Category Archives: Travel

Bucharest City App – the online guide we needed!

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Hey, guys!

Let me just quickly inform you about the buzz around town these days, Bucharest City App, the free mobile app that becomes your friendly advisor when around this eastern-european city. Whether you are a tourist or a local, this app can help you with moving around the city.

I mean, better than information booths for tourists ( where exactly are those, anyhow?), with an online connection and a free install for your IOS or Android smart device, you get to answer all those petty questions when in Bucharest: What are the main attractions? Where is the Palace of the Parliament? Where should I eat? Where is the nearest pharmacy? What is going on tonight at the Opera? Where can I get the tickets for that film? 🙂

Most important categories you will find in the app:

  • events & parties
  • cinemas & movies
  • concerts
  • restaurants
  • clubs & pubs
  • coffee places
  • Bucharest attractions
  • medical services
  • different thematic routes in Bucharest
  • transport & travel: subway map, night and airport buses, taxis
  • shops
  • photo of the day
  • offers and promotions
  • playgrounds
  • spa and beauty
  • recommendations: handpicked events, traditional food, #EnjoyBucharest
  • Bucharest City App is an Eventur Group initiative. Alex Filip and Dragos Asaftei, together with their team of other 17 talented people are to congratulate for putting Bucharest on the map of up to date European capitals! Great work, guys! Keep up the wonderful initiatives, we stand by you. 🙂

    Bucharest city app logo

Feliz dia del Carino!

You might think I’m really late with this wish, but believe me I am not! In Romania we celebrate Valentine’s Day as an imported event from overseas, but we also have a traditional holiday for love on the 24th of February called DRAGOBETE. Well, I use this special occasion to show you some moments of a Guatemalan wedding witnessed here in Antigua. The bride and groom seemed genuinely nervous for the day.

icecream

My favourite part was when the bridesmaides gathered around the couple to take a picture together. All of them wore the Mayan traditional clothes.

bridesmades red

Let me explain, the Mayan people still make up a majority of the population in Guatemala and their fabulously coloured traditional clothing can be seen throughout the country. Guatemala might be small, but it hosts a huge diversity of textiles within the Mayan community. Each region and its people have their own stories and put them into differently coloured patterns and styles in their blouses and skirts. The blouses are usually called a huipil or güipil. They are woven by hand and sometimes it takes up to 6 months of work to accomplish these beauties. The corte is a wrap-around skirt that consists of a piece of cloth that makes a tube into which the woman steps. Excess material is wrapped around the body, folded at the waist and then tied with a faja (belt).

I particularly like the hair wraps or cinta. It is said that it is the best revealer of the town origin of a Mayan woman. In some villages, the style of how a woman wraps her hair in the cinta can indicate her marital status or whether she has children or is a matriarch. The cinta is the crowning jewel of a woman’s traje or traditional outfit and most often the most precious piece or her wardrobe.

frame

And they lived happily ever after.

The miraculous cream for everything!

Chickenbuses never cease to amaze me. There’s so much life in them, it seems unbelievable. Lovers express love, kids laugh and cry in the same tonality, some eat, others play, drunkers sleep, backpackers are curious, mothers breastfeed, fathers make up stories, grannies keep an eye out for anything suspicious, the seats are uncomfortable for eveyone so you can see a bit of that back and leg pain in all the passengers’ eyes.
It’s gorgeous, I tell you.

What I enjoy very much is that every bus is unique with customized design, different driving styles and various weirdness of each money-collecting guys. Ah, what else? Yes! People with different kind of merchandise just pop in and out of a chicken bus during a trip so you can eat, drink and buy anything you might think of while going to the beach or the mountains of Guatemala.

My day got brighter when I actually followed the marketing discourse of a well dressed man about the cream. Just wanted to practice my Spanish active listening while I was stuck inbetween sleepyheads, Manouela and Izabel, but it really got to me. He was very pedant and started in a soft, but strong voice. He actually seemed to be taking after Julio Iglesias. A bit. Well, this charm actually worked while describing the properties of this noni cream that seems to help with everything. You name it: fungus, burns, irritation, scratches, hair loss, nail cuticles, acne. You just choose your skin problem and it actually solves it!

