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At just 30 km of distance from Venice, Treviso is for sure an ideal day trip from Venice itself because of the compact old medieval town, as it can be easily reached by train in just 30 minutes. However, this cannot be the only reason to visit Treviso: the fact is that this city is really a gem you can miss if you travel in Veneto thanks to its charming historical centre, small canals and houses with frescoes.

If you are looking for a more intimate city and escape from the crowded tourism of Venice, this is really your destination. The Telegraph also considers it as "an underrated gateway to Venice". And as I come from this provice, this is a guide from a local and I am really proud to give you the best tips to visit it.

Ready to explore it?

The first communities Paleovenete founded the city at the confluence of the resurgence rivers Sile and Botteniga. This was the first settlement than then developed during the Roman period as "comune" (municipality) and then in the Middle Ages with a strong economic and architectural development. During the 15th Century many elegant houses ( Venetian Gothic) are built and painted with frescos and the city gets the status of urbs picta. Under the Venetian domination, the city became a fortress to protect the Republic from invasions.

In this history there are all the elements you can find in Treviso: the city of canals, frescoed houses, old medieval town and the walls, still almost intact. 

1) Piazza dei Signori: located at the centre of the old medieval town, Piazza dei Signori represented also the political centre during the Middle Ages. It is an elegant square with the Palazzo del Podestà,

the Palazzo dei Trecento that represented the independence from the Church and the Emperor

and the elegant stairway to the Salone dei Trecento, where the members of the municipality where used to gather.

Now there are many bars and restaurants that surround the square and you can stop if you want for a coffee or a meal.

2) Fontana delle Tette: from the main square, if you walk towards the Cathedral along Calmaggiore, elegant street with beautiful houses and shops, at the first gallery on the right (that is also the old Roman street "cardo maximus", you can find one of the hidden symbols of the city. La Fontana delle Tette was built after a long period of dryness during the 16th Century. When a podestà (major) was elected, the statue was pouring red and white wine from the breast. Sadly, now it pours only water...

3) Cappella dei Rettori: if you come back to Piazza dei Signori and cross the Palazzo di Podestà, you get to Piazza dei Monti di Pietà. If you turn left and move towards Piazza San Vito, you find another hidden jem: la Cappella dei Rettori (Chapel of Rectors).This Renaissance masterpiece, dated 16th Century, shows some remarkable paintings.

4) Piazza San Vito: left the Cappella, you get to Piazza San Vito where you can see the Neoromanic palace and the fountain.


5) Loggia dei Cavalieri: getting back to Piazza dei Signori and walking along Via dell'Indipendenza, you can easily reach the Loggia dei Cavalieri, built during the 14th Century as meeting point of the local aristocracy that wanted to challenge the rising power of the bourgeoisie during the Middle Ages. A sense of lightness and the frescoes make this place remarkable.


6) Pescheria and Casa dei Carraresi: walking along Via Martiri della Libertà, you get to the Pescheria, or the fish market. This is an island surrounded by the Cagnan canal where the fish market takes place. In the picture below, you can also see the Casa dei Carraresi that hosts important expositions.

I recommend also to explore the little streets around. You can find small streets with canals that really a worth a visit and most of all a picture. You can find watermills too. However I recommend to leave the square and walk along the Buranelli canal.

7) Water views along Canale dei Buranelli
Not far from the Pescheria, if you walk north along the Buranelli Canal you can find this stunning view.

Another "water view" is for sure on the way between la Pescheria and the Piazza dei Monti di Pietà, or Piazza dei Signori. So in Vicolo Trevisi, you can find also this stunning view.

8) The Bronsa - the shadow of the poet Comisso
Always along the canal of Buranelli, there is also another hidden place you should not miss: first of all for the sight over the canal again and second for the shadow that you can see over the facade of a house. It represents la Bronsa, the boat of the Trevisan poet Giovanni Comisso.
Source: http://www.italianways.com/il-canale-dei-buranelli-e-i-paesaggi-di-giovanni-comisso/


9) The University - Quartiere Latino
Not far from la Pescheria and also the Buranelli Canal, another interesting place to go is for sure the new Latin District (Quartiere Latino), recently restored and reniewed. It is a calm and intimate district close to the University. If you cross the entire district, you will find the Dante bridge (Ponte Dante), "dove il Sile e il Cagnan s'accompagna".

10) Walking along the walls and bastions: when Venice was threatened by the Cambrai League, the Republic decided to turn Treviso into a fortress city. Now you can walk along the walls and ramparts and find several gates, where you can even find the Lion of St. Mark. Here you can see the south-eastern rampart of St Paul and the Palazzo Dolfin-Giacomelli. Tbis is a 5km itinerary.

11) The Cathedral: the complex of the cathedral is the most impressive structure of the city. The entire complex has been built in different times and can be reached from Piazza dei Signori walking along the Calmaggiore.
Source: Wikipedia - Szeder László

It displays five huge domes, a sort of temple entrance (despite it is dated 15th Century), a nice interior with the Cappella dell'Annunziata where you can find the stunning painting by Tiziano. the Annunciation (Annunciazione).
Besides that you can even find the original crypt and Baptistery that date back to the 11 and 12th Century.

