Author: Katya

Must-do Experience in Bucharest: Ferestroika

Must-do Experience in Bucharest: Ferestroika

Time is passing and with time we are losing certain practices, experiences and things we used to enjoy. Would not it be great to go into a time machine to see how people used to live in the past and experience their way of life? […]

Day Trip to Brasov and Bran Castle with Visit Transilvania Travel

Day Trip to Brasov and Bran Castle with Visit Transilvania Travel

Second part of our trip to Romania was based around the town of Sinaia.  This winter I wanted to introduce my daughter to skiing. The location of Sinaia is great, as it is only 1.5 hours on the train from Bucharest and the town itself […]

8 Must Visit Places on Bucharest Walking Tour

8 Must Visit Places on Bucharest Walking Tour

I love walkable cities. Walking is the best way to get underneath the skin of a megapolis and get to know local culture. Bucharest City Centre is pleasantly walkable and as a bonus, it is  peppered with lots of small coffee shops. If you get tired of walking you can quickly take a pit stop. And coffee is good too!

On our second day in Bucharest we woke up to glorious sunshine and perfect walking weather. We met up with our guide Laura from Bucharest  Step by Step  and started our exploration of the Old Town and surrounding  areas. I want to show you 8 must visit places in the city centre of Bucharest. 

1 Roman Athenaeum

Magnificent Roman style building with a pleasant park in front of it. The Athenaeum was built using public subscription service, where people were asked to donate  “One Leau for the Authenaeum”. They succeeded and now we are able to enjoy it.  It is possible to visit the building inside to witness nearly perfect acoustics.

2. Revolution Square and King Carol I Statue.

While the square might not look particularly interesting, it is the surrounding monuments and buildings,  which are worth to discover. Equestrian statue  of the first Romanian King, who was invited from Germany, his Royal Palace (now the National Musuem of Art of Romania) and the University of Bucharest Library.

On this square the critical events happened prior to assassination of the Romanian leader Nikolai Ceausescu. Laura used the ipad to show us what exactly happened at the square in 1989 and we spotted the buildings, which has seen so much through the years.

3.Stavropolis Monastery

This was my absolute favourite place on our walk.  The women monastery is small, but perfectly formed. Try to time your visit with the evening service. No  light is used during the service and the monastery’s main hall is completely dark. The only light is used by the nuns to read the prayers, which creates a magical atmosphere and almost trans-like state. 

4. Hanuri

Bucharest used to welcome plenty of merchants and they would live and do their business in “hanul”, which was an equivalent to caravan sarai. Lots of small rooms upstairs for living, while the downstairs space wasbdedicated to shops or warehouses.

You can still see a few of these hanuri in the old city.  They are marked, so keep your eyes peeled and duck into courtyards if they are open. One of the most famous ones is Hanul Lui Manuc which you can’t miss.  Nowdays it has been converted into a restaurant and during warmer months the area outside is the perfect place to have a refreshing drink or a cup of coffee.

5 Caru’ Cu Bere Restaurant

The name translates as the beer wagon and it is one of the prettiest and the oldest restaurant in Bucharest. You don’t need to have a reservation to see the interior, you can just walk in if you want. We did go for dinner one night and while atmosphere was great, the food was not as impressive, so I would probably recommend just a drink here. 

6.Cărturești Carusel

This bookshop is one of the most beautiful bookshops I have ever been to. I am not talking about Porto Livraria Lello, as I refused to pay admission price to enter the shop as well as to stand in 2 hours queue. 

The white woodwork creates a flowing space and the shop is filled to the brim with goodies. While books in Romanian might not be something you might find useful, the shop also stocks plenty of local designers or small things for cosy home.

8. Passage  Macca-Villacrosse

Open day and night, it is  a small covered street which houses lots of small shops, restaurants and cafes with outside sitting. Fairy lights twinkle warmly in the evening and the shisha pipes come out. Great place for some chilled time.

7. Architectural mix

Here I do not mean to visit any particular building, but just wander and see how many styles you can spot. Bucharest is a complete fusion of styles, epochs and period fashions. Due to WWII Bombing some buildings have been partially destroyed, but reconstruction either restored them to their initial state  or added contemporary parts to otherwise traditional architecture.  Along Calea Victoriei you can see 19th, 18th and 20th century styles all at once.

I wanted to say a few words about our experience with Bucharest Step by Step. Laura was great at communicating before our tour. For me consistent communication is a great sign of commitment and ability to help, if anything goes wrong.  You want to be sure that your guide will meet you at a ceratin meetings place, help you if you get lost and amend the tour according to your wishes. Laura was welcoming and adjusted the tour according to our wishes, she was also brilliant in conveying all the complicated history to my daughter Letitia, who is 9, and might not necessarily appreciate what communism is.

I would certainly recommend Laura to anyone , as her company is small and they try to give all visitors the best experience of Bucharest.  She can also offer different kinds of tours, whether it is food, culture or communist past. We saw a lot in a space of nearly 3 hours and Laura was happy to give suggestions for places where we might come back during our stay, like restaurants, shops or other museums. A walking tour with Bucharest Step by Step  is definitely a great way to get familiar with the city on your first visit. 

Disclaimer: we were hosted by Bucharest Step by Step, but all opinions are my own. 

