Everything you need to know about Wieliczka Salt Mine || Visiting Krakow, Poland

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I visited Wieliczka Salt Mine as part of my trip to Krakow. I remember going there once before as a kid when I was still at school but I could not remember much about the place itself. Plus, I thought it will also be fun for Chris to discover a little bit more of my country’s history and heritage. Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most visited places in Poland, for a reason. In this post you will find out everything you need to know about Wieliczka Salt Mine to make sure your visit as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland
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How to get there

We drove to Wieliczka Salt mine from Krakow. It took us around 40 mins to get there. You can also get there very easily by public transport. If you decide to drive, there are lots of parking spaces right by the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The parking charges are per hour stay. They will charge you before you leave, so you don’t need to stress about your ticket running out during your tour. Another very popular options is organised tours from Krakow. To be sure that the tour you are booking is legit, use Viator.com

Wieliczka Salt Mine Tickets

If you are not part of an organised tour, getting tickets can be a bit challenging. We got there just after 10am and the queues to the ticket office were horrendous. There was a separate ticket office for polish speaking tourists and a different one for foreign speakers. All the tickets were sold for specific hourly slots. I will recommend that if you want to start exploring first thing in the morning you need to be there super early or book your tickets online (minimum 3 days earlier). The foreign language tours are normally less frequent than the Polish tours. English speaking tours starting every half hour, which I guess is not too bad. The ticket prices vary, depending on the season and tour language. For the English speaking tour we paid 90 PLN per person. I also had to buy a permit to take pictures or videos during the tour. It was only 10 PLN. I bought the permit as I did not want to risk not having any photos to share with you guys, but to be honest, I wish I hadn’t bothered as no-one even checked it. In fact, there was only a few of us that had one, yet everyone was taking pictures.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland || Wall made out of salt
Crystallised Salt on the walls of Wieliczka Salt Mines

Wieliczka Salt Mine tour

There are two different routes you can take. The tourist route is the standard one and also the most popular one. Thats the route we took during our visit. The are 3 other routes available: Miners route, Pilgrim route and the Secret route.

At the beginning of our tour we were given a headset with radios so we were able to listen to our tour guide. To start our exploring we had to walk down 1000’s of stairs. Ok maybe not a 1000 but 350 – to go 93 metes underground. This was only small part of the actual mines. We learnt from our tour guide that the entire Wieliczka salt mine is spread across 9 levels in totals, 327 meters underground. Our tour lasted about 2.5 hours covering around 3 km of corridors which covered only 1% of the mine. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The average temperature in the mines is around 16 degree Celsius, so don’t forget to take a jumper.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || The underground corridors
Underground corridors

Our tourist tour covered 20 chambers. Each one, representing different part of the Wieliczka Salt Mines history. Each Station we visited was discussed in detail by our tour guide. This is also a fun way for kids to learn history and interesting facts. The other fun thing was that you could lick the walls in every chamber.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || Queen Kinga's chamber
Queen Kinga’s Chamber

After our guided tour was over, we had time to explore rest of the mine by ourselves. As part of our ticket, we were able to access the Ballroom, 3D cinema and Museum. The museum itself is an additional 2 hours of exploring. There was also a souvenir shop, cafe and restaurant serving traditional Polish food.

To be honest with you, our guided tour was a bit exhausting so we decided to skip the cinema and museum part. Gives us an incentive to come back again.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || the ballroom
The Ballroom with chandelier made out of salt

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || Interactive screensInteractive screens showing informations about different minerals

Interesting facts about Wieliczka Salt mine

Wieliczka Salt is part of a complex that includes a Hotel & SPA and Graduation Tower. Both of them are at additional cost to the Wieliczka Salt Mine ticket. You do not need to prebook tickets to the Graduation Tower. All treatments and accommodation in the health centre need to be pre-booked in advance.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines || Graduation Tower

For a fee of 6000 PLN you can get married in the Wieliczka Salt Mines. The ceremony needs to be in the evening after the mine is closed to tourists. Pretty cool way to get married if you ask me 😉 You can also rent out the ballroom for other private events such as business meetings or parties.

The chandeliers inside the Wielicza Salt mines are made out of salt. They looked absolutely incredible in real life.

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || Chandaller made out of salt

Visiting Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland || Chandaller made out of salt

In 2017 the Wieliczka Salt Mine was visited by over 1.7 million tourists, which so far, was a record breaking year for this UNESCO landmark

You can do the Mystery of Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour which takes you off-track of the normal tourist route. The tour lasts around 4 hours and is the most difficult of all the tours on offer. You will be given a helmet, headlight and health & Safety brief like a proper miner. The tour takes you through unique, dark corridors that are not open to the rest of the public. This tour needs to be booked at least 2 weeks in advance.

In 1996 Wieliczka Salt Mines officially closed its doors, but due to the constant flooding the water needed to be removed leaving Wieliczka Salt Mines with 35 tonnes of salt per day. This might sound like a crazy amount of salt, but is not as much if you compare it with other salt mines in Europe that produce nearly 50 tonnes of salt a day!

If you want to check the opening times or book tickets, visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines Website

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world 🙂

Love, Natalia

Why you need to book holiday to Lapland || Christmas season in Lapland, Finland

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

ViatorLapland was the best present I ever got from anyone! My husband is truly the best! This destination was on my bucket list since I was little. Which child or adult don’t want to visit Father Christmas at his very own house?! Despite the fact it was quiet few years ago, I still remember like it was yesterday. The whole experience from start to finish was just truly magical.

Why you need to book holiday to Lapland, Finland
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Chris booked our mini break through Thomson Holidays (TUI) as in our opinion they offered the best value for money and their package plan was full of fun activities included in the price. The overall cost might look a bit steep for 3 days break, but trust me, it is 100% worth every penny. Plus, there is nothing better to kick off the festive season like trip to Lapland.

Arriving at Lapland

The minute we stepped off the plane the magic began. We were greeted by a group of very happy elves that took us into a huge warehouse where we got kitted out in preparation for the freezing temperatures and snow. They honestly provide you with everything. From a snow Jacket to hat and gloves. All of this is part of your holiday package so you don’t need to spend any money. As we had all our winter gear with us, we didn’t need to borrow anything. From the warehouses we all got our bus transfer to our hotels. During that time we learned about what we were going to be doing for the next 3 days. I was excited about our trip before but hearing what the elf had planned for us made me feel even more enthusiastic.

Santa Clause village in Lapland, Finland

Our accommodation

We stayed in Christmas Cottages in Rovaniemi. They were so cute and cosy. Inside, we had our very own sauna – best thing ever in this weather, a little living room area with a telly, dining table, kitchen, bed and step-ladder leading to another bedroom perfect if you have kids with you. Every night before bed, we put our clothes in the sauna so they are nice and toasty in the morning 😉 The cottages were located right at the bottom of the ski slope. As a part of our package we had breakfast and dinner included in the on site restaurant. The food was amazing, we even tried a reindeer meat one night. I know what you are going to say, but I had to. I would recommend that you book the half board package as food in the restaurant is quiet expensive and there are not many other places to choose in the area.

Christmas Cottages in Lapland, Finland
Our Christmas cottage

Christmas Cottages Lapland, Finland

The Lapland Activity’s

Our few days in Lapland were full up from the morning till late afternoon. Actually I should say from evening to evening as in December you only get around 2-3 hours of sun during the day so it basically feels like an evening all the time.

