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Prague vs. Brno, Czech Republic

The two cousins that like to compete. Prague is obviously the capital, and Brno a second biggest city in Czech Republic.

It is quite clear that Prague is beautiful, great historical city and a capital which means way more opportunities, foreigners, tourists, businesses.
On the other hand, Brno is a very compact city, with great atmosphere, swarms of students, many tech companies and start-ups, plus I really like the nature around the city.

When speaking to locals, I heard stories from the ones from Prague who won’t leave their car parked in Brno overnight, because the ‘A’ on their license plate indicating their from Prague means it could get damaged. Some of those same locals from Prague will also tell you that they love their city because of all the sites and history, and say that Brno has just one site worth seeing … the exit sign to Prague.

Here is what I got from a taste of the great Czech rivalry:

Prague

Situated on the Vltava river, Prague is a political, cultural, and economic centre of central and eastern Europe complete with a rich history. When you look the quarters and facades of this city, you can tell it was founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras. Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV  (14th century). It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and the Protestant Reformations, the Thirty Years’ War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia between the World Wars and the post-war Communist era.

When flying over Czech Republic, I spotted the power station. Short googling and it is named Počerady – the main Czech electricity producer.

My first impressions of the city, revisiting after 16 years, was about clean spotless streets and renewed facades. I had a long weekend ahead with a sunshine in my purse. Discovering started.

Prague’s architecture is like an open history book. It’s historical city center is one of the largest ones on the UNESCO World Heritage List and you can bump into most of the architecture styles ever used in Europe’s history on your walk.

Even though I was revisiting many sights and refreshing my knowledge on culture, I discovered Art Nouveau in Prague. In my younger ages, I was not that much attracted by it, ofently not understanding the concept and the time. For example, I didnt know that Prague was home to one of the greatest Art Nouveau artists, Alfons Mucha, and that the Mucha Museum on Prague Old Town Square is a must-see for Art Nouveau lovers.

Living in Brussels for 8 years now, the city brimful of art nouveau and art deco buildings, let me enlighten the term a bit: Art Nouveau is the name given to a vast range of contemporary art roughly. Originated in Belgium and France late in the 19th century, a more free-flowing expression of art and architecture emerging after decades of neo-Gothic and neo-Classical influence. Art Nouveau designs covered everything from complete buildings to items of furniture to paintings and advertisements for bars of soap. Whole buildings were now considered to be works of art. Art Nouveau architects also experimented more with form, especially bringing curves into their design. So if you see a curved doorway or a window with a curve rather than a corner, it’s highly likely you’re looking at Art Nouveau architecture. Inspiration in art nouveau comes from nature, women and geometrical shapes (more like art deco in this case).

To add to this, the art nouveau style, was followed by the period characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, colonial expansion, and technological, scientific, and cultural innovations (think about the construction of Titanic!) called La Belle Époque. It started in 1890 and ended with the start of World War I. The Lost Generation was the social generational cohort that was in early adulthood during World War 1. This will later result with the Lost Generation. Lost in this context refers to the “disoriented, wandering, directionless” spirit of many of the war’s survivors in the early postwar period (Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrud Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Elliott). But that’s another story to reflect on this blog under Paris section post. 🙂

In the meantime, let’s jump back to Prague. To the Old Town Square, or in Czech: Staroměstské náměstí.

The square features buildings belonging to various architectural styles, including the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, which has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. Its characteristic towers are 80 m high. The Baroque St. Nicholas Church is another church located in the square.

Then there is Prague Orloj: a medieval astronomical clock mounted on the Old Town Hall. The clock was first installed in 15th century, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still in operation.

The square’s centre is home to a statue of religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in Konstanz for his beliefs. This led to the Hussite Wars. There is also a memorial to the “martyrs” beheaded on that spot during the Old Town Square execution by Habsburgs.

Moving through the Old town, having the smell of local cuisine, the tourists are led towards another attraction: Charles Bridge, or in Czech: Karlův most. It is a medieval stone arch bridge that crosses the Vltava (Moldau) river. Its construction started in 14th century thanks to Charles IV – King of Bohemia and to become Holy Roman Emperor. He was a member of the House of Luxembourg from his father’s side and the Czech House of Přemyslid from his mother’s side; he emphasized the latter due to his lifelong affinity for the Czech side of his inheritance, and also because his direct ancestors in the Přemyslid line included two saints (I will explain the later in this post).

The Charles Bridge, that  links Old Town to Malá Strana, is a piece of medieval engineering that has stood the test of time. Why? Because Charles IV was a strong believer in numerology. The first stone was placed on the 9th of July 1357 at 5.31. That is a palindrome that creates 97531 and backwards. It also creates the pyramid.

On the 9th of July 1357 The Charles Bridge has witnessed some gut-wrenching scenes in its time: it used to serve as a place of execution or of public chastisement for criminals who were dipped into the river in wicker baskets. The most famously was when Jan Nepomuk was thrown into the river in 14th century for allegedly refusing to divulge the queen of Bohemia’s confession secrets to suspicious king Charles IV. Guess we will never know who shagged the Queen. Or do we know? Shagging or not, Jan Nepomuk was canonised in 18th century by Vatican and became a saint patron of Czech Republic.

Crossing over famous river Vltava, I couldn’t not remember famous peace of art of classical music: The Moldau, Czech Vltava, symphonic poem by Bohemian composer Bedřich Smetana that evokes the flow of the Vltava River. Listen and enjoy! 🙂 For more Czech pieces of art, check Antonín Dvořák, Symphony No. 9.

We finally arrive to Malá Strana. Boy where to start XD. District on the other side of the Vltava river that got me confused. As this Quartier was founded as a royal town (a town founded by the king) it got many privileges. You can find the stunning view on the Prague from there but as well on Petřín Tower – a steel-framework tower.

One of the recommended attractions is the The KGB Museum. If you think there will be informative museum collection on communist time espionage and some intelligence, you are wrong. So was I. Upon the entrance, there is a machine gun, a Russian ex-KGB member in retire with his personal weapon collection and stories on how to kill with a knife, gun and a wire. It is an experience, not a museum. You have to take it from there. I was initally afraid as the guy locked the door and sat me down on chair to watch the Russian military parade.  I was upset on his way of interpreting the gulags and Stalin but I got a good wtf moments to tell when he started to explain me how to paralyze a Nazi and make him mega bleed from the liver. And this is only one of the at least 20 examples of WTF moments.

