Spending 36 hours in the Peruvian Amazon

The Amazon has always made me ponder what it would be like there. This interest must have stemmed from childhood and all the projects we did on the Amazon. Back then, it was a world away from my classroom! I think it is also the vastness, the infinite and sometimes odd animals that call it home and the mysterious natives that still reside there.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to see a cinch of the Amazon in my travels around Peru albeit only 36 hours but it was enough to leave me wondering what the depths of the Amazon hold.

The canopy above us
  • Day 1
    When picking which tour to take in Peru, I knew that I wanted one that went to the Amazon. We flew from Lima to the town of Puerto Maldonado in eastern Peru. Lima was quite cool in October, I even needed 2 jackets! Once we stepped off the plane in Puerto Maldonado though, we felt the humidity slap us in the face. We were brought by bus to the nearby office of the lodge company that we would be staying at. Here, we were each given a duffel bag to pack the belongings that we would need for the next 3 days. You may be wondering why we needed to pack our things into only a duffel bag, our trip to the lodge would be by a small boat!

    Must haves:
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Long sleeve shirt (I brought a linen shirt which worked perfectly)
  • Long pants and socks (for exploring!)
  • Binoculars (something I didn’t take)
  • Shorts and tshirts for hanging around the lodge
  • Reuseable drink bottle
  • Wet wipes
  • Camera
  • Torch and batteries
Getting into our boat

After driving for 30 mins through rural streets and through forest by bus convoy, we arrived at the river where out boat was waiting. During the boat ride we met our guides who would be with us over the next few days and got our serving of fried rice (chaufa) wrapped in banana leaf. We spotted cabybaras on the way! We arrived at our beautiful lodge 30 mins later. There was a main dining area for all our main meals (which were delicious!) and lounge area. It was an eco-lodge (woohoo!) where all the running water came from rain tanks and solar energy was being used to power the lights at the lodge. Everything has to be brought to the lodge via boat (and rubbish back to town).

Our rooms were beautiful! House in a wooden structure, our common walls didn’t touch the ceiling meaning that we could hear all our neighbours! Each room had an ensuite bathroom and our rooms had 1 side of the room that didn’t have a wall and looked into the rainforest. My room was the last one in our block so I had 2 sides of the room that looked into the rainforest. I was so ready for my immersive night experience!

After we settled in, our group gathered for an afternoon walk through the rainforest. We were given gumboots to wear for all our rainforest walking adventures. The walking path we took was around our lodge so was already cleared which left me wondering why gum boots were needed (anything they weren’t telline us about?!?). We didn’t see many animals but could hear them. Our local guide explained some of the plants along the way and their traditional medicine uses and also gave us some general information about the rainforest.

My room

The part of the rainforest that we were walking through wasn’t as dense as I would imagine other interior parts of the rainforest would be. The trees which were hundreds of years old, branched out above us and their trunk also branched out around us. As night started to fall, fireflies started lighting up around us and the sounds of the night animals and insects started. And so the night shift animals begin.

Once it was completely dark, our guide got us to play a game! We each had to stand 2km apart from one another along the path and switch off our lights. The group was dropped along the path and so started out 10 mins standing alone in the dark. I could hear branches cracking around me and obviously immediately thought it would be a jaguar. It was here, I also decided that the human eyes are rubbish at seeing in the dark. The canopy scattered the moons light around us playing tricks on my eyes when i thought i could see something. Reality was, i could not see anything.
Our group members from the front then started picking everyone else along the way back to our guide and back for dinner!

After dinner, our guide told us that we would now try and spot some tarantulas! Our group were not so calm when our guide showed us all these burrowns on either side of the path that we were on where the tarantulas might be. He managed to coax one out of its nest for us to see- my gosh, it was huge! All of a sudden, standing in the rainforest with nothing but our torches didn’t feel so safe after all. We were glad to be heading back to our lodge.

After our creepy crawly session, I wasn’t so keen on sleeping closest to the rainforest anymore! Nevertheless, I went to bed listening to the cacophony of nature around me with a smile on my face and was so thankful to be there.

