Thursday, 24 April 2008

What to do with 3 Euros???

After a rather unproductive talk - these are the best ones - and a lot of arguing, we came up with this: the "What to do with 3 Euros?" list.
Why 3 Euros? I have no idea, what so ever. Anyways, here it goes:

What to do with 3 Euros?

Köln (Germany)
Suggested by me and Nara

- Currywurst with bread, in that place I forgot the name (I swear I'll try to remember it and post it here!);
- 200gr of a de-licious butter cookie in that bakery/coffee house, which I also forgot the name :D ;
- 3 gigantic burek at that place owened by that guy from Israel. It's opened 24 hours a days, so it's definitely the best place to stop by after a night out (fuck, I'll have to look for this place's name as well);
- 2 hours of internet at Venloen Strasse - cheap, cheap, and the atendants are so nice :)

Berlin (Germany)

Suggested by Nara

- 3 coffees in the libanesse kiosk where Nara made some crazy old german friends that were mocking every overweighted person that walked in the establishment

Amsterdam (Holland)
Suggested by Nara

- glass for shots of drinks, at any souvenir shop, in Amsterdam. Nara was telling the images stamped on the glass were the best ones, rather "typical" ones from the city, like penises, cows and marihuana leaves

Paris (France)
Suggested by Fécula and Rodrigo

- 4 1l packages of apple juice. Fécula was kinda obsessed with apple juice all during the trip.

Geneva (Switzerland)
Suggested by Fécula and Rodrigo

- 1 plastic dog leash hanger, at IKEA. The piece is simply great, in the shape of a dog's butt, the "hook" of the hanger being the dog's tail

Beograd (Serbia)
Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 Tito lighters (I have to take pictures of that);
- 3 pairs of acryllic wool gloves - that is, if you buy them with the gypsies at Bulevar Kralja Milana. Fantastic colours (the deep blue and the fiery red are my favourite);
- Pommes frites plus a bottle of Coca Cola at the Biblioteka cafe, on Terazije (lovely place by the way, I highly reccomend);
- 8 croissants - really, the best ones I ever had, ever in my entire life. Forget french croissants, or french puff pastries in general. The real thing is the serbian one. God, I need a cheese one right now.

Niš (Serbia)
Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 "go's" to the most awful toilet you probably ever saw in your entire life, at the central bus station. Nara said some nasty things in portuguese to the keeper, you wouldn't wanna know...

Varna (Bulgaria)
Suggested by me and Nara

- Damnit! Just now I realise I didn't buy anything in Varna. But, hmmm... 3 Euros is an 1/8 of a ticket from Sofija to Varna, going straight to Shabla (although, Nara and I agree, this was priceless)

Sofija (Bulgaria)Suggested by me and Nara

- 6 failled tries to call to Varna on a public telephone, at the bus station. The cool "plus" of this What to do with 3 Euros option is that after each failled phone call, you get a voice message explaining - in bulgarian - how you should proceed to correctly complete a phonecall. Brilliant;
- 3,5 500 ml bottles of Sprite

Other suggestions are more than welcome :)

Tourism boom in Shabla puts Bulgaria on the top 5 destinations for travelers around the globe

The small city on the Black Sea coast had more visitants last season than all the Hawaiian Islands together last year, says the Bulgarian National Tourism Board

Sofija, April 24th 2009 - by Marija Almeida

The Bulgarian National Tourism Board announced, last Monday, that the country had a tourism boom in the past year as never seen before in any other place in the world. The reason for this sudden world curiosity on this Southeastern Europe country have its reason on the newest and hypest coast resort on the globe: Shabla

“Only last summer season, Shabla had more visitants than all the Hawaiian Islands together last year” declares, excited, the executive director of the Bulgarian National Tourism Board, Mrs. Poli Karastoyanova.
The unexpected tourism boom in the region last season made the Board decides for urgent measures to support and attend the huge visitants’ demand. “It’s good, and at the same time, very complicated. Although in the past two years Bulgaria's been watching a significative increase in the tourism area, what happened in Shabla was something completely without any precedents, and met us rather unprepared for it. We’re already working on projects to increase not only the city’s infra-structure for the next summer season, but the entire region’s”, says Rumen Draganov, the newly-elected head of the Board.

