We arrived to Riga with friends on a cold, winter day, even though it was end of November, it felt like middle of January. First day we only had an evening in the city, a friend of mine suggested a place for dinner. It was a huge self- service restaurant, Lido Atputas Centrs, with a bar and a la carte part on different floors. The food was typical Latvian with lots of fish variations and some Russian influence with blini (pancakes) and borcs (Russian soup).
The place is huge and it has a cute, authentic style. I loved the fact that you are able to see and actually choose what you want to eat. There is a wide selection on basically all kind of food.
We chose to stay in the heart of the city, so we decided to book Hotel Roma. The location was perfect, the hotel rooms were nice, classy and clean, the only thing I would highlight as a negative fact: the rooms were noisy due to thin walls. If you are bothered by that, you better use earplugs. The breakfast room was spacious with a beautiful view and delicious food.
Next morning we were heading to the center. Everything was very close to our hotel, so it was only an easy walk. We visited the cathedral first. It's the biggest church from the medieval era and it's so impressive inside, outside. The cloister part was constructed in the 13th century, you can visit them both. I was fascinated by the colorful rose windows, special masterpieces of art. The whole church has a laid back, medieval atmosphere.
Check out the pipe organ, which is the second largest one is Latvia. They organize organ concerts here regularly, the cathedral was designed to achieve acoustic excellence, very special indeed!
Our next stop was the House of Blackheads, a special landmark in Riga, which serves as an event center nowadays. The original house was built in the 14th century and it was used as a gathering point for young, unmarried businessmen, they used to call themselves Blackheads, this is where the name comes from. The house got totally destroyed during the second World War, but it got fully rebuilt. The facade reflects various architectural styles. I personally loved the atmosphere of this spacious square surrounded by history.
The Central Market is a good 15 minute walk away from the center, it's one of Europe’s biggest markets and its pavilions used to house the giant zeppelin hangars, that were left behind by the German troops after World War I. The market has different sections and it offers an incredibly wide selection of fruits, vegetables, spices, meat. Visit the fish market and you will be amazed by the fresh catches of the day! Truly unique experience to get the vibes of local life.
Before lunch we wanted to shortly visit one more famous sight called, Three Brothers, these are the oldest medieval houses in Riga. According to the legend the houses were built by three men from a family. I loved the gothic details, lovely scene! The old town offers some more special sights and great vibes, in case you have half an hour, go for walk and you will discover history.
We chose a place for lunch in the center. The Restaurant Petergailis was cozy, traditional and the oven baked sea trout fillet was yummy. We also enjoyed a cup of mulled wine after strolling the streets all morning.
After lunch it was time for some fashionable moments, I discovered that there is a Fashion Museum in Riga and it was only a block away from the restaurant. The museum was fashion heaven, it featured old clothes and accessories from the 19th- 20th century. It's like a walk in fashion history with interactive features and a surprise room, where different eras are performed with music and light effects. What kind of dresses were worn in the Opera? What did people wear at home at the countryside? Amazing materials, precious collection. If you are into fashion, go and discover this museum by yourself!
We closed the day on the top of Riga, in the Skyline bar at the top of Radisson Blu Hotel. It's a luxurious bar with a wonderful view, cocktails, champagne and some snacks. It was a great chill out place after a long day.
A day at the beach
Jurmala is the seaside playground close to Riga, which is the ultimate place to be during summer time, but I must say, it was pretty amazing this time of the year, too. I've never seen before sandy beach with snow and cold, but it had its own charm. I loved the architecture, cool, eclectic style, wooden holiday houses looked so nice in the snow. We had a walk at the beach and looked for a Café to hide away from the cold.
36.Line Grill Restaurant was our choice for lunch. Extremely popular among locals, don't forget to book before you go! The view of the sea is precious, the place is really elegant and serves excellent food. Just look at the photos! Black mussels and Pavlova cake with berries and mascarpone cheese, pure bliss!
Our flight was leaving next morning, we had our last night in Riga. We dropped by this American jazz bar called, Moonshine, which felt like being right in Las Vegas. Very American and cool!
I definitely loved everything I experienced in Latvia. People were nice and welcoming, food was delicious. The whole city reminded me very much of Russia, due to historical reasons (being part of the Soviet Union), this kind of Russian style still shows on the city but in a good way. Hope you will ever have the chance to discover this special place! If you are getting ready for the fabulous Christmas parties and you are unsure about the dress codes, check out the FASHION site! How to set the holiday mood at home, HERE are my tips! Have a blessed Christmas and a joyful 2019!
This is the last chapter of my Scandinavian trip. Autumn was unusually mild this year, we had lots of sunshine, that's what shows on the photos as well. After leaving Denmark, I had two more days in Sweden, before my flight was taking off to Budapest. I was so lucky with the weather, I took my time and discovered this lovely city step by step. Join me and I show you around in Malmö!
