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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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Norte – my favourite mall in Porto

Posted by on Jul 26, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Shopping malls make for a great break inbetween sightseeing. Especially if it’s raining. Because the perfect solution to a rainy day – or any day – is a shopping mall. Preferably the biggest one with a decent food court. That lead us to Norte Shopping in Porto. Location: Rua Sara Afonso 105-117, 4460-841 Senhora da Hora, Porto.  Open from 10 a.m. to midnight. We got there using Porto’s public transport, that is, the new tram lines. You can take Line A (blue),  Line B (red), Line C (green) or Line E (purple) to Sete Bicas Station. It is still short 5 min walk from here. Norte Shopping is a fine and huge shopping mall in Porto which looks a bit out dated from the outside but is really pleasant inside. A wide variety of shops and entertainment is geared...

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Shopping in Granada and my summer fashion 2014

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in All posts, Beauty and Fashion, Spain | 0 comments

Spain is great for shopping. The country has brought about the most popular high street brand names and an unmatched retail success story of one Spanish man from Galicia, with such a low profile, not many are aware that he stands behind the globalised fashion industry wonder that is Zara. The company’s secret is not to spend much on advertising but rather on opening up at prime locations which has proved to be incredibly clever.By now, Zara is just one (major) part of Inditex, the largest clothing company in the world and mother of many fast fashion chains, namely Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterque, Stradivarius, Tempe, Massimo Dutti. I was (not really) surprised to hear that my newest find in Spain, low-cost-fashion Lefties, is also part of that same family (selling Zara’s unwanted stock for bargain prices).  Zara...

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Tokyo’s electric town Akihabara

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

After an adventurous archery session, we went to explore another world which simply means another district in Tokyo. Akihabara (秋葉原). Bright like a Christmas tree, the nerdy area showed its festive side with seasonal illuminations these days. If I had to go by the districts probable electricity bill, I would say it is always Christmas at Akihabara. Let me show you the area and some of the main electronics and anime shops, also some tips on overseas shopping. Welcome to Akihabara Station.   Akihabara is computer geek wonderland.   Akihabara is fun to walk.   Akihabara is called Akiba after a former temple. The Kanda Shrine in Akihabara, a 10 min walk from the station, is a pleasant oasis to escape the buzz.   Anime, vending machines, toy coin machines is what Akihabara provides.   Electronics stores, manga figures,...

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Shimokitazawa – hip area in Tokyo

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

The bike trip to Suginami animation museum in Tokyo did fill our eyes with wonder, but our stomachs were still empty and had been rumbling. To go for dinner, we cycled down to Shimokitazawa, a popular district for a young and alternative Japanese crowd. Shimokitazawa features a lot of second hand fashion, unique vintage stores, music shops and cafés lining small streets. A trendy and fashion conscious area, but more of a laid back place than Harajuku, located close to where we live, in Setagaya. The stores are super hip and have crazy displays. Vintage anime mini-toy-shop.   A to-die-for music store.   The hairdresser had Spiderman guarding the entrance.   And as all of Tokyo, Shimokitazawa was getting ready for Christmas these days.   Pet shops. The strangest Japanese need, to pet animals in a café like setting....

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Traditional Treats: Luang Prabang night market & Lao fashion

Posted by on Oct 10, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 2 comments

Luang Prabang is the fourth biggest city in Laos and a true gem in Asia. No high rises, no shopping malls, not even a cinema, yet a tourist paradise. Luang Prabang is drawing more and more tourists each year, yet it has managed to keep its authenticity without ever becoming tacky. And that is especially true of  unique merchandise. The Night Market of Luang Prabang is said to have the most extensive collection of handicrafts for sale in Laos. It so happened that from our hotel balcony, we could overlook the most popular and colourful shopping distraction in Luang Prabang. A whole street transforms in the city’s centre at around 5 pm, to create one long open air market, with friendly ladies selling their home made products – up until 10 pm when everyone packs up. No hassle, no...

