Trakai – Castle and Kibinai (Lithuania)

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I visited Vilnius, Lithuania, last weekend. It was quite a short trip of one night & two days but it is only one-hour flight from Helsinki. I didn't plan to see a lot of sights during such a short trip but wanted to visit Trakai castle located on an island in the Lake Galvė. I saw several pictures of Trakai castle and they looked so beautiful. It is located only 28km away from Vilnius and can be easily reached by bus or train. But I decided to join a tour which is much easier than taking public transport and walk to the castle. I am glad that I took a tour as I could hear a lot about Lithuania's history, economy, food, Trakai and the castle. It was really shocking to hear that average monthly income in the country was only 450€. 

先週末はリトアニアの首都ヴィルニュスに1泊旅行。海外旅行ではあるけれど飛行機でたったの1時間。短い旅行なのでいろんなところに観光に行くつもりはなかったけれど1箇所だけとても行きたいところがあった。ヴィルニュスから28キロ離れた場所にあるトラカイ城。湖に浮かぶ島に位置したその城の様子を写真で見て、ぜひ行ってみたかったのだ。トラカイまではバスや電車で行ってもそんなに遠くないけれど、もっと簡単に行ける現地の半日ツアーに参加。ツアーのよいところは、行き帰りの電車やバスの時間を気にしなくていいということもあるけれど、ガイドからいろいろな話を聞けるのがとても楽しい。トラカイに着くまでの間、リトアニアの経済事情、歴史、食べ物、トラカイとお城について、いろんな話を聞いた。一番驚いたのはリトアニアの平均月収。450€ というのはショックだった。

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Trakai castle was not as big as I expected but it was quite interesting to listen and see the history in each room of the castle. And there were a lot of tourist as I expected. 


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On the way to the castle, the tour guide told us about what we MUST eat when we visit Trakai. It was a pasty called "kibinai". It is almost like cornish pasty but not quite 😉 There were different kind of fillings available but when I asked the waitress, she told me the one with mutton filling was the original. So, I ate the original kibinai. And I also had the "pink soup" which I had read about so many times in the blogs written by Japanese people who visited Lithuania. Of course, "pink soup" is not the name of the soup but only my way of calling the soup 😉 It is cold beetroot soup. And it was cold! I liked both kibinai and the soup a lot. And it was perfect to eat kibinai which was still hot from the kitchen and cold soup. And today, (Monday after the trip) I was thinking of both dishes when I saw the boring menu in our office canteen 😉  


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I googl-ed about kibinai just now and got to know the restaurant I ate kibinai was often mentioned as the best place for kibinai! I had no idea about it but lucky me! I am happy for it : ) It is really easy to find the restaurant, Senoji Kibininė , when you go to Trakai castle. 

ところで、このキビナイを食べたレストラン、実はキビナイならこの店で的なとても人気の店だということを今日発見。キビナイについて詳しい情報を求めてぐぐったところ、一番お薦めのお店らしい。全然知らなかったけど、ラッキー。どおりでおいしかったはず!このお店、トラカイ城の湖をはさんで向かいにあるので見つけるのも簡単。Senoji Kibininė 、もしトラカイに行く機会があったらぜひキビナイをお試しあれ。

My First Ethiopian Experience in Helsinki – Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

I have never been to Ethiopia. I have only a little experience when it comes to African cuisine. I had had no idea about Ethiopian food until I went to Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant (in Finnish, "Kuninatar Saba") yesterday. A friend of my from yoga class told me about the restaurant the other day and she also said she hadn't had known about Ethiopian food till she went there 🙂 A friend who went there with me said it might come with sour bread from her African food experience in London.

エチオピア料理・・・と言われてもまったくピンと来ないし、アフリカ料理を食べたことも数回しかない(確か新宿にあったアフリカ料理の店に何回か行ったし、モロッコに行ったときはもちろんモロッコ料理をいただいた)。アフリカ料理を数回食べたことがあるからといってその感じがエチオピア料理にも共通なのか・・・まったく不明。でも 昨日はヘルシンキに新しくオープンしたエチオピア料理の店 Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant でエチオピア料理デビュー(笑。ヨガ友のお薦めである。昨日一緒にお店に行った友達とはお店に着くまでに、エチオピア料理はどんなものなのかという話で盛り上がり、彼女がロンドンで食べたアフリカ料理はすっぱいパンと一緒に出てきたからエチオピア料理もそんな感じなのではないかという予想。

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I had already decided what to eat before going there. I wanted to try "Ater Kik Alitsa", Split peas cooked with onion, garlic and herbs and seasoned with turmeric! It's vegetarian and herbs and turmeric sound definitely yummy! (Or I should say my kinda' food!) And my friend chose "Doro Wot", The national dish of Ethiopia. Chicken stew with a boiled egg seasoned with Ethiopian spices and berber. One had to try the national dish to experience authentic Ethiopian food! And I was glad that she chose it as I could also taste it from her plate! Why not?!  ;-) 

お店に行く前からWebのメニューを見てぜひ食べてみたいと思っていたのが"Ater Kik Alitsa", タマネギ、にんにく、ハーブ、そしてターメリックで味付けした干しエンドウ。ベジタリアンだし、ハーブとターメリックというのがいかにもおいしそう。私好みである。そして友達はエチオピアの伝統的な料理という説明がついた "Doro Wot", ゆで卵の入ったチキンシチュー。こちらもハーブたっぷり。2人で全然違うものをオーダーしたからもちろんお互いの料理を少しづずお味見 🙂

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As the friend guesses, our foods were served with slightly sour bread. It was really soft and served in rolls. The national dish was spicy but it came with cottage cheese and boiled egg. Chicken was really well cooked and super tender.  (the picture on the top) 


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I liked my dish at my first bite. Herbs!!! It tasted great : ) I didn't expect the dish to be that good even though a friend of mine had told me they served good food. Both my veggie dish and friend's Ethiopian national food were really tasty with herbs. 

そして私が頼んだ豆料理。一口食べただけで私のお気に入りにランクイン(笑。ハーブが効いててなんともいえないおいしさ。まさかエチオピア料理がこんなにおいしいなんて・・・お店を教えてくれたヨガ友からおいしいとは聞いてたけど、こんなにおいしいとはね!6時前からすでにお店がほぼ満員なのも納得。お店のWebには予約をしたほうがいいと書いてあったし。おいしいだけじゃなくて値段もお手ごろ。この豆料理は9€. この値段でおいしいものが食べられるのはヘルシンキではめずらしい。次回はもっと大勢で行って何種類かの料理をとってシェアしたいな~と思ったりする。

No wonder the restaurant was already quite full before 6pm and it was recommended to make a reservation in their web page. In addition to yummy food, the dishes are inexpensive. My meal was only 9€. You know how much you usually have to pay to get tasty food in Helsinki! This is one of a few places you could get inexpensive but yummy food! At this restaurant, I think it would be much nicer to go with a couple of more friends to order several dishes and share them so that we could enjoy the variety!


Lunch in the Sky @ Helsinki


We ate lunch in the Sky! Last Sunday, we had a super exciting lunch experience. Even though we had hoped for sunshine and blue sky, it was cloudy and rainy on the Sunday. But the experience was amazing!!!

Lunch in the sky! (ランチ・イン・ザ・スカイ) 先週の日曜日は空中レストランでランチをいただいた。空中レストランとか天空レストランとかいうのは聞いたことあるけど、これはほんとに空中。屋根と小さな床はあるけど壁はない。というわけで、最初に地上で遊園地のローラーコースターに乗るときのようなシートベルトを係の人にしっかり装着してもらう。

It started with making sure that we were safe with seat belts as if we went for roller coaster in the amusement park. 


And the "restaurant" with 22 guests was lifted to a height of 45 meters from the ground.



Voila! Appetizer and main dish cooked by an established and celebrated chef in Estonia were served with champagne and wine! Honestly, we were not impressed by the appetizer but were really impressed by the main dish, beef tenderloin. (I usually don't eat meat but eat it at special occasions 😉 According to the chef, it was beef from Namibia! How special!!! It was so impressive and a friend and I have talked about it a lot since we came down to the ground (for two days ;-) 



Though I said it was an amazing experience and we had so much fun, if you are afraid of height, probably this is not for you! Looking at my foot trying to take a photo which shows where we were, it was a bit scary for me who usually like height ;-) 

空での食事は大盛り上がり。とても楽しい40分だった。でも自分の足元を見るとこんな感じ。高所恐怖症の方にはお勧めできない(笑 高いところが大好きな私ですら、この写真を撮ろうとしたときはちょっとどきどきだったし。

This restaurant was open in Helsinki only for one week in August this year. I hope it will come to Helsinki again next year and I can have longer dining time in the sky. Duration of the lunch in the sky was only for 40 minutes and we felt it was too short though it was a bit chilly in the cloudy and rainy sky.