12) San Nicolò
Another impressive religious building is the San Nicolò church. It is located in the southern western part of the old medieval town and dominates the surroundings. Built around the 13th Century by the Dominican friars in Treviso, you can see many decorations and the wooden ceiling, stone and brick columns, a stunning organ and frescos.
Source: Wikimedia

13) Eating in a typical hostaria: if you want really to live Treviso as a local, you must absolutely find a typical hostaria and enjoy the typical food and drink a nice glass of wine or prosecco. Sandwiches with porchetta or soppressa, polenta, radicchio rosso, cheese together with a glass of wine, prosecco or the traditional spritz ( known as Aperol Spritz worldwide) and a slice of tiramisu are some of the traditional finger food you can taste. You will see many locals enjoying this from 6pm (before dinner) till late night! Please check my recommendations below.

Source: https://www.viaggi-lowcost.info/


Travel Tips:

  • How to get to Treviso: from Venice you can take the train and stop in Treviso Centrale, while from the airport you can take the bus nr. 6. The bus nr 6 is the same you take if you land in the airport of Treviso and you must take the train to go to Venice.
  • Best time to visit Treviso: spring, summer and autumn. It is recommended to avoid July and August due to the heat.
  • One day to visit the main attractions is enough: the medieval old town is compact in size. Anyway, it can be a good starting point to explore the charming province.
  • Surroundings: of course the world famous Venice; the province of Treviso offers really diverse and charming spots, of course all off the beaten path: Asolo, considered one of the most beautiful medieval small towns in Italy; the prosecco road, an incredible trip between the vineyards from Valdobbiadene to Conegliano, where to taste the local wine; the architecture road that takes you to enchanting villas and unique places like Villa Barbaro, Villa Emo or the Temple of Canova, Do not miss the cities of Conegliano, Vittorio Veneto and the forest of Cansiglio
  • If you are into nature, the province is a paradise for hiking, trekking and cycling: the hills and the mountains like Mt Grappa and Mt. Cesen represent an ideal place, together with the forest of Cansiglio and the caves of Calieron.
  • If you are into war and historical battles, the province has also an itinerary regarding the WWI (percorsi della Grande Guerra) with many monuments like the Military Cemetery on the top of Mt. Grappa.

Where to eat - the best restaurants and hostarias in Treviso:
  • Finger food - Osteria dalla Gigia: definitely one of the best and cheapest hostarias in Treviso, at few meters from Piazza dei Signori and also Hostaria dai Naneti, close to Palazzo dei Trecento, both ideal to taste delicious cicchetti and prosecco while you are exploring the city.
  • Traditional cuisine and fish: Ristorante Antico Morer, a nice restaurant that serves local and fish specialities. The prices are a bit higher, but it is really worth!
  • Eating after dinner: a nice spot where to have a drink and eating always some cicchetti after dinner is for sure Hostaria al Botegon, where many locals and young people gather during the night.
Where to sleep in Treviso:
  • Budget accomodation: B&B Hotel Treviso is an elegant bed and breakfast located close to San Nicolò, in one of the nicest areas of the city, ideal for couples, breakfast not included (7,20 Euros per person) and prices from 65 Euros per night per double room.
  • Mid-range budget: Locanda San Tomaso, located close to the museums of Santa Caterina and the Pescheria, is an interesting hotel in a 18th Century building with old-style furniture and environment. Large buffet breakfast included and prices from 95 Euros per double room per night.
  • Luxury accomodation: Leconvertite is an elegant place to stay at just 400 meters from Casa dei Carraresi and museum of Santa Caterina. It offers a charming view over the canal, has a lounge for clients, great and functional rooms, breakfast included, prices from 170 Euros per double room per night.
Enjoy this fantastic city and do not miss the other beautiful places in Veneto:my land!

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The Eifel National Park  is one of the biggest natural parks in Germany and the biggest of the North Rhine Westphalia. It is also the first conservation park that protects upland beech forests on acidic soil exposed to an Atlantic climate. The park now protects more than 2.170 endangered plant and animal speces. You can find wildcats, beavers, bats, etc.


One of the most beautiful parts is for sure the Volcanic Eifel, where approximately 350 little volcanoes have modeled this land with fire and water, creating nice lakes and enchanting peaks. That is why it has been awared European Geopark status and part of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network.

Last but not least, it is joining the German National Competition for Sustainable Tourism Destination as finalist. That is why it should be always into your ecotourism destinations list.
This natural park has an incredible network of 240 km of hiking trails. Since one of my passions is hiking and trekking, I try to choose the most spectacular hiking trails and in this case after a research I choose one of the top Eifel National Park hiking trails: Rurberg - Einruhr Rundweg. Click on the picture or here to open the map on Google Maps:



You can also download the .gpx here.

Features:

Difficulty:          easy
Distance:            9,1 km
Duration:           2h - 2h 15 min (in my case 1h 56 min)
Min altitude:      281 m
Max altitude:     447 m
Total ascent:      200 m
Total descent:    196 m

The hiking is easy: it requires a bit of training but it can be done in 2- 2h 15 min. You can choose as starting point the town of Einruhr or Rurberg. In my case I opted for the pitoresque Einruhr.

The first part of the hiking trail skirts the lake Obersee: you can have great views of it.



As soon as you get close to Rurberg, the trail starts going uphill and crossing the wood.

Once you get to Rurberg you can enjoy a beautiful sight. It could be also a nice spot to have a little break and drink something.


The lake you see here is named Eiserbachsee. At this point, the trail climbs up to reach its peak at 447m. You walk in the wood and you can enjoy great sightseeing points over the Dedeborn or the Obersee itself. This is also the most difficult part of the hiking trail.


