TOP 10 MOST BEAUTIFUL AND AUTHENTIC CITIES IN EUROPE TO VISIT

After visiting a large part of Europe, I present you my top 10 of the most beautiful cities that have left a memorable impression. The top is composed only of the cities I visited, I’m sure there are other beautiful cities out there that I have not yet had the chance to visit. For these I’m waiting for your suggestions in the comments section. We have included only the cities that have preserved their character and authentic beauty, not including those who have sacrificed their personality just for the sake of tourism (I can give Venice as an example of this)

10 Paris – France

I wasn’t sure if this city deserves to be included in the top because it can also easily be included in the list of the most overrated cities to visit and depending on the area you stay, it can also be included in the list of the most dangerous cities to visit. In principle, the French capital lives on the laurels of the past, but although the city of lights doesn’t shine so bright as it used to, it is still quite bright and appealing. The central area that you see as a tourist is still very beautiful and an example of urban planning to be looked up to. Also, the city offers a very large concentration of attractions that will keep you busy for at least a week, so it’s always a safe bet for a successful holiday. Protests, strikes and locals who do not speak English and who do not stand criticism towards their city or their country, all make sure you get a really authentic experience.

9 Valletta – Malta

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Top 10 cele mai frumoase si autentice orase de vizitat in Europa

[Top 10 most beautiful and authentic cities in Europe English version]

Dupa ce am vizitat o bucata mare din Europa, am sa va prezint un top al celor mai frumoase orase care mi-au lasat o impresie memorabila. Topul este compus doar din cele vizitate, sunt sigur ca sunt si alte orase frumoase unde nu am apucat sa ajung, pentru acestea va astept cu sugestii in sectiunea de comentarii. Am inclus in top doar orasele care si-au pastrat caracterul si frumusetea autentica si nu am inclus pe cele spoite sau pe cele care si-au sacrificat personalitatea pentru a da bine la turisti (va pot da exemplu Venetia aici)

10 Paris – Franta

Nu eram sigur daca orasul merita inclus in acest top datorita faptului ca poate fi lejer inclus in topul celor mai supra evaluate orase de vizitat si in functie de zona in care esti acolo, poate fi lejer inclus si in topul celor mai periculoase orase de vizitat. In principiu capitala Franceza cam traieste pe laurii trecutului dar desi orasul luminilor numai straluceste atat de tare, este in continuare destul de sclipitor si atragator. Zona centrala pe care o vezi ca turist este in continuare foarte frumoasa si un exemplu de urbanistica demna de urmat. De asemenea orasul ofera o concentratie foarte mare de atractii care iti ocupa lejer o saptamana, asa ca este intotdeauna un pariu sigur pentru o vacanta reusita. Protestele, grevele si localnicii care nu vorbesc engleza si care nu suporta critici la adresa orasului si a tarii lor se asigura ca vei primi o experienta cu adevarat autentica.

9 Valletta – Malta

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Lisbon

Lisbon Portugal Review

[Citeste acest articol in Limba Romana AICI]

Lisbon, an unpolished diamond at a finished price. The first vacation in 2019 found us in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I have wanted for a long time to reach the Western End of mainland Europe and now I am glad to have had this opportunity together with my friends from Romania.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ryanair has daily flights from Manchester to Lisbon, and the UK’s logistics, organization, prepaid airport parking, transfer to the terminal is simply impeccable. The first thing we had to do when we landed was to search for a means of transport to the city. Against my reason and judgement, we proceeded in to being stupid tourists and we went to the airport information desk to ask how we can get to Lisbon city center. They sent us to the Aerobus 1 service, which costs 4 EUR per person. Later I found out that there is a subway station inside the airport and also other normal regular buses where you pay € 1.5 per person ticket. That’s it, what to do now, so my first tip for everyone who wants to get to Lisbon, take the metro from the airport!

