Jan 26, 2015


rome - the eternal city, for reasons i'm not motivated enough to find out.. an impromptu trip booked by my gf maja only a couple of weeks in advance, and with very little research done (or needed)..

we arrived on a cold sunday afternoon and took the train to the calm neighborhood of vitinia, were our CS hostess was waiting for us.. we had some tea and cookies, then she drove us to what she thought were good spots that maybe we wouldn't know about if not recommended by a local.. and boy, was she right!

we first went to the basilica di san paolo fueri le mura (basilica of saint paul outside the walls), one of four main papal basilicas in rome. it's a huge 4th century church, with a beautiful garden outside and pretty a impressive interior..

the curious thing for me, in every church there, were the innumerous offering/donation boxes. they're just everywhere - next to anything that might draw your attention, anywhere you must pass by to get to other areas, and of course, even in the bathrooms.. so much ostentation and grandeur contrasted with shameless begging..  i guess even the richest and most powerful institution in history of mankind needs some loose change tossed at them sometimes, right?

then we went to get a glimpse of one of the best panoramic views of the city from gianicolo hills and then parco savello, mostly known as the orange garden, and right next to it, a pretty curious "secret"..  there is a keyhole, and if you look through it, all you can see is saint peter's basilica far in the distance (actually across 3 states: italy, malta and vatican), framed perfectly by the bushes of the gardens of at piazza dei cavallieri di malta..

it was time to get very italian.. so we went to la romana, a gelateria with delicious and fair priced ice cream, and from there, back to vitina to get some suppli (kind of a fried rice croquette with cheese inside), bruschetta and, of course, pizza!

then here's the thing.. people say you can't really explore all of rome by foot, or even most of it.. we proved this wrong.. of course, there are some scattered spots you probably can only get by public transportation or car, but i'd say 95% of what most people see there are relatively easily accessed by foot..

we planned to divide the city in areas and do a bit each day, but we saw pretty much everything except the vatican city and some less known areas on the first day, walking! in a nutshell: basilica di santa maria maggiore, arco di constantino, palatino (palatine hills),  foro romano (the roman forum), piazza campidoglio, colosseo, piazza venezia, campo dei fiori, piazza navona, trinità dei monti/piazza spagna (the spanish steps), piazza del popolo and finally fontana di trevi , dry and closed, mostly covered by scaffolding, but still crowded with people lining up to walk over a bridge to have a quick close-up view. all before it even got dark..

quick tip: when going to the colosseo, you get a ticket that also includes entrance to palatino and foro romano. buy them at palatino, as it's the least known of the three places and there is no line, while specially in the colosseo, you might have to wait for over an hour just to get the ticket.. or buy them online paying a couple of bucks more..

we had already moved to a very centric hostel, and at night there was a free sangria "party" where we hung out with our roommates and met some other travelers (mostly a whole bunch of brazilians.. surprise surprise!)

up at 6:30 and out by 7:30 to beat the long lines in the vatican, we decided instead of walking, to take the bus 64 from termini (the the central station).. this bus is known as pickpocket express, and it's easy to figure out why.. it stops at many of the main touristic attractions, and full of distracted (and slightly stupid, i must say) tourists, it's a banquet of opportunities for well trained thieves to feast on..

another curious thing is that apparently nobody pays for bus rides there.. you can get in through any of the three doors, and you're supposed to validate your ticket once you're in, but we didn't see a single person do so on the few bus rides we took.. and we heard there's very little enforcement.. so.. you know..  just sayin'..

we managed to get into an almost empty saint peter's basilica, which interestingly enough, didn't really impress us as much as we expected.. maybe going to saint paul's before had something to do with it.. there, again, an absurd number of donation boxes.. shame on you, catholic church!

the weather was far from good at this time.. and after checking out the nativity scene in the middle of saint peter's square, the rain got heavier and we decided to get some "holy" coffee and cornetto (croissants) right there at the vatican until it gave us a break..

when it did, we had a look at the castel sant'angelo (castle of the holy angel) and its beautiful bridge decorated with a bunch of angel statues, and next to it, the imponent palazzo di giustizia (palace of justice), both on the margins of fiume tevere (the river tiber)..

