Colmar: immensely beautiful

Very often, when you are looking through the photos of a place you want to visit, they appear a bit brighter than the place itself when you finally there. Photographers use filters and sophisticated means to make their works if not a piece of art but at least simply look better. I cannot argue, their works are catchy, but sometimes too far away from reality. In that sense, Colmar is exactly the same as when you see it on all the artistic pictures. It is bright and beautiful without any filters and colors’ amplification. Blossoming flowers, sweet gingerbread houses and lively channels… Total awesomeness!

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A weekend away in Morocco

When we announced that we fly to Morocco for a long weekend (literally, for two and a half days), all our friends and colleagues were concerned in our sanity. Indeed, we spent every day at least five hours on the road sitting in bus or train or plane or waiting for our flight. Flying to Brussels after work and then to Rabat-Sale. Taking a five-hour bus to and back from Chefchaouen. Returning to Rabat-Sale by train from Fez. Flying back home over Brussels. Sounds like a lot. Yes, it is. But I assure you, on our very first day we concluded: Morocco is so much worth all this travelling fuss!

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On the road in Morocco

 

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Cuba. Part 5: About peculiarities and specialties

The last post in this series. Cuba was indeed amazing and this part is about some things that I found very special, sometimes awkward or fascinating…

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Signs for a casa

Remember, when you are searching for a place to stay, you can easily spot them by the sign like the one below on the photo. The color of the sign show what type of casa is that: blue – for tourists, red – for locals.

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Cuba. Part 4: Cuban cities and national parks

We had 11 days on Cuba and managed to see 10 cities and 2 national parks. For many, this intense trip could seem too hectic, but for us this rhythm is quite usual. We can’t spend more than 3-4 hours on the beach or stay in one city longer than 2 days. We are hungry for new places, new things to do and to see. Probably, this will change with time, but while we are young we want to take as much as we can from every trip.

In this post I will write about our impressions from the cities on Cuba and its national parks (the complete route and a map of our trip you can find in my previous post: Link) Let’s go!  Continue reading

Iran. Part 2: about the right dress-code, correct behavior, hotels and photography

Dress-code (for ladies)

Probably, the most exciting subject for those who thinks of going to Iran. Dress-code for women exists, that’s true. However, it is not so strict as many of us imagine. Quran demands some level of modesty from both men and women. Hijab – a scarf that covers head and shoulders and therefore prevents women from direct gazes – is a symbol of privacy, modesty and morality. Keep in mind that wearing a hijab is required by law. Therefore, make sure you have any scarf to cover your head from the moment you get off a plane. It was quite amusing when all women, who were sitting with their hair open in the plane, at the same time put on a scarf when disembarking.

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Benvenuti a Napoli

A weekend trip to the south of Italy. Naples is absolutely worth it. Less words, more photos. The essense in 5 abstracts.

  1. The best view to the city is from the viewing point in the medieval Castle Sant’Elmo that is situated in the uptowm (you can reach it with one of three funiculars).
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    From above you can see the island Capri as well (the one to the right).
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    The castle itself has a light oriental fleur…
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  2. Naples is the homeland of Pizza. Indeed, delicious. To our astonishment, the places with the best rating on the Tripadvisor were takeaways. The line in front of them was impressing.
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    A surpise for me was the revellation that Rum Baba (ромовая баба) so loved by Russians is a typical italian sweet.
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  3. Pompeii. Easy to reach with a train from Naples Central station. Be aware that the last admittance to the site is 15 o’clock, closure time – 17 o’clock. Probably, because of the absence of artificial backlight. You will need around 2-3 hours to walk through the area.
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    It you want to combine the trip with the mount Vesuvius, leave Naples early in the morning. The last bus from Pompeii to Vesuvius goes at about 14 o’clock. The one-way ride lasts 50 minutes.
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  4. The stories about thievery are true. Keep your belongings close to you and watch out. Especially during the pre-Christmas time. The streets in the old city are incredibly full with tourists and locals. Here you can find anything you want for your home decoration.
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  5. The city is eclectic, buzzy and still very attractive. Narrow streets and vivid atmosphere, stuff of all types sold on every corner, emotionalб loud and cheerful italians. Unforgettable. Repeatable.
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Paris, Paris… Cliché and hidden gems.

Third time in Paris. Almost all cliché highlights already seen. Several to be visited again: you can’t just avoid it – being in Paris and not seeing the Notre Dame de Paris or Eiffel tower. To climb it or not is another question. In addition to these overwhelming-touristy must-see places we included couple of “hidden gems” in our list and even succeed to find them.

La Pagode.

An old movie theater (that is still working), built in 1896, that looks like Japanese pagoda surrounded by the bamboo garden.
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Quiet, cozy, close to the Musée de l’Armée. A place to take a little break and picturesque photos before heading to the Eiffel Tower.
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Rue Cremieux.

A colorful paradise in the very heart of the city (close to Gare de Lyon train station). Pastel colored houses and shutters, almost no people around, very clean and intimate little street called Rue Cremieux…

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Rue Dauphine.

A lively bustling street leading to the river Seine. Lots of restaurants, cafes, small shops where you could either enjoy a good meal or buy a little treat to go and eat it at the bank of the river.

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If you took a bottle of wine with you and want to enjoy a little picnic in a public place (indeed, what can be more romantic to have a glass of wine with fine cheese watching the waters of Seine and breathing clear autumn air), be careful: French police is inconsistent in application of rules when it comes to alcohol. A nice description of drinking and non-drinking places in Paris you can find here: http://www.myfrenchlife.org/2012/06/15/france-paris-rules-on-drinking-in-public-places/

Montparnasse Tower.

The line to climb the Eiffel tower is always endless (but gets shorter at night, closer to 10 pm), and I doubt if it is worth it to wait so long. The view to the Eiffel Tower and not from it is amazing at night. So you better take a metro to the Tour Montparnasse and an elevator to the 56th floor to appreciate a panoramic view of Paris. A ticket costs around 15 Euro (same price as to Louvre and Versailles). Inside you can enjoy both: a coffee and a view.

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A great area for dinner.

After visiting Basílica de Sacré Cœur take a street to the right: it will lead you to the Rue Lepic where you can try the best tarts in Paris. This area is in general a perfect area to have a delicious French dinner. Try Onion Soup Gratinee cooked in a pot and served with fresh crispy bread. Bread and pastry is indeed a separate story in Paris. It seems that batons and croissants taste just better than anywhere else.

Free entrance to the museums. Versailles.

Do you know that entrance to many museums is free of charge on the first Sunday of a month? We proved this in Versailles. It is free, indeed, but a line is incredibly long, though it moves fast. For those who travel with a suitcase there are lockers inside.
Versailles is spacious and luxurious. Though, not so impressing as Petergof, a suburb of Sankt Petersburg.

Probably, a one-in-a-lifetime trip. But worth seeing. If you live next to the park, it is a nice place for a weekend walk with a family or a picnic with friends.
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Metro.

The only thing that confused us was Parisian metro. The directions are not always clearly pointed, the metro maps are not always available… Often we were making circles and loops to empirically find the right direction. There are no ticket machines when you change from a regional train to an ordinary city train and vice versa. My advice: buy tickets in advance. 10 single trips cost 14 Euro. A RER from CDG airport costs 10 Euro one way.

Paris is definitely a city one would return to many times. Perfect for a long weekend. Next time – in summer.