Eastern Europe, Hungary, Travel

Hotel Gellert

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to share my experience at Hotel Gellert in Budapest.

Brief History

As a member of Danubius Hotel Group, Hotel Gellert is known for its architect and thermal baths. The building broke the ground in 1912. The construction took about six years due to the World War I. The hotel welcomed its first guest in 1918. It’s been more than a century, now the hotel itself is a worth-to-see building in Budapest. Its gorgeous art-nouveau and neo-baroque style draws people’s attention. The Spa Gellert is connected to the hotel, which helps guests access easily inside the hotel. Also, they offer some discount for the spa if you’re staying in the hotel. Considering the fact that Budapest is a city known for its spa, it will be nice to stay here one day to enjoy the spa. I couldn’t take pictures of the spa and the swimming pool, but the decoration was stunning. What I liked the most was I could go there in a swimsuit with a gown(offered by hotel) from my room to the place and come back to my room to shower after. I would say it’s a perfect place for a weekend off!

How to get there?

Located in the center of Budapest, Hotel Gellert is easy to access by public transportation(Szent Gellért tér, metro line 4). There’s also a tram station right in front of the hotel which help you look around the city more easily. You can also ask the hotel to arrange a taxi for you. It takes about 30-40 mins and costs 9,000-10,000 Forints (30-35 USD).

Room

From the reception to the room, it reminds me of the movie < The Grand Budapest Hotel >. The construction was well balanced with tone on tone style. I reserved a standard room and got a one with the riverview. (There are two views available : river and hill). The room was not that spacious, but it was cozy and comfortable for two people. Seeing the facilities, you can tell the hotel has a long history, but all of them are well managed. I loved the its symmetry style and the mixture of the colors in the furniture. Based on the gold, brown and dark green I felt very relaxed and peaceful. The room was quiet, but if you leave the window open you can feel the busy capital city of Hungary.

Service & Price

The receptionists are very friendly, but always busy. Various options are available at the breakfast buffet with the riverview. Price is vary depending on the date and the room-type. A standard room will cost about €100-120 per night.

Hope you enjoyed the Hotel Gellért review with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : Budapest, Szent Gellért tér 2, 1114 Hungary

website

Paris, Places, Shopping

Hermès

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to introduce one of French luxury brands Hermès store in Paris. If you’re interested in fashion and high-end brand, this place is absolutely worth to visit. I’ve been to different Hermès stores in Paris, but my favorite one is the flagship store in 6th arrondissement.

Like other stores in Paris, there are security guys to check your bags before the entrance. Once you get in, you would see a fabulous wooden structure which looks like a nest in the big place. From furniture to clothing, you can find almost everything you need in your daily life here.

To buy the bags, you need to make a reservation in advance. That doesn’t guarantee that you would get the appointment. You can make a reservation through a website, or show up and put your name on it. It’s differ from shop to shop, thus it’s good to go and ask how to reserve a spot. I heard that if you succeed with the appointment, they will send you a SMS to give you a notice. On the day of the appointment, you tell your designated salesperson the models you want but there’s no guarantee that s.he will come with bags you asked. That’s probably why some popular models are sold very expensive in the secondhand market.

Hermès is a representing premium brand from Paris. I visit here almost every season to look around new style and decoration of the place. The way they decorated the place inspires me to decorate my place. I love looking at the house deco magazine, but it’s always better to see in real than to see the magazine. Price tags are next to the item. Thus, you don’t have to call the salesperson to ask the price, but they are always near you and ready to answer your request.

Inside the store, there is also a small book store and a cafe <Le Plongeoir> where you can take a break. The servers at the cafe are very friendly. You can also have a brunch or lunch there. They offer some salad, risotto or other food to fill you up. The price is a bit high compared to other places, but I think if you’re here to buy Hermès, it wouldn’t be expensive at all to you. Plus, the quality of food is pretty high and the atmosphere is very good and quiet. Also they use Hermès furniture and dishes. If you think of purchasing any glasses or tea set it might be better try them out before at the café and buy them since they’re expensive.

Hope you liked the visit to Hermès in Paris with Marimonda 🙂 See you again!

Practical Info.

Address : 17 Rue de Sèvres, 75006 Paris

Hours : 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Mon.-Sat.) Closed on Sunday.

Le Plongeoir café

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Naranzaria

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to review of a restaurant in Italy. Naranzaria is a restaurant in Venice next to the Grand Canal in the center of Venice. I feel bad to post on an Italian restaurant following another Italian restaurant in Paris (Al Caratello), but in Italy I only had the local food.. So probably I will update few more italian restaurants later.

