Tag Archives: inspiration

Weekend city guide-Miami edition

22 Jun

Happy Thursday everyone!

I am calling this guide a ‘mini’ one because I have only ever stayed there for two-three days max! The reason is simple, that’s the max amount of time I can spend doing ‘nothing’.

Don’t get me wrong, the endless ice-creams, the cutesy restaurants and cafes and the party scene there is pretty cool, and I love the quintessentially South Florida scene there, but as a tan person genetically, that is the max amount of sun bathing you will ever catch me doing. Ever. And when in Miami, you can not avoid the sun nor the beach-not enough, not at all!

So here is a Miami guide for anyone looking to do a small romantic getaway or a fun girls weekend there. (P.S., it is absolutely on my list for my bachelorette weekend though, like, duh.)

Where to stay

del

Delano-a view captured by their own photographer

 

Delano

 

It might be one of the priciest places to stay at in Miami, but the experience will be worth the splurge! Since it is Miami, the scene outside is the real deal-its infinity edge pool and bungalows with rainfall showers are what draw many a tourist here and the Agua Spa is like the sweet cherry on top of this deal. The suites themselves are nothing short of incredible featuring a tranquil white-on-white design scheme that will calm you to your core! My advice-stay here for one night at least! You will not regret the memories you will make!

Standard miami

The Standard (source: their website)


The Standard

If you are not looking to go overboard with your hotel expenditure (read:if you want to avoid bankruptcy), or if you plan to stay for more than a couple of nights, this one is a great choice! The Standard Hotel and Spa thinks of itself more as a spa with a few guestrooms rather than the other way round and has the perfect environment to help you unwind while you vacation. In between the outdoor soaking tubs, the 90-degree hammam, the cedar sauna and the on-site juice cafe-you will be addicted!

sanctuary

The Sanctuary (taken by their photographer)


Sanctuary South Beach

This is the ideal place to book if you are on a budget and yet still want to feel like you are staying at one of the best spots in the city. Their pool specifically makes you feel like you got more than what you paid for and not only are their rooms spacious and comfy but the beach and several shopping options are close by! The trick though is to book a month or more in advance for which they offer multiple too-good-to-be-true packages.

Where to Eat

versailles.jpg

Versailles


Versailles 

This place is one of the most iconic spots of Miami, called by some even ‘the most famous Cuban restaurant in the world’, and you definitely cant leave Miami before going here

Yardbird

 

 

If you are into Southern food and that too in a farm-to-table kind of a set-up, this is a must go for you! However, it was their brunch that stole my heart. (Available for weekends only, but too good!)

27-restaurant-4

27 Resturaunt

 

27 Restaurant

The interior has a colorful, beachy vibe (complete with picnic tables, bright shelving and catchy wallpaper). The menu is a mix of Caribbean, South American and Middle Eastern cuisines, and the food is divine!

 

ms cheez

Ms. Cheezious


Ms. Cheezious

 

This place on Biscayne Boulevard is one of a kind for one special reason-it is dedicated to cheese. From mac and cheese to grilled cheese, they serve it all but with quirky twists and at amazing prices. Two words-must go!

Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop

Started by an actual firefighter, they offer some of the best pies in the city-and the serving size of their slices is easily good enough for two! Economical and delicious-what more could one want?

The Local house

One of the best spots for brunch in the city! Their caramelized banana pancakes with creme fraiche are amazing! Also a must try is their crab cake benedict.

 

Where to get Caffeinated 

Las Olas Cafe 

For me, leaving Miami without trying some Cuban flavor was a huge no so my trip to Las Olas Cafe was a must! And was I glad that we went there. Getting served fantastic cups of coffee in a laid-back setting is in itself worth the extra walk in the May heat but the first sip of my café con leche y azúcar made all the extra effort more than worth it!

panther

Panther Coffee

Panther Coffee 

The reason Panther Coffee Miami Beach is a favorite with both locals and tourists is that it has kind of a Starbucks vibe but with much much better coffees. Plus, while their indoor space is great for work and meetings the outdoor seating in the breezeway is great for a fun, relaxed hangout!

