Climb At Least One Mountain In Your Lifetime.

Kilimanjaro Climb

Everyone should at least climb one mountain in their life. Like Edmund Hillary said, “it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
So with that thought in mind, I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and I came away with not only beautiful memories but learnt a lot about myself. Located along the border between Kenya and the northern Tanzania, it is the highest mountain in Africa with a peak elevation of about 19,000 feet.  It is a mountain capped with a crown of ice/snow and offers a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. The one thing that distinguishes Mount Kilimanjaro from other mountains is the breath taking scenery.
To be fair, it is not the most difficult mountain to climb.  However, this does not mean that you do not have to be physically fit- for those who have been watching mountain climbing on TV and never walked more than a mile, best stay at home- you won’t make it to the top. One has to make plans to climb this mountain about 6 months in advance. This will give you time to build your endurance.

The best way to climb Mt Kilimanjaro is with the help of professional trekkers, who advertise their services online. The entire trip takes about 7 days.  The average cost of hiring professional trekkers is about $2,500 (Excluding airfare) and they take care of the porters, the food, tents and ensure that you will get to the top and bottom with no hassles.
Mount Kilimanjaro is located about 30 mins away from the nearest town of Moshi, which is where you arrive via air. The first day is spent in the hotel which is included in the package; you meet your team and are provided with details about the dos and do not’s. The next morning, the group travels to the base of the mountain and you start the hike.  There are about seven tracks to the summit and some are easy but the views are not great. If you want exceptional views of the surrounding landscape, take the relatively difficult route. The first day, the hike is about 4- 7 miles and then each day you climb about 4,000 feet. At each rest stop, there are tents and prefabricated housing- not hotel style bedding. If you booked a cheap trekking company, you sleep in a tent on hard ground- which itself is a monumental task especially when there are icy winds and the ground is rocky. And the higher you climb  the colder it becomes. So you need to have winter gear on you.

On day 5/6 you are about 3000 feet below the summit. You need to get up early on the last day because conditions at the summit do change drastically in the later part of the day. Mind you it is quite cold up there; expect minus 2- minus 20 C temperatures. Most people spend about 20-30 mins at the summit, take their photos and start the trek down. Once you get to the base, you are taken back to your hotel. The majority of people who climb mount Kilimanjaro do not go back home right away but stick around to see world famous Serengeti National park, which is located at the base of the mountain. Even on an unlucky day, you will see lions, elephants, zebras, leopards, cheetahs and many other types of wildlife. It is worth spending a night or two at the lodges that offer the safaris- it is majestic.

Book in advance as you will get the best inclusive deals; the best time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro are from Jan- March and Sept to October. At this time the weather is not too hot/cold and the environment is safe for an ascent.  Leave yourself at least 5- 7 days to climb the mountain.
Make sure you have medical insurance because you never know what emergency you may run into and Tanzania is not well known for its healthcare services. Do not take crap with you as everything can be rented from the trekkers.

Finally, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro has become big business and you have to be careful about scams and shams. Do not take valuables except for a camera. Leave all the belongings at the hotel. Just carry enough money to tip the porters and cooks. Because most digital cameras and batteries do not function well at low temperatures, you will need to take extra batteries and keep them warm until you use them.

Final thoughts

Like any outdoor activity, one has to be realistic when going to Africa. Climbing mount Kilimanjaro can be physically stressful because for 4- 6 days you will have to sleep on a hard surface and it definitely is not fun. But when once you get to the summit, you will forget all about the sacrifices you had to make. It is one of the most beautiful mountains on this planet.


Zagreb History

Zagreb History

From the historical point of view, Zagreb has emerged from two rival medieval villages on the neighboring hills, Episcopal Kaptol and the bourgeois Gradec, today’s city place of the Croatian Parliament, as well as the famous cathedral.

Zagreb became a free royal town by the Golden Bull of Croatian- Hungarian King Bela IV, from 1242, while it was mentioned as the Croatian capital in written documents from 1557 for the first time. It is located in the middle reaches of the river Sava. Zagreb has almost one million inhabitants. Similarly to the cities of Central Europe, mainly Baroque architecture is responsible for the appearance of old Zagreb, and it is most similar to the old parts of Zemun. One day is sufficient to tour the most important places in the city, but it is the best that, when you get to the center, you continue on foot. Zagreb tour starts from the monument dedicated to Ban on the horseback – Ban Josip Jelacic Square, the winner of the famous battle in Croatian history, against the Hungarians. The market is located in the middle of the most famous street which is not a pedestrian zone.

