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Europe, France

How to buy tickets to Roland Garros, last minute

May 26, 2016
buy tickets roland garros

Let’s just say that you happen to be in Paris and you love tennis. Of course, you would want to go and see your favorite player. Obviously, you don’t have tickets for the event because you either didn’t know you’re going to be in Paris or you wasn’t fortunate enough to reserve the tickets on the official site when the tickets went on sale. But you still desperately want to buy tickets to Roland Garros and enjoy a full day of tennis.

So what do you do in this case and how can you buy tickets to Roland Garros?

Well, it’s not easy but not very complicated either. All you need is patience and perseverance.

There are ONLY two options to get official tickets for the Grand Slam du Paris:

  1. The official Roland Garros website – they have a Resale portal open on their front page. You need to register and try your luck. Sometimes they put a few tickets for sale, the last minute. You need to refresh the page quite a few times daily and hope that some tickets will pop up. But I wouldn’t count on that too much, not for the men’s semifinals at least.
  2. Viagogo – is the only trusted resale site that I know of. They sell unwanted tickets; people that for some reason are not able to attend the event put their tickets up for sale at face value, and Viagogo adds an administration fee, which makes the tickets a bit more expensive but still affordable. They also offer a buyer protection, meaning that in case you can’t get into the venue, you would get your money back.

IMPORTANT TIP: I would STRONGLY advise against any attempt to purchase tickets from any site other that the FFT official site or the official resale site Viagogo, or you risk being refused entry. Each ticket must bear your name and info and will be scanned before you enter the grounds. Your ID must match the name printed on the ticket. The Roland-Garros official website and Viagogo are the only  ones that can issue a valid ticket.

Now, you have to follow the schedule of play on-line and see who’s playing where so you can decide on which court you want to buy tickets for.

There are people selling tickets on Viagogo the day before the match or even on the same day. It would be best if you manage to get the tickets a few days before the event, but if not, do what we did.

Go to a nearby café early morning; get a coffee together with the Wi-Fi password, and with your Viagogo account up and running, start hitting that refresh button. It is really important to refresh the page at least every minute. Tickets come and go pretty fast, so make sure you are the first person to hit the “Buy” button.

Hint: Here is a little secret. Tickets for Suzanne Lenglen are easier to get than the ones on Phillipe Chatrier, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game. Buy the tickets for Suzanne Lenglen and once in front of the court, before the main game starts, you will see people trying to swap their tickets for the Phillipe Chatrier Court with yours. This is how we got to see Nadal since a French couple wanted to see Gasquet, and he was playing on our Court.


Which tickets to buy for Roland-Garros:

There are three categories to choose from, Cat.1 being the most expensive. We had Cat.2 tickets for both Roland-Garros and for the Australian Open and I think they are the best value.

Obviously, the cheapest option is to get tickets for the grounds only, which for about 30$ they offer access to all exterior courts and you can also watch the main event on the big screen. If you’re lucky , you can spot some players.

Where to stay in Paris:

Line 10 metro will take you to Roland Garros. It starts at Gare D’Austerlitz and it goes through the 6th and the 15th arrondissements to Port d’Auteuil is the closest metro station to the main entrance. So it will probably be a good idea to find a hotel (or an AirBNB)near to this metro line.

Croatia, Europe

14 photos showing you it’s about time to visit Croatia

February 21, 2016
Plitvice National Park

We decided to visit Croatia a few years ago when, on an extended summer holiday spent at our home country (Romania), we thought we’d to jump in the car and go on a 10 day itinerary through this fabulous country.

There are many beautiful countries in Europe but Croatia clearly stands out as one of the most astounding places, a true “Pearl of the Adriatic”.

With no shortage of islands, beaches and crystal clear turquoise blue waters, the Dalmatian Coast with its 1200 islands makes it a perfect summer destination for any tourists arriving here by car, train, cruise ship, or private boat.

In addition to its beautiful coastline, perfectly preserved cities of Split, Zadar, Pula, Trogir, Hvar or Dubrovnik (noted in the UNESCO World Heritage List), will offer you top cultural experiences as well as myriad sights to fill you with awe.

Not to mention the impressive countryside, unspoiled nature and gorgeous national parks with turquoise lakes (Plitvice, also a UNESCO Site) and rushing waterfalls.

No wonder Croatia ”sneaks” into  Kate’s ( the top 5 favorite countries.

Here are 20 images I chose from our trip to share with you, that will make you visit Croatia on your next trip:


Dubrovnik panoramic view

Dubrovnik panoramic view

boats on a bay, Adriatic Coast

The Adriatic Coast

The harbor in Dubrovnik Croatia

The harbor in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik harbor

Dubrovnik harbor

View of Dubrovnik from our balcony

View from our balcony

Hvar Panoramic View Croatia

View over Hvar

Dubrovnic old town

Dubrovnic old town

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice National Park

street in Tragir

Walking in Trogir

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice National Park

The Coloseum in Pula

The Coloseum in Pula

St.Mark's Church in Zagreb

St.Mark’s Church in Zagreb

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Plitvice National Park

Belgium, Best eats

Best choice for Flemish food in Bruges

November 25, 2015
vlaamsche pot restaurant brugges

We found this cozy restaurant tucked away down a quiet backstreet. It’s a little bit outside the touristic path, but still quite central.

The Vlaamsche Pot (The Flemish Pot) with its charming look, typical of the old city of Bruges, prides itself on serving some authentic Flemish food.

