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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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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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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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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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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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More Port(o)!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Porto did not only give its name to Portugal but to its famous wine – the port. Port is not everyone’s cup of wine. Some call it sickly sweet or an old ladies drink. Turns out I am a fan of sickly sweet and pushing ahead to be a proud old lady, which is probably why I really really liked port.  It is not as bitter as wine and there is a lot more appreciation for the sweet flavour of the grape. It is stronger than wine, yet I find port a lot tastier. Port is often served for desert and that just speaks for itself. The place to taste the best Port wine in Porto is beautiful Gaia, the part of Porto housing some world renowned wineries with a long history. Today we were introduced to Port –...

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Some magnificence of Porto

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

The riches Portugal acquired during the age of discoveries is beyond decency. Noble, majestic and imposing. This would about summarise the sights we have seen in Porto this day. Impressions are similar to the magnificence Lisbon has offered. Splendid architecture and regal treasures. In today’s less flashy times Portugal lives off the past. Together with a stagnating economy,  many of the past riches could do with a financial boost. European Union aided projects are a blessing and the restoration of Porto’s stock exchange palace is one of those. Palacio da Bolsa The Portuguese stock exchange is a 19th century beauty. One room has huge oil paintings of the royal family. A testament to Portugal’s prosperous reign which came to an end when all royal descendants fled Portugal during the 1910 October revolution. The last king died in exile in...

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Fairy tale Palace of Pena

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Just as you probably thought we were palaced out by Portugal’s fancy pancy palácios, we took on another round. On day two of our weekend tour, we drove down from Lisbon to the wonders of Sintra Hills, to see Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. PENA PALACE A sight nothing short of a Disney castle and a rival to the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, it is  sitting more hidden than prominent, on top of Sintra mountain. The Park and Palace of Pena are fine examples of 19th century Portuguese romanticism, constituting the most prominent part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra’s World Heritage Status. You can easily see how. From mum’s perspective. Like her picture better. Pena Palace is a crowd pleaser. And a little princess’s dream. And her mum’s, too. If you are lucky you can spot little fairies...

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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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Quirky sights of Lisbon

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

We saw many what I would call ‘unconventional sights’ in Lisbon today. Don’t-miss-dos are riding Lisboa’s old trams, the Santa Justa elevator, as well as finding one of those Portuguese miradouros. As a must-try I would add shredded bacalhau, the mazagran and awesome pastelarias to the list. The Elevador da Glória, is actually not an elevator but a funicular (an old tiny tram going up steep slopes)  that has been taking passengers up and down the hill between Restauradores Square and Bairro Alto. Dating back to 1885 the old tram has an antique wooden interior. The ride is very, very short and you can walk up yourself along the tracks, but only Scrooge would miss out on the rattling Portuguese experience. Our tram was adorned with crappy graffiti smears but along the way you can see more elaborate street...

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Top sights of Lisbon are in Belém

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

Probably the best thing about our apartment is the proximity to all major sights in Lisbon. The magic place to go is Belém. The historic western part of Lisboa. Within walking distance to our apartment are most of Lisboa’s imposing sights. Will share them as we travel along! Top sights of Lisbon in Belém (and my ✮ rating) ★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★ °☆ Jeronimos Monastery ☆゚  the World Heritage monument treasuring Vasco da Gama’s tomb ✮✮ °☆ Berardo Collection Museum ☆゚   classy examples of modern art (entrance is free!) ✮✮ °☆ Coaches Museum ☆゚  the world’s largest exhibition of magnificent royal carriages ✮✮✮ °☆  Belém Cultural Center ☆゚  where we enjoyed a sublime baroque concert ✮✮ °☆ Tropical Garden  ☆ nice garden with rare plants from around the world ✮ °☆  Belém Palace ☆゚ the office of Portugal’s president ✮ °☆ Ajuda Palace ☆゚...

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What to do in Luang Prabang

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

I have put together a list of my personal recommendations for you. What to do and what to look out for in the most beautiful city of Laos, Luang Prabang. There are maaany things! Monks, temples, adventure activities, waterfalls, ethnic villages, cooking class, caves… are fun ways to spend your time here. If you like to get engaged with the locals and help out in the community or spend a bit of your time teaching English to the monks, I have listed the right places to see, too. Here is my list – Top sights in and around Luang Prabang Temples, temples, temples. If you are under time constraints do not miss the two most impressive: Wat Xieng Thong and the golden Stupa on Phousi Hill!   Attend the most beautiful ceremony in Luang Prabang. Alms giving to the...

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Hiking Mt. Takao for Mt. Fuji

Posted by on Dec 1, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

When our Japanese friend Misako invited us to join the Mt. Takao hiking tour with her work colleagues, and Tomek asked me if I like to ride the ropeway to see more stunning autumn leaves (koyo) but most of all mount Fuji, I knew we were going on another relaxing koyo watching trip. As I learned on the spot, we were going to hike up and around Mt. Takao for 10 km to see Mt. Fuji. The ropeway was going to be an option towards the end of the hike, for people who ‘are too tired’. This is what the yellow sticky note on our map said, handed out by our well prepared tour guide and Misako’s co-worker. Getting there. Mount Takao is in Hachioji City. It is easily reached from Takaosanguchi Station, which is around an hour from...

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Colourful koyo and black eggs – our Hakone round trip

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in All posts, Japan | 0 comments

Koyo (beautiful leaves watching) is what Japanese people cherish in autumn. As beautiful and important to Japanese people as hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in spring. There are weather forecasts  on TV and maps at the train stations that outline the change in colour and advise on the perfect location according to leaf colour status. Hakone was one recommended destination to enjoy Japanese autumn colours and get a view of Mt Fuji. Only a few hours away, we embarked on a memorable day trip! HOW TO GET THERE  – cheapest way with public transport Great value is the Hakone Freepass – a discount round trip ticket for train, bus and cruise which is 5,000 yen  for adults, 3,900 yen for children. Odakyu trains leave from Shinjuku – we paid 4,950 yen from Kyodo Station, closest to our house. The Freepass...

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Vientiane – what to do in the capital of Laos

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in All posts, Laos | 0 comments

The capital of Vientiane has little of a bustling central city. It projects village atmosphere and the amount of tourist attractions is narrow. Most hotels are located in this touristy part, which makes it easy to explore the city, even by foot. To visit Vientiane we did not need to take tuktuk rides nor rent a bike. There is not that much to do really but it is a pleasant place to visit for a day or two. Here is a list of things, if you don’t know where to start: Feel golden at the most important religious monument dating back to the 16th century, That Luang Stupa.   Patuxay – the Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, is the landmark in Vientiane and situated right in the city’s centre, in the middle of a big roundabout.   The...

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Best of Fukuoka – great sights, good eats, cheap shops

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

Fukuoka translates to fun. It is a small city – for Japanese standards – and easy to navigate. The city reminds me a bit of wonderful Budapest, as Fukuoka was also once divided into the west bank dominated by Fukuoka castle and the east part, still known as Hakata. Merged in 1889 it is now modern but has preserved its compact layout. Starting centrally from our apartment located near Tenjin Station, we pretty much walked to all major sights (scroll through post for more info and location): ❤ Fukuoka castle ruins – enjoy a fantastic city panorama ❤ Mandarake – for anime and manga fanatics on a tight budget ❤ Book Off Bazar – rewards bibliophiles and fashionistas on a tight budget ❤ Kihinkan Hall – for its early 20th century European flair ❤ Canal City – family entertainment...

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