Eiffel Tower & Sacre-Coeur – Paris

As part of my trip to Paris in May 2016, I visited the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur Bascilica and went on a night-time cruise on the River Seine. This post covers  those experiences and shows you the great sights I saw.

Eiffel Tower
We paid approximately £14 for our tickets for the Eiffel Tower, we didn’t pre-buy our tickets, I really wish we had as we queued for 1 hour 30mins  to get out tickets and then another 30 mins to get  into the lift that took us 3/4 of the way up. Getting to the top requires two separate lift journeys. One from ground to 3/4 up the tower and another to take you up to the topmost viewing platform.

The Tower is an amazing structure and a remarkable feat of engineering. The views from the tower are stunning. Paris is  even more so a beautiful city when viewed from the tower, especially when the mostly white buildings that make up the city glisten in the sun. It was very calming on the tower even though it was busy with lots of people around. The air and the scenery allowed me to escape into a place serenity.  It is truly a worthwhile activity to do, but book your tickets in advance and go early to get the most out of the experience.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Up Close of The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Up Close of The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Me on the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Me on the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Night Cruise on the River Seine
We wanted to see the city by night and we felt the best way to experience the city would be on a cruise on the River Seine as the cruise take you through the heart of the city and past iconic landmarks. We paid approximately £20 for the cruise which includes a hot drink and a crepe. The night cruise was well worth the money, I personally being on the water as I find it very calming. The boat wasn’t busy so i was able to move freely to get the best views.

Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower at Night from the River Seine, Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower at night from the River Seine, Paris, France
Paris, France by Night
Paris, France by Night
Notre Dame at Night From the River Seine, Paris, France
Notre Dame at Night From the River Seine, Paris, France
Notre Dame at Night From the River Seine, Paris, France
Notre Dame at Night From the River Seine, Paris, France
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris, France by Night From the River Seine
Paris, France by Night From the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine
Paris France by Night on the River Seine

Sacré-Cœur
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, is more commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica or often simply called Sacré-Cœur. Sacre-Coeur is a popular landmark, Parisian landmark and located in the summit of the art district of Montmarte. The Basilica is worth a visit for great views of the city, to get a Parisian caricature from a street artist and to spend some time in the park and gardens located at the base of Sacre-Coeur.

Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur Bascilica, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur Bascilica, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur, Paris, France
Sacre Coeur Bascilica, Paris, France
Montmarte, Paris, France
Montmarte, Paris, France
Street Art, Paris, France
Street Art Montmarte, Paris, France
Street Art, Paris, France
Street Art Montmarte, Paris, France

Overall
There are loads to do in Paris, the city is chic, artsy and  romantic. It may be a while before I return to the city but I am sure I will visit again to enjoy Parisian culture. Want to know other things to do in the city check out my previous blogs here and here.

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Copenhagen – Denmark

I went to Copenhagen in March 2015 for 3 nights and as usual I stayed in a hostel, I stay in hostels for the socialising opportunities more so than to save on costs.

The first thing I did in Copenhagen was to buy a 48 hour hop on hop off bus ticket. These type of bus tours are a great way to see as much of a city in a short period of time.  The next thing I did was book myself onto a free walking tour, another great way to learn about  the city.

Copenhagen Free Walking Tour, Denmark
Copenhagen Free Walking Tour, Denmark

What I Did

Church of Our Saviour or Vor Frelsers Kirke
This church is located in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. The church’s brown and gold spire can be seen from miles around and on a clear day,  the sun against the gold dome at the top acts like a light beacon drawing people to it.  The main reason I visited this church was to climb up its tower, there are 400 steps to the top of the spire, the last 150 being outside. This is an old church so the steps are narrow and rickety and there is no place or time to rest  on the ascent or descent as there is a constant flow of people going up and down. I think I paid the equivalent of £5 to climb up, don’t quote me on that but either way it is very cheap.

Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on the Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on the Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View of Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Denmark

Christiania
Christiania is an autonomous neighbourhood of close to 1000 residents. Abandoned army barracks  were squatted by arty types in the 1970s.  Cannabis has been freely traded in the area since then and still is, hence why photographs are forbidden in the area.  I really liked Christiania, I am a hippy at heart and I  liked that these people where able to take a disused area and build something worthwhile. It is the home of the Christiania bikes used by the Princess of Denmark. Also I had an amazing Vegetarian meal in one of the cafes.

Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark (Picture not Mine)
Christiania Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiania Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mural in Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mural in Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vegetarian Meal at Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vegetarian Meal at Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark

Christiansborg Palace or Christiansborg Slot
Christiansborg Palace is both a palace and government buildings. The Tarnet Tower at the centre of the buildings offers aerial views of the city, there is something about being high up that makes me feel extra liberated. Entrance to the tower is free  and there is a lift to take you up.

Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View from Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me on Tarnet Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark

St Alban’s Church
St Alban’s church is an English Anglican church in a peaceful park located in the Nordre Tolbold area next to the citadel Kastellet (a well pressured army fortress) and the Gefion Fountain. I liked this little church for its simplicity.

St Alban's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban’s Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban's Church and Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
St Alban’s Church and Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside St Alban's Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside St Alban’s Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenghagen, Denmark
Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at Nordre Tolbold Park, Copenhagen, Denmark

Little Mermaid
Within the same vicinity of St Alban’s Church is the Little Mermaid statue. I could barely get a clear view of the statue as it is quiet small and there were loads of tourist around wanting to see the famous statue.  And no she does not have red hair or a turquoise fin.

Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at the Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark
Me at the Little Mermaid Statue, Copenhagen, Denmark

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is an art museum, the collection is built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries. I did not go inside as I had limited time but I managed to find a gem in the gardens outside the museum. I came across Rodin’s ‘Thinker’, this really made my day.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Devil Sculpture, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Devil Sculpture, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rodin's Thinker at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rodin’s Thinker at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Back of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Back of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Round Tower or Rundetarn
The Round Tower in Copenhagen was  one of the last  places I visited in Copenhagen. It is free to go inside, there is also a small gallery, mid way up and best of all there is viewing platform for aerial views of city. I never got tired of seeing Copenhagen from up high.

The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View From The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
View From The Round Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Some Art in The Round Tower Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark

Just Walking Around
Walking around is what I like best, getting lost in the hopes I stumble across unique and interesting aspects of the city and Copenhagen didn’t disappoint.

A Colourful Square in Copenhagen, Denmark
A Colourful Square in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark
Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark
The MarbleChurch From The Courtyard of The Royal Palaces, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church From The Courtyard of The Royal Palaces, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Marble Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ship on Copenhagen Harbour, Denmark
Ship on Copenhagen Harbour, Denmark

My Review of the City
Copenhagen is a great city, it is vibrant, culturally rich and has a great history. The city is expensive but you can definitely visit even with a strict budget. I had a great time in the city and I would like to return to explore some more especially in Christiana.  An all round great destination for anyone who wants to experience a Northern European City.

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Viñales – Cuba

Viñales is to the north of Havana and was 8 hours away from Trinidad, again we relied on the trusted Viazul Bus to get from Trinidad in the middle to Viñales in the north of the island. Viñales Valley is a UNESCO world heritage site and has been protected since 1999.
Being in Viñales actually felt like being in another country, the valley was unspoilt and some part appeared to be unchanged since pre-historic times.

The weather
The weather in Viñales was much cooler than any other city we had visited. The weather was cooler at between 25-27 degrees with a breeze whilst we were there.

Where I stayed

Casa León León
We stayed in Casa León León an amazing Casa particular with a great host. Leon who is the owner is an elderly man you would want to spend hours talking to and he was so lovely that he rode his bike to come meet us at the Viazul terminal to bring us back to the Casa. We had a large double room with two double beds with our own bathroom. Breakfast as with the other Casa’s we stayed in was delicious, Cuban breakfast rocks. We paid CUC60 for 2 night, I really recommend this Casa.  Address: Calle Adela Azcuy # 45, Vinales, Cuba   Tel: +53 48 796380

Casa Leon Leon, Vinales, Cuba
Casa Leon Leon, Vinales, Cuba

What I did
To fully explore the Island we bought a hop on hop off Viñales bus tour ticket for CUC5, the bus takes you along most of the major tourist attractions in the valley and the ticket lasts the whole day.

