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Mihaela Lica Butler

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Mihaela Lica-Butler is travel writer and travel public relations consultant by profession, lover of cultures and cuisine. She has built a fun career while chiming in on many topics, from relating the trials and tribulations of the people of Kosovo, to experiencing, first hand, the heroics of the Romanian soldiers serving for the UN. But she thrives in conveying her love for travel and places in written word, and she is happy to be a constant contributor for some of the world's best travel sites.

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Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki - Fotolia.com

Each European capital exudes a special charm, and each is individual in its own right. According to UK’s Post Office Travel Money Cost of Culture report however, Warsaw is Europe’s cheapest city for culture, with prices under a third of those in Vienna, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and other cultural capitals. A Financial Times report:

The cost of visiting a range of top attractions including art galleries, museums, heritage sites and tickets to the National Opera and National Ballet cost 40 per cent less than 2015.

warsaw

If art is what you seek, Warsaw is a paradise: it offers fascinating art spaces, featuring both contemporary and classic works, true temples of beauty, where you can enrich your soul, while getting closer to the spirit of this outstanding destination. Some of the locals recommend destinations such as Kuratorium Gallery, Keret House, Leica Gallery, Bęc Zmiana, the Poster Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, but you can also visit Galeria Test, Galeria Sztuki Katarzyny Napiórkowskiej, and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art. Some offer free entrance, and others charge a symbolic fee to allow you to see their treasures.

leica

Or walk in the footsteps of Frédéric François Chopin, whose musical genius drew inspiration for many of his early works from Warsaw herself. Most of the attractions on this path are free to visit: the official route suggested by the City of Warsaw offers several multimedia benches, which have an interactive sound system that will play Chopin’s music. There are 15 spots where you can rest on one of Chopin’s Benches, all connected with landmarks that played an important role in the life of the composer.

Or visit the SOHO Factory for art, culture, and entertainment. They have such an outstanding seasonal programme. You can participate in gardening sessions, or visit an exhibition, come in for a concert, be active in a workshop, and much more. This is a vibrant space, with plenty to do and see, designed for all ages. Even foodie dining is possible here.

SOHO Factory

History buffs will enjoy the History Meeting House – Dom Spotkań z Historią. The institution has a strong focus on Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, attracting intellectuals from all fields.

The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle is one of Warsaw’s cultural treasures. Their schedule includes contemporary music, experimental films and video art screenings, creative workshops, and a wide array of cultural activities for young and old. Schedules change often so visit their website before you plan your visit.

Finally, just walk down the streets of Warsaw, and pay attention. There’s enough to catch the eye: street art, statues, monuments, and monumental architecture. Even local bars adorn their walls with contemporary art that will surprise and incite you.

For affordable accommodation in luxury and style, check the special offers at Mamaison Residence Diana Warsaw.

Two Bedroom Diana Suite

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Radio City

For travelers in Moscow during the Rio Olympics, there are many great places to take in broadcasts from Brazil, but none so chic and thoughtful as RADIO CITY (РАDИО СИТИ). This classy restaurant/bar is centrally located at 5 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street, just a pole vault from the Mayakovsky monument in the old hotel “Beijing”. For atmosphere and big screen sports joy, this is the best place in Moscow to wine and dine during your favorite sporting events.

With 4 huge screens, 22 plasmas, and ten sumptuous house beers to choose from, guest can take in synchronized broadcasts or individual events from boxing to volleyball and everything in between.

14 minutes from All Suites Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka, this sports arena of sports bars is also a good place to cheer with the locals. It’s been a popular icon of Moscow for some time, mainly famous with the locals for the beer, burgers (voted among the best in Moscow), and pizza, and European football of course. Newcomers like the retro surrounds and the big discounts on promotion.

So, if you can’t get the Rio Olympics off your mind these next two weeks in Moscow, you can book your table directly for the Rio Games telecast any night of the games right here.

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dance bazaar

If you wonder what’s hot and what’s not next month in Budapest, the answer is pretty simple: everything is hot (and we are not talking about the weather!). The month kicks of with the Dance Bazaar – in fact, this event begins at the end of July, and extends fourteen days in August. It takes place July 29 – August 14 at Castle Hill, Várkert Bazár, with tango, flamenco, contemporary and traditional performances, as well as a dance program at Táncbazárban. The festival is organized by the National Dance Theatre of Hungary.

The hottest festival of the season is the Sziget Festival – but tickets are already sold out. The festival will welcome more than 450000 spectators from over 102 countries, eager to watch performances by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, John Newman, Kodaline, M83, MO, Naughty Boy, Parov Stelar, and Sigur Rós, among many, many others. Sziget – Island of Freedom – is held between 10-17 August. Art lovers will enjoy the Sziget Festival art zone, featuring contemporary sculpture, installations, and much more.

Sziget Festival

The Festival of Folk Arts Mesterségek Ünnepe (August 23-26) at Buda Castle gives you the opportunity to see and purchase authentic arts and crafts: pottery, painted eggs, wood objects, textiles, and more. Palika tastings are also traditional at this festival, where you will also be able to taste local fare, and to enjoy a folk artistic program with music and dance.

St. Stephen’s Day is a national holiday in Hungary, celebrating the foundation of the Hungarian state. It is held all over the country, with open air concerts, gastronomy events, art fairs, and more. Just walk around the Capital and you will find the locals enjoying their free day in style: Danube embankment in Buda, Várkert Bazár, and St. Stephen’s Basilica are the most important locations.

Another interesting event is the ‘Junibor’ Wine Festival at Szent István tér, which appeals to the public with over 100 varieties from 30 winemakers. Of course, the organizers also offer food pairings. The event ends the month: August 27-30.

And finally, the Jewish Cultural Festival introduces Jewish culture to the general public through a rich program, featuring theater, music, dance, and art. Venues of the festival include the Dohany Street Synagogue, the Goldmark Hall, and the Rumbach Synagogue. The festival begins August 30 and ends September 6, 2016.

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Fall Prague

Our guests staying at Mamaison Hotel Riverside, Mamaison Residence Belgicka, or Mamaison Residence Downtown enjoy a wealth of attractions within short distance from their hotels. These are some of the things we recommend for first time-visitors.

There’s no charge to enter the grounds of the Prague Castle, but a ticket grants you entrance to the St Vitus’s Cathedral, the Castle museum, the Basilica of St George, the Golden Lane and the Daliborka Tower.

Mamaison Hotel Riverside Prague

Then don’t miss the Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti) and its architectural gems: Church of Our Lady, the Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock, and the St. Nicholas Church.

Close up of the Prague astronomical clock

Of course, Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is a must. It is the oldest Prague bridge built in the place of a former Judith Bridge which had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. The Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge (as it was originally called) was founded by Emperor Charles IV in 1357 and acquired the name Charles Bridge in 1870.

A must see, the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is surrounded by the Old Town. It is believed that the quarter has its origins in the 10th century, when the first Jews came here. Here you’ll find one of Prague’s best known landmarks, the Old Jewish Cemetery. The most notable personalities buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery are Yehuda ben Bezalel known as the Maharal Rabbi Löw (d. 1609), Mordechai Maisel (d. 1601), David Gans (d. 1613) and David Oppenheim(d. 1736).

The Strahov Monastery and Library (Strahovský kláster) is a temple for tradition and culture. Visitors are encouraged to visit the libraries, which boast over 125,000 volumes – one of the world’s most profound collections of theological texts – and stunning interiors.

In the early 1980s the young citizens of Prague started painting and writing on an otherwise plain wall, covering it up with portraits of John Lennon and The Beatles, and lines from their songs. The Lennon Wall was a constant aggravation for the communist regime of the time. Today it is a symbol of love and peace.

lennon wall

The world-renowned statue of Infant Jesus of Prague (Pražské Jezulátko) can be seen inside the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana. The wax statue was brought into Bohemia in 1628 by princess Polyxena von Lobkowitz, who later donated it to the Discalced Carmelites in Prague.

If you’re seeking a place to take a quiet break, look no further than Letna Park. This city oasis is known for attracting locals and tourists alike, especially during hot, summer days.

mamaison downtown prague

Prague is a city with perennial appeal, the kind of place where every corner can easily make a pretty postcard picture. It is a magnet for tourists, regardless the season, a realm of palatial rises and cobblestone walkways. Rich in history and tradition, Prague is, nevertheless, open to the modern, and allows contemporary expectations to take over spaces enclosed by the walls of an old villa, or to surprise, in a dance of contrasts, like the Dancing House. This is the perfect setting for a hotel: Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague, a short walk from the fabulous Wenceslas Square. This is a hotel for longer stays, perfect for families travelling with children and pets, but also great for business people, who will enjoy the perks offered by the Executive apartments: views over the Prague Castle, free WiFi, flat-screen TV, DVD player, stereo system, desk, coffee and tea making facilities, safe, and kitchenette. Ask for the room with terrace when you book this type of apartment, and see the picture below to figure out why.

mamaison downtown prague executive terrace

Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague has no less than 53 apartments, all air conditioned, and richly furnished, offering comfortable large beds and sofas, and a peaceful, tranquil environment, that feels like home.

Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague executive bedroom

Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague executive bedroom

Deluxe studio

The Deluxe Studio Apartments at Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague are comfortable and spacious.

Deluxe - kitchen

Just like home: a fully equipped kitchen allows you to fix your own meals in your Deluxe Studio Apartment at Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague.

It is easy to feel at home at Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague: all apartments have their own kitchenettes. Grab some groceries and prepare a homemade meal in the comfort of your room – what a great opportunity for those visiting the city on a shoestring budget. Our hotel has a groceries delivery service if you are too busy to go shopping on your own, or, if you have special menus in mind, we will accommodate your wishes too. In the morning you can enjoy a Continental breakfast with us, or have a coffee and a croissant on your terrace.

Deluxe terrace

The Deluxe Studio terrace offers amazing city views.

Breakfast room

Even the breakfast room is cozy and homey.

Relax after a day of walking around Prague at the sauna. We have excellent fitness facilities if you are an active traveler who enjoys keeping in shape.

Sauna

The sauna at Mamaison Residence Downtown Prague is an ideal retreat after a busy day. It has its own plunge pool.

Gym

As you see, the gym area is equipped to help you stay in shape.

Because Mamaison Residence Downtown lays at the heart of the city, you will find plenty to see and do nearby. The Vyšehrad fortress is only 15 minutes on foot; the Dancing House by Frank Gehry can be reached in 15 minutes too. Other points of interest in the neighborhood of the hotel include the Clementinum, the Municipal House, The Powder Tower city gate, Alfons Mucha Museum, Bedřich Smetana, and the list could go on.

View of Bratislava Castle from Mamaison Sulekova

Bratislava Castle is one of the Slovakian gems that dominate the views from your window at Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava. Beyond the walls of the hotel, the world outside opens with countless possibilities for the curious traveler. When you tour the neighborhood you will find several interesting restaurants.

Dining near Mamaison Residence Sulekova

There are several interesting eateries not far from Mamaison Residence Sulekova, and one of them is U Mamičky – at Palisády 731/40. It is a romantic spot, with a beautiful summer garden open when the weather is fine, and elegant interiors. It serves both Slovak and international cuisine, with a special focus on fresh fish, octopus, squid, mussels and lobster. Fish and seafood are usually imported from Croatia. If you dine as a couple, try the Dalmatian fish platter for two. The restaurant also serves grilled meats, soups, and salads.

Soupa Bistro (Kozia 602/11) is casual and unpretentious, great for a light bite. They serve honest soups, as well as a wide selection of classic stews, vegetarian specials, and all kinds of fresh salads every day. They also bake cakes to order, and have a good range of sweet and savory pies to choose from. This is a good destination for gluten free meals.

soupa bistro

Soupa Bistro is a homey place, within minutes from Mamaison Residence Sulekova. Just walk down Sulekova St. to Kozia St. and you will find it easily.

For more exotic meals, check out Ashoka – an authentic Indian restaurant at Hodžovo námestie 568/2. Here, every dish is prepared with original Indian ingredients, spices or herbs, imported from India. The chefs themselves are Indian chefs, so you can count on authentic taste and flavors. The restaurant offers a large variety of vegetarian and vegan foods, but also meat based mains. Their mutton Dopyaza is out of this world.

Another Indian restaurant, Gnesh Utsav at Vysoká 2A, specializes in Ayurvedic and vegetarian cuisine. In fact, this is the first Ayurvedic restaurant in Bratislava and Slovakia. Their daily menus change regularly, always counting on soups, curries, rice, chutneys, and desserts.

Ganesh Utsav

Beetroot Kitchedy at Ganesh Utsav – absolutely delicious.

Still on the exotic food trail, Samir offers authentic Lebanese cuisine, cocktails, and entertainment. All the decor elements you will see here in the dining room are original, imported directly from the Arabic world. The restaurant takes you on a a trip to the Middle East through food and original art ornamenting its walls.

Samir

The tabbouleh at Samir is the perfect menu choice for vegans and vegetarians.

Jasmin 1 at Židovská 7 is a Chinese restaurant, one of the best of its kind in the city. It has a fortunate location, opposite the St. Martin Cathedral, just below the castle in the historic center of Bratislava. Despite its central location, this restaurant keeps its prices low, allowing you to dine here on a budget, while still appreciating authentic, hearty meals.

