As you’ve heard me say several times tirelessly, time off is a must-do for any freelancer in their sane mind. Some like to detox and kiss the world good bye for a month, some like to have frequent breaks to look forward to but being on top of their e-mail game while away and you know which category I fall under. Nevertheless, over time – this year marks my 10th in business – I find necessary to take time off more often than not. And for as long as the purse allows for it, I also try to do it in style. You may remember that packing checklist of mine – that was thoroughly followed for our recent trip to Europe (yes, I know, I have probably overdone it with Downton Abbey so much as to sound very British and call it the Old Continent, almost) yet there was a game-changer in this escape… we drove there. Yes, for 2 days and 1,900 km, door to door, approx. We left on 12th and returned on 23rd August. While my other half complained thoroughly about how much stuff I’ve brought with me for just 10 days (just!), I opted for a different style of packing this time – I used a suitcase for clothes and swimwear and two other bags for shoes and makeup. So, yes, this time I had more things with me (and I managed to even buy a pair of shoes…)
but it worked as the car would bear the burden, so to speak. Despite being quantity over quality this time for once, I still was able to stick to the principle of planning based on necessity. This means I had identified the occasions I was going to be faced with (beach, dinner or event mainly) choosing a distinctive, uber-functional, versatile look, that I like to call holiday’s star outfit.
We drove 2 days and 1,900 km
Once on the other side, at Calais, our trip took us through France, with a long drive down to, Lyon Avignon and then Cavalaire sur Mer, just a mer 10-minute car ride from sunny St. Tropez. While it was hard enough to find accommodation during the peak of the summer holidays in the Côte that wouldn’t require a mortgage or our future first-born child, I ended up choosing Hôtel de la Calanque, a cute white-and-blue location overlooking the bay that would let us explore the cité the next day. Settled at 10.30 pm after a stunning 11-hour trip plus stop-overs, we had a lovely breakfast the next day and enjoy St. Tropez for lunch. I was tipped off on Maison Bianca, a lovely white beach bar in Ramatuelle, that had it all – superb food, English-speaking staff and a view. Some of my favourite shots are from there – and they all star my favourite outfit. Our struggle was constant for good or even decent coffee in France: espresso is a distant memory and the vicinity to the Bel Paese far from useful. Alas, we are very Italians for that. But we stumbled across Dior Café
We then drove to Italy: Nice, Menton, Sanremo, Genoa, Portofino and then Viareggio, Tuscany where we spent the week. After family duties and a few dinners – all about sea food, if you ask me! – at my favourite, Trattoria da Cicero, we took the car once again to Elba, the third biggest island in Italy – and a place that I cherish in my childhood memory. There, we headed to Baia Imperiale Beach Hotel, in Cavoli – a location we love because it’s easy-going, we know all the staff and it’s simple but super nice – and they do full board so it’s worth it! The southern area of the isle is dry and cactus-rich… Let alone HOT. But we had a room with a view and memories to build 🙂
The southern area of the isle is dry and cactus-rich
It’s been almost a week since we’ve driven back: this time through Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg – where we had a wonderful Alsatian dinner at Goethe Stuff– and stayed at this marvellous Melià (extra nice room, 7th floor with a view, Nespresso in our room…) with a view over the citadel which was blessed with a wonderful sunset and 25° C.
Lots of babbling but… what’s the lesson from this trip, you may ask.
- Always choose a star outfit: consider something you can recycle for pretty much all occasions. That’s why you see a lot of me in the red dress over the photos! I could wear this:
- during the trip
- at dinner for a more dressy look with flats
- at daytime, with sliders for a more casual look (which is what i mostly wore)
- and it was perfect because it is light but sufficiently modest, summery but also not too beach-style and on trend.
- Pack a few things extra: there’s nothing wrong in regretting that and bring home some clean clothes. I did bring denim to change into during our travel and for when we left / arrived in the UK where temperatures dropped. I did plan to use more shoes but it was very warm and my swollen feet thanked me. We were expecting to attend a party on 15th (national holiday in Italy) but we finally forfeited that so the dressier options I had packed stayed in the suitcase.
- Plan your trip and you can do it in style: I had organised the bookings for Eurotunnel and the hotel in Elba but I didn’t stress too much about it until a week before. We knew France would be cute but expensive (especially petrol and toll-wise) but we made it up on the way back with a route that had almost no toll at all (yay!)
- Ask for tips: we scored great locations and meals in Lux, St. Tropez and Viareggio – as well as Elba – via friends and contacts.
- Enjoy the ride.
Red & Navy dress: Realisation | Black strap dress: Intimissimi
Lace top: Intimissimi | Black dress: American Apparel
Sliders: Hermes | Flats: @Zoccolifantasia (Isola d’Elba) | Red flats: Melissa
Bikini: Marysia | Bag: Rae Feather | Red sandals: Stuart Weitzman
Glasses: Céline (Fab’s are Rayban)
SPF 50: Dior | Concealer: Nars | Toiletries: Loewe (from Melià) | Perfume: Cuir de Russie, Chanel
Hat: market in London | Bamboo bag: Cult Gaia Ark bag in neutral
Hotel: La Calanque, France | Baia Imperiale, Elba | Other location: on the road
All images are iPhone 7 and Sony 7 Alpha, taken by me and @cocorino.