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BCN’17: 7D

IMG_0462Whenever 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!IMG_0541IMG_0515IMG_0436IMG_0614IMG_0624IMG_0661IMG_0693IMG_0694IMG_0704IMG_0734IMG_0797IMG_0820Miss you already, stunning place!


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BCN’17: upd

IMG_0460Hey hey! Summer is still here, I got another month of vacation and have a lot of plans ahead. But first, to catch up with Bcn.

It’s very hard to write anything on holidays. With two weeks I can manage to catch up afterwards, but 7 weeks is a tough cookie. I will do my best and at least drop some notes about where and what to eat in the area, but for now I only got half an hour between having submitted my thesis and meeting my girls for lunch. Yes, I’m in Vienna now. Unfortunately, I happened to be in the middle of the recent terrorist attack in Barcelona, so I left the city several days earlier than planned. But fortunately, I have an extra week in Vienna. I had never been here during summer holidays before and I’m actually enjoying it at the moment.

Anyways, away from sadness of recent horror in Catalunya which I can’t believe could have happened in such a beautiful bright place which is supposed to be the happiest place in Europe. My summer in Barcelona was amazing despite everything. The girls came to visit me, Jamila stayed for 2 weeks, then Ksenia came for another 3 weeks, so I didn’t have a single day when I was bored. Moreover, I needed a vacation from a vacation when my head touched the pillow as I landed in Vienna. Three full days in bed to get some rest after an amazing and super intense time were needed before I can start making memories of it. The pics and the stories will follow, of course!

Learning Spanish, eating everything and everywhere, having sangria for brunch, going to the sea, exploring hidden narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter and screaming like crazy in Port Aventura – that is what going to Spain means to me. It is by now most likely my second frequently visited country (after Italy, of course) and I never get tired of even doing the same things there. Barcelona is a very special city. Even in beloved Italy, I try to always go to different places. Spanish experience is Barcelona for me. Hope to see you soon, beautiful!


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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! 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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València

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI already started my short narrative about recent trip to lovely Valencia with a photo stream. Coming up with a sequential story would be one hell of a challenge, because if you come to the city during Fallas festival – it’s quite a big loud mess around which makes planning impossible as you can’t even predict if you will ever be able to take a cab. So, I would rather just give some tips of what to do/see/eat.

Time to come: I would say not in summer. It is obvious that it gets extremely hot in that part of Spain during summer holidays, and on top of that Valencia doesn’t have a huge long beach, so I assume being stuck in stone jungles during enormous heat is not for everyone. The locals also complained about the city being so packed in summer that they themselves chose to leave and come back in autumn. Talking about the weather, middle of March was already enjoyable and totally suitable for sipping a drink outside. I guess March to June, before it gets too hot and pupils get out of schools, and then September to November are perfect for visiting. If you find yourself in Spain in summer only, then you might prefer to get an accommodation somewhere on the seaside and come to Valencia by car or by train to visit, as the city is definitely worth seeing!

Area to stay: here it gets a bit tricky. The thing is, historical center of the city and the beaches area are quite separated. Both are picturesque and offer all different kinds of hotels to chose from. But getting back and forth from promenade with seafood restaurants to the chain of old chaotic streets with neoclassical architecture of the historical sites would require a taxi each time, so better chose from the very beginning what’s more important for you – the view over the sea and fresh breeze or you can do with loud nights and crowds of people but would prefer to be close to all the sightseeing. We stayed in the center, but I like the rhythm of big loud cities. During Fallas especially it might be a good idea though to stay away from never ending explosions and book something on the beach.

Sightseeing: anything! I never say it like that usually preferring to have a plan of what I want to visit for sure, but in Valencia I would just advise to put some comfortable sneakers on and walk as much as you can. It’s very beautiful around. Start from the Cathedral (don’t forget to come inside to witness the Holy Grail!), check out all the little places that cell sweets on the main square, then walk around the Cathedral – there is more to come behind it; turn somewhere randomly and make couple circles – the best way to find most interesting shops, as they don’t have any advertisement whatsoever. One of the main attractions is the Central Market of Valencia, where you can buy anything from fresh fruit cocktails to professionally wrapped jamón leg. Try things, ask about things – there is really a lot that is unlikely to be found in the coolest supermarket. Around the marketplace there are some tapas places that cook whatever is being sold fresh. During Fallas it’s not easy to find free tables in cafes, but shouldn’t be a problem for the rest of the year, as the catering supply in Spain never stays below the demand. And just make sure to make as many turns around the corner as possible – you never know what’s there!

From the very heart of the city walk up to the former riverbed that is now a big park, Jardí del Túria. Nice views from there and the best spots to watch the Fallas fireworks which have absolutely incredible scale!

