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Our guide to the Vatican – Walk yourself – Get cheap tickets

Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

Today, we toured the Vatican. On our own. We visited the Vatican Museums, the Raphael Galleries and the Sistine Chapel with Raphael’s masterpiece ceiling frescoes. Three hours passed in a breeze. Then we took a short walk to Saint Peter’s Basilica, visited the crypt, saw Michelangelo’s Pieta and even managed to sneak into a sermon at 5pm. We did not rush and had a great day. Starting our DIY tour at the Vatican Museums at noon, we finished exactly five hours later at St. Peter’s Basilica. Touring the Vatican by yourself is easy. Here is how.   How to buy cheap Vatican tickets and avoid tour agencies As I searched for tickets online, I noticed that apart from the Vatican’s official ticket website, many ticket sellers offer tours and tickets. Those middleman charge at least 30-40 Euros per person,...

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Autumn Fashion 2014

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in All posts, Beauty and Fashion | 0 comments

Just popping in with a little outfit post. Lately I was absolutely infatuated with floral patterns and British fashion. All the clothes that are a bit more weird, eccentric or punk.  Words that to me more often than not describe British fashion philosophy. Fashion lovers of romantic or bold graphic patterns are not going to miss out on this year’s floral fashion movement. Whereas summer was more about flowers that visually jump out from your outfit, autumn is about what the ultra feminine love to wear, paired with rebellious accessories. This season, I went with flowery, Twiggy-inspired simple cut dresses and 1960s eye-liner, British patterns, paired with contrasting accessories. While in Prague, I spotted a new fashion store, which just sold a line of Jean Paul Gaultier designs. The striped kimono-style wrap was a keeper. It is a bit...

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Best of Koh Samui – Where to sleep – Our hotels

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in All posts, Thailand | 0 comments

To find the best place to stay on Koh Samui, we searched all along the coast and compared various hostels, hotels and resorts. We were looking for a nice place that would shelter us for a month. Our wish was to find a hotel, located right at the beach. And the dream, a room with sea view and the beach at our doorstep. Sounds easy, right? I mean it is an island, so there will be plenty of beach bungalows. But no. Either the prices were shocking or the dwellings were off putting. The rooms aged, mouldy, damp, next to noisy generators or far away from the beach. Two days later, sun burned and a bit worn out from all the driving and inspecting, we found it. The perfect beach with a nice hotel.    Therefore, if you ask us…...

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Best of Koh Samui – Where to eat – Our favourite food places

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in All posts, Thailand | 0 comments

Koh Samui is the perfect island to take a break, relax and forget your worries. But even paradise island has its limits and with an influx of tourists, service may vary. We have tested the island for food and restaurants, and have found some real gems on Koh Samui.  Here they are.   WHERE TO EAT ON KOH SAMUI? 1. There really is just one answer to that – Mama Ninja Restaurant. Located at the touristy end of Chaweng Road. Serves authentic Thai food. Soups, curries, noodles, shakes, fruit plates, even breakfasts. With no frills. Amidst a surprisingly basic interior which is different to the typical tourist restaurants. Mama Ninja pleasantly reminds of Thais roadside cuisine.  You sit in a spacious iron hut on white plastic chairs. Dishes come on baby blue plastic plates and the food…the food is...

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Best of Koh Samui – What to do – Our 25 treasured attractions

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in All posts, Thailand | 0 comments

I am going to spell out our well kept secrets on lodging, eateries and activities on our ever favourite island. Koh Samui. We have been at least four times to the island and stayed a few months, exploring the paradise from head to toe. So here are the tips and tricks that made it a paradise for us.     25 COOL THINGS TO DO ON KOH SAMUI (in random order)   1. Rent a motorbike. If you can. Because if you are stuck at your hotel, you are missing out on all the non touristy fun the island has to offer.   There are more reasons to have your two wheeler on the island: We hate to be ripped off by taxis. There are NO metered taxis on the island despite what their signs say. Make sure you...

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Tasty Tempura at Tenya – Tokyo’s cheap restaurant chain

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Alongside sushi, tempura is Japan’s most known speciality dish. Softly battered and instantly deep fried veggies or seafood are served on rice in a rice bowl (tendon), with soba noodles, or simply as a side dish. Japan is known for keeping its food fresh despite the frying, tempura is truly Japanese when the taste of the vegetables is preserved and only lightly coated with a delicious layer of batter. Probably the best tempura deal in Tokyo can be devoured at Tempura Tendon Tenya 天丼てんや. Tenya is the Japanese specialist for tempura. A cheap restaurant chain with a very nice choice of tempura. Vegetarian friendly. And you will not spend more than 500 to 1000 yen for a good meal. We went to Tenya in Nippori. Location: 2-19-7 Nishinippori | Tochu Bldg, Arakawa, Tokyo. There is a list of all...

