Congost de Montrebei- unknown “natural wonder” in Catalunya

A beautiful place that does not appear in lot of guide tours and not even some Spaniards know about it. So I was very happy when my friend showed me this amazing spot, which I consider one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. River pass- Noguera Ribargorcana connects Aragon and Catalunya surrounded by mountains. The narrowest point between the hills is only 20metres. They have the height of 500 metres. The park was declared in 1999 a Natural Reserve and there is no litter in the whole place. Actually I was surprised the people are so respectful because there was really no trash anywhere. This would not work in Poland or Belgium;)

There are lot of activities you can do there: trekking even with children the route is quite easy and you can always turn around when you want, just make sure that you carry enough water with you. Unfortunately we were not so smart and I had to “beg” the passing boat to give us one bottle of water, which saved us on the way back.

You can also take a kayak tour in the river. There are some companies that rent it out for hours or you can do the whole day tour: Montsec Activa or Zenith Aventura. The adrenaline junkies  can also do natural climbing;) For those who prefer to do something peaceful I recommend to take the train Tren de los Lagos between Lleida and la Pobla de Segur. The journey last 1h and 50 minutes and costs 7e each way.  On to the train you can admire beautiful landscapes of this natural beauty.

I highly recommend to spend the whole weekend in Montrebei rather then just one day its about 3,5 hours car journey from Barcelona and sometimes even more if you get stuck in the traffic.  The best months to go are between March and June and September-October, in summer is just too hot.

 

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Barcelona the place to be

I have started to write this post in October and was always wondering why it took me so long to post it. Now I know I waited till the moment I actually moved here- my favorite city in the world- Barcelona. It is my seventh time I am moving in my life and this time I really hope it is the last one because I tell you what: moving is hard!! But I am sure I chose this time the right city. Such a big difference from Brussels sun wakes you up every day, people are smiling everywhere, you have the beach, the sea, the mountains, coffee costs you 1e what else do you need?:)

Beginning of March, seventeen degrees, the sun is shining. I am going for a walk starting from Arc de Triomf and finishing in beautiful Parc Ciutadella. You can feel the energy, the city is living, people are smiling, lot of streets artists around doing performances.

Surroundings

From all the cities I visited in the world Barcelona is the one I could say: this where I want to live and stay. Amazing architecture, wonderful people, tasty food, beach, sea, multicultural environment… and the list goes on and on. Last time I came here I landed at a “Zombie festival” in Sitges (which is know as a gay capital of Spain) The streets were full of scarry dressed up people and it was very hard to find a place to eat but the city made a huge impression on me. I didn’t know it before but they filmed there some parts of “Game of Thrones”(to be honest I really don’t understand why people are so crazy about it) The old town is really beautiful, in the same time you have lot of sex shops and gay shows but this makes the town very unique. I would say it’s a great place to go for a party during the night and going to the beach during the day.

My second stop was Calafell which is a small city not far from Sitges with one of the nicest beaches nearby Barcelona. Calafell is famous for the 60ties theme festival in September. So if you are into Charleston, lindy hop, Cadiillacs and 60 ties music this is the place to be.

And last but not least you definitely need to go to Montserrat multi-peaked mountain located near the city. The highest summit of Montserrat is called Sant Jeroni and stands at 1,236 meters.  I would recommend to stay all day there have a picnique and walk around, the nature is absolutely stunning.

Barcelona – Get lost in Gaudi’s dreamland

I can never get enough of walking threw the gothic quarter and admire amazing gothic architecture. Some of the buildings date from Medieval times and even as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. The Barcelona cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries and has a typical gothic style so it’s definitely worth a visit. But my favorite part is Placa Reial where I always stop for a coffee or lunch in one of the restaurants. (10e for 3 courses meal+ huge glass of wine). Thanks to my amazing guide Sergio I discovered that for every shop in Barcelona in the past they had a symbol of flower on the ground. That is why you will see a lot of flower symbol all over the city.

My second stop is Casa Batlló – Antoni Gaudi designed in the art noveau style. The whole house is just like a fairytale. The ground floor has irregular oval windows and you feel like floating in the ocean. The house is very colorful, there are no straight lines and you can see that Gaudi liked to play with light. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to see the other house ”Casa Mila” also called Pedrera but I will leave it for my next visit.