These are just some of the restaurants you can enjoy not far from Mamaison Residence Sulekova, and very close to landmarks like the Museum of Pharmacy, the Museum of Arms, the Milan Dobeš Museum, the Arthur Fleischmann Museum, and the Museum of Jewish Culture, to mention but a few.

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cholewinski

Warsaw may not be known like a shopper’s paradise, but it is a great place for fashionistas, as it has many boutiques selling hand-made merchandise, authentic, and reasonably priced. From jewelry to custom-made hats, you will find Warsaw fascinating if you like to shop.

W.KRUK [Pl. Konstytucji 6 | +48 661 980 571] is the oldest jewelry brand in the country. The company was founded by Leon Skrzetuski in 1840. W.KRUK jewelry is distributed in more than 80 showrooms throughout the country. The shop in Warsaw offers gold and silver jewelry, diamonds, precious stones and original collections inspired by the latest trends in fashion.

W KRUK

Tradition is continued by Ania Kruk [ul. Mokotowska 46], with her designer jewelry line, available in 10 boutiques across the country and online. Her designs are unique, combining different materials such as resin, ceramics, beads, cords and crystals.

For designer hats, visit the Warsaw workshop of Marta Ruta [ul. Solec 97], a well-known designer. Her shop offers ready-made pieces, some unique, but can also be visited for bespoke hats, made according to your specifications. Many singers, actresses, fashion models, and VIPs count on Marta Ruta for an elegant hat.

You’ll find even more hats at HatHat [7/11 Dąbrowskiego Street], where you can buy summer hats, winter hats, as well as spring and fall hats, made with outstanding materials, in Poland.

hathat

Loft 37 [Mokotowska 52A] is a designer shoe brand, which also offers designer bags and accessories. The shoes are customized for fashionistas who aim to externalize their style, character, passion for fashion and originality. Here you can personalize your shoes based on color, style, and material.

loft 37

But when it comes to shoes, Rylko [ul. Złota 59] is definitely more famous. The company was founded by Stanisław Ryłko in 1964. It offers footwear for all ages, and shoe-care products and accessories.

For Polish fashion, look no further than Nowy Świat Concept Store [ul. Nowy Świat 48], where you can find apparel and accessories by designers such as BaBroszka, Barbara Wysocka, Dogui, MAKO, Moelle, Rita Krzysiek, REDI Fashion, SOTHO, and Uncommon.

nowy

For leather accessories, Cholewiński [Wołoska 12] is a great choice. They have briefcases, handbags, belts, wallets, cases, key rings, pouches and other items made with natural materials using Polish and Italian leather.

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Museum of Russian Impressionism

A new museum has opened last May in the Russian Capital: the Museum of Russian Impressionism (Музей русского импрессионизма) – an outstanding architectural landmark in its own right, in a former flour warehouse, renovated for its new purpose. The new facade of the building housing the museum at Leningradsky Prospect 15 was designed by John McAslan + Partners. Inside, the the light interiors allow viewers to enjoy vivid pictures of Russian impressionists without unnecessary distractions.

Museum of Russian Impressionism

Some 1 300 visitors entered through its doors in the first day of operation on May 28, 2016. The museum features a permanent collection with works by Russian impressionists such as Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov, Stanislav Zhukovsky, Igor Grabar, Juon Constantine, Boris Kustodiev, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Alexander Gerasimov, and many others. The permanent body of artworks at the museum came the private collection of billionaire Russian businessman Boris Mints – and this makes the permanent exhibition of the museum, dedicated to the development of Russian impressionism throughout the century, since the 1870s. Temporary exhibitions find their place on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the museum.

Russian impressionism, while less well known than its French counterpart, is no less compelling and awe-inspiring. The drama of Socialist realism, and state sanctioned art in all forms, left an indelible mark on this creative genre. The new museum looks at this and other retrospectives, including the opening project, the work of Ukranian-Jewish Arnold Lakhovsky, of the early 20th century. The world of art interpretation today sees Russian forms as negatively influenced by Bolshevik era interruptions of creative flow, but nothing is further from the truth. The beauty and underlying emotion of these Russian pieces is unique, and reflective of the human spirit underneath, like no other forms anywhere.

From the very first day of existence, the Museum of Russian Impressionism became actively involved in special cultural and educational programs, offering art classes for children, as well as special events for adults.

Museum of Russian Impressionism children

The museum will open its own shop and cafe later this summer.