Rome: NON-touristy guide

In the beginning of August my two best friends from middle school and I spontaneously decided to pack our suitcases and go on a low-budget trip to Rome. Since we all had visited the city before, we really wanted to experience Rome in a more local way and do things off the beaten touristy track. Although it was a bit hard to avoid all the touristy sights, we still managed to see the city in an entirely new light.. In this blog post I am going to share with you my favorite things we did in Rome and I would strongly recommend you doing at least a few if visiting the Italian capital.

1. Explore the local districts of the city – Apart from its beautiful center, Rome has many other neighborhoods such as Trappicino, San Lorenzo and etc.. They are often underestimated or unknown by most tourists. My personal favorite district was Trastevere. Situated on the other side of the river, Trastevere is full with small boutiques, local restaurants and bars, and breathtaking historical buildings. While we were there we also walked around the Botanical garden, which unfortunately didn’t have such a wide variety of plants, but was still a nice place for wandering around and taking cool pictures.

Botanical Gardens

2. Do your sightseeing at night – As you know Rome has become one of the most preferred and common tourist destinations in the world. Due to its many historical sights the capital is filled with tourists all year round. If you are a person who dislikes crowded and hectic places, but still want to explore the ancient sights, then going on a night trip through the city is your savior. After sun dawn, at around 11/12 at night, most of the tourists are already exhausted from their long day of sightseeing and go back to their hotel rooms. At this time the streets get emptier and you can really get a close look of some of Rome’s most famous sights. All the buildings and monuments are lit up nicely and in my opinion look even better than during the day. If you are not a night owl and care about your good night sleep, another good time to avoid the touristy crowds, is really early in the morning.

National history museum

3. Simply wander – The city is full with small streets and hidden corners, so don’t be scared to get lost. When wandering in the small streets without a guided way you never know what you might find. What my girls and I loved to do was to sneak in some of the buildings when the door was open and sit at the patio of the building, if of course there was one. And even if at some moment you feel too lost, don’t worry about asking a local to show you the way. Italians are known to be very friendly and warm, so I am sure that they would love to help you.

hidden patio we found

4. Eat – You already are aware that Italian cuisine is awarded to be one of the best and most adored in the world. When staying in its capital, you shall forget about dieting and truly enjoy all the food choices you have. Wherever you turn around you can smell and taste amazing and reasonably priced pasta, pizza and gelato.

5. Start your morning at a local cafe – Another very common thing you will find everywhere around Rome is good coffee. To be honest, the best coffee is not at a fancy cafe or at a hipster trendy café. If you really want to sip on some real Italian espresso, go to your next door cafe and enjoy your 80 cent coffee alongside some delicious homemade pastry.

Pizza from Bonci Pizzarium
Dinner at Obicá

6. Grab a drink and hang out in Piazza Madonna dei Monti – Rione Monti is a very trendy neighborhood among young Romans. There, the locals like to shop in the alternative boutiques or hang out with their friends after work or on the weekends. After the sun sets down, the small square turns into a vibrant meeting point for creative and stylish people. My girlfriends and I decided to walk around Monti and eat some pizza and pasta at local Italian restaurant. After fulfilling our stomachs with delicious Italian goodness we went to buy some ice-cream from “Fatamorgana”(outrageous flavors) and sat with a bottle of wine at the piazza. While drinking my wine and chatting with my girlfriends, for just a moment I felt as if I was living in some kind of parallel perfect world.

7. Rent a bike – my best friend is a really big fan of biking in general, so when she heard that we have a bike rental place just a few blocks away from our airbnb, she just couldn’t miss that opportunity. At first I was a bit skeptical to ride a bike in Rome, because most of the streets are very small and crowded and also there aren’t many special biking routes. Surprisingly, at the end of the day, I was actually happy with the whole biking experience. Not only that it saved us time and money from going to one point to another, but we also rode along the river, where there were not as many people and you could get a beautiful look of the city. If you don’t feel sure in your biking skills, you could also sign up for a guided biking tour!

View from the river

Places we ate at: Frigidarium – Rome’s first gelateria

Ginger – great place for a healthy meal

Fatamorgana – extraordinary and non-traditional ice-cream flavors

Bonci Pizzarium – most famous pizza place in Rome and a definitive must on your foodie list

Obica – mozzarella bar – great place for cocktails and finger food

That’s all from our small vacation in Rome. Hope this non-touristy tips really help experience the city in a whole new and exciting way.