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What foodies & shopaholics do in Seoul in the evening

Posted by on Jun 22, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

Judging by the crowds, Koreans seem to spend their evenings in eateries and shops which stay open till late at night. We have found a really good and amazingly cheap restaurant in Seoul, called Food Cafe which I will share with you. I will elaborate on the world of Seoul’s clothing industry, I found out about an interesting South-North Korean joint venture and I will expand on the fantastic fashion district Dongdaemun. We also revisited the urban transformation wonder that is Cheonggyecheon which you can watch on our short video. So. Koreans. Love to dress up, they love their gadgets and accessories. In a land of high-incomes, Seoul is a consumption heaven. The country has come to astonishing riches since the launch of full scale industrialisation in the 1960s – without natural resources, building a strong export economy. When walking...

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Jongno Tower, Bosingak Bell, Myeongdong, Mr Pizza

Posted by on Jun 15, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

9th June 2013. Continued.   After a visit to Seoul’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Changdeokgung Palace, we wandered off to get a view of Seoul from above at the Jongno Tower, to explore Seoul’s other shopping mecca in Myeongdong and to get a bite to eat at a Korean Pizza chain.   However, our first stop was going to be SPACE. (Only you know, we didn’t go to space for real.)   No, we were wandering along the streets, looking out for a Korean restaurant with an English menu and no meat. We found rickshaws first – just so you know how difficult the veggie task was.   We even found the Japanese Embassy. Surprisingly, they were not serving bentos nor miso soup in vending machines.   It was past lunch time and the weekend, too. Bummer.  ...

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Temple of Lanterns, Dongdaemun shopping, Cheonggyecheon Oasis

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

8th June 2013. Continued. After two prime examples of Korean palace architecture, we were going to take in more delightful sights.   A serene, yet most colourful temple, called Jogyesa and a whole district in Seoul dedicated to fashion.   First we had to get our energy levels back up. Passing this inter-skyscraper garden was a first step.   Very popular in Seoul are juice bars and cafés, also serving freshest juices. You pick your plastic cup of fresh fruits, they add sugar and ice, et voilà…the orange juice smoothie.   Convenience stores are a great place for drinks but I was amazed how filthy most of them look. Trash lying around (inside and outside the store), cartons, boxes with new stock blocking the way, floors chronically dirty. There is no difference between Japanese convenience stores in Seoul (such...

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Lotte Mart and Lotte Outlet at Seoul Station

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

4th June 2013. Diary format. Today was a working, washing, sweeping, shopping day. It started of with a perpetual traveler’s hygiene routine at new homes – get it comfy and clean.   To which purpose I buy rubber gloves.   These were excellent because ‘natural rubber gloves desiring a flower blooming in the kitchen’. Yes, I want!   We are also in professional cleaning gear when scrubbing, vacuuming and purifying.   To keep the fridge happy, we took a walking trip to a bigger supermarket.  Lotte Mart at Seoul’s Station makes quite a tourist attraction. Location:  426, Cheongpa-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul   Lotte Mart is enormous and guarantees great work out until you have found what you were looking for, walking through its excessive food variety. This was just one row solely dedicated to spicy chilly paste.   One row...

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Gangnam style, Coex Mall, Kimchi in Seoul’s hit district

Posted by on Jun 8, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 2 comments

3rd June 2013. Diary Format. We have a convenience store inside our tall residential monster on ground floor, which is a common sight in Seoul. Because the big supermarket is a bit far away, we often just go down to get a bite for breakfast.   Tea with lemon and brown sugar (the price of real honey and dust on the package spoke against the bee product) in many tiny cups (six!) to get the equivalent of a regular cup of tea. Cereal with milk and the best part, tofu! I was so excited to see those square packs of soft and fresh tofu on the shelves of our convenience store.   ‘Morning tofu’ is as great as Japanese tofu. Even better – it always comes with a delicious sauce and cool sounding names, like ‘black sesam & peanut’...

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Insadong shopping, Korean pancakes, Seoul’s metro and plastic surgery

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

2nd June 2013. Diary format.   We have arrived in Seoul and although it was hard to get out of bed (admittedly more so for me), we were very excited to go out and embrace a new city. Seoul, the bustling megalopolis.   Noo, I am not going anywhere! The bed is far too comfy.   I just want to look out our window front and take in the view on Seoul. Rocky mountains loom up above the city. Sadly, the sky so far has been always grey.   Okay, I am going if we don’t have to take the trash out.   Damn. Here we are at the official trash dump on B2 (two floors beneath ground floor) of our residential block. Koreans do recylce. Yellow bags for wet waste and white bags for the rest. Glass, paper...

