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Nara: Day Trip from Osaka or Kyoto

Nara: Day Trip from Osaka or Kyoto, Japan

One of the best things we did during our stay in Osaka was to go on a day trip to Nara.

Nara is home to temples, shrines and beautiful gardens, but its main claim to fame are the resident deer who roam the streets, bow for treats, and amuse visitors.This destination is hardly a well-kept secret and you are guaranteed to find crowds around the main sights, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. I’m sharing our 1-day Nara travel itinerary featuring historic temples, secret gardens, and delicious street food!

1-Day Nara Travel Itinerary

How to get to Nara?
 
Nara is a straightforward excursion from metropolis and metropolis with multiple train choices to induce you there.

From Osaka, you can take the Kintetsu Nara Line Or if you have a JR Pass, you can take the JR Kanjo-Yamatoji Lines departing from JR Osaka Station and arriving at JR Nara Station. We went with the first option since we travelled without a JR Pass.

From Kyoto, you can take the Kintetsu Nara Line. Or if you’re a JR Pass holder, you can take the JR Nara Line departing from JR Kyoto Station and arriving at JR Nara Station – just make sure you get on the express!

Things to do in Nara

Nara Park
 

Let’s start with Nara Park since this is where many of the city’s attractions are located and where you’re most likely to do your sightseeing.

Within this public park, you’ll find temples, shrines, museums, and walking trails. The park also happens to be home to  deer who roam freely.

Know that admission to the park is free, though you’ll have to pay for a few select attractions within the park grounds.

Nara Park
Todai-ji
 

The main attraction in Nara Park is Todai-ji Temple, which was once the world’s largest wooden building, this temple also happens to house the largest bronze statue of a Buddha!

Most of the Northern part of Nara Park is covered by Todaiji’s grounds which includes attractions such as Todaji Musuem, Nigatsudo Hall, Hokkedo Hall, Kaidano Hall, Shosoin Storehouse, former site of Lecture Hall and site of fomer east pagoda.

Todai-ji temple, Nara, Japan
Todai-ji temple, Nara, Japan
Feeding The Deers of Nara
 

Now let’s cite the most draw to Nara: the deer! Nara’s deer hold a very special status in the city.

Local traditional knowledge has it that Takemikazuchi, the god of thunder, once appeared on Mount Wakakusa (just up the hill from Nara Park) riding a white deer, and thus the deer inhabiting the surrounding forest were deemed sacred messengers of the gods and today they are seen as a national treasure.

The quickest way to befriend the deer is with treats, and thankfully there are lots of licensed vendors selling crackers specifically made for the deer. These are called ‘shika senbei’ and you can get them for ¥150.

Be warned that the deer can sniff out those crackers whether you stuff them in your pockets or hide them in your bag, so once you have them in hand, prepare for a herd of deer to approach. The deer are pretty good about bowing

Shika Senbei_DreamsVoyager_Copyright
Shika Senbei For Feeding Deers
Deer Search in Nara
Deer Search in Nara
Shika Senbei 1_DreamsVoyager_Copyright-min
Feeding Dears In Nara

Not To Miss

Seasonal Soft-Serve Ice cream
 

Another sweet treat that we have a tendency to enjoyed in Japan was soft-serve frozen dessert.

They had some seasonal flavours to choose from like sakura and white peach, as well as the classics like matcha, vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate.

I wasn’t too sure about the sakura ice cream (what do cherry blossoms taste like, anyway?), but it was surprisingly sweet with a light floral aroma. Definitely worth trying!

Icecream in Nara
Eating Ice-cream in Nara

We tried to see as much as we could in a day, but Nara Park is massive and we barely scratched the surface.

If we’d had more time and we’d known how much there was to see. This destination would make the perfect weekend escape or romantic getaway.

If you do decide to stay overnight, Nara has a mix of hostels and hotels – the place is worth experiencing at least once during your travels in Japan!

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2-Days In Edinburgh: A complete Guide

2-Days In Edinburgh: A complete Guide

Fascinating history, baggage of culture, attractive views, delicious food and drink – capital is one in every of those cities with a small amount of everything and my first-timer’s guide to capital has everything you must see and do throughout your initial visit.The Scottish capital is simply detonating with charm and it’s manageable size makes it the right weekend town break destination. 

Edinburgh is one in every of my favorite cities within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and was an apparent addition to my excellent 2 week itinerary of the united kingdom. I’ve put together a detailed overview of my favorite pastimes in Edinburgh. We think 2 days may be a large amount of your time to pay in capital – maybe as a weekend break, or as part of a longer trip exploring the UK and Scotland.

Of course, you may pay far more time attending to understand the town, however 2 days will definitely allow you to see several of the highlights of capital

A 2-Day Edinburgh Itinerary

This itinerary is ordered on fairly logical, with 2 full days of exploration within the town, covering a number of the most attractions.There’s lots more to see and do in the city of course, so check out the resources at the end of the post to help you plan your perfect trip to Edinburgh! 🙂

Day One

1. Explore Edinburgh Castle

We’re about to begin our 2 day Edinburgh itinerary with a visit to the beautiful Edinburgh Castle, which perches fantastically above the city, and offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city and surrounds.
 
The castle is home to a variety of exhibitions and artefacts from Scottish history, including the Scottish crown jewels. The castle is also where the 1pm gun is fired every day, so if you do have a chance to be there for this then do, as it’s quite an experience.
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

2. Go Whisky Tasting

Scotland and Whisky are intractably linked.

Scottish strong drink is my favorite spirit, and whenever I’m in capital I’ll forever notice time for a drop.

You can do this of course just by popping into pretty much any pub in the city, but if you want to learn about the process of making whisky, as well as the various regions of Scotland and the flavours available, then the Scotch Whisky Experience is where you need to head.
Here you’ll journey through the Whisky creation process, as well as learn about why Whisky from different parts of Scotland tastes different. Finally, you’ll be given the opportunity to taste one of four whisky flavours, before taking a look at the largest Scotch Whisky collection in the world. You can book your tickets in advance here.

Scotland Whisky Tasting
Scotland Whisky Tasting

3. Drop in at St. Giles’ Cathedral

Also on the Royal Mile, about a third of the way down from the castle, is St Giles’ Cathedral. Both the interior and exterior of the cathedral are stunning, but the highlight in my mind is the little Thistle Chapel, home to the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The Order still exists today, and is overseen by the current British Queen, Elizabeth II.

All that aside, the Thistle Chapel is just gorgeous, stuffed full of lovely wooden panelling, and very much worth taking a little bit of time to see, as is the rest of the Cathedral.

St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh
St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

4. Walk Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Also on the Royal Mile, about a third of the way down from the castle, is St Giles’ Cathedral. Both the interior and exterior of the cathedral are stunning, but the highlight in my mind is the little Thistle Chapel, home to the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The Order still exists today, and is overseen by the current British Queen, Elizabeth II.

All that aside, the Thistle Chapel is just gorgeous, stuffed full of lovely wooden panelling, and very much worth taking a little bit of time to see, as is the rest of the Cathedral.

Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Royal Mile, Edinburgh

5. Visit the Free Museums in Edinburgh on the Royal Mile

Since you’re on the Royal Miles, you should definitely take advantage of the many free museums that you can find along it’s length. Some of our favourites include the Edinburgh Museum, the Writers Museum and the Museum of Childhood.

Edinburgh Museum
Edinburgh Museum

6. Climb Calton Hill

Towards the end of the day, I’d suggest you head up Calton Hill.

This is a beautiful spot for a read of town and might be found at the east finish of Princes Street. This hill is home to a series of monuments, including the National Monument of Scotland, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Parthenon in Greece. Which makes sense, because that’s what it was modeled on. Up on the Hill you may additionally notice Nelson’s Monument and also the Royal Observatory.

