Blog

Tallinn travel, Estonia

Top Things to Do in Tallinn, Estonia
Old Town

The charming old town is part of the Unesco as one of Europe’s most complete walled cities.

The Old Town is really well kept, and it is a perfect place to wander around through the cobblestoned streets looking at the beautiful architecture.

Viru Gates

The Viru Gates is one of the entrances to Tallinn’s old town where you can see part of the 14th-century extensive defence system.

I found this area too crowded and not well looked after since they have allowed the opening of a couple of fast-food chain restaurants what to be fair just kills the vibe of the place.

Around Viru Gate, there is also a small flower market.

Toompea Hill

The Kohtuotsa viewing platform, located on Toompea Hill, offers great views over the city.

On Toompea Hill, you can also find the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral a Russian Orthodox church with black domes, that can be seen from the Old Town.

Located next to Alexander Nevsky Church, is the Toompea Castle.

Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats)

The Town Hall Square is a busy place during summertime with lots of cafes, restaurants and stalls. I recommend arriving here as early as possible to enjoy the peace and quiet.

The surrounding architecture is stunning with merchant houses.

Kalamaja District and Telliskivi Creative City

The Kalamaja District has enjoyed rejuvenation in recent years as Tallinn’s hipster neighbourhood. So to go a bit off-the-beaten-path, Telliskivi Creative City (or Telliskivi Loomelinnak) is the place to go to explore the creative side of Tallinn.

It was for me the most exciting part of the city. Telliskivi is a complex of former warehouses turned into boutiques, restaurants, live music venues, and cafés, and all are beautifully decorated with street art.

KGB Prison Cells

For some history head over to the Patarei prison for an outstanding exhibition. To explore the place that the Soviets used as a high-security facility. Where hundreds of men were locked up and executed. A glimpse of Soviet-era prison life in all its dreariness.

Although it’s far from being a light experience, you can only imagine what horrors they suffered behind bars.

At the time of the visit, the prison was holding an exhibition called ‘Communism is Prison’. I highly recommend a visit. (Ticket 5.00€ or free with Tallinn Card)

The abandoned Olympic stadium – Linnahall

Linnahall is an abandoned Olympic stadium located not far from the Old Town, constructed for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, hosted in the Soviet Union.

Nowadays most of the structure is blocked off by safety fences. The rooftop is the only part of the building that can be visited.

I heard that there are plans to transform the structure into a conference centre, including an opera and concert hall but it still abandoned.

The Kadriorg Art Museum

Kadriorg Art Museum is a museum dedicated to foreign art, located in a former imperial summer residence. If you are lucky enough you may get to listen to a classical music performance.

The admission price is €6,50 but it is lovely just to enjoy the surroundings and that’s free.

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM)

The Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia is the place to go to see alternative and contemporary art.

The EKKM gives an unexpected insight into Tallinn and Estonia culture. At the time of my visit, there was amazing video work but the exhibitions change regularly.

The Entrance is free, and there is a cosy area outside where you can have a cup of coffee, it’s well worth the visit.

Market Balti Jaama Turg

The Baltic Station Market (Balti Jaama Turg) is a great farmers market where people can buy and sell food, and also non-food goodies.

The market is housed in a brick building next to the train station.

vegan scene

There are several vegan-friendly and 100% vegan restaurants in Tallinn. Luckily veganism seems to be on the rise in Eastern Europe and it’s becoming much easier to find good places to eat.

Tallinn Botanic Garden

I just love botanic gardens, so I couldn’t skip this one. Tallinn’s Botanic Garden has over 4,500 plant species and is perfect for a relaxing stroll away from the city.

Free Walking Tour

While in Tallinn you can join a Free Walking Tour. They are a great way to learn about Tallinn and get some local insight.

Have a day over in Helsinki

Tallinn is just across the Baltic sea from the Finnish capital of Helsinki. So a great opportunity to explore another country during your time in Estonia. Find here how to get to Helsinki by boat and what to do and what to visit while there.

Have you been to Tallinn? what was your impression of the city? 

I’m happy to help if you have any questions about Estonia or Tallinn.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

A guide to eating vegan in Tallinn

Tallinn can be a feast for vegans

The good news is that there are many restaurants in Tallinn selling vegan food, but on the other side you need to do some research to find them.

