When in Oslo, NOR 2018

Locations: Vettakollen, Akershus fortress, Akker Brygge.

Oslo, Norway. April 2018. Minolta Dynax 7000i, Kodak Film 200, 35mm film, 36 exp.

 

Infrared Impressions of Oslo, NOR 2018

Locations: downtown Oslo, Grünerløkka, Akerselva river, Oslo Opera House.

Oslo, Norway. April 2018. Minolta dynax 7000i, Washi Z 400/135 BW Film, 24 exp.

 

Adventures in Madrid

Visiting Spain was in my bucket list for years, so the idea to travel to Madrid came naturally. Even if it was my first time ever in Spain, I always felt I knew the country. After all, we share similar cultural habits, like food and siestas, but we also appreciate a good glass of wine and a sunny terrace! So, I wanted to experience firsthand what Madrid had to offer.

The trip didn’t start so promising for me; I got my period while traveling to Madrid, which in a way brought some distance between the city and my general perception (hormones we oh-so-hate). The weather welcomed us with a beautiful sunshine and a clear blue sky, which was a great start, but also a chance to forget those horrible days of the month.

After meeting my best friends at the airport, we headed to our apartment. It was the moment we stepped out the metro, that my inner Bilbo Baggins started screaming: “I’m going on an adventure!”.

 

Dinner, lunch and breakfast

In Madrid, as in the rest of Spain, what you need to try is the tapas. Tapas are types of savory dishes that are served in bars; they are usually accompanied by drinks and are the core of the touristic Spanish cuisine. Tapas can be small portions (tapas) of food or bigger ones (raciones). They can be for free or you need to pay for them. Tapas are known all around the world, however, the quality in which we normally find them is far inferior to the real thing – trust me. In Madrid, the tradition is that you are offered a small tapa for free with every drink you order, typically, a small bowl of olives. So, you will eat a delicious tapa either way!

Tapas are not just about the food, it’s also about the way you eat them. It is the whole eating culture that comes with them. You go out with your friends, you find a tapas bar, you sit at the bar and you start eating. You typically order a drink and a couple of tapas plates, and then you order another drink and a couple of more plates. Exactly like eating meze in Greece. I get it now. And you never sit at the same bar all night; you go bar-hopping, visiting several tapas places in one evening.

Seeing for the first time a tapas menu can be challenging, especially if you have no idea what to order – like me. Asking for help and recommendations from the waiter is always a nice solution. Some of the famous tapas are the classic tortilla de patatas, the croquetas and the patatas bravas, but you can also choose from a variety of salad, pasta, fish and meat dishes! There is literally food for all tastes.

During our stay we visited several tapas places; the ones that stood out were the Ojala close to the Tribunal metro station area and the Juana La Loca in the La Latina area. Ojala attracts many young people, mostly due to its hipster interior design. They offer many small tapas, mostly Mexican based dishes. Juana La Loca is modern but it’s also a more typical tapas bar. It attracts people of all ages and the service is quite good. We tried a selection of cold and warm tapas with some Rioja red wine on the side. It was delicious!

A must-go place is certainly the famous open market of Mercado de San Miguel. There are many open markets you can visit in Madrid, but this one is close to the city center and it has a very nice atmosphere and of course, great food options! It has dozens of counters with all types of tapas and drinks. I am telling you, it is a paradise. In the middle of the market there is room where you can sit with your friends while you enjoy the amazing food and drinks! This was for sure my favorite place!

If you feel like visiting a different restaurant, go to the Sobrino de Botin. It is the oldest restaurant in da world (also part of the Guinness World Records), and it is also wordwide famous. You need to book beforehand though, because it is always very busy. I would call their food traditional comfort food and certainly not gourmet. It is typical Spanish food based on very old recipes. It is quite expensive (overpriced I would say), compared with the rest of the restaurants in the area, but its atmosphere is certainly unique. One thing is certain, you will meet people from all around the world there and you will eat a lot! {Check the pictures of their menu in the gallery below to get a glimpse of its food and prices}

While you are in Madrid, don’t forget to try the famous churros with chocolate. We visited the famous Chocolatería San Ginés in central Madrid (in a passageway close to San Ginés church, west of the Puerta del Sol). This chocolatery serves the famous chocolate con churros (hot chocolate and churros) since 1894. They are basically churros served with enough hot chocolate to keep you up all night. They say it’s prefect after dinner, I say it’s perfect ALL-DAY LONG.

