On Oona’s last day of visit, we decided to go to Şirince, an old Greek village located near the town of Selcuk, in the province of Izmir, Turkey. Once a Greek-populated mountain village, Şirince was settled when Ephesus was abandoned in the 15th century. Most of what one sees today was built around the 19th century. There is a story that the village was settled by freed Greek slaves who named the village Çirkince (meaning “Ugly” in Turkish) to deter others from following them. The village’s name was changed to Şirince (meaning “Pleasant”) in 1926 by the governor of Izmir Province. Şirince has long winemaking tradition with different types of fruits, particularly peaches, blueberries, cherries& pomegranate. The last dolmus leaves Sirince at 21:00, Hence, you could afford to stay a night at one of the boutique hotels, you could experience true beauty of Sirince and its sunset.
After the longest 17 days of my life, I finally got to spend a lovely weekend in Madrid with my love.
Madrid has one of the best public transportations in Europe. It is affordable (£2 flat rate for all journeys on metro); it is efficient (trains are frequent and are almost always on time); it is simple (all the metro lines are numbered, e.g. line C6, instead of having to remember a complicated station name in a foreign language)
Helado de Turrón is one of the “must tries” while visiting Madrid. I got mine from RODILLA in Puerta Delhi Sol. At only €1.95, the portion is extremely generous.
Turrón is a nougat-like confectionery mostly made with almonds, mixed with sugar, honey and egg whites. A typical Christmas fare all over Spain that was originated from southeast Mediterranean coast, in the region of Valencia.
Cortes is certainly my favorite neighbourhood to wander and explore. There are countless restaurants and boutique shops. Every shop in Cortes is so thoughtfully decorated that each place offers you a unique set of ambience and personality.
I particularly enjoyed my stroll from Plaza del Angel to Plaza de Lavapiés via Calle Olivar.
On the other hand, if you are having a constant love affair with literature, you certainly should not miss the book stalls along Calle Claudio Moyano. They sell everything from old books that only cost €1 to vintage collections at heavily discounted price.
If you have any form of OCD, then Mercado de San Antón would be your example of how a market should look like in heaven. From chorizos to the smallest cherries, everything is perfectly aligned to the perfect angle.
The arrival of night time is when the magic happens& here comes the spectacular
Happiness comes from the novelty of new experience and I am lucky enough to have met Rachael, who also turns out to be a kayaking instructor. So here we go, my first amazingly wonderful experience with kayaking.
The weather turned out to be perfect, the sea was completely calm. We got our kayaking rentals from a stall on playa carabeillo, one of the most beautiful beaches in Nerja. The all inclusive rental comes at a mere €5.5 per hour. On a second thought, after spending a few months in London, everything from the south coast Spain appears to be ridiculously cheap!
Playa Carabeillo is an easy walk from the famous Balcón de Europa. As we paddle away, there are gorgeous waterfalls and secluded coves on almost every corner. The water is incredibly clear& I got to experience this 2 hours of pure bliss.
Frigiliana is one of the many Pueblos Blancos (white villages) you could visit in in Andalucia. Her rich Moorish culture and history could be seen in the Mudéjar district.
This is the old district inhabited by the Moors before and after the Reconquista. Its name Mudéjar is used to describe the architectural style used by Arab craftsmen working in Christian territory.
For four days at the end of August each year, Frigiliana hosts the Festival of the Three Cultures (Festival de las Tres Culturas), celebrating the region’s historic confluence and co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions. (from Wikipedia)
The irony: during my four years living abroad in Houston, Texas; one of my favourite restaurants is called “Andalucia”. Back then, I was quite proud of my knowledge of tapas and flamenco as something distinctively Spanish and remotely Mexican.
Fast forward four years later, when unexpected life events brought me to this part of the world, I realize how little I know about Andalucia. As the cliché goes, the more you travel, the more you realise how little you know about the world. There is always a new place/ culture/ people that’s awaiting to be discovered. Of course, I am determined to educate myself.
The Spanish occupation by the Moors began in 711 AD when an African army from Northern Africa invaded Al-Andalús, or Andalucía as it is today. This 800 years of Moorish ruling has left some of the most magnificent art and architecture that could be seen in Spain today.
Cinque Terre is certainly a gastronomical wonderland with the best views to match. Below is a chronicle of all the amazing food we have managed to experience during our stay.
19:15 my first pistacchio gelato. 🏠location: Trattoria Via Dell’Amore, Riomaggiore
20:46 bruschette ligure (bruschetta with pesto sauce& basil) with locally produced Cinque Terre white wine. 🏠 location: Nessun Dorma, Manarola. We ended up coming back to Nessun Dorma everyday and once you are here, it will all become clear to you: Nessun Dorma simply has the best view of Manarola (or in our view, of the entire Cinque Terre).
21:59 Tagliolino con calamari, muscoli e pomodorino secco (fettuccine with seafood & sundries tomatoes). Trofie al pesto (a local speciality, twist short pasta with basil sauce). more Cinque Terre white wine.🏠 location: Trattoria Il Porticciolo, Manarola
10:39 focaccia rucola stracchino pomodorini (focaccia with arugula, cheese& cherry tomato). Birra Morreti (Italian beer) 🏠 location: café Giovannini, Monterroso
19:17 aperitivo 🏠 Fartamorgana, Camogli
- Bucatini has become my favourite type of pasta
- Sampietrini is my favourite type of pavement
- Belén Rodriguez is every Italian man’s fantasy
- Pecorino Romano is wonderful
- Keglevich is Vodka made in Heaven
- Paolo Intini is the king of nightlife
- Morgan from Bluvertigo is a legend, he could do no wrong
- Lucio Fontana, an Italian artist, is the founder of art movement Spatialism
The most delicious home-cooked meals prepared by my wonderful Couchsurfing hosts
- Tortellini con pana e tartufo
- Broccolo romanesco ripassato in padella
Of course if you hang out with the wonderful locals long enough, you would learn some swear words. Mine is “testa di cazzo”!