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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

Is it worth going to Meknes in Morocco?

Meknes is known for its huge gates and remnants of its imperial past, and also for being close to the famous ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.

I didn’t really have big expectations about Meknes, but because was on the way and I had time to spare I stopped there. I found Meknes quite disappointing, and don’t really recommend including Meknes on your travel plan.

The city itself is ok, but not worth a visit when compared with other cities in Marocco. On the bright side, Meknes receives fewer tourists than other imperial cities.

Walking in the old medina is nice. Because Meknes receives fewer tourists it feels in a way more authentic and untouched than other cities. Simply wander and get lost in the small streets of the old city.

The gates are huge and really impressive, The most beautiful one is Bab Mansour right in front of Hedim square.

The Place Hedim (also called Lahdim square) its the heart of the city, full of people, music, games, coffees and restaurants, a less chaotic version of Jemma el Fna square in Marrakesh.

But there is a dark side to this place. It’s where snake charmers, ostriches and monkey with lids being explored.

Visiting the market is also a must, they sell a bit of everything.

Visiting the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum it’s free and non-Muslim can enter. It’s also a beautiful place with fountains, courtyards, colourful tiling and stucco walls.

Tourists are not allowed to ‘approach’ the tomb itself, but it is easy to see through the archway, and another side window where viewing is permitted.

The Dar Jamai Museum is worth a visit more for the building rather than the collection. The entry fee is DH10 (~$1).

Bou Inania Madrasa is a beautiful building, that used to be both a school and a mosque. Located right in the centre of the old Medina. To enter the entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50) not worth it.

The royal stables have fallen in decay due to poor maintenance, and are not worth a visit. The entrance fee is DH70 (~$7.50).

The prison of Habs Qara is a huge underground prison where the Sultan Moulay Ismail would keep prisoners. In my opinion also not worthy of a visit. The entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50)

Since I don’t really recommend any of the paid attractions there isn’t a whole lot to do as a tourist in Meknes.  So just soak up the atmosphere.

Outside of Meknes

Located a less than an hour from Meknes you have the ancient city of Moulay Idriss and the Roman ruins of Volubilis. both worthy of a visit.

How to get to Meknes From Fez
How to get to Meknes from Fez

It’s really easy to travel from to Meknes, all 3 options are good. Get to Meknes from Fez by bus with the company CTM or by train.

You can also travel in a shared taxi. The shared taxis stop in front of the main bus station (just outside Bab El Mahrouk).

The short answer to my question: Worth going to Meknes in Morocco? No, but if you have plenty of time on your hands why not 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Volubilis a stop into a Roman past

The Archaeological Site of Volubilis is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Probably the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco.

The Roman city of Volubilis dates from the 3rd centuries B.C. and the remaining structures still stand stubborn against the skyline nowadays.

Volubilis was one of the Roman Empire’s most remote outposts.

Entrance

To enter the site you need to pay an admission fee of 70 dirhams(~$7.50).

There are guides waiting for you at the entrance who can be hired for around DH150-200 for around an hour. It’s your choice to wire one, I always prefer to walk around at my own pace.

Better to go early in the morning or later in the evening for sunset, to avoid the heat of the day and the tour groups. The site opens at 8:30 and closes at 19:30.

Just beyond the entrance gate, there is an on-site museum, which displays the ancient city’s most celebrated finds documenting the whole history of the ruins.

The ruins, still impressive all these years later

Nowadays still a lot is left to be seen. From an impressive triumphal arch to mosaic floors in what were once rather magnificent townhouses.

My favourite mosaic was located at the House of Orpheus, where you see Orpheus playing his lute to an audience of wild animals, a dolphin and Poseidon, the Roman god of the sea.

At Volubilis, there’s nothing much separating you from the ruins, just a few bits of rope. So wander the site at will. Just let’s hope that all tourist are respectful and will not destroy anything.

