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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
And there were some bigger pieces that must have required a few hours of work!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you looking for a city trip with some sunshine and a possible sea breeze? Then Lisbon is the place to be. I went for a trip just recently and in the middle of European winter, I had mild weather and enough of blue sky to make you appreciate that it can’t be too long till summer again. Let me provide you my suggestions where to go when you have two days in this lovely city.
Firstly I would suggest that you find accommodation in Barrio Alto or Santa Caterina the next door neighbourhood. This is where the creative and hip scene is picking up and you will have a perfect combination of traditional Portuguese cafés, restaurants and bars, and modern pop-up shops and experiences. I stayed at an Airbnb apartment in Santa Caterina with a great landlord leaving me a great list of where to go. So maybe make the first day your concept store, pop-up shop wondering around day. If you do so make sure to pass by 21PR, Uzine – an amazing three story building with local brands setting up shop – , Vintage Decorations, Beirut Gallery and Embaixada.
For restaurants you might want to wander around the area and drop in for a lucky find. Artis Wine Bar is a great place for local tapas with amazing taste, good wine and that cosy atmosphere. If you want a more serious restaurant make a booking at The Pharmacia in the pharmacia museum and try some culinary highlights being guarenteed that they will be using local produces. Pass by Bar Majong for a drink later on, which has a quirky decor, great cocktails and good tunes. I don’t think the Facebook page really gives it a way though. And then finish the evening late at Park at the roof top of an old five level parking which will continue till 2 am with DJs playing and a party crowd.
The next day I urge you to jump on the bus or in a taxi to take you to Belem the neighbourhood a bit further out. Just a few years ago the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) opened and just the building itself is worth a visit. Its organic shape positioned alongside the river is captivating and challenging. You can get to the roof and have a spectacular view over town. If you have time drop by the museum and you will get to see changing exhibitions throughout the year and if it is like the one I visited, it will be as mesmerising as the building.
After this, walk back to the large bridge that you passed when getting to the MoA. Close to here you will find the Village Underground. This area is an industrial plot where the ‘East London’ crowd of Lisbon created their new haven. You will find old buildings where creative agencies found a new home, co working spaces, street art decorating the walls and some restaurant and bars where life will start in the evening. Check out what the times are to experience some of their events or special events. I had a very organic lunch in an old double bus with the opportunity to review the last two days and I started thinking about where the next visit would bring me.
Posted in Lisbon, Uncategorized
Tagged Artis Wine Bar, Bar Majong, Beirut Galery, embaixada, Lisbon, MAAT, Park, Pharmacia, Pharmacia Restaurant, portugal, PR21, Village Underground
What to expect from restaurants in Sofia which is a city with a turbulent history of different religions, disruptive rulers and known for corruption? I was happily surprised to find Made in Blue restaurant. This restaurant is based in a blue house in the center of Sofia, and boasts a modern menu, a lovely team and an interior design which is traditional and creative.
I made a reservation via their Facebook page and was welcomed like a long lost family member. I felt at home immediately although we were obviously the only tourists in there. They have a nice garden at the front of the house which I expect to be buzzing over summer when the weather allows you to consume your meal outside. The restaurant is spread over two floors and is decorated as a living room with elements reminding you of your grandma’s house but with a modern twist. For example in the toilet the mirror is bordered with serving trays decorated with a traditional Bulgarian design, in the bigger room you will find old tools fixed to the wall but then tens of them, and of course a lot of faded blues covering walls and tables.
The menu is an elaborate fusion mix created with organic produces. You will find a paella, quinoa salad, tiramisu and fish of the day capturing the things that are available now and popular today. Check some more examples of their food in the menu copied here. If you are looking for traditional Bulgarian meals this is not the place to be, but if you like a restaurant with a young and creative crowd, a wonderful healthy meal and a warm team make sure to drop them a note for a reservation and you will have a great evening.
Sometimes a hotel is a make or break. Or at least it is for me. A hotel for me should be that haven and welcoming back after you have toured and done your sightseeing. And at the same time when you don’t feel like those trips, a hotel should be chill, comforting and have the facilities to hang around for a day. When I was in Tulum I spotted a few hotels where beach life is great, the staff is good and you find your haven in heaven.
Nomade $$$ – Nomade is amazing. If I would have the budget this would be my go to destination in Tulum. I went for breakfast which was an experience itself. The decoration is Moroccan/Mexican inspired with different areas to have your food whether it is for breakfast or diner. The reputation of the restaurant is well established and a destination itself. With yoga classes, an amazing beach, bikes to take, little library, the beautiful hotel provides all the facilities you can wish for.
Villa las Estrellas $ – this is a smaller hotel, but with a nice pool if you have some little ones to watch after. Note that although it is much cheaper than Nomade, in this part of Tulum it is hard to find a hotel with beach access at a really reasonable rate. I would not suggest to eat here, but the staff is kind, the palm trees are great for that bit of shadow when at their private beach and you are at a great location in the buzz of Tulum.
Coco Tulum $$ – if you are on for a white hotel on a white Mexican beach, this is the one. I joined one of their yoga classes and noted their lovely private cabins with beach view. The staff was lovely and welcomed you at the door. They have a little shop at the entrance with local products and clever merchandise. Make sure to use their bikes to get you to the Tulum areas where you will find the shops and restaurants.
Ahau Tulum $$ – after joining them for a yoga class and trying their pancakes for breakfast after, I just kept coming back. Their food is all organic so you get the healthy vibe. Yoga classes here were great with teachers supporting class with their own music and a perfect sea view on the upper deck above the restaurant. The beach bar was perfectly located to continuously monitor any cocktail, shake or smoothie wish you might have when on the beach. As soon as you walked up their jungle pathway you had that warm and welcoming feeling with the surrounding palm trees, well-kept decorations and staff with a smile.