For sure, another beautiful spot is when you get close to Einruhr again, thanks to the sight over the lake from the wood.

Here it ends one of the top Eifel National Park hiking trails: Rurberg - Einruhr Rundweg.


Travel tips:

  • Best time of the year: from April to October
  • It is suitable for families with children
  • How to get to Einruhr / Rurberg: you can get there by car or bike.
  • Surroundings: do not miss Aachen

Recommended hiking apparel:

SUPER SLIM WALLET WITH PROTECTION:


Slim Wallet RFID Front Pocket Wallet Minimalist Secure Thin Credit Card Holder (One Size, A Napa Black): super slim wallet with 6 credit cards holder and protection from digital robbery (RFID). This is an ideal item to carry with you and have your essential documents during your walks, hiking / trekking trips.




RUNNING BELT WITH WATER BOTTLES


Running belt with water bottles: ideal for walking, hiking, trekking and hiking. It has 2 bottles for hydration so you can carry your favourite sport drink with you. It has a large pocket where you can insert your smartphone, keys and even a small slim wallet so you have your personal belongings always with you. Another interesting feature is that you can get also free headphones!


WATERPROOF UNISEX OUTDOOR LIGHT JACKET:


Unisex waterproof outdoor jacket with removable cap: ultralight unisex waterproof jacket, anti-static, windproof with removable cap. It is ideal when the weather changes fast, Ideal for outdoor climbing, fishing, hiking, car travel, picnic, cycling etc. It is good also in cold weather.




OUTDOOR MEN'S HIKING SHOES


Wellban men's hiking shoes: these shoes are ideal for easy tracks and trails. They are designed waterproof for outdoor hiking and enough light for walks like the one above.




OUTDOOR WOMEN'S HIKING SHOES:


Salomon Women's Ellipse 2: this is another model super-light that is ideal for easy/medium hiking trails like the one I did. It provides great grip for wet/dry surfaces. It also helps when the feet get too hot thanks to a ventilation system even in case of warm weather.



After having put the recommendations for the hiking apparel for this particular hiking trail, now it is time to recommend where to say in Einruhr.


Where to stay in Einruhr/Rurberg:

  • Budget accomodation: not exactly in Einruhr, but in Simmerath, at 2,7 km, you can stay at the Fewo Zum Sonneschein, an apartment with free wi-fi and barbecue facilities, kitchen. Prices from 39 Euros per night per two people; available also for solo travelers, 35 Euros per one person.
  • Mid-range accomodation: the Hotel Schutt is one of the top spots in Einruhr, with its buffet breakfast, sauna and view over the gardens. Prices from 88 Euros per double room per night. Absolutely recommended.


Do not miss the Eifel National Park!
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Do you want to explore the surroundings of Prague? If your answer is yes, you should not miss the next stop of my Prague - Bratislava road trip was Kutnà Hora a small city located in the Central Bohemia, approximately at one hour of train from Prague. If you visited the Czech capital and have still time, this destination is for sure one of the best day trips from Prague you can have.


In fact, the historical centre with the Church of St Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec has become part of the Unesco sites since 1995. And I must say that this award is totally deserved.

Ready to explore it?
Kutnà Hora became a rich town in the 14th and 15th Century as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines. For this reason it earned the status of royal city and was even able to compete for importance with Prague.

The Unesco committee recognized the importance of the several monuments since "these masterpieces today for part of a well-preserved medieval urban fabric with some particular fine private dwellings

Since I got there by train, the railway station is located in Sedlec, not that far from the Cathedral of Our Lady and to reach the historical centre you must walk for 35 minutes or take a bus. The bus stop is close to St, Barbara Cathedral, where you can also find parking spots.

1) The first landmark is for sure St. Barbara Cathedral,

a High and Late Gothic church built in the late 14th Century. Most of the ornamental ornamentation is also of the Late Gothic date; do not miss the fresco woek in the chapels. St Barbara is also the patron of the miners.

2) Jesuit College

Close to the cathedral, this Baroque building looks like an inverted F and was built by G.D. Orsi in 1667. Now it is the location of the Central Bohemian Gallery. The college is surrounded by 13 sculptures of saints. However I did not visit it.


3) Czech museum of silver - Hradek

This small urban castle, originally in Gothic style, was erected by a royal building master prior to 1420. The building currently serves as the Czech museum of silver.

4) Belvedere

Not far from the museum, there is a belvedere where you can enjoy a great sightseeing of the old medieval town and centre.

5) Italian Court

This ancient complex of buildings originally served as royal mint. It became the favourite residence of King Vaclav (Wenceslaus), who built in the 15th Century ceremonial and private rooms along with a tower and a chapel.

6) The Plague column

This Baroque monument was constructed after the town's last epidemic of the Black Death, that hit the city in 1713.


7) Strolling around the city centre.

The essential part of Kutna Hora is done: a good advice is to have a break in one of the bars around: the prices are cheap and the people kind, even if on the street they seem to be well reserved. It is time to go to Sedlec now!

8) Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

To reach the Sedlec area, the bus is the best transport way. Once arrived in this village you will stand in front of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, built in the period between 1290 and 1320. Sacked by the Hussits it was rebuilt at the beginning of 17thCentury in a Baroque- Gothic style. Despite the big building and the portal, the interior is poor, following the principles of humility of Cistercian monks.

