Category Archives: City Trips

Sightseeing and great food in Montmartre

At the end of October I packed my little carry-on suitcase and went off to a one week trip to Paris and London. I really needed the break and was happy that my brother and an old friend of mine accompanied me. We took the TGV to Paris and arrived at noon on the last saturday of October. Because our Airb’n’b was conveniently located in Montmartre we choose to use the afternoon to explore that special part of the city.

entrance of the cemetry of MontmartreI know some of you might find it creepy but we started our tour by exploring the cemetery of Montmartre. You will find it in the west of the quarter. The entrance is at the end of the Avenue Rachel.

Make sure you take that entrance, before you end up walking around the whole cemetery like we did in search for another one. Because we thought – “there surely is more than one entrance”. Well, I tell you there isn’t 😉

cemetery Montmartregrave of Heinrich HeineSome very famous painters, writers and musicians are burried on that cemetery. But even if you don’t spot one of the famous graves, the variety of tombstones and decoration is quite unique. Within seconds the quiet and the calmness of the cemetery lets you forget that you are in the middle of the French capital.

After leaving the cemetery we headed up the hill towards Sacré Coeur passing the famous Place du Tertre. Make sure you don’t take the direct way. Just walk around, get lost and discover the narrow alleys and old streets of that quarter. But, do make sure not to miss the vineyard behind Musée de Montmartre.

vineyard of MontmartreFrom there we strolled through the narrow streets heading slowly towards the dome of Sacré Coeur. On our way I admired the pretty little houses and dreamed up a whole life of me living in one of them.

streets of Montmartre

 – What do you say? Dream house material? –

Finally we arrived at the breathtaking cathedral Sacré-Coeur.

Cathedral Sacré CoeurThe square in front of the cathedral is very crowded due to the view you get over the city. Because Montmartre is the only hill in Paris and so it is the only natural place for a good view over the town.

Do go into the cathedral. It is free and the interior is as beatiful as the outside of the church.

view up to Sacré CoeurWe continued our way down and followed the rue Abesse back to our flat, stopping here and there to admire the cute little shops and to buy ourselves some dinner.

Speaking of dinner, because we stayed in the middle of Montmartre we went out for dinner to a couple of pretty good restaurants. The food was such a treat so that I completely forgot to take pictures…

So, if you are looking for a good location for a nice french meal, you can’t go wrong with those:

Jeanne B.
A cute little roastery with local sourced food and a small well-arranged menu. The staff is very friendly and speaks English if your French is a bit rosty. They offer a deal for a three course menu on the evening for only 29 Euros.

Chez Toinette 
If you want traditional french food, go to Chez Toinette. We tried our first snails there and endulged in a delicious dug as a main and a heavenly creme brulée. It is a bit more pricy than Jeanne B. but worth every visit. Do book a table though because it fills up very quickly.

Le réciproque
This restaurant was extraordinary. The menu costs 35 Euros and you get close to Michelin star dinner for that. I was mind-blown by the price-performance ratio. I would have not expected such a treat for that amount of money. Again I would recommend to book a table. And don’t be put away by the french menu. The staff do speak English as well.

I can’t recommend those three restaurants enough. The food was delicious and the staff very friendly. In all three locations the waiter or waitress spoke English. On the top of that, they were also very helpful with the selection of wine.

I mean what would be a proper french dinner with a good glass of wine, right?

 

 

What to do in Málaga – Spain

Malaga in SpainAt the end of May I flew over to Málaga for a short trip into the sun. I was visiting a friend who is living in Gibraltar but because flight connections from Germany to Gibraltar are insanely expensive we agreed on meeting in Málaga.

I arrived quite early in the moring so we had plenty of time to explore. The city center is truly beautiful. The narrow streets with the typical spanish houses get you into an holiday mood immediately.

streets of Malaga

Malaga

I just love the tiny balconies and wooden blinds. I always imagine the locals drinking their morning cup of coffee right there in their morning gown watching the sun rise over the sea ;).