 

From here you can watch the sun set across the city, with the mountains in the background, which is ample reward for the effort required to climb up.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Day Two

7. Visit Holyrood Palace

At the alternative finish of the Royal Mile from capital Castle is Holyrood Palace, that is wherever we’re about to begin the second day of our 2 day capital itinerary. Holyrood Palace is that the official residence of a people monarch in Scotland. Although the Queen herself only spends a week in a year here – most of her time in Scotland is spent up at Balmoral.
 
When the Queen isn’t here, the Palace is employed for visiting dignitaries, different members of the royal house, and in fact, as a traveller attraction, being open daily. It’s worth checking however that there isn’t someone of importance staying, as the palace closes to visitors when fulfilling its main role as an official residence.
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

8. Visit Dynamic Earth

If you like fun, interactive science museums, then Dynamic Earth is a must-visit. Right next to the Scottish Parliament building and underneath the stunning backdrop of the Crags and Arthur’s Seat, Dynamic Earth tells the story of the history of the Earth.

We really feel it has something for everyone. From a time machine ride into the past, to a spaceship simulation that takes you right to the Big Bang itself, this is an educational and fun experience that we think is fun for the whole family.

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh
Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

9. Hike Arthur’s Seat

One of my favourite things about Edinburgh, other than how magnificently walk-able the city centre is, is that just a stones throw from Holyrood Palace, the Parliament Building and Dynamic Earth is the ancient volcano of Arthur’s Seat, part of the 640-acre Holyrood Park.

This 251 metre high peak offers spectacular views of the city and surrounds, as well as nice hiking, sunset and sunrise views, and the walk is easily manageable right from the city centre.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

10. Follow in JK Rowling’s footsteps

For Harry Potter fans, Edinburgh’s a touch of a pilgrim’s journey website – it’s wherever author JK Rowling lived and is jam-packed with places that galvanized her.There’s Victoria Street that became Diagon Alley and also the Hogwarts-style martyr Heriot’s college.Some of the names on the graves in Greyfriars Kirkyard may look acquainted too.
 

You can also stop off for a drink in The Elephant House Café and Spoon Café where she wrote parts of the books.

Elephant House, Edinburgh
Elephant House, Edinburgh

When to Visit Edinburgh

Like much of the UK, Edinburgh has variable weather, so you need to be prepared for everything from rain to sunshine. Layered clothing is the key to a successful trip.

Be aware that being fairly northerly, Edinburgh has generally cooler weather than the southern cities in England, although it does rain less than Glasgow. There’s not really a bad time to visit Edinburgh as there is so much going on throughout the year, but if you prefer better weather and longer days to explore by daylight, then visiting in the summer months is preferable.
 
Of course, visiting outside of those months can mean it’s quieter, but avoid August as accommodation because it may be more pricey due to festivals going on.
View of Edinburgh
View of Edinburgh

Getting to and from Edinburgh

Edinburgh is very easy to get to. Flights operate to Edinburgh airport, both nationally and internationally, and the airport itself is around six miles outside the city centre, and easily reached by airport bus or with a taxi service like Uber.

The terminal in Edinburgh has quick rail services to London (around four and a half hours), and is magnificently located directly underneath the castle.Emerging from the rail station and being confronted by the beauty of Edinburgh for the first time is something you’ll never forget.
 
You can additionally drive to Edinburgh. Parking is feasible within the center, and a car will let you get to attractions outside of the city, but isn’t generally needed for day to day sightseeing as Edinburgh is very compact.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh encompasses a big selection of accommodation choices from hostels to mid-range hotels to luxury properties. We’d advise finding a city centre hotel, that way you’ll be able to walk to all the attractions in this list and save on taxis or public transport fares.

If you’re travelling in the busier time of year, such as during the August Festivals or around New Years Eve, you’ll definitely want to book as far in advance of your trip as possible to be sure you find somewhere that suits. Our favourite way to find the best deals on accommodation when we travel is booking.com. We find they sometimes have the simplest deals across a large vary of properties, together with hotels and residences, and area unit very easy to use. We can also recommend apartment rentals as an option.

We also have a page full of travel packages, which includes Europe best deals. 🙂
 
Hopefully these resources will help you plan your trip to Scotland’s capital Have a great time, and as always, if you’ve got any questions or comments, just get in touch! 🙂

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2-days In Amsterdam..A Complete Travel Guide

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2-days In Amsterdam…A Complete Travel Guide

2-days In Amsterdam...A Complete Travel Guide

Amsterdam is a city of Nightlife, with 2 days in hands in Amsterdam, you have enough time to explore all the city’s best attractions and soak up the fabulous atmosphere! In this post we share our to-do things which are not to be missed in Amsterdam and it helps you to plan your perfect Amsterdam 2-day itinerary.After you visit the main museums, you get to stroll the canals and parks, take your pick from trendy restaurants, and simply enjoy this European experience.

About Our Amsterdam Experiences

We have been to Amsterdam thrice, in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Our first visit to Amsterdam was perfect. It was late April, the skies were sunny, the tulips were blooming, and strolling along the canals was magical. it has a special place in our hearts.

Amsterdam was even better the second time around. This time, it was early April, it was more crowded and a little chillier, but we loved every minute we spent in Amsterdam. On our second visit, we skipped the museums and spent most of our time wandering the canals, trying new restaurants, and just enjoying Amsterdam.

On this Amsterdam itinerary, I combined the best of our experiences so you can have the perfect two days in Amsterdam and thoughts about where to stay also.

We hope you fall in love with Amsterdam like we did!

Two days in Amsterdam: Where to stay?

1. Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre

A 4 star Luxury Hotel which has amazing river view rooms and just 10 min walk to the city center It offers spacious rooms with free wi-fi, a minibar, satellite TV and tea and coffee making facilities.

2. Pillows Anna van den Vondel Amsterdam

Located next to the Vondelpark, the hotel has rooms some with a private terrace or French balcony.The hotels is conveniently located close to the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.

3. Hotel The Exchange

Situated next to Dam sq. this edifice offers from one star to five star rooms each unambiguously adorned by students of the style college and Dutch designers.

4. Art’otel Amsterdam

Located in the heart of the city close to the Central station, this boutique hotel offers modern rooms that feature art work by Atelier Van Lieshout.

Amsterdam Day-1

1. Van Gogh Museum

To see the world’s largest assortment of Gogh artworks and one among the foremost in style museums within the world, a visit to the current attraction may be a should.It is filled with 200 of his paintings, 500 of his drawings and 700 of his letters. It provides history of Van Gogh’s legacy and inspirations, as well as showcasing exhibitions from his colleagues like Gauguin, Malevich and Vallotton. Make sure you book your tickets online to benefit from priority access.

Van Gogh museum
Van Gogh museum

2. Rijksmuseum

It is in vicinity of Van Gogh Museum and is also one of the most famous museums in the world, attracting people from all over the globe. Its grand and prized collection includes a wide variety of masterpieces from greats such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans as well as artefacts and sculptures of cultural significance .Don’t forget to relax in the Rijksmuseum’s newly renovated gardens.

Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum

3. Vondelpark

Existing now for almost 150 years, Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam and the most famous park in the Netherlands. It is constantly filled with locals and tourists alike exercising, enjoying the sun or dog-walking. You can take a walk after a visit to the museums as it is close by, or explore it the Dutch way – through a bike tour.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

4. Canal Boat Tour

Perhaps the foremost marked characteristic of national capital is its one hundred sixty five canals.Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, it was originally intended to encourage trade and transport and today provides a way for travelers to take in the city’s sights and attractions in an unforgettable way. You can take a canal cruise from one in all the numerous tours that treat the canal, and they usually take one hour.

Don’t forget that platforms like Airbnb provide a spread of boathouses to rent so you’ll really go on the canal, too!