9) Kostnice Ossuary / The Bone Church

Nearby this church, another interesting place is to visit is for sure Kostnice Ossuary, located inside the cemetery of the closer cathedral. It is a Gothic church decorated entirely with human bones and it’s something absolutely particular. It is estimated that there might be remains of approx. 40 thousands of people.

Travel tips:

  • How to get there: the ride from Prague to Kutna hora by train takes approximately 50 minutes - 1 hour. It is a cheap and good way to reach this small city.
  • For accomodation you can go directly to the tourist office and get assigned a room. You can get prices for double rooms per night and room around 400-450 Kc, less than 20 Euros.
  • Best time to visit Kutna Hora: like Prague - spring, summer and beginning of autumn. 
  • It takes no more than one day to visit Kutna Hora. However, due to early closure, it is recommended to get to the town in the early morning.
  • Another thing I recommend is to buy the combi-ticket (Ossuary, Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady, Saint John the Baptist and the Church of St. Barbara) to visit all the top spots and save money, which costs 220 CZK - 8,6 Euros or 10,48 USD.

Where to eat:

  • Street food/ fast food: Bistro Barboskà, close to the cathedral, great to eat hamburgers and super cheap prices.
  • In Sedlec: Restaurace U Balanu, not far from the ossuary, family business, cheap prices and local cuisine.
  • Local cuisine: Dacicky restaurant, not far from the Gothic Stone Fountain, great local cuisine and average prices. Options for vegetarians and free.

Where to sleep: if you decide to spend one night in Kutna Hora these are the options.

  • Budget accomodation: Apartment Ortenova 74, located at 600 meters far from the Ossuary and 1,2 km from the Church of Assumption of our Lady, fully equiped with private bathrooms, prices from 40 Euros per night per two persons. Bigger apartments can contain up to 4 people (50 Euros the prices).
  • Mid-range budget: Villa Magdalena, located at 700 meters from the Church of St Barbara, has fully equupped apartments with nice views. Prices from 76 Euros per two persons per night.
  • Luxury accomodation: Mlyn Danemark, exclusive hotel located at 2 km from the Church of St Barbara, with most of the rooms located in the mill and others in a garden house. Buffet breakfast and restaurant serves organic food, local homemade dishes and season products, prices from 415 Euros per double room per night.

Do not miss the next destination of the Prague- Bratislava road trip: Litomysl!
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If you think about a place where the Western civilization started, Greece, but most of all Athens, is the place that played a major role in building those values that then the Roman Empire, clearly influenced by the Greek civilization, then spread across the entire Europe some centuries later.


Here you can find my 3-day itinerary of this beautiful and ancient city. Enjoy it!
Just to understand the importance of the city for the Western civilization but also for the entire world, Athens is known to be the birthplace of the democracy, a centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, with the centre of Plato's academy and Aristotle's lyceum. It was a powerful city-state in the past and now it is the centre of the economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece.

This is a sample of itinerary that will lead you through the ancient Athens and also part of the modern Athens.

Day 1
Taking into consideration that this is probably your day of arrival and that it takes mininum half an hour to reach the city centre by taxi, the time during the first day could be quite limited. In our case, the hotel was not that far from Syntagma square and the Cathedral, so we started from the Cathedral

1) Mitropolis - Athens Cathedral 


The interior of the cathedral (Mitropolis) reminds someway the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna with its Byzantine revival style. The church was built in 1842 and the marble of 72 demolished churches was used to build the cathedral. 

and the little Mitropolis Church (Agios Eleftherios)

This little and precious church of course matches the philosophy of this blog: a small and nice jewel among the higher buildings. It is another Byzantine style church, built around the 15th Century. 

2) Acropolis Museum  



The Acropolis Museum is an archaelogical museum that shows mostly the findings of the archaelogical site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was founded in 2003 and opened to the public in 2009. It takes around 2h to visit and the ticket costs approx. 5 Euros. 

Particularly interesting features are for sure the statues from the Parthenon, the statue of Athena and most of all the Caryatides (that you can see in the pic above), female figures used to sustain a temple or other buildings.

Do not miss also the incredible sight of the Acropolis!

Day 2: 

3) Roman Agora

The original agora was modified and changed by a series of Roman building, starting with a large concert hall called Odeon of Agrippa, built around 15 BC. The Roman Agora shows intersting buildings like the Tower of Winds, the temple of the Emperor Adriano and the ruins of the ancient forum.

Keep an eye on the opening times: from 10am to 3pm! The ticket costs 6 Euros (reduced 3 Euros).

4) Ancient Agora:

The Ancient Agora is the best-known example of ancient Greek agora and was a large square where social and religious activities, commerce, outdoor theatrical performances and athletic contests were held. In other words, it was the heart of the ancient city.

It is really an interesting place displaying the ruins of the old commercial area, the Stoa of Attalos (on this pic, where now there is a museum, and the Temple of Hephaestus (Hephestion), that you can see on the first pic of this post.

The visit lasted a couple of hours and the ticket costs around 8 Euros (4 reduced).

5) Monastiraki

The district of Monastiraki is an interesting district with many interesting shops ( in particular there is an area where to buy souvenirs), restaurants, fancy places where to eat street food and other Greek specialties.

6) National Garden and Zappeio

The National Garden and the Zappeio display the Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus (as you see in the pic above), the Zappeio and also the Parliament.

