Okay, I must admit I am being a little overdramatic with the whole ‘lost’ part because you can’t really call it that if it is your choice. I bet you are wondering why would anyone want that? Well the answer is : IT’S SUPER FUN!.
I should start by saying that I was bored one day and wanted to do something different. I was considering going for a walk and discover new places in Amsterdam – places I have never seen before but, I soon realized that it would be a little tricky considering Amsterdam is a tiny city and for that reason most places are not actually new for me.
I have been living in Amsterdam for almost 2 years now and it would be assumed that by now I should know mostly all of the city’s parts. However, considering that Amsterdam is full of canals, there are multiple ways of getting to places. For this reason, I most often find a wonderful spot and am so happy to have discovered something new until I reach a point where I realize that ‘Oh, I know where this is’ and the only thing I discovered was just a new way of getting there.
Anyway, what I want to talk about today is this amazing app called ‘Derive’ . Last year, one of my teachers made us install this app in class and then go out and enjoy Amsterdam by following its instructions. At first, I thought it was ridiculous but it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences.
How does the app work?
What this app does is that it gives you all sort of indications of weird things to do around town. The thing is that you get so soaked into completing the tasks that you completely loose track of time and sense of space, which is why you can get lost.
There are some tasks that make you want to step out of your confort zone such as ‘Follow a couple until they notice you‘ but isn’t that the fun part ?
Other examples of it:
‘Find a kid with a red hat and follow him for 2 minutes’ or..
‘Walk around and do not stop until you find a source of music’
‘Introduce yourself to a stranger’
This brings me to what I finally decided to do to get rid of my boredom. I did eventually go for a walk but I did so by using Derive. I was sitting in my room thinking about what I should write about and then I thought why not use the app again? I got dressed straight away (would have been a bad idea to go out in my PJs) and hoped on the tram ( probably you will wonder how I live in Amsterdam and do not own a bike – mine got stolen!). I got off after four stops and started exploring. The app took me to a stroopwafel place, an antique store and on a tiny quiet street in De Pijp. I got to see some things I never paid attention to before even though I knew the areas quite well and felt like a tourist for a day.
The thing is it’s a pity the app is so underated and nobody really knows about it. It is suprinsing though considering it has such a nice concept and is perfect for an alternative way of doing touristy things.
Install the app and go have the time of your life!
I will leave some pics I took during this walk down below:)
Let’s talk about Christmas shopping today! I know it is still November but for me November is like the Thursday of the year – just the month that stays in between Halloween and Christmas. I see it like a passing bridge tbh and so, as soon as october 31st passes, my mind goes straight into festive mood!
Apart from all the nice things it brings, festive mood also comes with huge stress in regards to holiday shopping!!When it comes to Christmas shopping, I like to do mine in time in order to avoid the rush before the holiday season and make sure I get the best presents for my loved ones. However, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! And getting the PERFECT Christmas gift is no easy task. I know that because I still struggle every year with gift ideas and for that reason, I want to help you with your Christmas shopping this year 🙂 So, if you can relate to this, then this blog post is for you. Down below, you can find gift recommendations that I found after extensive research :). The suggestions that you gave me on Instagram have also been taken into account.
Little background story :
I have to admit : I am a sucker for Christmas ! Ever since I was a kid, this was my favourite time of the year (even used to love it more than my birthday ). Maybe it was also because I have a huge family (and I am not only referring to my parents and sister, but to my grandparents, cousins, auntie&uncle and godchildren that my parents married). However, my point is : when we get together we are literally like all the families in all the Christmas Movies haha. To this day, I look forward to 25th of December the most – but I also love all the weeks that build up to Christmas where I get to go to Christmas Markets, enjoy the Christmas Lights in my city, go Christmas Shopping, listen to carols 24?/7, bake cookies, watch Christmas movies and get to decorate the house/tree for Christmas !! (every year I decorate at least 3 trees hahahhahaha)
Also both BLACK FRIDAY & CYBER MONDAY are just around the corner!
SO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THESE DAYS TO GET YOUR XMAS SHOPPING DONE
Having said so, let’s dive in then!
TIPS TO GET THE BEST PRESENTS :
be careful at what they mention they would want ( I pay attention throughout the entire year and take notes in my head)
make a list ! – even though it might sound ridiculous, it really helps !
In terms of make-up, I feel like the holiday season is the absolute best time to buy make-up as a gift because most brands have holiday deals with such cute packaging. If you don’t know what I mean, just walk into any Sephora (or make-up shop close to you) and you’ll see what I mean. ( I even get distracted by all the amazing xmas boxes with make-up products that I already even own haha).
Here are some Holiday Make-up Products that you could get your loved ones :
First of, let’s start with fragrance recommendations – 3 for men/3 for women
For the girls, I will recommend my favourite perfumes of all times (all of which I own myself and personally love)
Ugly Christmas Sweaters from Amazon for women and men
And so, these are my recommendations for your Christmas Shopping this year. I hope it helps you at least with some ideas for your loved ones and that it will make your shopping process easier in a way.
I also want to say that, the lockdown imposed by the current pandemic pushed billions of people worldwide to come up with new hobbies and ways of spending their free time. Because of this, a lot of people have discovered new passions. (so maybe you can take this into consideration for your Christmas shopping too).
According to the ZeroPark Blog, here is a list with the top lockdown hobbies (and thus GIFT IDEAS)
Halloween is just around the corner and even though I am not the biggest fan (because Halloween is not a thing at all in Romania ), I thought I wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to share some ideas/tips for the perfect celebration at home!
For all the Halloween lovers , I know that this year will be completely different and most probably you will not be able to go to Halloween parties (and rock your outfits) or go trick o treating. Even though that is very sad, we live in very uncertain times and we need to be positive ! I trully believe that we have to try and still celebrate our traditions and holidays even though it is not like we used to do it before the pandemic. So, if you are a Halloween lover don’t let this day pass without doing something fun !