Main dining area
  • Day 2
    We were up nice and early- breakfast at 5am so that we could leave our lodge at 5:30am! It was also my birthday today! We headed onto the boat for a short ride through the misty and cool morning and got off for a 30 mins walk to a catamaran. This morning, we were going prehistoric bird, macaw and giant otter spotting. Lucky for us, we were able to see all this morning! The rainforest is definitely more alive in the morning. Our guides also fished a piranha for us to see- no-one was going to be sticking any body parts into the water anytime soon. As we headed towards 10am, the sun was really turning up the heat! We were all sweating so much that butterflies started landing on some of us. We were told that alot of the birds (and butterflies) supplement their diet by eating clay for the salt so I guess we were just salty deliciousness for them.

    We went back to the lodge for lunch and then hung out until mid afternoon. During this time, I was sitting in my room when heard some commotion in the trees. With my camera ready, I was able to capture the little monkeys moving past my room in the trees!
    We headed out again for a food plant tour and tried some local beverages. Once night fell, we piled into our boats again to go caiman spotting. We did see some little ones and I was amazed at how our guides would see them from our boat in the middle of the river!

    Back at the lodge for dinner, I was surprised with a birthday crown made out of leaves and cake! Not a birthday that I will be forgetting anytime soon.

    Exhausted, we all headed to bed quite early as we were in for another early morning wake up call the next day. The weather had cooled down enough to doze off for another night to the sounds of the wild.
Mushrooms growing out of a log
  • Day 3
    Today was our last day in the Amazon. Another early morning exploration session, we set off at 5:30am after breakfast, this time to catch the morning feeding from the birds. The most magnificant coloured macaws, parrots and toucans were spotted this morning. The brighest and most beautiful colours and colour combinations flying through the sky and trees! I love the colours of nature.

    We headed back at 9:30am to get our duffel bags and loaded up our boat to head back towards Puerto Maldonado where we collected our suitcases and repacked. We said a tearful goodbye to our guides at the airport- who were such a wealth of knowledge and welcomed us to their part of the world with open arms and warmth.
    Thank you Rafa and Darwin!

    Have you been in the Amazon? Do you want to go? What did you love most about your experience?

    Peru Tour: Intrepid Travel
    Amazon experience: Baawaja Expeditions

Day trip to Valparaiso from Santiago, Chile

Streets of Concepcion Hill

When figuring out how many days I would spend in Santiago, I was advised by friends that I should also visit Valparaiso- the bohemian art town 1.5 hrs north from Santiago. So, I booked myself into a one day tour that would take me there but also stop along the way for some wine tasting and a quick stop in Vina del Mar (not long enough for a beach stop but also it was still super cold!).

Picked up at 8am in the morning in a minivan, I met my new tour group which was a mix of an array of international travellers. After driving our of the bustling city centre, we hit the dry mountains just outside of Santiago. If you had forgotten about how hilly Santiago was, this was a great reminder. The motorway takes you into tunnels that go through the mountains and on the otherside, so. much. more. greenery. The hills were now filled with vineyards. We stopped for a coffee and bathroom break (complete with llamas) before piling back into the bus bound for Vina del Mar.

When we were just outside of Vina del Mar we were able to get sweeping views at Valparaiso- houses scaling up the mountainside and not a spare patch of land to be seen. The houses in Vina del Mar were fabulous- so grand and beautifully designed. Our first stop was the flower clock- functional clock on a bed of flowers. Can’t say it was very overly exciting but pretty and colourful and the only time I have seen such a clock.

Next, we took a short drive to the local fish market and then got to see some sea lions out the back where the pier was! Gosh, they were huge and so nimble in the water. I’d never seen any before so what an experience to get so close to them!

Next, driving to Valparaiso!

Valparaiso is a hilly city and famous for its furniculars around the town which are a fabulous idea for increased mobility around town. The town is also famous for its street art and houses the Chilean legislative congress and navy. From the images I saw on Google before the trip, I couldn’t wait to be surrounded by colour and let the inner artist (or lack of) revel in the street art.

Originally a port city, Valparaiso’s coloured houses were a way for fisherman to find their own way home. At it’s roots, this town was born from hard workers

Iglesia Luterana de La Santa Cruz de Valparaiso

The area of Concepcion Hill is the main tourist attraction and seems to be more developed and happening compared to other parts of the town (and even Santiago). It would have been nice to have spent some time closer to the water where more of the Governmental buildings are. The down town area is more grungy and less polished but there appears to be some nice architectural buildings to see as well.

