Friday, April 18, 2014

Palermo

While Palermo might not be among your top Italian holiday destinations, you might be surprised by knowing that it ranked the 9th Italian city most visited by foreigners in 2013. So I guess it must have un je ne sais quoi that attracts tourists. So whether you might be among these tourists or just happen to be there to attend a meeting or visit friends or family, here are some tips on where to stay, eat, shop and what to see.
 


Where to stay....
If you don't mind being not exactly in the centre of Palermo, and with that I mean being about 30 to 40 minutes walk from the most popular streets, you will love the Hotel Principe di Villafranca. It looks eleant, stylish, clean and comes with a gym.
If on the other hand you want or need to be closest to the top attractions and shops, you should stay at Quintocanto hotel & spa. The latter doesn't have a gym, but if you are going to walk a lot you are sure to burn your calories anyway. This is where I stayed while I was in Palermo to attend a project meeting for work. I loved the hotel, the staff, my room and the breakfast and the location could not have been any better. Because of the location I was able to walk to my meetings, find an hour or two to shop, and be within walking distance from a handful of great cafes and restaurants.
Where to eat......
For a great pizza and the longest pizza menu I have ever encountered you should try Pizzeria Frida located in Piazza Sant'Onofrio. If you are staying at the Quintocanto hotel you can reach it in around 5 minutes by turning right as you are exiting the hotel, taking Via Maqueda on your left, walking strait and taking the third side Street on your left. It is a very narrow slightly downhill Street and at its end you find yourself in Piazza Sant'Onofrio. Look for a restaurant on your left with outdoor seating and you will quickly spot it. I suggest you to use Google maps and print the route so as not to get lost, which is what me and my colleague did when we tried to find it without a proper map. I had the pizza alla norma and I hated it simply because it was full of fresh ricotta while I thought it would be salted ricotta. However, apart from the ricotta it was really good and I am sure all the other pizzas are Amazing since they smelled and looked so. It also very cheap and you get a huge pizza.
If you are looking for a nice place to have your lunch, or a snack or a dessert go to Bar Touring in Via Roma. The arancini and ice cream are really good, and eveything else looks delicious. I also enjoyed the old stylish but cosy atmotsphere, and even when it gets full around lunch time the service is still great. Prices are good too.
For some fine dining which is traditional, tasty and affordable and has a nice and cosy setting (also great for romantic dinners) do not miss the chance to eat at Gulu. This restaurant, located in Piazza Marina, offers fresh fish along with your usual steak and fries but most importantly delicious local food. I had the antipasto della casa which came with the famous panelle palermitane, which are fried pieces of vegetables surrounded with a batter which make them soft but crispy. And as a maincourse I had paccheri with pistacchi di bronte, fresh swordfsh and srimps. The bill was surprisingly low considered the quality and portion size.
 
 

Where to shop.....
While I only had the chance to go inside 2 shops in Via Maqueda, Sephora and Sophie's Accessories,I also suggest Via Roma and Via Ruggiero Settimo. Here you can find various designer and high Street shops including Zara, H&M, Mango, Carpisa and many more.



What to see.....


1. Cattedrale
2. Fontana Pretoria
3. La Cuba
4. Villa Bonanno
5. Giardino Inglese
6. La Zisa
7. Palazzo dei Normanni
8. San Giovanni degli Eremiti
9. Cappella Palatina
10. Teatro Massimo
 
 
Safety Tips.....
If you are never heard anything bad about Palermo, then you might not even believe it unless you are unlucky to be a victim that Palermo is very well known for Street robbery, especially bag snatching. Being Sicilian I know this very well. So before Flying out of Malta I was reading about the snatching statistics and I found out that in March 2014 there were 4 cases in the area I was staying. An old man ended with broken ribs and a young woman got punched in her face while trying to steal her mobile phone. This doesn't however mean you are going to be a victim too. You can definitely avoid it. My colleague and I both did although we walked all the time, morning and early night for a long time with bug bags. Here are my tips to avoid being robbed in the streets of Palermo:
1. Know where you are and where you are going. Do your research before you arrive in Palermo or in your hotel room so as to avoid looking too touristy and confused while searching on your mobile, ipad or map.
2. Always look around you and what is happening and who is near you
3. Be aware of motor bikes, especially with 2 men on a scooter as this is usually how they rob you. One is driving and the other grabs and snatches your bag, phone or other gadget off your arm and hand. While doing so you might get hurt.
4. Avoid taking out your technology if you can. The outdoor images in this post are not mine as the only pictures I took while in Palermo were the ones inside my hotel room.
5. Do not wear expensive jewellery, clothing, bags and other show off things as these might attract robbers.
6. Avoid walking on your own. And even if you have company be careful and try to avoid going out early, late at night or being in isolated areas.
7. Keep a copy of your passport and travel documents locked in your luggage
8. If you don't need them with you keep all your expensive belongings in your luggage locked up in your hotel room
9. Wear a shoulder bag across your body and preferably under your jacket. A great tip is to choose a bag with a metal chain so that it cannot be cut off with a knife.
10. Wear comfortable shoes so that you can quicken you pace or run if you need to.
All in all, Palermo is a nice city to visit for a short 2 or 3 days trip.
STAY FAB

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sephora haul

For years I have been watching hauls and reviews of products bought in Sephora, and heard amazing things about this beauty store. I once went in myself few years ago while I was in Catania, but I was so overwhelmed by the amount of products that I asked for a few samples but didn't manage to decide which products to buy. And after that one time, I never set foot again in a Sephora store until this April. And with several lists of products to try and buy, written both recently and a while ago, this time I definitely didn't come out of the store bare handed!
 
