Foodie tips, Gothenburg

Last September, Mr.A and I took a leisurely three-hour train ride to pop into Sweden‘s second biggest city, Gothenburg. It’s a lively, vibrant city with a great food scene. Here’s what we enjoyed…

# Breakfast at Scandic No. 25

We stayed two nights at the Scandic No. 25 during our stay and very much enjoyed their scrumptious breakfast which was included in the room tariff. The spread is impressive, hearty muesli, dainty sandwiches, flaky croissants, fluffy pancakes, it’s all in there. The lobby and dining area are pleasant to lounge around in. There is fika of tea, coffee, cakes & biscuits all day, too.

# Lunch at Feskekôrka

Feskekôrka translates to Fish Church, an indoor marketplace for seafood. We had an excellent lunch sharing a plate of grilled fish, a fish pasta in hot sauce & a delicious fish soup at the restaurant housed within the building. Seating is available both indoors & outdoors by the water. Although there is all kinds of raw fish being sold in the same premises, surprisingly there is no unpleasant fishy smell at all. The structure is unique in itself, standing there since the late 1800’s. Gothenburg’s fish harbour used to be across the canal – the men would bring in fish & women would sell the wares right where the fish church is. The building was built to give the fish sellers a place to sell fish during the colder winter months. It was very nice to be able to visit and eat at a place of historical interest. Plus the food and service were simply great.

# Fika at Cafe Husaren

By evening we wandered into Haga Nygata in Gamla Haga, the oldish part of town. The street itself has a quaint old town feel & Cafe Husaren complements that perfectly. The decor takes you back in time with those chandeliers hanging off a tiled ceiling and the beautiful tiles on the ceiling. The coffee is great, there is a splendid array of savoury pies, delectable cakes, and the unforgettable “queen of the kitchen” – a giant kannelbullar or the traditional Swedish cinnamon bun. Of course, if you can’t finish it, you can ask for a bag to take it with you 🙂 If I were living in Gothenburg, I’d be going there all the time!

Hope you enjoy the post! Have a great weekend!!

Things I love, Salzburg

During the long Easter weekend this year, Mr.A and I took off to Austria’s most popular destinations, Vienna & Salzburg. Remember I told you about those innumerable Easter eggs in Vienna? It was on the same trip, that we also dropped by Salzburg. I instantly fell in love with this city, spending our time walking around its diminutive Old Town, relaxed and care-free. Some things of course, stood out a little more than others…

# Love locks across the Salzach

Among the very first things one notices as they cross the river Salzach into the Old Town, is the Makartsteg bridge, almost every inch of which is covered in love locks. Perhaps it was intentional, but somehow the majority of the locks turned out to be red, giving it an utterly synchronous look. It’s impossible not to click a hundred pics, it’s so damn cute!

# Street signs on Getreidegasse

It’s hard to miss the ornate guild signs that announce the stores along Getreidegasse, the main street in the Old Town. Everything is available here, from food to fashion to trinkets to souvenirs, each shop bearing proof of its trade in the form of wrought iron signs. The beginning of this tradition was in the middle ages, but today even the McDonalds outlets and Zara boutiques on this street have their own medieval emblems. Incidentally, this street also boasts of Mozart’s childhood home where the artist first revealed his prodigy. How fascinating!

# Mozart’s church a.k.a. Salzburg Cathedral

Going by the number of spires and domes, one can easily guess that the city, especially the Old Town has an abundance of churches. I was obviously impressed by them, but I was particularly taken by the Salzburg Cathedral which is intricately painted ceiling in earthy tones against a white backdrop. Here Mozart played at Sunday service for two years. There are four strategically placed organs that transform the church into a concert hall. Sunday service is open to everyone to enjoy some brilliant music. From the outside, too, the cathedral is quite imposing and beautiful. The main facade opens into the spacious Cathedral Square, the centrepiece of which is a serene statue of Virgin Mary. Though damaged by a bomb during WWII, the reconstruction stands grander than ever.

# St. Peter’s cemetery

St. Peter’s cemetery and monastery opens up to visitors through a modest passageway, but as soon as I entered, it felt as though I were in a Secret Garden world. The cemetery is a cluster of tombs surrounded by pretty flower patches. It is overlooked by the cliffs of the Mönchsberg upon which looms the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Burial space in Austria is rented out, not sold, hence several headstones have ended up on the walls when the rented ceased to be paid.  A walk around this serene resting place for bygone souls can be a moving experience.

