Category Archives: Culture

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?

 

 

Gibraltar – one big rock, nice beaches and british food

I still owe you a report about my final destination of our roadtrip – Gibraltar. Let’s put it this way: I probably would have never considered visiting Gibraltar without my friend living there. However, spending a couple of days there I got to like this place.

Entering Gibraltar I felt like being transferred right back to England. Everything looks so British. One minute you have been in Spain and the next you are walking past a huge Morrisons offering everything I missed from my time in Leeds. Even the weather changed from clear and bright to foggy and windy within one day 😉

But let’s get started on what you should or can do when visiting Gibraltar.

1. The Rock and the Nature Reserve

Gibraltar from above

Take the cable car or walk up to the top of the massive rock dominating the city. From up there you have a great view of the city and can watch the monkeys chasing tourists or trying to steal stuff out of unoccupied bags.

Rock of Gibraltar

The day we went up the weather was extremely strange. I have never seen something like this before. On the one side of the rock there were heavy clouds which the wind blew over the edge like in the picture above. Doesn’t it look strange?

2. St. Michael’s Cave

After we took the cable car to get up, we decided to take our time and walk down to the city. On our way we passed St. Michael’s Cave – a very nice stalactite cave which is open for visitors. The cave is illuminated with colour-changing lights which is really nice to watch.

St. Michael's Cave Gibraltar

3. Beach

Before the weather turned all weird and british I had one day of sunshine which I used to explore the edges of the place and most importantly check out the beach.

beach in Gibraltar

This beautiful place lies on the opposite side of the rock. If you want to walk there, take the way via the airport – don’t try it the other way round. Trust me I tried an ended up being halfway around the rock when hitting a very long and dark tunnel with a sign – pedestrians not allowed!

The Sandy Bay is the last of the three beaches but it is worth passing the others. When I visited back at the end of may it was very calm there. The water was cold but nice 🙂

Definitely one of my favourite places in Gibraltar.

coast of gibraltar

4. Europa Point

Trying to walk around the rock I also passed the Europa Point which you also can add to your list of sights. Being the most southern point in Gibraltar, you can see the African coast if the weather is clear.  Besides that you can also visit a military museum which I didn’t because of the nice, sunny weather that day.

Where to eat?

Gibraltar has a lot of british Pubs and restaurant chains like Wagamama. However if you keep your eyes open you can find some really nice places for local sea food or some spanish inspired food.

On our first evening we went to a restaurant in the so called Ocean Village – a nice area with lots of bars and restaurants. We went to El Faro where I ate some really nice grilled fish. Afterwards we headed to the massive yacht Sunborn for drinks at their terrace. If you are looking for a fancy location do go there.

On my last evening we headed towards town to a local fish restaurant – The Blue Anchor. My friend and I shared a platter full of seafood fresh from the water. Probably one of the best meals on my holidays.

Seafood at Gibraltar

Roadtrip from Málaga to Gibraltar – Castillo de Castellar de la Frontera

After one day in Málaga, me and my friend hired a car and started our trip to Gibraltar. Driving along the coast we first stopped in Marbella. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as good as we hoped so we just walked along the beach instead of actually going for a swim.

Beach at Marbella, Spainsea at Marbella

I can’t really tell if I liked Marbella because we didn’t see much more than the beach. However pasing huge hotels at the promenade, I would’nt choose Marbella over Málaga for a longer stay. But as I said I can’t judge properly.

What I can tell you is, that Marbella has a great restaurant for sushi. The Kyoto offers extraordinary sushi not far away from the beach. I know it is a bit strange to eat sushi in Spain when you can have tapas but my friend had serious cravings for sushi so we ended up enjoying a pretty good meal.

Sushi restaurant in MarbellaSushi at Marbella

After lunch we drove further following the coast. Some kilometres before Gibraltar we drove north to Castillo de Castellar –  a beautiful old castle with a small town around it.

Castillo de Castellar– Doesn’t this look stunning? –

We parked the car and got lost in the narrow streets of the small town.

castillo de castellarcastillo de castellarcastillo de castellarIt is a bit of a ride to get there but it is definitely worth the effort. You will not regret it, i promise.

castillo de castellarNext to the castle is a small lake where you can go for a swim or rent a canoe. Within the town you will find small cafés and some little shops. You can even stay in the castle which is a hotel now.

After a long stroll around we headed towards Gibraltar which we reached in the early evening. Perfectly timed for a nice dinner and an early night ;).

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 😉