The honey-stone walls of Oxford city centre conjure all kinds of wishes and whimsy – and each time that I’ve stayed overnight in Oxford, it’s like slipping into an architectural Narnia. Disclaimer: On this visit I was an invited guest of Mercure Hotels and Experience Oxfordshire, but all thoughts and laboured literary metaphors are very much my own.
Oxford is one of those cities that seems unaffected by the passing of time.
We drove from London to Belgium, crossing Essex, the southeast of England, a fair amount of France and then accidentally slipped over the border to Mons, Belgium.
As a reprobate island dweller (all the way from New Zealand to Grande Britannia) I still delight at how easy it is to slip between countries in Europe, so we took full advantage of this when spending a few days in France.
It’s fair to say that I fell in love with Portugal on both of my city breaks. This fun loving country seems to be quite the winter sun destination for 2019, and I’ve had quite a few people contact me recently asking whether they should visit Lisbon or Porto for their Portuguese city break.
Both Lisbon and Porto are unique cities, each with an individual character – and sadly it’s not always practical to visit both in the same short trip.
“Brunch you say? Well, there are several places on my (neverending) list that I fancy, can I tempt you to Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental? It looks lovely for a weekend lunch? Ok, cool, all booked. Yep, already! See you there!”
If only all life decisions were that easy. It was a grey old January Saturday, so with our scarves snugged tightly in around our earlobes, we met at our corner table in Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. At the edge of Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, Bar Boulud is a delectable, cosy bistro by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud and sister restaurant to Bar Boulud in New York. Perfect for a leisurely lunch catch up.
A couple of years ago our long weekend in Budapest was such a delight that my friend and I decided unanimously for a return visit.
We met over a sunny weekday lunch to find a date, book the flights and decide where we were staying for the 5 days – the details simply fell into place with the tip-tip-tap of a few laptop keys.