It’s also still possible to the foundations of many houses, hot and cold rooms, the city’s basilica, temples, graceful columns and bathhouses. The ruins offer a fascinating insight into the city that once served as the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.

Much more is still there to be found since the site is only partially excavated.

Getting to Volubilis

I recommend spending one night at the picturesque and charming town of Moulay Idriss and walk down to the ruins. The setting is just stunning, you have hilly, wheat fields and olive groves.

But if you don’t have the time to stay at Moulay Idriss you can still visit the Roman city of Volubilis as a day out from Fez or Meknès. From fez are an hour and a half drive and less than an hour from Meknès.

The most expensive way to wire a taxi, the cheapest alternative is to take a shared grand taxi from Meknès to Moulay Idriss (Dh10). – (shared grand taxis to Moulay Idriss only run from near Meknès’s Institut Français)

From Moulay Idriss is just 4 kilometres to Volubilis so easily walkable if you don’t go when the sun is at its strongest. If you are not much of a walker hire a grand taxi to take you to the ruins (~Dh30 one way).

I adored Volubilis, the site itself is beautiful and also all the nature around it. I’m glad I had enough time to visit the site and to explore and walk around the Moroccan countryside.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Crispy Baked Tofu (tofu assado)

This recipe a great way to make tofu, it’s really easy, and totally customizable with the seasonings you like the most. Baked tofu is surprisingly crispy, versatile, and delicious.

Crispy Baked Tofu Recipe:

  • 600g extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • any mixture of seasoning you like to taste

If you are doing your own tofu, follow the instructions here.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Drain the tofu well and slice it as you wish, little cubes, triangles, rectangles..

Using a large mixing bowl drizzle the tofu with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with cornstarch, salt, garlic, pepper and all the other spices you are using.  Gently toss until evenly coated.

Put the tofu in a baking sheet carefully with space between each piece.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until crispy and flip each of the tofu bites so that they can cook evenly on the other side.

Put it back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of crispiness.

Remove the tofu from the oven and serve warm, or store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

PT: Tofu Crocante Assado

Esta receita é uma ótima maneira de fazer tofu, é muito fácil e totalmente personalizável a nível dos temperos.

O tofu assado é surpreendentemente crocante, versátil e delicioso.

  • 600g Tofu extra firme 
  • 2 c. de sopa de azeite
  • 1 c. de sopa de amido de milho
  • Sal e pimenta a gosto
  • alho em pó a gosto
  • qualquer mistura de especiarias a gosto

Se quiseres fazer o teu próprio tofu, segue as instruções aqui.

Pré-aquecer o forno a 200ºC.

Escorrer bem o tofu e cortar em qualquer formato, cubinhos, triângulos, retângulos…

Usando uma tigela grande regar o tofu com azeite e polvilhar uniformemente com amido de milho, sal, alho, pimenta e todas as outras especiarias que estiveres a usar. Envolver  delicadamente até uniformemente revestido.

Colocar o tofu com cuidado numa assadeira com espaço entre cada peça.

Assar por aproximadamente 10 minutos ou até que estejam crocantes e virar cada uma das peças de tofu para que elas possam cozinhar uniformemente do outro lado. Levar ao forno por mais 10 a 15 minutos.

Retira o tofu do forno e sirve quente, ou guarda-o num recipiente fechado no frigorifico por 3 dias.

baked tofu recipe

Moulay Idriss a gem to be discovered

The sacred heart of Morocco
Moulay Idriss is one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites.
The town is located between picturesque hills on top of a mountain, 4Km from Volubilis nestled in a small crevice of the Atlas Mountains.
It is said in Morocco that six pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss are the equivalent of one trip to Mecca.
Moulay Idriss is the burial place of the great-grandson of the prophet Muhammad. In order to keep the town pure till 2005, non-Muslim people weren’t allowed into the town after 3 PM.
The town stands out because of it’s whitewashed look and picturesque setting. 
Putting Moulay Idriss on the tourist map
It’s strange to understand why more tourists don’t visit… when is located so close to a busy attraction like Volubilis. If you have time I highly recommend spending the night here, if not at least stop on your way to or from Volubilis.

