10 Reasons to Visit Holbox Island in Mexico

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Holbox(pronounced “Hol-bosh” in English) is an island in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located on the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. As it offers a perfect mix of relaxation, nature, great weather and a laid-back lifestyle, it should be an island in your travel bucket list before it gets packed with tourists.

How to get there when you are in Yucatan Peninsula:

By the ferry;

Ferry to Holbox island is located in Chiquila, about 1 hour and 48 mintues from Cancun Airport. From Chiquila, there are two ferry companies operating boats every 30 minutes to Holbox for the same price, 120 pesos. The water is calm and the ferries have a sun deck as well as air conditioned cabins. The ride takes about 25-30 minutes and you may even spot the flamingos on your way to Holbox Island.

By the air taxi;

Another option is the air taxi. You can fly from Cancun or Playa del Carmen directly to Holbox on a small 5 seat plane with AeroSaab Airline. The airline also offers aerial and panoramic tours over Chichen Itza or Holbox.

By ADO Bus and Ferry;

ADO Bus leaves from Playa Del Carmen and Cancun and arrives in Chiquila so that you can take the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox island. Checking departure times is highly recommended as the times may vary.

When you travel to Holbox, don’t forget to;

  1. Bring enough cash as the cash machines don’t always work
  2. Bring some mosquito repellent as it gets pretty annoying with mosquitos during the sunset 
  3. Take a golf cart taxi when you get off the ferry, it’s only 40 pesos

So here are the top 10 reasons to visit Holbox Island when you are in Mexico:

1- Beautiful Crystal Clear Beaches:

Holbox’s vibe is more barefoot on the beach than late nights at the club. Stunningly beautiful, clean, warm, shallow and flat waters had not a single seaweed when Cancun and Tulum beaches were full of them.

Mexico’s best barefoot beaches come with over-water hammocks, creating a relaxing atmosphere for the visitors.

There are 6 beaches around the island and the Holbox Beach is the most popular one. If you like to discover the remote beaches, head to Punta Coco or Punta Mosquito.

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2- Beautiful (and partly untouched) Nature 

Holbox is rich in marine life such as sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks, making it a perfect destination for snorkelling. In addition to the marine life, you can spot beautiful birds and flamingos in especially quieter areas of the island. Many of these birds reproduce on the island so it is common to see the nests in the local vegetation. As Holbox is located in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, you will witness the abundance of wildlife in this beautiful off-the-beaten-track location.

3- Amazing Food and Drinks

There are no chain restaurants or cafes in Holbox Island, but the streets are full of street food vendors where you can eat delicious tacos and local Mexican food. There are also a lot of trendy restaurant options, but our favorite was Taco Queto, which opens only evenings for dinner and gets packed up really quickly. Gringos, quesadillas and guacomole are definitely recommended!

Dining and having cocktails on the beach bars with swinging seats was also a great experience. Have sunset drinks in Raices Beach, and taste the famous Mexican drink ‘Michelada’ made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers.

4- Bioluminescence Sea

Punta Cocos is the perfect beach to spend the whole day! During the day, you can float in the shallows,  laze in the hammocks and walk along the perfectly white and sublime sands while at nights you can witness the bioluminescent phenomenon.

If you stay in the center, rent a bicycle, stock up and head to Punta Cocos to experience the sunset and swim in the bioluminescent sea. The road is dark but safe and doable.

5- Nightlife and Entertainment

Holbox is full of laid back beach bars where you can have your drinks in your swimsuits. We liked Zomay Beach Bar and Raices Beach Club for sunset drinks but there are also some hotel rooftops such as Mandarina Rooftop or Los Pedales in the famous Hotels Villas Flamingos.

For the late night drinks and live music, the famous corner is the ‘Hot Corner’. This fun, laid-back, open-air bar offers a rustic hipster atmosphere. During the day the vibe is relaxed, you can chill out on the outdoor sofas or enjoy some yummy snacks, while at night the place comes to life.

‘Mezcalito’ is another option on the island. There is great live music, reasonably priced drinks and a great atmosphere to meet fellow travelers or partying locals. Make sure to get there after eleven because you will be alone before that time.

6- Swimming with the Whale Sharks

Holbox has gained popularity since they offer tours for swimming with whale sharks from around 15th May until 15th September. If you are in Holbox during these dates, this is one activity you won’t want to miss. This ultimate sea safari is offered by almost all tour companies in the island.

