Buddha is always Buddha!

The weirdest place to find in Portugal is Buddha Eden.

Don’t know if you like parks, but I adore calm places to walk around, zoo and botanical gardens. But most I like really weird kitsch places, which you don’t expect to find in the place they are located, it changes environment and the mood fundamentally.

The Portugal is so calm, has beautiful nature of southern Europe, calm cozy cities. And then you are driving to the place called Buddha Eden, oriental park with all the possible oriental flora and even some fauna like koi fishes, shapes of the lakes and paths and hundreds of Buddha statues.

35 hectares of Art in the name of all the Bamiyan Buddha destroyed in Afghanistan in 2001.

The most surprising that all the park looks not like something unnatural, all the statues seems real and old, so you are losing the feeling that you are in Europe. But also you can find here the great example of modern art. The craziest thing impressed me is a copy of the huge part of Chinese terracotta army even with horses, made in electric blue color.

The project is impressive in craziness and idea behind, made me happy to be there.

Where: 1 hour drive on the way to Peniche (surfer’s paradise with longest waves in the world)

When: Any sunny day, 1-2 hours to walk around, make photos, eat your precious sandwich (don’t forget).

Web: http://www.centerofportugal.com/buddha-eden-garden/

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Do you want to be advised on logistics? We will be happy to share! Skype us to Leone Principessa

Hearty and friendly Belgrade.

Air Serbia has a flight from Moscow to Milan with six-hour stop in Belgrade. We took these tickets just because it was half less price than a direct flight. Stewardesses are all with red lips, friendly and positive, as, indeed, the taxi driver from the airport to the city, and it’s not possible to not give him tips really.

Out from six hours of stop we had, of course, only three to visit Belgrade. We are both not the first time in the city, but Leone was here quite passing through, so I had chosen all the places based on my experience, which impressed me the fist time I was here.

First of all, lunch. There are a lot of cozy cafes in the city with a warm atmosphere, a bit hipster, but matured. We had lunch in Smokvica, a wonderful little place with light Italian and almost middle east cuisines. Incredible blue walls, high ceilings, a live fireplace, huge wooden windows.  Leone, of course, did not miss the opportunity to treat himself with Serbian wine.

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When we were full, we went to the Museum of Nikola Tesla. Weather in Belgrade, after -20 in Moscow, to put it mildly, is spring. Two days before our arrival, the snow fell, and now +6 seems like in March. Warmed ourself.

Nikola Tesla Museum. All I know about this incredible scientist and his inventions, all from this museum. In my opinion, the nicest museum I have ever visited. Every hour a charismatic young man with perfect English tells to visitors of museum (with us it was 25-30 people) about inventions of Tesla, which were so many that by issuing patents each month it would be enough for a lifetime. What is most remarkable is that the young man switches on and shows all the museum’s exhibits, gives to touch and try all of them. It turned out that Leone knew really little about Nikola Tesla, and he was surprised and very happy to visit the museum.

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After the museum we went to take a look at the Danube, but lost a way, as usual, and wandered into the street with closed bars. The city is very beautiful: ancient buildings, small hidden streets and an incredible amount of street art, and not bright, but smart, non-intrusive, covering the sad empty gray walls of houses.

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For a while we could not find a place where you can call a taxi to airport (catching taxi on the road is not possible), somehow reached fuel station, and only just asked refuel girl where we would call a taxi, she immediately took out her phone and called.

People here like this, always ready to help, to explain, friendly and hearty. Maybe that’s why the atmosphere in Belgrade so warm, as people.

We sat already in the plane, which was raising in the air, when snow began again. For the first time I took off through the wall of snow. Beautiful.

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On the whole, just stop between flights, but very intensely positive emotions as a result. Warm and delicious.

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  1. P.S.: Need practical advice on traveling in Balkans? Check this post of Leone here.

Smokvica: http://smokvica.rs/srb/

 

A (long) day in Albania – Part 3

And so, after two months from last post about Albania I am going to write the last chapter of this story. I am sitting on the bed with Princess and I am happy, were two months of intensive work, travel, a lot of different activities and is only now that I find the time to write and I am realizing how much I missed this activity .. in which is clear that I am still a novice.