Some great Canal Cruises:
• If the weather is nice the best option is the 75-Minute Open Boat Canal Cruise
• Another great option is the 1.5-Hour Evening Canal Cruise
• The classic day canal cruise
• For a special occasion you can try the 4-Course Live Cooking Dinner Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Amsterdam Canal Cruise

5. Red Light District

Situated in one in all the oldest and most lovely components of the town, the infamous Red Light District, also known as Rosse Buurt to the locals, is a network of  sex shops, peep shows, low homes and museums.

The main Red light-weight District is within the Walletjes space, and whereas it’s going to look dodgy on the skin, it is well-protected with police and private bodyguards patrolling it.

Visit this district from eleven pm forwards, either in a group or in a guided tour, to get the full experience of swarming crowds and blaring neon lights reflecting in the canals.

Taking photos of the women within the windows isn’t allowed.

Red Light District, Amsterdam
Red Light District, Amsterdam

Amsterdam Day-2

1. Anne Frank House

Dedicated to period writer Anne Frank, this visit is for those wish to realize a desirable insight into the life and times of Anne Frank throughout warfare II where she and her family hid during a canal house for over 2 years.

It was opened in 1960 and, along with being able to see the Secret Annex, people can learn more about persecution and discrimination of Jews during the war through a showcasing of exhibitions. Film images, historical documents, photographs and Anne Frank’s diary are all on display and help paint a moving picture of what it was like for her and her family during the war. After the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House is the third most visited museum in the Netherlands.

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

2. Jordaan Neighborhood

Arguably the most famous neighborhood in Amsterdam is Jordaan. Once a poor district for the working class, years of gentrification means it is now home to a host of young artists, students and entrepreneurs as well as galleries, restaurants and boutiques.

Its charming narrows streets and tiny canals, walking through this neighborhood is extremely enjoyable

It was conjointly once home to many important figures in history like far-famed Dutch author Joost van den Vondel, painter and photographer Breitner and artist Rembrandt van Rijn.

The best way to experience Jordaan is through a food tour.

Not solely you may see the neighborhood and learn its history however you may even have the possibility to have some mouthwatering food.

Jordaan district, Amsterdam
Jordaan district, Amsterdam

3. Dam Square (National Monument)

Situated within the middle of Dam sq. is that the memorial, Netherland’s most important World War II memorial.

It stands at 22-meters high and each year on the fourth of could, a national Remembrance of the Dead is held at this monument where people gather to pay respects to fallen soldiers.

There is a Latin inscription on the pillar that interprets in English to: “Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their heart, view God’s stars.” It was designed by Dutch architect J.J.P.

Dam Square, Amsterdam
Dam Square, Amsterdam

4. Royal Palace of Amsterdam

One of three palaces in the Netherlands, the Royal Palace was originally built as a city hall and became the palace of King Louis Napoleon, and later on of the Dutch Royal House.

The State placed the Royal Palace at the disposal of the King and nowadays it’s currently used for royal events like prize-givings, the King’s New Year reception and the welcoming of foreign heads of state.

You can take a  tour throughout the palace’s rooms or take a free audio tour.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

5. Kalverstraat

A bustling shopping attraction in Amsterdam, Kalverstraat is a 750-meter road that lures crowds of people to make it the city’s most commercial street.Major brands will have at least one store here, and you’ll additionally notice boutiques, malls, shoe outlets and memento stores.

Near the end of the street is Kalvertoren Building, a historic building turned modern mall occupying three levels. At the very end of Kalverstraat, if you walk through theMunttoren (Mint Tower), you will arrive at Amsterdam’s vibrant Flower market where you will find all kinds of tulips, bulbs and flowers.

Kalverstraat, Amsterdam

Amsterdam could be a thriving cultural hub, home to important world-famous museums, historical sites and a lively nightlife district.There is a lot of to visualize and do for locals and tourists alike, and although it ticks all the advantages of a big city, it still maintains a quiet and relaxed vibe partly due to good transport and its extensive canals taking the weight off road traffic.

A visit to Europe isn’t complete if you don’t end over minimum of 2 days in this lovely little capital. 😛

I traveled around Amsterdam using the GVB day passes that enable you to travel free round the town from 1-7 days with costs beginning at 7.50 €.

The card can be used in trams, buses, and metros.

Have you been to Amsterdam? 🙂 

If you need any kind of visa assistance or package feel free to reach us on: dreamsvoyager12@gmail.com 

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2-days In Edinburgh, UK...A Complete Travel Guide

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Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and is ideal for those who want to relax at high-class spas, enjoy the Hungarian cuisine, shop and live luxuriously without having to spend a fortune.

Budapest is a city that is very close to my heart, partly because I have family, friends and a part of my life span as I was residing there in Hungary. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Hungary’s largest city when we got a chance to live there for a longer while for work.

In this travel guide, I share my best advice during my entire stay at Budapest.

What You’ll Find In This Budapest Travel Guide:

  • How Much Budget To Visit Budapest.
  • How Long To Visit Budapest.
  • The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest.
  • Budapest’s Must-See Sights and Attractions.
  • Budapest Nightlife.
  • Public Transportation.
  • And More…

How Much To Budget For Visiting Budapest

  • Budapest is a very economically fair destination for budget traveler
  • We recommend budgeting €17-40/day if you’re on a backpacker’s budget — you can easily spend more and you might be able to spend less, but this is a good range for planning purposes.

How Long To Visit Budapest: 3-5 Days

Want to hit the highlights? We recommend a minimum of three days. Don’t want to feel rushed? Try to stretch your travel plans: four or five days. Although I had plenty of good times in Budapest and neighbourhood ,nearby cities and specially my favourite lake Balaton for every weekend as I was living there for couple of months.

The Good And Not-So-Good Things About Budapest:

The Good

  • Castle Hill and Architecture. You’ll love walking the streets while you’re admiring Budapest’s Art Noveau and other style buildings.
  • Danube River. The banks of the Danube are amazing, so it’s a joy to take a stroll along the Danube (especially at night when everything is lit up).
  • The Thermal Baths. Budapest is world famous for their thermal baths and they’ve been attracting visitors since the Roman times. They’re still a popular buy for both tourists and locals alike.
  • Nightlife. Budapest Loves parties. It’s a party city- especially for the unique Ruin Bars

The Not-So-Good

  • The Language Ain’t Easy. Hungarian is a tough language and while the alphabet looks similar to English, the letters are pronounced much differently
  • Crooked Taxi Drivers.  Always use certified taxis and insist they use the meter.
  • Scams and Pickpockets. There are a couple of common scams popular in Budapest. And of course, there are the usual pickpockets that you have to take care of.

Budapest’s Must-See Sights And Attractions

1. Danube Promenade

The banks of the Danube river are amazing and gives you a serene walk, so you should spend some time visiting the Danube Promenade. It’s also a great place to see many of Budapest’s best sights. Don’t miss the opportunity to Sail the Danube.

Danube Promenade, Budapest
Danube Promenade, Budapest
Danube Promenade, Budapest
Danube Promenade, Budapest

2. Castle Hill

Rested above the city, Castle Hill is a must-visit neighborhood of Budapest. Some of the buildings date back to 14th and 15th centuries. Set aside a day to discover its winding cobble stone streets. The area also hosts many of Budapest’s top attractions like Trinity Square, Matthias Church (Mátyás templom), Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya), and Buda Castle.

Castle Hill, Budapest
Castle Hill, Budapest
Castle Hill, Budapest

3. Buda Castle Hill Funicular

This funicular, which first opened in 1870, is the second oldest funicular of it type in the world. A system of weights and counterweights is used to help to raise the carriages up and down the hill.The funicular is the swift and rapid way to get to the top of Castle Hill, and is exceedingly popular because of its panoramic views out across the Danube.

Buda Castle Hill Funicular
Buda Castle Hill Funicular
Buda Castle Hill Funicular
Buda Castle Hill Funicular

4. Great Market Hall

This massive indoor market is a huge hub for fruits, vegetables, prepared foods, and random souvenirs. The prices are a lot higher than what you’d find over on the Buda side of the city. However, it’s a nice place to go for rush bites and to look at the architecture of the hall.