Coperto (table cover fee)

In Italy, it’s a common practice to charge a coperto (table cover fee) per person in a restaurant. Usually it costs €2 and it is said that it’s for serving bread and tap water. But most of the restaurants don’t offer water(especially when you’re a tourist). You should order it. In this sense, the Coperto is kinda forced tip. It will be automatically charged in your bill. Don’t be surprised if you’re charged extra few euros under the name of coperto. Even though it’s cover the bread and water(supposedly), most water is also for pay. Some mean servers brought the water and opened it without asking. You can stop them and argue about it. As a tourist, however, it’s not that easy to argue with natives. One of the things that I liked this place was at least tap water is already included and you can choose between still water and sparkling one in this restaurant.

Atmosphere

Next to the Grand Canal, Naranzaria is less than 2-3 mins away from the Rialto Bridge. However, it’s very quiet and less touristic compared the other places near the Rialto Bridge. Terrace seats are great to chill out and enjoy the view. They fill up very quickly. Seeing gondolas passing by, it is very exotic and this might be the only experience you can do in Venice.

Menu and Price

The restaurant offers various options from pasta to risotto. Considering Venice is an island, we ordered seafood plates (european bass) and octopus. We were expecting them to be fresher and cheaper than Paris. The answer is yes and no. The fish and the octopus were very fresh and delicious, but quite expensive (€21 for each plate). We paid €57 for two glasses of wine, two main dishes and the table cover. It was expensive for me, but the price seemed quite on average in Venice, though. If you order pasta, it’s much less expensive (€5-6 less per dish). No wonder why there’s not many residents in the main island. If I live in Venice, it will be my place only for special occasions such as birthday. The rest of the meals in Venice I had take out pizzas or sandwiches. Otherwise it’s just too expensive in Venice. The food was delicious and the servers were very friendly. I would go back if I ever visit Venice again.

Recommendation

Before writing this post, I googled the restaurant to see what others think of it. Well.. I was surprised that there were so many people unsatisfied with the service and food. When I went there, everyone was friendly and the food was good. So I can’t recommend this place to you. However, the reviews are based on very personal experiences including mine. Thus, you may have a pleasant moment like me or you may not like it. What I liked the restaurant was the atmosphere and delicious food. Servers were ok and I would be happier if the price were a bit down to be honest. Overall, I liked this place.

Hope this review help you to choose a restaurant in Venice. See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : Sotoportego del Bancogiro, 130, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. / 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Monday.

website It says the webpage is in English, but it seems like there’s no English website.

Food, Paris

Al Caratello

Hi, it’s me Marimonda! Today I’d like to introduce you my favorite Italian restaurant in Paris!

Located in the Audran street, this place is always full of people and pleasant atmosphere. I’m so excited to share this place. I found this restaurant when I arrived at Paris in 2017. At that moment, I stayed in an airbnb in 18th arrondissement (because it’s usually cheaper than other areas), so I had opportunities to try out some restaurants nearby. This is the best one so far in every sense (price, atmosphere, and the most important thing – taste)

It seems like the owner(or the workers) of the restaurant are Italians, because you can hear Italians when they talk to each other. In the Audran street, you may see three restaurants named caratello: Al Caratello, Pizza Caratello, and Piccolo Caratello. Looking at the names, I guess they are all family-run restaurant like Berthillon.

Atmosphere

The restaurant is quite small with full of people. The light is soft so your food looks more delicious. Servers are very friendly and most of them speak French, Italian, and English. Hearing all the different languages, it’s like a small melting pot in Montmartre. Unlike other restaurants in Paris, they don’t have terrace seats. During the summer they leave the door and the window so you can have your meal with a little breeze.

Menu and Price

The main reason I like this place is the food is delicious with reasonable price. The ingredients are very fresh and very well-cooked. Pastas and risottos are always well-cooked, they’re always perfect to eat. Thinking of the food, now I have a watery mouth.. yum yum.. Piatto di Mare is an appetizer to share. You can choose big or small depending on the number of people. A mixture of fresh seafood and soup with a refreshing touch of lemon and tomato, I think this is worth to try. If you like squeed, I recommend you linguine nero di seppia(middle). They have basic pastas such as pomodoro, seafood, carbonara or amatriciana, but this squid-ink pasta is not easy to find.