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The spell of Rome – trashy, tricky, tasty, tender

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

On some days, it isn’t easy to fall in love with this city. It can get loud, pushy and trashy. Occasionally, you might stumble into a tourist trap. Rome has kept its ancient ravening character. But, walking on so much history is special and imposing. It feels like navigating through a beautiful museum or romantic film setting. Today, I captured some of its spells. Exposing its tricky parts and reporting on Rome’s tender side.   Starting with THE TRAINS. Not on time and somewhat chaotic. We got this big ticket to ride two stations today. It was only 2 Euros for both of us. Using public transport in Rome is cheap. But tricky. We waited by the monitors to see at what platform the train would arrive. It was delayed and we had to check where it would arrive...

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Vatican without hassle

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

Crossing the border of one state to another can take as little as a leisurely stroll.   That is what we did today.       Entering the walled enclave that is Vatican City, standing proud right in the middle of Rome. Huge columns forming a colonnade around St Peter’s square leads all visitors towards St Peter’s Basilica.  St Peter’s Basilica. And the Egyptian obelisk that witnessed the crucifixion of Peter, a Christian martyr who died in Rome in the year 64 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero.     The Basilica was actually erected on the burial site of Saint Peter, hence the name.   Imposing arches with intricate carvings.   The Vatican walls.   The smallest country in the world but one of the wealthiest, most powerful and probably strangest. The home of important people...

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Called by the Sunday Market in Rome

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

I knew something was up when we woke to the sounds of banging metal bars at 6 am.  It was Sunday in Rome and that means Market Day. Every Sunday, it starts at around 6 am and ends at around 2 pm.   Peeking out the balcony from our flat onto the square of Largo Alesandro Toja in Trastevere, I saw market stalls popping up like mushrooms. The stands were lining adjacent streets for as far as my eyes could see.   The biggest market in Italy was rising to all its glory. I was excited and we got up way earlier than usual (which means that we managed to leave the house after noon).   We tried what has been claimed impossible – to see all of the market – and so first took a walk along Via...

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Do as the Romans do – Laser Tag

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

To make the most of our stay in lovely Rome, we like to do as the Roman’s do. We met Fabio, a real Italian and this is how we ended up at Laser Tag. Shooting each others asses. I was new to the game, but I guess one is never too old to try out weird stuff. This is how it went. Each player is dressed in a black vest with various illuminating spots at the front and back. Their brochure made it seem that the girls are to dress like this. Somehow I managed to slip through the net. The Laser Tag vests are the blackest black. Attached to the vest is the gun, bigger and badder, than I thought, even if the players are not. There is no creepy muscle-gym clientèle. People, as in the youngsters, smile...

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Love-ly Rome, Roman sights and food at Carlo Menta

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

It is true what they say. Rome has coined the word romance. Or something like it. I might have just made it up. Because right now it seems very fitting.  The warm weather and Italy’s mild climate by the end of  October, our authentic Italian flat, the ancient Roman sights and mesmerizing monuments, our delicious breakfasts in the morning and in a way, the shabbiness of the city… … the right place to fall in love. Today felt just like it. We were butterflies in the city. Our surroundings are pretty. Old and new melt together in Rome. Our neighbourhood in Trastevere.   That day, we just took tram 8 straight to Venezia Station (I am sure we chose it because the name is so romantic) and walked around. The tall trees with their flat crowns are so pretty...

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First steps in romantic Rome – ticket tricks and tourist traps

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

Today, we went for a relaxing walk, with the goal to end up at one of the recommended restaurants (authentic, not expensive). We walked, we ate and mainly, I got more of an idea what it will be like to live in Rome for a month. Our breakfasts will indisputably stay the highlight of the morning (or noon more like). On our balcony in Trastevere. We have a balcony! Rucola, olives, artichoke, avocado, corn, Italian tomatoes, sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, freshly squeezed orange juice, Italian cheese and ricotta, the other day fresh mozzarella. Bliss. I love to prepare, he loves to eat. I have mastered the concept of love goes through the stomach or whatever the phrase. We have the Italian supermarket Simply in front of our house. It surely looks simple, yet it is well stocked...