Since February 2008, Bulgaria watched an increase of 23,4% (compared to the same period of 2007) on the number of foreign tourists visiting the country’s winter resorts. The summer resorts in the Black Sea Coast saw an increase of 167,3%, being 94% of this percentage concentrated only on the city of Shabla and its surroundings.

With a history that goes as far back as to the roman times, Shabla – a small city around 15 km south to the Romanian border – was once a popular destination for eastern bloc tourists, during the communist years. The 1990’s, however, were of complete ostracism for the region.

Although authorities can’t quite explain the subtle world interest in the city and the region, locals have their own theories about the phenomenon. “We were in the bar, on last year’s Christmas eve, when two tourist girls, said Brazilian, appeared in the city. Few time later, a bunch of tourists started arriving in Shabla. I have no doubts, those two girls brought Shabla back to all it’s glory, they were a good omen” declares Georgi Irinov, a local miner. “My friend’s hotel is now always full and I’m working as a cooker again, just like I was in Germany!” he adds.
If the two mythic Brazilian tourists had or not been to Shabla, only few can confirm. But after the tourism boom last year, a monument to the “Unknown Brazilian Girls” was erected in the city’s main square, where the city locals pay tribute monthly, on every 24th.

For 2009’s summer season, the Bulgarian National Tourism Board has already a traced plan: other than the opening of Hilton's luxury hotels newest member, the Hilton Shabla Palace Hotel, around 15 new accommodation establishments will be ready until this year’s summer. “We want to attend the expectations of all kinds of tourists that visit Shabla. The opening of the Shabla Folk World theme park will be an excellent option for families that choose to spend vacations in our country’s coast. In addition to a wide range of ecotourism, we just settled now the first Rock in Rio – Shabla Edition, that is going to put us on the route of the great european festivals. We have attractions for all ages and tastes”, celebrates Aneliya Krushkova, head of the Bulgaria State Agency for Tourism.

The Agency also releases, next Friday, the tourism campaign “Shabla – a priceless experience”. The release party will have the presence of Jamaican singer Shabba Ranks, who recorded a new version of one of his greatest hits specially to pay tribute to the Bulgarian resort: his 1992 song, Mr. Loverman, evokes Shabla on its new refrain. “This city is beautiful. Reminds me of my hometown, Kingston” declares, moved, the singer.

For 2009’s summer season, the Bulgarian State Agency for Tourism and the National Tourism Board predict a raise of at least 53% compared to last year’s boom.

For those interested in taking part on the Shabla-o-mania, access for more info about Tourism in Shabla, or even

ps.: this is a work of fiction

Monday, 21 April 2008

The shopping mall experience

It was december 29th, if I am not mistaken, when Fernanda and Rodrigo came to me saying they wated to go shopping, on a mall, for they were not finding what they wanted to buy in the shops on the streets. So, on the next morning me and Nara took them for a long sight-seeing walk around Belgrade, while the time to meet up with Toma and finally go to the mall they so wanted to see wouldn't come.
Of course our first stop had to be Kalemegdan (again), after all it was, by far, our favourite place.

Knez Mihailova was packed: the usual, delicious mess of people, running around to buy new clothes for new year's, small kids playing violins for some change, the smell of pop-corn, loud teenagers in large groups, youngsters giving away new year's eve parties' flyers and, of course, the already well known north american native indian musicians - that, as Toma pointed out to me later, would always bring rain to Belgrade after their performance.

So, after a long day of walking around Belgrade we finally met with Toma and took the bus to Novi Beograd. The bus was completely packed with people, in a way that we almost didn't manage to reach the door still in time to come off in the right station. In fact, Nara, Fernanda and Rodrigo didn't manage to reach the door as Toma and I did, and they had to come off the bus a hundred meters after us. But anyways, we met right after it, and got into the Mall...