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Final 24 hours in Tokyo: sightseeing, shopping, internet tips

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

May 31st/June 1st, 2013. Diary format. In retrospect I  can say that I am very satisfied with our three months stay in Tokyo. We have eaten deliciously, we have shopped delightfully, we have visited Kamakura and Nikko, two cities of beautiful temples close to Tokyo, we have met great people and enjoyed our everyday life in one of the most fabulous and advanced cities on Earth. Our house was probably the best (and most expensive) place we have rented during our travels so far. And I have so gotten used to the life style of Japanese upper middle class. Time to let go. This is a loooong post on a loooong last day in Tokyo, before we left for Seoul. Enjoy a beautiful Japanese temple and my last shopping recommendations. Since we never watch TV – a shame, as...

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Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ) – a Japanese Institution

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

If you are going to avoid the most overrated tourist sight leave out the emperor’s palace and take in the most authentic cultural experience in Japan: the Don Quijote (ドン・キホーテ), simply called Donki (ドンキ). The Donki is Japan’s biggest discount-convenience store which truthfully looks more like an amusement park, which will give you a ride through everything very Japanese. Add a temple or two, the view on Mt Fuji from Tokyo Skytree, enjoy a Japanese izakaya and you have got Japan in a nutshell. The first time you enter the Donki your head will spin, your eye sight will be overwhelmed with an almost surreal world of merchandise in all lights, colours, shapes and sizes. The company name is derived from the Spanish novel Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Apparently the store’s concept is...

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Jizo, Showa Kinen Park, Manpaku festival, Treasure factory, Book Off Bazaar, Kichijoji

Posted by on May 19, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

May 18th, 2013. Diary format. It is the weekend! Woot Woot! That means we are not staying at Kyodo but moving out to explore Tokyo some more. There is so much to do here and we pack in a lot of sightseeing Saturdays and Sundays. ‘Today’ will not fit into one post – the title is a give-away to all those wonderful numerous things you gonna get – I had to take some events out and will prepare bite sized posts for the leftovers. Diary format is in its test phase. Ready? Go! Let’s start tranquil. Before we headed out to the station in the morning (as in 12.00) we passed a temple close to our house.   The most popular kind of statues are Jizo stone statues, mainly found around temples. They have a gentle smiling face and...

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House sale, shopping, cooking in Tokyo

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

17th May, 2013. Diary Format. We had finished all our food supplies and it was time to head out for a typical shopping spree. Tomek has to be back at his office (aka our living room) around 5 pm when Europe is waking up for work. The weather is getting totally summery these days and it is my first day without tights. Let’s go. This is the street next to our house. Kyodo is a very quiet residential area and I love it.   First stop. The small supermarket around the corner for drinks.   Japanese customs are polite and sort of standardized all over the country. You will receive your receipt being presented with both hands – always. And the coolest thing is that you can pay with very small change (without being told off or getting irritated...

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Tokyo’s best second hand shop and city (s)hopping

Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in All posts, Beauty and Fashion, Japan | 12 comments

What a title. Deserves an explanation but you do get it all. Pictures of Tokyo which show the modern character of a capital – build out of the rumble of last centuries tragedies. Tomek and I were walking around Tokyo and I took some pictures which show the craziness and vastness of Tokyo’s modern geometric shopping streets and prevalent architecture. And you get the coolest second hand shop amongst all the shopping frenzy in Tokyo. Because here money seems to evaporate fast for all kinds of great things. I was having an eye out for neat fashion stores and on that day the nifty clothes and accessories store I came across was a second hand shop called MODE OFF. Location: 4-2-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo (open 11:00AM to 9:00PM), opposite McDonald’s, close to Ameyoko Street, they are a part of...

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Perpetual travel tips: electronic must haves

Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in All posts, Perpetual travel issues | 0 comments

When travelling around the world (see our travel map for details) we rely on solid equipment to work. I will talk about the selection of our electronic must haves in this post. We are a lightweight couple (I am not talking alcohol)  so it came naturally to us to travel light. OUR CAMERA. We love to walk around cities and do excessive sightseeing which we document with our camera (great pictures and stories I never manage to write up). Nevertheless we decided against a huge lens and photographic equipment which requires extra care and an extra bag. When we started our new way of life, we simply took the one camera we had – our digital Lumix from Panasonic. We were not really thinking about replacing it until the camera broke down in the middle of sightseeing whilst visiting...

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