travel

Saxon beauty

May 6, 2016
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jolielaura_sibiu_aprilie_2016_90It’s redundant to say how much I love being on the road, discovering new places, finding out people’s stories and simply recharging my batteries in a different city.

This time we went to Sibiu, before spending the Orthodox Easter in Brasov and we even managed to sneak some other locations on our route.

I decided I wanted to share here the experience, writing my own recommendations and showing you some places you might not know about :)

 

Starting from where to stay to what to eat and where to go, I hope you’ll find inspiration in this post to offer more of your attention to the Saxon side of Romania.

Where to stay:

Villa Fortuna Art O’Clock was one of the most pleasant surprises of Sibiu and definitely the only place we’ll check in into from now on. After making a reservation with only two days in advance, I have also managed to mix up some dates (I am still working on my mind-eyes-hands coordination). However, the kind staff helped us manage our reservation without paying something extra for the mess created (thank you again!). The overall price and experience were absolutely great. And I have to say, the Superior Double Room was probably the most beautiful room I’ve ever been check in into. Of course, beauty is subjective; while others consider 5 stars hotels that have the exact same room in all the 32 locations spread in the world to be the top of the tasteful and aesthetic hotelier chain, I prefer rooms with character and subtle decorations which prove good taste.

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Single Room

Where to eat, drink some coffee and relax:

Cafeneaua din Librăria Habitus – is a wonderful book and coffee haven for when you need to get away from your quotidian life and just read for one hour… or four (#guilty). Also, they have the most amazing literary sweets in their menu (literary, the name of every sweet is the title of one book, how clever is that? – ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ yoghurt with muesli, orange, apple, ginger and honey is a personal favourite).

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such a cozy & welcoming place!

Café Wien – with a fantastic location, glorious views and famous coffee, this is more than just a café (they have this omelette with ham, cheese and mushrooms which is simply delicious!)

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the eyes are watching you!

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biking as a way of living

MAX by Piazzetta – this is rated as the best Italian restaurant in Sibiu ( april 2016, Foursquare) and to be honest, it truly exceeded my expectations regarding food, design, staff and overall experience. The tomato cream soup with croutons is fabulous and not to be shared with anybody, the homemade tagliatelle con salmone are magnificent (and the portion is humongous, either that or I became Alice in Foodland, you never know) and they also serve some really good baked potatoes with rosemary. While it reminded me of a restaurant in Brugge (pictured in this post), it also had its own distinctive touch and welcoming feeling.

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harmonious mismatch

DonuterieAll I can say is that I could barely concentrate on taking the photo when I had in front of me this wonderful, Oreo sprinkled donut:

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* foodgasm

Places to see:

Sibiu is a well preserved medieval city which will transport you to a movie set, where time stands still and waits for the people to finish their morning coffee. Strolling around the historic centre is a must and there are some things which shouldn’t be omitted in your visit:

The Big Square, which is home to the Brukenthal Palace, currently a museum of European and Romanian art, together with other temporary exhibits (if you are a fan of Bruegel II, you will be definitely fascinated by the works displayed in the permanent exhibition), the City Hall (which is surprisingly beautiful, by the way) and the Holy Trinity Church (right under it is that wonderful café you’ve read above – Cafeneaua din Librăria Habitus).

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the windows of the Town Hall

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Brukenthal Palace and Art Museum

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pink marble columns at the Holy Trinity Church

In the Little Square (such an unpredicted name, I know), you’ll find the entrance to the Council Tower, which offers stunning views above the city (which looks almost perfect with its red tile roofs and not so tall constructions – obviously, there had to be some glass monstrosities built in the center which are the most hideous looking and eye disturbing hotels in town, but not much can be done now for these cases, unfortunately).

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the Evangelical Church which some serious tile game

In the same area, there is the famous Bridge of Lies (quite tempted to write Bridge of Spies, but sadly there has been no evidence of Tom Hanks ever walking on this bridge. yet) and the entrance to the Evangelical Church, which offers an observation point at way too many stairs above ground level. However, the effort is totally worth it.

