60 Hours in Puglia, the heel of Bella Italia

When me and the girls decided to visit Puglia, we knew the trip would revolve around food – pretty much the best part in any Italian trip! Thus, stay tuned for “Pugliese cuisine” tips, what to see and where to eat 🙂

 

Alora, we stayed almost 3 days in Puglia and we visited 7 cities. Our host was Francesco, an actual Italian tour guide, so probably we had a head start and were luckier than most tourist in Puglia. Grazie mille Francesco! We had nice day trips and short stops in cute towns as Ostuni, Monopoli or Alberobello.

 

First 16h in Lecce

We had a delicious dinner at the restaurant Dall’Antiquario. I ordered Taieddra (a pie of zucchini, potatoes and rice baked in the oven) and Caponata di verdure (a vegetable mix). I also tried other starters, like polpette fritte (fried meatballs) and I’m still thinking of that filetti di melanzane al forno (baked aubergines) and Parmigiana di melanzane.

Food Puglia

We saw the capital of the province, Lecce, by night and day, and still can’t decide when I liked it more. It is called the “Florence of the South” due to its beautifully preserved Baroque architecture.

A typical Leccese breakfast is a good cappuccino, a great pasticciotto and arance rosse (a local pastry and red oranges).

The next morning, we entered the old town through Porta Napoli, one of the three gates, remains of the city walls. Gems in the historical center are the Roman Amphitheatre, the Cathedral, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, in Baroque Art.

 

Olive trees in Puglia and Ostuni

The first thing I noticed on the way from Lecce to Ostuni are many ancient olive trees. Francesco told us that approximately 60 million olive trees carpet the region of Puglia. These trees are even 2,000 years old and therefore, became an Italian heritage and are protected by law.

Ostuni is known as the “White City”. The old town has cute narrow streets, and you feel like in a white maze. We had lunch atOsteria del tempo perso“. Here I had Spaghetti Cacio et pepe, a Roman dish that I managed to miss to order when I was in Rome. The pasta had one extra ingredient – artichokes – because we are in Puglia!

Before our lunch, we tried taralli, the local snack, also a delicious souvenir to bring back home.

Collage with Ostuni and Polignano

 

Next, quick stop in Torre Ganno, a cute fishing village next to the Adriatic Sea, just in time for ice-cream at Caffe Rotolo.

 

Saturday night in Fasano

That evening our host took us to a handball match. Fasano team played the rival neighboring city… And won with some dramatic penalties 31-30. Well done Fasano!

Experiences and memories are the best investments we can make, valuable for a lifetime. Spending our Saturday evening like local Italians, watching the local handball team win and eating homemade pizza for dinner was an extraordinary experience.

 

Sunday morning in Monopoli

Cathedral in Monopoli, Apuglia Italy

The city has been populated by many different cultures and civilizations – Greek, roman, ottoman. The name means “One city” in Greek.

Monopoli is nothing like I expected and I was impressed with the city, the cathedral and the old town.

The crown jewel of the city is the cathedral because I was overwhelmed the moment I entered and saw the inside entirely decorated in red, pink, and white marble.

We returned in the evening in Monopoli in time for the aperitif and a “light” dinner at Vini & Panini , located in the main square of the historical town.

 

 

But before, afternoon in Polignano a mare

Polignano is another cute town by the sea with narrow streets and white walls. Many terraces are positioned at strategic points of the city and offer spectacular views over the Adriatic Sea.

The singer Domenico Modugno was born here and a statue is dedicated to him. He wrote the famous song “Volare”, so if his name doesn’t ring a bell, I am sure the song will.

For lunch, I finally ordered the famous orecchiette, the typical pugliese pasta, shaped like “little ears”, thus the name. Again, another delicious souvenir.

 

Last stop, but not least – Alberobello

Alberobello is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996. It’s like a fairytale village because it has the largest number of “Trulli” houses in Puglia. Trulli are white little houses with a conical roof.

Bottom line … we loved Puglia. Even though I did my research before the trip, my expectations were exceeded.

 

Credits:

Text: Aida Mola

Article photographs: Aida Mola and Jasmina Cerneka

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Choquequirao 's spirits

Meeting Choquequirao’s spirits

A story full of adventure and mystical experiences

To read about our trip to Peru and see our photo & video gallery click here

On the final straight to Choquequirao

It was only a couple of hours hiking between us and Choquequirao, which symbolized the manifestation of our intention of freedom in the physical level. As we slowly entered a state of prayer while hiking, some could intensely feel the emotional spirit of sorrow so to be recognized and to be overcome. A few others saw snakes, the symbol of wisdom, sexual energy and flexibility where normally no one would except to see one.

My higher intention for this pilgrimage was to attain full freedom from all fears and to find liberation. The moment I set my foot on the final part of the path to Choqueuquirao tremendous fear arose and lasted till I came close to the ruins. By every step my fear was growing stronger and stronger but I knew I had to endure it, to stay as much as possible unattached to it and aware. Easier to say than to do but my intention was higher.

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Versailles day escapade

Your Versailles day escapade

If you are planning your next visit to the city of light “Paris”’, do not miss out the chance for a Versailles day escapade. for sure you will be amazed, especially if you love nature.

