Sunday, 30 April 2017

Amsterdam: A Michelin Star Experience

There has been a few months since I am living in Amsterdam, but I have not yet been to a fine dining restaurant in order to continue my culinary experience. Therefore after three months, me and two of my fellow students decided to book a table at the Ron Gastrobar.

Chef Ron Blaauw launched the restaurant in 2013 and a year after it was awarded its' first Michelin star. The Ron Gastrobar offers the opportunity to every guest to enjoy world class food without paying exorbitant prices. A regular 3-course dinner would cost between 40-60 euros. The Ron Gastrobar is located near the Vondelpark and it can be easily reached by public transportation or on foot.

Firstly, let us talk about the service. One of the first things I have learned since I was a child is that service is the dominant factor in Hospitality. More than a decade later, one of the first things that I have learned at the Hotelschool the Hague is that service is indeed the dominant factor. When I dined at the Ron Gastrobar, I have noticed that the service is not at the same level as the food that the chef offers. This is observed by little details which if made in the right way they make an experience special and memorable. Someone may say that I am looking at little details that do not matter that much because I do not want to say good comments about the restaurant. Trust me I am not like that. For instance when a waiter serves wine, he or she first shows the bottle and the writing facing the guest in order to confirm that it is the correct one and then the guest can have the opportunity to taste it before he or she finally decides. Also when pouring the wine or water the waiter must be cautious not to drip any into the guest's food or on the table. These procedures were not followed by the staff. Moreover, the use of formal words add value to the guest's experience which was also not the case for Ron Gastrobar. This does not mean that the waiters are not good, it means that for this level of dining small gestures and details matter.

Furthermore, let us talk about the food. Ron Gastrobar as aforementioned, offers the opportunity to every guest to experience fine dining in reasonable prices. Me and my friends enjoyed a variety of courses and types of dishes. The standouts were the baked onions as a starter and the BBQ Ribs for the main. However, in my opinion you cannot judge the quality of a restaurant until you taste the desert. When I tasted the Paris-Brest with Blueberries and caramel ice-cream I was convinced. Light and sweet, acid and crunchy, fresh and ripe, all of these combined in one dish. The reason why I judge the quality of the restaurant especially from the desert course, is because it is the final course and it also shows uniqueness, taste and technique variety.

All in all, the Ron Gastrobar deserves to be regarded as a fine dining and a Michelin restaurant as it combines a modern touch together with serving fine dishes in reasonable prices. However in my opinion, in order for Ron Gastrobar to be considered as a Michelin star restaurant that can even be awarded a second star, service must become a dominant factor instead of the quality of the food and the reasonable pricing that it offers.

Friday, 14 April 2017

University or Not

Personally I have had countless conversations with friends and family regarding whether an individual should attend a university or if it is better not to. This topic is not something that can be answered by a 'yes' or a 'no', it needs a lot of personal thinking and decision making.

Recently I came up with an idea regarding a hotel. My cousin and I decided to carry on with a business plan and asked lecturers, professors, company owners and regular citizens for their opinion. Most people were impressed and very enthusiastic about the plan and willing to assist in any way that they can. We are both university students. I am studying at Hotelschool the Hague which is one of the best Hospitality schools on the planet and my cousin is studying at the University of Reading, a leading business school in the United kingdom. The question is, "do we need academic knowledge in order for our plan to become a reality?".

The first question that someone needs to answer, is whether he/she knows what he/she wants to achieve in life or not. If the answer is 'no', then academic life will serve no better than sitting on their couch watching movies all day long. However, if the answer is positive then there is a second clarification needed. "What do I need to do in order to achieve that goal". Usually the most important part is knowledge and then comes time, money and people. Then you are in a good position to decide what path you want to follow.

There are many paths in acquiring knowledge and skills. Most people believe that going to a university provides a stable life and a future career. Unfortunately this is not true. You need to find a university that provides the right knowledge for your future career but also the right tools in order to pursue it. There are thousands of universities and colleges, however only a few or maybe none of them can provide a "stable future". Therefore something else is needed after all and that is "motivation". Many people think that they are motivated because they have a dream, but actually they are not because 'a dream is a dream' unless you work hard for it in order for it to become a reality one day. Only a handful of people achieve their actual dreams, whether they are academically knowledgeable or practically and theoretically skillful.

Therefore, in the end a person that has spent approximately 20-150 thousand on education for 2-6 years may have the same result as a person who has been working during that time. Thus the person who has spent all this time on education is broke whereas the worker has been saving a stable amount every year.

