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Being in Cusco is like being in a place where evey single rain drop colored the roof tops of the entire city in red and marked it as an unique piece of peruvian jewelery. Even locals confess that the mysterious energy of the city is enough to keep you mesmerised and happy for a prolonged period of time. It's a place where you start feeling like home within a couple of hours and just don't want to leave.

Plaza de Almas, Cusco

Plaza de Almas, Cusco

I have spent 5 days in Cusco, before and after the trip to Machu Picchu, time which was enough to get a feeling of the city. An unforgettable Inca capital that kept its detailed architecture, exquisite churches and amazingly narrow streets. It didn't matter which way I took, I was convinced I will have a great view. The mountain breeze hugged the city during the day, kept it cloudy and cosy, while during the night you had to find a way to stay warm.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Traditional style of a peruvian lady

Traditional style of a peruvian lady

From the great variety of museums, cathedrals, squares you can visit in Cusco, I have 3 favorites spots. Mercado San Pedro is one of them, an incredible market where you can find everything you need starting from wool gloves ending with kilos of pork. I actually took the time to buy some snacks for the Inca trail here: like nuts, dried fruits, winter hat, woolen socks. In case you didn't have enough time to prepare for the trip, don't worry, San Pedro got you covered.

San Pedro market

A kid trying to avoid the big umbrella in San Pedro Market

The meat is actually fresh

The meat is actually fresh

you don't need to go too far for some lunch

you don't need to go too far for some lunch

San Blas it's a small square from where you can buy handicrafts, souvenirs, paintings sold by the artists themselves. It also provides a spectacular view over the city during the day time, but also at night. A tiny, nice lady took me to the back side of her gallery and showed me the extravagant paintings of the peruvian beauty and luckily I found a great Machu Picchu masterpiece which I brought back.

loads of textiles in SAn Blas plaza

loads of textiles in San Blas plaza

rain over Cusco

rain over Cusco

that moment when you look back...

that moment when you look back...

And of course Plaza de Armas. It's the downtown of Cusco, all the roads lead to this place. Here you will find a great selection of restaurants, bars, clubs where you can spend your evenings. I had the chance to celebrate New Years Eve in Plaza de Armas and took part in so called "ritual" of the locals. The tradition tells that circling 3 times with your suit case around the plaza will bring good luck in your up coming year and also will make you travel the world all year round. Also wearing yellow underwear on this night will bring some luck in your love life. 

capturing the amazing fire works

capturing the amazing fire works

everything was about yellow on New Year Eve in Cusco

everything was about yellow on New Years Eve in Cusco

a reflection of the countdown on the building

a reflection of the countdown on the building

During the day, there are a lot of travel agents who are willing to baragin some great deals. It was quite hard to choose from the long list of activities, but in the end I had to prioritize. River Rafting sounded great for me since I've never done it, so was worth trying it now. Moray and Salinas is a wonderful archeological site which I booked only one day in advance and they still had the Quad bikes available. Another "must-do" for me was the bungee jumping from 122 m (you can check the video at the end of the article). I would definitely do it again and highly recommend it to you too. Had a sandboard session in Ica and a ride on a massive sand buggy. And of course Machu Picchu, this trip was the reason I flew for almost 22 hours to Peru.  

This buggy definitely doesn't look like the golf buggy

This buggy definitely doesn't look like the golf buggy

this exact quad bike flipped over me when I tried to act cool

this exact quad bike flipped over me when I tried to act cool

Moray, Peru

Moray, Peru

No no, I didn't climb Salinas de Maras

No no, I didn't climb Salinas de Maras

Inca trail, Peru

Inca trail, Peru

When talking about Peru, you can not miss such an important topic like the food. With a great influence from spanish, italian, german, chinese, japanese cuisine it makes it the best example of fusion cuisine. What else to expect when the country has more than 3000 types of potatoes. The main dishes will usually be served with staples like: corn, quinoa, legumes. Trying to stand out, a lot of restaurants have an imacculate decor and a very wide selection of national and international food.

legendary peruvian ceviche

the legendary peruvian ceviche, Uchu Restaurant

Lamb on a bed of mashed potatoes

Lamb on a bed of mashed potatoes, La Feria Restaurant

My number one dish: Lomo Saltado

My number one dish: Lomo Saltado

Causa- potato roll

Causa- potato roll, Limbo restaurant

Getting around the city is easy and quite cheap. Most of the taxi drivers don't speak english, but they know the city very well. You can see a lot of old cars and buses which look like they are not going to make it to the top of the hill, but guess what? They do. A short taxi fare will usually start from 5S-10S (1-3$) but in case you want to go for a day tour you'll have to negotiate rates in advance. Taking a bus in Peru is cheap, comfortable. When I went to Ica, I booked a VIP bus ticket with PeruBus for 50S (~ 15$, 5 hours drive). It included everything you need for a comfortable trip: AC, TV, headsets, reclining seats and refreshments which were served twice. Local rides on a city bus are about 0.60S which is equal to 0.18$. I missed this experience but I've heard it's fun. FullSizeRender (70)

very pleasant trip by train from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco

very pleasant trip by train from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco

Cusco is one of the places which I would definitely like to visit again. The ambiance of the city in a mix with a great welcoming from qusqenians is just the perfect reason for a come back. The amplitude of the old architecture and hystorical ruins can brings you back in time and make you imagine the thrilling past of the South American lands. Next time I will try to bring back at least a tiny amount of mountain energy and spread it around. Maybe people will be able to heal their souls just the way I did...in Peru.

"The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are."

