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.

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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.

 

Weekend in Como Lake

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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.

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Como Lake view from Hotel Asnigio, Cernobbio

Bellagio:

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.

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Bellagio streets

Varenna:

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.

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Varenna – the view from Bar Il Molo

Cernobbio:

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.

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Cernobbio

Rio De Janeiro: Home of Football and Samba

 

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Ipanema Beach

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.

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Street Art in Rio’s city centre

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.

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Favelas

Beaches:

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!

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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.

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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.

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Food:

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.

 

Cherry Blossoms in Bonn

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When it’s about cherry blossoms, first destinations that come up in the minds are Japan and Washington DC, but the city of Bonn’s cherry blossoms are totally beating the competition these days.

Named among the ‘Places to See Before You Die’, Aldstadt (old district) of Bonn, Germany is covered with pink cherry blossoms for 20 days in spring. The trees were planted in 1984 and cherry blossoms are very sensitive to rain or cold.

French-inspired Old Town district is currently very popular with tourists and visitors so waiting for your turn for taking pictures might be a bit of challenge. Here are the photos that I managed to take this weekend in Bonn.

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Why Visit Bonn:

Bonn is former capital of Germany and is also known by being the birthplace of the great composer Beethoven. The famous candy-maker Haribo has its headquarters in Bonn too. With its bakeries all around the city, café and bars on the streets of central area with many students, and a lot of greenery, it is a charming city lying on the romantic river Rhein.

Bonn is also a good base for day trips to Cologne or Dusseldorf by train or car. If you are planning a visit to Bonn, the carnival in February and cherry blossoms in April-May are not to be missed!

 

 

Crystal Clear Waters and White Sandy Beaches of Boracay

 

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Southeast Asia has always been our favourite holiday destination. It just never fails you if you are into a relaxing and affordable vacation. No posh clothes, no restaurant reservation requirements and no security concerns. It is a place where you can be yourself and enjoy to the max.

Boracay is one of those destinations where you could be yourself while discovering and admiring the views it offers, people’s friendliness, culture and relaxation. And the greatest part is what we’ve experienced in Boracay has exceeded our expectations.

In 2013, the readers of Travel & Leisure voted Boracay the second best island destination in the world after Palawan. Even though we never thought about going to Philippines especially for a 7 nights vacation, we knew we wanted to recharge our batteries in this 7 km tall island after seeing its postcard-like beaches and sunsets.

Boracay is a small island in the central Philippines. East coast of the island is pretty windy making itself kite surfers paradise while the west coast, White Beach is backed by palm trees, bars and restaurants. Lots of wedding ceremonies take place on the White Beach during sunset as it has a miraculous atmosphere and scenery.

How to get there:

From Manila, you can fly either to Kalibo or Caticlan to reach Boracay Island. I strongly recommend flying to Caticlan even the flights are a bit more expensive than those fly to Kalibo Airport.

If you fly to Manila from another country, you will need to take a taxi to reach the domestic departures in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL). Make sure to take a yellow metered taxi as we ended up paying 1,000 PHPs to one of the white taxis to go to another terminal. With yellow taxis, it costs max 150 PHPs to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4.

If you fly to Caticlan Airport: All you need to do is to take a boat/ferry from the Caticlan Jetty Port and get to Boracay in 7-8 minutes. You will need to take a tricycle from where you arrive in Boracay to get to your hotel and reaching to Station 1 from the jetty port takes 15 minutes.

If you fly to Kalibo Airport: You can arrange different shuttle options from the airport anytime, but the most affordable option is to take a yellow metered taxi to Caticlan Jetty Port (takes 1,5 hours), then take a boat to Boracay and then a tricycle to your hotel. The total journey takes about 2 to 2,5 hours so flying to Caticlan Airport will definitely save you time and energy.

In terms of flight times, I’m not sure if it’s common but both of our AirAsia flights from/to Kalibo got delayed. We were thankful for that as we had to spend extra time to find our luggage and we would miss our flight if it wasn’t delayed.

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When to visit:

The best time to visit Boracay is November to May when the weather is around 25-32 C and dry. However, some people prefer to visit between October and December as it is before all the crowds fill the island.

Easter and Chinese New Year are the most crowded times, so try to avoid these times as it may get pretty crowded.

Visa:

Many nationalities don’t require a visa to enter Philippines. Just make sure to check your visa requirements here.

Also, note that you will be charged 200 PHP when you leave the domestic airports Kalibo or Caticlan, so don’t forget to bring some cash with you when you are leaving the island.

