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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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Cortina d’Ampezzo

Juhuuuu the skiing season to be continued! Several years ago we started with a tradition of going in the mountains more than once, and me getting into the university with quite flexible schedule possibilities helped that move a lot. This year our next spot was old famous Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the 1956 Olympics were held.

The town is absolutely stunning. Something different from all those similar alpine villages. Maybe because it is not in Tyrol we are used to see in winter. It actually even reminded me of Courmayeur, maybe because both Aosta and Friuli Venezia Giulia were independent regions at some point and managed to develop their own micro cultures differing from the typical Italian ambient.

I want to warn you about the facilities, though. As the resort is very old, the lifts are not modern either. For the skiers it should be no problem but as a snowboarder I sometimes was finding it quite challenging to get off the lift as it doesn’t slow down at the unloading point. There are some newer areas further away though, you just have to get there having struggled trough 1-2 old-fashioned funiculars. Don’t let it ruin your experience and just look around once on the peak – you will forget everything!

There are two separated zones in Cortina itself and the famous Cinque Torri 16km away. All three slopes networks are worth trying out! The Cinque Torri area is a place where events described in “All Quiet on the Western Front” are described and one can still see what’s left from Austrian and Italian troops’ tunnels and mines. It’s a breathtaking beautiful, too. Hard to imagine there were terrifying bomb explosions sounds there once.

Back to my beloved topic, food. Cortina differs from typical Italy here as well. Sometimes it’s a bit confusing and finding just regular al dente pasta is not that straightforward. But there are good places, definitely! I’d point out 5 Torri (simple and delicious), Stella Polare (marked by Michelin Guide, so a bit more elegant), pizzeria Porto Rotondo, Ra Stua, Beppe Sello is also said to be outstanding but we didn’t make it there – so try and leave me a feedback, if you ever find yourself there 😉 If you are ready to wait a bit longer but to get the best seafood you can find there – reserve a table at il Vizietto!

If you want to leave the mountains for a bad weather day and have a roadtrip around Veneto – you can of course go to Venice, but that would take you around 2,5 hrs. There are some small places closer to Cortina too, though! We tried Belluno – nothing new for Italy experts, but definitely very authentic for the new country visitors. Look for  restaurant (it seemed to be the only restaurant there at all, and it’s good).

The last two weeks of this winter sports season were sunny, very warm (what I love about snowboarding in March so much – plus 8 on the slopes feels just right) and just right for me to get distracted from Viennese life, spend some time with family, friends, good food and wines. Now let the spring come and see you again next year in the Alps!Processed with VSCO with g3 preset


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Ischgl

Ho ho ho! img_5094

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a blast!

I spent my winter break together with my family at a wonderful location in the Austrian mountains – Ischgl. We had already been there before but that time serious injury made us cancel our plans. So we though why not come back this year?

Ischgl is indeed an amazing place that I would highly recommend to skiers and snowboarders because, first of all, it’s quite easy to reach from airports of Munchen or Innsbruck or by train from anywhere in Austria/Northern Italy/Bavaria and, second, the resort suits for any level of skiing. That’s quite a rare combination. Most of the trips to the Alps we end up spending 4h in taxi to get there or pray on black slopes. Ischgl is really comfortable in any sense and also offers a lot of activities apart from skiing.

So, the season is opened!

Every morning we would go up on to the highest point, have a look at the beauty and then cross Swiss boarder to go down to Samnaun and have a route there. Come back to the Austrian side in the afternoon when the sun is there, have lunch and snowboard more and more. And, of course, the saint tradition of après-ski!

The places that I highly recommend for après-ski aroun Ischgl would be Pardorama restaurant  with literally the best view one can find; also suits for non-skiers as the location is reachable with cable car A2. Alpenhaus is a great one for the ones who prefer to take their skis off and have a drink right away on the mountain. Idalp is fine if you book lounge on top in advance. We started celebrating New Year’s eve at Mountain VIP Club which offers really high class cuisine – but make sure to make a reservation really in advance!

