This time I will not write about what to do and how to spend your days in the Morocco’s insta-friendly city of Marrakech, but rather the most instagrammable spots of it, as the city is as stunning as in the photos you see on Instagram.
1- Gorgeous Medina Souqs
Get lost in the narrow souq roads and adore the colors of spices, ceramic plates, mosaics, Moroccan lamps, lanterns and carpets. If you are willing to buy, don’t forget to bargain though, as the sellers are willing to sell everything for at least half of the price they are offering.
The narrow roads and the clay colored buildings will light up your Instagram!
2- Riads, literally all of them!
I don’t know where to start from. The Riad we stayed in was beautiful (Riad Karmela and Riad Karmela Princess), however there are loads to explore. Some may not let you in just to take photos so be ready to have a lunch or drinks in their restaurants.
Riad Yasmine, El Fenn, Riad Jardin Secret, Riad Jemaa El-Fna, Riad BE Marrakech, Riad Kasbah and Riad Les Yeux Bleus are some of the most instagrammable hotels in Marrakech.
3- La Mamounia Hotel
Winston Churchill once said, “It is the most lovely spot in the whole world”.
If you can’t afford to stay here as a guest, just dress up and walk in to have a look around.
The famous columns of La Mamounia is only accessible by the hotel guests and the day pass holders, however you may still be able to take a snap behind the glass doors.
4- Rooftop Cafes
There are more than one of these and almost all of them offer beautiful city views. Nomad, Terasse des Epices, Cafe des Epices, Atay Cafe or Le Salama are some of the most photogenic restaurants offering the best views in the Medina area.
5- Jardin de Majorelle
I’d recommend getting there early or really late to avoid the crowds and take the best shots of this magnificent garden. Redesigned by Yves Saint Laurent, the garden is an oasis of inspiration with its exotic plants and cactuses.
6- Bahia Palace
The aptly named Palais de la Bahia, or “palace of the beautiful”, is a palace and gardens located in the Medina and is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Marrakech.
Once again, an early visit is the best to get photos with good lighting as well as to avoid the crowds.
7- Jewish Cemetery
This is not really a very touristy spot, however the cemetery offers a pretty picturesque views.
Tokyo offers a wide range of shopping, dining, entertainment, cuisine and culture and you will never get enough of the Japanese capital. Originally a small fishing village named Edo, Tokyo means ‘eastern capital’ in Chinese.
It is always a good time to visit Tokyo, however, the cherry blossom season is the most popular time of the year so better to plan your travel well in advance. In an average year, the cherry blossoms start blooming on 25 March in Tokyo. Then, they hit full bloom (known as “mankai” in Japanese) on 2 April.
Ahead of your travel to Japan, make sure to order your mobile wifi online so you will never be disconnected from the rest of the world. It is pretty convenient and recommended for all travellers visiting Japan as the city is pretty instagrammable!
Here are my top ten things to do in Tokyo:
Anime Stores in Akihabara:
Akihabara is famous for its electronics gadget and anime stores, and it is collectors’ heaven. If you have been looking for 90s game consoles like Game-boy or Tetris, this is your place. Don’t worry if you are not a geek as the street is lively. When you are in Akihabara, you can also check out Tokyo’s famous Maid Cafes, or have your ears cleaned (no I’m not joking).
Shibuya, Ginza, Roppongi or Shinjuku are the most popular areas to stay in Tokyo. Shinjuku has the busiest station in the world, Ginza offers luxury shopping, Shinjuku is the hip area which accommodates younger crowds and Roppongi offers nightlife.
Shibuya intersection is the meeting point of Tokyo residents, and walking across the Shibuya crossing is a must-do. Once you cross, head to Starbucks at the corner and sip your coffee while watching people crossing when all the lights turn red at the same time.
Taxis are expensive in Tokyo, however, the underground transportation is pretty developed and orderly. When you are in Tokyo, go underground and see the conductors dressed in crisp uniforms, wearing white gloves and holding microphones to keep the order of the subway.
