walking

Like most places we visited in Miami, Wynwood Art District was recommended to us by one of our Uber drivers.

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

I love the concept: warehouse buildings acting as giant blank canvases to showcase a major art statement. I honestly believe every larger city should have district that allows its artists to express themselves and give them an opportunity for appreciation and recognition.

Wynwood is one of those places I can’t stop reading, thinking and talking about. This level of fascination with a district doesn’t happen very often. I think I can safely say that Wynwood Miami is up there with Palermo Buenos Aires right now – and that, my friends, is quite a thing to say coming from someone who has been imagining a life in Palermo for the past 5 years.

And then, just to make things even cooler, there’s the Wynwood Walls art project.

Just picture this: Over the past 6 years, the Wynwood Walls have seen over 50 artists representing 16 countries and have covered over 7,400 m2 (or 80000 square feet) of walls.

Can you imagine the mix of styles, colours and techniques?

Even better jet, have a look at what the Wynwood Walls art project looks like. And then maybe book a trip to Miami and take me with you!

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Wynwood, Miami (USA)

Which is your favourite Wynwood Wall?


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Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Summer has arrived in Barcelona – Locals have finally ditched their boots to jump into their sandals. Not that I hadn’t worn sandals or summer dresses until now – in the contrary, all I had actually packed were sandals and summer dresses. But for some odd meteorological reason, May in Barcelona could almost be compared to April in London. In fact, on my first week in the city, it rained so hard that I saw small rivers forming in my neighborhood. So much for Mediterranean climate. Anyway, that was up to a week ago. Now that the sun is out and temperatures are up, I have spent my weekend doing what any reasonable person in my condition would do – being lazy at the beach. This was also my main reason to go to Sitges. Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Sitges is a town southwest of Barcelona particularly known for its Film Festival, its openness to the gay community and its many beaches (17 in total – for nudists, semi-nudists and non-nudists). At just 30 minutes by train from Passeig de Gracia Barcelona, I was sold. At arrival, I went straight to the sea. I picked a small beach next to the old town and its little church, frequented by young locals and tourists. After 2.5 hrs boiling under the sun, I could only think of drinking a cold bottle of water somewhere in the shades. It was right there – while looking for rehydration – that I realized something: Sitges should also be known for its old town streets and alleys. Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Sitges, Barcelona (Spain) Sitges, Barcelona (Spain)

Have you been to Sitges?

French Concession, Shanghai China

Shanghai is also known as the Paris of the East. This is no wonder – during 100 years, the city was partly occupied by the french. After the Chinese loss of the Opium Wards in 1842, Shanghai was forced to open to international business. The french obtained concession of certain terrain for settlement, which had its own laws and enforcement. Even though it started as a settlement for the french, it soon attracted english, americans and russians, the common point being their affluence and influence. It was home of the wealthy Shanghailanders (foreigners living in Shanghai).

Late 1930s, when the Japanese army invaded the city, many Shanghailanders left. Those remaining, were put in concentration camps at the height of WWII. By 1946, both, the Japanese and most Westerns had gone and Shanghai was cut off from the World.

The city remained almost untouched for 40 years.

Unfortunately, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, a lot of unregulated re-development took place in the area, tearing apart many neighborhoods. Some of the most remarkable buildings were substituted by modern high-rise developments.

French Concession Skyline, Shanghai

Since the change of millennia, the Chinese Government has limited and regulated the re-development in this part of the city, in order to retain part of its historic feel. In some parts, you even get the impression to be time traveling back to 1930s.

Time Travel in the French Concession, Shanghai

Fuxing Park, where I came across this old timer, is the only French Style park in Shanghai – with a lake in the center, several small fountains, covered pavilions and beautiful flowerbeds. My favorite part of the park was its tree-shaded walkways, where seniors got together to chat or play chess and card games.

Fuxing Park, French Consession Shanghai

The buildings themselves were unique in style. I expected to be transported to the Paris of the 1930s, but instead, I found it to be a rare mix of western and eastern architecture. A mixture of old and new. I liked it. It was easy to read the city’s history through the lines of the buildings. Some low-rise colonial french style villas still remain, blending in with art deco designs, high-rise luxurious and modern apartment blocks on leafy streets.

Architecture in the French Concession, Shanghai

Today, the French Concession is one of Shanghai’s most expensive terrains. Expats and artists make the atmosphere trendy and exclusive. Tree-lined streets are filled with little fashion boutiques, while wider streets boast expensive shopping malls. When lunch or dinner time approaches, groups or friends and couples make their way to one of the stylish bars and restaurants. In the French Concession, one can find any type of cuisine – from original spanish tapas, the best italian wine bars and beautiful french cafes to modern Vietnamese cuisine and fresh quality sushi.