Finally, everyone has heard about people that have not attended a university but turned out to be billionaires. In my opinion this is possible if you have the right tools. These are motivation, determination, an unparalleled will to succeed but also the knowledge needed in order to succeed. What I always believed is that "if someone attends lectures just for a degree then they should not be there".

Many people asked me, "are you going to wait until the end of your studies in order to pursue your dream?". My answer is, "I am going to pursue success as early as possible, university only provides the knowledge and skills needed in order for me to finish my business plan and then find investments. If I find the investment needed before the end of my studies I am going for it with everything I got." Therefore I hope that this article will help you decide what you want to do in the future and take some serious time before you do.

Saturday, 11 February 2017


Amsterdam, the name that brings into people's minds weed, prostitution and partying. All those are true and unique experiences but Amsterdam's beauty does not stop there.

First of all let as talk about the weed, prostitution and partying. The famous red light district and the surrounding areas offer all of the above. In order to get there and not get lost by any chance, you need to reach the Dam square from the central station and then take the left turn behind the statue. Then walk for five minutes and you will reach your destination. Half naked women behind windows offer their services and a wonderful view to the tourists. Coffee shops such as the Bulldog offer the most famous attraction of Amsterdam which is weed. And finally the area is full of clubs and bars in which you can party and have lots of fun.

However Amsterdam offers a lot more as aforementioned. The famous canals which create an amazing and relaxing atmosphere during the whole day and especially at night with the light reflections that make Amsterdam even more beautiful. Also the beautiful architecture off the city with its' red bricks together with the characteristic of cycling those beautiful city bikes provide a very hospitable feeling to anyone who visits the city.

Moreover there are dozens of parks in which people can walk or sit and enjoy the view along with a nice lunch. The most famous park is the Vondelpark which in my opinion is a must see in Amsterdam. After that you can visit one off the many markets of the city. I would recommend visiting the famous flower market of Amsterdam which is something different and unique but at the same time something very beautiful to witness.

Finally there are many museums for hose who would like to learn Amsterdam's history and generally the Dutch culture. The museumplein is one of the busiest centers in Amsterdam. The famous ''I Amsterdam'' sign is located right in front of the famous Rijks museum. There are also other museums around Amsterdam such as the Anne Frank museum and the Heineken experience or for others who would like to experience something different there is the sex museum or the museum of prostitution.

All in all Amsterdam offers a diversity of attractions to everyone who visits the city. From unforgettable nights out to some of the most beautiful canals on the planet it is the perfect travelling destination.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Eiffel Tower: Summit Or Not

Millions of people from around the globe travel to Paris in order to visit one of the most famous national landmarks. The Eiffel tower, one of the most iconic architectural structures ever build by human attracts approximately seven million people per year. The question is : Does it worth going up the tower and if yes till which level?

The Eiffel tower has three levels. Every floor can be accessed through a number of lifts and in order to reach the summit you will need to change lifts on the second floor. There is also the option of going up to the first or second floor using the stairs.

So, does it worth going up? My answer is, it depends. If you would just like to see the Eiffel tower and a majestic view of Paris in my opinion you should just visit the tower from bellow and then head to the Sacre-Coeur in order to witness one of the most amazing and one of my favorite sightseeing experiences. However if you are so eager on visiting the summit or another floor, it is a great experience but for me the view is overrated.

Lastly, which floor should you visit? The prices vary depending on whether you would like to go up using the stairs or the lifts and also which floor you would like to go up to. In my opinion if you are going to spend the time going up you might as well buy a ticket for the summit which costs between 8-12 euros depending from where you buy it.

Overall, I cannot deny that visiting the Eiffel tower is something to remember and worth doing. However spending around half an hour to reach the summit and then another fifteen minutes back to the bottom of the tower are not exactly that time saving, if you consider that the view from Sacre-Coeur is extremely beautiful.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Beautiful Paphos

Paphos for those who have never heard of the name, is a Cypriot city located on the west side of the Island. Most people know the names Protaras, Ayia Napa and Limassol however for me Paphos is the second most beautiful part of Cyprus after Ammoxwstos. Paphos has it all, from majestic seaside views like the one in the picture, to nature hikes that you would not expect in a country like Cyprus.

Firstly, let as talk about Mythology. Paphos and more specifically Petra tou Romiou it is known as the birth place of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and love. If you ever visit Cyprus I can assure you that you will find both beauty and love in Cyprus and especially during the summer months. There are many places in Paphos that have to do with Aphrodite like the Baths of Aphrodite and her Sanctuary.