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* insert here some specific dove sounds

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narrow streets and crowded neighbours

Around Sibiu, if you have a car, you can reach multiple villages with amazing fortified churches.

One of them is in Cisnădie and it is now a place for theatre events or music nights (some of the activities held during the International Theatre Festival of Sibiu will actually be held there). It was there where I experience the incredible surprise of encountering Transylvanian hospitality. It was 18:23, we were rushing from our car and that’s when we saw that the ticket office was closing at 18 sharp and that the lady from the administration was descending with the last tourists while locking the doors. After we explained to her how much we wanted to visit the place, she gave us the keys and told us where to drop them. Shocking, I know. But this truly shows how wonderful it is to have faith in people and to consider everybody a good soul!

If you do decide to go there, savour every bit of the road to Cisnădie from Sibiu. The forests that the road pierces are mesmerizing and the light on the pavement almost looks like lace being broken softly by skin ( which is something a bit challenging to capture in photos, but not impossible, obviously).

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the lateral entrance to the Church

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the village’s church as seen from the hills of the fortified church

The next place we saw was the Brukenthal Palace in Avrig. Paradoxically, the Palace is not open. The domains are currently undergoing restoration, with the old Oranjerie being transformed into a small sized hotel, events space and restaurant. The gardens are being brought back to their old beauty as well, while the Palace remains sadly touched only by time, water and degradation.

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Oranjerie/Restaurant

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the Brukenthal Palace of Avrig

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almost Parisian

Another interesting fortified church is the one in Cârța . It was built by some monks in the 13th century, but it had a merciless destiny, having been destroyed partially several times among the centuries.

We met there its priest, who let us in, after wanting to close the doors (am I the only one having the déjà vu feeling?).

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apparently it was not bombarded, this is just the result of centuries passing

He is the only priest in 8 villages, so he holds the masses by rotation. He believes it is his duty to convince people to come to church and to even transport them by car, just so they do come. He was such a kind, open and generous man and my heart shattered when I heard that 16 years ago some people broke one window of the church only to steal three angels from the organ. I wandered then, if extreme poverty is the one leading some men into stealing (even from the church!), or the desire to make easy money (instead of lawning somebody else’s parchel).

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the better conserved area

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the exterior walls (quite Roman, isn’t it?)

Last on the list was probably the one place I wanted to see the most: The Guest Houses of Cincșor. I have seen so many photos of the place until now that I fell in love with it. We met with the owner, who made me believe that everything we do, everything we own and everything we plan should have a story. Nevertheless, what she and her team managed to do there was impressive. They restored the old school and the Evangelical parsonage and transformed them into these magical rooms – true oases of relaxation. Surrounded by traditional style lines, simplicity and the purest of white, once you’re there, you feel like you might never get a good enough reason to leave.

Right across the Guest Houses is the Fortified Church of Cincșor, a pathway to a medieval portal so tranquil and calming. It is definitely worth a visit and if you are courageous, go up the Bell Tower to experience the omniscient narrator perspective.

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when can I move in?

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let the light in

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the Bell Tower – the only one renovated

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photo or painting?

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every single church had at least one bouquet of lilies

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me entering my own world

Have you seen any of the places listed above? If yes, what did you think of them? If no, what do you think? Will you give them a try?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Laura

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travel

The Hagianoff Mansion

April 25, 2016
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Car keys? Check.

Camera? Check.

Umbrella? Check.

Driver’s licence and outrageously important car papers? Inside the wallet. (‘MA, can I put my wallet in your backpack? My bag cannot fit anything!’)

***

This is how we started our Sunday. We wanted for a long time (5 days actually, but that is A LOT in mum’s days) to escape our home and fly to Morocco  visit this Mansion we’ve seen on Instagram (obviously) which is at about 60 km from Bucharest.

Said and done.