La Mallorquina cafe is the best place to grab a quick snack and coffee. It is part of a chain that you can find throughout Spain and they have loads of pastry, savory and sweet snacks to choose from. Pick your coffee, choose your treat and enjoy a quick bite before you start the day. My only problem was the communication, since almost none of the café’s workers understood English. However, they were very kind and helpful with everything we wanted.

Another good breakfast restaurant is the Federal Café, a very modern place (close to the center) which tends to get very busy. We had to wait 20 minutes to get a table, but it was worth it. Their breakfast and lunch options were endless, and their pastry was super delicious. I had a salmon toast with a poached egg and salad and later an amazing chocolate cheesecake (which I unfortunately had to share).

Drinks & Nightlife

Now let’s talk about where to drink in Madrid. That was perhaps the most challenging part for us since we discovered many bars that were not really our taste. But don’t get discouraged! There are countless bars for all tastes to enjoy your drinks. For great cocktails visit the Lamucca de Prado, close to the National del Prado Museum. Other great options for cocktails are the Del Diego Cocktail Bar and the Salmon Guru. If you are not impressed, then check the roof of El Corte Inglés that has an amazing view or go to La Negra Tomasa. To be honest, in every restaurant or bar I visited, they had amazing Rioja (my favorite) red wine. So, even if you crave only a glass of wine, you will find many bars that you can just chill and chat with your friends.

Places to visit/Museums/Art

When it comes to museums and culture, you certainly need to visit the Prado Museum. It has a huge collection of European art, with loads of Goya paintings. On the ground floor you will find Spanish, German, Flemish and Italian paintings from the 15th and 16th century, while on the first floor you will find European artwork from the 17th and 18th century. You must see the fantastically creepy Garden of Earthly Delights by the Dutch painter Jeronimus Bosch, the Raphaels and Titians, but also don’t miss out the Black Paintings from Goya, they are amazing. The Prado is enormous, which means you will have to keep in mind that you will spend at least 2 hours there. There is a lot of art and it is always busy, so plan ahead and enjoy this wonderful museum.

Another must-see museum is the Reina Sofia. Its collection is certainly more modern; it has four full floors filled with art! On the ground and first floor you will find collections on postmodernity with themes such as decolonization, the uprisings of ’68, feminist movements, the economic crisis, the expansion of popular culture and the emergence of other peripheral modernisms, but you can also find several temporary exhibitions. The second floor is dedicated to modernity, with Dali’s surrealist work and Picasso’s famous Guernica, while on the fourth floor you will find post-war works that focus on the antagonism between United States and the Soviet Union. The third floor is always reserved for bigger temporary exhibitions, such as the one I visited, William Kentridge’s multi-layered work, which I had seen before in Amsterdam. The museum currently has an exhibition dedicated to Fernando Pessoa, my favorite Portuguese poet and writer, so if you get the chance, please visit it and I will be eternally jealous!

For a better way to explore the city, you should definitely follow one of the many free tours in Madrid. How it works is very simple: you book online the date you want to join and then you meet up with the group at a central point. After the tour, you are free to give the guides any amount of money you think their work deserved. From my experience, I have to say that their work and insight was great. From those tours you get a general historical and architectural overview of the city, plus you learn the central spots. If you follow or not those free tours, don’t forget to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Retiro park; the latter we didn’t visit because the rainy weather didn’t allow us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go shopping in the city, so I don’t have any shopping advice for you! We were busy walking, visiting museums and eating. On out last day the weather was very rainy which didn’t allow us to walk and explore the shopping area. I spotted many nice stores though, that I will certainly revisit in the future!

