Episode 23 – Hungary with Dan

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play or Spotify

I lived in Hungary, specifically the capital city of Budapest, for three years from 2005-2008. Originally drawn to the country, like many of the other foreign men there, in pursuit of the woman I loved, I found myself immersed in the country’s vibrant evolution from reluctant Soviet satellite state to modern Western-facing democracy. Today, with the dark forces of right-wing authoritarianism threatening the progress made since the fall of the Berlin wall, and a flashpoint for the middle eastern refugee crisis, Hungary is once again a fascinating social and political place to study, visit, argue about, and fall in love with.

_DSC0028

Geographically located in Central Europe (NOT eastern – look at a map!), the current boundaries of Hungary contain a mostly flat country with one major city, Budapest, and several regional hubs. Most travelers will only see the capital, which is definitely of highest priority, but those with extra days to spare would be well served to check out the rolling hills, beautiful vistas, and colorful vineyards in other areas of the country. It’s worth reading up on the major events of the past century as much has happened that affected the country’s borders, population, culture, and more.

Budapest is a stunning European capital littered with examples of classic gothic architecture, cathedrals, castles, lovely bridges, an island park, public art, and more. Split by the Danube River in two halves, Buda and Pest, the “Paris of the East” is easily covered on foot and metro, or even better, by bicycle. Leafy-green and hilly Buda is the place to explore the castle area with its excellent views overlooking Pest. Take a ride up the riverside bike path and stop in a cafe for lunch, or ride around exploring Margaret Island (Margit Sziget), where you can join an acroyoga class, sip a froccs (wine spritzer) in a garden bar, see live music, or just take a nap on the grass. Pest is the place you’ll spend the bulk of your time, however, with many excellent museums, art galleries, restaurants, shops, markets, bars and much more.

_DSC0061

For accommodations, I’d suggest looking for an apartment to rent for a few days instead of a hotel room. Look for a location in the inner part of the Pest side, in the 5th, 6th, or 7th districts. On the Buda side, look for a location close to the river south of the castle, or perhaps choose the Gellert Hotel (which also contains one of the many Turkish-style bathhouses that are a must-visit).

IMG_6707

Any guidebook (and there are many) will have the major sights listed, so you can pick and choose what seems interesting, but for me what felt most rewarding was just trying to “fit in” to the rhythms of day-to-day life, albeit in famous places. Don’t just go to the grand market hall to gawk at the vendors – actually do some produce shopping there, and don’t forget to get a snack of langos (savory fried dough, best with cheese and sour cream) upstairs, washed down by a beer. During the summer months, you’ll want to do as much eating and drinking outside as possible – look for garden bars and “ruin pubs”, the most famous of which is called Szimpla. Often there are pop-up ruin pubs and venues that only last one season. Talk to locals or pick up the free English-language program guide Funzine to see where the latest hotspot is.

critical_mass_budapest3_4.22.2006

GO to the bathhouses – at least two of them. The must-do bathhouse is in the city park (Varosliget) and is called Szechenyi; Gellert, Rudas, and Kiraly baths are all wonderful as well, with each having its own unique character. One fun way to do the baths is by going to a party in one – most Saturday nights you can get your groove on in the tubs with great light shows and sometimes fire performers.

You can probably skip the National Museum, the inside of the Synagogue, and the tour of the Parliament building – all of these are just as good from the outside. In fact the only must-go museum is the excellently designed House of Terror Museum (Terrorhaza), which documents the country’s oppressive past (and possible future?) under the Iron Soviet Fist. Speaking of fists, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has a quirky 5-minute diversion: in an antechamber to the main hall, you can pop a coin in a slot and light up a gold-cased mummified fist – “The Holy Right” – said to be that of St. Stephen, one of Hungary’s founding Kings and over 1,000 years old. For other funky off-beat sights, check out Atlas Obscura(whose founders got their start exploring weird sights in this part of Europe!)

If you have a week in the country, strongly consider spending a few days at Lake Balaton, Europe’s largest freshwater lake, which is an easy train or bus ride from the city. Here you can while the day away cycling around the lake, wine-tasting at vineyards, splashing around in the warm shallow water, exploring cute villages, and eating more langos.

Eat: langos, pogacsa, retes, burek, chicken or mushroom “paprikas”, chilled fruit soups, vegetable stews, gulyas, all the cakes and sweets you can handle, all the other things

Drink: Red wines from Eger and Villany, whites from Badacsony, Zwack Unicum (an herbal liquor), and maybe try some palinka (brandy)

Stay: AirBnB

Transit: Bike, metro, walk

Guides: TALK TO LOCALS (all young people speak English), Funzine, Where magazines As with all places you’ll go, the more research you do in advance, the better. Enjoy your trip!

