Autumn in Smaland, Southern Sweden

While we are all patiently waiting for spring to arrive in London, let me show you the wonderful autumnal colours of Smaland, a province in southern Sweden I visited back in October last year. 

This beautiful area is packed with picturesque lakes, pine and spruce forests and is just great for everything outdoors. It’s also home to Sweden’s famous children’s book author, Astrid Lindgren (think Pippi Longstoking). Some of her most well-known books are set in Smaland. 

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Our trip has started with an overnight stay at one of Smaland’s manor houses, Vastana Manor. As we arrived when it was already dark, it took us all morning to admire the house’s fascinating details.

We then headed to the old town of Granna, famous for its wooden red houses and rock candy making. You can find a few shops along the main street and have a go at making your own peppermint rock, which we willingly did. It’s such a fun process to watch and try! 

Granna Sweden

A walk around Granna to admire the red timber houses.

Granna Sweden
Granna Sweden

My favourite Swedish tradition that I happily adopted is ‘fika’ - a break with a coffee and a sweet pastry (Swedish cinnamon buns are just the best!) shared with your friends, colleagues or relatives. Of course, we stopped for a fika in Granna.

Granna is also known for its delicious organic ice cream (I opted for lingonberry, red berries common in Sweden) and crisp bread.

Granna ice cream

After savouring all the delicacies we boarded a ferry to Visingso island. 

Visingso Sweden
Visingso Sweden
Visingso Sweden

Surprisingly, there’s a muesli making facility on the island, home of Susanne Dalsatt and her family who have been producing organic muesli since 1972! 

Visingso muesli

A few more pretty red houses and autumnal hues of Smaland taken on the way to our next destination.

Smaland Sweden
Smaland Sweden

Have you ever heard about Bruno Mathsson? - I haven’t before this trip but this furniture designer and architect is well known in Sweden. His designs are really interesting and were way too modern for his time! Bruno Mathsson carefully studied the mechanics of sitting in search of the perfect sitting curve for his chairs’ designs.

Bruno Mathsson

We visited Bruno Mathsson Centre in Varnamo and saw his birth home which now houses a museum/showroom of his furniture (photos above). We were also lucky to be able to visit Bruno’s and his wife Karen’s house in Tanno. It was built in 1964 has been basically left untouched since the couple lived there.

Bruno Mathsson house

Autumn truly is the best time to visit Smaland - just look at those colours and patterns!

Smaland Sweden

This local specialty is called raggmunk - a dish made from grated potatoes, bacon and lingonberries. Not pictured here - a super fun Segway cross-country adventure we shared at Isaberg Mountain Resort.

I was a guest of Visit Smaland. All opinions are my own.

2 days in the French part of Switzerland with Nespresso

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by Nespresso to spend 2 days in their headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to learn everything about their coffee production process and sustainability initiatives. 

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I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Nespresso over the next 6 months as I've been an active user of their products for a few years already, and it's always fascinating to know more about the brand you encounter with on a daily basis.

For me coffee drinking is a serious business - I usually only drink one cup a day (2 cups max when I'm on holiday) so I want to make the most out of it! 

view of Lausanne from Nespresso campus

We started the trip with a tour of the campus that has this gorgeous view. We then learned about the sustainability program that the company has implemented on all levels - starting from the coffee farms to the factories and finishing with the packaging - Nespresso capsules are made of 100% aluminium which is fully recyclable (more on it later).

After a delicious lunch and coffee, we set to explore the factory where the capsules are produced. No pictures at the factory are allowed but I can assure you it's made up to all the possible standards of Swiss efficiency - the factory is a closed loop system in terms of energy consumption. Factory tour followed by coffee tasting and we even had an opportunity to channel our inner baristas (not as easy as it seems!).

coffee tasting

The day finished with a wonderful dinner at Lausanne Palace Hotel where we stayed for the night. It was really interesting to try the whole menu inspired by Nespresso coffee.

Dinner at hotel Lausanne palace

Next morning I set my alarm early to have some me time to wander around the beautiful Lausanne. I stopped in the old town and then made my way to the lake.

Lausanne lake Leman

The morning officially started at Nespresso boutique with a coffee recipe workshop. We tried a few coffee cocktails based on unexpected flavour combinations and saw a latte art demonstration just to realise once again that it's not as easy to make as it looks.

The day continued with a visit to the capsule recycling plant in Moudon where we saw with our own eyes that not only the aluminium capsules are fully recyclable but the coffee grounds are too - they are being separated at the facility and are later used for green energy and compost, so nothing goes to waste. 

