Food à la Belge
So… after the previous articles, we’ve convinced you to visit Belgium. You’re there; you visit places, travel, meet people… What else is to do in this small country? Well… you could eat!
Belgian cuisine has for a long time been considered one of the best that Western Europe has to offer. Although not as developed and well known as the French one, as meaty as the German one and as pale as the Dutch one, the Belgian food can be considered a combination of all these. Some have described it as being “French food in German portions”.
The most known product of Belgium is frites (that’s “Fries” in French/Dutch). The label “French fries” has its origins in First World War Europe. At that time, American soldiers used to eat small potato pieces from their Belgian counterparts, but because the Belgians spoke French, they mistakenly dubbed them “French fries”. In fact, they are entirely Belgian and entirely… good.
The “secret” is that Belgian fries, as opposed to those made in other places around the world, are double-dipped in baths of hot oil, making them more consistent, but also fatter. The sauces also contribute to the “legend”: Andalouse, Cocktail, Bicky – all are a typical part of the Belgian fries meal. Good fried potatoes can be found all over Belgium, but one particularly famous place is in Brussels’ Place Jourdan – Maison Antoine. If you want to learn more about the origin and history of Belgian fries, visit Bruges’ Frites Museum; it’s an interesting experience and you also get a free sample with your entrance ticket.
courtesy of restaurant-guide.cz
Secondly, the country is full of seafood restaurants (obviously! it’s close to the North Sea). The ingredient that is common for most dishes are the oysters. Served with butter, in a soup or with tomato sauce, they are omnipresent in Belgian cuisine. In addition, snails have an important place as regards street food, with a large number of shops that sell freshly stewed snails directly from the pot.
Other dishes are “imported” from other cultures. The quiche is largely popular there, as it is in France. The most explicit description for this dish would be: potato and meat pie. Some have it with cream on the top; some do not. Pork spare ribs have become a big thing in Belgium in recent years, with restaurant chains such as Amadeus offering them à volonte for a fixed number of euros.
courtesy of thec10.com
For desert, there is the waffle (or the gauffre, as it is locally called). This is basically liquid dough placed on a special grill (that also gives it that specific shape), after which the fried result is dipped in sugar, Nutella, whipped cream or other sweet things that you can think of. Waffles come in two types, Brussels’s and Liege’s waffle. The taste is the same; the only thing that differs is the shape – the form is squared and the latter is round.
Oddly enough, restaurant recommendations are not necessary for Belgium. As the biggest part of local cuisine is street food, “traditional” restaurants can be found around the corner. Areas with chique restaurants are the Saint Gerry Square, in Brussels, the center of Gent and the boardwalk lining the coast, in Oostende. It’s not just local food that you’ll find there, but also international cuisine. Enough talk! More eating! Bon appetit!
written by Cosmin
Bucharest Romania – Little Paris of the East
As mentioned in our previous piece on Romania, Bucharest is its capital and biggest city. Definitely the most developed urban settlement in Romania, Bucharest is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in Europe and a powerful administrative, financial and cultural center in Eastern Europe. It is also the most probable landing spot when you arrive in Romania (if you’re flying, of course) as the busiest airport in the country is located on the capital’s outskirts.
History-wise, Bucharest is not an old city, by European standards. The first mention of its existence was in the 15th century, in a letter between two local traders. Since then, it has seen astonishing changes.
Calea Victoriei – the once-fanciest area of town, where you can find magnificent buildings like: the CEC Palace, the Army’s Club, the Telephone’s Palace, the Athenaeum, the seat of the government and many more.
courtesy of http://www.bucharestdailyphoto.com[/caption%5D
Until the 19th century, it remained rather undeveloped, with an unfitting infrastructure, often struck by either diseases or floods. Bucharest was the seat of the ruler of Wallachia, in what is now called the Old Court in what is now called Old Town. Everything revolved around the administrative buildings and the town that was basically a big Turkish bazaar.
Towards the end of the 19th century, French and German influence replaced the Turkish one, and the city started to change. Classical buildings and imposing public monuments emerged. The Cantacuzino Palace, the Telephone’s Palace, the CEC Palaces, the National Bank; they all date from that era. The highlife center shifted further north, to what is today called Calea Victoriei, from the Old Court, on the banks of the Dambovita River.
After WWII, a new era began for Bucharest, a rather red one… Communists took over in Romania and Nicolae Ceausescu (Romania’s world renown dictator – you might have heard of him under the name “Genius of the Carpathians”). Nicholae transformed the city according to his personal will. He razed entire neighborhoods to make way for his dreamed “Civic Centre”, including the current ministries buildings and the humongous Palace of Parliament.