Episode 18 – Paris with Amy

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try iTunes or Google Play or Spotify

Amy is my younger sister who lived in Paris for a year. She learned French and immersed herself into the Parisian lifestyle. Amy used to have a blog called The Moveable Feast, where she highlighted this adventure. She was kind enough to share some additional details below. Please enjoy!

1235122_10153202391735354_415992824_n

A bossy, unconventional, probably way too wordy guide to Paris

image

 I realize that Paris is one of the most romanticized and lusted after cities in the world and that it is completely unoriginal to have “fallen in love” with it. It’s wrapped up in almost as many cliches of love and light as it is of bad rumors of rude waiters and grabby pickpocketers. None of those stereotypes really interest me, but the other stuff—how damn beautiful the city is, how much history there is on every street, how the city cares more about heritage and the right way to do things more than new trends and innovation, the food/art/fashion scenes—yeah, all of that grabs my attention. (One of my favorite anecdotes of French history is when Henry of Naverre, a lifelong Protestant who had a claim to the French throne in the late 1500’s, chose to give up his religion and accept Roman Catholicism in order to secure himself a place in the Catholically-dominated region of Paris. While his move got him the Crown, we all know he really just wanted to come back home to Paris, as he’s apparently quoted with saying “Paris vaut bien une messe” — “Paris is well worth a mass.”) So before I leave I thought I’d put together a “guide” (if you could call it that—I’m not really sure how these things are traditionally organized?) to the city, if for no other reason than to try and make sense of what’s all wrapped around in my head before I leave. So here goes— // RANDOM, IMPORTANT ADVICE // 

1. Acquaint yourself with the arrondissements before you go.Arrondissements = districts of Paris. There are twenty of them, with the lowest numbers starting out in the center of the city and working their way out “like an escargot,” as the French like to say. Check out the map below to get a feeling on them. It’s a really great system, actually, and it makes it handy when getting your bearings. As a general rule, I would say that, with exception of the farther-out 16th and 18th distrcits, the more central arrondissements (1 through 9) are the ones you’ll want to focus your trip around. And by this I am basically also trying to say: do your research before you go. There are a lot of cool neighborhoods of Paris to see, and some are better than others depending on what you want out of your trip—whether that’s more chic, more romantic, more private, more sight-seeing, whatever. Even more so than that, a lot of the areas flow into each other well and they can make for some really nice, seamless walks (which is better than wandering around from site to site without really getting a feel of the place, I’d say?). I’ve expanded a bit on some of my favorite “must-see” neighborhoods below, but don’t let that be your only source of information. 

image (1)

 2. Don’t go to the Eiffel Tower.You’ll see the monument from basically everywhere in the city, why waste time getting the ugliest view by going right underneath it? And in any case, the best view is from Trocadero, in the 16th arrondissement. The 16th is great to see anyway because it’s a really clean, really pretty area of Paris (I think this is what people imagine when they say they want to come to “Paris”). It was built later than the rest of the city and is basically now a bourgeoisie residential area, but there are many brasseries and cafes to take a break at too. It’s quieter and more calm than the rest of the city—a nice place to stay at, if that’s the type of thing you’re after. This was my parent’s favorite part of Paris, I think. And it’s a 25 minute walk (a really pretty walk past chic hotels and expensive cars lining the streets) from the Arc de Triomphe. >>> The big exception to my whole “don’t go to the Eiffel Tower” thing is if it’s the summertime and you’re visiting the 7th arrondissement (métro Ecole Militaire or Motte Piquet). Then I would say it’s a really nice idea to buy a baguette, some cheese, grapes, wine, whatever, and have a picnic out on the Champs-de-Mars, the big park in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

3. Skip the Louvre.Really, I do not understand people’s obsession with this museum. I like it, I guess, but would I wait hours to see the Mona Lisa if I were only seeing Paris (A CITY WHERE THERE IS A LOT MORE COOL STUFF TO SEE) for a few days? You guessed it—no. Just like, pass by the big triangle thing after walking through the Jardins Tuileries before continuing on to Palais Royale or another part of Paris. There are way cooler and more enjoyable museums, if that’s what you’re after. Visit Musée D’Orsay for the best of French art, set in what was once the old train station of Paris right next to the Seine and Assemblée Nationale. This is where you’ll find the greats of Impressionism and the height of French art—Monet, Van Gough, Sisley, Caillebotte, Renoir, etc. Or the Centre Pompidou, in the Marais, if you like modern art from the twentieth century like Picasso, Rothko, Matisse, Braque and Derain. Or go see what exhibitions are showing in the Petit Palais or Grand Palais—beautiful buildings right by Place de la Concorde and the Seine that always have exhibits. 