Moulay Idriss it’s still a relaxed quiet place, free from mass tourism and with a centre free of carpet shops, offering a break from the hustle and bustle of the more popular Moroccan cities.

The people of Moulay Idriss we meet were really kind and nice.

What to do in Moulay Idriss

It’s not like there is much to do here, but the relaxed vibe, picturesque streets and the view from the top of the town are stunning. 

In town, you can wander around the narrow streets and look out for the numerous hidden terraces.

The main square is lined with cafes and food stalls.

Visiting the local market in Moulay Idriss is great, they sell fresh produce, traditional Moroccan pastries, dates, spices and meat (the disturbing bit)

You can see that here people depends greatly on donkeys, and you will see them everywhere. They use donkeys for transportation up and down the mountain. It looks like they work very hard with little food. It’s really sad to see how they treat the animals and how unhappy and unhealthy they look.

The mosque is quite simple from the outside, and non-Muslims are not allowed to enter.

Moulay Idriss is a great place to take refuge while still exploring Morocco.

How to get to Moulay Idriss from Meknes
By public bus

You can get to Moulay Idriss from Meknes by taking the public bus #15. It leaves from the bus stop near the grand taxi station and it costs 7 MAD for a one-way ticket.

By shared taxi

In front of the French Institute, you have the shared taxi station. One way costs 10MAD.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Soft Vegan Chocolate Cakes (bolinhos veganos de chocolate)

These Soft Vegan Chocolate Cakes are a healthy and delicious sweet tea time treat. Perfect for when you don’t have much time and you want to eat something sweet that is not overly sugary and fatty.

  • 2 cups self-raising  flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 Tbsps grounded flax seeds
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 heaping cup muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsps cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsps peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bar of vegan chocolate (~100g)
  • Walnuts to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Put the water and the flaxseeds on a blender or a bowl and let it sit for 3 minutes. Then add all the other ingredients (less the chocolate bar and walnuts) and mix well until combined.

Scoop a tablespoon of dough in a baking tray lightly floured. Pierce the cake with a piece of chocolate top with a walnut.

Place the cakes in the oven and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

PT: bolinhos veganos de nozes e uvas passas
  • 2 canecas farinha com fermento
  • 1 caneca de água
  • 4 c. de sopa de sementes de linhaça moídas
  • 3 c. de sopa de azeite
  • 1/2 caneca bem cheia de açúcar mascavado
  • 2 c. chá de fermento p/ bolos
  • 3 c. de sopa de cacau em pó
  • 3 c. de sopa de manteiga de amendoim 
  • 1 c. chá de extracto de baunilha 
  • pitada de sal
  • 1 barra de chocolate vegano (~100g)
  • Nozes para decorar 

Pré-aquecer o forno a 200°C.

Colocar a água e as sementes de linhaça num liquidificador de alimentos ou numa taça grande, e deixar repousar por 3 minutos. Depois adicionar todos os outros ingredientes mexer bem até que a massa esteja consistente.

Num tabuleiro polvilhado de farinha, deitar colheradas de massa e levar ao forno até  que os bolinhos estejam douradinhos (+-15 minutos).

What to do in Chefchaouen Morocco’s Blue City

Chefchaouen is the famous “Blue City” in Morocco, hidden in the mountains located between Tanger and Fes. A laid back, peaceful and stunning place with friendly locals, and on top of that there is no harsh selling here!! Can’t get much better than that!!

Chefchaouen was by far one of my favourite places in Morocco, my expectations weren’t that high because most places that are as famous as Chefchaouen are normally quite disappointing when compared with all the amazing Instagram posts you see. I’m not saying that is less touristic than I expected, but it’s still a special place worth of a visit, that managed to keep a good vibe despite tourism.

Chefchaouen is one of the most visited places in Morocco, so don’t expect to be the only one there.

