Yagodina, Bulgaria *New Year’s trip*

When December came around, I realized I have no clue how we are going to be spending New Year’s Eve. My social calendar was getting crazier and crazier as 2015 progressed and by the end of it, I found myself craving some peace and quiet. Turns out my s/o shared my feelings so we got online and found a charming villa in a small village (population 431) up in the southern Bulgarian mountains.

Yagodina, Bulgaria is a gorgeous little village, hidden up in the Rodopi mountains, right by the border with Greece. it’s about 2h with a car from Sofia. The scenery on the way alone is absolutely worth taking the extreme one lane road for the last 20 minutes going up with your ears popping. There are plenty of beautiful towns that offer guest rooms and houses throughout the year but the history and the Mother Nature’s tourist attractions in the area made us choose this one.

roadshot

getting off the interstate, going up

ontheway

higher and higher

The village of Yagodina dates back to 5th century and it burned down 3 times throughout it’s existence. It’s best known for the two impressive caves located near by: “The devil’s throat”- because it’s so deep (but we couldn’t visit because it was closed due to extremely icy floors) and the Yagodinska cave that was opened. It’s a very unique travel spot, even for a cave! Permanent temperature is 6º С, all year-round, 10 km long, consistent of 3 levels with the remains of a “village”on the first floor that was inhabited by humans around 4000 B.C. Scientists found quite a few clay and ceramic dishes, dating back from the same time frame. The cave is also the home of 11 different types of bats, 6 of which are endangered from extinction across Europe. I was lucky enough to capture the little guy below! Without a flash or sound of course!!

bat

The Yagodinska cave has naturally forming pearls, unique rock formations and a naturally formed lake inside the cave! Below are some more pictures:

morerivercave

insideriver

 

 

pearls

Naturally forming pearls

 

mecave

cave-woman fashionista

The cave is located right by Byunovska river, revealing a breathtaking view

rivercave

gorgriver

river

Our villa was gorgeous, 2 minutes from the town square where there is a huge celebration, with fireworks, music and traditional dances to celebrate the new year.

townfire

It’s like renting your own apartment and you can cook but I also recommend you let the host make you some traditional for the region dishes with homegrown organic ingredients. It’s peaceful and the perfect place to reconnect with nature and recharge from the “big city life”.

roomview1

the view from our bedroom

kitty

breakfast in the garden, I made friends with a mountain kitty 

This 3 day trip turned out to be the perfect start to a new year! I’m refreshed, recharged and ready for a fabulous 2016!

Xo, Silvia Mèlange

10 restaurants to visit in NYC

  1. Pongsri Thai Restaurant

Delicious food at some of the cheapest prices in Manhattan!  The staff is quick and very helpful. All the soups are amazing and served at the right temperature and I fell in love with the pad Thai. It’s one of the spots I visit every time I’m in the City.

 

  1. Mehanata- The Bulgarian Bar

Of course I found the hottest place in lower Manhattan  ;] The place to be for all Eastern-Europeans, Russians and curious Americans. They serve authentic Bulgarian food, imported beers and other goodies. Fridays and Saturdays after 11pm the place turns into a club with lots of alcohol and dancing! If you are lucky and the ice bar is open so you will get the chance to drink a shot of real vodka while dressed in a Russian coat, surrounded by ice.

 

  1. Angelo’s pizza Little Italy

Mind blowing coal-fire pizzas! They come out so quick; it’s the perfect place for a pit-stop if you simply can’t wait to explore more. The salads are always fresh and the wine list is consistent mainly of imports. It’s affordable, with cozy family atmosphere and decent prices.

 

  1. Karizma lounge

I always explore hookah bars and restaurants when I visit different cities. I loved the oriental atmosphere and the hookahs were delicious! They serve traditional middle-eastern dishes and Turkish coffee. The staff is great and the prices are reasonable.

 

  1. El Toro Blanco- Mexican (West village)

Authentic Mexican dishes cooked to gourmet level! Add a long list of imported tequilas and mixed drinks and I’m sold! Their fresh guacamole and the tacos Al Pastor  were magical and I hope I discover their recipe one day! They have a salsa bar that has a wide variety of dips all of which are worth trying. The service was great and I will definitely visit again!

 

  1. Candle 79 Vegan-Vegetarian

Melt-in-your-mouth-amazing vegan and vegetarian dishes. Fresh organic produce and great service make this little spot one of my favorites! Stylish atmosphere and affordable prices be sure to check it out! It’s a refreshing restaurant in the land of fried chicken or beef on the go.

 

  1. Emmett O’Lunney’s -Irish Pub

With so many awesome pubs around NYC, it’s really hard to decide which one is the best.  That’s until you discover O’Lunney’s! Upscale yet authentic Irish Pub! The service is great, the bartenders are some of the best I’ve ever seen and the food is to-die -for mix between American and Irish dishes. They have live bands on Fridays and it’s perfect for late night or in the middle of the night dinners and fun nights with friends.