Take this knife, Madam (showing me some knife from his personal collection).

– No thank you. I am not a fan.

Take it, take it. Do you know how to kill with this knife? (already squatting in the position to throw the knife at the doll)

– It never occurred to me.

You do it like this and like this and then in the liver. The victim is dead because of quick bleeding. Mega bleeding. Smell the Nazi blood. (sticking out his tongue).

Me: OMG where did I got myself into (praying to go out alive).

Anyway, you judge by yourself if you want to have this experience or you would profit more from a good lager on a sunny terrace of Prague. Me, I am still not sure…

One bizarre experience led into another one. Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague. Upon the arrival, there is a bar which serves funny alchemist cocktails. The guides are weird, but hey, after previous experience, I can’t be stopped.

Prague is a golden, mysterious city with one hundred spires, and for all that it thanks among other to the alchemists, who belong to it inseparably. Here I discovered philosopher’s stone produced by famous renaissance occultist and alchemist Edward Kelley and his friend John Dee, both financed by Charles IV to produce gold in a mysterious laboratory.

Ok, I think it is enough of weirdness. Let’s focus on food. Let’s not beat around the bush here, Prague doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to food. But real foodie will have a great time. Let me show you.

How about some beer? 🙂 Cheaper than the water. One of the best lagers you will ever have!

Among other famous things in Bohemia, there is a famous Bohemian glass or crystal. It has a centuries long history of being internationally recognised for its high quality, craftsmanship, beauty and often innovative designs.

Prague has a reach deep history. There is many stories to discover. The legendary origins of Prague attribute its foundation to the 8th-century Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty (earlier mentioned dynasty of King Charles IV). Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: “I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.” She ordered a castle and a town called Praha to be built on the site. The region became the seat of the dukes, and later kings of Bohemia.

One of the seats was a large Gothic castle founded in 14th century by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle is called Karlštejn.

One last story about Prague: The Jewish Quarter. Definitely recommended. I wandered the streets of ex- Jewish ghetto and imagined the history of Jewish settlements in Prague which dates back to the 10th century. Of course, it has been marked by sad episodes of persecution. Therefore, the Jewish quarter of the Czech capital, known as Josefov, is a tribute to a community that has had to face continuous exile and incomprehensible turmoil. In light of this, I visited the Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery from 15th century, Maisel, Spanish and OldNew Synagogue.

I whispered to F. Kafka. It was an exchange of fine talks among two welt-schmerzers. This German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature has had a complex relationship with Judaism, veering between secularism and Zionism at an uneasy time for Jews in Eastern Europe. He attended services at the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest surviving Jewish house of worship in Europe. It’s said to be the resting place of the mythical Golem, a creature that protected the city’s Jews from violence.

Franz Kafka and Me

My Jewish experience ended with kosher food at King Salomon restaurant. Just to mention, I had to wait 65 min for the food in order to align with kosher meat and milk diet.

Brno

Brno is a city in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic. Located at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers, on a hill that makes the streets looking cozy and trendy.

Brno is the former capital city of Moravia and the political and cultural hub of the South Moravian Region. The name derives from a Slavic verb brniti (to armour or to fortify).

In the old city center, at the main Liberty Square, you will find Brno’s Quirky Astronomical Clock in a shape of a penis. The controversial monument, made of black marble, took three years to build at the cost of 12 million Czech crowns.

Curiously, despite its name, it’s not an astronomical clock at all. It’s just a clock. It was built to commemorate a famous and unlikely victory the citizens of Brno had over invading Swedes in 1645 as part of the Thirty Years’ War. After three months of failed sieges, a Swedish general decided to give in if the city hadn’t fallen by noon that day. Faced with this ultimatum, the citizens of Brno put the town clock forward an hour at 11am, so that it read noon. Sure enough, the Swedes retreated.

There is no art nouveau here, but there is great Moravian wine. Wine in the Czech Republic is produced mainly in southern Moravia, although a few vineyards are located in Bohemia. However, Moravia accounts for around 96% of the country’s vineyards, which is why Czech wine is more often referred to as Moravian wine. Traces of the viticulture s go back to Roman times, of course. The Thirty Years’ War (17th century) destroyed a significant portion of the vineyards in the Czech Republic, and over the next hundred years they were gradually replanted. In 18th century, Austrian vintners asked Habsburg Kaiserin Maria Theresa to limit new vineyard plantings in Moravia to reduce the competition from Moravian wines.

Strolling down towards the Church of St Michael. The church was heavily damaged by the Swedish army in the 17th century. Its current Baroque form is the work of the local architect Jan Křtitel Erna. The Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre at the southern wall of the church in Dominikánská Street is modelled after the chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

There are several legends connected with the City of Brno; one of the best known is the Legend of the Brno Dragon. It is said that there was a terrible creature terrorizing the citizens of Brno. The people had never seen such a beast before, so they called it a dragon. They trembled in fear of the dragon until a brave man decided to kill the monster by tricking it into eating a carcass filled with lime. In reality the dragon was a crocodile, the preserved body of which is now displayed at the entrance of the Old Town Hall. Crocodile and dragon motifs are common in Brno. A crocodile (in Czech: krokodýl) is the local stuffed baguette, and the city radio station is known as Radio Krokodýl.

Ossuary is located underground, partially under the Church of St. James (Kostel svatého Jakuba Staršího). It is considered the second-largest ossuary in Europe. It is estimated that over 50,000 people were buried there in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The ossuary was forgotten for a long time. In 2001, a team of archaeologists discovered it while conducting excavations before the renovation of the Jakubské square. Since 2012, the Ossuary of St. James’ Church has been open to the public. I visited this obscure place with the dumpling in my throat.

To conclude this rivalry: Go and check it out. Both Prague and Brno are beautiful cities with great people. Ignore guide books. I would say, there is a massive (but mostly friendly) rivalry between Brno and Prague – Praguers tend to look down on the city seeing it as a sort of provincial outpost, with jokes portraying the Brno people as being yokels with chickens under their arms and the suchlike, laughing at the Moravian dialect, but the feeling is mutual as the Prague accent sounds hilarious to people from Brno.

