Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Acropolis in Lithuania.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 Comments
I haven't been to Greece yet, but last weekend I had a chance to get close to it. Unexpectedly, while touring my own country (Lithuania), my travel companion and I came across the ruins of a former manor in a place called Onuškis, not far from the border of Latvia. The manor used to be belong to the Komar family, who had their family roots in present-day Ukraine, but debts and World War I left the place destitute. Alas, there are many of derelict former manors in Lithuania, the main reason for being so is the eternal problem of money.

Today this place belongs to the state but it's future remains unclear. The best approach would be to find a new owner who would conserve the ruins and turn them into a tourist attraction, but developing tourism in smaller towns isn't easy. I just hope for the best.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sunrise in Israel: What's It like over the Holy Land?

Thursday, February 6, 2014 Comments
I knew I only had a week for Israel because I was dependent on my budget flight schedule, so I tried to cram as much as possible within a short time frame. I was especially annoyed that I was to lose my last day because the check-out of the famous Abraham hostel in Jerusalem was before noon and my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 9 PM. True, it would take some time to get to the airport, but I would still have much free time on my hands. The solution? "Masada sunrise tour" offered by the hostel fit the bill: departing at 4 AM and returning at about 2 PM it would keep me busy exploring Israel-the reason I came here in the first place- and there would be plenty of time to have lunch and go to Ben Gurion airport. I was at first a bit worried that we might not make it in time, but there was plenty of time after we had returned, especially so when I had a shared taxi to the airport booked in advance.

Even though this particular tour is hailed as the highlight of the trip to Israel, that morning there were only eight of us. Probably starting a tour at 4 AM, when most of the people are going to bed after a night out, takes a toll. I had some coffee and left my luggage in the storage room (the fact for which I faced a thorough search at Ben Gurion as I dared to leave my luggage unattended by a 24/7 video camera, duh) and joined others in the bus. This tour wasn't guided per se but our driver told us some things on the way. The night was dark and cold when we arrived at the foot of Masada fortress at about 5.30 AM.

This is the way the sun rises over the Holy Land.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Exploring The Wonderful City of Prague: Christmas Market and Beyond!

Sunday, December 29, 2013 Comments
I actually wanted to fly to Stockholm and see their famous day of St. Lucia when girls walk with crowns of lit candles on their heads. It's not like you're gonna see that every day, right? But the flight schedule to Scandinavia was so abhorring that I had to switch destinations and so it happened that I ended up in Prague. I have been planning to go somewhere for Christmas markets after my delightful time in Estonia last year anyway, so Prague was OK. Not OK was the total expenditure, though.

The Impressive Our Lady before Tyn.

The Magnificent St. Nicholas's.

Night illuminations.
Trdelnik. Yummy.
The marketplace was typical to the event, with many wooden houses selling edible and inedible things, excelling in Christmas toys. I had some mulled wine, heard lovely songs, ate delicious pastry, delighted at crystal items in shops displays, and walked the lovely streets.

I walked over the iconic Charles bridge.


St. John Nepomuk.
An XVIII th.c. Crucifix with Jewish Letters. 
The Birds!
The next thing Prague excels in is Art Nouveau. I was glued to buildings trying to peek inside through glass doors into the magnificent lobbies. I hope I have not become a suspect!

The Jewish quarter is another reason to visit Prague. They say Nazis didn't destroy it like they did in other countries because here they planned to set up a museum of an extinct race. Talk about creepy things.

The Jewish Cemetery. 

The Spanish Synagogue. 
It's confusing because several separate buildings are referred to as a museum of Jewish history as it that was a single building. The only place they allow photos is in the cemetery. I really advise to visit the displays in synagogues as they are organized neatly and present interesting history. You might want to attend a concert in the Spanish synagogue, but expect to pay up to 700 CZK for the ticket (25 EUR).

I spent a full day exploring the castle side of the city and it's worth noting that it needs at least two full days to enjoy it.

Houses in Mala Strana.
St. Nicholas's Church. Yup, one more. 
St. Vitas's Church. 
A Fragment in the Fence. 

Down to Panorama Place.
Red Roofs of Prague.
You Rub "The Thing" for Good Luck. 
The Beautiful Cloisters of Loreto.
There are also some quirks of the city.