Most pastas cost €12-13, if you choose something special ingredients like truffles a dish can be about €15-18. I think that’s quite good price compared other restaurants in Paris. They also have good house wines that you can accompany with your food. I would say you can enjoy a good Italian meal including drinks for about €20 (one dish + one drink).

This is the restaurant where I go whenever I’m craving Italian food. It’s a bit far away from the center of the city, but if you’re going to Montmartre area, it’s worth to try. All of my friends who I went there with are also very satisfied. One of my friends visited Paris two years in a row and even asked me to go this restaurant again.

Pause

Since Montmartre is a tourist spot, most of the restaurants offer the service continu(open without after lunch break). However, this restaurant is very strict with its after lunch break. One time I arrived at 6:50 p.m. but I had to wait until 7 p.m. to get the menu. Also usually the restaurant fills up very quickly, it’s better to book a table in advance.

Hope this review help you to choose a restaurant in Paris. See you again 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : 5 Rue Audran, 75018 Paris

Hours : 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. (Mon-Tue) / 12:00 p.m. -2:30 p.m. , 7:00p.m. – 11:30p.m. (Wed-Sun)

Reservation is recommended

website

Europe, Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my experience in Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge where you can access with PP card. If you’re interested in my previous review of Nice Lounge, click here.

There are two airports near Venice. One is Treviso and the other one is Marco Polo where I used this time. Treviso is on the mainland, thus it’s a bit further from Venice and it’s a hub airport for budget airlines. Marco Polo airport, on the other hand, is closer to Venice and it’s a base airport for the most major airlines. Both of them are easy to access to the Venice island using public transport ACTV.

How to get there

There are many options available depending on your place, time, and budget. I took the Alilaguna, a water transport to the airport since the station was nearby my hotel. It cost €15 for one way, €27 for round trip. Be careful, the ticket is somewhat tricky (you can’t take Alilaguna with your Venezia Unica card but the station is the same, thus it’s easy to be confused), and they don’t check the ticket when you board. They check your ticket in the middle on the way to the airport. On our boat, there were four people who didn’t have the proper ticket (I am not completely sure whether they knew it or not). The driver asked them to pay €16 or they should take off the boat. If you have a Venezia Unica card, you can get discount or you can go to Murano island and take the Alilaguna since it’s cheaper from there to the airport. You can also take an express bus from Piazzale Roma next to Santa Lucia station ( €8). Water taxi is the most expensive but the fastest way to get to the airport. It takes less than 30 mins and it costs €120.

Marco Polo Lounge

I could access to the lounge with my PP card. Without the PP card, you can pay and enter the lounge and it costs €40. You can stay for two hours. The lounge is very big and quiet. It is divided into many sections such as a business section, shower, TV, comfortable couch, etc.

Food Station

At the food station, hot and cold foods are available like lasagna, bread, or fruits. Cocktails are also available upon request. I tried lasagna and fruits accompanied with aperol to chill out. Then I had a cup of espresso as a dessert. I usually don’t drink coffee before the flight in order to get good sleep. However, after seeing the server making a fresh coffee upon request I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t miss my last opportunity to drink coffee in Italy, and it was amazing like other coffees I tried in Italy.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience at the lounge. It made my trip to Italy complete. But I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t have my PP card. The price is quite expensive, I would spend that money to have a substantial meal instead of snacking. Don’t get me wrong, the bread and drinks offered in the lounge filled me up enough. The place opens early in the morning and late at night.

Hope you enjoyed the review of Marco Polo Lounge by Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : Venice Airport, Viale Galileo Galilei, 30/1, 30173 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Website

Food, Paris

Mi Ranchito Paisa

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to introduce you an authentic Colombian paisa restaurant in Paris. I’ve been to couple of colombian restaurants in Paris, but this is one of my best Colombian restaurants including ones inside Colombia.

Atmosphere

The restaurant seems like a finca. Colored with vivid red color, you would feel as if you were in a country house for a holiday. It’s somewhat dark but the atmosphere is very bright and happy with music. Servers are generally friendly. There are many tables (more than 10), but at the meal time the place is filled up quite fast. It’s better to reserve your table to make sure. The food is served a bit slow since they cook the food after the order. It takes about 20 mins(or even more) to get your dish.

Empanadas

Empanadas are like fried dumplings. They are filled with beef, chicken, or pork with some mashed potatoes and cheese. You can choose the flavor you want, or try out all three flavors.

Bandeja Paisa (Paisa Platter)

Bandeja Paisa is for someone who wants to try a Colombian paisa’s signature dish. Frijoles (red bean paste soup), chorizo(sausage) , chicharón(fried bacon), egg, rice, minced beef, avocado are served in a big plate. It’s full of nutrition, esp. protein. It will fill you up for the whole day.