Best Views of the City and Mt. Fuji:
If you have time and energy, go ahead and book a tour to Mt Fuji, however for those who are not interested in climbing but only the view, a visit to Bunkyo Civic Center is the best option, and it is right in the middle of the city. It is free and gives the best views of Tokyo as well as Mt Fuji given the weather permits.
Shopping in Cat Street:
If you are not into Zara or H&M, forget about Ginza or Takeshita streets. Cat Street is the hippiest shopping street of Tokyo. Tokyo’s coolest hipsters hang out here in trendy cafes and street fashion shops. This narrow street in Harajuku has nothing to do with cats so don’t be disappointed when you are there.
Tsukiji Fish Market:
The world’s largest fish market handles around 2000 tonnes of seafood a day. If you’d like to watch tuna auctions, make sure to be there at 5:00am in the morning. This touristic market offers fish as well as fruits and vegetables. There are pretty good sushi restaurants as the market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast. The market is open until noon so you don’t have to wake up so early.
This pedestrian shopping street offers costumes, gothic clothes and kawaii fashion. The real kawaii (cute) culture’s birthplace Takashi Street has been inspiring many pop stars as well!
The large shopping street Ginza is the Tokyo version of 5th Avenue of New York or Oxford Street of London. The popular upscale shopping area offers numerous internationally renowned department stores. You may lose yourself in department stores as some of them are pretty huge and interesting but try to remember there are much more to see in Tokyo.
Temples and Shrines:
If you will add Kyoto to your Japan trip, there is no need to see all the temples in Tokyo, however, there are a few ones which are attracting a lot of tourists such as Meiji Shrine and Senso-ji. Meiji Shrine, located in Shibuya is not colourful or flashy like other places of worship and is less of a tourist trap than Senso-ji which is Tokyo’s oldest temple.
When you are in Japanese temples, you will see people drawing small pieces of paper stripes from boxes in return for a small fee as 100 yens. This is called O-mikuji, and they are random fortunes written on strips of paper at temples in Japan. If you draw bad luck, don’t worry as it explains how to improve your fortune.
Tokyo has the weird and kinky nightlife and it is limited by your imagination. From Izakayas (inexpensive Japanese bars) to beer bars, red-light district to themed bars, karaoke bars to cocktail joints, Tokyo is the hot spot for night owls. While there are small bars in every neighbourhood, the bigger clubs and attractions for nightlife are all concentrated in one area called Roppongi. The Kabukicho section of Shinjuku is Tokyo’s most well known red-light district, with The Robot Restaurant which features a raucous pop-culture show with robotic monsters, dancers and lasers.
An additional tip for art enthusiasts: If you are interested in contemporary art, I would highly recommend Mori Art Museum which is located in Roppongi Hills. There is also a sky deck which offers astonishing city views but you need to pay extra to get in.
Hope you enjoy Tokyo, and make sure to add your favourite things to do in Tokyo in comments below 🙂
To be honest, Vienna wasn’t on my bucket list but I decided to spend a weekend there as the flight times from Doha were perfect. Who would know it would become one of my favorite European destinations! It was Autumn when all trees changed their colors and it made Vienna even prettier.
If you’re planning a visit to Vienna, here are the must-dos to get the most out of it in only two days;
1- Wander around Stephansplatz:
Vienna is a great walking city and Stephansplatz is in the middle of everything. Choose a café and spend an hour or so watching people passing by, or admire the huge St. Stephens Cathedral. Wander over to the opposite side of the square to see the postmodern Haas-Haus and watch Vienna’s street performers. You will love it!
2-Have breakfast at the terrace of Grand Ferdinand Hotel:
And stay there if you can. On the street where all upper scale hotels are, Grand Ferdinand Hotel has pretty rooms and a terrace restaurant where you can enjoy a breakfast while watching the beautiful Vienna’s skyline. It is quite posh so dressing up is highly recommended.