A Monument to F. Kafka.
Christ in A Dress in Loreto.
St. Agatha with her severed breasts in Loreto.
Used to be A Church.
Prague is great for day trips and the famous Kutna Hora seemed to fit the bill. I was let down by the Ossuary even though every other travel blogger seems to have enjoyed it. But the town impressed me a lot, the food we ate was delightfully gourmet, and the church of St. Barbara justified the effort of coming here.

Ossuary Bones.

Inside St. Barbara Church. 
St. Barbara's Stained Glass Windows.

Me in front of St. Barbara's Church. 

Tips for Prague.

Accommodation can be tough unless you are rich or have relatives who can put you up. I recommend hotel Bohemians with good transport links and buffet breakfast. Third party websites often have very good deals for it.

Transport is frequent, fast and not crowded. I recommend buying a three day ticket that is valid for your luggage as well as for 72 hours on trams, metro and buses.

Sightseeing depends on your preferences but expect to pay about 5 EUR or more for entrance to any place that sells tickets. Photo permits are sold separately.

Food comes to all shapes and sizes but to be on the safe side do rely on trusted internet reviews of places and make sure you read what you can find about tourist traps in Prague.

Souvenirs depend on your idea of souvenirs but typically that would be alcohol in the local style, soft toys of Mole the Animation Star, jewelry with crystal and garnet, Mucha's reproductions. I brought home some coffee from Starbucks because we don't have one in our country but, unfortunately, garnet will have to wait until I find myself a rich sheikh.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me by email or leave a comment on this blog.

Have you been to Prague?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Tree Inspired by Travel! Or It's The Other Way Round?

Monday, December 23, 2013 Comments
I don't know how and when I got hooked up by the idea to bring a toy for the Christmas tree from each of my travels. But once hooked, it ain't easy to come off the idea, right? So, behold the collection of my travel witnesses and a finished product at the end of the post.

The first toy that started this collection comes from Tallinn, in Estonia, where I went for a Christmas market fair last year. I had a most enjoyable time in Tallinn with crisp snow, hot wine, Medieval city and lots and lots of fantastic moments that words just fail to express. Tallinn has got so many lovely cafes to sit down to something delicious and watch the world go by.

A Glass Horse in A Glass Bauble.
I have also enjoyed my time at ITB Travel Trade Show in Berlin and I was busy searching for that special toy to bring home,-a not-so-easy task in March with Easter falling, like, next week. I could have got loaded with Easter eggs and I did consider the possibility to take one of them as a Christmas toy because some of them have hooks for Easter trees. But then I went to the famous flea market not far from Victory Column and for a few Euros I got these triplets below. Well, they are not identical triplets, of course.

An Angel, A Car, and A Boy on A Horse.
I had some of the best travel time in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, and I bought the straw sun when I visited their open air museum of traditional country life. Their tradition of making straw decorations is very close to ours, though the items are not identical to what we make, but still very affordable and sweet. There's some warmth in them. I also got a Domovoj, a house spirit, made from straw. The horn of plentiness was bought in a special souvenir shop where I also bought a jewelry box decorated with straw.

Straw Sun.

Straw Horn of Plentiness. 
My long desired trip to Provence didn't come as expected as I wanted it to, but nonetheless we passed through Bamberg and Heidelberg, both German cities. Needless to say, Christmas decorations are strong in Germany. I especially enjoyed my visit to a special Christmas decoration shop in Bamberg, a beautiful city in its own right, and the beauty of their toys could knock one's eye out.

Heidelberg's Wooden Toy.

Bamberg's Snowman. 
My trip to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was very timely considering the current political climate. I knew Ukrainians are strong in decorating eggs, and this is a handmade item that I bought from a traditional crafts artist. I was worried about the transportation of it in the checked-in luggage, so I had it put it in a box, then wrapped in a sock and carefully stored in the cup I always take with me for boiling water, and it arrived safe and sound.

A Painted Egg.
The collection is -temporarily, of course,- completed by my Czech purchases from Prague Christmas market fair that I didn't have time to blog about in this busy period of work-home-gifts-Mum, but I do intend to do it once things get back to normal.

An Elephant. 

A Swarowski Butterfly
Beghold the Christmas tree, or, rather, the Christmas branch sporting my beautiful collection.

My Precious. 
I admit, it can get obsessingly annoying when I need to buy a toy to take home as if without it this trip doesn't count, or something. But it can also be great fun!

Now, show me your Christmas tree :-)

This post takes part at Sunday Traveler link feast, thanks to Adelina from Pack Me To

Merry Christmas!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
◄Design by Pocket