Day 1 was the arrival day but as we had our afternoon to ourselves, we made our way to the nearby town to visit one of the most magical places on the planet. The most Northern McDonald’s in the world haha!

The most Northern McDonalds in the world in Lapland, Finland

On day 2 we tried snowmobiling, did few laps in the sledges pulled by husky, and a Reindeer sleigh ride. All these activities were only taster sessions to try to encourage you to book full session for the evening, but to be honest, that was enough fun for us. We then spent our afternoon with elf’s, drinking hot berry juice listening to their stories. We also went sledging and made some snow angels.

Snowmobiling in Lapland, Finland

Rudolph the red nose reindeer in Lapland, Finland

Drinking Berry Juice with Elf's in Lapland, Finland

Fun in the snow. Snow angels in Lapland, Finland

Day 3 was even more exciting as we made our way to Santa Park. We spent the entire day in an underground grotto making Christmas decorations, attending elf lessons and visiting the ice bar for a drink. There is also a post office if you want to send a postcard back home, shops and workshops. In the evening we were invited to Santa’s house for Christmas dinner. We waited for him outside, together with his elf’s. Of course he arrived in style on his sledge pulled by Rudolph and rest of the reindeer gang. After the gala dinner we all had few minutes with Santa on a one to one basis. I even got a little gift from him.

Sanat Grotto in Lapland, Finland

Post office in Santa Grotto in Lapland, Finland

Gala dinner at Father Christmas in Lapland, Finland

Ice Bar in Lapland, Finland

Things I wish I knew before our visit to Lapland

This place is truly amazing but be prepared that everything is super expensive. I mean, everything

It’s almost impossible to buy alcohol so if you like to have couple glasses of wine in your cottage before bed, you better buy a bottle at the airport in UK. In Finland alcohol is sold only during day light hours, but during that time you will be doing your activities. of course you can buy some wine in the restaurant but it comes with a price tag.

Do not wear Ugg boots. I did that by mistake, thinking they will be nice and warm but you will be like a Bambi on ice. I must have fallen over 100 times in a space of an hour. At the beginning it was funny, but after few times Chris stopped picking me up off the ground.

The Christmas cottages are lovely and located in such a beautiful setting but be prepared that if you want to go to town you will need to walk good 40 minute or get a taxi. We had fun walking (minus the falling over) as this gave us the opportunity to see a little bit more of the area.

Santa Clause village in Lapland, Finland


Honesty, Lapland was one of the best short breaks we ever had. This place truly helps you relax and forget that you’re an adult, even if its only for few days. No matter if you have kids or not Lapland should be very, very high on your bucket list. its like visiting Disneyland in the winter. Plus, nothing helps you get into a festive spirit than singing Christmas songs with elf’s and chatting to Santa Clause.

Elf in a bobble in Lapland, Finland

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world.

Love, Natalia

Viator

Why Rye is the perfect weekend getaway || 10 things to do Rye in East Sussex

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If you’re looking to escape from the city for a day or two, Rye is the perfect weekend getaway. Located in East Sussex, only 2 hours drive from London, and only 15 miles from Hastings, this beautiful, medieval town will definetly help you unwind and recharge your batteries in preparation for the week ahead.

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I like visiting Rye every now and then. This little East Sussex Town is nothing like your typical coastal location. Rye is full of independent shops, cafes and restaurant. All hidden in the narrow cobbled streets. Most of the shops are selling local art and crafts. Despite the size, there is plenty to do here. Every time I visit I discover something new. Here is a list of all my favourite things to do when visiting Rye.

10 things that make Rye the perfect weekend getaway

Ypres Tower- other known as Rye Castle, was built around the 14th Century. It was originally built as a part of the town defence wall. The Ypres tower is the second oldest building in Rye that is open to the public. From 1430 the tower was used as a private residency by John de Ypres – hence the name. In 1494 it was changed into a prison for smugglers. Unfortunately the top of the castle was closed to the public, but even from the first floor we had amazing views of the harbour. As part of our visit we saw a display of old police uniforms, old cells and played with the swords. We also listened to audio presentations telling us how the prison used to operated. We also visited the Women’s Tower, located in the Castle garden. The ticket costs only £4.00 per Adult || www.ryemuseum.co.uk

St Marys Parish Church– built in 12th century, this is the oldest building in Rye still open to the public. We discovered the church of by chance, when we walked around the streets. I saw it from the outside a few times before but never actually went inside. Despite the small size, the church is full of character. My favourite part was walking up to the top of the bell tower. The view of Rye and surrounding area is absolutely stunning from there. Absolutely worth climbing up the ladders and squeezing through the narrow corridors. The St Mary’s Church is free to enter, but going up the bell tower costs £4.00 || www.ryeparishchurch.org.uk

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve– instead of your typical pier with 2p machines Rye has a beautiful Harbour. You could easily spend the entire day just walking around discovering different routes, looking at the animals and their habitats. You can also take a little bit of a longer walk all the way to Camber Castle, which I am yet to discover myself || www.wildrye.info

Rye Heritage Centre– this is the perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about Rye’s history through a replica model of the town, sound and lights effects. If you prefer learning the history out in the field, you can book Rye walking tour. For a little bit more excitement I will recommend renting out the audio tour that takes you on a ghost hunt around Rye. Imagine how much fun you can have, walking around medieval town listening to ghost stories 😉 || www.ryeheritage.co.uk

Lamb House– The Lamb House finally reopened after undergoing a 3 year renovation. Thanks to this, visitors can discover even more parts of the house. In the past, the Lamb House was home to writers such as E F Benson and Henry James. If you like reading, you are more than welcome to sit in one of the rooms and enjoy one of the books written by the previous owners. You can also visit the beautiful gardens where you can enjoy nice afternoon tea and cake in the garden tea room. From outside, the house doesn’t look that big, but you can easily spend few hours there learning the history and talking to very knowledgeable and friendly staff || www.nationaltrust.org

Rye Landgate– You can not missed The Landgate when discovering Rye. Part of the original defence wall these 14th Century towers are unfortunately closed to the public. But even looking at the Gate from outside can give you the feel of how the town use to look.

Discover the streets– I really enjoy waking around, looking at the quirky old buildings and looking out for unusual street names. With names like ” Mermaid Street” ,”Deadmans Lane” or “Love Lane” to name the few you can have a lots of fun trying to find the most weird ones. Or, if you fancy a challenge, here is the list of all the street names you can find in Rye. How many of them can you tick of the list?

Have a drink…or two– Ok, the main reason why Rye is the perfect weekend getaway is for the pubs and restaurant. Not sure about you, but nothing relaxes me more than sitting in a lovely independent restaurant, having a nice meal and a few glasses of vino. Rye is full of little cafes, bars and restaurants. Some hidden away in the narrow cobbled streets. If you enjoy sitting outside and watching the world go by while having a drink, I highly recommend the Waterworks micropub located on Tower Street. The fact that this little pub has only 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor speaks for itself.

Attend Festival– There is always lots going on in Rye, during the year. From scallops festival in February to Art Festival in September packed with exhibitions from local artists. For the entire event calendar visit www.ryeeastsussex.co.uk

Go shopping– I looove walking around shops in Rye. They all sell unique products you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Even if you are not planning on buying anything its still great fun to walk around. Even my husband doesn’t mind a little Rye window shopping, where normally the thought of walking around the shops he has every excuse under the sun ready – and more.


Rye is the perfect weekend getaway for everyone. Despite the town not being very big, I think you can have so much fun there as a family, but also as a couple on a romantic, chilled escape. If you are looking to discover other destinations close to London, check out my guide to Brighton.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world.

