I KNOW THE BEST PLACE IN BELGRADE (but I can’t tell you how to find it)

The first time I went to Portugal, my friend and I went to this little restaurant that was just perfect. The owner (who was also the cook) and I shared the same last name, and we got talking about it. This restaurant was such a great find, I can’t recommend it enough!

The thing is – I know this place was tucked away in a little alleyway in the centre of Oporto… and that’s really all I remember about it. Unhelpful, I know.

paris21

One of the reasons why I started this blog was so that I had a place to store all the information about my trips: where I went, the name of that local dish, how to find the neighbourhood with all the bars. Often, that’s a simple task. I take my notebook with me and make sure to write down the names of places so I don’t forget it later.

bratislava 04

But sometimes, it just doesn’t work like this. There will always be places which are forever lost, maybe because I was too busy having fun to take notes, maybe because the name of the place didn’t return any results on Google afterwards.

vienna 08

It seems like the best places appear just when you need them; then vanish as soon as you’re gone. I remember the square in Venice with the kids riding bikes; the cool bar in Belgrade which had the best crowd; the little club in Lisbon with good live music.

And I’m sure along the way I’ll stumble upon many more amazing places like these… that I’ll never be able to find again.

Advertisements

WALLET SHOPPING IN EDINBURGH (and other weird travel traditions)

vienna 10

When you go to a new place you’re probably interested in the local attractions, culture or atmosphere. But often the most memorable part of a trip is about something much more personal, which may not be relevant to anyone else.

The first time I went to Edinburgh was in the middle of the winter, and the weather was horrid the whole time. At some point me and my friends stumbled upon this nice shop (Ness, still a favourite) and I bought a wallet.

Six years on, I’ve been to Edinburgh many times, and so far I’ve bought three other wallets while there. In fact, ever since I moved to the UK, I’ve only ever bought wallets in Edinburgh – how weird is that?

rome01

Travel traditions can start anywhere – maybe you have a Royale with cheese every time you’re in Paris because of that scene from Pulp Fiction; maybe you always go back to the cheapest restaurant in Marrakech because that funny waiter is still there many years later; or maybe you’re a Shakhtar fan because of that time you spent ten days in Donetsk.

And you don’t necessarily need to travel to the same place many times to create a tradition. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding your favourite restaurant on your first evening in a new city and coming back again and again.

But mostly, the little traditions you create on the road can make wherever you are a little bit your own, and make a trip that little bit more special.

lisbon10

I can’t wait to go back to Jordan and have labneh for breakfast every day!

RELAXING IN VIENNA: Pretty cakes and baroque architecture

vienna 19

I was looking forward to this trip. For Easter in 2014 we went to Prague and had the best time, and I thought Vienna would be a nice follow up.

vienna 12

I wasn’t really sure what to see, so I decided to do a free self-guided walking tour, which was great. Instead of doing it all in one go, we did it over two days, leaving lots of time for each place we visited.

DAY 1: City Centre

The tour starts at the Opera House, a great place to grasp the grandiose architecture which is so characteristic of Vienna. We didn’t do this, but there are lots of performances available there.

vienna 05

Nearby is the lovely Burggarten (or Castle Park), great for a visit on a sunny day. We then reached the Albertina Museum, which seems to have a great collection (we ended up not going in).

vienna 02

It was the perfect time for a little break, so we had the famous chocolate cake at Sacher Hotel. Yum!

vienna 07

We then reached the Capuchin Imperial Crypt, where many members of the Hapsburg family are buried. It was a very interesting display.

vienna 14

Walking around Karntner Strasse (the main pedestrian thoroughfare) we finally stopped at St Stephen’s Church, a very impressive gothic cathedral right in the centre of Vienna.

vienna 16

Our final stop of the day was at Mozart’s Apartment which unfortunately was pretty boring!

vienna 01

DAY 2: Around the Imperial Palace

Another great area to visit starts at Michaelerplatz, an impressive square which has preserved Roman ruins at its centre. This is where the famous Spanish Winter Riding School is located (I’m not massively into horses so I don’t really get the appeal, but it’s a nice building).

vienna 17

Right behind it is the National Library, the Hofburg Imperial Palace and Hero’s Square. All this area is incredibly impressive, full of beautiful buildings and gardens. Everything is quite grandiose, so you can spend a lot of time contemplating and taking photos.