Cozy, little hotel in the center
I didn't want to book something extremely fancy for two nights, I assumed, I wouldn't spend much time at the accommodation anyway. Scandic Malmö City Hotel was a great choice, nice, simple and clean rooms, great buffet breakfast and helpful staff - everything you need during a weekend stay.
Afternoon walk - Discovery
I arrived on a sunny afternoon, I only wanted to have a walk and find a cool restaurant for dinner. Walking is the best way to discover a new place, it helps you to find your way and get around easily. While walking, you have the feeling that you belong there, you become part of the city. Malmö might be a big city, but it definitely has a cute, small town feeling.
I passed by a little, hidden outside bar, called Lenoteca, so I dropped by for a drink. It very much looked like a local place. They had a great selection of wine. Cool place to chill!
I love street art, I got excited when I discovered these beauties. In Budapest we have a lot of creative painted walls mainly concentrated in the Jewish district.
Traditional and modern architecture
The World Maritime University's building is outstanding. You will recognize it immediately. It's offering postgraduate studies and it was founded by the International Maritime Organization, it's a specialized agency of the United Nations.
The city scene is very changeable, I love how the modern buildings stand right next to the small, traditional ones, it gives an edgy, cool style to the whole place.
Kungsparken - oasis in the city
It's a well-maintained, peaceful park. The best time to visit is the summer time, but even during autumn the park will show its different face and fall colors. There are cycling paths, canals and ponds, the place is inspired by the English gardens. I was blown away by the gorgeous, old windmill. Ideal place for strolling in the nature!
The Little Square
Lilla Torg means little square, it's the busiest spot in the city full of restaurants and bars. You can enjoy your delicious dinner while you are surrounded by medieval architecture. The street is paved with natural stones. The square used to be the market place during the middle ages.
I was fascinated by a beautiful building, it's outstanding, you will notice it immediately. Later on I read in an article, that this is Malmo’s finest preserved half-timbered building. Today it's home to the Form and Design Center. Visit the center to see free exhibitions of Scandinavian design and architecture.
I chose a Scotch pub and hamburger for food. The restaurant is called Drumbar Lilla Torg. It was everything I needed after a long day: excellent service, delicious food and very kind staff. Make sure you visit the square: Colorful houses, smell of food, good vibes, you won't regret it!
Rent a boat experience
Next day the weather turned out to be quite nice, so we decided to rent a boat with friends and discover the canal by ourselves. We chose the self-serviced electrical boat rental, Book a boat, that works with a simple application. You do not need any extra certification to drive the boat, but only adult (from 18 year-old) can be the captain. Your booking will be finalized with your credit card number, it's a very safe system. We visited the canals and the harbor.
It gives you a kind of freedom, that you are able to discover the city on your own. Having such a sunny, clear weather in autumn was a huge blessing.
Turning Torso - the highest building in Scandinavia
After the little cruising experience, I had a look at the one and only skyscraper in Malmö. It was built in 2005 and was carried out by a Spanish architect. Its twisted shape gives a modern edge to the whole building. World-class architecture indeed!
Lunch at a local place
Restaurang Kajutan is a spot I've found by chance, when I was driving along the coast to have a closer look at the Oresund bridge. The place was full of locals, they offered menu and a wide variety of fish dishes, I chose herring with potatoes and cranberry jam. I loved eating outside, facing the little boats and enjoying the last rays of sunshine.
The bridge is not far from the restaurant. It's a combined railway and motorway structure between Sweden and Denmark. It's nearly 8 kilometers long, right now it's the longest combined bridge in Europe. The idea of creating such a construction popped up before the second world war already, but finally the bridge was built in 1999 only. It's a special feeling to cross the bridge, the view is pretty amazing from there.
Now that we are at the Oresund bridge, we can cross it, arrive to Denmark and start the whole trip from the beginning, since I started my fall blog posts in Copenhagen. Hope you enjoyed this Scandinavian round trip with me. Check out sporty and trendy outfits for your fall getaway HERE: flat shoes, practical bags, evening outfits, suitcases and so much more. For Swedish interior design ideas and functional, creative solutions at home, go HERE.
After my pleasant visit in Copenhagen, I was eager to discover the countryside as well. I heard so much of the untouchable landscape and peaceful scenes, I wanted to see it by myself. Right after leaving the capital, cozy, little weekend houses were on my way, and again, I couldn't complain, it was such a beautiful, sunny day. Sweet escape!
Danish castles are like being in a fairy-tale, Kronborg Castle in the North is not far away from Copenhagen, definitely worth a visit. It took me about 1 hour to get there. Kronborg is a Renaissance styled castle and fortress located at a strategic position, it was built in the 15th century, today it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The coast of Sweden is visible from here, it's about 5 km far from the town of Helsingor.
My first impression was that the place is huge and it's beautifully decorated. I was heading to the main rooms, as you can explore the original design, it feels like being back in time. Shakespeare was so inspired by the impressive banquets held here, that his famous drama, Hamlet takes place in this castle, so you can actually walk in Hamlet's footsteps. Hamlet actually moved into the castle this summer, as interactive games and theater was organized on spot.
