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BCN’17: Sitges

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetThis town means family time to me. Not much I wanna write here as those are quite personal and very happy moments for me. I am planning one big post about my favorite topic – food, food in Spain but especially in Costa Dorada and Costa Brava area. I’ve been collecting some pics and comments since last year trip, so something is gonna come at the end of my vacation this time. I want to include everything I discover in Barcelona as well, that’s why it’s pending.

Other than great food, the place offers typical for Spain sports and in general a lot to do: any hotel would provide you bikes for rent, for example. We are big tennis fans, so Sitges is our heaven. I love getting up early, going to the courts with dad, where everyone already knows and greets us. And now I practice some Spanish like that, too! Coming back to my favorite Melía hotel afterwards, when the breakfast has started, to drink ice cold champagne as the first thing that the body gets after having been sweating in tennis club. I would live a life like that! Wish I was born in a very hot country where tennis is a thing, really.

The beaches of Sitges are good, too. What’s a big bonus – one can get some quality tan being completely naked, as it is a rule there. Tanning topless is in general a normal thing anywhere in Spain, can’t even tell how much I appreciate that with all my hate towards stripes. Nobody is gonna stare at you, people go together with their kids to nude beaches and you just feel the freedom. Food, tennis, sea and freedom – what can be more of a heaven on Earth?


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BCN’17: intro

Hey hey! This is just a short update to begin a longer set of posts it.  IMG_3917Just to clear up what I’ve been up to: I am currently in Barcelona, since a month. I am doing a language course, will definitely leave a feedback and tell everything about the school when I am done, which is gonna be in another month. Two months in Barcelona: what else can one dream of? When I finished my last course of Italian (except university classes), I was sure I was done with language schools for the summer. But last year in Cuba I almost accidentally started to learn Spanish. This brought me to the desire to learn another language, and I am quite into Spanish I admit. Even though nothing will ever replace Italian for me.

Anyways, I am here since a month; leaving Austria for the holidays this summer was the hardest ever, because, a little sneak-peak into my private life, I am now very happy and complete there. But comfort should never stop one from exploring further! I see no electricity in my Bcn apartment since 4 days as another great adventure. And, of course, am extremely grateful to my local friends with hot showers and sockets. Spain is a tricky one, yes. Jon Snow knew nothing yet when I was complaining about trains being cancelled due to a strike in Italy 3 years ago – that was a kindergarten of what mess can be. Love it.

First three weeks of my stay here I wasn’t exactly in Barcelona. My family and friends were staying in Sitges – the place we absolutely fell for last year. We tend to never come back to the same vacation destination, but that was an exception which worked out again. I was staying for the weekends at beloved Melía and coming to Sitges more or less every day during the week when I have courses to have breathtaking meals (yes, I find it ok to apply that adjective to food), endless night talks and to play tennis with dad. Will write a separate note about it, because Sitges is a place to be.

Barcelona was not boring for a single hour either! The fun is just to come, as Jamila arrived 2 days ago and we are expecting more and more people to join us 😉 When I arrived, Jane and Rustam were in Barcelona, which couldn’t be better timing! Food, cava, Rustam’s head spinning from our girly talks as Katya was joining us. Flex pride worldwide!

 

I even finished my thesis last week, now it’s official! Never thought I’d be able to work that fast and productive while being on summer vacation. A great relief!

When everyone left, I flew to Berlin for couple days to unite with my schoolmates there and have some crazy Berlin-style nights and mornings. A separate post is going to be devoted to that for sure. Sooner or later. Not easy to find time in Bcn. Becomes especially challenging when your apartment doesn’t provide electricity.

Now we gotta finish our Spanish homework and the plan for the following weekend which is promising to be amazing. Yuuhuuu!


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Favorite Summer Tradition

…for me is, of course, annual trips to Italy! This post is a throwback to the Italian trip of the summer 2017. Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetBack in the days I would spend whole summers mostly in Italy, only leaving for 2-4 weeks for somewhere else. The main reason, other than unconditional love for Italy, would be to practice the language. But now I speak decent Italian and from last summer on have been trying to broaden horizons and travel outside my favorite country more, as well as start learning some other language. Spanish was chosen to be the next one, as you remember from my 2016 summer trip to Cuba and Mexico.

Nevertheless, a trip to Italy is a must-do for me every summer as well as every winter, as Italy is not only the best way to spend hot days for me, but the most desired snowboarding destination, too. What a country!

