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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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Free Krakow sights and museums II

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in All posts, Poland | 0 comments

  During our stay in Krakow we have seen most museums and sights for free! All major attractions in Krakow generously provide one day of the week without taking admission fees. With a little planning ahead, anyone can enjoy Krakow’s museums and other sights without spending money.    Here is my nifty summary timetable with free sights in Krakow.   SIGHT LOCATION VISITING HOURS MONDAY Schindler’s Enamel Factory  ul. Lipowa 4 10-11 Every 1st Monday of the month closed   Ghetto Eagle Pharmacy  pl. Bohaterów Getta 18 10-14   Old Synagogue  ul. Szeroka 24 10-14   Wawel Castle Wawel 5 9.30-13 from 1 April – 31 October SUNDAYS 10-16 from 1 November – 31 March TUESDAY Manggha Museum ul. Marii Konopnickiej 26 10-18   Underground Market Rynek Glowny 1 10-13 Every 1st Tuesday of the month closed   MOCAK...

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Free Krakow sights and museums I

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in All posts, Poland | 0 comments

Krakow is incredibly hospitable because you can visit most of its treasures and history without a dime, I mean Złoty. If you do some logistics, you can work your way around admission fees to all major attractions and save quiet a bit of money. In Krakow you can see a museum for free almost everyday.   I made this timetable with free sights in Krakow.   SIGHT LOCATION VISITING HOURS MONDAY Schindler’s Enamel Factory  ul. Lipowa 4 10-11 Every 1st Monday of the month closed   Ghetto Eagle Pharmacy  pl. Bohaterów Getta 18 10-14   Old Synagogue  ul. Szeroka 24 10-14   Wawel Castle Wawel 5 9.30-13 from 1 April – 31 October SUNDAYS 10-16 from 1 November – 31 March TUESDAY Manggha Museum ul. Marii Konopnickiej 26 10-18   Underground Market Rynek Glowny 1 10-13 Every 1st Tuesday...

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Tile mania in Portugal – Tile museum in Lisbon

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Tiles, tiles, tiles, everywhere. Portugal’s unique decorative feature is the azulejo. Shiny ceramic plates that adorn about every building in Portugal.  Azulejo is derived from the Arabic word azzelij or zuleycha, which means small polished stone and refers to a squared ceramic piece, with one side glazed. Tiles are used as decorations for everything, from the walls of halls, chambers, staircases or making up whole building façades to the lintels above doors or holy pictures at the entrance… they enter about every level of life here. Inside and outside, private and public places are adorned with traditional blue, but sometimes more colourful tiles.       You might be lucky and find a tile on the street. Or be (unlucky) hit by a falling one. Know the threats on Lisbon’s streets. Hence a visit to the National Tile Museum....

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Happy Consumption

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Happy consumption is, apart from my personal motto, the exhibition of vintage advertisements at the Centro Cultural in Portugal’s capital. The Centro Cultural is a hard contemporary contrast to Lisbon’s ornate architecture. The complex is large with conflicting dynamics, a bit too big, too ugly, too empty, just one of those examples of EU spending. Set in the medieval-historic centre of Belem, in the western part of Lisbon, it is clashing with its more attractive neighbours, the Monastery of Jeronimos, Monument of Discoveries and the fountain square, providing imposing picture backgrounds for Asian wedding tourists. Facing Lisbon’s Centro Cutural. Which in turn is facing the fountain on Praca do Imperio. And then facing love in front of the monastery, at Praca do Imperio. Dominating the graceful Praca do Imperio, the bulky cultural centre houses congress rooms, auditoriums for meetings,...

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Foible for fashion and history

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

A feast for nostalgic fashionistas are two sights in Lisbon. Especially if, like me, you love historic frock and fancy accessories of aristocracy. MUDE, the Museum for Design and Fashion in the centre of the capital and the Costume Museum, called Museu Nacional del Traje, did not disappoint. The latter is a real gem but located a bit on the outskirts, in Lumiar. If you have the time to travel around Lisbon, I highly recommend it. COSTUME MUSUEM – MUSEU NACIONAL DEL TRAJE When buying our tickets (for 4 Euros each), we were given a sweet present on top. Three postcards picturing dolls dressed in traditional folklore garb. The Costume Museum, more fittingly a fashion history museum, is set in a grand mansion of a Portuguese marquis from the 18th century. The family sold the residence rather recently to...

