How to visit 4 European Capitals in a week

As much as I love my occasional road trips – the longer, the better – there’s one way of traveling I love just as much. Yes, I love sitting in the passenger seat next to my partner, while being in charge of the Spotify playlist, blasting my music out loud, only to get interrupted by the female voice of the GPS, silencing my favorite tunes to tell us to turn left or right in French.

What I love just as much as loud music and road trips,  is interrailing. If you’re not from Europe, chances are you might not be familiar with that term – although you are most likely  very familiar with the concept!

The Interrail Pass is a railway ticket available to European residents. Residents from countries outside of Europe can purchase the Eurail pass. You can purchase your travel pass from Interrail.eu – and yes, it will be cheaper and way more convenient than traveling from one airport to another to visit different cities in Europe. You’ll save time, money and energy – and the possibilities are endless!

You are free to do whatever you want. Whether it’s Scandinavia that caught your interest or you’re daydreaming about French cafes or Spanish flamenco or eating pasta in Italy, the choice is yours and there’s plenty to choose from. Here’s one possibility that includes none of the suggestions listed above, but something a little different – an easy way to start your interrail adventure if you’re a Eurotrip-rookie.

Warsaw (Poland) – Berlin (Germany) – Prague (Czech Republic) – Vienna (Austria)  and if you have 3-4 extra days, add Bratislava (Slovakia) – Budapest (Hungary) to the list.

Side note: Vienna will be the most expensive out of the four destinations, and Warsaw the cheapest, so spend your money wisely.

 

How to spend 2 days in Warsaw, Poland

The central train station is not located in the Old Town, but public transportation is great in Warsaw and it will take you approximately 10 minutes to get to the Old Town from the station. If you’re staying near the Palace of Culture and Science, you’re only a short walk away from your accommodation. Click here for more information about Warsaw Public Transport.

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Where to stay: If you’re a backpacker on a low budget, chances are you’re looking for a hostel rather than a hotel. Hotels are generally not that pricey in Poland, but it’s probably still more than what you’re looking to spend. Hostel Kanonia has good reviews and is located in the heart of the Old Town. If you’d rather pay more and stay at a hotel, you might as well stay at a 4-star one. After all, at Mercure Warszawa Centrum you’ll get a room for 50 euros per night, and for only 45 euros at Novotel Warszawa Centrum. These hotels are not located in Old Town, but a thirty minute walk will get you there (so  will the buses and trams). The hotels are close to the Palace of Culture and Science.

Where to eat: I’m telling you, you have to go to the restaurant chain Zapiecek and try the traditional Polish pierogis (dumplings). You can choose between boiled or fried dumplings, with filling of your choice + sauce of your choice, on the side. Also try the platzki (large fried potato pancakes). If you’re planning to walk the distance from Novotel or Mercure to Old Town, you’ll walk past a Zapiecek restaurant on your way there. It’s just across the street from Louis Vuitton.

Zapiecek is already quite cheap, but there’s one restaurant concept that is even more cheap – and no, it’s not fast food. Nor am I talking about somewhere where you can get yourself a sad little sandwich and some tap water. No. I’m talking about what once were state-run canteens serving cheap meals during the communist era. What has now made a comeback and is considered something retro and somewhat chic. The Milk Bars. Traditional Polish food, generous portions – and yes, it’s actually really good! My favorite Milk Bar in Warsaw is Mleczarnia Jerozolimska .