Despite some mixed reviews, we had a wonderful early dinner experience, in a comfortable atmosphere, and most importantly, we enjoyed some heavenly Flemish flavors and surprising aromas.

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Belgium, Europe

Bruges – a one day fairytale

November 17, 2015

After a quick one hour ride, we arrived early morning to Bruges from Brussels, our base for the Belgium visit. As we mentioned before, you can buy your train tickets from here, or directly from the station if it’s not a special day.

If you came to Bruges to see beautiful churches, architecture, canals, artworks and good food and beer, than you won’t be disappointed. Almost on every turn or corner you will see something picturesque and a picture is waiting to be taken.

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Belgium, Best eats, Europe

A guide to Belgian beer

November 10, 2015

When it comes to beer, Belgium produces the most beer per capita among any other nations, some 500 to 1.200 varieties in total, the number is still contested.

The term “Belgian beer” is synonym with great taste and is very often a benchmark for other non-Belgian breweries.  The secret behind this unique taste is the yeast they use, some of the strains being developed over decades and kept under lock and key.

shelf with beer in a beer shop

Beer shop

Among the multitude of beer types (amber, pils, stout, lambic,strong ale, pale ale, kriek, blond, brown, etc) my favorite one is the TRAPPIST.

You may wander what is a Trappist beer?

The word “Trappist” comes from a Catholic religious order that broke away from the Cistercian order at the end of 19th century. The monks from the Order of Cistercians were referred to as Trappists. They had to be self-sufficient, and they would accomplish that by selling various types of home-made food as well as alcoholic beverages. As early as 17th century, the monasteries belonging to this order were allowed to brew beer in small quantities in order to sustain the life in the monastery or for a good cause.

Today, there are 11 active Trappist breweries in the world:

  • 6 in Belgium – Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Westsleteren, Achel
  • 2 in the Netherlands – Koningshoeven and Kievit
  • 1 in Austria – Engelszell
  • 1 in the USA – Spencer Brewery / St. Joseph’s Abbey
  • 1 in Italy  – Tre Fontane
Trappist beer bar Belgium

Trappist beer bar

A beer that carries the ”Authentic Trappist Product” logo has to follow some strict production criteria:

  • The beer must be produced by the monks themselves within the walls of the monastery
  • The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery
  • The income obtained by selling the beer should only cover the cost of living for the monks and the maintenance of the abbey
  • The breweries must assure outstanding quality of their beers

Most Trappist beers are Blond, Dubbel/Double and Tripel/Triple, indicating approximately the alcohol strength, the monks were using double or triple ingredients in order to produce stronger beer. In the old days, the bottles weren’t labeled, so the only way to tell what kind of beer and what strength was by using a distinct bottle or by the color of the cap. Usually Trappist beer is not filtered and some of them even have some yeast added to the bottle, which help the beer improve with time.

Even today, Westvleteren (good luck pronouncing that), considered by many (businessinsider or ratebeer) the best beer in the world, has no label. Instead it uses green, blue and yellow caps to indicate the strength, yellow being the strongest (10.2%). I personally prefer the green cap (5.8%) which accompanied by some good quality cheese makes a unique authentic  Belgium experience.

Despite a huge demand, the monks at Saint-Sixtus Abbey only produce 400.000 liter/year of Westvleteren beer which is enough to support the abbey. You can only buy Westvleteren from the monastery, by appointment and no more than two crates. At the abbey, you buy a crate (24 bottles) for about 35€. I paid 10€ for a bottle which I hardly found in a cheese shop after a day of trying and asking everywhere. And that was in Ghent, I wasn’t able to find any in Brussels.

Chimay, on the other hand, produces around 25 million liters per-year, in addition to their own cheese and has the biggest contribution to Trappist beer export. It is widely available in most beer shops or cafes. Chimay, especially the Red or the newest Doree, would be a perfect introduction to Belgian beer.

So you see, in Belgium beer is more like a culture, with a very old tradition, and Belgians take it seriously. Many of the beers have personalized glasses, with a distinct shape designed to enhance the flavor.

The best way to taste and to learn about different kinds of beer would be to go to a bar that has a large selection and knowledgeable staff.  We went to Delirium on Impasse de la Fidélité, in Brussels.

Another good option is Bier Circus on rue de l’Enseignement, with more than 200 types of beer. Ask the waiters to help you… if you’re trying Belgian beers for the first time, start with the classics: Chimay (rouge) and Orval, Leffe, Duvel, a kriek, a white beer (Hoegaarden)… I don’t particularly like the brown ones, but I gave them a try nevertheless.


If you visit Bruges, make sure you make the time to visit De Halve Maan Brewery.  About 20 years ago, the brewery was renovated and started producing Brugse Zot (The Fool of Bruges) following the exact original recipe. We took a tour which lasted about 45min and was 7€, and by the end of it, apart from the free beer tasting, you leave with a little bit of knowledge about Belgian brewing history.

They produce 4 types of beer:

  • Brugse Zot 6% – blond with a nice balance of malt and hops; my favorite
  • Brugse Zot Dubbel 7.5% – is the darker version which combines different malts
  • Straffe Hendrik Tripel 9% –  originally brewed in 1981 and returned to the brewery in 2008, is a higher alcohol,  ABV, tripel of excellent character and depth with a nice hop character to balance it out.
  • Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel 11% – is dark, rich and the highest alcohol content

A prime destination for beer fans in Bruges is De Garre. Located on a small street in the heart of Bruges, they have an amazing bottle list as well as draft. Of course this includes the local beer De Halve Maan.