Once you do your research you will find out that there are many hidden and not so hidden gems when it comes to eating vegan in Tallinn.

Luckily veganism seems to be on the rise in Eastern Europe and it’s becoming easier to find good places to eat.

During my time in the city, I found a wide choice of cafes and restaurants where you can find plant-based food. So what are the best vegan places to eat in Tallinn?

I have put together a list of the 7 places I liked the most.

Must-visits for vegans in Tallinn, Estonia
Pelgupaik – The Vegan Noodle Place

Pelgupaik is located slightly away from the old town. They serve food is delicious vegan Asian style food and have a wide variety of dishes.

▷ Rohe kohvik

The food at Rohe kohvik is absolutely delicious and the tempeh and cakes a must. Their bowls are also amazing and filling.

It’s a nice place with a minimalist design and great atmosphere. Perfect for lunch. Rohe kohvik is located near Telliskivi, close to the train station.

▷ Vegan Inspiratsioon

The Vegan Inspiratsioon is conveniently located in the Old Town.

They serve a wide range of delicious food. The space has great ambience, nice music and artwork displays.

▷ Lisanna – Vegan Coffee Shop

Lisanna is a vegan coffee shop located just at the end of Old Town, the place has a rustic look, a cosy vibe and delicious treats, from coffees, cakes, smoothies to sandwiches.

I really loved the atmosphere and food.

Tru Kitchen

Tru Kitchen serves really delicious and tasty vegan food. The service is great as well as the interior decorations and music. I loved everything about this place.

The restaurant is located in the Karjamaa cityscape in northern Tallinn.

▷ Von Krahli Aed

This restaurant is super cosy with low lighting, different seating areas, and the food is absolutely delicious. They serve meat but have good vegan options.

▷ Vegan restoran V

The vegan restoran V is probably the most popular vegan restaurant in Estonia.

The food is absolutely delicious and they serve really interesting and unconventional dishes. The restaurant is small and very popular, so booking in advance might be a good idea.

(The head picture from this article it’s a delicious curry from this restaurant)

Have you been to Tallinn? Can you recommend any good places to eat?

I will leave you with a few more watering mouth pictures of vegan food in Tallinn…

From Tallinn to Helsinki by Ferry

If you have time to spare in Tallinn why not to take the Ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland? It’s an opportunity to be in two different countries in one day.

The Tallinn-Helsinki Ferries are huge cruise comfortable ships, with various facilities. The journey takes only 2 hours and the ticket costs about €20-30 and can be booked online or at the terminal.

recommend taking the earliest cruise to Helsinki and the latest cruise back, so you can comfortably explore Helsinki for a full day. Numerous ferries cover this distance throughout the day, so it’s easy to organize it.

Visiting Helsinki in 1 day

Although Helsinki is one of Scandinavia’s most popular destinations, one day was enough to scratch the surface of the city, especially because I didn’t really feel seduced by the city. Helsinki doesn’t have the charm of an old city neither the excitement of an extra modern one…

What to do in Helsinki

The best thing about the city is its friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Helsinki is a small capital city, the centre is compact, and in one day, you can cover most of the highlights.

The city has plenty of museums and some interesting architecture but is quite pricey. Nevertheless, there are plenty of free things to do.

If you visit during the summertime Helsinki is full of free performances, from concerts to stand-up comedy shows.

If you’re looking to add more context to what you see you might consider doing a free walking tour. They give you a glimpse of the history and talk about Finn’s everyday life and culture.

Top things to do for free:

The best time to visit Helsinki is definitely during the summer season from June to September because the days are longer and the temperatures are mild.

Have you visited Helsinki? How did you like visiting the capital of Finland?

 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Roasted Garlic Artichokes (Alcachofras assadas com alho )

I love artichokes, they are one of those vegetables that when I have them it always feels like it is a special treat. Maybe because they take a little more attention to prepare than other vegetables.

Roasted Garlic Artichokes has to be my favourite way to enjoy artichokes! This recipe is quite simple and so much healthier than most recipes you will come across.

