I am heading back to Denmark after spending more than six months outside the Schengen area on a trip that took me around the ancient Ottoman Empire. I discovered places such as Beirut, Cyprus, North Macedonia, and Albania. 

Visiting Istambul was a must on this trip to the former Ottoman Empire. I went there to see the rest of Constantinople and the vibrant life of this economic centre of Europe.

Here are some tips if you are thinking of coming to Istambul:

Beware of the drivers

We heard about Turkish food, sweets, beaches, history, culture and crazy politics, but we never heard about Turkish courtesy. Given that, Türkiye is not France, the most challenging place for a tourist in the world, but still, it is not a haven. At least not in the streets.

Turkish drivers are careless and reckless. They don’t care if you are walking over the crosswalk or if there is a red light. They will do their best to reach faster. No matter if you are in the middle. So beware of the priority “rules” in Istanbul: in first, second, and third place, the drivers are first and the pedestrian last.

Don’t trust Istanbul taxi drivers

If you think that drivers are crazy, taxi drivers are much more. Here are some tips to not lose your mind:

Use the front seat even if you are with a friend or partner

This will help you see the route and guide the driver if he needs to take a better traffic decision. You can use Waze or Google Maps to navigate them. Staying in the front seat will help you see if the meter is malfunctioning.

They barely speak English but will make an effort to understand you

You can use Google Translate to communicate with them. They must know that you will control the route since they may use traffic as an excuse to take you a long way and gain more money.

Ask the price before boarding and also ask to turn on the meter. Even though the driver told you the price before, this strategy will help you reduce the chance they will take you on long routes.

Don’t take taxis for short distances

If you can walk for 15-20 minutes, avoid using taxis for short distances. Drivers will get mad at you because they waited long for their turn in the taxi hub to get only a few liras. 

Show the money clearly when you are paying

There is a common scam of taxi drivers that they will try to rob you by confusing you with the bills you gave them. If you give them a 50 liras bill, they will argue that you gave them a 5 liras bill. So speak out about the money you are giving and the one you expect to receive.

Use change

Taxi drivers will try to keep your money all the time. If you pay with a bigger bill expecting some change, they might say they don’t have small bills to give you back. To avoid this, try to pay the exact amount, or if the driver is attempting to use this trick on you, you can kindly ask them to go to a small shop with you to make a change. This often motivates the driver to give you your money back.

Don’t brush your shoes

I fell into this one. A charming guy came to me on the streets and asked me to brush my shoes for free. I said no, but he insisted. He said he wanted to stretch out since his shift had just started. I made the mistake of saying yes.

After having my shoes full of spitted Turkish saliva, he claimed me his money. Not begging, not asking nicely. He just asked for his “pay.” When I tried to explain that he offered to do it for free, he denied it and told me to call the police. I had to pay 5 liras for each shoe to escape the awkward situation. Later, I was told that both shoes would cost me 5 liras. 

Don’t buy if you don’t see the price

There is a classic tactic to confuse tourists in Istambul by not putting the price tag on goods. Sellers will try to sell you a product for 2 to 10 times the price. You will never, NEVER, must take something and go straight to pay for it. This is like giving a signed blank cheque to your ex-wife. They will rip off your bank account.

Don’t drink tap water for any reason 

No, don’t you even consider it. Also, don’t buy plastic water bottles on the street. This is probably a scam, even if you think they are sealed and the bottle looks good. I also failed this one and ended three days with diarrhoea because I was sold tap water in a brand-new plastic bottle.

If you want to know about my personal life, I am heading to Denmark.



Staying in the City Centre, we took advantage of walking around to try several places to have food. So we walk a few blocks from our apartment to The Living Room Lounge & Dining.

This place is between Kruševački Park and the University Park, only a few steps away from the Roman Square. We felt a lively atmosphere when we entered, with many local social gatherings.

