A peek into the highlights of visiting Copenhagen, Denmark with my sister.
Yesterday I attended my first meetup.com group event: a morning tour of Craggy Gardens in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. If you're not familiar with this site, I recommend checking it out to find and connect with people that share your interests.
It took an hour and a half for me to get to the Craggy Pinnacle trailhead, but was totally worth it. You have to travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is one of the most scenic, slow & winding roads I've ever traversed. I happened to have my phone set up to get some video footage of this journey and couldn't believe I saw a baby bear cub climb a guard rail and sprint across the pavement in front of me as fast as his bear legs could carry him, let alone that I got it on video.
I also like long drives because I get more uninterrupted time to listen to audiobooks. In this case, I listened to Jung by Anthony Stevens which explains in four hours the basic life and philosophy of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, which was fascinating.
I arrived a bit early and admired the vast, blue rolling landscape swirling with mist. It dawned on my why this area is referred to as the Smoky Mountains.
Altogether there were about 15 in the group (all older than me) led by Jennifer (my age), who just finished a Phd related to botany and biology. She dropped some serious knowledge on us about the natural and cultural history of the area and identified & discussed lots of native (and non-native) flora.
The trail itself was a really easy hike. I saw lots of families with small children and/or dogs doing the 1.4 mile roundtrip trek. Tip: Use the restrooms at the visitor's center BEFORE you hike.
Y'all don't even know how excited I am for the annual autumn foliage since I was stuck in a Fall-less Florida for the past decade. I fully intend to visit the mountains as often as I can and immerse myself in the natural beauty. I swear some of the leaves had changed just during the few hours between when I drove and drove back down. It's cool to get reacquainted with the general vicinity of where I grew up.
If you haven't been up Asheville, NC, the Blue Ridge Parkway or explored the myriad trails therein, I highly recommend it, especially now!
Namaste, friends! I hope you enjoy my review of the Mahaparinirvan Express (Buddhist Circuit Train) tour that I thoroughly enjoyed in March 2016.
This is a train-based tour that takes you through significant Buddhist places and landmarks throughout Northern India and Nepal. It's a pilgrimage of sorts, but more historical than spiritual I think. They operate several 8-day tours between September and March. The train departs from the Delhi Safdar Jung station and includes the following destinations:
Gaya • Bodhgaya • Rajgir • Nalanda • Gaya • Varanasi • Sarnath • Varanasi • Gorakhpur • Kushinagar • Lumbini • Gorakhpur • Gonda • Sravasti • Gonda • Agra (Taj Mahal) • Delhi.
You have three accommodation options:
AC First Coupe: private berth with four beds and a door for just two people
AC First Class: same private berth but I guess you might have roommates
AC 2nd Tier: recessed berths with four beds and curtains; also beds along the aisle
It's like a hostel on wheels. I was fine with AC 2nd tier because pretty much all you do on the train is eat and sleep. I had a wonderful roommate named Jyotsna who is a retired English teacher so we communicated quite easily.
Luckily our train car was relatively empty and the bunks above us and across the aisle were vacant. The aircon worked well, perhaps too well, but I love snuggling up in blankets when its a little chilly.
The bunks are a bit short. I'm 5'9" (175 cm) and my feet just barely hang over the edge. The sheets were always clean and comfortable and the food was good, albeit a bit on the spicy side. They always offer your choice of a meaty meal or vegetarian meal. You will also spend a few nights in hotels. I recommend bringing earplugs and a sleep mask and digestive supplements/aids if you're not used to Indian food.
We were greeted with marigold garlands and traditional, live music. The train departed a bit later than planned. I was one of only a handful of Westerners on this trip: three Americans, one Brit, one German and one Mexican. Everyone else is Indian or Asian (Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea).
Since you will be touring many historically holy sites that require you to be barefoot, I recommend wearing flip flops or sandals that you can easily slip on and off. You should also dress comfortably conservative; in other words, covered knees and shoulders.
Our guide, Ram, accompanied us and gave us insight (in English) at each location. Our first stop was Bodhgaya, where Prince Siddartha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. (You are not allowed to bring a phone inside and have to check it at the entrance but I assure you it will be there when you get back.) I bought mala beads made of bodhi nuts here and wore them for the rest of the tour. Next we stopped in Rajgir, where the new Buddha (translation: teacher) delivered his first sermon. There are breathtaking views if you hike up to the top of the hill.