I have to admit – this is the only activity that we would do for Halloween every year when I was growing up. Every year, my dad would buy the biggest pumpkin he could find at the market and then come home and let me and my sister carve it (with some help from our mom). I remember that we used to have soo much fun and ended up with the craziest designs for our pumpkins.
For that reason, yesterday night me and my boyfriend did the same thing ! It gets messy I admit and if you are not up for the clean-up process that follows maybe yous should skip this, but it’s so much fun ! We played halloween songs and had the most amazing time carving our little pumpkin ! ( If you want to see the process you can watch my IGTV )
LIST OF MY FAVOURITE SCARY MOVIES
Get Out (2017)
Trick r’ Treat (2009)
Paranormal Activity (2007) – To this day I still cannot sleep alone after watching this !
The Addams Family (1998)
The House at the end of the Street (2012) – plot twist at the end
The roommate (2011)
Fractured (2019) – this movies kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I even wrote an uni paper on it because it is such a mindfuck !
Truth or Dare (2018)
Improvisation is key when it comes to DIY things. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money you can just improvise with what you already have laying around the house. In terms of decorations, you can literally used toilet paper as a mummy inspired decoration (it’s that easy haha). What I loved to do when I was younger was to make bats out of toilet paper tubes (that I would paint black and add wings too). When it comes to costumes , I only started getting dressed for Halloween since I moved to Amsterdam (because I have a friend that throws Halloween parties every year and she would make us dress up ) but because I never wanted to spend a lot of money on costumes, I improvised. Last year I was a pirate and the coolest thing is that I only paid 5 euros (for the sword/hook and eye patch) because I owned everything else to create a pirate costume. You just need to let your imagination guide you and enjoy the process !
Halloween inspired cookies
Ok so I was looking on google for inspiration to make my own Halloween treats when I stumbled across these amazing recipes from Delish. THEY LOOK BOMB! I just couldn’t help myself and I had to share them with you too. The Dracula cookies are ingenious (can you even imagine something yummier than a sandwich of chocolate chip cookies with a layer of marshmallows in between ? Because I can’t ! I will 100 % make this dessert for Halloween !
My suggestion ? On Oct 31st put on a costume, bake some cookies (and decorate them for Halloween ) and have a scary movie night with your closest friends ! ( by closely following the local guidelines in terms of how many people you can have over in regards to the coronavirus pandemic)
Have a spooky Halloween and let me know in the comments if you have extra movie suggestions for me 🙂 !
Disclaimer : This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through the given link, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commision.
This is my first ever fashion-related blog post!! Isn’t that EXCITING? I am such a fashion lover – I love styling outfits, repurposing a certain item to match different occasions and being trendy overall. And so, I thought I’d share what I consider to be the ‘must-haves’ items that should not MISS from your wardrobe during the autumn/winter season + tips on how to style them and where to buy them from !!
Trench coats are very cool, easy to wear and they give you such a classy vibe too. They are so easy to style, they come in a variety of patterns, colors and models and can truly transform an outfit so I would say that a trench coat = definitely a statement piece.
They can be worn both in autumn and winter so perfect investment ,right ? During the warm autumn days, you can opt to wear a skirt or shorts with a cute top and style it with a trench coat on top and you will look like you came straight off the runway. For the cold winter days, you can wear a trench coat on top of a thick sweater with some nice jeans and cool boots and you will have a very classy, business-y kind of overall look.
Also, if you do not want to spend A TON of money on one, there are some very affordable options for very cute and qualitative trench coats (click on the highlighted words down below and you will be re-directed to some affordable options Xx)
For me, turtlenecks are the GO-TO option when it comes to tops during the cold seasons of the year.(not that I wouldn’t wear them during the summer if I could) They are just so comfortable and look amazing in every outfit combination. Also, there are so many models of turtle necks – so many different fabrics, patterns, some are bodies some are not so plenty to choose from to match your taste!
PS: For this season (AW20), I have even seen some turtleneck sweaters with shoulder pads. Classy!
I don’t even know if this is worth mentioning because I doubt that a basic pair of black jeans can’t be found in every girl’s AW closet. However, if by any chance you don’t already own a pair of black jeans, you should definitely buy one ! They work amazingly with everything , make your legs look bomb while also matching the color palette of autumn. And the best part they don’t have to be skinny jeans (if you are not a fan of skinny jeans ). Black Jeans rock no matter their model :
Baggy jeans ? – perfect with a body/turtleneck + a leather jacket on top – ASOS39,15 euros
Skinny ? – perfect with an oversized hoodie/sweater and a pair of cute boots – Mango –29,99 euros
Mom jeans? – perfect with a comfortable hoodie or trendy long sleeve blouse or just a basic T-shirt- ASOS 27,99 euros
There is nothing nicer than a warm autumn day, AM I RIGHT?I am referring to those days when it’s too warm to wear jackets, so jeans+ basic T-shirt will do it, but a cute skirt/dress will make you look like the ultimate FALL QUEEN. The reason why I personally love these types of outfits is that I love styling skirts/dresses with nice pairs of boots/leather jackets (as seen in the pics below) which is so not possible during the summer cuz otherwise I would sweat like a pig! HA-HA.
pics and skirt (SALE – 15 euros from 35) are from Loavies
PS: I have a leather high-waisted skirt that I love to style with either baggy T-shirt and a jean jacket or occasionally a hoodie on top of a body! (suggestion for leather skirt – NA-KD )
Styling suggestion : tights + a cute skirt + a trench coat and a basic tee = perfect fall look!
If you are more of a casual wear type of girl, hoodies could be your go-to for the cold seasons. Personally, I love to wear hoodies when I want to go for a comfortable look. They are warm, cozy and look great and if they are oversized that’s even better – you get the feel of a blanket in a hoodie !