Love, Natalia

Viator

Best places to visit in Wroclaw, Poland || What to do in the European Capital of Culture

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Viator

Wroclaw was my home town for many years, before I moved to the UK 11 years ago. Despite the fact I used to live there, I did not have the chance to explore many of the beautiful Wroclaw landmarks. When I visited Wroclaw again to see my family, I decided that it would be good idea to become a tourist for the day. I also wanted to introduce my husband to this amazing, cosmopolitan Polish city and show him best places to visit in Wroclaw.

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw, Poland
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Wroclaw might not be as popular a Polish destination among travellers like Krakow (you can read about my visit to Krakow here) or Warsaw, but I think its equally if not more interesting. Wroclaw is very well know not only for its colourful Market Square, but also for its Gnomes! At the moment there are 352 Gnomes hidden around the city with many more to pop up in the future. Gnomes in Wroclaw even have their own festival. If you want to find out more about the Gnomes you can read all about in here.

Sleeping gnome outside one of the hotels in Wroclaw

three gnomes outside of Town Hall in Wroclaw market square

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Ostrow Tumski

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- View of Ostrow Tumski in Wroclaw
Ostrow Tumski

We started our tour by walking around Ostrow Tumski. This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Wroclaw. Ostrow Tumski is about 20 mis walks from the main square or around 40 mins from the train station. Surrounded by the Odra river, this is the oldest part of Wroclaw where apart from admiring stunning architecture, you can also visit places like: like St Martins church– first wooden church dating back to 10th century.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw-St John the Baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw
St John the Baptist Cathedral

Wroclaw Cathedral of St John The Baptist built in 1272 was the 4th church built in Ostrow Tumski. For a small fee of 10 PLN you can go to top of one of the towers and discover the basilica. The view of Wroclaw from the tower is absolutely stunning. Entrance to all churches in Ostrow Tumski is absolutely free.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw-St John the Baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw

Best places to visit in Wroclaw-St John the Baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw

Best places to visit in Wroclaw-St John the Baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw. View of the city and Odra river
View of the Wroclaw town from the tower of St John Baptist Cathedral

Best places to visit in Wroclaw-St John the Baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw. View of the city and Odra river

I will highly recommend to visit Ostrow Tumski in the late afternoon, early evening. Why? This is the time when the lantern man in a black top hat and cape, comes to light 103 gas lantern one by one.

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Tumski Bridge

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Tumski Bridge in Wroclaw
Tumski Bridge

Built in 1889 is the steel bridge connecting Ostrow Tumski and Piaskowa Island. Tumski Bridge is also called Lovers Bridge. This is where loved up couples lock their love to each other with a padlock and throw the key to Odra river. I think Tumski Bridge has more padlocks than Paris or Zurich.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Tumski Bridge in Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Market Square

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Wroclaw Rynek- Market Square in Wroclaw

This is where the magic happens. I love spending time in the square. Its colourful, full of beautiful architecture, bars and restaurants. In the summer almost every bar and restaurant has a garden at the front where you can sit and people watch while sipping on Tyskie or a nice cocktail 😉 Also during the summer, there is always lots going on with music festivals and live shows. In the winter you can do your Christmas shopping as the whole square turns into a Christmas market full of hand-made products from local suppliers. We love this place so much, we even got married here a few years ago 🙂

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Wroclaw Rynek- Market Square in Wroclaw

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Wroclaw Rynek- Market Square in Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Botanical Gardens

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Botanical gardens, View of St John baptist Cathedral in Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw

Part of the Botanical University of Wroclaw. The gardens are not only fantastic to learn about local nature, but also to take time out from the noise of the city. With many benches around and a little cafe, it’s very easy to spend their entire day just chilling. Especially, if the weather is nice. I will recommend to visit the gardens during the week as they can get quiet busy on the weekend. Ticket cost 15 PLN

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Botanical gardens, Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Botanical gardens, Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Raclawice Panorama

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Panorama Raclawicka- Raclawice panorama in Wroclaw

That’s definitely something you will not see anywhere in the world. Raclawice Panorama is a cyclonic painting showing the battle of Raclawice. The painting is 15 m tall and 114 m long. The painting is divided into 4 different parts representing the battle. The whole presentation lasts around 30 mins with a detailed explanation of each part of the painting and its history. the ticket cost is 30 PLN. You will also be able to use the same ticket to enter the National Museum. More on Raclawice Panorama here

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- Panorama Raclawicka- Raclawice panorama in Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- National Museum

Established in 1947, the National Museum is part of Polands National Museum system. The museum is free to enter on Saturdays or with a ticket from Raclawice Panorama, otherwise is 15 PLN. The National Museum holds the biggest collection of temporary art in Poland. Split into 4 different sections, segregated by art periods.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- National Museum building in Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Town Hall

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- The Old Town Hall in market square

You can not miss the Town Hall when you are in the Main Square. This 13th century gothic hall is one of the main landmarks of Wroclaw. The Town Hall is mostly closed to visitors although it does open to the public during specific events. At the back of the Town Hall you can find the original Gnome shop where you can not only buy merchandise, but also a gnome map if you fancy going on a gnome hunt.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- The Old Town Hall in market square

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Multimedia Fountain

One of other best places to visit in Wroclaw. Build in 2009, it’s currently the largest operating fountain in Europe. Over 300 water jets “dance” to music and light to create a spectacular water show. For the full effect, I will recommend you visit the fountain in the evening. Shows start every hour and are free to enter. The length of the show range from 4 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of music played in specific hour. For a better view, you can buy ticket to enter the viewing terrace. Tickets are only 5 PLN. More about fountain and show times here

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- St. Mary Magdalena Church

There is a lot of catholic churches in Wroclaw with many looking rich, sometimes a bit over the top, but not this one. St Mary Magdalena church looks actually empty inside compared with the rest of the churches. It also looks like it could do with a renovation, especially inside. You probably wondering now why I added this to the list of best places to visit in Wroclaw . The reason is, the view from top of the tower. For a small fee of 5 PLN and battling 100’s of stairs, you will not get a better view of the main square anywhere.

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- View of the Market Square from the top of St Mary Magdalena's church in Wroclaw

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- View of the Market Square from the top of St Mary Magdalena's church in Wroclaw

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- View of the Market Square from the top of St Mary Magdalena's church in Wroclaw

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- ZOO & Afrykarium

I love going to Wroclaw ZOO and Afrykarium. This is a day trip on it own as the ZOO covers over 82 acres of land with over 10,500 animals. I remember when I was little, they even had their own TV show every Sunday morning. Wroclaw ZOO is the oldest ZOO in Poland. The ZOO also have its very own Afrykarium– Oceanarium dedicated entirely to African fauna. The tickets prices to the ZOO & Afrykarium costs 45 PLN. For more information and opening times head over here

Best places to visit in Wroclaw- How to get around

Public Transport

Wroclaw has a very good public transport system. You can get almost everywhere using buses or trams. Public transport is not expensive and you can buy tickets at almost every stop. There is a machine or kiosk shops located at busier stops. I will highly recommend getting the Wroclaw Tourist Card as this will entitle you to free public transport and also give discounts to many of the Wroclaw landmarks, bars, restaurants and hotels. The card prices start from 60 PLN for 48 hours.

Private Tour

Go on a golf buggy tour. If you are short on time and want to see as much of Wroclaw as possible, I will recommend going on a golf buggy tour. This tour will cover all the best places to visit in Wroclaw in only few hours, with a private tour guide covering history of every monument visited. With the premium package you will also have dedicated time to go to explore the landmarks.

