Where to go for a nature dip in Argentina?

Argentina stretches 3,700 km from North to South and 1,400 from East to West at its widest points. This makes it a country with an abundance of nature in different climate zones. So where to go if you have a week to spare to see something of this country? Being advised by a well-travelled local friend Juanito, we went to the seven lakes in Patagonia, which is approximately 2000km South of Buenos Aires and next to the Chile border.

Patagonia

San Martin de los Andes – we flew into San Martin de los Andes and stayed at a lovely spa hotel – Amonite Hotel – which treated us to a great outdoor pool consistently kept at 26 degrees. And this was needed as being more South and next to the Andes mountains this meant that temperatures where already dropping when we went there in March at the end of their summer.

SanMartin

This small little town next to the lake brings nature at your doorstep. We enjoyed the environment with a walk and checking their ‘miradores’ for the best views. While in Argentina fish is not a core element in this area though trout was a standard on the menu. We went to Ulises for dinner and had great service and authentic dishes. Another recommendation is El Meson, where the food was great but service needed a bit more attention.

PuertoSur

Villa la Angostura – from San Martin we took a 2 hours drive through the amazing landscape and passed several of these seven lakes to get to Villa la Angostura. The advice of Juanito was great as we drove through town and got to a small bay – bahia Manzano – just after, which was a little paradise. We were staying at Hotel Puerto Sur which is built on the mountain and therefore has the best view over the bay. Using the best of the location the room had a window from the bed that gave you that bay view. And of course it had an infinity pool which made you feel one with nature. We spent the time visiting the little town, walks around the bay and hanging around the pool. Perfect to soak in the beautiful area and get chill before heading back to Buenos Aires.

Nature2

 

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3 totally different restaurants in Istanbul

Recently I was in Istanbul for a long weekend and had the chance to visit three totally different restaurants. The first we went to was Sur Balik.

Sur Balik – is located in Arnavutkoy, an area with beautiful historic buildings all from wood. The wood carvings on the outdoors make you feel like you step back in time. I definitely would recommend to stroll through during the day also for a bit of shopping in the boutique shops and a stop for a juice break at eggo. But back to Sur Balik. This fish restaurant has a great team. They come by with a big plate to show you all the starters to choose from. Then you go over to pick your fish for the main course and you’re set for a great meal. With a bit of a Bosphorus view you would want to secure a spot on the terrace. Enjoy!

SurBalik

Sunset restaurant – while this restaurant is about hip and happening, I think you still need to go. It is located on the hilly side of Istanbul and is in a spot where you have an amazing view over the Bosphorus. This restaurant is about the outdoors, with a good outdoor bar, outdoor restaurant, and probably outdoor dance floor when the occasion. The food is modern Turkish fusion and good quality. Make sure to dress up.

SunsetIstanbul

Da Mario restaurant – is in an upscale residential area of Istanbul. You will feel like you are visiting someone’s home when you enter through the garden. Ask for the garden area for your reservation if the weather is good. We had a purpose to go Italian because of a sport event the next day and we needed to get the carbs in. With the great Italian food in this restaurant we got all we needed and a lovely atmosphere and staff.

Oh, and BTW if you want a great breakfast with Bosphorus view, go to Lokma.

Lokma

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Discover Menorca

Ever thought about visiting Mallorca’s smaller brother in front of the Spanish coast? Have a read and consider this as it’s so worth a visit. This island gives you all a Spanish island can offer, but not the super tourist boost you will get in Mallorca, and Ibiza. It’s great for a beach break, dipping into Spanish culture.

Cala Galdana – during my trip I stayed in the Melia hotel at Cala Galdana one of the most beautiful bays of the island. The view from the hotel is wonderful and shows you amazing blue waters. It has a nice sandy beach the island is known for just in front of the hotel.

CalaGaldana

Ciutadella – is one of the closest cities to Cala Galdana. It has historic pedestrian streets, nice little shops and restaurants, and those locals sitting in front of the house talking through the things of the day. The restaurant I would like to recommend in town is S’Amarador in the middle of the buzzing port, which serves a great paella. And when in town try to find Ksar shop. It has a wonderful collection of furniture from all over the world.

Ciutadella

Cova D’en Xoroi – The one thing that is getting the crowds in Menorca is Cova D’en Xoroi. But nonetheless you will need to go. It is a bar carved out in the rocks overhanging the mediterranean. There are different spaces connected to each other and it is so unique that you can’t really help yourself to continue taking pictures to capture this.

Cova

Boat trip – the best way to enjoy the blue waters and the white beaches is doing a boat trip. We had a small sailing boat with 10 people and the best time. We stopped at different beaches, went for a swim and were amazed at the blue colours every time.

boatMenorca

Yoga – I went on this trip with a yoga group and had a great week. We did yoga on the deck of the hotel overseeing the bay. With two yoga classes a day I came back totally zen and totally sold on to coming back to Menorca one day for sure. The yoga trip I went with was organized by yoga escapes , check out the trips they organize as it is a great combination getting your yoga classes and exploring new places.

yogaMinorca

 

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How do you sell a car in Argentina?

And 4 other facts about Argentinian life….