On the right from the square, up the hill, in the square with gold- plated figures and fountain, the neo- Baroque Zagreb Cathedral of St. Stephen is located, which is dedicated to the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, with 105 meters high pointy bell tower and the remains of Baroque towers of the archbishop palace that surrounds it. Originally built in the 11th century, it was destroyed, repaired and restored several times, to get its present form in 1899. Besides the tombs of famous Croats, among other things inside the cathedral, you can see a great old text written in Glagolitic script, from the time before the Latin and Cyrillic forever “separated” in this region. This rather large church can accommodate more than 5,000 worshipers.

Opposite the cathedral, a hundred meters down the hill, on a plateau between the old houses you will see the main Zagreb market in the open – Dolac. A flight of steps from the market descends directly back to Ilica. The most numerous shops are located in Ilica and around it. Besides shopping zone, one of the most interesting stores is the one that everyone is happy to visit – the store of domestic chocolate factory – Kraš. It is decorated like the most beautiful chocolate shops in the Western Europe.

On the same side of the street, there is the completely renovated Serbian Orthodox Church, and between the buildings behind the church the Preradovic Square is placed, packed with tables and chairs of the cafes that surround it.

Across the street, there is a passage in a part of Ilica – passageway with shops and cafes, such as “House of green tea”, the store where you can buy Japanese and Chinese teas with various ingredients: green tea, dried orange peel, lemon and passion fruit, or “Bamboo sprants” with: rosebuds, ginger, bits of dried pineapple, papaya, coconut, mango and bamboo sprouts… The tea will be packaged in a black bag with a label bearing the name of tea, a detailed description of the origin, method of preparation and expiration date.

In the following passage in Ilice, there is a tourist attraction – a 100- year- old cabin- funicular to the Upper Town. For a ride that lasts less than a minute, you do not have to buy a ticket if you have already purchased a public transport ticket (ZET), for those vehicles are included within the same department.

Exiting the funicular, you will find yourself on a hill, in the Upper Town – the oldest and most important part of Zagreb. Just outside, on the left, on the Walk of Josip Juraj Strossmayer you will see Lotrščak Tower, which you can climb for a small fee and see the whole city as on the palm of your hand from its top. Behind it, the church of St. Catherine is on the right side and a belvedere with a view of the lower part of the city. The Gric cannon fires a salvo from the tower (that reminds citizens of Zagreb what time it) every day – at noon.

Make sure to visit Mimara Museum. For many, the Mimara Museum is the biggest attraction in Zagreb. The Museum of Art is a significant building from the XIX century, which contains works by artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, Renoir, Degas, and Delacroix. The museum’s permanent exhibition covers art from prehistory to the XX century.

As you can see there are many great opportunities in Zagreb, so do not think twice, but book the flight immediately and let yourself enjoy the adventure this city has to offer.

Article from just a local guy (Eryin Dragomir Vukovic) giving you further information about my country.

For essential information on things to do and museums to visit during your time in Zagreb. Visit this site’s Zagreb page. All information is written from first-hand experience to give you a truly terrific trip in Croatia.


A Serendipitous trip to Helsinki

A Serendipitous trip to Helsinki

While flying back from Moscow a few years ago, our plane encountered engine difficulties and the pilot decided to land in Helsinki. Once we arrived, we were told another plane would be arriving late that evening. Well, we decided that rather than waste half a day waiting at the airport, we would turn it into a four day holiday- the airline of course ensured us that we would not have to pay on our way out.

It was the end of April and I had always thought of Helsinki as a frigid city with icy roads, tons of snow and old buildings from the days of the Vikings- how wrong did I turn out to be. Helsinki turned out to be one of the finest cities on this planet and no wonder it was designated as a World Design Capital in 2012.
It was nearly evening the time when we arrived at the airport and the thing that caught my attention was the friendliness of the people, who by the way also spoke English. And once we took a taxi to go downtown, I was impressed with the Nordic architecture. And yes, it was a nice spring day and I did not see any snow and this was a start to my memorable trip to Helsinki.
The next morning the hotel offered us a brochure called “Helsinki on foot” or you can select from several of the walking tours of the city. The city is composed of a mixture of Northern European and Russian architecture.  Helsinki is one of the rare cities in Europe which one can get around on foot or bike. So do not waste your money on cabs. But if you get tired, Helsinki has an excellent public transport system.
The walking tours take you to Market Square, Art Nouveau houses, along the water and through the seafront market. We skipped the walking tour and decided to explore the city on our own. The first stop was the enchanting, enamored churches- the Uspenski Cathedral with its red bricks and the Temppeliaukio church with its saucer- shaped design. Yes I was hooked on the architecture. Along the way we saw the Eliel Saarinen designed train station with four huge granite stones.  For the best view of the city, we went to Observatory Hill.