7) Panathenaic Stadium "Kallimarmaro"

Here you are in front of an historical stadium: the Panathenaic Stadium, literally Stadium of all the Athenians or Kallimarmaro, "beautiful marble", the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. This stadium was first built by Lykourgos in 330 BC for the Panathenaic Games and then modified by Herodes Atticus during the Roman occupation.

It hosted the opening and closing of the first Olympic games in 1896 and then used again as Olympic venue in 2004. It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame is given to the host nation. The cost to visit the stadium is 5 Euros.

8) Syntagma Square and the Parliament

At the north-western limit of the National Garden, you can find the heart of Athens, that is Syntagma square, the heart of modern Athens from both an historical and social point of view and from a commercial and political factor.

9) Omonia

Any person in Athens won't recommend you to walk in this district. Located at the northern side of Syntagma, it has the reputation to be not so safe and plenty of drug takers. However, despite its clear state of decay, it has some parts where there are nice restaurants and also nightlife. If you take some safety precautions, this district is going to be a nice discovery.

Day 3
10) Acropolis of Athens

This site does not need any presentation: it is an ancient citadel located upon a rocky hill and it is the most famous monumental area in Greece and hosts the symbol of Greece in the world: the world famous temple called Parthenon. The first fortification was built in 13 Century BC but it was Perikles to give it the most important monuments that we can see now.

Other important landmarks are: the theatre of Dionisius, the Herodeon, the monumental gate Erechtheion, the Propylaea,  and the sanctuary of Zeus Polieus. It was inserted into the list of Unesco World Heritage sites since "is the most striking and complete ancient Greek monumental complex still existing in our times".

I will write a specific post about this monumental complex. The price is 20 Euros per person and it takes approximately 2-3 hours to visit it. Due to its importance, there will be many visitors so get ready to be in queue.

10) Mount Lycabettus

The Mount Lycabettus is a Cretaceous limestone hill in Athens and the highest point where to enjoy the landscape of the entire city. You can have a 360 degrees view over the city and it has on his top the Agii Isidori, a little white Orthodox church.

You can climb it (it takes 15-20 minutes to reach the top) or pay 7,5 Euros per person and take the Lycabettus Funicular. I recommend to take it if you had walked a lot, but really it does not take a lot to climb it.

11) Plaka

A pitoresque district with typical houses and roofs, Plaka is the old historical neighborhood in Athens and has narrow streets and neoclassical architecture. It has a nice atmosphere with nice shops and restaurants. Really recommended a walk over there.


Travel tips:

  • How to get to the city centre from/to the airport: 
    • Metro Line 3: it takes approximately 40 min to reach the station Syntagma
    • Bus: the line X95 connects the airport to the station Syntagma (around 60 minutes) for 6 Euros
    • Taxi: the fastest and most expensive way - it takes 20-30 minutes depending on the traffic and the fixed rate is 38 Euros. However, during the night there is an extra fee.
  • Best time to visit Athens: from March to May/June and from September to November due to the nice temperatures. During the summer it is really hot so you could not enjoy to visit the monuments like the Acropolis without protection from the sun.
  • How many days do i need to visit Athens?: The ideal length of stay is for sure 3 days
  • Where to stay: I would definitely recommend the districts of Plaka and Monastiraki - you can reach  any monument and places to visit on foot.
  • Off the beaten path Athens and unusual places to see and do: the pitoresque district of Anafiotika, where you feel like in an island with lazy cats around and charming atmosphere; from the Mets district you can access to the park behind the Panathenaic stadium and get in...for free and have a nice and alternative view over the old stadium.
  • Surroundings: for sure the port of Piraeus is the ideal location for your trips to the islands. If you want to visit really close landmarks close to Athens you can go to the Unesco World Heritage Site Monastery of Dafnì (at only 10 km from the city), the Kaisariane Monastery with the serene Forest Park at 8 km, the archaeological site of Eleusi with its Eleusinian mysteries at 21 km, and the Mount Parnis at 12km. If you want to visit the famous place of the battle, you can visit of course Marathon and its lake.
  • Safety: beware of the Athens street or scam bar! Watch out because there are men around that even if you think you are smart or clever can friendly and politely ask you where are you from and try to help you. Then they ask you if you want to follow them into the bar where they work and there...you find sort of night club where women approach you and ask for drinks. The bill will be really expensive and you will have to pay immediately or you could get surrounded by people who threaten you. Please read some reports here.
  • Despite that, Greek people are really friendly and in the restaurants you can get desserts or licoors for free. In my travel I have never seen such restaurant owners that give you for free more than one shot of ouzo or self-produced licoor.
  • They love to eat and stay outside and in the restaurant they can smoke. Regarding the cuisine, Greek food is delicious and is based mainly on meat. If you are vegan or vegeterian, I am sorry to say...this is not the ideal place for you. :-)
Where to eat and go out:
  • Street food: recommended the Falafellas, where to eat fantastic falafels in the Monastiraki district. The place has always lines since the falafel are delicious.
  • Mediterranean/ Greek cuisine: Restaurant Atitamos in the district Omonia. We spent in three people 48 Euros in total and I would recommend the Feta Atitamos and delicious meet.
  • Greek cuisine: restaurant Maiandros in Monastiraki. A bit more touristic and with prices on average higher than the restaurants we tried. Normally we spent around 50 Euros in 3: here the bill was 71, but I have to recommend the delicious moussaka. The area is more crowdy and there was a band singing traditional Greek music,
  • Wanna go to the oldest distillery in Athens? Well you cannot miss the Brettos Bar in Plaka.
    You can try all the spirits you want (me the Ouzo Gold 42%) and smoke cigars.
  • Another beautiful bar that was close to the hotel with small tables and nice chairs is for sure the Heterocliton Wine Bar, not far from Syntagma square.