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Fado in Lisbon – Museum, Alfama and concert

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

To understand Lisbon’s musical vibes it is essential (for the Fado amateur) to visit the Fado Museum, conveniently located in the heart of Alfama – the district breathing Fado tradition. To feel Fado, you got to attend a live performance of black clothed Fado singers, creating an atmosphere of mystique and elegance. Here is our Fado know-how (for beginners). THE FADO MUSEUM Location: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Alfama district, Lisbon. At the Fado Museum, they have this cool wall picture of famous Fado singers. You can pick a singer, put the number into your audio guide and listen to songs by icons like Amalia Rodriguez or contemporary stars such as Mariza.  Fado roughly means destiny or fate. Fado is Lisboa’s song, melancholic and empathic. Tunes that catch and carry, creating thoughts about love affairs, the misfortunes of...

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Lisbon’s treasures of the Portuguese empire

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Today we dived into the exorbitant wealth of Lisbon’s past. When you walk the streets of the capital, the prosperous past oozes through the streets. And through holes of neglected walls. On every shabby corner of Lisbon you can see that it was a powerful empire, playing a first class role in the orders of the world. During the Age of Discovery Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal, which saw the construction of great monuments like the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery – the latter I show you in this post. Portugal derived massive earnings and gold from its spice and slave trade, starting in the 15th century. Decolonisation is a fairly new thing. Independence to Portugal’s African colonies was granted not before 1975. While on our trip to Macao, I learned that the country had...

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Tokyo’s Suginami Animation Museum

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

We are in Japan, the mother of manga and anime, consequently a visit to Suginami Animation Museum in Tokyo is a must do. And a lot of fun for adult kids like us.   Location: 3-29-5 Kamiogi Siginami-ku, Tokyo /www.sam.or.jp/ Admission: free!   A classy building. Marble and Manga.   The museum also features a theatre screening anime classics and the anime library with a large collection of visual and printed material.   Greeted by new releases in the anime world.   The Suginami souvenir stamp was our first stop. Stamps are a such a neat memento. Most major sights have a stamp station in Japan.   Right at the entrance, probably the most popular giant robot – Gundam. He is definitely the hugest action figure I have ever seen, standing tall on Tokyo’s reclaimed island and jaw dropping...

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Gems of Luang Prabang: Wat Xieng Thong and Royal Palace

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

Luang Prabang offers laid back sightseeing and it is impossible to miss the Royal Palace, as it is just in the centre of the city, but with an abundance of beautiful Wats, make sure not to skip the oldest and most magnificent temples, Wat Xieng Thong. Wat Xieng Thong means temple of the golden city and although it is not nearly as gold coloured as Vientiane’s stunning stupa, it compensates and shines in detail. It is part of a complex which includes the main temple in typical Lao architecture, surrounded by a few small shrines and a royal barge building to store ceremonial boats, built in 1580 by King Setthathirath. As we went in the evening (at around 6pm) there was no admission fee to be paid (although during the day there is) but the best happening was our chance...

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National Museum, Seoul’s Architecture, Veggie Kraze Burger

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

23rd June 2013. Labelled as the most representative museum in Korea and as one of the six major museums of the world, people who wrote this mainly refer to size. Seoul’s National Museum is a big historical museum. With vast and spacious architecture. Megalomania comes to mind when trying to describe the building structure. But it can withstand earthquakes and the displayed items stand on shock resistant platforms. The museum uses natural light and fire resistant building material. The resemblance to an overground bunker cannot be denied. Location: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Line 4, Jungjang Line Ichon Station, Exit 2 or take the underpass. Admission: Free! And you can take pictures (no flash nor tripod). When getting off at Jungjang Station, we took the museum’s nadeulgil (underpass) which featured double moving walkways to direct pedestrian traffic towards the museum....

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Itaewon Theme Streets, Murakami at Samsung Museum of Art

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

22nd June 2013. Today we explored the area of Itaewon, known for its foreign flair. This is where we also visited Leeum – the Samsung Museum of Art. Samsung is the name of the founder of Korea’s largest corporation, who was collecting precious Asian artefacts during his lifetime. On our way, I inquired about Hanbok, to find out that this outfit is 550,000 won and that my suitcase and wallet did not necessarily needed the strain. If you are interested to get a hand on and your body into those garments, then a great place in Seoul to go Hanbok shopping is here.   At Itaewon Station we found a Tourist Information with an incredibly helpful Seoulite who was not only sympathetic due to the fact that he was studying the Polish language, but also because he supplied us...