In the evening we went to the Helsinki Music Centre to listen to a visiting orchestra and all I can say that we were in heaven- magnificent.
On Sunday, it appeared that all the people in Helsinki were out by the pier- boating, biking and walking. And if you bike, fear not, the city does provide free bicycles for a small deposit at many stands. The same day we spent at the Culture Factory, where you get to hear the local music and enjoy a cool beer. The outdoor Market Square near the harbour sells sporty goods and there are make shift outdoor cafes all over the place.
The third day we spent at Pihjalasaari, which is a small recreational island where we had a great picnic and enjoyed great scenery. The only museum we went to was Ateneum which was highly recommended. We were not disappointed. A visually stunning building with classic and contemporary  art exhibitions from both Finnish and European history.
Luckily we were there on May 1 and got to celebrate Vappu- it is like “Disney at Night” but with even more excitement and lots of beer/foods.
Prior to departure the one souvenir we bought was Finnish made at Design District. Here there are many specialty stores where you can buy almost any type of garment or shoe- all designer made (and slightly on the expensive side).

What surprised me the most was the excellent Finnish cuisine. We ate at many cafeterias and restaurants – and almost all had  a flair of Nordic roots etched into the recipes and the utensils- the food by the way was awesome. The typical Finnish dish consists of sea food, variety of bread, meat (reindeer), sausages, many types of cheese and dairy products. Finnish people also love to eat desserts and there were many types of cheesecakes to taste. Average cost for two people ranged from $60- $100 for dinner. Finally no matter where you go, Finns love their local beer (Karjala). Along the seaside and at many restaurants, we tried out the delicious fresh salmon that was served with another local beverage- Salmiakki.
There are plenty of great hotels in Helsinki. We stayed at the Hotel Grans Marina which was relatively cheap ($150/night). Located near the harbour it is most well known for its Art Nouveau exterior. Almost all hotels in Helsinki offer a buffet breakfast and a sauna.
This small cosmopolitan Nordic city is exotic, vibrant and alive and it shares its beauty very well with nature. Today most airlines fly directly to Helsinki from Europe and America. While not as well known as Paris or London. Helsinki does hold its own when it comes to cleanliness, friendliness and above all beautiful.
Article submitted by Clarette Kayley Ellery

Clarette Kayley Ellery: I’m a new travel blogger and my blog is not yet ready to be shared, a link will be updated in the next couple of months once I’m ready to share my blog with you all.

For essential information on things to do and museums to visit during your time in Helsinki. Visit this site’s Finland page. All information is written from first hand experience to give you a truly terrific trip in Finland.


TRIP TO HEAVEN ON EARTH (DIR, KOHISTAN)

A SUMMER HIKING TRIP TO HEAVEN ON EARTH (DIR, KOHISTAN)

It was in the early months of summer of last year that we decided to treat ourselves with an adventurous hiking trip. It took us about a month to plan a hiking trip to the remote hilly stretches of Dir, Kohistan in northern areas of Pakistan. Kohistan is known for its scenic mountain ranges and beautiful lush green meadow landscapes. First things first, we paid a visit the office of KP Tourism Corporation for the area map and approved our hiking trip, since Kohistan is a tribal area and its journey is bumpy with a difficult terrain.. After we got the complete journey mapped out for our hiking trip, we contacted some local friends in Sheringal town is located near the Kohistan mountain range to be our guides.

Now came the critical phase of preparations of our hiking bags that had some clothes, sunglasses, a map, compass, a torch with some extra batteries ,knives ,kitchen utensils, food and first aid kits.

Our journey began from Peshawar city early in the morning at 7 am on day 1. We reached our first destination, the Sheringal town, at around 4 pm where we met the local friends and decided tomorrow’s journey. We agreed  on hiking 16000 feet to get to a lake located at  some distance from a town named Jahaz Banda (Jahaz means plane and Banda means a small village in their local language). The next day we all put on our hiking gears and hoped on the local off- road vehicles to take us to our last stop ‘Lamoti Kohistan’. From this point forward we headed towards the hilly forest with almost no human settlements.

So finally we began to hike. We were walking slowly and taking pictures along the way, enjoying the natural awe-inspiring beauties and gifts by God. The hiking track had beautiful rivers, waterfalls, magnificent and breathe taking sceneries of vegetation. We had energy drinks to keep us going as we had to reach our next destination Jahaz Banda to set our camps there before night fall.

At this time of the year there are unexpected heavy rainfalls at Kohistan which makes the hiking track more challenging than it already is. The rain filled the streams and rivers with rushing turbid water. The challenge was worth it; the track of this hiking trip showed us all the beautiful sceneries we had only seen in books and magazines. After 10 long hours of hiking we finally reached our destination. We set our camps there and stayed the night.

The next day we woke up early in the morning to start our journey to the Lake ‘Katora Jheel’ (Jheel is an Urdu word for lake) located at 16000 feet above sea level. The plan was to reach the destination in three days with 8 hours hike per day. Our journey started with the fresh morning breeze and the musical chirping of birds. On our way we had to cross many rivers by walking over a pieces of log as bridges. That was the most difficult, scary and yet the most amazing part of the hiking journey. Three days in to our journey we were invited to stay the night by a local tribal family and believe me they were the most hospitable, enthusiastic and caring people we ever met. So all the rumors about the dangers about the local tribe were made-up.