image (2)

 4. French boulangeries are a must.I’m guessing if you’re on this blog, you have at least a slight interest in food. You’ve probably heard of the wonders of French boulangeries—and yeah, the hype is real and well-deserved. They’re on every corner, and the standards are pretty impressive. Nine times out of ten the boulangerie will have croissants, baguettes, and pastries that are x10 better than wherever you live back at home. I would just say don’t trek out to specific ones that are hyped up on the internet (Laduree, Angelina’s, etc) just because there are sooo many good ones, and the real best ones are probably names you haven’t heard of (this seems like a good list to me?). Regarding eating out for regular meals, I’m not going to give specific recommendations but I would say just try walking around certain areas and neighborhoods and browsing the restaurants. There are so, so many in Paris (I’m guessing more than any other city in the world, per square meter), so just find one that you think looks good for your price range. Also, don’t be put off if they give you an English menu or even if the restaurant has an English name—doesn’t have any correlation with how “authentic” the place is or not, in my opinion. 

image (3)
image (4)

 5. Expect to walk a lot, and to enjoy it.Paris has, hands down, the best public transport system in the world. The metro system goes everywhere and anywhere in the city, and it runs smoothly. There are also buses but they’re harder to figure out, especially if you’re just visiting. If you’ll have a phone with data on it, I’d suggest downloading the Paris RATP app. That being said, Paris is one of the best cities to walk around in and it’s actually really small—especially the parts worth seeing as a visitor. Depending on where you’re staying and if it’s nice enough weather, I’d always suggest seeing Paris by foot and just walking everywhere. But sometimes it’d be strategic to take the metro out to a specific, central spot (Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Pere Lechaise Cemetary are all kind of out of the way), and walk around from there. The metro line 1 goes through all the main tourist things, starting on the west side with the Arc de Triomphe, going through the Champs-Elysees, Grand and Petit Palais, all along the Seine and the Jardin Tuileries, Palais Royale, Louvre, the Marais (and within walking distance of the Ile-de-Cite and Latin Quarter), and then the Bastille. But it is also the line that runs along the Seine, and it’s much more fun to at least walk along part of it rather zipping by underneath it underground. So yeah—if you can walk it, do it. It’s honestly my favorite way to enjoy Paris when it’s nice out. In terms of figuring out where to stay in your time in Paris, I’d recommend the areas around Opéra and the 8th, or the Latin Quarter, Les Invalides, or the Marais. Anywhere central is really the best, but of course if you’re young and on a budget get anywhere where the hostels are cheap and figure out the metro system for yourself. 

image (6)

 6. In the end, ignore the advice and do what will make you happiest.I was going to expand on all the bossiness by making other rules, such as: 1) don’t even think of putting a lock on the pont des arts because it is stupid and useless and so cliché even by paris standards, or 2) don’t even think of standing in line at the famed Angelina’s unless you want to hang out with other American tourists while in line only to end up paying 8 euros for mediocre hot chocolate that isn’t as good as the kind I used to get in Seattle, or 3) the Champs-Elysées is a worthless and exhausting visit and if you really want the feeling of true Parisian luxury in window shopping head over to Rue Saint Honoré or Place Vendôme, or 4) please don’t go to Cafe Flore or Les Deux Magots because really, why do you want to pay more-than-average for less-than-average French food, especially when no one even really knows why the cafes are famous in the first place … BUT then I realized, you are not me, I am not you, so I should really try something new and not be so confidently self-righteous. I wrote out this guide as an attempt to help out people (anyone? really, no joke, is anyone even reading this) by giving an biased opinion of what’s worth one’s time and not in Paris—a city that I believe to be the best in terms of leisurely time and things-to-do. I’m proud of Paris, and want everyone to enjoy and appreciate it. But I’m not going to kid myself—one of the great things about this city is that it is perhaps the most commonly shared experience when it comes to travelling. It lives up to its clichés, perhaps more than any other city, in both good and bad ways. And to be possessive over these clichés and this city, as a foreigner living here temporarly for one year, would be ridiculous. So if it will make you happy to go home and said you had “the best,” “to-die for” croissants at “the most chic” cafe called Angelinas, go for it. This is your trip, experience Paris the way you want, and the way that makes it most worthwhile for you. 