What to do:

  • Explore the beautiful Old Town and its architecture dating from the 17th and 18th century. Learn the history behind the city that was almost completely destroyed during Word War II, but rose from the ashes and blossomed into the UNESCO heritage site and beloved tourist attraction it is today.
  • At the entrance to the Old Town, there’s the Royal Castle, a castle residency that formerly served as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. Take the “Royal Route” and discover beautiful parks, architecture and learn about the history of Poland – way, way back in time.
  • “The Royal Route” will take you to the Wilanów Palace – a Royal Palace and one of Poland’s most important monuments. Built for King John III Sobieski in the 17th century and later enlarged by other owners.The gorgeous palace and its beautiful garden is as picture perfect as it gets and it makes you wonder what it would have been like to be a Polish princess.
  • Close to the Wilanów Palace, there’s another part of the “Royal Route” worth visiting. The Lazienki Park, the Palace on the Isle, the Myslewicki Palace, the old and the new Orangery, the different temples, the Chinese Garden – this park is full of treasures.Take your time. There’s a lot to see here!

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How to spend 2 days in Berlin, Germany

You might wanna study this metro map  and buy yourself a day-ticket, because you’ll certainly need it. That is, of course, unless you wanna walk for hours to get from A to B. Berlin is a big city and there’s a lot to see and a lot to do in the German capital. 

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Where to stay: So, when I was in Berlin, we rented an Airbnb apartment somewhere on the outskirts of the main center of the city. If you’re traveling alone, you’ll probably prefer something cheaper and maybe less isolated? I haven’t stayed at any hostel in Berlin, but this one, ONE80, seems to have a great reputation and good reviews. Also, it’s located right next to Alexanderplatz, which is right in the center of the city.

Where to eat: PraterGarten for traditional German cuisine – and all that beer. There’s plenty of options for meat lovers as well as for vegetarians. And as always in Germany, the portions are very generous. It will keep you full until the next day. I promise.

If you’re a meat lover, you might wanna try some curry wurst as well. Just go to any hot dog stand and look for it on the menu. It’s a popular, local specialty – and a cheap meal!

When in Germany, don’t miss out on the traditional German bakeries and cafes. In other words; eat cake. Some of the cakes on display are so beautiful to look at, it’s almost a shame to eat them. Others – the rustic pastries – taste better than they look. So if you find yourself craving something sweet, take a trip to the nearest Bäckerei!

What to do: 

  • When in Berlin, you have to see the most famous landmark in Germany; the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th century neoclassical  monument. Stroll along the square and continue to the Reichstag building. The Reichstag building was constructed in the 18th century, to house the Imperial Assembly of the German Empire. It was severely damaged after it was set on fire in 1933, and was not used for its original purpose for a very long time – that was until it was reconstructed and reopened again in 1999. It now serves the Parliament.
  • Opposite direction from the Brandenburg Gate, is the Memorial to Murdered Jews in Europe, a unique monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. And whatever you do, please don’t take selfies there. Yes, the monument makes kind of an edgy backdrop, but no, it’s not cool. It’s disrespectful.
  • Visit the Berlin Cathedral Church, or Berliner Dom as it’s called in German.
  • Take the “7 lakes tour” from Wannsee, a relaxing boat trip where you can sip a refreshing bright green or red beer (local fruit beers) while viewing the gorgeous scenery and enjoying the calm atmosphere.

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How to spend 2 days in Prague, Czech Republic

The central train station in Prague is not located in the Old Town. Prepare yourself for a 20 minute walk or taking the metro. The train station is located in a neighborhood that is, based on my own experience, completely safe. However, the station itself is like any other central train station in any capital city; a haven for pickpockets – and not somewhere you should hang out on your own, late at night. Here’s a guide to Prague Public Transport.

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Where to stay: When I was in Prague, I stayed at Falkensteiner Hotel Maria Prag – a hotel just across the street from the central station. I paid 99 euros per night, with breakfast included in the rate. It’s neither cheap nor expensive for Prague. It’s average. You can easily find something cheaper if you’re traveling on a low budget. One of the hostels I’ve heard a lot of good things about, is the Hostel Florenc , located next to the central bus station – and only a metro station away from the central train station. The hostel is newly renovated and have special options for vegans in the breakfast buffet. If you’d rather stay in the beautiful Old Town, there’s a lovely hostel only a 5 minute walk from the heart of the historical city center. Ahoy! Hostel has as many returning guests as new ones, and is known for its friendly staff, clean rooms and a lot of special facilities – such as free hot drinks, free Wi-Fi and a fully equipped kitchen.