Jardin Botanico de Caridad
Viñales is rather small, so the centre is only 15 minutes walk from end to end. Jardin Botanico de Caridad is a five minutes walk from the central plaza. The jardin (garden) is beautifully kept and a great place to lose ones self. Viñales is already a quiet town so the jardin feels like a sanctuary within a sanctuary. However there was one weird thing about the jardin in that they had dismembered doll parts all over the place, it was initially scary but soon it became normal to see the creepy little doll heads, legs or arms hanging in an amongst the beautiful plants.

Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Creepy doll, Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Creepy doll, Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Me in Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba
Me in Jardin Botanico de Caridad, Vinales, Cuba

Cueva del Indio
We chose to use the boat  at a cost of CUC5 to get through the caves, lets just say the queue to get on the boat lasted longer than the boat ride through the caves itself. Nevertheless the experience was worthwhile and after disembarking from the boat we got a chance to walk though and explore the adjacent ranch whilst we waited for the hop on hop off bus, there is also a bar, restaurants and souvenir shops to keep you entertained.

Cueva del Indio Boat, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio Boat, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Rancho San Vincente, Vinales, Cuba
Rancho San Vincente, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio Ranch, Vinales, Cuba
Rancho San Vincente, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio Ranch, Vinales, Cuba
Rancho San Vincente, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba
Me at Cueva del Indio Ranch, Vinales, Cuba
Me at Rancho San Vincente, Vinales, Cuba

Mural de la Prehistoria
The entrance fee to see the mural up close was CUC3 and the ticket entitles you to a free drink at a bar. This attraction is bitter-sweet in that because we came to see this attraction I got to taste the best Pina colada I have ever tasted. Once we looked at the less than impressive mural which we could see from the road we had 1 hour 20 mins to wait until the next bus so we decided to explore the area, we did a small walk up the side of the mountain and then walked into the neighbouring village where most people grew coffee. After that we went to the bar and indulged in the cocktails, the bar man liked us and was very generous with the rum serving and gave us multiple free refills.

Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Grounds of Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Grounds of Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Caves at Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba
Caves at Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Cuba

Hotel Los Jazmines
This hotel is worth stopping off at for the best views of the amazing valley. From here you can really see the prehistoric rock formations that make the valley really special.  There is a souvenir shops and a restaurant to sit and relax and get away from the afternoon sun. I also believe for a small fee you can use the hotel’s swimming pool. There is a village nearby so if you are curious you can take a walk into the village like we did.

View from Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
View from Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
View of Vinales Valley from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
View of Vinales Valley from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
View of Vinales Vally from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
View of Vinales Valley from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
View of Vinales Valley from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
View of Vinales Valley from Hotel Los Jazmines, Cuba
Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Me at Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Me at Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Cow at Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Cow at Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Village near Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Village near Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Village near Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba
Village near Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales, Cuba

Walking around
We walked around and explored the quaint little town, aimlessly wandering is a great way to explore and find great things.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Vinales, Cuba
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Vinales, Cuba
Beautiful House, Vinales, Cuba
Beautiful House, Vinales, Cuba
Pink House, Vinales, Cuba
Pink House, Vinales, Cuba
Cuban Cowboy, Vinales, Cuba
Cuban Cowboy, Vinales, Cuba
Cubans Communting, Vinales, Cuba
Cubans commuting, Vinales, Cuba

Food and Drink

D’Bliss Restaurant
This was one of the most reasonably priced restaurant in Viñales  and the food was very delicious hence why we eat there both nights that we were in the town. My meal with a glass of beer cost CUC8.

D'Bliss Restaurant, Vinales, Cuba
D’Bliss Restaurant, Vinales, Cuba
Meal at D'Bliss Restaurant, Vinales, Cuba
Meal at D’Bliss Restaurant, Vinales, Cuba

Bar 3 J
This was a cool bar that was bustling every night with tourists and locals alike. The daiquiris were to die for and only CUC3 and that’s why we went back a second night.

