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UPD: Life Ball & PIONEERS Festival

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Happy Summer, guys!

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 


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Lisbon

1Hey folks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Bella Venezia

One of few tourist places that I enjoy visiting. Usually I try to avoid them popular for Chinese group tours routes, but Venice doesn’t have to be that! Having been there quite many times I managed to develop my own ways to reach San Marco from Santa Lucia and sometimes I meet literally nobody while making the 50th turn among narrow passages.

Having been in Venice several times both in summer and in winter it’s hard to tell which I would prefer. Summer is definitely more attractive for cursing around on boats, but actually this February was warm enough to take water taxi as well. One thing that makes spring tricky is the regular flooding, but in winter and summer you shouldn’t face that problem. Another lovely thing about going in February is the annual carnival which I got to see the second time. It’s not even about the shows, those I avoided due to my favorite tourist crowds, but the city itself is more magical during the carnival, there’s just more happening around every corner wherever you are staying.

So, I am very glad I got to spend 2 days in Venice on my way to Cortina d’Ampezzo and stopped there again for some shopping (all open on Sunday, a nice surprise for Europe! and great sales after the carnival is over!) and lunch on my way back. A place where I will always enjoy coming back for some crunchy pizza from the place near the train station, sitting at the channel bank waving at handsome gondoliers and hiding from crazy pigeons.See you again next year for sure ❤

 


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Berlin

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetWhat a place is this Berlin! If I had to describe it now to someone who had never been there – I would be in trouble.

The first thing that I observed as we were driving to our hotel was Togliatti (my hometown) all around. I knew that there would be a lot of Soviet architecture, but didn’t expect THAT much similarity. I swear I could even name the streets those would be if we were in Togliatti! We drove through the whole eastern part of the city to reach the hotel and I never lost the feeling that I was just back to Russia. Maybe only smooth and clean roads would make a difference, but once some crazy girl jumped out in front of the car and we almost hit her – that absolutely felt like home. Eastern Berlin really is something most of my European friends have probably never seen in their lives.

First night we just walked in the direction of Berliner Fernsehturm – another quite weird thing to be in the very city centre. It was in general hard for me to evaluate where the city center begins and ends at all. But when we found ourselves in the street that after 3 days became my favorite in the city – Rosenthaler Strasse – no more Soviet backyards where it’s impossible to park mattered. I think we spent more time in that area than I ever spend in Vienna center. It’s simply the quintessence of the best street food and the most lovely boutiques, all in one place! We had our first Berlin dinner @Revolver Burger (I was sure the name was Kreuzer Burger, no idea where that came from, but just in case I will mention both), and it was just SO good. Usually when we travel we look for some delicious exotic food places in advance, but Berlin’s exotics for me personally was the street food. SO good.

What do you do after some intro sightseeing and the best burger in town? A fancy bar, of course! From the barkeepers I know I had heard so much about “bar culture” in Berlin, so we were extremely excited. That night we went to Amano that I had already heard a lot about. It was exactly what I expected: chilled atmosphere, very good cocktails, nice music. I think it can be really a lot of fun if you know people there, like out Viennese bars are so precious for us mainly because of that.

The next morning we were gonna start with sightseeing, but that area around Rosenthaler Platz had attracted us so much the night before so that we went back there to grab brunch first. Which of course ended up with shopping. Berlin has EVERYTHING, from UrbanOutfitters and AllSaints to the cutest handmade fashion in the windows next to the most desired mass market. When I become rich – I will go to Hong Kong first, and then to Berlin simply for the jewelry to begin with.

We did manage to do the sightseeing after. I won’t focus much on it, though, because that’s the stuff you all can find in any tour guide. I can just say that Berlin is extremely interesting for any kind of tourist. It’s not only its disturbing and controversial history but also some kind of gloomy and even freaky spirit that is maintained there nowadays. I wish I had weeks more to visit museums there (which I only do in Florence and Cairo; not my type of vacation) and explore the most significant city sights.

