I was really excited to learn that São Miguel is home to the oldest tea plantation in Europe – Gorreana. When we arrived I discovered that there is actually a second smaller tea plantation – Porto Formoso. The two are the only tea plantations in all of Europe! I was even happier to learn they both had free entrance and we could explore and sample the teas!
After a week exploring Lisbon, we took a flight to São Miguel, aka “The Green Island”. São Miguel is the largest of the nine islands that make up the Azores. We were happy to have a week relaxing and enjoying nature! I spent a lot of time finding the perfect home for us and discovered this cute, rustic house with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Most importantly we had a barbeque to do some grilling!
For Koen’s birthday, we decided to try Les Saveurs de Yamada, a Japanese restaurant specializing in Kaiseki Ryori. We had the pleasure of discovering kaiseki when we were in Kyoto in 2016 and were excited to discover we could experience it in Antwerp, as well!
To celebrate my mom’s birthday early, we headed to London for the day! London may seem far away from Antwerp, but by train it’s actually only a 2 hour ride! This was my mom’s first time in London, so we did a full day of sight-seeing, ending on a high note with afternoon tea at Claridge’s.
Because I was so happy with our hotel in Beijing, I decided to make an entire post about the Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel! Our hotel is located in the hutongs: centuries-old, tree-lined alleyways that are the true heartbeat of this unique city and a real-life link to its fascinating past. We had so much fun exploring/accidentally exploring because we got very lost amonst all of the hutongs (there’s not Google Maps in China).
The location is perfect, the hotel is beautiful, and the staff is so nice and friendly.
Our last day in Mongolia was my favorite day. I went to Mongolia hoping to experience the nomadic life and was able to in the end. We started the day very early, so we could be on time to see how the cows and yaks are milked before they set off wandering the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Inside the ger we were able to try yak milk tea, yak cream, and yak curd!
We were also so lucky that the weather changed during the night. Still a bit cold, but we had a blue sky and sunshine!
Although the snow and the cold temperatures made us cancel our trip into the mountains of northern Mongolia, we chose instead to explore Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and hike up to the Ariyabal Meditation Temple, where we crossed the “Bridge of Heaven” and climbed 108 stone stairs that lead to the main temple with 108 small stupas and 108 prayer wheels around the temple.
Our guide suggested we visit the National Museum of Mongolia during our trip to Ulaanbaatar. This museum is responsible for preserving Mongolian cultural heritage as well as defining the guidelines for museums in the rest of the country. The museum has a wide scope of history, beginning in prehistory up into the present. The biggest highlights for me were the section on Mongolian traditional dress and the 1990 Mongolian Revolution.
Café Pushkin is another restaurant recommend to me by a client from Moscow. I browsed the menu before heading to Moscow and knew we’d do the caviar tasting! We decided to go all out, trying other Russian classic dishes, as well. Such a beautiful café! If you want to treat yourself, I definitely recommend a visit to Café Pushkin!