And finally the most important – Gaudi’s masterpiece- la Sagrada Familia, it’s amazing how much it has changed in the last six years that I have not seen it. So far there are eight towers that are finished but there are still ten more to be build including the most important “Jesus Tower”. I was told it should be finished by 2025 but I have some serious doubts that it will. In any case I found it absolutely stunning how it is now. Gaudi was inspired by nature. As a small boy he had some health problems and could not play with other children so his mum took him out for a walk very often and that’s why you can see so many nature inspirations such as the columns inside the church that look like trees. The game of lights is also amazing inside the cathedral and it makes a huge difference if the day is sunny. The quee is always big, it doesn’t matter when you come so best book your ticket online. Definitely get the audio guide to discover beautiful story of this magic place, it’s really worth it.

You can never leave Barcelona without visiting the most amazing Park Güell. It’s like going for a walk in the land of dreams. The park is absolutely breathtaking. The only problem is that is pretty crowded so best go in the morning and if you can during the week.

Next stop-either climbing or taking the lift to top of the hill Montjuïc. From here you can admire the panorama of the city and in summer you can watch movies in open air.

Last but not least and actually one of my favorites parts of Barcelona are the magical fountains in Plaza España. You can admire the game of lights with music completely free of charge. The shows in summer are on Thursdays to Sundays from 21:00 to 23:00 and in winter only on Friday & Saturdays from 19:00 to 21:00.

Eat, Drink and Dance

Barcelona is a great city to have tapas and food in generall. My favorite place for tapas is Bar Ramon, which is close to Sagrada Familia. The staff are incredibly nice, the portions are big and tasty my favorite is backed mushrooms with cream cheese and some jamon, pimientos( backed green peppers be careful some are hot and some not)and after dessert we got delicious digestivo. The funny thing is that the waitress puts it on the table and you can drink as much as you want.

Another really good place for tapas is Cachitos Rambla just on Rambla Catalunya.

For drinks there is of course the touristic Oveja negra in Las Ramblas that I personally like a lot even though you have many tourists but Sangria is really, really good.

Recently my friend from Barcelona showed me a great place that looked like you would be back in the 30ties witch tacky decorations and old fashioned chairs, again quite touristic but fun- Marsella (many Americans at least when I was there)

And my very favorite place to go for a drink is El bosque de les fades(jejej very touristic but I still love it) a truly magical, the whole bar is converted to a forest with little waterfalls, so make you sure once you get there you will have a little tour before you order a drink.

One of my favorite parts(wow there are a lot of my favorites here ) of the city to eat or have a drink is Born. It’s a very lively district with lot of people. I recently discovered a Spanish, traditional pub where they serve “leche de la pantera” it’s like sweet milk but with alcohol and tastes best with cinnamon- Casa del Molinero. They don’t serve you per glass so you have to order by bottle (10e). The owner is absolutely lovely and very chatty but he won’t tell you the secret recipe of the drink;)(at least not to me but try your chance)

Last but not least la Fianna a really nice place for a date, the interior is really romantic, the lighting just perfect and the tapas even though not typically Spanish still very tasty, although I would say the place is a bit more expensive then average.

I could not leave Barcelona without checking out the salsa scene in the city. The place I can definitely recommend is Havana Club close to Barceloneta, sometimes they play live music but on the weekends check the agenda because they might have zouk or kizomba night, on Thursday the best place to go is Mojito and on Sunday is Antilla Salsa Bar(people there a bit older). I also went to Bombon but I do not recommend it on the weekends, there is a quee to get it and then inside its too crowded to dance. On Thursdays I discovered very nice place in Grazia- El Sabor. You can have classes at 21:30 and later get discount for drinks.

I wrote this post before I actually moved here so my task for the next couple months is to update this section quite often and share with you my new discoveries. The true is that there are so many things to see in this beautiful city, restaurants, coffee houses, things to do around the city that the whole life won’t be enough to see it all but I promise I will do my best 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unforgettable Birthday at Como Lake and Milano

This year for my 30th Birthday I decided to do something very special so I got together my best friends from all over Europe and we went to Como Lake in Italy. We started from the city of fashion and style- Milano. There my friend Laura took us to a place with a traditional aperitif, which basically means having a cocktail and you get food for free. We went to a very nice place- Terrazza 12 with amazing view on the cathedral and the city. The drinks are quite pricy-12e but the view is worth it.