After what seemed to be an endless journey, (painfully slow as yours truly would despise receiving traffic fines – yes, I’m in that period when I still take notice of the signs displayed on the road), we arrived at our destination, the Domains of Manasia.

The most terrible April showers forced us to take as quickly as possible all our belongings from the car, only to find out after an unpleasant and muddy scavenger hunt, that mum’s bag was nowhere to be found. And she claims she’s THE responsible adult… (Needless to say I’ll start carrying my wallet stuffed in my bra from now own.)

So, no money, one single phone ( its fortunate presence owed only to the fact that we were relying on Google Maps), no credit card, no driver’s licence, NADA. But, hey, at least I had the most beautiful teeny tiny empty bag!

Great. Good thing we weren’t going to visit a private Mansion in the middle of nowhere. Oh, wait…

After pointing out that I never forget stuff (except that one time when I wanted to go to Bulgaria to see some rocks and somewhere in the middle of our trip I realized my ID was on my desk, at home, obviously), we decided to still give it a shot and see if we could get in the Mansion with the unbelievable amount of 7 lei found in various corners of the car in precarious conditions. Nevertheless, we had money!

‘Hello! Could we visit the Mansion?’

‘Do you have a reservation?’

Mum stares at me. I stare back. Then, we compose the most innocent looking faces (we could have been GREAT actresses) asking the now dear body guard if we couldn’t enter without.

‘Let me see what I can do.’ * reaches for the phone

‘Boss, yes, I have two ladies here, at the entrance. They have no reservation. What to do? … aha, OK, thanks.’

‘You can go.’

‘Great! Thank you!’

‘The entrance is 45 lei per person.’

(You know that emoji inspired by the manga cartoons where there suddenly appears a huge drop of embarrassment on a character’s face? We-think-Happy-inexplicably-sweaty Yes, this one exactly!)

‘Funny story, you see, we forgot the bag that contained everything crucial for this trip. Can my husband pay online from home? Please?’

‘No. Cash only.’

‘Um. 000087279dcb44fb2fcd1be2848bf662

‘Can we at least visit it from outside?’

‘No.’

Okay, then.

***

So, we strolled five minutes around the surrounding wall, took some fabulous photos with a silver church in the background and jumped back in the car. That’s the moment when my glorious mum decided she needed elderberry flowers.

Of course, the most natural thing to do when this urge strikes you is, in my mother’s world, to hail some half drunk men from the village’s bodega to promise them 5 lei if they bring some elderberry branches.

(You get used to my mother’s practices after you live some years with her.)

So, it was quite a surprise when not one, but TWO tipsy men skipped a fence and brought her 5 branches, leading to them gaining the easiest worked money they ever got. (‘Hehe, look, Dick, this is how easy I make money!’)

***

‘I’m glad we came all the way to here for nothing. It was such a revelation!’

‘Stop whining! I got elderberry flowers!’

I couldn’t hold my excitement.

***

With the thought of 3 wasted hours, I was pretty bummed that we had to turn around, I have to admit.

So, mum, as any super-mother, called the only person who could have been around to lend us some cash to see the Mansion.

‘He didn’t answer. It’s after all, 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, so everybody probably sleeps.’

However, the next minute, the phone rang. It wasn’t who we thought it was, but it was better.

You know that overly quoted saying of Paulo Coelho: ‘when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”? Well, here it is quoted again. Duh. (Just because I find it suited for this situation.)

Our luck was that a friend spotted our car while at a gas station! Some say it’s Dumb Luck 101, I say it’s Destiny. (Watch out for this saying, it will become extremely popular one day).

‘Do you have money?’

‘mmm, yes, I think I have 50 lei.’

‘We need a 100.’

‘I’m with my folks and some relatives, we’ll search our pockets.’

‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Meet us after the second round-about!’

***

‘Mum, now that we have money, what are we going to say to the bodyguard if he asks us how we got them?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Wait. I have an idea! We’ll tell him we sold your 5 lei elderberry flowers to some naive Bucharest people for 100 lei!’