Market Hall, Outside View, Budapest
Market Hall, Outside View, Budapest
Market Hall, Interior View, Budapest
Market Hall, Interior View, Budapest

5. House of Terror

The House of Terror is a museum which reflects Budapest’s time under Nazi and communist rule — specially it focuses of the secret police of both parties. It’s housed in the secret police’s former headquarters. It’s a very interesting museum and it’s one of the cities most visited attractions. 

House of Terror Musuem, Budapest
House of Terror Musuem, Budapest
House of Terror Musuem, Budapest
House of Terror Musuem, Budapest

6. Hungarian Parliament

This iconic building is the largest building in Hungary and it’s the third largest parliament in the world. It’s a treat to admire from the outside but you can also admire the inside by taking one of the daily tours (in English) for around €12.42.

Budapest Parliament
Hungarian Parliament, Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, Budapest
Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

7. Margaret Park

A famous city Park, away from the busiest Budapest downtown, is a very peaceful green hideaway where people of Budapest go to escape the city. In this huge spread park, you’ll will find a small zoo, medieval runs, swimming pools, playgrounds, a water park, a rose garden, two musical fountains, open air theatre, cinema and some great clubs.

Margaret Park, Budapest
Margaret Park, Budapest
Rose Garden on Margaret Island
Rose Garden on Margaret Island

8. Heroes’ Square

The largest square in Hungary. It also designates the mark of the entrance of City Park so you’re sure to come across this monument.

Heroes’ Square, Budapest
Heroes’ Square, Budapest
Heroes’ Square, Budapest

9. Saint Stephen’s Basilica (St. István’s Basilica)

Saint Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and it also contains St. Stephen’s mummified right hand. The more impressive thing about this church: are the views from the top of the church as it also offers the highest 360-degree views of the city.

St Stephens Basilica in Budapest Hungary
St Stephens Basilica in Budapest Hungary
View from St Stephens Basilica, Budapest Hungary
View from St Stephens Basilica, Budapest Hungary

10. Ecseri Flea Market

This is one of the biggest flea markets in Central Europe and it sells just about everything you can imagine. It’s a best place to pick up a unique souvenir for way back home. It is about 40 minutes outside the city but it is easily accessible via public transportation.

Ecseri Flea Market, Budapest
Ecseri Flea Market, Budapest
Ecseri Flea Market, Budapest
Ecseri Flea Market, Budapest

11. Shoes On The Danube

I was touched with a very moving memorial while walking along the Danube promenade. The shoes on the Danube banks tell the war story of the many jews who, during 1944-1945, were forced to strip naked on the banks of the Danube and face the river. A firing squad then shot the prisoners in the back so that they fell into the river to be washed away.

The shoes are a tribute to all those who lost their lives, but also a sad reminder of a very dark time.

Shoes On The Danube, Budapest
Shoes On The Danube, Budapest
Shoes On The Danube, Budapest
Shoes On The Danube, Budapest

12. Thermal Baths

Budapest is known for its natural thermal pool baths — in fact, even the Romans enjoyed the city’s thermal baths. Some say the thermal springs which fill these baths have healing powers. They are relaxing for sure — which is why you’ll find people of all ages enjoying these warm waters.

Budapest has a handful of different thermal bathhouses — some are barebones and others are quite opulent. Most all have multiple small pools, each with different temperature water (some can be quite hot so be careful).

The two most famous thermal baths in budapest are SZÉCHENYI SPA are GELLÉRT SPA. 

Széchenyi, is probably the most popular and it’s a beautiful neo-baroque bath complex that consists of 11 medicinal pools and eight swimming pools. It’s also one of the largest spas in Europe. A ticket (including a cabin or locker) will cost around €13-€17.

Gellért is another popular option. Built in 1918, this opulent thermal bath complex features four thermal-medicinal pools, six other indoor pools, and two outdoor pools. Expect to pay around €17 for entrance and a cabin or locker rental.

Szechenyi Bath of Budapest, Hungary
Szechenyi Bath of Budapest, Hungary
Aerial view of Gellert thermal spa historical building from Gellert Hill, Budapest
Aerial view of Gellert thermal spa building from Gellert Hill, Budapest

Budapest Nightlife and Drinking

Budapest has that great combination of being a large youthful city that also has plenty of cheap alcohol-one of its famous and to be tried is Palinka and lots of large, cheap buildings — which is why this is one of the best cities to enjoy nightlife

Budapest is most famous for its Ruin Pubs. which are exactly what they sound like — pubs built in abandoned/ruined buildings. after WWII many of buildings in the neighborhood were destroyed. Years later people moved into (i.e. squatted) these buildings and turned them into secret underground pubs and bars. Many of these bars still exist and they each have their own vibe. The three main ruin pubs are Szimpla Kert, Instant and Fogas Ház

The Gozsdu Courtyard, once the core of Budapest's Jewish quarter, today is popular place with restaurants, pubs and bars.
The Gozsdu Courtyard, once the core of Budapest's Jewish quarter, today is popular place with restaurants, pubs and bars.
Bar interior in Budapest
Bar interior in Budapest

Traveling Around Budapest

Budapest has a good network of transportation via trams, buses, and subways. They’re all affordable but be sure you always validate your ticket because they do check tickets often (you don’t want to get fined —which is €27-€53).

Download the Smart City Public Transportation app for your smartphone as it gives you offline maps/routes for all the public trans in Budapest.

Single Ticket: 350 HUF (€1.15)

Book of 10 Single Tickets: 3,000 HUF (€10)

Unlimited Day Pass: 1,650 HUF (€5.45)

Train Ticket Between Airport and City: 400 HUF (€1.33)

Budapest Tram
Budapest Tram
Budapest Modern Tram
Budapest Modern Tram
Budapest Subway Platform
Budapest Subway Platform
Budapest Bus
Budapest Bus

And More ….!!! 🙂

So, would you visit Budapest? It’s cheap and hip, let’s go, let’s go!

Did we miss something? Do you have any further Questions or Do you need any help with Eastern Europe Package ? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.We have many ongoing package for same!!

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A Walk through New York Times Square!

A Walk through New York Times Square!

New York City, having a huge metropolis, with home to some of the amazing skyscrapers in the world and spanning varied collection of architectural styles in both modern as well as historic period, it is a dream of many people! And I had a chance earlier this year to finally pay the visit and experience the city all by myself!

My starting point was as usual, the famous “Times Square“, the most iconic, the most visited and one of the world amazing attractions! A major commercial intersection with convergence of several subway lines and home to theater district because of an easy approach to its never ending chunk of masses spanning all across this square.

Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA

Also referred as the ‘Crossroads of the world‘, surrounded by skyscrapers, the approach to the square is welcome by huge high-definition LED video screens displaying various types of vivid advertisements to attract people. The most catchy of these ones are the displays on 25-storey ‘One Times Square’ building which also acts as the major focal point because of its annual “ball-drop” events

Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA

At the square center you can find the great ‘Father Duffy’ statue and another interesting building just next to it is the famous ‘2 Time square’. But what lies in between the ‘Father Duffy’ statue and ‘2 Times Square’ buildings is a unique blend to this mighty dynamic cluster of vibrant architecture.

Designed by famous architects “Perkins Eastman” is the small yet unique “TKTS Booth” comprising of most complex yet sophisticated glass structure. (TKTS booth basically sells discounted tickets for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows).

The entire glass structure rises over a fiberglass shell. The illuminating TKTS signage are designed on the outer face of the components as well it is also decorated nicely on the all-side glass facades. The red glass illumination are done with the help of LED’s and a kind of Geothermal system where it consist of radiant panel to properly regulate the heating and cooling phenomenon under the steps and to aid better comfort, an additional air handler is also provided. The whole designs is thoughtfully made of prefabricated pieces which can be easily assembled on site.