We found a cute apartment on Booking.com next to Rossio Square, which looked very nice in the pictures, but it proved to be lacking when we got there. The first thing we were asked by our host there was to pay the Lisbon tourist tax of 2 EUR per person per night, which must be paid separately on arrival. We knew about the tax from the site, but an extra cost of 48 EUR besides the already paid accommodation seems a bit expensive. I know all cities have a similar charge, but everywhere I have been, I didn’t pay more than 10-15 EUR, which were already included in the accommodation price. I have figured that it is for a good cause and at least something good is done with that money. I can not say that at the end of the holiday that I saw any great work done for tourists, but rather more for the locals.

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Lisbon

Lisabona Portugalia Recenzie / Lisbon Portugal Review

[TO READ THIS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH CLICK HERE]

Lisabona, un diamant neslefuit la pret piperat. Prima vacanta din 2019 ne-a gasit in capitala Portugaliei, Lisabona. Am vrut de mult sa ajung in capatul Vestic al Europei si acum ma bucur ca am avut aceasta ocazie impreuna cu prietenii din Romania.

Am fost placut surprins sa vad ca Ryanair are zboruri zilnice din Manchester catre Lisabona, iar organizarea in UK la capitolul logistica, parcare la aeroport preplatita, transfer catre terminal este impecabila. Primul lucru de care ne-am lovit cand am aterizat a fost cautarea unui mijloc de transport catre oras. Fiind turisti prosti, ne-am dus la biroul de informatii din aeroport si i-am intrebat cum ajungem cel mai usor in Lisabona. Ei ne-au trimis la autobuzul Aerobus 1, care costa 4 EUR de persoana. Mai tarziu am aflat ca exista metrou si alte autobuze normale, unde platesti 1.5 EUR pe bilet de persoana. Asta e, am muscat-o, deci un sfat pentru toata lumea care vrea sa ajunga la Lisabona, luati metroul din aeroport!

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FIRST 30 DAYS AS EXPAT IN ENGLAND UK

[Pentru a citi acest articol in Limba Romana click AICI]

A month ago we were packing again our luggage to move to another country. After the very useful experience in France, we were now ready to move to England, UK. After living for a year in France, we left with mixed impressions. I knew we had to move somewhere where we speak the language and where we can really integrate into society, and I believe we could not truly achieve this there.

When the expiry date of my fixed-term contract in France was approaching, I started looking for work options in England. After some promising interviews, I still had nothing safe and signed in my hand, but I did had an invitation to come for a follow up face-to-face interview that seemed 80% sure. I took a risk and quickly bought a one way only plane ticket and I came with all my luggage. I was aware that if I came only for a few days visit just for the interview and somehow it failed, I would return to Romania with the tail between my legs and depressed and it would be very difficult for to ever come back. Fortunately, the interview here went very well.

I do not recommend to anyone to come here without having secured a job in advance, but be aware that once you get here and settle down, you are more likely to find work. Most Continue reading “FIRST 30 DAYS AS EXPAT IN ENGLAND UK”

The London Week

[Citeste acest articol in Limba Romana AICI]

Probably the last of the great capitals that I have not been able to visit until now. It was in my plan to visit for a long time and I even had the plane ticket to London bought in the past but due to unfavorable circumstances I could not go. We left from Marseille, where we are now, and with Ryanair, we paid for 2 people return tickets just 97 EUR! Long Live Ryanair! The plane drops you at Stansted Airport which has a direct train connection to London. The train journey takes about 40 minutes and cost us 30 pounds (2 people). We arrived in London at Liverpool Street Station, one of the many giant train stations of this 10 million-strong metropolis. Getting out of the train and crossing the central corridor of the train station at rush hour, the atmosphere is simply overwhelming. Thousands of commuters traverse in a hurry between the subway and the numerous platforms that serve the suburban trains. But fortunately, the many signs, screens and information points make your life easy. We found our way to the subway entrance, we only had to find the platform of our line, which is not easy considering the fact that there are 4 subway lines serving this station.

The use the public transport, you will need an Oyster card, which is a universal card that is valid on the subway, train and bus, and prices for it may be shocking. The city is divided into 9 zones, and rates vary according to the number of zones you will cross. Avoid as much as you can buying one-time use tickets, they are the most expensive with rates starting from 5 pounds per trip. Better buy daily or weekly passes. To reach our hotel located in zone 4, we bought 2 weekly passes with unlimited trips valid in areas 1 to 4 for which we paid “only” 108 pounds (54 pounds per person). Fortunately, this is the only big expense you will encounter,  during the rest of the holiday I had the pleasant surprise to discover that everything is cheaper here than in the South of France.