Selling a car – traveling through Argentina I noticed that you would often see a car in a quiet street with a bottle placed on its roof. It seemed a bit random and with streets being pretty clean in general it didn’t seem to be left clutter. So when I asked it turned out that this is how people indicate their car is for sale. The bottle is most often an old plastic jerry can, with some water to give it weight and a note attached with contact details. Why use ‘webuyanycar’.com when you can use a bottle?

carsale

Eating dessert – At any time of the day you can invite a fellow Argentinian to join you for a sweet snack – postres. The collection of super sweet cakes is tremendous. You can find lemon cake, tiramisu, alfajores inspired pyramids of sugar, chocolate cake, cheesecake, mousse de maracuya and many more. They use dulce de lecce as a main ingredient in many of those, being the local sweetener. It won’t be hard to find one of those places and check the desserts for your local favorite. dessert

Classic cars – Cuba is known for the Volvo Amazone’s on the street, in Argentina you will find even so many other classic cars. This can be old Chevrolets, Mercedes or other. They are not all in a perfect condition, but when they are, they are the little gems on the street.

classics No fish on a BBQ – being not so much a meat eater is a bit of a challenge in Argentina. You would think with a coast that stretches from North to South eating fish is well embedded in this culture. But this is a meat country. I could think of amazing grilled shrimp skewers, pulpo, cod with dille and lime, but there was no inspiration when the piece of fish secured for me finally landed on the grill. Don’t get me wrong it was great fish I got, but the love and attention was definitely directed towards the meat on the grill and not this odd piece of fish that lay next to it.

BBQmeat

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Street art in Lisbon

Street art in Lisbon is everywhere. Small, big and in hidden corners. I think it tells the story of a city, the people and a country. Enjoy a few of the pieces I came across on my recent trip in this town.

Lisbnstreetart1

These above are applications of pieces plastered quickly on a wall. I really appreciated the one from the woman eating the frog, did she consider kissing him before eating this prince charming?

lisbnstreetart3

In this industrial area, see my other blog on Lisbon, a lot of creative agencies had landed, and hence it is no surprise that the walls were also used to spread some creativity.

lsbnstreetart4

And how about these stick man like figures in the corners at the walls. Spreading love or highlighting that the EU money is still welcome.

lisbnstreetart2And there were some bigger pieces that must have required a few hours of work!

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A wedding in Argentina

You meet a man, you hang around with him for a bit and then he invites you to a wedding of one of his best friends in Argentina. The story goes it is about lots of food and a great party time, so the plane tickets got booked and off we go to Mar del Plata, 400km south of Buenos Aires for my first Argentinian wedding.

civilW

The festivities started with the civil ceremony in a cramped location of the registry office with friends and family. While this was quickly over we moved to a restaurant with outdoor bar area for some drinks and food. This was around 12 in the morning …… and we were still there at 7. During these hours we had food ranging from empanadas, to hamburgers, meat from the bone, a dessert buffet, and of course drinks and music. The crowd started throwing water at each other around 4pm which was supposedly a tradition. Probably instigated by a culture where heat and drinks go hand in hand. It was a bit wet, a bit borracho, and a great kick off for more to come.

YuliePepe

Two days later was the wedding day where the church ceremony and a party were the main events. The church ceremony started around 6.30pm in a little catholic church in the country side. A fashionable crowd filled the church and listened to the vows and the priest giving his blessings. From there we moved to the venue for the long waited wedding party. In the country side in the middle of nowhere a big farm/ranch was remodeled to a festival like area with food trucks, pop up cocktail bars and music area.

Fiesta

It was a great evening. While we were entertained with a live band, DJ and a bandoneon player the best thing was that the crowd didn’t leave a moment to dance together and have an amazing time. Cumbia was what kept them all going with intermezzos where we needed to get energized and we were spoiled with sushi, fresh wok dishes, hamburgers or fish skewers. You probably wonder what about a barbecue? It was in the schedule but while Mar del Plata had 6 months of solid sunny days, this was the chosen day to rain cats and dogs. The indoor venue was able to accommodate all that was planned for indoors, except for the barbecue. It didn’t spoil the fun and while I’m recovering in the Hotel spa from getting back at 6 am in the morning, I can say that I had the best time and would definitely come back for another one.

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SoPi in Paris

I was in Paris again a few weeks ago in a totally different area from where I normally stay. A great opportunity to try bars and restaurants that were on my list, but I didn’t have a chance to check yet. I stayed close to Montmartre in South Pigalle (SoPi for the locals). This area has been known for being a creative hub, but has gone through times where it might not have been so popular and run down. Now it is all back on the radar and new restaurants and bars pop up. Please find a few that you should not miss when you have the opportunity to visit.

Restaurant Buvette, 28 rue Henry Monnier – a typical small French restaurant where half of the place is occupied by a bar. So don’t hesitate to try a cocktail before you join for food, for which I urge you to try to make a reservation. You might want to do it the Parisian way and wait when something becomes available, but if you can be organized this might make your life easier. While typical French and sourcing with local farmers, there is also a Buvette in New York and soon to be opened in Tokyo. The menu is build for you to choose 2 or 3 portions per person and share amongst your group. As it is not a big menu we tried almost all of the it amongst ourselves and loved it.

buvette

Restaurant LÉntree des Artistes – again one for which I would urge you to make a reservation. You will need to have a bit of a search for this as only the door number and the plate on the door will give away that you have joined at the right place. This is a bigger restaurant over two floors with cosy corners for when you are just two. The menu was a little bit of a step up from Buvette but with a similar concept: smaller dishes to share, and with exquisite taste and finesse. The price quality ratio was really good and this combined with great company made that we had a wonderful night out.

EntreeDesArtistes

For bars and cocktails I think it will be good to check the crowd when you are there. The popularity of places change rapidly and one day it might be great and the other day you might be disappointed. If you want some guidance, check Dirty Dick or Hotel Particulier, where the first one is an urban bar and the second is the sophisticated environment where you can sip your premium cocktails with an even so sophisticated crowd.

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