Inside Bar 3J, Vinales, Cuba
Inside Bar 3J, Vinales, Cuba
Amazing Daiquiris at Bar 3J, Vinales, Cuba
Amazing Daiquiris at Bar 3J, Vinales, Cuba

Review of Viñales
This town was the perfect stop after the craziness of Santiago de Cuba and the activities in Trinidad, as we were getting towards the end of our trip Viñales was a welcomed change of pace and a great place to unwind. If you are visiting Cuba try to add Viñales to one of the destinations you visit, it is only 4 hours away from Havana and truly worthwhile.

So what next
The next stop is back to Havana where it all started.

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Prague – Czech Republic

Prague (Praha) the capital city of the Czech Republic is now in my top 5 European cities. The Czech Republic many consider to be in Eastern Europe but it is actually in Central Europe. The currency used is the Czech Koruna (CZK) and £1 (GBP) equates to approximately 34CZK. One quirky fact is that the Czechs are the biggest beer consumers in the world, and not surprising beer is very cheap in the country and even cheaper than water.

Wenceslas Cathedral
This is an amazing Medieval Cathedral that dominates the Prague skyline, the Cathedral sits atop a hill and proudly overlooks the city with its very mythical and folky vibe. There are long queues to get inside so if you want to visit get there early. I didn’t go in I just walked around the building taking in its magnificence.

Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Part of Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Part of Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Part of Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Part of Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Wenceslas Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Town Hall, Pražský orloj (Prague astronomical clock)
There are many things that catch your eye as you enter the Old Town Square, however  none more so than the Pražský orloj (Prague astronomical clock)  this is a beautiful clock created by Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Mindel and was installed in 1410 on the Old Town Hall, making it one of the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world.  There is a little show that is played on the hour  and there is always a crowd gathered to hear the tune and watch the little skeleton take centre stage in ringing its bell. If you are going  to visit the square, it is worthwhile to see a great piece of art, science and maths in action.

Prague Astronomical Clock, Czech Republic
Prague Astronomical Clock, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic

The  Old Town Hall Tower
The Old Town Hall Tower, is one of the most striking buildings in Prague and for a small fee of 120CZK (approx £3.50), visitors can climb or ride to the top to experience terrific views over the Old Town Square and the rest of the Old Town. I chose to use the elevator up but walked down. There is some historical information on Prague and the Town hall and it is fascinating to see how Prague, the  Old Town Square and beyond has changed through the times.

View Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
View Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
View from Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
View Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
View from Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
View Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Inside the Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Inside the Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge
This is a stunning bridge with a fascinating history and it is home to various monuments with fanatical folk tales attached. The bridge is an interesting place to visit to people watch, listen to buskers and even buy some wares or souvenirs.

Charles Bridge Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Charles Bridge Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
View from Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
View from Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Me on Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Me on Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

John Lennon Pub and Lennon Wall
After the fall of communism there was an influx of western music and media to the Czech Republic. The Beatles music appears to have struck a cord with the Czech people who had lived with their freedom suppressed for such a long time, the Beatles lyrics on love, peace and freedom was new and refreshing. So inspired one anonymous person graffitied  a wall with the word ‘Imagine’, then someone else came along and wrote some lyrics and from there it just grew and grew, of course the local authority saw this as an eyesore and painted over the graffiti but this did not stop people from doing it all over again, and  I am glad they did, because not only is it a big tourist pull now but you can also feel the sense of love and freedom and desires etched, written and deposited on the wall.

John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
Me at the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
Me at the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

The wall is only a few yards away from the John Lennon Pub where I had an amazing Mushroom Risotto. The Pub is dedicated to the Beatles  and is decorated  like a British Pub. The bathrooms I found to be confusing because the doors look like the old phone booths. The Czech clearly love The Beatles, however the Beatles never did visit the Czech Republic but their influence did.