The presentation of the dishes was excellent, and prices were average for places like this. I had the Octopus Salad that had a perfect amount of lemon, which is not always the case. I always complain about seafood salads that include lemon because some have too much and others too little. On the other hand, Ida had the Vegetarian Risotto, which included a fantastic mix of zucchini, tomato, onion and parmesan. The drinks were a bit pricey, but we tried a bottle of local wine; this is a must in every country. Prices ranged from EUR 18 to EUR 135 per bottle.

Pod Volat

Only two blocks after crossing the Morača River, we found another gem. This restaurant evokes an authentic atmosphere with many local dishes and incredible tastes. I had the lamb cooked under the bell with kebab while Ida tried the Dorado Fish. The prices were a good deal considering what we ordered and drank. The staff was amicable and caring.

I recommend booking in advance since the place was always packed.

Restoran Bar Desetka

You can find this place in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Montenegro. Desetka has high-quality food with a lot of variety and abundant dishes. The menu was in the Montenegrin language, but the guys were very kind to explain it to us in perfect English.

We ordered burgers and beers whose price was very affordable.

The place was packed, and I will also recommend booking beforehand. The good thing is that they were fast after we ordered.

Konoba Lanterna

Close to Pod Volat, Konoba Lanterna is a place dedicated to local food with a vast selection of Montenegrin wines.

I ordered the local veal cutlet while Ida ordered Cevapi beef rolls. We asked for local wine again because where on Earth will we meet this fantastic wine again.

Stara Kuća National Restaurant

Outside the city centre in the Zagorič neighbourhood, we visited the Stara Kuća National Restaurant, which in Montenegrin means “ancient house.” The place contains an elegant ambience with a combination of stone walls, designer decors and a magnificent paved garden surrounded by wooden gates.

We ordered the Grilled Haloumi with vegetables and the Tuna Tataki as a starter. I adventured to try the Grilled Horse Steak (Ida couldn’t try it), which was good. Ida ordered only a beef soup and a beefsteak salad.

Prices were higher than the average in Podgorica, but it is worth trying this place at least once while visiting Montenegro due to its fantastic scenery.

Our first two days in Skopje were fantastic. Excellent food, good bars and cafes to work. We even got to know Ardita, a private investigator lady who was the sister of the girl sitting next to us on the bus.

However, any plan to enjoy the country and the city halted when we realized Martin had lost his Canadian Passport.

This is what we did:

First, we contacted the General Consulate of Canada in Skopje. We reach this number 389 (2) 3225-630.

However, they work from 9:00 to 15:00 from Monday to Friday. If they don’t pick the phone up, you can collect call to Canada +1 613 996 8885.

After that, they will give you the option of an Emergency Passport or a traditional one. The difference is that Emergency passports reach faster but have to be used to travel back to Canada. We requested the traditional one.

You need to fill out a form available on the Government website. Some of the required information includes data of your former passport, a certification of Canadian Citizenship and a Canadian ID.

Martin showed a soft copy of his Canadian birth certificate for the Canadian Citizenship document proof. However, Canadian born abroad citizens can provide one of the following documents:

  • Certificate of registration of birth abroad
  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Certificate of retention of Canadian citizenship
  • Certificate of Canadian citizenship

Martin showed his valid driving license by Quebec for the document that supports identity. However, you can also present any Canadian Federal or Provincial ID or local ID from abroad that includes the following: Name, date of birth, photo and signature. 

Canadian authorities may enquire you about how you lost your document. My recommendation is to go with the local police officer first. Since we did this, we saved time in the explanation because the North Macedonian Police gave us a lost passport report. Canada takes the identification of its citizens seriously; furthermore, any reported lost passport will become invalid after being informed to the authorities.

The consulate informed us that it could take 20 business days to replace the document; however, Martin’s passport arrived earlier. I believe we were lucky. I had a few more calls with James Punjabi during that time and we even met Toma. I’ll share the whole story with you in the next few days.