The next day our yet another more challenging hiking trip track began. We had to reach our destination which was a small lake located in the middle of mountains and camp. We had to climb many huge rocks and pass many rivers between the hills. The track was rough, and sometimes there wasn’t actually any track to walk on. To overcome this issue we were told by the locals to follow the herds of sheep, as it will work better than any compass and believe it or not, it really worked when we got lost once. After reaching our rest point, all of us started to set the camp near the small lake and enjoyed the entire night, singing songs and listening to one of our friend play a locally made guitar called a rabab.

Finally the best day of our hiking trip came. It was the day we had to reach the Katora Jheel. Reaching there was a joyful experience and in itself a sense of achievement because only five people from around the world actually got there. As this track was exhausting, we took many rest breaks for drinking fresh, cold water from the spring and eating sandwiches that we made the night before. These breaks provided us with more motivation and energy to conquer this track. After tracking for many hours finally we took a sigh of relief and gratitude when we reached to the top of 16000 feet. Though we faced many dangers and injuries during our hiking trip but after watching the beautiful sight of Katora Jheel, we were all so over whelmed by the natural beauty that it made us feel that all of these efforts were definitely worth it. The Lake surrounded by snow filled hills and waterfalls was a sight to behold.

After these long hours of hiking trip we prepared our meal, took a lot of photographs, set a fire and chose a grassland to take some rest. After spending there a night, we decided it was time to go back. The return journey was going to be as difficult, so the next day we started our journey back to the town of Lamoti Kohistan and we reached there in the time of three days. From there we booked a mini bus to reach Peshawar city.

The hiking trip to Kohistan, Dir was fruitful. We all were changed in a spiritual way by facing all the challenges during the trip. It provided us with physical and mental exercise. The hiking trip also widened our knowledge and experiences about the region. We all never knew that our country was so beautiful, Kohistan was definitely a heaven on earth.

Article submitted by Asif Khan

Hi Asif here, I am 25 years old. I am an adaptable, proactive and enthusiastic MBA graduate from IM Sciences (with 3.75 CGPA) working as a content writer and Blogger for the benefit of the community in a professional environment where all the mastered theories in Marketing and Business can be put in to practical usage and further enhanced, for the benefit of the society.

For more articles from Asif visit his blog here.


My time in Stockholm.

My Time In Stockholm

It was early- summer in April 2007 when I caught the flight to Stockholm from Bangalore in India. The flight landed in Stockholm at 1 PM in the afternoon. The drive from Stockholm airport to my hotel in Kista suburb of Stockholm was a pleasant one. As I settled down in my room and looked out of the window, I was pleasantly surprised to see few specks of snow hung in the air and gently floating down. I was lucky to see some snow that day since for the next two and a half months I did not get to see any. The day I had landed in Stockholm turned out to be the last day of winter in Stockholm.

We were three colleagues who had come for learning the intricacies of an Ericsson product. Our hotel, Accome Kista, was part of a wide chain of serviced hotels with kitchen facility present in all the rooms. The best part of Accome Kista was that it shared a wall, and an access- controlled entrance with Kista Galleria.

Kista Galleria was a really well- designed and beautiful mall. The shops and establishments it contained ranged from a fully- equipped supermarket named ICA, to a McDonald’s restaurant to all the branded stores which one finds peppered across malls now- a- days. Kista Galleria had a nice food court with cuisines from all over the world.

Next day was our first day at the office. We purchased day passes for Stockholm Metro and boarded it. Stockholm Metro is a traveller’s delight, to say the least. We needed to go to the Telefonplan suburb of Stockholm where Ericsson office was located. This required us to change trains at the central interchange station known as T- Centralen.

T- Centralen station was huge. It was fully underground and was three floors tall below the ground. The three metro lines ran on their own floors or levels. To change our route, we had to reach a different level. However, while finding our way to the correct Metro route the three of us got lost! Instead of reaching the upper floor, we found ourselves standing outside the station. Realizing our folly, we went around and enquired from the passers- by. We found the Swedes to be extremely helpful. They willingly guided us to the correct level of the station where we finally boarded the train to our destination.

Telefoneplan was a small Metro station. We walked a quarter of a mile to the Ericsson office where we met our Swedish colleagues. Our Swedish colleagues were very friendly. The first day itself they took me to a Greek restaurant where we had Greek Kebabs and couscous. I absolutely loved the food and the hospitality.

I had landed in Stockholm with a slight cold, but despite having ventured out in cold weather on my first day itself, my cold became better on the second day and was gone by the third day. The air in Stockholm was amazingly pure, as was the food. In fact, I used to relish having ice cream in the freezing air of Stockholm. An experience I cherish till date!