Moreover, another place that you should definitely visit in Paphos is Akamas. Akamas is a peninsula that it is located on the most western corner of the island and it is by far one of the most beautiful sites in Cyprus and maybe even Europe. Cliffs that form gorges like the Avakas gorge, small rivers flowing towards the sea, secret caves along the sea shore and many other attractions of the area attract tens of thousands of tourist to join safari tours in the area.

Further I have to talk about the nightlife of Paphos. Most people think that Ayia Napa has the best nightlife and they are right but Paphos is really close. There is a strip located at Kato Paphos which is the area of the Harbor and the castle that it is identical to Ayia Napa but a little bit smaller. Therefore if you ever visit Paphos you should definitely have a nice dinner and then head straight for a nice walk along the Harbor, see the castle and then let the party to begin.

Finally there are many other amazing places to visit in Paphos if you have the time. The church of St. George is a magnificent place with a great view and a small marina. There are many monasteries in the area. My favorite one is the St. Neophytos monastery. Another interesting place is the Tombs of the Kings UNESCO world heritage site. Finally if you ever get the chance you should visit the Ancient Kourio.

Overall, Cyprus in general it is the most beautiful country in the world for me. This has nothing to do with the fact that it is my home but it has everything to do with the beauty, the fun and the serenity that you experience while you are there. Therefore I believe that every person should visit Paphos and Cyprus in general.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Budget Travelling vs Holidays

A few days ago I came across a comment about me that was written by a woman on Facebook. The woman wrote ' he may have traveled to all those places but what did he see without paying a lot of money? Because in order to see things while travelling you need to pay. '. Therefore I decided to write about it.

Firstly, what is the difference between holidays and budget travelling? The word holiday means relaxation, luxury, serenity, getting away from things and so on and so forth. Budget travelling means visiting a place while spending as little as possible. People go on holidays and spend money in order to relax. Budget travelers spend a small amount of money in every destination in order to visit as many places as possible.

However spending less money does not mean that you do not get to see things that that someone on holidays does. It means that you get to spend more time finding cheap ways to see everything. For instance if someone who is on holidays wanted to visit Auschwitz from Krakow, he or she would probably book a private tour. However if a budget traveler wanted to do the same he or she would probably use the public transport which saves you about 25 euros.

Finally in my opinion some aspects of travelling and visiting new places have changed. For example now instead of booking a private walking tour you can simply join a free one, thus saving a lot of money while receiving the same information and sometimes better feedback on your questions.  Also people began to realize that you do not need to visit every single museum that a city has in order to learn something. Let as say that you are in London. You do not need to visit the London transport museum in order to learn how people commuted back in the day, unless you are so eager to see it with your own eyes.

All in all I believe that travelling has changed because of the internet and the information it offers on historical and general knowledge. There is a huge difference between going on holidays and budget travelling and most people do not realize what those terms even mean. However one thing is certain. Travel while you are young and go on holidays when you grow old.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A Three Michelin Star Experience

During my last night in London I wanted to experience something special. Therefore I booked a table at the Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester which is considered as one of the best restaurants on the planet.

I have had a Michelin star dinner before but never something like the one that I have had at the Dorchester. The experience itself is worth every penny that you pay. The way everything is so balanced, the way the waiters serve simultaneously, the treats that you get before and after every meal, the freshly baked bread, the chocolates, the trolley with every fresh herb that you can imagine and of course the soft warm cloths before the desert.

Then there is the actual meal. There you have a choice of the a la carte menu, the tasting menu and the black truffle menu. The prices are not expensive at all for the whole experience. The a la carte costs 100 pounds and 120 if you want to have two mains. The tasting menu costs 160 and the black truffle 220. After you order the waiters serve what is called amuse gueule, which is a dish that you have before the starter. It is free of charge, as well as the freshly baked bread and the chocolates that you get before the desert. Then the rest proceed in a normal manner, you get the main, you wash your hands, then the desert and finally you can have a tea.

Overall I believe that every person must have an experience like that. It gives you an idea of how complex and tasty a simple ingredient can really become. Of course there is a price to be paid but it is worth every penny that you pay if the restaurant is chosen well. However in my opinion there is nothing better than a traditional Cypriot meal that you cannot stand up after it because of the amount of food that you have consumed, while the table is still full of food.