Never heard of Folegandros in Greece?

Me neither, but supposedly it was the perfect Greek island to balance crazy, expensive, over the top Mykonos. We booked a ticket to Santorini, and then took the boat which needed 1.5hrs to get us to Folegandros. From London after half a day of travel we arrived and were ready for a few days chill enjoying Greek life.

We stayed at Hotel Odysseus in the main town at the center of the island. This hotel has a really nice location overlooking the sea possibly from every hotel window. It has an ever so lovely swimming pool and we were just a few steps away from the town center.

hotelOdys

It was this kind of island and town that after a few days you were a local at beez bar and the bar man knows your name and drink. That kind of island where you take your coffee and breakfast in the main square in the morning to start the day, and you’ll see how the fresh fish gets delivered for your meal that evening at Xrystostalia restaurant. That kind of island that seems to be perfect indeed to say hi to summer and enjoy all the Cyclades has to offer in terms of sunshine, beaches, good food and friendly people.

FolegandrosResto

For the beaches make friends with the hotel owner of where you are staying. The wind can get rough and that might spoil your day when you are on the wrong side of the island. Their advise is crucial for where you should go that day. We checked out Catargo beach which we reached taking the boat from the main port. We also went to Fira beach, which was a bus ride to Agkali town and then a bit of a rocky walk to this remote beach with the most beautiful  aqua blue waters. We also enjoyed Livadaki beach, which after the bus ride to Agkali is about taking a small boat heading to Agios Niolaos. All these beaches are pretty secluded with blue waters and pebbles.

BeachesFolegandros

If these beaches are not remote enough for you do a boat trip for the day. This will get you to some of the above beaches, but also a few others that are even less crowded and isolated. It’s a great trip to get orientated on what you’re looking for in terms of going to a secluded beach and hence what beach to go to the next day.

And also on this island we were able to find a yoga teacher to join us for a session. We convinced the hotel that the roof from one of their apartments was the best place to do this, and so we were able to get a great spot with sea view. When the sun came down we were in downward dog and saw the sun set peeping through our legs.

SunsetFolegandros

In the evening we checked out the local restaurants (try Zefiros Anemos, Pounta Garden, or Xrystostalia) and took a drink at the main square next to the church. And we often continued having fun at one of the three bars with some locals or other tourists that had made the extra effort to get to Folegandros. We had our sought after chill, built nice memories and can highly recommend spending some time here.

 

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Street art in Istanbul

What a diverse city Istanbul is! You can see that the economy is growing which brings with it a city that shows different faces. The upscale areas for the super rich, sky scrapers were work happens, and the buzzing old town where you might still see a donkey pulling the goods. And of course this means that there often also is that creative hub where designers, art lovers, and vagabonds find their like minded spirits.

SeveralIstanbul1

In Istanbul this is Kadikoy at the Asian side. If you stay at the European side you might want to take a boat from Karakoy or Besiktas for a 20 minutes boat ride to get there instead of a taxi on the always busy roads. For me it meant high expectations on a street art opportunity. And I was not disappointed.

Most of the street art that I run into was on the side of a building where a parking lot was created. It meant that the different ‘ canvases ‘ were often comparable sizes and huge!

SeveralIstanbul2

The artists splash out in their often gloomy colors and address inspiration from different elements of life, but often challenging politics and societal thinking. For example this work from the Polish artist Sepe that he created with Chazme. This looks as one of his themes that addresses that individuality doesn’t seem to exist anymore and his characters can only exist as a mass.

SEPE

Or how about this work from INTI a Chilean born artist that uses vibrant colours and draws from themes like life, death and ancient religion.

INTIRealAnd this one from Pixel Pancho, who just as INTI, is using an artist name. The works of this Italian born street artist are inspired by famous artists. The robotic figurines are another of his trademark.

INTIstreetart

And please note these others, where you will stop and wonder what brought the artist to draw what you see in front of you. Even if you want to stop for a break in Kadikoy you will find a nice spot – for example Coffee 1848 – often with a lovely street art backdrop.

1848Coffee

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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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