  • ~ 6 artichokes 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pepper
  • ~7 garlic cloves
  • herbs optional and to taste

How to prepare the artichokes:

 

  1. Cut off the sharp leaf tips with a knife or scissors and trim 1 inch from the top.
  2. Trim off the dry tip of the stem and peel it using a vegetable peeler.
  3. Rinse the artichokes really well under cold water.
  4. Cut them in halves, starting from the base and cutting upwards.  Then remove the choke from the heart with a spoon (purple / pink inner leaves extending down to the white fuzzy hairs) before cooking as this is not edible.
  5. Rub the entire artichoke half on all sides with a lemon wedge (to help prevent browning)

Preheat oven to 220ºC.

Bring water to a boil in a large pan. Add the artichoke to the boiling water and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and drain.

Mix the artichoke halves in a bowl with the wine, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Arrange the halves on a lined baking sheet cut-side-up and fill the artichoke cavities with the mixture as full as possible for maximum flavour.

Cover with foil and make sure to seal it tightly to prevent the moisture from escaping.

Cook for about ~15-20 minutes, or until golden or when it can be easily pierced with a knife. (cooking time depends upon the size of your artichokes)

During the process keep brushing them with a coating of the seasoning mixture, turning frequently, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning.

 

Hope you enjoyed this extremely simple recipe, but yet to die for.

PT: Alcachofras assadas com alho 

Alcachofras asadas com alho são a minha maneira favorita de cozinhar alcachofras!

Esta receita é bastante simples e muito mais saudável do que a maioria das receitas que vais encontrar por aí.

  • 1 limão
  • ~ 6 alcachofras
  • 1/2 caneca de vinho branco
  • 1/4 de caneca de azeite
  • 1 colher de chá de sal
  • 1/4 colher de chá de pimenta
  • ~ 7 dentes de alho picado
  • ervas aromáticas são opcionais e a gosto

Como preparar as alcachofras:

  1. Cortar as pontas afiadas das folhas com uma faca ou tesoura e cortar 2 cm a partir do topo.
  2. Aparar as pontas secas do caule e descascar com um descascador de legumes.
  3. Lavar muito bem as alcachofras em água fria.
  4. Cortar ao meio, começando pela base até cima. Em seguida, retirar o ‘coração’ com uma colher antes de cozinhar, pois isso não é comestível.
  5. Esfreguar a alcachofra com limão (para evitar que escureça)

Pré-aquecer o forno a 220ºC.

Pôr água a ferver numa panela grande. Adicionar as alcachofras e cozinhar por aproximadamente 10 minutos. Retirar da água e escorrer bem

Misturar as metades de alcachofra numa tigela com o vinho, o azeite, o alho, sumo de limão, o sal e a pimenta.

Colocar as metades num tabuleiro de ir ao forno, com o lado cortado para cima, regar bem com a mistura previamente usada.

Cobrir com papel alumínio para evitar que a humidade escape.

Cozinhar por cerca de 15 a 20 minutos, ou até dourar. O tempo de cozimento depende do tamanho das alcachofras.

Durante o processo, continuar a adicionar a mistura de temperos, virando as alcachofras com frequência.

Kiev travel guide

Kyiv, Ukraine’s Dynamic City on the Dnipro

Kiev or Kyiv, is the vibrant capital of  Ukraine. Full of colourful cathedrals, parks, funky cafes, colourful street art, exciting nightlife and delicious vegan food.

I would go as far as saying that is one of Europe’s most underrated travel gems.

I was curious to finally visit this former Soviet nation since I’ve only visited a few countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union (USSR), Estonia, Latvia,  Lithuania, Georgia and Armenia.

Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe, famed for its beautiful historical cities, unusual-flavoured vodkas, beautiful beaches in the Crimean Peninsula, wonderful churches, and soviet architecture.

I felt on my time in Kyiv that the city has a huge amount of potential and it had the surprising feel of being somewhat off the beaten track when compared with other European capitals.

Exploring Ukraine’s exciting and engaging cultural capital
UNESCO Sites

Kyiv has two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Both are Orthodox Christianity icons. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Saint Sophia Cathedral.

  • St. Sophia Cathedral

I found that the interior was the most outstanding aspect of St Sophia’s Cathedral. The oldest standing church in Kiev, with its striking original frescoes and mosaics from the early 11th century.

The bell tower is also worth climbing for great views over Kiev.

  • Pechersk Lavra also known as the “Monastery of the Caves” comprises an ensemble of monastic buildings, overlooking the right bank of the Dnieper River.

Founded in the 11th century, Lavra has a number of gold-domed churches and an underground complex of labyrinthic caves that expands for more than 600 metres.