Where to sleep in Athens: the best areas are for sure Plaka, Monastiraki and Syntagma.
  • Budget accomodation: if you opt for an apartment, for sure you can choose the Gardens Apartment, located at 4 minutes walk from the Panathenaic Stadium, with wifi and modern design. Prices from 101 Euros per night: if you are travelling in 4 you can spend 25 Euros per person.
  • If you prefer the old good hostel and the dormitory, BedBox Hostel is one of the best in town. Located at just 300 meters from Monastiraki Square. Breakfast not included and prices from 18 Euros per person per night.
  • Mid-range budget: the place where we stayed - Athens La Strada, offers single or triple rooms. It is located close to Syntagma and Monastiraki (300 m and 200m) in the heart of Athens with top breakfast and view of the Acropolis. Prices from 170 Euros per double/triple room per night.
  • Luxury accomodation: the Hotel Grande Bretagne, close to Syntagma and the Parliament, with some balconies with views to the Acropolis, is for sure a top luxurious hotel you should choose. Big restaurant, great spa, indoor and outdoor swimmingpool, you can choose rooms without breakfast from 453 Euros per double room per night and 530 Euros with breakfast included per night.
  • If you prefer the apartment, for the same price another great choice is Aldis Plaka Mansion by K&K, 1 minute walk from Anafiotika and 200 m from the Acropolis.
Have fun and enjoy this beautiful and ancient city!
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The Carnaval of Den Bosch (s'-Hertogenbosch), together with the carnival of Maastricht, is for sure one of the most exciting carnivals in the Netherlands. As in any carnivals, get ready to experience a feast where there are no rules, except one: enjoy the party with your closer people!


Ready to discover Oeteldonk?


The first feature of the carnaval of Den Bosch is that the name of the city, s'-Hertogenbosch, is converted into Oeteldonk. The origin of this name is still not known, but the most used and known version is that it is composed by two words: Oetel should mean frog, since they are the animals that you could find in the marshes around the city and Donk, as "high dry spot in the swamps". Here you can see how even the station becomes "Oeteldonk Centraal".



The costumes

For this reason, the typical Oeteldonkse costume is filled with frogs of any form and size, together with the scarf of the carnival whose colors represent the ones of the church (white and yellow) and the ones of Northern Brabant (Noord Brabant) flag (red and white).


Every year the carnival has a specific theme and a specific symbol (embleem). The Oeteldonkers in fact have in their costumes several emblems. The tradition started in 1962 and there is an yearly competition and consequentely an award for it.


The most common costume is the one of the "farmer"keel , boerenkiel, as you can see above. You can also wear a black farmer's cap.  Most of the people wear this costume and in some bars/ cafes in order to enter it is compulsory to dress Oeteldonkse costumes.

There are also other costumes but I will tell more about them in another post.

The song

In November, the main song of the carnival is chosen and it sums up to the wide Carnival songs playlist. The selection of the song together with the bands "audition" through the streets lasts all day long. Especially one week later, it is a cracking experience to see the bands playing live inside the bars.

The feast

Even if it is not officially started on Saturday, we started to celebrate it on Saturday. You can experience and see the music bands playing on the streets, whereas, hour by hour, the streets start to become crowded and crowded, as well as the bars.


The feast officially starts on Sunday at 11.11 am, when the Prince of the Carnival, Prins Amadeiro (Prins Amadeiro Ricosto di Carnavallo, Ridder van het Reksam, Heer en Meester van Oeteldonk en deszelfs omliggende watervrije moerassen en zandwoestijnen enz, enz, enz.), gets to the station of Oeteldonk Centraal.


The Prince starts a parade that ends at the Town Hall: this parade lasts approximately 1,5-2 hours. Later, another important moment is for sure the unveiling of Boer Knillis at 3-3.30 pm in the Markt.


He is symbol of authority and his "task" is to keep an eye on the proceedings and celebrations. Apparently every 5 years he is joined by his wife, Moeder Hendrien, but I still have not seen her.

After the unveiling, the city becomes an incredible happy and colourful chaos and you can join it by singing and dancing the typical Oeteldonk music, together with liters of beer and also the local specialty, the brandewijn.


The bars can be overcrowded so be patient and you will have your chance to get into them and do not also forget to dress Oeteldonk to get into them.

On Monday, there is the Grand Parade of decorated wagons that cross the entire city making noise and followed by the bands playing the Carnival songs and of course people dancing, singing and drinking.


Tuesday is the final day of the Carnaval of Den Bosch. At 10 am the day starts with the parade of children and the best costume is awarded.

However, the most emotional moment is for sure at midnight, when everyone gathers in the Markt ( from 10.000 to 15.000 people) to watch the taking down of Boer Knillis, who is buried and taken out. This is a very intense moment, when all the people cry the end of the carnival out.