My favorite part was the room with tapestries and the grand ballroom. Mythology and legends appear on the silk carpets, these are real masterpieces and very expensive ones. Only a very few carpets survived from that era.
The ballroom is the largest one in Northern Europe. The wood carvings, the paintings and the large chandelier really takes us back to the time, when the most famous balls were organized in the country. Unfortunately due to fire, we will never be able to see the room in its original glamour.
The chapel is one of the oldest parts of the castle, it's not particularly big, but richly decorated. You will see an impressive organ in the back.
The view from the flag bastion was breathtaking. Strolling up on little stairs pays off when you finally reach the top and see the view.
Finally I was visiting the underneath passages, the so called casemate, pretty cold and damp place but it served as protection and saved many lives while there was a war outside. Truly mysterious!
However the destination of that day was originally the Kronborg castle, to be honest, I went with the flow and stopped every time I saw something interesting on the way. This is how I've found the pretty harbor, which looked like a local place with cute little bars and restaurants. After visiting the castle, it was time for lunch!
This little Cafe in Hornbaek offers a wide selection of fish dishes all year-round: home-made crab salad, smoked salmon, various salads. I chose fish ball with potato salad. The place was calm, you could enjoy your lunch with sea breeze, while seating outside and facing the harbor. Once you are in Denmark, add the Fish Shop in Hornbeak to your agenda!
The beach near the harbor was so peaceful, literally nobody was there, I couldn't miss the opportunity of sweet relaxation and walking for a short hour. The beach and the sea was tidy and windy, I enjoyed my escape so much. Check out my shots at the beach:
After this beautiful day in Denmark, I was ready to catch the ferry and finish my day in Sweden. The ferry ride was really short, the ship itself was modern and neat.
Inside the ferry
Join me for the last issue of autumn season in November, when I'll reveal the last two days of my round trip in Sweden. For nature inspired, autumn outfits check out my FASHIONsite, if you are more into interior design, I brought you new home design ideas in a minimalist, Scandinavian style under the INTERIOR DESIGN section. Enjoy the articles as much as I enjoyed writing them for you!
When I left the hot summer behind me in Hungary, I didn't really know what to expect in Denmark. I was lucky enough to have lots of sunshine, a mild temperature and light wind, however weather is changing here so fast, always keep your umbrella close! Copenhagen was a peaceful, charming city at the first sight. As I arrived with my friends late afternoon, we were heading to the old wharf immediately.
Nyhavn - the iconic place
It's a pleasant waterfront area with fancy restaurants and bars. The pearl of the city is definitely Nyhavn, which means "little harbor". It wasn't always so luxurious, it used to be the dodgy district of the city centuries ago. The brightly colored houses, the cute little boats and the smell of delicious food set the mood already and I started to get the atmosphere of the place.
We chose a restaurant called Skipperkroen for dinner. I had smoked salmon with avocado and black mussels with salad. Danish people love bread and butter, they have it with everything. Besides that, being close to the sea offers you the opportunity of eating lots of fresh seafood, so I took advantage of that.
The easiest and cheapest way to discover the city is by renting a bike (and a raincoat). In Nyhavn there is a place at the corner. Book online in advance, it makes things a lot more easier.
I have no idea when was the last time that I was cycling, but it felt great, I had so much fun! In order to taste the royal history, our first stop was at the Amalienborg Palace. Just like in London, you can see the changing of guards here. Inside the museum you can explore the past of the royal family.
Saint Alban's Church
After the Royal experience, we shortly stopped at the British gothic styled St. Alban's church. It's located right next to the Citadel Kastellet, which used to be a military barrack with offices and ramparts, today it's open for public. At this point, the weather turned so cloudy, I just hoped it wouldn't rain. Thank God, half an our later we had beautiful sunshine again.
The Little Mermaid - romantic sight
When you are in Copenhagen, you can't miss the emblematic sight, The Little Mermaid of course. It's not far from the Citadel. The figure was inspired by Andersen's fairy tale and it was a gift from a Danish brewer. The women is shaped after a ballerina, it's a small statue in the harbor. You can have beautiful shot, but be aware of the fact, that in the reality there is always a crowd around.
We had a short break at the harbor, than the next stop was the food market.
Culinary Heaven - Food market Torvehallerne
If someone tells be in advance, that Copenhagen is the ultimate culinary Mecca, I probably wouldn't believe it, but the city proved it several times, that there are lots of nice places to eat out. There is the food market in the center, the best place for lunch. wide selection of food stalls: fresh meat, sandwiches, fruit and vegetable, seafood, salad. I tried the traditional Flodeboller, it's a chocolate- coated marshmallow cake, very sweet, the foam inside is nice and firm . What a gourmet place!
Christiania - the alternative Freetown
Before reaching the hippy land, we visited the Opera house from outside. The building is one of the most modern Opera houses in the world, it was also very expensive to build it.
