Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tapas Dinner at El Toro in Karlsruhe, Germany

Contemplating on where we are going to eat for the evening in Karlsruhe, my colleague came to my rescue and showed me Tripadvisor. Question: Do you plan where to eat during your travels based on Tripadvisor rankings?

Well I do not particularly use Tripadvisor for my restaurant meals selection because I have this feeling that the rankings does not really reflect the face of reality, or at least my own expectations for that matter. It does not mean though that I do not check out Tripadvisor. On the contrary, yes I do, but I do not always base my decisions on them. I prefer reading a wide variety of sites, mostly blogs and I also leave a bit of spontaneity and personal discovery. However, it is indeed a reality that many people resort to websites such as Tripadvisor for a restaurant recommendation, such as in the case with my colleague.

Now this ‘El Toro’ tapas bar ranked number 3 on Tripadvisor’s Karlsruhe restaurants. My other colleague, who was hankering for something other then German (we had German food the night before) voted for it, whilst I on the other hand cannot really say no to tapas. I love Spanish cuisine you know.

So the three of us drove to the centre of Karlsruhe. We managed to find a parking near the restaurant which was cool, and we did not have to pay either as well. Some cities in Germany, you only pay for parking during the day.

We noticed that some of the tables in the restaurant were reserved. The place also got quickly filled up. Now I take that as a good sign. If you are on the top 10 restaurants in your city on Tripadvisor, I am sure your kitchen will be busy the whole evening every single day.

It is time to order our tapas! We plan to eat small bites and share them with each other. Here is our tapas dinner:


The shared tapas dinner. This was a tapas set that you can order: dates wrapped in bacon, 2 types of anchovies, artichokes in tomato sauce, fried chorizo, shrimps, green olives and fried cheese sticks. Super delicious!

We ordered an extra serving of dates wrapped in crunchy bacon on a bed of fries.

As well as some 'patatas bravas' with the sauce served separately.

We all adore the sizzling 'gambas al ajillo', so we ordered an extra serving as well. This really arrived sizzling hot on our table.


My male colleague was hankering for some chicken so he ordered this. It's like chicken curry with potatoes and paprika, Spanish style.

A shared dessert for the ladies, the molten lava chocolate cupcake.

The verdict? We were quite happy with this meal. I highly recommend this place to those who fancy some tapas in Karlsruhe.

Travel Period: January 2015
Destination: Karlsruhe (Baden-Wurttemberg), German

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Art Nouveau and Viennese Secession Architecture in Oradea, Romania

Romania is a country rich in art nouveau and Viennese Secession inspired architecture. Many of which are not yet totally reconditioned back to its old glory. Such as in Oradea, a city near the Hungarian border which I visited last year in May, I found many of these stunning buildings.

I love the colourful old trams in Oradea. There are very few tourists in the city and I really felt walking around between the locals which is a very nice experience.

The Raiffeisen Bank Agentia Vulturul Negru, stunning in Viennese Secession. With a touch of art nouveau design, the building appears more feminine.

I have a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts with a major in Interior Design, which sadly I do not practice anymore, but a part of this previous life will always remain in me. This is one of the reasons why I love travelling to many European cities. I enjoy seeing and appreciating the stunning architecture in the continent whilst travelling back in time and learning about its history. I just cannot help but ogle at the beautiful buildings for hours and take pictures. Yes, I take lots of pictures =)

In Oradea, sadly many of these historical buildings are still left in ruins. Even if they are in very rundown state, you can still see through its beauty and character.

This part of Romania was under the Austro-Hungarian Empire for some time, which is the reason why the city has many art nouveau and Viennese Secession architecture. Hopefully one day these buildings will be brought back to its original state.

After tasting a bit of Romania in Oradea, it makes me want to see more of the country. I already have a few towns and cities in mind =)

To zoom in and out, just click on the + and - signs on the lower right hand side. 

I travelled by car from Hungary in Debrecen, which is where I was based for this holiday, to Oradea, Romania and I had to go through border immigration. The immigration officers were quite intrigued with this coloured woman travelling alone without a luggage haha.

Romania is part of the EU now, however it is not part of the Schengen Travel Treaty, which Hungary is. You can read my travel and logistics post about this trip here: Romanian Immigration, Suicidal Hungarian Drivers and Slovakia

The Crisul Repede River that runs through the heart of Oradea.

Oradea State Theatre (Teatrul de Stat). I managed to get inside and attended a graduation ceremony. Go here: A Graduation Ceremony at the State Theatre

Moi on the Saint Ladislas Bridge (Podul Sfantul Ladislau) with the Oradea City Hall behind me (see the massive yellow-beige building in the upper photo).

Many buildings in Oradea are in bright pastel colours which remind me of Prague (Czech Republic) and Krakow (Poland).

A map of Oradea. If you are a tourist and want to explore the area and see beautiful architecture, your orientation point should be the Saint Ladislas Bridge (Podul Sfantul Ladislau).

Traces of art nouveau in the many buildings in Oradea.

I am sure this fountain would be very pretty after being refurbished.

Podul Sfantul Ladislau (The Bridge of Saint Ladislas). 

Saint Ladislas Roman Catholic Church. Romania is predominantly a Christian country, however majority of Romanians, about 80+%, belong to the Orthodox Catholic Church. The Roman Catholics are concentrated more to the north in the border of Hungary.

This is Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Brave) on the Union Square. He is the Prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia. He reigned in the 16th century.

Two beautiful banks standing beside each other on Piata Uniri (Union Square): Raiffeisen Bank and Alpha Bank. Nautrally, banks have the money to buy and renovate such gorgeous buildings.

Michael the Brave on the Union Square (Piata Unirii).

Across the Union Square (Piata Unirii) is the Oradea City Hall. I managed to get inside and see the beautiful interior, again an example of Viennese Secession.

The Oradea City Hall on the right with the tower beside the Crisul Repede River.

Travel Period: May 2014
Destination: Oradea (Bihor), Romania

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Oldtimer Classic Cars in Kosice, Slovakia

I have been thinking lately of -- What if I buy a classic car?

In the Netherlands you do not have to pay road tax for cars older than 40 years so that is one of the advantages of owning one. But then, which classic car should I choose? I am not a fan of big cars and definitely not a two-seater type as well as I need room for luggage and such.

These classic cars on exhibit I saw at the Aupark Shopping Centre in Kosice last year.

Could you ID these classic cars?

Travel Period: May 2014
Destination: Kosice (Kosice), Slovakia

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