Me and my office colleagues went around sightseeing on every weekend. One of the first places we visited was the Army Museum at Riddargatan. It had an awesome range of guns on display. The guns were of all sizes and it took us a while to see the whole range which was on display.

My next memorable outing was to the Vasa Museum. The museum was named after the 17th-century warship Vasa which had originally sunk on its maiden journey. The warship had since been salvaged and resurrected with the Vasa Museum built around it. The museum was awe- inspiring and we took three to four hours to cover it from one end to the other. We took ferry rides to and from the island of Djurgarden where the museum was located. I still remember the nice view of Stockholm city we saw as we travelled standing on the deck of the ferry.

One of the oldest and most pristine areas of Stockholm is an area known as Gamla stan which literally means The Old Town. Gamla stan carried the feel of the 17th and the 18th centuries. It had long and winding alleys with cobbled pathways and shops lined up on both sides. I even found an Indian restaurant in those alleys.

Stockholm is known for the Nobel Prize. A trip to Stockholm would then be considered incomplete without a visit to the Nobel Museum which was located in the Gamla stan area. The museum was a treasure trove of information on the origins of the Nobel Prize and its recipients over the years. It even had an in- built theatre, where short documentary films about the Nobel prizes were screened for the visitors.

We had heard a lot about the excellent nightclub culture in Stockholm. So one Friday night we decided to check it out for ourselves. We decided to explore the Gamla stan area which, despite its quaint exteriors, transforms into a buzzing nightspot on the weekends.

We decided to travel by Metro. As we came out of the Gamla stan station I was amazed to see the happy faces and the generally smiling faces milling around. Stockholm has an amazingly low rate of crime. So everyone could move around easily at night without any danger of being mugged!

We roamed around the area till 2 am and even visited a night club which allowed stag entries. To our pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a pirate themed night at that night club which we enjoyed thoroughly.

Another area where I enjoyed walking around was Kungsträdgården park in central Stockholm. People used to sit around the park relaxing and chatting. With the pure breeze of Stockholm flowing around, this park remained my preferred place to relax after a tired working day.

The Kungsträdgården Metro station, which was the nearest station to get to the park, also had an entrance to the Gallerian mall. The Gallerian was the commercial centrepiece of Stockholm with nice shops. I visited an Italian restaurant in this mall run by a mother and daughter duo. Till date I haven’t tasted a better Focaccia with salami meat than the one, I ate there

My memories of Stockholm will be incomplete without a mention of the Swedish sauna I used to enjoy in my hotel itself. It was the traditional Swedish sauna with stones placed on a heater. I used to book the sauna room for an hour once every week. The sauna I experienced in Stockholm is one of the most refreshing activities I have experienced to date.

To sum it up, my trip was full of nice experiences. When it was time for me to come back I really felt that I was leaving some part of me behind in the lovely city of Stockholm.

Article submitted by Prabhu Chowdhury

For essential information on things to do and museums to visit during your time in Stockholm. Visit this site’s Sweden’s page. All information is written from first-hand experience to give you a truly terrific trip in Sweden.


Travelling Tips for Europe

Travelling Tips for Europe

Europe holidays are the most sought after holiday destinations for travellers. Holidaymaker’s should be aware of many important travel tips before booking their next Europe get- away.

Traveling tips for Europe include:

Set a holiday budget

Set your holiday budget to include transportation expense and keepsakes. For tourists looking for a cheap Europe holiday, packaged tours will be the best option. In case you are flexible, book a last minute holiday, because it can save a lot on your travel expense.
Know the exchange rate

Find out the exchange rate between the country you will be travelling to and your country. The exchange rate will provide you with a better idea of how much your holiday will cost you. If possible, visit during the off- peak months to save considerably more.

Plan and organize

Ensure that you plan and organize your holiday. Make sure that your picture ID and international passport are up to date. Find out whether you will need travel insurance, where and how to exchange money. If you are well organized, this can ensure that you will have a great holiday.
Holiday activities

Spare some time to consider what holiday activities interest you before you travel to Europe. Are you a water- sport enthusiast or you love climbing the mountains or hiking, visiting museums or relaxing on the beach? If you know what activities you like doing, arrange for which days you will have time for each of them.
Reserve some activities until another visit

Usually, with an end goal to get the most value for your money you may tend to over plan the holiday. Organize your holiday activities list, and in case, you do not have the time to complete the list, save a few sight attractions or activities for another holiday.
Find out about each day’s weather forecast

Some holiday maker’s might not wish to spend several days indoors, on the grounds of rainy or cold weather. They may miss a fun day trip because they did not find out the weather forecast for that day.