Back in Concepcion Hill, there were houses with their front facade completely painted, block colours and older buidlings that had some artistical charm. I liked the contrast between place to place which I think adds to the feeling of different puzzle pieces fitted together to make this Hill. There were some stores with local handicrafts and also sellers on the paths around the town. I was surprised that there weren’t more stores, cafes and restaurants. I became aware of the disparities in society in Chile on my trip but don’t know enough to write anything further. Perhaps this is related? Or maybe it’s left like this so as not to disturb the bohemian life?

In total, we spent about 2 hours walking around Concepcion Hill but I really would have liked to spend a day further wondering the streets and hanging somewhere looking out over the water.

We had a lovely lunch break overlooking the water. Obviously seafood was my choice! After lunch, we started our drive back to Santiago and stopped in Casablanca Valley for some wine tasting.

To be completly honest, I’m not a very big wine tasting fan. I’d been on local wine tasing tours but have never been wowed into buying any wines. This hard critic, is not easily pleased!

It was quite a long day so I was happy to be dropped back where I could quickly have some dinner and go to bed. It was nice to see so many different things but I think if I were to go back, I would actually skip Santiago and stay out on the coast instead!

Is there anything else you would recommened to do in Valparaiso? Let me know in the comments.

Octopus and spinach raviolo

8 things to do in Mexico City, Mexico

There is just no shortage of things to do in Mexico City. The range of different architecture in the city is impressive and exciting not knowing what kind of building you will see next. When planning my trip, I had zero knowledge of what there was and once I started researching, the list grew so long I knew I wouldn’t be seeing everything. I’ve been told that you need at least 1 week to even get through half the things there are to do and they were right! Even after 4 days, I had not even brushed the surface of this dynamic and great city. Here are just 8 things that you can do in Mexico city.

Zocalo
  1. Zocalo
    The Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City and right in the middle is a giant Mexican flag which is raised and taken down every day. When it is raised and taken down by military personnel, it is accompanied with a brass and percussion band. This square is bordered by the cathedral, presidential palace and city Government offices. Often, this square also has festivals and markets. It’s such a big square and if you can find one of the surrounding cafe/bars, you can have a whole view of the square.
Monument to the Ninos Heroes 

2. Chapultepec Park and Castle
Chapultepec Park is a short metro ride away from Mexico City. Immediately, you will notice how many families and kids are passing their time in this lovely park. There are stalls selling snacks and small good lining the paths. The site of Chapultepec Castle was a sacred space for the Aztecs and the castle built ontop has served as a gun powder store, meteorology centre and residence of previous Emperors- now it is the National Museum of History.
The park is a great place for a run, picnic or Sunday stroll and is definitely a great green space if you feel like a scenery change.

3. Museum of Anthropology
Also located in Chapultepec Park, is the Museum of Anthropology. It is the largest and most visited Museum in Mexico. Over 2 stories, the museum follows the history of Mexico and houses archeological and anthropological artefacts. This museum is HUGE! I was in there for 2.5 hours and had only seen the bottom level of the museum. I like the chronological order that the museum is presented in and it is nicely spaced. It also has a great gift shop for all the Sun Stone souvenirs you could want.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

4. Palacio de Bellas Artes
The beautiful Palacio is unlike any building I’ve seen. If you’re after a dance performance, this will be the venue where you will see it. There is free entry into the foyer if you want to have a look at the grand interiors. Personally, I think the exterior is more impressive. If you’re there during the day, why not stroll into the park alongside the Palacio. Alameda Central is bustling at any time of the day. Street performers, playground equipment and water fountains means there’s something for anyone. When I was there, there was a huge book fair which I enjoyed browsing to see if there were any spanish books for my (beginner) level of Spanish.

Palacio de Correros de Mexico

5. Free walking tour
With many starting outside the Cathedral at the Zocolo, the free walking tour was great to see the sites and walk the streets with information. We got to see where all the main sites were, which was VERY helpful as some of these museums are on smaller streets. We walked the streets of stores selling quinceanera dresses (coming of age 15 year old party) and then suits. So organised! On this tour, we were taken to the Palacio de Correros de Mexico- the most beautiful post office you will ever see. Gold plated and a mish-mash of architectural styles, it will leave you in awe.

