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Vilnius, the very best things to do

Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius surprises with its green spaces, charming squares, hipster cafes, churches, history and artistic vibe.

Phrasing the recent tourist ad that went viral: Vilnius is ‘the G-spot of Europe: Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it, it’s amazing’

Old Town

Vilnius’ Old Town is truly beautiful with pebbly streets, period buildings, pastel-coloured walls and quaint little streets.

Vilnius Historic Centre is protected by Unesco, is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe and a delight to explore.

Pilies Gatvè is the hub of touristic action and the main entrance to Oldtown.

The Gediminas Tower is the lasting part of a castle, located on top of a hill. From here you have panoramic views of the Old Town. (€5)

If you are not up for the walk get the funicular to Gediminas Hill (cable car) can take you for €1.50.

Hill of Three Crosses

The Three Crosses is a monument erected in 1989. Not a super interesting place in my opinion, but the views during sunset are quite nice.

Palace of The Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Is a well-presented museum with a mix of old palace ruins, history of the leaders of Lithuania, archaeological finds and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art collections. (€7)

The best part is the 3D virtual reality tour that you can take to see and feel the past.

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square is a place that buzzes with life. Here you find the Vilnius Cathedral the main Roman Catholic Cathedral in Lithuania.

The Cathedral sits right in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.

Churches

Smaller charming neoclassical and baroque churches are there to be found around town like the St John’s Church, St Anne’s Church and the Church of St Peter & Paul.

The campanile of St John’s Church is the highest viewpoint in town – €2.50, a great place to contemplate the beauty of the city.

Užupis

The Užupis district is a cool and edgy neighbourhood that sits across the river from Old Town Vilnius. Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April 1, 1997. Created by bohemians and artists is a home for the dreamers.

This place has its own flag, its own national day (April 1st) and its own constitution. It is packed with trendy bars, galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

On Thursdays, nearby Tymo Turgus food market is the destination for organic produce, there’s also plenty of street food.

 Jewish history

Vilnius’ Jewish Quarter is a particularly pretty section of the city’s old town. This area of Vilnius is all cobblestone streets, paper lanterns, and carved wooden doors.

There are a few museums to visit in the area dedicated to the history and the people that used to live there and about the genocide.

Art scene

Checking out the street art is an absolute must. The cobbled streets of Vilnius are dotted all over with amazing pieces of street art. There is a map here with the most famous street art.

You can’t miss the Open Gallery in Vilnius a long-term interdisciplinary project and cultural initiative, located in the post-industrial district Naujamiestis.

Here you will find tons of creative projects such as paintings on the factory walls, installations, sculptures, performances, etc.

It’s free to visit.

Museums and Galleries

The Nacionalinė Dailės Galerija (called NDG), located across the River Neris from the centre has a collection of contemporary art.

The National Museum of Lithuania displays artefacts from Lithuanian life from Neolithic times.

For 15th to 19th-century Lithuanian sacred art, the Museum of applied art is the place to go.

Gate of Dawn

The chapel in the Gate of Dawn in the former city wall hosts the famous Madonna.

This place attracts pilgrims from all over the world who visit seeking miracles even if you’re not religious the gate is quite impressive.

Hales Market

The Hales Market dates back to 1906 and it’s one of the oldest markets in the city.

A great place to browse and check out the Lithuanian fresh produce and cuisine.

There are also a couple of coffee shops and fast food stalls in the market.

Literatu gatvė

Writer’s Lane, or Literatu Gatvė is a stretch of a street dedicated to Lithuanian writers.

Parks and gardens

There are many lush, green spaces in Vilnius and if the weather is fine, many locals and tourists alike like spending time in them.

Just outside of the city on the banks of the River Neris is Verkiai Regional Park, a great place with lakes, cycle paths and stunning green spaces. The park is always open and the entrance is free.

Bernardine Garden is a nice and peaceful place close to the Cathedral Square and the Gediminas Castle Tower

Vilnius’ botanical garden located on the outskirts of Vilnius was founded in 1781. The place is stunning and a must-see. Entry €1.5o

Getting to and around Vilnius

Getting to Vilnius is quite straight forward, with a city airport receiving flights from all over Europe. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the city centre (around 10 Euro), or you can also take the bus or train, both cheaper options.

Vilnius is a compact city, and most sights are easily reached on foot.

Free Walking Tour

It’s great to do a free walking tour from Vilnius With Locals. It lasts about 2.5 hours and gives a great introduction to Vilnius and its history and interesting sites.