My summer vacation this year started exactly like the one last year, by the way: we made a road-trip to Milan and then hit couple more places, including a lake. Trip with the girls last year was awesome, so why not do it again, we thought? We were different team this time, but it was just as great! I am so happy I bring all my friends to Milan and to my most beloved city of Italy – Florence. Last year I went there with my Australian friend, but this time we managed to include Florence in the road trip plan right away.

Four days in my favorite country to begin with – what can be a better kick off for the summer?! It’s gonna be a great one, I know! This time I don’t want to heap this post up with must-eat’s, as everything is a must-eat for me in Italy. So, let’s skip my usual approach to travel notes which always includes tips for restaurants, bars and view decks, and I will just leave couple pics here to remember how great this trip was. There is no need to prove that everything is worth tasting and seeing there 😉

Last year’s memories of the times when I studied at Bocconi together with breakfasts at my beloved eat me & go; nights at Aperol terrace dancing like crazy above Duomo Square and parking for free as if we were always locals there

Next stop – my one and only Florence. The voice announcing trains on the station still gives me shivers of the memories from those times when I used to come to that station anxious and happy; narrow streets every single one of which I still remember as if I had spent my childhood there; favorite bar La Petite where it all started 3 years ago; leather market and the “don’t let him take you to the big shop, it’s a forbidden experience!” from Sex&The City; risotto ai porcini and the view on Duomo cupola in the sun dawn.

I was the happiest there, in Florence. I am happy now, too. Just differently happy. More mature or more cynically happy, which is by no chance a measure of less happiness; just the difference. The time when I was happy in Florence was most likely the last one, when I was happy as a child. Now I am actually happy for the first time since then, since that other “happy”. Now it’s a grown-up happy. The concentration of the word happy in this paragraph must exceed the use of this term in my whole blog.

Away from redundant revelations: our final stop on the way back to Austria was at Garda lake. Last year we went to Como, and our horrifying experience with running out of gas on a mountain road was the most stressful memory until we ran out of gas on a highway on the way to Croatia recently :-/ Life doesn’t teach us much, I know! But the lake was nevertheless so beautiful that this time we decided we absolutely need views like that again. We chose Garda because had only been there in spring time before. It is absolutely amazing in summer, too! 

I claimed I wouldn’t give any advice now, but just one, please: go somewhere around Salò when visiting Garda: no tourists, perfectly quiet and beautiful. Felt like the air itself has its sound there. Loved it!

This year I was driving back with the gang, too. Last time I stayed in Milan due to the start of my studies there, and this year I was initially planning to stay in Italy until my flight to Spain. But at the very last moment things twisted around and I went back with the girls which was a good decision: the views on the drive back are breathtaking!

After our nice Italian days I came back to Vienna, which I never do in summer. I guess I am starting to feel completely at home there, if I actually want to be there even during my time off. Spending 5 additional days with my boyfriend before leaving for longer holidays felt very good. Now I am already away again, for this summer I moved to Barcelona. But about that – later 😉

Have great summer holidays, everyone!

Beso


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Croatia

I got the coolest present ever from my girls – a trip to Croatia all together! It’s not even about traveling anywhere anytime being my biggest passion in life; it was also about all four of us doing something together again, which we so rarely get time for! Thank you ❤

We went at the end of May, and the weather was already simply perfect. Just to mention, I am a big fan of heat, and the hotter – the better for me. We got lucky, that weekend was very hot.

Driving down there was quite easy. No traffic on highways, and Slovenia and Croatia have roads of surprisingly good quality. We found them not very cheap, but, nevertheless, a comfortable journey is worth it, especially once we remembered horrors of Czech roads!

We couldn’t go on a single roadtrip with no adventures, though. I don’t know how many times we had already ran out of gas and made it to the tank station stopping right in front it. Well, this time our magic of having a car running with no gas faded. We stopped on a highway with an empty tank. Just stopped. Now I know exactly how it feels, when the engine not just sucks the last drops, but when there is nothing left, and the car slowly shuts itself down, dropping the speed gradually, to keep you safe. I wouldn’t wish to feel that again, though. Well, that was a moment when one hell of hysterics could have bursted out. Getting evacuated in Austria is very expensive, not to even mention how much it would cost if the car doesn’t start because of the air in the engine. As we found out later, our walk on the highway to the nearest gas station wasn’t legal either, not was leaving a car standing in the middle of the highway. God damn these regulations, what else we were supposed to do (tanking in advance is not an option)?! We are 4 girls, two out of which were already drunk on the back seat by that time, and we actually walked ourselves to get a can of gas, brought it back and managed to start a dead car. Problem solved, right? With no help from the outside, just by our cold thinking minds. I am really glad in such situations I get myself together and don’t freak out. So I was super pissed, when someone called ÖAMTC anonymously on us. Mind your own business, man! The service car arrived right at the moment when we started a car and removed it from the still position on the highway, so no fine could officially be put on us anymore. Got super lucky, again! Well, the fact that the car started saved the whole journey in general. Audis for life! Our adventures could already be the best marketing campaign of extreme situations.

