GOTHENBURG: A GREEN HEART OF SWEDEN

In many aspects Gothenburg has changed from an industrial sea side town towards an innovative modern city. The heritage remains though and for example fishing is still a huge part of the city today. The variety of fresh fish and seafood is unique and in the early mornings you can see the fishing boats unload at the quays.

The Dutch built Gothenburg during the 1600s, as they were considered the best at building on marshland. This has given Gothenburg's city centre its famous channels that are distinctly dutch-inspired. The original city was built inside a large zigzag-shaped city wall that came to characterize Gothenburg for centuries to come.

Are you looking for budget-friendly things to do in Gothenburg? I will listed some great ways to see the city for next to nothing.

First you can go around the city and explore the old part of it. There is the old town and after, one of the best part of the city, the charming neighbourhood of Haga, that has a wonderful selection of cafés and small artisan shops. Haga is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Gothenburg. The main pedestrian street is Haga Nygata lined with well-preserved houses, many in the characteristic Gothenburg style called "landshövdingehus" with one floor in brick and the rest in wood. Normally here people come to have a coffee break that is called “fika” in Sweden.

Today, Haga is located in the middle of the city. But not when Gothenburg's first suburb was planned in the middle of the 17th century, after orders from queen Kristina. The name Haga actually refers to the Swedish word “hage”, which means “an enclosed field”. If you look towards the sky you will see a hill, climb it and you will arrive to the fortification Skansen Kronan that is on top.it was made to control the territory below. From there, you get a nice view of the district and a large part of the city.

Another nice point is the fishmarket. here you can eat something and let you taste at a good price the amazing fish of this city. The Fish Market is a "Fish Church", an hall completed in 1874 to a design by the city architect Viktor von Gegerfeldt. And yes, it does actually look like a church.

Second the city’s parks and the Botanic Garden.

The main path is quite long; it will take at least 2 hours to visit it quietly. Take the big road yu will see at the entrance on your left until the Japanese Dell. After that is all your choice. There are several path you can go through, depending what you want to see. There is a rock garden, a nice viewpoint on the city and much more.  The entrance is free and it is a peaceful place where you can pass hours without crossing other people. The “Botaniska” was first opened to public in 1923 and it becomes a natural reserve in 1975.

Another idea is to go for a great budget-friendly day trip to the southern part of the Gothenburg archipelago. It is within easy reach by tram and ferry, and you only need one ticket for 28 SEK to go the whole way from the city centre (if you want to take more than one ferry just take a day tickets and you can go around all the day). Once there, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, picturesque villages and rugged nature. The islands in this part of the archipelago are car-free and suitable for long walks or bike tours. Take your pick from islands like Brännö, Styrsö or Vrångö, and don't forget to bring with you food because the groceries will close early. I will describe it in another article!

If you arrive in Goteborg in summer you can also be lucky and find one of the annual events that in Gothenburg offers free activities, workshops, concerts and entertainment. I found the Gothenburg   Culture Festival (Göteborgs Kulturkalas) in August, and so I enjoyed also the evening there.

HAMBURG: PERFECT CITY TO VISIT BY BIKE!

Hamburg is an ideal cycling city with thousands of metres of waterside cycle routes. You can enjoy several two-wheeled tour of Germany's premier port.

Similar to Copenhagen, for hundreds of years, much of today’s Hamburg was Danish territory. More than 150 passed but it’s easy enough to see the sign of the past. Like Copenhagen, Hamburg is flat as a pancake. Hamburg has only recently accept the idea that the odd rain shower shouldn’t put people off their bikes. Now, it is easy-access to rent-a-bike and choose a cycle tour of Hamburg a no-brainer.

THE OUTER and INNER ALSTER

Hamburg grew around the Alster river, which was dammed in the early Middle Ages, creating two lakes. One, the small “Inner Alster” is at the centre of town and is the classic postcard snapshot. The other, much larger “Outer Alster” is one of the best place for the locals that say that this is where central Hamburg is at its most beautiful. Starting at the legendary Hotel Atlantic, home to spies and rock stars alike, head north past the cafés and sailboat moorings to your left. It’s a bit loud at first but you’ll get your first pay-off with a great view across the water after a while. After that, the streets get quieter, the houses get bigger, and the views back into town just keep getting better. Just stick close to the water and cross at Krugkoppelbrücke to start heading back into town, stopping off for a drink if you’re thirsty.