7- Amazing Works of Street Art

Holbox participated in the first ever Festival Internacional de Arte Publico (FIAP) or, International Public Art Festival, in 2015 when they invited a group of international artists to come paint amazing works of art all over the town. This definitely gave the island a colorful characteristic.

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8- Doing Nothing

Even though you have the option to fill your days with tours, it is perfectly fine to do nothing in Holbox island. Take your book, lay on a hammock or head to a beach bar, eat tacos and enjoy doing nothing in the paradise. It will be a day to remember. 

9- Laid-back Lifestyle

Holbox is one of the quietest islands of Yucatan peninsula, and it doesn’t get a bulk of tourists yet. Visitors can walk around the town without shoes as almost the whole island is covered with the white sand.

There are bicycles and golf cards as the cars are not allowed on the island. If you want to rent bicycles, many stores in the island offer it for 20 pesos an hour (~$1) or a golf cart for 40 pesos.

10- Beautiful Sunsets

The sunsets on Holbox beaches are absolutely magical! While you can witness the beauty of sunset on almost all of Holbox beaches, I would highly recommend renting a bicycle and getting to Punta Coco one afternoon. Pack some drinks and snacks too, as you may want to stay longer to experience the remarkable bioluminescent phenomenon.

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All You Need to Know Before Travelling to Namibia

Namibia is rated as one of the best holiday destinations in the world. The country offers many attractive sights such as Sossusvlei, Etosha National Park, Spitzkoppe or Damaraland, and breath-taking sceneries that make Namibia stand out as a tourist destination.

There is so much to see, and so many options to consider in terms of the route, timing, hotels, camps etc. But don’t worry! Planning your holiday to Namibia will be fun, and here are the fundamental things to consider before you start planning your amazing trip to Namibia;

1- Check how many days you want to spend in Namibia:

The first thing we had to do when planning our travel to Namibia was to extend our trip.  For a real Namibia experience, one should spare at least 2 weeks to be able to see all the touristic highlights which involve a bit of wildlife, a bit of desert and of course a lot of nature.

2- Check if you need a visa:

People from the visa-restricted countries will need to apply for a touristic visa in their home country at the Namibian representation. Should there not be any representation in your country, you can contact an immigration agent in Namibia who will obtain on your behalf a “letter of approval” which will be used to enter into Namibia.

People with German, British, American, Canadian, Japanese, South African and Australian passports don’t require to get a touristic visa for Namibia, however, the other nationals like myself will need to prepare the documents and apply at a Namibian representation unless you prefer to go for the below option.

Below option is hassle-free and the quickest!

If you need a touristic visa and don’t want to deal with all the hassle, just contact Raymond Bere from Roncook Tours on raymond.bere@roncooksafaris.com
You may start thinking if it is a scam, but it is not! I sent my passport scan, home address, flight tickets copy and it took 5 days for me to get an approval for my visa.

If you wish, you can also consult Raymond for a Namibian self-drive package or a customised tour.

3- Decide on a route:

Namibia is huge! Considering the most popular Namibia itinerary is Windhoek—Etosha National Park—Swakopmund—Sossusvlei—Windhoek (or the reverse) and one can drive this route in 10 days, you will need more than 10 days to actually be able to relax, enjoy and maybe add another interesting place such as Damaraland or Okonjima.

Remember that it is always about the experience, so you may also want to experience staying inside Etosha Park and watch all the animals gathering around a water hole after the other people go to their rooms. Alternatively, stay in Damaraland’s remote hotels (or even tents) to experience a romantic night by encountering the milky way under a clear sky.

We have planned a 14 days self-drive tour for the following itinerary: Windhoek – Sossusvlei – Twyfelfontein – Etosha South (outside the park) – Etosha Park (Halali Camp) – Etosha East – Okonjima – Windhoek. This itinerary basically lets you relax every two days and drive 3 to 5 hours from one place to another.

4- Decide if you want to do a self-drive tour or a package tour:

A self-drive road trip through Namibia is an incredible way to see the country, so we decided to go for this option after thinking about it for a long time! (We actually ended up making the bookings at the last minute!)

Tour agencies in Namibia offer customised tours as well as accommodation and car rental depending on your needs. As long as you know where you wish to go and stay, booking yourself will save you some money and the hassle of making bookings and payments ahead of your travel. Plus the self-drive option will allow you to discover the hidden sights of such a magnificent country.

