I’m sitting here writing in an oversized turtleneck knit (standard) and coat whilst trying to wrap my head around the business side of my nutrition studies. I’ve just come back from my month-long European summer getaway and thought I’d put together a little photo diary, hopefully inspiring you to put these stunning places on your travel list. I am slowly getting back into recipe development and uni life which explains So Matcha To Love’s downtime.
Food culture intrigues me and one of my favourite parts about traveling, amongst adventuring and new experiences, is trying different cuisines and essentially ‘living like a local’. Forget shopping and malls, I mostly divert my travel expenditures towards experiences and food as these are the things that bring me pure happiness and inspire me long after my return to reality. I even have a notebook devoted to my travel feeds to help me recreate pure deliciousness and nostalgia back home. I was lucky enough to travel with locals this time, but whether or not this is an option for you, I would highly recommend exploring wider than the ‘beaten path’ to discover some true gems. Although I visited various places I have included the two that created the biggest impression on me (although I am also biased because one is my birthplace and the other has my one true love – the sea.) 😉 Keep scrolling down for a photo diary of The Ligurian Coast of Italy and the capital of Romania, Bucharest. I have linked several places to eat throughout the article and they should open in a new tab.
The Ligurian Coast
We visited the towns of Tellaro, Lerici and Sarzana whilst in Liguria. This place to me is best defined as an undiscovered coastal paradise. Situated in the north-west region of Italy, I fell in love within a mere hour of arriving and the days spent on this part of the Mediterranean coastline were pure bliss. Compared to the Cinque Terre, it is relatively quiet tourist-wise whilst offering similarly breathtaking views and an aquamarine seashore to dip your toes (or jump) in. I felt like I just stepped into a very glamorous movie.
When we first arrived, after 2 hours of sleep following a long night, I was immediately recommended to order an authentic focaccia, a specialty of this region. I was really craving sardines, much to the disgust of my friends and possibly everyone who knows me, which turned out to be a good pick since they were the best sardines in tomato sauce of my life. Don’t worry now, I had my fair share of focaccia on our last night where we reserved a table at the #1 restaurant (deserving) in Sarzana, according to Trip Advisor: Focacceria-Osteria da Francesco. My inner wholegrain-loving heart delighted at the sight of the five cereals focaccia which quite possibly was the best doughy embodiment to ever be eaten. We chose a menu and the food came in several rounds for 30 minutes. Pecorino cheese, focaccia, fried mozzarella, zucchini flowers… it was a Mediterranean feast for the soul. A midnight walk along the Lerici coast overlooking the Lerici castle following the feast is also recommended, just saying. 😉 The atmosphere given off in these places at night are magical.
Other eats I would highly recommend are farinata (something I frequently recreate at home), focaccia, pizza with all the rocket on top, trofie al pesto (a pasta quite specific to this region with Liguria being the home of pesto), and the special wine of the region – schiacchetrà from Manarola in Cinque Terre and vermentino white wine.
Wander to spiaggia di Fiascherino (beach pictures below) and Portovenere. One of the days we hired a boat out of Portovenere and spent the whole day coasting the Mediterranean, my definition of the perfect day. Davide, my official tour guide, explained to me that Portovenere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has got one seriously picturesque harbour. The Church of San Pietro (pictured below) is breathtaking. Further along our cruise we anchored at ‘Le Rocce Rosse‘ (The Red Rocks) and swam. My favourite little fact about this beautiful region lies in the Gulf of La Spezia. It is also famously named the Gulf of Poets, owing to the fact that famous writers, artists and poets throughout the centuries admired and spent time in these villages. Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary (best known for the novel Frankenstein), George Sand, David Herbert Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway are among the creatives that were enchanted by this region.
Grazie to my beautiful Italians, Giulia, Davide, Marco and Jacopo, for everything.
The Church of San Pietro, Portovenere (built in 1277)
Le Rocce Rosse near Portovenere
Photo by Giulia
Photo by Marco
Spiaggia di Fiascherino
Bucharest has a special place in my heart and always will due to being my birthplace and the fact that I am Romanian. Everytime I come, which I try to do annually, I always discover something different. Alongside the evident physical and emotional hardships endured in this post-Communist country, there is some kind of magnetic pull towards Bucharest that keeps me coming back. The history is painted on the buildings and along the faces of everyone you meet on the street. Although I do venture outside of Bucharest (each year I try to travel to a new town in Romania), the photos selected below are purely from the capital as that is where I spent the most time.
Ride a bike at midnight in the summer along Lacul Herăstrău (Lake Herastrau) and Calea Victoriei with friends, finishing off with food and drinks/lemonade in Centrul Vechi (Old Town Bucharest) where the atmosphere is one of pure party and happiness. The hours I spent on my last night cycling around Bucharest were magical. Take a stroll along the Dâmbovița river and have lemonade at a terasă (terrace). Eat artisan gelato at Puro e Bio where they have a daily selection including special vegan flavours, something I find quite rare even in Melbourne. Drink the best coffee I have had in Europe at Artichoke Coffee Shop. It is like stepping into a trendy, hipster coffee shop here, summertime in Melbourne. And yes, I did ask, they also serve organic soy and oat milk as alternatives, something that is a rarity in all of Europe and why I would generally make mine at home, as shown below.
Magical restaurant nights
Merci to my beautiful family, my cousins Lori, Alexandru, George, Beatrice and the Segal’s for everything.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I love to travel and leaving Europe this time was extremely hard but I also love home and making the most of the beautiful nature we have in Australia. I’m in the process of testing a few new recipes and shall hopefully have a recipe post up soon in amongst uni and planning my next holiday (fingers crossed).