To reach our hotel near the Wembley Stadium, we used the Metropolitan Line, which is one of the newest line. It has large spacious trains lines and runs in express mode with few stations along Continue reading “The London Week”

Saint Tropez road trip France

[Citeste acest articol in Limba Romana AICI]

The summer is fast approaching and a small holiday was the perfect opportunity to take a road trip on the Cote d’Azur towards Saint Tropez. After visiting all of Marseille’s sights and surroundings, we wanted to go with our guest on a Côte d’Azur train trip, but unfortunately the unpredictable running schedule sprinkled with spontaneous strikes organised by the French SNCF lazy workers deprived us of this option. Another inconvenience would be that the train does not go all the way up to Saint Tropez, but only to Toulon or Nice, from where you have to take a local coach the rest of the way.

From Marseille to Saint Tropez there are only 150 km, but even for this distance, the train can be quite expensive if you do not buy the tickets well in advance. If you get a ticket today for tomorrow you can also spend around € 50 per person on such a train ride, so we’ve considered renting a car to make the trip. Unfortunately, this option can be quite expensive also if you do not make the reservation a few days in advance, but if you are 3 or 4 people in the car it is generally worth it. At the rental company called Thrift a Renault rented for one day costs 60 Euro + the insurance that on the internet costs 37.5 EUR … but if you take it from the office booth you will get it for 60 Euro’s ….. ( without this insurance you are liable to pay 1,000 EUR damage even for the Continue reading “Saint Tropez road trip France”

Prague dream vacation

[CITESTE ACEST ARTICOL IN LIMBA ROMANA AICI]

Prague, a city that I always wanted to see and experience. I was always looking at the pictures of others and it seemed to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. After seeing it, I can say with all my heart that it is. The city offers beautiful landscapes, architecture, great old pedestrian squares, world class beer and bars where you can still smoke inside, and all this for prices almost identical to those in Romania.

From Romania there is no low cost direct flight to Prague, but the ticket on Czech Airlines is not too expensive, around 150 EUR per person bought a month in advance. Our 3-star hotel taken with TUI agency cost us only 121 EUR for 7 nights and not only it was very decent it also had breakfast included in the price.

From Václav Havel Airport to Prague city center take the AE (Airport Express) bus, the trip takes about 40 minutes and the ticket is bought directly from the airport counter and costs 60 Czech crowns (CZK) or about 2.3 EUR per person. I would advise to bring with you some Czech currency  in order to buy the tickets, otherwise you have to deal with the currency exchange offices in the airport that offer rip off exchange rates. You will get of at the “Hlavní nádraží” central railway station, which is a huge underground hub where you can access the buses, the subway, the S trains and especially the trams. I underline the trams because these are the main and easiest way of transportation in the city. The Czech capital is covered everywhere by tramlines, and they come every three minutes. The trams have dedicated stations and dedicated lanes, and around half of them are of the latest generation of Skoda trains. Tram tickets are found at any cigarette or food kiosk and are divided according to the length of time. A 30-minute ticket costs 24 CZK (1 EUR), and one 24-hour ticket costs 110 CZK (4.3 EUR) and can be used from the moment of validation on any line and any time you want until the expiration date.

[Read more after pictures]

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Vacanta Praga

[FOR ENGLISH VERSION OF ARTICLE CLICK HERE]

Praga , un oras unde mi-am dorit de mult sa ajung. Ma uitam pe pozele altora si mi se parea unul din cele mai frumoase locuri din lume, acum ca am vazut pot sa zic cu mana pe inima ca asa e. Orasul ofera peisaje superbe , arhitectura si piete grozave , o bere de nota 10 si baruri in care se fumeaza, si toate acestea la preturi aproape identice cu cele din Romania.