 

THE other RIVER ELBE

 

Hamburg has another important river, economically far more important, the River Elbe, a mighty European waterway and home to the city’s port. Head to Landüngsbrücken for a first view of the impressive docks and then use the Alter Elbtunnel to cross. Don’t forget to look back across the water for the view that most miss, and then follow Hermann-Blohm-Straße and the railway sidings along Veddeler Damm for a unique look into the workings of a modern port. Turn left back towards town at Moldauhafen, crossing the river over the iconic Elbe bridges, and then head for HafenCity for a look at the city’s biggest brownfield regeneration project.

Another route you can enjoy, starts from Landungsbrücken and follows the river downstream. You’ll pass the renovated redbrick warehouses where cod, coffee and carpets were once traded. Next, it’s the unmistakeable rhomboid form of the Dockland cruise terminal: yes, you can climb up the stairs on the rear of it - and doing so will reward you with a sweeping panorama of the harbour. Keep heading out of town for the village-y charm of Övelgönne and its old fisherman’s cottages and, if you’ve got a whole afternoon, ride out as far as the Teufelsbrück ferry and then turn inland for the beautiful Jenischpark and the Botanic Gardens.

Read more articles about Europe!

 

CEVICHE: EL PESCADO MAS BUENO DE AMERICA LATINA!

In Italy we eat carpaccio, in South America they eat Ceviche…  a traditional recipe that let you taste the real flavor of the fresh fish! The seafood is cooked in a citrus-marinated sauce originates in Peru. The origin is probably to be reconnected to Spanish escabeche, which is a vinegar-marinated dish.

Ceviche is simply fish "cooked" by marinating in the acid of citrus juice. This recipe is said to be traditionally Peruvian but in each country of South America you can find a ceviche. You can choose among different juice: high-quality white saltwater fish with lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice… and more: salt, hot peppers, onions, and cilantro basically.

Enjoy it in a hot day with a cold beer —or anytime you desire a fresh snack in your South American travels!

INGREDIENTS

1 pound white saltwater fish

1 glass of lime juice

1/2 glass of lemon juice

1/2 glass of orange juice

1 sweet onion (sliced very thinly)

1 chilipepper (e.g. habaneros)

cilantro (chopped)

Salt

STEPS:

First, start to cut the fish into small pieces, not too small… you need to taste the fish when you will bite it! Normally dice it in pieces up to 1-inch square. One rule: the larger you cut the pieces, the longer it will take to marinate.

Add salt, then cover it with all the juices you prepared! You can do it in a glass or plastic container with a lid. After one minute, add the sliced onions and the chili.

Leave the fish mixture in the fridge for at least 2,5 hours, better 3-4 hours (very large pieces of fish can take longer to fully marinate). Depends on how you feel about the freshness of the fish you bought, it is OK if the centers of the pieces are still raw-looking.​

To serve, put the mixture on a plate or in a bowl and put on the top the cilantro.

NOTES

Normally as whitefish you can choose among albacore, sole, snapper, halibut, or anything else you can find also in a sushi menu.  The High-quality of the fish is really important, for your healthy and for the best ceviche you can prepare!

Please, remember to remove the skin and bones from the fish, as well as the bloodline before cutting it up. You have also to cut all the bloodline, the dark red portion of the fillet to have a real ceviche.

Wit ceviche please take a cold beer and tortilla chips as an accompaniment. In Peru, you will most often find this ceviche dish served with potatoes, either sweet or white.

You can prepare the ceviche also with other types of fish, e.g. shrimps or atun… whatever you want!

read my other recipes!!

THE MALASYIAN CURRY LAKSA

In Malaysia the eating never seems to stop, so you've got the opportunity to get to know quite a few dishes. The noodle soup laksa is one of Malaysia's iconic dishes—but it takes many names and even more forms. The main ones are asam Laksa and curry laksa.

Asam means "tamarind," and asam laksa is a tart, sour fish soup made from that fruit as well as shrimp paste and various aromatics, producing a thin broth.

Curry laksa is a much richer one whose broth has a coconut milk base, and it's poured over noodles and garnished with tofu puffs, shrimp, and egg. If you hear someone describe a dish as just "laksa," this is usually (but not always) what they're talking about.

In Penang, in the north of the country, you'll find more version of asam laksa, and it's likely to be a little more tart and spicy, thanks to their proximity to Thailand and affinity for those flavors!