Samuel Johnson

Tips:

  • Peru is a country of cash, that's why it's better if you have cash on you because most of the ATMs charge a fee (10-18%).
  • If you need to buy hiking gears, Cusco is a great place to find some cheap yet useful stuff.
  • Bargain on pretty much everything.
  • If you want to visit more than 2 sights it's better to buy the tourist ticket, it's a lot cheaper and usually available for 10 days.
  • Most of the hotels agree to keep your laugage while you go for hiking, so don't worry about that part
  • Cusco seems to be a safe place, but never leave your stuff unattended.
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When I took out my passport from my backpack at the Machu Picchu (MP) check point I have realised that the things are getting real. With all my stuff on the ground trying to organise them by priority, I suddenly understood that I know nothing about hiking. I didn't even know where to start. One thing was for sure: there is no way back.

the only good shot I have at Machu Picchu

the only good shot I have at Machu Picchu

With a little bit of confidence and hope, I left Cusco and began the journey to the most incredible and famous trek in South America. A peruvian glory which is considered to be one of the best-known archeological sites on the continent. Sitting 2430 m above the Urubamba river, the Inca citadel breaths mystery and adventure. I have been very lucky to get to step on the 40 km trail that has been once walked by the Inca emperors and local quechua people.

an unexpected guest, lamas everywhere

an unexpected guest, lamas

There are a couple of options to get to MP but the most famous one is Inca trail. I have been offered a two and a three days trip by bus, bike but nothing sounded more exciting then hiking up the snaky ways through the cloud forests, aggressive rivers and snowy mountain peaks which have made this trip so unforgettable.FullSizeRender (18)

I have approached a local travel agency about the tour and have been offered a good deal despite the fact that it was a last minute thing. Usually, in the busy season you need to make a reservation at least six months prior the trip. It cost me 500 USD for 4 days and 3 nights tour which included breakfast every morning, lunch and dinner, the sleeping bag, the tent, the entrance to MP and the train ticket on the way back from the hike. What was not included in the price was the water and snacks you can by along the way, the service of the porters that can carry your stuff in case you have too many kilos (I gave 5 kg to one of the guys and payed 40USD) and sometimes the extra fees you pay for using the restrooms or showers.

it was the first time to see a double rainbow

it was the first time to see a double rainbow

In case you think that you need to be extra fit for such a hike, honestly you don't. The first day allows you to warm up a little bit and adjust your equipment accordingly. After you get a feeling of what is like to live in the wild, get used to it. You'll have to do this for 3 more days. Each day gets better promise. It's very important to eat well and drink plenty of water. After each day of completing an average of 10-12 km I was visibly loosing weight even though I kept on snaking all day long. But in the end it all pays off when you stop for a moment, look around, take a deep breath and get mesmerised by the incredible view of the Andean beauty.

first day of hike, the backpack is still full

first day of hike, the backpack is still full

In one day you can witness 3 seasons since the peruvian weather up in the mountains is so unpredictable. I did the trip in January, month which is considered to be the beginning of the rainy season. But don't get intimidated, even in dry season you'll have to deal with temperature below 0. It was funny to have a little game with my jackets, I was putting them on taking them off, over and over again. Thing which I can't say about night time. I made sure I had as many layers on as possible.

it is a blessing to way up with such a beautiful view

it is a blessing to way up with such a beautiful view

The highest point of the trek reached 4200 m above sea level at Warmiwañusca Pass ( Dead woman Pass). After a knee- jarringly decent to an altitude of 3600 m above sea level we stopped in one of the campsites at Paq'amayo and spent the night there. That was the time when I had to put on 3 layers of clothes, gloves, scarf and still woke up in the middle of the night to cover myself with a jacket. It was really cold. But other than that it was ok. The coca leaf tea served early in the morning by our tents definitely helped to warm up.

i could stare at this viewall day long...

i could stare at this view all day long...

Taking in consideration the advises from your guide will definitely ease your way when climbing. Zigzagging along the path puts less pressure on your muscles and makes the process more enjoyable. Most of us had green teeth from chewing coca leaves all day long. It is considered to be a natural remedy for high altitude. And plus it gives you a nice relaxing feeling, maybe it's also intended to make tourists smiling. Usually in the pharmacy you can find pills for altitude sickness like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Our guide P, was generous enough to give us all a shot of Pisco (the local traditional alcoholic drink) which he claimed to help even more. Try it.

this is the relationship between Lamas and peruvians, P is feeding a Lama with biscuits

this is the relationship between Lamas and peruvians, P is feeding a Lama with biscuits

Ladies might be a little bit concerned about the hygiene in specially during such a long trip. Me too, I was so worried that I will have to get to know the scary feeling of being in the jungle in the middle of the night. But trust me, it's not that bad. In some camps you have showers and toilets. You just have to pay around 5-10S and that's it. Good to go again. If you can handle the ice cold water than you have pretty much shower all the way till the end of the journey but who is crazy enough to do that! My advise is to take extra t-shirts (not cotton) and keep changing them every day. Also thank the once who invented the wet-wipes and carry a pack or two with you. It actually feels good to be make up-free for a couple of days so, ladies, enjoy it. Don't forget to reapply sunscreen though. The sun is burning even if you don't see it.

stunning morning view over the Andean peak

stunning morning view over the Andean peak

I must mention about our lovely cooks that did an amazing job preparing all that delicious peruvian food. The meals were freshly made with the products carried by the diligent porters. High in protein and fibres, the dishes helped us to stay healthy and fit for the entire trip. There was not a single meal without the traditional hot soup (usually quinoa or chicken), a main course that consisted of: fish, chicken or beef and of course dessert (we even had a goodbye cake). It was a great way to get to know the traditional peruvian cuisine prepared in a homy style. For those who ordered vegetarian meal or any other special requests, the chef made sure they got their meal at the same time as the rest of the team.

cooking some goodies with our generous chef

cooking some goodies with our generous chef

Sometimes it was getting really tough, the backpack felt heavier and heavier, the abundant andean rain was filling my boots with water, my hands were cold and wet but still I was happy. Just having a set up goal to reach the majestic MP was giving me strength. Once arrived there, everyone could tell that we've been hiking for the last 4 days. We were dirty, maybe smelly, full of mud on our shoes, carrying huge bags covered with plastic to protect what was left from our clean stuff but also we were content. Standing in front of the grandeur MP, I have realised that all this effort was totally worth it. Maybe if I didn't do the hike, I wouldn't probably appreciate the power of the humid woodlands so much and the splendid history behind the historical walls of the Inca citadel.

yes, we did it!!!Machu Picchu view

yes, we did it!!!Machu Picchu

It was a great experience which definitely pushed my powers to the limits. One thing I can tell about hiking: the harder- the better. You will feel such a great achievemt at the end of the jouney that will make you addicted to the beauty of the world. 