image (7)

// PARIS BY NEIGHBORHOOD // >>> Paris is kind of incredibly organized (thanks to some top-down, painful re-doing and urban planning of the city done by good old Napolean III and Haussman back in the 1800s). If you were to cut it into four pieces from north-south and west-east, you can get pretty distinct personalities. I would say, in general, the part south of the Seine (latin quarter, invalides, st germain) is the intellectual, more “old-school” part of Paris. The northwest chunk (opera, champs elysées, passy) is the richest, cleanest, most chic, and most business-like. The northeast chunk (top part of the marais, republique, oberkampf, up to bastille and parc buttes-chaumont) is younger, poorer, more hipster. As a young person who lives here, this is where I spend a lot of my time, both during the day and going out at night. If you’re young and travelling with other young people you might like this area a lot, but in general as a tourist who wants to see “Paris,” I’m not sure if it’s that intriguing. And, of course, the entire really central part of the city is touristy, but justifiably so (um, everything that makes Paris famous is there). <<< 

image (8)

The Marais (III & IV)A very central, very old part of Paris. It’s home to the Jewish quarter (and the famed L’As du Falafel) and it’s really the most contemporary part of Paris—if you’re wondering where to find fro-yo or a gluten-free shop in the city of gluten-loving bread fiends, go to the Marais. It also has a lot of great boutiques, cafes, bars, the typical kind of stuff you want to come to Paris for. I’d say get off at Metro Saint Paul and walk in almost any direction. There’s the Musée Pompidou right near the Hotel de Ville, and if you keep walking up north you’ll hit the République area and the 10th arrondissement which leads into the Canal Saint-Martin area—a really cool, very young and very hipster area of Paris that is top on a nice day in the spring or summer. Otherwise, you can walk south from the Marais and onto the Île-de-Cite (that has Notre Dame and the Palais de la Justice) and then continue on to the other side to get to the Latin Quarter, or you can walk West from the Marais to get into the central part with the Louvre, Palais Royale, all of that. The Latin Quarter (V)A must if you are visiting Paris. It is touristy, always, but for good reason. It’s one of the oldest parts of the city, and that is reflected in the buildings—many boulevards and bui

image (9)

ldings are still pretty and follow typical Parisian architecture, but you’ll find more winding, irrational alleys and mismatched housing in the Latin Quarter. I would along Boulevard Saint Michel and past the Sorbonne, turn in to see the Panthéon, and the continue to walk on behind it and a little more north to find a really great area with uncrowded and very typical cafes shops. This is a good place to wander (almost all of Paris is, but especially here).  

image (10)

Opéra — Madeleine — Concorde (VIII, IX, II) The prettiest, most typically Parisian part of Paris. I would recommend staying in a hotel or airbnb in this area, if you can—it’s a central location that is within walking distance of the best and most unmissable monuments. If you walk down from the Opéra, you hit the Madeleine (a huge church modeled after ancient rome) and then, right after, the Place de la Concorde (the place where Marie Antoinette’s head was chopped off, along with tens of thousands of others). Coming to the Place de la Concorde, you can see the Champs-Elysées and Petit and Grand Palais to your right, the Seine and Assemblée National straight across, and then the entrance to the Jardin Tuileries, Palais Royale and the Louvre to your left. I would recommend walking through Rue Saint Honoré and walking past Place Vendôme, which to me is Parisian luxe and elegance at its height, with chic, high-end stores lining the street. Rue Etienne Marcel is another great one, which just feels extremely Parisian old-school with nice shops, cafes, and brasseries all along the street. If you ever find yourself on this street, you must turn down Rue Montorgueil/Rue des Petits Carreaux because it has everything good (cafes, fromageries, chocolatiers) all packed into one walking street. All of this is very close to all the “essentials”—keep walking until you hit the Louvre area and then you’ll have the Île-de-Cite and Notre Dame on your right and the entrance of Le Marais straight in front and to your left.

image (11)
image (12)