We stayed in the Picnic Dreams Boutique Hostel which I cannot recommend enough. The hotel is situated close to the main sights and has well furnished rooms. You even get the basic toiletries which is great for people flying in only with carry-on luggage. On top of the nice rooms the breakfast is delicious too. I tried the typical spanish breaky – toast with mashed tomatoes and olive oil – which was surprisingly good.

But back to our arrival. After having checked in to our rooms, we started to explore the city and went straight to one of the main museums in Málaga – the Picasso Museum.

Picasso Museum Malaga

Picasso was born in Malaga and spent his youth in the city. The museum draws a detailled picture of his artistic development showing some of his greatest work. I have to say I am a big art lover so I basically enjoy every art museum. However I really liked how the museum managed to give an indepth impression of Picasso’s art without beeing too large to take all in. So even my friend who wasn’t into his art as much as I was really enjoyed the visit.

Close to the museum you will find the cathedral which is worth a visit as well if you ask me.

cathedral Malagacathedral Malaga

From the center of the town you can easily walk to the sea. You either can walk on the sea promenade and have a drink or two in one of the bars and restaurants or you head to the beach for a dip.

The promenade offers some great art as well with the Centre Pompidou Málaga a small enclave of the famous museum in Paris. Besides that, you will find local artists exhibiting their work on the weekend at the promenade. So do go and check it out ;).

After we built up some stamina with ice cream and coffee we headed up to the old castle ruin overseeing the town.

castle Malaga

Doesn’t this look beautiful. I asure you it is worth the climb because the view is really nice up there. If you go all the way up, you can enter the castle and descend within the old ruin.

castle Malaga

Having been walking all day long, we built up quite an appetite. I guess there isn’t a place where you actually will eat badly in Spain, however if you are up for a treat go to “El tapeo de cervantes”. You won’t be sorry. The tapas are exceptionally good and the wine is great as well. If you want to make sure to get a table book ahead.

Nibbling away on some Tapas and wine really was a good start for my holidays in the south. If you are in the area go and visit Málaga. Its size is perfect for a long weekend or a stop-over to other places.

Have you been to Málaga before? How did you like it?

 

 

One Weekend in Wroclaw

To be honest, Wroclaw was never on top of my travel bucket list, but a close friend of mine decided to go there studying. So me and a friend decided to drive up to Wroclaw over the long weekend at the beginning of November. After our short trip, I truly recomment visiting this charming town.

Wroclaw city center main squareThe city isn’t that big and you can reach most of the main sights by foot. The area around the main square and town hall is just lovely. I really like those old or in this case old looking houses. It’s simply prettier than modern architecture, if you ask me.

town hall wroclawAround the town hall, you’ll find a lot of nice restaurants and cafés. Also the flower market is right around the corner. It is open twenty-four hours to give especially men a chance to buy an excuse gift after a long night out.

On our first day we mainly explored the city and ended up visiting the Pan Tadeusz Museum. The museum is near the town hall and tells the story of the popular polish writer Adam Mickiewicz and his main work, the poem Pan Tadeusz.

Pan Tadeusz Museum Pan Tadeusz MuseumThe exhibition was very interactive, presenting the information in various different ways. It was great fun exploring the history of the polish poem and its significance for the polish culture.

Strolling through the city, you can spot little dwarfs at corners or in the middle of squares or streets.

dwarfs wroclawThe dwarfs are spread out over the old town and are a symbol for the political protest during the 80s. At that time a group called “Orange Alternative” staged passive protest using gnomes as a sign against the communist establishment.

me and a dwarf– This fellow was big enough to shake hands in front of the theater 🙂 –

But not only a great number of gnomes is waiting to be discovered, Wroclaw also offers some beautiful street art.

street art wroclawMake sure to walk around a lot and you will see some great art, I promise.

One of the must visits is the “Cathedral Island” with the great cathedral. You can even climb up one of the towers to get a better view of the city. Unfortunately we were to early and could only visit the cathedral itself. However, the archtitecture and decoration is of course worth the visit even without enjoying the view from above.

