Tag Archives: Budget travel

Day trips around Cambridge

We have been very lucky with the weather this year, less rain and more sunny spells and this only motivated me and my husband to take some day trips (in weekend only) to somewhere not too far from our home but to places which we will both enjoy.

In one of my latest posts, I spoke about the Audley End’s house. Now, I will talk about a couple more places, which are equally interesting and worth a visit, especially if you’re after some quality time with your family and do not want to fight over a table at a restaurant or wait long in queues.

Doing some research and asking friends about places they like to go, we have been given a whole list. While I do have some time for exploration and travels, Roy, is busy and available only during weekends. After some thought and discussions, we agreed to start with Huntingdon.

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One of the surprises for us was to discover that the town was chartered by King John in 1205. While a bit out of the main route, the River Great Ouse – the forth longest river in England – plaid an important role in Huntingdon’s development and success. First it grew into a market town and, in the 18th and 19th centuries was a coaching town. Huntington’s old town is relatively small and it will not be too difficult to find the river and the medieval bridge. This bridge is in good condition, is in use today and was once the main route of Ermine Street.

In 1599, Oliver Cromwell – a military and political leader, later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland – was born. Details about his life, portraits and artifacts are displayed at the Cromwell Museum. This museum is the only one dedicated to Oliver Cromwell and was opened in 1962. The building hosting this museum was once an old grammar school where Cromwell was a pupil. More information about opening times, events, tickets, etc can be found on museum’s website.

Another famous resident of Huntington was John Major who became the youngest Prime Minister of the 20th Century.

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If visiting churches are in your “To do” list, then probably you should include the All Saints church which is one of the two surviving medieval churches.

Huntingdon can be busy at times due to its proximity to Cambridge. If you are willing to travel on a double-decker bus and save money on accommodation, then probably Huntington may be an option. This town offers a choice of places to stay including The Old Bridge Hotel and The George Hotel, where each year the historic courtyard plays host to ‘Shakespearean theater’ and plays by the Bard are enacted. Hotels, BBs and Inns are ready to welcome you. I have looked on Trivago website for price comparison and the cheapest accommodation found was £47 per night for a double room!

Huntingdon is one hour – depending on the day and traffic – by bus Cambridge.

Huntingdon (14)

 

If you want to do some shopping or bargain hunt, then consider visiting on the following days: on Wednesday and Saturday traditional markets are held. You will find them in the Market Square. Popular Farmers’ Markets are held on every other Friday and on the last Saturday of a five-week month. There is also a popular Crafts & Collectibles Market every Friday in the town’s Commemoration Hall.

Besides traditional markets, Huntingdon offers visitors a choice of independent and boutique shops. Make sure to visit Huntingdon First’s website for a full list of shops, where to find them and for any special offers.

TripAdvisor recommends a list of activities in Hundingdon. Make sure you check it, before you go. 🙂

Another place which we have visited that weekend and very very close to Huntindgon is St. Ives.

Huntingdon (1)

The old part of St Ives forms a beautiful historic town on the river Great Ouse. The colorful buildings, numerous cafes and restaurants offer a wealth of choice.

On the streets connecting the main roads with the riverside you will find plenty of fine and full of character buildings. One of the main points of attraction is the 15th Century Bridge and chapel over the river. This bridge is only one of three surviving in England. Regular cultural and family friendly events including the illuminated boat parade, a stomping Jazz & Blues Festival and a unique Snowman Festival can easy entertain a family with various needs and expectations.

As in any country town, in Is. Ives, regular markets  held every Monday and Friday, large Bank Holiday markets and an award winning Farmers’ Market held on the first and third Saturday of each month. You will find lots to do.

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Around for more than a day? One possibility is to take a trip to The Old Riverport and discover the fabulous Cambridgeshire countryside.  The Ouse Washes Landscape is a short distance away. You can either hire a boat from St. Ives to explore the river network or admire the wildlife at nearby RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes and RSPB Ouse Fen.