# Views from the Hohensalzburg Fortress

A short funicular ride up the Mönchsberg will bring you to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The ticket includes the funicular ride and entry to a couple of museums housed within the fortress and allows you to walk around the fortress at your own pace. The best part for me though, were the wide views offered at the top of the watch tower. We could enjoy a 360 degree look at the rolling landscape around us. It was a rainy day, every green thing appeared extra lush and vibrant! A couple of other vantage points along the fortress wall also dole out grand sights far & wide, over the spires and rooftops through the city, all the way across the river and as far as the mountains in the distance. So, so very beautiful…

Have you been to Salzburg? What did you love best?

Croatia Day 3: Trogir, Klis, Salona, Zadar

… Continued from Croatia Day 2: Split

The morning after visiting Split, Mr.A and I started off from the hotel and hopped onto a transfer bus to get to the airport to pick up the rental car which would be our transport for the rest of the journey. Today was all about visiting some smaller towns on our way north towards the Plitvice National Parks.

Highlights

  • Trogir. The Split airport is closer to this little town than Split itself. We had earlier booked the car online, and were quickly through with the paper formalities. Soon we were off to our first destination for the day, the historic center of Trogir. Founded in 200 B.C., this is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Croatia and our third on this trip alone! The town is pretty as a picture with beautiful buildings of Renaissance and Baroque styles, endearing cobbled streets between, inviting cafes and the fresh blue sea so close at hand. And we chanced upon the Trogirski Rafioli, a traditional local sweet. Perfect start to the day, how could we ever top this?! But Croatia, you surprise us at every step of the way ❤
  • Klis Fortress, or let’s call it Meereen. From Trogir, we drove off to another spot on our Game of Thrones journey. The Klis Fortress, situated high up in the hills, doubles up as the kingdom of Meereen. This medieval fortress has been built and rebuilt for more than two thousand years, having passed through the rule of many kings and clans. I must say, for some reason I just love the sound of Meereen…so musical, right? Though much of the fortress is under duress, and we could immediately see that the pyramid and various other structures from the series are heavily digitised, Mr.A and I were nevertheless filled with childlike thrill at having ‘conquered’ Meereen 😉 The uninterrupted view from the top is reason enough to hike up there.
  • Salona, about five km from Klis, is another ancient city near present day Solin. During the 1st century B.C. Salona served as the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia.There is a fee of 40 Kuna to visit the site. There is a small museum where you buy the tickets. There is a charming little garden with ancient pillars and aqueducts.  The view of the hills in the distance is quite grand. Mr.A and I both love history and ruins, and we enjoyed the site, especially the amphitheater. Although it is not in a good state, one can make out the arena where gladiator fights must have taken place. The amphitheater is a short walk away from the rest of the ruins, and unfortunately, it is now surrounded by modern houses almost sharing the walls.
  • Zadar was the last city we dropped by on our way. We went straight to the old town to see the Church of St. Donatus and the remains of the Roman Forum. Mr.A and I enjoyed our pizza lunch by the shade of trees people-watching other tourists and We passed some other grand churches on the walk around town and eventually found ourselves at the sea front. We came up right by the sea organ which lets sea waves interact with pipes and tubes under a set of marble steps, to create this music that is strangely random and melodious at the same time. We lazed for a while on the steps, soaking in the sun, sea and music splashing all around us. And then we headed off to the next leg of the journey. More about that in another post soon, promise!

Followed by Croatia Day 4: Plitvice Lakes…

Croatia Day 2: Split

… Continued from Croatia Day 1: Dubrovnik

Day 2 in Croatia was all about a bus ride from Dubrovnik to Split, and exploring Split’s charming Old Town.