Bye Czechia!

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Madeira island, Portugal – I discovered Atlantida

If you are not familiar with Madeira, it is a Portuguese island sitting in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal and Morocco. It is an archipelago in region known as Macaronesia (group of volcanic islands: Azores, Madeira, Canary Island and Tenerife and Cabo Verde).

History by Greeks claims this might be Atlantida. Plutarch writes the impressions of founding the island covered by the trees from the high mountains and down to the ocean.

Vikings were there as well – as the archeologists have found some archeological artifacts from 10th century. But oficially, Madeira was discovered by Portuguese in 15th century and inhabited by Portuguese people from mainland, which built their own distinctive culture.

Statue of the Discoverer of Madeira, in Funchal – main city

Madeira island is home to several endemic plant and animal species. In the south, there is very little left of the indigenous subtropical rainforest that once covered the whole island (the original settlers set fire to the island to clear the land for farming) and gave it the name it now bears (Madeira means “wood” in Portuguese). 

Landing to Madeira is not an easy task for pilots. It is the shortest airport runway of Europe with occasional winds from west. The airport is called by local football player happens to be one of the greatest in the world: Christiano Ronaldo. I will come back to this topic a bit later.

First impressions of Madeira: lots of flowers. These typical flowers that we all buy in store and pay good money to keep them alive in our houses, here are growing like crazy, all over the places: parks, restaurants, terraces, atriums, sidewalks… As the climate is hot and humid, but never too hot – around 20 – 25 degrees, I felt this is the true Paradise on Earth. I have seen similar flora and fauna at the Canary Islands – geographically located just 300 miles to the south, but it was more dry and nothing like Madeira!

Madeira is still relatively untouched, with wild eucalyptus forests, picturesque villages, and breathtaking views. Anywhere we went around the island, we got rewarded with dramatic vistas stretching as far as the horizon.

And to add to the impressions list:| we were not bothered by the locals. Usually when travelling, I meet locals who want to take advantage of tourists, harassing me to buy their products, trying to scam or divert my route. Madeira locals, on the contrary were making our life easy and our vacation calm enough and without stress.

Funchal

The main city of Madeira island is called Funchal. My accommodation was just a bit outside in the place called Lido – loads of hotels and restaurants, with a 20 min walk to city center. Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Portuguese: Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Assunção) and stroll down the riviera to enjoy the good view.

Inevitable is the Farmers Market (Mercado dos Lavradores), situated in the Old Town of Funchal. It is an iconic building from 1940, with so many tropical fruits: avocados, passion fruit, mango, dragon fruit etc.

Funchal is very up and down place. In the times of great humid and heat, make sure you are having lots of water next to yourself. You never know what street you will have to climb. And become red… 🙂

City of Funchal and the bay

To climb the upper part of Funchal – where the climate is again something else – less dry, more wind – you can take the Teleferico – a cable car. It is worth a visit!

Once you are up, you can visit Jardim Botanico. We continued our way towards the Habsburgs church. Namely, Habsburgs liked to come here too. They would reside at Reid’s Palace Hotel in Funchal, actually a bit closer to Lido (nowadays touristy part of Funchal). Empress Sissi adored to come – she payed her visit 3 times at least. I found her statue not far away from the Reid’s Palace. Her grandnephew Karl l exiled here with his wife Zita after the fall of Habsburg Empire during the World War One. He is buried in the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte. It took us some time to climb through the semi forest and flowered paths – but as always, it is worth it. Plus you get a beautiful view on Funchal!

To stroll down is even easier – just continue imagining the courtesy of the royals! Take the Monte Toboggan Rides or “carros de cesto.” The “Carreiros do Monte” appeared in the middle of the 19th century as an alternative and fast means of transportation of people and goods, from Monte to Funchal. It is believed that the wealthy owners of some Quintas (local Manor Houses) in Monte were the first to use this form of transport. With the growth of tourism at the end of the 19th century, these wicker basket cars became very popular among visitors. Today it is one of the highlights in Madeira.

North East side

It was a one day trip with the safari jeep. The driver and the tour guide took the steepest streets of Funchal and continued through the steepest landscapes above. As we were riding through the forest, admiring the greenery, slowly the green landscape of forest became small bushes with light green and yellow.

That moment when you spot the clouds below your level was amazing. Looking at the horizon and not knowing when the ocean stops and sky begins… So we arrived to Pico de Arieiro. It is the third highest peak (1820 m) on Madeira Island and is one of the most popular sunrise spots. It gathers crowds to watch the sun break through the thick sea of clouds that create an otherwordly atmosphere. On a clear day it is possible to see the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, 30 miles to the northeast.

The next stop were the levada walks. “Levada” is a Portuguese word derived from the word “levar” – which means to carry and is roughly translated as “carriageway”, but more correctly defined as mini-canal. The mini-canals are irrigation systems developed to distribute water from the rainfall heavy and wet regions on the north of Madeira island to the drier sun parched regions of the south. The water is usually stored in reservoirs or tanks, or captured directly from natural fountains to be redirected and channeled across a wide network of winding canals. These narrow water carriageways deliver precious water along far distances to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, as well as to hydro-electric power stations dotted around the island. The levadas criss cross the mountains and cover a total distance of 2500 km, and date back to as far as the early 16th century.

The Levada walks are walking trails along the maintenance paths beside the Levadas. Although the Levadas were constructed primarily for agricultural/industrial use they are just as important for tourists and local people alike who want to enjoy outdoor adventure activities inaccessible by cars.

Close to the Santana city center you can find the Centre for Traditional Santana houses. This is a preservation area, expanded by the municipality of Santana, in memory of local heritage.
Here we found some typical Santana houses, all adapted to their current use, where you can buy a wide variety of local products and traditional crafts.

The tour was coming to an end but our driver decided to shake us more and drive through steep mountains and edgy roads. So we ended up just a bit north from Porto da Cruz – a city famous for North Mills Distillery.