Cycling at the canals
I'm not a hippy kind of person, still I thought it would be interesting to see the district, that illegally occupied by the hippy community. It's the land of freedom - they say, on the street you can smell joint and buy light drugs. Well, I'm not up for these kind of things... The island rather seemed to me like a ghetto. I guess It's more for liberal, open minded spirits. Camera is not allowed, still I managed to do a few pics. Go there and decide on your own, you like the atmosphere or not! Entrance is free.
Before crossing the inner harbor bridge, the so called "kissing bridge", we've found this amazing food corner with stalls and street food stands. We shared a pizza and had a glass of wine. The atmosphere was laid back and cool, the weather was just perfect.
Strolling through the canals by boat
Anywhere in the world if there is a chance to do a boat trip, you can count on me. Observing the city from the water is always a different kind of experience, not to mention, that it's also very relaxing. The boat is departing from the picturesque harbor, Nyhavn and the tour lasts about an hour. Our guide was really nice and she explained us about the city, showed us where the famous fairytale writer, Anderson's house used to be. We could observe the military base from outside and the Opera House once again. The best part was crossing the canals in Christianshavn neighborhood, where you can even see floating houses. All in all it's a great program, highly recommended!
Borsen - Stock Exchange
Accommodation - Design hotel
We chose to stay at the Hotel Bella Sky, which was recommended by a good friend of us, Zsolt. It's a nice, 4-star hotel 4 metro stops away from the center. The lobby is bright and spacious, the rooms are ultra modern and neat, I loved the view.
The breakfast is pretty amazing here, their cappuccino is beating the Italian standard. The best start of the day!
My favorite place at the hotel was the Basalt Bar, which also offers street food till 10 pm, all variety of cocktails, beer and wine. The whole place has a cool atmosphere, great meeting point after a long, tiring day.
Hope you have the chance to visit the city once! Check out the Denmark inspired, effortless and delicate FASHION items HERE! For minimalist and functional HOME DESIGN pieces goHERE! Next month I'm revealing the secrets of the Scandinavian countryside, please follow me!
We came to the end of my Moroccan trip, in this issue I'm sharing with you my tips and experiences at the waterfalls and in Marrakech. After leaving Fez, I stopped at a special place for one night. It took me for a while to get to Ouzoud waterfalls, but it was definitely worth the effort.
Ouzoud Waterfalls - natural wonder
I passed by authentic, little villages and wonderful panorama while driving to the waterfalls. Nature is changeable and pretty amazing!
There are two ways to access the falls, in both cases you need to climb stairs, you will be walking on shaded path of olive trees, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. It's amazing how the 110 meter waterfalls plunged down from the rocks, this is the tallest falls in North-Africa. I spent one night at the village, so I could observe the natural beauty from different viewpoints. The area is full of monkeys, it's always nice to see animals in the wild.
The accommodation, Kasba Oum Hani d'Ouzoud was the best during my stay in Morocco, very clean, kind of European style with some Moroccan design. I also ordered dinner there in the evening, I never thought, that goat tagine would ever be my favorite. The beautiful sunset at the end of the day was truly a gift.
Marrakech - the city that never sleeps
Even though we call New York, the city, that never sleeps, I pretty much had the same experience in the dazzling, crazy Marrakech. However it all seemed to be like a tourist trap from the first day. In Marrakech tourism is blooming, they profit a lot from it and they are not shy if it comes to prices. When I was lost in the Medina, they charged me a lot to show the way around. People were really helpful, unless you pay double or even triple price than the locals. This is something I never experienced in Fez or at other parts during my stay.
Sightseeing - Yves Saint Lauren house and museum
There are the typical sights, that all tourist are eager to visit, so be prepared for crowds everywhere. The first day I was heading to Yves Saint Laurent's house and the museum. Jardin Majorelle is a beautifully maintained garden, like a nice oasis in the middle of the desert, yellow and blue colors are dominating. The designer lived here for a many years, he was very much inspired by the Moroccan lifestyle and traditions. The museum next to his house presents his works from the early ages. It's an impressive collection, worth visiting! Please note, that you are not allowed to take photos and be prepared to queue!
YSL house and garden
Museum - photo by Harpers Bazaar
It's highly recommended to visit one of the palaces in the city, just to get a sense of Moroccan architecture. Bahia palace was built in the 19th century, it captures the beauties of Islamic arts with its mosaics, tiles and colors. Bahia means brilliance, the name is already showing it's uniqueness, it definitely has a nice atmosphere. Inside you will see beautiful rooms without furniture, but each room has a different design, a nice garden with fountains. Perfect for a one-hour program!
Koutoubia Mosque and the main square
It's a popular landmark, the mosque might be familiar to you even from postcards. The original building, that used to stand here was not oriented towards Mecca, so it was rebuilt afterwards. The sight of the building is impressive. Next to it the famous main square, Jemaa el-Fnaa is located. During daytime it's occupied by water sellers and traders, in the evening barbecue smoke fills the air, the square transforms into craziness: snake charmers, belly dancers appear, ladies will make henna for you. You will only enjoy this place if you don't mind crowds.