The Highlights

  • The bus ride started at 8a.m. from Dubrovnik’s main bus station or the Autobusni Kolodvor. The ride was quite comfortable with beautiful seaside views. The road would rise to a height and then slowly slope down to sea level revealing sometime cliffs and sometime beaches with pretty villages nestled in between. The bus itself was clean and seats were snug. It wasn’t very crowded so we could choose to sit where we liked. The journey took some 4 hours and I was able to catch some shut-eye on the way.
  • Our hotel was at a super convenient location. Right next to the bus stand / railway station, and just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and the Split Old Town. The room was decently equipped and the balcony had a great view. All for one night’s stay, I’d say it was a steal.
  • Diocletian’s palace, built by the Romans far back in the 4th century AD is the Old Town of Split! This is a town masquerading as a palace or perhaps the other way round, but all in all, it’s just not possible to separate one from the other. There are homes sharing palace walls, restaurants in royal courtyards, and stores in the arched pathways leading to ancient temples. It’s a wonderland, I tell you! Quite natural then that the Palace complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The palace basements were just another bonus on our Game of Thrones journey. These are supposed to have been completely filled with debris and waste over time and have been recently undergoing massive restoration and reconstruction. The basements are the site that serve as the Meereenese catacombs where Daenerys locks up her  dragons after they kill a child and threaten to become dangerous. Mr.A and I were so excited, we were nearly jumping in our seats while watching the recent Season 6 episode when Tyrion unlocks the dragon’s shackles 😀
  • The marina was another absolutely gorgeous place. After our afternoon full of walking the cobbled streets of the Palace, we rested for a while with our feet dangling inches above the water. We watched a seaplane take off, which was a first. We sat at a pretty cafe for coffee and some delicious cake, one of them called Miss Berry, how cute! We also walked into an information centre and met the sweetest people at the counter who talked about their delightful city with such love, and also advised us on our trip ahead. The beautiful palm trees, the spring flowers, the city wall on the one side and the blue water on the other side, made it the perfect stroll to end our day in Split.

The Flipsides

  • Sigh! We could surely have spent more time in this beautiful city! But we had so much more exploring to do, we decided to look forward to the next day’s itinerary 🙂

Followed by Croatia Day 3: Trogir, Klis, Salona, Zadar…

Croatia Day 1: Dubrovnik 

Mr.A and I went road-tripping across Croatia, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! This trip checks off nr.3 on our 2016 wishlist, after  Berlin and Prague, isn’t that awesome?!

Day 1 was Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic. And it’s proved itself rightly so during our first day in this beautiful city. Actually, I should begin with Day 0 which was spent in three flights, Stockholm-Istanbul, Istanbul-Zagreb and finally Zagreb-Dubrovnik. It was a long day but the happy anticipation of the trip ahead kept us so pumped up. We arrived at our cozy hotel which was right by the Pile Gate at the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and settled in to start off our adventure next morning.

The Highlights

  • The city walls were definitely a high point. The entry fee is 120 Kuna. Euros are not accepted, so be sure to get some local currency. It’s a cool experience to walk atop this ancient structure, barely 2Km all around, there are only a few steps to climb up and down. It’s fun to get a different perspective of the buildings and streets from a vantage point. The views are extremely scenic, both of the Adriatic Sea on the one hand, and the trademark tiled rooftops of Dubrovnik on the other. I must have clicked a thousand photos! Can’t blame me, you’d feel the same 😉

img_2280img_2321

  • The food was yummy, all that we ate and drank turned out fantastic. The Old Town streets are lined with bistros and restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, from fine dining to fast food. Sea food is superb here, and always check for the local delicacy. Croatian food is said to have influences from many of its neighbours, say for example, Italy and Bosnia. But they have some delectable local cheeses, wines and of course, olive oil. Try their ice creams, too!

  • Game of Thrones locations. And of course Mr.A and I went looking for some of the places that have served as sets or the inspiration behind the sets of Game of Thrones. There are tours that take you around the city and help you with prints of the scenes from the series! We didn’t have time for that.  It was so much more fun to turn a corner and chance upon a structure that was familiar to us from the series! I’ll do another post exclusively on those sites 😉

The Flipsides

  • The weather was just not with us today, it rained throughout the day and winds blew strong. There were so many photo fails, too many umbrellas and rain ponchos in our line of sight 😝  Thankfully the two of us were dressed to bear the onslaught and although we ended up destroying one of our umbrellas, we didn’t let the rain dampen (so much pun!!) our spirits 😎

Followed by Croatia Day 2: Split…