What Nadine Loves

Just another lifestyle blog.

Weekend in Cannes before the Film Festival

May 19, 2016

I returned from my weekend trip to Cannes over a week ago and I had a great time there. I always loved the city and I am quite happy everytime I am there. I had not been to Cannes for almost five years and I was really looking forward to going. Cannes has changed so much in the last five years, there are many new restaurants and shops, but it's still the Cannes I remember. The beautiful port, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and of course the famous La Croisette. It has reminded me why I should go more often in the future.

How to get to from Lugano to Cannes?

First, there are no convenient flights to Nice. One option is to travel up to Zurich and take a plane from there to Nice. Another option is to take a direct train from Milan Central to Cannes and as it seemed easier for me and allowed more flexibility, it's what I did. Around noon on Thursday I took the train from Lugano to Milan Central and bought a train ticket from there to Cannes. Last minute ticket cost 50€ in second class and 65€ in first class. It takes 5:28h in total. Once you get to Genoa, it's a very pleasant ride along the coastline.

Arrival in Cannes

I arrived just before 9pm at the train station in Cannes, went quickly to my flat to drop off my bags and do my make up again. It was almost ten when I left the house and I felt it was too late to sit down in a restaurant.

Steak'n'Shake Cannes

Just at the end of the road where I stayed opened Steak'n'Shake and I decided to have dinner there. It's very similar to Shake Shack and I wanted to try it out. I've never heard about the chain before, 

Is Steak'n'Shake better than Shake Shack? While Shake Shack burgers are much better than the Steak'n'Shake ones, the fries are better at Steak'n'Shake. I also prefer the branding of Shake Shack. 

I went home, fell asleep quite quickly and had a good lie in on Friday morning. The previous two weeks had been quite stressful, travelling home from Aegina to Lugano on Wednesday and then taking the train from Lugano to Cannes. I left the house just in time for lunch. The last time I was in Cannes, I went to a great Italian restaurant for my birthday dinner. The restaurant is overlooking the Port of Cannes and it's a lovely place to eat lunch and dinner. I ordered a simple Pizza Pepperoni and a double espresso. La Pizza Cresci is located at 3 Quai Saint-Pierre, 06400 Cannes, France and worth a visit. 

After my lunch at La Pizza Cresci, I went for a walk along the Port of Cannes and the La Croisette. Once you pass the Palais you are on Square Reynaldo Hahn. It's a lovely walk and if you are in Cannes for the first time, I recommend walking from the Port of Cannes to the Pointe Croisette.

La Californie Cannes 

Maurice Guillouet opened a new restaurant at the end of April in Cannes: La Californie. I spotted this restaurant already on Thursday night, but it was busy and no table was available. I returned on Friday night a little bit earlier and I was lucky. It's a small but well picked menu and I choose the salmon with salad. What sounds like a very simple menu and looked rather plain, was probably the best salmon I have ever eaten in my entire life. It was perfect. The restaurant is, like Cannes, a bit more expensive, but it's so worth it. I paid 70€ (£54) including a tip for my meal, my desert and a gin and tonic. The service was outstanding and I will return next time I am in Cannes.

After dinner, I walked home and went to sleep early as I wanted to wake up early the next morning. On Saturday I had an appointment to get my eyebrows sorted. I am embarrassed to say that I never had it done by a professional and I was always worried I would get the looks when they saw my eyebrows. I booked an appointment with the Benefit Brow Bar and I am so glad I did. My eyebrows looked amazing afterwards. Not only did the Benefit beautician dye them darker, but she also plucked and waxed them into a great shape. I wish I had gone earlier. 

The Benefit Brow Bar is inside the Sephora in Cannes, located at 53 Rue d'Antibes, 06400 Cannes, France.

Royale Plage Beach Club Cannes

On Saturday it was quite warm in Cannes and I wanted to go to the beach, but I prefer to go to a place where I could order drinks and cocktails. Royale Plage Beach Club looked very inviting and not too busy. The beach club provides sunbeds and towels for 20€ a day, which is a bargain in Cannes. At the beginning, it was rather windy and the water was quite cold, but once you got used to it, it was okay. 15€ for one Gin and Tonic and 21€ for a Club sandwich are normal Cannes prices. A week earlier, I was at the beach in Aegina where Gin&Tonics cost 6€ and 8€ for a Club sandwich. Take me back to Greece anytime. 

