Sofia

I catch myself thinking that nothing can surprise me anymore. And every now and then I get amazed. When we arrived to the biggest Bulgarian city I didn’t expect modern architecture and I was right. What I saw, I would call a “deep communism style”. It was hilarious to see a compact McDonald’s injected into the station’s landscape.

sofia station

The day we arrived to Sofia was one of the longest days. As usual, we were tired and the temperature was very high. We had a few hours before meeting our host, so we decided to devote that time to find a nice place to sit in a shadow. There was no bench, however a sidewalk worked for us perfectly.

After having some rest we decided to see what the city has to offer. We just opened the map to have a look where to head to and immediately some lady came to us asking if we need any help. That was very unexpected and nice.

We came across very strange balloon head statue. Actually, it’s Stefan Stambolov, Bulgarian politician. And opposite to him, there is a couple of deer. Cute. This kind of sculptures always make me curious about their origins. How amazing it is to be an artist, whose pieces of art are well recognized and liked. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but Mr. Stambolov’s statue is a spot point for a pub crawls. I’m not sure about deer’s role though…

stefan's head

deer

To be honest, I found Sofia very artistic. Starting from simple mosaics on the sidewalk, through the icons at the local market, to street artist selling his work. I regret I didn’t ask for a portrait.

lion mosaic

mosaic

icons

street artist

Somebody had really nice idea to decorate the city with fake, but still cute birds. We cold also noticed live animals, like homeless dogs, or a horse… The climbing cats are very common in this particular place in the world. But you know, cats are cats.

birds

horse

hello kitty

While walking around the city I noticed something really disturbing. I could really read what was that place, but I assumed it was really big deal, if the guns are not allowed there. Damn, and I wanted get inside so badly ;)

no guns

Serbia has a huge touristic potential, but we didn’t manage to see it all. But then again, we can come back some time and see the rest of it. Honestly can’t wait for it.

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Belgrade

Ah, Serbia, my love!

I would never guess that I would fall in love with Serbia so quickly and permanently, though I have no idea why this was a surprise for me. It is a beautiful country with a great culture and history.

A seed of curiosity for this country sowed with Zuzanna, an enthusiastic and cheerful Slovakian girl. We (Monika and me, still travelling together) met her in a train to Belgrade. We were exhausted and actually were planning to get some sleep in this night train, but it wasn’t meant to be. Zuzanna talked for the whole journey and I was listening with my eyes wide open, curious about every little detail of her stories. Besides well known local alcohol, she also gave us many helpful tips and even offered her company for the next day.

As soon as we arrived, we took some free maps and headed to the city centre for breakfast. I don’t remember exactly when did I realize Serbia is my favourite Balkan country (or even European.. Still haven’t been in so many places!). However, the train station was quite ugly, there was nothing really to be excited about. A few moments later I had a mini heart attack, when I saw a RAT while walking through the park. I need to mention that rats and bats are the only animals I just cant’ stand. Later that day I was trying to enjoy a nice and warm evening on a balcony. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a bat flew just above my head! Brrr, another lovely encounter with the wild nature.

As you see, it was quite a ¨warm¨ welcome for me. Despite it all, Serbia has a special place in my heart.

Back to the park topic… For the first time in my life I had a nap on a bench at a park. And it was great! The evening weather was perfect, I didn’t need a blanket, not even a pillow. My purse was good enough. (Thank you Monika for looking after me while I was napping. I bet that minimized the risk of robbery to zero.)

Anyway, after breakfast (delicious burek) and coffee we said goodbye to Zuzanna and set up plans with her for the next day. We found our host and had a shower (separately!) and then some rest.

The early evening we spent on general sightseeing, only the main points of the city centre, which meant only one street, because we didn’t really have strength to go further.

Belgrade is kind of a spiritual city, I think…

god sa

We were told that there are very famous and popular boat parties there. Sounds fancy, huh? Huge yachts with skinny tanned celebrities drinking champagne? Not necessarily…

boat parties 2

I cannot deny though, it does sounds like fun! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to check it out. But that’s ok, we will be back there! However, we could hear Goran Bregović’s songs from far away. That was a really Serbian evening!
Oh, another thing to do next time: visit Tesla’s museum!

boat parties 1

Are you into fashion? Anja Rubik is! She’s a Polish top model who married a Serbian model. Right now she’s quite popular in Poland, so it was pretty hard to avoid hearing news and gossips about her. She was travelling around Serbia at the same time as we were, and we took the same lame pictures… I don’t even know why I brag about it. Maybe because I take celebrities-alike pictures… That should make me famous too, right? Nah, better not!!!

anja rubik pic

Here it is, a Serbian exhibition presenting charming Polish cities.

If it comes to art and stuff, we found many reasons to smile. Literally. Monika spent more than an hour only on choosing a perfect cup for her family. And another hour on deciding if she should choose something else, because everything was so adorable!

souvenirs

Some other time we saw a really nice piece of street art. I think the message is obvious to everyone.

street art

In a park we admired a fountain sculpture that reminded us of something. This facial expression would be fantastic for a meme. I should focus on this perhaps. That could be a brilliant and hilarious idea…

meme

While going back home (or going out late?) we came across this peculiar clock. It’s very accurate, but the placement is a little bit unfortunate because of the tree right in the middle of the view.

clock

The next day was incredibly long and productive. We met Zuzanna and her Serbian friend Vukan and we went to a food market for fresh vegetables, bread and white cheese. It was the greatest breakfast I’ve ever had. This market had a strong mixed smell of ripe fruit and mature cheeses and bacon. Delish! Real feast for my eyes… and my nose, too!

market

bacon

After trying some local food we had a nice walk with Zuzanna’s dogs along the riverside. I need to admit though, it was slightly too hot for… moving. I didn’t get use to the high temperatures, even during the summertime. As smart as we are, we spent our holidays without any hats. I really wonder how is it possible that we never had a sun stroke. We were silly, but lucky I guess.

bridge

under the bridge

so hot!

In beautiful landscapes there is one thing that is impossible to avoid… Wedding pictures team. A happy bride and a handsome groom. And that awkward moment when you hesitate if you should just go on and pass by them or just wait until they finish the session. Anyway, congratulations guys!

couple

Ah, Belgrade, I could take a million pictures of you and none will show how beautiful you are. Hope to see you again this summer!

panorama serbia

Buda and Pest

Imagine this: holidays, 7 am and I’m up discovering the beauty of the city. True story.

Even though I love to sleep, the morning sightseeing was very pleasant. Not many cars on the roads, not many people on the streets. The morning wind was refreshing and definitely woke me up. After a long walk, the very first coffee of that day. But there was one thing in particular that made my day – my dream dog!

Sometimes it can be hard to keep the city green. Apparently Budapest doesn’t have problem with trees. In the city center there are lamps that, as I assume, resemble trees. I am not really sure if they are environmental friendly, but at least they look interesting.

I’ve never mentioned this, but you can easily read my face. I cannot lie. My facial expressions are so visible, that I can’t hide anything. So, it was just obvious that it was my first time in the city. My big eyes and constantly open mouth showed my excitement and delight. One more thing about me, I’m very trustful. I know I’m naive but it’s really hard to fight that.

Anyway, with the map in one hand and the camera in the other, I just couldn’t deny I’m a tourist. Monika, with whom I was travelling, looked exactly the same.

An older man approached us talking in Hungarian, which we, obviously, didn’t understand. Somehow, we understood we needed to follow him, what we did being rather careless. It turned out that he took us to a lovely place, that apparently nobody visits. He also said “Edith Piaf” and started to sing while pointing to the floor. I assumed that she sang in that place. I may be mistaken, though… Nothing is free in this world, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the man demanded for money after his short guidance. I think Edith Piaf’s concert brought up the price .

I just need to add, it wasn’t our first time being this foolish, and not the last one, either…

Sightseeing was exhausting! Budapest is full of MUST-SEE places. I guess we managed to see at least half of them.

Isn’t it beautiful? The Old reflects in The New. It  doesn’t only apply to buildings, obviously…

I have the theory that Budapest is a place that once you visit, you’ll have to come back again. And then again and again. Without disappointment.