Eating the biggest and the most delicious Wienerschnitzel of Vienna is a must when you are in Vienna. Due to popularity, they recently opened their second restaurant just near the old one which is behind St Stephen’s Cathedral. Order a potato salad with schnitzel and you will be amazed and full as Figlmuller’s prides itself on presenting the largest
Order a potato salad with schnitzel and you will be amazed and full(!) as Figlmuller prides itself on presenting the largest Wienerschnitzel possible.
As I didn’t make a reservation, I could get a table in the new restaurant after waiting for a while. Make sure to reserve a table if you don’t want to wait.
There is really not much around Hundertwasserhaus but it is a must-see Instagtammable place while you are in Vienna. Designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the architectural highlight of Vienna offers a colorfully decorated exterior façade.
5- Take a ride in Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel:
After seeing Hundertwasserhaus, get to the other side of Danube River and experience the moving tradition of Vienna. Couples can also enjoy a whole cabin for themselves while having a romantic candle-light dinner for around 340 Euros.
6- Enjoy a concert in one of the historical cathedrals:
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles) and many other sacred sites are regular showplaces for diverse classical music concerts. I bought my ticket from a booth near St. Stephen’s Cathedral for 25 Euros and had an amazing experience.
7- Visit Albertina Museum for some art intake:
The Albertina Museum has been presenting the largest Raphael exhibition in Austria until 7 January 2018 so art lovers should pay a visit to this museum which is located just opposite to Mozart Cafe. The entrance is 12 Euros, and visitors can visit Contemporary Art floor and Albertina’s staterooms alongside Raphael exhibition.
8- Taste the original sacher-torte at Cafe Sacher:
Vienna has hundreds of cafes and Sacher Cafe is one of them. Cafe Sacher is a home to the famous Sacher-Torte, a chocolate cake worthy of a trip to Vienna alone to taste. If there is a queue at the door, you can also try the next door – Mozart Cafe.
In some cafes in Vienna, you may be expected to dress up so make sure to pack some nice clothes.
9- Visit Schonbrunn Palace and its gardens:
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. It is one of Europe’s most beautiful Baroque complexes, and gardens of the palace are worth to see.
It is in the suburbs of Vienna so you will need to take the U2 metro line direct to the Schonbrunn.
10- Visit Belvedere Museum:
Visit ‘The Kiss’, the most famous Gustav Klimt piece, at the Austrian Gallery Belvedere in Vienna.
11- Taste 1516 Brewing Company’s beers:
This is a cozy but busy street-side bar where you can go for late night drinks or bites.
Above are the maximum you can do in a weekend but if you have more time, make sure to visit Museums Quartier, see Rathaus and Hofburg Palace, taste more Viennese cakes at Strock bakery and have more schnitzel at Gasthaus Poschl or Augustinerkeller Bitzinger Wien.
Ireland is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe – probably due to its grey weather, but the country is full of castles and ruins to discover and fall in love with. It has such a good vibe as Ireland has the youngest population in the European Union.
I visited Dublin and Galway in June, as Qatar Airways started direct flights to Dublin from Doha. The flight time is perfect and I got to experience the Dreamliner aircraft’s Business Class which made my flight a spoiling experience.
If you’re planning to fly with Qatar Airways and worried about the political situation in Qatar, you can be assured that there is nothing to worry about. The flight times to Europe hasn’t changed at all and all operations are running smoothly.
How to get to Dublin:
The flight from Doha to Dublin with Qatar Airways takes 7,5 hours. If you’re transiting through Doha, I would strongly suggest taking the opportunity to have a free stopover in Doha with Qatar Airways’ +Qatar campaign. You can stay in Doha’s one of the luxurious hotels for free, experience the desert safari or enjoy the Arabian hospitality.
Getting to Dublin from Europe is much easier and cheaper. The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair offers non-stop daily flights from almost all European countries. Train is another option if you live in the UK.