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

Lao Tzu

Below you will find a collection of pictures that I took along the way.FullSizeRender (40)

green terraces used for plantation durink Inca times

green terraces used for plantation durink Inca times

a beautiful orchid that grows all year round

a beautiful orchid that grows all year round

racing with the local lady...she was fast

racing with the local lady...she was fast

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after a massage in Aguas Calientes, such a massive muscle pain, bu the hot rocks relaxed them very well

About 3km descent on the way to the campus

About 3km descent on the way to the camp

one of the ruins on the way to Machu Picchu

one of the ruins on the way to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

perfectly shaped rocks of the citadel

perfectly shaped rocks of the citadel

Royal Tomb in Machu Picchu

Royal Tomb in Machu Picchu

temple of the sun used for astronomical purposes

temple of the sun used for astronomical purposes

finest stone work

finest stone work

the moldovian flag all the way in Peru: red, yellow and blue

the moldovian flag all the way in Peru: red, yellow and blue

The way these rocks are cut it's just incredible

The way these rocks are cut it's just incredible

Practicing the photography skills on the mushrooms

Practicing the photography skills on the mushrooms

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16 members of a wonderful team

16 members of a wonderful team

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About 7 years ago, somebody asked me where am I from. Jokingly I replied that I am from South Africa and that person totally believed me. I was surprised that he doesn't show any signs of surprise or any kind of confusion. And I understood straight away that I might not know what I am suppossed to know about this beautiful country. Anyone from anywhere could fall under the characteristics of a local south african resident.

Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Named the "Rainbow Nation", South Africa hugs a multiethnic society with diverse cultures, religions and most importantly different languages, 9 of which have official status. In this southernmost country of the African continent, travellers and locals from around the world have a chance to witness the meeting point of one of the greatest Poseidon's soldairs : the Atlantic and the Indian oceans.

Cape Point, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Point, Cape Town, South Africa

I've always heard great stories about Cape Town, which is the second most populous urban area in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and finally the curtains of its mystery had opened up to me. I was just simply mesmerised by the spectacular scenery of the unspoiled beauty that we have on this planet. The hypnotic blue of the ocean was dragging me into the unknown underworld while I was lifted up-high by the free spirit of the tired mountains.

Hout Bay, Tokai Forest Reserve

Hout Bay, Tokai Forest Reserve

At an early hour, we were already climbing up the stairs on the way to the Cape of Good Hope. A place from where you can see history writing itself down on the floating water. From the top of the hill I could only imagine how on the 12 of march in 1488, Bartolomeu Dias was guided by the house light of the Cape Point to find what he thought doesn't exist anymore...Hope.

Cape Point, Light House are, South Africa

Cape Point, Light House are, South Africa

Next to the proud light house I saw a man that was walking from one corner to the other. I don't know why I assumed that this guy in blue t-shirt and a black leather jacket was working there. So, I put the serious expression on and asked him about the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. I was a little confused because I expected to see a proper line that will split the cold Atlantic waters from the warm Indian waters, which apparently don't intercalate. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day. Instead I had the view of a very friendly whale acting under its own fountain in front of the happy tourists. The African guy then explained to me that he doesn't work here (ooopss ) and in fact the southernmost point from where I could see the magic happening is called Cape Agulhas, which is located about 150km to the east-southeast side of the Peninsula. The Agulhas current meets up with Benguela current and form a visible path. 

Cape Point, Light House, South Africa

Cape Point, Light House, South Africa

The drive out from the Cape of Good Hope to the small village called Simon's Town, offers again a picturesque view of a land that rises steeply from the mountains. I've heard from our lovely tour guide that it is a great place to buy a property and settle down for the retirement days. Unless you are too afraid of the baboons who are brave enough to brake into people's houses looking for food. The South African parks department states in its publication Mountains in the Sea that the baboon population on the Cape is "critically endangered". Due to that reason, there a road signs to watch out for baboons. For a girl from Moldova (me), this sounds a little bit too exotic.

Boulders Beach, South Africa

Boulders Beach, South Africa

My heart stopped for a bit when we drove down to Chapman's Peak. It's a name of a mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula which was literally cut in a way that motorists could drive under a considerable portion of the mountain. It sounds scary right? It's not only me who feared the spectacular drive road. So did the authorities, and in 1990s they closed the road after a person died because of the rockfall. Now, the toll road is opened after being re-engineered to protect drivers like me and others from the dangerous mountain so we could all take advantage of the scenery view of the ocean.

Boulders Beach, morning view, South Africa

Boulders Beach, morning view, South Africa

If you have made it so far than you definitely need to say a quick hello to the penguins on the Boulders Beach, that will make you feel really jealous about their lifestyle. Just chilling all day, on white sandy beaches along the shore and having someone all day long to admire you and say how cute you are. That's what I'm talking about.

Boulders Beach, south Africa

Boulders Beach, South Africa

Boulders Beach, South Africa

Curious Penguins, Boulders Beach, South Africa

It is a good feeling to know that in this wild, beautiful and reckless world there are still places where history remains alive.  Untouched spots that are sitting there quitely and patiently waiting for all of us to dicsover them. South Africa has an imense power to prove that the world is not such a bad place and maybe this is the purpose of travelling, to understand this on your own.  The world we have is a wonderful place that keeps us all smilling and happy knowing that we all still have ...HOPE.

Move of freedom, Cape Town, South Africa

Move of the Freedom, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

You can lose your patience, lose your pride and lose your mind, but whatever you do, don't ever lose hope.

Anonymous

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"See how she leans her cheek upon her hand

O, that I were a glove upon that hand

That I might touch that cheek."

Romeo, act II, scene 2

 

Juliet's balcony, Verona, Italy

Juliet's balcony, Verona, Italy

With its magical and  maleficent power over the human kind, love turns up to be the sharpest tool of all the times. It brings you up and throws you down without even looking back. Unique feeling in its own way, the perfume of love intensifies when you step on the land of the most romantic city in the world... Verona.

Overlooking the beautiful Verona- Borgo Trento

The beautiful view of Adige River, Verona

Just recently I've spent almost a week in Venice. It was a very pleasant trip but in order to add up some more destionations to my list I bought a 10 euros ticket to Verona and in one hour and a half I was already in Porta Nuova train station having no idea where to go from there. It took me a short time to find out that bus number 31, not far from the station goes directly to the heart of the city and that's where I wanted to be.

Dante Statue, Piazza dei Signori

Dante Statue, Piazza dei Signori

If even Julius Cesar chose Verona as the city where he could come and relax, then now I am convinced that I've arrived at the right  place to energise myself. Through time, the city managed to keep its importance both economically and historically attracting many visitors from all the corners around the world. With its architectural buildings and nice layout, Verona was awarded by UNESCO the World Heritage Site Status despite the fact that is in the middle of a busy intersection of several commercial roads.