As you know, I am a graphic designer that lives online/offline life as a digital nomad. So I don’t earn millions and I travel on a budget to travel more. Being in Albania for a week with Ida, we visited many good places that didn’t cost us zillions of leks.


Here are our favourites:

Restaurant Gjakova

Located in Blloku, Tirana, this restaurant is dedicated to meat-lovers (even though you can find many vegetarian options). Prices are so cheap that you can spend CAD 20 and eat, have dessert, drink and repeat. 

My recommendation is the lamb (the best of Albania) and the Cesar salad! Best Cesar I have eaten in years. Check their Facebook Page here.


Tymi is a local family-oriented restaurant that evades a relaxed atmosphere with a friendly staff. Its focus is on Albanian cuisine as well as meat. However, it is vegan and gluten-free friendly.

My recommendations here are the fried Kakavall cheese, the Spinach salad and the kofta. The place is located in the 21 Dhjetori neighbourhood in Tirana. Check their full menu here.

Bar Restaurant Bio

This Restobar has the healthiest food in Albania and incredible drinks to have a nice dinner. To be honest, we came here three times. One for drinking only and two more for eating only since for Ida didn’t make any sense to have a healthy salad with an Albanian beer on the other hand. A place for balance. You won’t believe the prices of this place. You can have a perfect time with only CAD 15.


We arrived at this Southern Italian Café by accident and we decided to give it a chance. The people of the Italian peninsula and Albania had a lot of history (Roman Empire, Venetian Republic, Regno d’Italia) and thus there is a lot of Italian influence. Many people speak and understand Italian here; I could say that they are more fluent in Italian than English. 

Momento comprises quality Southern Italian dishes, but what I liked the most was the coffee. Momento’s espresso transported me to my days in Rome.

Zgara Supreme 2

This place combines Greek and Albanian cuisine. It is the cheapest restaurant I visited in Tirana. You should check it out if you like big portions for fair prices. If you are vegan or even vegetarian, there are a few options for you here. The quality of the food is good. My favourite dish was the grilled lamb (you have to eat lamb all over Albania, it is their specialty).

Check their Facebook page here.

Bar hopping is one of my favourite activities when I travel. But as I am getting older, I cannot do it every time. In my first years travelling, I was able to drink three or four days a week, but now I am drinking almost once a month, so I have to choose wisely the special occasion.

Read about the bars’ culture before joining in an adventure

For example, I did bar hopping on a Wednesday night and was ok. Just a few people trying to get drunk. But if I had to do this on the weekend, the result would have been different. I probably had to call to book a table or space in the bar in advance (probably not in Rome, because everyone fits in small spaces even with the pandemic).

Make sure no one is driving

It sounds ridiculous, but my friend Jessica wanted to do bar-hopping with a bike. Another friend tried to take us to a different neighbourhood in his car. When people are drinking, they tend to lose common sense.

Drink water

Every time you jump to a new place, ask for a cup of water (and drink it!). Tap water is complimentary in Rome and in most places. Doing this won’t get you tipsy, but you will take care of your neurons and liver.

Stay in a place if you like it

Sometimes bar-hopping is done in such a rush that we don’t remember to enjoy being present. If there is something that you fancy, ask your friends to stay for another round. This could be a song, a live performance, a person you met, or a drink you want to try. There is no fun being in a hurry.

Keep your important documents at home

Most bars accept driver licenses or local IDs to check your legal drinking age (though they seldom check), which is 18. Don’t take your passport to a bar-hopping, NEVER! If you lose it, it would be challenging to find it back, just keep with you a photocopy or a high quality photo on your mobile.

Be mindful about the money

My problem is that when I drink, I lose all inhibitions, including how to use my savings or credit card. I discovered that paying with cash is not that bad. This allows you to extract your budget in advance and restrain yourself when the money has come to a limit. If you don’t like this strategy, you can transfer some money to a current account you don’t use frequently and bring its debit card to the party. Avoid carrying your credit card to bar-hopping with friends. It will save you from paying interest for a long time.