The next day, we visited Sarnath before traveling to Varanasi, the most holy city in India situated on the Ganges river. We had some free time, which I spent mostly in a tuk tuk with two other ladies on the tour before we all piled into a boat to see a traditional fire ceremony at sunset (along with about a bazillion other boats).
Although you do spend many hours (mostly sleeping) on the train, you will still spend plenty of time on a tour bus, too. (I tried to make the most of it by meditating or attempting to meditate while in transit.) This includes crossing the border to Lumbini, Nepal (Budddha's birthplace in 623 BC) so it's helpful to have a visa for Nepal before you start the trip, but you can also acquire it pretty easily at said border. A 30-day multiple entry visa for Nepal is $40 USD.
The fourth major stop on the tour was Kushinagar, where the Buddha attained enlightenment (or where his body died). There was an odd shaped structure housing a giant, reclining Buddha statue here. We also visited Gorakhpur and had dinner on the train.
A word of caution. Of course the most touristy areas are flooded with beggars and vendors. It's really not a good idea to give the beggars money, especially the children because you never know if they're being coerced or exploited. So exercising the Buddhist values of compassion and kindness, I and a few other travelers did buy and give them fruit sometimes. The vendors sell all kinds of trinkets and they expect you to haggle. If you buy even a small item from one vendor, the others will immediately pounce on you and try to convince you to buy their things as well.
Our last stop was the most famous landmark in India: the Taj Mahal, located in Agra. Our train was stuck waiting on the tracks so we didn't get a ton of time here but it was more than enough to take an obligatory Taj selfie (or several).
I'll never forget this insightful tour, the sights & sounds, the people I experienced this with and the melodic chanting I heard so often that will always bring back pleasant memories of my time exploring and experiencing the roots of Buddhism in Northern India: Buddham... Saranam... Gacchami...
Here's a quick video trailer I made with my film from the tour:
Use discount code MIRAMBLINGS
to get a 5% discount when you book your tour with
India Top Travel & Tours Pvt. Ltd.
Honestly I had no idea what I would be getting myself into with this whole trekking thing. I have lived at sea level (Florida, USA) for the past decade and in no way trained for this experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect but even if I had expectations, they would have been exceeded!
This was my first visit to Nepal and a visa was pretty easy to get on arrival. A single-entry visa valid for 15/30/90 days costs US$25/40/100 and you’ll want to pay in US Dollars.
Tourism is Nepal’s biggest industry and it’s down significantly after the earthquake. Normally I travel independently but I was glad I booked my trek with Nepal Eco Adventure because all the transportation and trekking permits were included. (Bring several extra passport photos with you for the permits and your visa!)
That being said, the trips aren’t 100% all inclusive. You’ll need some money for souvenirs, meals in the cities, drinks during the trek and to tip your guide and porter and the end of your trek.
The 10-day Ghorepani – Poonhill -Ghandruk Trek (a moderate part of the Annapurna Circuit) I enjoyed during March 2016 included a tour of Kathmandu beforehand which was serendipitously during the annual Holi Festival. All of the accommodations were clean and comfortable. I also stayed a few nights in Pokhara, which is a beautiful little lakeside town where you’ll stay for one night before and after your trek.
The rooms at the tea houses during the trek are a little more rustic, but they all had solar-powered hot showers and hot food. I'm vegetarian and there was always something I could eat (lots of veg momo and daal bhat w/ rice.)
The highlight of the trip is waking up at 4 AM and hiking to the summit to Poon Hill in the dark to watch the sun rise over the Annapurna range. The morning was a bit misty but we still enjoyed a brilliant sun rise! This was really the only place where we encountered many other tourists. I rarely saw other people during the rest of the time on the trail. Whether local or foreign, I would always greet people with a friendly ‘Namaste!’
My adventure took me up endless stone steps, down through mossy meadows and through seemingly enchanted forests. Sometimes I felt like I was in Middle Earth on a mission to take a ring to Mordor. Other times I felt like I was wandering through a pre-historic landscape and would surely discover dinosaurs around the corner at any given moment.
I am a solo female traveler but was glad to be grouped with two other fellow trekkers and our guides Kumar and Babu. This wasn’t a safety issue - I felt totally safe during my almost month total travels in Nepal. It is more the social aspect and having a few others with which to share this incredible experience. D and I shared a bigger bag carried by a porter named Subus but carried smaller day packs with us. (A porter carries your rucksack for you.)
The weather was amazing but the temperature obviously gets cooler the higher you hike so you make sure you have layers while still packing as light as possible. (If you are traveling before or after the trek, you can safely leave some things at the office in Kathmandu or at the hotel in Pokahra.)
Let’s talk about Packing. You really don’t need much. Pack two shirts and two pairs of pants plus a thin first layer of yoga pants and athletic shirt, a few pairs of underwear and socks, a lightweight jacket, hiking boots plus one pair of sandals/shower shoes, scarf, hat, sunglasses, a quick dry towel, headlamp or flashlight and small, basic toiletries. I recommend bringing your own sleeping bag both for hygiene and warmth.
The least fun part of the trip is the six hour bus ride between Kathmandu and pokhara, which could be even longer if you get stuck in traffic. But this experience is totally worth the wait!
I would absolutely go back and do a longer, more advanced hike like the Annapurna Base Camp or perhaps even Everest base camp if I get a chance to train more beforehand.
This was really an incredible, unforgettable experience for me and I want more people to have this experience as well so that’s why if you use the promo code: MIRAMBLING when you book your own trek, you’ll get an exclusive 5% discount!
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Here's the 4:00 video version of my review:
Use PROMO CODE: MIRAMBLING to get a 5% discount when you book any trek or tour in Nepal with Nepal Eco Adventure.
I did the Ghorepani-Poonhill-Ghandruk route, which is a moderate part of the Annapurna Circuit, in March 2016. This includes 5 days of travel/touring and 5 days of actual trekking.
Trekking seasons are: September to December & March to Mid June.
Why did I start editing videos of my travels?
The logical reason is that I recorded hours of footage on my iPhone and Go-Pro over the past year of travels so I might as well use it for something. The emotional answer is that I legitimately want to inspire others to travel and hopefully have similarly amazing experiences.
I was dreading the editing process at first but I've officially found my film flow and am actually enjoying it now. Every time I watch the footage, it's like I teleport back in time and land right in midst of these incredible places.
I think of these as 'travel trailers' like the ones you watch for movies but instead they are my spontaneous, raw adventures, as opposed to something staged and/or scripted. Real & accessible adventures that could be had by anyone, apart from the rehearsed, polished stuff you see on TV travel channels, or even on some YouTube channels nowadays.
I honestly feel like unless you are a close friend or family member, you don't care about my personal details, and you're searching for and watching these travel vlogs to inspire your own adventures, amirite?
So here's my video model: show as much as I can in 1 MINUTE and leave the viewer enticed and wanting to see more. I'm a bit intimidated because my style is so different from all the other travel vloggers I've met so far. The end goal is to get sponsored to travel and make these videos.
I'd love to hear your feedback. What do you think of this idea and some of my videos thus far? Do you prefer reading or watching to inspire your travels? Am I on to something or way off the mark? (Please tell me now so I can avoid a mid-life crisis later. lol)
What's the most important piece of paper you can take on your travels?
A map, perhaps?
Actually, yes, a map is absolutely the most important thing you can take when exploring unfamiliar territory. (I learned this the hard way hiking the French Calanques.)
Tons of people travel, but not everyone takes the extra time to write about it and share it. So, why are you doing it and what do you hope to accomplish?
I was feeling overwhelmed trying to answer this question and juggling all the pieces of the blogging puzzle: writing, posting, pictures, videos, social media, etc.
So I sat down and designed a short, 10 page document that will force me to map out some goals and guidelines for my blog. And I figured it can help others too!
I mean, we spend hours planning our adventures and packing our bags. Might as well put in some time planning our blogs, too.
I sincerely hope this helps you. The world is big enough for all of us!
I can't believe it's been three years since my first volunteer trip to Kenya, Africa. I'm feeling nostalgic so here are a few of my favorite pictures and excerpts from the original tumblr that I managed during our trip. I can't wait to return here and explore other parts of this beautiful culture and continent.
Day 1: Yep, it’s 4 AM in the morning and I haven’t been able to sleep all night. Partially because I am so excited/anxious and partially because there’s a few things I still need to wrap up before I leave. I am unfortunately quite the “packrastinator.” My whole life it’s been nearly impossible for me to pack more than a day in advance. I wonder if my fellow WFM team members are nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of the Serengeti dance in their heads...
Day 3: Today...We got to visit a village benefitting from the One Acre Fund micro loans. They were so friendly and we were all touched by their hospitality. We learned about their work and culture and also participated in harvesting millet and planting trees...
Day 7: Thursday, our fantastic host/tourguide Ruby Ruth showed us around Maai Mahui and introduced us to CTC and the Malakai Moms that expertly craft and sew the lifeline products we sell in our stores. We learned all about CTC’s mission and multiple initiatives including Community, Environment, Education, Health and Economy. And the kids there were adorable, of course!
Day 8-9: Friday and Saturday were spent exploring the Ol Pejeta Conservancy near Mount Kenya. Truly a once in a lifetime experience where we got to see elephants, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and even ultra endangered white and black rhinos…
We are all still in awe of Africa - everything we’ve seen and experienced, everyone we’ve met and the memories we’ve created.
Day 12: Tuesday, we laced up our shoes, put on our gloves and went to work transplanting trees… [and] painting the bakery floor bright blue…. and built a berm to help block the bakery from the evening wind, (Maai Mahiu can get very windy!)...
Day 14: I can’t believe this incredible journey has come to an end. And what a memorable end it was! … We took a bumpy road out to one of the Massai villages where we met and mingled with the kids and were so graciously invited into the home of one of the grandmothers. This was personally one of the most memorable a experiences of the trip.
Day 15: Friday morning, we all headed to the CTC bakery for a lovely breakfast… [and] got ... Cafe Ubuntu painted on the wall before having to head back to ... the Nairobi airport.
It was hard to say goodbye as we all felt like we had become a family the past two weeks. We all created lasting friendships, gained valuable insight and created amazing memories that we can’t wait to share with our teams, families and friends back home!
Love, Team Rafiki
If you've been to Africa, what are some of your favorite memories? If you haven't been yet, where would you like to go?
Copenhagen (København) is the capital of Denmark.
Currency: Danish Kroner (DKK)
Fun fact: Danish Monarchy is the oldest in Europe.
Like Amsterdam, you'll see as many if not more bikes than people.
Get to know the city on a Free Walking Tour: Grand Tour of Copenhagen
Hi = Hello
Hi hi = Goodbye
Tak = Thanks
Skol = Cheers
Hygge = cozy
Canal tours are crowded and touristy, around 80 DKK.
Nyhavn = New Harbor: Just walk through and take a picture; everything is touristy and overpriced.
Smørrebrød = traditional open-faced Danish sandwich. (A bit tough to find vegetarian options but they exist).
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
About an hour outside city by train; take DSB (Danish State Train) from Central Station to Humlebœk station, then a 10 minute walk (follow signs.)
115 kr / $17
So worth it. You can literally spend a whole day here. Much more than a museum. Art inside and out. Beautiful sculpture park and nature paths. You can see Sweden across the water.
Kastellet = castle, free star-shaped park right next to Østerport train station. Great for sunrise and sunset.
Little Mermaid statue (Den Lille Havfrue) located on the harbor near the eastern point of the star. See this early morning or late afternoon to avoid peak tourist time. (Widely considered the most famous/disappointing monument in Denmark. )
FREE entry, FREE lockers, FREE wifi
First floor pre-history, history of Denmark & Vikings
Second floor Stories from Denmark 1700s-2000s
Also try the Free walking Tour: Christianshaven
Includes Christiania: Alternative, experimental micro country with a green light district, skate park, street art
Copenhagen Street Food (Paper Island)
Enjoy a variety of food, music and events while mingling with locals!
Open every day 12:00 - 21:00
Electric bicycle rentals, high-tech but heavy
25 kr per hour
Copenhagen has very friendly people and so much unexpected history. It makes me want to see more of Denmark!
Colorado is my favorite of our 50 United States, so I was beyond thrilled when my friend Bianca (and her fiancé Chris of course) decided to have her wedding there.
The venue was amazing; a retreat called Wild Basin Lodge that was hidden so deep in the Rocky Mountains that there was no cell reception. I shared a room with Michelle and Mary and we slept with the door open all night, enjoying the cool night breeze and the sounds of the water rushing in the river below. The balcony was perfect for my morning yoga sessions set to the soundtrack of nature.
Instead of buying a stereotypical wedding knickknack, I prefer to offer my time and talents as a gift instead. I was happy that B felt the same way and did my best to beautify some handmade wedding signage.
It was a lovely, little ceremony surrounded by only a few dozen close friends and family and tall, alpine trees. What followed was your typical dinner, dancing, mingling and desserts; but the fun, casual kind that included a s'mores bar, giant Jenga, Cornhole (aka Sack Toss) and polaroid pictures with props.
The next day, Mary and I went hiking in the Wild Basin Natural park because that's what you do in the Colorado mountains in the summertime. The temperature was tolerable amongst the shaded trees but didn't block all of the scorching sun. Eventually we took a break to dip our toes in the water. Mary is far more acclimated than me so I had to take turns dipping my feet in then thawing out my toe-cicles.
I had such a wonderful week(ish) out west and wish nothing but the best for the newlyweds!
Hamburg will always be a special place for me since I lived/studied here in 2008. I visited a friend here again recently and some things have changed over the past 8 years but mostly it's the same old city I remember.
Hamburg is a big, busy port city in Northern Germany.
S-bahn/U-bahn local trains included in Eurail or buy daily pass €6.
FREE Walking Tour | Robin & the Tour Guides (yellow umbrellas) 7 days/week.
I enjoyed Rhonda's Historic City Center tour (11:00 - 2:30) so much that I joined the Harbor/Reeperbahn tour (14:00-16:00) as well!
Big body of water between the city and the suburbs. Lots of parks/greenspace on the suburb side; shopping and architecture on the city side.
Take a walk through the underwater Elb tunnel under the harbor.
HVV Ferry (Fähre) cheap ride around the harbor, €2.
Discounted touristic rides on Sundays.
Small St. Pauli park overlooking the Harbor is a great place to watch the sunset.
ST. PAULI / REEPERBAHN
Abundance of street art concentrated in St. Pauli/Reeperbahn area.
FREE Alternative Hamburg Tour Wednesday - Saturday; see lots of street art!
See the Beatles tribute: sculptures + round record-shaped discography on the ground.
Eat at least one Franzbröchen, Hamburg's famous cinnamon pastry.
Have a drink (€4-€14) at Clouds/Heaven's Nest downtown for a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
Reeperbahn at night: Red light district
Lots of clubs/bars around Hans Albers Platz offer live music with no cover.
Contemporary, Avant Garde Art & Photography
€14 both halls
Tuesdays after 16:00 = €5
Just make sure you check out the current exhibitions online first so you don't get stuck paying to see a bunch of port-a-toilets like I did. -_-
I'm pretty late to the Paris party. Many friends have traveled here before me and most can't stop gushing about the place. In the words of Audrey Hepburn "Paris is always a good idea."
Except when it was my idea. My timing turned out to be te-rri-ble.
It all started when I went to reserve my seat on a train from Rotterdam to Paris. The ticket agent refused to book the seat since they couldn't guarantee the train would arrive due to a railway workers strike in France. So I just had to show up at the platform later that day and hope that the train did too.
Thankfully I boarded said train and eventually met my sister and a friend at Paris Nord. We had a decent dinner. Not the Fall-Out-Of-Your-Chair flavor that everyone raves about but palatable. I like rose wine and cider so I ordered a rosé cidré hybrid but it tasted awful like partially composted flowers and apples.
Despite it being the beginning of June and supposedly summer, the weather was cold and slightly wet with temperatures hovering around 14°C.
The three of us did a free walking tour of Paris the next morning. We assumed the media-hyped strike would paralyze all the metros until our guide told us that "No, of course the metros are working. The city cannot just shut down."
Except the city did partially shut down later that evening. My friend and I arrived at the Musé d'Orsay to find a note taped to the ticket office window announcing an early closure.
So we headed back to Marais to do some thrift shopping, for all of 30 minutes, because all the shops apparently close at 19:30.
The next day we were scheduled to visit the Louvre at 13:00 with our pre-purchased tickets. However the top story on my BBC news app announced that the worlds most famous museum would be closed all day while employees moved art & artifacts above ground since the river Seine was on the rise after heavy, unseasonal rains.
We decided instead to take the metro/train west to the Palais of Versailles. When we went to change trains at Invalides, the entrance to the C-line was blocked with a notice that the line was closed; another precaution due to flood fears since the main line to Versailles ran along the river.
We figured out a detour and took at least an extra hour but eventually we arrived at our royal destination. After about four hours wandering the palace and gardens, we walked back to the station to discover there was only one train per hour heading back to Paris due to some combination of striking and floods.
Again it took extra time and effort but we finally got back to the city and climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower. It was like the final challenge in an obstacle course and we reached the pinnacle of it victoriously despite so many struggles along the way.
It all seemed a bit surreal because if you went by the media coverage alone, you'd think the streets of Paris were filled with soggy, angry chaos but not once did I see a protest or floods or even moderate rain.
The transport strikes have been a pain for many people but I know the taxi and uber drivers at least are benefitting from it because I had to pay €81 to get from the city to Charles de Gaulle airport early on my last morning.
Guess I'm just gonna have to go back to Paris at some point. ;)
Venice is a roughly fish-shaped cluster of islands in shallow water off the Eastern coast of Italy.
If you're staying in the islands, take the train all the way to Venezia Santa Lucia.
Buy a continuous ACTV Public Transport pass for the public boat taxis (vaporetto) and busses. €20/1 day, €30/2 days, €40/3 days. Pass activates after the first swipe and will remain valid for the following 24/48/72 hours.
All transport costs/entry fees reduced if you are under age 26.
City streets are confusing but walkable. Download Ulmon offline map app. (link)
Register in advance online for a free walking tour. Three hours rain or shine. Tip your guide at the end. Lots of local insight and information like how to skip the huge queue at San Marco's Basilica. ;)
Don't try to see every island - most look the same. Do visit Murano (famous glass products and production) and Burano (a rainbow of architecture).
Pick three main museums or landmarks to make priority.
Free to go inside the famous San Marco Basilica.
Eat small, inexpensive tapas dishes at an authentic Osterilla.
AVOID all pizza and foods at the most touristic spots (Rialto Bridge, San Marco's Square) and places with huge, multi-page menus, pictures of the food or promoters trying to recruit you.
Watch the San Georgio limestone church (built by Palladio) glow at sunset.
Buy one thing: Murano glass accessory (jewelry, wine stopper, cuff links, etc) - many options under €10. Street stalls are cheaper than shops and items are usually cheapest on the other islands.
Cool books, postcards and stamps available at Acqua Alta bookstore.
Touristy Gondola rides are €80 for 30 minutes. Instead take a short trip across the canal in a "ferry Gondola" for €2.
I really loved Venice and want to come back here to live for a little while someday.
There's fabulous art & entertainment everywhere in Munich as long as you know where to look!
Englischer Garten / English Garden
Huge greenspace (3.7 km) on the Isar River. FREE!
Walk, jog, run, bike, surf. Yes, surf!
Mini Hofbrauhaus: English Garden, No costume necessary. Less crowded and less tourists but many dogs.
I dislike it but I attempted to drink a whole glass of beer but could only finish Half-a-weissen. 😂 LOL
Personally, I do not understand the appeal of beer gardens since I don't smoke cigarettes or drink beer or feast on dead flesh but apparently a lot of other people find it enjoyable.
I walked for several hours during my street art scavenger hunt today. Couldn't have done it without this helpful post/map. Like hunting for buried/hidden treasure as most of the murals are below street level and/or under bridges.
Three street art hot spots on the east side of the river.
Street Art Mecca is located at Burogebaude Viehhof / Outdoor cinema near Ludwigvorstadt-Isarvorstadt. www.viehhof-kino.de
The place was kinda closed and partially under construction but I found a way in anyways. Met a group of local guys about to start a fresh design.
Bikers, sunbathers, picnic blankets and book readers are scattered around the Rosengarten & Frülingsanlagen when the weather is nice.
Schwabing = University & Arts district & my favorite area.
Pinakotheken / Pinakothek der Moderne = Traditional & Modern Art in four buildings; one of the world's largest art museums.
Marienplatz: Full of tourists but you have to fight the crowds to see the old architecture.
Haus der Kunst | Contemporary Art Museum
Next to Haus der Kunst is the famous city surf spot, Eisbachwelle.
Dean&David: A chain with relatively cheap vegan/vegetarian food.
Munich is such a creative city! I hope to come back to paint my own mural here someday!
Bodensee is a massive, natural lake with shores in three different countries. Here, you can bike through Switzerland, Austria and Germany all in one day. (And you can see Lichtenstein too!)
My sister, brother-in-law and I thought it would be a good idea to go here during a long holiday weekend. Apparently, lots of other people had the same idea.
We took a train from Zurich to Konstanz then biked to a ferry and crossed the lake to Meersburg.
The views include lakeside villages, the Alps, vineyards, forests, apple orchards and roadside gardens.
Sometimes it felt like we were part of a peloton but mostly it was wide open roads.
It took us at least an hour to find a room for the night and we ended up booking the last two rooms for €160 at a hotel that resembled an old farmhouse called Dorfkrug between the towns of Langenargen and Krossbronn.
This is German territory so naturally there was a bier garten out back. We enjoyed traditional Bavarian dinner and breakfast here as well.
We stopped in Lindau, Germany for a coffee break and a quick walk around the tiny island. A famous German storybook from my brother-in-law's childhood about a music box maker named Augustin was set here.
My brother-in-law departed for a faster and more challenging ride through the hills while my sister and I continued to Bregens, Austria where we had lunch and caught a train to Munich.
In total, we traveled about 60 KM from Konstanz to Bregens which is about 25% of the 256 km of bike paths around the lake. The weather was perfection!
I'd love to come back someday and bike around the whole lake. So glad I got to spend some quality, family time in such a beautiful setting!
Lauterbrunnen: Part of Bernese Oberlands. Weather a bit chilly, but beautiful in May.
A valley in the midst of majestic mountains and 72 waterfalls. See some of Switzerland's most famous peaks: the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau.
Walking, Hiking, Biking, Sightseeing, Skiing
Arrive by train at Interlaken OST. Buy ticket to Lauterbrunnen. (Not included in Eurail but discount ticket = 11.40 CHF)
Walk south from Lauterbrunnen on the road closest to the waterfalls. About 45 minutes walk to Trümmelbach and then another 30 to Stechelberg (plus picture-taking time.)
I walked one way then took the bus (4.40 CHF) back. Can also bring/rent bikes.
Stop at Trümmelbach & ride the lift deep into the mountain to see 10 hidden glacial waterfalls gushing around you. Cost: 11 CHF
Pack a picnic lunch to save some money!
Mürrin: the least expensive stop on the cable car at 22 CHF round trip. You'll get a good view of the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau.
(For comparison, 102 CHF will get you even higher to Schilthorn where the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed and 184 CHF gets you to Jungfraujoch.)
Thanks to my sister and her native Swiss husband for the recommendation!
Bern roughly translates to Bears. And you will see them all over the city.
Established 12th Century.
Capital of Switzerland since 1848.
UNESCO World Heritage Area: Altstadt = Old Town.
Situated on the Aare River.
Arrive Bern Banhoff (train station) center of town. FREE map at the tourist info shop at the station.
City is very walkable:
Follow the flags & fountains downhill.
FREE water! Fill your water bottle/drink out of the fountains!
Pause to admire Einstein's house.
Continue, cross small bridge.
Walk up steep hill to the Rose Garden (FREE):
Flowers blooming, birds chirping, panoramic view of the city; serene, botanical bliss!
Walk downhill toward big bridge.
Bärengraben = Bear Pits (FREE)
5,000 square meter waterfront enclosure. (I usually don't support animal captivity but the bears seem healthy & happy.)