Dublin Airport is conveniently located approximately 10km north of Dublin City Centre with access to a large number of buses, coaches and taxis all allowing you to get to and from the airport with ease.
In terms of visa, citizens of certain countries must apply for an Irish entry visa before traveling. Note that it is not a Schengen visa, and some UK visitor visas allow onward travel to Ireland.
Where to stay:
If you don’t want to go for a quieter option, I would definitely recommend you to stay in the city centre of Dublin. We stayed at The Brooks Hotel which was located within a short walking distance from the famous Grafton Street. It is a 4-star designer boutique hotel, and you can actually order your breakfast to your room for only a service fee of 3 Euros.
Staying in a castle is another option to consider. We stayed at Clontarf Castle Hotel which was just 10 minutes away from Dublin City Centre and easily accessible by car to the airport. I would definitely recommend it to couples who want to celebrate anniversaries and special occasions.
When to visit:
The best time to visit Dublin is summer time when the temperatures are warm and festivals fill the streets. If you’re lucky, the sun shows its face but remember that Dublin is a city where you can experience summer and winter all in one day.
Must-sees in Dublin:
Dublin is a great city where you can walk from one place to another in only 30 minutes. So it is easy to see the whole city only in a few days but you never get enough of it. I would suggest at least 5 days to enjoy the historical, cultural and entertainment scene of the city.
Trinity College and the Old Library was the highlight of my visit to Dublin. Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is famous for its graduates such as Swift, Goldsmith, Wilde and Beckett. The Old Library’s wooden bookshelves, statues, and knowing the fact that it is still operating gave me goosebumps. Strolling around the campus is ideal in the morning before students start rushing to their classes so make sure to be there early to take the best photos.
The Little Museum of Dublin was also pretty impressive in terms of understanding the history and culture of Ireland. Surrounded by plants, it is a hidden gem in the city centre, with photographs on its walls telling stories about the history. Have a look at Ireland’s greatest rock band- U2’s room if you are interested in the band.
When you stroll around the cobbled streets of the city, you will see lots of street art, traditional pubs, book shops (even the ones specialising in 20th century Irish literature) and small design clothing stores. As you can walk anywhere, footwork is the best way to discover the city.
No visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse – the Home of Guinness. Don’t miss a real Irish experience at this unique factory. Try out the fresh Guinness you can’t have anywhere else.
Tip: Try a fresh Guinness with brownies, it is an unbelievable combination!
You can also visit Chester Beatty Library and have your lunch at the Silk Road Cafe which is located inside the library. On your way to the library, you can see the colourful Dublin Castle.
If you’re interested in shopping, take a short tour of Brown Thomas which is an iconic store and an important part of Ireland’s retail history since 1849.
Where to eat:
This part is my favourite! Dublin has an incredible and buzzing restaurant scene, and they have such amazing dishes.
Fallon & Bryne:
This award winning restaurant is a slow food inspired brasserie in the heart of Dublin. There is a grocery area downstairs so you may want to check it out too. They had two menus, one with meat and the other with vegetarian options. Make sure to have a reservation and ask for their early bird menu!
This modern and rustic Irish diner exceeded my expectations! Each item is served in the most artistic way so it was not only delicious but also an eye candy. The steak comes raw but it’s on the stone so you need to be a bit patient until it is cooked. Enjoy the delicious complimentary olives while waiting for it.
When it comes to food, I shouldn’t skip mentioning about the Irish butter. It is a creamy and salty butter which gives a complete satisfaction to your mouth. It is generally served in all restaurants before your meal so it is impossible to skip it. Buy some at the airport if you want to take the tastes of Dublin to home.
Finally, you will be amazed by the entertainment and nightlife options in Dublin. There are historical pubs at every corner, and the fantastic nightlife offers not only pubs but also lounges and late night clubs. As an alterantive option, dozens of people get together at The Stag’s Head‘s second floor every Tuesday for an Ukulele night. It was so fun and we felt very welcomed by the people playing ukuleles, sitting on every corner of the pub.