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To the best Men

Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 0 comments

Lisztomania is what you get when travelling in Hungary. Liszt was a classy Hungarian gentleman with great talent for musical compositions. In Budapest, everything is about him. I appreciate and admire lads like Liszt Ferenc. More so, I am lucky to know just as a talented guy, who can work his laptop keyboard just a Liszt did his piano keyboard. This is going to be another sickly-sweet post. Sorry.   But first, Liszt’s high-tech drawer-build-in-piano from the 19th century.   You may know that Liszt Ferenc was a piano virtuoso, composer and music teacher of the 19th century. What I know, is that two centuries later new age has brought about Tomek. A true software virtuoso, administrator and IT specialist of the 21st century. Liszt’s Budapest apartment has been reconstructed and is now the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum.  ...

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Train Fetish: Railway Stations and Museums in Budapest

Posted by on Nov 10, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 1 comment

I was just reading about the extraordinary world of train fetishism, brought to perfection in Japan (of course! I love the Shinkansen, too!) and will never again be able to enter a tunnel on a train without ‘second’ thoughts. I was wondering if the infatuation with beautiful railway stations marks the beginning of a train fetish? It could do. And I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Budapest is to blame. The railway and metro stations have a long history here and are worth a visit, no matter if you will be boarding the train or not. We didn’t use the train but marvelled at huge halls with interior design from the end of the 19th century, nothing short of aristocratic ball rooms. This is not a palace. This is Nyugati Train Station.   It is a luxury to...

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Passing time on Earth in Budapest

Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 2 comments

Budapest is a vibrant city with an unmistakable cultural life. I can’t get the city out of my head so I hope you don’t mind me dwelling on it just a bit longer. In Budapest, you can find everything to satisfy your mood, from classic to contemporary attractions. No way to get bored. Just get out and going:   On a sunny day, go to Heroes square (Hősök tere) and sit down at the stairs of the monumental Museum of Fine Arts, in between massive Corinthian columns topped by a sculpted tympanum. Feel the greatness of ancient Greek architecture and look over to the neoclassic counterpart, the Palace of Art on the opposite side of the square. If it’s rainy, proceed to the smashing interior of the museums. I recommend the Museum of Fine Arts for some unforgettable drama....

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Memento Park – Remember Communism?

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 0 comments

In the 1990s, all eyes turned to the momentous changes in Poland, as the country fought its way from Communism to Capitalism. Hungary was soon to follow, inspired by the historical events in Poland. With the introduction of a free market and personal freedom, life changed for the better (for most). My parents were able to visit family and friends in Poland again, not having to cross two borders, nor fear repressive measures for fleeing the country in 1981. It is amazing that now there isn’t a border at all and we are all part of one Europen Union. School curriculum changed for Tomek, at his gymnasium, in drastic measures, leaving Soviet drill behind. His teacher, who was enrolled to teach Russian, was now speaking English. Lessons, that taught how to put on gas-masks and shooting practice were cancelled....

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House of Terror

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 0 comments

The House of Terror is a horrifying place everybody wants to see but no one wants to see it really. The House of Terror was once the headquarters of the Arrow Cross Party in 1945, which were the Hungarian Nazis and then became the dreadful communist State Security Authority under Soviet occupation. As if nothing to fear, the house of Nazis and communist horror stands right on Andrássy Boulevard, in the middle of beautiful apartment buildings from the turn of the 19th century. Just like the Gestapo headquarters in my home-town Cologne in Germany, it is a lavish residence, standing in the centre of the city. A symbol of past terror, that saw no need to hide. Location: 60  Andrássy Ave. , www.terrorhaza.hu   Under the ideology of fascism, Marxism-Leninism and Stalinism, every idea or view that did not conform...

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Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts – Go Drama Go!

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in All posts, Hungary | 0 comments

Budapest’s Museum of Fine Arts is about art, in a fine way. With a large selection of famous artists and a small selection of ‘in-famous’ artists. What I encountered, while walking the majestic halls, is that once you enter, wonderful DRAMA awaits. And numerous depictions of AFFAIRS between men and women, showing amazing age differences.   Maybe most of all, it was here I realized, that 1. I do appreciate the sophisticated side of life as much as 2. I am into hijinks and live enjoyment AND luckily, 3. the two actually combine well at museums. My dear, sophisticated readers, I assume, you would come to the Museum of Fine Arts for the ART. To deepen your knowledge about the consecutive periods styles from trecento during the early renaissance to mannerism. You read books the size of my dusty...

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