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Meet the friends who will take you around Lisbon, Turin and Budapest

The Local and Lufthansa will reunite three pairs of long-distance friends in Turin, Budapest and Lisbon. Join us for the journey!

Meet the friends who will take you around Lisbon, Turin and Budapest
Photo: Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic

That’s a wrap, folks. The Local recently closed a competition in partnership with Lufthansa, offering three pairs the chance to win a trip to three of Europe’s most exciting cities. To enter, we asked our community of travel fans to tell us who they wanted to go with and why.

We’ve now picked the winners and the trips are all booked!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing short videos documenting the reunions, as the winners take us on a tour of the three European cities. Now’s your chance to get to know them before they go off exploring.

Lisbon trip: Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic

“I have a lot of friends all over the world because war separated us.”

Have a read of Lufthansa’s Lisbon city guide

Photo: Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic. See their group post here

Long-time school friends Irena Savic and Asaki Dizdar Mehic were brutally torn apart by the Bosnian war. Irena and her family fled to Belgrade in Serbia, where she lives today, while Asaki ended up in Oslo, Norway. The pair lost touch until ten years later, when they found each other on Facebook.

It didn’t take long for them to plan a reunion in person.

“That was very emotional and amazing! We have another friend who lives in Croatia now and she was there also. When I saw her and Asaki, that was something wonderful to see them again,” Irena told The Local.

Since reconnecting, Irena and Asaki have nurtured their friendship through travel. In February 2018, the pair spent several days in Amsterdam, exploring the city by foot and enjoying a full day in the Van Gogh museum.

Travel often means a reunion for Irena and the Amsterdam trip was no exception; the pair were also joined by another school friend who had been living nearby in Rotterdam.

“I have a lot of friends all over the world because the war separated us,” explains Irena. “A very large number of my friends are in foreign countries and travel is always a good way to see them.”

Fortunately, the time apart hasn’t come between them and the pair still enjoy each other’s company as much as ever. Irena explains that Asaki is an excellent travel companion because the pair both love to stroll around new cities — walking as far as 15km a day in Amsterdam.

But is Irena prepared to walk 15km a day in Lisbon, the City of Seven (very steep) Hills?

“I was born in the mountains, so I’ll be okay!”, she laughs.

Turin trip: Isabelle Wallin and Natasha Held

“I was surprised that you could become such good friends in one week!”

 

Photo: Isabelle Wallin and Natasha Held. See their group post here

Isabelle from Stockholm and Natasha from Newcastle may seem unlikely friends, but it’s the unlikely friendships that can become the most dear.

Check out Lufthansa’s city guide for Turin

The pair were both 20 years old when they struck up a friendship in Ayia Napa during summer 2011.  Natasha, who was on vacation with friends, envied Isabelle’s bar job and the two vowed to return the following year to live and work together.

What surprised Isabelle was that they stayed true to their word.

“It was crazy that we just met in a week and decided to do this a year later! So I think that was very spontaneous and I was more spontaneous because of her,” she says.

Isabelle and Natasha have since developed a close friendship despite the distance, keeping in touch online and visiting each other’s home towns.

Isabelle’s visit to Natasha’s native Newcastle even rubbed off on her in a surprising way.

“I started talking in a Geordie accent after I stayed with her!”

Despite the distance, the friends are still bonded over a love of sunshine and good food – both of which they hope to enjoy on their trip together to Turin.

“I know all about the pizza and pasta – we have to find what’s really local though,” says Isabelle.

Budapest trip: Alex Newcombe and Pau Revilla Besora

“You need friends if you’re in a different environment. It definitely makes it easier and more enjoyable.”

 

Photo: Alex Newcombe and Pau Revilla Besora. See their group post here

A bromance is a beautiful thing, and no-one knows that better than Australian Alex Newcome and Spanish Pau Revilla Besora. The pair met at university in Denmark and have maintained their friendship following graduation.

Take a look at Lufthansa’s Budapest travel guide

“It made my time in Denmark a lot more fun. We’ve had a lot of good times here. It can be tough coming from Australia to a very cold place and probably the same for Pau coming from Spain,” says Alex.

Pau may be back in Spain now but that hasn’t quelled their friendship. Since graduating, the friends have toured Spain, visiting Andalusia and Catalunya, and building their personal portfolio of “in jokes”.

“We have a lot of in jokes that don’t make sense to anyone else which always happens when you’re travelling,” he says.

One particular joke is on Alex, who developed a taste for empanadas in Spain.

“I made a big deal about them so Pau kind of teased me a bit about that because they’re nothing special there, but they were for me!”.

Alex looks forward to “walking around, having some beers and eating some street food” as well as checking out some of the local museums.

Pau, he says, is the perfect travel companion which can turn a good trip into a great one.

“He’s really good fun and up for anything.”

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Lufthansa.

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TRAVEL

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts

Catch the very tail-end of the wine season and autumn foliage in one of the lesser-explored corners of the Austrian capital: Mauer.

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts
Beautiful views and cosy taverns await you on the edge of Vienna. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Wine-hiking is an autumn must-do in Austria, and although the official Wine Hiking Day (Weinwandertag) that usually draws crowds has been cancelled two years in a row during the pandemic, it’s possible to follow the routes through beautiful scenery and wine taverns on your own.

Mauer in the southwest of Vienna is one of the routes that is mostly frequented by locals.


The footpath takes you through scenic vineyards. Photo: Catherine Edwards

You can reach this part of the 23rd district using Vienna’s public transport, and you have a few options. From the Hietzing station on the U4 line, you can take the tramline 60 or bus 56A. The former will take you either to Mauer’s central square or you can get off earlier at Franz-Asenbauer-Gasse to start the hike. If it’s too early in the day for wine just yet, you could start your day at the small and charming Designo cafe (Geßlgasse 6).

Otherwise, the residential area itself doesn’t have much to see, but keep an eye out as you wander between the taverns later — there are some beautiful buildings.

To start the hike, head west along Franz-Asenbauer Gasse, which will take you up into the vineyards, growing some red wine and Vienna’s specialty Gemischter Satz or ‘field blend’, which as the name suggests is a mixture of different types of grapes.

Photo: Catherine Edwards

The paved road takes a left turn, but the hiking route follows a smaller path further upwards. Here you’ll have magnificent views over the whole of Vienna.

If you stick to the official hiking route (see a map from Weinwandern here) you can keep the whole route under 5 kilometres. But more adventurous types don’t need to feel limited.

You can also follow the Stadtwanderweg 6 route (see a map here) either in full, which will add on a hefty 13 kilometres, or just in part, and venture further into the Mauerwald. If you do this, one spot to aim for is the Schießstätte, a former hunting lodge offering hearty Austrian meals.

EXPLORE AUSTRIA

In any case, you should definitely take a small detour to see the Wotrubakirche, an example of brutalist architecture from the mid-1970s built on a site that was used as a barracks during the Second World War.

Not far from the church is the Pappelteich, a small pond that is not only an important habitat for local flora and fauna, but a popular picnic spot for hikers. Its only water supply is from the rain, and due to climate change the pond has almost dried out in recent years, prompting the city to take action to boost its water supply by adding a permanent pipe.


The church is made up of over 150 concrete blocks. Photo: Catherine Edwards

What you really come to Mauer for, though, are the Heuriger or Viennese wine taverns. 

The most well-known is Edlmoser (Maurer Lange Gasse 123) which has previously been named as the best in Vienna. Note that it’s not open all year so check the website, but in 2021 it should be open between November 5th and 21st, and is also serving the goose that is a popular feature on Viennese menus this time of year.

Tip for translating Heuriger opening times: look for the word ausg’steckt, which is used by those taverns which aren’t open year round. They will also often show that they’re open by attaching a bunch of green twigs to the sign or front door.


Buschenschank Grausenburger. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Also worth visiting are cosy Buschenschank Grausenburger (Maurer Lange Gasse 101a), Heuriger Wiltschko (Wittgensteinstrasse 143 — located near the start of the hiking route, this is a good place to begin your tour) and Heuriger Fuchs-Steinklammer (Jesuitensteig 28).

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