5 Tips For Choosing a City Break Hotel and Where to Stay in Bucharest

5 Tips For Choosing a City Break Hotel and Where to Stay in Bucharest

I have been on so many city  breaks, I lost count. City breaks are easy to organise: you literally  need to book a flight and a hotel, and you are free to roam once you arrive. When I am exploring a new city, there are […]

British Leeks: Great Recipe for Colder Months

British Leeks: Great Recipe for Colder Months

When I buy leeks in the supermarket, I usually cook potato and leek soup. However, this winter I am challenging myself in trying different recipes with vegetables to expand my cooking range.  On the 1st of March, United Kingdom celebrates St David’ s Day. St […]

Cooking Fajitas with Spice Pioneers

Cooking Fajitas with Spice Pioneers

We love trying new foods while travelling! I believe it is the best way to introduce variety of dishes  to kids and expand their food horizons.

When we are home, I try  cooking different meals, for example from the countries that we visited in the past. I like to have a go at Thai curry, Singapore noodles or pasta ala Norma,

Sometimes, I struggle to find authentic spices  to re-create the same taste, or I do not get the proportion of spices correctly, which again affects the taste. Luckily,  I think I found the solution to this problem! The Spice Pioneer came up with an idea of premixed spice blends, which allow to create authentic dishes like Katsu Curry, Fajitas and Peri-Peri Chicken.

I had a go at cooking Chicken Fajitas and the end results was great success with the family. The spice blend is very flavorsome – I could not get enough of the smell , while I was cooking it! The blend is not spicy, which is great for kids. You can always add more chilli to your portion if you like something hotter.

At first sight, the spice box does not look very big, but it is more than enough to make a full meal for a family of 4.

Conveniently, each box contains the recipe for the dish that you are cooking, so it is easy to use as a reference and to make up your shopping list. The recipes are straightforward and the spice box blend means you don-t need to buy 300 separate spice packs, which you might never use again. 

Overall, The Spice Pioneer pods is a great product- fantastic taste and a convenience of having everything ready to start cooking. 

The Spice Pioneer has a tempting selection of Spice Meal Kits, if you want to go on a culinary journey without leaving your kitchen.  You would be able to choose one of them here. 

My spice sets were provided by the Spice Pioneer, but all opinions are my own. 

 
Food Tour in Rome: 8 Must-Try Dishes

Food Tour in Rome: 8 Must-Try Dishes

If you come to Rome for the first time, the urge to visit all the famous sites might distract you from the sheer abundance of great quality food in Rome. The world famous pizza and pasta are well known to everyone, but if you search […]

Winter Picnic with Barleycup

Winter Picnic with Barleycup

Some of you have said recently that you are trying to switch from coffee to an alternative drink, to cut down on your caffeine intake. While caffeine does have a number of health benefits for some adults, if you exceed the recommended daily allowance, it […]

Healthy Snacks for Adults and Kids: Nim’s Crisps

Healthy Snacks for Adults and Kids: Nim’s Crisps

January will come quicker than I want and after indulging at the Christmas table, I know I will be on the look out for healthy snacks for myself and my family.  I want to share with you a completely natural product, which is entirely fat, gluten and dairy free as well as being vegan certified.

Nim’s crisps are made out of airdried fruit and vegetables, so there is no oil used in their preparation.  

I had an opportunity to try three different products: 

  • Vegetable crisps
  • Fruit crisps
  • Edible Fruit Tea

Christmas dinner inspired vegetable crisps 

I loved their names: Beet and Butts (Beetroot and Butternut Squash), Brussels and Bubble &Squeak (Red Cabbage and Sweet Parsnip).  The crisps were perfectly crunchy and offered a great alternative to fried potato crisps. Brussel sprouts crisps were also the prettiest – they looked like dried flowers!

Edible Fruit Teas

These were my absolute favourite!  The first time I saw the pack, I had a double take, as I never even heard about Edible teas before. Basically, it is an air dried pineapple and kiwi slices, which you would steep in boiling water, drink the tea and then can eat the rehydrated fruit. The rehydrated fruit can be used as a topper for your granola, porridge or a greek yogurt. Genius and very tasty too! 

I used two packets for my infuser and the taste was delicate and slightly sweet, I did not feel I had to add any extra sugar or honey to it. I think the tea would also make a great option in the summer, as you can brew it, cool it down and then have it as an iced tea, garnished with fresh berries or more fruit. 

Kids Fruit Crisps

As for the kid’s choice, there are fruit crisps: apple and pineapple. The packs are great to go into the lunchboxes or taken for a walk when hunger strikes. 

As I already mentioned, all the fruit crisps are done without using any fat, oil, chemicals or additives, so you can be sure that your kids are staying healthy and eating their 5 a day. The taste of apple crisps reminded me of dried apples I used to get as a kid- yummy memories!

More than 80% of the fruit and veg used by Nim is grown in the UK and the majority is sourced within 40 miles of the factory. Nim’s is the brain child of Nimisha, who was inspired after becoming increasingly disenchanted by the lack of suitably healthy snacks on offer for parents and toddlers. 

The whole range can be bought online or at independent retailers. 

Christmas Gift Ideas: The Towel Shop

Christmas Gift Ideas: The Towel Shop

It is not a secret that pyjamas are an all time favourite gift for Christmas. But this year, I suggest a slight spin on this tradition: give a bathrobe! Warm and fluffy it will keep you dry after the shower, or if you want an […]