Dominating the Time Square’s center with its distinctive red color and merging into the complete modernistic aura of colorful LED lightnings and advertisement was indeed a innovative experiment which have finally come into existence.

TKTS Booth
TKTS Booth, TImes Square
Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA

On the left and right side of this building right on the Broadway road and 7th Avenue, spans a large numbers of big size advertisement banners along with their LED displays showing the upcoming theaters shows. Among them is the prestigious ‘Palace theater’ which is renowned Broadway stage since year 1913. While on the bottom, you can find a lot of retail options for shopping and some of the prominent eating joints.

Broadway, Times Square
Broadway, Times Square
Broadway, Times Square
Broadway, Times Square

The best part of time square I enjoyed the most was the when you are standing right in the middle of it and watching the prodigious display of enormous skyscrapers rising in front of you from the mingling colorful fusion of illuminating lights all around and while you feel you are lost in the middle of those gigantic masses of people all around.

Times Square, New York, USA
Times Square, New York, USA

No matter how overrated it sound for some, ‘Times Square is no doubt, a unique exemplary experience of remarkable illuminating architecture which indeed a memory worth remembering in your heart and mind!

Have you been to ‘Time Square’ before? Please feel free to share any comments about any experience in particular you have in mind! 🙂

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2 days in Helsinki, Finland!!

2-days in Helsinki, Finland!!

Finland….doesn’t the name sounds exciting to hear? Thinking of it was a dreamy winterland destination cladded with neat snow forest and peaks or feeling the breath of chill air in the freezing temperature while walking on the shining streets in the dark chilly climate, well that’s a feeling I always had about Finland. But the best feeling actually comes when you finally know that you have got the chance to see the amazing country in real from your own eyes. Yes, it was happening to me and was so excited! The idea to visit Finland actually started from a fellow travel blogger “Viivi“ of whom I used to be a regular follower and use to see some amazing articles about her country Finland. So the unresistant travel lust finally pushed me forward to make a small trip to Helsinki and also got the chance to meet the fellow blogger in person as well!

On board the Finnair flight when I was about to touch down Helsinki, the weather was partly cloudy, very little sunny and the views of snow-land Finland from the top was just so mesmerizing. I could really felt the sense of excitement and happiness in my own eyes!!

View of Helsinki From Finnair
View of Helsinki From Finnair
View of Helsinki From Finnair
View of Helsinki From Finnair

Helsinki Day: 1

Finally I landed at Heslinki Vantaa Airport, after clearing through customs I went straight ahead to tourist information center to purchase 2 day regional pass which cost in total for 18 Euros. The best deal about this pass it works 48 hours from the first time of activation and it includes the airport region as well so you end up saving good money on Airport drop from your accommodation and includes almost all public transportation. Traveling in Helsinki is pretty much easy, in case you get lost, people are very much helpful to guide you to the right path. I was headed straight towards my hotel “Holiday Inn Helsinki – West Ruholahti” which was hardly 2 km from the city center.

After Checking into my hotel room, my desperation levels were just increasing every second moment to explore the Helsinki City. I was tired and exhausted, but the travel bug was still alive! So I got freshen up in few minutes and left to explore the city heading straight towards the downtown Kamppi city center. Kamppi is basically a commercial cum residential area which have been designed by various Architects throughout the time consisting of supermarkets, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, underground subway station, bus terminus and even high-class office and residential apartments.

Kamppi, Narinkka Square
Kamppi, Narinkka Square
Kamppi Chapel Or Chapel Of Silence
Kamppi Chapel Or Chapel Of Silence

Since it was around Christmas time, I was lucky to see the decorations at every second corner. Kamppi being the busiest area of Helsinki, one could easily see an active life all around. But out of this busy life, kampii has something special stored in its vicinity. Its a small Chapel, the architecture of which dominates the atmosphere but as soon as you step inside, it is a perfect place intended to calm down and just experience the utmost moment of silence. When I was sitting inside at one of the bench, I felt a moment of meditation in the air, the purity of thoughts as if you can feel connected to yourself in that moment!

After leaving chapel, I placed the city map in my pocket and went ahead to explore where the city takes me. For a moment I thought could be silly but it was the best things to do then. So I just walked along the city streets beautifully decorated with shining chandeliers, mesmerizing boulevards and parks, lively restaurants where people were just celebrating the company of their friends and mates and I was just enjoying the moment passing by every second corner.

Helsinki City During Christmas!

Helsinki During Christmas
Helsinki During Christmas
Helsinki During Christmas
Helsinki During Christmas
Helsinki During Christmas
Helsinki During Christmas

After walking for couple of kilometers randomly crossing the streets, circumfering my way through market square, I went ahead to the famous “Senate Square”. Though most of it was closed by this time, but the view even then looks so amazing!

Senate Square, Helsinki
Senate Square, Helsinki
Senate Square, Helsinki

Senate Square is also one of the major tourist spot in Helsinki and is dominated by attractions like Helsinki cathedral, Government palace, Sederholm House and university of Helsinki. Although I was tired but I decided to climb up those broad flight of steps in the main entrance in the front cathedral which were so steep it felt as I am actually climbing a cliff up top! It was windy, cold, freezing but the feeling to be there at the top in the front of that grand architectural beauty was just amazing. I sat there for couple of minutes watching the grand scenery of nightlife, isn’t it actually interesting sometimes? Just to experience the life in a city by yourself? Well it might felt lonely but I think it can be one of those best moments of your travel! 🙂 ..After Senate square it was time to head back to hotel and get some good sleep as next morning I plan to visit the famous”Suomenlinna Island”.

Helsinki Day: 2

But wait, let me rewind a bit…..the best part of this mini Island journey was the fact that I was not doing it alone! Yes, so I finally met the fellow blogger (whom I mentioned earlier) and we decided to go ahead to Island together. Well traveling solo is always fun, but to travel with someone who share the same craziness as you do is sometimes more fun that can you imagine! Suomenlinna built as a vast fortress is considered as a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO and is situated on the outskirts of Helsinki.  It is connected by short ride from Ferry which was actually included in my regional pass, but although when we went to check it was more like a free entry as they there was no one there to check! 😀

On board the ferry heading towards the Island, the super chill feel of the air was rushing through my face, immense feeling of crazy cold was tingling through my body, but I couldn’t resist any single moment to enjoy that perfect beauty of the nature all around me.

Evening view of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland
Evening view of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland
Suomenlinna fortress - part of UNESCO world heritage
Suomenlinna fortress - part of UNESCO world heritage

Once reaching the Island, the view towards the fortress was kind of astonishing! Although being December month, most of the shops and restaurants were close and the island itself seems very less inhabited with only handful of tourist. But even then walk through the island was much peaceful and felt so great!

A bridge in Suomenlinna
A bridge in Suomenlinna

Following these small bridges on the Island through our way to cobbled road we wandered around and saw some old little houses built in traditional style half of them seems to inhabited at that time, some old fortress building which now converted into tourist sites. There were also militarily facilities with various cannons and large gun which might be dating from different era. But the thing which I found most interesting was the landscape “Hobbit land”  (well that’s what I call them), which looks nice and appealing and really blends along with the beauty of the sea. After climbing some few up and down landscape terrains, we finally made it to the edge to see perfect picture of the sea where sun was about to set down.

Hobbit Landscape, Suomenlinna
Hobbit Landscape, Suomenlinna
Hobbit Landscape, Suomenlinna
Hobbit Landscape, Suomenlinna

We went along few different sites to catch the glimpse of the fascinating sea views before heading back to the city. Suomenlinna in all could say was one of my best experience of Helsinki so far, the peaceful island filled the immense beauty of nature consisting of historical elements and traditional houses, I think that is one all need for a perfect tourist destination!

Suomenlinna Sea View
Sunset View from Suomenlinna Island

My trip finally came to the end and I was all ready next day to take my flight to Budapest, Hungary which was my next stop! Standing at the airport before my departure gate few minutes before boarding time, holding my trolley hand bag looking outside towards the window, it was about to get snowy, looking at the spectacular view, recalling all the moments I spend in last 2 days, I wished and hope for a moment, when would I get the chance to visit this beautiful country again?!!