Courtyard of Casa de los Azulejos

6. Casa de los Azulejos
If you’re walking from Zocalo to Bellas Artes, you will probably notice the House of Tiles (covered in actual tiles from Puebla). Formally a private residence, it is now a Sanborns restaurant. The interiors are just as grand as the exterior. Our group ended up eating here and I found the food and service really good.

7. Frida Kahlo Museum
One of the famous Mexican artists, Frida’s old residence is now a museum. Make sure you book tickets in advance! Tickets are timed and are in hot demand. Being her old residence, this museum is on a quiet street in the very nice suburb of Coyoacán. The area is very hip, green and young. When you arrive, you will have to line up (even with your prebooked ticket) although the staff will call out for people with certain tickets. Inside, the house is not that big when taking into account how many tourists there are and it was cramped. The museum is one way and you just had to look and move on due to the lack of space. I like the ‘feel’ that the museum gives off- authentic and some air of Frida. I didn’t find her whole life story there but enjoyed snippets of what was presented. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures as you need to pay extra for this and I was also quite sick.

8. Tacos, churros and mezcal
A trip to Mexico city is not complete without eating! Here, there are plenty of places to choose from for Tacos which are filling and delicious. The most highly rated and popular churros place is El Moro. You will need to wait if you want to dine in but luckily, you can also take away your churros and hot chocolate. I tried out a mezcal tasting session as well (mezcal’s newest fan) and tried for the first time (sadly) chapulines (grasshoppers)! Can I say, why aren’t chapulines more popular! Salty and topped with lime flavours, I quickly fell in love with the combo of mezcal and chapulines!

Gosh, still so many more things to do and see- stay tuned for my next Mexico City related post to come!

A few days in Krakow, Poland

St Mary’s Basilica and the Main Square

I feel like Krakow has something to suit everyone. In our case, it was the history. Compared to Wroclaw, Krakow was bustling and more touristy. We caught the train from Wroclaw to Krakow (1 missed train and a 3hr delay later)- we arrived in the evening and luckily we had booked a place to stay within walking distance to the train station. The hotel was outside of the walled old town but only about 10 mins walk away.

The Main Square is the biggest Medieval plaza in Europe and boy is it big. Decked out with restaurants/cafes on all sides and at the time we went, an outdoor market as well as the usual indoor market. It’s so big that the New Years Eve celebrations were done from here. You can easily spend half the day just in this Square. The St Mary’s Basilica which towers over the Main Square houses a fabulous gold covered alter. You can enter for free however you won’t get very close to the alter. Every hour, a trumpet call plays from one of the towers of the Basilica and abruptly finishes. Legends has it that this is said to be in memory of the trumpeter who use to play to warn the town of that Krakow was about to be attacked. The abrupt ending signifies the moment an arrow is said to have killed the trumpeter. If you’re spending as much time in the Square as we did, you will surely hear it.

As always, a free walking tour was the first planned activity to catch the bearings of the city. This tour took us around the Old Town and Kazimierz. We saw much street art along the way and alot more outdoor eateries and cafes/restaurants.

Right in the middle of the square, is Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) which was once upon a time a market. Today, it is still a market selling knick knacks. Above this market is a lesser known museum but filled with Polish Art. It’s a small museum but houses some of the greatest works from Polish artists.

On the far end of the Old Town is the Wawel Royal Castle overlooking the Vistula river. Here, one of the main attractions is the Wawel Cathedral which is the burial place of Polish monarchs. It’s such a lovely site to just walk around as you can see the sunset, there is the path along the river below and you are just being surrounded by such grand buildings.

Auschwitz

One of the darkest but well known site in Krakow is Auschwitz Birkenau. Again, being quite a popular site- book in advance and go early. We booked with the hotel in advance to being in Poland and got picked up from the hotel. The trip from Krakow takes about 1.5 hrs. I was surprised- this site is located in what seems the middle of suburbs whereas I thought it wouldn’t be surrounded by anything.

