Archive for Europe

The trip that made me fall in love with traveling

exploring Barcelona

I remember my days back at the University when one of the very few safe things I could count on were the little money I had and my parents back home. I was intelligent enough to save something and make wonders with a little. The story that follows was one of them.

I was studying at the University in Czech republic, some 500 km from my home town in Slovakia and the summer of 2007 I decided to go to Spain. To Barcelona, the city I had visited once already but hated it. Why I chose the same place if I didn’t like it remains a mystery to me.

Everyone, both my family and friends were telling me I was crazy to go to Barcelona alone for 3 weeks and without having any accommodation booked.

It was my first trip like that and to be honest I still don’t know if it was my stubbornness, the strong will of standing on my feet or just showing them that I could do it and they were wrong.

The reason now does not matter. What matters though is the fact that going to Barcelona against my parents’ decision was the trip that made me fall in love with traveling. I had only around 1,000 euros with me and no plans for the following 3 weeks.

 

exploring Barcelona

exploring Barcelona

 

I found a hostel a 2-minute walk from La Rambla, the main tourist street. If I remember right, it was the first time I ever stayed at a hostel and let me tell you, it was so much fun! Everyone knew me there already, I started giving tips to other tourists about the best things to do in Barcelona and spent nights talking to my new friend – the receptionist from Argentina. It was there when I also fell in love with the Argentinian accent.

 

Quickly, I changed my opinion about Barcelona. It turned from initial disgust to my favorite city. I fell in love with La Boqueria market, exotic fruit and healthy juices I had never seen before, different beaches close to the city centre, great shopping, good discounts and streets full of life. The famous architecture of Gaudi and the amazing views from the surrounding hills added up the glamour to my visit. I even took some tours with locals in Barcelona.

 

the views of Barcelona

the views of Barcelona

 

This trip taught me a lot. I learned to count on something new – myself – even though being very young in the opinion of many. It taught me to enjoy my own company. It taught me that everyone and also everything deserves a second chance because if I chose any other destination, I would probably still hate Barcelona somewhere deep in my heart with no real reason. It also taught me that healthy food is usually more expensive than junk food but on the other hand it gives me more energy.

This trip taught me that strangers can become my best friends (I am still in touch with the Argentine receptionist) and that just a smile in the morning can make up for a beautiful day. But most of all the trip taught me that save some money is always useful and traveling opens not only my eyes but also my heart.

Since this trip, I revisit Barcelona every year at least once … Was it me who gave Barcelona the second chance or it was Barcelona that gave a second chance to me? I would be missing out way too much if I’d never gone back …

5 Reasons why Ireland is a must visit destination

When you tell someone that you plan to visit Ireland, you soon become inundated with suggestions of where to go and places to visit. Research online is filled with lists of top ten or top 20 places to visit in Ireland, from the Hills of Tara in County Meath to the rain soaked Aran Islands. However there is more to Ireland than beautiful countryside and its friendly people. We have compiled a short list of 5 most see places when in Ireland, perfect if you are visiting for a long weekend.

Like anywhere do your research online and plan your holiday well in advance, sites such as Expedia have a great selection of accommodation types to choose from. Ireland also has an extensive rail and transport network so getting around this beautiful country should be as smooth as possible.

 

The Cliffs of Moher

First stop on our list is in the west of Ireland to the most famous and breath taking part of Ireland’s craggy west coastline the Cliffs of Moher. With 3 main viewing points you will truly be in awe of this natural attraction, look out for the Aran Islands of the coast (a location in the recent star wars film) and the many wildlife that use the cliff face as a safe haven.

 

cliff

 

The Ring of Kerry

With spectacular views, a visit to the ring of Kerry is not to be missed when in Ireland. Located to the south to the country’s most southerly tip it is recognised as one of Ireland’s most scenic trails the ring of Kerry stretches for 120 miles. Taking you on a journey through some of Ireland’s jaw dropping landscape, with green dense meadows, ice cold lakes and heather clad mountain tops coupled with Ireland’s rugged coastline, the ring of Kerry covers a leg of the increasingly popular Wild Atlantic Way. Here, the idealized view of Ireland as a land of rural greenery and natural beauty springs to reality.

 

wild

 

The Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway one of the most amazing sites you will ever see. Located in Northern Ireland near the town of Bushmills in County Antrim it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the North of Ireland. This natural wonder is made of interlocking basalt columns formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago. Alternatively if you enjoy myth and legend, the story of Finn McCool a beloved Irish giant is said to have built the causeway in a fight with a Scottish Giant. I know what story I want to believe, but I will let you decide when you visit. Make time for a visit at the nearby Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which will really test your nerve of heights.

 

giants

 

Guinness

Widely reported as Irelands most popular tourist attraction it is then compulsory that when in Irelands capital Dublin for the first time to visit the Guinness storehouse. The Guinness Storehouse is the home of Ireland’s most famous export “the black stuff” Guinness, even if you are not a fan the storehouse tells an interesting story bringing alive a real segment of Irish History. A tour of the storehouse is spread across 7 floors as you walk through the whole process from grain to glass. At the end of the Tour you are rewarded with a pint of Guinness with 360° panoramic views over Dublin. If you can’t make it as far as Dublin do take the chance to sample Ireland’s most popular export wherever you are.

 

guine

 

Temple Bar

Finish of your time in Dublin in the cities hub of Temple Bar. Here there will be Guinness and Irish “crac” (banter) aplenty. You will also get the opportunity to meet the locals with traditional music on offer and stories of old Ireland to be told you will be entertained until the small hours.