Din Romania nu exista zbor low cost direct catre Praga, dar biletul la Czech Airlines nu este prea scump, respectiv 150 de EUR de persoana luat cu o luna inainte , iar hotelul de 3 stele luat prin TUI ne-a costat doar 121 EUR pentru 7 nopti si pe langa faptul ca a fost foarte decent avea si micul dejun inclus in pret.

De la aeroportul Václav Havel spre centrul orasului Praga se ia autobuzul AE (Airport Express), cursa dureaza cam 40 de minute si biletul il cumparati direct din aeroport si costa 60 de coroane cehe (CZK) adica 10 RON de persoana. Ar fi bine sa veniti cu putina valuta Ceha din tara ca sa puteti cumpara biletul, pentru a evita casele de schimb valutar din aeroport.  Veti cobori la gara centrala “Praha hlavní nádraží” , care este un complex urias supra si subteran, unde aveti acces la autobuze , metrou , trenurile S si mai ales la tramvaie. Spun mai ales tramvaie pentru ca acestea sunt principalul si cel mai usor mod de transport  in oras. Toata capitala este impanzita de linii de tramvai , si acestea vin cam din 3 din 3 minute , au statii dese si benzi dedicate, si cam jumatate din ele sunt de ultima generatie fabricate in tara de Skoda. Bilete pentru tramvaie se gasesc la orice chiosc de tigari sau alimentara si sunt impartite in functie de durata de timp. Un bilet de 30 de minute costa 24 CZK (4 Lei), iar unul pe 24 de ore costa 110 CZK (18 Lei) si poate fi folosit din momentul validarii pe orice linie si de cate ori vreti pana la momentul expirarii.

[Citeste mai departe dupa poze]

Jpeg

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After six years at sea

After six years of life at sea all I’ve got to show are a lot of white hairs, a car, a plot of land, a few good and plenty bad memories. I dedicate this article to all young people who are considering a career and life at sea.
I made my first six months voyage in 2010 during my last year at the naval academy and I was among the lucky few who caught a cadet contract during the academy years… . Now that I think about it, I was among the lucky few from my class who caught a cadet contract at all.

I was happy and excited when I first left, it was my first grand adventure in life, the first time I was leaving home for such a long period, the first time I was going across the ocean to America and on my plane ticket was written Los Angeles. Los Angeles I didn’t get to see that time ,  I only saw the highway from the airport to the ship. The enthusiasm vanished in less than a week, when I realized that I would spend the next six months sleeping in a narrow bed in a narrow cabin, on a ship with a narrow deck, where everybody abuses you, where you work absolutely every day and where everyone only cares about their own skin.

[Read more after photos]

Just another normal sleepless night at work

Catching up with family in a free minute

I chose this career of life at sea mainly to get to see the world rather than for the money, but I soon realized that you get see the world only through airports transits, or when you are woken up in the middle of the night to assist with the ship’s docking maneuvers. You can also see it in your only 6 hours break time if you sacrifice your sleep hours and if your legs are still able to support you. Port views are usually limited to a large container yard, often far away from any town, usually a 25 $ taxi ride away from the city. There are exceptions of course, ports like Hong Kong or Singapore, where the port is practically the downtown area. On special occasions you get to stay one month in a shipyard, or sit idle with your engine broken down somewhere nice. Sometimes when you sign on or off from the ship you’re lucky enough to catch a few nights at a hotel, then you can really get to see and enjoy the city, but due to economic reasons this happens very rare. It happens sometimes to catch a long port stay in some places, where the cargo operations are very slow due to the management, but this is usually the case in third world countries where you don’t want to stay long, and you definitely don’t want to go the city.

Honk Kong entrance

In these years of life at sea I have learned, usually the hard way, that there is no justice on the ship. No matter how many rights and goodwill you have, you will still bite the dust. To survive here and climb in the ranks, you have to step on heads and be like a snake. And I also realized that in an isolated environment if you give the power to a mentally deranged individual who had a bad childhood, he will start acting like he is the master of a slave plantation and will fuck everybody, and there will be no one around to keep him under control.