For more information on The Old Riverport – St.Ives visit their website here.

For recommendations on what to do in St. Ives or where to eat, please click here and here.

 

We had no time for this, but surely will be back for more!

Regardless of where you go and what you do, Travel Safe and Wise!

St Ives (14)

 

4 days in Wales

Tenby, Wales
Tenby, Wales

Wales… only when I think about it makes me close my eyes and dream about a beautiful land with great people, delicious food and superb sunsets.

I wanted to visit this country for some time, but for various reasons could not find the right time to go there, so finally last August I have spent there 4 days there and it was far from being enough!

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St. Catherine’s Island with the derelict Napoleonic Fort on top

Where have I been?

I have started with Tenby, a small town with cute colourful houses facing the ocean. The streets are narrow and packed with shops and cafes of all tastes. It is a touristic attraction and it an be crowded if you go there on bank holidays or summer.

Tenby is known for its clean waters and amazing beaches. If you walk along Tenby’s South Beach toward Giltar Point, you’ll be awarded by a picture perfect view of Caldey Island.

While walking along the harbour, I have seen people feeding the Seagulls and many signs forbidding this activity.

For those who have more time or stop in Tenby, you can board one of the cruises in search of the wildlife of this South West coast of Wales.

You can find more information about upcoming events, places to stay or what to do in Tenby, here.

After Tenby my and my fiancé drove North towards St. David’s.

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Ramsey Island – one of the many caves

 

St. David’s is known as the smallest city in Britain, but doesn’t lack historic monuments and beaches with fine sands.

If you’re hungry and want to have something fast, there is a fish and chips shop (we did not really enjoy it, but maybe other customers did). Sandwiches and hamburgers are another option. If you want something healthier 🙂 then you will find several restaurants serving local foods. One of these restaurants is just at few meters distance from the Saint David’s Cathedral. However, do not expect a very wide range of restaurants or cafes. The option is ok just to make you feel comfortable to choose from.

Observing seals at Ramsey Island
Observing seals at Ramsey Island

We were surprised to see a lot of tourists here. And the questions is, what are they doing there?

Tourists, painters, photographers and curious minds are drawn here by the beautiful landscapes, beaches and by the wide range of outdoor activities provided by local companies. If you are an active person and you love the sea, then you probably will chose one of the following activities: coasteering, sea kayaking, climbing or surfing. If you prefer different types of activities, then you may want to take a boat/cruise trip and watch the wildlife. Whale and dolphin watching trips and gathering of gannets nesting site on Grassholm Island trips  are most popular in the summer. You could also take a boat trip to one of the largest islands – Ramsey Island. Here you’ll see the seals. Muffins are another attraction, and for that you must travel to St. David’s between May – July.

St. David's Cathedral
St. David’s Cathedral

Curious? Click here for more details or even book your expedition.

The rest of the time was dedicated to walking along the coastline. I have to say that it is amazing and it’s worth all the effort. We have been to Aabereiddy and Abercastle. We have seen a beautiful double rainbow and red-orange sunsets.

Next time in Wales, I want to sleep outdoors as well. Camping sites are all over the place. Make sure you book your place in advance, especially if you travel in summer or holidays.

Some of the sources of information, I have found (and rest assured there are many more) are:

We have staid at a very nice B&B. The owner was a very nice lady passionate about yoga. I have lost her contact details. I hope to find them in my collection of tickets and visit cards and post it later.

The beautiful coastline
The beautiful coastline

 

I hope that you are curious about nature, landscapes and country life 🙂

More posts will be written, more memories shared but until then

Travel safe and wise!