vienna 18

SCHONBRUNN PALACE

vienna 23

Another iconic Viennese highlight is Schonbrunn Palace, which is a Unesco Heritage site. This is an impressive baroque building, and the gardens outside are also very nice. The queues were incredibly long, so we decided to walk around the park and enjoy the sunshine instead!

vienna 25

HOW TO DO IT:

Stay: We got this amazing flat though AirBnb which was just perfect. The place was very nice and ideally located right at the city centre.

vienna 20

Eat: Food wasn’t particularly veggie-friendly, so it was a good idea to stay in a flat where we could cook. We found a couple of nice places through Happy Cow. Landia was good to taste local dishes, and Xu’s Cooking might not have been particularly local, but it had amazing veggie Chinese food and the service was perfect! There are also lots of cafes around, all with amazing cakes. We didn’t get in, but Demel had the prettiest selection of treats!

vienna 21

Drink: Local beers are great and there are lots of nice bars around. It being spring, spritzers seemed to be the drink of choice in many places – perfect!

vienna 13

Transportation: In the city centre, most things are within walking distance. There’s also a good metro network, and it’s often cheaper getting a day ticket instead of singles.

vienna 03

A perfect break for early spring!

A WEEKEND IN EDINBURGH: Beautiful views and rainy days

edinburgh 03

I have a good friend in Edinburgh, so I’ve been there a few times to visit. It’s a beautiful place and very close to London, so it’s perfect for a weekend trip.

Here are some good things to do in Edinburgh:

1. Wander around the Royal Mile

Edinburgh’s city centre is very pretty and it’s always bustling with life. A great place to walk around and explore. And the impressive Edinburgh Castle is right nearby and definitely worth a visit.

edinburgh 07

2. Hit the bars

Edinburgh is great for pubs – there’s just too many to choose from! Sample a few to find your favourite!

3. Go to the beach

If the weather is good, it is a good idea to explore some of the Scottish coast nearby. We went for a walk in Aberdour, which is a quaint little town 30 minutes from Edinburgh.

edinburgh 04

4. Visit a museum

Edinburgh has some great museums, and the National Museum of Scotland is one of the best. Besides the impressive permanent collection, the terrace on the 7th floor has great views over the city.

edinburgh 06

HOW TO DO IT:

  • Go: There are lots of flights from London, but taking the train is also a good alternative – the journey takes about 4h40.
  • Stay: Staying close to the city centre is the best option as most of the sights are within walking distance.
  • When to go: The weather in Edinburgh can be positively dreadful in the winter, so avoid going between November and February. In August the Edinburgh Festival is on with lots of amazing art and comedy.

edinburgh 05

DRINKING IN STYLE: 3 pubs to visit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is full of great pubs, and as it turns out I spend a lot of time in them every time I’m in the city. On my last visit I went to these three cool places:

1. THE GROSVENOR

edinburgh 01

This pub is located about 15 minutes from the city centre, and although it’s still very close, it’s much less busy than pubs in central Edinburgh. A good option if you want to avoid the tourist crowds.

2. BOW BAR

edinburgh 02

This traditional little bar is centrally located and had great atmosphere. Friendly staff and a great range of beers on tap – that’s all you need really!

3. CASTLE ARMS

edinburgh 08

Located very close to Edinburgh Castle, this pub is a good option for a break while sightseeing. I didn’t try it, but the food looked delicious.

A SUNNY DAY IN SLOVAKIA: Day trip to Bratislava

Although I’m slowly working through the list of European countries I want to visit, I’m in no rush to cross places of my list – in general I like to see as much of a place as I can.

bratislava 07

But Slovakia being so easy to reach from Vienna, we decided to get on a train to Bratislava and see what it was like.

The main thing to do there is walking around the Old Town. This part of the town is very nice, full of little narrow streets and old historical buildings.

bratislava 01

It was a beautiful day, perfect for having a beer in a cafe and taking photos in the main square.

We then went up to the castle which overlooks the city centre. You also get views of the Danube river which goes through the city.

bratislava 06

After exploring for a while, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. Food wasn’t particularly veggie-friendly but it was nice nonetheless.

bratislava 02

HOW TO DO IT:

Taking the train from Vienna is the easiest way to visit Bratislava. The trip takes only 1h and return tickets cost 16€.

The station in Bratislava doesn’t provide much in way of information – to get to the city centre you need to walk under the subway to find a bus stop behind the station. From there, bus 93 will get you to the city centre in under 10 minutes (many thanks to the helpful local who showed us the way).

bratislava 03

This is a great option for a day trip as the city is quite small and you can see a lot in a day.

bratislava 08