Guided tours

For a holiday-maker who love waking up late, then a guided tour may not be for them. Because many guided tours begin very early for the day, and the tour may continue until very late at night. The tours are meant to show you around many cities in any European country within a specified time period, and the tourists are always grouped together for the guided tour.
Pack what you need

Only travel with items that are necessary and you are sure they will be of use. Ensure that you pack light. Go with what you will need. Bear in mind that your holiday destination will have shops that can offer any item you may need or may have forgotten.
Get more travel information online

Holidaymaker’s to Europe destination have many options. There are the possibilities of using the Internet to know more about the European cities that they plan to travel to, look at the travel costs, reserve their holiday accommodations or book their flights.
Read reviews from other travelers

In case, this will be your first time of visiting a particular holiday destination, read reviews from travelers who have visited that spot to know more about the type of holiday activities on offer, places to visit and sight attractions.

Have fun

Always plan before traveling to a country, that way when you start your trip, you can relax and have fun. Be that as it may be reminded that, there are not very many perfect holidays In case something goes wrong, relax and accept the situation for what they are. Have fun with your holidays in Europe.

Article submitted by James Smith

Hi my name is James and I’m 13 years old, I live in North East England and my dream is to travel the world and to be a writer. I have travelled a lot of Europe with my family on holiday and decided to do an article once I saw you was looking for writers. I hope you put this on your site. Thank you
Due to the age of this writer I haven’t linked to his Facebook, but as however, we agreed if you would like to get hold of James you can give me your details and I shall pass them  on.


Tallinn tips from a local

Tallinn Article

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia wherein majority of the country’s population resides. Considered as one of the oldest capital cities in Northern Europe, Tallinn has also been the main point of trade and commerce from the 14th to 16th centuries.  The Old Town in Tallinn, in fact, has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site making it a popular destination among tourists.
Fast- forward to today, modern-day Tallinn has been the major hub for political, cultural, financial and educational spots of the country Estonia. In fact, it is now famous for being called the Silicon Valley of Europe. It is also the birthplace of the world famous Skype.
As for a travel destination, Tallinn caters to all type of tourists. For those of you who wanted a taste of wonderful nightlife and exhilarating adventures without compromising the comforts of the modern world, then Tallinn should definitely be on your travel list!

Sights

The most popular among the many wonderful sights of Tallinn would be The Old Town. The cobbled streets would take you to courtyards, churches and old houses that give you a reminiscent glimpse of the past. With a nice atmosphere and tons of friendly people, Old Town is littered with quaint restaurants and cafes to satisfy your taste buds. A word to the wise, though, be mindful of your steps!
If you are looking for a place to rest your feet but not your eyes, head to the Kadriorg Park. A well- maintained park with amazing scenery and beautiful architecture, you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the place while resting.  It has cute attractions such as a pond, fountain, and heaps of lovely flowers. From here you can walk towards their national museum, the presidential residence, and the castle garden.

Finally, the site that will leave everyone breathless is the Toompea Hill. This provides a fantastic vantage view of all the Old Town and the sea, meaning you can see for miles! As for the range of the hill itself, it is quite compact but with many beautiful buildings of different architectural influences, try to spot the Baroque and medieval ones! Make a visit especially on a sunny day to appreciate this view and most importantly, better bring extra memory card and batteries for your camera, surely you’ll leave with tons of photos!

Food and Drink

You may not agree with me but I think the best part of going around a new city is sampling their local delicacies. The first thing to sink your teeth into when in Tallinn should be me but I think the best part of going around a new city is sampling their local delicacies. The first thing to sink your teeth into when in Tallinn should be leib, which is their local dark rye bread.Verivorst, which is a local blood sausage, is another delicacy one should not miss. In Tallinn, where sometimes the temperature can drop to very low degrees, hearty meals such as stews and soups are highly popular. Try some of their stews with pork and .Verivorst, which is a local blood sausage, is another delicacy one should not miss. In Tallinn, where sometimes the temperature can drop to very low degrees, hearty meals such as stews and soups are highly popular. Try some of their stews with pork and .Verivorst, which is a local blood sausage, is another delicacy one should not miss. In Tallinn, where sometimes the temperature can drop to very low degrees, hearty meals such as stews and soups are highly popular. Try some of their stews with pork and hapukor or sour cream. For seafood lovers, best to try salmon and trout, which are often than not caught in the wild or organic. During often than not caught in the wild or organic. During the season, make sure to try some forest fruits and mushroom dishes too!
For drinks, herbal teas are becoming popular these days, all of which under the namen “tee” when ordering. Tourist and locals alike also favour local beers and liqueurs. For sinfully rich experience, try their local chocolate, which is under the Kaley brand for a really good treat.

Tips

1. To maximize your visit in Tallinn, be sure to buy a Tallinn Card, which gives you a cheaper alternative to enjoy the sights. The card is acceptable in more than 40 museums and other attractions, buses, trams and even bicycle hires.