The Portuguese island of Madeira is best known for its eponymous fortified wine, but it was not always king of drinks alone — there was rum, too. Madeira rum is “rhum agricole”, meaning it is made directly from cane syrup, rather than “rhum industriel”, which comes from the byproduct molasses. It is also matured in Madeira fortified-wine casks. Madeira used to be number one sugar cane production place in the 17th century onwards. The Portuguese took the habit from the Caribbean, borrowed the money from Genovians and Flanders distributed it all across the continent, making Antwerp port the richest of its time. As the Colombo had its house in Canary Island and Porto Santo island to stop by before and after his discoveries in the New Wolrd – no wonder some goods and traditions remained on the island.

We tasted the traditional rum 970 and rum branco (white rum). I have to say, Madeira kicked me with many thinks, but rhum is not one of it. Caribbean still rull when it comes to this.

Last stop for the day was the most east point of the island: Ponta do Bode. The view of this cape stretches towards Porto Santo islands and Desert Islands on the other side. In the sea cliffs of Ponta do Bode, one can observe volcanic formations of effusive (lava flows) and explosive nature (pyroclasts).

North West side

North west Madeira is where the wild Atlantic crashes headlong into the jagged and imposing cliffs that dominate landscape of the north-coast. It is more humid, a bit more chilly but whole loads of fun. First stop was city Camara do Lobos. A fisherman village famous for very first ponche pescador – a strong rum and lemon drink taken in the morning by the fisherman after spending long night fishing.

So our road continued again towards north. But before we had to cross the mountainous part of the Madeira island – again, enchanted by the clouds…

We have hit so many tunels on our way but the one that will stay in my mind was the finished but yet unfinished tunel with water drops. Such an unusual place this island is!

And if you need more proof, here the Veu de Noiva waterfall – it falls in the middle of the freaking road.  A beautiful waterfall that cascades down the rocky slopes towards the sea. So amazed how the water on this island comes from everywhere.

Further to the north – and time for bath in the ocean 🙂 We visited the small city called Porto Moniz famous for the natural pools. A very popular complex in an outstanding location, with great facilities, lifeguard surveillance – really needed due to unexpected sudden high waves, natural seawater volcanic pools for both Adult and children. Sometimes a bit crowded during the summer, but an excellent place for visitors to enjoy the sun and a safe swim.

On our way towards different city we passed again through the semi forest and rocky countryside with small farmer houses and stables. Noting locals producing bananas, tobacco, passion fruit and vineyards.

Sao Vicente has popular black sand beaches. Its sea can be a bit rough but it’s quite popular with surfers for this reason.

The nearby city is called Seixal. This is precisely the stunning scenery of one of the most popular beaches in this parish, Porto do Seixal Beach, a natural black sand beach located right next to the rocky cliff with the waterfall. No need for after sea showers here. All natural.

On of the last stops of the day was Ribeira Brava. The municipality gained its name due to its river – Ribeira Brava, which translates as ‘the angry river’. In rainy seasons, the river had an extremely strong and powerful current, that often wreaked havoc over the entire eight kilometres of the route.

Finally the last point: Cabo Girao – a popular lookout point, the highest cliff in Europe (580m) and a skywalk. I have to say, we managed to visit this place both from above (hitting that wobbly skywalk) and from below, having a bath in the ocean, just at the beach below it. Both moments were breathtaking.

Ocean

If you ask me, this is the best part of Madeira. Surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, there is so much to discover. Madeira is rich with flora and fauna on the land, but so in the sea. Taking a one day catamaran trip in the outskirts of the ocean, you can’t miss the sea turtle or the dolphins.

When it comes to typical holiday sun bathing – there is plenty of choices. From the black volcano sandy beaches (I can still say black, right?), cliffs to jump, rocky natural pools to the concreted and arranged beaches in front of hotels with sun umbrella and arm chairs. We did almost everything. As we had a pool in front of our accommodation – we used it, the cliff – we jumped and bathed in front of it, black beach – same thing, and cooling while reading a book at the Miramar hotel in touristy Lido.

Food and Drinks

When it comes to wining and dining – Madeira is not expensive at all, yet tastes delicious. Here is the best fish I have eaten – fresh, simple, tasteful. Every time, the chef of the restaurant would come out of the kitchen, present the daily fresh fish and advise on cooking. And the vegetables that comes to the fish it the sweetest ever!

Some of things you have to eat when in Madeira: scabbard fish with grilled banana, black squid risotto, parrot fish, octopus, tuna and limpets.

Meat is equally good, fresh and not industrial at all.

Usually we started our meal with Bolo do caco – a circular Madeiran flatbread, shaped like a cake and thus called bolo. It is traditionally cooked on a caco, a flat basalt stone slab. The bread is usually served with garlic butter. My ode to this discovery:

Madeira is a constant spring. The temperature never goes more than 29 Celsius. There is constant water circulation which makes the gastronomy of this place astonishing. Especially the taste of fruits and coffee we had for breakfast and for desert. The passion fruit cake/ pudding is a must try!

When it comes to drinks, first thing first – the poncha! As already described, it is a traditional alcoholic drink made with aguardente de cana (distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice), honey, sugar, and either orange juice or lemon juice. Some varieties include other fruit juices. My favourites were less traditional one – minth and passion fruit.

Then there is red wine or vino tinto. When you order red wine in Madeira, you will get sweet liquorish drink as an aperitif, or sweet wines usually consumed with dessert. But very rarely the red wine as we know on the continent.

The islands of Madeira have a long winemaking history, dating back to the Age of Exploration (approximately from the end of the 15th century) when Madeira was a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirits were added. On the long sea voyages, the wines would be exposed to excessive heat and movement which transformed the flavour of the wine. This was discovered by the wine producers of Madeira when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip.

Recommendation: Bastardo and Malvasia.

Then rose and white wine – Atlantis and Colombo are the local productions and offered almost everywhere on the island.

Perhaps is worth to mention the local brewery production. I was not amazed by the heavy beers they offered. It just doesn’t go with the climate.

Madeira, the Atlantic Pearl, is a dream holiday destination. It’s ideal for romantic getaways, family trips, and fun vacations with friends. It is full of movie-like landscapes, historical and cultural attractions. I hope I managed to describe the enthusiasm I collected and the blues I am feeling now. It is a place to come back.