The main square
It's a lovely, colorful souk, you can really buy everything here from food to bags, carpets, all kind of goods. Merchants expect a negotiation, so stick to that and never pay the first price offered!
Accommodation - Equity Point
The hostel is located in the heart of the Medina, very close to the main square. I booked a room with en-suite bathroom, the room was very simple and had no windows. The common areas, like the rooftop and the pool was spacious though and was a perfect spot for relaxation. In Marrakech everything is more pricey than at other places.
Restaurants in the old town
While walking in the center, I've found this lovely, brand-new restaurant for a light lunch. I chose vegetarian bourekas, a baked and stuffed pastry filled with vegetables and hinted with sugar. The place was nice and neat, a quiet oasis in the middle of a busy city.
For dinner, I chose a fancy restaurant close to my accommodation. It was nicely designed and alcoholic drinks like a wide selection of wine was available too, which is unique, you can't expect that at all restaurants in Morocco.
I'm closing the Marrakech section with some lovely panorama photos. Roof-topping is something you should definitely try!
On my last day I was driving to Agadir. Before boarding the plane back to Budapest, I had a pleasant walk on the beach. The sea was beautiful but the weather was very windy. All in all I enjoyed my time in Morocco, I visited everything I could during a week. If I ever go back, I'm planning to explore the desert and the blue city, Chefchaouen. For Marrakech inspired FASHION items and HOME DESIGN ideas, visit my page!
Who joins me for exploring the Northern part of Morocco? After a short stop in Rabat, I was traveling to the beautiful Fez, the city, I was so eager to visit, finally my dream came true.
Lunch in Rabat
Unfortunately I didn't have so much time, I only stopped for lunch in Rabat, but still I managed to soak up the atmosphere of the place a little bit. First I checked out the beach, although it's not a real beach there, so wild and natural, it had a good atmosphere though.
While walking on the waterfront, I’ve just found this lovely restaurant, called Marina Bay, I chose seafood for lunch. The place was really peaceful, little boats were passing by. The food was excellent, the location was priceless.
Here comes the best part of my tip, when I discovered Fez and experienced the authentic Morocco. Where else to look for accommodation, if not in a Riad? Riads are typical, traditional houses, that have been lovingly restored into special boutique hotels. The building always has a central element, it can be a garden, a pool, a courtyard - very relaxing, cool atmosphere, it's like an oasis in the desert to me. Riad Ghita located in the outskirts of the Medina, still very close to the center, Bab Boujloud was a few minutes walk away. They welcomed me with mint tea and cookies, the courtyard was pretty impressive with all those original, fancy decorations.
They served traditional breakfast: pancakes, bread, olives, cheese and eggs. Excellent start of the day!
The rooms were big and clean with traditional charm and beauty, each room has a special design, very old building with history and cool atmosphere. Since it's not inside the Medina, it was quiet in the evening.
Fez used to be the capital of Morocco, today it's an important cultural and spiritual center. I couldn't wait to explore the old city. I heard, it's the largest surviving Medina in the world (UNESCO World Heritage site), it's also easy to get lost, there is no map, that would show all the little, hidden streets in the area. Visiting a Medina is always a cultural experience, you can observe the locals' life, get involved in the mood and smells. I've found some amazing handcrafted gates, it was like stepping back in time.
The main entrance is Bab Boujloud. The original medieval gate was not so richly decorated, how it is nowadays, it also served for protection, today it's an emblematic sight of the city.
As soon as I arrived to Fez, young boys offered to show me around, we set up the price and the meeting point for the next day. Even if you might find this risky, don't be afraid, they know the city and they will take you to unique places. This is how I was exploring the old Jewish street, the ceramic factory, the tannery and a nice restaurant.
You will see traditional ceramics everywhere in Fez, no matter where you go: mosaics, fountains, tagine pots etc.The ceramic facility shows porcelain how you've never seen it before: in the factory you can follow the work routine from scratch, guides will take you through the production from raw material to finished product, in the end you can also buy ceramic works or you can simply order them. Hand-crafted pieces, exceptional beauties, traditional items, I'm so fond of this stuff!
Leather Tannery visit
Tannery industry in Morocco looks today just how it used to be in the early centuries, it doesn't involve any modern machinery. it's interesting to watch the workers and follow their routine. You will get a bunch of mint in order to not to smell the unbearable stink. However I expected something worse, it stinks but it was ok for me. The leather shop behind the factory offered a wide selection of products, I fall in love with this blue jacket, that will always remind me my lovely Fez.
The guide took me to a place, where an old lady was making argan oil in a traditional way. The shop also offered spices and it was hidden inside the Medina, I'm not sure I would find the place by myself again. Argan oil is made of the argan tree fruit and it's exclusively grown in Morocco. The acids inside are beneficial for hair and skin. It definitely ads some shine to my dry hair, so I gladly bought a small portion.