Apritif at Terazza 12

At Terassa 12

Aperitif in heaven

After that we went for a party in Just Cavali. The entrance is expensive its 30e but if you put your name on the list you will pay 20e and one drink is included. The cocktails are 10e and don’t order Mojito (they put more ice than alcohol) so I would recommend either smuggle in some small bottle in your bag or crash a private party;) as we did. You should definitely try the famous cocktail from Milano with ginger. The music is commercial and the place is full of models and designers but it’s definitely a great atmosphere and the club is outdoor, which is great cause you don’t sweat and you don’t stink of cigarettes as normally in clubs.

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Magical Place- Como Lake

After Milano we finally hit the road and we went to the lake of Como, which is only over one hour ride from Milano. Our destination was Menaggio. We rented airbnb for 180e for two days for five people. The apartment was amazing, we had a terrace with the view on the lake where we had the morning coffee. Thanks to my very creative friend Kasia who managed to find wood we even made the fire in the fire place. The evenings were quite chilly so with the glass of wine it was really perfect.

Kasia collecting wood

I want to make fire and I will make fire!

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view from our balcony

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On our first day we went to see Villa Carlotta in Tremezzina. The villa was built in 18th century and its surrounded by magical garden with steps, fountains and sculptures. We spent there over three hours just admiring the gardens and the views

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Our next stop was lunch at the lake at Ristorante Azalea, where we had delicious risotto and pasta. For my Birthday the girls surprised me with amazing speed boat tour around the Lake. (It seems like a tradition now I am celebrating my birthday on a boat;). We were admiring beautiful villas of Versace, Guinness and many others. We finally got to Bellagio, another beautiful village at the lake, where we did a quick shopping and tried some Italian ice cream.

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Villa Del Balbianello

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At the end of the day we went to try some wine and cheese and the Wine Bar- Cantina Follie in Tremezzo. It is quite well hidden so you need to climb some stairs before you get there. The place is adorable, they have thousands sorts of wine to choose from and you can order plate of wine and cheese for as many people as you want and 3 or 4 or 5 glassed of wine to taste. The atmosphere is really nice and the service is excellent, our waiter Matteo was very helpful and patient with all our requests. We even got a special discount for the Birthday. It is definitely a place where I would come back one day.

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with Mattero our waiter and the owner(from Holland)

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Coffee with George

You can not go to Como Lake and not go to see George Clooney Villa. So on our last day we decided to surprise him and have a nesspresso. Unfortunately when we got to the Villa- Oleandra he was not there so we took some pictures of the villa and hit the road to have our last lunch in Cernobbio with another amazing view on the lake. And finally we all got our planes to go back to our homes (well some people liked it so much that they almost lost their plane;)

Kasia calling George

Nespresso -Nescafe potatoe potato;)

Goerge's Villa

Goerge’s Villa

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I would highly recommend Como Lake to anyone who likes nature, the views are amazing, people are very friendly and food and wine is delicious. There are some places that I visited and I would say they are very beautiful but I have seen them once and its enough but not with Como Lake. This is a place where I would come back many times in my life. So if you have not been there book your flight, pack your bag and go to Como, you wont’ regret.And if you want to go there to celebrate your birthday even better. For me it was the best Birthday I could ever imagine!

10 reasons why you should travel alone

Since many people asked me the question” Why do you travel alone, what’s the point? I decided to write this post. I have been traveling alone since I was nineteen, which means that there is no age limit of how old you can be to travel alone. And yes you can travel alone as a women! I am still alive so it means that it is possible. So here are 10 reasons why it is so awesome to travel alone:

solo traveller

  1. You are never alone.

Despite the fact that yes you are traveling alone, you are actually never alone You meet people constantly. On the bus, on the plane, on the boat. It is very easy to struck a conversation with another solo traveler as they are always very easy going and open people looking to talk to someone just like you. Some of you might ask ok great but how do I actually start a conversation? Well here some openers that might help you, you can use them while traveling on the plane or any other way of transport: Are you traveling for work or pleasure? Are you traveling alone? I don’t think I can eat this brownie(or something else) I am so full, do you want it? Have you ever been to…..? Is it your first time in……?

The best thing is that you can decide when you want to be alone and when you want to be with people. Sometimes when I travel alone I have this urgent need to be with people but sometimes I just want to read my book in peace and quiet.