In short, Dublin has a lot to offer to its visitors from all ages and nationalities, and I’m pretty sure I will visit it once again.
Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The island is not as popular as Bali or Thailand yet, as it is quieter and considered as an eco/beach island but it definitely has a potential. There are no crazy parties, tourists puking around or loud music so it is a perfect place if you want to spend a few days far from the crowds.
The island has its own International Airport, however we flew in with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur. If you’re flying in from another country, make sure to keep a few hours transit time as going from international arrivals to domestic departures take a bit of time. You need to take a fast train to change terminals, and it costs 2 Malaysian Ringgits one way per person. After an hour of flight, we arrived at Lankawi Airport and took a taxi which costed 26 MYR to get to The Danna Langkawi hotel. To be honest, we were not impressed by the weather or the resorts surrounding us during our taxi trip from the airport to our hotel. We were even trying to find out how I came up with the Langkawi idea. After all, it is not a famous island decorating the pages of travel magazines or a stylish travel blog. However, our feelings shifted once we arrived in the hotel lobby, and welcomed with a drink and a complimentary massage.
I booked a room at The Danna Langkawi on hotels.com months ago, and had trouble changing the date as I wasn’t able to make it for the dates I booked. I was requested to pay double of what I’ve already paid, but ended up paying a less amount of money to change the dates. My experience started really bad even before arriving Langkawi but they managed to change this one hundred percent in just three days.
Set directly on the beach, this stylish resort has a boutique design with colorful tiles, big arches, tall ceilings and an infinity pool. Sun beds were laid in the pool so you can put your feet in the water while sipping your drink. Feeling too hot? Just head back inside the building and sit in comfy couches enjoying the pool and sea view. You could watch colorful fish in the garden or have an afternoon tea at the café.
Our mountain view room was also pretty amazing. It was big and luxurious, and we could see the Geopark from the bath tub and the balcony. It was very peaceful, and one of the best hotel rooms we’ve stayed in.
The sea was warm, blurry, and it was surrounded with a net to protect people from jelly fish. However, I would definitely recommend to head to the beachside for amazing sunset views after spending the day near the pool. Even if you lay on the beach during the day, the pool staff makes sure to make your time enjoyable by bringing cold water, small bites to eat or ice cream. Plus there is happy hour between 5pm and 7pm, and you can enjoy cocktails (I would definitely recommend the frozen fruit margarita) for half price.
The breakfast was outstanding, and more than expected. Homemade jams, Asian and International types of food and champagne made it perfect. From sushi to watermelon jam, it was just a complete buffet for an amazing start to the day.
If you’re visiting Langkawi to stay at this luxurious hotel, I would recommend at least 4-5 days to enjoy and relax. The Danna is 2 km away from both the scenic Langkawi Cable Car and the pedestrian-only Langkawi Sky Bridge so take a day or two for sightseeing. Once you reach the top of Machincang mountain with a cable car, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the islands and the flora around, and even see monkeys if you’re lucky.
Other things to do include night markets, diving, Cenang Beach, zip lining, island hopping with jet ski, 3D art museum, Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark and of course eating sea food. The island is rich in nature, so you wouldn’t regret even to take a walk around. Duty-free shopping is very common in the island as there are loads of duty free shops to buy chocolates, alcohol, perfumes etc. but we didn’t find prices very attractive.
As we visited in rainy May, the island was quiet and there were not many people around. The sky was grey and it was raining from time to time but we were not bothered. If you prefer the dry season when the tourists fill the island, it is between January and March.
In short, I would definitely recommend Langkawi as a destination and The Danna Langkawi as a hotel to stay when you’re visiting this beautiful island.
If you live in Europe and are looking for a weekend getaway, look no further than Como Lake. Abount 45 minutes away by car from Milan Malpensa Airport, the lake’s surrounding towns are extremely pretty. Set against the foothills of the Alps, the lake is shaped like an upside-down Y, with three slender branches that meet at the resort town of Bellagio. At the bottom of the southwest branch lies the city of Como and Cernobbio where we went to attend a wedding ceremony last weekend.