Now my description after I actually bought it: it’s yellow, gooey, it smells good, it’s made of 100% natural ingredients and it costs very little. What a bargain! 😀

WARNING!While traveling in a chicken bus, some of your reasoning abilities may be affected. That is the only explanation I can give for actually buying cream on the bus on my way to San Jose. Later at the beach I discovered probably the only downside of this creama milagrosa: it does not have a protection factor. You can still use it after you get sun burnt, though. WIN! 🙂

yellow-cream

PS. For non-Romanian friends, we have something similar in our country called galbenele. It is a cream made of yellow flowers that is used for burns, scratches, irritation. All our grannies use it and recommend it for any injury of the skin. The only difference is that you can’t buy it in a bus. Oh, Guatemala, we have so much in common!

Probigua. The Spanish School with a purpose

Con permiso, let me just tell you about my work here in Antigua, Guatemala. I signed up for AIESEC last year to be able to travel somewhere to Latin America. I didn’t have much trouble deciding which project to pick, the team from AIESEC Guatemala are very professional and did a great job in the invitations and decription emails. It is called “Ambassadors of Guatemala”. Who wouldn’t want to feel that kind of recognition for their experiences in another country? I was hooked. Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America and I couldn’t wait to see what it has to offer. AIESEC together with the Govermental Insititution of Tourism and reputed Spanish schools are showing Guatemala’s beauty through all the participants’ eyes. Besides working in a volunteer project in my school, they are also offering me 2 hours of Spanish classes every day! How wonderful is that? 🙂

This is my sharp, gorgeous and very open-minded teacher, Gladys. I love our long conversations about the culture of Guatemala. ♥ Gracias.
Gladys

Academia de Español ProbiguaProyectos Bibliotecas Guatemala is where I work, learn Spanish and teach English to my Spanish teachers. Probigua is a non profit organisation that has two main goals: teaching Spanish and helping education reach poor communities in Guatemala. I find this so incredibly interesting and such an unique experience because I have also worked on a similar situation in Romania through OvidiuRO. The Spanish taught to the students of Probigua comes with an intensive, total-immersion experience, featuring 3 to 7 hours of one-on-one classes daily plus the opportunity of living with a Guatemalan family to learn about the culture and broaden language skills! I am so lucky to be one of these students and to be integrated into such a nice family. Not only is Sonia a great cook, but she also has a lot of patience and helps us, chicos, with the language during meals. My room is great and I have a perfect view from my terrace.

Probigua aims high and thinks big. They are helping the children of Guatemala by donating the school’s profits to maintain the Library Bus. Additionally, they establish and preserve libraries in the many rural places whereby there is no access to books. I was heartbroken while travelling with el Bibliobus to two of the poor communities close to Antigua: Magdalena Milpas Altas – a village on Volcan de Agua and Alotenango – a village at the bottom of the active Volcan de Fuego, which actually errupted on Saturday covering Antigua with ashes for many days.

This is el Bibliobus (the Library Bus) in front of La Merced church.
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Magdalena Milpas Altas
The kids had an earthquake evacuation drill and the lucky ones got to ride with the ambulance/firemen, los bomberos. It was also the school’s anniversary so the all the kids had activities in the yard and participated in a football competition.

The bullies stand aside but keep an eye out for some new victims.

It is incredible to be here and see children that RUN for the bus.They are super excited to see books and try to keep calm although you can see their sparkles of joy in their eyes while waiting for their teacher’s instructions and the librarian’s offerings ♥

RUN

I sit down with them and tell them about my country. Most of them haven’t heard of it and ask me if I am a gringo. I then switch to fairytales like Count Dracula and Transylvania as the heart of Romania and they listen carefully. 🙂 One of them, Carlos, the kid with sad eyes but a kind smile actually knows where Romania is on the map. I’m very much impressed. He pays much attention to my stories and corrects my Spanish. He then buys some sweets with his 1 Quetzal only so I can try it. He is first on the left.

