How to experience the best of Paris like a local

 

While travelling around the globe, understanding local’s customs and way of life is important to feeling like you are connecting with the local culture and community. Paris is a place with deep-rooted traditions and is a city that offers a wide variety of possibilities for both locals and tourists. In 2018 around 40 million people visited Paris area, hitting a new record.

Recently, I asked in IG if you guys wanted to discover what do locals in Paris do. Due to the positive reactions I asked a raised and born Parisian boy to help me writing this post. Loic is a young engineer who is about to show you 10 iconic sights, secret spots and locations you should visit to experience the best of Paris like a local.

1. La butte aux cailles

A hilltop neighbourhood of Paris which was once home to countless windmills and many vineyards.

“It small streets and cozy bars contrast with the noisy, busy areas os Paris” says Loic. “This “oasis” is like a small village inside the city. A haven of peace for those who are looking to experience the real Paris.”

This historically working-class district has become the favourite area for hipsters and artist, providing him with a special charm free of international fashion stores and full of street art.

2. La rue Crémieux

At one time this little cobble street was a “secret place” few people knew about.

This is a colourful residential area which receives its name due to Adolphe Crémieux, a lawyer who defended the human rights of the Jewish people in France. Amid the colourful façades you feel more in Portobello than in Paris. That is the reason why this street is so special” he smiles “However, it is Instagram which is making this street famous”.

He is right, IG is becoming this part of the city the most Instagrammable one irritating its residents. So please, take this into account when you visit this street and avoid being laud and noisy 😉

3. Le parc des Buttes-Chaumont before chilling next to Canal de l’Ourcq

“A green, peaceful oasis in the northeast of Paris. From this park I suggest you to walk until “Canal de L’Ourcq” where you can enjoy a nice aperó at sunset”.

To better understand this park, I would like to share some facts with you.

Before “Le parc des Butter-Chaumont” was opened by Napoleon III, in 1867, it had a sinister reputation. Until 1760, the bodies of hanged criminals were left in this area after their executions. Nowadays, this pleasant spot in the middle of the city has 2.2km of paths, a lake, a suspension bridge and a temple called “Temple de la Sibylle”, a miniature version of the famous ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli. A nice place to go for a casual stroll under the sun.

4. Le pavillon de l’Arsenal

A center for information, documentation and exhibition of the urban planning and architecture of Paris.

“Here you can better understand the evolution of the city of Paris throughout its architecture. You can also enjoy their regular temporal exhibitions about new architectural and urban projects. And, it is for free!“.

5. Restaurant “Au dernier metro”

Close to the Eiffel Tower there is a lively, welcoming restaurant where Parisians like to spend some time gathering with friends and relatives while enjoying a nice meal.

“It is an authentic Parisian restaurant. It is located in front of the metro. Here you can meet locals and enjoy a nice beer. My suggestion is to order a “planche de charcuterie” (a plate of cold meats & cheese) and a glass of good french wine”.

6. Have a crepe in “Le petit Josselin” next to Tour Montparnasse

“A small, cozy crêperie with tasty crêpes and galettes. It is located nearby the “Tour Montparnasse”. In fact, my recommendation is to first visit the top of the building Montparnasse and then to come downstairs and to enjoy a delicious “crêpe caramel au beurre salé” :)”.

7. Bar “À bulles”

Located next to Pigalle is a cozy bar/restaurant which offers a wide variety of tapas and local apéritifs.

“This bar is a hidden gem in the middle of Place Pigalle and the area of Moulin Rouge. They open from Tuesday to Sunday until 2 am in the morning, so you can either go for a drink in the evening or have lunch at midday.”

Find more information in the website: Bar à Bulles

8. Le Marais

“If you like to have brunch on Sunday morning this is your place.”

Le Marais is a historical medieval area of Paris converted into a bobo (bourgeois bohème) quartier full of wine shops, fashionable art galleries, fashion boutiques, trendy stores, restaurants and hotels.

“This area is a unique one. I like to meet my friends and go for a drink on Friday evening or a meal on Sunday morning. At the same time, every time I need to buy some clothes, I always walk around Le Marais and check all the stores. Here you can find everything!“.

9. Les Catacombes

The Catacombes are ossuaries located under the streets of Paris which contain the remains of around six million people. These ossuaries were created to provide the overflowed Parisian cemeteries with a solution.

The entrance to this underground cemetery is located in the Place Denfert-Rochereau, a square known by locals as the place where most demonstrations and protest marches in Paris either start or end.