The monks dug caves and underground labyrinths, living and studying in them, and their mummified bodies still line the walls.

Walking around the caves was definitely an ‘experience’ that I will not repeat. I felt that was a place that should only be open to people that go there to pray, I was the only tourist there walking around in the dark and narrow passages while believers congregate from one relic to another, praying and kissing each icon and the numerous vaults which contain the mummified bodies of the monks in turns.

Cathedrals and more Cathedrals

When visiting Kiev you will not escape from visiting at least a few Orthodox Christian Cathedrals. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful, unique and different from what I’m used to, but after a while, I had to have a break from all the religiousness.

I honestly can’t decide which one I liked better. They were all beautiful with their golden tops glimmering with glory. So here is the list of my favourite ones:

  • St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral

Built-in the late 19th century, St Volodymyr’s Cathedral is not one of the most famous but I found the interior absolutely stunning, with art nouveau influences.

The exterior is yellow and has seven blue domes.

  • St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

This golden-domed blue church is hard to miss out. Looking from St Sophia’s past the Bohdan Khmelnytsky statue, at the other end of proyizd Volodymyrsky. The shiny cupolas are absolutely stunning and also the murals inside.

  • St Andrew’s Church

This Golden and blue baroque church is a traditional Ukranian five-domed crossed-shaped church, that dominates the view as you walk up Andriyivsky uzviz.

Make sure you climb the steps to the platform for great views over Podil and the Dnipro River.

An Introduction to Kiev at Independence Square
  • Maydan Nezalezhnosti square (Independence Square)

Maydan is the nation’s meeting point, where people come to stroll and enjoy the nightly fountain show.

Kiev’s big social heart hosts many concerts, performances and festivals, and it is known for its vibrant and lively atmosphere.  The independence Square is filled with fountains and glass domes.

Annually you can see here on August 24, the celebration of the independence, with a military parade.

  • Stroll Along Kreshchatyk Street

Khreshchatyk Street is lined with neoclassical buildings, cafés, and upscale shops. You will probably walk this street almost every day in order to reach different sights in various parts of the city.

On weekends and holidays, the road is closed to traffic.

Highlights in Kyiv’s Old Town

Is at Kyiv’s Old Town, (also known as the Upper Town), that you can find the oldest and most important landmarks of the city, perfect for aimless walking… admiring ancient ruins and gracious baroque architecture.

Discovering the Best of Kiev
  • Podil- In the heart of Kiev

The historical area of Podil is one of the most dynamic and coolest areas in Kiev. It truly has a bohemian, revivalist feel that really resonated with me.

Podil is full of stylish cafés and restaurants, art galleries and cultural centres, street art and historical orthodox churches.

Part of the joy here is wandering around without any specific purpose.

Strolling Around Andreyevsky Uzviz

Andreyevsky Uzviz (or Andrew’s Descent) is a charming winding cobblestone street.  The area has a bohemian vibe, and is a wonderful place to stroll. The main street is filled with galleries, shops, restaurants, cafés, artists’ co-ops and studios. Stop to check out the open-air vintage markets along Andriyivskyy Descent.

The Bustling Bessarabsky Market

Is a massive indoor market filled with stands selling fresh produce, jar upon jar of pickles and preserved everything! The produce is stacked beautifully and you’ll see lots of traditional Ukrainian products.

Other cool and unique things to do in Kiev, Ukraine
  • Kiev’s ‘underground economy’

As other post-communist countries, there are several underpasses at busy intersections. Where you can find people selling all sorts of goods – these mini-market stalls truly seem to be a part of people’s everyday life.

So marvelling at all the economy that is taking place underneath Kyiv’s walkways is a must.

  • Take the metro to the deepest station in the world

The metro in Kiev is cheap, reliable and a great way to get around.

Kiev metro is one of the deepest metro systems in the world, and Arsenalna Metro is the deepest metro station in the world (346 feet underground).

  • Go on a self-guided street art tour

The scale, quality and quantity of the street art in Kyiv is impressive and not to be missed.

  • Eat amazing Vegan food

Veganism is on the rise, and Kiev is not an exception. There are lots of interesting places to be found and delicious food to be appreciated.

  • Ride the funicular 

The funicular is not a tourist attraction, is one of the many public types of transport you have in the City. Is just a short trip, but nice, especially for the views. A simple way to travel from upper to lower city.