Practical tips

For accommodation, you can find online small apartments close to the city center, so you don’t have to walk much from one place to the other. We chose an excellent location, close to Puerta del Sol, the very center of Madrid, so that we could have everything at close range. The truth is you will need to use the metro either way, but staying in a central place is always handy.

So, for using the inner-city metro, you need to buy a red card that you then recharge. That was challenging for us, since the English language mode of the ticket machines didn’t actually work. Thankfully my friend knew some Spanish and we could print our card and tickets.

It might get a bit confusing getting the metro and trying to figure out the stops and the lines you need, however, checking the boards they have there and asking the employees of the metro will make your travel easier. Do not use Google maps in any case, because it only confused us (sorry Google).

Useful tip: to reach the airport you will have to use the C1 blue line. If you live in the center, taking the metro towards the Chamartin stop is the easiest option; from there, you wait for the line that takes you to the airport (I took the T4 for European flights).

For more information visit their website.

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Click on the links to check the places online.

This post is not a promotion for any of the businesses mentioned above.

(Photos: Canon EOS 1000D, edited via Lightroom with VscoCam & Samsung A5 2016.)

 

PRIONIA, OLYMPOS, GR 2017

Prionia, at the foothills of mountain Olympos. Greece. July 2017. Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

At Prionia, you can find a restaurant, maps and directions to climb the mountain. It is also the spot that cars don’t go any further. You will find the beginning of a wonderful path that leads to Litohoro village or you can climb towards the mountain itself. Alternatively, you can ride a donkey as seen in the photographs!

Parga, GR 2017

Parga, Greece. July 2017. Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

[Locations: Castle of Parga & Valtos beach]

 

Spring in Utrecht, NL

Utrecht, the Netherlands, March 2017. Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

Amsterdam Impressions, 2014-2015

Impressions of the city of Amsterdam, through the course of 2 years.

Locations: Kalverstraat, 9 Straatjes, Eye Film Institute.

Pentax P30, 35mm film.

A Winter Weekend in Wien (Vienna)

Traveling soothes the soul, the mind, the body. It refreshes the way we see the world; it broadens our horizons and it surely helps us relax. Even if we travel for one day or a weekend, the stimulation we gain from experiencing a new environment is enough to fill our days with beautiful memories.

I had the pleasure to discover one of Europe’s prettiest and most praised cities: Vienna. Last week I was pleased to see that it was ranked the city with the highest quality of life! And I can tell you that they have earned it. During four days (three and a half to be precise), I had the opportunity to explore this unique city. Vienna has so much to offer that it is very hard to choose where to go. However, with good planning and precious advice (uhhm mine of course) a short trip can be very fulfilling.

[This post reflects my experience in Vienna and intends to inform and help prospective travelers.]

First of all, Vienna has a lot to offer in terms of Art. There is art everywhere! All the old palaces are now galleries you can visit, with exhibitions that change throughout the year. Some of them are permanent all year long. I decided to start with art, because it was also one of our main goals of our visit there. Later I will focus on food (yeeees) and where to go for drinks. Some extra handy details will also be included.

A nice way to discover the Viennese atmosphere is to start by visiting its palaces. Since they are quite a lot, you better choose beforehand what looks more interesting to you. Also, don’t forget that all the palaces have entrance fees, so a careful budget will save you from unexpected costs. Nowadays, many of those palaces function as museums (Albertina, Belvedere), others are used by the government (Hofburg), while many share multiple functions. The famous Schönbrunn palace, for example, that used to be the summer imperial residence, now attracts millions of tourists for its architecture, interior design, gardens, but also its classical concerts. We visited the famous Albertina and the Belvedere palaces.