If you prefer to have your final ride back to town and have an après-ski drink there – then Fire&Ice (don’t go in, stay outside, they will soon be dancing there!) and the bars around it suit perfectly. There are also a few as you go down red route number 1. Plangger Delikatessen is a must-visit for a drink and some snacks/oysters outside or at the bar upstairs as well as for purchasing some rare alcohol, salami, cheeses, spices, oils and chocolates. Last time we lived on the other side of the city tunnel and I remember one hell of a party there every evening as well. Ischgl is very cool for young audience – you won’t be bored after having taken your boots off 😉

What else I love about my family other than we all share passion for mountains – another passion that is a very important part of any experience for us. And that would be food.

Austria is not as exciting with food choice on winter resorts like France and Italy. Sometimes you can find yourself in the village where there are only sausages and schnitzels available for dinner. But Ischgl is great there, too. Restaurants choice is impressive. From all the places we have eaten at I definitely stand up for La Candela (we ate there 5 times which we never do!!!) – it’s cheap and delicious, but they don’t take reservations, so make sure to come before 7 if you don’t want to wait in a long line; La Nona is another good Italian one which is very special for us now as my sister’s fiancé proposed to her there ❤ ❤ ❤ ; for Christmas dinner we booked Sunnalm and it was so good that we made a reservation there 2 times more; Bära-Falla I find a good choice for lunch as they have good pizzas and röstis, everything there is fast and you can come in wearing skiing boots; Trofana was our choice for New Year’s Eve, the dishes on the fixed menu weren’t as creative as at Sunnalm, but they offer amazing Thai food and the best tartars at the restaurant downstairs (be ready for long waiting times, though). There are definitely many more remarkable places for meat-lovers and, in general, for those who love to eat well, but I mentioned the ones that left a trace in my heart stomach.

To conclude with, Ischgl must be beautiful during any time of the year. There wasn’t that much snow as we just arrived – and the slopes with grass and small lakes in between them were nevertheless gorgeous, so bicycle riders should also consider the spot!

Vacation is now over, I have been working like crazy and taking semester exams at the same time since I came from my trip (which was one hell of an achievement at the end). But let my next post be devoted to what I am up to now. And now I’d just thank my family again for being such amazing travel partners.

Happy New Year! Follow us to 2017 and let it rock!Processed with VSCO with a5 preset


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Motherland Trip

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photo by Jane

Hey hey hey! I am typing this post about Russia on the very last moment, already flying from Moscow to Paris. Then I will most likely have no internet for about a month. Even if I find it on the bottom of the ocean (I can, you know me), I hardly doubt it will be fast enough to upload new posts. So the blog is probably going to be resting until the end of September. Anyways, we’ll see. I will try to post as soon as possible 😉

Now a short review of my trip around Russia. Flying from Barcelona to Samara takes much longer now as we couldn’t fly over Ukraine. But I still like all those routes when I recognize the familiar cities. Hello, Cannes!

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My first stop was parents’ place where I reunited with my best friends Polina, Daria and Ksenia. It is VERY rare that all four of us find ourselves in the same city at the same time. I can’t even remember such occasion since high school years. Usually we catch up in groups of at most three of us in different places: pretty much anywhere, from Ibiza or Barcelona to Italy; from Togliatti to Saint Petersburg; from Vienna to the mountain valleys. I can’t even describe how much I value all those meetings. 

Parents’ place, family dinners that turn into night swimming with floating wine glasses all around the pool; car racing around hometown and endless stupid but hilarious jokes that only we understand. Yes, please!

Even cooler is our tradition to travel to Saint Petersburg all together after having met in hometown. It has been happening this way for couple years already and I absolutely love switching the city but staying with the same drinking buddies. Another cool news is that Ksenia is moving to Saint Petersburg now! So, even more reasons to come back! Like if I needed reasons. 