“The Catacombes are a travel in time. They are a network of underground tunnels that you cannot find in many countries. To visit the Catacombes is a unique opportunity to understand the history of France.”

10. Cine UGC les Gobelins

Have you ever thought about going to the movies in Paris?

“If you ever plan to go to the movies while visiting Paris I highly recommend you to go to Cine UGC. This theater is located at the entrance of Mouffetard street, the party place of the city. So after the movie you can directly go to enjoy a glass of wine and a dance night.”

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Paris? Is there any other hidden gem you would like to recommend us? In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.
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10 amazing spots in Vienna you shouldn´t miss

Vienna, known as the City of Music, is the capital and the largest city of Austria.

Going to Vienna, one must make a list of places to visit, so might this list of 10 amazing spots in Vienna help you out to enjoy your trip to this dramatic place (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

#10. Stephansplatz

Let´s start with one of the most well-known squares in the world: The Stephansplatz, named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom.

This ancient building is not only the cathedral of Vienna, but also one of the tallest churches in the world. If you are interested in architecture I suggest you to have a walk around this dramatic place and to discover the magnificent of this construction. Entrance to the cathedral is free for visitors.

Stephansplatz is located in the ancient downtown of  Vienna, at the end of the Känrtner Straße, the shopping street, and the Graben*, one of the first residential streets in this area of the city.

*Graben = Ditch. This elegant shopping street began life as a ditch dug built up by the Romans to protect Vinodoba until Leopold V filled it in.

#9. Hotel Sacher

In the number 9 we can find another historical building of Vienna: The Hotel Sacher, mostly known as the house of the delicious Sacher Torte.

The hotel, built on the place where Antonio Vivaldi once lived,  was founded in 1876 by Eduard, the son of the creator of the Sacher Torte, though it is best remembered for the period when it was managed by his widow Anna. Those days the hotel reached its glory days becoming a veritable institution, as well as the Sacher Torte.

The origins of this cake are dated to 1832 when Franz Sacher, an apprentice chef, came up with this delicious dessert.

Since the beginning the hotel has been an important meeting point for the Viennese high society, where aristocrats, artists and politicians conversed while enjoying the sublime Sacher Torte. Nowadays, the hotel is still a meeting place for businessmen, artists, politicians and royals, like the Queen Elizabeth II.

#8. Schönbrunn

The imperial summer palace of Maria Theresa, built around 1712,  is one of the most impressive palaces of the world (only comparable to Versailles, I would say).

The place is composed of more than 1.000 rooms and an immense garden which offers a lot of attractions for its visitors.

In the following link “Schönbrunn.at”  you can find more information about the tickets to visit the imperial summer residence of Sisi.

#7. Belvedere

Belvedere dates from the 17th century, after the Prince Eugene purchased a plot of land on the south of Vienna and decided to build his summer residence there.

This historical part of the city consists of two baroque palaces (Lower and Upper Belvedere) and a dramatic baroque-style garden. During the French Revolution both palaces served as home to French royals who left their country, in fact, the French embassy is yet located  in a beautiful imperial building not far away from of Belvedere.

#6. Manner Store

In the number 6 of this list we come back to Stepahnsplatz (#10).

Located at one corner of the square you will find the original Manner Store.

Wait a second, do you know what Manner is? If so, maybe you want to discover now the spot number 5, although it is not so tasty as this one ;). If not, keep reading to find out more about this unique place in the world.

In 1889 Mr. Josef Manner I opened a confectionery store next to Stepahnsdom. Nine years later, in 1898, he invented, in honor of the golden jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef, the Neapolitan wafer, a composition of crispy wafers filled with hazelnut cream.

Although the Manner Neapolitans’ original receipt is still being produced, the Manner company has already introduced many other different wafer flavors as tasty and delicious as the original one. Millions of Manner wafer lovers around the world visit this store every year to find out new flavors and to buy tons of the original wafer.

To keep the tradition and the quality standards for all the products, the entire Manner production takes places in the factory in Vienna in the 17th district. Take a look at Manner´s website (manner.com) to get more insights about this unique product.

#5. MuseumsQuartier

In the middle of the list we find MuseumsQuartier, a 60.000 square meters of exhibition space, situated in the former Messpalast, or convention center, which served the Empire for the imperial stables.

Three major museums are part of MQ (MuseumsQuartier); the MUMOK (Museum der Modernen Kunst – (en) Museum of Modern Art); the Leopold Museum for Classic Modern Art (the one I liked the most); and the Kunsthalle, for changing exhibitions.