Moroccan adventure. (part 1) – 24hours in Marrakech

Two days ago I came back from one of the most exciting and unforgettable trips in my life. For my 18th birthday I wanted to do something special. My best friend Rumi, my parents and I wanted to experience what the country of Morocco hides. We stayed in the oriental paradise for a week in total and traveled more than 600km. For me Morocco was a journey to discovering a whole new world full with vibrant culture and enriched history. Every day we stopped at a different city or town in order to make the most of our short stay and fill it with as many fun activities and beautiful sights as possible. The first stop of our Moroccan route was the famous city Marrakech or as otherwise known the pink city (since all the buildings are in pink). Marrakech is the perfect mix between authenticity and modernism and that’s why it is the country’s most preferred city by tourists and locals. With just a 2 day stay planned for our visit there, here is how our 24 hours in Marrakech looked like.

11:00 – Le jardin Majorelle – We kick started our day off with this beautiful green paradise from the 1920s. Planted with more than 300 different plants and trees from all around the globe, this breathtaking oasis left me in awe. Honestly I had never seen something as stunning and aesthetically pleasing for the eye in my life. All the colorfully painted buildings contrasting with the different nuances of leafy green make this whole garden a magnificent piece of art. You could never guess that such a hectic and loud city as Marrakech can hide an entire hidden oasis behind some walls. I really do recommend you booking tickets in advance since Jardin Majorell is one of the city’s most famous sights and the wait can get pretty annoying.

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12:00 – After walking and enjoying our time in the calming gardens we headed next door to the well-known museum of one of the world’s best designer brands-YSL. For those of you who are not aware, the fashion designer spent a lot of time in Marrakech and that was his influence for many of his most successful fashion pieces. 50 years after his first visit in 1966 this modern house has now been turned into a museum, dedicated to the  work of the fashion legend. Looking carefully you can notice that the outside is supposed to evoke weft and wrap fabric, while the inside evokes the lining of a couture jacket. The rooms in the house are filled with inspiring design pieces and explain a more about the life and career of YSL himself. Even if you are not a fashion guru, the museum by all means is a sight worth seeing, even if it is just to admire its mesmerizing architecture and breathtaking interior.

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a dress from the exhibition

the entryway

13:30 – After doing some cultural sightseeing in the more civil part of Marrakech we headed to the old town (the medina). Surrounded by crowds of people, shops with cheeky traders, bikes and mopeds, we wandered in the streets for a few hours. Thanks to our awesome tour guide we even got the opportunity to visit some of the local firms and learn how carpets and cosmetics are being made. Since Morocco is known for its craftsmen and handmade goodies I was very intrigued to see how all those things were actually made. We also bought a bunch of small souvenirs, spices and for a second almost a carpet, so I warn you to keep in mind that you easily may end up buying a lot of unnecessary things. Also don’t hesitate to bargain since most of the traders will probably give you a higher price just because they recognized you are a tourist.

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spices sold at the medina
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carpet firm

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bread stored at the local bakery

15:00 – Around that time we realized we were starving, so we sat at Terrasse des épices . Since it was a roof top restaurant we enjoyed our incredibly delicious Moroccan lunch while looking at the medina from above. Following getting full with all the oriental dishes from the menu we still wanted to go somewhere and try the well known drink of Moroccan – mint tea. The perfect place for sipping on some tea and escaping a bit from the hustle and bustle of the old town are the so called “Riads”. Translated from Arabic it means a large traditional house built around a central courtyard. However in the last few years most of the Riads left in the medina are turned into hotels, guesthouses or even shops. First we went to Jurdin Secret – a very big Riad renovated in the 20th century and works as a museum now. The courtyard holds two big stunning gardens and is perfect for taking nice pictures. Afterwards we headed to Riad Palais Sebban to relax for a bit and finally drink some of this magical tea. The space has actually three Riads inside with a shared pool and restaurant. It even has a big rooftop where you can sunbath and are gifted with a panoramic view of Marrakech.

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le jardin secret

17:00 – Palais de la Bahia – Our next stop was Palais de la Bahia(the kings palace), which is now turned into a museum and is open for visitors all year round. There we really felt what it feels like to be a royalty in the monarchy. Probably the thing that I liked the most there was the calming blue colors of the walls inside and the several spacious courtyards.

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19:30 – Before going back to our hotel we had only one last stop left and that was Jemaa el-Fnaa . We wanted to experience the city at night as locals, so that is why we headed to the main square for dinner. We went there at sunset in order to see how the market changes during the day compared to the night. Same as in the medina it was full with all kinds of people. Despite the surrounding chaos I found the whole experience very entertaining. All around us there were locals dressed in traditional costumes, ladies insisting on painting your hands with Henna. There were men holding monkeys and snakes and then putting them on a random walking tourists’ head, just for a picture. Keep in mind that most of the Moroccans at the market are poor, so keep your belongings close to you at all time and don’t forget that even a picture with a monkey costs money. After fooling around with the locals we finally went to my favorite part of the day – the food market. There you can find everything from fresh fruit and veggies to food stalls offering all sorts of traditional and exotic meals. I was even brave enough to try snails, which honestly tasted better than they looked.