Source: www.bosscheomroep.nl

Travel tips:
  • Dress Oeteldonk: in some bars they do not let in if your dress is different.
  • If you want to get to exclusive sites, you can buy the Oeteldonk Club Card: for 17 Euros you can enter close to the house of the Prince (Amadeirohuis) and get close to the Amadeiro Parade, especially close at the opening ceremony (the arrival of the Prince) and other sites. The card also helps you to enter faster into the bars/cafes.
  • s'-Hertogenbosch does not have a huge number of hotels / bed n breakfasts or airbnb apartments: so it is recommended to book at least 2 or 3 months in advance.
  • Particularly recommended the arrival of the Prince at the station, of unveiling of Boer Knillis, the taking down of Boer Knillis but most of all enjoy this fantastic party with friendly and party locals.
  • The best way to reach the city during Carnival is for sure by train. 
  • Do not miss to visit the beautiful cathedral of the city. The city can be easily visited in less than one day or even in half day.

Where to sleep:
Since the offer of hotels is not so large, you must book really in advance in order to get the best deals:

  • Budget accomodation: Little Duke Hotel, located at only 500 meters from the central station, Rooms have bigger beds, Netflix and private bathroom. Prices from 67 Euros per double room per night.
  • Mid-range accomodationB&B Westwal, located not far from the cathedral and with view over the river. Ideal for couples, private bathroom and many other facilities. Prices from 105 Euros per night per double room.
  • Luxury accomodation: City Boutique Apartment, really close to the cathedral, is a wide apartment with many facilities, apartments for 2 to 4 people, prices from 165 Euros per double room per night. Particularly suitable for two people.
Do not miss other feasts, expat life and other places of the Netherlands by visiting the Dutch Corner section!
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If you are travelling throughout one of the cities of the Meuse-Rhine region and you are into castles,  Hoensbroek Castle (Kasteel Hoensbroek) is for sure one of the destinations you cannot miss. However, this landmark is so precious you should visit it anyway.


Ready to explore it?
This is one of the largest castles in the Netherlands and is located in the southern region of Limburg (Zuid Limburg), not far from cities like Maastricht, Valkenburg, Heerlen and Aachen. It is also known as the "most lordly stronghold between Rhine and Meuse" rivers.

The oldest part of Hoensbroek castle was built on a swamp (Gebrook - that's why the castle is also called Gebrookhoes) and the first part was built in 1225 as motte-and-bailey castle, that means a castle built over a raised earthwork with a manor and walls. The manor was built in 1250 and the existing oldest part, the round tower, dates back 1360.

Because of its strategic importance for the commerce between Maastricht, Aachen and Cologne in the Duchy of Brabant, the stronghold was expanded several times and has become one of largest castles in the Netherlands and also one of the castles to visit.


Once parked the car, we immediately reached one the gates, that leads to the first courtyard and where you can buy the tickets.

The first courtyard reveals the entrance to a second courtyard and reveals also the stunning heart of the stronghold with its oldest part. The woman you see in the pic is my mum :-)


Finally we got into the second courtyard that also leads to the heart of Hoensbroek castle, the manor, where you can access to the towers and to the rooms. 

Going up to the oldest tower (the roundy one), you can visit the most interesting part of the castle. Here you can see in the different rooms the armours, weapons,


Once on the top, you can enjoy a great view of the castle and the surroundings (the old swamp).





From the top the old tower, you get to the floors of the manor where the most beautiful rooms and halls are located. 

The path leads to the bedroom of the founder, Herman Hoen, later Hoen van Hoensbroeck and leter of the Dukes of Brabant,

From the groundfloor of the squared tower, you can enjoy a view of the older tower via the coloured glass window.

You can get even to the office room of Hoen van Hoensbroeck,

 and to the enchanting feast halls. In total the castle has 67 halls, rooms and living quarters.


Leaving the manor and the halls / rooms, you get back to the manor courtyard and you can take pics like this. :-)

Leaving the castle, it is worth to stroll around the castle and see from different perspectives and

sometimes you can find some nice inhabitants like this little bird.

 You can see also the manor and the external wall and towers of Hoensbroek castle

 and the modern courtyard, built around 18th Century.


Travel tips:

  • It take around 2 hours to visit the castle. It is also recommended a walk around the castle to enjoy the different sights.
  • How to get there: the best way to reach the castle is by car. Other options are trein + bus depending when you come from: you can calculate you route by clicking here (Google Maps position).
  • Surroundings: do not miss the beautiful cities of Maastricht, capital of the Limburg provice, Aachen with its famous cathedral and Valkenburg, where there is the only castle upon hill of the Netherlands.
  • If you like hiking, biking or horse riding, a good place to go is for sure the Brunssumerheide.
  • Where to eat: you can eat close to the castle in the restaurant De Eetkamer.
  • Read other stories of my expat life in the Netherlands in the following section: The Dutch Corner.
Where to sleep:
  • Budget accomodation: Eikhold, is a guesthouse located in the city of Heerlen, at around 5,1 km from the castle with free parking. Prices from 55 Euros per night per double room.
  • Mid-range accomodation: Bed and breakfast Hoeve Berghof located at just 1,6 km from the castle in the city of Heerlen, in an old farm, breakfast and free parking included. Suitable for couples, prices from 99 Euros per room per double room.
  • Luxury accomodation: if you want to sleep in a castle, but since you cannot stay at the Hoensbroek one, you can opt for the Hotel Kasteel Terworm, in a 14th century building surrounded by French rococo gardens and park. Free parking included, but not the breakfast, prices from 150 Euros per night per double room.
Enjoy your visit and stay!
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Despite the fact that I went there for work more times and I could not visit it properly in one shot, here I decided to make a summary of the things to do in 3 days in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

First of all I must say I have never seen such huge city: it is the largest city of Brazil and of the Southern emisphere since the metropolitan area counts around 23 million of people. It is also the richest and most cosmopolitan center of the country.