When I shared stories from the trip on my Instagram I received many questions about the capsule recycling. There are a few options that are currently available in the UK:

- take a full recycling bag to your local Boutique

- request a collection when placing an order online 

- drop off your bag at any CollectPlus point (in case your Boutique is far away) with a dedicated label - more information here.

Did you know that Switzerland produces some delicious white wines? During the trip, we had an opportunity to meet Blaise Duboux, owner of the vineyard in Lavaux region and 8th generation winemaker. Blaise uses recycled coffee grounds to fertilize and nourish the soil in his vineyard. Not only the wines taste amazing but the views are incredibly beautiful too!

Lavaux vineyards

I was a guest of Nespresso. All views are my own.

New Year's Eve in Dublin

I was postponing a trip to Ireland for a long time, and then a perfect opportunity came not just to visit Ireland but to spend New Year's Eve in Dublin! Pretty exciting, isn't it?

As usual, I started with a research on the most instagrammable spots. What can be better than combining New year celebrations with snapping a few nice shots?

Temple Bar is the area you can't miss in Dublin.  It gets very busy in the afternoon so if you are after taking photos it's better to go in the morning, and of course to return later in the day to visit one of the pubs. We didn't get a chance to check it out but were recommended a hidden spot called Vintage Cocktail Club or VCC.

Going for a traditional music and dance performance is a lot of fun - we loved the experience at the Merry Ploughboy Pub, it's not in the centre but seemed to be popular as all the tables were full. 

Trinity College Library is another must-visit place. The highlight is the Long Room which houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest book. The library gets very busy and the best is to book tickets online.

Trinity College Dublin

I loved seeing Dublin embracing festive spirit with all its Christmas decorations. Pictured below is the Powerscort shopping centre.

Powerscort Townhouse Centre Dublin

We couldn't miss popping into Guinness Storehouse too. I won't lie, I wanted to go mostly because of the view from the top but the whole experience was actually really nice. The storehouse covers 7 floors where you can learn about Guinness history and production process, give a go at pouring a perfect pint, dine, buy souvenirs and a lot more.

Guinness Storehouse
Dublin view from Guinness Storehouse

Stephen's Green is another beautiful shopping centre worth popping into.

Stephen's Green Centre Dublin

Check out Drury Street for independent shops and cafes.

For a day out of Dublin take a 30-minute fast train service DART from Dublin city centre to a fishing village of Howth. If the weather is nice, take a cliff walk which offers great views of the Bailey Lighthouse. Wear comfortable shoes, hiking shoes would be best as it was quite muddy when we visited.

Howth Ireland

Last but not least, the main reason for our visit - Dublin New Year's festival. It lasted for 2 days - Kodeline concert followed by a countdown and a special performance on the evening of the 31-st December and then the continuation of the performance on the 1st January.

New Year Festival Dublin

Special thanks to Failte Ireland and Visit Dublin for our wonderful stay.

Food discoveries in Puente Romano resort in Marbella, Spain

Even though I don't consider myself a foodie I do love and appreciate food so when back in October I was invited to spend a few days in Puente Romano resort in Marbella to try out their famous restaurants I couldn't say no. An idea of spending a few days in the autumn sun, which felt more like summer in the UK, seemed very appealing too.

I was even more excited as I knew my Instagram friends Giulia, Jacintha and Millie are coming as well.

Marbella beach
Puente Romano hotel Marbella

After checking in the hotel our first stop was El Chiringuito, located at the beginning of the beach area. I loved the sea views and the relaxed vibe of this restaurant.

The resort's most famous restaurant is probably Nobu. If you have ever been to any other Nobu locations, you know what I'm talking about. The restaurant is well-known for its classic Japanese dishes cooked with Peruvian flavours, and it didn't disappoint - wagyu beef and black cod with miso were excellent. Nobu is opening their own hotel within the resort too - expected to offer 81 rooms by 2019.

nobu restaurant marbella

Next day we finally had time to see a bit of Marbella that seemed like a lovely Spanish town, during the day there were no traces of it being a party place.

Marbella old town

In Marbella we popped into Doliva for olive oil tasting. We tried a few different olive oils and were surprised to find out that 55% of world's olive oil is produced in Spain. After learning this and trying out the best olive oil, we couldn't leave the shop without buying some oil to take home.

Back to Puente Romano just in time for paella making masterclass. Both rabbit and seafood options were absolutely delicious!

Monkey bar marbella

if you are looking for lighter and healthier options - the resort has them too. Try Rachel's Organic cafe by the pool (pictured below) or gluten-free cafe Celicioso.

I don't usually stay at huge resorts like this one but I was surprised by how many things you can do (it even has a tennis court) and how diverse all the dining options are. Thanks, Puente Romano for a wonderful stay!

marbella beach