Today, of course, Bucharest is a mixture of all these styles, with very few areas that have a unitary style of architecture. Top sights include:
The Old Town – the place to go if you like partying in old style buildings, or just want to have a good cup of coffee and enjoy the sun on the patio.
courtesy of bucharest-shoppingguide.com
Herastrau Park – one of the biggest parks in Bucharest and definitely one of the most spectacular I have ever seen.
courtesy of unknownbucharest.com
Restaurant recommendations include Carul cu Bere (a restaurant that has been functioning continuously since the 18th century), La Placinte (traditional Romanian-Moldovan food), 18 Lounge by Embassy (if you like a view, you’ll really enjoy this panorama from the 17th floor of an office building in the North part of town), and many others.
As for hotels, look up those nice boutique hotels that made probably made your stay better in places like Paris, Rome or Prague; Bucharest has them too: Carol Park Hotel, Hotel Cismigiu, Hotel Berthelot – all located in the center, close to all the big monuments, with high-class services.
In the end, some tips: be careful with taxi drivers, always ask them to turn on the taximeter or else they’ll scam you, bring both sun-glasses and an umbrella – weather is unpredictable in Bucharest, even in the summer, no need for a lot of money – Bucharest is one of the cheapest tourist destinations in Europe. Distractie placuta!
Thinking of a UK Tourist Visa? You may need to apply for a General Visitor Visa. It really depends on where you are coming from and your status with the United Kingdom. In some cases you don’t need a visa. You can check if you need a UK visa at https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.
As the Brits would say, the site is “brilliant”! It asks you a few questions and the lets you know if you need a uk visa:
What Passport do you have?
What are you coming to the UK to do?
For example, I have a Philippines passport and I would like to visit the UK for tourism. So I need a General Visit Visa to visit the UK.
The General Visit Visa is for the following:
- you want to visit the UK for leisure, eg as a tourist on holiday
- you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
- you’re visiting friends or family who aren’t permanent residents in the UK
- you’re donating an organ to a relative or friend
I would have to apply months in advanced because it will take a while to get information on whether or not I can go:
- You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK.
- You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
- Check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you’re applying from.
courtesy of thaivisa-express.com
According to gov.uk:
- You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months with a General Visitor visa.
- You can also apply for a long-term visit visa if you can prove you need to make repeat visits over a longer period. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit and your visa can last for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.
My husband, using his USA passport going to UK for tourism, would not need a General Visit Visa. The site offers a little uk visa advice and states that if he had a criminal record or had be previously denied entry to the UK, he would need to apply for a ukvisa.
fyi – If you wanted immigrate to the UK then things change quite a bit. UK immigration rules are quite different from just visiting for a short time. You can get more information on types of immigration and visas here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration or if you are already in the uk: https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi
This post was sent to dimetravel from someone who traveled to London.
There are a lot of places in the world that are overrated. When everyone hyping up a tourist attraction it is easy to get sucked into it. That being said, London, England has three horrible places you must avoid as if you life depends on it.
No matter how attractive it looks, no matter how many people try to tell you to go DO NOT listen. Here are the places to black list:
- Borough Market (on the Weekends)
- Oxford Street
- Buckingham Palace
1. Borough Market on Weekends
courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCQigir809c%5B/caption%5D
Borough Market will try to lure you in with a wide range of delicious food items. Artisan chocolates, Parma ham, Herrings, Pate and many other amazing London delights are all over Borough. All this sounds great but believe me, it is better not to go there especially on weekends. You cannot even imagine the situation you will get yourself in if you go on a Saturday afternoon. There is a mountain of people there shopping. If you MUST go to Borough Market on the weekends than at least go early: 6am. At 6am you may get a chance to try out the free food samples there.
I would recommend Broadway Market over Borough if you want to go shopping in London. Another good one is the Real Food market at Southbank Centre. If you still insist on visiting Borough Market, don’t blame on me.. you have been warned.
2. The Oxford Street
[caption id="attachment_3243" align="aligncenter" width="300"] courtesy of shutterstock.com
Oxford is even worse than Borough Market for shopping. The place is packed. You’ll even forget that you went for shopping. There is barely enough room to move. This place should be avoided especially if you have small children. It is just too crowded and it is too easy for them to get lost.
An alternative would be to go for Covent Garden or Carnaby Street.
