Roadtrip is always a good idea! I love it so much when me and Jamila jump in the car, get 100500 sandwiches and the biggest jar of hummus for the way (we should better think of getting the biggest canister of diesel, considering our experience of walking on a highway to the gas station), turn the music up and wooohooo!
We have been both super busy recently with work, studies. celebrating my birthday and making it through spring break without failing everything in life, so I was double excited that we managed to spare couple days and go somewhere. And this time we had an extra reason, even though there is no reason needed for a roadtrip – Spirko was in Switzerland, so we decided to use our chance and meet up in the middle. We hesitated between Innsbruck and Munich, but since neither of the girls had been to the beer capital before, we decided to hit Bavaria up!
The drive there was super easy and fun, we are still hoping Germany had no vignettes and speed limits on highways. In less than 5 hours we made it to Munich. The spring in Europe is extremely hot, so it was a total pleasure to drink cold beers in the sun. As those who have been there know, historical center is tiny and 2 hour walk is more than enough to see all the main things. It’s just as cute as it has always been! I visited Munich few times with my family and then came to Octoberfest, but I must admit I love it without crowds of wasted singing tourists even more. What always surprises me is the shopping opportunities scale. Why the tiny Munich has it all, and huge Vienna hasn’t even heard of &other stories, Topshop, Abercrombie&Fitch or even Sephora?! I remember I even took a train to Munich to buy my first iPhone! So, if you like to shop – you will be surprised there!
We stayed at Bar Hostel and it was awesome: cheap, in the very city center close to a huge parking lot; large light clean rooms – and a 24/7 bar! There are a lot of cute cafes in that area, too. We had a random breakfast at Kochspielhaus and enjoyed it. I’d buy bakery there every day, if it was in my neighborhood!
Don’t have much must-do advice to give, besides the obvious one when in the city – Hofbräuhaus München. I am usually not a fan of touristy places, but this one is a proper one to experience real Bavarian spirit, Octoberfest culture, original German beer and sausages. And two worlds of my friends finally overlapped!
The next day we had a plan to see more of the real Bavaria while driving to Neuschwanstein castle. A famous prototype of Sleeping Beauty’s castle is a real Disney fairy-tale. It’s stunning! So is the way to it, which we had no idea about. One has to drive quite a while (about 2 hours, depends on which direction you are coming from) after exiting highway, and the route goes through tiny villages that look like Milka chocolates commercials. Extra green grass, extra pretty cows and extra traditional Bavarian sites.
The castle itself is seen from far away. It’s quite easy to get there with a car, and it seemed to be accessible with public transportation, too. Buses even go up the hill to its walls, but we decided to take a picturesque walk. Different routes go through the magical forest, but the coolest view is found from Marienbrücke! We had to find this out ourselves after checking few decks out, no idea why nobody mentions it, but I hope my hint will be useful for someone! We went inside, too. You can’t take pictures, but the tour is worth it! Very beautiful interiors, much more modern and unique than we expected. Do you know, that Newschwanstein was the first castle with central heating and sewerage system?
And then of course the time of breathtaking pics came!
My next trip in 2 days will be via airplane, so awesome playlist will unfortunately be rocking only in my headphones, but I am still excited, as I always am for any travels 😉
Throwback to hot sunny Georgia!
We made a trip with my best friend in September, which was my heaven since I love the heat, but a hell for pale Polina. So, if you choose to go during the hot season, be ready for it to be very hot, at least in Tbilisi.
I will spread this post in three parts, starting with the capital.
1. Tbilisi Want to mention from the very beginning, it will be more about looking at the pics than about my poor narrative, since it’s been a while and I just have a mixture of very bright, tasty and windy memories on my mind.
The city is a large mirror of the places that were really nice during the Soviet Union times. It still looks very Soviet, with the way people are dressed, “plombir” ice cream cones, plastic tables outside, flea markets with very strange things. I can’t really call Tbilisi beautiful. It’s different, it has something hidden beyond all those huge concrete walls. But it’s still very dusty, and when the weather is windy those dust storms actually hurt the skin. White shoes which I of course had on are no option either. And just in general, there is that slight feeling of still being in the Soviet 80s everywhere. But everything is quite cheap, even compared to rubles, not even mentioning EUR/USD. The time we went to a super expensive restaurant on top of Biltmore Hotel and had a proper dinner with wine, it was a price of a regular simple meal I am used to – that was, of course, an awesome surprise. Especially considering how delicious the food is! I have been a big admirer of Georgian cuisine since years, but no fancy Georgian restaurant compares to grandma’s khinkali freshly made in the middle of Caucus mountains away from civilization.