* eyeballs rolling ‘Well, doesn’t that sound plausible?!’

***

I have to say that I was blown away by how magnificent this building is. With an attic perfect for experimental theatre events or mini-conferences, a floor perfect for small business meetings that include a tea and hookah break in a really good looking salon and a ground floor designed to transport you to a movie scene where the characters indulge in the most delicious dishes (prepared by a top chef), the building is an architecture lover’s dream and a French enthusiastic’s refuge.

If the following photos will convince you to pay a visit, bear in mind that it is open for public only on Sundays, with reservation and only when there are no private events (aka the wedding of my dreams).

Schedule around three hours for the visit, as you wouldn’t want to miss all the floors AND the wine cellar which holds barrels SO humongous that their capacity is 4800 l.

Bring a book, savour some croissants and a tea on their terrace (they’re included :) ) and take deep breaths while listening to their amazing music (it’s the wonderful Café de Paris Radio).

And if you’re an animal lover, you’ll find some of the most beautiful white peacocks I’ve ever seen.

For reservations and other inquiries, click here.

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I hope I convinced you to go. If you do, drop me a line to tell me how it was.

And please, remember to bring cash!

Laura

P.S. My mother insists on telling you how amazing she truly is during the other 364 days of the year.

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life

The eroding self-doubt

April 23, 2016
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I’ve been having some pretty rough hours of sleep lately. I just fiddle and fiddle with the thought that I’m not good enough and that I’ll never be good enough.

There it is. I said it.

***

I know you thought about this too. At least once.

So, the obvious thing to do is try and talk rationally with this irrational part of the mind, right?

***

‘Hi. I’ve heard you are going wacky and claiming depression. Do you wanna talk about it?’

‘No.’*sobs

‘Ok, then…it’s gonna be a hella long monologue.’

‘I don’t care.’ *gulps ice-cream

‘Listen, you’re acting all crazy. You claim you stopped comparing yourself to others, but, you still say you’re not good enough. Good enough in comparison to whom? Ha?’

‘I’m not good enough in comparison to myself.’

‘Oh, so you CAN talk!’

‘grr.’ *pretends to sob

‘Again, this is crazy! Just by thinking about it, today, you are definitely an improved version of who you were yesterday! And that’s brilliant!’

‘I’m still not good enough.’ *reaches for the second carton of ice-cream

‘What’s enough?! You in a mental and physical meltdown? THAT’S ENOUGH?! Let me break it down to you:  you’re never going to reach perfection. There’s no. such. Thing.

Deal with it. Accept who you are, keep your willpower to continuously improve yourself, but stop thinking you’re not good enough. You’re never going to reach that point where you’re gonna say:

‘That’s it. I’m enough. Now I can be happy’.

You wanna know why? Because you will never allow yourself to be happy and content with your accomplishments if you continue to think like this! You are always going to find flaws in yourself. You’ve got to embrace yourself, just as you are.’

‘Yeah, but Mozart composed at only 8 and…’

‘Oh, so, we’re back to the comparisons.’

‘No.’ * sniffs loudly ‘It’s just…look at all the people around. They all live successful lives. They organize stuff, they have awesome businesses, they travel all the time, they have built amazing networks, they frequently do charity work and above all, they all seem incredibly happy. What do I have? An endless list of books to read and a constant and unfulfilled wish of doing something creative and meaningful with my life.’

‘That’s not true. You have these things too, you just…’

‘No, I don’t!’

‘You’re going to implode.’

‘Will you reverse count with me?’

‘No. Don’t do this.’

’10…

9…

8…

7…

6…

5…

4…

3…

2…

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life

The constant state of blooming

March 27, 2016
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At last. We have finally changed our clocks, watches and phones to the summer hour, which means spring is officially here (ironically since it’s called the ‘summer hour’, isn’t it?).

