London on Fast Forward Mode

London… I have this love & hate relationship with this city… I love the city/ I hate the weather… I love the places/ I hate the traffic… and so on :).

I am not going to start talking about all the touristic or cultural places you must see in London – there is so much to see and experience and there is also Tripadvisor for that. Therefore, I’d rather tell you, from my subjective personal experience, what I enjoy doing when I get my 24h in London.

I am a nomad by definition, personally and professionally, so I got around to enjoy perks of each city whenever I travel for business. I hardly ever get tired and vivid places just get me excited. So, after I finish my work and meetings, I get rolling to enjoying each city.

Even though London is not on my favorite-city-to-live-in list (and this is mostly because of the weather and that the city is simply too huge & over-crowded), London is definitely a great city to visit and enjoy once in a while. I actually love it for that! You can never go wrong in here with bars, restaurants and shopping… seriously!

So, to get it started, there is one particular thing that I would recommend you to try – the Afternoon Tea. It is a traditional thing that you simply must try. You need to book in advance and if you Google you may see you find all types of Afternoon Teas in London – vegan, gluten free, fully traditional, salty, sweet and so on. Practically it is similar to the Italian aperitivo. You have tea and you also get to have a delicious snack. I would recommend you to do the traditional ones. I loved the one at The Savoy – you should try it (the atmosphere, the piano, the beautiful setting and the tea!) – I am an old soul, what can I say? 🙂 Next time I am in London, I will try the one at the Ritz which is said to be the actual originating traditional one. I have to honestly tell you I hate tea. I never drink it unless I am very sick. However, I did give it a try… and I have to say… in London, at the Afternoon Tea in Savoy – I simply loved it! 🙂 I took the Chai tea and what can I say… I may be a tea person after all :).

For lunch, Daphne in West Kensington is a really good choice. It is an Italian restaurant, but a really good one. Try the truffle pasta. It may be pricey, but it’s worth it.

For dinner, as I am a big fan of fusion places, I recommend you give ROKA a try. It’s an open kitchen place, dim lights, deep house music, great service and cool people. It’s been a while since I had so good sushi. Go also for the spinach salad and the escargot! Really good! And for the amount of wine we had… the bill was not so high either.  Book in advance and tell them you celebrate something :). They may surprise you.

For a dinner with a view, go for the restaurant at the Shard! 🙂 The best view of London, amazing food… this is where you may have probably an awe-moment and say you love London! Book in advance. There is no other way.

For drinks, I love the Radio Bar– again you get amazing views from this rooftop, this time from the other side of London, great music – the place turns into a cool lounge after 11pm. And if you want to combine dinner and dancing, you can go to the STK lounge downstairs (part of the ME hotel building), where you can also eat and party at the same time. If you are into the more fancy Bagatelle style, that is (if you know what I mean) :)))

For shopping…. where do I start? Well, I will just tell you about the last store I discovered and loved – the Fortnum & Mason – it’s like a small museum for me! I mean… the building, the set-up, the atmosphere, it is just very particular and a must go to. And I haven’t seen it on Christmas…which I just suppose it is even better. If you are into bespoke perfumes – this is the go-to place…one of them at least in London. Go also to the café at the last floor. You can enjoy a coffee or tea on piano tunes, in a Tiffany blue looking set-up. Even the market downstairs has a different feel.

As for accommodation, I usually stay at the Kensington Hotel on the West side. If you want to stay there, I truly recommend it. It is a great boutique hotel, really cosy, also artsy, with beautiful fireplaces, books, art, part of the Smith Hotels. Of course, London is full of incredible hotels, but in case you have a hard time picking, I have stayed here several times.

For now, this is it, as this post is getting very long as it is. I’ll come back with more of my fav suggestions after another visit which may be very soon :).

In the meantime, if you want to visit London now…. in the holiday season and you are a Christmas freak, do it! It is one of the best cities, besides Vienna, to be in at Christmas time. There is magic all around! Dress really warm, it’s freezing, but if you are like me you may find warmth in mulled wine and Christmas lights 🙂

Bucharest. Not Budapest this time! Europe. Eastern Europe! – There’s this exotic unconventional vibe you should try!

\There is this very interesting connection between Bucharest and me. In the past 12 years, I have lived in many cities and countries, more glam than Bucharest you would say (Milano, LA…), but somehow I feel a special bond with this city. And no, it is not exactly my home town ( I am born in the north of Romania), but I feel as it is my nurturing nest. There is this energy in it that actually always makes me feel good and alive. I simply reconnect to myself and to the important things in life. I have some friends that simply don’t get it, what could it be that I always return at some point in life in Bucharest and why I find ways to come back, but, believe me, there is a special vibe… that is unique. You should probably ask the expats that do not want to go home anymore. :))) Or maybe it’s time to book a trip and explore this part of Eastern Europe.