Vaanta view from Helsinki Airport
Vaanta view from Helsinki Airport

Have you been to Helsinki? How was your experience? Or Do you wish to visit there sometime? Feel free to leace your comments below! 🙂

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Thailand Full Moon Party!

Thailand Full Moon Party!

Parties are something everyone love to do in almost all around the world. Everyone find different ways to enjoy, sometimes cultural, rave, classical, the ideas seem endless. They spark the wave of excitement in our heart and boost us to live that moment with utmost desires of joyfulness and happiness. Full moon party is one of those parties where people travel to from all around the world with only one goal to enjoy the night in full swing along with high dance beats and luscious drinks.

Full Moon Party in Thailand

When and how did it all begin? The first full moon party took place somewhere between 1985-1988 (the exact year no one really knows) at paradise bungalows on a birthday occasion. It was celebrated with so much fun that it gained more importance eventually and now have turned up to one the famous dance cum music festival around the world.

Where does it take place?  The full moon party take places at the night before or after every full moon throughout the year and attracts almost 30,00 people every month. It usually originates at ‘Haad Rin’ at the island of ‘Koh Phangan’ which is about 3-4 hours from Surat Thani province and 30 minutes from ‘Koh Samui’ Island by boat. The event has become so prosperous that there are now even Half-moon, Full moon and Black moon parties also being celebrated.

Full moon party, Loh Phangan Map

Haad Rin is basically a peninsular beach located on the southernmost part of the Koh Phangan Island, a tourist town which has everything to offer for a tourist holiday. The ‘sunrise beach’ to the north is where the full moon party takes off. Since it can sometime become crowded during the event, most of the people take Koh Samui as their base for accommodation and take ferries to Koh Phangan. After celebrating their night, they turn back via the same ferry toward their way back to Koh Samui.

How is the event celebrated?  The full moon night-life events are usually celebrated on the beachfront spots. As the day move forward and after taking a relaxing sun bath on the beaches of Koh Samui or Koi Phangan Islands, the tourists began to get ready for the ultimate experience. The burning excitement in their heart is flaming into their eyes as they approach towards the glooming nightfall, the moon finally curves it way towards the dusk, turning itself in yellow and emerging over the white sand beach, the preparations began to start as the tables began to line up over the land, its ironical to even imagine at the very moments how the whole ambiance is going to light up into something magnificent!

Full moon party sunset view

Most of the pubs, restaurants, bars and nightclubs began their decorations in the approach of attracting as many customers they can. From temporary set stages to vast musical instruments decks, one could notice the legions of countless DJ’s landing aboard, ready to tune up the night into musical beatdown. The immeasurable genres of music including techno, trance, drum and bass, reggae to commercial dances, R&B, hip-hop or rock manifolds itself into the slightly sparkling colorful dust of air and soon the whole magic begins.

Full moon party

With the first shake of cheers, more and more drinks are poured, the buckets are pass along with different groups, the hands are up in the air and with every second multitude of high beats people tends to turn more wild and excited. As the evening progresses itself tuning up into an aggravated night full of fun and pleasure, the fireworks began to emerge taking the entertainments to its next level. Juggles and fire-eaters step forward to entertain the crowds with their spectacular and dazzling displays. Raging beam of fire streaming from their mouth, rounds and rounds of burning flames blazing into the dark, people watching and dancing across, the whole party seems to consummate entirely in-itself.

Full Moon Party

Although the party goes all night in the wait for the sunrise, people usually tends to break in between, and find some places to chill-out or grab a meal on the beachfront restaurants or they simply find a place around the sea front and just enjoy the fresh air of vast gulf of Thailand. Relax and refreshing as it may feel, the heightened excitement still streaming into their body, the sound of infinite beats per second showering into their ears, flow of crazy happiness exuberating from their laughs, the magical feelings of fun seems endless in everyone heart. There are no barriers, no limitations to the extent they can dance and enjoy and with only one attention to make the best of the night from the unlimited desires of their hearts.

Although, no matter how ravishing it may sounds, the full moon party does come with some downsides of which one really needs to beware. Following among are couple of prominent things to be taken care of before setting of the all-night party:

  1. Stay away from fire-rope: When the fireworks begin during the night and fire jugglers come across to start their activities, one of the most flagrant activity performed is the ‘fire-rope’ which is basically a skipping rope set on fire. Lot of people who are usually high on alcohol try to dodge through this activity and tends to attain fire burns on their body and in some cases, may end up in hospitals as well. This is something best fit to be enjoyed and experience from a fair distance.
Fire rope, full moon party

Drugs can land you up in Jail: Although illegal, but still drugs are common thing that can be found easily in a full moon party. Other than side effects it usually brings along, taking drugs is against the law and if caught one could easily end up in Jail. Sometimes unknowably, during dances, the buckets are usually pass along in which some people intentionally place the drugs inside the drinks just to see how will people respond to them. So, it’s important be aware while having fun during the night!

Drugs problem at Full moon party
  1. Shoes can be life saver: Yes, it can be really life saver to wear shoes rather than being barefoot, the latter may feel more tempting in white sand. The main reason behind it is basically there could be many broken glasses which can cause major bruises on your feet. So, as they say, precautions are better than cure, it’s better to be prepared with full cover feet’s and have fun freely during the party.
  1. Sea walks can be really annoying: Most of the people enjoying during the full moon party are mostly drunk or high on alcohol and for them, sea usually becomes an easy target for their toilet breaks. Therefore, it highly essential to keep in mind to stay as much away from going inside the sea and it can really become an annoying feeling in the end.
  1. Fashion clothes is definitely not good option: The full moon parties are one the colorful glooming parties around the world which means spreading colors and body paints. People usually tends to cover up themselves in colorful body pain by the end which can really ruin their expensive fashionable clothes. So, it is always best to wear as simple as you can to have worry free night full of fun and enjoyment.
  1. Staying close to beach can benefit much better: Partying all night can sometimes be really exhausting. As the morning come closer and the hangover pitch in, it’s always much more comfortable to stay in accommodation closer towards the beach. One can enjoy and have fun and at the same turn back into their hotels whenever they feel best for it. Although, the beach facing hotels could be a little extra budget on the pockets, but it’s still worth shot of having best fun out the full moon night.

Full moon party is one of the craziest party packed with loads of fun and excitement. Not only backpackers, but people from all ages and from around the world gather together to make the best of the amazing night. But still however, the majority of it is mostly influenced by group of young people. A tradition which set it foots in 1980’s is now emerging to be one the biggest events around the world. Set- up in one the small islands of Thailand, surrounding by the sea, the beauty of the night is just magical. As its emerging to be more and more famous among people, it has further opened doors towards the ideas of many other parties across the Islands.

We as human being are one of those species who always strive to make the best enjoyment of our life. The full moon party is the one colorful event worth every penny to experience at least once in lifetime!

Have you been to Full moon party? How was your experience? or Would you ever want to experience? Please feel free to share your comments! 🙂

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Travel Diary : Santorini – A beautiful Greek Journey!

Travel Diary: Santorini – A beautiful Greek Journey!

Most of us know that Greece is famous for its picturesque architecture and beautiful Islands spreading all over mostly in central and southern part of Aegean Sea. In fact some of the island are not even habitable yet. But out of those cluster of islands, towards the south east part of the mainland Greece, exist a small beautiful Island named “Santorini” which was basically formed by the remnant of volcanic eruption happened long time ago.    

Santorini Location on Map
Santorini Location on Map

From past couple of years, Santorini has become of the most popular tourist destination all over the world. Being an Architect, living in India, I was always curious about the beauty of this very cycladic architecture consisting of beautiful white colored villages outspreaded over vast high cliffs facing towards the magnificent sea and used to think how amazing would it feel to actually be there to experience such an amazing beauty with your own eyes. It was like a dream in-itself. A dream which finally became alive!

