The first Boots pharmacy in Milan

Boots has opened in Milan! One more time for the people in the back… Boots has opened in Milan!

I’m sure many of you haven’t heard because there were no press releases it just randomly popped up, on Viale Fulvio Testi 90, a few weeks ago.

For those of you who don’t know what Boots is, it is a British drugstore which sells everything from beauty and hygiene products to medicine; they even sell soft drinks and snacks in the UK stores. Boots is defiantly one of those stores in which you walk in for one thing and come out with a whole haul.

Sounds like a great store right?  Well, it is but the Boots in Milan has been primarily a letdown. There seems to be a distinctive price difference between UK and Milan Boots, the prices are defiantly higher here. Up to €15 for drugstore box hair dye, €15 for drugstore brand foundations, medicine is exactly the same price as it is (which there are probably laws about so I’ll overlook that) and tampon tax is very real! The make-up ranges defiantly do not cater for all shades which is an embarrassment coming from an international store.

On a positive side, the opening hours are great, you can shop there from Monday – Sunday from 8 AM -Midnight. They also carry some of the classic brands such as Soap & Glory, No7, Botanics and YourGoodSkin. The shop is very spacious and easy to get to, it is right opposite Bicocca station.

There is word of more Boots being opened around the city, so maybe this will be used as a test on how the drugstore should enter the market.

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48 hours in Santorini

Famous for the cliff-side white house with blue roofs and the unmistakable romantic sunset. Santorini is a postcard-perfect island which many tourists think of as a beach destination but in fact, locals know that the dreamy views are of those from the cliffs.

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We found our apartment in a quiet residential quarter, 7 minutes walk from the Chora (town). Inside was a 2 room apartment equipped with a small kitchen and living space, a bounteous double bed with a cute dressing area and a medium-sized bathroom. Each apartment in the building had a sunny terrace; the apartments also had a communal pool and breakfast area.

Since we were only there for two days, we decided on getting a tour for our second day to see the major tourist points. After settling into the hotel we walked up to the Chora to hop on a bus to go to the magnificent Red Beach, which sits south of the island. Known as one of the most colourful beaches in the world, it takes its colour from the iron-rich rocks formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. Generally, the water is a few degrees warmer, and we sure experienced that. I cannot imagine coming to this beach in July or early August, I’d be roasting!

Early evening, we headed back to the hotel to go an enjoy a romantic dinner at Nicholas Tavan. Every dish is made fresh and daily and also the produce is sourced seasonally and locally. Word of advice, come early if you want to ensure you get to try the dish you want. The staff were kind and welcoming, offering advice on what to try and their recommendations went down a treat.

The next day we had an early start and set off on our tour, we took a bus to the port where we took a boat to the volcano and we had about 1hr 15 to explore the craters. After that we moved onto the hot springs of Palaia Kameni where we have the opportunity to swim in at the risk of smelling like sulphur for at least the rest of the day. After we moved on to the island Thirassia where we had free time to eat lunch or enjoy the clear waters of the island.

 

 

The tour ended in Oia to enjoy the iconic sunset. Oia sits on top of a steep slope of the caldera and to get from the port to the town we had two options, walk up or take a donkey and I’m sure you all know which I chose. My donkey had zero chill and started going up without the leader, but I’m still here to tell the tale. The main places to view it get super packed so the best idea is to find a hidden spot as soon as you arrive. The bus then took us back to Fira at 19:30 with enough time to have dinner and a little boogie before heading to the airport for our early morning flight.

Santorini is a dream, it’s one of those islands you have to visit in your lifetime and preferably with someone special. If I ever get the chance to return, which I hope I will, I would love to spend more days exploring the towns and smaller villages.

There’s No Place like Rome | 48 hours in Rome

Rome is where the heart it. Last month I took a much needed solo weekend getaway. Solo trips replenish the soul – if that’s not a quote, it is now. I spent two days Rome-ing around the eternal city being in awe at every corner I took.

Getting there:

Rome is about a 2 hours and 50 minute train ride away from Milan, or 6 hours drive, which isn’t so bad as you can stop by in some other cities or towns along the way if you have time on your hands. If you are flying into either of the airports, Ciampino or Fiumicino, you can hop on a coach transfer from the airport right to the central station. I’m a fan of Terravision you can book online or directly when you arrive on the bus.

Day 1:

Checking into to a hotel/hostel has never been so easy. Only a stone-throw away from the central station nested behind a bright yellow wall lay The Beehive, my “hostel” of choice for the weekend. Now, I wrote hostel in quotation marks because The Beehive is more than a hostel. Split into two parts, the dorms and the suits, I stayed in The Sweets where I had my own room and bathroom and shared a communal area. Much to my surprise, the room came equipped with a hairdryer, bathrobes, towels, soap and shampoo. There’s the option to have breakfast and they also have a dinner events unfortunately I wasn’t there long enough to attend any. On arrival Linda, the owner, notified me of The Beehive app which was a great help finding places to eat and drink like a local.