The funicular runs down a steep hillside to the river terminal in the district of Podil

  • Catch an Opera or Ballet

While in Kiev you should admire the amazing architecture of the opera house and see an Opera or Ballet show. They are quite affordable, and Ballet is known for being popular in the Ex-Soviet states.

  • PinchukArtCentre

The international centre of the contemporary art – PinchukArtCentre, It’s the largest exhibition area in the whole of Eastern Europe.

They have excellent free rotating exhibitions, and great views of Kyiv’s roofs from the coffee shop on the top floor.

  • Holosiivskyi National Nature Park

The Holosiivskyi National Nature Park is a protected forest and nature reserve in Kyiv and a must-visit for nature lovers.

Navigating Your Way around the city

Transportation in Kiev is cheap by most European standards. The metro in Kiev is one of the most efficient in the world.

Kyiv, a city that has it all

Kiev will surprise you and leave you pining to book a return trip, I really enjoyed my time in Kyiv, and I bet you’ll love it as much as I did.

What was your experience in Kiev? Or are you planning to go?

How to Make Tofu with only 2 ingredients (como fazer tofu)

How to Make Tofu? making it at home is actually easier than you might expect and well worth the effort.

  •  1-litre organic unsweetened soy milk (no additives)
  •  juice of 2 lemons

Bring the soy milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring from time to time and then let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Add the lemon juice and stir. When you notice that the soy milk is beginning to coagulate, cover the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the content into the cloth-lined colander or tofu press and let it sit for at least 20- 30 minutes. Your tofu is ready to eat/use. If you are not using it right away, soak it in water and refrigerate. Change the water every day if you don’t use the tofu.

TIPS: You can make your own soy milk

You can find plastic tofu makers and wooden ones as well.

PT: Como fazer tofu só com 2 ingredientes

Fazer tofu em casa é muito mais fácil do que imaginas…

  • leite de soja (organico, sem açúcar nem aditivos)
  • sumo de 2 limões 

Aquecer o leite até que ferva, mexendo ocasionalmente, depois deixar mais 4-5 minutos em lume brando.
Retirar do lume, adicionar o sumo de limão e mexer. Tapar o tacho e deixar repousar 5-10 minutos.
Transferir o liquido para um coador com pano ou para uma prensa de fazer tofu e prensar bem por 20-30 minutos, et voilà está pronto para entrar num belo cozinhado 🙂 Se não for para usar imediatamente, mergulhar o tofu em água e guardar no frigorífico. Mudar a água todos os dias  até que seja cozinhado.

DICAS: em vez de comprar leite de soja, pode-se faze-lo demolhando os feijões de soja durante a noite e depois triturar em alta velocidade com água – a receita está aqui

Exited prensas de fazer tofu de plástico e de madeira.

Easy Oil Free Cooking Tips

Cooking without using any oil is an upcoming trend. You might not expect it, but it is actually quite easy to leave the oil out of your cooking.

The food will taste just as nice and it has a lot of benefits regarding your health.

Personally, I love olive oil and I use it regularly for literally almost everything.

Olive oil is extremely healthy, loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants. But probably like me, you use and consume way too much of it 🙂 So why not give oil-free cooking a try?

The ease of cooking with oil is without much effort replaced by other tools, which can result in even more tasteful food.

Guide to Cooking Without Oil

There are various methods you can choose when cooking oil-free:

  • When baking, you can make use of fruit purée (like applesauce or mashed bananas) as a healthy replacement of oil. I can assure you, this makes your food taste extra nice.
  • When sautéing and stir-frying, it is best to only add small amounts of water or broth as often as needed to cook your food. Keep stirring it regularly to make sure it will not burn.
  • When roasting vegetables or other foods in the oven, it is really unnecessary to coat it with oil. Vegetables will brown on their own, just be a little more patient. Silicone ovenware is easy to use when you want to avoid your food to stick, but a piece of parchment paper will also do just fine.
  • When you stove your food, you can make additional use of a flame diffuser. This diffuses the heat evenly and makes sure the pan will not get large burn rings.
  • Steaming food is the perfect way to avoid oil.
Choose the Right Cookware

It is helpful to start with buying yourself a couple of high-quality non-toxic nonstick cookware to make sure your food does not stick. They make cooking without oil both easy and safe. You can choose a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan, a ceramic-titanium pan or an enamel-coated cast iron pan.