Inevitable sangria! Cheers from the Lido Atlantic beach!
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Koblenz, Deutschland

Visiting the Burg Eltz it was inevitable to stroll down the hills of  Rhineland-Palatinate and explore.

To be honest, the navigation was not up to date as bringing us to the closed local roads or reserved only for the local agricultural vehicles. But there is a beauty in getting lost like that! 🙂

Around the hills in Wierschem

Koblenz is a German city on the banks of the river Rhine and of the Moselle, a multi-nation tributary. Thanks to its geographic position, it is one of the most beautiful vineyards location. Let me tell you our entrance to the city with this:

Schloss von der Leyen

On our right is the river Moselle, on the left the vineyards scenery on the cliffs and we are driving right through the castle. The fairytale!

No wonder, Koblenz was established as a Roman military post around 8 B.C. Its name originates from the Latin(ad) cōnfluentēs, meaning confluence. The actual confluence is today known as the “German Corner“, a symbol of the unification of Germany that features an equestrian statue of Emperor William I.

Opposite to this Deutsches Ecke – where the river Rhein and Moselle confluence and continue towards Rotterdam is the Fortress Ehrenbreitstein as seen from Koblenz.

Fortress Ehrenbreitstein as seen from Koblenz

The old city has a triangular shape, with two sides being bounded by the Rhine and Mosel and the third by a line of fortifications. The city facades are neo-baroque and classical. With loads of shopping streets and commercial centers interfered. It the Altstadt one can find bars and restaurants to enjoy german culinary and recommended wines from the valleys of Rhine and Mosel.

I couldn’t skip The cultural centre Forum Mittelrhein and the Kulturbau Forum Confluentesstands as a singular, solitary volume on the square and is wrapped in a striking, partly translucent shiny façade that reflects the sky and the clouds. It houses the public library, the Mittelrhein Museum and the tourist information of Koblenz, with their ‘Zentrum der Rheinromantik’, inviting both tourists and residents to learn more about this beautiful region.

To conclude with the Rhine riesling and Mosel gewurztraminer.

Castle 2

Burg Eltz, Deutschland

Eltz Castle (German: Burg Eltz) is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle between Koblenz and Trier, Germany. It is still owned by a branch of the same family (the Eltz family) that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago.

Hidden in the western Germany, in the hills above river Mosel, deep deep in the Rhineland Palatinate region hence only local roads lead you towards. Because of this, it is pretty easy to get lost.

Rhineland -Palatinate is a southwest German state bordered by France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The lush Moselle Valley, with its riverside towns is one of Germany’s largest wine regions.

We parked the car some hour away of the castle and started our trip through the forest. There are many paths through the forest but the one towards the castle is guiding you by itself.

Upon the entrance, I was surprised with the view on the nearby forests and the endless greenery. It was in a total contrast of the strong fortification and its red wooden construction.

Time for food? Some good German bier and sausage?

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Tournai, Belgium

Guess what’s new? – Corona. Guess how long it will last? – China.

Never mind. The travel ban is still on for Belgium, so explorations within the country continues. This weekend was reserved for Tournai. A beautiful city on the west of Belgium. Kinda looks like Lille at the first sight.  Although, being part of the province of Hainaut, Tournai is part of Eurometropolis Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai.

Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium and has played an important role in the country’s cultural history. It was the first capital of the Frankish Empire, with Clovis I being born here – the first king of France, crowned and buried in Reims.

Tournai, known as Tornacum, was a place of minor importance in Roman times, a stopping place where the Roman road from Cologne on the Rhine to Boulogne on the coast crossed the river Scheldt. It came into the possession of the Salian Franks in 5th century. Clovis moved the center of power to Paris. In turn, a native son of Tournai, Eleutherius, became bishop of the newly created bishopric of Tournai, extending over most of the area west of the Scheldt. In 9th century Charles the Bald, first king of Western Francia and still to become Holy Roman Emperor, would make Tournai the seat of the County of Flanders.

river Scheldt

After the partition of the Frankish empire by the Treaties of Verdun (843) Tournai remained in the western part of the empire, which in 10th century became France. The city participated in 11th-century rise of towns with a woollen cloth industry based on English wool, which soon made it attractive to wealthy merchants. An ambitious rebuilding of the cathedral was initiated in 11th century. The stone Pont des Trous over the Scheldt, with defensive towers at either end, was built in 1290, replacing an earlier wooden structure.

Le Pont des Trous à Tournai

During the 15th century, the city’s textile trade boomed and it became an important supplier of tapestry. The art of painting flourished too. It was captured in 1513 by Henry VIII of England, making it the only Belgian city ever to have been ruled by England. The city was handed back to French rule three years later, following the Treaty of London (1518).

Belfry of Tournai

In 16th century, Habsburg Emperor Charles V added the city to his possessions in the so-called Low Countries, leading to a period of religious strife and economic decline. During the 16th century, Tournai was a bulwark of Calvinism, but eventually it was conquered by the Spanish governor of the Low Countries, the Duke of Parma, following a prolonged famous Siege of Tournai in 1581. After the fall of the city, its Protestant inhabitants were given one year to sell their possessions and emigrate, a policy that was at the time considered relatively humane, since very often religious opponents were simply massacred.

Monument of local artist van der Wayden, in front of the Cathedral, 15th century

One century later, the city briefly returned to France under Louis XIV in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Tournai formed part of the newly independent Belgium.

Unfortunately, local specialties were skipped this time as the bars and restaurants were closed.

Castle 28

Coimbra & Santarem, Portugal

After 5 years, I was again in Portugal. Lisbon has been checked and explored quite well, so I decided to explore a bit more!

I had a hotel in Oeiras so my friend who lives in Lisbon rented a car and we started a journey towards the north of the country.

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Our journey: Santarem – Coimbra – Porto (in next post)

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Santarém

We visited Santarem at first. Just a small half an tour stop. As we parked the car, a small gypsy boy approached us begging the money. Luckily, Nikola has a noble heart. 🙂

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Santarem is a small city with nice streets around so you can really see the influence of  GreeksRomans, Visigoths, Moors and later Portuguese Christians.