the only main spot left to see was the pantheon.. another one that didn't impress us much.. it's interesting to see the gigantic dome with the big hole in the middle (the oculus), but other than that, not much to see, really.. oh yeah, donation boxes!

we passed by the largo di torre argentina and piazza della repubblica before going to the hostel to rest our legs and take a nap.. in the evening, we headed out to the bohemian neighborhood of san lorenzo, a lively and alternative area dotted with bars and restaurants with good food and good prices.. had dinner, then did some night time sightseeing: piazza barberini (really nothing there), piazza spagna, piazza de pietra, and finally the colosseo again..

next day was also rainy, but we managed to walk to isola tiberina (tiber island), one of the two islands in the tiber river, passing again by the colosseo and circo massimo (an ancient chariot racing stadium), then to trastevere neighborhood and santa maria in  trastevere church..

when the rain started to pour, we decided it was time to go to the hostel, get our stuff and pay an overpriced bus to go to the airport, since the only other option was the far more overpriced train..

in conclusion, rome was much cooler than i expected.. even though it's mostly religious related monuments, the historical relevance of this city is undeniable, the food is just what you'd imagine, and the people we met were the icing on the cake.. a little better weather would've been a bonus, but really, it wasn't too limiting, so i won't even complain..




view from the orange garden


the roman forum, i guess part of palatine hill and a bit of the colosseo far back


the vittorio emanuele II monument, by piazza venezia


the palace of justice


need i say?


the catholic church, accepting your donations for 2 millenia! bravo!

May 7, 2014

glasgow, scotland

april '14, possibly my last trip (to a new country anyway) before.. oh well, i won't talk about it yet, but soon it will be all over the place! anyway, just in time to reach number 40 country on my list, and the choice was scotland.

"why?", you ask? simple: the awesome band walk of the earth was playing an european tour, and they weren't coming to spain, so i was checking where i could see them.. there were great places like berlin, amsterdam, dublin, etc, but i thought it was a good excuse to visit glasgow and get to know another place instead of visiting my favorites again..

so i flew into prestwick airport and was picked up by a scottish i had met just a week before in barcelona, when he was kind enough to offer me a place to crash (no official couchsurfing needed this time).. it was a friday night and the weather was as expected: cold and rainy.

saturday morning wasn't looking great, but it wasn't terrible either, so i took a bus to town and started exploring merchant city, where the city's original medieval core is. there i started with the beautiful city chambers in saint george square, then took a quick walk to the cathedral of saint mungo (known simply as glasgow cathedral).

the gothic cathedral was beautiful, but then i almost accidentally found the necropolis, easily the place i liked the most. it's a victorian cemetery established in 1832, on top of a hill with good views of the city, with around 3500 monuments and where 50 thousand people are buried, including virtually all the important glaswegian of that wealthy period.

if the morning was gray, by the time i was done with the necropolis, the sun was shining bright, so i went for a little more sightseeing.. checked out the GoMA (gallery of modern art) and then the pedestrianized buchanan and sauchiehall streets, the commercial center crowded with tourists and prestigious stores, but also with many amazing street musicians playing all sorts of music, from rock and folk to alternative and celtic.

after resting a bit, it was time for the concert.. i had very high expectations and i know this can be a bad thing, but they kicked serious ass and really delivered, even though it was a small venue (packed full, sold out in days)!

the venue was in west end, the bohemian district (it's where the glasgow university is), so after the show i went to meet my friend and his girlfriend at the gumbo bar, where they had the best bar live music i've ever seen in my life.. i didn't get the name of the band, but they were some older dudes playing some mean blues and rock & roll like there's no tomorrow.. couples of beers, then home.

i still had some time on sunday, but the weather was kinda back to the normal, gray and cold, so i walked a bit around the center, then saw this that i call an "old-ugly-ladies-parade-thingy", which i have no idea what it was, but it entertained me for some 10 minutes.. then train to the airport and back to my beautiful barcelona..

glasgow was easy.. beautiful, surprisingly good weather, fun people and great music.. i was there for 36 hours and i couldn't have asked for more.. and the next one... well, wait and see!


 the city chambers




a 400 year old tomb


beautiful street art


walk off the earth doing their famous thingy


the "old-ugly-ladies-parade thingy"

Jan 3, 2014

summer trip 2013 - the video

it took me a while, but here it is!

Summer Trip 2013 from lutty moreira on Vimeo.