Basilica of San Zeno, Verona, Italy

Basilica of San Zeno, Verona

In a hot, humid, subtropical summer day with no maps in my hands, no bags and no worries I started to explore the ancient city of Love which easily captivated me and million other people. Piazza delle Erbe (Market's square) is one of the starting point that leads to the main tourist attractions like : Torre dei Lamberti (Judges' Hall),  Baroque Palazzo Maffei decorated by statues of Greek gods, the famous statue of Madonna Verona. On the other side of the piazza you will find Tomba di Giulietta, Arena, Casa di Giulietta and many more.

Centro Storico, Verona

Centro Storico, Verona

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Historical Monument by Adige River

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When it all started...

During my excursion, I faced a lot of tempting distractions. The variety of small,cosy restaurants was so wide that I had some hard times to decide where to have lunch. Instead I opted for a delicious slice of pizza and a refreshing chocolate and vanilla gelato. Two strong, roman warriors of all the times. Enjoying the fresh summer breeze under the cooling trees, I just couldn't stop admiring the Adige River, which separated the history from the reality by the fortified Castelvecchio Bridge.

Castelvecchio Bridge, Verona, Italy

Castelvecchio Bridge, Verona, Italy

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to spot the Capulet's house number 23 on Via Capello which was Juliet's House in early 14th century, I asked in desperation some locals where I can find the place. Apparently I passed by a couple of times and missed it. I guess, I was looking for something bigger. A massive villa covered all in love letters and deep-red roses. Instead I found a normal Italian style building which proudly spoke ancient history through its walls. I wished, for a moment, to magically make all the tourists disappear so I can listen to what is has to say.

Juliet's balcony, Verona, Italy

Juliet's balcony, Verona, Italy

Of course I stayed 30 minutes in the que to take a picture at the legendary balcony where Romeo promised eternal love to Juliet. And sure thing I waited for my turn to stroke the right breast of Julieta's statue. According to the legend, the person who does that will have good fortune and luck in love, who doesn't need that, right?

Juliet's Statue, Verona

Juliet's Statue, Verona

On the entrance walls you can write your name and your beloved once or lock your love with a heart-shaped locker so the whole world will know about your strong feelings. Everybody is allowed to go inside the house at a minimum charge of 6 euros and walk on the same wooden floors where Capulet family once did. I couldn't resist the temptation to write a letter to Juliet on the nicely anciently decorated computers that I found in the old house. Promise, you will be the first one to find out if " Juliet" has replied back.

Romeo&Juliet costumes.

Romeo&Juliet costumes.

Decorative room in the Capulet's house

Decorative room in the Capulet's house

Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet

No comment.

Love lockers

The city has a very vibrant athmosphere where the organised tourists seem to already know where they need to go. It's one of those places where it doesn't matter how many basilicasmuseums and other histocial sights you've seen, there will always be more curtains to opene. I liked the smart combination of the shopping areas in between the sumptuous, historical buildings that catches the attention involuntarily and you might end up like me, having a couple of more souvenirs in your collection.

Shopping Therapy.

Shopping Therapy.

Headed  by some sort of supreme force I ended up in the que for the tickets to Romeo&Juliet show by Shakespeare. It would've been a great opportunity to see how the star-crossed love of the imortal story is illustrated on the stage, but unfortunately I was running out of time. It will defenitely serve as one more reason to come back to the wonderful city of Love. 

One of the many piccole strade.

One of the many piccole strade.

If there is a place where two worlds collide : one of our ancient roots and the other of our multitude present, then that place is called Verona. No other place has transported me so far back in the past and brought me back with one more piece of golden inspiration.

We are not the makers of the history, we are made by history.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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River "Nistru" which separates Republic of Moldova and Transnistria. My little nephew is inspecting the boat.

Is there a place on earth where you can wake up in the morning, look straight up into the sky, cover up with the fresh breeze and let your lungs infuse all the air around you and say:" It is mine". For me that is Moldova. My home.

The Cathedral "Nașterea Domnului" located in Downtown Chișinău.

The Cathedral "Nașterea Domnului" located in Downtown Chișinău.

It is such a great feeling to know that I owe something even though it is not entirely mine. A place where I discover myself over and over again each time I step into my beloved parent's house. A place where the string of memories flow in front of my eyes reminding me of the little, wondering  child who shared so many feeling with the big world. A place where my legs take me without including my brain and somehow it knows it's safe. A place where good and bad is shared on the table with the dearest once and thanked for another great day together.

I want to dedicate this article to all my friends and acquaintances from all around the world who have been asking millions of questions about Moldova. Here it is, the naked truth, or ... at least some of it. 

My Grandparents old house.

My Grandparents old house.

My Moldova is a place like no other and if it happens to visit it one day, you will understand why. But before we go further I just want to tell you that it will be the most unique experience of your life.

Just for a moment imagine a place  full of enthusiasm and contradictions, stereotypes and beauty, new and old, creativity and passion, stubbornness and flexibility, a place where people talk loud even when they mean well, a place where everybody is in a rush but always have time to celebrate... The magic country. Ohhh and yes, most importantly ... loads and loads of delicious food.

Personally I couldn't survive without a bowl of soup.

Personally I couldn't survive without a bowl of soup.

I went home to spend Easter with my family. It has been 4years since last time we set together at the table and celebrated one of the most important holiday of the year. It was a great feeling to bring the family spirit back in the house. Moldovans don't need a big reason to get together and share the story of the day. But this time has something magnificent in reuniting again. With this occassion, I have decided to introduce to you our rituals and traditions and give you an idea on how  some other cultures different than yours celebrate Easter. I will mainly focus on the traditional food that we cook during this holiday and perhaps wake up your appetite for some moldovan goodies.

The Central Market. The best place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and many, many other things.

The Central Market. The best place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and many, many other things.

Let's start with the beginning. Moldavans like Russians and other Eastern European countries celebrate Easter on a different date than Western Europe. That is basically because the dates are determined by different calendars. The Moldovan- Orthodox church uses the old Gregorian calendar, whereas the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches switched to the Julian calendar in the 16th century. Changes are applied for the New Years and Christmas dates.

One of the many typical moldovian yards with a panoramic view over the hills.

One of the many typical moldovan yards with a panoramic view over the hills.

On the night before Easter all the churches in the country hold night services at the end of which the priest blesses your food with holy water. When we wake up in the morning, the first thing we eat is a piece of holy food. We believe that this will purify our bodies and souls. We also wash our faces with red coloured eggs and money. According to the ritual this brings a wealthy year ahead.