There is a story, one of the various legends which tells how the city got its name: the Visigoth Saint Iria (or Irene), who was martyred in Tomar (Nabantia) but her uncorrupted body reached Santarém. In her honour, the name of the town (then known by its Latin name Scalabis) later became Sancta Irene, from which Santarém derives.

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Cabaças Tower (Torre das Cabaças) – Ancient defensive tower of the mediaval wall of the city

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Santarém city centre has several monuments, including the largest and most varied ensemble of gothic churches in Portugal. These include fine examples of transitional Romanesque–Gothic.

The biggest impression left was the Church of the Grace, port. Igreja da Graça, built between the 14th and 15th centuries in a mix of mendicant and flamboyant Gothic styles. It has a main portal and rose window (unique in the world, carved out of a single stone) .

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Notable are the street decorations as well, painted names of the streets and saints. I took a photo of some of them as these are actually traditonal colors of the country.

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Pedro Álvares Cabral, discoverer of Brazil, and his wife are buried under a simple slab near the main chapel of the Church of the Grace.

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We continued the way towards Coimbra, but first we needed to get out of the city. The roads to come down the hill and come back to highway again were like this:

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Coimbra

Thanks to the Late Middle Ages, with its decline as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, Coimbra became an inspiration for J.K. Rowling to write her searial of Harry Potter books.

This is why nowadays first year students are wearing the black mantle.

So, yes, the University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world and the oldest university of Portugal. Established in 1290 it is charing and romantic by itself.

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However, even though succesful in the middle ages, the city, located on a hill by the Mondego River, was called Aeminium, deriving its name from Roman  times.

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The Botanical Garden is just there, founded in 1772-1774 and it was integrated with the Natural History Museum established by the Marquis of Pombal.

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Soon we got lost in this hilly city center, so I just decided to wander around while taking photos and enjoying the time:

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That’s it from Coimbra. Next stop: Port (in the next blog post). Back to highway.

PS On highway we noticed the burned landscapes from the Great Fire in Portugal last summer 2017 when more than 60 people burned immediately on the road. RIP

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food and drink 28

Düsseldorf, Germany

Hop on, hop off with a friend by Thalys train. From lovely Brussels to the city in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area.

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Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof, the meain train station

Upon the arrival we realized there are this iconic statues of Dusseldorf citizens everywhere:

We discovered pretty soon why this city is all in business and industry, with the buildings like this:

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Anyhow, we continued towards the city center. The reformator’s church was somehow interesting for us because of the statues of fallen angels in front. So we entered, but yet reformator’s church are not welth decorated at all.

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So that was the Martin Luther Platz, or square in english with the statue of the emperator or Kaiser Wilhem Denkmal flanked by the two angels of peace and war.

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As we were hungry, we continued walking towards the Old town. We decided to  go to local restaurants, beer hauses: Hausbrauereien to eat and drink local.

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Boy we had fun there! We soon discovered their local beer: Altbier, a top-fermented, dark beer.

20180203_161256.jpgThere, the “Köbesse” (local dialect: waiters) may be somewhat harsh but they are warm hearted. If your beer glass is empty the next Alt comes without you even having to order it. This put is in trouble later afternoon when we ended with sightseeing and sat for one last Alt. Boy, it was a never ending story almost leading us to miss the train towards Brussels. So, the message is: Be careful! 🙂

Small tip, foreign guests might not know that there is rivalry between the citizens of Düsseldorf and their neighbours in Cologne. So never ever order a Kölsch (a light beer brewed in Cologne) in Düsseldorf. 🙂

The typical Hausbrauerei decorations are usually talking about the relation between the  wife at home and her husband after some time spend in the Brauerei. 🙂

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The Old Town of Düsseldorf is famous by bars, restaurants, brewery inns, good weekend parties etc. hence it is called the longest bar of the world. 

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The Old town has some interesting decorations and statues as well hiding the secrets of its citizens in the past.

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Nobody shits the gold, so you better save and invest. 🙂

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Cast boy – true dandey of Dusseldorf

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Sinti and Roma gypsie girl who was murdered during World War II.

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Another Dandy of Dusseldorf

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Heinrich Heine – the poet of Dusseldorf

The main square and the City Hall and kinds in the middle of city happenings. The building dates from the 16th century.

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City Hall

We were caught into the city parade with the traditional clothes and orchestra. What a lovely Saturday it was! 🙂

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As we walked around, we ended on the food market. Please look at this booth: I never saw more species of potato, in my life!

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Moutard store – the traditions of the region

At the southern end of the river Rhine promenade is the newest landmark of the city. It was nice to walk around even though te cold wind freezed our faces.

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Actually, this is how the place looked like before and how it changed to nowadays modernity, sometimes not by its own will since the World War II caused the biggest changes of the veduta of the city.

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The new funky place down the river Rhine is called Media Harbour. The former harbour was transformed in a quarter with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, discotheques and hotels. Its flair is based on the mixture of new modern buildings like depots, quay walls and industrial surroundings that stand side by side with modern architecture.

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Rhine tower

The Königsallee is an urban boulevard in Düsseldorf,  with a landscaped canal that runs along its center, as well as the fashion showrooms and luxury retail stores located along its sides.

By the end of the 18th century, Düsseldorf was a small baroque town and capital of the Grand Duchy of Berg. But the Duke decided to give room for a more generous urban plan.

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Castle 21

🌞 Canary island 🌞

From Tenerife  I took the massive speed boat and went to Las Palmas de  Gran Canaria. On the map it looks like this:

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And the boat that I took looked like this:

 

It is actually quite nice inside, with the TV’s and the bar. The only thing I didn’t get and what I expected is to go out on the deck of the boat. But is it entirely closed during this one hour driving.

When I finally arrived, I went towards the main square of Las Palmas: the St Anna square. Typical spanish colonial-styled houses with balconies and dog statues around,  reminding us all of the origin of the name Las Canarias – nothing to do with the birds, but because they were over-run by canines….

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Plaza St Anna – main square in Las Palmas

Just there you can find Cathedral of St Anna. It is a  a Roman Catholic church located in the Old town of the city built in 16th century.

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Interior view, demonstrating the piers as imitation palm trees

Old town was built at the end of the 15th century. Its streets and squares contain historical buildings and monuments.

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There you can find the central market called Vegueta. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived it was already closed. 😦

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I was really impressed with the House of Cristofar Columbo, or in spanish Cristobal Colon. 

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The House of Cristofor Columbo

This is the most attractive buildingswith ornate doorways, beautiful balconies, large courtyard and carved wooden ceilings, representing numerous aspects of the island’s architecture.

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The house contains the historical items of the Columbo itself, like his diary whit the pages open at his arrival to Canarias, the maritime divider, compass and telescope, the room with the sky showing stars that were navigating him or the room which repsesents the life on the boat.

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Diary of Cristofor Columbo

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Cristofor Columbo was  part of local bourgeoisie, who towards the midddle of the 19th century had grown in Las Palmas. I learned he was always very well welcomed at Canarias, bringing the local populations always new groceries and foodstuffs like turkey or potatoes, when coming back from his expeditions.

I was also inspired by the small church alongside with the models of old ships hanging off the ceiling.

 

At the Museum of Canaries you can learna  lot about the people’s history of this place.  The museum represents the pre-hispanic culture in the Canary Islands and conserves and exhibits archaeological and ethnographic items.

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So, Guanches were the aboriginal Berber inhabitants of the Canary Islands. They were the only native people known to have lived in the Macaronesian region before the arrival of Europeans. After the Spanish conquest of the Canaries they were ethnically and culturally absorbed by Spanish settlers.

 

Special mention should be made of the collection of more than 2,000 prehistoric sculls and mummies.

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Parque Doramas is park of typical flora of Canarias combined with the architecture of Pueblo Canario and local 19th century life of spanish burgoasie.

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I finished my day at Playa de las Canteras. It is a nice walk/ promenade of more than 10km with many bars and restaurants.

 

 

 

cathedrals 23

Advent in Zagreb, Croatia

The head item is from the Dolac market, famous in Zagreb.

The hearts are licitar hearts traditionally given by girls to their chosen young men for future marriage, after sunday mass ceremony.

The reason why I started with this typical souvenir pattern of the city of Zagreb is because it appears as a theme in the Advent in Zagreb – the best Europe Christmas destination 2016 and 2017. If you don’t trust me, check here.

Just to mention that I was born in Zagreb and lived there for 4 years during my studies, so I am traditionally purger girl (from German der Bürger, meaning the citizen, nowadays dialect in Zagreb as it used to be part of Habsburg Empire) and might be a bit attached here.

Anyhow, let us start!

Flying home for Christmas from christmasy Brussels to Krapina, small city nearby, I decided with my mom and brother to visit this best Christmas destination. Plus, I haven’t been to the center of Zagreb for more than 2 years, and I missed it.

We left the car at Arena Zagreb – a multi-purpose sports hall located in the southwestern part of the city and took the bus to the main train station: Kolodvor Zagreb, the main hub of the Croatian Railways network. In 19th century, Royal Hungarian Government (as that part of Croatia in that time was part of the Austro Hungarian Empire) authorised the building of the main station and maintenance shop in Zagreb. This beautiful building is typical Vienna secession style building of the Habsburgs, as many other buildings in Zagreb, Budapest, Prague or wherever Habsburgs spread their Empire.

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Arena Zagreb

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Kolodvor Zagreb – main railway station

From there everything starts! Historically and Christmasly.

The first Croatian King Tomislav, 10th century stands there welcoming tourists, located ahead park Zrinjevac.

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First Croatian King Tomislav, crowned 925

In park Zrinjevac is located ice skating, with many small wooden houses around it and bars to drink kuhano vino (Croatian mulled vine) 🙂 and typical food to eat.

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As already said, typical yellow secession buildings as of 19th century since the Austro Hungarian Empire is this Art Pavillon at park Zrinjevac:

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Art Pavillon at park Zrinjevac

Typical food for Zagrebiensis are sausages, medenjaki (honey cookies), paprenjaci (biscuit cookies made of unique mix of honey and black pepper), etc.

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From there we continued towards the Fooliranje part of Zrinjevac (engl. fooling around). The rounded open pavillon was hosting some local band tries around had a special glitter due to Christmas lights.

In the very first photo I am with my mother. 🙂 We even have the same patterned scarf we bought in Brussels.

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20171226_161509.jpgContinuing towards the main square, there was another wonder – Maric passage. The passage is completely covered with blue Christmas lights and branches of trees so it seems like you stepped into some magic wonderland.

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Maric passage –  festive decorations

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Finally we came to the main square named after very important Croatian national hero Josip Jelacic who fought against hungarian oppression in 19th century during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the hungarisation of Croatian language. He also liberated croatian  poor people from serfdom in 1848.

You can see his statue at the main square, currently turned towards the south but it used to be towards northeast, facing the Hungarians.

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Ban Jelacic Square – main square in Zagreb

There is the famous clock where all people that live in Zagreb usually meet. When I was studying in Zagreb, all the coffee meetings started ‘meet you under the clock.

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Meeting ‘under the clock’

Furthermore, I took a photo of the famous blue tram coming from Ilica – the longest street in the city.

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Blue tram coming to the main square from the longest Ilica street in Zagreb

The colour of Zagreb is blue, even though all the traditional souvenirs are red from Sestine. Like already mentioned licitar heart of sestine umbrella. My grandpa used to have these hanging of the mirror in his car.

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Sestine umbrella

We moved very soon towards the European square where is the Representation of European Commission to Croatia. There you can find the traditional food from the entire country – north, south, east and west, as the country is hit by two different climates (mediterranean and continental), hence the food and culture and history were/ are different.

The Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia, but also the most monumental sacral building in Gothic style southeast of the Alps. It is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. who started building the cathedral in 11th century.

As you can see on the photo below, the Cathedral used to be surrounded with walls because of the Ottomans arrival during the 15th and 16th century.

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Zagreb Cathedral with the Mary column on the right

Inside the Cathedral, we visited the nativity scene and made the walk around.

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20171226_144437.jpgClimbing towards the Upper town Kaptol, you literally jump into Middle Ages. The houses are smaller, the passages are narrow and combined with stairs called Windmill stairs (because they used to lead towards the old mill) or Stonegate or Meat street etc.