Cafe Demetrio

It is a quaint European style coffeehouse that has some of the best artisanal brews in the city! Housed in a 1920s building with a garden-like terrace, it also offers live music-an over all combination that gives it an old world charm and makes it perfect for an afternoon retreat! Tip-try their Cafe Leo!

Bachour

Bachour Bakery + Bistro

Bachour Bakery + Bistro

Not exactly a cafe, but their coffee was amazing. However, what made this place an instant favorite for me were their macarons and their pastries! After all, who doesn’t love freshly baked goodies with their morning coffee?

Entertainment

Other than sunbathing on the beaches, that is. 

Rent a bike and explore

Two reasons why I suggest this-one, because this is a much better option than renting a car and trying to get around because parking in Miami, especially close to the beaches, is far from fun-we spent fifty minutes looking for a spot to park and then ended up having to pay extra to a valet to park for us. Secondly, Miami is like one flat biking town, and there is not a more fun and easy way to get from one place to another. Plus there are so many cute hidden spots that you can only stumble upon if you are biking!

Shop at 

The Mall at Lincoln road
It is a pedestrian only strip of boutiques and designer shops that is a must go for anyone looking for a good shopping experience!

Boho Hunter
This place will make you feel like you came to the beach unprepared, but will kindly offer all that you forgot you needed to bring! From wrap headbands for lounging by the pool to cute woven totes to ruffled skirts, they offer everything you will need to buy and then some! (They have an online store too which is ridiculously good!)

Books and books and Taschen (the later is on Lincoln rd.)
These shops are must visits for book lovers, especially if you forgot to bring a book for your day at the beach!

Must See

miami-beach-art-deco-district-ocean-blvd

Art Deco District


The Art Deco district-
The colorful buildings here are world famous, and there reason is pretty obvious for the colors and ‘art’ in them will leave you inspired! It’s an especially good spot for architecture buffs!
Tip:– Head to the Art Deco Welcome Center to get a guided/self-guided tour of the district!

Wynwood Arts District
Home to plenty of art galleries, shops, bars and some really amazing street art, this area is perfect for spending a relaxed afternoon in Miami.

Little Havana-
You can’t visit Miami without a trip to the city’s famous Cuban neighborhood. Packed with cigar shops, galleries, fantastic Cuban food and Cuban coffee spots, it is an experience in itself!

Little havana

A piece of Little Havana

 

vicayza.jpg

Vicayza

Vizcaya Museum and Garden- It is a national historic landmark and once you see it for yourself you will know what the hype is about! The property reminds you of an Italian villa and is a perfect spot for walking around, taking in some beautiful views and escaping the city’s hustle and bustle!

Must do

Kayak at Oleta River State Park
If you want to experience part of the natural beauty in the area, this park is a good way for that! For a non-sport-loving person like me (no shame, girl) it was an amazing spot for picnicking but locals suggested that the real way to see the park’s beauty was via kayaking! So do give it a try!

Jet-Ski-
How can you not when you are so close to such beautiful waters? There are multiple rental companies to use for this ‘must-do’, though
American WaterSports is usually the safest option. (Full disclosure-I might know how to swim, but huge water bodies scare me so I didn’t even go close to any of the jet skis!)

Enjoy the sunset from the South Point Park-
It is honestly the best spot to catch the sunset, both picturesque (think walkways, benches, green spaces) and relaxing!

Visit Key West
If you have an extra day on your hands, spend it in Key West. The beaches are less crowded and the views even prettier! Plus its famous coral reefs are ideal for activities like snorkeling and diving!

 

For your sweet tooth

bianco

Bianco Gelato


Bianco Gelato

For the absolute best gelato, you have to head here! Not only because of the taste but also because the owners are very quality conscious. Plus, they have so many options that it will leave you astounded-including even dairy-free ones!

 

Azucar-

Acuzar

 

Azucar ice cream

If you are amongst those who prefer their ice-creams to any gelato, this place should be on your list. Not only are their flavors incredible but they also make fresh ice-cream daily! It is located in Little Havana so try it out while you are touring the place!