Ready to discover it?

The first thing is to say is that the city is really huge and besides the underground, you must keep in mind that not all the attractions/ landmarks are reachable directly (or far from the closest underground station) so you must walk a lot, or take a taxi or Uber but you have to face also a traffic which is quite dramatic and chaotic.

This is the first recommendation you must keep in mind before starting a visit of the city. Anyway, let's start to explore the most important landmarks. Please remember that this is not a chart, but only what you can see/do in 3 days in Sao Paulo.

1) Let's start from the site where the city was founded, the Patio do Colegio, originally the church and the school founded by the Jesuits Manuel de Nobrega and Josè de Anchieta, in 1554.

Now you can access to the restaurant and see the first original wall of the Casa de Anquieta.



2) Not far from it, you can also visit the Catedral da Sè de Sao Paulo, the fifth largest Gothic cathedral in the world, built in 1589 and rebuilt again after 1911 after several modifications/renovations. The cathedral is for sure interesting as it present the classic simplicity of the gothic cathedrals. In the Cathedral square you can find the underground station, Sè.



3) Once left the church and if you walk along the Rua Boa Vista, you get to another historical building, that is the Mosteiro de Sao Bento ( Monastery of Sao Bento). This complex includes the Colegio de Sao Bento and the Basilica de Nostra Senhora de Assuncao.

Please do not forget to visit the church (also really simple and not too fancy) and if you are visiting it on Sunday at 10am, please do not miss the concert with the organ and Gregorian chants.

4) Not far from it, and always at a walking distance, you can get to the Museum Catavento (Catavento Cultural e Educacional), with its nice buiding, the old Palacio das Industrias built between 1911 and 1924. The museum has 4 sections (universe, life, society, creativity) and is an interactive one. Please remind that on Saturdays the museums in Sao Paulo are free of charge.

5) Then the itinerary goes through the Mercado municipal Paulistano, known as Mercadao, as one of the most important markets of the city. Here you can find local specialties and try delicious food and tropical fruit.
Source: Por Felix Tansil - Obra do próprio, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
Here i recommend to try a coxinha, similar to the Italian "panzerotto" and filled with meat, and take also some beer served with ice (something never seen before).



6) Let's take now the metro and go to the Avenida Paulista, the financial centre of the city, where you can find the highest skyscrapers, the banks and also nice liberty-style houses.



If you are fond of art you can also visit the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo - Assis Chateaubriand.

7) Not far from the Avenida Paulista you can find several places to go and attractions: you can find the enchanting district of Vila Madalena, a district with nice restaurants, boheme bars where they play jazz or bossa nova. In particular, this district is the centre of the Sao Paulo's street art. In particular, if you go to the Beco de Batman (Batman Alley), in Rua Goncalo Afonso. I will write a dedicated post to this stunning district, that I really loved.









8) Another interesting district, not far from the Avenida Paulista, is for sure the district of Jardins, elegant district with many skyscrapers, shops, restaurants and trendy bars and pubs. It is recommended to walk along Rua Oscar Freire.

9) Another beautiful place at approx. 3 km from the Avenida Paulista (30 min on walk), is the biggest park of the city centre, the famous Parque Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park), comparable to what a Central Park represents for New York. It has a big lake in the middle and several interesting buildings such as Museu Afrobrasil, Palacio das Exposicoes, the Planetarium, the Auditorium and the Japanese Pavillon. Because of the quantity of landmarks, I will also write a dedicated post.






10) Another interesting park is the Parque da Agua Branca - Doutor Fernando Costa, located in Barra Funda, a bit more local and enchanting with its tropical vegetation, villas, birds, arena with horse stables (a sort of hippodrome). On Saturday morning there is also a fair of biological agriculture. It is ideal to get some relax from the stress of this gigantic city.




11) Not far from the Parque da Agua Branca, there is another landmark, the Memorial da America Latina, that represents the story of Latin America, from the tribes to the arrival of the European countries and finally the independence. It is a political, leisure and cultural complex inaugurated in 1989 and designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer.



12) Eating in a shopping mall: Part of the life of the people of Sao Paulo that I noticed is that there are many shopping centres around the city and one feature I saw for sure was that at lunch time these areas are totally crowded. The shopping malls have different kind of restaurants ( from fast food to gourmets): you can go to the luxury ones of Higienopolis or try simple food restaurants that have a superb meat, potato filled with any ingredient you want, delicious smoothies, ice cream shops and many more.

13) The nightlife: well you cannot skip this part. Sao Paulo has a vibrant nightlife that offers you almost anything you want - pubs, latin clubs, trendy bars and lounge bars, rock bars,etc. In particular, I recommend the beautiful Skye Bar.
Source: www.tripadvisor.com
Other nice options are for sure the rock bar Dublin in Vila Olimpia or The Blue Pub in Bela Vista. Important: in some bars they ask for your credit card number, or identity card and passport and you get a drink card. Before going out you must pay the amount. Do not lose the drink card!

Other things to do:

  • Since we are in the country of football (pais do futebol), you should visit also the Museu do Futebol (regarding the story of Brasilian football) and also other stadiums like Allianz Parque or Corinthians Arena.
  • If you are fond of art, another interesting landmark is the Pinacoteca do Estado or if you love the theatre, you may consider to go to the Renault Theatre or the Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo. 
  • Regarding the parks, you..
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