Albertina was built in 1744 for Count Emanuel Teles Silva-Tarouca and since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt throughout the years. It underwent a complete renovation in 2000 that lasted for three years. The famous Habsburg Staterooms were restored, while four new art exhibition rooms were created. We enormously enjoyed the permanent Impressionist and early 20th-century art. Monet and Picasso are the main figures of this exhibition, while we saw French Baroque and Rococo drawings from Poussin, Fragonard, Lorrain and David. The contemporary art section was super fun to see, such as the tribute exhibition of Austrian Markus Prachensky with his dynamic red compositions. The last room includes works from Andy Warhol to Anselm Kiefer and many other contemporary artists. My favorite part of this palace was undoubtedly the ground floor collection, the Film Stills! It contained unpublished film stills from iconic films of the 20th century: Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, Persona, The Great Dictator, Kino-Eye, Breathless, 8 ½, and many more (check the gallery below)! Unfortunately, this exhibition was temporary, but Albertina always includes new ones devoted to photography or film! Check the current exhibitions here.

Belvedere is a much smaller and compact museum, but with an extraordinary view. Before we arrived, it had heavily snowed, so you could see from its windows the misty white atmosphere covering the city. The part we focused on was the Upper Belvedere houses, where they have a massive collection of Austrian art, dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. This museum’s main focus is the permenet Gustav Klimt’s exhibition, but also Tina Blau’s. Its temporary exhibitions vary throughout the year. You can check what is coming here. Thankfully, we visited the museums on separate days, otherwise the art overdose could prove fatal!

I am not an art historian and my general art knowledge for the ones who know me is quite limited. Nevertheless, I enjoy art enormously, as much as I enjoy watching art films. When you look at beyond the obvious, the stated, the ordinary, it can transform your whole experience. Having said that, it is time to move on to my favorite place: The Art History Museum. It is big, diverse and perfect for beginners.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is located just behind the Natural History Museum (Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010) and it is probably the greatest art history museum ever (yes too excited). It contains an immense amount of art on its two floors, that covers the course of more than 2000 years of human history. The ground floor starts with Ancient Egypt, followed by ancient Greek/Roman statues and objects. The care with which all the antiquities are exhibited is evident from beginning to end. As a Greek, it was heartwarming to see how beautifully they have put everything together. The first floor consists of Flemish, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish paintings, from Breugel to Dürer and from Velázquez to Titian, all European masterpieces of the 16th and 17th century.

(for more information click the links on every museum/palace)

Vienna is worldwide famous for its coffee houses (Wiener Kaffeehaus). They are a vital part of the Viennese culture and attract thousands of tourists. Many of those coffee houses are constantly full and they offer a high quality of service and of course coffee! The famous Café Central was unfortunately closed during our visit, but we did enjoy a luxurious lunch and coffee at the Landtmann (Freud’s favorite). Its location is ideal since it is close to most of the famous museums (Universitätsring 4). We also visited Café Diglas and Stadtcafe, both located at the center of the city (check the photo gallery below). Some of the famous coffee houses can be a bit expensive, but they offer great quality service and superb food. Their coffee though is of a reasonable price and it is always accompanied with a glass of water. Waiters are constantly at your service; the way they dress and behave makes you feel like you are one of the many 19th century intellectuals visiting their coffee house! The atmosphere and vibe of those coffee houses are unique.

Now we need to seriously talk about food. A fantastic place we visited was the Vollpension lunch café, extremely popular for its granny dishes – literally they have old ladies cooking for you – and its vintage atmosphere. It can be very very busy so you better reserve, as it is not as spacious as the typical Viennese coffee house! For the price of 8, 90 we had the breakfast that offered bread with homemade spreads, two types of cheese, fruit and vegetables accompanied by a boiled egg. It was delicious! Don’t forget to try their cakes, you won’t regret it.

What you need to try, at least once, is the famous Viennese schnitzel! Lugeck is one of those restaurants that combine classical culinary traditions in a new and modern way. They offer the best schnitzel in town, served with cranberry sauce and potato salad. The Cuvee wine they had was superb! You will immediately feel the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant with its minimalistic environment. If you are looking for something more international, you should try the Medusa restaurant. They offer amazing dishes of the Italian cuisine. I had the pleasure to enjoy tagliatelle with salmon and extra parmesan! (pictures that will make you drool follow). And again, the wine I tried was magnificent – a local one whose name I forgot! If you feel like enjoying more drinks, a walk to the 25hours rooftop bar in the MuseumQuartier is ideal. You can meet people from around the world here (it is part of a hotel), while enjoying the breathtaking view with your favorite drink at hand.