Ella

This pop-up cafe is made for sugar lovers, or at least their buttermilk pancakes will make you feel so! A perfect spot for breakfast or for a grab-and-go sweet treat!

 

I hope next time you plan a visit to Miami, this guide will prove helpful to you! 

Lots of Love,
Gull.

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Work-friendly cafes in Lahore 

12 Jun

I’ve never been the kind who can sit in a library for hours and study/work. Nor can I do that at home. Being a medicine student though, that equation didn’t work well for me and I had to find a place where I could sit and study for longer than five minutes in a go.

My answer came to me out of forced circumstances. My final exams were just around the corner, when some relatives came to Pakistan to visit us.

The energy levels at home were beyond anything. Everyone was as people should be when they haven’t met their loved ones in years-loud, worked up and ready for laughs on the smallest of triggers.

Fun times but not for someone with their medicine finals so close. One day, tired of the noise levels, I gathered my books and ended up going to a cafe close to my house.

I got more studying done that day than I’d in the past four at least.

And hence it began. My love for studying and working at cafes around town.

However, I soon realised that every cafe wasn’t work friendly. Some didn’t appreciate you sitting for hours after paying for only your coffee while others were too loud or their furniture too relaxed (yes, that’s a thing) to let you work. However, in the past four odd years, I’ve found some favourites for working at. And though I wish that we could have a Starbucks at every corner too where you could sit and work for hours, these cafes have been saviours for me and today I share them with you!

1. Gloria Jeans, Z block DHA:-

img_1309-1

It’s at the top of my list for a reason. The staff is infinitely courteous and accommodating. The noise levels through most of the day don’t get too annoying.

However, here is the best part-most weekdays, as you climb their stairs to the upper level you will find almost all the tables occupied by customers working away (or even studying) creating a perfect work friendly environment for anyone. Add to that, their community tables are at the perfect height for the given chairs for any kind of work (hi zero neck strain). And, they don’t guilt trip you for sitting with your single coffee cup-for hours.

Verdict-The staff is helpful, the baristas good at their work and the ambiance always both welcoming and work-friendly.

2. Mocca, Mall one, Gulberg 

Mocca


The only reason it’s at the second position on this list is that personally it’s a little too far out of my way. Otherwise, it’s as good as Gloria Jean’s Z block for working out of. The staff is diligent, the lighting amazing (minimal eye strain, omg). Add to that their amazing coffee and macaroons and the place becomes the perfect cafe to work out from. Again, a lot of other workaholics come here too and many a times you will find yourself surrounded by a group of other people working or studying there too, creating the perfect ambiance for you to do the same. That stands true especially for the new covered area they have made on their rooftop. (Plus glass walls, omg!)

Verdict-the food options are vast, the coffee is amazing and the staff is helpful but non intrusive, letting you work as undisturbed as can be.

3. Coffee Shop, Defense club, J block DHA

Coffee shop, Defense Club


One place I can sit from morning till evening with minimal distractions, great (usually) coffee and very, very helpful staff-it’s this. And I’ll be honest. I’ve spent many a day here with my laptop or my books. The only flaw is their lack of wi-fi and the at times not-so-good coffee. However, the staff here is made up of the best, most courteous group of people ever which almost make up for the draw backs. Almost.

Verdict-Perfect ambiance for working if you can do so without wi-fi. Or can arrange for your own.



4. Rina’s Kitchenette, DHA

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Rina’s Kitchenette 


It is almost as good as the other places on the list. The only issue is, this place can either work really well for you or not at all. How? Because the place is small and if you end up going there during rush hours (or when a particularly loud group of people is there too) it’s not going to work out for you at all. But between the rush hours, the community table on the ground floor is a favourite of mine to work at because honestly their dessert menu is the best in the city.

Verdict-They have the best dessert bar ever and amazing coffee too but the environment can swing from being work friendly to the opposite on different days and during different hours. Hence, it’s a calculated risk at times but a great one nonetheless.

