Gorgeous Persia – Tehran

I usually do not believe what media say about Iran, but this time it could not be that far from the truth.

It is a safe country, I did not feel threatened at all at any time. Persian people (do not call them Arabs, they are not Arabs) are very hospitable and friendly, but of course you always have to be alerted, like in any other country.

First of all make sure that you sort out your visa in advance and bring €50 just in case if you have to pay for it. Otherwise you will spend a 2.5 hours waiting in the airport just like us.

Bear in mind traffic in Tehran is ridiculous. There are no rules. It is a huge and busy city. Pollution is quite high, most of the time you cannot see the surrounding mountains.

Iran is undeniably not a poor country. People are wealthy and I did not get a chance to see any poor people, like I did for example in  the USA, funny enough.

We were lucky to have such an amazing hosts like my friend and her mum. They took such a good care of us and the mum cooks the most delicious Persian dishes. I have tried to cook some over the weekend, it was not that bad for the first time. Here is the recipe.

  •  Make sure that you visit one of the restaurants at the base of mountain Darband – it is full of cheap and expensive restaurant, stalls, young people hanging around etc.
  • Markets are always a good idea – try fresh pistachios (heaven), pomegranate, buy some spices, especially saffron, it is an expensive spice and Iran has one of the best.
  • Milad Tower is quite exciting thing to do. You are able to see how enormously large Tehran is.
  • Āsh soup – thick, winter soup. It contains different types of beans, herbs, meat and etc. And, trust me, you want to try it. I forgot the name of the place but I ate it at the oldest restaurant that serves Āsh soup.
  • Valiasr Street – is the longest street in the Middle East, almost 18km long. Good for shopping, and to buy some nuts to take home with you.
  • Make sure that you stuff your face with Iranian bread. It is amazing, especially for breakfast. Add some salty cheese or chocolate spread. I managed to eat 8 of them one morning.
  • Check out the Tehran Times blog, it is a good source for some local art, fashion and etc.

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna  

Missing Poland…

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I miss:

  • Tatry mountains
  • Baltic sea
  • Bread
  • Sausages
  • Bigos
  • PKP – trains and train stations (I know its weird but I miss it)
  • Blokowiska – our infamous block of flats from communist times
  • Old town or town square in every city and town
  • Lakes
  • Forests

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna  

 

Helsinki – white nights, Moomin, no cellulite and seagulls all over my food

  • Fafa’s – one of the best french fries I’ve ever eaten.
  • Greenbike –  even though they never have bikes for a rent, they will magically get some if you really need it and trust me you need a bike in Helsinki. It is a must to cycle outside the city as well as around it.
  • Cafe Regatta – bottomless coffee (that I don’t drink anyway), blueberry pies and plus you can buy sausage and roast it yourself over the fire.
  • White nights – if you happen to be in Helsinki in the summer you will experience a 2-3h night.
  • Moomin – this cartoon rocked when I was a kid. I always thought the characters are on crack all the time.
  • Beautiful people, both women and men, plus it is really weird but no one has cellulite. Cellulite free zone?
  • Metal music almost everywhere!

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna  

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Istanbul – on the border of Europe & Asia

Places to see and stuff to do in Istanbul:

  • Hagia Sophia – former Greek Orthodox basilica, then imperial mosque and now museum. Worth queuing up to see. Bear in mind there are some works going on right now inside and outside.
  • Basilica Cistern – one of the largest ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city.
  • Sultan Ahmed Mosque – also knowns as Blue Mosque. It is very impressive from outside. I haven’t been inside since it’s only that much of the building I enjoy seeing a day.
  • Bosphorus tour – take the longer one that takes you to the Black Sea. The last stop is filled with nice restaurant, lots of tourists. You can also hike up to the hill and see an amazing view of the sea.
  • Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar – filled with everything. Expensive and fake stuff. Spices and turkish delights you can actually buy somewhere else cheaper. It is still worth seeing.
  • Setustu Tea Garden – has the best panoramic view and it is located in the far end of Gulhane Park. Order a tea served in traditional way in samovar.
  • Sit on the rocks – by the Kennedy Road opposite Gulhane Park and watch how the group of kids are jumping into the water and being taken by the strong current.
  • Turkish kebab – in bread and with fries inside. Delicious.
  • Take a walk in the evening on Istiklal road – take a picture of the vintage tram and enjoy the busy crowd and hundreds of shops and restaurants open until late.
  • Turkish ice creams –  one of my favourite thing in the world. The ice cream are like cheese, really chewy but they are absolutely delicious.
  • Turkish delights – look like crap but taste amazing.
  • Simit – the Turkish pretzel, sold almost next to every Turkish attraction.
  • Taksim Square – a place to hang around during the evening with all the hippy people and creepy guys looking for girls to chat with and use one of their cheesy pick up lines.

The best Instagram account for pictures of Istanbul – Sefayamak.

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna

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Viva l’Italia – Milano

Milan has a good location as a city; close to the Como Lake, Swiss border, to the sea, to the Alpes. It might not be the most beautiful Italian city but it has its charm.

I won’t be writing too much, but I would like to mention a couple of places to eat and buy some good stuff.

Places to eat:

  • Panarello – for the best cannoncini.
  • Gelateria Solferino – for the best ice creams in town. Make sure to try Fior di Latte flavour
  • Fatto-Bene – delicious burgers made from local products. I am not a big fan of red meat but this one was mouth-watering.

Places to shop:

  • Bivio – vintage store with designer brands.
  • Roberta Borse – for affordable real-leather handbags and wallets, made in italy :).

Enjoy the pictures.

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna

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Viva l’Italia – Como Lake

I could live and die in Como Lake. Absolutely gorgeous.

Green, lake, mountains, close to Swiss border, nice cafes, friendly local people – hmm I think I am in.

I recommend hiking to Volta Lighthouse and after that hiking down to the lake. I guarantee you won’t be able to walk afterwards because of the pain in your calves.

Anyway pictures will speak for themselves.

 

Onward and upward,

Tsaritsa Katarzyna

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