A day @Republic of San Marino

View from cable car
View from cable car

Back in 2008 I was living in Bologna, Italy in a 17th Century Villa – Villa Gandolfi Pallavicini. This was a very beautiful property with a large garden and forest. Early in the morning or at the sunset you could see from your windows hares and pheasants, who were coming to eat some grass or fruits. So, one day before going home for winter holidays some of my housemates wanted to go to somewhere. As we were talking about where to go, we decided to go to the station, early in the morning, and take the first departing train. At the beginning we were thinking about going to Milano, but we ended up on the train to Rimini and some hours later on the bust to San Marino 🙂

It was a day trip in a very nice company. The funniest and happiest of all was my friend from Brazil, who managed to spread her good mood to the rest of us and by the end of the day we all were going crazy 😀

The 4 of us :)
The 4 of us 🙂

What is nice in San Marino?

San Marino is a heaven country for visitors and businesses. All you buy here are TAX FREE! I was surprised of the common used Russian signs and announcements, especially in the luxurious shops and restaurants. We knew who were spending money here the most hehe

I think you understood, right? San Marino is a heaven for shopaholics! They do have sales periods and sometime you can even negotiate the price…but it depends on the situation and item you want to buy.

We started our journey walking and trying to see the most of this tiny country …but ended up doing shopping 🙂 We had a very good excuse, the weather wasn’t that good and when it was very cold or the view over the city was misty we  visited a church, museum, café or shops.

The “border” of San Marino is a kind of round gate on which will be written “ Benvenuti nell’antica terra della Liberta”  which is translated as “ Welcome to the ancient land of Liberty”.

Basilica di San Marino
Basilica di San Marino

Here are plenty of churches, museums and palazzi open for visit. I’ll mention just few of them: Castello della Guaita, Cesta Tower – the view from these 2 places is breathtaking and I only can imagine what a great experience would be to see a storm or even a rainbow from those places!,  Museo Arti Antichi, Museo delle Cere, Monte Titano, Piazza della Liberta, Palazzo Publico, State Museum of San Marino, Basilica di San Marino, Church of San Francisco and more.

How to arrive in San Marino?

By car 

You can drive to San Marino, but you should keep in mind that there are few streets/roads that will be allowed for driving. But if you still want to do it, then you’ll be happy to know that most of the parking lots are free of charge. When choosing a place to park your car, keep in mind that there is a 1.5 km cable railway connecting the city of San Marino to Borgo Maggiore.

 By bus

Bus 72 runs from Rimini to San Marino daily at regular intervals. A return ticket costs around €9. This bus can be found just outside the Rimini train station. An orientation point should serve the Burger King. We bought the tickets at the Tourist Information Centre. Because we arrived earlier than the next bus (about 30 minutes earlier) we got the best seats.

 By train

I have mentioned this in my post that me and my friends arrived to San Marino via Rimini. If you travel by train, this is you only option – to take a train to Rimini and from there a bus to San Marino.

 Important: San Marino has open borders, but foreigners staying more than 20 days in San Marino must have a permit from the government.

On the way to San Marino
On the way to San Marino

Where to stay?

Being at only 24 km from Rimini, Riccione, Milano Maritima and Cesenatico you have plenty of choices. You can opt for a hotel on the beach or closer to San Marino.

For those traveling in Campers, I have some very good news! There are at least 5 areas equipped for holidays in campers. If you consider traveling in camper and want to know about the location of these areas, check this link.

Take notes: In May will be held an important event, especially for those who love vintage cars! The Mille Miglia race – the vintage cars will be passing through the old-city centre of the Republic of San Marino during the morning of Friday 16 May.

Shops in San Marino
Shops in San Marino

More information about this country, you can find on the following pages:

One more thing about this place: check the “Pink Night” or the “La notte rosa” (info in Italian only). This is one of the MUST experienced events in Italy.It will be held on 4th of July, but if you want to be able to find a cheap accommodation, you should book your hotel/hostel/B&B/apartment/camping from now!!! Take some pink clothes with you and join the crowds.

I’ll make another post about this…I have been there, lived it and it’s one of the brightest memories from Italy 😉

I hope that now you have more reasons to visit San Marino and not only 😉

Travel safe and wise!