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Vlaska street – famous by crafts in the Lower town, 18th century

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St George killing the Dragon, the Society of Croatian Dragon – Croatian version of the masons

One of the most beautiful entrance to the Upper town is the Stonegate (13th century) with the statue of Virgin Mary inside of it – one of the most recognizable symbols of Zagreb. The story tells that at first there was a painting of Virgin Mary  which was untouched after the 1731 fire and it was described as miracle. To commemorate the event, grateful citizens built a chapel within the arch of the old Stone Gate.

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Stonegate – entrance to Upper town. On the right is written in old Croatian: ”Forbidden to go through the gate with wagons, to ride and push the cattle

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Virgin Mary Chapel inside the Stonegate with many religious votive tablets around

Fun fact, next to the Stonegate, you can find the lion which holds the chains from the boat of Admiral Nelson from the battle against Napoleon at Trafalgar. (the link brings you to London and Trafalgar square where I was almost killed by an ambulance).

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Lion holding the chains of Admiral Nelson, left on the photo is the manuscript of street names in old Croatian and German

The Upper Town Kaptol functioned as the typical European hanseatic (free) city. It became free when ungarian king in 13th century needed to escape from Otomans. The city gave him the shelter and got the Charta of the Free Hanseatic city as a compensate.

Famous Croatian writer August Senoa, 19th century, belonging to the Croatian realism in literature, described in his novels the life of poor people and the rise of the handcrafters and citizenry. One of my favourite novels in the Goldsmith’s Gold. The  Treasure is actually young Dora Krupiceva, beautiful, poor but nobel. Today you can find her statue next to the Stonegate as well, holding the keys of the gates.

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Dora Krupiceva – the keeper of the Keys of Zagreb

The main square of Kaptol is St Marko’s Square where is the Parliament and the Government of Croatia. Less important than the beautiful St Marko’s Church from 13th century with the oldest Coat of Arms of Zagreb (on the rooftop).

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St Marko’s Church

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St Marko’s Church with Coat of Arms of Zagreb and the old Coat of Arms of and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia

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The Parliament of Croatia

Very similar stories about the citizens of Kaptol of its time were written by Marija Juric Zagorka. She was the woman ahead of the society, publishing her novels under man pseudonym. Her famous stories about the women who were accused for witch crafting are all over the Upper Town. The legend says they gathered around the Tower of Lotrscak.

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Marija Juric Zagorka – statue in Tkalciceva street (nowadays famous by bars and pubs)

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Tower of Lotrscak

Worth to mention here that every day at noon, the Cannon of Gric breaks in the memory of the Victory over Ottomans in 15th century.

Upper Town is famous by its narrow streets and the extra nostalgic moments give the lanterns. The profession of the person turning on the old lanterns laterns still exists in the Kaptol. O tempora, o moris

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Lightning up the lanterns at Kaptol

The best part of Advent in Zagreb is happening just here, at Kaptol, at Strossmayer’s promenade with the wooden houses, view on the city and the snow white – red decoration of the 1920’s when Zagreb started to breathe in its own way and citizenship to fool around.

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You can enjoy the view on Lower Town Gradec and New Zagreb (developed in the times of Yugoslavia as of 1950’s).

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I enjoyed every detail capturing the moments and getting inspired for my Instagram story.

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Once more, the Cathedral from here:

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Very important thing and famous Croatian brend from the Kaptol is Museum of Broken Relationships. Nowadays the exhibition is all around the world with many broken hearted contributors, but it all started from here. My favourite item is the bicycle. After the break up, the girl didn’t have courage to get him back. After some time, she visited her ex, sat on the bike and drove out of the relationship. It was liverating for her, she said.

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Museum of Broken Relationship

After the walk at the Strossmartre, we were going back down towards the Lower Town Gradec. On the right side is the World War II Tunnel now decorated with many colourful storytelling decorations. Every other day the choirs are performing too.

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The tunel is T-shaped so one of the exits is at the funicular. The shortest funicular in Europe. It brings you back to Kaptol.

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The shortest funicular in Europe with the Tower of Lotrscak on the right

We continued going down down to Gradec to visit the nearby Flowered Square (even tough it is not its official name, but the citizens call it Cvjetni trg – because of the many flower shops there). Also, this is the place where many popular Croatians drink coffee and spend their time, especially Saturdays. It is also the so-called Spitza, meaning the celebrities peak when many journalists go around with their camera too, looking for some paparazzi shots. If you’d like to be seen, be sure you put some fashionable clothes and you will end up in magazines as a fellow stylish Croatian.

Personally, I just bought myself a bouquet, the so called puslec.

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We finished our day at Kraš bomboniere bar having a hot chocolate and trying typical famous chocolates Bajadera and Griotte. Mr Kraš used to be in love with the prima balerina Bajadera from the Croatian National Theatre (also built by Habsburgs) so he named his chocolate after her. Thee romantic Croatians! 🙂

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Bomboniere Kraš

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Croatian National Theatre

Croatians are also very proud on the best ski driver in the history of skiing. Her name is Janica Kostelic, she won the several World Cups, becoming one of the three women ever winning thge World Cup races in all of the sport’s five disciplines.

Kostelić is the only woman to win four gold medals in alpine skiing at the Winter Olympics (in Salt Lake City 2002 and Torino 2006), and the only woman to win three alpine skiing gold medals in one Olympics (2002).

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Janica Kostelic after winning the medals in Olympics in Salt Lake City 2002

Thanks to her, the World Cup named after her: The Snow Queen Trophy is brought to the Sljeme Peak and Medvednica mountain- favourite destination of Zagreb citizens during the summer and winter time as well. They call it the lungs of the city because of the many alpine trees.

The Snow Queen Trophy is part of the Advent in Zagreb. Just ask any ski racer and they will always tell you that they have the best atmosphere here in Zagreb as the crowd is so into this sport.

This year, the numbers drawing will be at park Zrinjevac and the ski racers will come on ice skates. 🙂

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Snow Queen Trophy – croatian fans waiting for Janica Kostelic at the Finish Line

Zagreb Slalom
Sljeme Hill at Medvednica Mountain with the Ski race