After checking in, I headed right onto get the tourist things out the way. I’ve seen Rome a handful of times so I mainly went for photo op purposes. I decided to walk around Rome to really immerse myself in the city and come across way more than I would if I took the bus. I headed up to Trevi fountain, and of course as always tossed a coin in even if I’m not superstitious, I like to be sure I’ll return to the beautiful city.

After I walked up to the Pantheon, admirable from the outside but do be sure to checkout inside, the waiting lines generally move fast. Don’t forget to look up and admire the  world’s largest unreinforced dome, still in tack from when the Romans build it in 125 A.D.

I couldn’t return to Rome and not come to my favourite piazza in Rome, Piazza Navona. I could sit there for hours and just watch the city move around me. Piazza Navona has 3 fountains; Fountain of Neptune, Fountain of Moor and Fountain of the Four Rivers. Erected in the middle of the square is a Egyptian obelisk.

Walking around the city was thirsty work so I decided to stop off at Etablì for a drink after reading a review on The Culture Trip and I wasn’t disappoint at all. Sold by the atmosphere, the music and the staff, I ended up staying there longer than expected. As a solo traveller I’d advice you to give this place ago to  have a chat with locals and tourists alike.

My initial plan was to dine a Madre, but I thought I’d save that for my last night and instead have a pizza at the highly recommended Emma Pizzeria and I can understand why that is so. You can taste the freshness and high-quality of the ingredients.

Day 2:

Buzzing to meet a friend of mine who runs a bespoke tour company in Rome, I had a early start. I stopped off to have a quick brekkie at Er Baretto and always I ordered a soya cappuccino and I tried a lemon sfogliatella. I had such a lovely chat with the owner and the waitress that worked there, the friendliness of the staff in Rome reminds me so much of home.

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Elena from Exclusiveissimo organised a food tour and seeing it through a true Roman’s eyes was the cherry on top. Take a look a few images of the places we stopped off at.

I ended the afternoon by heading up to Giardini degli Aranci which I had never been to before! It is such a beautiful garden filled with orange trees, hence the name, and a wonderful view of the city. Unfortunately, it was a bit grey when I reached up there but I still got to enjoy the view.

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I finished my night with dinner at Madre, and drinks in a few bars. A long-awaited trip to the restaurant I have been yearning to try. I tried the pork taco and savoury maritozzo with biological chicken salad, I could have eaten it twice. I also tried a dessert a very interesting take on tiramisu (yes its the one resembling the plant pot).

For more on my Roman adventure follow me on Instagram and Twitter @beetheexpat

Finding a Job in Italy – English Speakers

I think the most common question I get asked is “how did you find a job in Italy”; and having worked a job or three in Italy, I’m finally giving away all my secrets.

Ok, so actually there are no real secrets and there’s no real difference to finding a job anywhere else – just apply, apply, apply!

Make sure you are eligible

If you are not from an EU country, you might need a visa to work in Italy, having not experienced this first-hand I will direct you to a website where it is broken down for you – click here. The only advice I can give is to have patience, ensure you pay close attention and don’t give up.

Types of jobs

Teaching English –  there are many opportunities to teach English, whether it be in schools or private lessons. If you would rather do private lessons the best option is to print out your advert and put it in libraries and hand it out to schools, you can also put your advert on websites such as Kijiji or Bakeca. I actually taught over summer at ACLE camps which was one of the best experiences I’ve had and also promote it.

Tourism – hostels, hotels and tour agency are always on the lookout for English mother tongues. It is best to look directly on hotel or hostel websites or hand in your CV directly. Some hostels will also give you a place to stay in exchange for your employment with them.

Freelancing – for those who want to be their own boss, freelancing is the best route to take – although its easier said than done. There are websites such as Upwork and Freelancer which you can use to find job adverts. Some will be one-off jobs and others could be or lead into long-term freelancing contracts. You can also find some one-off ads on expat Facebook groups.

Office jobs – from consultant positions to P.A. opportunities and everything in between, you can find positions on LinkedIn, Indeed and Meritocracy. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and your CV is uploaded onto it.

CV Tips

  • Your CV does not have to be in the European format but include a professional photo
  • Keep your CV maximum 2 pages
  • Highlight key points at the top
  • Promote yourself, emphasise relevant key skills and highlight performance
  • Digitalise your CV if possible

 

Breakfast places in Garibaldi | Milan

When it comes to food, Lanza and Garibaldi area is always my place of choice. Although breakfast is not a huge deal in Italy, grabbing a good brioche and well-made cappuccino is always on my to-do list on my days off. If you’re like me and like to start the day right, you’ll want to add these places to your list of cafes/bistros to try!