In the evening I was ready for a nice dinner. My guide took me to a place called Palais des Merinides in the old town, it didn't look anything special from outside, but it looked like a real palace inside with all these fabulous ceilings and arty decorations. Even though it looked like a touristic trap, I didn't mind, I loved the atmosphere and food was yummy, a bit pricey though, but you better get used to that in this country. Tourists always pay more than locals.
After dinner it was time for a last drink, so I went to this luxurious Riad Fes before saying Good-bye to the city.
That was Fez and my few days in this imperial city, I hope to return one day. I'm saying Good-bye to you with this fabulous night shot. For Fez inspired FASHION and INTERIOR DESIGN tips follow the links!
African sunsets, Moroccan pottery, mint tea, yummy foodie - it all comes to our mind when we are thinking of this exotic country. I've been planning to visit Morocco for a while now, this place has been on my bucket list for about 2 years. I finally spent there a week and I'm proud to say, that I managed to see everything I planned. Even though I was quite exhausted of traveling about 1600 km within a week, still it's like a sweet fatigue to me. I don't think I can ever get tired of exploring new places. This month I'm showing you my first few days in this unique African country.
Essaourira - the windy city
After landing in Agadir, I was heading directly to the breezy Atlantic coast, the city of Essaourira. The charming town is very well-known for it's long, sandy beach, it's the perfect coastal gateway after visiting the big, dazzling cities like Fes or Marrakech. Due to the often windy weather, it's also surfers' paradise, you can enroll into a surf class.
The souk is a traditional market place, the one in Essaourira has a different atmosphere, it's more laid back and relaxed than markets all around the country. Medina is like a labyrinth of little narrow streets in the old town, where you can buy basically everything, a typical landmark in every city. It's very easy to get lost, especially in the bigger ones like Fes or Marrakech. Each medina has a unique atmosphere, it's a good idea to visit them all, just for a short walk, wandering around, watching the locals, getting the vibes.
I had a coffee on the main square, than I had a look at the fortress, that's overlooking the harbor. The city's name was originally 'Mogador' which means 'little fortress'. The town was constructed according to European military architecture in the mid 18th century. It used to be an important port and with it's beautiful ramparts and ocean view, it belongs to the must-see attractions in Morocco.
I chose a hotel with style, a traditional house was renovated and transformed into an accommodation: Palazzo Desdemona was clean, nicely furnished, the room was spacious and quiet at night, the Moroccan breakfast was just divine. It was located in the center, very close to the Medina and the beach. I would happily return.
Casablanca - The diverse metropolis
Everybody knows the film Casablanca, it's probably the most quoted film even nowadays. However the romantic drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman was not shot in Casablanca, but in a Hollywood studio, still the city itself served as an inspiration and set the mood of the film. With not expectations I arrived to the largest city of Morocco on a sunny afternoon and chose to stay in a modern flat this time, Appartement Luxe Annasee was a great choice, nice, tidy flat close to the Mosque and what an amazing view!
I was walking down the street to catch the sunset at the mosque, next morning I visited the iconic place inside too. The sea at Casablanca center is wild and mysterious, but it's not for swimming.
There are some very modern buildings on the pathway next to the mosque, offices and private flats mainly.
I was looking for a special place for dinner, my host at the flat said, I should find La Sqala Cafe Maure , I loved the atmosphere of the place, plus food was delicious. Even tough it looked like a touristic place, I didn't mind. I had mint tea, it's an important part of the culture, making tea here is a real art. It is poured from very high up, this way foam is created. In case there is no foam, something must be wrong with the tea. I also tried beef tagine, I loved the spices and how fresh it was.
Hassan II Mosque
I was lucky to join an English group next morning, there are scheduled guided tours. The largest mosque of Morocco can host up to 25.000 prayers, it is stunning from outside and inside as well: hand-crafted marble walls, Italian chandeliers, Moorish influence with Moroccan architecture. It's built partly on water, it raises above the ocean. During the tour you can also visit the Hamam bath under the mosque, where prayers wash themselves before praying. This place is the best part of Casablanca, stop here for an hour and enjoy the special mood!
These were my first few days in Morocco, afterwards I was heading to the mountains and discovered the natural beauties, that will be revealed in the next chapter. Get some trend inspirations with Africa inspired colors on the FASHION page, and if you would like to give a Moroccan atmosphere to your pool area at home, HERE are some tips for you.
Here comes the last part of my trip. Before heading back to Miami, I discovered a huge national park and the ultimate Cuban atmosphere American style.
Everglades National Park - where nature has a soul
It’s the third largest national park after Yellowstone and Death Valley, it’s a network of wetlands, river flowing and forests. The place is an international treasure and it’s home to many rare species.