Where to eat: My favorite restaurant in Prague is located close to the central train station. I first discovered it while wandering around looking for somewhere to go for dinner. A thing that really bothers me in Prague, is that people smoke indoors – everywhere. I remember entering a few restaurants that looked kind of nice from the outside, only to be greeted by a thick fog and the awful smell of cigarettes. After nearly twenty minutes of searching, I was seconds away from Googling the nearest McDonald’s. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I wanted goulash. And just down the street to the left of my hotel, there it was. A restaurant called Sherwood. A restaurant with a non-smoking section with clean, fresh air. A restaurant with delicious food and good drinks – and low prices, unlike the restaurants close to the tourist attractions in the city!

If you’re a beer lover and want a great night out (and can handle heavy cigarette smoke lingering in the air) or just wanna enjoy a couple of draft beers and a pub meal, check out Prague Beer Museum . They have 30 Czech craft beers on tap!

When in Prague, you might want to try the local street food, the sweet specialty called trdelnik. You’ll find it everywhere in the city. It’s dough rolled around a thick rolling pin, grilled on live coal and sprinkled with sugar. Basically a Czech doughnut.

What to do: 

  • Admire the amazing thirty baroque statues situated on the famous Charles Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue to the spectacular Prague Castle – the most significant Czech monument and an important symbol and cultural institution in the country. The castle, dating from the 9th century, is currently the residence of the President of the Czech Republic. It was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of former Czechoslovakia.
  • Every hour, you will see big groups of tourists gathering in front of the Old Town Hall to see the mechanical performance from the beautiful Astronomical Clock. The procession of Apostles, the music, the moving statues – it never fails to amaze people. If you want to catch the performance, I recommend you do it in the evening. The night sky adds a little extra magic to the experience!
  • Do you like graffiti? Then you might have heard of the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Since the 80’s, what once was a normal wall, has been filled with John Lennon-inspired street art and pieces of lyrics from Beatles’ songs.
  • If the Prague Beer Museum seems like a perfect place for you to hang out, chances are you will either hate or love the concept of a Beer Spa. All treatments are made using beer – and while enjoying your massage you get to drink as much beer as you want. I suggested the idea for my partner, but it was too weird for him. Oh well, maybe next time.

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How to spend 2 days in Vienna, Austria

The central train station is located in the Favoriten district, which is a heavily populated urban area with many residential buildings – but also parks and recreational areas. Many hotels are located here and in surrounding neighborhoods. The station is only a few blocks away from the Museumsquartier, which is the eight largest cultural area in the world. I stayed in this area, and I loved it. The beautiful baroque buildings, side by side with Modern architecture. I assume you wanna see the rest of the city as well, so here’s a guide to Vienna Public Transport.

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Where to stay: I stayed in the artistic Musemsquartier, at Hotel Viennart. I found a great discounted deal on Booking.com and went straight ahead and booked it. The hotel was lovely and the breakfast buffet had a wide variety of foods. If you’re lucky to find a similar deal, go for it. The regular rate listed on the website starts with 65 euros for a single room, breakfast excluded. A cheaper option in the nearby area is the Kaiser 23 – Hostel & Guesthouse , where you’ll get a private room for 37 euros per night – breakfast included.

Where to eat: My partner and I tried – yes, tried – twice to book a table at a restaurant called Fromme Helene. We never succeeded in our mission and the restaurant seems to be fully booked every single day, so you might wanna send them an e-mail and reserve a table quite early in advance if you wanna be one of the lucky chosen ones. The food there is supposed to be amazing!

When in Vienna, you have to try the local specialty; the Schnitzel, or at least eat at a restaurant that specializes in this and other traditional Austrian dishes. At Schnitzelwirt you’ll find all of that – and a lot of vegetarian options as well.