The old capital of Japan!

Kinkakuji (金閣寺) or the Golden Temple
Kinkakuji (金閣寺) or the Golden Temple

Sunrise and on the move again. TO KYOTO!

Shinkansen is an experience not to be missed 🙂 Few hours journey by train from Tokyo and you’re there, in Kyoto.
Kyoto Station is AMAZINGLY big! It’s Japan’s second-largest station building and is one of the country’s largest buildings, incorporating a shopping mall, hotel, movie theater, Isetan department store, and several local government facilities under one 15-story roof.

In Kyoto I stopped at K’s House and that place is still one of the best hostels I have been so far. It has a spacious bar area, at the entrance you have a locker where you leave your shoes  and take room slippers (they have two big baskets with slippers of different sizes, therefore you can choose a pair that is right for you). The staff is very welcoming and friendly and if it happens not to have a plan or you have a very limited time in Kyoto, they’ll make sure to point some of the must see and some places that will be interesting for you to experience and try.

Roof decorating elements at the Imperial Palace
Roof decorating elements at the Imperial Palace

I dropped my luggage here and went out to explore the city! At 8pm I had an appointment with a new friend I made during my trip to Kyoto. He invited me to a dinner with his friends at one of the izakaya (居酒屋 ) nearby Kyoto Tower.
Good decision to go there. I have met one of my Japanese friends and we’re talking even today!

Izakaya is a traditional Japanese restaurant, with tatami, low tables and cushions on the floor. You eat sitting on the floor….awesome experience!
Some of izakaya have a slightly higher tables and you can put your legs under the table. PLEASE DO NOT SPREAD your legs, it’s considered rude!!! For more information about dinning etiquette in Japan, please go here.

Kyoto Train Staition
Kyoto Train Staition

If you want to visit Kyoto you should AVOID national holidays and periods when high-school students are in holidays, otherwise most of the touristic attractions will be crowded with students and the long lines will “eat” your time easily.
Some of the places need booking in advance, therefore check for the availability and buy tickets online.

If you don’t want to rush and discover this city at an easy pace you’ll need to reserve about 1 week if not more only for Kyoto and its surroundings. Being the old capital of Japan and the cultural capital of Japan this city and nearby towns host so many things to see, that it’s impossible ( physically) to go to all in a shorter time. Some of the important places to be seen are far one from another and this requires extra time to reach. Renting bikes is a real deal, therefore go for it, and most of the hostels will have such a service.

Red Temple Gate - Kiyomizu Dera Temple
Red Temple Gate – Kiyomizu Dera Temple

When in Kyoto don’t forget about Geisha culture and streets! During the day is just a time spent for nothing if you decided to go for geisha hunting, because those aren’t the real ones 😀 I have went to see geisha at 2am! Yes, you read it right..at 2am! I have seen girls of a rare beauty and they don’t like to be  photographed, so you literally have to hunt them 😀 But again, don’t forget about good manners and respect their privacy and personality. One thing will be for sure, you’ll remember the Hollywoodian movie “Memoirs of Geisha” 🙂 They walk in pairs with their teacher and are disappearing in a second if they spot your camera on them!

Besides good food, geisha street, UNESCO temples, the imperial palace and the bamboo forest what can you do more?

And this more is the public bath! Keep in mind that not all the public baths are open for foreigners, and some won’t accept you if you have tattoos, especially big ones or the ones that somehow remind of the Jakuza type and style – dragons! Some public baths are common for men and women, therefore you’ll share the pool with other visitors, but if you want to have some privacy or you’re traveling with your partner or family you should look for a bath that can offer a private bath for one family only. These baths (family baths) are more expensive than the shared ones.
One general rule before going to any bath or onsen, is to take a shower and scrub your whole body, wash your hair and then move to the pool.
Is considered rude to go directly to the pool without taking shower first! For that you’ll be provided with towels and shower gel, body scrub and shampoo, therefore there’s no excuse not to do it!