Plus, I think that one of the biggest perks of hoodies is that they are unisex ! Sometimes, hoodies for boys are so much nicer and so I just buy them for me hahah.
Along with hoodies, they are the perfect addition to an outfit during the cold seasons. Personally, I prefer a nice sweater on autumn days rather than jackets because I feel way cozier in a sweater (if that makes sense). They are soft and look nice so I would definitely say sweaters are a must in every girl’s closet ! The thing with sweaters is that they can be found literally in every shop and 99% look amazing. But, I will still leave my favorite shops to buy them from down below !
Primark even !
Cute pair ofheel boots or a cool pair of high boots
DEFINITELY A MUST! First of all, heel boots are my favorite type of heels (they beat the summer sandal heels by a long shot) because they add a certain vibe to your overall look. Even if you wear the most basic outfit, if you add a pair of cute heel boots, the overall look will be 10 times nicer! And the heel does not even have to be that high – for example, let’s take the example of this season’s obsession with cowboy boots – they are super stylish, give you the look of heels but are still not that high which makes them perfect !
This is 2020’s fall season obsession – the cowboy heel boots that come in so many shapes, sizes and colours ! I have a pair in light brown and I love it ! These pics are from NA-KD (price range differs) .
Now, in terms of flat high boots , I have a pair that literally everybody keeps on asking me about – I bought it from Moja (a Romanian brand ) and they are 100 euros more or less. They are super confortable, easy to wear and truly a statement piece ! (see the pic below if you don’t know what boots I am referring to).
Of course, there are so many brands that make amazing boots that are also pretty popular such as Dr. Martens ( 150-220 euros/a pair).
Personally, I love leather pants! They are sort of a statement piece of every outfit and can be worn both for a day to day look (with a sweater/hoodie on top, or a nice shirt + cute jean jacket) or a bomb clubbing outfit ! (with a cute top). Plus, some leather pants have a very soft fabric on the interior that actually helps you keep warm during the cold winter days annnnnd because they are leather pants , if it rains you won’t get wet! (which for me is a game-changer because it rains almost every day in Amsterdam and I don’t always carry a waterproof jacket or umbrella with me).
YES! YES! YES! Buy yourself some nice streetwear kinda sweats and you’ll see feel amazing. I have such a pair from Adidas that is my absolute go-to on days when I don’t feel like wearing tight pants or I just want to go for an overall comfy look. You can style them with an oversized top that you can then tie and give it a cool fresh vibe or a body, turtleneck, hoodie – basically they go with everything !
And so, these are the items I consider ‘must-haves’ ! Please let me know in the comments if I missed anything that you think is a must and if so what is it:) I am curious to see your opinion too ! Let me know if you liked this type of blog post and if you would want me to write more posts like this !
This is my first time ever writing a blog post like this but I have seen it at other bloggers and I thought this would be such a cool idea tbh. Sooo, the whole point of this blog post will be to share all my favourite things/products/places (you get the idea) from September. And so here it goes !!! ARE YOU EXCITED? I for sure, am haha.
1. L’interdit by Givenchy
A fragrance based on a white flower imbued with black notes – perfect for this time of the year !!
I got this perfume from my family for my birthday and I love it! It makes me feel like a powerful boss babe who can achieve everything she sets her mind to! (which is a great mindset to have)
2. Studio Fix Powder from MAC
In terms of the studio fix powder from MAC, I have been literally wanting to buy this product from the beginning of the year but for some reason I just never actually did. (student budget and all that). I have read so many good reviews about it and so I decided it was time to get it.I just got it over a week ago and I love it – it also has some foundation incorporated so perfect for the days when you don’t feel like putting a lot of make up on.
3. The Social Dilemma
A DOCUDRAMA THAT NEEDS TO BE WATCHED! This documentary tells the story behind all the big tech companies and how us, users are being exploited for financial gain through both data capturing and surveillance capitalism. Moreover, it explains how the design of nowadays social media platforms is created in such a way to create addiction and ‘pull in’ the user deeper and deeper. What is really interesting is that throughout the film, very important people that helped design and create nowadays social media platform step up and talk about the negative aspects of the social media rise and usage. The documentary tackles very important topics such as : the important role that social media plays in the spread of fake news, the huge impact it has on the mental health of it users (especially teens). Persoanlly, I believe that is it very important for everyone to watch this and understand that social media is not ‘harmless’ and that everything , every single action we take online is being stored somewhere. I feel very lucky to have learned all of these during the courses I have had so far during my bachelor and that is why I really thing that this documentary raises awareness on a very important topic.
4.Teenage Bounty Hunters
Such a good series I discovered by pure chance. It was exactly what I was in the mood for – funny, teenage based, drama with the perfect mix of action too. It feels the story of two teenager twin girls from Georgia who go to a very religious private school and happen to get mixed up in the bounty hunting business. I loved watching it but was sad about the fact that there is only one season with 10 episodes :(.
5. The Hague/Scheveningen Strand
It is weird that I have been living in The Netherlands for almost 3 years and I had never managed to go to The Hague until 2 weeks ago – even though I have always wanted to !. I was very lucky too because there were literally 30 degrees Celsius when I went (in mid-september in The Netherlands – that does not happen !!). It was my bestie’s birthday and so we went to celebrate at the beach. It was such a good day – I even went into the water a couple of times that’s how hot it was. We tanned, drank some cocktails, listened to good music and ended the day walking on the boardwalk (that gave me Santa Monica vibes).