What to do: 

  • Visit the Historic Center of Vienna and admire its stunning architecture, including the Baroque castles and gardens and the 19th century Ringstrasse (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the numerous monuments along the boulevard.
  • The most frequently visited tourist attraction in Vienna is the beautiful Schönnbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer residence. The palace itself is gorgeous, but so is the sculpted garden. The garden contains, among other things, a maze (in case you’d like to pretend you’re Alice in Wonderland), an Orangery, a palm house and a Zoo.
  • Take a few pictures of the gorgeous Belvedere Palace, the former residence of the Price of Savoy – which now houses the Museum of Medieval Austrian Art, the Museum of Austrian Baroque, and the Austrian Gallery.
  • Channel your inner Austrian princess and listen to some Mozart while comfort eating some delicious cake. Not any cake, but the local specialty, Sachertorte. Comfort eating, because you’re probably broke by now. And if not… Those classical tunes will sound way better in concert ( Wiener Mozart Konzerte ).  Enjoy!

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My Travel Highlights of 2016

2017 is already here and my New Year’s resolutions have been made – along with an even larger bucket list than ever before. Seems like the more I travel, the hungrier I get for more. And the more I learn, the more I realize how little I once knew about the great world out there and all the people living in it. While 2016 was the year I traveled only within the borders of my continent, Europe, 2017 will take me to at least two others – and who knows where else destiny decides to take me this year?

2016 was a year filled with great highs as well as some lows. Unstable economy, feeling lonely as an expatriate in a foreign country, death in the family, losing touch with friends, pitching article after article to magazines with little result, getting criticized for putting so much time and effort into my blog when I “should be spending my time doing something more useful” – these events have caused a lot of stress, sadness and feeling of hopelessness for me. Traveling – and the love and support from my partner – gave me the strength I needed to be able to look back on 2016 as a great year instead of feeling like a complete failure.

Because…

I welcomed 2016 by watching the beautiful fireworks display in Warsaw, Poland with my family and my partner. We visited the Christmas market in the Old Town and danced the night away at the New Year’s gala in our hotel.

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I visited London, England for the first time in many years, and had a great time catching up with a friend who moved to London for work. We went salsa dancing, salsa eating (nachos) and visited all the touristic sites together.

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A romantic weekend trip to Copenhagen, Denmark was the Christmas present from me to my significant other. We stuffed our faces with Danish pastries, laughed our asses off while the fish tickled our toes at a duo fish spa, visited the castles and the little mermaid and enjoyed the snow – although I would have been happier if my partner hadn’t kept throwing snowballs at me.

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I visited Belgium for the first time…and second…and third. My partner and I embarked on plenty of amazing road trips this year and visiting certain destinations in Belgium was part of those trips. Romantic Bruges, charming Antwerp and multicultural Brussels. I’ve fallen in love with Belgium – and Belgian beer!

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And then there was the trip to Luxembourg in May. The surprise birthday present from my partner. We visited Luxembourg city, two castles elsewhere in the country and saw Hans Zimmer live in the amazing concert venue Rockhal. Probably the best birthday I’ve ever had.

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Late June and early July was spent traveling by train with my mother. From Oslo, Norway to Karlstad, Sweden – then back to Norway to visit Sandefjord and Kristiansand, before returning to Stavanger to spend a couple of days relaxing at home before returning to France. Photo below was taken while visiting Tungenes Fyr (lighthouse).

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The weekend of Bastille Day (14th of July) was spent visiting Saint Malo, Mont Saint-Michel, Dinan and Rennes in France. My partner and I watched the fireworks in Saint Malo, drank cider and ate delicious crêpes (the local Bretagne/Brittany specialty). Calories and carbs taste better in France than anywhere else.

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One of my biggest highlights of the year was to volunteer in Moldova. I got to know so many lovely people – volunteers and locals – and my host family was the nicest I could  ever have asked for. I also got to taste some amazing wine from the Purcari Winery while I was there. I’ve been spreading the word about how great Moldovan wine is, ever since.