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The Lind Boracay

Where to stay:

Boracay is a small island and wherever you stay, you always have a chance to go to other areas of the island easily with hotel shuttles or tricycles.

Station 1, 2 and 3 are the most touristic areas where everything is happening. Station 1 is the quietest of the three stations with some nice hotels and resorts, but it is also the most expensive one. Walking towards Station 2, it gets noisy especially at nights with the music coming from different bars, restaurants and clubs. Station 3 has more budget friendly hotels and is quieter than Station 2.

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White Beach Boracay

We stayed at The Lind Boracay at the Station 1 and we loved our stay. It is a good choice for those looking for a bit of luxury, but still want to be close to the central area. Not that you need it in Boracay but it is also a good option if you are looking for a hotel with a nice infinity pool. We had a room upgrade and very welcomed (and spoiled) by the friendly staff.  The restaurant and bar is a bit more expensive than the other places on White Beach but everywhere is walking distance. For example, if you don’t want to pay 170 PHPs for a beer, you can walk to Station 2 or 3 and it gets as cheap as 40 PHPs.

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The Lind Boracay

If you are travelling as a group and self catering is not a matter, you may also want to rent one of the villas on the beach.

Another option is to stay a bit further from Station 1, around Diniwid Beach. It is as quiet as Station 1 but cheaper. We loved sunset views from there especially by sitting at Wahine Bar. The rustic bamboo-built guesthouse Spider House Resort around the corner could also be an option to stay as it looked pretty laid back.

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Diniwid Beach – Wahine Bar

Shangri-La Boracay is another option for those seeking for another kind of luxury in a secluded area on the north. The hotel is huge and located on a hill. The area is so large that you need to call a buggy to go around. Probably the most expensive hotel in Boracay, it seemed like a perfect honeymoon hotel. The Chi Spa is also amazing so I recommend getting at least a massage there even if you prefer to stay somewhere else.

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Chi The Spa at Shangri-La Boracay

What to do and see:

Boracay is a place where you can spend a week or two even though there is not many attractions.

Water sports is very common in the island. You can rent a kayak, go for parasailing, take a sailing tour around the island or try stand up paddling. You can also hire a boat for half day and do island hopping to see Puka Beach, Crocodile Beach and Tambisaan Beach. There are also around 15 dive sites where you can experience underwater.

Other tours you can take are cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, zip lining, atv rides and of course sunset watching either from the beach or a sailing boat.

You can get a massage in a luxurious spa at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa or in one of the hundreds of small spa centres near the beach.

At nights, you can enjoy watching fire dancers while sipping your drinks in the outdoor clubs, try shisha (with or without alcohol) sitting on the bean bags on the beach, or have a quiet night out at a reggie bar while having your dinner. We loved Jony’s Beach Bar as it was quiet and also close to Station 2. Almost all bars and restaurants offer happy hours until 7pm or 8pm so you can also try region’s famous mango cocktails while watching amazing sunsets.

Sunsets are insanely beautiful! I would suggest escaping the crowds and loud music of Station 2 to watch the sky turning red, blue and purple. Other than Station 1, Diniwid Beach and Puka Beach are also quite spots, and both can be reached by tricycles from DMall.

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Puka Beach Boracay

After spending 7 nights at this amazing island, we were totally relaxed, tanned and recharged. So thanks Boracay, for giving us a week of amazing memories, and letting us to see your unforgettable beauty!

Travel Bucket List – 1 

Just like every other traveler, I also have a travel bucket list from watching Northern Lights in an Igloo Hotel in Northern Finland to roaming the skies of Bagan with a hot-air balloon. So here is my list with some essential information and tips which may be useful for travelers while planning their trips.

Myanmar: Hot Air Ballooning in Bagan

What to see in Myanmar: Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake.

Time required: 10 days required if you are including domestic flights.

Visa: You need to apply for an e-visa here. It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and at three Thai-Myanmar land border crossings Tachileik, Myawadi and Kawthoung.

When to visit: November to March is the high season.

Jordan: See Petra World Heritage Site at night

What to see: Enter through the Siq and get out from The Treasury – the most photographed part of the area due to its fame from Indiana Jones. Then you may hike up to a mountain to the monastery building. If you visit at night, you will feel the mystery of place by passing through hundreds of candles in Siq.

Time required: 1 day would be more than enough to see the historical site. However, if you’d like to go ahead and see Dead Sea and Amman itself, add one more day and make it a weekend trip.

When to visit: As it is generally hot in Petra, spring or autumn are the best times to visit Petra. If you’re there in summer, try to get out early morning before it gets hot and crowded.