In this article we will give you all the tips needed to enjoy an amazing day visit in the Versailles. Further more you will learn how to avoid the hassle and bustle and the long queues. Make the best out of your time there for the things that really matter.

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Porto surprising the senses

Porto. . And not a port with adjectives. The port of navigators or… well… one of them, anyway.

Portuguese. The genuine. Genuine like its wine, the one of the kind, mixed with brandy from the vineyards of the Douro Valley, to captivate the palates. The one carried in oak barrels, loaded on the characteristic caravels that you stare from the river bank. And behind them, the two-storey and three-storey houses, narrow, very old, those of the opposite bank. This is the favorite view you want to watch when you go there.

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August in Nisyros

The island of Nisyros is located in the Southern East side of Greece and is part of the complex of islands of Dodekanisos. It is a small volcanic island containing active craters on its surface. The island does not have an airport thus access is limited to boats. This makes the island less attractive to mass tourism and allows it maintain its unique traditional identity.

Residing in a Western European country for the past four years it was quite a difference to travel from a multicultural and urban environment to an original, one culture place.

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5 reasons why you should visit the Baltics

Estonia and Latvia might not be on top of your list when you think about a summer holiday destination. But think again. Those two Baltic countries are probably more digital, cheaper and more modern then you would have thought. Here’s why you should consider a trip to the very north-east of Europe.

  1.       It’s digital

I know – being on holiday is not the time to check your phone all the time. You’d actually need some time to ‘de-connect’ from everyday office life.

But: we all know that at least having access to the outside world can be very convenient. Remember all those times that you wanted to find that nice shop, the name of a restaurant that a friend recommended or simply just checking on GPS if you’re heading in the right direction. The Baltics are the place to go if you want to have 24/7 Wi-Fi access.

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4 small Berlin gems

There are a few cities that never bore you, no matter how often you’ve been there or in which time of the year you visit it. It always feels great to be back. Berlin is definitely one of those. Strolling around the streets, having a beer or coffee in one of the many nice bars or visiting the historical sights; even if you have been there quite a lot of times, there is always something new to discover.

The ‘obvious’ highlights (Alexanderplatz, Brandenburger Tor) are worth a visit, but these are some spots that you have to include in your next trip to Berlin as well, to see the Berlin I really love:

1. Prater Garten Berlin. Serving beer since 1837, right in Prenzlauerberg. Although the garden itself seems a bit hidden (it can not be seen from the street) the entrance of the beer garten at Kastanienallee is easily spotted. It has a nice atmosphere, with both tourists and locals enjoying the beer and the snacks. It has a restaurant too. That one servers more meals.

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LIsbon tram

Night plane to Lisbon

Wandering and exploring a small part of Portugal on my birthday. There are so many reasons to love the country, but to name a few: Lisbon, fado, pastéis de nata, azulejos, miradouros, Sintra, Cascais, trams, the Atlantic Ocean, and castles.

 

I knew I want to visit Lisbon after I saw the movie Night train to Lisbon. Since I found the movie fascinating, I started reading about Portugal and Lisbon, in particular. Pessoa, the famous Portuguese writer, said that “Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveller. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.”

One day I was in the English bookstore in Brussels to buy the book by Pascal Mercier, and I saw it next to the sign “Like all travellers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen”. I bought the book and my plane ticket the next day. If this is not a sign, I don’t know what is!

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Deep in the Australian desert – an adventurous Camel Trek Expedition (Part 2)

 
               

            138 Gnallan-a-gea Expedition – Simpson Desert, Australia 

 

picture1After an hour, we keep walking, stopping here and there depending on our findings, an unusual flower, animal tracks or a specific stone, until we find the right spot where we will set up camp. Again, quality and quantity of the available food for the camels is of paramount importance… even if it means that humans will sleep in a field of spinifex…

We unload the camels, leaving everything at its own place, to ease the loading in the next morning… then we set up our swag creating our own little world for the next 15 hours…picture2

I love it when I can sleep on top of a dune… alone… I can be far away and still find my way easily in the dark as I can see the shadow of my swag in the moonlight, or just remember to get up the 2nd dune to the left of the campfire… Sometimes I wish I had brought a GPS, to be less dependent on my co-travelers and to avoid getting lost while trying to find my swag in the dark after a toilet break…

It is nicely warm in the afternoon… I enjoy those moments, reload my camera with my solar charger, go for another short walk, read, or lie in the sun… just being… just feeling… happy

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Deep in the Australian desert – an adventurous Camel Trek Expedition (Part 1)

                     138 Gnallan-a-gea Expedition – Simpson Desert, Australia (Part 1)

 

Tracks… The inspiring story of Robyn Davidson who crossed the Australian desert in the late 70’s… I would love to follow her steps, sleep under the stars, be alone in the desert, just me, the sky, the sand, the sun and the silence… and walk for hours…       Picture2

But I am not brave enough to do this on my own, know nothing about camels (neither did she), have no idea how I could organize all this and don’t know anybody who could give me the necessary logistic support…

Brisbane airport, one year later… I am waiting for my delayed flight to Bedourie, ready to join a 20 days camel trek & scientific survey in the Simpson desert…

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