on Santorini…
OK. Some final pieces of advice... we did not go to the red or black sand beaches while on Santorini. We had been on Ios prior to arriving, and the beaches there were incredible. Santorini is definitely not a beach island and I have heard that the beaches are not worthwhile. Santorini is better for shelling out some big bucks on a hotel and enjoying the pool and outdoor spaces there. That being said, make sure you have complete confidence in what you are booking. Read tons of reviews and pay attention to complaints. We unfortunately found that the other hotel we stayed in, La Maltese, did not look much like the photos and had inaccurate room descriptions. This was very disappointing as the place had a lot of good reviews, but upon digging deeper we noticed a few people had the same complaints as we did.
So, in conclusion... Based on our own experience, am I glad we went? Yes. Would I rush to go back? I don’t think so. Hope I'm not coming off as unappreciative… Just trying to keep it real! Honesty is key right? Not everything in blog land is magical sunlight, skipping blissfully through the streets, snapping picture-perfect moments! Although sometimes the stars align and you do get that ;)