Valkenburg is an extremely cute town just 7 km away from Maastricht! My boyfriend’s parents came to visit and they rented a car which allowed us to explore places we would not normally go to. And that’s how we got to Valkenburg. We had some delicious specialty coffee at a very cute cafe/bike store called Coffee before Cycling and then we visited the only fortress in The Netherlands – the ruins of the Valkenburg castle. It was such a cool experience to wander around the castle and imagine how people must have lived there hundred of years ago. And then we had an amazing dinner at this Mexican restaurant that had amazing decor and live parrots and iguanas.
7. One.two.free! foaming cleanser
This product is revolutionary – girls I am telling you – IF YOU ARE A SKINCARE FREEK (like me), You will absolutely love this cleanser. I just discovered this brand when I bought the cleanser – it just launched at the beginning of 2020. Their skincare products contain fermented beauty ingredients which will give your skin the perfect glow! After I used the foaming cleanser, I was shocked as to how smooth my face felt. Would definetely recommend it and categorise it as a MUST-HAVE.
These are my September favourites guys. I quite enjoyed writing this blog post so I am thinking of writing similar ones in the next months. Let me know what were your September favourites in the comments below !
I just want to start this blog post by expressing my gratitude towards the opportunities that the coronavirus pandemic has sent my way. We are living through very difficult times and it is true that this coronavirus has drastically changed our normal way of life. And so, we had to adapt to the changes and get used to living with restrictions. (travel restrictions, social distancing, capacity restrictions in terms of restaurants, cinemas and so on and so forth.) However, let’s try to not only think about the negative aspects that the coronavirus pandemic brought, but rather try to see the positive things and the opportunities it created. In this sense, before this pandemic I was solely focused on international travel and the discovery of all the different cultures of the world. I was blindsided by the beauties of the world and never stoped to look at all the hidden gems my own country has to offer. Personally, I took for granted all the beauties of Romania because I always kept on telling myself that these places in my country are very easy to reach and discover. I remember I kept on telling myself ” I have all the time in the world to see my country – I can go anytime I want”. But Have I ever visited places in Romania ? No, I haven’t because that mindset I had always made me postpone my national travel plans. And so, this is one thing I am grateful that the coronavirus pushed me to do. Considering that I could not travel internationally (aside from my spontaneous trip to Greece in June – check the blog post about my first travel experience post-corona here : https://annascompass.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/a-spontaneous-trip-to-vourvourou-sithonia-greece/) this summer because of all the travel restrictions, I had to reorient and thus I decided to see my country.
Summer 2o2o was certainly different, scary, unexpected and challenging but it was also full of beautiful moments in breathtaking places from Romania. And for that, I am grateful ! Now let’s talk about my last trip before heading back to Amsterdam (after 6 months of being away ) for my third and last year of university.
Where is Dobrogea ? What is special about it ?
I spent the last days of the summer in such a beautiful and historic region of Romania and that is – Dobrogea/. This region is situated between the Black Sea and the Danube Delta and has a very rich history/culture. It borders Ukraine in the north and Bulgaria in the south (as it has 245 km of coastline). The region has amazing sceneries and prides itself with acres of farmland, forests, the beautiful Danube Delta and even mountains. Dobrogea is home of the oldest mountains on the European continent – the Macin Mountains. They formed 300 to 400 million years ago but have eroded in time and thus nowadays can be mistaken for hills.
2. Dobrogea – a gateway to rural Romania
Dobrogea is formed of 4 major cities : Constanta (regional capital of Dobrogea), Tulcea , Medgidia and Mangalia. Apart from these major cities, there are also the seaside resorts :Mamaia, Costinesti, Vama Veche etc. and the rural villages. As soon as you leave the major cities and head into the heart of Dobrogea, the time seems to have stood still : horse charts can be easily spotted on the roads while the villages are filled with people working in agriculture and raising animals. Most of the houses are made out of wood or ‘chirpici’ (adobe in English) and painted in the same shade of blue. Locals gather in front of their houses and talk about their days while curious tourists admire their simple way of life from the passing cars.
3. Things to do in Dobrogea/ Local Attractions
Dobrogea is very diverse culture wise. The region is split between Romanians (the majority) and various minorities (Bulgarians, Russian Lipovans, turks, Macedonians, Armenians). Each minority has brought customs and traditions into the region which makes Dobrogea a true gem just waiting to be discovered.
A day trip to Gura Portitei
Gura Portitei is a small island only half an hour away(with a speed boat – it takes 1 and a half h to reach it by normal boat ) from Jurilovca. It is known for being the place where the Black Sea meets the Danube Delta. The main things to do there are going on the beach (there are both virgin beaches and beaches that have umbrellas and chairs), playing sports and chilling by the pool. I went on a long stroll around the island in search for impressive sea shells. There is only one restaurant there (but the food was very yummy!) and if you want to spend several days at Gura Portitei , you can even find accomodation even though most people only go there for a day trip.
Visit Dobrogea’s impressive citadels
During our trip, we went and visited 2 citadels : The Enisala Citadel and the Orgame-Argamum one. We wanted to also visit a third one – Histria but in the end, we did not go anymore.
The Enisala Citadel was built during the Middle Ages and is considered to be a monument of military architecture. The fortress looks over the canals that link the 2 nearby lakes to each other : The Babadag and Razim lakes. It is truly a place in Romania that is worth seeing!
The Orgame-Argamum is only an archeological site nowadays but it was the first human settlement (in documents). First, there were the greeks who lived there (hence the name Orgame), and then the romans followed and named it Argamum. I really liked walking around the ruins and imagining how it must have looked like when people lived there. Also the views from up there are TO DIE FOR!