We have a group picture and the kids ask me for my facebook or twitter. 🙂

At the bottom of Volcan de Fuego lies the village Alotenango. The volcano shows a bit of anxiety as we approach, it exhales fumes every now and then and some of the forests lower from the crater are burning. The people of Alotenango live in harsh conditions of poverty and lack of water. The women usually gather in the main square to wash their clothes at the local lavatorium. Their kids wander around playing with boxes in the dust. They are happy, but shy at the sight of foreigners.

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Life is calm out here. Very tranquila. The time is not rushing anywhere and the people seem to know that very well. We park the 3000 book carrying bus by the main park and wait for new students to come in and ask to read something interesting.

girl

This cutie saw me climbing el Bibliobus and decided to join. He goes in to do some basic maths practice afterwards. He is 8 and didn’t go to school that day because he hadn’t done his homework, he says. He can’t read that well, but he is good with numbers.

Out of curiosity we also visit some classes in the nearby school and find the children practicing their sewing on patterned tablecloths. They are happy to tell us the few words they know in English and then show us their masterpieces. When the picture time comes, they goof around. Kids will be kids. 🙂

Most of the children around the lavatorium are curious about us ‘gringos’ but too shy to interact.  I sit down since I’m actually quite tall here and start presenting myself and shaking hands to make them feel more at ease.


My days are full here and I always wake up with a smile upon my face. I am grateful for this experience. Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.

If anyone is interested in joining the projects of Aiesec Guatemala, you can find more information here 🙂
Until next time, keep on smiling!

Hola, I’m in Antigua, Guatemala.

The sight from almost landing in Panama.
Close to Panama

My first trip across the ocean and out of Europe: Don’t be nervous, everything will be just fine! I kept saying to myself. And then this became an involuntary soundtrack before my actual flights. Cheers, brain, I know I can always count on you for messing up my sleep and bringing up weird songs before any kind of travelling. 🙂

But now I am here (OMG!) and everything is so great and exciting and new and crazy different, but sometimes also out-of-this-world similar to the Romanian culture. It’s so hard to put in words. Maybe something of a harmonious chaos that we also master in Romania.

One other surprising thing, I understand a lot of the language, it’s incredible! It feels like it was all the time asleep inside of me. This learning process is very exciting for me. I only need to listen carefully and I understand the use of expressions. Love it so much! At times, I even keep up conversations for so long that I forget I am speaking Spanish. Now that’s really something 🙂

The people. Oh my, I don’t even know where to start on this topic. They are very hospitable, kind, patient, welcoming but also curious to know about you and your country. Here in Antigua they get a lot of tourists and they are used to sharing their lives with them. I have been welcomed with open arms into their houses (thank you Charly, Luis, Majo and Elizabeth), I met the extended family with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmas. I’m enjoying small talk during meals at my wonderful home and I have the perfect view on the terrace of my room. Antigua is surrounded by volcanos (Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Fuego and Acatenango)and I am lucky enough to see them all 🙂
What can I say, guys, it was love at first sight with Antigua. Here, el Volcan de Agua, first thing in the morning.
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Volcan de Agua is the most beautiful one, standing alone with its blunt peak sometimes wrapped in white clouds. The more cheeky one is called Volcan de Fuego. As his name hints, he is still active and kicking. Sometimes more than once per day. It’s far away so we can’t even hear the explosions many times, but you get such an adrenaline rush to see it by night! Mirna from Probigua Spanish School took a great photo of it the other day. I was overwhelmed at its sight to even move a muscle, but she managed to capture it! Such good timing! The Spanish language schools here in Antigua are renowned all around the world and have become one of the main industries along with tourism.