Walk

If you have comfortable shoes and like walking, I will recommend to do that. This will give you opportunity to explore in your own speed, look at the stunning architecture and discover many paths that would not be covered by your regular tour guide. Walking around the town is my favourite way to explore as it let you feel the vibe of that location. Not including the ZOO we managed to see all the landmarks in one day starting exploring around 9:30 am. Altogether we walked 23km but it was definitely worth it 🙂

Best Places to visit in Wroclaw- Market Square in Wroclaw

Thanks for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world!

Love, Natalia

Viator

Visiting Krakow for the day || Everything you need to know and see when in Krakow

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

Viator

Krakow, the former capital of Poland is a definitely a must when travelling in Europe. The historic centre of Krakow has been added to the UNESCO heritage list. This beautiful old town is full of history and traditions that will WOW even the most picky traveller. If you are planning on visiting Krakow for the day, its important you book all your entrance tickets at list 3 days in advance. That will help you to avoid the super long queues that go for hours. Also, it might be difficult to get the time slot you wanted. I found out this myself when I visited Krakow in August.

Travel Guide to Krakow, Poland- Visiting Krakow for the day
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Visiting Krakow for the day – Wawel Castle

We started our trip around Krakow by visiting the Wawel Castle. The Wawel Castle is located around 15 mins walk from the Krakow Main Square and 30 mins walk from the train station. Wawel Castle is a must, when visiting Krakow for the day. Why do I think you should start exploring from there? Firstly, there is so much to see and secondly, you are restricted by opening hours.

Wawel Castel- Zamek Wawel in Krakow
Outside od the Wawel Castle

The entrance to the Wawel Castle grounds is free. It took us around an hour to walk around it exploring every corner. There are a few cafes and restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy the stunning architecture.

If you want to discover the Wawel Castle on the inside, you can do so by booking private guided tour (prices starts from 116 PLN plus entry ticket) or you can rent out a pre recorded audio tour that you will listen via headphones- that’s what we did.

Wawel Castle Cathedral

Inside of the walk of Wawel Castle

Jan Paul II

As we didn’t start exploring Wawel Castle until about lunchtime, we didn’t have enough time to do all the tour. We decided that we were only going to buy tickets to the Cathedral which cost us 14 PLN plus 5 PLN for the headset. The tour was very informative, and there was lots to see. Inside of the Cathedral, you will find different types of altars dedicated to different people. Mostly Kings of Poland. This is also where you will find coffins of previous kings and Polish president Lech Kaczynski who died in April 2010 in a plane crash, together with 96 other people. Mostly Polish politicians. Our ticket also gave us entrance to the Bell Towercurrently there is 9 small and large bells there ( you will get the best view of Krakow from the top of the tower) and Treasure Museum. It took us around 2 hours to complete our tour.

Main Altart inside of the Wawel Cathedral

One of the altars inside of the Wawel cathedral

Small bell in Bell Tower- Wawel Castle, Krakow

Large bell inside of Bell Tower- Wawel Castle, Krakow

If you visit the Wawel Castle first thing in the morning, you should have enough time to also visit the Royal Chambers, Crown Treasury and Lost Wawel.

We left the Wawel Castle through the Dragon grotto (3 PLN). Be prepared to walk down 100’s of stairs down. The exit from the Grotto is located right by the Wisla River– the longest and biggest river in Poland.

inside of the Dragon Grotto- Wawel Castle, Krakow

The Wawel Dragon in Krakow

Visiting Krakow for the day – Main Square

When visiting Krakow for the day, you can’t miss the Main Square. This is the heart of Krakow full of bars, restaurants and monuments such as Cloth Hall or St Marries Basilica. You can go on a tour around the square in one of the horse carriages (250 PLN for 30 mins or 200 PLN for 15 mins).

Krakow main Square- Cloth Hall (Sukiennice)

St Mary's Church in Krakow, Poland

Horses in the main square in Krakow, Poland

During the summer time, in the square there is always lots going on. From the market with traditional food and art to cultural shows and live music. The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed. Perfect place to sit down with your Tyskie beer and watch the world go by.

Oscypki- traditional salty polish cheese

Traditional polish bread

Hand painted birds

Traditional Folk dance in Krakow, Poland

There is also plenty of restaurants selling local cuisine most of them super overpriced. If you want to try the local food, I will recommend walk 5 mins outside of square to one of the local bars or restaurants in the small streets outside of the square.

You can also discover Krakow Main Square from a different side and go underground on the Rynek Underground tour. I really wanted to do this tour that lasts around 70 mins but unfortunately we could not get the tickets as they all sold out for the day 🙁 The Underground historic Museum of Krakow has an area of around 6000 sqm. The museum opened its doors for the first time in 2010. The exhibition uses mixture of fog machines and projectors to recreate the atmosphere from 700 years ago.

Visiting Krakow for the day- Cloth Hall

Krakow Cloth Hall other known as Sukiennice is one of the most known landmarks of Krakow. Dating back to Renaissance time. The Cloth Hall was once the center of international trade. Now, the Cloth Hall is full of restaurants and market stalls selling local products and souvenirs.

Cloth Hall- Sukiennice in Krakow, Poland

Cloth Hall- Sukiennice in Krakow, Poland

Wooden Russian dolls

inside of the Cloth Hall market in Krakow, Poland

Hand Painted ceramic crosses

Traditional folk outfits in Krakow, Poland

On top of the market, you can visit The Art Gallery. The Art Gallery is home to the most important pieces of Polish art from 18th and 19th century painted by artists such as Matejko or Chelmonski. The gallery is spread across 4 rooms named after the artists.

Outside, there is a terrace bar with a stunning views of the square. Perfect place to take pictures of the area. I wouldn’t bother getting a drink there as the service was pretty awful. We had to ask 4 times to placed our drink orders and never been asked if we would like any more drinks. We had to ask 3 times for the bill and 3 times we have been ignored. As we could not get hold of anyone, eventually we left without paying.

Krakow main square in the evening

Krakow Main square in the evening

Visiting Krakow for the day – St Mary’s Basilica

The St Mary’s Basilica was built-in 14th century and the highest point measures 80 meters tall. The St Mary’s Basilica is most famous for wooden altar made by Wit Stwosz.

Inside of St Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland

Inside of St Mary's basilica in Krakow, Poland

For a small fee of 15 PLN you can go to the top of the smaller tower. From the taller tower, every hour you can hear Hejnal Mariacki- trumpet signal that was use to played to worn the locals about the upcoming attack on the town. If you listen carefully, you will noticed that the Hejnal Maricki cuts off unexpectedly. That’s because the Trumpeter was shot in the throat with an arrow while alarming locals of upcoming Mongol attack.

I think St Marries Basilica is one of the most stunning churches in the world. The minute I stepped in inside I was absolute speechless. For some reason, I always like to visit churches on my travels. I think mostly due the fact that they all have amazing architectures and are work of art but I can honestly say that’s St Mary’s Basilica beats every church I have seen so far.

If you have a bit of time left…

If by the end of the day you still have some time and energy left, or if you visiting Krakow for longer than a day, here is a list of other places that are worth visiting.

The Oskar Schindler’s Factory– learn about heroes of World War II

Kazimierz- the old Jewish Quarters. Place of Jewish life in Krakow for over 500 years before it got destroyed during second World War

Auschwitz– Built by German Nazis who occupied Poland during Ward War II. The Auschwitz concentration camp was place used by Nazi to exterminate Jews and Pols by using poisoning gases.