 

Another great highlight was the writing retreat in Barcelona, Spain with Pink Pangea where I got to know like-minded travel writers – all women – explored the city of Barcelona and did a lot of soul searching as well. We laughed, shed some tears, plenty of hugs and shared our most personal stories – travel related and non-travel related. It was therapeutic and inspired me to not just become a better writer but a better person as well.

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In September my partner and I embarked on yet another road trip to a different part of France. This time to the southwest. We explored some spectacular caverns, enjoyed the local wines and visited idyllic and picturesque little towns. I have never taken as beautiful photos as I did in the southwest of France. No wonder so many people dream about this country, and so many writers find inspiration here.

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We didn’t spend longer than twenty-four hours at home before we were back on the road again. Well, towards the airport this time to catch a flight to Athens, Greece. The week in Athens was filled with food, historical ruins, food, more history and even more food. Greek cuisine is simply just too good!

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Winter Beer Day, Christmas markets and celebrating my parents wedding anniversary and my stepfather’s birthday was how we spent our long weekend in Hamburg, Germany…And taking pictures from the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. What a windy affair that was.

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And then there was December and all those Christmas markets. Paris (France), London (England), Reims (Champagne, France), Cologne (Germany) and Oslo (Norway). I didn’t get a white Christmas this year either, but I got so much more. So much more that mattered a lot more to me than snowflakes. Spending time at these markets with the people I care about, laughing, smiling and cheering while tasting local specialties – now that sure got me into the Christmas spirit! Photo below is from Oslo, Norway.

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Now, excuse me while I pack my bags to go to Marrakech, Morocco tomorrow. 2017 started in Trondheim, Norway and after a few days of rest in France I am now ready for new adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champagne Bubbles: Christmas market in Reims, France

Starting the afternoon with a champagne tasting in the region of Champagne, followed by a trip to the local Christmas market in Reims – now, that’s quite something!

According to multiple articles online and offline in local newspapers, the Christmas market in Reims ranked better than all the markets in the French capital. Reims, a city known as one of the centres of champagne production, is already quite touristic and already knows how to attract guests….besides the golden bubbles!

With the Christmas market centered around the beautiful Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you’re already off to a good start. Stay until darkness falls, and watch the magical sound and light show that illuminates the Cathedral. Make sure you find a good spot to watch it from, as the market gets very crowded in the evenings!

Are you visiting with small children? Do they like ponies? Who am I kidding…who doesn’t like ponies, right? At the Christmas market in Reims the little ones can go for a pony ride. I wanted to take a selfie with one of the ponies, but they were all surrounded by kids who wanted to pet them, so I decided to be an adult and walk away.

Speaking of entertainment for the little ones: they can meet Santa Claus here!

With over 120 chalets displaying local produce, ornaments, souvenirs and ideas for Christmas gifts (I fell in love with a backpack that I didn’t buy) it is certain you’ll find something to take home with you. And if you’re hungry for a sweet treat, there’s plenty of cookies, nougat, candy, churros, Belgian waffles and crêpes for you to dig in. However, if you want something savory, your options are limited to tartiflette, raclette and panini sandwiches. But don’t worry, there are quite a few restaurants conveniently located right next to the market, which gives you the option to leave and come back, just as you want.

And in terms of champagne tasting; you can do that at the Christmas market and around the corner from it too – whichever you prefer!

more information: Reims Tourism

when: until December 24th

where: Reims city centre (TGV train to Reims Centre)

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Eating & Drinking Our Way Through Brussels, Belgium

With a pint of raspberry flavored beer in one hand and my Brussels guidebook in the other, I tried to make some sort of a list of things to see and do in the capital city. We were only a forty-nine minute drive away from the city – according to Google maps – and in no hurry, whatsoever. The weather was lovely in Antwerp. Sunshine and not a cloud in sight. May the rest of the day be blessed with sunshine too – I said to myself. Fingers crossed.