True to be told Chefchaouen is a stunning place and a photographer’s dream. It’s hard to leave the camera for a minute…  just remember while you are there that people actually live here, so be respectful. 

What to Do in Chefchaouen
Lose yourself

There isn’t a lot “to do” in this town, so wandering around is one of the top things to do. The city is really charming, so don’t rush and enjoy being present and being there.

It’s easy to wander here for hours and just be in awe the whole time. Try to find small details in the middle of the blueness of Chefchaouen like the stunning doors.

The Blue Souk

Although I didn’t do any shopping, I did walk around and look at the beautiful and colourful shops. The vibe is nothing like the one you get in other parts of Morocco. Vendors here are not pushy at all. You are completely free to walk around, observe locals’ daily life around the Medina and look at the shops without being pushed to buy anything. 

Chefchaouen Market

Chefchaouen Market is a Local Farmer’s Market that sells fresh locally grown produce. A great place to go for a walk first thing in the morning. All the colours and smells are the perfect combination for a memorable experience.

The market happens every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The farmers of the Rif valley come down to Chefchaouen to sell their wares.

Kasbah Museum and Mosque

The Ethnographic Museum – Kasbah is located right in the middle of the main square and has a display of regional artefacts including pottery, instruments, and paintings, not really worth a visit in my opinion. The entry fee is 60MAD (~$6.50).

Next to the museum, you’ll see the Mosque that dates to the 15th century. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter.

Waterfall Ras el Maa

The waterfall is located outside of the medina at walking distance. Is a nice, quiet and cute stroll into nature only minutes away from the busy Medina. 

Spanish Mosque

There is a small walk (20 minutes uphill) that separates the town to the Spanish Mosque, a famous spot to visit for sunset. The mosque itself doesn’t have much interest, but the views are stunning.

Out and about
  • Doing a day trip into the mountains is a great option if you have time to spare in the region. There are a few nice hiking trails that you can explore.
  • The d’Akchour waterfall and God’s Bridge, are a beautiful place to go for a walk and swim. Only riched by car or taxi, it’s a 45-minute drive.
  • Visiting the hash fields are also an option.
How to get to Chefchaouen

You can easily get to Chefchaouen on your own. The CTM Bus line in Morocco travels to Chefchaouen. The company is safe, clean, comfortable, and reliable. You can travel from Tangier, Fes, or Rabat. If you are travelling during the high season and Moroccan holidays it’s better to book in advance.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Perfect Grilled Aubergines (beringela grelhada)

Grilled vegetables are my go-to side dish or even sometimes even main dish. They are incredibly easy to prepare and go well with almost everything. Between my favourite vegetables to grill is aubergine. I also love grilled artichokes, zucchini, peppers, onions, corn and mushrooms.

Perfect Grilled Aubergines Recipe:

  • 2 medium Aubergines
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp paprika
  • pepper and salt to taste

Heat a griddle pan or grill.

Slice the aubergines. In a bowl mix all ingredients to prepare the seasoning mixture.

Brush each aubergine slice with the olive oil mixture. Cook for 2-3 mins, turning once, until softened and lightly charred.

Use the olive oil mixture as a dressing for extra flavour.

PT: beringela grelhada
  • 2 beringelas médias
  • 1/3 caneca de azeite
  • 1 c. de sopa de vinagre de maçã
  • 1 c. de sopa de molho de soja
  • 1/2 c. de chá de alho em pó
  • 1/2 c. de chá de cebola em pó
  • 1 c. de chá de paprica
  • pimenta e sal a gosto

Aquecer uma frigideira ou grelha.

Fatiar as beringelas e misture numa taça todos os ingredientes para fazer o molho.

Pincelar cada fatia de beringela com a mistura de azeite. Colocar na grelha e deixar grelhar por 2 a 3 minutos virando uma vez,  até que as fatias estejam macias e ligeiramente douradinhas.

Usar a mistura de azeite como molho para dar extra sabor depois de grelhadas.