Wieliczka Salt Mine– around half our drive from Krakow. one of the most popular Polish Attractions. The tour take you 135m to the saltworks museum. You can read about it here

River cruse– go on a mini cruse along the Wisla river. The longest and biggest river in Poland

Wisla river in Krakow, Poland

Walk around the Krakow– every little street in Krakow has a story to tell. Take time to walk around the narrow, cable streets and see what surprises they have stored for you

Polish Market in Krakow, Poland

Old Krakow streets

Art in Krakow, Poland

Jan Matejko statue in Krakow, Poland

Equally beautiful to Krakow is Wroclaw. Located in Lower Silesia county of Poland. Wroclaw was my next adventure. You can read all about it in here

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world!

Love, Natalia

4×4 offroading in the desert and Arabic night || visiting Dubai

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

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I love Dubai. I love the sun, hot temperature and over the top everything! That’s why we decided that after are hectic few days in Japan ( you can read all about in in here) it would be nice to stop over in Dubai for a few lazy days in the sun. Recharge our batteries before we head back home to UK. To help us celebrate our honeymoon in style, Chris’ work colleagues bought us an experience day-  4×4 offroading in the desert followed by traditional Arabic night. Nether of us ever done anything like this before, so we were super excited. Plus, I have a soft spot for 4×4 cars 😉

Arranging the excursion

The 4×4 offroading in the desert is run by Alpha Tours Dubai. Everything was arranged via email. We got picked up in 4×4 Toyota from outside of our hotel. The car was very clean and comftible. The driver was very friendly. During the drive he was telling us a lot of interesting facts about Dubai. The entire drive from the meeting point to the desert was just over an hour which wasn’t too bad.

Arriving at the desert

When we finally arrived at the desert there was more cars from the same waiting for us. We were asked to leave the car, so they can do additional checks and let out some air from the tires. Our driver explained to us that when you go 4×4 offroading in the desert, the tires need to be much softer to what they need to be on a concrete road. As they were getting our car ready, we use this time to take some stuning pictures of the desert and enjoy the beautiful views. Despite being, late afternoon, the temperature was still around 40 degree Celsius. That’s in the mid September.

Ready, steady….go!

After all the safety checks and quick health & safety brief from our driver, we were ready to go. OMG I swear, I had the best time ever! The driver was absolutely brilian. He definetly knew how make 4×4 offroading in the desert fun and full of thrills. I could not stop smiling. We were all driving in a convoy, with our 4×4 being first. He was going thrugh massive piles of sand, driving in the angle that the car was almost tipped to the side. For one point we even got stuck in the sand and had to be rescued by another driver. In my head I was keep shouting “more, more, more! Do it again” – SO MUCH FUN!

Watching the sun set

Watching the sunset is beautiful and romantic no matter where you are. But imagine watching sunset, when you do 4×4 offroading in the desert- priceless. The driver stopped for few minutes to give us chance to take some more photos. We then head over to camp site for an Arabic night in the desert.

The Arabic night in the desert

This was fun. Nothing what I expected. On arrival, we were greated by camels and got opportunity to stroke them. I wasn’t brave enough to touch them as they looked rather pissed off haha

Inside, the camp looked like little village. There was quiet few tourists there from other 4×4 driving companies. There was lots of tents where you could dress up in authentic Arabic outfit, get henna tatoo or try some crafting with emirate women’s. As a part of our excursion we could help ourselfs to food and soft drinks before the show started. We got ourselfs comftible on the bean bags to watch the dance performance. At the end ofthe show, dancers decided to get the public involved in one of the dances. Trust to be me that got picked. I don’t really like to be the centre of attention, but i give it a go. Im just glad i wasnt picked to do the belly dance. I all I had to do is spin round in a huge, colorfull skirt.

The way back

By the time the 4×4 offroading in the desert excursions finished, it was quiet late. I was hoping that on the way back we going to get back the same route as when we got there, but no 🙁 we came back using normal roads. On the way back everyone were much quieter. I guess it was the tiredness after evenung full of fun and excitment

The 4×4 offroading in the desert overall experiance

The 4×4 offroading in the desert was one of the most fun excision I have ever done. To be honest, I wasn’t that fussed about the Arabic evening at first but it was great experience. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is planning on visiting Dubai.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world.

Love, Natalia

Exploring Monaco on a budget || visiting Cote d’azur

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

Viator

Monaco is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. No matter which part of the city you visit, you will be surrounded by stunning scenery, amazing architecture and super friendly people. Monaco is also very safe and clean which makes discovering the city even more enjoyable.

View of Monaco

View of Monaco

Monaco

Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is classified as one of the most luxurious holiday destinations where the rich & famous spend their summer. After visiting Monaco myself in June I have a few tips on how to have a great time without going bankrupt.

Below you will find a list of all the things I did in Monaco for free or a very small fee.

The ultimate guide on how to visit Monaco on a budget
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Monaco’s Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are located in the heart of Monaco. They are free to enter and they are absolutely stunning. The actual gardens are not very big and you could probably walk around in about half an hour, but you could easily spend an entire day there. Relaxing on the bench, watching the world go by.

Japanes Gardens in Monaco

Japanes Gardens in Monaco

Japanes gardens in Monaco

Japanes Gardens in Monaco

Japanes Gardens in Monaco

Monaco Marina

We had great time just walking around, looking at the crazy expensive boats and googling who they belong to. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some celebrities, but they are like vampires- only coming out at night 😉

For a €2 per person you can take short boat trip from one end of Marina to the other.

Monaco Marina full of boats and yachts

Lunch with a view

Yes, you can queue forever to get to a swanky restaurant with a beautiful view just so they can sit you in a dark corner right by the toilets and charge you a fortune for the pleasure or… You can go to the local supermarket, buy your lunch and eat it on a bench in the marina. Super markets in Monaco have delicious freshly made sandwiches, cakes and freshly squeeze orange juice for a fraction of the price. You can also buy small glasses of wine- you’re on holiday after all 😉

Delicious cakes in Monack

Delicious cakes in Monaco

Delicious cakes in Monaco

Monaco Old Town

There is so much to see in the old town. From beautiful panoramic views of the City, to changing of the guards in front of the Palace. You can spend hours walking around small, narrow streets looking around local shops and cafes.

Monaco old town

Monaco Royal Palace in Old town

Monaco old town

Monaco Old town

St Nicholas Cathedral

A short walk from the palace there is the beautiful St Nicholas Cathedral. Unfortunately for us there was a First Communion happening that day, so we could not go inside, but even from outside it was spectacular!

St Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco

St Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco

The Oceanographic Museum

Another spectacular building inside the walls of Monaco is The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Yes, you do have to pay to go inside but even walking around it is amazing. The building is surrounded by stunning gardens and amazing view of the coastline.

Octopus outside of Oceanographic Museum in Monaco

Oceanographic Museum in Monaco

Gardens in Monaco old town

The Train

There is a Monaco tour train. It leaves from outside of Oceanographin Museum and it costs only €10 per adult. In my opinion it’s worth doing. The Train goas round the old town, crossing the Grand Prix start line. You will be able to see all tbe major landmarks like Monte Carlo Casino and Hotel de Paris. It also goes past the exclusive, members only Yacht Club. Each seat is suppiled with headphones, so you can listen to a guide and learn some interesting facts.

Monaco Turist train

Church in Monaco

Grand Prix start line in Monaco

Hotel De Paris in Monaco

Monte Carlo Casino

You need to have quite a substantial amount of money to go inside and of course follow the dress code. But it is absolutely free to stand outside and watch all the super cars drive past. Monte Carlo Casino is where James Bond was filmed so you definitely can’t miss it.

You’ll notice that Monaco is full of red Ferraris driving around. That because for €180 You can rent one to live the high life for half an hour

Monte Carlo Cassino in Monaco

Monte Carlo Cassiono in Monaco

Monte Carlo Cassino in Monaco

Exotic Gardens of Monaco

At the top of town there is a beautiful cactus garden- Le Jardine Exotique. The entrance wasn’t very expensive- I think it was around €12 but you will definitely spend a couple of hours there. Included in the price of the ticket, is a tour around the caves. Plus the views of Monaco from the gardens are just stunning. Definitely a must!

Exotic Cactus garden in Monaco

Exotic cactus gardens in Monaco

Exotic gardens in Monaco

Exotic gardens in Monaco

view of Monaco

Cavew in Monaco

View of Monaco

Public Transport

If you don’t fancy walking around in the heat you can easly discover the City using the public transport. Buses cost only couple of euros per journey. Public transport is very punctual and clean.

Shop till you drop

Monaco is full of designer shops such as Gucci, Chanel and Hermes. Yes, you need to be super rich to buy anything, but if you are like me, it’s fun just to walk around and look at the beautiful creative windows. You can also have fun trying on things and just pretend you have all the intention to buy something. If you’re a good at pretending and don’t look completly like a tourist, most shops will over you a complimentary glass of bubbly. #livingthehighlife

Shopping in Monaco

Gucci Shop in Monaco

Get stamped

If you visit tourist office, you can get your passport stamped absolutely free. Nice little souvenir to remaind you of your holiday

Stampped passport

Walk the Walk

Spend time walking the streets and discovering the city. Each corner hides beautiful building’s, independent cafes and shops full of unique product. When you walking around all you can hear is super cars raving their engine’s.

Caffe in Monaco

The Square in Monaco

Accommodation

Hotels in Monaco can get booked up very fast, especially during summer. Plus, the prices are rocket high. Staying in the local villages can save you little fortune. On top of that, it will give you the opportunity to discover local area and get dinner in nice restaurant for much less that you would of paid in Monaco. We stayed in beautiful village of Roquerbrune-Cap-Martin only 5 mins train ride from Monaco that we booked through Booking.com. You can read more about our accommodation here.

To see more pictures from my travels head over to my Instagram and hit that follow button 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Love, Natalia

Viator

24 hours in Brighton & Hove || what to do when visiting Brighton

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

Viator

I haven’t been to Brighton in years. When my husband told me he needs to go there for a business trip I was more than happy to pack my overnight bag and go with him. I’m really fortunate that my work can be done from any place in the world. Plus I have a cool boss that lets me working outside of the office quiet often. I guess this what you call the right work-life balance.

Brighton is only an hour and a half from where we leave yet, I never have time to actually go there. I was quiet excited to spend few days there and discover the city again, check out new cool places to eat and see what has change since my last visit.

I spend my morning working from a Café – I was surprised how many people actually work from coffee shops… anyways, after finishing my tasks I went to explore the area.

How to spend 24 hours in Brighton & Hove
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First stop Brighton West Pier

The first place I went was the beach by the West Pier. As it was still fairly early in the day, the area was pretty quiet. The weather was beautiful, around 23 degree Celsius and full sunshine. I sat on the stone beach and just watched world go by. Shops and restaurants just began to open. I sat there for about half hour before I made my way down towards Brighton Palace Pier.

„West Pier was built in 1860s. It was design by Eugenius Birch to attract more tourist and visitors to Brighton area. All the way to 1916 the West Pier had lots of contractual changes. The Pier closed down in 1975 and fall into disrepair. In 2002 major section of the pier collapsed, and two arson incidents left the English Heritage beyond repair. In 2010 majority of the structure was removed to make space for i360 observation tower

On my way I passed British Airways i360 observation tower- glass viewing pod that takes you up 450ft for an amazing 360 degree panoramic view of Brighton and the local area. I really regret not going on it to be honest, but I said to myself that next time my husband goes to Brighton for work I will go with him again just so I can go on it.

Brighton Palace Pier

Walking along the beach toward Palace Pier I went passed lots of in depended shops, restaurants and bars getting ready for the afternoon trade. If you fancy a little bit of history, you can pop in to Fishing Museum that if free to enter and is located right at the sea fronts. It really felt like am on holiday abroad.

After about 15 minuets of slow walk I made it to Brighton Palace Pier.

The pier was full of people, mainly kids on their school trips. I had wander around before I grabbed one of the free decking chairs to do a bit of sunbathing and listen to the local buskers. If sunbathing and chilling isn’t your thing, you can spend your day at the amusement park located at the end of the pier, spend few ££ at the arcades or have lunch at the Victoria Restaurant.

For all the brave people, outside of the pier there is a Brighton Zip– the longest zip in South coast measuring 300m with additional drop zone offering a 24m free-fall experience. Somehow I passed on this attraction lol

If you have a bit more time than I had, you can also visit Sea life- I did that on my first ever trip to Brighton many, many, many years ago. It was pretty amazing, but you will need to be prepare to spend good few hours there to see everything properly.

Royal Pavilion

Around 2pm I started making my way back towards the town centre so I can check in into our hotel and do some more work. I decided to take a little detour and visit the Royal Pavilion which you can’t miss when visiting Brighton. The Royal Pavilion are surrounded by beautiful gardens. As it was such a beautiful day, lots of people chose to have their lunch there, seating on the grass and chilling.

Just outside of the garden gates there is a Brighton Dome and Brighton Museum & Art gallery, which due to lack of time ( I was there only for one day) I could not visit, but I added them to my list of „places to visit on my next return“

If you planning on going inside the Royal Pavilion, I will recommend to do so first thing in the morning as later it can get super busy with all the school kids and other tourist.

„ The Royal Pavilion was built in 3 stages in 1787. It was a seaside residency for George, Prince of Wales. The Pavilion was then extended in 1815“

Brighton Town Centre

Brighton Town centre is very lively and colourful. Everyone is very chilled, but full of life at the same time. Somehow, it gives me that happy hippy Ibiza vibe. You can hear music almost everywhere.

A part from being sea site destination, Brighton is also a student town. As you can imagine, its full of shops and bars. There is always something going on here. From cultural festivals, gigs, art showcases to Circus or Lady Boys show. I can guarantee that no matter how long you planning on staying in Brighton, you not going to be bored.

There is also a wide choice of restaurants and cafes. Here, you will find your typical chain restaurants, but also lots of quirky independent ones, serving almost any type of food you might fancy.

The things I disliked

I guess, as every large town, Brighton comes with few minuses. First one being super expensive parking, so if you planning on traveling here, I would recommend to come on the train or do the Park and Ride. Both, Bus station and Train Station are located I the heart of town with around 10-15 min walk to the beach.

The other negative is homelessness. Brighton have very large problem with homeless people, especially around town centre area. They like to seat and beg around train station as this is where the highest number of footfall is. But on the other hand, none of them approached me asking for money, so I guess it’s not all bad.

If you visiting Brighton for longer…

If you visiting Brighton for longer than one day and looking for more places to visit here is a list of other attractions that I hope to see on my next trip.

Brighton Marina– slightly outside of town, so you will need to take a short bus ride, or if you decide to walk, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.