Anyways, back to the trip! We arrived to Zagreb, checked in and went to the city center for late dinner and drinks. I had already been there before but remembered nothing, so we all relied on the knowledge of Isabella, who knew her way around quite well.

After having had several meals in Zagreb, I would suggest 3 places:

Boban – a Michelin guide restaurant, absolutely beautiful, especially its inner yard terrace that was just perfect temperature even on a super hot day. The food was outstanding, and the choice is very creative. Definitely worth a visit!

Agava – a cute place on the party street, perfect for a good filling snack in between drinks. The seafood was just incredible, and I tried from all plates, of course! Go for octopus, tuna steak salad, and get some garlic focaccia to it – you will

for sure order another portion 😉 We asked for some dry local wine everywhere, not being familiar with Croatian grapes. The selection was very satisfying, and the staff seemed professional, which is a good asset for places where people get seasonal jobs in catering very often.

Kava Tava – the fanciest breakfast ever! No kidding, and I have seen breakfasts! Very cheesy rich juicy sandwiches, good selection of breakfast sets, and their pancakes! Heaven! Super glad the girls found the place, please stop by at Zagreb just for a brunch there if you ever get a chance!

Next morning we had some good bakery (omg everything in Croatia is so delicious!), jumped on the car again and headed to the seaside. The driving was very smooth again, even through the mountains area. Amazing constructions of roads and spectacular views from every hairpin turn were indeed a pleasure. Kraljevica was our first stop. Me and Jamila rested there a bit and took some pics, our alcoholics from the back seat replenished the reserves in their blood vessels (this we never forget! unlike replenishing reserves of gas in the tank…), we had very chilled time in port there, and further crossed the bridge to go to the island where a place with a funny name Krk is. That is a small and absolutely adorable town with narrow streets, stone pavements, authentic shops and a lot of ice cream. Initially, our plan was to find the most famous restaurant there, but we ended up staying literally at the first place we saw when left the parking lot and walked down to the marina – and the seafood there was indescribable! I would just eat 24/ in Croatia!

After the day on the seaside, chilling in the sun and having food drinks and again loads of food in the evening, we spent the next day in Zagreb again. Just 3 days, but that felt like such a getaway! Thanks, Croatia! And to the girls, of course! Here started the real summer!

IMG_9995IMG_0021IMG_0032IMG_0036IMG_0060IMG_0132IMG_0142IMG_0190IMG_0236IMG_0252IMG_0267IMG_0285IMG_0293IMG_0301IMG_0333IMG_0346IMG_0365IMG_0370IMG_0386IMG_0402IMG_0416On our drive back, we stopped in Graz for dinner. Promenade – the place to visit there, definitely! It was Sunday, and they had a dancing club having the 40s party there. So cool! Would love to fins something like that in Vienna! I remember that Leopold in MQ was having similar events on Tuesdays, but now I don’t even know. If someone has an idea – let me know!


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UPD: Life Ball & PIONEERS Festival

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Happy Summer, guys!

I am super excited for the upcoming season, despite currently struggling through finals and writing my thesis. It’s gonna be amazing, yes! As always, summers are always amazung, aren’t they?

I actually have been receiving a lot of positive surprises recently, and my life twisted around gradually 😉

But now – it’s just a short update to share that all is super cool, and I am just being too busy with uni stuff. Will soon write about our trip to Croatia; I got it as a present from my girls, it happened, and it was greater than great!

 

 

Another awesome event that recently took place and got us involved – Life Ball! Anyone who lives in Vienna knows its scale; it’s been getting more and more international attention, as well. More accurate info can be found on their web page, and I just want to share that it was absolutely great! It is so much more than just dressing up to go out and party all night long in one of the most beautiful sceneries ever. Spectacular way to raise aids awareness.

The coolest thing is not only the Ball itself, but the afterparty, which everyone in the city names the biggest party of the year. Yay!