A special nonstick pan will only last for a couple of years but can be used for all types of food. These pans are very easy to use. Stainless steel will last for years, but I found it more difficult to cook oil-free with it. Ceramic coated pans are mostly suited for vegetables, whilst cast iron can even go in the oven.

Some pans are not suited for aerosol spray oils, or should not be scrubbed with steel pads. Just make sure that you are informed about the use of the different pans.

Cooking oil-free might be a completely new thing for you. But once you learn how to cook without using any oil or butter, and experience the ease of it, I am sure that you will like it as much as I do.

Those are my tips for cooking without oil, keep in mind that will take some time and experimentation to get it right the first few times. Hopefully, you’ve found these tips useful 🙂

Kiev Street Art

Kiev, an amazing hub for street art

Kyiv, Ukraine‘s capital city is getting in the spotlight as the Eastern European cultural hotspot since 2014. Kiev today has a vibrant art scene, it’s home not only to numerous exhibitions, performances and premieres but also to street art.

And you ask what as happened in 2014? Well, since then a number of large murals began appearing on the facades of old Soviet buildings.

Nowadays, the city hosts over 160 pieces of public art produced by talented painters or graffiti artists from Ukraine and other countries such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Australia. Not many places can compare to Kiev in terms of the scale and volume of huge murals.

What is really cool about exploring the city through its murals, is that you will go to places that otherwise you wouldn’t since the murals are often hidden in lesser-known parts of the city.

The street art scene in Kiev is creative, big, bold, unexpected, and colourful ‘decorating’ the urban landscape perfectly.

A Self-Guided Walking Tour

The Ukrainian capital aims to position itself on the world’s street-art scene, with monumental murals cover the walls of Kyiv.

The Street Art can be found all over the city, so time is definitely required. To help you with your treasure hunting expedition there are some great resources.

Kyiv Street Art Resources

Kyiv Murals is a great up-to-date App which pinpoints murals near you. The app it’s free and includes a map of all the street art in Kyiv, with information on the artists and the meaning.

Kyiv Murals is a website with the GPS locations of almost all of Kyiv’s street art.

Kiev Off the Beaten Track!

Making your own Street Art tour is a great way to go off the beaten tourist path and discover a lesser-known side of Kiev.

You will find a bit of everything from portraits, landscapes to abstract art – hidden on the walls of the city.

Kiev’s murals are, indeed, breathtaking and well worth of exploring while visiting the capital city of Ukraine. Expect Kiev to be like a big open-air Art Gallery.

So don’t miss out and explore and discover the colourful Kiev Murals.

Location Map

Which city is your favourite for street art? Let me know so I can make sure to check it out! 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Kiev’s Vegan Scene

Kyiv or Kiev is the stunning capital city of Ukraine. If you’re wondering if Kyiv is worth visiting, I say definitely yes!! There are many reasons to visit this city and one of them is the vegan food scene.

Over the last few years, Kyiv has seen a mini-boom of vegan restaurants and the eco-friendly community keeps growing rapidly.

During my time in Kyiv, I did encounter lots of great vegan food. For what I understand its’s partially due to religious reasons. I was told that in Orthodox Christianity there are several fasting periods, during which specific animal products are not consumed.

They abstain for 40 days leading up to Easter, for a period in May/June,  for the first 14 days of August, and from 15 November to 24 December, and all year round on Wednesdays and Fridays.

For that reason, most restaurants have a ‘fasting menu‘ (‘Lenten menus’ – постное меню in Russian) that is mostly composed of plant-based dishes.

Communism also ‘helped’. There are great vegan products (not labelled as such), originated during the Communist era. In order to reduce costs and shortages, they used plant-based ingredients, instead of expensive animal products.

Apart from religion and communism veganism is on the rise in general, and Kyiv is not an exception. There are many great vegan places to eat around the city.

When you eat at a non-vegan place notice that they eat quite a lot of сало (lard), сметана (sour cream) and sometimes there are small amounts of meat ‘hiding’ in some dishes.

Vegan Restaurants, Cafés and Bakeries:

B12 candy bar is a vegan bakery, with a small shop attached located in the historic part of the city. Also offers salads and sandwiches. A great place for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Soupculture is famed for the various soups served in edible bread bowls.