It gives you a good “first look” in the city, the opportunity to speak with a local and get some recommendations.

Is Vilnius worth visiting? The answer is definitively yes!

Are you planning to visit Vilnius? Have you been? 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Vegan Guide to Saigon

If you’re traveling to the south of Vietnam you will likely end up in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It’s really easy to travel as a vegan in Vietnam. There’s so much great vegan food around that is almost unbelievable and Ho Chi Minh is no exception. You can find great vegan places around the city.

Saigon has a great vegan scene, due to its young population, the prevalence of Buddhism. From street vendors to restaurants there are endless plant-based options to be found in the streets of Saigon.

There are a big number of ‘Quan Chay’ (vegetarian restaurants) which serve at least a large selection of vegan food. Just look for the word “chay” in shop banners

From my experience language can be a barrier so it’s better to be prepared. I normally do a PrintScreen of some keywords from google translator.

Vegan Guide to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Here’s my guide on where to eat in Ho Chi Minh City.

Filthy Vegan

Filthy Vegan is located in District 1, the heart of the city, and serves delicious vegan comfort food. They try to be zero waste and use biodegradable packaging.

Friendly staff with fast service. All the food I tried was delicious and everything they sell here is vegan.

10% of the profit goes to a vegan charity based in Vietnam.

Nhà Hàng Chay Bà Xã

Ba Xa is a Vietnamese vegan restaurant with an extensive menu and tasty food. You can try a variety of faux meats but also tofu and vegetable dishes, the food is fresh and delicious.

Phúc Quang Chay

Phuc Quang Chay is a vegan restaurant with a large menu of Vietnamese dishes, with organic and raw options located in District 1.

Veggie Saigon Cafe & Restaurant

Veggie Saigon serves  Vietnamese dishes in vegan and international versions. All the food I’ve tried was delicious, fresh and full of flavor. They have an extensive menu and a central location.

Thực Phẩm Chay Âu Lạc

Âu Lạc is a small chain of vegan restaurants and food stores.

The one I went to served really good food, especially for the price. During the day they have a great buffet of mock meat, stir-fries, rice, spring rolls, etc.

Because is a buffet you can get by easily without speaking Vietnamese you can just point at what you’d like.

If you want to cook you can find all you need to cook with except fresh vegetables.

Nha Toi vegan

Nha Toi, is a vegan restaurant with a large menu with mostly Vietnamese food.

You can order from the menu or have the buffet plate. Everything I tried was delicious and super flavourful.

I hope this guide to being vegan in HCMC has put your mind at ease, Vegan food here is abundant and delicious. Vietnam is an awesome place to travel and is well worth the trip.

Saigon’s top sights

Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, is Vietnam‘s busiest city. There’s so much to see and do here, whether you’re staying for just a few days or planning to visit for a month.

If you’re planning to spend time in Ho Chi Minh City, here is a list of the top 6 things to do around Saigon’s region.

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, is an incredibly beautiful and exotic place with its great floating markets, where locals sit on boats to sell their wares, small villages along the canals and spectacular rice paddies.

It’s possible to visit the Mekong Delta without a tour and is actually quite easy. You just need to ask around and combine different ways of transport, bus, ferry or rent a motorbike. Save at least 3 days to explore the Mekong.

If you are looking for a more comfortable experience there are many cruise routes along the Mekong Delta.

Củ Chi Tunnels

Deep under the ground, you’ll find a network of connecting tunnels, called the Củ Chi Tunnels.

To get here from Ho Chi Minh on your own you can choose from one of these options: motorbike, car, bus or speedboat.

To get there by public bus first, take the bus nº 13 from 23-9 park (nearby Pham Ngu Lao, backpacker area) to Cu Chi bus station. Then transfer to Bus nº 79 headed to Ben Duoc. This is by far the cheapest option but the total travelling time is around two and a half hours. To return to HCMC get the bus nº79.

Tip: download the BusMap app beforehand to make travelling by bus in and around Ho Chi Minh City a breeze.

These tunnels were once in use by the military and acted as hiding places, living quarters, hospitals and supply routes, all safely hidden from view. This gives a fascinating insight into life in Saigon through the Vietnam War.

There are two entrances:  Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc that for some reason have different entrance fees.

Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc?

The truth is, Ben Duoc is the best example of the original tunnels and is cheaper. Ben Dinh is closer to Ho Chi Minh City therefor more touristy.

Delicious vegan food

Saigon is a paradise for vegan food lovers, there is an abundance of choice, quality and great prices everywhere you look.

Find incredible temples

Ho Chi Minh City is filled with magnificent temples, to be discovered all over the city.

The famous Thien Hau Temple, located in District 5 in the Chinatown has great small details and decoration.

Standing out amidst Vietnamese architecture, Notre Dame Cathedral is distinctly European. Created by French colonists, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon has two bell towers and some incredibly impressive stained glass windows.

Phuoc Hai Temple, also known as the Jade Emperor Pagoda. located in District 1 – the downtown of Saigon displays many statues of saints in Chinese culture.

Markets

Don’t miss Ho Chi Minh City’s vibrant and bustling street markets. These are an incredible sight, and a chance to sample local foods and flavours.

The most famous market in Vietnam is the hugely varied Ben Thanh Market, but if you go to Binh Tay Market you will find better prices and have a more “local” experience.

Binh Tay Market is located in the Cholon area of Ho Chi Minh City, which is Chinatown.

For something more unusual, find military memorabilia at Dan Sinh Market, or go to incredibly colourful Ho Thi Ky for the largest wholesale flower market.

Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

Often described as one of the best things to see in Ho Chi Minh City, the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre is an attraction that’s not to be missed. Here you can enjoy Vietnamese culture amongst the locals and other tourists. Often the shows are presented entirely in Vietnamese, but can still be enjoyed if you don’t speak the language.

Staff will explain the premise of the story before the colourful puppet show begins. Water puppetry is a Vietnamese tradition, so this attraction is an experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

How to get around Saigon

If you fly to Ho Chi Minh city, you can take a taxi or bus from the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport to the city. To take the bus look for bus nº152, it will take you all the way to Ben Thanh Market.

HCMC is not the most pleasant place to walk around because of the crazy amount of motorbikes but its still the best option especially in the central areas of town. Walking is always one of the best ways to explore any city.

To get somewhere outside Ho Chi Minh, renting a motorbike is the best option, there are plenty of rentals agencies, and the fare for the day is quite cheap.

You can also use the local bus system that is a cheap and safe way to get around town.

Using a taxi can be challenging, and to be fair I avoid using them when possible. If you go with this option make sure you take a reliable company and confirm the taxi is legit.

You’ll have to spend quite a few days in the area to see everything this region has to offer. Have you ever been to Saigon? What are the things to do in Saigon that you enjoyed the most?

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

I definitely have a sweet tooth, but as we all know sugar is not great for our health, so in order to be able to fulfil my sugary desires, I try to make my own sweet treats as much possible using natural ingredients. cutting down on processed food, rich in refined sugar and saturated fat, with no real nutritional value.

When I can’t make my own snacks I always choose to buy from a small, local and independent business, that have values aligned with mines.

Deliciously Guilt Free

Basma and Dan are the magic hands behind Deliciously Guilt Free. They started baking their own sweet snacks when Basma was pregnant with her first child and was diagnosed with pregnancy diabetes.

They now bake and sell indulgent keto treats like brownies, blondies, cakes and biscuits that are both low sugar and low carb. Everything they sell is handmade in their kitchen in Cambridge, UK.

I can’t recommend enough their vegan chocolate fudge brownies. They are absolutely delicious, gooey, meltingly soft, mega chocolatey, dense, fudgy and everything a chocolate lover could dream of.

Seriously the best Vegan Brownies I’ve ever had! The quality is amazing, they are virtually carb and sugar-free, made with Tofu, Almonds, Coconut Oil, Coconut milk, cocoa and cocoa butter. Made without any weird ingredients, you’d never believe that they could taste this good!

I’m trying my best to describe them, but I feel I’m not making them justice, so nothing better than trying for yourself 😉 for all the chocoholics out there, this is for you!

They ship to all over the UK, USA and Ireland and hope to ship to more EU countries in the near future.

I just hope that more vegan products get launched in the future 🙂

The vegan guide to Norway

Norway is a beautifully simple country with breathtaking landscapes. If you love nature, exploring new places and vegan food then it should be one for your travel bucket list.

You may think it’s difficult to find good vegan food in Norway, but right now there is a vegan revolution happening in this unlikely Nordic country. If you are going further afield, make sure you read The Secret Traveller’s top tips.