So, Saint P was the next stop. 3l8iu_2rqloMy favorite city in Russia, forever. No other place like that in the whole enormous country, I bet. For those who don’t follow me for that long – I used to live there. Having moved to Vienna 4 years ago, I already lost the connection I used to have with the city. All the feelings seem to be very far away and rarely strike me with some weird deja vus; most of the places I used to call mine aren’t there anymore. But what I find fascinating – the people still are. I have some kind of strong friendship with all my friends who live in Saint P. And I am always very happy to see all of you, guys, no matter where life brings us, we seem to always stay on the same vibe.

Last time in Saint Petersburg I wrote about the new places that caught my attention. This time we explored some locations as well, I can recall Bekitzer, Rubinshtein cafe, Buddy, Mickey and Monkeys and Zoom. All were decent, especially for the current situation with embargo in Russia. But honestly, nothing amazed me that much. It’s good to see that the city isn’t dying like many Russian cities now, but nothing that much exciting has popped up in my opinion. I am really looking forward to the next visit because the New Holland, place that I used to love when being a resident, is opening up very soon! Unfortunately I won’t see it, but at least there is something to come back for other than my amazing dudes there.

Weird weather changes, strange but friendly people on the streets like Dumskaya; shiny beautiful houses which look like small palaces; making it to the other side before the bridges go up… This is all so Saint P. And we love it! This time even our parents joined us there later, so the trip was absolute fun.hka_pelg0

My last destination was Moscow.e-d_jnz0fpo I am not a fan, the city is very hard for me to understand and deal with. But it has become much more comfortable to come there since my sis had moved to the capital. Now it’s always a pleasure to text her that I am gonna stay over and be sure that I will have the warmest host ever. 

Her fiancè picked me up from Sapsan, took my suitcase that looks and weights like a small coffin during this 3-months trip and drove me to the very center where I met with another very important person – my classmate Ira. So many people have moved to Moscow, that’s unbelievable! I am just very grateful to stay close with my elementary school buddies and always feel like we never parted when we sit next to each other sharing stories and laughing like crazy. 

I also met Rustam – FLEX crew power forever! And the rest of the weekend was devoted to family fun with my sis aka eat and drink at as many places as possible. I like this shifting around the places from one cocktail to another kind of leisure! She showed me around a lot; I liked TimeOutBar the best.
Well, Moscow is definitely gorgeous. No crisis there at all. All rich and shiny; fresh flowers literally covering it all. Fabulous, of course. I have a lot of different thoughts about the Moscow phenomena though. But it doesn’t matter here, as a tourist you simply enjoy all the beauty and fairy tales around you!

So, that was it for now with Russia. Earlier today I got on the connecting flight to Paris where I am expecting a huge plane that’s gonna take me to an amazing adventure around Cuba and Mexico. 

Thanks again to every single friend and relative of mine for making trips home so joyful. See you soon!


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Roadtrip: Girona

Another roadtrip! This summer I am finally practicing driving on long distances around Europe and after having made road trips acriss Austria and Italy we decided to try Spanish roads, too.

The difference was that this time it was a rented car. I got the coolest ever big version of Mini Cooper and really enjoyed driving it. Renting a car going about 350km cost us around 200 euros with all expenses like gas and insurance. But if you take it for longer time and share costs going as a group, it will obviously be much cheaper. Make sure to ask everything about the parking rules in Spain and to set your navigator correctly as it is quite impossible to just use iPhone or signs as we could in Austria and Italy. Catalan roads are complex. But they are very pleasant for traveling! Even when we skipped the right exit and had to drive through the center of Barcelona in an extremely tight car flow of 6 lanes during peak hours, I must say it wasn’t stressful. Just pay attention to what your navigator tells you, switch some good music on and enjoy very beautiful views around.
I don’t have any views pics as I was driving the whole way (my parents prefer beer) but they are forever in my memory for sure!
We first went to Girona which took us about 2 hours from Sitges in a relaxed mistaking exits way. Girona turned out to be something completely different from what I imagined. I had heard about it from some friends who worked there in TV industry and somehow had a vision of it being modern or a big city like Barcelona. It’s not at all. A very old romantic empty city of ancient castles, paved roads, loud trams and quiet narrow streets with doors and windows newly improvised inside old stone walls. No food during siesta other than small local bars with pizza and Catalan speaking people only. Very authentic.