Gate in the French Concession, Shanghai

While my stay in Shanghai, I visited some great bars and restaurant in this area, which deserve an individual post – stay tuned!

Have you ever visited the French Concession in Shanghai? Which were your impressions?

Every time I travel somewhere known for its mountain filled landscapes, I pack my pair of alpine trekking boots, taking up a third of my overall travel size and weight restrictions. I don’t mind these limitations, when I’m really going to be making use of its advantages (like the time I hiked to Mirador Las Torres, in Chile). However, most of the times I don’t need such high-tech boots – simple and comfortable walking shoes with a resistant sole would suffice.

I walked into an outdoor equipment shop looking for my next hiking boots. This time, I thought, I want light ones that don’t take up much space, water-resistant and easy to wash. Oh, and if possible, as compact as flip-flops.

I know what you’re thinking: Those shoes don’t exist.

True. But I think I found something fairly close to my requirements.

My Vibram Five Fingers

Go ahead, crack yourself up – who said they were going to be sexy? I’m a new convert to the Five Fingers cult! Not only is it a pleasant experience to have a feel of what’s actually happening underneath your sole, but also do I believe that walking barefoot (or in this case, semi-barefoot) has many benefits that we have been loosing over time – we’d live healthier, improve our posture and have a better understanding of our body.

As soon as I packed in my new purchase, I decided to put them on test.

Hiking in Tenerife, Canary Islands

We chose an easy walk for that afternoon – it was hot and humid. Skies were covered with low-hanging clouds that had been pushed against Tenerife’s northern hillside (a weather phenomenon commonly known as panza de burro or mar de nubes). The hike was about 9km return with not more than 200m meters of height difference – a relaxed walk along the island’s coastline.

Hiking in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Starting at the Hotel Maritim, in Los Realejos the path started on asphalt, but soon turned into gravel. At first, I must admit, I didn’t feel comfortable – instead, I took each step with insecurity. I noticed the small rocks and sand under my feet and consciously looked for smoother and flatter areas. During the first 15 minutes, I only stared down at the ground making sure I wasn’t going to step on anything pointy, and so missed out on part of the beautiful landscape.

With time (and practice!) I felt increasingly more confident. The sole, although thinner and softer, still protected me from the heat of the ground and uneven surfaces. I soon realized that these shoes would probably help me gain balance (something I’ve always been lacking of, and that would probably ease my irrational fear of falling down a cliff).

Hiking in Tenerife, Canary Islands

As we reached the end of our walk and considered to begin the return, our adventurous spirit kicked in – we literally went off the beaten track to try to reach a small and individual beach. A steep and narrow sandy path limited by a cliff leading directly into the ocean, where pointy rocks waited patiently in the uneasy water. Adventurous, yes. Safe, not completely – not for me. As soon as I took 2 steps down that hill, I knew it was too late to go back. A million thoughts and what ifs were rushing in my head and I stopped to think clearly. I lost confidence in my own feet and my balance. At that point, my mind must have been blocked – as I can’t remember most of it. Somehow, though, I made it up that hill and promised myself never to leave a path again (we all know that won’t last long, though).

My take on this is simple: exercising barefoot (or semi-barefooted) is an amazing experience, but one needs to know his own limitations (as well as the ones of the shoe itself) and work on them before jumping to the extreme. I’m sure I’ll learn to trust in my feet and improve my balance and, someday, it will allow me to overcome this stupid little fear.

Hiking in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Practical Information

Route: From Hotel Maritim (Los Realejos) to Rambla de Castro (Los Realejos)
Elevation gain uphill: 445m
Elevation gain downhill: 445m
Length: 3 km
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Difficulty: Super Easy
Wikiloc: Rambla de Castro. This Wikiloc is not exactly the same route described above but a bit longer one that leads to Playa del Socorro (a beautiful black sand beach).

Have you ever walked in Five Fingers or barefoot? Would you consider it?

Disclaimer: This post is NOT a sponsored post. I bought the shoes myself and continue to use them regularly (for instance, to run in the park). All opinions, thoughts (and fears) are of my own.

As we arrived in Stockholm and walked towards the tube station, it immediately hit us: the city has something magical and fairy-tale feel. Perhaps it’s the golden details of its majestic buildings, the round towers that make me wonder if a swedish Rapunzel is trapped up there or the way the dreamy street lights reflect on the peaceful water – but there’s certainly something.

Round Tower in Stockholm, SwedenCan you see Rapunzel waving from the balcony?

Stadshuset (City Hall) is one of the best surprises: from the street, it seems to be not more than a simple red brick building – but once inside, it’s beauty is undeniable. The construction’s waterfront offers, in my opinion, one of the best afternoon views of the Gamla Stan (Old Town) and Södermalm (heart of bohemian culture).