Ah, I almost forgot. Where there are landmarks or monuments, there are also hipsters taking sweet photos. It’s pretty hard to avoid them…

After a few days spent actively in the city, it’s time for souvenirs! I wish I had more friends, so I could send them all postcards I bought…

I wonder why “seeing a dentist” is placed between “parties” and “drinking beer”…

PS. Yes, and No.
Yes, the cat was real. No, it wasn’t for sale. Sadly.

Manchester

Next stop, Manchester!

As everybody knows, the weather in England is capricious. No worries, though! I brought several rays of sunshine with me.

The secret of a great day is a clear sky. Sunny days give me more energy and motivation to see more and more and more… Yeah, I get excited too quickly!

Dear Traveller/Explorer/Adventurer!

To enjoy the perks of sightseeing, it’s good to be well prepared. Tips before you’ll start your great urban adventure.

1. Take a small, comfortable bag or backpack with you. You never know what will happen or when you’ll need both of your hands free.  You can put there tissues, lunch or your camera.

2. Don’t forget to take something to drink. It is always needed!

3. Enjoy every little detail of your journey, try to see the beauty of the smallest things like wild flowers.

4. And most important: a smile! It makes our lives much easier and pleasant :) Keep smiling!  Remember that a smile evokes a smile.

Are you ready? Let’s go then!

My general remark is that all buildings seem to be so.. small, not counting the Hilton hotel, which is the tallest point in the city. I was fascinated by the colours. Green and blue fit perfectly to the elevations or window jambs. The old bricks bring back memories of the old days and enchant me.

When new meets old, magical things happen.

Speaking of magic… China Town in Manchester is composed of only a few streets. When you enter that, area Asian natives appear immediately. When you leave it none of them is to be seen. @_@

Be careful though! Everywhere there are places that creep me out even in a daylight…

By the way, I recommend you a movie entitled Harry Brown by Daniel Barber.

Even though I am not a good photographer, I found a great model at Whitworth park. So willing to pose!

I say it all the time, but  small things make me so happy!

A cute little bee (as I assume), an I<3 MCR sign  (you can find it everywhere, just take a look around!), colourful chairs or funny pictures on a window shop… It’s way too much to make my day!

Nevertheless, I could spend hours at Piccadilly Gardens watching crazy teenagers getting wet in the fountain. It’s my favourite place in Manchester.

Manchester, see you again in September!

* Cris, one of the  most important people in my life, was my model (just as that crazy squirrel was). But I don’t need to mention that. You could see that at the first glimpse. Hottie!

Ukraine

Ukraine welcomed us (me and Monika) with a bored customs official. We expected huge lines, but since it has been a national holidays for both the Polish and Ukrainians, we’ve crossed the border without any problems or waste of time. In a few minutes we were in Ukraine, sitting in a bus that took us straight to Lviv. We were exhausted after so many attractions in Przemyśl, but at the same time the excitement didn’t let me take a nap.

First stop – railway station and the searching for the toilet (well, the trip was kinda long). What we’ve found actually surprised us: natural-position toilet.

Then a quick stop in the Information stand to get a map of the city center and we’re off!

It was a fantastic day. We made it! Our dreams came true. Moreover, it was Monika’s birthday. As we stood in front of the church I saw something priceless and beautiful. Monika literally cried from happiness. It was another perfect day in our lives!

I need to mention that I am really good at reading maps. I can’t complain about Monika’s skills, either. But as we entered the city, immediately we got lost. Not for too long, though. Everywhere there are information signs. Also in English! I can read Cyrillic alphabet, but it takes me some time to encode it. So you can imagine how happy we were to read in English.

Along the way we saw many objects that drew our attention. Once it was an ambulance, a police car or a tram. Other times it was a stuffed animal or the architecture.

After a short stop for a coffee, we finally reached the heart of the Old Town. We blend into the crowd in the search of souvenirs, smells and flavors.

Did I mention it was a very hot day?

After a short feast for our eyes we decided to see how does the opera house look like from the inside.

It’s just a sneak peak. Come to Lviv and see how beautiful it is! At the end of the tour you can always take a picture of yourself in a sophisticated place and brag about it on your Facebook profile…

Every city has its own reasonable number of monuments and sculptures. Lviv is no different from others in this respect.

