Read more about the article Kiev – Ukraine
Kiev - Ukraine

Kiev – Ukraine

Share it with the world

The City of Golden Domes

Finally the time came for this so awaited and expected trip to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Although not the first time in an ex-Soviet country, this is by far, one of the most important and largest of the ones I’ve been such as the neighbour Belarus, or the Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Certainly it was a show-off of power during that days together with Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Minsk. A very big city sightseeing-wise speaking, since it is almost everywhere where you will find beautiful and historical buildings, churches, monasteries and palaces.

Something you must clear from your mind is any idea you might have of the city and Ukraine as general of being any dangerous. Of course it is not, minding the “obvious”, which is knowing where you are at all times and you don’t go to any areas where a tourist should not be on first place. People is pretty nice and kind across all levels and everywhere but unfortunately finding anyone speaking English was a challenge; signs worked well on this trip.

With so much to see and do, 3 days in the city is the minimum you should consider, although it will be still short. We had 3 full days and this was not enough. Fortunately, the plan and route I created for each day, so fully loaded, was good to see the most important places and areas. It is therefore that the guide of sights below will be a long and in detail one. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue ReadingKiev – Ukraine
Read more about the article Warsaw – Poland
Warsaw - Poland

Warsaw – Poland

Share it with the world

The city that has risen from the ashes

Time for an entire remake of this travel guide for what it really deserves a city such a Warsaw, one of the most historical and beautiful not just in Poland, but in Europe itself. Yet considering how nice is always return here, this is merely my 3rd time, and very long time ago since the previous trips back in 2012 and 2004. I must say I’ve been quite busy trying to discover as many new cities as possible hence why I kept postponing a return to Warsaw, and plenty other great cities elsewhere in many other countries; however now that I am done with the 51 countries that form Europe as continent I’m glad for taking some further quality time returning. Not the last time either that’s for sure.

Now something I can say from comparing these 3 spacious in time visits is the enormous and sometimes radical change the city has experienced. An amazing gentrification and restoration with fine attention to detail in all that related the UNESCO listed Old Town area, and the incredible and fast growing shiny business district with plenty of ongoing projects to come adding to an already imposing skyline, mostly designed by world renown architects.

I recall being one of the few tourists wandering the city back in 2004, and now struggling to find local people that many years later among the hordes of tourists. Let’s not forget Poland is, over all, a very desirable tourist destination with lots to offer, and so much it has given the world in culture, the arts, astronomy, physics, science, medicine, mathematics, chemistry, biology, music, telecommunications… name any field no matter which, and there is certainly an inventor, a pioneer or a genius excelling at any of these. Are any of this familiar just as some examples?: Maksymilian Faktorowicz (founder of the Max Factor cosmetics company), Józef Hofmann (a pianist who invented paper clips), Ignacy Łukasiewicz (designed and built the world’s first oil refinery and oil well), the Warner Brothers (yeah the biggest media corporation and film studio), Frédéric Chopin (the composer), Nicolaus Copernicus (mathematician and astronomer), Marie Curie. Or stunning cities such as Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk, Torun, Poznan, Wroclaw.


Share it with the world

Continue ReadingWarsaw – Poland
Read more about the article Malbork – Poland
Malbork - Poland

Malbork – Poland

Share it with the world

Civitas Beatae Virginis, Royal Prussia

An unexpected visit to what’s been for a while in the back of our ears: Malbork and its fascinating Teutonic castle. The reason is simple, since we’ve pretty much been to almost every possible important and historic city and place in Poland, there are still just a small bunch in our agenda, one of them was this, and with a double reason, the other being completing a visit to another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s not a secret how passionate we are about visiting as many WHS in the world as possible, so this is always fun and excitement for being to another one. That’s close to 100 alone this year so far!

Then, unplanned visit because when we booked the tickets to Gdansk to visit our friend there, same as for the last time, we though we will be there around and that’s all, however we are very pleased she did plan this trip for us. Being that near Gdansk it was a great decision, and now I can strongly recommend should you be staying in Gdansk, (and nearby Sopot and Gdynia), to include Malbork in your plans. However visiting all these places in just a weekend, even if they are small, it’s almost impossible. So like it was for us, returning to this region was the best bet, yet it won’t be the last, it is always great to have some nice time with our great friend here, even if we are not travelling for sightseeing.