MQ is a meeting place for young people and families not only in summer, when different festivals are organized on the square, but also in winter since more than a dozen smaller institutions such as the Zoom Kinder Museum are also part of MQ.

Tip: If you are hungry do not miss the chance to enjoy a great meal at the terrace of the restaurant Glacis Beisl .

#4. Rathaus

One of my favourite buildings of the city. Rather than its official status (it is the Vienna´s Town Hall as well as the seat of the government for the State of Vienna) what really attracts me from this 1880s construction is the way its Gothic facade stands there “staring” at the city of Vienna and taking part in its most important moments, such as christmas or the Life Ball.

In fact, the Rathaus is a nice meeting point. In christmas its square (Rathausplatz) holds one of the most magical christmas market of the city and during the months of spring and summer many exhibitions and festivals are also organized in this part of the city.

#3. Hundertwasserhaus

The concept of the Hundertwasserhaus was developed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist, around 1984. Each of the 53 apartments that belong to this building has a different colour, as well as the facade, which is painted in bright colorful patches.

The desire of the designer, Mr. Hundertwasser, was to bring nature closer to the city and its citizens. The accomplishment of his desire is noticeable in the use of curves and in the landscaping of the terraces with trees and ivy.

Press here to get more information about opening hours and admission

#2. Karlskirche

A dramatic baroque church located in Karlsplatz dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo. Located beside the Spitaler Gottesacker, where Carlo Vivari was buried, this beautiful construction became popular among austrians and tourits due to its unique dome and its two flanking columns.

If you are a fan of classical music do not miss the opportunity to buy some tickets and to enjoy a live concert of classical music. Press here to find out more information about this and other music concerts which take part in churches (listening “The Four Seasons” of Vivaldi at Karlskirche is an incredible mix of feelings, I highly recommend it).

#1. Anker Clock

The Anker Clock is my favourite hidden gem in Vienna.

Located at the Hoher Markt square, the Anchor Clock was built around 1917.

The clock forms a bridge between two parts of an insurance company’s building and it is adorned with mosaic ornaments. In the course of 12 hours, around twelve figures move across the bridge. Some of these figures represent renowned people such as Haydn, Empress Maria Theresa and Eugene of Savoy.

Although at the very beginning I talked about 10 amazing spots in Vienna, I have a final suggestion:

# Extra Spot – Wiener Zentralfriedhof

This extra spot is my last personal recommendation if you ever decide to visit Vienna.

Wiene Zentralfriedhof is the largest cemetery of Austria (and the second of Europe), and it is known for being the place where notable persons such as Beethoven, Strauss or Schubert were laid to rest.  If you ever decide to come to Vienna and to visit something different do not miss the chance to come to this place.

Some may find this sight a bit macabre, however, I can assure you that it is a unique place in the world.

 

 

3 amazing places to visit in Montenegro

Visiting Montenegro had always been on my bucket list. In fact, exploring all its bordering countries is an experience that I would like to make come true one day. Therefore, the minute we planned our trip to Croatia we knew that we were going to visit the neighbour country of Montenegro.

The initial ideal was to travel until Budva with the car and to explore different spots on our way to that city, however, the weather did not co-operated with us so we had to change our plans.

Finally, we decided to travel until Kotor and to stop spontaneously on the way when we saw any dramatic spot.

Our journey started in Dubrovnik early in the morning (by the way, I still have to write a post about the amazing city of Dubrovnik, in the meanwhile you can find more spectacular croatian spots by clicking here) under a grey sky who reminded us that autumn was around the corner.

Although the weather was not as good as expected we did not care that much about it because our appetite for adventure was enormous, so we had the chance  to stop in many different amazing places located beside the Bay of Kotor.

Perast

Located beneath the hill of St.Ilija, Perast is an historical old town of the Bay of Kotor. Although its cobblestone streets are full of history (thousands of tourists stop by during the year to admire this small town, which was the center of many historical empires battles throughout the centuries) they were really quiet that day. I supposed that its less than 300 inhabitants would rather stay at home than walking under the rain.

One of the main attractions of this charming place is the artificial island known as “Our lady on the rocks”, where a Roman Catholic Church is located. According to the legend, the islet was made over the centuries by local seamen after finding an icon of the virgin Mary on the rock in the sea

To access to this unique place it is necessary to go by boat (you can buy tickets at Perast´s port for around 4€).