B, Me and Sis going to the church at 11pm. All the credit goes to my little sister, she stayed until 5am.

B, Me and Sis going to the church at 11pm. All the credit goes to my little sister, she stayed until 5am.

The line of food waitng to be blessed by the priest.

The line of food waiting to be blessed by the priest.

Usually the last one takes all the money...guess who  did it.

Usually the last one takes all the money...guess who did it.

And here it starts, the journey of non-stop eating for a whole week. After the Great Lent, most of the survivors can't wait to indulge the delicacies that are served on the table from morning till night. I'm not exaggerating. This holiday is all about food, all people talk about is food. We star the day by cheering with red eggs and bite from the specialty of the day made carefully by our talented mothers and grandmothers which is " Pasca". It is believed that quality Easter Bread ensures well-being of the family and this shows how good of a cook your wife is. It's a serious thing. In case something goes wrong with it, the holiday might be ruined. 

"Pasca" the traditional sweet bread. A must have on each table during Easter holiday.

"Pasca" the traditional sweet bread. A must have on each table during Easter holiday.

The Moldovans share many foods with Romanians. You will see a lot of similarities. Even though every housewife has a special secret recipe that is mastered through years and years. I believe that because of the fertile soil and great care of the lands, the local cuisine is an intense mix of flavours and aromas.  Ecologically clean foods come in as a decoration for the table and a fiesta for the stomach.

The welcoming in my auntie' s house: red easter eggs, the sacred flame and a piece of "Pasca".

Salads play a big role in moldovan cooking. All types of salads will be served on the tables  during holidays. It is a complex proccess to cut it, organize it and present it, as we believe that presentation is the invitation for the appetite. Moldovans tend to use seasonal vegetables to prepare the salads and during summer time the most common one is made out of: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and cabbage.

Our legendary "Olivier Salad"", also known as "Russian Salad". Ingredients: potatoes, carrots, eggs, green beans, saussage, pickles, mayonnaise, salt, pepper.

The food that takes the longgest to prepare and just seconds to eat. "Sarmale"- staffed cabbage rolls with minced meat. In Turkey they are called- "Dolmas".

The food that takes the longgest to prepare and just seconds to eat. "Sarmale"- staffed cabbage rolls with minced meat. In Turkey they are called- "Dolmas".

The local cuisine is a great inspiration of elements from other cuisines in the region. We have a large influence made by the Ottoman cuisine, Greek, Byzantine, Slavic (Polish, Ukrainian and Russian). All these post- Soviet states and Russophone communities world-wide grew up with the same dishes and it is no surprise that it has been passed through generations.

Chicken Soup called "Zeamă".  Ingredients: Organic Chichen, homemade noodles, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, homemade sour soup.

Chicken Soup called "Zeamă".
Ingredients: Organic Chichen, homemade noodles, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, homemade sour soup.

Moldovans believe a lot in meat. I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that it is a cold country or it is just our history, but we love it. It is served in specially as an appetizer of the first course and it is kept on the table until everyone is done eatting. The meat is ussually roasted and grilled, for example pork, lamb, chichen. We are also famous for our delicious beef meatballs known as "pîrjoale" and "chiftele". Most commonly the meat or the fish is marinated and then grilled. 

Lamb is another specialty of Easter. It is ussually served as a stew.

Lamb is another specialty of Easter. It is ussually served as a stew.

A wide variety of sausages. Cold cuts also known for "zakuska".

A wide variety of sausages. Cold cuts also known as "zakuska".

Overall the moldovan cuisine is made out of fresh and organic ingredients. But the housewives love to spoil their husbands and children with baked items, such as pastries, cakes, rolls, and buns with a variety of fillings starting from cheese, fruit, vegetables, walnuts, gem made of rose petals.

You can not have a complete dinner without a glass of the famous moldovan wine which was recognized at different wine exhibitions world-wide, including France. One of my favorite is "Negru de Purcari" which has its winery just 2 hours down south of the capital. Another famous local production is Cricova with a great range of grapes in the underground winery located 30minutes away from the capital. 

My uncle's hovel. One of the many typical basements from a moldovan village. Is serves as a deposit for the homemade wine and winter preserves.

The main domestic Moldovan varieties include Fetească, Rară Neagră and Busuioacă albă. Sparkling Wine has a special place in Moldovan cuisine and the most famous once are those made in the Cricova Winery, made out of European grape varietes, including Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Sauvignon, Muscat Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot noir.

Did you ever wonder what a flight attendant brings back from home?  "Plăcinte"- moldovan traditional pastry filled with soft cheese accompanied by a full-bodied red wine "Negru de Purcari".

Ever wonder what a flight attendant brings back from home?
"Plăcinte"- moldovan traditional pastry filled with soft cheese accompanied by a full-bodied red wine "Negru de Purcari".

In moldovan culture it is very important to give respect to the once that are no longer with us. A lot of people get goose-bumps when talking about cemeteries, but it is a part of the tradition and it has to be respected. 

Exactly a week after the Easter, we celebrate Memorial Easter. This holiday is dedicated entirely to those who rest in peace. What I find interesting about this day is the fact that we give alms to strangers or to those that we know and we serve wine, or any other alcoholic beverages in the name of the relatives you probably don't even remember anymore. And you can't refuse it. You will say "Easy to be his/her dust", or "God forgive him". At some point you will need to monitor the mix and the amount of alcohol you are taking. Trust me.

An example of a grave in a moldovan cemetery.

An example of a grave in a moldovan cemetery.

Saint Lazarus cemetery, also called "Doina", located in Chișinău, is the largest cemetery in Southeastern Europe. Founded in 1966, the cemetery occupies a surface of 2 million square metres and has more than 300,000 grave sites, including about 600 family vaults. It is considered to be a place to visit as it is unique in it's own way. 

Once i was playing with my grandmother on this now old stairs.

Once I was playing with my grandmother on this "now" old stairs.

Unfortunately our tour with Easter express came to an end. I just thought to share this information with all of you as I strongly believe that the traditions of the country defines its roots and keeps the future prosperous. People should embrace the differences and have the curiosity to discover them.

I invite you to  come to Moldova and enjoy the beauty of my country. I know it has a lot to offer and you have a lot to recieve. In case you want to find out more about Moldova and its inhabitants, just let me know. Enjoy your stay and don't forget “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles. 

My sister and I.

My sister and I.