I tried the best one in Penang in the food court around the city! If you want to know more, read my article about penang!

This recipe version is traditionally made with rice noodles, prawns, clams, tofu puffs and fish balls. It is not a dish of subtlety. It is a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy elements, normally accompaniments with Vietnamese mint and fried Asian shallots.

Food court in Penang

Food court in Penang

curry laksa preparation

Kuala Lumpur street - curry laksa preparation

Kuala Lumpur street - curry laksa preparation

Kuala Lumpur street

Ingredients

60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil

1.5 litre of broth made with the prawns heads

2½ tsp grated palm sugar

450 g clams

12 large raw king prawns, shelled, cleaned, tails left intact

500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk

12 fish balls (see Note)

150 g tofu puffs (see note)

200 g (2½ cups) beansprouts

500 g fresh thin rice noodles

fried Asian shallots, ietnamese mint leave if you like, chilli sambal (optional) and lime wedges, to serve

Laksa paste

8 small dried red chillies

2 tbsp dried shrimp

5 red Asian shallots, chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped galangal (see Note)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 large lemongrass slices

6 candlenuts chopped

1 tbsp belachan (dried shrimp paste)

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

How to prepare the recipe step by step

First prepare the laksa paste: put chillies and shrimp in two separate bowls and water enough to cover both with boiling water. You need to leave for 20 minutes or until softened. After that drain well, then process with remaining ingredients in a food processor to a smooth paste.

Second the dish: heat oil in a large saucepan. Add laksa paste and cook for at least 2 minutes or until fragrant.

The next step is to add stock and sugar. Leave the time to combine the ingredients, and then bring to a simmer. Add the clams, return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. After that add prawns and cook for 1 minute or until all the ingredients are well cooked.

At this point you can add coconut milk, fish balls, tofu puffs and beansprouts. Stir gently and  bring almost to a simmer. Cook for other 2 minutes.

In the meanwhile, place noodles in a large bowl with enough boiling water to cover, then stand for 2 minutes or until heated through. After that you need to drain well. Divide noodles, then laksa mixture among bowls. Scatter over fried shallots and mint leaves. Spoon over chilli sambal, if desired, and serve with lime wedges.

GOA: NOT CONVENTIONAL INDIA

Goa is not a city …. It is a  part of the incredible India!

India is recognized as the largest democracy in the world. The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. The principles of equality, liberty, justice and fraternity are the roots of India. The people from any caste, creed, sex, religion, and region can vote and choose their representatives. In India, there is a federal form of government that means there is a government at the center and at the state.Therefore, Goa is part of all of this and is the smallest state.

The “country” changes fast but the magic still is there. You can go to India just for a month but you need more time  to live India and the incredible culture it has.

Goa's attractiveness lies in the beautiful beaches , each with its own appeal. You can visit 30 beaches strung out along the coastline and each of them is different. You have to take care in the months of October and November when the seabed is still settling after the monsoon. While Goa's reputation as one of the most liberal Indian states means that sunbathing in a bikini is entirely accepted, but remember that topless is illegal and wearing flimsy shorts or a bikini anywhere other than the beach is extremely disrespectful. When you will be there , please respect the culture and what it means for Indian people.

The northern beaches are generally considered to be the most dynamic, developed and tourist populated. Calangute and Baga, for example, are quite touristic but you have to know that these beaches lacks much authentic Indian charm. It depends on which experience you want to live in India.

One of the place I was is Anjuna beach, the original hippy hangout, that has changed dramatically since its original days but retains a touch of the unconventional.

 ù

In the northest part of Goa and you'll find peace again on the beaches of Mandrem, Asvem and Arambol – broad sweeps of fawn sand, backed by thickets of palm trees and casuarina pines.

In the south there is another nice place is Palolem. With postcard-perfect views, lazy beach life and a chilled-out nightlife this broad bay has little in common with the more commercialized northern beaches. For something even quieter, wander south to the next beach along, Patnem. Go to eat curry fish, it is an amazing typical dish!

How can  I know so much? I rent a moto and I was just flowing from a place to another in Goa territory.

Party like no where else

Goa is recognized as a party destination. It was began to be established when it was a Portuguese colony, providing a liberal bolt-hole in a conservative nation. Young Western backpackers began to mix all togheter in Goa and the state became a venue for all-night raves.

There are, the three-day "underground" trance parties. The best place to begin is at Vagator beach. After this you should ask for the jungle location where that evening's party will take place.