 

Time of change

I don’t know about you, but spring makes me want to experience a brand new start. Either if it’s about my lifestyle (for instance, taking a new sports class) or about my approach on how to live life at its best (that is, investing more and more in education rather than in materialistic possessions) –  spring is for me the time of change. It’s a moment when I reevaluate my choices, my purposes and my mentality. It’s that time of the year when I clean everything around me, starting with my closet, desk and working space and ending with my own cluttered mind.

Beside all these changes that spring triggers, there is also something else. Provoked by the feeling that you are surrounded only by blossoming trees and new fresh flowers, the need for you to bloom as well finds itself back into your mind.

You start wishing to be more, to know more and to have a greater impact on the world around you. You lust for knowledge and you start wondering what is your reason for being on this planet. You make plans to become a better self, to be in a constant state of blooming.

Perhaps we should all blossom like the trees around us: wildly, yearly and carelessly. Your evolution shouldn’t stop at high school or university; it should go beyond that – you should burst out every day and every year with knowledge, happiness and kindness.

 

From theory to practice

OK, let’s say we all agree on the theoretical parts written above. So what about practical matters?

How do you incorporate the get to be a better self daily theory into your quotidian life?

My take on this started with books. After whining I don’t have enough time to read, I started making time. I went on reading the books that I have been wanting to go through since forever in the bus, in the subway, in the checkout line at the supermarket, at the red traffic light, at school, at the doctor’s office and so on. I made a list of reference fiction books, autobiographies of people whom I admire, science works that sparked so many questions in my mind, traveling guides and self-development books, alternating the genre every time. I cannot express how great it feels to finally understand some of the world’s intricacies and how amazing it is to learn more and more things every single moment. Let yourself be guided by this wild curiosity. It can only take you to high places.

The next thing on my list were films. Fantastic movies and mind boggling documentaries, in fact. Start with history, how things are made, people who changed the world, religion and watch anything that makes you feel intrigued.

And last, but not least, talk with people. Choose them wisely. I am not saying you should only talk with three people, all I am saying is that you should invest your time in people who challenge you, people who are smarter than you and people who have expertise in another domain than yours. These kinds of people will open up your mind so one day you’ll be able to do the same with others.

You’ll see, if you combine the passion for knowledge, valuable human interaction and a deep need for self-improvement, you’ll get to a place where blooming is a natural part of yourself that you will never want to let go of.

 

Have a beautiful day!

Laura

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life, travel

Why do millennials love to travel so much?

February 23, 2016
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As of 2012, the generations called ‘Millennials’ (born between early ’80s until early ’00s) represent the fastest growing segment in terms of traveling and money spent while doing that.

 

So, the question rises:

How come the Millennials travel so much? 

To start with, it’s easy to explain why young people got so hooked up with traveling:
Because once you’ve seen how mind blowing traveling is, you can’t stop. You become addicted. You start looking for cheap airplane tickets like the last druggie searching for the tiniest amount of anything that could make you feel high again.

I don’t know if it was in their genes or not, but they inserted the travel chromosome into their DNA spiral after their first landing.

The Millennials got so attached to traveling that seeing them at home might lead you to think they act depressed or crazy. But it’s not all acting.
They truly live for the holidays. And that is not necessarily a good thing. Mainly because this lust for traveling cannot be supported by everybody. There will never be enough time and money to satisfy this passion completely. And people have to live with that and learn to appreciate every day spent discovering other cultures, people, traditions, places and ideas.

***

What’s more is that they are defined by the word ‘mobility’. They have that freedom of traveling that their parents have never fathomed, not even in their wildest dreams.

So, after analysing how lucky they really are, they all reach the same conclusion:

‘Appreciate every moment and be happy for the chances you get.’

***

Truth is, the Millennials have plenty of opportunities to see the world through projects, conferences, work placements, study programs or maybe just incredibly good travel offers;  there are enough financial means to do it (many young people also choose to work and travel at the same time, in order to support financially the experience) and the appropriate environment to hop on the first bus and head to new horizons. Of course, nothing is ever made only of milk and honey – there are still war zones, there are terrorist attacks every year, we haven’t got out yet of the 2008 financial crisis and so on, but the Millennials were raised in order to think that nothing is impossible.

