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Cyprus, 5 years after

IMG_9410Cyprus! A sunny island with no concerns. I haven’t been there since our trip 5 years ago. Back then we went as typical tourists looking for parties, so we stayed in Ayia Napa. Nissi beach is still one of the most spectacular ones in my memory, and rocky landscapes are breathtaking. Not even commenting on the parties which I now would be too old for, same as Malta last year.

This trip was more chilled because I was visiting my friends at their house not far from Larnaca.

Feeling the heat for the first time this year was just so amazing for such a weather dependent person as I happen to be! And the food!

We drove down to Ayia Napa, I dived into my first trip memories while eating the best tuna and seafood at Vassos Tavern. Those restaurants seem all the same, even menus are quite similar, but quality of the food can differ gradually, especially at tourist areas. So don’t rely on what flyers your hotel might have at the reception desk, but better ask some locals or check out blogs for the best Mediterranean food experiences.

This time we hit Limassol, as well! Last time the hangover was too harsh on us to let us drive what seemed so far, but the guys made sure I check it out and meet with Polina, who lives there. Going to a place with the local is always a different experience, so I’m sure we had the best oysters at Puesta Oyster Bar and Grill. The place is said to have one of the best oysters you can find on the island, but it’s so charming, hidden from tourists, and offers such an amazing variety of seafood and local dishes, that it’s worth a visit even of you are no oyster fan.

Having always thought that Cyprus is a place solely for parties or getting old in a nice house in the rock, I didn’t expect Limassol to be so dynamic. The island is still more of a resort than a modern country, but that’s what islands are attracting us with, isn’t it? Definitely coming back soon to visit the guys again!

Summer, hello! IMG_9476_Facetune_12-05-2019-19-44-00

 


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Mallorca

4D6DDEFD-6929-4893-8B5C-E3ACC36F06E1Hola, Mallorca!

This year my Easter getaway surprisingly didn’t bring me to Portugal again, but back to Mallorca, where I haven’t been since 5-6 years. In fact, it was the first time I saw Palma in daylight. My previous visits started in lines to Pacha and Tito’s and ended on a kebab search mission mostly either still before the sun was up or after I could process the information from my eyes to the brain. So, that was quite a new experience.

Mallorca is great. Is it a great party place? Yes! Would I go to the famous clubs being 26? Nahh. But, again, because I already had all of this when I was 18 and Avicii was still alive. This time it was meant to be about bars, especially taking into consideration that I was with Dani the Barprofi there.

  • Bar Abaco is a place to see. Insanely beautiful. It is something in between Garden of Eden and a place of ancient Greek worship. Never seen decorations this crazy and at the same time harmonised. The drinks quality, unfortunately, as it most always is in such iconic places that attract crowds anyways, very average.
  • Botanic De Can Bordoy wasn’t on my list, we were just walking a tiny street and a beautiful inner yard caught our eye. The sweetest little garden looked something like those hotels on Garda lake. The staff wasn’t interested in a young couple wearing jeans, crowding solely around older guests who looked more representative – an unforgivable mistake for a good place, in my opinion, because you really NEVER know who might be in front of you. But we enjoyed the time in this beautiful and very quiet for the center of a capital city location.
  • Bar Central is a complete opposite: terrace on a pavement of the loudest avenues, tourist crowds passing by, noise and rush concentrated around this oasis of chilling and slowing life down. I love how the southern folks do that thing. Mallorca Delicatessen of Mateu Pons next to the Bar is definitely a shop to visit for typical Catalan souvenirs: jamón, jams, wines and cheeses.
  • Bar Cafe Coto is very bright, Argentinian style, with tiny wobbly tables, great sangrias and pink houses around on beautiful Plaça de la Drassana. It’s cozy both daytime and at night. The colors there saved our mood once we got a rainy day.
  • Ombu is a place that was recommended to me by most of my friends who had visited Mallorca. It’s touristy, but indeed good so to say haute cuisine of tapas.
  • Ca’n Toni – this is where tapas hit the new level. I am no big fan of Spanish cuisine in general and it tires me very fast. This place we found on our last but one evening,  but the line waiting to be seated was so enormous that we only had some wine standing there. So we came back on our last night in Palma – and it was worth it!
  • WhyNot is the smallest bar I’ve ever seen. 8 chairs and the bar – that’s it. Very cute, intimate but not boring thanks to its owner aka bartender always being there and hosting people with his heart and soul. Good drinks and creative and personalised (obviously, in such a tiny place) approach.
  • Brassclub was recommended to us by the owner of WhyNot. It’s a less traditional and more commercial bar, but with great design and classical approach to drinks. A place to visit if you want no sangria but a proper gin tonic.
  • More of the dude’s recommendations are: Door 13, Ginbo, Clandestino, El Neo & Nicolas 
  • Santina is a place for brunches in a non-spanish understanding. For those who can’t replace avocado breads with tortillas.