St. Germain (VI) The once-upon-a-time land of Hemingway and intellectual hang-out cafes, now currently the land of chic French designer shopping and over-priced cafes. I love this area, though, and it still has an incredible charm to it. This is where you can find the infamous Le Bon Marche  (the most luxe and oldest department store in Paris) and Le Grand Epicierie. I recommend taking a tour through the district, starting near the Place Saint Sulpice, moving on to window shop chic French boutiques, then stopping at a terrace for an expresso before heading south into the Jardin Luxembourg and then out east into the Latin Quarter. Or, walk up to the Seine along Quai Voltaire and walk west until you hit Musee D’Orsay (if it’s nice out, there’s not much better you can do than walk along the Seine, especially on the south bank or the “rive guache“). 

image (13)

Invalides – La Tour Eiffel (VII)I really like this area, although I’m not often here. But as a tourist, I think it’d be a really important part to go to, especially during the summertime. There’s Musee D’Orsay, and if you walk a bit left along the Seine, you’ll get to Les Invalides—which has Napolean’s tomb as well as a wicked sweet history museum on World War I & II. Crazy good, but I also like history a lot. Walk down south until you hit Ecole Militaire, which is opposite of the big park in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-de-Mars. This is a really old-school part of Paris, both historically and in practice. Things feel like the Paris cliche here, but in the best possible way. Rue Cler is filled with fruit stands, cafes, boulangeries, fromageries, everything great. There’s also Rue Saint Dominique which has a lot of great, classic French restaurants, including ones by the famous Chrisitan Constant (Cafe Constant, Les Cocottes, Maison Constant). 

image (16)

Montmartre (XVIII)Land of Amélie and the most cliched place of all the cliches of Paris! But really, it’s great and worth a trip. I don’t even feel like there is much I can direct you to in this area, because it’s all pretty good and touristy (and I mean the term touristy in the best way possible). Head up to the Sacre Cœur, walk around the winding, hilly roads and check out art and typical cafes. Rue des Abbesses, to the left of the Sacre Coeur, is a nice street with boutiques, traiteurs, and cafes to walk on. 

image (17)

// OTHER RESOURCES // > David Lebovitz – I mean, duh. For practical guide stuff and important information, restaurant/bar/cafe recommendations and reviews, and ummm everything else you could possiby need.> Paris By Mouth – For restaurant recommendations and ideas.> This New York Times article from 2006 about Parisian libraries makes me really happy. Whether you want to actually visit Paris’ really cool libraries and bookstores or not, it’s just a fun read and will probably make you happy in your decision to visit Paris.> Cool list from a French journal about different ideas for how to spend 10 euros on a meal (or snack) around Paris. It’s in French, but c’mon, we have technology now so just zip the thing through google translate.> The Hip Paris blog is a good resource for pretty much everything involving Paris, and it usually does a pretty good job of updating events and things to check out during the specific time you’ll be in the city. 

image (18)

Episode 17 – Germany with Nadja

Germany (Bavaria!) with Nadja:

Finding your speed limit

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play or Spotify

1

Not to disappoint, but despite the title my story is not going to be a catalog of different speed limit requirements for the German Autobahn (wait…what speed limit?). Instead, what I am going to talk about is how you can explore Germany at your own pace and in your own style – in other words how to explore Germany at your own speed limit.

My name is Nadja. It’s not a very Bavarian name, and sometimes hard to pronounce correctly for people in San Francisco (it’s ‘Nadia’, not ‘Nad Jha’), which is where I have been living and working since 2015.

Before I left Germany (Bavari!)*, almost 7 years ago, the radius of my whereabouts rarely left the ≈70km (≈43m) around Munich, which is exactly the distance to my home village called Kochel am See. 70km is also the same distance from the small 4000 inhabitants village to the Austrian border. So we are talking about the very South of Germany where the Alps start, and where finding a good internet connection is patchy.  

3

This is where we start, slowly, at a pace of 10m/h…

Kochel am See is located right at lake Kochelsee (as its name says, as See=lake) and close to lake Walchensee, one of the deepest and largest Alpine lakes in Germany. The area offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as e.g. hiking, mountaineering, windsurfing, biking, fishing, rafting, or ice climbing to only name a few.   

4

There is plenty to do and to see for the non-sports-enthusiasts as well, e.g. paying a visit to the Franz Marc Museum (exhibiting local expressionistic art), feeling like a king by listening to a classic concert at Herrenchiemsee castle on an island in a lake, or just relaxing in thethermal bath overlooking lake Kochelsee.

Local specialities directly from a farm or produced in-house are very typical, and not always as unhealthy as people claim German cuisine to be.