 

temple

 

This list is designed to give you something to see in each corner of Ireland, it is not inclusive of everything that is beautiful and welcoming of this unique country. 

Check out more benefits of traveling to Ireland in my other post. And if you are into culture and history at all, have a look at the best museums in Ireland, too.

Have you visited Ireland before? Do you think we have left anything out that should be in the top 5 places to visit? Let me know in the comments below!

Five things to do in Eastern Norway

When visiting Norway most travellers head there to see the amazing Northern Lights. With the probability of seeing them much stronger in the North, other areas of the country are often less populated by tourists, such as the East. Not to be overlooked, try out a trip to eastern Norway with Wexas.

 

Map of Norway and Sweden.

Map of Norway and Sweden.

 

 

The east has some of amazing experiences for you to enjoy, here’s the top 5:

 

Oslo

 

Based in the East is Norway’s dazzling capital. Famed for its breath taking beauty Oslo is a stunning cosmopolitan hub surrounded by such amazing natural scenery it’s really hard not to love. Packed with hip Scandinavian bars and cool cafes, Oslo is oozing with culture and a must visit destination for any avid city break lover. There are lots of museums and galleries so its perfect for culture enthusiasts and its vibe is unlike any other European city. Its location means you can easily leave the city by boat to experience so much more of Norway.

 

View of Oslo city from roof top of the opera

View of Oslo city from roof top of the opera

 

The Norwegian Opera and Ballet

 

Head to the famous operatic theatre to experience some amazing performances of the best ballet and opera in Europe. You can book an English speaking tour in advance and find out so much about the stunning building before settling down for an evening of entertainment like no other.

 

Ballet Dancer

 

 

Telemark

 

The Telemark canal is one of the most iconic features of eastern Norway. Built in the 1890’s the enchanting canal runs from the mountains to the sea and has a reputation as one of Europe’s most beautiful waterways. Taking a leisurely riverboat cruise down the canal makes for a wonderful day out and ensures that you see all the amazing scenery Eastern Norway has to offer. Telemark is definitely a must visit location for any adventurous types as there are so many activities to do from hiking, walking and cycling to husky sledding and cross country skiing in the mountains for the real dare devils.

 

Lillehammer

 

Home to the winter Olympics in 1994 Lillehammer is one of Norway’s best known winter sports resorts. The town is an amazing place to visit for explorers and adventurous people who want to take a ride on the infamous 100kph bobsleigh.

 

Norway Lillehammer Ski

 

Holmenkollen Ski Museum

The ski museum and jump tower is an incredible day out and a chance to see some death defying jumps if you’re lucky. Be sure to ring ahead in advance of your trip and find out what day there will be live action jumps happening for you to see.

 

*Images courtesy of iStock

25 funny facts about Eiffel Tower

the view of Paris

I was browsing internet and found a really cool infographics with 25 funny facts about the Eiffel Tower. Please feel free to check it out and learn something new:

 

toureiffel_en

 

 

Check out other three things you cannot miss in Paris.

Three must-see soccer derbies when travelling around Europe

What do you want from a derby? There is only one answer – atmosphere. Although there is much debate over which soccer league is the most entertaining, there are clear winners when discussing the rife atmospheres around Europe’s largest soccer-crazy cities. These derby matches are ridden with history alongside the cities themselves and there is no doubt this is the perfect way to travel around Europe for any fan. The varying and fascinating lives which ‘city-zens’ live is wonderful to see.

 

AC Milan vs. Internazionale

 

Milan is undoubtedly one of the greatest cities to visit in Italy, Europe and even in the world. Milan is widely regarded as the global capital for fashion and design. To say the top Italian soccer teams reflect this in their style of play would be an understatement. These two giants of Italian soccer are arguably the country’s most successful teams in recent times, making their rivalry so much vaster.

They produce work of the highest quality on a field which both teams share as their home, causing further confrontation between the two sets of fans. However, this certainly creates a shear cauldron of atmosphere when the two teams meet for the Derby della Madonnina.
Such spectacles have seen the two teams soar in regards to popularity and appreciation for the quality of play which they produce, so much so that they are attracting the best players and coaches in world football.

 

Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce

 

Istanbul is one of the busiest cities in the Europe and the largest in the Middle East. The dense population of the Turkish capital creates a real buzz around the city. This continues to exist when the two contrasting sides of Istanbul meet at their ‘home’ for a clash which they say is more important than winning the domestic Turkish league and one which the international betting markets will often tip as a dead heat.

 

The match is a heart-thumping encounter where once again there is heaps of history involved. Galatasaray are situated in European Istanbul while Fenerbahce are based in the Anatolian part of the city. Fenerbahce were seen as the ‘people’s club’ in the past and Galatasaray were abused for aristocracy. This continues today.

 

Olympiakos vs. Panathinaikos

 

football

*photo by Protonotarios

 

Athens is one of the most historic cities in Europe, and the Greek Gods will look down on Athens and see one of the most traditional soccer derbies in the modern game. These two teams are referred to as the ‘eternal enemies’ in Greece and they continue to entertain some of the most ferocious occasions in soccer history.

Athens is known for its cultural and tourist attractions. This derby is certainly part of the Greek culture. Greeks are known for their nationalism and a match of such high stakes and intensity is the perfect opportunity for such a release of passion. Once again, there are hidden agendas in such a rivalry, stemming from political forces and the hierarchy within the two clubs, encouraging the passionate following of the two clubs.