But lets start with how it actually begin. I finally planned a trip to Greece clubbing Athens and Santorini together. Although there were two ways of reaching santorini by Athens – ( flight and ferries), but I figured  traveling by flight would be the fast and cheapest way. So I gave it a shot and even thought it was hardly an hour flight but it was well worth the experience. From take off till landing, the vast aerial views of Cycladic Islands was just mesmerizing. My heart was full of excitement and my mind was still getting acclimatized of believing this very possibility of visiting my dream destination in real.

Santorini Aerial view
Santorini Aerial view
Aerial View of Santorini, Greece
Aerial View of Santorini, Greece

After final touching down, I checked out from the  small airport where my hotel drop was already waiting. There are plenty of hotels and accommodations one can easily find in Santorini ranging from expensive to cheaper ones. The one near to “Oia” being most expensive, and towards the central town “Fira” the prices fall to reasonable ones.  Since all the bus connectivity starts and end from Fira, I booked a hotel to its close proximity. It was a small boutique hotel called “The Dahlia & Jasmine Collection by Angel Studios run by two amazing women “Katja and Deni”. They were always welcoming and extended such great hospitality which made my stay even more memorable.

Dhalia and Jasmine Angel Studio

My trip for this beautiful Island was only planned for next 2 days, so in order to make the best use of it, I had picked up 3 main destinations : ‘Fira, Oia and Kamari’. On my first day  after having a fresh healthy breakfast at my hotel, I started my journey from main bus station of Fira, the capital town which is situated on the western side of the semi-curricular island of Santorini on caldera cliffs opposite volcano. The whole town itself radiates such lively and energetic vibes along with spectacular white blanket of cave shape apartments, hotels, infinity pools covered along the entire caldera cliffs overlooking the sea which are just breathtaking! On the inside are dense network of interconnecting narrow streets which are mostly packed with shops and authentic Greek restaurants.

Santorini Fira street
Fira, Santorini streets
Streets In Fira, Santorini
Streets In Fira, Santorini

Towards further north of Fira, it amalgamate into two additional villages. The first one is known as ‘Ferostefani’ which is like 15 minutes walk from Fira and second one is known as ‘Imerovigli’  which is another 15 minutes walk from Ferostefani and is also the highest edge of the caldera cliffs. The trail path from these actually runs through the inside of these villages which provides plenty opportunities of taking perfect photographs of lovely hotels and restaurants with typical Greek architecture.

View of Santorini near Fira
View of Santorini towards caldera cliffs)
View of Santorini near Fira
View of Santorini (towards caldera cliffs)

After crossing Imerovigli village, the trails extends further 2-3 more cliffs. At this point, most of the tourist or visitors skip this part and take a direct transport to Oia. But I was lucky to be among the few to complete the entire journey.  Wherever I climbed, wherever I stopped, I could only see the beautiful sea around ending everywhere with an amazing foggy sealine.

Santorini (overlooking sea)
Santorini (overlooking sea)
Santorini Dome Sea View
Santorini Dome Sea View

Charting through these amazing breathtaking views, I finally made it to the end of the trails which finishes at Oia, a town whose beauty is just un-matchable. There is always something to see at every corner. Sleeky twisted path tends to break at every intervals by beautiful blue dome churches and you crossed these interconnected streets with shops and restaurants always offering something which is just not resistible!

View of Oia, Santorini
View of Oia, Santorini
View of Oia Town, Santorini
View of Oia Town, Santorini

Shortly after exploring the entire Oia town, I had an amazing authentic Greek meal and waited there to see the famous sunset which Oia is famous for. People from all over the world comes to see and experience this spectacular event. And as true as it is, the grand beauty of the sunset I saw just couldn’t be expressed in words. It was a like perfect picture portrait one would actually dreams in their entire life.

Oia Sunset, Santorini
Oia Sunset, Santorini
Oia Sunset at Santorini
Oia Sunset at Santorini

Finally I took the bus from Oia station and went to back to my hotel to have a peaceful sleep dreaming all the beautiful moments I have collected in this journey so far. From next morning,  I was ready to leave for my next trip to Kamari which is kind of coastal village towards the north-eastern part of Santorini. I took a direct bus from Fira and reach there around late morning. The street architecture was little different from what I saw in Fira and Oia, the streets being comparatively broader spread all around by various shops and restaurants.

Kamari, Santorini
Kamari, Santorini
Kamari street, Santorini
Kamari street, Santorini

Traversing through the shops I finally stumbled onto the breathtaking Kamari beach. The view was just spectacular. The color of the water was perfect blue as if someone has actually painted the entire canvas just now. The sand was black colored and filled with small numerous amount of pebble stones. The beach encompasses all around with paved public walkway which is surrounded by chain of amazing Greek restaurants spread in a way that on one side of the promenade overlooking sea you will find open chair sitting where you can relax and enjoy the grand beauty of nature. After spending most of the day exploring the town, I finally sat down at the beach to relax in the lap of mother nature.

Kamari Beach in Santorini
Kamari Beach in Santorini
Sea View from Kamari Beach
Sea View from Kamari Beach

Later when the sun had settled down, I went around to explore the colorful street architecture lighten up all over the periphery of amazing beach. The air was cool and the ambience was just amazing. After stumbling through few options, I finally picked up a restaurant to have nice dinner meal. Sitting in a Greek restaurant at night while having a tasty Greek food looking on one side at a street lightened and sparkling in night sky with people strolling around and on the other side enjoying the fresh breeze of sea while having my perfect dinner, I was just loving it!

Soon the time eventually arrived when my trip was coming to an end where I have to head back to hotel and catch an early morning flight back to Athens.

Kamari Sea view
Airplane Flying along the Kamari Sea

Somewhere inside my heart was so attached to the beauty and peace of this amazing Island that I was not able to let go the idea of leaving it now. But I guess that’s what traveling is all about, you travel, you collect those very moments which makes up to living your life and move ahead further in search for another place or venture for new destinations. But I guess, from all the adventures I accomplished in this little journey, I can easily say that ‘Santorini’ is no doubt that one destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime!! In the end, I would like to leave you behind with a nice quote by famous historian:

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living”

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“COLMAR”: France’s Fairyland

“COLMAR”: France’s Fairyland

Everyone just curious about travelling to Paris & London, yet there are many small villages in France & Europe offers a unique & unspoilt glimpse of ancient Europe, untouched by modern development tracing back to Medieval Period. For me as an avid traveler between Germany, France and Italy it was a first time visit to Colmar . I have a weakness for canal side cities – Annecy, Bruges, Amsterdam, and Venice. Nevertheless, one of my all-time favorites is in France’s Alsace region, a city overflowing with half-timbered medieval buildings and flower-lined canals. So when I got my all ears that Colmar is even more colorful, had even prettier buildings, more flowers and more scenic canals, how could I forgo a visit?

“COLMAR” - Location

Colmar is just situated on the border of France and Germany and near Switzerland, Colmar is a fairytale French town that offers a mesmerizing insight into the last 1,000 years of European history.

Colmar is a real gem in the Alsace. The town has a very well perpetuate city center and a picturesque division called ‘Little Venice’, which is touristy with colorful timbered houses and little canals. I spent 4 days in Colmar so what I liked is a perfect explanation here for you to use – if you are in love with small towns and looking for peaceful holidays and decide to visit Colmar in France.

Colmar Location
Colmar Location
Railway station, Colmar, France
Railway station, Colmar, France

How to Reach Colmar?

Colmar is very near to city of Strasbourg. You can find a direct train connection to Colmar from Strasbourg, which is 35 minutes ride, make sure that you sit on the right side of the train and enjoy the highly captivating and stunning views of the Mountains amd countryside landscape. Additionally, there a numerous low-cost flights from the closest airport; the Euroairport in Basel and Zurich.