 

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Ahhh those beaches!... I think we all got the idea by now: " I love Islands!". There is something so powerful and peaceful about the oceans. Even if it's for a short period of time like 24 hours, Mauritius Island is a great and sweet escape from the daily routine.

The beach side, Shandrani Resort

The beach side, Shandrani Resort

Rising up like a precious pearl in the southwest side of Indian Ocean, Mauritius doesn't stop impressing me with its panoramic view, turquoise-blue waters and hot beaches that sink gradually into the ocean. Every time I go to Mauritius I discover something new to do. It's a place where even your slightest caprice can be satisfied. I wouldn't have a problem to swim with the dolphins every day, go hiking in Black River Gorges National Park and refresh myself in the cold waterfalls. Or read my book all day long on the beach and let the local connoisseurs to teach me more about the famous production...Rhum.

Romantic spot, Mauritius Island

Romantic spot, Mauritius Island

Whatever you choose to do, Mauritius Island has it all. In summer season, when the sun is targeting the land like a burning arrow, it's a great time to take advantage of all the water activities like: snorkelling, scuba diving, water skiing, kayaking...etc. Despite the fact that the total area of the island is just over 2000km2, Mauritius is well known for its lively 4* or 5* resorts that spread on a vast territory to offer you the best front row seats to the beach openings.

Great experience waterskiing, Mauritius Island

Great experience water skiing, Mauritius Island

One of my favourite is Shandrani, a 5* resort set on a private peninsula that takes you all the way down to the unspoiled south region. Along with the nice and comfortable accommodations, the food in the resort is absolutely incredible. In those 24 hours that i've spent on the Island, I had 2 lunch and 1 dinner buffets. I completely forgot how good are those slow-cooked dishes that remind me of the food from back home, Moldova. The locals of the Island appreciate very much the power of the vegetables and fruits and combine them in the most interesting way. There can't be a complete meal if there are no curries. From grilled beef steaks to freshly cut fish infused with a wide variety of sauces served on a bed of potatoes au gratin or steamed vegetables, you can move to the hot and creamy stews that are simply served with rice. Having, also, a lot of influence from the indian cuisine, the local dishes are very consistent and flavoured. But not heavy enough to make you refuse the desserts that include creme brûlées, torts, papaya with syrup...etc.

The apetiser of the evening, Shandrani Resort

The apetiser of the evening, Shandrani Resort

On the way to Mauritius I asked a friend of mine J, what would be the best things to see and try on the Island. It took him 5 minutes to write on a piece of paper the must-do's that require more than 24 hours to complete. I tried to book a tour with the speed boat to see the dolphins early in the morning, but unfortunately it was overbooked due to the Easter holidays. Another intriguing sightseeing is Chamarel 7th Coloured Earth, a remarkable place where the land naturally reveals 7 colours and beautifully presents it to us. For an exotic feeling, you might want to try to walk with the lions in the Casela Park, get to know the flora of the Island in Botanical Garden at Pamplemousse. Or have a learning experience in La Rhumerie at Chamarel where locals produce the Rhum of different qualities and aromas. My number one is Vanilla Rhum, and Coconut Rhum.

A nice work out in the open air studio, abs and stretching classes, Shandrani Resort

A nice work out in the open air studio, abs and stretching classes, Shandrani Resort

I always get very excited when I have a flight to Mauritius, because for me is another chance to relax in the middle of the nature and really connect with it. Just thinking that I am so close to Madagascar, which I would love to visit as well, my adrenaline is increasing to the maximum. Regardless of the season, Mauritinas are always happy to great tourists from all over the world.

There is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it's sent away.
-Sarah Kay

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Undeva departe se află un loc, unde ziua este albastră ca Pacificul și noaptea adîncă precum apele sale. Adierea vîntului îți racorește sufletul şi splendoarea naturii îţi dă încredere. Nici puterea supremă nu are îndeajuns curaj să oprească stelele căzătoare, care dispar repede în neștire. Și doar eu stau neclintită și uluită de priveliștea Insulelor Fijiene.

Blue lagoon, irezistibilul apus Fijian

Blue lagoon, irezistibilul apus Fijian

Dacă, există rai pe pamînt, atunci cu siguranță acesta se află la Sudul Pacificului, unde 322 de insule formeaza ansamblul Fijian. După trei ani de zburat în jurul lumii, am zis că a venit momentul să ating unul din cele mai îndepărtate puncte de pe harta lumii. Decizia mi-a fost influențată mult de către un prieten originar din Insulele Fiji, pe care l-am epuizat cu mii de întrebări despre locul său natal. El vorbea despre acestă adunătură de insule, ca despre un fenomen pur întîmplător. Pe cînd, pentru mine ele reprezentau încă un pas într-u împlinirea unui vis mult dorit.

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Blue Lagoon Resort, priveliște de sus

Despre insulele Fijiene. Rerevaka na Kalou ka Doka na Tui este deviza republicii, ceea ce ar însemna în tradurece din limba fijiană Fie-ți frică de Dumnezeu și onorează Regina. Fosta colonie britanică se află înt-un colț uitat de lume la Sudul Pacificului și curpinde o suprafață în jur de 18 000 km2. Populația sa abia ajunge la 900 000 locuitori, ceea ce nu oprește prezența turiștilor pe tot parcursul anului. Climatul tropical-umed face ca aceste insule sa fie și mai întrebate în lunile de iarnă, în special în luna Decembrie. Îmi plac locurile turistice unde se vorbește fluent engleza, și Insulele Fijiene nu sunt o excepție. Pe lîngăengleză, se mai vorbește limba hindi, fapt care se datorează imigrării binevole a indienilor în secolul XIX.

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Turtle Island, liniște deplină

Ca să faciliteze procesul de repartizare, Insulele Fijiene au fost împîrțite în 9 grupe insulare regionale. Viti Levu, este cea mai mare insulă cu capitala Suva unde se întîlnesc cei mai mulți locuitori. Pe locul doi se află Vanua Levu urmată de Taveuni, Kadavu, Yasawa, Mamanuca, Lomaiviti, Lau, Rotuma. Fiecare din aceste grupe se caracterizează prin stiluri și tradiții diferite. Unele sunt ideale pentru petreceri, altele pentru relaxare, unele sunt faimoase pentru o extravaganță mai aparte. De aceea, este foarte important să planuești din timp activitățile care ți-ar trezi un mai mare interes.