Since the weather conditions were not good enough to navigate to the islet we decided to stay in Perast and have a walk around the town.

As the weather was getting worse we decided to keep traveling to Kotor.

We thought it would be better to visit the city of Kotor where we could find some warm places to have a cup of coffee every time it rained intensely.

Kotor

An enormous port, full of immense ferries, welcomed us in our arrival to the city of Kotor. After the first impression (I think I had never seen such huge ferries before) we discovered an enormous wall with a stunning gate. Since Kotor was settled during the ancient Roman times, the almost 5km wall was the perfect construction to protect the city from possible attacks.

The ancient wall enclosed a beautiful city brimming with charm and history. One of the most renewed place is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, built in honor of the patron and protector of the city around 1166.

The famous main square, Piazza of the Arms, offers the tourist restaurants and cafes from where to enjoy the well preserved facades of the city and its old buildings made of stone. (We ended up having lunch in a non touristic street surrounded by locals. I would like to recommend you the place where we went but actually I do not know how we ended up there… So, if you go to Kotor just give a chance to its touristic restaurants and let us know if you like them 🙂 )

However, what really got our attention was something I had never seen in other countries. Kotor is full of stray cats, in fact, these animals are part of the city.

They are present in each corner, in every souvenir store, even it exists a cat museum in the city!.

As we found this “cat-love” really fascinating, we decided to ask some locals about it. They explained us that cats were considered as good luck symbols, however, no one was sure about the origin of this belief.

After spending the whole day visiting historical places we decided to come back home no without stopping in another beautiful montenegrin town.

Bar Stari Grad

A small town famous due to its ancient ruins (I had no pictures of the ruins… Sorry…!! It rained cats and dogs!).

This was a great experience & we are sure that we will be back, but next time in summer when the sun shines and the temperatures are higher 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the post, it was a short trip but intense 🙂

Have you ever been in Montenegro? Which spot do you recommend? Feel free to share your thoughts 🙂

 

 

 

 

German health care system

“Bist du krank?”

Are you sick? – Get used to listen to this question almost everyday because… the weather is so crazy in Germany!

One day we wake up in a 20 degrees sunny day and the day after it is rainning and the temperature does not reach the 10 degrees.

Spring season is back!

Germans love drinking tea as a first step to recover themselves from sickness, however, and just in case this german technique is not helping you, we would like to let you know how the german healthcare system works.

German healthcare system

The german healthcare system assures universal coverage to all the citizens. Therefore the most recommended thing to do when you register yourself as a resident in Germany is to take out a Krankenkasse (a public health insurance company).

In case of unemployement you will have to carry out a fix monthly payment (between 140-160€) to the Krankenkasse that you choose. However, if you are employed, an amount of 8,2% of your income will be substracted to pay the public health insurance.

If you are willing to have more coverage you can always enrolle in a private insurance. In this case be aware of two things; the older you are the more expensive the insurance will be, and the doctors you can attend to are usually the same in both cases (with public and private insurance).

How to go to the doctor

In Germany practitioners are not associate to the Krankenkasse, so the best option, if you need to visit one, is to google it or to ask a friend if he can recommend you a good doctor.

If you are a european citizen and you are living in Germany for a short period of time (2-3 months) you can always use the european health insurance card and you won´t need to pay for the consultation.

In case you are a resident in Germany you will be asked to show your Krankenkasse card every time you visit the practitioner.

The consultation

First of all you have to visit the Allgemeinarzt (general practitioner) and then he will transfer you to a specialized medical practitioner.

Allgemeinarzt practices have also their own laboratory, in case some blood tests are required. However, if you need more specific tests the doctor will transfer you to another practicioner (in most of the cases you will have to look for one on your own, so check google or talk to your friends once again for a recommendation).

Taking time off for sickness

If you are employed you can take a day off to stay at home without going to the doctor, however, after the second day you will need to visit him to get diagnosed and to take time off for sickness.

In Germany it is really easy to book off sick at the office since they are really afraid of being contagious, therefore they prefer to stay at home instead of going to work (a time off sick due to a light cold can last 3 days).

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Medication

In comparison to other european countries Germany is really cautious regarding the selling of medical products. Basic things such as peroxide and mercurchrome are hard to buy without a prescription.

Whenever you need to go to the pharmacy visit your doctor first and ask him for a presciption. If you contract a public insurance it will take care of the costs of medicines.

Following you can find a list of the existing Krankenkassen and the private health insurance companies in Germany.

I hope it was a usefull post and you enjoy a nice spring season!