Another place (other than “go try all the burgers you can find!”) I definitely recommend in Berlin and which you can’t just come across by accident is Klunkerkranich. It’s something between a terrace open area with DJs all days long and hipsters laying on the couches with some punch and a typical afterhour place for hardcore party people, if you know what I mean. Quite authentic, though. I felt like that only at some people’s apartments, but never in a public area. Loved it.

A very important part of Berlin culture is graffiti. I have never seen anything like that, even in the US. It’s more than just arts, it’s history looking at you from the wall. There are a lot of remarkable places, but definitely go see Teufelsberg Spy tower, East Side Gallery and the walls of Niederbarnimstrasse.

The neighborhood around last location is worth walking through, too! I have hardly seen so many attractive food places one after another, they just don’t end no matter how many corners you turn around! Was very hard to chose a place to eat, we changed our mind like ten times, eventually stopped at Homemade, and the food was just great! We had a problem with their service, but my shitface got us extra lemonades and any cake from their delicious selection for free, so that was no problem. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFor three days we were doing just sightseeing and foodtasting during the daytime…

…and during the nighttime we kept exploring the bars. Two highlights I must name would be bar Tausend and Buck and Breck. Both are similar in being very hidden and hard to get in, in both you ain’t allowed to take pics. I like that kind of concept a lot. But the places themselves are very different.

First we tried Buck and Breck. We went early to be sure to get in, because the bar has only 16 spots and they hardly let more than that in. Yes, a bit cocky, be ready for the doorman (who comes out only after you ring the bell on the wall – the door itself looks like just a closed shop at night) to check on you. Drinks are pure alcohol, a lot of spirits; barkeepers consider themselves to be presenting arts there for you. And you gotta respect the performance – talk quietly, sit straight, don’t move chairs and ashtrays, don’t take out your phone. You are are watching the beauty of barculture from the front row. Simply enjoy! And be aware that strong drinks mean it there.

Buck and Brecks inspired us to search for another Gatsby style exclusive and elegant place rather than going for typical for Berlin Berghain style of party (well, we saw Berghain at 3 p.m. the next day – nothing changes there as day and night switch). That’s how we found ourselves on the way to Tausend. I simply knew about it from somebody who had worked there. It is so hidden under an iron door of abandoned storehouse under an old railway bridge that you never just pass by. People who go there know where they are going. There is just a small window in the iron door. You wait. They even open it only if they consider you as their potential guest – if not, they won’t even bother. But even if the door is opened for you – there will be a second round if getting in, too. Speak German everywhere in Berlin while entering any worthy place, only German! But be ready for the Tausend doorbouncers’ German to be very hard to keep up and joke around with, at least for those who don’t have German as mother tongue.

The bar is magic. I can even claim that is the best bar I have ever been to. You feel more special and exclusive than anywhere. But it’s not the doorpolicy, secrecy or whatsoever, no. You are just feeling yourself in some movie about the 30’s mafia. I know it is very regular in Tausend to turn around and see some celebrity. And they don’t make any big deal out of it, at all. They can just not let a celebrity in. Because at Tausend it doesn’t matter who you are. If you are there – just have fun and enjoy life. They also had the best playlist I have ever heard at the bar. There are performances there, too.

I know bars, I have my bars where I feel like at home any time, where I can just go talk to a barkeeper whenever I want to talk.  And with my tradition to be friends with bars and never betray them I honestly would never expect myself to feel that comfortable at the bar where I had never been before. And I was! On top of that, everything, from shelves to ice cubes, is such good taste there. And the Eye got our hearts. That night out was beautiful. Especially when I was laughing like crazy lisping while trying to get to know some policemen.

Ok, my idea to keep it short didn’t work out. I can talk about Berlin for ages now with anybody who had been there. Finally getting to the conclusion, our last destination as we were driving out of the city: Teufelsberg Spy Tower. First of all, read the history of the hill itself, it’s quite weird. So is the place. Very creepy and cool. Now I know the real meaning of word “underground”. Indeed it is. Not only it’s open for visitors now (in restricted hours), but we also met a guy there who invited us to the party – yes, they have raves there. Just imagine one of those as you look at the place (and remember, I am posting pretty pictures of it, in reality it’s much more freaky). Must be one hell of a rave.

Berlin, you are amazing! Thank you! Will be back. Kisses.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset