One of the best things about running Spotted by Locals is that we get to find out and read about all kinds of unique, amazing places we would have never imagined existed. After all, that’s precisely the point: we’re Spotted by Locals, not merely Secrets to Nobody!
Every day, we share one such precious discovery on our social media accounts (links at the bottom of the article). However, we’re talking many hundreds of note-worthy articles here, and quickly add up they do. This is another platter of great tips for truly one-of-a-kind spots over 67 cities, discovered by our
army elite team of locals.
Let’s kick off with a wonder of nature situated in the middle of a city, sitting at the “junction point” of Geneva’s rivers Rhône and Arve. The confluence at Pointe de Jonction gives the impression that what’s being mixed together is not water with more water, but rather water with chocolate milk. Or even chocolate-milk oil with water… pardon us, that’s slightly disgusting, but you get the picture.
Local András explains that this spectacular phenomenon can probably be attributed to the temperature difference between the two rivers. Because this disequilibrium takes some time to sort itself out, the river flows down striped in the middle for quite a considerable distance.
The place’s natural beauty has far from gone unnoticed by Genevans and, especially on warmer days, it’s a popular spot for enjoying the great outdoors.
“Oh, this looks sweet! Must be something like Turkish liquid crème brûlée, kazandibi or some sort of vanilla-flavoured delicacy!” We must admit: the looks of boza, the specialty of Vefa Bozacısı, are nothing but deceptive. With the colour and apparent texture of something between vanilla yogurt and rice pudding, getting to lovingly accept boza for what it really is is a big step – fermented, ever so slightly alcoholic, wheat pulp, that is.
Its long history includes the fact that it was traditionally drunk (or was it eaten, like soup?) by Ottoman soldiers on their long campaigns across the Balkans. For that reason, it can be found across many countries that used to be part of the Ottoman empire. It’s also said to be full of vitamins and good for you. Centuries later, you can find the veritable boza crème de la crème in this classy Istanbul shop.
Still, as Spotter Deniz admits, “it’s one of those things that you either love or hate”, not being shy about loving the atmosphere more than the drink itself. The best time to discover on which side of the boza fence you sit is between autumn and mid-spring. If in doubt, stick to the tradition, “put cinnamon on boza and have it with leblebi – roasted chickpeas”. Vefa itself doesn’t have leblebi, but you can find some across the street.
A lot of aspects of early 21st century daily life have been fashionably “scaled back” in the last couple of years. From clothes to food to music, more and more people are placing sustainable shopping and responsible consumption higher and higher on their list of priorities. All the while, they haven’t had to make sacrifices when it comes to style. Nevertheless, some everyday items have been curiously left out of this circle of transition – umbrellas, for example. Perhaps it’s because they are notoriously easy to misplace, lose or completely forget about. Perhaps some see them as disposable for that very reason. However, Ms. Marija begs to differ.
Local Spotter Miha explains: “on Trubarjeva cesta on the crossing with Mala ulica, there is a little umbrella-making and repair shop even locals don’t know about. Its owner, Ms. Marija, repairs broken umbrellas, makes new ones and sells old ones. She’s the last one in Ljubljana, even in Slovenia, that is experienced in this craft.”
Umbrella repairs, such a foreign concept to many people nowadays, is Dežnik‘s specialty. Maybe if we took better care of our umbrellas, we would lose them less often. They would in turn become more valuable and we would lose them even less easily. Their sentimental value would grow, there would be fewer junk umbrellas around, and the world would be a better place.
Miha filmed a documentary about her (available here) and only has the best to say about her character and personality. Here’s hoping Dežnik can be a trend-setter and that it won’t just be forgotten by time and consumerist culture.
Yes, you read that right – the building pictured above is a church, designed by sculptor Fritz Wotruba in the mid ’70s. It’s made of 152 concrete blocks stacked on top of each other seemingly at random. They say that making the deliberate look effortless is the work of true genius, and -no, really- who are we to argue?
Vienna Spotter Julia urges everyone to visit Wotruba Church, even though it’s a roughly 75-minute-long trip out of the city and requires switching between a number of trains and buses to reach. Moreover, the final stretch is a 2km walk up a hill. Of course, that just makes arriving to the destination all the more rewarding. Delayed gratification… Sacred, you could say.
If that’s not enough and you still have reserves left, Julia recommends continuing “on the path behind the church. It leads to Sterngarten, an open-air planetarium for star-gazing – or just a nice walk through nature. Many people come here with their dogs.” Sounds lovely to us, snow or no.
This Porto locale is a true concept restaurant. Just by how special Cruel comes across as, it reminds us that there just aren’t many other places like it. There’s great potential here and we can only hope that entrepreneurs in the food business are taking notice.
Let’s allow our Spotter Sofia to do the talking here: “the menu is divided into 3 types of adventures: the fearful, the cautious and the cruel ones. I found out I’m quite cruel, as my favorite dishes are all listed under the cruel menu. But it is not as bad as it sounds!”
“It’s fun to take friends for their first time there, so I can scare them a bit regarding the dishes. As a starter I always ask for the Electric Carpaccio (for 2), as it gives you a localized electrified feeling once you eat it (for a couple of minutes, don’t worry!). Adding to this, it is absolutely delicious. As a main course I love having the Hallucinating Mushroom Risotto, one of the best I’ve ever had. Last time I had Toucinho from Hell as a dessert… Oh boy what a back-in-time surprise.”
Let’s face it, we’re already living in an experience economy. Providing a conceptual experience as an extra layer of joy on top of amazing food sounds positively alluring. Not to mention it gives you one more amusing story to tell – and aren’t stories about strange food just the best?