We had a very nice accommodation which I truly loved and would recommend it to anyone who wishes to visit Dobrogea and experience its culture, cuisine and history. For the duration of our stay, we stayed at Suvenir din Dobrogea / Souvenir from Dobrogea (https://suvenirdindobrogea.ro/wp/) in a village called Visina (less than 5 km away from Jurilovca). The entire concept of the household was built around the idea mentioned above – to promote all the diverse minorities that have settled into Dobrogea along the years. And so, there are 5 rooms offered to tourists for accommodation and each of those rooms has a different theme and completely different decorations – NO ROOM IS THE SAME!. We stayed in the oriental room that had such realistic decor that it literally made me feel like I was living in a Turkish movie.
Plus, the host is a guide so she knows all about the history of the region and tells wonderful stories about Dobroge .On top of that, there were so many animals at this farm which makes it perfect for all animal lovers – from puppies to cats and adorable little kittens to rabbits, horses, chicken and even ponies. (There was a baby pony there when I went and it literally looked like a toy – it was so small and literally the cutest thing i have ever seen!).I would say that this accommodation is the best retreat if you wish to escape the busy city lifestyle for a couple of days.
The Danube Delta
The most important attraction is by far the Danube Delta– the largest and best preserved delta in Europe.The Danube Delta was created at the meet point between the waters of the Danube and the Black Sea and itis a UNESCO protected biospehere reserve whose beauty cannot be described into words. The Delta is built around 3 main channels/arms : Sg.Gheorghe,Sulina and Chilia and due to all its little lakes and canals it looks like a real-life maze. I would strongly recommend going on a boat tour through the Delta. The tours leave from Tulcea every day ( https://viziteazadelta.ro/excursii-delta-dunarii/excursii-tulcea/) and you can opt for either half a day trip – until Mila 23 or a one day trip and see all the most importat spots of the Delta. I went on the full day trip and loved it. The boat left around 9 am from Tulcea and returned around 8pm. It was a beautiful trip with breathtaking scenery – I got to see exquisite birds in their natural habitat (even pelicans which I had never seen before ) and amazing flora. I was the happiest to see different types of water lillies and even mini water lillies. I was not that happy about the huge mosquitos haha (My advice : if you do visit the Delta be prepared for mosquito bites around the clock – I still got bitten even though I had anti-mosquito products sprayed all over me).
The first stop over was at Mila 23 where we had a lovely homemade lunch made by some locals who were born and raised there. After a couple of hours we hoped on the boat again and set course to Padurea Letea (The Letea Forest) where we had a SAFARI ! in proper safari cars !!! How cool is that ? We even hoped off in the forest and observed the flora from up close and even spotted some wild horses . PS: The beauty of Letea and what this village is known for lies in the wild horses. There are over 3000 wild horses roaming around the forest and they can easily be spotted by tourists. It is incredible to think about the fact that a while back these horses were abandoned by villagers who could not look after them anymore. They slowly started to reproduce and the nowadays generations have never had any human contact – How crazy is that ?. After a couple of hours at Letea, we finally set course for the final destination of this trip which was at Sulina. We got to spend 2 hours at the beach and even go on an expedition on the beach until we stumbled across a military site (that looked very similar to the ones we see in all the movies and the warning signs that were there kinda scared me to be honest haha).
Interesting fact about the Danube Delta:
The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador.
In terms of food, fish is the predominant dish – all sizes, shapes and tastes and extremely, extremely fresh fish (all the restaurants sell fish they caught in the same day). It is very hard for a non-fish eater to find something to eat and it was quite difficult for me as I do not like fish. However, I adapted quickly and am incredibly proud of myself as I ate fish almost every day!! And I LIKED IT!. (some of the yummy foods I ate can be seen below).
Overall, it was an amazing trip and I am very happy that I got to discover this part of my country too. This summer , as I have already said opened my eyes towards local tourism and I must say that I cannot wait for the next time I will have a chance to be in Romania for so long – I will definitely try and visit even more places and of course, share them all with you!
Paltinis is a mountain resort situated in Transylvania, Romania only 35 km away from Sibiu. It is situated at a high altitude ( 1440 m) which makes it a top pick for both national and international tourists due to its breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains. Founded in 1894, Paltinis is the oldest mountain resort in the country as well as the highest.
ROADTRIP FROM BUCHAREST TO PALTINIS
As I live in Bucharest, Romania, it took me around a 5-hour road trip (including 2 stops) to finally reach Paltinis. However, I cannot complain for one bit – the views I saw before reaching this beautiful mountain resort impressed me to an extent I never thought possible. There are only 300 km from Bucharest to Paltinis but only 100 of them are on the highway. After you leave the highway, get ready to be amazed by breathtaking views on the famous Valea Oltului ( Olt Valley -a valley on the edge of the Olt river).
TIP: make sure you stop at the OMV gas station situated exactly on the edge of the Olt river. If you are lucky enough to be there on a sunny day, you will be shocked by how beautiful the view is from that gas station. (as seen in the photos below).
ACCOMODATION IN PALTINIS
If you aren’t already familiar with my way of writing about a trip, you should know that I always dedicate a section for accommodation.
We chose to stay at Pensiunea RaRa (https://www.rarapaltinis.ro) – a beautiful guest house just opposite of Arena Platos. It has its own restaurant (where we ate most of our meals because the food was absolutely delicious) and amazing views from the rooms (as shown below).
THINGS TO DO
Paltinis is mostly known for mountain bike trails and hikes during the summer and ski during the winter season. Even though the resort is quite small, there is a variety of things that one can indulge in when visiting.
If you visit it in the summer, make sure you go for hikes – it is an absolute must in this region! There are so many different trails with different levels of difficulty so even though you are not a professional hiker, there is a trail for you. Moreover, there is an outdoor activities park called ARKA PARK just 24 km away from Sibiu – the park offers several tree trails for adults and kids alike.