 

And one more thing I wanna tell you about now – Pioneers Festival.

So, from the beginning, Pioneers is, as we were saying all the time, where tech startups meet investors. They do a lot of cool stuff in different cities, but as Vienna is trying to become a startup hub now, the huge event is held here annually. I feel honored that I got to work there, and my tasks were just a dream: I was part of backstage crew, helping out the main photographer and managing speakers before and after they go on stage to make sure that all media procedures are followed, and we get pictures and interviews with everyone we needed. One hell of stress it is, won’t deny! But the scale of the event was just breathtaking! And all of numerous afterparties that the organizers held were super cool, with a possibility to talk with the most creative and innovative people in a very chilled atmosphere. I even got to meet the president of Slovakia😱

Three days of excitement, responsibility pressure and fun fusion! Thank you, Pioneers, and I honestly hope to get a chance to join it again next year!

 


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Lisbon

1Hey folks!

My exams week is finally over and I can find some time in between love, food, running around for my new volunteering (info to be updated veeeery soon as it’s gonna be amazing) and attempts to write my thesis, or at least get properly started and write a bit about our last trip, to amazing Lisbon.

First of all, I was astonished by the city. Never even expected it to be so marvelous. Admit it, most of us have that stereotype in our heads that Portugal is a poor place with shabby facades and dusty streets with abandoned dogs on them. Hell, no! I mean, we have only seen the capital and the ocean coast a bit, so I might be totally wrong with my impression of the country being a very bright shiny friendly place. Yes, there might be animals on the streets and very old buildings in some parts, but it’s so charming! Those cracked tile-works got my heart immediately as we walked to our place the first night we arrived.

Now switching to some more concrete vital things, otherwise I will be sharing my impressions here for hours. We stayed at São Bento, to the west from Bairro Alto: it might not always be the location closest to all the main attractions, but it is for sure the prettiest district we have seen. All those facades you would see on the postcards of Lisbon will surround you wherever you turn. See my recent photopost to get a clue.

The must-see list in Lisboa was mostly restaurants and small shops for us, as for all the beautiful views aver the ocean we went on a roadtrip. For beautiful pics my advice would be just to walk around the city as much as you can, there will be a lot of random view decks on your way.

But I can tell you about a very cool place with outstanding view, cold cocktails and very good music! It is TOPO rooftop terrace on top of Martim Moniz mall. When I discovered it in the bowels of travel blogs, I was sure it would be some posh place, like any kind of rooftop in Vienna is, for instance. Don’t get confused, it;s absolutely not! The place is very chilled, the waiters are friendly and relaxed (aka serve yourself), anyone can come in and dance there and you don’t need to look fancy. Very good ambient, we went there during daytime and then came back at night – loved it!

Now coming to my favorite topic – tips about food. Portuguese cuisine is quite diverse and very appealing to me personally, because it is based on seafood and also offers a lot of sweets. The national one is pastel de nata – a must-try! You will see it everywhere, literally on every corner. The original recipe is said to be invented at the legendary bakery named Pasteis de Belem. It’s quite far away from the city center, so we went there on that day when we rented a car. But Lisbon seemed quite developed transportation-wise, so I’m sure it’s not a problem to get there. We honestly went for pastel de nata only and imagine our surprise when we saw a gorgeous monastery right next to the place – Jerónimos. Sitting on the loan in front of it’s tremendous walls enjoying a 6-pieces pack of pastel de nata was one of the most enjoyable moments of our trip.

But if you are short on time when visiting Lisbon and want to quickly grab a traditional desert anywhere – I would say all of those that we tasted there were very good! So, just go for it, wherever! I bought some packs home from Fabrica de Nata.

There is even such cool thing as a cocktail with the taste of pastel de nata 🙂 Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI tried it at Dom Afonso o Gordo – a restaurant in a very vivacious neighborhood near the main Cathedral – another place to visit. From there take a bicitaxi to wherever you wanna go – it starts from 15 euros, but your trip will include several circles around the district and quite an interesting excursion. Our driver was super nice, charged us nothing extra for driving further than his route would normally be, and he told us really cool things about the history, stopped at the Roman Empire ruins so that we could have a sneak peek. I usually don’t go for such typical for tourists leisure, but it was so much fun! Watch out though – the town is very hilly, sometimes roads feel like real roller-coasters, so it’s easier than it seems to simply fall out of bicitaxi 😀

Away from sightseeing, back to food: the best seafood, according to bloggers, is at the restaurant called SeaMe. I tried to reserve a table there almost a week in advance and it was fully booked. Maybe too popular. I still managed to try their food though! Scroll down to find out where 😉

Not having got a booking at SeaMe, we went to another place that everyone was crazy about – Eatfish. Amazing! All just the way I love it: stone tables, no tablecloth, dimmed lights, pretty bar setting. And extremely fresh seafood! But not only the fish quality wins there, also all of the sauces in each dish were so perfectly correlating to the base taste, it was a pure enjoyment! A fun barkeeper who would satisfy any wish we possibly had made our evening as well. The place is a bit overpriced for Lisbon, but it’s absolutely worth it!