However, since the police have started to crack down on these unofficial all-night raves, mainstream club started to fill the gap.

In the middle of the day, the pace of life in Goa slows substantially.

Yoga in Goa

Yoga is a usual activity you will do in Goa, the smallest India state. Visiting several beaches I was looking always for a Yoga class and it is so easy there to find one. Just go around and find the best practice for you!

I used to do Yoga early in the morning, when the sun come up and gentle tell you that the day starts…

Do yoga in India is different than do it in Europe. All around you, remember that this is a philosophy, not just a practice. You need to focus with all your soul and your mind and feel as you are part of something bigger than you.. The nature and the world itself!

MARSEILLES: LA CITE’ PHOCEENNE

During Easter vacation, I left Turin with some friend, direction: Marseilles. I already was in this city but when I was a child so I cannot remember anything!

We spent two relaxed days enjoying the sun and exploring the major attractions of Marseilles.

The colors of the building give you a sensation of peace and of course, the sea help a lot in this… it is not an usual European city for me, it was more similar to different small villages one connected to the other: I am thinking to the center or to the panier, the old port and so on…. Each neighborhood with his own soul.

So the time I passed there was good and Marseilles let me a very good impression, an angler city with a long past and a long history on his shoulders. Founded by the Greeks some 2,600 years ago, it has uncoiled itself inland from gritty docklands over the centuries and grown a reputation as port with a seedy character.

A lot of places to see: from the Basilique of Notre-Dame de la Garde to the Abbaye Saint-Victor, the Old Port and then head out to Chateau d’lf, a fortress on the island of lf. You will find museums to explore including the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, La Vieille Charite, and Palais Longchamps & Musee des Beaux-arts. Spend some time at the Cathedrale de la Major. Of course, you need to check out Marseilles’s oldest district, the Panier.

WHAT TO VISIT

If you like to see an amazing view from the top of the city, you need to go to start your trip with the Basilique of Notre-Dame de la Garde. Dominating Marseilles’s skyline, the Basilique is of the 19th century Romano-Byzantine, an opulent Catholic church that sits at the city’s highest natural elevation spot on the south side of the Old Port.

The church, whose name means ‘Our Lady of the Guard’ was built on the ruins of an ancient fort and offers spectacular 360 degree views of the area. It was designed by Henri-Jacques Esperandieu. Over the years, restoration projects have been undertaken, most recently in 2008.

City buses and a tourist train make the steep ride to the top possible. The beauty of the architecture, both inside and out makes this a must-do when visiting the city.

After having see the city from the top, you can go directly to the old port, that is still the watery heart of the city, with its fishing boats and yachts bobbing lazily on the blue waters, and two forts framing its entrance at either end.

Stroll its flanks, the Quai des Belges, early in the morning for the catch of the day: the lively local fish market. The market runs from around 8am – 1pm, and is a Marseille institution. You can’t miss it!

For the “aperitivo” behind the Town Hall lies the city’s old town, "Le Panier". Experience the hidden gem that is Marseilles’s old town without a guide (guided tours available from the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau), on the Petit Tourist Train or on foot.

And remember drink pastis! You are in the city of this really nice and fresh drink! For what I read the pastis comes from the absinthe. In the past centuries France became addicted to absinthe.

When the prohibitionists (ably supported by the wine lobby, which didn’t like the competition from the green fairy) carried the day in 1915, during the first Great War the French probably needed a stiff drink.

Fast forward to the 1920s. Absinthe was still banned but the government (probably mindful of the tax revenues that would ensue) gave the go-ahead for absinthe-style drinks to be sold provided they contained no wormwood and were not too alcoholic. A brash young entrepreneur from Marseille with a flair for marketing, Paul Ricard, decided to market an anise-flavored drink he called pastis. It was strong stuff and got Ricard into trouble with the authorities, but the French public took a shine to Ricard’s concoction, which bore his name and which he declared to be “the true pastis from Marseille,” a claim that gave the drink a certain raffish allure. By 1932 Ricard and others had managed to get the law changed to allow a higher alcohol content and a market was born. Not to be outdone, Pernod launched its own anise drink (which to this day it resolutely refuses to call a pastis) and pastis became as much a symbol of France as the beret, the baguette and boules.

WHERE TO EAT

Marseilles is full of local restaurateurs seizing up the quarry for their menus. You can try a fresh saltwater oyster before you head to your next stop. Thankfully, they are not rinsed and come delicious au natural.

