Exploring hidden Barcelona with SEAT Arona


I have a never-ending love for Barcelona. It's amazing architecture, street art, vivid colours and delicious food make my heart beat a little faster. When SEAT got in touch to invite me to explore the city driving their new urban SUV, I couldn't say no. 

Barcelona view
New Seat Arona urban

You may remember that I have already been to Barcelona earlier this year for the official press launch of SEAT Arona, the new SEAT crossover. This time we came back for a test drive and to attend Primavera Club, a music festival where new artists get discovered to further perform at Primavera Sound in summer next year. 

Taking advantage of the sun rising a little later this time of year we couldn't miss an opportunity to photograph the sunrise. Pictures below were taken from Park Mirador del Poble Sec.

View over Barcelona
Barcelona sunrise
Barcelona morning

Another amazing place I only discovered during this visit is Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The hospital was completed in 1930 to become the most important civil building of the Catalan Art Nouveau movement. In 1997, together with the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Hospital was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its unique construction and artistic beauty. 

Tibidabo. One more place to add to your list. There's an amusement park and a beautiful church on top of the mountain that were, sadly, still closed when we got there early in the morning. It's not that I need a reason to go back! Just this view was well worth it.

View from Tibidabo

Flax & Kale is a hipster cafe with beautiful interiors and healthy food suitable for almost any dietary requirements. 

Ugot is the cutest little cafe with a curated vintage interior and delicious food. I'll be back for that burrata with grilled peaches!

Street art. Barcelona has a lot of graffiti pretty much everywhere but my favourite spot was La Escocesa - street art around the area served as a perfect backdrop to photograph  the car.

Seat Arona

Barcelona has always something new to discover, and with Casa Vicens, the first house Gaudi ever designed, opening to the public this month, I am ready to hop on a plane again soon.  

5 days in Moldova, one of the least visited countries in Europe

This August Intrepid Travel commissioned me to work on an assignment on their trip to Moldova. I was caught by surprise and have honestly said that Moldova has never been on top of my travel list. You'll love the experience, they replied. And I did. Here's why.

Moldova Chisinau

Moldova is a small post-Soviet country land-locked between Romania and Ukraine - hence you might have never heard of it. In Soviet times, it used to be, together with Georgia, one of the leaders in wine production. I can see your interest is raising, right?

Moldova is currently rediscovering its winemaking past. In addition to old wineries, new ones, using modern technologies, start opening up - and that makes Moldova a great place to visit for all wine lovers. Did I mention it's super cheap too?

Et Cetera winery is one of the modern wineries located in the south-eastern part of Moldova. I loved the design of the space and all the home-made food that accompanied our wine tasting. That chair made of an old carped caught my attention too.

Et Cetera6.jpg

Visiting Mitestii Mici is a completely different experience. This state owned winery was registered in the Guinness World Records as the biggest wine collection in the world holding nearly 2 million bottles! The cellars extend for 120 miles, of which 34 miles are currently in use. The cellar network is so extensive that it can be driven by car and the underground streets bear wine related names - like a Cabernet street.

Milestii Mici
Milestii Mici
Moldova capital Chisinau

Moldova's capital Chisinau was almost completely destroyed during the World War II. The city was later rebuilt in a Stalinist style.

For a real local experience in Chisinau head to the main market. It's great for people watchig too!

Chisinau market

Don't miss Moldova's Orthodox monastery and archaeological complex Orchei Vechi. The cave monastery was built by the monks in the 13th century and remained inhabited until the 18th century. Later in the 1990-es a handful of monks restored it to its current state. You can also visit traditional Moldovan houses.

Orchei Vechi_old village3.jpg
Orchei Vechi_old village1.jpg

This trip was my first experience with Intrepid travel. I loved their commitment to support the local communities by hiring local guides and experts, like the homestay lunch with a traditional pastry cooking workshop pictured below.

Homestay lunch_cooking11.jpg

A visit to Moldova couldn't be complete without a day in Transnistria, a country within a country that has its own currency and government, but is not recognised by any United Nations member state. If you would like to know how it feels to live in the USSR - Transnistria is a place to visit. Its capital Tiraspol is not particularly beautiful but you go there for an experience and not to admire the beauty.

Tiraspol_railway station.jpg

I visited Moldova as part of Intrepid Travel Moldova, Ukraine & Romania Explorer 13 days trip - more information can be found here.

A day in Bradford on Avon in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is probably my favourite part of England. Honey coloured houses, old-fashioned tea rooms and beautiful views make it a perfect weekend trip any time of the year. I've been to the city of Bath twice but had somehow overlooked Bradford on Avon which totally doesn't deserve it. It's a bit smaller than its famous spa-attractive neighbour but also quieter and less touristy.

Bradford on Avon

As the name suggests, the river Avon runs through the town and makes it look even more picturesque. The history of Bradford on Avon can be traced back to Roman settlements in the area. The town still has several 17th-century buildings dating from the period of its woollen textile industry.

Bradford on Avon
Cotswolds tea room

While exploring the area I stayed at Widbrook Grange hotel, located in a recently refurbished Grade II listed Georgian model farm. I was impressed by their attention to details and couldn't stop taking photos! There's even a heated indoor swimming pool! We opted to try a dinner at the hotel too and it didn't disappoint. More photos below. 

Widbrook Grange hotel Cotswolds

Below are two more pictures of Bradford on Avon. I'll share another post where to go in the Cotswolds in the coming months. 

Bradford on Avon
Cotswolds England UK

I was a guest of Widbrook Grange hotel. All opinions are my own.

What to do in summer in Alta Badia in the Italian Dolomites

When you hear about the Dolomites you immediately think about mountain skiing in winter. I got lucky to visit a wonderful region called Alta Badia in summer and I am going to tell you why you have to go too. 

The first thing I noticed - how clean and pretty everything is. All the houses are freshly painted, there are flower pots everywhere and the roads are freshly paved too. Alta Badia hosts some of the most interesting cycling events in the Dolomites throughout summer.

Sass de Stria Alta Badia

Stunning views

You may say that mountains covered with snow look beautiful and I would agree but when else would you see so much greenery and all the mountain flowers in bloom?

The pictures above were taken from Sass de Stria over San Cassiano.

Chair and gondola lifts are working throughout the summer so you can enjoy wonderful views over the Dolomites or go hiking.

Colfosco Alta Badia
Alta Badia

The food

Local food was another pleasant surprise. Most of the restaurants offer some regional specialities and European dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Pictured below is a restaurant at Col Pradat Lodge.

The people

Alta Badia has its own language called Ladin but you will be surprised to find out that most of the locals speak Italian, German and English as well. People are very friendly and are always happy to talk about their traditions and regional food specialities. Below is a restaurant owner in a traditional leather outfit and a local cheese and meat plate.

The most picturesque churches

Each town or village has its own church and some of them are really high up in the mountains. We went on a little church hunt and were amazed by the gorgeous views. Pictured below is Santa Barbara in La Valle.

La Val Alta Badia
La Valle South Tyrol

During the trip I was a guest of Alta Badia and I have stayed in hotel Col Alto in Corvara that I can highly recommend. All opinions are my own.