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the snails

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me and my new best friend

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Well, after our day full with activities we went to bed exhausted and got ready for the early morning call.

To be continued…

Where we ate? –

Moroccan feast at the terrasse

p.s hope you liked the post, part 2 is coming up next Thursday

Copenhagen eats: my top five food stops

As I mentioned in my previous blog post a few weeks ago I went on a small trip to Copenhagen. Despite the many mesmerizing sights we saw, the city also managed to satisfy our food cravings. Copenhagen is known to be one of Europe’s most preferred culinary destinations. Home of the world famous restaurant Noma, the vibrant city also has a lot of other incredible places, where you can try great food without needing to spend a fortune. If you know me, you are probably aware that food is my one and only true love and wherever I go, I always make a special list with certain food places I must try. Before even booking our airbnb I had already picked every single cafe, bar or restaurant, which we were going to visit and eat in.

1. Grød – The name translated from Danish means porridge and it reveals that the menu is based mainly on porridge. But forgetting about the sticky and tasteless oatmeal that your mom used to make you eat as a child, Grod has managed to make this dull looking breakfast item into something snazzy and insanely delicious. With its unique and creative porridge bowls, Grød has deserved its reputation for serving the best oatmeal in the world. All day round you can see a large queue of hungry clients waiting for their morning booster. After 20 minutes of questioning what to get, I finally made my choice – Oat Porridge 1(their signature item), which is based on water and whole milk, topped with apples, homemade caramel sauce, roasted almonds and cinnamon. I have no words to describe how good it was. Not only that it kept me energized for hours, but it also satisfied every single one of my taste buds. Open until 19:00 you can enjoy special breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in their 3 locations spread all around Copenhagen.

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Oat Porridge 1( I put an extra amount of chocolate chips to make it taste even better)

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2. Falafel factory – If there is one food item, which I could have for the rest of my life that would most likely be falafels. As soon as I saw that there is a special eatery in Copenhagen that specializes in falafels, I was too interested to not go there. Falafel factory is a small fast food restaurant where you can customize your falafel pita as you may desire. For your base you can choose from three type of falafels and add all kinds of toppings and secret-recipe sauces. I personally went for a spicier option, with which I was extremely satisfied. If you are on a budget, want to have a quick bite or just love falafels internally as I do, “Falafel Factory” is a great option.

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falafel pita with three types of falafels and spicy tahini sauce

3. Next door cafe – As you could assume from the name, the cafe literally looks like your neighbor’s house. Starting from the cozy interior, the place really does remind you of a living room and has a very home-like and hipster vibe. Located on Lardbornstrasse, which is in the heart of Copenhagen, the cafe welcomes locals and tourists with freshly brewed coffee and delicious homemade food. I was impressed mostly by the artsy decor, and unusual details such as the notes, drawings, and pictures all tucked in by previous customers under the glass table. The cafe offers traditional breakfasts such as American pancakes and scrambled eggs, which all follow a recipe by the owner.

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their signature american pancakes and yogurt with granola

4. Moller – Winner of the title – The best breakfast in Copenhagen no doubt about it. The restaurant hides in the heart of the hip district Nørrebro and offers breakfast all day, every day. You can simply pick from their list with breakfast possibilities, tick your choice and hand it to the waiter. Within just a few minutes of waiting you will receive the most scrumptious breakfast. We ordered quite a few things both sweet and savory options, which all overwhelmed our expectations. Everything was brilliantly prepared and I personally can’t decide which food item is my favorite.

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our breakfast feast
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belgian waffle with cherry marmalade

5. The food club – The only rule you have to follow if you want to be a member of the food club is to come with an empty stomach. Part of the Danish restaurant chain Madklubben, The food club is an upscale buffet packed with great food and beverages, varying throughout the week. The buffet focuses on sustainability and is all organic produced. To enjoy the wide array of incredibly delicious dishes and drinks you need to pay a fixed price depending on the time you spend there. Since it was an all you can eat restaurant, I went all out and stuffed my plate with everything that the buffet offered. The only thing that I was disappointed by was the lack of dessert options, but everything else compensated for it as the food was wonderful.

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and this was only my first plate

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We also visited lot’s of other great food places in Copenhagen, but these 5 were my top choices.

CODE RED

Since I was a little girl I have always loved looking at the pages of fashion magazines and imagining that someday I will be as stylish as the models on the photos. Unfortunately I have always been too scared to show off my body or wear something that may be disliked from the people around me. A short time ago I finally decided that I want to get out of my comfort zone and start dressing up how ever I like. Continue reading “CODE RED”