The first thing that I noticed upon arriving at the Birkenau site is how big it is. I had never imagined the site to be so vast. It is huge and I’m left with a horrid taste in my mouth and a feeling of disgust that such horrible crimes were even imaginable let alone be carried out to millions. With our guide, we were shown around with tales of the atrocities that have occurred here. The mood of the site was a solemn one and eerie. I did see some tourists taking selfies (why?!) which I thought was disrepectful and I know somewhat of a problem at the site. Alot of the buildings at the site are showing signs of age so many of the interiors cannot be viewed. I don’t even think this is necessary to imagine some of the things that had occurred here.

The next half of the day was at Auschwitz where there are permanent exhibitions of all the collected items from prisoners are on display. Compared to Birkenau, Auschwitz is more of a museum and memorial site. There is a lot of information inside and we were actually quite rushed being on the tour. It would’ve been nice to spend more time in the exhibit and read all the information available.
I would suggest to bring lunch and snacks for the whole day as there were not many places to get food nearby to these sites and there is alot of walking due to the size of both places.

On a seperate day, we took a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. This salt mine is no longer active in supplying salt. We had again booked with a company that our hotel and well in advance. We got hotel pick up so didn’t have to navigate our way via bus to get there. The lines at the salt mine were insane! I think the staff were so use to the increasing numbers- the mine was actually really well run and the guides fantastic. You will need to pay for a special pass if you want to take any pictures and we didn’t so sadly, there are no pictures to share of this. The chambers inside were huge!

This salt mine was first started in the 13th century I was so impressed with all the sculptures, chapels and rooms. You can even get married in there! The church is even open for mass although I’m not sure when as there seems to be a constant flow of visitors everyday. Inside, our guided group tour was wedged between other groups and I think this is what it’s like all day- just group after group.

For the art fans, Krakow is one of the 6 places in world that houses a Leonardo Da Vinci painting. The Lady with an Ermine can be found within the walls of the Old Town. The Czartoryski Museum is THE oldest museum in Poland dating back to 1801 and originated as a private collection from Princess Izabela Czartoryski. This museum is another site where you will need to book in advance as every other visitor also has this on their list.

Krakow has been one of my favourite cities that I have visited and I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface. There are many more WWII tours and places of interest that you can go to although time was not on our side. Alternatively, it is the perfect place to people watch in the Old Town or relax by the river watching the sunset.

Let me know what you like about Krakow and what other things/places that you would recommend here.

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg was the first city where I spent more than 3 hours in a museum. I didn’t even do that at the Louvre. This was at the Miniatur Wunderland where, as it’s named, there are miniature scenes in different countries or scenarios set up. I don’t think I’ve heard or know of any similar museum anywhere else in the world. It is now one of my favourites!

Miniatur Wunderland

There is just so much to look at in each one and the detail! Gosh, you would not even believe- traffic jams, breakfasts, skiing accidents. Now as a full grown adult, I very much appreciated the reflection of real life that these models had. For example, this airport traffic jam- what an exact representation of all the different drivers you get at the ticket gate!

Great for kids and adult children- make sure you are fed before visiting. As it is a huge attraction in Hamburg, arrive early or prebook your tickets online.

I’m not sure whether cities that are surrounded by water just seem to have a calmness about them or if it’s just Hamburg, but it was just so relaxing walking around the canals and near the port.

As always, I did the free walking tour in town which I think is always a great introduction to a new city and I especially love the stories and history as sometimes I don’t do my research beforehand.

Speicherstadt
Trying out the famous Hamburg pastry- Franzbrötchen

I stayed at a hotel/hostel on the main street of Reeperbahn, the red light district, as it was one of the cheaper places to stay in Hamburg. It was quite safe (but alittle noisy) but close to public transport and a short walk to the waterside.

Have you been to the Miniatur Wunderland? What did you think?

Being prepared for Machu Picchu- from Aguas Calientes, Peru

Hidden among the clouds, Machu Picchu, is on many people’s lists. Nestled in the peak of the Andes, it’s a wonder how the Incan’s managed to build such extensive structures so high up in the 15th century and the true purpose of the site still remains a mystery to this day. Machu Picchu was abandoned during the time of the Spanish conquest and laid forgotten to the outside world (apart from the locals) until 1911.