High school students at Kinkakuji
High school students at Kinkakuji

If you have done it all, and still have time then just enjoy walking on the streets, along Kamo river that splits Kyoto in two or go to Kabuki! Kabuki (歌舞伎) is translated as : sing (歌),dance (舞), and skill (伎). Kabuki is therefore “the art of singing and dancing”. If this sounds interesting to you then you should check here for more information about theaters that offer such shows, schedules and ticket prices.

There are some other activities available, such as kanji writing courses, Japanese language courses, cooking classes, etc

Where to stop overnight?

Kyoto being a very touristic place has a wide range of accommodation, from 5*hotels to hostels, guesthouses and even temple stay.
For those who would love to try to stay in a temple, this is a possibility as well. There you can mediate and feel on your own skin how is to be a Buddhist monk.

Kiyomizu Dera Temple
Kiyomizu Dera Temple

I have mentioned it above that I stayed in K’s house and I loved every single moment spent there! It was one of my best experiences in a hostel, so far! I recommend it for everyone, regardless of their age or income!
I even met a friend that used to study at the same University with me and I knew most of her colleagues, but not her 😀 One of the guests that wasn’t very young came from Taiwan and remember that he was very good at playing guitar, he played and sung for us. Even some of the hostel staff joined us in the living room and we had great long nights with instant noodles and good songs 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading this short review about Kyoto! I let pictures talk 🙂

Sake ... or the raw version of it :)
Sake … or the raw version of it 🙂

For more information about events, accommodation, dining and temples and shrines, visit these pages:

In my next post about Japan I will talk about some of the places I have been around Kyoto 😉

Travel safe and wise! 

A beautiful discovery!

Stones valley
Stones valley

Living in Shanghai for 3 months was a life changing experience. I met influential and rich people, I met people that are loved by millions of people around the world and I met  people that weren’t that fortunate, people that are struggling on everyday basis to earn money for a meal. When I hear people complaining about their poor life conditions I involuntarily compare them with what I saw there (and not only).

One Friday morning I decided to go to one of the not-so-far cities from Shanghai, that seemed to be a nice place to go. Wuxi is just between Shanghai and Nanjing. I remember that at that time (in 2010), Wuxi wasn’t a popular destination among foreign tourists and because of that the communication was bit hard, even so, the locals seemed happy and welcoming to see some laowai walking around and if they knew a bit of English then most likely they will say “hi” or “hello” to you.

I stopped at Green Tree Inn Wuxi Guangrui Road. In the room rate breakfast was included and I took this chance to see how a typical Chinese breakfast looks like. I’m not a big fan of porridge and it seems that this is one of the dishes for breakfast (and when you get sick you’ll be recommended to eat some porridge as well). At the hotel I was given a map in CHINESE! And they politely advised me to take cabs to all the places I wanted to visit….well, that wasn’t exactly my plan! I wanted to walk…but to walk where?! I absolutely had no idea. I almost gave up the idea of seeing something, but I took a deep breath, took my camera and went out to discover this city.

Liyuan Garden
Liyuan Garden

On the map everything seemed so close, but in reality all the places I wanted to see were kilometers away. I had no other choice than take a cab. And my only trip with a cab turned out to be a failure…because the driver took me in the middle of nowhere! haha It’s funny now, but was a bit stressing when I was living this moment. Somehow, I managed to get the driver on the right track and go to the place I wanted to go! Lesson here: make sure the driver knows where he must drive and don’t trust he’s ” ok ok” at your first request, check one more time, before he turns on the engine 🙂
This city has many gardens and parks among which I will recommend Xinhui Park and Tai lake of a beauty that is just breathtaking, it’s pity that you can reach them only by car, cabs or with a guided tour.
The beautiful part of your trip to Wuxi is that you can buy some earrings, rings or necklaces made of cultivated natural pearls! Don’t trust any of the sellers on the streets, though…the chance for you to buy a fake is almost 100%, just trust specialized shops and read, read and read as much as you can about how to identify a real pearl from a cheap and sometimes a more sophisticated fake pearl.