But this isolated environment also creates good things: you will make tight bonds and friends that in an office environment would never happen. Apparently if you spend a few months, day and night in a small confined space with the same few people, you either become very good friends with them, or you will find a thousand ways to kill them in their sleep and throw the body in the ocean at night without being seen by anyone. If you’re not a racist you will probably become one, because most people on board are. This starts also from the shipping and crewing companies who assign ranks and set the length and wages of  your contract based on your nationality.

There is no more honor in this business, virtually all your life you will be a mercenary of the sea, in search of better conditions and pay. Before, each country had it’s own merchant fleet, manned with national crew. Nowadays you are likely to find yourself celebrating New Year’s eve somewhere in West Africa, among pirates, in the company of barbed wire, surrounded by Russians and Filipinos, on a German ship sailing under the Liberian flag. Isn’t globalization beautiful?

nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit
after years of life at sea nationality doesn’t matter, on board we’re all in the shit

And than there is the other life: the life ashore. Your time spent home between voyages, which may be shorter or longer, is not just a vacation, it’s basically a glimpse of your old life from before you started sailing, life that you are trying desperately to cling on to, but with each voyage it becomes more distant and unimportant to you. After 6 months on the high seas, you land in your country for 2-3 months and you simply do not understand what is going on around you. You missed your mother’s birthday, you missed the wedding of your best friend, you missed the latest movies … you missed a lot. And by the time you clear your head and start to adapt somewhat in society, your phone rings and you have to pack up and leave again.

Now imagine what it’s like to start a serious relationship in these conditions. Unless you’ve had your wedding in your early 20’s, or you are in a good consolidated relation with your high school sweetheart, you realize how damn hard it is to start and especially  maintain such a relationship. Be prepared to face situations like: you just finished a contract and come back home to find that your girlfriend is pregnant and already moved in with another dude. But the good thing is that because of these situations you will have a stronger character and you will cope more easily in future years. And more important you will know how to select and value those who remained beside you during hard times.

Years of  continuous non-interrupted daily work with  long hours, little and random sleep periods, eating food of doubtful quality,  extreme swings of temperature, years of living in a vibrating and rolling environment where your time zone can shift daily,  where the only available comfort you will find in alcohol and tobacco and where coffee in large quantities is your best friend, will have an impact on your body. If you managed to escape serious physical injuries and accidents, you can be sure that you will pay in other ways. Those many white hairs that appeared on your head are just the surface syndrome.

[Read more after photos]

There is also the good part of the life at sea that everyone is thinking about: the money! If you live isolated on a floating prison, means that you do not really have on what to spend the money you earn and you will put them aside. If you got some brains in your head and at the end of the contract you don’t not spend them all in one shot on a BMW,  after a few contracts at sea you can actually think about buying an apartment, a piece of land, or a house with cash down payment. So while your friends are struggling with credits at the bank for the next 30 years, you have a chance to avoid all of this. But as I said earlier, you will pay in other ways, whether it’s with your time, your health or happiness. It is the price worth it? … . That is for You to decide!

Perhaps I am being subjective here, and on other ships, at other companies, the life on board is better. I write to you sharing my experience on container ships, deck department. But one thing is certain: nobody will give you back the time spent at sea.

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Check out other expat lifestyle articles: Professional conversion for Seafarers – What can you work ashore?, UK Immigration – how much does it costs to relocate to England? ,First 30 days in Hull UK as Expat , France one year impressions , How to get PACS in France ,  Expat beginner’s guide to moving to France , First 48 days as expat in France ,  After six years at sea

Check out other trips: First 48 days in Marseille FranceRomania road trip across the country in 7 days , Budapest Hungary road tripPrague – dream vacationExcursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, HistriaVacation Madrid SpainTwo days in Jacksonville USAParalia – Greece road tripBrasov 12.2014Buzau quick stopLepsa & Vrancea countyChisinau city breakNessebar BulgariaBucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea40 days in Cluj NapocaHunedoara CastleSingapore 2013Brasov 02.2014 , Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013San Pedro-Ivory Coast , Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012 , Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-Chile, Valencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New ZealandSan Francisco USATauranga NZ

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

How the other half lives :  KarachiGuayaquil  , Lagos