3. Buckingham Palace
It is probably London’s most popular attraction. While it is definitely beautiful it is boring. There is nothing going on there. If you are with a group of people, someone will want to go and drag you along. The power of the Queen pulls everyone in. We all know the palace is beautiful and the park is fascinating. You go there thinking that there will be some kind of exciting event but after a while you realize there is nothing happening. You are not going to see a formal march or a flyover or a balcony scene. What you may see is the changing of the guards and if you really want to see this, you are welcome to go there.
Romania, land of… Castles
If you’re a history lover, then I bet you would love Romania. The place is filled with it and every little rock has its own personal story. You’ll like it even more if you’re a fan of castles. There are plenty of them… over 150, some say.
Romanian castles and citadels can generally be split into three categories, depending on how old they are: there are ancient Greek and Dacian fortresses, medieval castles and modern palaces spread all over the place.
courtesy of romaniatourism.com
So… if you’re into gods, myths and funky religions, best go and visit the old Dacian fortresses spread around the Western part of the country, high up in the mountains of Southern Transylvania. Sarmisegetuza is the old Dacian capital city (Dacia is an ancient kingdom roamed by the ancestors of Romanians, that existed on the now territory of Romania, before being conquered by the mighty Romans) and the most known of these places. You can find there examples of both Dacian and Roman architecture and houses, roads and temples. If you like a good old- fashioned treasure hunt, you should know that it’s the place where archeologists found several solid gold Dacian bracelets, worth a couple of million dollars each… Good luck with the metal detector!
courtesy of encyclopediaofukraine.com
If you don’t like obscure ancient people, take a dive into the old Greek civilization by visiting the ruins of the former Hellenic colonies near the Black Sea, Histria, Tomis and Callatis. The former is the best preserved and is worth a visit. It’s situated on the beaches of the Black Sea, a bit North of Constanta (Romania’s major sea port). Though ancient, the place still resembles the old Greek architecture and atmosphere – it’s worth a visit; guarantee it!
Moving on, medieval castles make up the large majority of this type of constructions. The most well known and spectacular examples are obviously in Transylvania. Bran Castle, near Brasov, is the place that people traditionally call the Castle of Dracula, because it was the home of Vlad the Impaler. Trap doors, magnificent scenery, interesting stories… definitely worth a visit.
courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
Other interesting examples of medieval castles are the Hunyad Citadel, in Hunedoara, with its interesting XVI-th century architecture, the Rasnov Citadel, placed on a snowy hilltop in the Carpathians, a great place to enjoy spectacular views and Sighisoara, the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe.
courtesy of visit-transylvania.us
Coming to the last category (in my opinion, the best), a visit to the Peles Castle, in the Prahova Valley, is strongly recommended if you come to Romania. Not far from Bucharest, it was built in the XIX-th century as the summer residence for Romania’s kings and queens and it saw important events in Romanian history (the decision to enter WWI, for e.g., was taken there). It is regarded as one of the foremost examples of the luxury that royal families in Europe enjoyed before WWII. Other examples of modern palaces worth a look are the Banffy Castle in Cluj (still in a bad state and in dire need for renovation), the Mogosoaia Palace, near Bucharest, and the Palace of Culture, in Iasi (the capital of the historical region of Moldova).
Finally, a few practical tips: though most of them are well signaled on the road and on tourist maps, best do a bit of research online before you head on your way; some of them are free for visiting, some of them sell tickets (prices usually vary between 3-5$ per person); check the visiting schedule in advance, because some of them are closed for the public for various events (or you might be lucky and take part in the event yourself), and, to end, they are very touristic places, so food, lodging and shops around these objectives might be a bit more expensive than elsewhere in the country. Nothing more to say except: Castle away!!
written by: Cosmin
How to find a date in Romania?
So, now that I’ve convinced you to visit Romania, maybe it’s time for a few tips on how to meet new people there.
First of all, you should know that people are generally friendly and welcoming to foreigners. Don’t be surprised if, travelling around the countryside, locals invite you in their homes for a freshly boiled polenta with cheese and a glass of Tuica (the local drink). Even if you’re in a hurry or you’re really not into cheese and cooked meat, it’s polite to accept these invitations and spend even a few minutes inside a person’s home – some houses, especially in Transylvania, are traditionally decorated and a splendor to watch.
Coming back to the city, as I’ve mentioned in the previous article, Bucharest is one of Eastern Europe’s nightlife “capitals” – you can find here over 200 nightclubs spread across the city and plenty more restaurants or pubs where you can spend a quiet evening, if you’re not into dancing and loud music.
And of course, if you’re up for a night on the town, you won’t want to spend it alone, would you? Meeting and dating girls in Romania, as a foreigner, is quite easy – they are beautiful, some say some of the nicest girls in Europe, so “Lucky you!”
