Amazing Places to Discover

I’m frequently asked what my favorite place is, what amazing trips I’ve done. And while it’s difficult to pinpoint a particular one, here are three memories of unforgettable experiences.

Harbin, China

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I was in Beijing for my gap year and we had a long weekend coming up. My friends and I hadn’t planned much so we desperately went to the train station a few days before to see where we could go. Shanghai: sold out. Guangzhou: Sold out! Xian: Sold out!!! We could only find hard seat trains to Harbin, which at the time we didn’t know much about. Harbin or the hard seats, in case you were wondering. The adventurous in us didn’t hesitate and two days later, off we went to this northern city close to Russia.

My first advice here is: don’t ever buy hard seat train tickets in China. We went into the train, which was full of people sitting down, standing up on the hallways, using the toilet as a seat (with their live chicken in hand). We realized it was a local train stopping every 5-10 minutes. Finally we got a seat and they literally were cold, hard seats. “What were we thinking when we bought this?” is all I could ask myself during the ride. It must have been one of those lost in translation moments.

1,200km and 20 hours (!) later, we had arrived to -30C weather. We went to the famous Ice Festival which was incredible. Life-size buildings made out of ice lit up with LED lights, large snow statues and fireworks galore. The cold weather was nothing next to these beautiful sights. The first Ice Festival was in 1963 and since then, it has attracted China’s best ice sculptors and thousands of visitors each year.

Retrospectively, what made this trip unforgettable for me was the immersion into an authentic Chinese experience and having visited an incredible and hard-to-believe iced theme park. If you’re visiting China in the winter, don’t miss out on Harbin!

Patagonia, Argentina

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Whilst living in Argentina, I didn’t want to leave the country without visiting Patagonia. In particular, the famous glacier Perito Moreno in Calafate. My friend and I decided to go after quickly planning the trip a few weeks before.

The unmissable part of this trip is a 6 hour trek on Perito Moreno. I had never seen views like these. I highly recommend doing this tour with Hielo y Aventura, they are very well rated and I wasn’t disappointed. In other glaciers, you usually get on a boat and get close to it only. This experience was way beyond that. We were on top of the glacier, with high peaks of snow which appeared like frozen snow waves. Their color was the clearest white and blue and we could even walk on top of frozen lakes. The day ended perfectly with a whisky on the rocks to warm us up.

If you are in Patagonia, El Chalten is also worth visiting. Known as the trekking capital of Argentina, this small mountain village is quaint and home to Cerro Grande and the popular Cerro Fitzroy. These two mountains are great for climbing and you have amazing views from the top.

One of my hobbies is trekking and doing this contrastingly on ice and mountains was a great and unique experience.

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

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It was Easter break and I had failed to make travel plans. Luckily I had a friend in Uruguay who invited me to spend the holidays with her and her friends in Cabo Polonio. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was 1) a new place and 2) a beach. Enough to convince me.

I’m glad I went, as Cabo Polonio is a beach which is only accessible by 4x4s. The town has a population of 90 inhabitants and has no electricity or running water. Although this would potentially have been a deal breaker for me, I loved it. It was the perfect time away from civilization, modern life, my computer and phone. It was a back-to-basics experience full of beach time, cocktails with the sunset, great food and company.

Due to the lack of electricity, the sky has been one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was full of stars everywhere and shooting stars were easily and frequently spotted. The best time to go is when there is a full moon, as there are parties on the beach.

What I loved about this experience was exploring this hippie town and its sand dunes, eating great food and spending time with friends. Nothing beats basics.

 

The most amazing trips I’ve done have been on an impulse. It is this open mindedness that allows me to explore new places with a great sense of adventure. If you need travel recommendations for any of these places, get in touch!

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Best closed door restaurants in Argentina

Having lived two years in Argentina, dining out was definitely at the top of my list of guilty pleasures. Buenos Aires was the first city where I encountered the ever growing phenomenon of closed door restaurants. The concept typically consists of a dinner party with strangers and a fixed course menu. The setting is usually at the chef’s home, which makes the experience an intimate one. Here are my top recommendations for closed door restaurants in Argentina:

1. Casa Mun, Mendoza

http://www.chefmun.com

One of my favorites, Casa Mun offers it’s guests Asian and Argentine fusion cuisine. Located in the popular wine region of Mendoza, the restaurant offers 40 seats with a splendid view of the vineyards in Bodega Casarena.

I initially went to this closed door restaurant when it recently opened in Buenos Aires, and have enjoyed seeing it grow in popularity over the last years. Chef Mun is a delight to dine with and the quality of ingredients and wine pairings he chooses are exquisite.

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2. Casa Coupage, Buenos Aires

http://www.casacoupage.com

Located in the buzzling streets of the Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires, this small restaurant is easy to miss due to the lack of a visible sign in the entrance. Ran by it’s two owners Santiago and Ines, this small installment is cozy and provides high quality food.

I recommend getting the fixed menu with the wine pairings to make the best of this visit. The sommelier is highly knowledgeable and the service is spectacular.

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3. Aramburu, Buenos Aires

http://www.arambururesto.com.ar

This tiny jewel in San Telmo is the only restaurant in Argentina that offers molecular cuisine. Recently, it was featured as one of the top 50 restaurants in Latin America and isn’t short of awards won.

Aramburu is a great restaurant to experience something new in dining. The small individual tables make this the perfect warm and exclusive setting for a date. I thoroughly enjoyed trying something new – Aramburu was the perfect place for that!

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4. Cocina Sunae, Buenos Aires

http://www.cocinasunae.com

Chef Christina Sunae combines her experience from the Philippines and New York to bring to the table an authentic flavor from Southeast Asia. She serves this food from the comfort of her home in Colegiales, which is open from Wednesday to Saturday every week.

I loved dining at Cocina Sunae, especially when I craved spicy Asian food, which is sometimes difficult to find in Argentina. Her cozy environment makes it perfect to dine with a small group of friends.

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5. Casa Felix, Buenos Aires

http://www.colectivofelix.com/casa-felix

This Chacarita neighborhood restaurant in Buenos Aires opens up it’s doors a few months a year to offer it’s guests a pescetarian menu to a maximum of 15 diners at a time. The fixed menu offers the best of Latin American spices and ingredients in a 5 course meal that can include wine pairings.

Casa Felix was my first closed door restaurant dining experience. I found the ambience is ideal to get to know other people who have a passion for great food.

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So there you go! My top 5 closed door restaurants in Argentina. What is yours?