Returning to the facts, we had left in Koman, without ferry and with the idea (unscheduled as always)to go to Tirana. Left the valley, and its horrible trail, a road fairly well maintained drove us to the capital, we were already quite tired but reach the center was relatively easy.

Passing by car from Skanderbeg Square we were immediately fascinated, a huge space, according to Wikipedia 5 hectares, with wide streets, lawns, flowers, dedicated to the Albanian National Hero Giorgio Castriota. Leaving the car at the first parking available we walked, and here, at the same venue, the thing we liked most:

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This is the mosaic “The Albanians”, created in the eighties, from various artists, it represent the Albanian people history, still impresses me how a picture so beautiful could sum up the history of a country.

Tirana is a mixture of different architectures, the pyramid is impressive, built in 1987 as a mausoleum of the dictator Enver Hoxha, and then turned into a cultural center. Many time demolition was planned, but it’s still there, and I personally like it, I like to see young people who chatting around it, close to the word “Mos Me Harroni” that in Albanian means “To Not Forget”, a piece of history, good or bad, is always a piece of history.

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After a short walk, we got hungry, you will have already guessed by reading other articles, we’re both foodies, and that in all of our stories you will find something to eat. Recommended by our Lonely Planet we visited the restaurant Oda, in a side street not far from the center, after having turned around a few times, we found the entrance, a nice lady made us sit in one of the small rooms, furnished in Albanian style. We had great time, the furniture were not the only traditional thing, the food there really surprised us, we strongly recommend to visit this place, we tried several dishes doing our best and challenging the elasticity of our stomachs !! Me and Principessa look forward to come back!

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Sunset is coming and we decided to leave the city, destination Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. Leave Tirana was not easy, a few directions, no detailed map of the city and a traffic devastating. We drove along a mountain road, without even a light, I tried to follow the local cars, driving better than me, or so it seemed. At about 22:00, tired, we arrived at the border and we made our first entry in Macedonia, after having finished the formalities of the case, and politely rejected the offer of the border official who wanted to rent us a house, we reach Ohrid, where we stayed for two days, lovely place, but that’s another story …

And so the 5th day of our trip is over, we drove a lot, took ferries, rented a small boat, met a lot of people, ate ate ate, visited cities, swam, met animals and slept little, only the first taste of a trip that we will never forget.

Plovdiv, the capital of Thrace that we were not expecting.

**Disclaimer: I am writing for fun, my English is not perfect, I am not a perfectionist! Have fun!

During our last trip me and Princess traveled through 12 nations by car, and just in Bulgaria we found a place that we immediately loved: Plovdiv. A pair of cute Germans also took what has become our favorite photo with our instant camera, despite the orientation:

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I knew nothing about Plovdiv before I got there, except that it was halfway between Kazanlak, famous for the production of rose extract, and Skopje, capital of Macedonia. Only now, thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that we were in Plovdiv, the capital of the ancient Thracian land famous in Greek mythology, I do not remember why exactly. By the way, in Plovdiv we realized to not have the famous “Vignette” to use highways and now we are waiting fines)).

So we stayed in Bulgaria for a couple of days, we visited the region of roses, the capital Sofia, and finally we got here, on September 24, more or less at lunch time. It is a big city that does not say much getting there by car, but as soon as you walk inside the old town you will understand why it is called the “Florence of Bulgaria”. Ancient streets that go up and down a hill, great nineteenth century buildings well kept and maintained, markets selling local products and antiques and for sure restaurants (we were hungry!).

We chose to the restaurant Hebros, considering that we were traveling without telephone, nor internet, nor other technologies we were super lucky, and after a couple of hours we were full, and quite drunk. Very tasty baked eggplant stuffed with vegetables, and chicken fed only with corn hominy, all bathed in a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon obviously local. If you want to know what the corn hominy is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominy, if you visit the restaurant: http://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g295391-d1101020-Reviews-Hebros_Hotel_Restaurant-Plovdiv_Plovdiv_Province.html .

During our wandering dazed by alcohol we found a great photo lab, an initiative of Lyuben and Desi, who welcomed us with perfect English and made a series of photos with historic costumes (http://retrophotoplovdiv.com/) The result here:

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Afternoon spent back in time, walking around the city, in the company of a number of cats, which are everywhere, monuments, amphitheatres … Towards evening we left the city in the direction of Skopje, but we will be back.

Leone