Lanterns at a local restaurant
Lanterns at a local restaurant

Where to eat?

It may seem an easy question. In China the food is cheap (generally speaking), but I found it a bit difficult in Wuxi. If you’re open to any type of food then you should be ok.

Not far from my hotel was a traditional restaurant. You’ll say good news, but I’ll say that these aren’t that good! The menu was 100% in Chinese and you could choose the food based on the picture you see. When I was about 3 meters away, I saw a woman holding a huge white alive frog that she was ready to cook for some of the clients in that restaurant!!!!!  This is why a  menu in Chinese wasn’t an option for me, I wanted to avoid eating frogs or snakes or any kind of animals that I’m not used to see in the kitchen. My option was to walk to the downtown and check the restaurants there. And yes, there I could find some nice restaurants, clean and some even with menu in English.

If the streets are very alike with any other city, the downtown is very modern with tall skyscrapers and many shining malls and restaurants. I remember to have been stopped by few high school students for the (usual for laowai = foreigner) photo shooting session 🙂 They put some of the usual questions someone will ask a foreigner visiting their country: what is my name, where I come from, my age, if I have a boyfriend :D, where I have been in China and what I like the most in China, and the list can go on.

A temple in the downtown
A temple in the downtown

After dinner at a restaurant that had few English lines in their menu, I went out to kill my time…and I ended up in a mall doing shopping! So typical for women!!! hehe For me these shopping sessions were more like an observation time : what Chinese women like, what are their favorite cuts, patterns, colors or brands.

Overall impression about my weekend trip to Wuxi is that this is a very vibrant place and if you are in China for your studies, work or tourism, don’t skip this city!

What to see in Wuxi?

Wuxi is a famous cultural city with a history of over 3,000 years and this places it the top ten tourist cities in China.

Some places that are a must here are:

  • Garden of Ecstacy (Ji Chang Yuan) one of the leading gardens in SE China and Emperor Qianlong, who made seven visits, had a copy made of the garden at the Summer Palace in Beijing.
  • Grand Buddha at Lingshan – One of China’s largest Buddha statues at 88 meters tall. The whole Lingshan area is a tourist attraction, with a musical fountain which plays out the story of the birth of the Buddha, as well as the Brahma palace.
  • Taihu – A very large lake with many scenic spots, famous for its fish and freshwater pearls.
  • Dong Lin monastery, Lize Hall, by Yong Tang, Oscillation Temple, Road South Temple, Donglin Temple, remain Ming and Qing Dynasty style layout shape and history.
  • Turtle Head Isle – Turtle’s Head Scenic Area – a small hill stretching into the lake like the head of a turtle. This scenic area covers an area of 130ha.
  • Liyuan Garden – Located on the shores of Li lake the Li Garden and cover an area of 8.2 hectares and according to legend it was built for Fan Li, a prime minister of the Yue State. Is divided into three sections: Man-made hills representing mountains, a long dike and the Four Seasons Pavilions. 
Taihu lake
Taihu lake

 How and when to arrive in Wuxi?

I have no idea from other cities, but if you’re in Shanghai you can take the new G-Train to Wuxi. The journey will be about 45 minutes. G-Trains can be boarded from either Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station which is accessible with Metro line 2 to East Xujing or Shanghai Main Railway Station accessible with Metro line 1.

The perfect time to go there is spring and early autumn (September and October) and, most important, during the week. On weekends all attractions tend to be very crowded with local tourists!

Should I say that you MUST keep an eye on your belongings and avoid all friendly fluent speaking English people? 🙂 If you missed my post about scams and need some advices on how to stay away from troubles, click here.