Palma is great, but the island is so much more. The capital is the best off-season, but for beaches you’d have to explore Mallorca a bit further. Last time we lived in Magaluf – purely a party-resort with an ok beach. There are gorgeous bays like Port de Soller, Cala Deia, Puro Beach, Puerto Andratx, Cala Millor and many more. Even around Palma there are very nice beaches. Bugambilia is a charming hidden restaurant easy to access by public transport or even walking the coastline but impossible to come across unless you know about it. Valldemossa is another beautiful location hidden in the mountains that brings you back in time and just steals your heart away. I am quite sentimental about Mallorca compared to those posts from Pacha in 2013, huh?

Another thing I would definitely recommend doing in Mallorca is flying a hot air balloon.  I did that last time and was enthralled. So, don’t be lazy to get up early one day and see the beautiful island from above during sunrise.

Mallorca, thanks for kicking the summer 2019 off! Only summer views from my window airplane seat as of now! IMG_8163


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First time in Ukraine

Снимок экрана 2019-05-22 в 19.32.20The biggest untouched spot in Europe has been scratched off my travels map, wohoo! It was not a usual vacation, though, but a business trip. Still one hell of a voyage in 5 days with my route: Kiev-Dnipro-Demurine-Dnipro-Volnohirsk-Zhovti Vody-Kiev-Ivano Frankivsk-Kalush-Kiev. I believe I have seen more of Ukraine that many of the Ukranians did themselves. It was a very diverse and intense experience, from modern and dynamic capital, across a Russian-speaking part, to the deepest quarries lost in the middle of nowhere, followed by visiting oil refineries and metalwire manufactures in the Western Ukraine, so different and mystical (mostly because I didn’t understand the language anymore and wasn’t even sure what I was eating most of the time).

This trip was very eventful, with one meeting followed by another, 300km in Duster followed by a train at 5 a.m., and most of my meals were dedicated to business. But I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t found 2 hours there – 1 hour there – late night dinner place there, to explore a bit on the go.

Once in Ukraine, the must-eats include: traditional borscht, dranyki, syrniki, vareniki (pierogi: there are dozens of fillings; I love classic potato ones, as well as with a modern twist, like truffles inside; can be sweet, too!), cow’s tongue, salo (fatback) and many more, depending on the region. I found food in the east to be completely different from the west. But everything in Ukraine is so satisfying! Always tastes like homemade from grandma’s kitchen, even in haute cuisine places. Even breakfasts in hotels are nothing we imagine here in Europe, where you barely see a buffet with 3 different soups, 5 hot meat dishes, all kind of potatoes, baked mushrooms, mayonnaise salads or shashlik at 8 a.m.

I have a list of Kiev and Dnipro recommendations from the locals, of course. I have tried out as many as I had the time for. However, I’d like to keep it, as well as expressing my emotions from traveling across Ukraine, for the next time, when I manage to visit more places myself and put together more impressions.

It’s amazing, how much of a life experience can a business trip be! Meeting local people from the tiniest villages and learning about their lifestyle was just as exciting as trying the most expensive truffle pierogi in the capital. See you soon, Ukraine!


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Obertauern

IMG_5826_Facetune_16-03-2019-13-44-36And another new snowboarding location follows!

Despite not having much time off this season to properly go to the Alps for the regular 2 weeks trip I have been doing couple times per season since 14 years (ahh, amazing school/uni years!), I have managed to see surprisingly a lot of new slopes this year!

This trip was an amazing combo of everything, because we first went to Slazburg to celebrate Ruby’s Birthday, which was followed by an amazing skiing and apres-skiing weekend in Obertauern.

For the dinner (which we had en blanc, since it was indeed an outstanding culinary experience), we were invited to Stratmann. It’s one of those places no tourist has never found, and it’s just incredible. It’s one of those cases when I don’t write “if you happen to pass by – definitely check it out”, but “you have to GO there!”.

 

About Obertauern itself I’ve heard a lot, but had never been before. It’s a place for young crowds who want to party, but the slopes are great, too! A wide range of easy routes marked blue (but we found some black adventures as well, so a rider of any level won’t be bored there), and the coolest thing – slopes interconnected in a way that enables a round-trip through the entire area, somewhat like Sella Ronda of Italy.