Golden details on top of the City Hall

Stockholm Skyline, Sweden

Afternoon view over Gamla Stan from the City Hall waterfront

Stockholm is a walkable city – If you pack a pair of comfortable shoes, you will hardly need to use the tube to move in between islands. The walk from Östermalm (the district that holds the City Hall) to Gamla Stan is only about a 10 minute walk! Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s old town and one of the best conserved medieval city centers of the World. Stortoget Square is known to be one of Sweden’s oldest squares and is now popular for its many cafes and restaurants.

If you happen to be walking close to Stortoget Square and feel like coffee and something sweet, I recommend trying the Valrhona chocolate ball at Chokladkoppen. If you like dark chocolate – you’ll love this!

Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan, StockholmIconic buildings around Stortoget Square

It is easy to get lost in it’s small winding streets, but it’s also easy to find yourself back again since it really doesn’t take you more than 15 minutes to walk from one corner of Stadsholmen (its main island) to the other. The streets are packed with cozy cafes, art galleries and (pricy) handcraft shops.

Small Alley in Gamla Stan, StockholmRomantic alleys in Gamla Stan

One of my favorite parts of the visit was discovering these small alleys – each of them seemed to be taken out of a fairy tale. I tried to imagine a medieval life happening on theses streets, and am sure they have kept secrets for centuries. Is there anything more magical than that?

London City, UK

During the Middle Age, Southbank developed as London’s outlaw neighborhood – a place where taverns, theaters, bear-baiting, cock-fighting and prostitution entertained the crowds. The borough was conveniently located outside the City’s walls, on the other side of the river. For decades, locals from the north side rarely crossed the river to the south, nor did the tourists visiting the City.

However, in the past few years, a series of projects have focused on improving this area – turning it into an must-see artistic hub with numerous museums and art galleries, as well as a real foodie heaven with the boom of old Borough Market.

Southbank is one of my favorite areas of London. Its tiny streets and alleys boast with history and diversity. Local pubs are authentic – small, dark and crowded. Its architecture is a perfect blend of the 18th Century industrial era and modern developments. But what really makes Southbank so special is its views over the City’s skyline during dusk or dawn.

Can you imagine having this view from your balcony?

Before reuniting with my girlfriends in Formentera, I had planned on staying a day in Ibiza.

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Ibiza is one of The World’s top party destinations with many of it’s night clubs featuring each year’s top ten DJs almost every night of the week. For those who seek for extravagant and wild nights of pure hedonism, Ibiza is, without doubt, the right place to be.

Me, I’m not a clubber. Maybe a bar hopper, instead. What was I going to do there?

Categorizing Ibiza only as an electro paradise is a big mistake – it has so much more to offer: peaceful hikes in the green, beautiful beaches, colorful hippy markets, fresh sea food and lots of history.

Eivissa*’s Dalt Vila (in english, Upper Town) is the heart of the island’s history. Right next to all the city happenings, is the entrance to its historical center – so different, it could be a city on its own. The Dalt Vila stands on top of a hill facing the sea. Fortifications were built in the XVI Century to protect the island. Behind the city walls, there is peace and silence. A labyrinth of stone streets, white buildings with decorative doors and windows – an intersting combination of arabic, spanish and italian architecture – and breath-taking views of shiny turquoise water. I think I could live here.

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Dalt Vila was added as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

*Although the capital of Ibiza is widely called Ibiza Town, the correct name is Eivissa.

In all the time I’ve been living here, I’ve hardly ever been in the old town during daylight. Having been the address of Lausanne’s University for centuries (up until the 1970s, when it moved to Dorigny), it is no wonder that, still today, one can find many student bars in its narrow stone streets.

Things are quite different on a sunday afternoon – it’s peaceful, quiet, and there are hardly any people on the streets. The calmness makes one put more attention on the details, and this is what I found.

Details of he Lausanne’s Cathedral, which is considered Switzerland’s finest gothic building.
Many charming buildings, covered with climbing plants.
A castle dating back to the XIV century!
Individual wrought iron signs for hairdressers, restaurants, theaters and shops.
Beautiful fountains with drinkable water.

Have you recently seen a familiar place from a different perspective?

Edinburgh, Scotland

As I looked outside the hostel’s window and saw snow flakes falling, the thought of spending my saturday in one of Edinburgh’s many pubs or cafes was definitely appealing. I jumped into my warmest clothes and made my way to the closest café.

Soon after I sat down next to the window, the snow turned into rain. I debated on whether I should order yet another warm coffee or venture into the cold myself. After all, I only had a day in Edinburgh – and it would have been a waste to spend it only in one place (with free WiFi).

I chose to ignore the rain and go outside – and I’m very glad I did. During my walk through the city’s streets and alleys, I realised that rain suits Edinburgh – it emphasised the city’s charm and character, and deepens its multiple colours.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, Scotland