John Lennon Pub, Prague, Czech Republic
John Lennon Pub, Prague, Czech Republic
Inside the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
Inside the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
John Lennon Pub, Prague, Czech Republic
John Lennon Pub, Prague, Czech Republic

Prague at Night
The City at night is truly spectacular, the views of Wenceslas Castle from Charles Bridge as the light glistens on the River Vltava  makes a beautiful scene. There is also the Old Town Hall,  the Church of our Lady and Prague Opera House.

The Charles Bridge at night, Prague, Czech Republic
The Charles Bridge at night, Prague, Czech Republic
St Nicola's Church, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
St Nicola’s Church, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Prague Opera House at Night, Czech Republic
Prague Opera House at Night, Czech Republic
Light at Prague Opera House at Night, Czech Republic
Light at Prague Opera House at Night, Czech Republic
Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Church of Our Lady before Týn, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Church of Our Lady before Týn, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Church of Our Lady before Týn, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Church of Our Lady before Týn, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Old Town Square, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Old Town Square, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Old Town Square, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
Old Town Square, Prague at Night, Czech Republic
I Love Prague, Czech Republic
I Love Prague, Czech Republic

My Review of the City
I am in love with Prague, it is an amazing city with a great history and culture, it is very affordable to eat, drink and do various activities.  I had a great time in the city and I would like to return to explore some more.  Prague is an all round great destination for anyone who wants to experience a central European city with a folky and mythical vibe.

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Belfast – Northern Ireland

Belfast was the second leg of my trip to Ireland. I was really excited to go to Belfast as it is a city with a complicated history and I wanted to learn more about  ‘The Troubles’ and how the city overcame them to be a city on the rise. Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom, the currency used is the GBP (£).

Cost of my trip
I caught a coach from Dublin to Belfast  and it took approximately  2hrs 30mins at a cost of €17. Accommodation cost £45 for 3 nights and my return flight back to London cost £35.

Where I stayed

Global Village Hostel
The hostel was located in the university district of Belfast. The hostel is not centrally located but it is very easy to get to the centre with a local bus or it is a 20-30mins walk dependent on your speed. The hostel was very cool, clean and the staff really made you feel welcome. There is a real community spirit encouraged by the staff at the hostel and for £15 a night it was great value for money.

Global Village Hostel, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Global Village Hostel, Belfast, Northern Ireland (This is not my photograph)
Inside Global Village, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Inside Global Village, Belfast, Northern Ireland (This is not my photograph)

What I did

Ulster Museum
To learn about Belfast and Northern Ireland’s history the museum is a great place to start. The exhibition on ‘The Troubles’ is laid out in chronological order and it offers a great sense of what happened. Aside from the exhibition on ‘The Troubles’ there are other exhibition and collection on display and they are the most eclectic collection and display I have ever seen. Nevertheless it is still a great museum and there is no entrance fee.

Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Sculpture outside Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland
Sculpture outside Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland

Belfast Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens is also home to Ulster Museum  so you can visit both attractions on the same day. The beautiful domed conservatory is not very large but it is very interesting and a worthwhile visit, there is no entrance fee to the conservatory.

Belfast Botanical Gardens, Northern Ireland
Belfast Botanical Gardens, Northern Ireland
Belfast Botanical Garden Conservatory, Northern Ireland
Belfast Botanical Gardens, Northern Ireland
Inside Belfast Botanical Garden Conservatory, Northern Ireland
Inside Belfast Botanical Garden Conservatory, Northern Ireland
Inside Belfast Botanical Garden Conservatory, Northern Ireland
Inside Belfast Botanical Garden Conservatory, Northern Ireland

Christmas Market
A Christmas market was held on the grounds of the grand Belfast City Hall, an  iconic building in its own right brought to life by the dazzling lights and various booths and stalls selling everything to make the festive period extra special.

Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland
Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway Tour
The Giant’s Causeway  is an all day trip for £25, the trip includes a trip to Carrickfergus Castle, a walk along the legendary Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and culminates at the UNESCO Giant’s Causeway.  The drive to the various attractions goes along the gorgeous Antrim coast, offering beautiful and unspoilt views.

Carrickfergus Castle
The stop at the castle was very brief and we weren’t able to go inside but the views were worthwhile.

Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Walking on the bridge is not guaranteed as on days with high winds the bridge is closed, so I was very lucky the bridge was opened. There is a short and easy 1 kilometre hike from the car park to the place where you access the bridge, there is a small fee of £5 to cross the bridge. The views were really amazing and crossing the bridge was one of the best experiences of my life it was scary but exhilarating.

Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
Me at Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
Me at Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
View from Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
View from Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
View from Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
View from Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland
Walking on Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
Walking on Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway
An amazing wonder of nature, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. It was a truly unique sight and well worth the visit, I would like to visit again during summer time.

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Me at The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Me at The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Other sights and things of Belfast

View from Victoria Shopping Centre Viewing Platform, Belfast, Northern Ireland
View from Victoria Shopping Centre Viewing Platform, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Queen's University Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Queen’s University Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Queen's University at night, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Queen’s University at night, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast Dock, Northern Ireland
Belfast Dock, Northern Ireland
Queen's Bridge, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Queen’s Bridge, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Part of Belfaast Town Hall, Northern Ireland
Part of Belfaast Town Hall, Northern Ireland
The Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Crown, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Beacon of Hope, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Beacon of Hope, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Elmwood Presbyterian Church, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Elmwood Presbyterian Church, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Albert Clock Tower, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Albert Clock Tower, Belfast, Northern Ireland

My Review of the City
Belfast is a city that is relatively new as  a tourist destination but it is well worth a visit, I recommend going there before it becomes too commercial and things become very expensive.  Going out eating, drinking and all the activities I did were very reasonably priced,  I am sure this will change once the tourism industry becomes well and truly established.  I had a good time in the Belfast even though there isn’t much to do in the city but when coupled with a trip to Dublin like I did, you will be bound to have a fun filled trip.

If you’ve enjoyed my review or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.
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Dublin – Ireland

I decided I need to see more of the countries and cities neighbouring where I live (London) so I decided to take a trip to Dublin in Ireland. The Currency used in Ireland is the Euro, £1 (GBP) is equivalent to €1.30 (Euros).

Cost of my trip
My flight from London Stanstead to Dublin cost €13 (£10) and my accommodation at Abigail’s hostel costs €104.80 (£81.54) for 4 nights.

The weather
It was December so it was cold, I needed my large coat, scarf, hat and gloves. The Emerald isles surely get cold during winter.

Where I stayed
Abigail’s Hostel
The hostel was centrally located on Aston Quay with views of the River Liffy. It was decent, the hostel room had an en-suite and the breakfast (included) was typical of continental Europe. The hotel was value for money and I recommend it for ease of access to the main attractions.

Abigail's Hostel, Dublin, Ireland
Abigail’s Hostel, Dublin, Ireland (This photo is not mine)
Inside Abigail's Hostel, Dublin, Ireland
Inside Abigail’s Hostel, Dublin, Ireland (This photo is not mine)

What I did

Dublin Free Walking Tour
I went on a Sandemans free walking tour, I find this is the best way to learn about a new city, the tour guides are usually history students and they have great knowledge of the city and culture. The guide on this tour was no exception, he was great fun.

Sandemans Free Walking Tour, Dubin, Ireland
Sandemans Free Walking Tour, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Castle
The Castle is rather unusual in that it doesn’t look much like a Castle in the main courtyard, however the old prison attached to the rear of the castle is a lot more interesting and typical of medieval architecture.

The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Courtyard of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin Castle, Ireland
The Rear of Dublin, Castle
The Rear of Dublin, Castle

Trinity College
The university grounds  are beautiful and steeped in history and culture, I would have loved being a student here. Trinity college is also the home to the exhibition of The Book of Kells and The Long Room library .

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College Clock Tower, Dublin, Ireland
Trinity College Clock Tower, Dublin, Ireland

The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is beautifully decorated and written in Latin, it contains the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various introductory texts and tables. It truly is a masterpiece of Western calligraphy, the book is widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. There is an entrance fee of €10 to the exhibition, photographs are not allowed therefore I have no pictures of my own to share with you, I highly recommend a visit to the exhibition.