Friday Five

9 Jun

The five travel linked beauty products that we fell in love with this week are listed below. I hope you enjoy them!

darphin

Travel essential-Darphin Beauty revealing cream

  1. Darphin Exquisage Beauty Revealing Cream
    Moisturizing should be a key part of your beauty regime no matter if you are travelling or not, but travelling requires you to put extra efforts into the step. This cream is a little thicker than your usual moisturizers but that is why it makes it an absolute in-flight travel essential! It keeps your skin firm and super radiant, no matter how long the flight.

    aerin

    Travel essential-Aerin rose hand cream

  2. Aerin rose hand and body cream
    Because your face is not the only place that gives in to the drying impact of travelling-you need to give as much attention to the rest of yourself too. This Aerin cream is ideal for keeping your hands and feet moisturized, helping you smell great at the same time! (I might be slightly obsessed with its fragrance, to be honest!)

    ouai.jpg

    Travel essential-Ouai Dry shampoo

  3. Ouai Dry shampoo
    This little guy is a life saver, especially for the days when showering on the go isn’t the easiest task. For me though sometimes even after a good wash my hair looks flat-probably because of the change in air and water, and this spray helps my hair look voluminous again. So, for any time during your trip, if your hair seems too flat and not fresh enough, this will be your savior!

    kateee

    Travel essential-Kate Somerville Cleanser

     

  4. Kate Somerville Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
    A good, deep cleaning cleanser is a must when travelling-because you are definitely going to be more in the outdoors than normal. Plus, your skin is never really prepared to deal with the different percentages of bacteria and dust particles in the new environment, so the best way is to keep your skin as clean and your pores as gunk-free as can be. This cleanser is ideal for the required amount of exfoliative treatment, letting your skin remain clean and fresh looking (and far away from pimples).

    karuna

    Travel essential-Karuna face masks

  5. Karuna face masks
    There is nothing more refreshing (nor better for your skin) than to return to your hotel after a day of sight-seeing and going to bed with a nice face mask. Not only will you wake up the next day re-energized but so will your skin! And these Karuna face masks, especially the hydrating one, is one of my favorites when travelling! It keeps my skin fresh and hydrated, minimizing the break-outs I once used to be prone to while travelling. In fact, the last time I was travelling, I began to break out pretty badly but between the cleanser mentioned above, these masks and this ELF acne fighting spot gel, I was able to make the pimples go away!

 

Night blindness

26 Mar

One of the

hardest

steps to take,

are the ones towards

the search of

light,

when pitch black night has taken

residence

in your soul,

and the thought of sunshine

is

blinding your eyes.

Amnesia

25 Mar

It was when,

the idea of amnesia,

became both scary and

desirable,

that I knew it was real,

the love that I had,

and the heart break I had

suffered,

for while the later

tempted me

to forget,

the former made me hold on,

stronger,

to the memories

that I still wasn’t ready to

let go.

Image

Coming home

6 Mar

14596850_1820516484889498_5161952302063419392_n

She sat under the same old tree,
The branches of it barely sheltering her,
She still smiles but looks melancholy,
Wearing the same shirt, of that deep blue sea.
I walk up to her, as I do every week,
Then walk right past without a word,
She glances at me, she doesn’t speak,
But her dimmed eyes say it all.
There is pain, a loss of will,
And past her most frequent visitor,
Hope is not ready to come back till,
She is ready for the world.
I walk away, not turning back,
Tomorrow maybe I will say something,
Today though the courage I lack,
To comfort her, to convince myself.
In the distance, my abode seems to lure,
The hunger in me, my soul is ready for it,
But the evening out, so fresh so pure,
I am not ready for home, I am not ready to go.

Counting my way to the next sunrise

15 Feb

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Some days start,
their end comes so smoothly,

Like the blink of an eye,
a smile on a sunny day,

Some mornings they begin,
you count till it is dark,

The lights dim out,
the way they have inside you,

and the seconds are years,
never ending, yet instantaneous when they end.

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