 

  1. Hard Rock Café Times Square, NYC

It’s a ritual of mine to visit Hard Rock in every city I visit that has one! Another ritual is to have brunch in the New York one every time I visit. The drinks and service are on point and the food is in a way typical American. It’s the displays that I’m never tired of seeing. The Beatles suits, guitars and posters alongside Elvis Presley and many other music legends. It’s one of these things you have to experience for yourself.

 

  1. Maze by Gordon Ramsey

I made a reservation two weeks in advance, guys! I’m a huge fan of Gordon Ramsey and I was ecstatic to go! I can describe my experience with two words: Pure Perfection. It’s a very classy place with small sophisticated portions of heavenly food. I can’t say it’s pricey because this is Gordon Ramsey in New York City after all. Just check out the menu and decide for yourself before you reserve a table.

 

1.The Russian Tea Room

The décor of this place!!!!!  Very 1920’s Russia style which is the first reason I fell in love with it! Make sure you make a reservation (weeks in advance is a good idea) and dress up; you never know when you might run into Serena van der Woodsen! The Red Borscht soup is a must, especially if you are visiting in the winter. I also tried the black Bass entree and the Kulebiaka dish. For desert I’d recommend the Czar’s gold and caviar parfait. I think my third tradition while in NYC will be visiting this place!

 

 

I’m sure there’s plenty I missed but I’ll be visiting the Big Apple again soon so feel free to let me know in the comments what places would you recommend!

Xo, Silvia Mélange

Nightlife in Wiesbaden (A visitor’s guide)

Hey guys! Today I will be sharing my impressions from Wiesbaden’s night life. I was in the area for a week so I gotta tell you, between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden that was a lot of bar and club hopping ;] I love variety so I always try to experience these three basic types of places the least everywhere I go; local, international and high end. That rule of mine goes for everything: bars, restaurants, museums, tourist spots etc. So here are the nightlife locations I recommend in Wiesbaden, Germany:

 

  1. Pupasch Wiesbaden

 

Literally translated, the name means “fart a$$”. It’s totally worth visiting even if it’s just to say you partied at a pub with such a hilarious name! You also get a German style shot at the door just because you came in! It’s a cool place where you can meet a wide variety of people and everyone speaks English. There’s a dance floor and quieter areas if you wish to have a nice conversation while enjoying a German beer and/or munchie foods. Very affordable and fun to hang out!

 

  1. Manoamano

 

If you are looking for a chill, lounge type of place with a huge variety of cocktails from all over the world (made right btw) and countless burger options, this is the place for you! The friendly English speaking staff and the affordable prices make Manoamano the perfect pit-stop for travelers and it’s located close to the major train station. Bonus points from me for having indoor and outdoor options, I will be returning in the summer!

 

  1. Park Café

 

Glam vibe, high-end interior design and a fab drink selection. There’s a spacious dance-floor and stashed-away corners. Park Café is one of the hottest spots in downtown Wiesbaden and I highly advice you to make a reservation prior to visiting. There’s a strict dress-code so bring your A game!

 

  1. Das Lokal

 

An awesome dive bar with delicious German food and plenty of beers to choose from! Perfect for pregame or a brunch with friends after a crazy night out!

 

  1. Irish Pub

 

The full definition of one! From the beer, to the hole-in-the-wall appearance and feeling like you’ve been here before, like you belong, as soon as you walk in. Great live music, open mics and karaoke nights. It’s loud enough to enjoy the music but you don’t have to yell in someone’s ear to have a conversation. The Irish Pub turned into my instant favorite so be sure to check it out!

 

  1. Scarabea Orient lounge

 

If you are into shisha bars, that’s the place to visit! Chill lounge atmosphere with middle-eastern music mixes and the hookahs tasting like you bit into a fruit. You can meet all kinds of fascinating people here so be prepared to hang out longer than you originally planned!

 

  1. Europalace Mainz-Kastel

 

Okay, that’s a 10 minute cab ride from Wiesbaden. There’s a freaking pirate ship in this club!!!!! There are two main halls- techno and hip-hop. Then there are smaller rooms with German music, disco and more! Another “It” place on this list also because of the list of celebrities constantly visiting or preforming in the club! There’s no drink the bartenders can’t mix and there are plenty of affordable options as well as high-end liquors and champagne. Keep in mind they also have a dress-code and it’s wise to make a reservation, especially if you plan on staying all night.

 

I’m sure I missed plenty of cool locations but I only had so much time! Let me know in the comments what places should I visit next time I’m the area? Do you agree with my list?

-Party rock on, Silvia Mélange