Right next to Eatfish there is another spot that I would recommend visiting – and that would be Mez Cais, a small cafe with tacos and different tapas. Aaaaand right next to that one there is Taberna Tosca, where I ate one of the most interesting dishes ever – prawns pancakes. That area around Praça de São Paulo is also full of little boutiques and galleries, where you can find a lot of handmade jewelry, interior design and fashion. I am pretty sure there are another nice cafes there, and that bar in front of Eatfish looked like a lot of fun at night, too.

A district where we lived, away from the loudest streets, was full of very appealing places as well. I didn’t write down all of the names, unfortunately, but for breakfast everyone highly recommends Heim Cafe, that was just round the corner from us. Round another corner there was that place we accidentally found on our first night and fell in love with – Petiscaria Ideal. It is very loud, cozy, with long shared tables and very delicious plates to share. Right away gives the feeling of a truly traditional for Lisbon meal. The wines were very good, too! And don’t hesitate to ask a waiter for some local ones, I wasn’t unsatisfied a single time. Watch out during public holidays, though – a lot of places I wanted to try were closed due to Easter.

We wanted to get even further away from tourists’ popular places and try eating somewhere where only locals go. For that I would recommend Marisqueira Uma and O arco. It is amazing how they are just 20m away from that weird street where there are a lot of restaurants with menus in 20 languages containing pictures of the dishes. And you know this hateful thing, when some guy is standing outside attempting to drag you in there? Please, never get involved in that kind of eating experience! Just turn round the smallest darkest corner – and you will find that small street with the best food in your life.

One of the most famous Portuguese national dishes is Cataplana. It is basically anything cooked in a big metal bowl – the way I understand it. Most of variations are seafood-based, with rice or thin noodles. At O arco we took one octopus and prawns cataplana for the two of us. Guys, there was a WHOLE octopus in there! I am a very good eater, I can take a lot, like a 50cm pizza for just myself is no challenge for me. That was like the second time in my life I couldn’t breathe from how full I was. And I couldn’t stop neither could my friend – that’s how delicious it is! Incredible, you would get maybe 10% of that amount of seafood in one dish in a typical fish restaurant, and do I even need to say that the whole cataplana was cheaper than one tentacle of an octopus usually is?

Last but definitely not least in my food-story will be probably the only place where everyone MUST go no matter what you like to eat: Time Out Market. It is a shared between many rivals pavilion, like one of those you would expect to be at when visiting some food festival. The difference is – the festival is always here. The most well-known restaurants and food (alongside with souvenirs and flowers) shops of Lisbon are represented here in a form of small tent-like cooking spaces. You order whatever you like from as many places as you can manage to try, sit at one of long shared tables, not forgetting to grab a glass of wine or a cocktail from the bar in the middle, – and simply enjoy it rolling your eyes up.

That is where I managed to try SeaMe food – the best crab meat, I admit! But it is really hard to chose what to go for if you can’t eat until you explode (like we can), as all of the places look extremely attractive. If I lived in Lisbon – I would not ever have traditional weekly brunch with friends anywhere else. Check out for the opening hours before checking it out – they are quite short, unfortunately.

There is more and more I could find out to share with you, but I am so sure I will be back to Portugal soon, that I want to leave something for the next times – hopefully I will have multiple visits to this magic country in my life!

I can conclude with a big thank-you to the locals, I think. Not only are they maintaining some real magical spirit in the air of their beloved country, but also they are simply very nice people. Very good English as well! Everyone would greet us, talk so friendly to us; a lady in the shop gave us advice about boys; the guy at the car rental dropped down the deposit to just couple hundreds for us; our elderly neighbor always smoking on the balcony facing ours is just the sweetest thing on earth; every team member of any place we visited was very helpful. It seems like people are just happy there. And they want to make every visitor happy.

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