Volks Electric rail– located on the seafront, nearby Brighton Royal Pier. Being 134 year old, making it the oldest electric railway in the world

Choccywoccydoodah – famous chocolate  shop that serves delicious cakes and makes incredible things out of chocolate. They use to have their own TV show

Have lunch at Stanmer House- beautiful country house serving traditional British food

Visit The Victoria bar at The Grand Brighton for few cocktails and afternoon tea- that’s definitely a MUST for me 😉

My step count that day
My step count that day

Check out my other adventures here

 Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it feel free to share it with the rest of the world.

 Love, Natalia

Best of Tokyo in 4 days || everything you need to know before you visit

This post might contain affiliates links. This mean that if you buy anything by clicking on one of the links, I might earn small commission (for which I will be very grateful) with no extra cost to you

Viator

My husband and I go on lots of holidays, but they are normally all inclusive, resort based escapes with few excursions here and there.For our honeymoon we wanted do something special. We didn’t want it to be just another holiday. We wanted to be an adventure. Something we going to remember for the rest of our lives. And there I was. Booking our flights and hotel for our honeymoon in TOKYO!!!

After watching Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift I have always wanted to go to Tokyo. Finally, my dream became true! I don’t think I have ever been so excited about going away.

The ultimate travel guide to Tokyo, Japan
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First Impressions

I’ve never been to place so weird, but so amazing at the same time. When we go away I don’t really like to go to the same place twice as I want to see as much of the world as possible, but Tokyo is one of the destinations I could visit over, and over again! The first thing I have noticed about Tokyo was the fact they had vending machines everywhere, and with everything! I don’t mean your standard machine with canned drinks, or bar of chocolate. They have vending machines with hot food, alcohol, cigarettes, and everything else you might want.

Vending machine with hot food in Tokyo, Japan
Vending machine with hot food in Tokyo, Japan

The other thing that struck me was how safe we felt there, and how nice and helpful everyone was. From the staff in the shops to our travel guides. Even when we waited for the train everyone have been standing in the designated queue line and got on the train one by one- here, in London people won’t lets you even get of the train first before they start pushing their way in.

We used trains as our main form o transportation around Tokyo

We pre-booked all of our tours before our holiday through viator.com and I have to say, they have been truly amazing. As we were in Tokyo for only 4 days we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible, and they definitely delivered on that. The other reason we always book our excursions with them is the fact that they send you an email the day before, remaining you not only of the time, and meeting place, but also attache picture of your tour guide which I think is very useful. Especially if you’re in a foreign country.

Arrived!

After missing our connection flight in Dubai we have finally arrived at the Haneda airport at around midnight of the local time. We decided to get the cab to our hotel as we were to tired to be fussing around on the train. We wanted to get to our hotel as quickly as possible and go to bed as we had an early start in the morning. Our taxi driver was lovely, but he didn’t speak any English which was… interesting. We had no idea if we were going to the right place until we actually arrived there.

Our Hotel

We were staying in the Granbell hotel in Shinjuku. Our hotel was nice and modern. Located just of the main road. It had a rooftop bar and restaurant which was pretty amazing. The room was very clean but tiny. Probably the smallest room I’ve ever stayed in. We had double bed pushed against the wall, and a desk with a chair. There was no wardrobe or drawers to put your clothes away. In fact the room was so small we struggled to open our suitcases. Then we didn’t care about the room that much as we didn’t plan on spending much time in it anywhey. There was lots of complementary products such as toiletry’s, sleepers, and even PJ’s. The most strange thing about this room was the bathroom. It had a toilet operated by a control panel. It also had a window, and this might not be a weird thing to have a window in the bathroom, it was in this hotel as the window was looking out into the room !!!

Tokyo Day 1

After few hours of sleep, we left at 6am for our first day of exploring. We were like zombies, but very excited as nether me or my husband have ever been to Japan before. We set off to get our train ( thank goodness for Google Maps as we would probably still be there looking for the train station) to our meeting point for our first excursion. The first thing we saw was the Tokyo Tower which is the second talles structure in Japan. It looks a bit like mini Eiffel Tower painted red and white.

Tokyo Tower in Japan
Tokyo Tower

Our first stop for the day was at Meiji Jingu Shrine (other known as Yoyogi Shrine) and Imperial Palace East Gardens. Both of which were amazing. During our walk through the Meji Jingu Shrine we were lucky enough to witness real life Japanese wedding ceremony. I have never in a million years expected for this to happen. It was truly an amazing experience.

Japanese wedding in Tokyo, Japan
Japanese wedding in Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace Gardens were absolutely stunning and very peaceful, but what I find a bit weird is that all of this is surrounded by super-tall, modern buildings, and busy streets, yet somehow you forget about the fact you’re in the middle of the busy city.

Admission tickets to Imperial Palace gardens

Imperial Palace Gardens in Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace Garden in Tokyo, Japan

From there, we made our way to Sensō-ji Temple which is for sure “must see” when you in Tokyo! The temple is free to enter hence it can get very busy, especially during lunchtime hours. This traditional Japaneses Temple is surrounded by little shops selling Japaneses products and souvenirs. There is also a high possibility you will bump into Japaneses girls dress up in traditional kimonos

Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo, Japan

Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo, Japan

Geisha, Japanese Girls in kimono in Tokyo, Japan

We finished off the day on the deck of the luxury boat- Symphony where we chilled out with few cocktails, and enjoy relaxing cruise around Tokyo Bay, passing landmarks such as Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tower, Gate Bridge, Wakasu and Odaiba Seaside before we parked up at the Hlinode Terminal


Tokyo Day 2

Day two was even busier than day one. At list we managed to get a proper night sleep before hand. As on the previous day we left our hotel around 6am and head of to bus station via train to meet our guide- who btw was lovely and very knowledgeable. The main reason I liked our guide?- she wasn’t boring. She provided us with lots of interesting facts during our tour in funny, and engaging way, and even though us a Japanese song.

After few hours on the bus we finally arrived at our destination, which was Man Fuji. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed when we came of the bus. Firstly, because it was freezing cold- like winter jacket freezing cold. Secondly, it was so foggy you could not see 5 meters ahead.

Man Fuji 5th Station in Japan map

Man Fuji 5th Station in Japan
This is how fogy it was

We spent most of our time in the shops pretending to buy stuff but in fact we only wanted to warm up. We then head of to get a mountain rail to the Man Fuji 5th Station. The view from the rail pod was incredible but again, when we arrived at the top it was so foggy we couldn’t see a thing.

Lake Ashi in Japan

We hopped back on the bus and went to experience our traditional Japanese lunch which was part of our tour. Our tour guide took us to a shop with hand made, leather goods where on top floor we were greeted by the owner and sitted at our table with a view of the Lake Ashi. For lunch we had Miso soup-which was very much like chicken noodle soup. We also had noodles, rice, and a bit of a grilled chicken. All of which was very, very yummy.

Traditional Japanese meal in Japan

Lake Ashi in Japan

After our little rest we head of for our cruse around Lake Ashi, which lasted about an hour. Then hop on the bus we go for our last stop of the day at the Shinkansen Train Station where we left on a Bullet Train heading back to Tokyo. I think the Bullet train was the most fun experience of the day, mainly because I was finally in the warmth lol

Bullet train train station in Tokyo Japan

Bullet train train station in Tokyo Japan


Tokyo Day 3

On the day 3 we decided to take it easy and do more freestyle touring. We didn’t book any excursions as we want to have a bit of lay in ( we left at 8am instead of 6am!!) we head of to Harajuku on the mission to find one of the themed cafes. There is hundreds of them there. From unicorn themed, cat themed or french maid themed.