From there you can walk (we took a cab, though) to a completely different part of the city, Ciutat de les Arts i les CiènciesIt is a complex of museums and further entertainments that offers a variety of exhibition in modern arts and sciences. But what makes it so special is the architecture. The complex is composed out of huge futuristic constructions that to me personally looked like giant whales. It is very impressive to see it from different angles, and one indeed starts feeling like walking somewhere on Mars.

We also visited the Oceanogràfic of Valencia which is also a famous tourist attraction alongside with the Zoo, which drag not only families with kids but just the flora, fauna and beauty lovers from all over the world. I liked how it’s organized, all species were easy to find, and the path through the Aquarium keeps the visitor entertained throughout the whole way.

There is definitely a lot more that can be put into typical tourist list. Normally I try to search for the alternatives and explore new destinations in a different direction rather than a travel guide would recommend, but I admit that some places aiming to attract mostly tourists are worth seeing, too. That was the case with the Market and Aquarium of Valencia, as well as its beaches and traditional tapas places. One of the popular among visitors due to their location restaurants would be La Murciana, a seafood place with very cosy terrace facing the sea. There are several more places around that area, so that can be your destination if you decide to take a cab to the beach not being sure where to stop the driver.

If you want really good food and don’t mind driving for it a bit, leave the noisy city for one siesta time and visit La Lluna: a restaurant build in an old mill that served us the most perfect variations of foie gras, cheese dishes and traditional Spanish tapas than you can only imagine. Boatella would be another recommendations for the seafood lovers, and Bodega Montaña – for trying more and more tapas.

The sweets are definitely something in Spain in general. Valencia is no exception, and I could eat churros and buñelos whole night walks long. One must-try is also horchata con farton. You can find it pretty much anywhere, but the cult place is Horchatería de Santa Catalina.  Don’t be scared of the line at the entrance – it moves really quick, and what you are getting for waiting will blow your mind!

I always leave some tips of where to climb for the best views over the area. This time it was so bright and flaming everywhere in the city due to the festival, that we didn’t really need more of a view. However, following the tradition and relying on other bloggers’ tips, those are the terraces that looked the most appealing to me: l’Umbracle, 270 grados & Mi Cub on top of Mercado de Colón – another must-see.

What else? Shopping. Spain is very rich with that, anyone who has ever been there knows. Uterqüe and the other Inditex brands are cheaper and presented in a much greater variety here than anywhere else, as well as all the other national Spanish brands which I always find interesting. Walk along Carrer de Don Juan de Austria and the nearby smaller streets to see some small boutiques, and if you want something authentic – I loved Wakanda and Madamme Bugalu shops. But, basically, wherever you go in the city center, I doubt that you will leave with no pleasant shopping items 😉

Take couple days to visit Valencia whenever get a chance. You won’t regret! I am already planning to be back in summer, so you will hear something else from there soon again!

 


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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!


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Barcelona

1Barcelona! My favorite city in Europe together with Florence, both are in my heart forever, since I first visited them.

I try to fly to Barcelona at least once a year, it’s always the best decision whenever you have some days off – no need to even think of other destination. That is a very unusual feeling for me as usually I am that kind of traveler who wants to see as much as possible choosing a completely new place for every trip. But that just doesn’t work with Barcelona, I always want to come back. And all the people I know there/from there are just so amazing! Another thing that brings me back is partying with them, of course! Barcelona is great for parties.

I already wrote somewhere under the hashtag where I had found best parties. This time the locals also took me to Poble Español when Len Faki was in town. Omg, that was something so amazing! You don’t write about nights like that. You just remember them for yourself together with your friends, collect them and feel that you are alive, if you know what I mean.

Staying at me parents’ in Sitges, I’d easily go to Barcelona within half an hour anytime, so pretty much every other evening if not more I was spending there. Luck was on my side again, so not only the local guys took me around but I also got to catch up with my Austrian friends who love Barcelona, too. Well, everyone loves Barcelona!

In addition to my favorite places and things to do I had already mentioned during my previous trip to Spain, I’d name Ocaña at Plaça Reial with very interesting cocktails and simply amazing interior and spirit; Surf House near Barceloneta where you can add vodka/gin to homemade pink lemonade and have as much cheese as you want on your nachos; Pulitzer Hotel well hidden rooftop terrace, EL Maresme area, Born district with cool places like Crepes al Born and several more around. Just make sure you walk as deep as possible in the labyrinth of narrow paths in Gothic Quarter and Born.

 

It is always so sad to leave Barcelona, even if you spend there the entire week! I started thinking recently that I know so many people who had a «to live in Barcelona for couple years in life is a must-do» period. And they all seem so happy with their experience there. If I ever get the chance to move there for some time – I will definitely go for it! And I wish everyone else the same as this place is a happy one 🙂