Bucharest is by far perfect, but that is the beauty of it. I mean, I like to say it is perfectly imperfect, and such things are the most beautiful in essence!  It is also one of the most vibrant cities I know. There is always something to do, every day of the week: be it an event, an art vernisaje, going out in bars, clubs, cinema, concerts, karaoke, do sports, walk in the park, roller skating and so on, you name it! Practically, you can never get bored and to be honest staying alone is a choice. And it’s safe too compared to many other glamorous European cities. It is very diverse in the people you meet, pretty international, I would say, and you easily make friends. Or at least I do, and no, not only Romanians :))). Most of my friends were international from Italians, Spanish, Americans, Serbians, Greeks, Germans and so on. I guess, this is one thing that I love about this city and keeps me hooked: the people…and the deep friendships that you can built here compared to other chaotic cities in the world.

And getting to the reason of why I am writing this…. every time I come back to Bucharest, I discover a new place that I like. It is almost like I rediscover the city every time. It never ceases to surprise me. I guess Bucharest can never bore me. And then there are those places that bare a special place in my heart… very special.

This post is not intended for those of you that live in Bucharest, as you may all have your preferences, and then we just get into debates:)))), but to those of you that do not live in Bucharest/ Romania, and that are flirting with the idea of visiting the city and would like to know whether its worth it…. and it is worth it! It truly is!

So given the above disclaimer, here are a few spots I would recommend (this season – summer is a different story) to those of you that asked me what to do in Bucharest in autumn/winter:

  1. Fav breakfast: Rue du Pain or Frudisiac – healthy amazing food… and then you just may meet the coolest people in town, chilling, enjoying the morning and some good coffee
  2. Fav Sunday brunch: Fratellini Bistro or Fiori di Latte – the salmon pouched eggs in both places are simply to die for :))) give it a shot! Plus the set-up in both places is very cosy and you may end up hanging around for hours
  3. Fav ice-cream: Cremeria Emilia – this is not even debatable and competes pretty well with the Italian Gelaterias – take it from a gelato freak and guru 🙂
  4. Fav place in the old city: Nomad – cool place, rooftop, cool people and good music – you can listen to my friend DJ-ing Gabriel Radu over there – you might just like it a lot
  5. Fav lunch: Casa di David, Fiori di Latte, Il Locale (these three if you are into great Italian food), Chefs Experience (if you would want to go for a sort of fusion), Adhoc (if you are into Romanian reinterpreted food) or Raionul cu Peste (if you like fish) – actually…this is just a short list…there are too many places I like.
  6. Fav sushi: Kanpai – it is more than sushi…it is a creative sushi place, the combinations just keep on surprising me really. there a sushi burger too 🙂
  7. Fav outdoor bar: Linea-Closer to the Moon – you may just see the best sunsets over here in Bucharest and the restaurant for dinner is pretty cool! Well, if you get to dinner that is, as you may be stolen by the rooftop view and continue with more drinks 🙂
  8. Fav lounge bar: Uanderful – I have a thing for this place. I just had a lot of fun here and they have great cocktails and good finger food… and one of the best lava cakes in town if you are into sweets. E3 by Entourage is another good choice. It gets pretty crowded from Thursday on and besides great drinks, great people, the bar turns into a party place, warming you up before a club night.
  9. Fav burger place: Flying Pigs – I mean you already get it :))); Vivo is another option….but go for Flying Pigs.
  10. Fav dinner place: NOR – this rooftop has amazing views, amazing food, amazing set-up and amazing drinks :))) Therefore, you also have to book before going there as it is so damn good! The Grill is another great place. Go on Thursdays for the themed night or Fridays for the live music.
  11. Fav Romanian restaurant: Caru cu Bere – this one is a must go if you are a tourist. It practically re-creates “the old” Bucharest atmosphere and together with the dancers, it’s simply an artistic show while you eat – all is about the traditional Bucharest high life in the past. You will love it!
  12. Fav social event: The Brunch Affair – party with the coolest people in town. You can follow their page in Facebook and see where and when the next party is as the place changes every time and so does the theme of the party! – this is the beauty of it!
  13. Fav club: Well, it depends what you are looking for – Gaia is the place to go if you want to meet the coolest people in town and great music/ if you are looking for techno/electronic parties – you can choose between Krystal (great sound and the setting is pretty cool too) and Guesthouse (more Berlin looking kind of partying scene). If you are into commercial dance music, there’s Nuba and a lot of beautiful girls.
  14. Fav book store: Carturesti in the old city center – this is just the Disneyland of books, so cosy, so amazing. Even if you are not into reading, it is worth a visit…for a coffee or tea. The café over there is really nice!

Well, I stopped at 14….as with Milano…I could go and on (Lebanese restaurants, meat restaurants, Spanish, Fusion….and so on) … but maybe on a different occasion….spring or summer! So have I convinced you, just a little bit, to put Bucharest on your go-to places for a city break? 🙂