Just to give an idea, accommodation in mid-upper range hotels and a 4X4 car rental for 14 days cost around 1,500-2,000 USD per person.  This can naturally be decreased by going for a camping option, smaller car or booking way earlier.

If you will go to Sossusvlei, I strongly recommend renting a 4X4 for an easier ride. Note that smaller cars are not allowed in the park to see the Dune 45 and Dead Vlei so you may end up hiking if you don’t rent a 4X4.

If you go for a self-drive option, make sure to download Google Maps and download the offline map of Namibia to use it as a GPS.

Google Maps is such a handy app that we always use during our travels. All you need is to download the offline map of the country and use it as a GPS even if you don’t have a reception or internet! As it uses a satellite GPS positioning, you won’t have any issues.

Note that the roads in Namibia are on the left side of the road but it is a vast country and there won’t be many cars or traffic on the roads.

5- Check the weather, it may be freezing at nights in winter time:

As Namibia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the winter time is between May/June and September. During this time, expect some pleasant days and freezing cold nights which may fall down to minus degrees. Not all hotels provide heating or a fireplac, and considering you will want to wake up at the sunrise to catch a glimpse of beautiful scenery, you will need warm clothes and maybe even a hot water bottle.

6- Prepare the Namibia Packing List and Start Shopping:

Here is your packing list for Namibia:

  • Passports and visas
  • Vaccination certificate(not necessary)
  • International drivers licence
  • Travel insurance

Clothing:

  • Warm clothes for the night
  • Hats
  • Swimsuits 
  • Neutral coloured clothing for safari
  • Closed shoes or trainers
  • Flip flops
  • Scarf to be protected from the sand
  • Backpack / Rucksack to take on safari rides or hiking

Electronics and others:

  • Flashlight (or use your phone’s flashlight)
  • Phone charger for the car
  • Electrical adapter (South African – Type D and M)
  • Binoculars
  • Portable Mp3 Player
  • Kindle or an ebook
  • Medicine and a first aid kit
  • Camera, external drive, lenses, charger and tripod if you are into photography
  • Headphones
  • Memory cards
  • Drone (you need to register)
  • Cooler
  • Sunscreen and sunburn lotion
  • Insect repellent
  • Toilet paper

If Camping:

  • Toiletries
  • Trash bags
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Brush to clean the sand
  • Mattress
  • Pillow
  • Headlight

Shopping will not end before you travel because you will need to do some water and food shopping when you are in Namibia. Especially if you are heading on a road trip, make sure to pack extra supplies such as water, food, fuel and warm clothing as you may get stuck in the middle of the road and don’t see anyone around.

The Most Instagrammable Places in Marrakech

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!

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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.

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Riad Karmela Princesse

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 are 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.

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La Mamounia Hotel

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.

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Le Salama Rooftop

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.

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Jardin de Majorelle

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.

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Palace de Bahia

7- Jewish Cemetery

This is not really a very touristy spot, however, the cemetery offers pretty picturesque views.

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The Jewish Cemetery

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Tokyo

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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:

  1. 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).

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  1. Shibuya Crossing:

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.

 

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Shibuya Crossing view from Starbucks

 

  1. Subway Queues:

Taxis are expensive in Tokyo, however, 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.

 

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Rush hour in Tokyo

 

  1. 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.

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  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

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Tsukiji Fish Market

 

  1. Takeshita Street:

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!

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Takeshita Street

 

  1. Ginza Street:

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.

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Ginza Street
  1. 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.

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  1. Nightlife:

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.

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An additional tip for art enthusiasts: If you are interested in contemporary art, I would highly recommend the 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 🙂

How to Spend Two Days in Vienna

 

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Grand Ferdinand Hotel’s terrace

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!

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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.

https://grandferdinand.com 

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3- Eat schnitzel at Figlmuller 

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.

https://www.figlmueller.at

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Figlmuller’s Wienerschnitzel

4- Take a picture of Hundertwasserhaus:

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.

 

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The queue for the Cafe Sacher

 

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.

 

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Schonbrunn Gardens

 

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.

Dublin Vibes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

http://www.fallonandbyrne.com/

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Sophie’s:

Located in a stylish hotel, Sophie’s is a beautiful and modern glasshouse restaurant. You can enjoy the 360 degree views of Dublin while eating your delicious meal.

http://sophies.ie/

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Rustic Stone:

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.

http://www.rusticstone.ie/

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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.

A paradise in Malaysia: The Danna Langkawi

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The Danna Langkawi

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.

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The SkyBridge Langkawi

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.