Flying from Qatar and Germany, we hired a car at Milan Malpensa Airport. As the wedding took place at the evening, we headed to ‘the pearl of Lake Como’ – Bellagio directly from the airport. Bellagio town is characterised by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest Italian wares. It is very small so you can easily walk around the town’s narrow streets, dine in one of the Italian restaurants, shop Italian fine leather and even swim in the stunning lake. If you don’t have a car, you can take the train from Milan to Como Town and then a ferry to Bellagio. You can even take your car in the ferry but parking may be a problem in this little town.
If you visit Bellagio, don’t miss the Basilica of San Giacomo and the stone tower (“Torre delle Arti Bellagio“), and avoid summer time if you don’t like the crowds. Restaurants and hotels are a bit expensive but the town itself is definitely worth a visit.
Varenna is an attractive village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio. The best way to get there from Bellagio is ferry, and the return trip costs 9 Euros per person. This fishing village which dates back to 11th century offers panoramic views and cafes overlooking the colorful houses on the shores of the lake. Walk along the lake side, and you will be amazed by the breathtaking views. Personally, Varenna is my favorite but others are also not to be missed.
Our last stop was Cernobbio. It is located about 40 kilometres north of Milan and about 2 kilometres northwest of Como, on the border with Switzerland and near the Lake Como. This little town is a popular holiday resort because of its proximity to the city of Como.
Other than checking out villas, having a bite at one of the restaurants and taking a walk near the lake watching swans, you can drive up to the Monte Bisbino taking the cycling route. It is a mountain of the Lugano Prealps, located west of Lake Como, and the view from the top is spectacular.
If you are considering to stay in Cernobbio, you have a lot of options. We stayed at Hotel Asnigo which has views of the lake and an outdoor pool. Villa d’Este is another option if you are into a bit of luxury. We were not allowed to check out Villa d’Este but it seemed pretty from the outside.
Rio De Janeiro is Brazil’s second populous city after Sao Paulo. Known with plentiful beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, bossa-nova rhythms, football players, dramatic mountains and of course samba dancers of Rio Carnival, the city is pretty vibrant and it is impossible not to fall in love with it.
Founded in 1565 by the Portuguese, Rio has the largest Portuguese population after Lisbon and the Portuguese cultural influence is still seen in many parts of the city. As Rio was once the capital of Brazil, many global companies have their headquarters here. Brazilians in Rio don’t speak English well but you won’t have difficulty if you speak a bit of Spanish.
Maybe not as much as Australia but Rio De Janeiro is pretty expensive, and it is one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Being the 5th biggest country of the world, Brazil is bigger than Europe and hosts the biggest amount of Catholics in the world (even more than Italy and Spain).
So here are my views about Rio De Janeiro and how you can make the best out of your Rio De Janeiro vacation:
When to visit:
There is really no bad time to visit the city but summer runs from December through the first half of March while the winter months are July, August and September.
Prices are lower in winter even though it only gets a bit chilly at nights (15 C). Don’t expect snow or real cold weather. On the other hand, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Carnival seasons attract the most tourists while the temperatures go up to 40 C.
Where to stay:
We stayed in Rio for 6 nights. All we wanted was to be close to beach so our options were Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon.
Before our trip, we were warned that Rio De Janeiro is not a safe place and we should be careful especially at nights. As Copacabana is more middle class and packed, we selected Ipanema which is a bit quieter and upper class. Leblon on the other hand is also upscale and safe, however Ipanema provides more options in terms of restaurants and shops. Also, it is easy to walk to Copacabana and to Leblon from Ipanema Beach as it is in the middle of the two.