2. A lot of museums in the area are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so schedule your itinerary accordingly.

3. As always, cafes and restaurants located in the city centre are overpriced. Try to pry away from that area and explore a little farther for better and cheaper alternatives.

4.  Head to the artists’ workshop for unique souvenirs. Avoid the souvenir  shops, which often than not sells overpriced items.

Article submitted by Anton Kalju

For essential information on things to do and museums to visit during your time in Tallinn. Visit this site’s Estonia page. All information is written from first-hand experience to give you a truly terrific trip in Latvia.


Oslo Article

Oslo

Being one of the biggest capitals in the world, the vast territory of Oslo is covered with wild forests, lakes, parks and greenery of all kinds. All this nature can be easily accessed from anywhere in the city, so take your time and enjoy the subtle mix of vibrant green hills with navy-blue lakes and elegant architecture of the city with unforgettable cultural sights that can be explored all day long. The best way to experience Oslo is on foot, especially if you stay somewhere near the Karl Johans gate, the main street in the city that runs along main sightseeing spots. Whether you are a history buff or an art-lover, Oslo has lots of interesting spots that will take your breath away.

Take a step back in time as you visit the Akershus Fortress. It was built in 1299 and strikes all its visitors with majestic medieval architecture, grand halls, spacious banquet rooms, and picturesque views of the harbor that can be seen through the castle’s windows. Explore the quaint chapel that’s located on castle’s premises and the Royal Mausoleum where you can marvel at the tomb of castle’s founder Hakon VII. The fortress has seen its fair share of sieges over the last few hundred years, but now the Ministry of Defense has transformed it into its headquarters.

Vigeland Sculpture Park attracts millions of tourists each year and for a good reason. It is one of the biggest parks of such kind that have ever existed and is dedicated solely to the works of one author – Gustav Vigeland. As you wander among hundreds of exquisitely made sculptures you’ll get to visit 6 sections of the park with various themes including the Wheel of Life, depicting all aspects of being human, and the marvelous collection of statues in the Fountain area.

Fans of the Viking culture will be overjoyed to visit the incredible Viking Ship Museum elegantly put on display in well-lit white galleries. The collection includes a lot of reconstructed wooden light boats and the exquisite Oseberg boat with rich and stunning ornamentation. You can also enjoy extensive collections of Viking goods at the Museum of Cultural History.

While strolling along the streets of Oslo don’t forget to visit such iconic places as the National Museum of Art with its breathtaking collections of contemporary and traditional artists from around the globe and the Royal Palace with its lush gardens and the changing of the guards. Stop by to take some photos of the noble-looking Oslo Cathedral with its amazing bronze doors and antique interior. City Hall is another iconic site that cannot be missed. Being one of the greatest landmarks in Oslo, it’s a majestic square building made of brick with 38 bells hidden inside one of its towers. Their sound can be heard throughout the whole city! Go to Aker Brygge to marvel at the most stunning architecture and a pleasant boardwalk that runs along the sea. It is also the go-to place if you want to have an unforgettable dinner with your friends, family or an intimate date with a girl.

Article submitted by Gregers Peder Nass, A student resident of Oslo


Article on Riga

Time In Riga

This time we made our way towards the capital of Latvia, Riga. Considered as the pearl of architectonics, Riga holds a significant place within the entire Latvia and Baltic. It is gladly counted amongst the list of UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Around 700,000 inhabitants reside in this largest city in Baltic States.
We stepped into this great place through booking a flight. Well, you can easily get direct flights to this city from Asia, Africa, America, and Europe as well. Riga International Airport is located quite close to the city centre. Moreover, Air Baltic offers simple and suitable links to this multicultural Latvian city.

I was surprised to see a variety of interesting stuff in Riga, to me it was an incredible destination to spend my summer holidays where I completely relaxed and rejuvenated myself to the fullest. There’s no harm calling it a place where centuries meet as you would witness each century has significantly impacted the city, leaving behind rich historic remains. One surprising thing about Riga is you’d see the old historic cultural heritage co-exists concordantly with modern lifestyle. Since Riga is located in the centre of the city, you can step in the city through any means of conveyance with great ease be it by air, railway or sea.

The prime reason of choosing Riga, Latvia was, I needed the perfect break comprising of great music, dining and wining altogether.

It’s a known fact that Music is regarded as an integral part of the Latvian Culture and once you’re here in summers, it’s a blast of some amazing mini music festivals and concerts that are conducted frequently throughout the summer season. I attended ballet and opera sessions and really enjoyed the sacred music.

While staying at Hotel Neiburgs, I stepped out to satisfy my hunger pangs. Heading to the roof top restaurant off the cathedral square, I indulged into delectable summary sensational main courses that were really affordable starting from £7.