We were there more to party than to do sports, but I am very proud of us that we actually managed to start at 8 a.m. and were killing it on the slopes until the lifts were closed. Then the apres-ski comes, and it’s amazing there! I lived the place called Kingsalm the most. It’s so rare to hear good techno music on the slopes! Most of the huts play traditional Austrian/Slovenian (depends on the area) music that is made solely for apres-ski and isn’t always the deepest lyrics or the best taste melody, I admit. That place had a great dj every day and even live performers, so cool! The vibe itself is also incredible, already during daytime it turns into Ibiza of the mountains.

There are plenty of traditional huts, too, and they are open all night long, whereas most of the resorts die around dinner time. Here one can surely go crazy! Even fancy restaurants, eg. Peakini, turn into crazy party places that keep the neighbours up all night long. You go, Obertauern!

The season of this year is over and despite loving snowboarding with all my heart, I can’t wait for this spring to start!


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Paris, Je t’adore

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetParis. How much garlic smell, macarons crackle, demonstrations noise and lights of fancy shopfronts in this word.

Last time I went to Paris was more than two years ago, so we decided to give ourselves a long weekend of pleasure of eating snails and foie gras, shopping on sales and just getting away from dull Viennese winter.

We finally spent enough time on Montmartre for me to understand how much I love it there! Last time we took a short walk because there were too many tourists; during my first visit in Paris we only went to the Moulin Rouge. I must admit I liked the city during demonstrations everyone is so scared of. No tourists, and even the locals stay in. Easy to get a table in restaurants, to take pictures without crowds in the background, and just to enjoy Paris the way it would be if it wasn’t too popular. The weather in January is also surprisingly fine! We came during the worst day of that week’s forecast, and it was still much better than what winter looks like in Vienna.

Yellow vests and constant complaints about winter aside, the main topic for me never changes – THE FOOD. This time we were better prepared than I was last times, when my travel companions were just walking me to the fanciest restaurants of Paris, like Chez Julien, Chez André and Fouquet’s, which are without any doubts amazing, but trying something different was what I wanted out of this trip. So, here we go with what we managed to eat in 48 hours Paris:

  • Hardware Soiété: opened by Australians, there is another one in Melbourne. Literally the best brunch I’ve ever had! Lobster eggs Benedict blew my mind! The entire menu is very creative and goes far beyond avocado and poached eggs, but not too far, where you get a leaf on a burnt crumb for breakfast, the time when you are the hungriest. I’d love to try everything in the menu! The staff is super nice, I guess mostly Australians, so here you are not afraid of not being understood – a common fear in Paris. The drinks are also flawless, Anfisa had her best cold brew there. The area of Sacré-Cœur is also pleasant to start your day there. Definitely a brunch-must-visit! The place was full, we came with no reservation (early, before 10) and immediately got a nice table, but when we were done with the food there was already a decent queue outside.
  • For our next breakfast, we decided to have it traditional French way: get a croque monsieur sandwich, cheese omelette, baguette and croissants with coffee in a random Parisian bistro. We found one near the Opera house, but all the ones we checked around seemed to have a similar menu. And I must say, despite being extremely touristy, it was great! Paris is a place where you shouldn’t be scared of something aimed on tourists only, foodwise at least. There are more places we discovered and I marked for brunch for the next visit, so maybe someone will try them out before me: Peonies, Season, Marcelle, Dersou.
  • Breakfast follows with lunch/dinner must-eats. The famous truffle pasta at Pink Mamma! I have eaten tens of truffle pastas in life, but that one was definitely the best! This gourmet group is in general always a good choice. La Felicità is another cool location with great ambient that many Paris experts advised me already. And not just the food is delicious at their restaurants, also the buildings and the rooms themselves are a treasure. 100% instagrammable 😉
  • Finding an absolutely perfect place for dinner was a challenge for me. A lot of recognised restaurants don’t have websites, don’t reserve and just don’t want to communicate, don’t have menus in English. Google research and platforms like tripadvisor don’t help much there either, so I went through some blogs and came across Chez la Vieille. It’s a place you never enter seeing from the outside: tiny door, no light on the ground floor, no spectacular signboards. Even the name is written with chalk, no kidding. And this was exactly a place I was looking for. The best foie gras way of serving I’ve tried, fine wines, intimate atmosphere (for some maybe even too intimate, the tables are no more than 10cm away from each other). Was the finest kick-off into Parisian food experience!
  • Another hidden treasure you are not likely to come across, that was recommended to me is Le Mary Celeste. Compromise prices on something I consider haute cuisine. We tried their tartar and pulled duck on brioche, and I think my stomach cried from pleasure. The bar itself is charming, too, but downstairs is one of those hidden places that might become your favourite if you live in the neighbourhood.
  • When in France, my main desires are snails, foie gras, beef tartar and their sandwiches of any kind. It’s not easy to find a fancy place that has all of this on the menu, because usually fancy places have only 5-7 things on the menu in general. So sometimes a proper classy French bistro is the easiest choice, especially for a larger group of people. We had our finest snails and sandwiches at Cafe Charlot, but I remember having visited a lot of restaurants of this kind during my previous visits to Paris, and I was always satisfied. Depends on what one is searching for, but if you are fine with very crowded, loud, smelly with food places and don’t care how fancy the ambient is – you may have one of the best dining experiences at one of those, so I’d say: don’t just follow the planned route of gourmet trouvailles, be spontaneous and enter any bistro that has a table available! We enjoyed sitting outside enjoying some wine on Montorgueil street: a loud, popular among tourists and younger locals, crowded area with a lot of places to chose from. Here we slowly shift from dinner to bars.
  • Experimental Cocktail Club: around the corner from the above mentioned street. A fun bar, like one of those I go to in Vienna. Young charming barkeepers, delicious nicely garnished experimental cocktails, cute couples squeezed around large groups of party people. There you easily find some adventure!
  • Again hidden, in fact, completely hidden: Candelaria. You have to go through the fast-food place that sells tacos and margaritas and confidently push a tiny disguised white door where the kitchen is. And you find yourself in an amazing bar! I have been in a lot of hidden bars, the concept of exclusivity has become a big deal in the past years. But those places are usually posh, people visiting them want to feel way too exclusive and sometimes it gets ridiculous. It’s not about Candelaria. Here you just feel like you have come to a friend’s house party. If we didn’t have so little time in Paris and weren’t therefore on a bar tour, I’d easily spend all night in that cozy bar full of tacos and people who all seemed to know each other.
  • Clown bar is found right in the circus and has one of the coolest old-school designs.  The food looked delicious, but we were already waiting for our table at le Mary Celeste, so this one remains a goal for the next visit 😉
  • Street crepes. Call it cheesy (they ARE cheesy! and I don’t know what cheese they put inside, but I wanna drown on it), call it tourists attraction, but those things are damn good! A perfect ending for a night out.