Malbork is very small, and other than its huge castle, there is not much more there to see and do. Considering it was a member of the Hanseatic League, it was very elegant, with very imposing buildings however after the destruction of WWII, the city was not rebuilt and its brick ruins were used to rebuild the old areas of Gdansk and Warsaw instead. Still, there are some buildings such as the neo-Gothic railway station and around the area at both banks of the Nogat River, but a half day visit is all you need to fully explore. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue ReadingMalbork – Poland
Read more about the article Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia – Poland
Gdansk - Poland

Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia – Poland

Share it with the world

The Tricity by the Baltic Sea

A bunch of years have passed since the first and only time in Gdansk, the beautiful city by the Baltic Sea; now glad to return and enjoy the same or more than the first time, considering it’s the third. Not just the city but the great company of our Polish friend whom we came to visit once more time. What a better way to escape the horrible weather in London after all? Surprisingly, this was the end of September, however still a nicer weather over here bearing in mind it generally chills earlier than other places. A coincidental fact back in June 2012 it was the weekend of a Football Euro Cup semi-finals where Spain was playing against France. Definitely we are not football fans at all, but being Spanish and such a great ambiance with all the terraces showing the game at the time we were in Sopot, made it for a great dinner time entertainment.

I take the chance to revamp this guide and further expand it in line to what I am generally doing for the places I do return. While there is still a large number of travel guides from the beginning of times in my blog quite outdated or even poor comparing to what I now do, it’s great to see the speed in recreating them as I keep returning to such beautiful places. It’s becoming more and more difficult anyway to get for a weekend trip to destinations not been before. It might sound silly, but yes, we are running out of flying routes with any airline within Europe!

Gdansk is the largest of the three cities, capital of the region and principal seaport of Poland. And also, one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, full of Medieval and Hanseatic buildings, remarkably well preserved even though many of these had to be painstakingly reconstructed after their destruction during WWII. All these facts, the history behind and the countless cultural places are one of the reasons for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.


Share it with the world

Continue ReadingGdansk, Sopot and Gdynia – Poland
Read more about the article Sofia and Rila – Bulgaria
Sofia - Bulgaria

Sofia and Rila – Bulgaria

Share it with the world

Roman Ulpia Serdica, Greek Serdonpolis, Ottoman Sofya

Almost 6 years have passed since our first and only time in Sofia, and Bulgaria itself. A long time once again for a rather large and nice capital city, with a lot of changes for the better during this time in between. And of course, a great chance to revamp this once obsolete and not so detailed and descriptive guide for a proper up to date version. It’s interesting to see how little I was writing on the first guides when I started my travel blog, but I’m glad that I can also slowly rewrite them as we keep returning to many of these cities.

While Sofia could have been a very rich city in architecture, extremely elegant as Paris or Vienna, it suffered heavy destruction during WWII, and in 1977 further damages in the Vrancea earthquake (which epicentre was in Romania). Unfortunately, not everything was rebuilt as in other cities that suffered similar fates, however, many of these decaying buildings were not demolished, and as such becoming one of the key priorities in recent years restoring them, creating trendy areas and a good solid attractive for the tourism. Better and newer infrastructure, and definitely a great restoration and rebuilding program in the older parts of the city is the huge difference we can see now since the last time we’ve been.

The city itself is worth at least a 2 day visit. Planning any longer here might disappoint you as you will end up without anything further to do and see, and for heavy travellers used to city trips, a day is well enough. A weekend trip is the best decision; furthermore since the old town is very compact and not big, every sight is within walking distance to each other making of it an easy and not long walk without the need for taking any public transportation. There are just some sights on the outskirts as is the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Boyana Church, where you will need to get onto a tram or a bus, but other than this the rest is great to enjoy on foot.


Share it with the world

Continue ReadingSofia and Rila – Bulgaria
Read more about the article Chisinau and Tipova – Moldova
Chisinau - Moldova

Chisinau and Tipova – Moldova

Share it with the world

Archaic Romanian chișla (source of water) and nouă (new)

Another new country in my list! 83 so far in total, and 46th out of 50 that form the European continent at the time of writing this guide. It’s always very exciting coming to places never been before especially if these are a different country, another culture to explore and looking forward to something new. Europe is getting too small and believe it or not, we are starting to run out of destinations. For sure on the main destinations there is pretty much nothing left not visited, but thankfully there are still way many other places… although again, with so many hundreds been, this is slowly becoming a challenge to find a flight or plan a reasonable route to reach these places.