Before making our way downtown, we went to see the Atomium, which is a building that was originally constructed for the Universal Exhibition – just like the Eiffel tower in Paris – and is now a major tourist attraction. The Atomium depicts nine atoms and is in the shape of the body-centered cubic unit cell of an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times.

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We didn’t buy tickets to enter the building itself as the lines were too long and we were too impatient to stand in what looked like a never-ending line to buy tickets, then another long line to enter. Neither me nor my partner were ever good at being tourists. We’re just good at taking photos of stuff and moving on to the next place. Which is exactly what we did.

We stayed at the Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre, a large hotel conveniently located in the heart of Brussels, just around the corner from the famous Manneken Pis. We were agreeably surprised by the price of the hotel. 130 euros for two nights  – including breakfast!

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Although we saved a lot of money thanks to our nice-price accommodation, we definitely didn’t keep our wallets closed while in Brussels. Not at all. Just ask the barmen and the chocolate-salesmen (and women).

I couldn’t resist buying myself a hot chocolate – white chocolate and coconut – from Le Comptoir de Mathilde , even though I didn’t initially want one. Everything in that store looked tempting, and I would have bought half the store if my partner hadn’t put his foot down and dragged me out of the store after I got my hot chocolate. No wonder I’m not skinny.

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We bought ourselves some yummy chocolate as well as cute souvenirs for our loved ones at the lovely store La Belgique Gourmande. I wanted to buy everything there. I mean, I found the most adorable cookie tins – obviously filled with deliciousness – which would fit perfectly together with all the other stuff I’m hoarding in my apartment. La Belgique Gourmande also offered a large selection of beer. But so did the mini market around the corner. And the souvenir shops across the street. That’s just Belgium, really.

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Speaking of beer; when in Brussels, you have to visit Delirium Café. This bar is enormous, and so is their selection of beer. With 30 beers on tap and over 3000 beers in total, how can a beer lover possibly resist? Even if you don’t like beer, you’ll love the Belgian fruit beers. Hands down. I ordered the cactus beer by Floris (photo below – the green one), which was one of the few fruit beers on tap. And I loved it. Amazingly refreshing and sweet, but not too sweet.

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The most beautiful part of Brussels is without a doubt the Grand Place, or Grote Markt, the central square of the city – and a World Heritage Site. There’s no better place in Brussels to take beautiful pictures than here. “Smile to the camera,” he said. I did, but not to the camera. I looked away instead. “Let’s get back to the hotel and relax with a beer before dinner,” I suggested. He laughed at me. “All you wanna do is drink beer”. He made it sound like I had a drinking problem. My only problem was feeling like a kid in a candy store. That’s me in Belgium.

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C’est Bon, C’est Belge was the name of the restaurant we went to that evening. And yes, it was good. Traditional Belgian cuisine. It was really good. We both ordered the same thing; a tasting platter with five different traditional local dishes and some deli meat/sausages. Everything tasted as good as I imagined it would. And the waiter was everything you want in a waiter: he had a great sense of humor, he was efficient and he knew the menu by heart – and the beers too!

As always, whenever I visit a new place, I check out their local coffee shops. So in Brussels I found this place called OR Espresso Bar. When I told my partner I wanted to go there, his immediate reaction was “but you don’t like espresso”. Which is true. I don’t like espresso, but as a coffee shop, I knew they’d have other things too. Like the lemonade he ordered for himself. Me, I went with a classic latte.

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And what better way to say goodbye to Brussels than by eating waffles? Mokafé is known for serving the best Belgian waffles in Brussels, so we went there after breakfast. Yes, after breakfast. We weren’t hungry, we just needed to stuff our faces with a large amount of Belgian calories. Just one last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Ancient Ruins of Athens, Greece

Ah, Greece. The fascinating country with an even more fascinating history – and mythology. Travel back in time and imagine the city as it was during the classical period of ancient Greece. Back when Athens was the center for the arts, learning and philosophy.