For a dinner we found a very good fish restaurant: Le Petit Cabanon,  the food was amazing and we drink also good wine!

If you want to taste something local you need to try the savory bouillabaisse, Marseilles's signature dish fish stew. Word on the street is, don’t pluck for the cheap version; opt instead for an eatery that serves up a bowl priced upwards of €25. Although finding an authentic bouillabaisse experience among the tourist traps can be tricky.

Of course, if fish stew doesn’t float your trawler (bouillabaisse is really, really fishy), this port city has a patchwork of other cultural dining options to choose from: you’ll find plenty of Italian, African, and Far Eastern joints to try, so you’re sure to find something tempting.

CHEFCHAOUEN: THE BLUE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIF

Chefchaouen (Scesciàuen the exact pronunciation) is a blue pearl nestled in the middle of the Rif Mountains, part of the national park of Talassemane. A Berber village with a particular Andalusian atmosphere and a Moroccan identity: you will remain surprised!

It is one of the most beautiful cities of the North Africa and - even if the tourism has taken root in recent years - it must be said that it is not easy to arrive in Chefchaouen, so the city maintain itself out if the most touristic tour of Morocco. It is still pure and if you want to see a good example of the Moroccan beauty enjoy this city, all painted of the various shades of blue. Alleys, stairs, doors and windows: everything is blue, turquoise, and aquamarine.

If you love to take pictures you will be in the right place, every corner is perfect and the view changes completely during the day or the night.

Chefchaouen welcomes you, embraces you, emotion you. The people is warm as it is in Spain and the city seems so small but is just the characteristic of all the Moroccan cities: you will lost yourself in the tiny streets where you can’t see anything more the walls around you!



The city is full of panoramic terraces where you can have your dinner or enjoy the sunrise in front of a meant tea with Chefchaouen that changes his colors behind you.

At some time during the day, you can also listen the muezzin call (for Muslims to prayer that resounds for the city 5 times a day).) The voice comes loud and clear just from the minaret! it was too charming not to listen it concentrated!

I arrived in the city during the evening coming from Fez with a bus. It was a long road (4 hours if I remember well) but when you can see the blue of the Chefchaouen houses you will be positively surprised… Despite the tiredness I started to feel, I decided to go in the alleys of Chefchaouen, without worrying about find points of reference useful for orientation. The risk of being lost is in fact does not exist because the Medina is circular and so, if you don’t push yourself out from the city doors, you will be inevitably back to the starting point.

You will feel yourself lost walking in a peaceful atmosphere of this village where nobody (different from the other Moroccan cities) stop you to sell something or to accompany you somewhere, where all the people you meet smile even if they see you take pictures to any piece of their city.

OUT OF THE CITY

Leaving the city from the north eastern of the medina you can find some nice pools where families love to spend many hours of the day, until sunset forwarded.

Just ask to people for the waterfall and they will guide you. These waterfalls, derive from the Ras al-Ma river, and are very good to pass some hours during the sunset. In addition to local people who take a bath in the river you can enjoy an "aperitifs" from small stalls illuminated by artificial lights. From here you can walk toward the church from where you can have one of the more spectacular sunset I ever seen!

Another activity to do is a trekking in the Rif. The easiest trek to do is in the Park of Talassemtane that can be visited with daily excursions from Chefchaouen or you can do a trekking for several days, 5 shall serve for the complete tour. You will be accompanied by guides and mules for the transport of luggage and food - and spend nights in mountain huts or camping areas. Each itinerary requires approximately 4/5 hours of trekking per day.


NIGHTLIFE IN THE BLUE CITY

When the night arrives, Chefchaouen loses in color but earns in magic. Outa el-Hammam square is the best place to pass the night. Populated by candles and tables and local people, the square will be full of people that dinner, drinking a mint tea with the mosque Tarik-Ben-Ziad that stands out among all the rest. It is truly an experience not to be missed!

If you don’t want to sit in a place and stay there, you can also enjoy the street food. The shops close late, so you can eat something walking and discovering the true soul of this place stay in contact with the local people.

WHY CHEFCHAOUEN IS BLUE PAINTED?