My tip: Find a nice spot close to a lake or on top of a hill and indulge yourself w/ a Brotzeit (=a light meal) and cold beer, watching the sunset over the mountains and lake.

5

The selection of these several Bavarian locales as examples of slow paced living are of course very subjective, because I am one of those proud Bavarians* myself. Indeed, there are plenty of other  relaxing places across Germany worth seeing as well, e.g. the beautiful North Sea Coast, or the idyllic island Sylt.

Increasing speed to 40m/h…

Now let’s take things up a notch and look at Oktoberfest. The first association people often have with Bavaria is the Oktoberfest, drawing millions of people every year to Munich in September (fun fact: The Oktoberfest only extends a few days into October; most of the event is actually in September).

Personally, I think there are better, smaller events on the countryside, like the Tegernseer Waldfest, but these events are highly dependent on the time of year and the specific town you’re visiting. So if you don’t want to go up to the speed of Oktoberfest immediately, but you still crave a bit more traditional action or music, then ask a local for recommendations on smaller events to visit.

On the other hand, if your mind is absolutely set on Oktoberfest, and you plan to go w/ a bigger group of people, make sure you book a table around March/April to ensure you can snag one of the highly coveted beer tents.

6

Personal impressions from Oktoberfest, incl. the traditional gingerbread hearts you can buy, and my favorite sweet treat Kaiserschmarrn

Even without the thrills of Oktoberfest, Munich definitely offers a faster pace of life, but also provides ample opportunities to take a break, breathe, and just be. The Englischer Garten park in the center of the city offers plenty of space to enjoy the summer sun, sit in a nice beer garden, or even surf on the river Isar (not kidding). The nightlife in Munich is decent, and even offers some good EDM or live music. Take a disco nap and head to the clubs at midnight (there is rarely a crowd before then).  

Tip: If you have limited time, but want to see what the city is like, walk up the stairs to Peterskirche; it costs you less than $5 but rewards you with a great view of the whole city.

7

Changing to the fast lane…

If you are looking for high-speed I would definitely also recommend bigger cities such as Hamburg or the capital Berlin, with its endless supply of entertainment possibilities. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn is world famous for its entertainment value as a harbour city (just be aware in which street you walk in, as it also doubles as Europe’s second most famous red light district), and you can make the day a night (or several days one night) in Berlin.

These cities aren’t purely party cities either; there is a lot of history to learn from (e.g. Checkpoint Charlie), culture to see and listen to (e.g. musicals in Hamburg, the Berlin Philharmonic), and lovely recreational areas to walk around in (e.g. Hamburg’s Alster).   

8

\When to go to Germany – Summer or Winter?

My biased self would say go twice and experience the country during both seasons (ideally all four seasons!). But if you have to choose, and aren’t the biggest winter sports fan, I would say that summer and autumn offer you more opportunities to get in touch with locals and enjoy the broad variety of events and activities – although you may miss out on some damn good Glühwein (aka mulled wine)!

9

*When asking Bavarians if they are from Germany, you will likely always end up hearing the critical addition of ‘Bavaria’ in their response; deeply proud, self-evidently confident, and almost surprised why you didn’t ask for Bavaria right away.

Where to eat in and around Kochel am See (pescetarian friendly) – Maps

Lunch/DinnerCake/Brunch/Snacks
Fischerwirt in Schlehdorf (typical Bavarian cuisine)Dorfcafe at Bergblick (my sisters hostel offering house made cake and brunch )
La Pineta (family Friends, great Italian cuisine)Bendiktbeuern Abbey (lovely beer garden at a monastery)
Kochler Stub’n (French-Bavarian fusion)

Where to eat in and around Munich (pescetarian friendly, reservation recommended) – Maps

Lunch/DinnerCake/Brunch/Snacks
Call Soul (Distill their own gin, have really good modern local dishes and cocktails)Kochspielhaus/Backspielhaus(great breakfast/brunch, has several locations)
Faun (Bavarian cuisine)Preysinggarten (have brunch outside in the sun)
Spicery (really good Thai food and cocktails in Munich)Go to Viktualienmarkt and just snack at the stands

Where to go out in Munich (personal preferences)

BarsClubs
The High (Hip hop beats, same owner as Zephyr Bar)Blitz Club (EDM and apparently one of the best sound systems)
Lola Bar (Living room feeling, not really for dancing though)Bob Beaman (also EDM, you see my personal preference)
Zephyr Bar (great gin selection)089 Bar (popular place)

Under no circumstances go to P1 or Heart Club in Munich if you are a decent human being and don’t need a fake sense of ‘prestige’.