One of the greatest experiences in Vienna was certainly going to the Opera. I have never visited an opera before, so the whole evening was quite special. The Vienna State Opera House is a majestic building that hosts every week different opera plays. We had the pleasure to watch Puccini’s Tosca, a story set in Rome at the time of Napoleon’s advance on the city. It was a moving and extraordinary experience. It lasted approximately 3 hours with two breaks in between. During the breaks, you can buy drinks or enjoy the small appetizers they offer. What made an impression on me was that the wine was the same price as the water, so better carry a water bottle, since paying more than 3 euros for water is quite extreme. I highly recommend for you to visit the opera, even if you don’t consider yourself a fan! You will be surprised by how intense it could be. The ticket prices vary: the higher you are, the cheaper it is.

The weather in Vienna was surprisingly ok. It had snowed just before we arrived and the snow started melting away through the weekend. It was quite rainy during our last day, so having an umbrella with you is advisable. From now on the weather will only get better, so dressing up in layers is wise. If you arrive by airplane, there is a bus service going every 30 minutes from the airport to central points, including the train station. It costs 8 euros and is extremely useful. The ride lasts approximately 40 minutes (from the airport to Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz for example, close to the center). It is recommended to stay close to the center, since it is a very large city. We stayed at CH wellness apartments, which we booked online. You can find any type of hotel or apartment in the city on varying prices.

Beauty combined with culture, great food and amazing sightseeing is what Vienna means for me. Hopefully this article has been informative enough for any prospective traveler! Because traveling is what makes the world go around.

Let me know at the comments below about your experience and if you still have questions about traveling to Vienna, don’t hesitate to contact me!

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Click on the links to check the places online.

This post is not a promotion for any of the businesses mentioned above.

(Photos: Canon EOS 1000D, edited via Lightroom with VscoCam & Samsung A5 2016.)

 

Leeuwarden Impressions

Pentax P30, 35mm film. Central Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, 2015.

An Italian food week

Italy is the ultimate paradise for people who appreciate good food. Ok, like you didn’t know that already.
From pasta to sauces of all kinds, from chocolate and bread, to cheese (oh yes) meat, wine and pizza, Italy has everything you ever dreamed of, my dear food lover. I kindly warn you for the content of the images that follow. You will drool on your keyboard.

And so my story begins last August, when I had the opportunity to travel to the region of Piemonte, Turin in particular. There, I had the pleasure of experiencing the real Italian food with a real Italian friend! So, next time you visit Turin, these are some of the MUST-EAT places you have to try!

First stop was the piadineria, a place where you can indulge yourself in many types of piadinae. Piadina is an Italian flatbread which is filled with anything you like. In Turin we visited the La Piadineria located at the center of the city (Via Accademia Albertina, 1/BIS), where I had the pleasure to try the “Legend”: piadina with prosciutto crudo and the amazing scquaquerone cheese, which is white, soft and melts in the mouth. All this was served with extra rocket salad. In the evening, it was time for pizza! One of the best places in town is the Le Rondini pizzeria. I treated myself with a different type of pizza, one with scamorza cheese, cabbage, eggplant, spicy sausage and mozzarella. It was really hard to choose; the variety of pizzas was fascinating.

 

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My second day we visited the biggest open market in Europe, the Porta Palazzo. There, we could explore tons of different types of cheeses, a variety of sausages, cold cuts and deli meats, but also fresh pasta. The market also has plenty of fresh vegetables, meat, fish and fruit! We bought some fresh ricotta cheese, which we later ate with some fresh white bread and mortadella.

Later that day, there was time for a break from all this food overload, so we enjoyed some iced ginger-lemongrass green tea at Hafa Café. This café has a distinctive Moroccan decoration and serves many varieties of tea, couscous dishes, salads, desserts and cocktails. Its menu and atmosphere combine in an effortless way the traditional with the modern. The café is located at Via Sant’Agostino 23/c, where most of the bars and restaurants are. In the evening, we cooked some fresh gnocchi with spinach, we added some homemade pesto and ate it with the fresh ricotta and the mortadella on the side.