If you like the adventure and twists and turns during your trip to one beautiful Chinese city, this is the place to go!

Travel safe and wise!

Heading somewhere south? Why not to Nice, France?

View from the hill over the Riviera and the Old Town in Nice
View from the hill over the Riviera and the Old Town in Nice

After one great travel to Sicily (Sicilia, Italia) me and my friends decided that it’s time to go again to the beach and why not to France? 🙂
The trip was organized in less than one day!!!! We went there without having an accommodation or knowing details of our trip. We had only a car and a map, that’s it! 😀
We have found our hotel just that night and the staff was very friendly and even allowed us to sleep 5 people in a room of 4, without any extra charge 🙂
The hotel (Hotel du Centre) was at a walk distance from many local fashion stores and not really far from the beach and one of the main squares (Place Massena).

Basilique Notre-Dame
Basilique Notre-Dame

From its balconies we could see the Basilique Notre Dames, Nice , which is built in the “neo-gothic” style like the Abbey-church Saint-Serge in Angers.
Nice is rich with beautiful 18th, 19th century buildings. Among all the touristic attractions and must see places, I would recommend the castle on a hill that faces the old town and the beach. To go to there, you’ll have to walk along the beach towards a hill, you cannot miss it! First, feel the breeze, while walking along the Promenade Des Anglais or Bay of Angels Boulevard.

Promenade des Anglais
Promenade des Anglais

Then, at the end of the beach and boulevard you should see a sign that says Castle. At this point you’ll have two options: to walk up to the hill or take the elevator (which is free of charge!). At the top, there is a train that takes tourists around and a nice waterfall. Don’t miss it!

The waterfall
The waterfall

Now that you’re in the old town, just wander around and see the beautiful streets, ancient churches and the great Opera House. When tired, you can have a drink at the market square Cours Saleya or at any of the cafes, restaurants or pubs that are there for you.
If you’re in Nice for more than one night, then you might want to check the streets in the Old Town, because there’s always something going on there.
For a more relaxed way to travel, just rent a bike or a car and go outside Nice, explore the coastal line, because it’s beautiful….and you’ll have a great chance to take some unique pictures from those places 😉

Warning!
Keep in mind that in Nice are people who will try to make use of your trust and take your belongings (most of the time your camera or wallet ), therefore DO keep an eye on your stuff!
For example, you want to take picture of you (sole traveler), couple picture or with the whole group, then people who seem like they have nothing to do, will offer you their help, unless they are also tourists and your camera is not very expensive, don’t trust anyone…better 2 pictures than no pictures at all!!!!

More information you can read on Ville de Nice and French Riviera Tourism

Travel safe and wise!

One of the most ROMANTIC cities and capitals of Europe!

IMG_4681Szia (see-ah) Budapest! or Hello Budapest!

I have been to Budapest before, in the winter of 2008, but at that time I didn’t had a chance to visit the city and that’s why I wanted to come back and explore it. I was very happy to be there, I had more time and I’ve got my camera ready.

Because for this trip we had reserved only 3 days, we were traveling light….with only a backpack 🙂 I have read many things on internet about Budapest, some recommendations on what to see or where to eat, but because I like to find something that was untold I decided that in the first 2 days will be dedicated to the major sights and the rest of the time will be for slow walks and just enjoy the rest of our time. We haven’t been to any of the baths, but I’ve heard that they are very good and a must try! Is on our list for the next time in Budapest 🙂

I have said in the title that Budapest is one of the most romantic cities in Europe and maybe you’ll have a doubt about this.

People are used to think consider romantic cities Paris, Venice, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Wien, Prague  but Budapest?!