The museum within the historic university building is another great place to go. The university is one of the oldest in Poland. Make sure to visit the cathedral and the baroque hall “Aula Leopoldina” as well as the exhibition of the university’s early days. Today there are over 40,000 students studying at the university what gives Wroclaw a very international and young atmosphere.

oratorium marianum– I loved the paintings in the Oratorium Marianum at the university –

Another place to go is the Jewish cementary. I know, some of you might find it creepy to go to a cementary for sightseeing, but it truly is a historic place. It is meant to be the only place in Wroclaw, where the German history is still visible. In other parts of the town all reminders of German culture were destroyed after the war.

The cementary also is a place of great calmness and some beautiful art. In my opinion, cementaries always tell their own important story of cultures or cities.

jewish cementary WroclawNear the cementary is the Sky Tower, the highest building in Wroclaw. If you are more lucky than we were the elevator to the top floor works and you can have a great view of the town.

If you do go to Wroclaw, plan more than just a day. The city offers a lot which we didn’t achieve to visit. For a short overview here are some further tips for a great weekend in Wroclaw:

What else to see?
  • Hydropolis – an interactive museum about water a bit out of the center
  • National Museum – unfortunately this is closed on Mondays but is meant to be very good
  • Jewish quarter – you can visit the synagogue or have some great food in the cafés and restaurants around
  • water fountains – near the cenntential hall, there is a water fountain which is illuminated by night and from may to october there are hourly shows with music acompanying the water and light effects
Where to stay?

We stayed at The Green Hostel, a small hostel near the center. It was very clean and cheap.

If you do go, let me know what you visited and how you liked the city 😉

Travelling Peru – what to see and do in Cusco

During our trip we stayed most of our time in Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley. Of all the cities we went to during our tour, I liked Cusco the most. Maybe, one reason for this was that we had more time to explore the town by ourselves. However, with its rich history and great atmosphere, I think I also would have loved it after just having stayed for one day.

We had some tours organised by our travel agency in advance. In the afternoon, we had time off though and enjoyed exploring the area by ourselves. Here are my recommendations for you if you are planning to visit that beautiful town:

1. The artists’ quarter San Blas

My absolute favourite place in Cusco was the San Blas quarter. Walking up from the central square this area felt very modern and young. There are a lot of small shops with handcrafts and local designs as well as some cute cafés and hostels. I just loved walking around the narrow streets peering into the shops we passed.

San Blas QuarterSAn Blas Quarter in CuscoMake sure you walk as high as you can, because the views over the town get better and better.

Cusco
2. The local Market

Unfortunately, I have no picture from the local market. I guess I was so concentrated on taking in all the fruits, fish, meat and other products on offer that I completely forgot to take pictures. If you have the chance, do go to one of the big markets in Cusco and just walk around and enjoy the exotic feel of it.

3. The Temple of the Sun – Coricancha

This mixture of a colonial church with the remainings of the old Incan temple is definitely worth a visit. It is intriguing how perfectly the Incas placed there stones to beautiful buildings which were much more stable than the later colonial ones. Because during an earthquake in the 17th century most of the colonial church was destroyed while the Incan walls remained.

Coricancha - Temple of the Sun in CuscoCoricancha - Temple of the Sun

4. Eating in a local Picanteria

Our tour also included a meal at a local picanteria. Those restaurants serve all the local specials like fried pork or even guinea pig. If you can, go with a local and make sure you order the local anise liquor for your digestion. Trust me it helps!

5. Plaza de Armas – Main Square

Just sitting at the steps in front of the main cathedral on the Plaza de Armas watching people – this was one of our favourite occupation during our stay. It is fun watching the locals and tourists mix on that main square. If you have time also visit the main cathedral which is a great exampl of the mixture of Incan and Catholic religion.

Main Square in CuscoCathedral

6. Saqsaywaman

Another very impressing Incan site is Saqsaywaman at the edge of the city. You can either take a driver there or walk up the hill to the ruins. Saqsaywaman is a huge Incan ruin located in a beautiful park. On weekends the locals come here to picknick and to play with their children.

Saqsawamanstone slide - SaqsawamanMake sure you follow the example of the local children and try the natural rock slides in the park – so much fun :).

Make sure you plan two to three days for Cusco. I asure you, you won’t regret it. Do tell me if you go or already have been there and share your experience in the comments.