Chisinau, the capital of Moldova is definitely by all means not the usual holiday destination to anyone. The country is one of these “forgotten” for the average traveller, one of the less visited with few venturing coming to discover. To us, however, it was a must in our list for quite some time now, yet not easy to reach until now with more flights available and more flexibility in the times. In any case, talking about flying times… we took off from London minutes before midnight to land in Chisinau right after 05.00am local time the following day, but well, not everything is going to be as easy as a cup of tea.

The country, to the surprise of anyone, is full with beautiful villages, medieval castles, monasteries and amazing nature. It might be small but it offers everything to whoever comes to visit, and won’t disappoint. But before I continue in here, let me tell you that this trip was not just for the sake of reaching its capital city and nothing else, but to also include 2 of the country’s highlights: the world’s largest wine cellar, Mileștii Mici; and the largest cave monastery in Eastern Europe, Tipova. Now with all this in mind, your trip will definitely be truly worth it!. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue ReadingChisinau and Tipova – Moldova
Read more about the article Katowice and Auschwitz – Poland
Katowice - Poland

Katowice and Auschwitz – Poland

Share it with the world

The Holocaust

After many years trying to find a good deal to this part of Poland, either Krakow or Katowice in order to finally reach Auschwitz, it came when less expected. Over 6 years have passed since our first and only time in Krakow, and ever since, with the city booming more and more tourist-wise talking becoming much more expensive in every way; now it’s cheaper to fly to the Canary Islands than here as an example! That’s the only reason why we kept postponing a return until eventually, finding a good deal. In this occasion, not to Krakow but to nearby sister city Katowice. After all, when thinking in visiting Auschwitz, it does not really matter which of the two cities you fly into as it is literally in the middle of both.

Katowice is a modern city, developed from the 18th century gaining importance and great wealth because of the enormous coal deposits in this area of south Poland. Mines opened everywhere, the industrial revolution boomed here, and so the city grew. Not in the way of a merely industrial city, but in a good way, where the new architecture from the era, the art-nouveau, left a big mark, coupled with some fine examples or art-deco that followed the next decades until World War II and the Nazi occupation took the toll.

While many old buildings were demolished to make way for wide avenues and monuments typical from the Soviet era, half of the city was thankfully spared, notoriously the southern half where the most elegant buildings are, most of them former headquarters of coal mines, industries and banks. The northern part of the city is older and centralised around the old Market Square (Rynek), but do not expect to find a large old town, nor a market square typical from majority of the Polish cities completely surrounded in beautiful architecture. In fact, visiting the entire city will not take you much of the day, therefore plan your time accordingly as there are many places you could visit nearby truly worth it. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue ReadingKatowice and Auschwitz – Poland
Read more about the article Krakow – Poland
Krakow - Poland

Krakow – Poland

Share it with the world

The Polish Athens, The Polish Mecca

Almost 8 years have passed since my first and only time in this beautiful city, yet my opinion and judgement has not changed but turned to even better. Now after this trip I can finally update one of my older travel guides here in my blog to a much more complete and descriptive one together with a refreshed photo album. To me this felt as visiting a new city from scratch not only for the long time not been, bur for the huge difference in the weather too!. If back in December 2009 it was super cold, grey and dark, rain and the first snow of that winter; this time in March 2017 it was a different story. A proper spring day, sunny and warm to the point of needing to remove our jackets. We could not have asked for more nor been any luckier.

Krakow is the most visited city in Poland, and the facts talk for itself: it’s been the Royal Capital city of Poland for many centuries until 1596 when it was moved to Warsaw. It has always been one of the wealthiest cities in the country, with some of the finest churches, palaces and mansions built. A very large castle growing with every king. An important merchant and trade city since the middle ages, and all this architecture and historic legacy thankfully spared from the destruction during WWII mainly because of Hitler having a special love for this city. You can expect a very large collection of historical buildings everywhere, retaining much of the Medieval urban core almost intact. No wonder why it was one of the first 12 privileged candidates to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site on the very first UNESCO list when this organisation was created in 1978.

In any case, even having so much to see, the city centre is not too big and can easily be visited in full in a day or over a weekend. Also with such a compact historical centre with most of the streets pedestrianised, following a perfect orthogonal urban grid, there is absolute no need for taking any public transportation when visiting the sights.


Share it with the world

Continue ReadingKrakow – Poland
Translate »