I arrived to the safari park in the morning. The 30-minute airboat ride was so much fun, the guide describes you the wonders of this unique ecosystem and the exotic wildlife. Very mysterious place indeed. We’ve seen three alligators, they looked really peaceful, nobody got hurt. Wearing ear plugs is a good idea; they'll give you a free pair. Beautiful, wild nature is surrounding you! Definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience! After the ride, you can enjoy a short alligator show and you can pet a small animal as well. Having an Everglades experience is a must in Florida! The orange county will surely show you its different face.
Key West - The tropical oasis
Arriving to Key West was a great adventure already, you are hopping many little islands on the way combined with an amazing view. If you are a bike lover, rent a Harley in Miami and make a bike tour to the Keys! It's about a 4 hour drive with short stops.
The most important sights
It's actually an anchored concrete buoy, marking the southernmost point in the continental United States. The large painted buoy was established as a tourist attraction in 1983 by the city, today it’s a tourist trap, but an iconic landmark as well. Cuba is about 90 miles away from here.
Mallory Square sunset celebration
The best part of my stay was visiting the historic old town, where the Key West Sunset Celebration invites everyone to watch the glowing pink and orange sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico horizon. It was a special moment to me, I enjoyed the atmosphere, the people, music on the street. Check out my photos and feel the energy!
Calling Key West home, Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote here for more than ten years. The French Colonial style house is built from limestone and it survived many hurricanes in the past. You can visit his home, the rooms, the garden, very inspirational place. Make a short stop here, it's close to the Southernmost Point.
Ernest Hemingway at his Florida home Source: The Irish Times
Truman's little white house
Did you know that Key West has its own White House? This special place was the winter residence for President Harry S Truman, it's located in the old town. The house was originally built on the waterfront, but the properties getting built later on blocked the view. Truman felt exhausted and his doctor advised him a tropical vacation. That was the place where he could relax and slow down. The house is operating as a public museum since the late '80-s. The place has a special vibe, it's full of personal stuff like Truman's briefcase, his desk and his telephone.
The cuisine of Cuba quickly became part of Key West’s food heritage when Cuban families began to settle on the island in the 1860’s. The special aroma is part of the ultimate Key West experience. The smell of the fragrant tobacco of fresh Cuban cigars pervades the air, it's paired with Cuban architecture, colorful streets and lovely people everywhere.
I only had one day and one night in the Florida Keys, that's the place where I would definitely go back and spend a longer time, making a short stop in Cuba as well, it's not far in the end. I'm saying good-bye for now with these last photos! Browse the FASHION edit for Key West inspired, colorful, trendy outfits and accessories! If you want to pop up your home bar, read the INTERIOR DESIGN page, where I collected trendy and chic bar accessories for you!
Florida is a unique place, where you have sunny days all year round, lovely people, easy access to the beach and so many things to discover. Let’s continue our journey, in this section we will visit the Western part of Orange State. I’m showing you another theme park and two more cities, that are definitely worth visiting. I discovered some beautiful beaches, that’s the best about Florida, you know that I need to be close to the beach.
Busch Gardens Theme Park
Just after a 1,5 hour drive from Orlando, I arrived to my next destination, another fun place called Busch Gardens in Tampa. The place itself opened as a house where you could taste beer in the fifties. Later on it got enlarged and became like a kind of Safari, a large free roaming habitat. The Old Swiss House and the Moroccan Village was added to the park later on, at that time there were no roller coasters at all.
They built their first fun ride only in the seventies. Today it’s a place that attracts millions of tourists, it features world-class roller coasters and a huge animal park with wild animals in their natural settings.
There is a train ride that takes you to the animals, that was my favorite part, somehow I felt like being in Africa and it was good to see that animals had so much space. All in all there are rides and shows for everyone from kids up to thrill seekers, a family friendly place as well.
Saint Petersburg - the city of sunshine
The city lies on the Pinellas Peninsula on the central Gulf Coast of Florida. I only spent a day here, afterwards I was driving to my next destination, even if I wasn’t able to visit the city in depths, I loved the atmosphere of it. What can you expect here? Sunny beaches, high rated restaurants, cultural experiences and amazing natural parks.
Here are some of my suggestions for visiting:
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The impressive bridge is located at the entrance to Tampa Bay and it’s stretching 12 miles in total, it’s one of the largest cable-bridges in the USA. The bridge opened in the fifties and it got collapsed once due to a storm, since hat they changed the structure. It’s breathtaking, definitely worth passing by! Bridge suicide happened many times here unfortunately, I wish they could do something against that.
You will find several botanical gardens in the region. These places are like paradise. You will see here some of the oldest tropical plants, lotus flowers, turtles, waterfalls, the garden makes you feel relaxed and filled with energy. It’s like being in a different word, definitely a must see landmark in the region.
Salvador Dali Museum
It houses a comprehensive collection of paintings by this Surrealist master. There are oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures, drawings, graphics and other artworks, more than 2000 pieces altogether. The original collection was family-owned and was donated to the city. If you love museums, there is another one worth visiting, the Saint Petersburg Museum of History.
