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Holiday Diaries of Spain and Italy



 

 

 

 

 

From Top L-R: 1&2 Fendi Window Display, Maje in Seville; 3&4 Ronda morning, Marriott Malaga rooftop; 
5&6 Vegetarian restaurant in  Madrid and Malaga; 
7&8 Where the first bull fight started (Ronda) and Interesting balcony opp Piccaso museum in Malaga; 
9&10 Ferragamo Bow in Portrait Suites in Rome, Interesting chair; 
11&12 Colosseum winter eve and Goodbye holiday 

How it all began: Holiday to Europe in December? So the reaction was (as I'd anticipated) - stupefaction and total disbelief turning into pity (oh this poor girl does not learn from past experience and wants to prove she's always right) boiling down to amusement 'let her go and learn her lesson, we'll laugh when she'll freeze there stuck in hotel room and come back again with cold and fever'. What they missed was, not all of Europe oozes negative temperature in winter. There's sunshine and a winter time that you'll love. Yes I am talking about Spain.. and parts of Italy. 

Shopping in Spain and Italy: Now the moment you'd hear the words Barcelona, Rome, Madrid the eight lettered word would immediately pop in your head - SHOPPING. As much as I dread saying this, but it was a no shopping holiday.

Okay, now don't take it literally as even a random stroll around the streets of these cities leads its way to the stores where you'll eventually end up buying something, just to ensure you don't offend the Spaniards and Italians. But honestly, as much as I was tempted to shop while passing through the stores, shopping was strictly restricted to a few names: Maje, El Corte Ingles, La Rinascente, Gap, Petrizia Pepe, Sephora and Freddy.

Ok talking of Freddy, while strolling on the streets of London a few years back I accidentally bumped into Freddy (lol, no not a man but a store). My inquisitive self with a CSD (compulsive shopping disorder) ended up buying a few sweat pants and I have been in love with them ever since. Now Freddy is available only in Italy and London (from what I know). So again when I spotted Freddy on the streets of Rome, I rushed into store to only get out with their most comfortable sloungewear (their velvet pants can easily be camouflaged from a night dress to being a chic shopping ensemble). If you're in Rome, Milan or London, definitely buy their yummy pants and hoodies.

But other than that, yep it was a no-shopping holiday.  

Now you find the most amazing things when you are not looking for it. That's what happened again in this trip when I spotted the Parisian Maje while strolling down the streets of Seville and jumped and jumped and jumped with pleasure. Literally. It was like meeting the long lost friend out of nowhere that you'd been dying to meet (I hope you understand what I mean). Although a small store, almost every piece of clothing at Maje was a must-buy (just as I had imagined). But the 100% silk offering was no good for the vegetarian me (silk is not cruelty-free) so I settled for a tank (yes yes, you'll soon see that) that was equally Maje.

ANYWAY.

So here's just a little shopping guide from the very few hours I ransacked stores of Spain and Italy.

El Corte Ingles is a must go in Barcelona (La Ramblas) or any Spanish city. Its the Spanish version of Saks or Selfridges The departmental store houses high-street to the luxury brands including Maje, Sandro, Tory Burch, Valentino, Balmain et al, an interesting home section and well stocked beauty department. However I was pretty disappointed that a city like Rome did not have an equally good departmental store (La Rinascente was a disappointment, considering it is the biggest one in Rome and had limited stuff) .... When in Rome, if you're looking for the crème de la crème in the fashion industry then head towards the shopping district near Spanish Steps (including via Margutta).

Hotels: Among all the hotels, I fell in love with Salvatore Ferragamo's Portrait Suites in Rome. Housed in the fashionable district of  Rome and just a stone throw away from Spanish Steps, it was a complete delight. More like a serviced apartment the service and attention to detail paid during the stay  at Portrait Suites was unmatched.

A nice chocolate platter and handwritten welcome notes, small kitchenette (remember its a suite) with tasteful cutlery and equipment, plush yet minimalistic decor, Ferragamo shoes and pictures hung on the wall and situated right above Ferragamo store, opp Hermes, this hotel was a total delight. Loved the fact that the staff was very friendly and courteous without even an iota of snob (that you'd come across in most luxury hotels). And when you stay in the hotel you also get a 10% discount coupon and shopper's service complimentary at Ferragamo store. Just too many reasons to stay in Portrait Suites (and no this is not a sponsored post).

Portrait Suites, Rome

In Barcelona, Hotel 1898 at Las Ramblas was also a great hotel. Superb location, great service and wonderful room (with attached balcony and even personal pool in the higher category room).

In Andalusia, Malaga was one of my favourite cities and their Marriott hotel was amazing. Great service and awesome location. It was right in the center of everything happening with a spectacular view of the port and a very nice rooftop pool and restaurant. It was close to the restaurants (and yes there was a vegetarian place Canadu just 10 min walk away).

Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera in the outskirts of Ronda (Andalusia) was one of my best stays ever. We stayed there for four nights and loved it completely. It is actually an olive mill converted to hotel. Spacious rooms with a very luxe cum country house feel, overlooking beautiful mountains. The great part of the hotel was its service, the staff was so friendly and offered unmatchable service. Even its owner was a very friendly guy with amazing hospitality. On our check-out day we realised banks are closed and we are short of cash for taxi and other emergencies. The owner was grateful enough to come down to hotel early in the morning and withdrew from his ATM against swiping our card and also arranged a taxi to Malaga. Who does that? Right,

Vegetarian Travel in Spain and Rome: Where there is a will there is a way. No matter what part of the world you stay in, being vegetarian is never a problem. It is just a matter of finding the right places and your strong will.

Despite being a hard core veg (I don't even eat in restaurants where non-veg is cooked and served), I did not have any problem in finding good vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Rome and Naples. Best of the lot -  If you are in Rome, you have to visit Il Margutta Ristorarte Vegetariani dal 1979. An almost vegetarian restaurant (almost because they serve egg making it a non-veg for us Indians) in the historic center of Rome, the restaurant staff is friendly and even served me a Jain meal (no onion, garlic, egg, potato and a host of other things). In fact it is the rare breed, considering the label vegetarian and still marked in the plush category at the same time serving delectable food.

Word of caution: Egg is considered vegetarian in Europe and US,so make sure you check if there is egg in any of the dish they're serving as although it maybe marked veg, it could still have egg in them.

 
Sumptuous vegetarian Italian delights from Margutta Ristorarte, Rome

For vegans and strict vegetarians, Bibliothe in Rome is another must visit restaurant. An Ayurvedic vegetarian cafe, Bibliothe serves Indian food (primarily) with some interesting desserts (I loved their banana bread) that were all 100% vegetarian (no egg).

Even Spain, which is considered a vegetarian's nightmare, was absolutely no problem for me {yes I eat only in only-vegetarian restaurant and still I didn't face any problem in Spain). Milan had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Govindas (veg restaurant of ISKCON) was awesome with delectable Indian thali and great location). We also checked out Rosmarino, vegan restaurant in Milan, and loved their food. There are plenty of other options too in Milan.

Andalusia which is famous for being primarily a non-veg belt, also pleasantly surprised us by the vegetarian choices we discovered. Canadu in Malaga was one of them. A great restaurant right in the center of the city with great service and good food.

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We're heading towards the end of Diaries of Spain and Italy by SJ.

So voilà, dear readers here's a small Diary of my Europe travel in winter. Ended 2012 and started off 2013 with a lowdown blogging, but this year I'm going to keep trying to be active with my experimental   fashion sense and a lot of ranting that would hopefully make more sense than it did in the years gone by.

I am counting on you to stay as you are - smart with a love for ethical fashion and I hope to see more of you in 2013.

xoxo
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14 comments:

  1. I love love this post.. even more so cos of the vegetarian options mentioned by you.. I'm also a vegetarian and always anxious about good food options abroad..

    I'm gonna come back to this post whenever I plan my spain trip.. Btw Zara being a local brand I've hrd its very cheap out there.. did you check it out?

    Your new follower.

    www.thetimesofmanyphases.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey Rajvi, thanks :) Honestly one of the reasons I travel abroad is the adventure of finding veg/vegan food places and then experimenting with different cuisines.

      and yup, Zara was quite cheap there compared to India, almost half the price. And some places even the sale was on, so was a delight. But didnt get much time to shop, just picked some stuff from Barcelona airport.

      Delete
  2. Beautiful pics !! No shopping holiday seems to be tough :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. great pictures! i bet you enjoyed your trip! xx

    Letters To Juliet

    ReplyDelete
  4. luv that chair. Great pics!
    www.ubetterwork.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I absolutely loved reading about ur holiday!! Your experimental sense of style and the fact that u belong to my fav city...makes me feel connected to ur blog!! Following u via GFC..thanks for ur comment on my blog!
    xxx
    Kalyani

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely pics, and a truly grand post!
    Thoroughly enjoyed! Thanks a lot SJ:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love this blog!

    Thanks for the head's up on the eggs. I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm not a big fan of eggs too. Too greasy.

    After reading a Travel Republic review on Spain, I've decided to go on a holiday there within the second half of this year, so I'm getting as much information as I could!

    Keep blogging.

    XOXO
    Merla

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is such a beautiful post. I loved the Fendi Window Display.
    I remember how difficult it was for me to find veg food in maldives. but i overcame it somehow, with proper planning.
    i really seem to love the way u write.


    Aditi
    So-Saree
    www.sosaree.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely pictures <3 Finally good to be on your blog!

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome Pics!
    Italian food is just the best in whole world.

    That's why they say "Eat Italian"

    Riya The Travel Expert!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! It looks fantastic.
    The pictures are breathtakingly beautiful and to be there must be even more of a feeling.
    I like the atmosphere the houses and everything gives though I can't really find a word to describe exactly what it is...
    Oh boy... but it's really beautiful!

    http://www.clubvillamar.ru/

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would say wait for Fall–weather and tourist traffic is much more enticing in October. Have fun!!

    italy trips

    ReplyDelete

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