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Mana Island, început de hiking

Cum să călătorești în Fiji? Cea mai ușoară și sigură cale de a organiza călătoria este prin intermediul agențiilor turistice, care nu doar oferă un preț negociabil, dar oferă la fel și informație despre tot ce trebuie să știi despre fiecare insulă majoră. După, ce am fost bombardată cu tot felul de informație utilă, am reușit pînă la urmă să cumpăr oferta cu numele de un cocos, care îmi permitea să fac două călătorii cu vaporul și să stau în două hotele diferite. Traseul meu era simplu. De pe insula mamă Viti Levu să ajung pe Insula Mana (grupul Mamanucas) loc ce se poate lăuda cu o regiune perfectă pentru snorkeling și scuba diving. Din Insula Mana, să am un popas de 24 de ore pe Insula Bounty. De acolo, să iau vaporul care unește partea de sud cu cea de nord și într-un final să calc pe Insula Blue Lagoon (grupul Yasawa) o zona ideală pentru turiști.

Insula Mana (grupul Mamanucas). Fiecare insulă îmi reamintea de un sat mic și unic în felul său. La doar 1 oră și jumătate depărtare de zona aglomerată, Insula Mana m-a uimit prin liniștea și pustietatea sa. Februarie este considerată luna în care, ploaia alungă turiștii și oferă insulei un mic repaus. Dar știți cum sunt ploile tropicale? Apar mai degrabă ca o gură de aer proaspăt în acele 30 grade celsius. În decurs de 3 zile am avut impresia că sunt proprietara plajei și că am o armată subacvatică, care mă asteaptă cu nerabdare să-mi arate dansul maritim. Am chinuit nisipul moale și fierbinte cu pașii mei alergători, de fiecare dată cînd doream să fac o inspecție a coralilor și peștilor multicolori. Nu m-am lăsat mulțumită doar cu acei 2 metri de vizibilitate și am aruncat pe mine echipamentul necesar pentru scuba diving. Mi-a luat ceva timp pîna am ajuns la 11 metri adîncime dar, în schimb, am avut privilegiul să cunosc misterul ascuns în apele Pacificului. De fapt, este un proces complex de respirație și orientare în spațiu. Să nu mă fi ținut de instructor, cred ca demult  ajungeam la suprafață, fără sa fi avut intenția s-o fac. La un moment dat, am crezut că mi se oprește inima cînd m-am trezit cu un munte de corali gigantic, chiar în fața mea, de parcă răsărise atunci, instantaneu.

Nu cred că există ceva mai plăcut decît să savurezi un duș de vară sub cerul senin în timp ce ești protejat de palmele mărețe. În Resortul de 4* Mana Beach Resort&Spa, te poți bucura de acest privilegiu, în rînd cu alte facilități oferite. Dansul ritmic al nativilor pe timp de seara reprezintă o invitație specială la cină. Un moment perfect pentru a cunoaște vizitatorii, care au același scop, de a se relaxa și a descoperi meleagurile inspiraționale.

Copiii de la școala primară din Insula Mana

Copiii de la școala primară din Insula Mana

Am colindat insula în lung și-n lat, dar cea mai mare bucurie am avut-o atunci, cînd i-am ținut în brațe pe micuțele speranțe fijiene, copiii de la școala locală primară. Aveau toți mesele și scaunelele afară, pentru că era prea cald să fii încleștat între cei 4 pereți ai clădirii. În jurul lor se învîrteau ca un roi de albine voluntarii veniți de prin Australia, Statele Unite, Europa ca să facă o diferență. O mare atenție îi este acordată și bisericii, care se află într-un loc mai retras, pe o cîmpie învelită doar în verde. Alături de aceasta, se află Capela Sfîntă, unde are loc unul din cel mai important eveniment al îndrăgostiților. Mi s-a tăiat respirația cînd am vazut unele poze făcute pe fundalul acestei miraculoase priveliști. De necrezut.

Insula Bounty. Acum, a ajuns timpul să-mi alint puțin moftul, care mi-a apărut în listă de îndată ce am auzit numele aceste insule. Știti ciocolata Bounty? Păi uite, că mi s-a promis să văd cu ochii mei locul, în care a fost făcută fotografia cu palma frumos lăsată pe plajă. Am rămas șocată, cînd am văzut unghiul exact al pozei. O insula mică, de jumătate de kilometru, care a făcut atîta zarvă pe tot globul pamîntesc se afla atunci, chiar în fața mea. Din păcate la hotel nu se vindeau delicioasele ciocolate cu cocos Bounty ca să satisfac complet pofta mea de copil.

Fericiții localnici ai insulei Blue Lagoon

Fericiții localnici ai insulei Blue Lagoon

Locuitorii insulei erau niște oameni foarte drăguți. În pofida faptului că, unii din ei erau obosiți după o zi lungă de pescuit, aceștia nu ai ezitat să mai schimbe cîteva vorbe cu cineva, care e din Maldives nu din Moldova. Ei de Moldova nu au auzit. M-a mirat faptul că pînă și în ziua de azi, pe insulele Fijiene se practică pescuitul cu sulița. Aș fi vrut să asist la o lecție, dar nordul Yasawa mă aștepta a doua zi.

Poziția favorabilă a insulei, mi-a permis sa fiu martorul ocular la cel mai frumos apus pe care l-am văzut în viața mea. Nu doar că-mi puteam flutura mîinile printe mantiile roz a cerului, dar și am asistat la cea mai intensă bătălie de culori. Ba cerul se încrunta, ba oceanul se revolta. Un cîmp de bătălie între două margini infinite, care se iubesc și se urăsc de fiecare dată cînd se întîlnesc.

Insula Blue Lagoon (grupul Yasawa). Am fost clătinată de valurile aprige a Oceanului Pacific, timp de 5 ore pînă am ajuns cu vaporul la destinație. Credeam că o să sărut nisipul fierbinte și plin de alge, atunci cînd l-am simțit sub picioare. Eram așa de fericită. De îndată ce am ajuns, în fața ochilor mi s-a deschis un peisaj absolut pitoresc. Podișurile îmbrăcate în veșminte groase de plante nu își mișcau privirea de la apele cristaline și calde a oceanului. Grădinile îngrijite cu mare atenție, bucurau vizitatorii cu o selecție încîntătoare de plante exotice. Stilul rural al micilor căsuțe creau o ambianță plăcută și confortabilă. Am zis că nu mă mișc de aici pînă la sfîrșitul călătoriei.