So, here are just a few reasons why Norway can be a vegan food haven:

It’s gaining traction, fast

Although many traditional dishes are meat and fish-based, the country has seen a rise in vegans in the past few years. Apparently, it’s the fastest-growing food category in grocery stores. Over the past 6 years, the total number of people eating ethically in Norway has increased by a huge 80%, so it seems to be going in the right direction.

Oslo is the place to be

Oslo, Norway’s capital is quickly becoming an exciting destination for vegans, with more than one hundred places offering plant-based options.

Silk Road

They have a very eclectic menu with dishes from different cuisines. Everything I tried was absolutely delicious. The quality, flavour and presentation are mind-blowing.

Food Shack

If you’re in the mood for some proper junk food without the guilt, Food Shack serves delicious jackfruit and other plant-based burgers.

Nature and the Fjords

Norway is a great place to appreciate and connect with nature. Just think about the majestic mountains, crystal-clear waters, and vibrantly green fields that dominate much of the country.

On top of that if you visit the Geirangerfjord in north-western Norway pop into the Geiranger Chocolate Factory to try some of the vegan chocolates they have.

Fjords Norway travel

Food markets and festivals

The Trøndersk Food Festival happens during the summer in Trondheim, and represents over 200 of the country’s local producers. Again, there’s a lot of meat and fish as you’d expect, but there are also plenty of fresh veggie dishes to get stuck into. The Gladmat food festival in Stavanger is also another one for your list – it draws in over 250k foodies on an annual basis, and has live music, too.

vegan Norway APP 

There is a free app which helps you find all the vegan-friendly places in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim & Stavanger, called Vegan Norway ( iOS * Android )

So there you have it – the vegan foodie’s guide to Norway. Have you got your own tips and tricks when travelling the Nordic countries? Let me know!

Going off the Beaten Track, Tallinn Top 3

I found Estonia a fascinating country and the capital Tallinn a super interesting city.  

I was lucky enough to spend quite a long time exploring the city, which allowed me to feel the city and go beyond the most well known touristic attractions. (find here what to do and see in Tallinn)

For me, the following places are an absolute must: 

Top places out off the Beaten Track in Tallinn
Telliskivi Creative City

I really loved exploring Tallinn’s art scene. Telliskivi Creative City, was an abandoned factory area that has been reclaimed as an urban space and is now home to the biggest artistic hub in the country.

At Telliskivi Creative City there are really interesting independent businesses and non-profits, alternative public spaces and great street art.

Here you have an excellent opportunity to get a taste of the local cultural life and hang out in places far from the masses of tourist.

This district is about 15-20 minutes walk from the historic centre, but if you do not want to walk or cycle you can reach it getting the trams number 1 and 2 from the centre, the bus stop is called Telliskivi.

Patarei Prison

The Patarei prison is an imposing, seaside complex in the Kalamaja district that was originally built as a fortress in the 19th, and from 1920 was used as a prison during Soviet times.

What I liked about this place was that it isn’t a regular museum, they only had some posters in some areas with chilling testimonies and facts about life in prison, giving you a glimpse of Soviet-era prison life in all its dreariness. Despite the posters, the prison has been left virtually untouched.

The building is in a rough condition and to be inside and see the place the same way that it was abandoned sends shivers up my spine. There is an undeniable eerie feeling as you walk around.

Walking around takes a little bit of courage, and you get punched in the stomach many times just from the thoughts that run on my mind imagining the many atrocities that happened on those walls, torture, violence, execution… You can almost smell the fear and desperation that would have hung in the air here.

To visit the exhibition ‘Communism is Prison’ the admission is 5€, and per the patareiprison.org website, it seems that they are aiming to become the International Museum for the Victims of Communism. So I imagine that the building will suffer great changes.

Tallink Spa 

From where I’m from there is no sauna culture, so I thought it was a great opportunity the try it, and I didn’t get disappointed.

A lovely woman I met during my time in the city recommended the Tallink Spa, but there are endless options in the city, for all tastes and pockets.

I paid 14€ to use the Aqua Spa for 3 hours. There you can try a variety of saunas, Jacuzzi pools, and use the large indoor pool and also the open-air outdoor swimming pool.

I never came across such a variety of steam and Finnish saunas it was a great experience.

Let me know if you have been to Tallinn and what places did you like the most.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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 center, 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.

▷ Veg Machine

Veg Machine is a food stall inside Balti Jaama Turg, close to Telliskivi creative city.

They serve delicious food, have quick service and nice staff. Both of their burgers are really good and the sweet potato fries with mayo are super tasty. There is limited seating so better for taking away.

▷ 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.

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon 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.