It was my last day in Cannes and for dinner I went to Steak'n'Shake again. I went home early to pack my suitcase and prepare for my departure on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, there was no direct train from Cannes until Milan before the afternoon and I had to change trains twice. I had a great time and I can't wait to return soon. 

Planning a trip to Cannes on the Côte d'Azur

May 02, 2016

Planning a trip to Cannes on the Côte d'Azur

I am still in Aegina, Greece, but will fly back to Milan on Wednesday. I just found out yesterday that I can have off Thursday to Monday including and I would like to go away for a few days again. My initial idea was to go to Monaco for one or two nights and then go to Cannes, but I found out that my friends might not be in Monaco anymore as they probably leave early. I will make exact travel plans upon my return on Wednesday night, but will probably go one night to Monaco and then another 2-3 nights in Cannes.

Cannes - Synonymous with Glamour

I would really like to go to Cannes as I haven't been since my 21st birthday and I really miss the resort town on the French Riviera. I spent so much time there as a child and some of my best childhood memories have been made in Cannes. The town is known for its world-famous film festival, that will actually start on the 11th of May and I prefer to go either pre-film festival or after August. During the high season, I try to avoid Cannes. As a child, I was there for six weeks most summers and I remember how busy it was. My parents, my sister and I would often go to the beach closer to the Mandelieu-La Napoule as it was less crowded and we could enjoy it more.

Where to Stay in Cannes

 InterContinental Carlton Cannes

My parents have a flat in Cannes, where I can usually stay there unless it's rented out which has actually happened to me the last two times I went to Cannes and I ended up staying in hotels. If you can spend a bit more, I can recommend the Hôtel Barrière Le Gray d'Albion and the InterContinental Carlton Cannes. I have previously stayed at both hotels and they are fantastic. If you want to go to Cannes and you are on a budget, I really recommend Résidence ExcelSuites in Cannes. I have stayed there twice and Eric, the hotel manager, is very friendly and helpful. The suites are clean, spacious and ideal for travelers who would like to self cater. If you want to be right at the beach, then the place isn't the right one for you as it's a 10-15 minutes walk away.

Great restaurants in Cannes

Probably one of my favourite restaurants in Cannes is Le Repère in Mandelieu-La Napoule. The restaurant has a large outside terrace with a lovely view across the bay towards Cannes. The food is fantastic and has reasonable prices. It's around a 9km distance from the Port de Cannes, but I can't recommend visiting this place enough. Remember when Made in Chelsea's Spencer took Caggie to Cannes and they had a double date dinner at a restaurant with Hugo and Millie? Yep, it's that restaurant. Alongside the shoreline you can find lots of restaurants that serve fantastic seafood for every budget.

Activities in Cannes 

I have to admit, I am rather lazy when I am in Cannes when it comes to activities apart from shopping, dining out and drinking too many cocktails. I also don't drive, so I rely on public transport. However, I recommend the next six activities if you are in Cannes for a few days.

1. Visit the Island Île Sainte-Marguerite

Île Sainte-Marguerite

Just a fifteen minute ferry ride from the Port of Cannes, is the biggest of the Lérins Islands: Île Sainte-Marguerite. It's only half a mile off shore from Cannes and famous for its fortress prison Fort Royal. The Man in the Iron Mask was held there in the 17th century and you can actually enter the cell he stayed in. It's a nice contrast from the glamorous city of Cannes with its La Croisette, yachts and high end designer stores.

2. La Croisette

Walk up and down the world famous Boulevard de la Croisette along the shoreline of Cannes and admire the shopping windows of Chanel&Co. The famous hotels Carlton, Majestic and Martinez are on La Croisette. If your budget is similar to mine, you will much prefer the next activity.

3. Shopping on Rue d'Antibes

On Rue d'Antibes is the 'normal' high street in Cannes with chain stores such as Zara, Kiko Milano, Sephora and so on but also a few independent stores that have some fantastic items. 

4. Take the train to Nice, Antibes or Monaco 

It is very easy to catch the train from Cannes to Nice, Antibes or Monaco and to see more of the Côte d'Azur. Train tickets are reasonable priced and the train lines run frequently. It only takes 44 minutes to get to Monaco, so it's quite manageable to go even if you only have half a day.

5. Walk along the beach to Mandelieu-La Napoule

It's a very nice walk to Mandelieu-La Napoule alongside the beach. The first time I was in Cannes, we actually stayed a few nights in Mandelieu-La Napoule and my parents made me and my sister walk to Cannes. Even though we were quite young we didn't mind because it was so wonderful. I remember that we took a taxi back to the hotel though. 

6. Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès was built in 1949 to host the Cannes Film Festival. You can walk along Cannes' Walk of Fame or visit the Cannes Tourist Office. The Film Festival will actually start two days after I'll leave Cannes, so I guess lots is happening when I am there.

Of course, there are many more things to do in the Cannes area. If you rent a car, your options are endless. I haven't been for almost five years, so I will probably not recognise the place when I go. I certainly have changed a lot as you can see from the pictures of my trip to Cannes at Easter in 2010.

Me on a holiday in Cannes in Easter 2010

Me on a holiday in Cannes in Easter 2010

Have you been to Cannes? What did you think? Have you been recently and can you recommend something? Let me know in the comment box below. Merci!

*Disclaimer: This blog post includes hotel affiliate links. However, all hotels mentioned were personally visited by me and my opinion was not influenced by a third party. Picture sources: Church and Monastery of the Lerins AbbeyPalais des Festivals et des Congrès

A holiday on the Greek Island Aegina

April 28, 2016

Greece Aegina Island Travel

Since Saturday I am on the Greek Island Aegina, located in the Argo-Saronic gulf. It was a long trip getting here, but it was so worth it. I had never been to Greece before, so I was very excited to go for the first time. Next weekend we will celebrate the Orthodox Easter again and while I am not religious, I am looking forward to the celebrations as I am interested in the tradition. I am here another six days and while the weather in Lugano is great, it's just not as fantastic as here.

How to get to Aegina

The closest airport to Aegina is Athens International Airport, called Eleftherios Venizelos, located 25km outside the centre of Athens. Easyjet offers non-stop flights from London Gatwick to Athens, so does British Airways and Ryanair.  It is very important to make sure you arrive not much later than 3pm or to leave before noon on your way back. If you arrive after 3pm you will not be able to make it to the island on the same day or on the way home to reach the airport in time. You can only get to the island by boat and the boat timetables can change according to the season.

When to visit Aegina 

It's best to visit Aegina outside of the high holiday season. Spring and autumn are great times to visit the island. It's not even May and I went swimming in the sea today. It's sunny, warm and energising. Aegina is actually known to have the mildest climate in Greece. 

Aegina's History

A myth says that the island was named after the most beautiful of Asopos twenty daughters. Asopos is the river good in the Greek mythology who eloped with Zeus to the then deserted island. There is evidence that the island was inhabited from as early as 3500 B.C. The island had a strong economic and social growth between around 900 B.C. and 480 B.C. and minted the first coins anywhere in Greece during the 7th century before Christi. Aegina was also actually the first capital of modern Greece, but only for two years from 1827 to 1829. If you are interested in (Greek) history, you will not be disappointed here. I have yet to visit the temple in Aegina, but will probably do so on Friday. 

Perfect for the independent traveller 

Aegina is a real living and working island, making the island very attractive for travelers who would like to have a real travel experience rather than being surrounded by lots of other tourists. Aegina is not as 'perfect' as some of the other Greek islands aimed at tourists. Don't get me wrong: While the beaches are lovely, they are not as 'pretty' as the beaches in Santorini or Mykonos.  Aegina mainly hosts Greek weekend visitors, especially people from Athens of whom many have a second home here. So, if you are looking for perfect white sand beaches, then Aegina is not for you, but if you want to get the real Greek experience, book your Aegina holiday. 

Aegina Beaches

Aegina Island Greece Sea Beach

There are several good sandy beaches on the island and the water is crystal clear. I was in Marathonas today and it was great. The water was clean, warm enough for a swim and La Palma offers free sunbeds and umbrellas to their customers. La Palma is a cafe, bar and restaurant offering a pleasant service located at the beginning of Marathonas beach on the west side of the island. The prices are very reasonable, I paid 20,80€ (£16.35) for a Pina Colada, one Gin&Tonic, two large scoops of ice cream and two coke zeros. From Marathonas beach you can see the islands Moni, Agistri and Methana as well as the Peloponnese mainland.

Aegina Island Greece Beach Water

Where to Stay on Aegina

I am staying in a private holiday home in Aegina, in a small village called Pachia Rachi. However, there are some amazing hotels and apartments on the island that have been recommended to me. 
My personal favourite is Marini Luxury Apartments and Suites. Not only does it have an outdoor pool, but also a fitness centre and is set amidst a beautiful landscaped garden. Every room is equipped with a hairdryer, a private bathroom including free toiletries, a satellite TV, laptop safe and even a refrigerator. A restaurant serves Greek cuisine and you can order cocktails as well as snacks at the pool. Activities for all guests include yoga lessons, traditional dances and aqua aerobic. There are many other great hotels and apartments on Aegina.

What to Wear on Aegina

Overall, I think Aegina is a great destination to travel to as you get a lot for not much money. Accommodation, restaurants and the activities are all very reasonable priced.

Have you been to Aegina or to another island in Greece? What did you think? Would you travel to Aegina?

Planning my trip to Las Vegas

April 26, 2016

I can't believe I am going to Las Vegas in less than nine weeks and I am super excited. I am flying out on the 25th of June from London with Virgin Atlantic and come back on the 11th of July. It will be my 4th time in Las Vegas and yet, there are so many things I want to do. I still haven't been to the Grand Canyon, but I might not do it until next year. My friend Lisa, that also lives in Lugano, will be in Las Vegas for a few days, but she leaves one day after I arrive. Luckily she comes back for one more night on the 1st of July, before heading home to Switzerland.

Las Vegas Budget

When I planned my finances for this year in January, I knew that I couldn't splash out as much money in Las Vegas as I have done in the past. I usually stayed at 5* Hotels and spent a lot of money on fine dining and shopping. Moving to Switzerland was more expensive than I thought and I had to use some money from my planned travel allowance for 2016, hence I am trying to stay at a few different hotels with different price levels. It's a win win situation as I get to experience more hotels and I can save some money too.

On the 3rd of July I will to Los Angeles for two nights, staying one night and flying back to Vegas on the 4th of July in time for the big Independence Day party. I hope the party isn't going to get too crazy, as I am trying to eat as healthily as possible in Las Vegas. LA will be halfway through my holiday, so it's a good idea to try out all the healthy food shops in town.

Activities in Las Vegas

I still have not been to the Grand Canyon, but I doubt I will be able to go this year. I don't want to go on my own and all my friends who will be in Las Vegas have already been to the Grand Canyon. I also haven't been inside a few hotels yet and that's one thing I want to do this year.

The LINQ Highroller

The LINQ Highroller Las Vegas

I still haven't been on the LINQ Highroller observation wheel. It's the focal point of The LINQ promenade, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district that was still under construction last time I was in Las Vegas. It's 550 feet high and was not only voted 'Best Attraction' but also the 'Best Amusement Ride' and 'Best Place to View the City' by the readers and editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal. It's the tallest observation wheel in the world, 110 feet taller than the London Eye.

The new nightclubs in Las Vegas

There are two new night clubs in Las Vegas I haven't been to and this year I want to change that: Hakkasan and Omnia. Both belong to the Hakkasan Group and my friends who have visited it, only told me great things about it.

Hotels in Las Vegas

I still haven't decided where I will stay in Las Vegas yet. In the past I stayed at the Aria, the Vdara, the Cosmopolitan and a couple of others. This year I am going to cover a few articles for Ideal Travel and I would like to stay at a few different hotels, probably one budget, one midrange and one for luxury travellers. I am currently on holiday in Aegina and once I have a little bit of time, I'll sit down and work out my budget for my trip.

Have you been to Las Vegas recently? Can you recommend things to do and did you like where you stayed?

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