Aici este locul ideal pentru a combina  activitațile fizice, cu mîncarea gustoasă și relaxare maximă. Dimineața, înainte ca soarele să înceapă a dezmorți natura, poți admira priveliștea splendidă de pe vîrful podișului cu unul din tururile zilnice oferite la Hotelul Blue Lagoon. Dacă nu ești o persoană matinală, cred ca va trebui să te încarci cu răbdare pînă căpitanul Spiros pregătește barca pentru o mică călatorie pe Insula Turtle, situată la doar 30 minute. Aici a fost filmată renumita peliculă “Blue Lagoon (1980, director Randal Kleiser)”. Film, care s-a bucurat de un succes colosal.

Muntele în flăcări, Blue Lagoon

Muntele în flăcări, Blue Lagoon

Serile erau pline de entuziasm și surprize plăcute. Începînd, de obicei cu o cină delicioasă în stil Australian, sau Asiatic cum este specific acestei regiuni, ne îndreptam ușor la dansuri și jocuri: întrecerea cu crabii pe care pariam, traversarea piscinei doar pe o scîndură subțire, dansul CoCo Jumbo sub plasa care se dădea tot mai în jos și mai în jos. Uneori, aveam parte de seri mai liniștite. Care chicoteau la filmele difuzate la projectoare. Alții își luau sticlele de șampanie și sărbătoreau iubirea pe malul oceanului, pe cînd restul se adunau la foc și gustau din tradiționala tărie numită Kava. Este o băutură nealcoolică,  făcut din rădăcinile plantei cu același nume și care are un gust foarte amar. Proprietățile sale anestezice nu afectează funcțiile creierului. Se zice că, ar trebui să consumi în continuu cel puțin 2 litri ca să simți efectul. Eu nu m-am mai atins de ea din moment ce am luat prima sorbitură.

S și Eu, plimbarea de seară, Blue Lagoon

S și Eu, plimbarea de seară, Blue Lagoon

M-a mirat faptul că timp de trei zile am reușit să fac tot ce mi-am propus. Cred că e adevărat ce se spune: pe Insulele Fijiene timpul încetinește. Îmi venea greu să mă despart de ocean, care mi-a devenit prieten de încredere și de cerul care m-ia sugerat că există un infinit de lucruri noi de învățat. Dar, asta e. Tot ce e frumos se termină repede. La întoarcere, am rezervat un bilet pentru o singură călătorie cu hidroavionul. În acele 30 de minute zîmbetul nu mi-a mai dispărut de pe buze. Mi-a fost greu să-mi văd urmele pașilor pe nisipul alb. Dar, acest sentiment a fost substituit repede de peisajul mozaic al insulelor. O gamă intensă de albastru, care mă măgulea prin schimbările frecvente de nuanțe. M-am îndrăgostit pentru totdeauna.

Blue Lagoon, apusul

Blue Lagoon, apusul

Am avut parte de o aventură extraordinară, în care am descoperit marele avantaj de a călători singură. A fost un trip, în care m-am concentrat mult asupra personajului principal, Eu. Și recomand s-o faceți și voi, măcar o dată în viață. Este unul din puținele momente, în care poți sta față-în-față cu adevărata ta personalitate. În rutina zilei, uităm de noi și ne trezim într-o bună dimineață cu o persoană diferită în corpul nostru. Este important să ne reamintim că nu avem șanse să-i cunoaștem pe cei din jur, dacă nu ne cunoaștem pe noi înșine. Niciodată nu o sa fim sută la sută pregătiți să ieșim din zona noastră de confort. Niciodată nu va exista acel moment potrivit în care să începem a face lucrurile grandioase pe care le plănuim cu mare precauție. Dar, există un prezent și exiști tu, în urma combinării poate ieși ceva  frumos. Bucură-te de acest minunat glob pămîntesc, care ne oferă zilnic șanse noi de a-l concura, înțelege și îmbrățișa.

Bula tuturor si să aveți o calatorie plăcută.

Articol postat în http://travelnews.md/regaseste-te-in-fiji-destainurile-ei-partea-ii/

 

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MAngo with Sticky Rice

Who is hungry?...Me, me, me!!!...all the time:).
I don't know how about you but for me Thailand is associated with FOOD. My record included 3 tasty Pad Thais during a 24 hours stay. Not bad...right? I wasn't surprised when i found out that Thailand won the title of the "Street Food Capital of the World".

Thailand's delicacy, Mango with Sticky Rice

In order to promote Thailand worldwide, "bangkokians" not only fill the air with aromatic smells of the street food, but also divulge their secret in many of the cooking schools. This is another way to get to know the culture and the lifestyle of Thailand, also to add some new exotic ingredients on your grocery shopping list. Following my colleague's recommendations I went to Silom Thai Cooking School located on the road with the same name and I was mesmerised by everything that I have witnessed.

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Beach view, Maiheke Island

Ever wondered what to do in Aukland? Don't think too much. Just jump on a ferry to Waiheke Island and indulge the spectacular view of the Pacific tranquility.

Beach view, Maiheke Island

I am absolutely amazed by the rural atmosphere and the inspiration that I get from being on this Island. Located only 35 minutes away from downtown Aukland, Maheke Island has everything you need  in order to have a relaxing and refreshing getaway. You can purchase the ferry tickets online or at the tickets office in the departures terminal for only 36NZ dollars, return. At 8:30 I was already on my way to rent a bike and start exploring some of the "must-see" places that i've carefully marked on the map. It was a great feeling to be on an island that received international attention when it was rated the fifth best destination in the world to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet and also voted the fourth best island in the world in the Condé Nast Best Islands in the World List.

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The Island spreads over an area of 19.3 km (11.99 mi) and is 9.65 km (0.40–6.00 mi) wide. I was hoping that I could concur all of it in 4 hours, but to my disappointment those hills were just too tough. Being addicted to the beach view I've decided that my first stop will be Palm Beach...and so I started. The spoiled weather of Auckland didn't hesitate to accompany me all the way to Waiheke Island and put a sad cloud over it. But I didn't mind it at all until I took off my clothes and run towards the water thinking that I will have a blast. Aha, I wish! The water was like a sharp knife cutting my toes in small pieces, I didn't even dare to think what will feel like for the rest of my body if I get in. Maybe I wasn't lucky enough with the swimming session, but instead I had a great opportunity to clear up my mind and enjoy the morning breeze, that was stretching on the lonely shore.

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