We couldn’t choose better date for that trip. At the monument of Adam Mickiewicz, the Polish poet, his countrymen were celebrating the day of The Polish diaspora. Also, Ukraine started its campaign to promote European Football Championship, shortly EURO 2012. This year Ukraine and Poland are the hosts of this event.

Ukraine it’s amazing country of amazing people. We could easily find a hipster (yup, that one with cute socks).

Now, an interesting view. The center of the city, huge crowd, noises and the music. Great atmosphere! Take a closer look. This also worked for  that baby apparently, coz as I assume wasn’t dead, just slept. Hopefully…

Nah, it was fine.

We were there only for a few days, but we managed to call Kabinet Café our favorite place.

Lychakiv Cemetery and Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv is MUST-SEE places in Lviv.

We were extremely tired after the distance we made while walking through the cemetery. However, the day was not over yet. Next stop, Museum of Folk Architecture and Life.

Unfortunately the storm ended our sightseeing. As we were heading to the city center the rain  gained in strength, so we had to find a place to hide. And we found a squat. The residents were silent as ghosts and the atmosphere was kinda creepy, so we thought the rain isn’t that bad option for a walk…

We found another lovely place. With sweets!!!

Time go fast when you have fun! Our Ukrainian hosts took us to the greatest restaurant in the Old Town, but there was no place to sit. We agreed to come back there the next day no matter what. And we did. The last hours we dedicated to send postcards, find souvenirs and have a cup of a great coffee in a magical place.

After that trip I feel unsatisfied. I am rather greedy and I want to see everything. I know it’s impossible. Nevertheless, I like to be hungry for more excitements and sensations. It gives me an opportunity (or a need!) to go back to the places I love.

Ukraine, I’ll be back soon!

Przemyśl to!*

After an unpleasant Fall and far too long Winter all of the Poles cannot wait until May. It’s a month of national celebrations which also means time off work. This year long weekend (majówka) became a free W E E K. It’s this month of year when the sun starts to shine and the world seems to be a better place.

Along with Monika we decided to finally go somewhere together. We divided those couple of days into Poland and Ukraine. In Poland we have visited Przemyśl and in Ukraine Lviv. Let me start from the first one.

Oh, how I love trains! Polish trains in particular. I was supposed to meet Monika in Kraków but the city vanished from the map for some time or simply transformed into Kielce. Long story short: I finally managed to get to Kraków in a relatively short period of time. After one beer with Monika and a several hours of talks we fell asleep, just to wake up early in the morning to catch a train to Przemyśl.

We were so excited about the trip that we forgot about the lack of proper sleep last night.  5 hours and roughly 250 km later we were already there. Our new friend, Darek picked us up from the railway station and the sightseeing began!

Darek is a true (local) patriot. He made a historical background of his beloved city and showed us its every single corner. We found very interesting and mysterious Wanda’s street. I wonder who is/was that lucky lady to whom the name of the street was dedicated.

We made our way to Kopiec Tatarski, which was a place of religious rituals. There was also a temple in the past. What we’ve found, I guess you can easily recognize. Yup, the Wedding photo shoots.  Btw, beautiful views from above! great place to contemplate your life.

From above  all my problems seems to be smaller.

For sale. Those two words took me into other dimension. I imagined I bought this hovel and living there happily ever after…

Again… May is magical with blossoming flowers and sun! Did you  know a pansy flower is eatable? I did, but it was my first time I actually tasted it. Twice. The taste of it isn’t overwhelming. Anyway, give it a try!

The coat of arm of Przemyśl is represented by a bear. Thus, on the main square you can see a fountain with bears.

This day was worth to remember. I love small cities. Przemyśl has almost 67,00o inhabitants.

It’s a place where everybody feel free to do what they want. And to present their opinions in public in many different forms. Like this guy ;) He’s kinda famous there.

Unfortunately we didn’t find more time to spend there. Darek encouraged us to try local specialty, which is a kind of pizza. Well, I am sure it’s great that we couldn’t find time for everything we wanted to do. It means we have to go back there anytime soon.

* think it over or think about it and of course it’s the name of the city