Visit the ruins  of what once was a spectacular library. Visit the ruins of the many temples built in honor of the Greek gods and goddesses. Visit the ancient cemetery. Ancient theaters. The stadium. For the love of Zeus – just put on some good shoes, bring your camera and visit absolutely everything!

I visited Athens with my significant other. What was supposed to be a relaxing beach vacation on the outskirts of Athens, turned out to be more of an educational city trip instead. After just a day of doing nothing, we both realized how difficult it is for two restless adventure-seekers to be able to enjoy a full week of laziness, so we decided to take the local bus (KTEL) to Cape Sounio (photos below) to see the beautiful ruins of the Temple of Poseidon. Two days later we took the bus the opposite direction, to the city of Athens where we spent a complete day exploring the city. Two days later, we went back to the city for another full day of exploring monuments, ruins and everything else that makes Athens as fascinating as it is. In Athens, you never really run out of things to do.

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As we got off the bus in Athens we were kind of clueless as to where to start – and we didn’t even know where we were, except that we were somewhat close to the Acropolis. Turned out we were right in front of the Parliament House – just in time to see the changing of the guard. A fun experience for tourists. And it’s totally free. Too bad I forgot to take pictures of the ceremony.

We continued to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, where we were given the option to buy individual tickets to see the temple only – or a package which allows you to visit multiple sites on the same ticket. We already knew we wanted to visit the Acropolis anyway, so we went with the package deal. Considering we ended up visiting every single site listed on the ticket, we definitely made the right decision – which also saved us a lot of money!

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While on our way to the next site, we made a quick stop to photograph the Arch of Hadrian, a monumental gateway between the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the rock of the Acropolis. Speaking of Acropolis; did you know that the word acropolis comes from the Greek words “akron” (highest point) and “polis” (city)?

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Ancient citadel, historical Acropolis was as captivating as I expected it to be. But also as crowded – and under renovation. Even with cranes, workers and selfie-taking tourists blocking the full view, visiting these ruins is a magical experience unlike any other. I overheard tourists comparing it to Rome, but this is nothing like Rome. This is Athens. They are both beautiful cities and might have certain similarities, but you shouldn’t compare. The Greek gods would not approve of comments like that. I don’t know about you, but when in Greece, I think it’s a good idea not to mess with them!

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The Parthenon, a former temple on the Acropolis. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena.

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Built at the foot of the Acropolis, there’s the Theater of Dionysus. It was used as a theater since the sixth century Before Christ, and has recently been brought back to life as it has been renovated and will apparently be hosting more and more theater performances in the future.

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As fascinating as the ruins are, there’s also another reason to visit the Acropolis. Just check out this gorgeous view over the city!

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After visiting the Acropolis, we walked down the hill – only to walk up another one, to get a great view over the Acropolis from a distance. While on top of the Areopagus rock (Areopagus translates to “Ares’ Hill”) we enjoyed the view – together with a bunch of other tourists. A lot of tourists visit this rock because it was, supposedly, from this location Apostle Paul had delivered his famous speech, “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands”.

We didn’t hang out there for too long as we were both starting to feel quite thirsty and slightly tired. We needed to sit down somewhere, preferably a nice little cafe or restaurant – with an ice-cold, refreshing beverage.

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We wanted to visit Hadrian’s Library the same day, but had to save it for later as it was closed by the time we got there. On our second day trip to Athens, we did indeed get to visit this library created by Roman Emperor Hadrian. Once the largest library in Athens, now only ruins are left.img_20161011_212110

We also visited the Temple of Hephaestus. I was surprised by how well-preserved this temple is!

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The last site we visited was Kerameikos, the ancient cemetery of Athens which is an archaeology site and museum….and for some reason it’s also the home of land turtles? At least we found five individual turtles wandering around the site, happy and healthy.

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