On the train between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes

The trek was never on my bucket list so I was one of the bus-ers up the mountain to this site. I was on a group tour with Intrepid travel for my time in Peru. A few days prior to coming here, I was down and out sick with a bug mixed with altitude sickness. By this time, I was eating little but managing and just really wanted to take in this special day! It would have been a shame if I was still unwell.

On this particular trip, we arrived in Ollantaytambo by bus from Cusco and then took the train to Aguas Calientes (not all in 1 go).

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes is mainly a tourist town with restaurants and hotels dotted up the mountainside. I’m sure the prices are all quite competitive as this town lives off tourism. I was still on my soup diet so had a delicious chicken soup. There is a very expansive market from the train station up the mountain into town for all those souvenirs and alpaca goods although I was saving myself as we had packed a duffel bag and left all our luggage back in Cusco. On the afternoon that we arrived in Aguas, some of us went to the hot springs at the far end of town to try them out. They don’t call this town Aguas Calientes for no reason! There are plenty of places along the main tourist hill heading up to the hot springs where you can rent a towel. Just remember to bring bags to bring your wet swimmers/clothes in.

The buses onwards and upwards to Machu Picchu start from 5:30am and let me tell you- I have not seen a town so awake before 6am. Tickets were time marked so simply turn up just before departure time to get your tickets stamped. These shuttle buses run all day until the site closes.

The winding roads are the ones the bus take from Aguas Calientes!

On this trip, our group had 6am tickets so there was no rest for the wicked. We all got onto the bus and weaved up the mountain- the ride took about 30mins although we couldn’t see much. I’ve been told that you should be praying to the weather gods before you even land in Peru that you will have good weather on the day that you visit. We were alittle anxious, having wind up the mountain and all we could see was the morning fog. Apparently, sometimes this fog lifts and sometimes it doesn’t!

When we arrived, you will need to line up again to get your tickets stamped.
BEWARE: There are only toilets outside of the Machu Picchu site so make sure you go before you enter (you will need to pay to access these toilets)

We arrived super early and had 3 hours to spare in the site before our guided tour started. Our group decided to head towards the Sun Gate which would be a return walk of 3 hours. As you might already imagine, the walk isn’t flat the whole way- add some incline and altitude- make sure you take it easy if you haven’t acclimitised.

Speaking of altitude, Machu Picchu is around 2430m above sea level. If you’ve spent some days in Cusco prior, which is 3300m above sea level- you should be sweet. Ollaytaytambo and Aguas Calientes are at lower altitudes compared to Cusco. I will write about altitude sickness is another post.

The view when we got to the site just before 7am- heading to the Sun Gate!

On our way to the Sun Gate, we passed all those trekkers who you had the Inca Trail coming into the site. After stopping for a million pictures along the way, we ended up at the Sun Gate although, there was still fog when we reached it so couldn’t really see much of the surrounds.

On our way back, the fog started to lift causing us to take even MORE pictures. Watching the fog lift and reveal just exactly how high up you are was breathtaking. The pictures here just don’t do it any justice.

Some tips!
– wear and bring sunscreen. You’re high up – protection is required
– wear a hat and sunglasses
– good pair of walking shoes
– bring water. There are no stalls inside the site- you will need to bring everything you need.
– no eating allowed in Machu Picchu- fill up at breakfast and bring some snacks for the ride back to Aguas Calientes.
– don’t forget your camera!

The fog lifting

Is Machu Picchu on your list? Do you have anymore tips to share?

First taste of Poland: Wroclaw

A handful of the 300 hundred (ish) dwarves around the city

I wasn’t sure what to expect in my first town in Poland. We took the bus from Berlin and arrived by evening (5hr bus ride). You know when you’ve seen so many images of a place you know what is awaiting. This was not like that. First off, the name of the city is not pronounced at all like it’s written (vrots-wahf). Second of all, how are the universities in Europe so ornate and beautiful!?

Beautiful market square

We just stayed in walking distance to the Market Square and the main train station and it was easy to keep walking around. We couldn’t wait to sample the local cuisine and eagerly tried the delicious polish donut- pączki, zurek soup served in a big bread roll, stuffed cabbage and more pierogis during our few days in Wrocław. It was soon decided that we love polish cuisine and couldn’t wait to continue our travels to the other Polish towns on our itinerary.