Volcan de Fuego, Mirna

So enough about how amazing this entire trip is for me, let me walk you around the places so you can get the positive vibes in wonderful Antigua. The city has well preserved Spanish colonial style buildings and many ruins of churches. During the colonial times it also served as the capital of an administrative region that covered most of Central America.

View over entire Antigua from La Cerro de la Cruz.
cerro de la Cruz view over Antigua

La Merced church.

La Merced

Antigua is well known for having elaborate religious ceremonies during important Catholic events such as Cuaresma (40 days before Easter Sunday), the Holy Week (Semana Santa), Easter. I will be here just before Easter time so I will document all the flowers, fruits, pine needles and paint artworks made by the artists to celebrate these events. Here you see Cathedral of San José which is located in the Central Park.

Morning
Flare san jose

This is the sight from Palacio de los Capitanes, Plaza Central. In the background, the beautiful Volcan de Agua.
Main Park

The main market. Love the colors of everything here. So many new veggies and fruits I had no idea about. Now wish me luck learning their names in Spanish with no Romanian equivalent. Quiero un camion de nisperos.♥

el mercado

el mercado )

prohibido

As for me, I wait for good light and spy on people, I’m really enjoying myself out here. 🙂 This is fast healthy food on the street. If you like how one lady is cooking, you usually stick with her. Guacamoooooleee tortilla wrap, yum! ♥

fast food

ruinas

guapo

la luz

cuida

Bicicleta

Oh, yes, this is me during lunch break soaking up the sun as much as I can before I return home. Keep bright 🙂
sun

A slice of Romanian wintertime

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It’s not often that you get to experience the silence of winter on your own. It’s the combination of frosty air with sunny crisp shines that somehow transform the landscape into something quite magical. Well, since I have had the privilege of experiencing such delights, it seemed a pity not to share a glimpse of that with you. Here are some of my moments captured while on the road through Transylvania.

sharp morning

baa

Merg bine spre Vurpar?

wing's bat

Icy path
crisp

look up to something

curvy road to foggy end

simple
Until my next adventure, keep safe.
Yours,
Lori

The Land Before Time

As a kid traveling around Romania with my family, I would make my own stories from the reality I would experience. It so happened after crossing the Carpathians into the hilly Transylvania.

I have this particular strong mental image stuck with me since childhood probably influenced by ‘The Land Before Time’ cartoon. I would imagine a fantastically flourishing world of… dinosaurs wandering around.

le plateau

This plateau in Transylvania, Romania, is one of the triggers of that vivid memory. Always. I come by and I instantly get transported to that childish reverie. Ah, I can still see the long necked brontosaurus walking heavily in between these hills secured by the chain of mountains. This is where dinos ran around freely in my imagination.

And because life makes some sense sometimes, I ran into these sweet kids later today. Guess what? They were colouring dinos.

best buddies on bench

Colouring book.dino section

Varna, Bulgaria. Give it a go!

1.old city in varna

Varna is the maritime capital of Bulgaria conveniently located by the Black Sea (Cherno More) and it is home to many old stylish buildings with ornaments, churches, small paved roads and cute communist style apartment blocks. Chic, old, modern, vibrant night life, thus an exhilarating mix for the taste of new comers. This incursion into the Balkans should be welcomed with a cultural WOW, so here, meet Azis. 🙂

I’ve travelled only twice for a couple of days, but that was enough for me to want to recommend it to you. Here’s some good reasons to go there for a weekend with friends or foes:

1. You can keep it really cheap
. Prices for a weekend’s stay over in Varna or around are very accessible. The Golden Sands resort is just outside of the city with loads of all-inclusive hotels*. It’s well known and very popular, not that much special, though. I prefer the city for exploring and blending with its people. My recommendation for inside the city accommodation is mOdus hotel for a chic ambient close to city center.