They have this amazing mentality that if you don’t do it now, you might never get the chance again.

They are wild enough to think that they shouldn’t wait for the perfect moment because there is no such thing.

And one of the most important things is that they stopped worrying so much about the future so they could live their present. 

***

This is what I also urge you to do. Go out and live your life. Stop planning so meticulously your future.

And ask yourself what would you prefer more: a life full of adventures that will make you overwhelmed with joy or an extra-safe and meticulously arranged life with the goal of finding the perfect timing to travel?

It’s all up to you.

Have a great day!

Laura

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travel

Biggest. Highest. Fastest. The United Arab Emirates

February 5, 2016
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After one memorable month of traveling, I am finally home, failing to cope with real life by submerging myself every two hours into exotic photos of palms surrounded by skyscrapers, surreally turquoise waters and jaw-droppingly amazing places that 100 years ago seemed impossible to be man made. The United Arab Emirates swiftly changed my mind regarding how powerful one determined society can be and I must admit, this one week there marked my most abundant week of moments when I found myself at a loss of words.

I’ll let you marvel first at what I have managed to encapture in my photos, and afterwards, we’ll talk more. There is a lot to be discussed, recommended and mentioned.

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view from floor 148 of Burj Khalifa

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Dubai’s water taxis

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the palm life

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Burj al Arab as seen from Madinat Souk in Jumeirah

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incomparable views

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feeling childish all over again at Dubai’s Butterfly Garden

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some of the best things I have ever smelled were in the Spice Souk

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breathtaking views from the Sheikh al Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

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this is how happiness looks like – floor 148 of Burj Khalifa

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fancier than Jimmy Choo?

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Dubai’s Miracle Garden – a feast for your eyes

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one amazing sunset, as seen from Palm Jumeirah

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care to take a dip?

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Sheikh al Zayed Mosque

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the sun will heal every wound – Arabic Desert safari

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life in a city with 18 lanes streets can be pretty tough

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The Netherlands or Dubai Miracle Garden?

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Dubai’s skyscraping Financial District

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who’s hungry?

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surprisingly, it smelled better than I remembered

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intricate wall pattern at the Sheikh al Zayed Mosque

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stacks of adorned flats

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saw this one on Instagram so I went building hunting. totally worth it

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few things will ever be able to compare with this sunset in the Desert

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this photo makes me crave to discover Shanghai’s skyscrapers too

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*gracefully whispers ‘get out of my picture!!!’

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hypnotic, right?

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if spring doesn’t come faster, my legs will be the same colour as my sneakers

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the art of making a henna tattoo

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marking the first time I try coconut water and sugar cane fresh juice!

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camel riding to the unknown

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patterned skies

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oh, how I wish I could have taken the entire shop with me

The first thing that comes to the majority of people when they think about the Emirates it’s probably luxury. And their thought is well founded. This country promotes a careless lifestyle and environment where you are persuaded to believe that you have no reason at all to feel bad that you have just spent the salaries of ten contractless  workers on one pair of shoes and that the next day you took a helicopter ride overlooking the Atlantis Hotel. Also, if you decide to settle here, you will likely own  hire a staff of five to take care of you and you know, your penthouse, your kid, your food and basically your entire life. But the country will completely convince you that it’s OK:

‘Don’t be silly! Everybody lives like this here! Now let me recommend you the best agency with the cheapest Thai maids!’

So, this is basically the place where luxury feels at home.

Excluding this part of the mentality that I have encountered there, the Emirates have actually more and better things to show off with.

Dubai, for instance, is this truly melting pot of nationalities (more or less desperate about finding a job that pays well), the one city where you can buy Iranian figs from the shadiest street shops ever and after thirty minutes to purchase a Dior bag from one of their many humongous air-conditioned malls. Dubai is the place where there is no in-between. There are only struggling people or extremely rich families, poorly constructed typical desert houses of just two or three floors or world’s highest skyscrapers, ridiculously small back end shops with floor to ceiling Indian scarves or marble shops with only 10 products with unimaginable prices.