Nikogoneem located in a plaza-style area with multiple vegan restaurants. They serve amazing tofu and seitan burger.

KOLO, is a lovely restaurant in Podil with a cosy interior, that serves homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps and desserts.

Sereda, sells delicious cakes, fresh juices and smoothies. The place is also bike-friendly.

Orang+utan offers a rich selection of vegan sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

Cafe Imbir near the Olimpiska metro station has a cosy atmosphere and great vegan and vegetarian food. You can even find a few raw vegan options.

Bessarabsky Market,  it’s an indoor market full of stalls, farmers stands, and restaurants. There are several vegan options in this marketGreen 13, sells wraps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and desserts. Ra.Man. has a wide selection of vegan ramen, six types of bowls, pitas and desserts.

To find other vegan places in Kiev happycow is your best friend!

Where to Find Vegan Food in Kiev

I’ve found that there are great 100% vegan restaurants but also interesting local restaurants with at least one meatless option everywhere. So I would say that is quite easy to travel in Kyiv as a vegan.

The trendy district called Podil is probably one of the best neighbourhoods for vegan food in Kyiv.

There are also some excellent local events such as the monthly flea market Kurazh Bazar (with delicious street food) and the annual Kyiv Vegan Boom festival, with a food court and market set up on the bank of the Dnieper river.

So I assure you, you will not go hungry in Kyiv. I think the scene there is going to get better and better and it’s definitely a city to keep your eye on.

Aït Benhaddou exploring the fortified village in Morocco

Ait Benhaddou has a distinctive look with sand-coloured houses, a massive fortification made up of six kasbahs and nearly fifty ksours (individual kasbahs) all protected by UNESCO.

This fortified village located in Southeastern Morocco, about 30km from Ouarzazate seems frozen in time resembling an elaborate sandcastle.

The maze of narrow streets and crenulated towers are mainly from the 17th century. A great example of pisé clay architecture.

Ait Benhaddou lies on the old trans-Saharan trade route, at the border of the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Ait Benhaddou is one of the most extraordinary Kasbahs in Morocco. Ksar refers to a group of houses made by soil and surrounded by high walls.

Ait Benhaddou has been used as the backdrop for many popular movies but is more than just a film set.

Things to do

To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to do at Ait Benhaddou, what doesn’t mean that is not a great place to visit. Exploring the old kasbah by itself is a delight.

Walking around on Ait Benhaddou maze of winding streets until reaching a fortified granary is an absolute must.

From the top, you get an amazing view of the valley and the stony desert that stretches almost into infinity. 

Make sure you hike both hills because they offer completely different views of the surrounding area. The hill above the kasbah, and the hill across from the kasbah.

Inside the houses, you see small dark rooms with uneven floors and tiny windows. Nowadays the buildings are still constructed using hand-made bricks. Flat roofs are common here and used as open-air bedrooms.

The upper floors are normally adorned with ornate patterns. The more sophisticated the richer their owner is.

Without the hassle of major cities is also nice to admire the local crafts. Both sunset and sunrise are undoubtedly spectacular and not to be missed.

Ait Benhaddou — One of the most famous villages in Morocco

I just want to reinforce the idea, that despite finding Ait Benhaddou quite picturesque, depending on the time you visit, the village can be thronged with tourists. Game of Thrones seems to to have done quite a good job at putting this village on the map.

There are still a few families living in the ksar, other houses are open to visitors for a fee of 10 dirhams.

If you spend the night the kasbah empties out and becomes a peaceful spot to watch the sun go down.

Getting there from Marrakech

The cheapest way is by bus but the best option is to rent a car.

Two companies travel here the CTM and Supratours, I heard that they have other local companies, that are a bit cheaper, but not as reliable as the other two.

In Marrakech take a bus to Ouarzazate and tell the driver you want to be let off at the intersection to Ait Benhaddou (stop at the crossroads in Taborah).

From the stop to Ait Benhaddou are 16Km, but are always a few taxis around waiting for passengers. You need a taxi ride to get you to the actual kasbah.

There are two option, a collective taxi (5DH) or a private taxi. Negotiating the price for private taxi is important (~30DH). The drive only takes 10 minutes.

How Long to Stay in Ait Ben Haddou

Most people come here on a day trip for 1 or 2 hours.  I think one day and one night is just ideal.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha