Amsterdam and other pretty cities of The Netherlands

My eight days long adventure in The Netherlands started with landing at 8 am in the capital city of Amsterdam, greeted by a beyond gorgeous sunrise that I witnessed from my window seat on the plane. It was worth it waking up at 4:20 am in Zurich to catch this early flight.

Sunrise over Amsterdam

From Schipol airport I took a train to Amsterdam Central Station, the journey took me around 30 minutes and costed around 10 euros.

The building of the station is quite impressive and my accommodation was a 10 minutes walk from it, right in the city center, so I headed towards it, passing beautiful canal views and observing how the city comes to life.

Amsterdam Central Station

Once I dropped my luggage I was headed to Dom Square, where my free walking tour started. I definitely recommend booking in advance a free walking tour of the city, the guide was extremely knowledgeable and I found out a lot about the history of the city and discovered sights that maybe otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered.

The tour took around two hours and a half. I made a new friend on the tour and we decided to spend the rest of the day exploring together. He made quite a good city explorer buddy. We walked along the beautiful canals, took pictures and even hang out in the red light distract, which is quite dead during the day.

One of the beautiful canals in Amsterdam

We discovered the impressive flower market and also some kinky places, such as a condomeria.

Amsterdam flower market
Condoms shop in central Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the city of freedom, sexual diversity and acceptance. The city is very vibrant, full of bikers and very open minded and excellent English speaking, tall Dutch men and women.

With my new travel companion we walked around a lot on my first day, reaching also the museums quartier, where especially the famous Rijksmuseum stands out.

Rijksmuseum

On this occasion we didn’t go into any of the museums, but on the other hand was stunned to discover that the I AmSterdam sign disappeared from the museum plaza. Nine years ago was still there, then apparently it has been removed due to some political dispute over it. I wanted to recreate my picture from nine years ago, but that couldn’t happen. Regardless, we had a nice time around there, many buildings are beautiful.

No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without mentioning the coffee shops, which here reffers to the shops that sell weed and other drugs that are legal in The Netherlands. There are plenty of them and basically any adult can try them either in form of a joint or brownie and probably in other forms as well, I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t interested in these stuff. What I do know though is that the best of them seems to be the Bulldog chain, that has a gift shop and museum too. I purchased myself some Bulldog thongs ( = flip flops ) as a memory from Amsterdam.

The most good looking Bulldog coffee shop
A random coffee shop

Apart from admiring the canals, passing by coffee shops and chilling in nice cafes, on another day I visited some museums too.

The most interesting I found to be the Moco Museum, where apart from Bansky’s art work, there’s a very beautiful and interactive light installation too.

I checked out also the Allard Pierson museum, where I learned about the Egyptian era.

In Amsterdam there’s a museum for every taste, from modern art to even the art and pleasure of sexual intercourses, hences there’s an erotic museum and also a museum of prostitution. I guess the name says it all, no need from my side to discuss what can you see in each of them.

Checking out some museums has been definitely fun and interesting, but probably even more interesting than that has been all the breakfast and brunch places that I got to eat from.

Eating places in Amsterdam are amazing and my favorite of all probably has been Mr Stacks, where you can eat the most delicious pancake stacks, which look like a tower of pancakes and are filled with fresh and delicious fruits and of course lots of chocolate. I licked all my ten fingers after eating there.

Eating at Mr Stacks

Another amazing breakfast place I’ve discovered it’s called Jacob’s Juice , where I tried the delicious avocado toast and drank a very healthy ginger,lemon,spinach,fennel juice. It’s located a short 10 min walk from Rinksmuseum. It’s small and cozy and everything on the menu sounded amazing, so the choice was quite hard.

My brekky at Jacob’s Juice

A more central brekky place, by Dom Square, is Corner House, where the salmon bagel is absolutely delicious and the hot chocolate equally amazing.

Brekky at Corner House

Too many amazing eating places in Amsterdam for sure and the list of great restaurants is just about to start.

The best dinner I had in Amsterdam was certainly at Sea Palace restaurant, which is located just by central station, it’s a massive building right on the water, impossible to miss.

Sea Palace restaurant

It’s a Chinese restaurant, where we were lucky to get a table without booking in advance. The food is amazing and deserts are wonderful too. If I ever visit again, I’ll make sure I’ll check it out again.

My dessert at Sea Palace

T’Stuiverte has good food in a stylish ambiance, you have the feeling that you are in art gallery. Amazing food, very delicious desert.

Fish with veggies at T’Stuviertje

The Yeti – for finger licking Nepalese and Indian cuisine, go with confidence to this little restaurant, located in the red light district, it’s wonderful and service is very good too.

There have been a few other restaurants that I checked out, but I didn’t find them so amazing to mention them.

On the other hand, there’s a few bars with a view that I’d mention.

Skylounge

Luckily we got there right in time for the sunset.

Sunset view of Amsterdam

A’dam lookout bar

This one is great for the views, especially after swinging above Amsterdam.

Cocktail with a view
Swinging above Amsterdam

Apart from swinging above the city, I can proudly say that I also biked around Amsterdam, with a local, like a local and the only incident that happened was that I nearly took off the mirror of a truck that drove too close to me. It was a fun, but little stressful experience , however I don’t regret any second of it.

Although Amsterdam is a wonderful city, I also traveled a bit further and checked out some other places in The Netherlands.

Bergen Aan Zee

For a daytrip I ventured out to the see and to my amazement I witnessed a gorgeous sunset, walked four kilometers on the beach to catch a bus and ate a delicious onion soup and drank a refreshing smoothie while listening to the waves. It was a fun day!

Bergen Aan Zee sunset
My smoothie and I

Oh, and also saw very cute and friendly cats along the way.

Cat love ❤️

Rotterdam

Just around 30 min by train from Amsterdam, there’s the modern, also vibrant city of Rotterdam, where I spent threee days, out of which two were rainy and gloomy, but still enjoyable.

Rotterdam is beautiful, very different from Amsterdam. We took a canal tour that took us around the port and could see huge ships there.

Checked out also the Maritime Museum, where we could learn about ships, boats and the importance of Rotterdam port.

A trip to Rotterdam would g be complete without visiting the iconic cube houses, that look like they would be out of a fairytale. Apparently people also live in them and one of them can even be rented out on Airbnb.

Posing at Rotterdam Cube Houses

Due to the rain we kept most of our exploring indoors, which was just fine when it came to eating .

Markthalle, the food court of Rotterdam was just a short tram ride from the accommodation and was the perfect place to start the day. A massive location full of all kind of specialities. My favorite of course was the waffle and the Brazilian juice.

Eating a waffle at Markthalle
My delicious

At Markthalle apart from food, one can buy different spices, cheese and so on.

Also in Rotterdam I’ve discovered some good restaurants, one of them is Ayla, an afghani restaurant where the oysters and frog legs where absolutely delicious, but also the cocktails are remarkable.

Frog legs at Ayla
Cocktail at Ayla

Speaking of cocktails, there’s one bar in Rotterdam that I liked in particular, it’s called Spikizi, it’s cozy, little and the cocktails were very good.

Spikizi bar from outside
Spikizi bar from inside
Cocktail at Spikizi

I love views, hences I dragged my friend, Jay, who joined me for the Rotterdam part of my Netherlands trip, to Euromast and we ,also him, were impressed of the views. Rotterdam is truly magnificent at night. I let the pictures speak for themselves.

Euromast tower
Rotterdam at night from Euromast

The Hague

Another place that I dragged my friend , Jay was The Hague, which I heard about a lot, everybody saying how beautiful it is. Well, it’s quite nice, true, but on a rainy day it was just so and so.

We checked out the Peace Palace, but with the Covid restrictions in place, we were not allowed to visit the actual palace, just did an audio tour in a separate building and saw the palace from distance.

Peace Palace

Although it was raining, we still went to the beach and saw even people bungee jumping there.

The beach in The Hague

We wondered around the city a bit and eventually ended up at another drinks with a view place.

Skybar – beautiful views of The Hague at night and delicious mocktailes in a romantic ambiance.

The Hague at night from Skybar

Our day in The Hague could have been nicer if there was sun and no Covid restrictions, but I guess nowadays that’s the new normal…

After spending those few days in Rotterdam, by I said goodbye to Jay and continued my trip solo to another beautiful town.

Utrecht

Utrecht has been recommended to me by many Dutch people I met and I was excited to check it out. Everybody was saying that it’s the smaller version of Amsterdam, but maybe slightly more pretty. I must say I found it in a way even nicer and definitely more calm than Amsterdam. I was also very lucky with a sunny day in Utrecht. I walked around the canals, visited some parks and admired the beautiful autumn colors.

Autumn in Utrecht

Also in Utrecht, of course I went to eat yummy food and ended up at this cozy, little cafe in the center and had my pancake fix.

Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the cafe, but in case I’ll ever visit Utrecht again I know where I need to go.

On the other hand with the restaurant I dined at I have more memory, it was called Springhaver and it’s right next to the cinema with the same name.

Dinner at Springhaver
Dessert at Springhaver

I had so many waffles, pancakes and desserts every day of my trip that now, as a conclusion I can say The Netherlands is awesome for anyone who has a sweet tooth.

But, it’s not only food and desserts that made me enjoy it so much, it’s also the diversity and the kindness of people.

In Utrecht I had a Turkish – German fellow travelled that joined me in exploring. We walked around the town the whole day, doing also a little shopping along the way, but mainly just checking out various landmarks, a beautiful church and a little bar too.

In beautiful Utrecht

For my last day I returned to Amsterdam and with the same travel companion that I had in Utrecht we went to Upside down Amsterdam, a fun place, where you can’t be upset or side. This place for sure will cheer you up.

Upside down Amsterdam
Chilling at Upside down Amsterdam

Determined to find waffle places back home, I left the country satisfied and happy with how I spent the last 8 days. Dutch people and their country impressed me and left me with great memories that I’ll carry around for long. I might even bike more often from now on…

Barcelona time

A few years ago, when I was in Barcelona for the first time I really liked it and said I’ll come back again one day. That day has arrived and because a travel friend that I met in Thailand and then again in Australia, said to me that she’ll host me, I had no excuse not to go . Alisa, my friend welcomed me with the biggest hug ever at the train station and our adventure was about to begin.

I had a few things in my mind that I wanted to do and one of them was to get a haircut. Maybe it’s unusual when you go there just for three days, but I had a good feeling about the salon and I got a cheap and good haircut a la Barcelona.

After the haircut we went to check out Park Güell, the iconic photo spot and the whole park itself.

Park Güell
View over the city from Park Güell

The good part was just about to begin. We went for dinner to a seafood restaurant recommended by a local, called Lluritu in the neighborhood called Gracia.

It’s hard to describe in words how delicious the food has been. We ordered a few things, such as tuna leaves, sardines, calamari and clams. We licked all our ten fingers after each of them. 100% the best seafood that I’ve eaten in a very long time.

Delicious food that we are at Lluritu

Very quickly the first day was ending, but not before a night stroll to the iconic Sagrada Familia, which now is even bigger than the last time I visited.

Sagrada Familia

And when we said we’d go home now, we end up eating a massive pancake for dessert at like 10 pm. No regrets about it tho! And the nonalcoholic cocktail called Chill out was as delicious and the pancake.

Yummi pancake and Chill out cocktail

Friday went by quickly but we did a lot and we went to bed satisfied with the day and reminiscing about our memories from Sydney.

How awesome is to meet your travel friends in different locations on this planet!

Saturday we woke up later, almost 10 am, and took it easy. Although the weather was a bit tricky, a bit of sun then lots of clouds and later a bit of sun again, I insisted on going to the beach cause that was going to be my only opportunity this year to go sunbathing. So even though we were the only people sunbathing, bare in mind there was no sun at that point , we still had a beach day. Well, one hour at the beach to be precise. Anyway, it was good and yes, I had a beach day !

Playa del Bogatell

It was lunch time and after being so impressed of the food the previous night, I was looking forward to eat some delicacies again. This time we’ve chosen a Lebanese restaurant called L’Autentic . No one recommended us this place, we just went with our gut feelings and it was a good choice once again. The food was great, the service great too.

Eating at L’Autentic

After filling in our stomachs our next stop was Westfield, the shopping mall. You can’t go to Barcelona and not get tempted to do some shopping, especially if you’re with a girlfriend. We laughed our heads off while buying new outfits.

The day was far away from being over, going up to Montjuic for the sunset being the next to do activity. Sadly there was no sun, therefore no visible sunset either, but ride up there in the cable car still offered stunning views over the city and the castle was quite pretty too.

Cable car views
Castillo de Montjuic
Barcelona views from Montjuic

After we checked out everything on Montjuic we were headed to Salts Terassa Bar, another of the recommendations, for dinner. The view is nice from this place and the patatas bravas really delicious. We even got spoiled with a rainbow.

Delicious patatas bravas at Salts Terassa Bar
Rainbow

It was around 8 pm when we decided to go to a new Irish pub that’s called the Old Irish Pub, ready to dance the night away. And that’s exactly what we did! After almost two years of not dancing in my case, COVIDs fault, it felt like normal life again that I could dance and behave normally in a pub. It was like the good old times, when quarantine, isolation and all the other Covid related things didn’t exist. It was heaps of fun and a night that I’ll not forget any soon !

Dancing the night away, someone gave me an Oktoberfest hat

Saturday night we got home after midnight, happy and pleased with how great the whole day was.

Sunday was going to be another awesome day because we were going to Montserrat, a beautiful spiritual place, where Helen, a friend I met in Sydney was going to meet us. I haven’t seen Helen for three years, so this was exciting.

We took the train and in aprox one hour we reached Montserrat.

It looked impressive even from the cable car station and was going to be even more impressive when we reached the top.

A short cable car ride and we reached the attraction. It was quite full of people, but we were not bothered. We went on a short hike to reach silence and just admire nature’s beauty.

A few hours easily passed in good company. We talked about our nice memories and decided on making new ones in the future.

Our fun group

After this beautiful adventure, we had to say goodbye to Helen and Alisa and me returned to Barcelona and went to a dance class and then go dinner to Santa Gula in Gracia, another amazing restaurant. I tried for the first time ever octopus and I’ll certainly eat again in the future cause it was delicious.

My amazing Barcelona trip ended that night with this finger licking dinner at Santa Gula, the next morning rushing early to the airport and returning to normal life in Zurich. Can’t wait to go again to Barcelona and try other good restaurants. Hasta luego, Barcelona!

Another scenic Swiss hike: Trübsee in Engelberg region

With no doubt hiking is the best way of discovering Switzerland’s natures beauty and Engelberg region is a beautiful hiking area, so a friend and me put on our hiking shoes and off we went. The train from Zurich to Engelberg takes roughly two hours, with a change in Luzern.

The small town of Engelberg is quite nice, surrounded by massive mountains and there’s also a stream that has crystal clear water.

Engelberg

We started the hike, that was quite steep most of the way and it took us roughly three hours to reach Trübsee, our destination.

The views along the way were gorgeous, big mountain peaks with snow on top and lush green valleys and of course some friendly cows too.

After three hours of serious hiking, we reached Trübsee and it definitely was worth the steep hike. We were very lucky with the weather, the beautiful blue sky reflecting in the water making it appear clear blue. It was the perfect place for a well deserved lunch and a few moments of just silence and enjoying the views.

As we were admiring Trübsee and the peak of Titlis mountain, we agreed that if we came all this way, we can’t miss going up to Titlis. Although not prepared for the cold up there, at 3020 m altitude, we still hopped into the cable car and started ascending to the top of Switzerland’s most visited mountains.

Once we reached the top, we found ourself surrounded by the serene beauty of the mountain, lots of snow and quite chilly temperatures, especially in the ice cave.

Excited about the snow on Titlis
Ice cave

Going from autumn straight to winter was fun for a bit, but then it was a good idea to leave it all behind and return to Engelberg, this time by cable car. I was expecting to have muscle pain the next days in my legs, but surprisingly I escaped without any major pain.

Paris – a layover that changed my view about the city

I’ve been to Paris a couple of times and was living with the impression that it’s overrated and nothing too special. Then I went there un August for just a few hours. And guess what? Paris was beautiful, people friendly and the vibe just great!

I’m not sure if it was just me, super excited about finally traveling again, or Paris is really a cool city?! In any case the few hours that I spent there were amazing and serendipity did its job.

First I headed to the Jardín de Luxembourg to admire its beauty. I was walking around and just enjoying the sights. It was beautiful, even though the sky looked like it might rain any minute. It didn’t in the end. So I spent probably an hour or two just enjoying the beautiful garden and buildings.

Jardín de Luxembourg

Then I ended up hanging out the rest of the time with a fellow traveler, that approached me initially to take a photo of her but then we talked and talked about traveling and without realizing we were making plans of going to the Eiffel Tower together. And that’s what we did.

We hang out around the icon of France and talked about various topics as if we knew each other for ages.

Those few hours in Paris went by quickly but the fun memories will stay for good. And I also spotted a little reminder of my favorite places of all: Sydney. Such layovers I’m happy to have another time too.

Reunion Island – a piece of France in the Indian Ocean

I wish I could tell that my first trip after a year and a half break from traveling – thanks COVID – went all smoothly and was great, but that would be a lie. Of course, there were beautiful moments, nice days and there were lonely and eventless days, filled with anxiety and pannick attacks. I actually needed to cut short my holiday and adress my health and forget holidaying for a bit.

That being said, I’ll start with the positives.

I boarded my plane in Paris with lots of excitement and wanderlust, flew eleven hours in a nearly empty plane, where everybody had their own row and still was a lot of space. Landed in Saint Denis, the capital city of the island and the warm weather felt amazing. The beach was calling me, hence I booked an Airbnb close to Boucan Canot beach.

Boucan Canot is that part of the island where mainly the French expats live and it pretty much feels like south of France but just with a bit of island vibe to it, which is very attractive by the way.

As soon as I took a shower and settled a bit, I was headed straight to the beach. That place became my second home while around there, being the place for sunbathing and meditating.

Boucan Canot beach is calm, but the waves are huge, I just went in shortly and went for a swim to the rock pool instead. Those waves are truly intimidating for me, who I’m a weak swimmer.

First day at Boucan Canot beach
Meditating at Boucan Canot beach

Boucan Canot has a few nice eating places with beautiful views and absolutely delicious samosas and caris , local food that I loved.

Restaurant with a view

Also, it’s a great spot for sunsets while enjoying a local drink.

Sunset at Boucan Canot

As I don’t drive, I was relying on public transport, traveling around by the local buses. Surprisingly they were reliable and quite comfortable.

Just a few bus stops from Boucan Canot, there’s Trou d’Eau, which I always mispronounced as Troudeu, the Canadian prime ministers name. So wrong! Anyway, that place is perfect for stand up paddle boarding, I spotted numerous colorful fishes while paddling around. The water is crystal clear, the beach clean and quiet.

Just nearby is also L’Hermitage beach, perfect for snorkeling and another good spot to sunbath and with lots of good restaurants.

The way to L’Hermitage beach
Crystal clear water at L’Hermitage

After a few days I changed locations and I was headed to Saint Pierre, which seemed chaotic and was slightly difficult to find my way around there, but that’s probably just because I’m not familiar with the island structures. However, I found my way to the port, which was quite a nice place to hang out at, especially in the morning. I chilled at the beach, ate a massive Americaine and strolled over to a Hindu temple.

Port of Saint Pierre

Probably the highlight of my entire trip was a day trip to the southeastern part of the island, where I had the chance to step on the youngest beach of the world, which was formed in 2007 , when the volcano erupted and the lava reached the ocean, creating the gorgeous black sand beach called Plage du Tremblet.

Plage du Tremblet

Reunion is well known for its beautiful waterfalls and mountains, sadly I can’t comment about the mountains cause I didn’t have the chance to hike, but the two waterfalls I visited were truly stunning.

Cascade Langevin
Cascade Jaquelina

During this awesome daytrip I visited also the route of the lava, where also the hikes to Piton de la Fornaise start. One day maybe I’ll be able to also hike there, by then I keep as memory two little lava stones on my bedside table.

My precious two little lava stones next to Buddha

With the hope of one day revisiting, hopefully more prepared and less stressed out, for now I keep the memories and pictures of the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and not only. Definitely a place to return to.

Sunrise in Saint Pierre
Sunset in Saline des Bains

Adelaide – a place that holds so many pleasant surprises

The sad recent events that marked many people’s lives and brought devastating consequences on the wildlife in many parts of Australia have been difficult to witness while feeling and being so close. However, I still had hopes that Kangaroo Island would stay untouched of the fires and it’s natural beauty and uniqueness would remain. Sadly, I received the call while waiting to board my plane in Sydney that the tour I had booked will not take place because the fires are taking over literally the whole island. The next days I followed the news in disbelief and completely helpless, seeing how day by day this beautiful place was being transformed into ashes. 
As Kangaroo Island became a no option, my stay in Adelaide got an extra two days to explore, enjoy and discover. 
A rather underrated city, that some locals refer to as big village, started to unfold day by day and by the end of my stay I became quite fascinated by how diverse it is and how many things you can get out of it.

Food to feed your body

My centrally located accomodation made it very convenient to just walk my way around the city and within a couple of hours have a proper feel about where everything is.
I’ve chosen to start the day with a visit to Central Market and I instantly knew that the following days will start also there. Why is that? Because it’s the best place to pick up fresh fruits and veggies, provided by local farmers and sold in a friendly environment, which by the way reminded me of St Lawrence market in Toronto, Canada.
While at Central Market, one can pick from many different cuisines , I’ve spotted South American street food stand and Hungarian bakery, just to name some.
A few steps from the market is Chinatown, it’s small but compact, bringing together all sorts of Asian restaurants and stores.
Edo Sushi is a remarkable Korean – Japanese restaurant that I liked and the kimchi I ate there, although burned my tongue, will stay in my memories for its delicious taste.
No doubts that Adelaide is perfect for food lovers or curious people that are interested to check out different varieties.
The iconic Adelaide favourite, The Original Pancake Kitchen didn’t disappoint, although unfortunately I couldn’t even try their signature pancakes cause the gigantic burger they served me with, that came together with a massive portion of chips left no space in my stomach even for a tempting pancake. 
One of the days when I may have been a little too caught up with doing things and skipped a lunch, by dinner time I was really famished and also interested to check out the O’Connell street dining scene, that I heard it’s a bit more high class than the rest of the city. Not in the search of too posh or so, but for a real different vibe, Giulia, the friendly Italian traveller that I met and myself, we headed directly to Marrakech not Africa, only O’Connell street. The design and the whole decoration of the restaurant takes you though to Morocco with authentic lamps, cushions and art pieces, accompanied by Arabic music , all this providing a special vibe. The head waiter that looked after us in a typical Bangladeshi ( his origin country ) friendly manner, pointed out that all the decoration objects has been bought from Morocco and the chef is a well respected, award winning personality in the industry. Also, although I’ve noticed that in many countries if there’s a Moroccan restaurant is likely to be called Marrakech – how inspiring – the Adelaide Marrakech is not part of a chain.
Needless to say, the food has been delicious and a looot, our waiter even spoiled us with a dessert, saying: “ because you’re visiting and to have a nice Adelaide memory”. Well, that has been a fun, stomach filling Moroccan trip – with a touch of Bangladeshi generosity, Italian gesticulating and hmm maybe Hungarian hunger?! – right in Adelaide.
Culture to feed your brain
Often times museums and art galleries take the backseat while I travel because the outdoors is more appealing, but I’m glad that sometimes the culture fix gets squeezed in. I mean one day was 40 degrees, the next dropped to 16 and with just a jumper and some leggings that could count as warm clothing?! – the setting was perfect to take it easy indoors. 
That being said, off we went to check out the State Library of South Australia, where between all those ancient books I  found also a map of the world, that was more figureoutable than many of the words from the 3 kilos book. Not to forget, window shopping for fashionable young lady outfit has been more than inspiring and that’s an understatement. All jokes aside though, I liked the Harry Potter style environment and the collection of the books on various topics in really impressive. 
Right next door is the Museum of South Australia, that holds holds collections of national and international significance.
Our last stop was at the Art Gallery of South Australia, a truly impressive place filled with stunning art collections presented in an interactive manner.
Animals and oh, the amazing outdoors to feed your soul
What I loved most about Adelaide is that it has so much green space. Lots of parks and the river Torrens, all easy to acces. I spent without realising   a few hours just chilling under a tree by the river with a book in hand and some quaking ducks around me. The scenery is beautiful, peaceful and simply just fills you up with energy. Great for a morning jog, afternoon biking and evening yoga, not all in one day I guess… However, it’s a city where it’s for sure pleasant to live for a while to properly experience all the perks. 
 Botanic Garden
A nature oasis in the heart of the city, the botanic garden is Adelaide’s show off big park that hosts a significant diversity of flora and apparently fauna as well, having met several duck families leisurely roaming around.
Himeji Garden

To my surprise no tourist that I met in Adelaide heard about Himeji Garden. It’s true that’s it’s tiny and maybe not necessarily a must visit, but it’s pretty and peaceful and it’s a loss not checking it out. 

Morialta Conservation Reserve
Just a short drive north-east Adelaide, also accessible by public transport, is located this gem that I wish I had more time to explore. Greeted by a sleeping koala, the bushwalk started in a great spirit. The scenes are spectacular and after a couple days of rain some waterfalls will be spotted too, that wasn’t the case during my visit due to the drought. 
Cleland Conservation Park and Mount Lofty summit
Within the national park is located also the wildlife park, where in a safe environment the animals are being taken care of and look happy. Attention: this is not a zoo! Yes, you can say they are in capture because there’s needed to have some boundaries in order to keep a control, but the animals are in their natural habitat which is the wild, they do have plenty of space and they do get the care and attention they need to be kept healthy. From dingo to echidna, Tasmanian devil and the iconic kangaroo, you come up close with the fascinating Australian wildlife and no matter how many times you meet these special creatures it’s always an epic experience. 
From the wildlife entrance there are several trails that lead to Mount Lofty summit, I doubt that any of them would be difficult, although according to Aussie standards the one I’ve taken has been steep – hahaha , the whole hike I was searching for the steep part, reached the summit without finding it – . 
In any case the view from the summit is spectacular and the local cider tastes just a wee bit better from the top. 
 Adelaide sunsets
What I know about Australia  for sure is that sunsets will take your breath away, sometimes when you expect the least. The palette of colours that appear on the sky range from dramatic colours to soft, cotton candy style and and all in between, never knowing which one will show up. Adelaide’s beaches are very nice places to watch the sun going down, but occasionally the city center can be just as good. 
Whether sunset or no sunset, taking a dip and chilling on Glenelg, Adelaide’s most popular beach is not a bad idea. 
On the other hand, Henley beach, the less populated version of Glenelg might be a more suitable option if crowds are not your cup of tea.

It feels like I’ve discovered just a small piece of what Adelaide really is and still don’t understand why many Aussies that I met beforehand gave me a description of Adelaide, which sounded somewhere between the lines “ it’s boring” and “there’s nothing to do there, except wineries”.  Wineries, on a next occasion…

Munduk and around – Bali travel tips

I’ve never heard of the little village of Munduk before my travel to Bali, but people that have been there described it as peaceful, mountainous and pretty. I thought it does worth a try, so spontaneously hopped on a shuttle bus in Ubud, direction Munduk. The ticket cost me a modest 150K IDR and the journey took three hours. The drive to Munduk is in particular scenic, passing next to rice fields, lake and the mountains. The road is almost the whole way very curvy, I’ve been warned by a fellow traveler that I may get sick, but that didn’t happen, I was just enjoying the panorama.
When the driver suddenly pulled over and claimed we’ve reached central Munduk, I was looking with disbelief though because that didn’t look like a center at all, unless the center consist just of a restaurant on the side of the road. It was just me and another traveler, the rest of the passengers continuing their way further north. We got off and looked around, nodding towards each other that it’s impossible to be right in the center of Munduk and there’s nothing around. Luckily her internet reception was working, cause mine refused loading, this way we figured we’ve got more than 1 km to walk to actually reach the village and our accomodations. With our backpacks on ( cherishing the fact that I travel light ) and a few bad words told, we started rolling ( not literally ) downhill for the next few minutes until eventually reached the actual center of Munduk. According to the locals the shuttle bus normally drops people on the top of the hill, which is still bizarre because it’d really take just some extra minutes drive to the village itself. 
However, the mountainous setting is gorgeous and very peaceful, gives you the feeling that you’ve just traveled back in time. 
In any direction you look there’s the stunning Mother Nature smiling back at you.


Not only nature is beautiful, the locals are in particular nice people. It was enough to walk once from one end of the village to the other and locals were already calling me by my name, but they have never heard of the existence of my country. Once in Munduk don’t forget to:

Indulge in delicious local food 

As small of a village that Munduk is, it still offers numerous restaurants with spectacular views. 
Warung Classic has been my absolute favorite for the amazing food and the best spot to watch sunset and Warung Dong Paloh for the super delicious breakfast and the signature Balinese black rice porridge .

Take a dip in the gorgeous waterfalls 

I could rave about the great food, but it’s not just food that I’ve been so enthusiastic about, it’s also waterfalls. Yes, the Munduk area is probably the best in Bali when it comes to ticking off the list the most spectacular waterfalls. Walkable distance from the village center, there are three of them: The middle falls, Melanting and Red Coral. Each of them require a visiting fee of 10 -20 K IDR. I made it only to Red Coral waterfall and I was more than delighted with the scene, but I’ll let the picture speak for itself.


A short drive from Munduk, followed by a little steep but enjoyable hike, nestled in the lush forest, it’s the spectacular Banyumala Falls or simply Twin Waterfalls if the Indonesian name sounds too complicated. An absolute must visit, Banyumala is gorgeous and so refreshing. The best time to go is early morning, before the crowds invade it. I got there around 8:30 amand no other soul was there, except my two travel buddies for the day, but one hour later, when we were leaving there were already people coming. The entry fee is 30K IDR and it includes a small bottle of water, which comes handy considering the hike. Regardless, carry plenty of water with you wherever you go, it’s hot and humid at any time of the day and night in Bali. 

Visit temples and lakes

Lake Bratan, with its famous Beratan Lake Temple is located near the town of Begudul, less than an hour drive from Munduk. It’s the second largest lake in Bali and rated by Huffington Post as one of the 20 most beautiful lakes in the world. Tourists from all over the world visit this place, the temple being the icon of Indonesia. It’s certainly beautiful, but since it’s so extremely touristy it doesn’t represent anymore such a strong cultural and religious meaning.

If most people visit the popular Beratan Lake Temple, the hidden gems hunters go trekking through the jungle and canoe over the lake to find the less famous version of it.
Lake Tambligan Temple is situated beside Buyan Lake and although you can drive there from one side, it’s way more interesting, challenging and satisfying to sign up for a two hours jungle trekking adventure.
The cost of the trekking with an English speaking local guide is 275K IDR and it does worth every penny. First things first, our guide, Gudi ( I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong spelling ) handed each of us a bamboo trekking stick and we started venturing into the rain forest, following carefully his passionate explanation about the trees that we were seeing.

Along the way, in the middle of the jungle we stopped at a little temple, which he educated us about, mentioning that locals trek there on a daily basis to do the traditional offerings ritual. Quite an effort of them to do that daily?!


Gudi told us also about the previous years floodings and many more interesting information that kept us interested while following the trail. Time passed quickly and we weren’t even tired when we reached the lake and have been invited on the canoe, where we didn’t even have to paddle. Crossing the lake in the canoe has been relaxing and filled with beautiful mountain views. The temple is quite unique and the whole trekking and canoeing experience just adds to it.

Get your photo taken at Handara Bali Gates

Heading to the Begudul area it’s impossible to miss the famous picturesque gates that are all over social media. It’s actually the entry to a golf course and resort and in no time became so popular, that now they even charge 30K IDR for a 10 minutes photo session in front of them and the receipt you get is called  Selfie ticket. Hahaha!  Been there, done that…

Relax in Bali Botanic Garden

It provides a great escape to enjoy the cool temperatures under a tree and get familiar with the rare tropical plants and wildlife in their natural habitat. Ideal for any age, the gardens offer a vast variety of activities and families, including accomodation or treetop adventure park. 

Wake up for the sunrise 

Munduk is great not only for sunset, but sunrise is spectacular too. The early hours of the day are being announced by the roosters ( which annoyed me most times ),  I didn’t need to set an alarm, but after I dragged myself out of the bed I was in fact grateful to the noisy creatures.  Needless to say that the hardworking locals were not even close being as sleepy as I was, it looked like they were going full power already at not even 6 am. 

I’m sure there’s much more to do in and around Munduk, but I’m afraid my only three days there allowed me to do just the above mentioned ones. It’s been one of my favorite parts of Bali though, lots of memories made, nice people met and beautiful places visited. Sadly, during the hikes I did around there I’ve seen a lot of trash left behind, which seems to be a general issue in Indonesia. On that note, I’d like to add a reminder: while traveling please, please :

Padangbai and it’s hidden gems

Most people use the little coastal town just as a transit from Bali to the Gili Islands or Lombok, without knowing that Padangbai has more than that to offer. 
I spent not just one, but two days there, indulging in finger licking delicious and ridiculously cheap local food and sunbathing on the nicest beach I encountered during my Bali trip. 
Everything is within maximum 15 minutes walking distance, but for those that prefer the two wheels, of course renting a scooter is easy to arrange.
Not a fascinating place at first, but when you reach the white sand beach, you surely have a different opinion.
Bias Tugel or White Beach or Secret Beach, as locals like to call it, is easy to reach, although it requires a light hike, hence advisable to wear sneakers. I wasn’t having the best of the time in my flip-flops, but no major difficulties occurred either.

The way is pretty straightforward, the trail is easy to follow, what’s slightly confusing is that the few signs indicating the beach is 300 m away appear all along the way and the number doesn’t change. It’s like you walk and walk but there’s still 300 m to go?! Anyways…
It’s a small, but serene beach, which happened to be quiet and most importantly clean!

Sadly, most of the beaches I’ve seen in Bali were not left without trash, so I was delighted to have found one where the sand is soft, the water blue and clear and no leftover plastic bottles and such. The few little restaurants by the beach offer not only food and drinks, but also beach beds and relaxing music for the perfect ambiance. 
Locals proudly let me know that it’s not only Bias Tugel that they’ve got, I should check out also Blue Lagoon. With such an inviting name and after such a positive surprise with the white sand beach, of course my next stop later that day was Blue Lagoon. And there dropped my enthusiasm … Basically the exact opposite of the first one, this beach is dirty and I certainly didn’t feel any desire of even stepping into the water because the plastic bottles were floating even there. It’s meant to be a good snorkeling spot, I can just hope that people will stop leaving their rubbish behind. I literally spent 10 minutes at Blue Lagoon and struggled to avoid the trash while snapping a few shots.


There’s a nice looking restaurant overlooking the water though and the walk from the town to the lagoon is enjoyable, but at this time I’d suggest going there with no high expectations.
Other than that, Padangbai is relaxed and friendly, locals are very eager to invite you to try their food at the warungs. My favorite eating place has been Padangbai Billabong, which is on the way to the lagoon. The food is fresh, well prepared and service is great.
I also noticed that fastboat tickets from Padangbai to the Gilis or Lombok are sold at half price than in Amed, although the distance is longer. 
Thumbs down: everything  seems to be moving in a slow rhytm in Padangbai, which is not such an issue in general, but nobody seems to be respecting any sort of schedule when it comes to transportation. I’m literally waiting for a shuttle bus for more than an hour and no sign of it as of yet. 

Iconic Bondi – Sydney

Sydney’s most famous and certainly the busiest as well beach, Bondi for sure rings a bell even for those that didn’t get the chance yet to visit it. The iconic beach attracts many people surprisingly even in winter. Winter at this part of the world is mild though, today in a pleasant 18 degrees sunny day I was lying on the beach, reading a book, while a few brave ones were taking a dip in the ocean.

Just recently Bondi hosted a typical winter activity location, an ice rink, where both young and older could enjoy some fun on the ice with ocean views. That’s probably the closest you can get to winter here.

Nothing to complain about, especially when you’ve got the amazing coast line to explore.

On a day like today, when it’s warm and sunny, but not too hot, coastal walks are the ideal weekend activities that keep you in shape.

The stretch from Bondi to Coogee is easy and starts right from the beach, passing Bondi Icebergs and going all the way along the coast.

Very relaxing, on one side with the waves hitting the rocks and above us the beautiful blue sky, amazing combination of what in my terms means perfection.

Along the way you’ll see plenty of interesting and picturesque stone formations that look great in photos.

Also, a few small beaches, such as Tamarama or Bronte, where there are barbecue opportunities and always good vibe.

Lots of people take their dogs on this walk as it’s a very pet friendly environment and I’m sure the dogs enjoy the walk as much as their owners.

As Australia seems to be encouraging a lot sport and fitness in general, this part of the city is in particular a great example of that. Everywhere around Bondi and the sea in general, there are always many super fit people doing their work out, run, stretch or yoga. While on our coastal walk we’ve been taken over so many times by runners that just casually jog from one beach to the other on a regular Sunday afternoon.

The walk goes through a cemetery as well and between the graves you still have the magnificent view of the ocean. One way takes usually just over an hour in a normal rhytm with occasional stops for drinking water or taking pictures. Whether you opt for one way or return, in either cases there’s public transport available.

It does worth it sticking to the area until sunset for having the chance of looking at the ocean on a different light, that is quite pretty and relaxing.

The atmosphere becomes quiet and romantic as the night falls and the waves sound much louder but in the same time more calming. In the distance the city’s light start turning on and the darkness begins to take over slowly. It’s handy to have a light jacket because it gets windy and chilly very quickly, as soon as the sun sets.

The return walk took almost 3 hours and at return  the night lights welcomed us back to reality: busy, noisy and always fun Bondi.

First paragliding experience in Flüelen – Switzerland

I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky … – and if you don’t believe probably you shouldn’t sign up from the very beginning for such an adventure. Paragliding – as exciting as it seems, I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an adventure sport and either you want to make it a once in a lifetime event or practice it on a professional level – it sure requires some guts to do it. Considering that it’s been for ages on my to do list and theoretically I could have done it anytime in the past, I would say that you will just feel when you are really ready to do it. Really ready it’s relative though,  before take off your pilot will ask you: ” are you ready” and of course you will be completely lost and won’t have any idea wether you are ready or not, but about that a bit later on.

As a person who likes to share strong emotions and experiences with someone who is on the same page with me, in a rather unusual setting I met the right person. She’s Kaola, the girl I called a couple of times koala – I’m pretty sure you can understand why, don’t you? – and after a few emails and phone calls with our paragliding professional, Marcel, we were all set up for our first ever paragliding event.

  
The excitement before the flight was as big as during and after. Exchanging a few lines with Marcel the previous day was totally helpful, he is easy to talk to, funny and positive, so I was sure to fly with him, feeling somehow a specific trust level. Kaola was going to fly with Phillip, who is the other half of our paragliding team. The preparation takes around 10 minutes, during this time we joke around and take pictures, put the harness on and check a couple of times if we are well tied to our pilots. 

   
 Marcel explains the easy steps the passenger must follow and from there on we rely on the force of nature, in this case the wind. Lucky us, cause Mr Wind starts to blow gently so when I hear: “Run!”, the good listener I am, I do exactly that. From then on it’s: Wow! In a few seconds we are up in the air, above the trees, the streets,the lake, the people, above the world. You don’t even have time to be scared, you are too busy enjoying the view and experiencing this unique feeling. To be honest, actually you really don’t have any reason to fear. The seat is comfy and the flight smooth, the view absolutely breathtaking and such a relaxing silence that I wish I could float for hours up there. 

   
   
I took the chance of interviewing Marcel up in the air while he was flying me around and found out that besides the hobby of flying, it’s also his full time job, taking aprox 5-6 flights/day. The whole equipment weights aprox 25 kg and during the way more than 10 years experience he has, he just suffered minor injuries, managing to bring  all his passengers to the ground in one piece and fully satisfied.

  
Me: How did you discover your passion for flying?

Marcel: Exactly like you ( laughing ). Took a tandem flight and loved it, so I continued and now it’s my living.

Me: Which was your most memorable flight?

Marcel: I did many great flights in various locations around Switzerland and not only. The first flight for sure it’s memorable, but not necessarily the best one. I did a flight once in Brazil that lasted 12 hours. I covered a few hundred km. That was amazing!

Me: Wow! ( completely overwhelmed) How did you manage with the basic needs for so long? And I assume it must be tiring too…

Marcel: Eating and drinking is not an issue, I can carry the products and eat, drink without any problems up in the air. Toilet can be an issue though… At the end of the day I am tired, yes.

Me: I read online that there’s no age limit for the passengers. Is that so? Did you have any extremes?

Marcel: Just a week ago I flew  with a 5 years old kid and my oldest passenger was 81. 

Me: Could you imagine yourself doing something else for a living? What could determine you to give up flying?

Marcel: I could  never give up flying!  ( very, very firm) I could imagine working something else, of course, and I sometimes think that yes, I do this now but what will happen let’s say when I’m 50 and maybe can’t do it anymore, what’s next? But I definitely wouldn’t want to give up flying!

  

During the discussion I was looking down at the mesmerizing landscape and under me the everyday life was having it’s own rhytm, the cars where going on the streets and it looked like the pieces of a moving puzzle which I could almost touch and rearrange the way I wanted. The wind was blowing us, we took turns, we were gliding and I was even managing the direction at some point, which for sure wouldn’t be a smart idea for more than 2 minutes. The landing is a whole adventure itself. A roller coaster kind of sensation with turns one after the other with a great speed in a spiral down until you nearly reach the ground. After a little more run and that’s what I call landed succesfully!