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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 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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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!!

Are you going to Prague or Vienna? Don’t forget to check our website for travel Packages or we can curate them for you..!! 🙂

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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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“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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Singapore’s Breathtaking Supertree Groove (Man Made trees)

Singapore’s Breathtaking Supertree Grove (Man Made trees)

Have you ever wonder to visualize a futuristic mechanical paradise originating from the concept of sci-fi movies we have been watching all the time? Well you don’t have to imagine it anymore! Thoughtfully designed by Singapore government is the astonishing waterfront gardens known as Garden by the Bay which consist of stunning vertical supertrees  mechanically constructed in a way that the whole area radiates into green natural paradise!

Walking path to Supertrees Grove
Walking path to Supertrees Grove
Singapore Gardens by the Bay, three Supertrees and the flower dome
Singapore Gardens by the Bay, three Supertrees and the flower dome

Supertree Grove - Location

These Supertrees, also termed as, ‘Supertree Groove’ is located right inside the Gardens by the bay. These gardens are further situated in the central part of Singapore adjoining the Marina reservoir.

Supertree location
Supertree Groove location

Supertree Grove - Design

The complete central area of Gardens by the bay consists of 18 Supertrees from a height ranging from 25m(82ft) to 50m(164ft). Each tree is further divided into 3 segments:

  • The core is made of Reinforced concrete.
  • The trunk is made of steel frame which is covered with planting panels on top to act as a living skin for plants.
  • The canopy, whose branches are design in the form neuron wave network radiating outwards on the top.

More than 100 thousand plants consisting of numerous species and varieties of Orchid, ferns and climbing flowers are planted on them.

Daytime View of the Supertree Grove
Daytime View of the Supertree Grove
Evening View of the Supertree Grove
Evening View of the Supertree Grove

Supertree Grove - Interconnecting walkway

The Supertrees are also connected together with an interconnecting 128m long elevated walkway (also known as ‘OCBC Skyway’) which enables visitors to walk and explore the breathtaking views of Gardens and Marina Bay Skyline of Singapore.

Supertree groove - interconnecting walkway
Supertree groove - interconnecting walkway
Supertree groove - interconnecting walkway
Supertree groove - interconnecting walkway

Supertree Grove - Self-Sustainability

The Supertrees have self-sustainable solar energy which is generated by photo-voltaic system installed among 11 of them. This energy further aids in providing electricity which is used for illuminating the trees at night.

Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove
Lighted Supertree Grove

The large canopies that provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night. The entire design is transformed into a theme of mesmerizing vertical garden concept which is amazing to experience.

The supertree Groove and the entire Gardens by the bay is one of the best illustration of exemplary architecture masterpiece design ever being constructed and came to existence. No matter how many times I have come back to visit these gardens in Singapore, I had always got lost in the spectacular beauty of their stunning designs. And thus, I definitely recommend for every traveler or person to visit and experience this paradise at least once in their lifetime!

Supertree Grove Entrance
Supertree Grove Entrance

Have you been to Singapore? What was your experience? or do you wish to visit Singapore to see this design yourself? Feel free to share your comments!

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Traveling the world with weak Indian Passport!

Traveling the world with weak Indian Passport!

International travel is such a fun loving lively dream that everyone who loves traveling wanted to do more and more of it, but is it as easy as it sounds for everyone around the world?

International Travel
International Travel
Travel the World
Travel the World Concept

I got my first opportunity to do a business trip to Europe in 2013. At that time I have no understanding or know-how to travel abroad, but with my curiosity I wanted to learn more and more about it. So like every other person, I started searching – watching you tube videos, blogs, articles but most of the success stories I read about were mostly from the people with a strong passport which I believe by default were already given the perks of International traveling. It was as if, they don’t have to worry about that first very foundation of it.