It's interesting how Shopping Centers are exactly the same, no matter where in the world you are. Suddenly I was taken by this feeling that I was not in Belgrade, but in Rio, or Cologne, or London... Being on a shopping mall anywhere in the world is like being in some parallel dimension, outside any country or borders, because all the malls look the same, specially at this time of the year: christmas decoration, sales everywhere, hysterical women fighting for Zara's last "off" pieces, kids running and messing around... Enfin, complete chaos, haha.

As soon as we walked in, Rodrigo, Fécula and Nara decided to go eat something, because they were starving and starting to get ill humoured. When we finally reached the restaurants and fast food area, I started getting really, really disturbed: there was just SO many people, and the noise they were making was so loud, I couldn't focus on anything at all - I was getting completely disorientated. The queues in every restaurant were huge, there was no place to sit and we couldn't barely move without hitting someone accidentally.
As the 3 of them didn't seem to agree on one place to go and eat, they decided to go where each one of them wanted to, and then meet on a table, so they could eat together. So, after (finally!) finding a table we splited: Toma and I went to a less chaotic floor, while Fêcu, Rodrigo and Nara were eating - or at least, trying to.

Fécula ran to McDonalds. Nara, already used to serbian food by now, chose for a more local option (can't quite remember the place's name). And Rodrigo, as always, didn't seem to decide for a place to buy his meal - that is, til the moment his eyes came across Duff's. DUFF's. D U F F ' S. He was almost moved to see "Duff's" written on a big display. "Hell yeah, just like in The Simpsons!!", he thought. And even though the queue was gigantic, he decided it was worthy to wait - after all, when he would have the chance to eat at Duff's again? and other than that, if the queue is big, it's (probably) because the food is good.

So, there he went. Took a deep breath and engaged in the line.
While waiting in the queue, he suddenly realised: he couldn't speak serbian so how was he supposed to ask for anything? "Semi-panic" for several seconds, when he started to try to remember what Fécula had just taught him: serbian numbers! Now, with the numbers kinda in mind, he was trying to make sentences, saying what he wanted, mixing serbian numbers with english words and things he saw written in the place's menu and so on. Hunger was making him get rather nervous about his time to ask for his meal that, despite the huge delay, seemed to be approaching. It wasn't before almost an hour of waiting that his turn finally came. And when it came, he had this mix of starvation, plus nervousness plus excitement:

Rodrigo: Ja... Ja ho... Ja.. Speak english??
Attendant: *Giggles*, nodding head like "yes"
Rodrigo: Phew! (in a rather psycho tone of voice) I'm hungry, I want a sandwich! I want to eat, give me some food!!

People around him in the line, the attendant at Duff's and even himself couldn't help but laughing, a lot, hahahaha. The attendant registered his order and he paid, which made him feel deeply relieved - he was finally going to eat!

After a little more time waiting, the attendant came with his sandwich. His eyes were beaming and he had a transported smile on his face, while he was watching his "food" coming to him, in slow motion, with a bright light coming out of it (ok, this was my imagination, but the scene does looks cool seen like this).
When the attendant finally came to him with his huge hamburger in hands, she asked "what sauces do you want with your sandwich?"

He froze - sauces? Sauces?? He didn't have the time to think and plan about asking for sauces!!! His despair was so big at this point, that he only said "any sauce, whatever you want to put, I just want my sandwich!!". But it was not just up to the attendant what sauces to put: everybody, literally every person in the queue started giving their opinions on what sauces the attendant should put on his meal. "Put that one, that one on the right!" or "That, beside the read one!" and "Nooo, that one is not so good, put the first, on the left!".
After 10 seconds of that, his sandwich was looking more like a soup of sauces than a proper sandwich, hahaha.

But you know, when we're really hungry, we just don't care or don't even notice stuff like that.

He started walking away from Duff's messy queue, with his drink in one hand and admiring his huge saucy sandwich in the other hand, taking a deep breath before the first bite. A magical moment.
But the magic only really lasted til he had the first bite.
He felt like his mouth was on fire - the feeling was that his so desired sandwich was straight pepper soup, hahaha.
Cursing didn't help much. So he had his sandwich pepper soup, with tones of water to heal the burning feeling, and that was it.

It's worthy mentioning that he still took some half an hour to find Fécu and Nara, after his Duff's adventure.