Other than eating non-stop (even though I am not even sure if anything other than that is needed in Paris), January is a great time for shopping: sales but less tourists. I discovered the area around Rue Vieille du Temple this time. Haven’t been much around the 3rd district before because most of the time my routes were built around some tourist sights. This district is a very nice place for walking, shopping and chilling in some cafe with a terrace. Won’t even start with Parisian shopping, you probably know it all. If you don’t, you will.

Most of attractions like museums, cathedrals, palaces, castles, viewing points, gardens and whatever else there is in Paris I had already visited before, so we took it easy with the cultural side. We went to Musee de l’Orangerie though, and it is spectacular! We expected a small room with 2-3 Monet paintings, but there is an entire palace of Monet! I’ve seen so much that though nothing new can be there, and it was a new Monet level. Other paintings it contains are also Paris-museum-level valuable and a pleasure to the eye, so I highly recommend the museum. A free entrance everywhere in Paris for European students is also quite motivating, thank you, Paris!

Hoping to be back sooner than it took me since my last visit! Paris, je t’aime! 

 


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2019 go!

Happy New Year 2019!

This is not a post of resolutions, I stopped making those when was 15 because, sorry, it’s stupid. If you need change in life – you don’t necessarily wait for nasty weather of January to start making it happen. This is more of an appreciation post. Thanking 2018 for being over, too.

There were a lot of changes for me in 2018 (most happened in summer btw, so nice weather is indeed alright to make things different). I graduated, and Uni Wien is soaking less soul out of me now (MA program still does its best, though); started an awesome job, first time working full-time in life, which was not as much of a shocking change as I anticipated and was warned by everyone; I traveled: visited my beloved Italy 5 times and came back to my favorite place on Earth, Hong Kong, and the only thing I promise to do in 2019 is to write posts about it which I’ve been postponing since 2016, as well as explored new places like mind-blowing Korea, hidden castles of Germany, new places in awesome Portugal together with re-discovering the well-known ones; rode tens of km’s of new slopes combined with the old good resorts. I went to Russia few times, saw Sochi where I spent so much time as a child looking all brand new now; even visited Nizhnii Novgorod! Felt young and crazy again on Malta with the girls. Together with my parents, we found a new home-to-be. I am happy that before starting to work a lot, I devoted enough time to seeing my family, spent good deal of time with Dani’s family and managed to have more reunions with friends than usually and even to come to St P where a big part of my heart still is; I cried at the first wedding of a close friend, hugged my mom and dad on their Birthdays, was by Dani’s side during his glorious moments like creating the World’s biggest negroni and, in general, didn’t miss out on any fun.

