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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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Roadtrip: Portugal

0Recently we started using a car as a matter of transportation while traveling so often, that soon I will probably create a separate hashtag for #roadtrips on my blog. And I love it!

A place like Portugal is created for traveling with a car. So much you can see on your way, unlike those mid-European highways. And you don’t need to drive for 9 hours to reach something extraordinary beautiful, no matter where you are staying in the country. At least it seemed like that as I was doing research picking places where I wanted us to make little stops.

There are a lot of small villages on the suburbs of Lisbon. I guess that’s where the best beaches are found. We discovered a lot of good food and appealing hidden corners, too. Our stops included Cascais coastline, Carcavelos and Praia da Torre. Parking a car was easy as well as finding the locations, I even served as a navigator myself ignoring the one we had in our car as we wanted to drive along the ocean cost for as long as possible as it’s marvelous!

…and yes, I even got in the ocean! I have that stereotype that it’s always freezing, well it was of course, but for April (!) I must say it was surprisingly bearable. There were tons of people swimming already, can’t imagine how crazy the beaches must get in summer! Anyways, just chilling there with a book and some fresh food you can grab near any beach would be my perfect day. I honestly lack the sea so much where I live, the locals are just blessed to have the opportunity.

Our main destination was the beautiful place of Cabo da Roca – the most eastern point of continental Europe.

I knew those were some breathtaking views from the rocks there, but I never expected such scale! It’s just enormous. No sky, no ocean and no horizon seems to be a limit there anymore. IMG_0135It’s impossible for the pics to show how large the distances really are and even less possible it is for my average narrative abilities to describe that, so I will just assure you – once you go to that magic place, your feeling for sizes of objects on Earth with overturn and maybe even go missing as it happened to me, when you climb those cliffs and look out far in the ocean.

An amazing thing is – despite some improvised kind of wooden fence, you can go anywhere. It’s unlike such place would be in Austria or even in the States, with 1000 regulations and signs. There nobody cares, so be careful yourself, but walk as many ways as possible!

Don’t forget to check weather forecast in advance and to grab your camera 😉

Cabo da Roca is not touristy at all, that’s what surprised me as well. There is just a little cafe at the parking lot, that’s it. There must be some regulations that restrict constructing sites there, and it’s amazing! So, no private houses, hotels or loud restaurants. Just uniting with the nature at it’s most beautiful.

On the way back we explored Lisbon itself further, what would be impossible with no car. But about that I will tell more in the post about the city itself, coming soon!

There are many more places in Portugal to see. I already can’t wait to visit again, the country absolutely got my traveler’s heart!


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Brussels

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThis is not a regular I-visited-a-place-and-gonna-advise-you-what-to-eat-there post. Was my first time in Belgium, but I still no absolutely nothing about it. I was still celebrating my birthday in the way and there, forgive me. Nevertheless, I have a lot of impressions and can share the spirit that I felt with you, if not the places to go to.

When getting tickets to Portugal, I decided to use a long connection somewhere else I had not been to opportunity to see Brussels. I have heard people prefer other cities of the country more, but to be honest, I never expressed any particular interest in Belgium as a traveling destination, not to offend anybody! I am simply always too cold anywhere, so the northern countries don’t attract me that much, even though I traveled and even sailed around Scandinavia multiple times and even liked it a lot. I am glad I did it being 17-21 years old, though! Back in the days the temperature regulation of my younger body could bear the cold a bit easier than now. On top of that, I am a foodie, and Belgium-Holland-Denmark region is not really a provider of that kind of food culture I travel for. But anyways, I would love to see the whole world, and in the EU it’s just couple countries left for me to scratch off my map. There we go, hello Brussels!

The airport is horribly far away from the city, and getting there and back was a nightmare, as they just closed the road, moved the station and changed routes, and literally nobody knew how to get there. We ended up being late for our flight back even though we departed 2 hours in advance. Very intense security check (totally understandable in that city!) and inhuman staff that wouldn’t check on you with no line even if your gate is already announcing last call played their role, as well as very old-school luggage lockers that just wouldn’t cooperate. So, unlike my expectations of Brussels to be a very modern and efficient city, a lot of things don’t function properly, be careful there!

But all that and even the shittiest weather you can imagine anywhere in April didn’t ruin it, actually! The suburbs of the city are not extremely picturesque… but once you get to the little historical center! It doors and windows are breathtaking! I mean the shop windows in particular, they are so creatively and simply beautifully decorated! Had never seen anything like that even in fanciest malls in the States! I guess there gotta be some intense inner competition between chocolate shops and waffle stands, that’s what drives the owners’ of all kinds of places creativity. Window shopping is indeed a pleasure there, wherever you turn.