Arena Platos – one of the must see places for both summer and winter trips. Why is that you wonder? Well, during the winter season, this place turns into the perfect ski destination with several ski slopes and after ski bars. During the summer season, Arena Platos prides itself with numerous mountain bike contests. Moreover, hikers from all around the country come here for the popular forest trails. In addition, Arena Platos is extremely children friendly with activities such as a playground, a trampoline and even a summer sleigh. (You can check out the website that has both a summer and a winter interface for activities that take place at Arena Platos —-https://arenaplatos.ro/vara.html )
Personal tip : To be honest, I never considered myself an outdoor enthusiast and hiking was never really something I liked doing. However, after this weekend trip everything changed. Even though I never actually liked hiking I always loved exploring new places and that unbeatable felling of not knowing what to expect. For that reason, I thought I should start thinking of hiking as a way of exploring new places, hidden spots. And so, by adopting this mindset, I ended up hiking everyday and as a consequence, I stumbled across such beautiful places as seen below.
Sibiu is a medieval city situated in South-Eastern Transylvania with a population of 155.000.Due to its economic evolution in the past years, Sibiu is internationaly recognised and attracts tourists from all around the world. The city is considered to be the biggest hub on Romanian territory for the German minority which is why it is also known as Hermannstadt. Moreover, Sibiu is one of the most representative cities from Romania in terms of tourism, culture and economy. The city has its own charm and it prides itself with its clean and organised streets. My personal opinion is that this is a must see city in Romania especially if you find yourself in Paltinis. If it it the first time visiting it, I would suggest taking an entire day to explore Sibiu and all its attractions such as Podul Minciunilor (The Bridge of Lies), The Brukenthal National Museum, Piata Mare, Piata Mica and the Council Tower of Sibiu.
All pics are taken by me !!
Overall, even though the coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire traveling industry and community, I am grateful that I get the chance to focus on local traveling for the summer and thus, discover such beautiful places within my country.
My advice ? Try to see the bright side of this extremely uncertain situation that the pandemic has caused and try to focus on discovering beautiful places near where you live. I know I did and I got to see some breathtaking places within Romania.
Life is too short to not go on that spontaneous road trip
I just want to start this blog post by addressing the fact that I know how hard this worldwide pandemic has been for everybody and how much it has impacted the travel community.Not being able to travel/explore and discover the world continues to be an issue considering that at the moment traveling is still quite restricted.Moreover, having to cancel trips we were all looking forward to is something that I truly hope we will never have to face again. With all of this in mind, I just want to say that we need to stay positive and trust that everything will go back to the way it was. In the meantime, my advice is that we start shifting our focus on destinations that are closer to home – beautiful places that maybe we never paid attention to before and thus, we can slowly start traveling again.
Where is Vourvourou and why is it so special?
Vourvourou is a small fisherman village situated on the peninsula that is known as Sithonia, just 120 km away from Thessaloniki. It is considered to be one of the most popular destinations in Halkidiki amongst tourists due to its breathtaking views, incredible silence and some of the most beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean.
How did I get there in the middle of a worldwide pandemic ? And what do I mean by ‘spontaneous trip’?
A bit of an intro on the situationand some context : Even though I moved to Amsterdam 2 years ago for the duration of my university studies, I have been at home (In Bucharest, Romania) since march – due to coronavirus. For those of you reading this who might not know it already , Romania is extremely close to Greece which makes it one of the top holiday destinations amongst romanians. What do I mean by close ? – Well, it takes around 600-700 km to reach a beautiful island/beach destination from my home city. As a kid, me and my family used to go to Greece a lot and, due to its close proximity we would always drive there and used the opportunity to have a family road trip.
On June 15th, Greece opened its borders to tourists again. Prior to it, an agreement was signed between some Balkanic countries, according to which traveling of the citizens of the signatory countries would be allowed without any risk of being put in self-isolation or quarantine at their return to their countries of residence. And thus, on the night of June 15th my uncle, auntie and two cousins decided to leave on holiday to Greece.
So here is the part where spontaneity kicked in – it had been raining non stop for more than 3 weeks in Romania and it was quite chilly as well so the options on activities in our country were quite limited. And thus, on June 16th my dad just randomly came up with the idea to go to Greece at the end of that week and surprise my auntie and uncle. At first, me, my sister and my mom laughed thinking that he was joking -it should be noted that my family has rarely been spontaneous. My parents love structure and, for that reason, when it comes to a holiday,we always have everything organised and sorted out at least half a year in advance so you can understand how my dad’s idea came a bit as a surprise. However, we soon started to think about it and we decided to go for it not even knowing if my parents can even take some days off from work. That is the story behind how we spontaneously decided to leave so abruptly and head to Greece without having booked any sort of accommodation.
After a very long (10 h including the stops) and uncomfortable drive – uncomfortable because we were 5 in the car as my boyfriend also joined in on our little holiday, we finally reached Vourvourou. I was charmed by its beautiful,peaceful beaches and the clear blue water.
For the duration of our stay, we had a beautiful apartment at Fillis House Vourvourou (https://vourvourou-apartments.business.site). I thought the location was the perfect combination between Tuscany and Greece. It was really peaceful and, considering that tourism had just opened again a few days before we went there, we were the only clients so that was fun. Everyday I would start my morning chilling at the beautiful infinity pool and taking in the view.Moreover, the owners had a cat that just gave birth to 4 tiny little kittens that I would play with every time I saw them.
Some pics from @FillisHouse
Things to do
Vourvourou is a very quiet place, perfect for a relaxing getaway. Moreover, it is well known for its great boat tours to the beautiful Blue Lagoon or nearby islands and beaches. The village roams with tourists every summer that are very excited to explore the numerous beaches of the area.
Views from Vourvourou
Once in Vourvourou, you can opt to rent kayaks for a day and have a very fun time at sea. This activity is the perfect combination between sports and nature and it can guarantee an unforgettable experience. Most tourists (especially families with kids or big groups) opt for guided kayak tours along the Vourvourou coastline. These organised tours can take anywhere between half a day or a full day (depending on the preference) and during it, tourists can immerse themselves into beautiful secluded sites.