What to do around Kochel and Munich

OutdoorsIndoors
Mountaineering to– Herzogstand (has a cable car up and down as well)– Jochberg (view of 2 lakes)– Zugspitze (has a cable car, $$$ though)Franz Marc Museum – won an architecture prize as well
Hikes to Lainbach watefallsA concert at Herrenchiemsee castle (program), needs a car
Ice Climbing – if you dareSchloss Linderhof, also a castle, needs a car
A boat tour on–  Kochelsee, also offers small rentals– StaffelseeThermal bath ‘Trimini’ – be aware of the pure ‘naked’ days!
Partnach Gorge – super exciting, don’t do when rain, needs a carPinakotheken in Munich – vast art
Look/ask for local outside events when booking a stay!Opera in Munich (program)

Where to stay in and around Kochel

At my parent’s B&B or at my sister’s hostel 

Contact: bissinger.nadja@gmail.com

Episode 13 – Italy with Giovanni

A TRIP TO THE UNEXPLORED GEMS OF ITALY

THE ROMAGNA REGION

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play or Spotify

Giovanni1

My name is Giovanni Labadessa I’m an Italian living in Los Angeles since 2005. I’m a writer, a passionate foodie. Despite being born in the South of Italy the place I choose to talk about is an area in Italy that made me fall in love again with my country: the Romagna region and a city that I love very much: Santarcangelo di Romagna.

The Romagna region is situated by the Adriatic Sea and can be a great place to stop by in your way from Florence and Venice.

Giovanni2

This area has both the mountains and sea offering its visitors breathtaking views, in addition to beauty for both the eyes and spirit, with a mixture of the earthy colors, the aromas and the fresh sea air. Not to mention that the Romagna is a hotbed for music, cinema and art appreciated nationally and internationally.

Traditional of the Romagna region are Passatelli, Piadina, Pasta Fresca like Tagliatelle, Cappelletti, Ravioli, Nidi Di Rondine, Strozzapreti.

Giovanni3

My favorite of the many great beautiful towns in this region is Santarcangelo di Romagna which is a beautiful italian post card.

giovanni4

This small medieval village is recognised internationally as a City of Art and an extremely popular destination, thanks to the extravagant art and talents of its more celebrated citizens, the warmth of the Romagnolo welcome, the good food and conviviality but also because of the town’s fairs and festivals, which invariably attract thousands of visitors.

giovanni5

The most famous among the many cultural events that happen though out the year is the International Theatre Festival – Festival del Teatro in Piazza.

giovanni6

The festival is a major international exhibition of avant-garde theatre, which has welcomed, amongst others, the famous Mutoid Waste Company, an international group of performers and sculptors of recycled materials, which today live in a small quarter of the town by the river renamed Mutonia. This city passion for the arts has attracted several artists from all over the world making this city one of the most innovative cultural hub in Europe. The city is also home to the international film festival Nót Film Fest , several food fairs and literary events.

The old town of Santarcangelo is worth a visit by itself, all walkable with its narrow streets that climb up on top of the hill called “Monte Giove” where you can enjoy both a beautiful view over the city and the poems written on the corners of the houses.

giovanni7

One of the peculiarity of the old Town are the “Grotte Tufacee”, enchanting caves dug out of tufa: these mysterious caves, whose origin is still unknown, form a labyrinth underneath the towns historic center.

giovanni8

Santarcangelo is also home to several celebrated taste makers, amazing restaurant and Osterie.

giovanni9

Besides Santarcangelo the Romagna Region is rich of gorgeous cities like the city of Federico Fellini Rimini, the historic Republic of San Marino, the medieval castes of San Leo, and Ravenna with its Byzantine mosaics.

Rimini

giovanni10

San Marino

giovanni11

San Leo

giovanni12

Ravenna

giovanni13

Where to EAT in SANTARCANGELO

L’Ottavino Osteria

Via Pio Massani 16 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Pasticceria Succi

Via Felici 38 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Ristorante Ferramenta

Piazza Ganganelli, 19/20 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Ristorante Zaghini

Piazza Gramsci 14 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Rosticceria Graziella

Via Molari 13/15 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Osteria Ristorante La Sangiovesa

Piazza Beato Simone Balacchi, 14 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Trattoria del Passatore

Via Cavour 1 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Where to STAY in SANTARCANGELO