If you ever find yourself in Girona, make sure to find the way to climb the castle wall for the view! And definitely visit the Cathedral. I am not a fan, but the one of Girona is a masterpiece with rich history of changing from Roman forum into a Catholic Dome within 2000 years.
On our way back we stopped at Calella to refresh ourselves in the sea. There is no bay as in Sitges there so the water was chilly and the waves were high. The sea there reminded me of Nice at some point. But the town is more of a students’ party destination. What I loved is that you can drive right to the beach! 0mG5JJScgxEOn our way back I had to drive through whole Barcelona. But how much did we enjoy the views! I’d still say better go there with a train because it’s impossible to park not being a resident. But passing by and keeping along the sea coast guarantees the most spectacular views! Catalunya is just so gorgeous ❤
Should I make a separate hashtag for road trips? Hmm


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Sitges

¡Hola Sitges!

A neat town in the Costa Dorada area. Loud, always in movement but extremely elegant. One of the most famous destinations in the world for gays which explains it being so shiny and absolutely cute.

I have been to Spain many times, mostly to Barcelona, but also stayed on the sea coast and Balearic Islands. La Pineda and Lloret de Mar were the towns on this coast where we were based. We also visited Cambrills, Tarragona, Port Aventura, Tossa del Mar and maybe couple more. But all those are something slightly different from Sitges. It’s hard to explain, you just feel it when compare long fabulous promenade of Sitges with narrow streets full of bars and music in the other typical Catalan towns. If you are 16-25 y.o. bunch of friends that are traveling looking for fun only – chose something like Lloret or even better Ibiza and Mallorca. But if you have already done all that and this time want to enjoy some rare wines, best quality sea food, live music and fancy restaurants – Sitges would suit you more.

Good beaches, much better than the ones you would find anywhere along that coast. We drove down to Girona, then stopped at Calella for a swim and took the way back alongside the beaches, so I know what I am talking about. You need to have a car to reach most of nice places for swimming in Spain, but Sitges is an exception; the beaches that the town offers are more than decent. You can choose between regular or nude ones.
There is a lot to do in town, it’s not just bars and night clubs as it can be in some small towns on the seaside that open up only for tourists partying but won’t offer a slice of pizza anywhere during siesta. Sitges has good shopping, music and culture events, restaurants all day long and different sport clubs. It’s popular for golf; we woke up early in the morning to go play tennis before it becomes too hot, and there were a lot of people already at 8 a.m.

Gastronomy is something absolutely special for me, so I will write a separate post about food in Catalunya.

Everyone is so relaxed and friendly on that resort! Anyone who throws you a tennis ball you accidentally smashed to their side will have a small talk with you, no matter if you share one language or not. A very positive vacation experience, 12 days there were just right for me to relax properly after hard semester in Vienna and a very intense program in Milano.
Sitges, gracias!


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hashtag home

 Being home is always good. Even though most of my acquaintances don’t live around anymore, it’s still very cool to come back for several days sometimes. Especially like it happened this time – when some of childhood friends happen to be there for the same period. And my sister came from Moscow for that weekend, too! Ksenia met me right when I arrived, Daria was there with her boyfriend Axel. Was big times of an experience for a Swedish guy to visit our hometown! We were the only people he could speak English with, so for sure us going out drew a lot of attention everywhere! Was fun, a lot of fun, and I love you, guys! And all that special weird Russian thing that we have inside us!
Parents’ house is of course the best place to be again. Any place where they are becomes worth rushing there, but their home is something absolutely amazing! Bright backyard, tasty dinners made together, endless rivers of wine and long intense talks. A lot of decisions taken, as always, when I go home. A lot of amazing emotions, laughs and love. Love love love!