Checking In: Airbnb (Vacation Rental)

For our stay in Colmar our only interest was being centrally located so that we could make the most of our visit. After doing, a little research online I found Airbnb Apartment, which is highly rated, based on reviews, so it seemed the obvious choice given their location right by just a short few minutes’ walk to all the shops and center of town. The apartment was extremely generous in size; I would definitely recommend this to travellers on a mid-range budget in Colmar.

Airbnb Apartment in Colmar
Airbnb Apartment in Colmar
Airbnb Apartment in Colmar
Airbnb Apartment in Colmar

Things to do in Colmar, France

1. Stroll Down the old Town

Walking the streets of Colmar is like watching or living in those childhood fairy stories, which has come to life or presents a real picture of all. There is a wooden steeple just perfect for Rapunzel to let her hair down from, tiny cottages that would make the perfect home for seven dwarfs and a candy-colored bakery Hansel and Gretel. The Strasbourg and Colmar are placed in such a way that is where France meets Germany and the two cultures come together to create a unique mix – think of it as France with a twist. Just when its Bonjour and Hallo!!

Colmar old town in France
Colmar old town in France
Colmar Old Town in France
Colmar Old Town in France

Colmar doesn’t have huge list of must-see museums or attractions –But what it does have is scenic spots by the bucket-load. You might need to pack an extra memory card or two – I cannot remember the last place where I took quite so many photos. Everywhere you look there are small houses painted in pastel shades, wooden shutters, wooden windows, twisting cobbled streets and window boxes overflowing with blooms. It is the perfect place to meander around and see what is there in the box.

View on the beautiful old half-timbered houses
View on the beautiful old half-timbered houses
Historical street in Colmar city center
Historical street in Colmar city center

I was under the dilemma that locals must be really and justifiably proud of their homes, and everything is neatly painted and preserved. Some are decorated with lamps, clocks and hearts – then there are a few who’ve have taken it to the extreme by hanging bikes, chairs, Santa Claus and who knows what else out front. In Colmar, it seems your house is an piece of artwork in addition with a place to live which is worthwhile to spend rest of your life. Houses are also mixed with cute boutique shops selling local produce like chocolate and wine as well as art and antiques. Some of them have ornate and beautifully carved signs hanging over the street to show what they sell. Then there are waterside cafés and more souvenir shops to relish your cravings to preserve Colmar in your home.

Decorative front facades
Decorative front facades
Decorative front facades
Decorative front facades

2. La Petite Venise

It is just a look around and you will find picturesque building in the center of Colmar, but things reach peak prettiness in the area nicknamed Petit Venice. Colmar’s Little Venice is where you will find that picture-perfect to get clicked row of half-timbered houses painted in shades of pink, yellow and sky blue. The houses here are homes or quarters for many tanners, butchers and fishmongers lived. The story goes that different colors were used to display the different types of businesses – so if you were a fisherman your house would be blue, or a butcher would have a red house.

View of La Petite Venise
View of La Petite Venise
View of La Petite Venise
View of La Petite Venise

For a different experience and views of Colmar, you can take a boat trip. Many visitors only spend a day in Colmar, but if you have time to spare its worth staying for at least more nights. Colmar is also a great base to explore the Alsatian wine route where some of the area’s delicious Rieslings are grown, with pretty Eguisheim 7km away by bike. When its dawn or you can also call blue hour, with soft street lighting and perfect reflections in the still waters of the canals, the fairytale is real.

Area little Venice (la Petite Venise) in Colmar, Alsace, France. Evening
Area little Venice (la Petite Venise) in Colmar, Alsace, France. Evening
Area little Venice (la Petite Venise) in Colmar, Alsace, France. Evening
Area little Venice (la Petite Venise) in Colmar, Alsace, France. Evening

It is one of those few places in the world that you can visit and ultimately feel the urge to remain there for the rest of your life. We have traveled to various parts of France and the world in general, but there is no other place in this country or anywhere else where I or any other visitor can feel like a fairy tale World

I hope that our guide has helped you to answer all your questions. In addition, if not, please feel free to pop some more in the comment section below. We will try to help in your planning. Until then, enjoy your travels!

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Northern Lights in Lofoten: See Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights in Lofoten: See Aurora Borealis

Experience the norwegian northern lights from a traveler’s experience!

Everyone has dreams of places they want to see, explore and chuck down from there bucket list in their lifetime. For many and if I am not wrong, at the top of that bucket list is the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. One of the best destinations to chase and explore northern lights is Norway and more northwards you drift to, the better the chances and luckier you get.

Aurora borealis, the Northern Lights, Lofoten Islands
Aurora borealis, the Northern Lights, Lofoten Islands

Hunting the northern lights is a sport that just every winter traveller can get behind. Watching this magnificent nature phenomenon Northern lights dancing and flickering in the sky is on the bucket lists of thousands. People travel from all over the world in the hope of getting a glimpse of the sky illuminated by spectacular displays of green, purple or pink and this was certainly on my list too, and I got my chance on a cold, clear night in Lofoten Islands.

What is Aurora Borealis?

Have you ever thought about what causes the appearance of Northern Lights and why it illuminates the sky in different colours? It occurs when electrically charged gas particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere and are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. The lights appear to be dancing across the sky and it comes in every shape and size. The most common colour seen is green but if you are lucky, you can see the sky light up like a rainbow in pink, blue, yellow and purple. The color of Northern Lights mainly depends and comes from the type of particles that collide with each other.

Aurora borealis, Northern lights
Aurora borealis, Northern lights

Where can you see Aurora Borealis?

Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Norway, Greenland and Iceland in Europe, or in the Northwest Territories of North America, Alaska and Canada. Norway is the most accessible option. If sky condition is good and clear then you can see the Northern Lights all across Nordic areas.

Seeing the Northern Lights: My Lifetime Experience

It was our 3rd and final day in Lofoten Islands and we hadn’t seen the Northern Lights. On our first two nights, the excursions in search of the green light in the sky had been cancelled due to cloud cover and heavy rains and snow. But, on our last day, we got lucky to see sunshine with the fact that we surely be seeing the Northern Lights because of clear sky.

In preparation for the evening outing, we layered about every piece of woollen clothing we had from backpack and get ready for the thrilling adventure. We joined the group with our guide at 21:00 hrs and headed for Northern Light spot. After a short ride for about 15mins our Tour Guide addressed the group “That Northern Lights have been spotted.” A ripple of excitement rushed through us. Out the window, we could see a glowing thin green light covering entire snow clad mountains.

Northern lights Svolvaer
Northern Lights, Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands

Beyond the road we arrived on, toward a mountain, we could see two distinct streams of lime green and Pink light in the sky. This was it. This is what we were waiting for. This is what we were chasing. We were seeing the Northern Lights in Norway with our very own eyes.

We scrambled to find a place to set up our cameras, as we needed complete stillness if we were to have any chance of getting a clear photo. Without a tripod, we would have to improvise. The ground was completely covered with snow and ice. But sooner we spotted a picnic table, cleared off the snow, laid our camera at angled towards the dancing Northern Lights.

Northern lights view at Lofoten, Norway
Northern lights view at Lofoten, Norway

The strip of green and pink lights expanded and brightened then dulled and brightened again. The light danced across the sky, silhouetting the mountain. It was like landing and watching into a fairy tale land. A million stars twinkled above us. Constellations were so intense that it brightened the entire sky and it was almost impossible to believe that we finally made our dream come true to chase and see northern lights in real. We watched until we were completely frozen and numb…which was about a total of 30-35minutes.

Northern Lights in Sky
Northern Lights in Sky, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Want my advice for seeing the Northern Lights in Norway/Iceland/Lapland etc.? If you haven’t practiced your photography and unprepared for frigidly cold weather, forget the camera and simply enjoy the Lights in the sky. If you want the memory in a photograph, ask your tour guide to click one for you!

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