The market square rivals some of the best that I have seen. Architecturally pleasing and vibrant colours. It was here that we discovered our first pierogi’s and spiced winter tea.
We also went to visit the the oldest part of the town- Ostrów Tumski- which is a short walk from the Market Square and via an island.

View from the Mathematical Tower at Wrocław University
University of Wrocław doors

With a ticket, you are able to visit parts of the university such as the Mathematical Tower and Aula Leopoldinum which is a baroque hall. And of course, admire their doors! We did a free old town walking tour and a WWII walking tour during our time in Wrocław which was great to get to see the main sites accompanied with explanations.

We also spent part of an afternoon at the Muzeum Pana Tadeusza which is located in the Market Square. It is a great museum on the Pan Tadeusza Poem written by Adam Mickiewicz, which is one of the key literary cultural masterpieces in Poland. There is also part of the museum which focuses on the key events around WWII and post-war period.

Stare Jatki- previously a meat market

If you have time, you might want to bookmark this map to find all the gnomes around the city. They are everywhere! These are not a gardener’s tongue in cheek but a tribute to an underground movement ‘Orange Alternative’ that use to protest (by painting gnomes) in response to the country’s communist rule.

Wrocław town hall

It’s not on the usual list of towns to visit in Poland (such as Krakow or Warsaw) but it’s such a quaint town (or at least the central part anyway) filled with so much charm.

Have you been to Wroclaw and what did you think?

New Year 2020 Vision

I know this blog has not been active in a few years but hey, a new year resolution starts strongest at the beginning of the year.

What drew me back was the writing and the thinking all whilst on a topic that i love: travel! I also really like looking back at my pictures which otherwise just sadly sit in a folder saved on a hard drive gathering dust in the desk drawer. It’s also the creativity that I think I severely lack in my everyday life.

I will add some language related posts and thoughts- the ongoing struggle of language learnings- 3 years later and am STILL learning. Maybe even attempt some posts in french or spanish but don’t hold me to that!

I did have a think on whether a youtube channel would work but I think at this stage and with what I have, a blog will serve better. I’ve renamed and have linked an Instagram account too! It may come as a shock but I actually don’t have a personal Instagram account so I did have to google how to post a picture (turns out you can’t post from a desktop….haha!).

So I hope you’re ready to head off to different places when you visit me here. It wouldn’t be a travel blog if you didn’t get to leave your seat, even if it’s just for 3 minutes.

Let me know what you’re biggest project is for 2020- let’s all join in on this together.

 

Spending a few days in Cologne, Germany

How magical it was! I landed in Frankfurt, Germany and spent a few days there recovering from my AUS –> Europe flight. Caught the train for 1hr north and voila, arrived in Cologne (or Koln as the locals know it). Once you step outside the main train station, there is the Cologne Cathedral- ominous yet magnificent, casting a shadow in front of you. It is what you expect of a gothic church- amazing, grand (in every sense) and dark (you know, that we haven’t water gun cleaned it (can you even do this to UNESCO listed sites?)).

The 1 thing I was most looking forward to was the Christmas markets. Boy oh boy were they amazing. Amazing atmosphere and location!

For the chocolate lovers, be sure to stop by the harbour side Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (they give out free waffle stick dipped in chocolate!). You can see how cacao seeds get to chocolate form that we all know and love and see machines in action. Great for the kids or a rainy day.

During my visit, I also went to the EL-DE Haus which was the former headquarters of the Gestapo turned museum. This normal looking building on the outside houses original basement chambers which were used to keep prisoners and a courtyard used for executions. The walls are still covered in pencil markings and etching. It was so eery in the basement even with many visitors in there. It is well preserved and am so glad that it is. There is great information and I think that there is a good balance between allowing visitors to see the bare walls and also information panels. Definitely one for the history buffs or those who want to explore Germany’s past.

Cologne has so many more museums in what is a great tourist friendly and interesting town. Be sure to add this to your list if visiting Germany!

What are also great museums or places to see in Cologne?

-S.

Day trip to Suomenlinna in 5 pictures

Suomenlinna, Finland

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See what i thought of Finland in a previous blog here.

– S.