 

While on a trip to Palermo, I had 2 hrs free before attending a 5hrs meeting so I wanted to treat myself and so went shopping with the main intention of finding a Sephora Store. The one in Via Roma was closed and there was a sign directing clients to a newly opened store in Via Maqueda 443-447. So after walking and walking, while discussing the coming meeting with my colleague, I finally found the store and that's when I parted away with my colleague for a few hrs. I knew it would take me a while to shop in there and I wanted to just embrance and enjoy the whole experience especially since I had already prepared for the meeting and had a long day of work following. And so I did.


                 SEPHORA VIA MAQUEDA, PALERMO
After staring and browsing around the store for a few minutes while looking at my list, I was approached by a nice lady, whose name I don't recall, who helped me try and choose among the many products they have in store. I told her I needed a primer, a concealer, a powder, a BB cream, a face cream, a powder brush and that I wanted one of the naked eyeshadow palette and may be a cream blush too. They do not stock certain brands like Nars and Bobbi Brown so I had to mark off a few options on my list. And after testing different products by Sephora, Benefit, Urban Decay and Makeup Forever, this is what I ended up purchasing:
 
1. I finally bought the Benefit Porefessional Primer, about which I have heard many raves but also many unsatisfied reviews. It was Missglamorazzi's recent review who made me decide to try it. So thanks Ingrid!
 
2. I decided to try the Sephora 8HR wear mattifying compact foundation after having it applied in the store to test it. I got this in the shade 10 light, which is a tiny bit dark for me right now.
 
3. For concealer I ended up sticking to the Sephora brand, as the lightest shade available, 13 light, was the one closest to my skin tone.
 
4. I also bought a flat contour brush to apply my powder. This is the same brush used by the lady to apply the Sephora powder on me and I loved how smooth and compact it felt.
 
5. And finally, I repeat finally, I was able to get myself a naked eyeshadow palette. I was unsure whether I should buy the naked 1 or naked 2 but I decided to go with the 1, as also suggested by the shop assistant, as this comes with the urban decay eye primer and has amazing colours.
 
At checkout, after paying for my goodies, I was happy to receive a few samples. The lady gave me a set of Chanel Le Rouge lipsticks to try and a Biotherm hydrating face kit which came with a a good sized toner, a face cream and a serum.
 
It was great to finally shop at Sephora. Plus I really needed to stock on few makeup essentials, especially since I am using them everyday for work, and the products I got from Vienna last October are almost used up. The only problem was finding a place in my bag for all these products.....Thankfully I am a good packer, so I managed to fit everything between my luggage and my carry on bag. Here is how I pack.
 
I will be reviewing the products I bought later on. I also plan on comparing a few of them with other high end options. So if you are interested in those kind of posts stay tune, and follow my blog..
 
STAY FAB

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Travel Essentials

                                                          FOR A WORK TRIP


You might be amazed by how many things one needs to pack when travelling for work, even if just for a couple of days. This is especially so for women who like me need to carry their world around as they want to be prepared for any eventuality. Let's face it, if I tend to carry a lot when going to work on a daily basis, why wouldn't I do the same on a work trip? Carrying a lot has however its disadvantages. One has a lot to pack, carry, unpack and a lot to lose in case you were either robbed or your luggage or hand luggage went lost. So in order to be comfortable, safe and efficient you need to be organized. In this post I want to share with you how I organize my cabin bag when flying for a 2 day work trip and also give you a peek at what's in my checked luggage.
 



Large Shopper bag
On my recent work trip to Palermo I took my new black saffiano shopper bag. I bought this after 2 weeks of searching the perfect cabin bag which was large enough, comfortable to carry and hold, easy to clean and good for both casual and more put together work looks. Above you can see what's in my bag and to the left you can see how I organize everything. I try to keep the liquids to a minimum so that I can pack them in my carry on bag to avoid any leakages in my luggage. I obviously need to carry skincare, body products, makeup and much more but I try to pack only the essentials and use tiny pots and travel bottles to minimize space. Then I pack them into a 1 litre zip lock bag. I also carry a few medicines in a separate zip lock bag. I carry either my ipad or a laptop, a notebook, pens, pen drives, travelling documents like passports, e-tickets and accommodation related papers as well as taxi contact details. I obviously need a purse, my phone, chewing gum to ease ear pressure on the plane, tissues and wipes.

 
I like to carry my ipad in a small bag which I can use when I am going out to eat in the evening and I only need to carry my purse, phone and hotel key. This ipad bag is also the perfect way to keep your valuables safe by wearing it across your shoulders underneath your jacket. This might seem excessive if you are travelling somewhere safe, but will definitely prove useful in many not so safe cities.
 
 
As for my checked in luggage I obviously pack a comfortable but cute pyjama, some workout clothes (yes I do work out on my work trips as it counteracts the not so healthy eating and keeps the stress down), flip flops to wear when showering, an outfit or two depending on how many days I am staying, a second pair of shoes, an umbrella, more wipes and tissues, undergarments, several plastic bags for laundry and purchases as well as all documentation I need to carry for the meetings.
 
 
What about you, what do you take on a short work trip?
 
STAY FAB