Oct 4, 2013

summer trip 2013 - part 5/5

[continued from here]

i thought i was gonna get to helsinki and take at least a nap before doing anything else, but after my friend picked me up, we went straight for a walk, then hung out at kaivopuisto park, with a nice view of the sea, and also the ateljee baari on the 14th floor of hotel torni, with a beautiful panoramic view of downtown..

finally rested, i went to the city and saw the lutheran cathedral (tuomiokirko) – a white church, and not too far from it, the uspenski cathedral (uspenskin katedraali) – a red, russian orthodox church, the market square, the finlandia hall, the olympic stadium and the music hall.. in the evening we went to a couchsurfing meeting with some friends, met some cool people, went to a bar and finally home..

and then i got there, the last day of my summer trip.. i went to the very pleasant seuasaari island (not before getting a little lost in the woods) and spent the early afternoon there hiking, enjoying nature and checking out some authentic old finnish houses, stables, churches, boat houses, storages, etc..

at night i went to my friend's cousin's farewell party, mostly with finnish people, and for the second time in 3 days, i didn't sleep before heading to the airport to fly back home to barcelona (with a 30 minute stop in stockholm first).. there's no better excuse for not sleeping than enjoying your last night somewhere!

first thing i wrote on facebook after getting home was "home again, after 24 days and 8 countries, with an empty wallet, a tired body and most importantly, a renewed soul!", and that's a very short version of this whole story you just read..

this time i took my big camera, but i focused on shooting videos and not so many photos. i'll get to the editing as soon as i get a computer upgrade, because mine can't take the load anymore..

more and more, what i take from the experience of traveling are the awesome stories and the great memories i build with the people i meet and connect to. cities are beautiful, cultures are fascinating, nature is powerful,  but people are the core of it all. and you might've noticed how many times i mentioned couchsurfing.. it's my main tool..

i can't thank enough the old friends i met and the new ones i made, not only on this trip, but on all the others before it.. i won't stop traveling until i absolutely have to (and i don't see why i would), but if/when it happens, i'll be glad to know i have my mark in people's lives all over the world, and most importantly, they all have their marks in my life, and that's invaluable.

Sep 30, 2013

summer trip 2013 - part 4/5

[continued from here]

like all the other cities in this region, riga has a town hall, some important churches and some monuments.. and i get easily tired of these things.. i tried meeting a CSer, but ended up lost and with a dead phone.. so mid afternoon i got my things, found myself a hostel and went for a nap..

at night i met another CSer and checked out the nightlife, like some cool rock bars and a traditional folk bar recommended by a friend from there, called ala pagrabs, which is pretty awesome (we were almost fooled by the humble entrance!).. we also found out that the clubs there are very segmented and strict about their public, mainly in 3 'categories': latvians, russians and tourists..

before taking a bus to estonia the next afternoon, i decided to go visit jūrmala, just 30 minutes by train from riga, where supposedly the longest beach on the northern side of europe is situated. i don't know if it's the longest, but it's dozens of kilometers of fine sand, with a calm sea where you can walk tens of meters into and the water won't even reach your waist..

if on one side there's the beach, on the other there's river lielupe, where you can see people going on ferry tours, fishing, swimming or just hanging out and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.. the latter being my choice..

i got to tallinn pretty late, almost midnight, and i was welcomed by my CS host and her friend in the new city center, then we went to a park next to vabaduse väljak (freedom square), had some beers and headed home, which was 30 minutes out of the city..

after a lazy morning, we went to the medieval old town, had (again) some beers at snelli park, then climbed toompea hill to see beautiful panoramic views of the old city.. in the evening we were tired, but had some drinks and got on a bus to meet some people in the city, but then…

on our way, we started talking to some guys on the bus, and when they were leaving they said they were going to this university party.. we all spontaneously jumped off the bus "just to check it out".. turns out it was an awesome, huge freshman party, with one of the most famous estonian hip hop groups, a-rühm (not that i care), and we had a freaking blast!

we deserved nothing but doing nothing after the crazy night we pulled off, so we stayed home, watched lion king (yeah, that was the vibe), and at night we had dinner at a friend's place in the city, then went to some more chill bars, and came home around 5 in the morning, where i managed to sleep for 20 minutes before leaving again to take my ferry to my last destination: finland.