Bunny rabbit cafe in Tokyo Japan, Theme cafe

We went to Bunny Rabbit cafe and it was not what I expected at all. The cafe was located on the first floor of the building. It looked more like a studio flat type of place. You pay at the entry the pending on how long you would like to stay. You have unlimited soft drinks included in the price, but to be honest I wasn’t interested in having a drink as the only reason I wanted to go there is so I can play with lots of bunny’s 🙂 We were provided with an apron to protect our clothes. Just in case one of them decided to pee on us. We were also given a box of treats each ( for the bunnies, not for us) the whole experience was great. Animals were very playful, and we got lots of cuddles. They were well looked after which for me was very important.

Next, we walk around the streets of Harajuku. We went into a few entertainment center’s which are out of this world. In each building there was probably about 10 floors full of different types of games and entertainment machines. You could easily tell who goes there every day lol

We decided to head of to Ginza for lunch, bit of shopping and few drinks on the way. We had a flavoured frozen beer that looked like a beer slush puppy. On the top it had frozen froth which looked like an ice cream. Strange and cool at the same time. We then went Shibuya Train Station (walking through the busiest crossing in the world of course) and head back to our hotel.

In the evening we went out to see a Robot Show– and there is only one word to describe it all – CRAZY!!!! I wouldn’t even know where to start on this one. It was the most bizarre 2 hours of my life, but I will definitely recommend to go and see it as I can guarantee, you have never seen anything like this before.


Tokyo Day 4

Our last day in Japan started again very early. We had to leave at 5.30 am to get to our meeting point for 6am. We then met our tour guide and one more person that was booked to go with us. Our tour guide drove us in his own car ( that was a bit strange) outside of Tokyo to Stables where we took part in a morning training session for…. SUMO WRESTLING!!! This was proper fun to watch. After the training has finished, the sumo wrestlers explained to us what it takes to be a sumo fighter. Told us more about their culture, diet and training. I can tell you that I would not want to mess around with any of them lol

Sumo wrestling fight in Tokyo, Japan

As we still had few ours to kill before our evening flight, we went to Shinjuku Gyoe National Gardens and near by Government Building. You can visit the Government Building and take lift to the top floor. There is viewing trace, and restaurant. Restaurant was a bit pricey, but I it was worth it as the food was incredible. Plus, you’re surrounded by panoramic view of Tokyo. What a better way to finish of the trip ey?!

Heading to Tokyo? Have any questins? Comment below and I’ll try to help you as best as I can 🙂

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world.

Love, Natalia

Shepard’s Hut in Darrowen, Wales || Everything you need to know

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Viator

WOW! What an amazing Easter weekend we had in Shepard’s Hut in Wales! Am so excited to tell you all about it that I started writing this post in the car on my way home ( don’t panic! Am not the driver )

We decided to do something different this year for Easter break. We didn’t want to waste our 4 days off work by sitting at home in front of the telly, so we thought it would be fun to stay at some cool, and unusual place that will also accept our 4 legged baby- Rusko. And there I was again, on my favorite site booking.com . I found a luxury Shepard’s huts in Darowen, and both my husband, and I fall in love with it immediately. The fact that they had 10 out of 10 reviews only convinced us that this was the right choice for us!

Glamping in Shepard Huts in Wales
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We are here!

After nearly 5 hours of driving we finally got there, and OMG! The Hut was incredible. The minute we stepped inside we knew we going to have a great weekend. There were 3 huts all together. All situated fairly close to each other, but with enough distance to give you privacy. Everything was done to such a high standard. It looked like we were the first people ever staying in there. Standing on the decking and look at the surrounding valley was breath taking.

Our view of the valley from our Sheppard Hut in Wales
View from our Hut

Our little neighbors

Inside the Shepard’s hut

Inside there was a living area with fully equipped kitchen, breakfast bar, wood burner, and large sofa bed. On the left side of the hut there was an en suite bathroom with proper shower, and Eco toilet ( if you are like me and wondering what Eco toilet is, it’s a toilet that doesn’t use any water which helps the environment). On the right side of the hut It was our bedroom. It had super comfy double bed, and cupboard space, so you can put away your belongings. Each section of the hut had a window with an amazing view of green hills and sheep’s. Outside there is a gas BBQ and picnic bench. The only thing it was missing for me was two sun loungers, so you can just sit back and relax with a glass of Vino.

The whole hut was powered by solar powered battery to be Eco friendly. There are USB charging point doted around the hut, but you need to remember that longer you charge your phone, the shorter hot shower you will have. Especially if is cloudy outside. There is no phone signal, WI-FI or TV which at first is a bit weird, but after couple of days you realize how much you don’t miss those things. We spent our evenings playing board games, and talking to each other haha

Kitchen area
Living room
Bedroom

The Farm

The huts are located on a working farm owned by Sioned and her family, who are one of the sweetest people ever. Despite the fact Sioned wasn’t there to great us on our arrival, she did let us know where we can find her if we need anything. Plus, we could always see her driving her quad bike around the farm. We often bumped into her on our walks, and she always stopped for a quick chat, and to ensure we have everything we need.

One evening we had to pop in to their house to ask if we can charge our speaker, so we can have some music in the evening. We were a bit apprehensive, and I guess a bit shy as we didn’t want to bother them at their house. There were more than happy to do this little favor for us without any issue. Sinoed’s dad took us on a tour around the farm showing us what they do on a daily basis. He was telling us all about the lambs and cows they have. During the time we were there we saw little lamb was born which was incredible. I was so excited to see it happening. For them it was just a standard procedure as they can have 25 of them being born in one hour! The whole experience, and talking to the family about their lives really made our whole adventure even more special. We realized how different our life is in the city, and how much we take things for granted sometimes. It was also very refreshing to see kids spending time outside helping, instead of seating in from of the telly.

sheep

cows

cows

The local area

There is plenty of country walks trails you can explore during the day. The closes town you can get to if you need anything from the shop, or just want to pop up to a pub is Machynalleth. The town itself is not very big, but you will get there everything you might need.

Sunday walk in the valley

If you fancy a proper yummy, home made roast dinner I will definitely recommend driving 9 miles to Pennal. Right alongside the main road there is a Riverside Restaurant which is superb both for service, and for food. Another advantage, they are dog friendly.

There is lots of beautiful cost line villages within short drive from Darowen. One of the most popular sea site destination is historic market town Aberystwyth. You will find plenty to do up there from visiting Aberystwyth Castle, exploring Devil’s Bridge, or going on a steam train around the Vale of Rheidol. On a sunny day you can just chill on a beautiful sandy beach.

If you don’t mind spending a bit longer in the car you can drive around 100 km to Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. You can get to the top via mountain rail, or on foot. We decided to climb as we couldn’t go on the rail with the dog. Unfortunately we only managed to get half way before we give up, and decided to walk back. The surrounding area is just stunning, and was definitely worth the effort.

On our way to the top of Snowdon

snowdon

sonwdon

The list of places and activities you could do in Wales is endless. I truthfully believe this is the sort of place where anyone will find something they will enjoy even, if is just lounging around and enjoying the peace and quiet.

dog
someone didn’t want to go home

If you fancy to check out the huts here is the link to their website http://www.midwalesluxuryhuts.co.uk/

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, share it with the rest of the world.

Love, Natalia