このレストラン、ヘルシンキでは8月の1週間だけのオープン。私たちの行った日曜日が最後の日だった。ぜひまた来年ヘルシンキで開催して欲しい。(そう、また行きたいのだ ;-) 上空ではちょっと寒かったけれでこんなに楽しいイベント、40分では短すぎ。次回はディナーでもっと長いこと空中で食事したいと思うのだった。

This even has been held in many different cities of the world and claimed to be unforgettable. I think it is true. It will remain as one of the most exciting events in my life (most likely!, but you never know!!!)! Also I think it would be fun to dine at the restaurant in the sky in some other cities : )

このイベントは世界のいろんなところで開催されていて、”忘れえぬ体験”というようなふれこみなのだが、まさに同感。いろんなところでいろんなおいしいものを頂いている私の人生の中でも思い出に残るランチになること間違いなし(たぶん・・・でももしかしたらもっとすごいランチ体験が待っているかもしれない(笑) そしてできればどこかほかの街で(ロンドンとかイタリアのどこかとか、ニューヨークとか香港とか) Dinner in the Skyしてみたい!

Sushi in Edinburgh and Frankfurt.. and a Photo from Frankfurt

On the day Japan won to Spain at their first football match at London 2012, we also had victory in finding great Japanese restaurant in Edinburgh. We were so tired after the return trip standing on the busy train between Edinburgh and Glasgow and watching two football matches in a row. We were so so so tired! We wanted to have dinner to get some energy to go back to Edinburgh but didn't have energy to find a restaurant. Still, we didn't give up eating at good restaurant…



Luckily, I had a good guidebook which listed the genuine Japanese restaurant, Bonsai which was located no far from our hotel. Unlike all other Japanese restaurants I visited in Europe, there wasn't set menu but we chose what we liked from the menu and they were served beautifully! And they all tasted great! It was taste of Japan : ) Among all those delicious sushi, unagi (eel) was outstanding! 

そんな状態でガイドブックを頼りに見つけたこのお店、Bonsai (盆栽)、これが大当たり。ヨーロッパでお寿司を食べるときはいつもセットで頼むのだが、このお店はセットなし。好きなものを頼んで友達と一貫ずつ(日本っぽくおすしは2貫で出てくる)。こんな風に盛り付けられたおすしの登場に、疲れていたのを忘れて大盛り上がり!見かけだけではなく味も上々。特にうなぎがやわらかくておいしかった。こんなおいしいうなぎのお寿司が海外で食べられるなんて期待してなかったし。


There was Japan's football shirt with No 10 and Shunsuke Nakamura's autograph on the wall! He is one of my most favorite Japanese football player and I was happy to know he had also eaten at the restaurant. (And I happened to be wearing Japan's No 10 shirt ;-) 



By the way, I flew from Helsinki to Edinburgh via Frankfurt and had severn hours of layover at Frankfurt. By looking at the information about what I could do in Frankfurt, I thought shopping would be optimal for me 😉 So, I went to the most popular shopping street (according to my search in the internet) Zeil Fussgängerzone (pedestrian street) to look at the shops but didn't find anything to buy, unfortunately. Of course, I ate sushi in Frankfurt.  "Mikuni" was very authentic Japanese restaurant and I had  sushi set which came with small appetizer and miso soup. (25€). The atmosphere was very Japanese with the Japanese staffs and interior decoration but somewhat sushi wasn't as great as I expected from the atmosphere and reviews in the web pages though it was fairly good. My expectation was too high, I guess 😉

ところでヘルシンキからエジンバラに行くときにはフランクフルトを経由したのだが、なんと乗り継ぎ時間が7時間。あまりに時間があるので市内に出て買い物・・・フランクフルトで一番のショッピングストリートという評判のZeil Fussgängerzone (ここは歩行者天国)に行っていろんなお店を見たけれど特に欲しいものが見つからず。でもここでもお寿司を!"Mikuni"(三国)でいただいた。このお店はとても日本風。スタッフも全員日本人だし、インテリアもとても日本。古い畳の座敷もあったり。その雰囲気とインターネットで見た評判がとてもよかったので、とてもとても期待していたのだが・・・たぶん期待が高すぎ、そこそこおいしかったのだが感動!というまではいかなかった。ちなみにいただいたのは25€の上寿司のセット。お味噌汁と酢の物と漬物がついてきた。(そんなところもとても日本的。)


There isn't much to tell you about Frankfurt as I was just in the shopping malls and eating sushi 😉 but here is the photo of the architecture I was impressed most in Frankfurt.