Well, maybe not all of you will find it this way, but some of you will think that I’m right 🙂

Imagine for a second that you are walking towards the Buda Castle and Matthias Church (on Buda Hill), the streets are narrow and paved with stones, the houses are painted in light colors and in some balconies you can see red geraniums. Most likely, you’ll see couples everywhere walking here, taking pictures and having a great time. Bridges (the Chain Bridge, Margaret Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge or Liberty Bridge) are beautiful during the day, but are totally different to see them in the night! Danube’s bank is the perfect place for long walks. Here you can find many sculptures that visitors will try to take pictures of (try to find the Shoes on the Danube promenade, the girl with a dog or the fool).

If by the end of the day you don’t think that Budapest is romantic, then after your dinner go out again and walk to the river banks. This time you’ll face the unexpected beautiful side of this city, because once the sun is set the real mystery and the real beauty of this city seems to come to live.

If you ask me what I loved the most about this city, I’ll say simply : EVERYTHING! I explain, first of all, nothing makes a place amazing than the people who live there and then all the rest. In Budapest we met nice people that helped us with directions (even if we did not ask for help!). I have to say that this happened to me only in Japan.

The open mindedness makes you feel safe and welcomed. Most of Hungarian people (by now, I came across many of Hungarians)  won’t discriminate or prefer someone from a specific country over another, for them this thing doesn’t really matter, everyone is welcomed.

On the second place: food and sightseeing! Can you walk on your empty stomach? What about some very nice beet soup or goulash or maybe some roasted pork with pickles? Sounds yummy, right?  😀

If you’re not into expensive restaurants or brand shopping then you should explore more those little streets around the main touristic avenues and for sure you’ll find some local bistros, where the food is sold by weight, people are standing while eating their food, but this doesn’t seem to stop hungry locals or visitors to go there. These places are almost always crowded and the food is cheap and absolutely delicious!  I think that in these places one can taste the real Hungarian food 😉 The nice thing about these places is that you eat among locals, maybe change a word or two…or even better, get a tip that not so many tourists will know 😉

For those who have a day reserved for this city, the best option will be to buy a tour (hop on-hop off buses).  Also, if you decided to do so, then you should check the prices of 2 or 3 more companies because the offer and prices might differ from one another!
When we went there, they had this offer of paying for one day and the second was free. The good thing is that you can get off the bus at any stop and get on as many times as you want during that day. In all this happiness and enthusiasm, don’t forget to ask a printed schedule or at least ask when is the last bus, otherwise you risk to be left far from the city center 🙂
The boat trip was a very nice experience! The only unpleasant moment is that my pictures are a bit out of focus but at the end my experience matters the most. Other than that, a night time cruise on Danube is an experience that will make you fall in love in this city and that’s for sure!

For more information about Budapest, events, places to see and restaurants to eat you can go on the following pages:

If I have to look back then I would say that Budapest – definitely a must go. I can define it as a romantic and very welcoming city. Not many people speak English, but even so they are keen to give you a hand. Smiling faces everywhere you look!!! We went to 2 tours and 1 cruise trips, tried local foods from fine dining (at Kárpátia) to simple foods (such as Roosevelt – Roosevelt ter 7-8, Budapest). All were amazingly tasty ..aaaand sometime spicy 😀

One more curiosity about Budapest : the Funicular Railway in Budapest (was built in the 19th century) on the side of the Buda Castle Hill. It connects the Chain Bridge with the Castle Hill, right next the Royal Palace and the Hungarian (Alexander) Presidential Palace in the Buda Castle District.

You can take a ride (a short one) with this “cable car” everyday (from 7:30 – 22:00).  Please note that the cable car is closed every second Monday on uneven weeks of the year for maintenance.

If you hold a Tourist Card (Budapest Card) you won’t be able to use it, as this card is not valid for the Funicular. The price for one ride is approximately 3.5 euro pp/ return 6 euro pp (adults) and 2,5 euro respectively 5 euro (per kid, older than 3 years).

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Of course I haven’t mentioned all the things to bee seen in Budapest, because I think that it’s better for you to discover them 😉 You can see what I have visited during my stay and leave me a comment or like 😉

Travel safe and wise!