Today in my Indian passport, I have a valid tourist visas of US (10 years), Canada (5 years) & schengen (4 years) along with travel history of all strong visa checking countries like Japan, UK etc. Sounds like an easy-peasy? Well for some people this could be far fetched dream and for some people might not even know the essence of it (because all they need is to pick up the backpack and just hit these destinations anytime).

Indian passport at present is one of the weakest passports in the world, with bunch of only few Visa-free OR visa-on-arrival countries options, its even far more difficult to get a visa especially when you are applying in the developed countries. On top of it, every-time you apply for a visa the cost may vary anywhere from 90$-160$ which is also non-refundable if you get a refusal. (and yes there are so many people here who get refusals everyday).

Indian Passport concept
Indian Passport concept
Indian Passport concept
Indian Passport concept

And if you get a refusal on your passport, the credibility of your passport goes to rock bottom when you apply elsewhere next-time.

Besides, the amount of documentation that had to be arrange for any single application takes a load of time and efforts itself. A general thumb rule of documentation includes at least the following:

  • Cover letter & Application form duly filed, signed with latest photos
  • Salary slips (3-6 months)
  • No Objection certificate from Employer (if you are employed)
  • Bank statements (3-6 months)
  • Income tax returns (2-3 years)
  • old & Current passports and visa copies
  • Confirmed Flight tickets (yes they have to be confirmed!)
  • confirmed Hotel/accommodation bookings.
  • Marriage certificate (if you are married)
  • Detailed Itinerary plans

It varies a bit from applying country to country. But mostly some will require more than what is mentioned on the top list. There are some countries though which allows you to enter with valid US, UK, Japan, Schengen visas like Taiwan, Turkey, Philippines etc but it really doesn’t solve much of your travel needs.

The real question however, for people with weak passports is how to get long validity visas or how to increase the credibility of their passport, something I did for myself as I mentioned earlier!?

Honestly, as simple as it means, you have to travel more and more to maintain the best travel history. US is the only country which allows Indians to provide 10 years multiple entry visa at a cost of 170$-175$. It sounds expensive, but with the US visa, the credibility of your passport increases a lot. Afterwards, once you started to travel and apply visas in more and more countries, eventually you build a trust factor with your passport and so the journey becomes a bit easier later on.

But really you have to be a travel freak to get to that status. After getting about different 10-15 Schengen Visas stamps in the past 4-5 years (along with actual travel which were even more times) I was able to grab a 4 years long term tourist one but most of the people told me I was simply lucky.

For someone who loves traveling, they always found a way to work things out. I always try to see things from the positives side sometimes. Having a weak passport push me out of my comfort zone to find ways and learn new things everyday. It broadens the vision to see both the hard and easy sides of the travel and simply to appreciate what we get in life is best for us! 🙂

Do you have a strong or weak passport? Does visa applications play important role in your travel? Do take a moment to share you comments!

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Gothenburg’s Southern Archipelago Islands In Sweden

Gothenburg’s Southern Archipelago Islands In Sweden

The Archipelago Islands are spread along the coast of Gothenburg, Sweden and easily accessible by Ferry. I was doing my small Scandinavian trip in March 2017 where I stayed in Gothenburg for few days and decided to visit the archipelago. Although there were many small islands within the archipelago, due to rains and little bad weather, I only had time to visit one Island, so I decided to take the ferry to the farthest once known as “Vrångö”. 

March is usually considered as winter months, it is windy and cold, so it not exactly the right season to visit these islands. But for travelers like us, when it comes to travel and exploring, seasons doesn’t matter and on the plus side since there aren’t much crowds, you get to explore the places by yourself which is more fun and peaceful!

Gothenburg Archipelago Map
Gothenburg Archipelago Map

After reaching Gothenburg, my first stop was  Archipelago only.  Gothenburg has either 1 or 3 day transportation day tickets. Ferries are included in the both tickets. So I bought a 3 day ticket and took a tram 11 from center towards “Goteborg Saltholmens Brygga” ferry terminal. All the ferries for Archipelago Islands starts from here. They have small information/ticket kiosk where you can also get free maps and guidance on the ferry times and they also explains you the preferred number of islands you can cover in the remaining time of the day. I waited for my ferry for almost half an hour to 45mins and finally boarded to head towards the last Island “Vrångö”. The time from the main terminal to the farthest island takes about an hour approx and you get to see the view of the other islands on the way.