Regarding what you have to see in Dubai, Burj Khalifa is a must. It is an architectural stunt that will never cease to amaze and the best place to take photos of the jaw-dropping surroundings. Also, the Miracle Garden and the Butterfly one are truly amazing sight seeing spots that will leave you thinking all you saw was just a mirage. If you are a beach lover, the most beautiful one I’ve seen is the one located near Palm Jumeirah Residences 2, so you might want to try that one too.

If you love knowing you made a good deal, don’t miss the Textile Souk, the Gold Souk and the Spice one. Some of the most beautiful and exotic things I’ve ever seen can be found there. Smell the dried lemons, wrap yourself around the finest pashmina scarf, drink and then eat coconut, try on some Arabian style shoes, give the sugar cane brought from Oman a try and have fun bargaining! Bonus: hop on a water taxi to cross the Creek. The boat might look like it is from Cleopatra’s time, but that makes the experience better.

Save a day for Abu Dhabi too. The Sheikh al Zayed Mosque is a truly wander of the Middle East with its endless rows of columns, its impossibly to replicate floors adorned with dozens of flowers and its miraculously white exterior. Also, take a taxi (they’re not incredibly expensive) to explore the Ferrari World. It will rock yours.

Last one on the to-do list is a desert trip. It’s a must, really. You’ll never be happier to scream inside a 4×4 car while endless dunes are unveiling in front of you. And watching the sun set there is one moment to hold on to forever. Try out a henna tattoo, enjoy a flavoured hookah and taste all the local food you can get. And just have a good time, relax and make memories. Work tasks can wait, school homework won’t try to kill you if you do it a week later and actually, there are very few things so urgent that you won’t be able to enjoy life.

All in all, the United Arab Emirates represent a one of a kind experience that you should enjoy wholeheartedly.

If you have reached this point of this monstrously big article, I congratulate you. I hope you had a nice time while reading it :)

Laura

 

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Utterly in love with Sicily

January 21, 2016
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Have you ever felt like your heart was somehow… heavy? Not burdened by memories, but on the contrary, substantially full by fragments of your life that you know you will replay in your mind every time you’ll be unable to sleep. Like the moment you woke up to see the sunrise kissing the sea’s horizon and you were completely freezing or the night you spent just dancing and laughing and having an incredibly good time or the cozy dinner you had with some new friends that you have a feeling you will intersect with a number of times in this life. Have you?

Well, my heart must be overweight from such memories.

Especially after one amazing week in Sicily.

You know what? Forget everything you know about Sicily. It’s nothing like in the movies. People are open, warm and kind, the food is actually better than in your wildest dreams and the scenery is straight out of these Instagram posts you’ve been double tapping daily.

So crush some more. No one’s going to get hurt *wink

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Undeniably, it is very hard to define Sicily. If you’re a food lover, you’ll think about their traditional cannoli made with ricotta cheese, pistachio, sugar, cinnamon and cherries or about their oh-so-tempting gelato. If you enjoy more the architecture, you will definitely remember their open balconies full of orange trees with elongated fruit and if you are a summer weather loving person, then their perpetual sunny climate will leave your cheeks flushed for at least two weeks.

If you ever go to Sicily, pay a short visit to Taormina, a small but chic town in the north of the island. The Greek Theater is a must see. Try every single pasta dish that looks/sounds/smells good. You will never regret eating some freshly made tagliatelle with porcini and white sauce, I promise. Also, rent a car and stroll on Catania’s streets full of vendeurs on the move. You’ll take photos non-stop. And if you want to understand better the authenticity of the island, go to some smaller fishing villages just at 10 km from Catania to see the real Dolce Vita.

After going to this island once, you will finally understand why the Italians living in the North are buying houses for the winter in Sicily. And you’ll start saving for one too, I guarantee it.