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All Saints in Poland

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in All posts, Poland | 0 comments

While in some countries people are all dressed up to celebrate Halloween, Poland is getting ready to commemorate Wszystkich Świętych (All Saints) on November the 1st. It is a huge catholic event, when masses of people flock to visit the deceased at their graves. Without costumes but carrying znicze, zapałki i zmiotki (cemetery lights, matches and brushes). The graves and tombs are carefully cleaned and decorated. In one day, Polish cemeteries turn into a magic place, adorned by countless candle lights, flowers and wreaths. When the sun sets, the effect is one of walking through a sea of flames and colours. Beautiful and eerie. Most people also take care of neglected neighbouring graves and put up a candle, so as to remember the souls of the deceased. It stems from the ancient Slavic pagan custom of Dziady (Forefathers Day),...

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Traveler’s SIM card deal in Italy

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

There seems to be little competition in the SIM card department in Italy. The usual ordeal, we were looking for a way to stay connected, this time in Rome. Our apartment comes with was advertised as ‘free Internet’ and that is a giveaway to the Internet situation in Italy. Portable WIFI eggs are something we have only enjoyed in South Korea and Japan so far. I know Vodafone is experimenting in Germany but overall Europe is not quiet there yet. Many apartments in Rome are offered in a way that makes WIFI a very special bonus feature. Anyhow, WIFI at the apartment worked fine up until we had a power shortage. Which couldn’t be solved until the owner had time to arrive and fix it. So we really needed to get a SIM card. Even without internet, we found...

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Welcome to Rome

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in All posts, Italy | 0 comments

We have arrived in the city of pizza and piazza, the place of sophisticated cultural sights and historic relevance. We dived right in, luggage in tow, leaving Fiumicino airport with a warm breeze blowing through the exit gates, only to be stopped by taxi touts, blocking our way to the ticket vending machines for the train. First lesson learned: taxi drivers act suspicious, will stay away and use public transport in Rome. Using public transport was a wise choice. .   There were various ways to obtain train tickets at Fiumicino. Facing the entrance to the train platforms were vending machines, as well as small shop stalls and one Trenitalia ticket counter. The vending machine charged 8 Euros from airport to Trastevere per person- but basically to tutte le statzione in Roma (so the ticket says), the shop stalls...

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Porto cruise and Sandeman cellars

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

There is much to see in the small but rich port wine mecca that is Porto.   A classy way to enjoy the beauty of the city is by boat.   Cruising the Douro river, you get to see all crossing bridges of Porto and to enjoy a windy yet sunny ride.   We made use of a combined ticket deal, we partly used to sightsee the day before.   The wind was especially strong when we were facing the direction of the ocean. Only competing with the sun.   Only a dam was keeping the crazy ocean waves  away.   Some creatures got through.   Other than that, the ride is rather harmonious.          Pretty Porto.             There are many wooden barcas lining the pier, which are the long old boats, once carrying barrels with...

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Japanese food models and kitchen supplies at Kappabashi

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Every district in Tokyo has its unique charm. Kappabashi is known to be the playground for chefs, restaurant owners and hobby cooks, delivering various kitchen utensils, masses of tableware and cooking apparatus one can only imagine.  Here, you can find many shops with sampuru, the Japanese term for replica display food, actually derived from the English word sample. Some shops feel like a huge supermarket full of fake food. I always thought they were made of plastic but many are actually made of wax!   So many dishes, from tiny soy sauce bowls to huge platters.  A great place for souvenirs, to have a peek at Japanese home cooking gadgets and professional restaurant equipment.   The main Kappabashi street is full of shops with crockery, pots, pans, beautiful tableware, lacquerware, bamboo cooking items, chopsticks, knifes, trays, bowls, bento box...

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Making Japanese food models in Tokyo

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Japan is known for its amazingly real looking food models. Replicas of dishes and drinks are prominently displayed at Japanese restaurant windows. The mother of food models is Tokyo’s Kappabashi district. With endless kitchen utensils, professional restaurant gadgets and beautiful tableware, it brings about more than exquisite plastic formations. For us, the greatest Kappabashi kick was to make some of those fantastic food samples ourselves. To experience some food model magic, we booked a mini-workshop at Ganso, one of the model producers in Tokyo.   Making lettuce and tempura at Ganso Ganso is the shop in Kappabashi where food models are made by specially trained artisans and: – where you can create your personal piece of fake food and, – buy a DIY fake food model set to make at home or, – where you can simply look at...

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