We loved our stay at Best Western Plus Sol Ipanema Hotel. We were upgraded to a high floor sea view room and the beach just across the road was Posto Number 9 which was probably the best beach among all the others. The wide sandy beach was full of people chatting, sun bathing, having cocktails and showing off their bodies. The boardwalk was also fun. You can sit at one of the kiosks, have your coconut drink and watch people passing by with their skateboards, surf boards and bikes.
As we arrived the hotel pretty late, we were welcomed with Caipiroscas near the pool at the terrace of the building. It was a perfect place to be for the upcoming 7 days, before our trip to Salvador De Bahia.
The 5 main beaches of Rio from east to west are Leme, Copacabana (posto 2 to 6), Arpoador (posto 7), Ipanema (posto 8,9 and 10) and Leblon (posto 11 and 12). The largest and crowdest one is Copacabana, however Ipanema Beach is more trendy. Postos 8 and 9 are LGBT friendly, and you can see rainbow flags marking the area. As these two are full of open minded people, it felt like the most friendly and fun beach to me. There are caipirinhas in huge cups are being sold, and beach vendors are all around selling colorful beach towels and souvenirs.
If you are looking for a more exclusive and laid back beach, go for Leblon. But if you want to be in the heart of everything, go for Copacabana.
You can easily spend your days around Ipanema and Copacabana. If you wake up early, you will see men with sea beds and umbrellas making the beach ready for the day. You can go for a walk on the beach and see people working out or walking their dogs on the beach. It starts to get crowded around 9-10am and the quietness gets replaced by the crowds, hot men and women getting sun tan and beach vendors. A Jamaican vendor asked if we would like to buy magic cakes, and when we asked if it is legal – he replied that he creates his own rules. Then another vendor came and asked if we would like a huge cup of caipirinha or caipirosca. One huge cup of Caipirinha is like 4 Euros so we said why not!
What to see:
I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time in the city center but there are places you shouldn’t miss to see when you are in Rio De Janeiro. The cone-shaped Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian was pretty impressive. The famous Escadaria Selarón and Botanical Garden are not so far from the cathedral and are just walking distance. The streets are full of beautiful street art so don’t miss to take a few pictures of them.
At nights, you can go to Lapa area which is famous with its nightlife. Go for small laid back bars or check out Rio Scenario. Rio Scenario is a perfect place for a fun night out. There was a queue at the door, however it was worth the wait. The menu is delivered at the entrance and payment is done at the exit. You can dance, eat, drink and have an amazing night in this building’s different floors.
Other than above, I strongly recommend taking tours to see one of the seven wonders of the world – Christ De Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest and famous colorful favelas. If you get a chance, you can also watch a football game at Maracanã Stadium.
I was impressed by the number of tunnels I saw in the city. This is because the city was built in mountains and there are around 28 tunnels in Rio De Janeiro.
When it comes to Brazilian food, the 1st thing that comes up in minds is Churrascaria restaurants. These are basically places where meat is cooked in churrasco style (barbecue in Portugese). All you need to do is to take your salads and side dishes from the open buffet, and the meat will be served to your plate until you are full! Maybe not for the vegetarians but I love the idea of unlimited meat, all in different tastes.
We went to a restaurant called Carretao do Lido before watching the Platoforma Samba show. It was pretty good but if you ask for recommendation – go for CT Boucherie in Leblon area.
When it comes to drinks, Caipirinhas and Caipiroscas are everywhere. Caipirinha is made by mixing the famous Brazilian Cachaca, lime and sugar. Cachaca is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice and they also mix it with rum. The most famous local beers are Skol, Brahma and Anctartica.
What to buy from Rio De Janeiro:
While you are in Rio De Janeiro, you should treat yourself with a locally-made souvenir. A typical Brazilian bikini, the colorful Brazilian sarong called Canga, Cachaca to make Caipirinhas when you go back home, a pair of Hawaianas, coffee or jewelry if you’d like to spend a bit more.
After spending a week in Rio De Janeiro, we were all tanned and happy, and ready to move to our second stop in Brazil – Salvador De Bahia.