Berlin: Ultimate Insider’s View

I wanted to explore Berlin as long as I know Anastasia. Which is, let me think…, for almost ten years. To breathe its liberal air, wander its rough historic streets and go to all the posh restaurants, bars and clubs she was describing when calling me to Helsinki. More than ten years and around the same number of countries ago for both of us. Back in the days Skype did not exist and to call abroad you had to dial a 10+ digit number, and then the number you were calling to. Remember?! Let me rewind. I wanted to explore Berlin with Anastasia. Because no one knows this city like she does.

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Food Heaven in Lisbon: 24 Hours Indulge Guide

My post about Lisbon would not be complete without a separate (and passionate) passage about the Portuguese capital’s food, full of lust and temptations. It is a delight to all senses, sure, but not always an obvious one. It took me and Sophie quiet some time to figure out the whereabouts of some of these places, so to save you some time for Lisbon bliss, here is our list. A word of wisdom: check out the restaurant’s web page to see if the place still exists before going there. Even some of the New York Times’ relatively recent choices ceased to exist when we get to them.

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Lisbon Fairytales: Coqs, Cork, Peacocks and Sardines 

Exploring Lisbon and painting up the only big blind spot on my travel map of Europe has been my long time dream. In my imagination, Lisbon was all about its yellow trams, sun dried rooftops, narrow sloppy streets with no clear destination and, of course, the sea. So when I got a free weekend in June, I sent my wanderlust partner Sofia a discovery suggestion. Lisbon was new to her as well, so off we went.

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Of course, we found trams. Right on the hills of Graça, from where we started our discovery mission, trams were everywhere. They caused tourist excitement and traffic jams. I should have taken more pictures of them (a perfect shot of a yellow tram was on my travel to-do list) but I assumed that I would see many more. I was wrong (and the tram ways all over the old city are misleading): trams, yellow and red, only run in Graça and Baixa. So you know what to do.

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Nice: freezing under the summer sun and a few tips of heavenly food

Here is an altitude view of Côte d’Azur. It probably is the best airplane picture I have taken.

Below lies Nice. Enchanting, captivating, quiet, magical and mysterious, under a sparkling carpet of lights, from here Nice is probably at its best. Back in the days when Côte d’Azur was my dream destination, I pictured it somewhat like that. 

The real Nice, however, is far from all that. If a notion of mass tourism is applied to the South of France, Nice is the most touristic of all the coastline cities: airport taxi at 35 EUR (not to mention the buses) provides quiet an easy access to everyone lured by the glamour of Côte d’Azur. Proximity to the airport and, relatively to the next door Cannes and Monaco, high population and some historical heritage, attracts crowds and all that comes with them: construction boom of experimental architecture of 80s-90s, multilingual restaurants with long menu in pictures and high density on the narrow pebble beach stripe. That’s not to say that Nice is not worth its fame: the sea is still there and it captures imagination (and hearts) as soon as the plane lands on what seems to be from the window a water surface. Personally, I prefer small cities like Menton close to the Italian border or Eze village on the way to Monaco but occasionally give in to the allure of Nice or Cannes.

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Farewell to Nice from the plane’s window

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A glimpse of Marrakesh, Moroccan fauna and a fair warning about quads

Somewhere between last Christmas, my birthday and New Year, Louveteau decided that it was time for me to explore an Arab country. For some reason, he was sure that I would say no. Out of principle, I said yes. On impulse, we took last moment Transavia/ Easy Jet tickets (which costed us like Air France Paris-Rio one way) and soon after were queuing at the immigration service at Menara airport.

Fast forward: getting in Morocco was much easier than getting out (at least to me on my lavish Russian passport – who could have thought! Louveteau had to showcase his entire passport collection to enter). To leave this beautiful place, we had to gather all possible stamps, which would be a very powerful impression on its own but was overshadowed for me by the separate lines for luggage scan for men and women.

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