The next day was time for some focaccia! After walking for hours, it was the perfect time to dive into the gorgeous taste of focaccia. At the Tipica Ligure we had focaccia with spinach and cheese (the rest I don’t remember, since we were too hungry to note the names down). That same evening, we cooked our own authentic caprese salad with REAL mozzarella, you know the one you can never really find in the supermarkets.

The fourth day was dedicated to picnic, since it was a national holiday and we couldn’t do much. But still, we treated ourselves with caprese sandwiches, cheese and bread, but also some great wine. Unfortunately, there are not pictures of the food; it was consumed before I even realized I had a camera.

Around the fifth day, we thought it proper to visit one of the most famous Italian supermarkets: Eataly! If you don’t know it, this is the time to introduce yourself to its products. I beg you, really. This supermarket is even in New York (and in Japan, Turkey, Arabia, Brazil), offering to the world an amazing chance to taste the glorious Italian food. They even have their own cooking school. There were long counters only with cheeses, long counters of chocolate, long counters of everything! It might be more expensive from a typical supermarket, but it is definitely worth it. You can start your visit by dropping by their café and finish the day with some homemade pizza, like we did. You can find all types of Italian food you ever dreamed of. Seriously, google it.

Later that day, it was time for the typical Aperitivo dinner. This ritual starts at around 6pm and it lasts till 9pm to most of the bars and small restaurants. They make their own cold and warm food: salads, pasta, bread, pizzas, oven dishes and much more. You eat ALL you can in those hours and you only pay 6-7 euros depending on the area. Sometimes in the price the alcohol is included. The one we visited was located at Via San Domenico 4 and is called Km5. This time I had a collection of many gorgeous things, but I tried so many that I didn’t even bother taking pictures of them. I drank some Barbera red wine with my food, which I loved.

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After walking all over Turin, we dragged ourselves to one of the most fantastic places ever: Cornetti Night. At this place you can find croissants which they fill for you with ANY type of crème: hazelnut, white, dark, milk, almond etc., etc. (this can take hours). I thought I would take something different, so I chose pistachio crema which was fantastic. I mean, did you think it wouldn’t? The day was officially over and our bellies were the happiest they have ever been. It also took a couple of hours to suggest this amount of food, but it was so worth it!

 

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You are probably wondering why I haven’t mention ice-cream so far, the famous gelato. Well, since we ate gelato EVERY SINGLE DAY, I thought it deserved some special attention. We tried ice-cream from many different places, but the one that is known as the best in town is the famous Grom gelaterie. Turin has at least four stores, but the one we visited consistently (I mean every day) is located at Via Accademia delle Scienze 4, next to the Piazza Castello. My favorite flavors were the salted caramel and bacio (chocolate with hazelnuts) ones! It is slightly more expensive, but the texture and taste of their gelato is fantastic.

 

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My last day I had the opportunity to eat a real Italian dinner, cooked by the sweetest Italian mom ever: Lidia. She had cooked ravioli with ragout sauce and fried veggies, which she accompanied with toma cheese and Dolcetto red wine.

 

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Eating in Italy is not just a need or a habit, it is an experience. People spent time, effort and give a lot of love to what they create. And I can relate to this, since Greek cuisine is also made with love and attention. The difference with the Italian one is that, since it is so popular, you are used to a really low quality of products if you don’t live in Italy. But tasting the real thing has been a revelation to me. Those places I visited and the foods I tried are only a small part of the variety and magnitude of the Italian cuisine. It is vast, amazingly good and easy to fall in love with. Even if you are a food lover or not, visiting Italy should be on your bucket list. That juicy cheese is longing to melt in your mouth; it is created to tickle your palate and make you feel the happiest person alive. Even for some minutes. Because this is why we love good food; it makes us happy. Pack your forks and off you go! Ciao!

 

Click on the links to check the places online.

This post is not a promotion for any of the businesses mentioned above.

(Photos: Canon EOS 1000D, edited via Lightroom with VscoCam. The pizza picture is taken with a Motorola phone.)