2. Great culinary experience. Getting hungry? I’ve got you covered. Di Wine Restaurant and cellar is the best restaurant in Varna (and probably Bulgaria) to spoil yourself. While you’re here, ask the waiter for recommendations of Bulgarian wines, you will not be disappointed, they have a wide variety. The service is great, food is exquisite and wines are to die for. Also, cheese fans should definitely try the green cheese they make only here in Bulgaria. If only for this charming restaurant and you should definitely come to visit Varna.

3. Cocktail time with a panorama. The perfect view over night-time Varna can be offered at the sky bar with live piano performances on the top floor of Cherno More Hotel in the city center, which looks a bit like the Intercontinental in mid Bucharest, but it has more blue and pink lights inside the bar. Be prepared to cross the portal to at least a couple of decades back in time while you are here. Have a drink and move on to the shore before the Russians start singing out loud some 90’s hits.

4. Vivid night life.
I’m not much of a party person, but Varna brings me up from the dead with its Balkanic style of music, crazy drum plays and happy vibes on the beach clubs. If you’re into electronic/dance music, just walk around the beach line and be all ears and eyes. The music will lure you in the right spot, I assure you. That or some of the pretty girls. If you’re into Balkanic pop and dance, try Chas Pik (4as Pik). There’s no entrance fee, the DJs have a warm up session long enough to keep the tension rising until the music comes out with a blast. Before you know it, you’re hooked.

5. Enjoy the kitsch culture. I know deep down you’re a bon vivant with perfectly organised breakfast on Instagram, but try to loosen up and marvel at the colourful chaotic experience laid in front of you. Welcome to the Balkans, the contrasts will get you excited.

6.the ship

6. Tanning, swimming, beach time. Golden sands or Zlatni piasaci keeps its name for a good reason, the beaches are clean and sparkle under the summer sun. You have a choice of umbrellas and chaise-longues for the shade lovers and the water is bluer than you might expect. You can either hang out here or try Varna’s beach for a more retro feel. An interesting Caribbean lost ship seems to have found a place on the beach of Varna and offers fresh fish and other dishes. If you’re feeling lucky, you might want to try it.

2.summertime conversations

baywatch siesta

4.the golden view

* Yes, that means families with kids on a week-long sejour and more “No’s!” per square meter than you’ve ever been exposed to in your entire lifetime, teenagers from all over Europe going bananas, whales not dressed for the occasion and crazy drinking on the beach clubs in mid day. But super cheap otherwise.

Sifnos Island, Greece

2.1 pretty church bells

I will soon implode if I don’t get to share with you some of my flaming happy energy I got from this island. Since all seems just chaotic stardust and magical memories in my mind, I will refrain from using great words and will show you some of the beauty I captured the past days in Greece. Through that I hope you get a smile and I will call it a successful mission.

1.Kamares bus stop

Only 3 hours away by ferry from Athens’s port, Piraeus, Sifnos is a gorgeous island in the Cyclades island group with tons of beaches to explore and captivating history. All you have to do is rent a scouter or a car and drive around its edges and reputed towers left over by the mining that was going on in ancient times. The island was very wealthy once since gold, silver and lead were mined here as far back as 3rd millennium BC.

3. greek blue setting

2.2 pretty church

2. Chrissopigi blue

The main cities are the landing port – Kamares, the island’s capital close to the center of the land, Apollonia – named after one of the most important deity in Greek and Roman mythology and Kastro – a roman based settlement on a hill facing the Aegean Sea with narrow white paths and gorgeous Greek blue details. Every little settlement will surprise you with at least one gorgeous church. Here’s my piece of sparkling universe.

4. arch to blue

8. Apollonia, Sifnos

5. Apollonia colours

9. top view Apollonia

14. top of the hill

20. Chrissopigi church by the sea

21. Church by the sea

23. beautiful church by the sea

17. Kastro walk

18. stiati ca aveti de studiat Eminescu pentru BAC

24. Kamares sight from uphill. Sunset

11. Greek

25. Kamares sunset

10 Kamares sunset

12. sunset

Until next time, stay high.
Ευχαριστώ.