BB Agriturismo Locanda Antiche Macine

Via Provinciale Sogliano, 1540 – SANTARCANGELO

La Foresteria del Convento

Via dei Signori, 2 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Hotel Della Porta

Via Andrea Costa 85 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Hotel Il Villino

Via C.Ruggeri 48 – Santarcangelo di romagna

Residenza i Platani

Via Contrada dei Fabbri 8 (Centro storico) – Santarcangelo di Romagna

B&B Le Contrade

Via Dei Nobili, 38 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Tenuta Zavaia

Via San Vito 434 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Villa Greta

via Giulio Faini, 9 – Santarcangelo di Romagna

Episode 12 – Russia with Anya

Anya is from Russia and here to share her stories and recommendations around the country!

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try itunes or Google Play

IMG_9609

Anya’s recommendations:

In Moscow:
Cultural Stuff:
– Red Square is a must
– museums inside Kremlin especially State Regalia one
– Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow – my fav of all time, a lot of provocative visual art
– Tretyakov Gallery for classic fine art
Restaurants:
– White Rabbit – there is an episode of a Netflix show about it, authentic Russian cuisine
– Turandot – prepare to be wow’d by everything, royal dining experience
– Zhivago – USSR themed, really authentic
Other:
– Book a Airbnb walking tour experience to see the best of Moscow. Russians love to stroll, so streets are beautiful and pedestrian friendly. There are a lot of parks and squares with cafes and benches to relax and enjoy the view.

St Petersburg:
– Hermitage
– Peterhof (takes at least a full day)
– boat tour of canals is an absolute must
– roof of Saint Isaac’s cathedral for the best view (in photos below)
– any rooftop restaurant
– St Petersburg is a gorgeous city full of history. Just walking around is great. There are bunch of historical palaces and churches. Food is great everywhere.
– Highly recommend doing it only in summer time though. It’s extremely cold in winter and a lot of beautiful sites and Peterhof are closed.

Other cool cities to consider:
– Sochi
– Nizhny Novgorod
– Kazan
– Samara
– If you have a little extra time, there is a really fascinating river cruise around what’s called Russian Golden Ring. Over a few days a cruise ship goes through small and big historical towns around European part of Russia.

Episode 3 – Greece with Vakis

Greek Island Kalymnos

Vakis is from Denmark with Greek origins. He’s fluent in Greek and has family living in Kalymnos, Greece. Vakis will be sharing his thoughts on the Greek island life and some of the adventures of mainland, Athens. Here are some recommendations of Athens if you’re curious!

To access the Traveltalk podcast from your mobile device, try iTunes or Google Play or Spotify

19400158_10154489142067077_1755996478824208379_n

If you’re hungry go eat at:

Eleas Gi (In Kifisia Map) One of the better restaurants

Psarakia kai thalassina (Eat your face off in seafood for very cheap. Map)

Same place in Chalandri (Map)

Fast and gross:

Ta kalamakia (it’s the best souvlaki in town. €1 per stick. Map)

Michalakopoulou (It’s a food truck on the road of the same name, ask for the Vromiko) You can only do this drunk. (only open at night. Map)

If you need a drink:

Maimou Bar (In general a good area for drinks. Map)

BIOS (Coolest bar in Athens with a great view of the Acropolis on the rooftop. Map)

Kolonaki (Cool area filled with bars and “small” nightclubs. Map)

Vive Mar (Cool beach bar, a bit on the fancy side. Map)

If you want to try something new:

The nightclubs in Athens are called bouzoukia. It’s a special venue where you go to see an artist sing. It’s a fun experience, you are sat by a table and can buy flowers that you throw at the artist, while getting a good buzz on. 2 good ones are:

  1. Athinon Arena (Map)
  2. Caramela (Map)

Dress code: Black tie. This is as Greek as it gets.

Shopping:

Monastiraki (Loads of tiny shops. Sells good quality leather products. Map)

Plaka – The old town (Long street with loads of vendors. Watch your pockets. Map)

Kolonaki (High end shopping Map)

Glyfada (Shopping by the sea. Map)

When you need a dip in the sea:

Yabanaki Beach, Varkiza (Good beach, close to good restaurants. Map)

Astir Beach (Best beach in Athens. Map)

Grecotel beach area (Amazing view and great place to swim. Map)

What you need to see:

Akropolis (Map)

Theatre of Dionysus (Map)

Monastiraki (Map)

Syntagma square and the guard shift by the parliament building across the road from the square (Map)

Glyfada (See shopping and drinks recommendations)