Cazuelita Paisa

This is my personal favorite. It’s like bandeja paisa but a smaller version and easier to eat. Instead of whole a quarter of avocado and bacon, all the ingredients are chopped and served in a bowl. An arepa (fried ground maize dough) and rice is accompanied to balance the meal.

Tumba Catre

This is a typical seafood soup in Colombia. It has a rich flavor, thus if you don’t like fishy taste, it’s not a good idea to try. In this dark yellowish soup, you can taste the harmony of squid, mussels, shrimps, clams, and fish. Coco-rice and patacones (tostones, double-fried plantain slices) are accompanied to balance the meal.

Super Picada

Super picada is like a platter for two people. You can try empanadas, beef steak, ribs, chorizos,yuca(cassava), potatoes, patacones, and fried bananas with guacamoles and spicy sauce. This is a combination for all kinds of colombian fries. Most of them are fried food, thus it can be too greasy to finish with two people. I ordered this when I went there with my friends (we were four) as a snacks to accompany with beers.

Descubriendo

It’s like super picada but for one person. It has more traditional colombian food such as chicharon and marinated beef.

Overall, all the menus were delicious for me(maybe I lived in Colombia, thus I am used to that flavors). The portion of the food is very big. Since most of the dish has fried food, it’s more filling than it looks. Most of the dishes are paisa food based on Antioquia region.

Prices

Prices are not that cheap to be honest, rather expensive. If you have ever been to Colombia, you would feel it’s very expensive. Considering the restaurant is close to the center of the city and it’s an exotic restaurant, the price seems reasonable. I’ve been to an Ethiopian restaurant in Paris, and the price was similar to here. It costs €17-25 per dish, including drinks it would be about €20-30 per person. I wish they offer a smaller portion with cheaper price for light eaters like me.

Hope you enjoyed the review of Mi Ranchito Paisa with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon.

Practical Info.

Address : 35 rue de montholon 75009, Paris

Hours : 12:00-15:00 / 19:00-24:00 (Mon.-Fri.) / 12:00 – 24:00 (Weekend)

Reservation is only available by phone, 01 48 78 45 94

website

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Siena

Hi, it’s me Marimonda! Today, I’d like to share my visit to Siena, the capital of the province of Siena.

Brief History

It is said that Siena was founded two sons of Remus who was a twin brother of Romulus (founder of Rome). When they ran away from Rome, they brought the statue of the she-wolf which became the symbol of the town since then (wikipedia). The town wasn’t center of the development in the beginning, but later it became the center of the trade and the path of pilgrims in the middle ages. After the The center of the Siena is Unesco World Heritage Site. After losing at the war against Florence, the development of Siena was declined. Ironically, that helped Siena preserve its characteristics in medieval times. Now Siena is one of the most visited city in Italy.

Siena Cathedral

One of the most important places in Siena would be its cathedral. The cathedral itself is an impressive feature, the bronze middle door. Siena is a small city but the cathedral seems very big compared to the size of the city. That’s because the Sienese wanted to build the biggest cathedral in the world. This big dream couldn’t come true due to the Black Death which caused the death of the two-thirds of populations and properties. Still, this Romanesque Gothic style cathedral has been loved and possess a lot of important art pieces.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is a plaza in front of the city hall. Located in the center of the city, it was also the center of the city in the past. This site is famous for its unique seashell shape divided into nine sections to commemorate nine governors in the middle ages. Piazza del Campo is a historical medieval plaza and it’s one of the biggest plazas in Europe. It was a marketplace where people could gather together and a place to celebrate political and civic holidays and events. At the end of the plaza, you can see Fonte Gaia (The Fountain of the World). This space is also known for twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, which is one of the famous traditions in Siena. There is also Mangia Tower where you can see the view of the town.

Local Products

Like other Italian cities, Siena is known for its extra-virgin olive oil and truffles products. It’s a good place to shop compared other small cities I’ve been to because it’s not super crowded with tourists, but you can find many stores with wide arranges of products. There are some leather shops, too.

I only had one afternoon in Siena due to my busy schedule. I really liked the city and I want to come back someday. I participated in the group walking city tour. It took about one hour and finished inside the cathedral. If you’re in short of time, it’s good to join those programs to see the city’s highlight.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Siena with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info

Siena Cathedral website prices and times are vary. (adult, individual €8)

Mangia Tower €10 (adult, individual)