Book of Kells, Ireland, Dublin
Book of Kells, Ireland, Dublin

The Long room
The entrance to the Long room is at the end of the Book of Kells exhibition, it is a fantastic library where the books are arranged by height, it is said finding a book can take a good while. Being surrounded by all that knowledge made me feel smart, the knowledge seemed to seep out and permeate the air.

The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
The Long Room Library, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

The City Hall
The City Hall is a fine example of 18th-century architecture, the exterior is beautiful but the inside is even more impressive, as you walk through the doors you are met with a beautifully painted gold dome. There wasn’t anything to do in building except appreciate the architecture and empty space.

The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The Dome of The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
The Dome of The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
Inside The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland
Inside The City Hall, Dublin, Ireland

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMoMA)
The IMoMA is located in a fantastic building on beautiful grounds. It was free to get into the main exhibition.

The IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The Rear of IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
The Rear of IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland
Gary Hume, Back of Snowman, IMoMa, Dublin, Ireland
Gary Hume, Back of Snowman, IMoMa, Dublin, Ireland
Isaac Julien, Love Hate, IMOMA, Dublin, Ireland
Isaac Julien, Love Hate, IMoMA, Dublin, Ireland

The Formal Gardens
The gardens are located next to the IMoMA, it is immaculately kept and you can tell a lot of love and care goes into looking after the gardens. It was a dry and sunny day so I sat under the winter sun for while just enjoying the gardens.

The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland
The Formal Garden, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin at Night
Seeing a city at night you get a totally different vibe than you would get during the day, Dublin’s vibe was much sexy and somewhat romantic especially around the River Liffy.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Dublin at Night, Ireland
Dublin at Night, Ireland
Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, Dublin, Ireland
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin, Ireland
The Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Padlocks of Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The Padlocks of Ha’Penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
The River Liffy, Dublin, Ireland
The River Liffy, Dublin, Ireland
Light on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
Light on O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
St Andrew's Dublin, Ireland
St Andrew’s Dublin, Ireland

Other sights and things of Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
The Guinness Factory, Dublin, Ireland
The Guinness Factory, Dublin, Ireland
Street Art of Dublin, Ireland
Street Art of Dublin, Ireland
Monument, Dublin, Ireland
Monument, Dublin, Ireland

My Review of the City
Dublin is a crazy, sexy and cool city. I will describe it as a smaller compact London which is actually more expensive but with nicer people. I definitely would love to return to Dublin as part of a bigger trip through Southern Ireland. All in all Dublin is a great city.

If you’ve enjoyed my review, or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you and if you follow my blog you will be notified as I upload more posts.

Auschwitz & Birkenau – Poland

Auschwitz is 1 hour away from Krakow, there are many day trips you can organise from the city to the concentration camp, they cost around 125 zlotys (around £25) which includes transport and the tour.

Auschwitz

There is not much I wish to say about Auschwitz other than it is one of the most harrowing things I have ever experienced in my life, to be so close to a part of humanity’s evil was overwhelming and emotional. I recommend that everyone visits a concentration camp once in their lifetime, I truly believe it may serve as a reminder that we must protect and cling to our humanity and beneath it all we are all human beings striving for the same thing.

I had intended to take loads of pictures but I took about 10 pictures and I will only show 4,  the main entrance sign, the place where Rudolf Höss (the monster in charge of the camp) met retribution, a quote by George Santayana and an example of the carts used to transport people to the death and concentration camps.

The quote “Arbeit macht frei” that appears above the entrance gate is a German phrase meaning “work sets you free.”

The Entrance to Auschwitz, Poland
The Entrance to Auschwitz, Poland
Death place or Rudolf Hoss, Auschwitz, Poland
Death place or Rudolf Hoss, Auschwitz, Poland
George Santayana Quote, Auschwitz, Poland
George Santayana Quote, Auschwitz, Poland

Birkenau

I felt somewhat less emotional at Birkenau even though it was considerably larger than Auschwitz.

Cart used to transport people, Birkenau, Poland
Cart used to transport people to Birkenau, Poland

If you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.