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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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twentyfour

IMG_0826I turned 24 last week. And this is a little big thank you to everyone who was involved in my spontaneous Birthday celebration.

First of all, thanks to my amazing coolest ever parents! For everything. For those twenty four sometimes really tough for them years, for all of my birthday celebrations my whole life and for this one as well, which traditionally ended up with a trip!

My day actually started two days in advance, when the girls got us all “for dinner” which turned out to be the only chance they had to give me my present when we are together.

The restaurant Mama Liu and Sons was chosen for that, I had already been there but years ago, on a date. It is, like any place with soups and noodles, not a first-date-place haha, but it is worth trying; take the coconut-seafood-hotpot!

And…I received a trip to Croatia all together with my girls! The best things you can give me are food and trips, everyone had already figured that out I am sure. So excited, can’t describe! Thank you!

Another two days were just a never ending marathon of randomly switching between our favorite places, and everywhere I got cakes and champagne. If you follow me on Instagram and watch the stories, you know how absolutely happy I was that days/nights ❤ Really, guys, it’s probably just a bottle from your bar fro you, but means a lot to me!

Already saw my burgers cake, right? This is just as good as the hot chocolate churros lollipop I later got from chuchu. The story how the girls were gonna break into my house with their own keys and the cake and how I left home and they would have to chase me around town with it will always be my favorite! Alongside with how at 4 in the morning we realized that our gate was closing in 2 hrs and we hadn’t even packed. Oh well!

We DID make it to the airport, thanks to the cumulative effort of several people. But I would really just love to see us that morning and the following day that we spent in Brussels!

What surprised me the most other than our productive day of sightseeing and beertasting after 40hrs of no sleep is that when we made it to Lisbon that night (having been late for the flight, lost our luggage and running faster than ever), we still had energy to go out again! That was really one hell of a Birthday and keeping receiving presents and glasses, I feel like it’s still lasting 😉 Thanks again and again to everyone so much!

Travel stories about tough times jet-setting while being tipsy follow!


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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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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!