Wandering in this beautiful city, I decided to visit Jurmala. You must be a bit confused about the term *Jurmala*, it actually means Seaside in the Latvian language. Walk on shimmery golden sands and relax in wondrous Spas out there. It isn’t located far away; just a quick ride by train will take you to the glimmering Latvian beach.

Wandering in this beautiful city, I decided to visit Jurmala. You must be a bit confused about the term *Jurmala*, it actually means Seaside in the Latvian language. Walk on shimmery golden sands and relax in wondrous Spas out there. It isn’t located far away; just a quick ride by train will take you to the glimmering Latvian beach.

Walking through old town’s pebbled streets; each era has marked structural scratch including segments of vigorous archaic defences, medieval churches, and flamboyant townhouses along with museum buildings. Don’t miss out to visit the spacious Dome Cathedral; I remember I had to wait in a long beefy queue to buy entrance tickets. Book your tickets in advance to avoid the massive rush.

On my way for cruising to “The Darling”, I came across an unpolished Kipsala island, where a number of wooden houses were located closely to each other. Returning back, I headed on to the Bastion Park and guess what I found…

Lovely swan houses and so many shady benches to relax and get a watchful view of park!

My next move was to explore the most popular and prominent Art Nouveau Museum, which serves as home to a cluster of Riga’s spectacular and wondrous art pieces and décor. In order to enjoy nightlife in Riga, do enter the sleek and hippest wine bar KID. Finally sipping my favourite beer with live piano in background brought an amazing night life to an end.

My trip to Riga, Latvia all over has been an amazing one.

Article submitted by “The Ghost”

For essential information on things to do and museums to visit during your time in Riga. Visit this site’s Riga’s page. All information is written from first-hand experience to give you a truly terrific trip in Latvia.


Lithuania School

Gymnasium

I was given an invite to Dominyka’s Gymnasium (school) where I would give a motivational speech in an English lesson, This was something very new to me, as much as I have visited a number of different schools across the globe and had 1 to 1 talks with children around the ages of 6 – 10 years old, I have never given a speech to a class let alone to a class of around 15/16 year olds.
I prepared very well for my speech and tried not to let my nerves get the better of me. The moment I walked into the class my self-preparation had quickly disappeared and all I was left with were a bucket full of nerves. As the teacher walked to the back of the class I was left at the front, on centre stage trying to clear my mind.

At this point all I could teach the class was how to be nervous, I was far from my comfort zone. After telling myself at a rate of 1 hundred miles per hour to pull myself together,  I began my speech, but the only words that could come out of my mouth were      “hi”        then an awkward pause from me, so I decided to talk about the bad weather and explain that this was an English tradition and how we, for some reason, talk about the weather. I stood there stumbling my words, still full of nerves, I exploded with my prepared speech

As I was talking about the things I prepared, I could see no- one was really interested in what I had to say, oh know what a disaster this was turning out to be, “a nervous boring Englishman stuttering his words out”.

An awkward silence………

I really needed at this point to either leave and walk out or find a comfort zone for myself, of course my comfort zone is my hobbies and about things I have passion for which of course is travelling.

I asked the class if anybody had any hobbies,

Nothing, not one replied, no one had any hobbies, hmmmm

I had failed and lost interest of the students,

“oh no disaster”

Ok, I will talk about my hobbies so I talked about travelling and some of the countries I had visited, a few eyebrows lifted “Result”

I have found something some may be interested in so I went on and talked about some of the amazing experiences I’ve had and some of the unique foods I’ve tried. Whilst I was speaking about foods I would ask the class to translate and if they understood, for me, this was the key turning point as the class interacted with me. I would ask along the way if anyone had any questions, 1 young lad asked a question followed by another and another.

It was around this point I had forgotten about my nerves and felt more comfortable.

As this young man kept asking questions it would lead on to further things from religion, politics, economy,  the  crisis happening in the E.U,  what I thought about leaving the E.U and a few other questions which I spoke about.

The lesson was up which was notified by a piece of music, WOW I had spoken for 45 minutes from what was meant to be an intended 10- 15 minutes, did I pull this off? “I believe so”, the students didn’t flinch at the end of the lesson, they didn’t grab their bags and run, they continued to listen to me for a further 5 minutes,

I quickly wrapped up this lesson and thanked them for listening which they applauded me and then class was dismissed.

I really hoped they learnt a few things from me even if it was to listen to a native English person speak and try to understand, I can honestly say I have learnt a lot from this lesson and how hard it is to be taken out of your comfort zone, my lesson was to grab an opportunity, learn from it and enjoy it.

I really hoped they enjoyed the lesson and to my relief I was told by Dominyka that a few students had said after the lesson that it was interesting listening to me, I would love the opportunity to do this again, however, next time I will know what to expect and believe I would enjoy it from start to finish.