Can’t tell you much more honestly as we just walked around and enjoyed the facades, tried waffles and of course the famous beer. Even my friend who is not a beer drinker appreciated it there a lot! Same goes for waffles. We tried them at different places, but they honestly al seemed the same to me, so I wouldn’t say the tent at the very tourist place is any worse than a cozy cafe away from the center. The food I honestly didn’t like that much, too plain for me. But there were a couple of fast food places that at least smelled very good!

That was my first unplanned trip in a lifetime, to be honest. I always have an exact idea of where I have to go and 50+ pins on my offline map with descriptions to every single one of them and further tips in my notes haha. This time I didn’t even know how to get from the airport. Ok, it hit us back, but me having organized anything wouldn’t have changed a thing, as it was just a mess in the system. I must admit at the end, a totally unplanned tour was fine as well! I probably wouldn’t risk like that if I was staying longer, but for one day, especially if you are drunk, it was just a perfect spontaneous wandering around old town running into uneven corners and laughing like crazy together with another table doing beer tasting in the morning.

Wishing you all to travel as much as life allows you! Spontaneously as well 😉

Have a great Monday and the following week, guys! Processed with VSCO with a6 preset


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Lisbon; photopost

IMG_1575Another hello from astonishing Lisbon! Traditionally, I start any travel-story with a photo gallery from my trip. I believe it’s better not to mix pics with narrative and tips, so I will concentrate on the last ones (and there will be A LOT from Lisbon and around!) in the next posts. For now, introducing you to the city with the most beautiful facades and unexpected striking views just around the corner.

You will see why it got out hearts the very first night we arrived – something that had never happened to me before. Especially considering in what state we arrived there right after my Birthday celebration 😉

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the view from our balcony

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…and the sweetest neighbor granny

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pastel de nata is life, love and sufferings

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pastel de nata cocktail – even better!

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Valencia; photopost

IMG_0792I just got back from my spontaneous short midseason holiday in Span and have to share this craziness ASAP!

This time I cheated on my one and only love, Barcelona, and went to Valencia. My first time in “real Spain”, i.e. outside Catalunya. I loved Valencia so much; it’s so beautiful and neat, and its narrow streets and old balconies gives it some kind of that spirit I always scent  in Italian villages. But what made it really special was that I witnessed the famous Fallas (“Falles” in Valencian) festival, the business card of the city.

The Falles (Valencian: Falles, sing. Falla; Spanish: Fallas) is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments burnt during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original Falles de València celebration. The Falles festival was added to UNESCO‘s intangible cultural heritage of humanity list on 30 November 2016.

Each neighbourhood of the city has an organised group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous dish, paella, a specialty of the region. Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt. A casal faller is also known as a comissió fallera.

  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falles

I hope the short description explains somehow what all those gigantic figures represent, and they are indeed massive! I’d say you can easily see several 30m tall fallas around you at the same time if you stand at some major intersection. It’s incredible, one feels like Alice in Wonderland once she became very small.

Any festival means enormous crowds, loud nights and craziness all around, but if it’s a festival in Spain – multiply all by 10! So, if you are not a fan of pure madness, you better stay away from Valencia during Fallas. But I personally found it to be an absolute must-see-once-in-a-lifetime.

When in Spain, it’s of course never about just one event. The views, the see, the food, the architecture – we tried to get as much as possible of everything, which is, of course, tricky during such major event, when the cabs can’t even enter most of the city parts. But we did a great job I think!

Traditionally starting with a photo stream from the spot. The story behind my trip will follow 😉IMG_0787

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it’s all about jamón

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typical for any part of Spain tapas-places got my heart many years ago

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…so did churros

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I’d name the Central Market to be the main sightseeing zone

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the streetart is just as eye-catching as the giant prawns

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the Cathedral is famous for keeping what’s believed to be the authentic Holy GrailIMG_0945IMG_0956IMG_0962

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completely different in all senses part of the city that I loved even more than beautiful historic center – museums and the aquarium compose a futuristic sight that you would never expect to discover in such an old traditional cityIMG_0977IMG_0979IMG_0982IMG_0988IMG_0996IMG_1018IMG_1020IMG_1030IMG_1031IMG_1049IMG_1056

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flowers and fireworks; everywhere, non-stop – so beautiful, Disneyland is a kindergarten compared to Valencia during Fallas!