Anyone who has been in India, knows that there is a blue city, Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The oldest suburb of the city is still today painted blue because in the past lived there the caste of the Brahmins, Indian priests. So in India the reason is religious to differentiate the upper cast to the other ones. Starting from this and understand that Morocco is a bit different I can try to explain an historical reason. Of course, there is more than a hypothesis. We can start thinking that up to the 40th the city was considered sacred to Muslims and for this, it was forbidden entry of people of other religious faith and to foreigners.

Going back in the history, since in 1471 the exiles from Andalusia- Muslims and Jews - have founded Chefchaouen, one of the most valid hypotheses is that the Jews painted the houses and streets of blue to recall the colors of what should be their paradise.

Another theory is more practical: blue would be a color that takes away flies and mosquitoes.

The various cultures of Chefchaouen today merge together in the city just like the various shades of blue: the Berbers, Muslims and Jews-Andalusians.

If you will come to Morocco, please pass some days in this beautiful blue paradise, it really worth to spend your time here!


WHERE MY COLOMBIA TRIP STARTED: CARTAGENA!

Colombia, maybe the best travel I did so far in my life. Go back in my memories is really a nice way to think again what I did there and what I visited. First, My thoughts went back to Cartagena.

Although I knew nothing about the city before arriving there, I had such an amazing experience exploring and going on a new adventure each day.

I sincerely believe that what I saw is only a small piece of all that the city has to offer. So many other things I want to experience in my next trip to Colombia, because of course I will go back in this beautiful country! Feel free to drop a comment with your recommendations!

The Walled City

Cartagena was founded in the 16th century, and is a port city located on Colombia's Caribbean coast known for its plentiful colonial architecture, its cobblestone streets, and its effortless lifestyle. In the past, Gold and emeralds brought people to Cartagena, today the jewels of the city are the contemporary riches - a vibrant culinary scene, and beautiful beaches are the main attractions.

In the center of Cartagena, you can visit the old city surrounded by ancient stone walls and full of vibrant culture. Beautiful buildings and potent colors all around… what’s better than this to relax? The old city is so bright and I thought definitely to plan on staying inside the walls next time I will visit Cartagena.

Have a walk during the morning and after sit down in a small restaurant enjoying the city life and his flow.

The food is amazing. You can choose meat or fish, equally delicious! If you want to close your lunch with a sweet try the coconut pie that still haunts my dreams.

Another advice… If you want to eat fresh fish you need to search a “cevicheria”. For a nice dinner, after getting semi-lost in the old city, just take a good decision, choose a cevicheria with seats on the sidewalk and enjoy all of the evening activities happening around you! Sometimes you find amazing guitarists playing or small shows around the streets…

Other attractions

Out of the old city you can walk on the city's historic walls. Better during the sunset for the hot weather during the day.

The Colonial wall was built to keep the pirates (of the Caribbean!) out in the 16th century.

I started my walk at Cafe del Mar, then walked south along the wall to Santa Teresa Square and I ended close to the Castillo de San Felipe.

From the top you can see the “Castillo San Felipe”, the 16th century fortress overlooking the city and coast. You can visit it or just take some pictures going below it.

I love to shop. As with most cities abroad, flea markets are a major tourist attraction but I really love it. Cartagena had local vendors selling little things throughout the streets in the walled city but if you want a real market there is a little flea market in an old courtyard. Unlike most of the vendors that carried the same set of items (fedoras, ankle bracelets, etc.), this flea market in particular has a ton of cool  things that I would have loved to bring home with me. It is fun to explore the city’s culture through the local lens and check out some of the things they cherish on a day-to-day.

Getsemani for nightlife

Cartagena is full of square where you can pass a really nice evening/night with live music. You don’t need to be into clubs and partying to enjoy the nightlife, just go to the Getsemani neighborhood.  This area is well known for its lively atmosphere during the hot nights in Cartagena.

There are great bars in the area where you can drink something or you can take a beer and drink it chilling a the Getsemani square, Holy Trinity Square, where I passed my nights enjoying local people and artists playing guitar, singing or just talking each other. I remember a guy that was amazing… He did the imitation of Michael Jackson but wow, He was incredible!! I saw also a dance class for women and some teen’s break dancing. It’s really a nice place to hang out and people-watch.

You can also go to a salsa club if you want to dance, such as Cafe Havana or Bazurto Social Club. You should expect a cover charge and that the salsa dancing starts late.

Last info, if you search for the streetart Getsemani is the perfect corner to visit to search it!