Despite all that greatness, 2018 was one of the hardest years ever for me and for my close ones. So, happy it’s over and looking forward to a more easygoing 2019, please!

 

Happy New Year and may the Force be with y’all!


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Winter is Coming from St. P.

Being unable to come up with any decent title for this post because I already used up all possible ones for my countless posts under the tag, let it be a reminder for me that this winter Vienna got the first snow exactly when I landed from Saint Petersburg. And then I was 4 hours late for work after the train stopped. Because Austria just can’t deal with 3 snowflakes. Indeed, why would a country with Alps know what snow is?

Yup, surprise! I suddenly booked the next ticket available for Saint Petersburg, where I didn’t go since the summer 2016. Why that? Oh, there are a few reasons which are quite personal and are not all mine. Let’s just say I urgently needed to see my friends. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetLast time we all caught up was at Dasha’s wedding, and back then I was wondering when we will have a chance to reunite all together. My guess was that it can only happen at the funeral of one of us, since there are no more weddings on the horizon. Well well, I was almost about to be right.

Anyways, its good to see my beloved city again, after 2,5 years. Honestly, I was waiting to go there together with Dani and open up this chapter of my life for him. But with our completely different working schedules and Russian visa application procedure, it is impossible to go for 2 days together. May all visa centrums of this world burn in hell. So, for now it was just me, hi.

It was more about being with friends rather than partying this time. Also, partying is not very easy if the wind is so cold that your stomach gets frozen. Nevertheless, few times we warmed it up with some strong shots at iconic bars of St P, one of a kind which don’t compare to anything in Moscow or even somewhere in Zagreb. Special thanks to Elisabeth for creating a program for us on such a short notice. She is the real soul of Saint Petersburg for me since the day I met her, on the first week of studies at SPBSU, when she was snoring during class where everyone was shivering in horror from the professor.

В Питере – пить!

I can hardly express how much I love Saint Petersburg. Its vibe is impossible to explain, you can only feel it. And I feel it in all my buddies who live there, in every building, weird hipster exhibition/bar/popup store. All the bars where I used to go closed down or completely changed (as it happens every time I come to the city), so I trusted bar soul Elisabeth, and the choice was awesome! Just one night out and so many emotions, songs and hugs! Угрюмочная was super cool, with verysad barkeepers coming up with a customized drink for you based on how sad you claim you are. So simple and nevertheless so cool as a concept! There is even a vest to cry into hanging on the wall.

Orthodox didn’t impress me that much. Had to wait 40 minutes for a gin tonic after I needed to explain to the bar chef how to make one. And gosh, what is this name? Bar 8, which didn’t even bother to get a website, thats how spb-classy it is, was the best! I never really partied in that part of the city in a conscious condition, so that was something completely new for me, and the spirit on Petrogradskaya side of the city indeed differs from the center I was used to. But the best part if shawarma at 2 a.m.! Ah, that Saint Petersburg shawarma! But I admit, this time it crossed all borders of shawarma amazingness I have ever reached before: I ate the BEST one in my entire life. No kidding! Will share this pearl with the world: Shawarma on Kronverkskiy prospect 45.

Apart from shawarma, which remains the best part of my nutrition during those 43 hours in Saint P, we were eating only Asian fusions. I really lack those in Europe! Russian market of Asian food is something incredible, even though in reality it’s not proper authentic Asian, but some crazy hipster ideas a-la grilled cheese maki on a foie gras paste. Made in China was the coziest place, the best for companies on a weekend evening, when you still wanna hear each other and are not ready to dive into darkness, yet. Subzero is maybe too minimalistic, bit the short menu was great. Tiger Lily is a cool concept of a hidden-not-hidden-but-still-hidden place; music was exactly a playlist of  the Viennese X club, the entire concept was something of a kind, too. New York inhabitants must get a lot of that, but for Russia it’s still relatively new and therefore cool. The food was delicious and the prices were surprisingly low for such a hype place. I’d recommend to go in the evening and feel their club atmosphere, somehow it seemed cooler than just during the cafe-hours.

Saint Petersburg. Who would think that I’d come so spontaneously just for 43 hours! Let’s see what the next time we see each other is gonna be…