View Of Archipelago, Gothenburg
View Of Archipelago, Gothenburg

Have you even been in a ferry marching towards the sea when its actually cloudy? and the more closer you go into the sea, the more you feel excited and scary at the same time. On my way to Vrango, every time I look outside, in the those moments of nature, I was filled with the feeling of excitement and adventure at the same time. As I sat closer to the window and saw the ferry gushing through the water, tiny small chunks of land untouched in the lap of nature in the middle of the sea, far somewhere few pitched houses resting on ground, and on the other side, the never ending extent of the ocean, as I moved forward , my eyes captured all these beautiful moments I haven’t seen before in my life.

My ferry finally reached the Vrango terminal. It was raining and there were only few people along with me to step on the Island. I quickly saw a coffee shop next to it, so I directly went there as I was really craving for hot cup of coffee! I ordered a coffee with a small piece of cake, sat down close to window, outside it was still raining and inside the coffee shop, there were only 2 people who might have to come to visit but seems to be afraid to go out because of the rain.

While looking at the window and having the hot sip of the my coffee, watching the rain getting strong every second, there was bit of silence in that moment and I thought am I really scared? I don’t have an umbrella, just a jacket with a hood, my passport in the pocket (unwrapped) and vulnerable to rains, I dont know the way inside and there is not a single person present on this small island I can see, maybe I will get lost, maybe by the time I come back I wont be able to catch ferry, maybe….!? But then I thought, all my life I have been always scared to take chances and the only time I have felt happy when I actually took them. So, I finished my coffee, wore my jacket, put on the hood and went into the island to find the last spot where it ends!

But wait……Lets take a look what I saw on the way 🙂

Cottage houses built on the Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago

I walked by some beautiful houses on the way, it was as if walking into a canvas drawn in front of me and only me as there was not a single person I could find, It was still raining, the intensity was increasing every second I went further, but my heart was pumping with loads of excitement  and all it desired to see more and more of what was coming!

After exploring, getting lost and coming back and forth, I finally managed to find a spot on the farthest point which was built on top of rocks. Although because of rains it was all wet, still I carefully find a way to climb the rocks (even slip for few times :D) but eventually after a bit of struggle I managed to climb on the other side and what I saw then was just magical! At that very moment, I forgot the rains, opened my arms wide spread and just enjoyed the view! I was just connected in that beautiful moment of nature and nothing else mattered to me at that time!

View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
Ocean View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
Ocean View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
Ocean View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
Ocean View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago
Ocean View from Vrångö Island in Gothenburg Archipelago

It is breathtaking isn’t it? well after spending a good time in the rains, I was already sneezing by then. As I turned around I had literally no idea how to reach back again on the other side. At least 4 times I climbed and came back to same spot and by then I was slightly getting worried a bit. But the good part was, I was still enjoying the views!.. I  found a small route between rocks but further again lost my way couple of times and somehow made it back to Vrango ferry terminal.

I again went into the same coffee shop, there was no one there by then. I ask the swedish lady if I can dry my clothes somewhere there and she was nice to help me out. Well there was no one else to help out otherwise. I asked her out of curiosity if anyone lives here now in this season and she told me she still lives on the same Island and I was happy to finally find a local person to ask questions! 😀

I sat down again on the same window side with a hot cup of coffee, trying to relieve my new cold I have recently catch upon, looking at window, watching rains, feeling proud to live the moment which I will always remember in my lifetime! 🙂

Have you been to Gothenberg archipelago before? or what was your last daring cum magical experience? Feel free to share in the comments below as I would love to read them! 🙂

“Live for the magical unforgettable experiences, they are the only ones which will be there with you in your last moments of life”

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