[continues here]

Sep 25, 2013

summer trip 2013 - part 3/5

[continued from here]

after a couple of shared rides, i got to gdansk by the next night, and still with nowhere to sleep, i went to a mcdonald's (for wifi) and sent some messages on couchsurfing, and luckily found someone willing to host me with such short notice..

gdansk, together with sopot and gdynia, form the tri-city (or “trójmiasto” in polish), on the baltic coast of poland.. they're historically important mainly for the privileged location, and though very close to each other, they're beautiful and enjoyable in very different ways..

gdynia (where i was actually staying) has the beach and the cliffs of kępa redłowska, sopot has the social / night life and the busy monte cassino promenade, and gdansk has the old town (długi targ), with beautiful buildings, the golden gate, street musicians and the motława river bank.

i had a great time there, always with good company by my couch host and his friends, mostly with good weather, and i would've loved to have stayed longer, but the schedule was tight and after a couple of days, it was time to hop on a bus and make my way to lithuania.

12 hours later i was in vilnius, and after a long nap i hit the city. i had maybe a couple of hours, enough time to have a walk/skate around and see most of the old town, but by the time i was going to uzupis district (a more artistic / bohemian area), it started to rain.. then to pour.. nonstop.. i found shelter and after an hour or so i was able to leave, still under rain, and got home absolutely soaked..

in the evening, the weather wasn't completely awful and i could go with my couch host and another CSer to some bars and try some very cheap and very tasty lithuanian beer, and also kepta duona, lithuania's national snack – basically fried black bread with garlic and cheese. it's as simple as it is delicious..

i had to run from the bad weather, so i took a train to kaunas, just 1 hour away, and it made all the difference.. i skated through beautiful ažuolynas park and went to old town, which much like gdansk, was cute and lively.. but the best part was meeting a CSer, getting some beers and watching the sunset right at the meeting point of the two largest rivers of lithuania, the nemunas and neris.

i had to wake up very early and head to the bus station to guarantee my ticket to riga, latvia, and i was there before noon. with nowhere to stay and no plans, i left my backpack at the station, got my skate and went to explore the city for a few hours while i sorted out my accommodation..

[continues here]

Sep 20, 2013

summer trip 2013 - part 2/5

[continued from here]

we left home early, found a good spot and tried for 2,5 hours.. no luck. crossed the whole city, found an even better spot, thumbed for another 3+ hours, no luck. and it was hot as freakin' hell!

around 4pm, we took a train to basel, on the border with france and germany, and after getting lost many times and skating with our backpacks for hours, we found a well located service station a few meters after the immigration checkpoint, germany side. but it was almost night and we were exhausted, so as soon as it got dark, we got into our sleeping bags and slept in the parking lot..

new day, fresh and hopeful, but still no one would pick us up, so we jumped some fences and found our way to the weil am rhein station and took a ‘free’ train to freiburg, a supposedly very hitchhike friendly student city. 1 hour later and no luck again, we decided luck wasn't the issue and just gave up.. after a couple more ‘free’ train rides, we made it to darmstadt by night and had a nice, hot home cooked dinner.. we deserved it.

relaxing next day, we booked a bus to berlin, only to be told by the driver we booked the wrong date! back home to consider the options, we found a shared ride with blablacar leaving early the next morning and took it.. got to berlin by noon..

met some friends, skated around both sides of the city, by checkpoint charlie (which used to be the main checkpoint between the two berlins), to the brandenburg gate and the holocaust memorial. got a kebab and went to weinbergpark, in mitte, where families, teenagers, businessmen and all types of people were enjoying possibly one of the last sunny days of the year..

at night i met some other friends and went to a cool comedy open air show in grießmühle, with stand up comics from many countries, and also live painting, bbq, and live music. next day was also relaxing, with more walking around and hanging out at biesdorfer baggersee, a nice lake/pond also apparently not very know by many..

weather was still great, so next day i met a big group of CSers at treptower park for some ultimate frisbee and later on, went to an exhibition of one of the most active street artists in berlin, prost. it was also his last exhibition in germany, as he'd had issues with the police for his “vandalism” and was about to move out of the country (apparently to france).

from here on i was traveling on my own, and my friend stayed in berlin a little longer.

[continues here]