Amazing beach life
Florida is all about beaches, you will find so many beautiful seashores on the way. Once you have a few days in Saint Petersburg, paradise is just half an hour drive away. Spend a few relaxing moments at one of these beaches: Paradise beach, Honeymoon island, Sunset beach, Saint Pete beach, Pass-A-Grille beach, just naming a few. The region is perfect for family vacation as well, your kids will love the long, sandy shores.
The pearl of Florida - Naples
The last destination of this Florida section is the elegant Naples. This place was my main inspiration for the Fashion section with its elegance and sophistication. It's a charming resort city on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico with nice pedestrian walks, elegant shops and tropical surroundings. My first program was a jet-boat trip, It's also a sightseeing tour of rich people's home. It's always fun to discover a city from the water, entertaining, cool program!
Shopping in style
The 5th Avenue is the spot to be in the city, you are also a few blocks away from the ocean. The street is full of upscale, elegant shops and restaurants. The palm trees, the luxurious buildings and the stunning landscape set the mood already. Enjoy a light lunch here and head to the ocean! At least, that's what I did...
Naples beach fun
Visit some of the finest beaches here! It was the best moment when I had a few hours on the so called Barefoot beach. Amazing landscape, white, sandy beach, sunshine.
Keep tuned for more travel posts and browse the fresh, sophisticated, Naples inspired fashion outfits and accessories here: FASHION
Spring 2018 is dedicated to Florida, you can make a round trip with me starting and arriving to Miami in the end. Let's reveal the different faces of this state! In March we will visit Miami, Daytona beach, the NASA and crazy theme parks around Orlando. Discover the Orange county with me!
Miami - the multicultural city
The city is real metropolis: sunny beaches with huge stretch of white sand, lovely weather, chic restaurants, world-class boutiques. At the first sight the place is just so posh and cool, it’s famous for being the ultimate party playground for rich and famous. Due to the jet-lag I woke up so early, I was able to catch the sunrise and had a walk on the beach. Nothing beats a walk early morning: crashing waves, untouched sand, peaceful atmosphere.
The Harrison Hotel in Miami was simple, but clean and it was just an easy walk to the beach. I was amazed by the huge yachts, the dazzling city.
There are a lot of restaurants with Latin influence and Cuban atmosphere. If you are interested in such tours, enroll to a food tour downtown: Havana and the South Beach Food Tours are the best.
Daytona Beach - Born to be wild!
Just a few hours ride to the North we arrive to the world's most famous beach. It's a unique place of the Atlantic coast: Great, wide sandy beach, endless ocean, there is always something going on here. The whole beach is a party place and Daytona especially comes alive when the yearly Bike Week is organized. This year they celebrate the 77th anniversary. It's a street festival with bike shows, races, concerts all week. I was lucky to drop by last time and checked it out for 2 days. If you are seeking for relaxation, avoid this time of the year! The city also hosts February’s iconic NASCAR race.
I was staying at Boardwalk Inn & Suites, it's a perfectly located hotel a few steps away from the beach, plus the biker programs were nearby. Daytime I was admiring the ocean, had a sunbath and a good swim in the pool.
Kennedy Space Center - Road to space
After the Daytona party nights, I was heading to the South to visit the Kennedy Space Center complex. It's NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight, the Apollo launch was carried out here as well, Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy's successful trial started here last month. The Apollo moon landing was a very important moment in history, what you can also experience with 3D theatrical elements at the NASA center. The whole place is very well organized, guided tours take place several times a day. It's so exciting to experience a rocket launch, you can hear the roar and feel the rumble under your feet. Priceless experience!
Orlando's huge playgrounds
If you are a fan of thrilling coasters, beautiful aquariums and entertainment at all levels, Sea World is for you. The place is kid-friendly as well. There are numerous special rides, the Manta coaster is unique all over the world. It's a ray-shaped trainreaching top speeds of 56 miles per hour (90 km/h). Craziness on top! There are other fun coasters, like the Atlantis and the Kraken (see below).
Walt Disney World
I visited Walt Disney World with my parents when I was 16, since that I was back to Florida a few times. We spent a whole week at the Disney complex. Unfortunately I don't have many photos about it. It's a magical entertainment park near Orlando. If you have time and you appreciate these kind of theme parks, don't miss the chance to visit it! I personally enjoyed two sites the most: The Animal Kingdom, it's completely dedicated to nature and animals, it's like a magical zoo. The other one is the EPCOT center. It consists of fun rides and world showcases, in the frame of that you can visit different countries around the world, taste their food, deep into the culture and see what other countries have to offer. I remember the gorgeous fireworks each night before closing. It's a place, that's suitable for families as well.
Next month we will continue our journey on the West coast with some wild experiences and some more stunning beaches. Keep tuned! The Fashion edition is inspired by the fabulous Miami lifestyle, click here!