Cartagena surrounding

The one common thing you kept hearing before leaving was that the beaches in the city were not great but if you go a little bit outside you can find beautiful ones. Islas del Rosarios or Playa Blanca (Isla Baru)  are not so far and there you see crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. A paradise where there is almost anything, you will really enjoy the peace you find in this quite place. I passed 3 days in playa Blanca after Cartagena and I prepared myself for the “Ciudad perdida” trekking.

 

GEORGE TOWN: HERITAGE OF THE ASIAN STREET FOOD

Penang: its street food is legendary and the capital George Town is one of the hottest destinations in Asia, especially for the nightlife.

The island is an exotic tropical piece of earth, located off the north-west Malaysia. It is one of the world capitals of street food, with a melting pot of cuisines from the island’s Chinese, Malay and Indian communities: Hokkien black noodles, succulent giant prawns steamed in rice wine and spicy assam laksa, roti canai dunked in a rich lamb curry and much more.

The island can offer much more to do. The best thing is to hire a car or organize a day trip in the nature to discover the other side of this verdant island, with lush jungle, traditional fishing villages and rural Malay kampongs.

Where to eat in George Town

Street food is everywhere around the island: with stalls cooking 24 hours a day, from breakfast to after-midnight breaks. Seafood is a Penang specialty. There is no other place in the world where such a mix of cultures has contributed their culinary influences one into each other. Chinatown, Little India, hawker stalls and food courts - the multitude of choices for eating in Georgetown is delightfully overwhelming.

The best place to eat for me are the food courts where you can find lots of different food to taste in the same location.

You sit down, take a drink to guarantee you the table and after that, you can go all around and decide what you want to eat taking your time. It can be also convenient to have all the options under one roof.

Just to mentioned the main ones around the city, below a short description of them:

  • New World Park: This failed amusement park was given a new life as Georgetown's best food court. Each food counter is clearly labeled with what local dish can be purchased. It is located in the northwest of the city.
  • Red Garden: The Red Garden is a little grungier and more hectic but the location is perfect! Here you can find a perfect mix of carts and counters that serve up excellent fare for prices cheaper than those found in restaurants. The Red Garden is an excellent place to find classics food as well as Thai, sushi, and even Filipino food. The Red Garden opens only for dinner at 5:30 pm till 2 am.

  • Sri Weld Food Court: This concrete-floored food court is cheap and simple, but the food is excellent. Sri Weld is located on the eastern tip of Georgetown between Lebuh Pantai and Pengkalan Weld
  • Cebil Market Food Court: This classic food court is located in the southeast of the city center. The food court is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Street Art

I love going around and searching street art when I travel. I like this art because it is the expression of the city soul and young folk; it is something clandestine and wild that become an integral part of the urban landscape.

In Georgetown, the artists integrated elements of the urban environment and other objects in their works in a very playful and funny manner.

Telling something more, in 2010 the state of Penang launched an initiative: they asked to the island artists to create sculptures in wrought iron in the form of cartoons which illustrate the multiculturalism of the region and of the local scenes and life.

Then in 2012 another step was done, in the framework of the Georgetown festival, the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic asked to create very imaginative murals combining the painting and common objects such as bicycle or telephone booths. This style of street art, light and fun, become the artistic signature of Penang and different artists joined the movement. I passed the day around the city discovering the places where the murals were taking pictures with a guy I met there.

Walking around

If you want to visit the city from an historical point of you, you can start from the Fort of Cornwallis, which was built in 1800 by Captain Sir Francis Light. He came on the island during a navigation, falling in love with the place. Not far away there is the clock tower built in honor of 60 years of reign of Queen Victoria. Advancing toward the south you can arrive to the characteristic district of Little India. You really feel to be in India, the food, the music, the color, the perfumes; the shops are like the traditional ones and let you to immerse yourself in the Indian atmosphere. In the afternoon, you can visit the Hindu temple of Mahamariamman, the Teochew temple and the mosque of Kapitan Keling, built in 1801. After that, a visit to the old part of the city is necessary. A metal arc is the door to this area that was founded by the first Chinese emigrants: Chinatown.

If you go closer to the sea there are also the old clans headquarters There are different ones for each clan that populated the city. The shops are now abandoned, the houses one after another are of faded pastel color but you can lose hours and hours to run up and down, to discover new untouched corner all around.

The only critical point is the sun that burn so keep with you water and sun-cream for your skin!

After Penang I turn to Kuala Lumpur again, my time in Malysia was finished!