 

Have a great day and keep an eye on plane tickets to Sicily!

Laura

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Going back to Wien

January 3, 2016
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It was ‘Before Sunrise’ which made me love Wien. The chic old trams, the charm of the night over the city, the Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts; all these images have stuck in my memory, waiting to be compared to the reality. And as usual, reality is better.

This was my third time in Wien, but let’s say that the first can’t be counted as I was only 10 and the second lasted for only 8 hours, so it was actually the first time I was able to see more of it. But I’m sure I’ll go back. I think I left some unfinished business with this city.

Wien is indeed an amazing city, with an architecture that will blow your mind at times.

I have to say that my biggest crush was on the old trams. Which explains why I have taken more than 100 photos of them. *oups

 

So, if your feet happen to take you to Wien, you should see the Schonbrunn Palace ( including the zoo and the Tropical Garden),  the Belvedere Palace (if you’re into art) and the Hofburg Palace (if you are into royal matters). You should pay a visit to Demel if you have a sweet tooth (apparently, Sissi’s favourite cakes were produced by this pastry heaven) and if you love any kind of museums, you should definitely go to the National History Museum (its Anthropology section is amazing). Also, if you are tired of seeing the same ol’ things in every city, go to the Hundertwasser House to be amazed of how many styles can coexist in the same place.

 

I’ll leave you now with the photos! :)

 

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Schonbrunn Palace

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the Lush and Luxurious Gardens of the Schonbrunn

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Hundertwasser House

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Red Gate – somewhere around the Museums District

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there is something so old-fashioned about their trams

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magic happens only at night

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the Opera House

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chasing you

I wish you a Truly, Madly Happy New Year!

Cheers to new adventures!

Laura

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Christmas in Budapest, Wien and Sibiu

December 30, 2015
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Every two days in December there is this post coming up on my Facebook newsfeed: Europe’s 12 most beautiful Christmas Markets with the description ‘How many of these have you seen?’. Sounds familiar?

Needless to say I am a bit in love with Christmas and everything related to it. Packing boxes of happiness, dolling up the house, listening to the same old, but still charming carols, seeing how faces lit up during the undressing of the presents, eating the traditional Christmas lunch with the entire family, I love everything about Christmas, especially because it makes us value more the time spent with the ones we love.

This year, I wanted to do something different. Probably because it was my last Christmas at home and not just visiting briefly in order to return to uni. I wanted to hold on to this magical spirit of Christmas and to this precious quality time spent with my family, so I asked my folks if they would be willing to do a road trip to Budapest and Wien to see the highly appreciated Christmas Markets.

This was also an opportunity to see more of these two cities which we had seen briefly in the past, so there will be separate posts about them (*the Budapest one is already published and you can read it here).

I have already showed you some photos taken at Bucharest Christmas Market (click here if you haven’t seen them) and if you scroll, you’ll discover more from Budapest, Wien and also Sibiu (which we got the chance to see almost entirely deserted at midnight when we were returning home).

Enjoy!

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The St. Stephen’s Basilica Market

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Christmas Markets were popping everywhere (literally!)

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I must get my hands on the Hungarian recipe for mulled wine! It was sooo good!

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*stares dreamingly at the screen

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when in Wien: strudels, schnitzels and Mozart sweets

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my inner child will never get over the obsession of over-decorating if I stare more at this picture

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Christmas tastes 101

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tip: the Rathaus Christmas Market in Wien is the most expensive of them all, so buy your souvenirs from smaller Markets instead :)

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one can never get bored while admiring beauty

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don’t forget about the heavenly scented kurtoskalacs with nuts!

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there are angels everywhere we look. if only we were more attentive…

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foggy view of the Natural Sciences Museum

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Mysterious Sibiu

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of all the cities I’ve seen this December, Sibiu is definitely the most beautifully lit and decorated

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I’ll meet you in the dark

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you got what you wanted (happiness, time, love) and I wish you a Happy New Year with blessings and reasons to be joyful!

 

Laura

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