Botega Cacao Caffe

Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what Botega Cacao Caffe is full of. Dive into chocolate heaven from the crack of dawn. WARNING: this cafe is addictive!

TRY: chocolate brioche and if it’s winter, indulge in a hot chocolate

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Giovanni Cova & C. Bistro

Welcoming staff, fresh pastries and good coffee; what more could you ask for in the morning. The ambience, along with the wide selection of fresh brioche, has me returning again and again to this spot.

Ammu Cannoli Espressi Siciliani

Not only for a spot for the morning but for whenever you want a sweet pick-me-up. Ammu serve the ultimate Sicilian sweet treats. It’s not easy to find good cannoli, but here you’re dreams with be fulfilled. And HOLY CANNOLI they do my favourite summer treat, granita and brioche.

TRY: cannoli with pistachio

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Thun Caffe

Perched at the end of in a little walkway off Corso Garibaldi lies this delightful spot. Organised in a unique format in which Thun Caffe combines a shopping experience and a cafe helping to define a customer experience in which the customer is the sole focus. Don’t accidentally miss this place.

Your personal on demand enoteca | Winelivery

What’s that I hear? My very own personal wine fairies!

Winelivery is an app providing fast delivery of wine, beer and a range of spirits right to your doorstep within 30 mins at the recommended drinking temperature. They deliver from 10 in the morning to 2 at night, so if you run out of drinks at a party at midnight, no worries!Continue reading “Your personal on demand enoteca | Winelivery”

5-minute side salad

It’s been a minute since I posted a recipe. Some of you might think I can’t cook because all the recipes I’ve shared so far require no cooking but those of you who follow me on Instagram and have seen my live cooking videos will beg to differ. Enough rambling, let’s get right into it!

For this recipe, I used condiments from Italia Regina.it a luxury online food shop selling the finest Italian produce at reasonable prices. The aspect that lured me in was the EU-wide free delivery (and there’s no spending threshold).

Best served as a side to a succulent steak or a vegetarian quiche; this recipe serves 2-3 people.

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Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Wash the spinach
  2. Cut each of the sundried tomatoes into 3 pieces
  3. Crumble the feta
  4. Toss the spinach, feta, sundried tomatoes and kidney beans into a bowl
  5. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on top
  6. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  7. Finally, top it off by squeezing a drop of lemon juice.

 


The best bars in Navigli

Milan is home to many unique and urban bars. Finding the best bars is by no means an easy task so, I’ve taken it upon myself to put together a compilation of a few of the coolest place in the glorious zones – Navigli and Tortona.

Il Secco

Situated a few steps from the Naviglio Grande, tucked away on a side road, lies this unique Enoteca. Specialising in wine and prosecco, this intimate bar is the ideal aperitivo or after dinner spot. If you’re unsure of what to order just ask at the bar; the staff of this cosy bar are well prepared in offering excellent wine advice tailored to your preferences. They serve some light food which is all sourced from local suppliers.

Recommendation: try Passerina

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The Botanical Club

Gin fanatics, this one is for you. In the bustling zone Tortona, is one of the two gin-distilleries. Contemporary building with the exterior resembling a greenhouse whereas, the interior mirrors bars in London and New York. Although they specialise in gin, the bar also offers a selection of non-gin based cocktails and food. The drinks go down smooth and paired with the delicious finger food menu,

Recommendation: to drink try the classic gin & tonic and the sailor’s tonic and to eat the hummus goes down a treat

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Pinch – Spirits and Kitchen

If you step into this bar, you feel like you’ve gone back in time to the 1940s. Everything from the decor to the staff’s uniform echoes this era. This cosy bar on the busy strip of Navigli is famous for its wines and cocktails.

Recommendation: for a cocktail, try the Bella Stronza

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Millino

Warm ambience, good drinks, tasty food and nice music. The perfect environment for a chilled evening as the atmosphere gives you the sense of being at home. Super inviting prices so there’s no excuse not to check out this venue.

Recommendation: try ratatouille di quinoa

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Which bars do you recommend in the Navigli and Tortona area?

 

Best 5 public working spaces in Milan

Relaxing environment, caffeine fixes, snacks and free wifi are important when working out of office or studying. To make your search easier, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite independent places to work in Milan for you.Continue reading “Best 5 public working spaces in Milan”

Where to eat in Milan: good and cheap

In a country that holds one of the world finest cuisines, you are sorted when it comes to indulging.

But in a touristic city like Milan, it can be hard to find that perfect combination of a reasonably priced restaurant with TASTY traditional food. Let me help you avoid the tourist traps with my guide of some good and cheap restaurants in Milan.Continue reading “Where to eat in Milan: good and cheap”