  1. You don’t have a fix schedule. Your itinerary changes depending on the people you meet.

A great way of meeting people can be also in hostels, bars, backpacker’s places. I have met once really funny guy while seating in a bar in Laos and drinking beer, he started conversation by asking if it’s my first time in Laos and this is how it started. We travelled together for couple days on a motorbike around Laos. Even though doing this route was not really on my agenda I had amazing time and I was happy to drive with someone rather than alone. Another time I was in Vietnam having breakfast and there was a girl sitting in front of me also eating alone so I asked her where she was from and if she traveled alone. She was 24 from Germany just finished university and wanted to take a gap year and traveling around the world. She said she was heading next to Hoi An and since it was on my list as well I joined her for couple days. We shared the room in a hostel and it was much cheaper, we also got along great so we had some amazing time partying together in this little town of Vietnam

  1. You become more open and social person

 When you travel alone you need to develop certain soft skills. If you join a group of people who already know each other than you need to find a common language, but its easy cause the common topic will always be travel destinations. When I started to travel alone I found myself more naturally talking to people when I’m working. It was strange for me before to have lunch and start talking to someone next to me without knowing him but when you travel everything is different. All solo travelers send this certain signal “ hey come and talk to me”. In the end when you come back from your travels you are more happy and open person and starting conversation with a stranger at the reception or business lunch doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

4. You find friends for live

 I have met some amazing people when I was traveling. With many of them I am still in touch and some of them I have already visited or they visited me. You never know where in the world you will meet people that they might end up living in the same city as you. I give you example of a girl I met when I was living in Koh Samui. We met at the morning meditation. She was also from Poland and since there were only three polish girls living on the island we became really close friends. And until today we are still in touch and talking on skype, we have already met in Poland many times and I just visited her in Thailand. Another great friend of mine was my couchsurfer For those who don’t know the concept it’s a hosting website where you can host someone on your couch or you can “surf” someone’s couch. It’s completely free and you always meet amazing and interesting people. I hosted this girl and she was supposed to stay at my place only for 2 days but I liked her so much that I let her stay for 10 days and we became best friends. We are still in touch and we saw each other already two times since we met.

Vietnam

 

  1. You can find love of your live

 It did not happen to me personally (yet!) but it can happen that you can fell in love with someone you meet while traveling. When you are alone you are easier to approach by opposite sex rather than when you are with a friend. I had some travel romances and met super interesting guys from all over the world. I also know a couple that met when they were backpacking alone and now they are engaged and planning to get married next year. How amazing is that.

6. You become stronger and more resistant to stress

When you travel alone you can count only on yourself and nobody else. When taking care of your bag, looking for a place to stay, navigating in the new city, talking to locals. You become much stronger person and more independent. I can see it on my own example that after backpacking around Asia for two months I was more resistant to stress. When I was traveling with friends I was relying partially on them while when I was alone I knew I can only count on myself, which made me much stronger and confident person.

  1. Every day is adventure

Every day is different and you don’t know what will happen. People you meet on your way can influence your future journey. When I was in Cambodia I met this guy who just came back from Laos. He told me he did volunteering work teaching English in Vang Vieng. He gave me the contact to the person in charge of the project. I went there week later and stayed for two weeks volunteering and I had amazing time. It was much better rather than just explore. I did something useful plus I had amazing time and it would have never happened if I have not met this guy.

  1. You are your own boss

When you travel alone there is nobody to fight with. You decide what time you wake up, what time you go to sleep and where do you go. You see the adventure threw your own eyes and not threw anyone else’s.

  1. Just enjoy time with yourself

 When you are busy and working how often do you actually spend time alone? When you travel solo you can use this time to meditate, reflect, and write your diary. You get to know yourself better in new environment.

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  1. You just have fun!

 Some of you might say ok it’s all good but do you really have fun when you travel alone? What about sharing your experience with someone else? You share your experience with anyone you meet on your way. You always have so much fun and you meet really interesting people with whom you have amazing conversations. I am never bored when I travel alone and always, always  have a lot of fun! One day you go cliff climbing in Thailand another day you go go- karting on the dunes  in Vietnam.

dunes

 

So my advice is when you are hesitating to travel alone or not I would say just go for it! I guarantee you will have time of your live and if not feel free to complain in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

The very best of Thailand

Its not easy to put four hours of footage into a 5min video, especially if it includes your whole year spent in a country that you loved, which in my case was Thailand. In this video I tried to include my best moments from my year in Thailand. I lived in Koh Samui but I also filmed my travels around like north of Thailand- Chiang Mai or Ayutayah and the islands: Koh Pangan, KOh Tao and the other side Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. Hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I was when making it.