How to get there: It is 4 hour drive from Amman Airport, however you can also take a taxi from airport to Amman bus station so that you can take a public bus to the historical site.

Where to stay: Wadi Musa area is just 10 minutes walking distance from Petra so you may want to stay there to be close.

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Petra by night – Photo credit: Susanahajer

Bhutan: See The Mysterious Land of the Thunder Dragon

What to see: It’s worth to see Bhutan’s landscapes and well-preserved Buddhist temples especially Takstang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. Tiger’s Nest is built around a cave where the Indian guru Rinpoche meditated in the eighth century. Today, visitors reach the monastery after a two-hour climb that is not for the faint of heart.

Visa: Tourists(except Bangladesh,India and Maldives passport holders) must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners to pre-arrange their visa and book their holiday. A daily fee is also charged for each day of your stay. For most foreign tourists, it costs $250 a day during the high season, and $200 a day for the low season. However, the good news is that the visa covers most of the things and there is nearly nothing to buy in Bhutan.

When to visit: October to December is the best time to visit as the air is clear and fresh during this season.

How to get there: Druk Air is the only airline that serves Bhutan. Flights enter from Delhi, Calcutta and Kathmandu.

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Bhutan – Photo credit: Douglas J. McLaughlin (edited by Vassil)

Tanzania: Safari in Serengeti

When to visit: Wildlife viewing is good throughout the year but June and July are the best times as you may get a chance to see the great migration.

How to get there: Most safaris to the Serengeti start from the town of Arusha. The best option to get there is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport which is 46km away from Arusha. Arusha to Serengeti takes 8 hours by car but safari tours include other parks on the way so tour companies make it a day or two.

5 days safari tours including Serengeti and Ngorongoro start from 900-1000 Euros per person.

Japan: See Cherry Blossoms

When to visit: March to May is the perfect season to see cherry blossoms.

Time required: Kyoto offers more temples, history and things to do for tourists, so spending more time there than Tokyo is suggested. One can easily spend 2 weeks in these two but if you want to limit it, 4 days in Tokyo and 6 days in Kyoto would be sufficient.

Where to go: The capital Tokyo and the cultural centre Kyoto are the priorities even though there are more to see and discover in Japan. Mt Fuji is also a must! For 4 days in Tokyo:

Day 1: See the modern west

Day 2:  See the traditional east

Day 3: Take a day trip to Mt Fuji

Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, Imperial Palace and Shinjuku (also the best area to stay)

How to get there: Tokyo has two airports – Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND). Haneda is closer to the city so it would be the faster and cheaper option.

To go to Kyoto from Tokyo, take the shinkansen train from Tokyo Station. It takes 2 hours and 15 minutes (don’t take the slowest one called Kodama but the faster Nozomi or Hikari) to Kyoto and there are shinkansen every hour between Tokyo and Kyoto until 7:50pm.

Cambodia: Catch the breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat

Visa: You need to apply for an eVisa here.

Time required: 2 to 3 days would be enough to see Cambodia.

What to see: Visit archeological park and temples in the afternoon and enjoy sunset in Siem Reap. Enjoy the sunrise at Angkor Wat and take a tuk tuk (1 hour) to see Banteay Srei.

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Angkor Wat – Photo credit: Sam Garza (wikimedia)

Chile: Visit one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands – Easter Island 

What to see: It is one of the most remote places in the world. However, it is worth to go to see moai, colossal statues that were each carved from a single stone sometime between 1200 and the mid 17th century. Group tours are the most common way to explore the island.

When to visit: As it is on the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. There is Tapati Festival end of January to the start of February each year so you may want to consider planning the trip around these days.

How to get there: Take a 5 hours domestic flight from Santiago, Chile to Hanga Roa.

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Northern Lights in Finland – Photo credit: Timo Newton-Syms

See Northern Lights from an Igloo Hotel in Finnish Lapland

What to see: Of course the nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis in one of the world’s best locations to watch this beautiful show.

When to visit: From late August to April.

How to get there: You can get to Lapland from Helsinki or Tromso, Norway. The high speed train – Lapland Express which takes you to Rovaniemi  leaves from Helsinki on Saturdays at 09:30 and arrives at 17:45 the same day. The train back to Helsinki leaves on Sunday around 15:00 and reaches the capital at around midnight. More info can be found here.

Where to stay: There is a selection of places that have made it very easy to keep cosy and sleep well under the Aurorae on Visit Finland’s website.

What is your travel bucket item? Feel free to share yours in the comments below.