Boat rental – another great idea to spend a day in Vourvourou. Renting a boat just for you (your friends/family) gives you more freedom over what you can do. You will be in charge with your own schedule and you can enjoy boat rides wherever you want – the possibilities are endless.We had a boat for the duration of our stay there and I absolutely loved every second of it.
Another thing to do in Vourvourou is SNORKELING!. This is by far one of my favourite activity whenever I am holidaying at a destination that is known for beautiful snorkel spots. Vourvourou has so many spots where the water is crystal turquoise which makes it just perfect for swimming and snorkelling. However, some of these spots cannot be reached from shore so, you should look into either renting a boat/kayak for the day or go on a boat tour with a guide.
As Vourvourou is a very small village, there are not a lot of things to do when the night comes. So, if you want to do something in the evening (apart from eating at a greek taverna in Vourvourou), you can hop in the car and drive to Nikiti. Nikiti is only 11 km away and has a bit of a nightlife. There is a boardwalk and lots of cafes, restaurant and even some bars.
Overall opinion + Recommendations
I really loved the village and it was the perfect place for what I needed from a holiday at the moment – a quiet place where I can relax and unwind from all the coronavirus stress. So, if you are looking for a a relaxing getaway to just unwind and rest for a couple of days, I think you would love Vourvourou.
The Blue Lagoon – I would recommend not missing this beautiful place. I have never seen such a crystal clear turquoise water – that lagoon literaly looks like heaven on Earth.
Moreover, if you are a fan of the greek bougatsa ( their famous pies), you should definitely try out the Casa la Creme (https://www.facebook.com/casalacreme/) famous ham and cheese bougatsa. It is a family recipe that has been preserved throurgout the years and it is the only place that makes it. I have to say it was the most delicious bougatsa I have ever tried.
How traveling after the covid-19 pandemic felt like
To be honest, one of the reasons why this particular trip was so special is because for the time that I was there I completely forgot about the Covid-19 pandemic. Greece had a very small number of cases In general and the area we went too, Halkidiki had no cases at all which felt like a fresh breath of air after all the stress the coronavirus has created. People-( tourists and locals) were very relaxed. Nobody was wearing masks (as that is not a requirement in Greece apart from the staff at restaurants/bars/cafes) and that reminded me of normality. It felt incredibly weird to be able to travel after 2 months of very strict lockdown especially when I would have never thought I would be able to travel so soon. I truly am grateful that I got the chance to have a nice holiday in the midst of this global pandemic because even if I wanted to, the coronavirus pandemic is not over. So , continue to stay safe to protect yourself and those around you and if you do travel these times, make sure you are doing it safely!
All my life, I have been a huge fan of exotic trips when its wintertime in my country : hopping on a plane with winter clothes on and an outside temperature of -10 degrees just to hop off after flying for a significant amount of hours in the middle of a full -on summer season. How crazy is that?
For me, the winter season is the perfect season to go on an exotic trip – going on a trip like that when it’s also summer in my country just doesn’t feel the same. And so, right after New Year’s Eve this year, on January 2nd, I and my family packed up and left for our trip to St.Marteen.
We hoped on a plane from Bucharest to Paris (where we had our stopover) and then straight too St.Marteen.
I always like to do my research before a trip and so I knew we would be landing right over the world-famous Maho Beach. That was such a fun experience – seeing people who were taking pics of the plane I was in and landing so close to the beach was definitely a first.
As soon as we landed, we hopped on a ferry and went to Anguilla for 5 days . Anguilla is a significantly smaller island than St.Marteen , which is why there wasn’t much to do after the sun went down. With a population of 14,000 people, the island does not have any shopping malls, casinos or cruise ships , which I absolutely loved. Plus, being jet- lagged helped a lot because we would wake up every morning before the sun and went to sleep around 8 pm anyways. The economy is based mainly on tourism and family- run businesses. What I was pleasantly surprised about was the fact that they have wi-fi absolutely everywhere.
For the duration of our stay there, we mainly focused on exploring the island with a beautiful red Jeep Wrangler and sunbathing (the island has over 33 public beautiful beaches). I have to admit I had a blast learning how to drive in the opposite way (considering that Anguilla is a British overseas territory and they respect the British rules when driving).
St.Marteen (in Dutch) or St.Martin (in French)
After 5 relaxing days in Anguilla, we returned to the beautiful St.Marteen. As I’ve said before the 2 sides of the island are quite different and so, in order to get the full experience, we split our stay and had accommodation on both sides. What I was super shocked about was the insanely intense traffic – there was one main highway surrounding the island with only one way per direction and I am not even kidding it would take more than one hour to get from the dutch side to the french one – with a distance between the two of 11 km.
The French Side
The capital, Marigot has direct representation in Paris. This side of the island is extremely European oriented with numerous upscale shopping and dining options. (there is even a small shopping mall – West Indies Shopping Mall) . Due to its location on the island’s central west coast, Marigot shelters a marina where travelers can catch ferries to and from other islands in the Caribbean.
The Dutch Side
The Dutch side of the island is far more focused on tourism and developed in that way. The capital, Philipsburg is located around the Great Bay -a very popular stop for cruise ships. Every morning when the cruises would come on the island, it would immediately be super crowded. However, as soon as the cruises would leave around 6pm, all the shops closed and the island would suddenly be ‘dead’. Considering that he had quite some time on the island, we went to Philipsburg more than once and there was a day when no cruises came so all the shops were closed for the entire duration of the day.
The Dutch side is home to several dutch forts, luxurious resorts and casinos as well as the famous Maho Beach.It is also located alarmingly close to the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport where crowds tend to gather in the afternoons to watch the planes arrive.