Romania girls are elegant, proud and equally not so easy to impress. So don’t come flashing your Mercedes keys – it won’t work, that’s of course if you don’t want to end up with a hooker. They are well travelled, at least in Europe, usually speak at least two foreign languages and are always interested in meeting people from a different culture than theirs.
The common places for meeting girls are clubs and pubs (as in other places) and there are some key things that you should know if you want to land a date: dress elegantly – smart casual (no tracksuit, no shiny stuff – glasses, shoes etc.), take off your sun glasses when you go inside, always have a drink in front of you. Act casual and for GOD SAKEs, DO NOT make a fool of yourself by showing people the traditional dances in your country.
Approaching women is not that hard, as you can simply enter into clubs where 75% of the customers are women (yes, you read correctly!), usually dancing to either Latino or hip-hop in short, elegant, dresses. Just go up to them, start dancing around and things will work out naturally from then on.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning: Be careful! Although, as I said, the majority of Romania women are nice and pleasant, you can also be unlucky enough to find scammers (as it is everywhere). So, my advice for you would be: have fun! Enjoy yourself! But if she tells you she loves you after two days and asks for your bank card to help her sick mother, best run away! 🙂
written by cosmin
Why should you visit Romania?
Romania is a country in Southeast Europe, roughly situated between the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube River and the Black Sea. With its untouched wilderness, sandy beaches and rich cultural heritage, Romania is one of most offering tourist destinations in Europe. Moreover, being a more underrated destination, you’ll get the chance to experience all these beauties without the bustling and sometimes rather annoying “touristic” experience.
The cultural melange is what makes Romania unique – the multitude of German, Russian and Turkish influences left their mark on the country – and its culture – and its people. Moreover, the fact that this “cultural cocktail” is place on a “bed” of beautiful natural scenery and rich heritage makes it one of the most interesting destinations that a travel could possibly encounter.
The top three tourist places to visit in Romania are Transylvania, the birthplace of the legendary Count Dracula, Bucharest, once called “Little Paris, and the Danube Delta, one of the last truly wild places in Europe.
courtesy of: telegraph.co.uk
Transylvania is situated in the Northwestern part of the country, covering almost one third of the country. A place of astonishing beauty, travelers can find here medieval castles that were once the battleground between Christian princes and Turkish sultans, picturesque medieval cities, like Sibiu, Brasov or Sighisoara, uncharted forests filled with hiking trails and ski slopes (but also brown bears; be careful!) as well as an exquisite cuisine based on naturally grown vegetables and meat.
courtesy of fanpop.com
Bucharest is the capital and the biggest city of the country. It is a mixture of classic, XIX-th century architecture with bizarre, communist-built buildings. The Palace of Parliament, the “masterpiece” of the Ceausescu-era and one of the biggest buildings in the world, is located there, being the main tourist attraction of the city. Bucharest is also home to more than two-dozen museums, an opera house, a zoo, two waterparks, but also houses one of the biggest nightlife areas in Europe, Centrul Vechi (EN: Old Town, FR: Vieille Ville).
courtesy of wwf.panda.org
The Danube Delta is located in the Southeastern corner of the country, bordering the Black Sea. It is a UNESCO World Nature Site, a high number of animal and plant species calling it home. The Delta is the ideal place to go to if you’re a nature-lover or if you’re just fed up with the tense city life and want a break. Leisure activities, such as fishing, rowing, taking boat trips, swimming, sun bathing (surrounded by tree and water grassland, make no mistake!), are the main things you’ll receive in the Delta.
Who is it suitable for?
Not being a very established tourist destination, traveling to Romania is not your thing if you are looking for a crowded museum parking lots or overly priced souvenir shops. Generally, the country is visited by well-traveled people, groups of 30-40 elderly gentlemen and ladies that take a relaxed one-week tour by bus around the country.
Despite this, the country has been receiving more and more young people willing to discover new places on the very well known European continent. They usually spend 4 or 5 days in Bucharest and Transylvania, staying in cheap, but neat guesthouses owned by local people.
If you decide to plan your trip around the medieval land of Transylvania, then you can also decide to bring your family on this very culturally rich tour. Bucharest, a bustling metropolis, serves its visitors a lot of fascinating museums, hipsterish nightclubs and bars, but also a vibrating cultural scene.
Why should you come visit Romania?
One good reason is: “Hey!.. How many people can say they’ve been to Romania?!” Imagine the stories you could tell after a trip in this place..