Tbilisi opened up some awesome places for us, too. But I had to ask my Georgian friends for recommendations, there is not much you can find on the web. So, sharing the knowledge:
- Biltmore Hotel rooftop restaurant: for the view. The food is typical European which you can eat anywhere, pasta is far not as good as the original. Some local meats were good, though, as well as the wine list. But the view!!! It’s very empty, I guess it’s just too expensive compared to everything else in the region. The first date there could be a bit awkward in that silence with irrationally high number of staff watching you. But the view!
- Prospero’s Books: a very cute hidden garden in the city center. Not much of food choice and self service, but it’s very cozy and quiet.
- Erekle II street in the Old town has a lot of cafes with local food as well as international, nice breakfast choices, cocktails, life music, wine tasting.
- Linville, not far away from the pedestrian area mentioned above and also close to few cool boutiques with Georgian designer items, is also very hidden but offers super delicious food! The best khachapuri I had there! And you feel like you are sitting in your grandma’s living room, so authentic is the design.
- Davit Aghmashenebeli street is very nice in the evening. Lights, music, dressed up people. It’s quite touristy and a bit overpriced, there were also tricky situations when we were told a restaurant doesn’t have a menu or that there are some homemade specialities offered tonight, but you can’t know all prices in advance. Nothing ever ended with a disaster and a check impossible to pay, but still be careful and don’t let charming hospitality of the Georgian people trick you, they are doing business, at the end of the day.
- Funicular in the old town brings one to the top with a picturesque view, and a cafe there had awesome bakery! Try the donuts and black coffee 😉
- Carpe diem and Lolita were also very nice cafes. We didn’t hit Moulin and Amodi, they were a bit tricky to find and we gave up, but I heard they are worth searching for! And we got more rooftops and hotel lounges recommendations: Radisson, Ghumeli inside Iota hotel, Rooms hotel, 142 steps cafe for another view. They love the views there! I have noticed that when the city is not necessarily beautiful, it always has a lot of rooftops accessible. Makes sense to me! Especially when it is surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
2. Fabrika This place is so awesome, that it deserves its own chapter. When Polina told me that we are going to Tbilisi, my reaction immediately was that we MUST book our stay in Fabrika. I had heard about the place before from pretty much everyone who had been to Tbilisi. “Fabrika” stands for “factory” in Russian, because this is indeed an old factory that was rebuilt in hotel, creative area with shops, popups, cafes and bars. At night it turns into a party place which hosts many DJs and events like Boiler Room. Just everything about it is cool: expats and the coolest local people, the music, we were brought to an after party from there by some guys we started a conversation with when I was staring at their sandwich and they gave me a bite. And the sandwiches! Try the wine steak one! I can’t describe the atmosphere very well there since I am just bad at writing, bit it’s somewhat a mixture of meeting your friends at your secret place to sit on the corner couch and talk about things nobody besides you understands and coming to a fancy bar dressed up to take a whole bottle of wine there, for it to be followed by another bottle. The working spaces there seemed very cool, too. I wish we had something like that there, I’d host all ACUNS meetings, birthdays, first dates and drinking nights there!
In general, I liked the city; any city which has awesome food can’t be a disappointment to me. But I’d definitely advise to travel around the country and go to the mountains!
3. KazbegiWhen deciding how to get to the mountains, we went old-school and booked a bus-trip. You can drive there, too, but to get to the last destinations there is a jeep needed anyways, a proper hardcore jeep and such driving skills that made me fasten my seatbelt, but when the driver said I didn’t need to, I explained that otherwise I am gonna fall out of the window. A bus trip from Tbilisi shall be something around 50-60 lari with jeeps included, be careful when booking. They stop at many beautiful destinations that a regular driver might not know and pass by, so it’s actually one of few times when I don’t mind taking a guided tour. But with headphones on, not to listen to the guide and to properly read it all up myself, of course. I was also a bit surprised by how bad people speak Russian there. After Azerbaijan I was sure more people would address me in Russian, but the young generation speaks English only, with very few exceptions.
The mountains are just gorgeous. I have been to the Alps so many times that it’s hard to impress me, but seeing such nature in summer is also very impressive. Especially the mountain rivers and lakes took my breath away.
As Polina said, our life is currently a “wine tasting with 10 years experience”. Georgia WAs definitely a perfect destination for us!
Whenever I travel somewhere for long enough time to have my camera on me, I usually come up with a major photopost that includes every pretty corner I spotted. However, Barcelona has always been such a place of interest for me, that I already have several galleries from the magical place. So, I will just leave some random shots and portraits of myself and my travel companions. I am sure, many more beautiful pictures from Barcelona are to come in my life!Miss you already, stunning place!
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!
On 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!
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!
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 🙂 I 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.