THINGS TO DO IN ST.MAARTEN
Have a ride on the world’s steepest zip line
Watch planes landing at Maho Beach
Wander around the colourful Philipsburg
Fun activities at Loterie Farm
Orient Bay Beach (clothing is optional on this particular beach)
Pic Paradis – hike to the highest point of the island to catch incredible views of the shoreline and surrounding jungle
Visit Pinel Island
Rent kayaks/paddle boards
My thoughts on the island
I really loved this holiday and destination in particular. I got to drive around the entire island and explore both sides, I visited some of the most beautiful beaches and soaked in the sun. I had one of the most amazing experiences kayaking to Pinel Island and back, exploring the remains of some neighborhoods after Irma hit and have a glimpse of the local culture. It was particularly interesting to see how fast the island recovered after the hurricane and returned to normal.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for what time is what life is made up of” – Bruce Lee
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the world by placing the entire planet under lockdown. I am sure none of us could have ever imagined that we would be experiencing something like this in our lifetimes but unfortunately, we are. This virus has affected our lives so much as we all had to cancel plans, trips and just get used to living our lives in isolation. It truly is another way of a ‘war’ that has brought so many changes and influenced our lives to an extent that I, for one, never thought possible.
Having spent one month inside my house, I had time to do a lot of thinking and realized how many times I said no to plans just because I wanted to stay in, or how many times I left parties, nights out early just because I wanted to sleep more. It is only now that I realize all these little things that I AM SURE I will never do again when the quarantine is over. Having the freedom to do anything you want and leave the house whenever you feel like feels so surreal right now -almost like a science fiction movie. Isn’t it crazy how quickly we can adapt to anything?
However, I am sure that pretty soon, countries will start relaxing the measures and life will slowly go back to normal. The question is : Will life as we knew it ever be the same ? What will ‘normal’ be after this?
On a much happier note,I know that staying inside 24/7 for so many days in a row definitely is challenging but we have to adapt and make the most of this period. This is why I’ve come up with a list of TO DO THINGS during these difficult times. I have to admit that in the first 2 weeks of quarantine I would be sooo bored and I always felt that days were going by soo slowly. I knew I had to maintain a positive mindset (otherwise I would have lost my mind) and started to think about things to do to make this quarantine more entertaining and meaningful. It was really important for me not to waste time during these months of quarantine because my goal was to get out of it having learned new skills.
BORED IN QUARANTINE ? HERE IS MY LIST OF TO DO THINGS THAT WILL DEFINITELY MAKE IT FUN!
To be honest, before this quarantine I would not always cook, but when I did do I would always stick to my basic recipes. I was never eager to try out new recipes because I didn’t want to risk wasting ingredients and time on a recipe that I might not like. That changed during this quarantine. Having so much free time gave me the opportunity to try out new recipes and experiment. There were days when I had literally no idea what I was making but I would start cooking either way and just go with the flow. So, use this time to try out new recipes, get creative ! – invent your own recipe, mix together ingredients you would never think work together (you might be surprised ) and just see how it turns out 🙂
2. Have an indoor spa day
Who doesn’t love spa days? An improvised spa in your own living room/bedroom may be the perfect thing to boost your mood these days. This can be done alone ( self-love type of day) or with other people such as friends, boyfriend/girlfriend or family members – it’s a really fun kind of activity. All you need is a chill playlist, some face masks (cucumbers for the eyes haha) and voila! If you don’t have any face masks at home, you can even do one yourself. You’d be amazed by how easy it actually is and how little time it requires.
3. Puzzle away!
I have to start by saying that I haven’t done a puzzle since I was around 10-11 yrs old. However, I was so bored at the beginning of this quarantine that I couldn’t help myself and placed an order.The funny thing is I was confident enough to order two not one – I was super suuure that I would finish one in max 2 days. I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was :))) . Doing puzzles is definitely a challenge but I have to say TIME FLIES when you do it. I swear! You are so focused there that you don’t even realize how quickly time passes, so if you are lucking for an activity that will help your quarantine days pass faster, this is it!
4. Learn a new skill
We have all this free time so why not make the most of it and use it wisely ? I mean think about it ….. when will we ever have this much free time ever again? Just do something that you have always wanted to but never had the time for. In my case, I have been taking an online course in something that I am interested in and think it would be extremely helpful in my future career. Also, I did a bit of gardening as well (don’t know how good I was though).But you can do anything you set your mind up to – from learning a new language to gardening or learning something about the latest trends in specific industries. Just try to make the most of these free days! You will feel great if you do:)
5. Play boardgames
This is a classic for every family gathering, party or a fun family night. So , why not do it in the quarantine as well? Just pick your favorite board games and play them with whomever you are quarantined with (I’m sure anybody would be up for it ). If you want to take it up a notch then download Houseparty (or any other app like it) and challenge your friends to some fun childhood games.
6. Have a movie marathon!
I can’t be the only one who’s always had a list of movies I’ve always wanted to watch but never actually got to. There is no better time than during the quarantine . Just pick a night and start a movie marathon – buy loads of snacks or order some junk food and allow yourself to completely lose track of time and only go to sleep when the sun rises ! (or not even). Another suggestion for a super fun experience is to download Netflix party and binge watch movies simultaneously with your friends.
7. Have a picnic
Picnics are fun, right? I am sure most of the people love doing this especially on a nice sunny day somewhere in a park or a beach. However, the current circumstances don’t allow us to enjoy a picnic outside with friends/family. But, here is an idea – why don’t you do it inside? If you have a terrace or garden, that’s perfect -just plan a picnic and enjoy some fresh air while spending quality time with your loved ones. If you don’t have any outdoor space, just do it in the middle of the living room – snacks, cards and a bottle of wine. For a more authentic experience, you can even play some ‘nature sounds’ as backround music.