Kunst Art Museum near train station; 7 CHF entry for permanent collection including Matisse, Dali, Picasso, Anker, Degas, Monet & more.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH Kunsthalle Art Gallery across Kirchenfeldbrücke bridge which is a disappointing ripoff. -_-
Tibits Vegetarian Restaurant: $$$ Expensive buffet, pay by weight, beverages particularly pricey (learned the hard way.)
Cheapest to eat at Migros or similar supermarkets/kiosks.
Gurten mountain day-trip 25 minutes by tram
Switzerland is really expensive so I try to save money wherever I can.
Cost | Travel $, Room $$, Food $,
WiFi | Weak •)
Solo Female Travel | Secure ****
Vegetarian Availability | Sometimes •_-
WHAT TO SAY
Say Myanmar, NOT Burma (British colonial name)
Hello = Min-ga-la-ba
Thank you = Jay-zu-tin-ba-day
Goodbye = Ta-ta
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Currency = kyat (chot)
Dress = Conservative-ish (Cover knees, shoulders)
Majority Religion: Buddhist
Thingyan Water Festival + New Year Holiday, 10 days mid-April (Makes travel more difficult)
Expect occasional power cuts/outages
Best weather: November - February
WHERE TO GO
Aung San Bogyoke Market
Outskirts of Yangon
Free food, accommodation
See 2,500+ pagodas at sunrise, sunset
Lacquerware, sand paintings
Hot air balloons
Trekking from Kalaw
Boat trip around water villages
Other Travelers' Tips:
Off the Beaten Path:
Pin Oo Lyin, Mindat/Mount Victoria
WHAT TO EAT
Local produce: Mangosteen, Rambutan, Durian, Jackfruit, Rice, Corn, Legumes/Pulses (peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, tamarinds), Sesame, Sugarcane, Spices (Coriander, Ginger, Turmeric, Red Chili)
Aung San Suu Kyi
Basically the Ghandi/MLK of Myanmar. Former political dissident & Nobel Peace Prize winner. Her NLD (National League for Democracy) party was elected and is in the process of transferring power. Everyone loves her & you will see her face everywhere.
Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi
Freedom from Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi
Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to ask in the comments below.
Arrive bus or plane (HEH)
Mandatory entry fee: 12,500 kyat / $11 USD
Inle Lake is large: 44.9 sq mi (116 km2).
Small, clean, quiet town. Many hotels/guest houses (best for pairs or groups) but only one hostel (best for single travelers)
Capsule beds (my favorite!) $12/night, free breakfast, free snacks, great staff, free bicycles, air con, NO wifi yet
Must see: Inle Lake Boat Tour
Local market, monastery, floating gardens, stilt villages, local life, canoeing, bridge; also stops at shops: lotus fabric weaving, cheroot cigar making, silver smith. Organized through the hostel & cost 15,000 kyat/$12 USD including sunrise, breakfast, lunch for 12 hours. (Do a shorter, cheaper tour by just hiring your own boat for the day.)
Can trek for a couple days from Kalaw in the mountains. Explore Inle area by bike or foot.
Bamboo Delight Cooking Class
20,000 kyat / $17
Meet/shop at local market (busiest on Fridays). Choose traditional dishes from a list of options; they accommodate diet restrictions like vegetarian & peanut allergy. Very well organized, staff is always smiling! Food was so fresh and tasty! Surprise goody bags with spices at the end. Part of proceeds support education for local children.
Bagan is located in Mid Myanmar, Mandalay region
Arrive by bus or flight (NYU Airport)
Must purchase mandatory 25,000 kyat (about $22 USD) ticket to enter the city. (Therefore, no entry cost at individual temples/pagodas/stupas.)
See ancient structures at sunrise, sunset. (Temp was 41ºC-43ºC or 105ºF-110ºF in April.)
(You will likely be approached by a local who will take you to a 'secret spot' to watch the sun but will also try to sell you paintings & stuff.)
Accomodation: Ostello Bello Hostel
Great wifi, free breakfast, air con, $15 8-bed dorm, great vibe
Rent bikes, buy bus tickets, free laundry available across the street
Rent an e-bike (electric scooter) to get around.
• 3,000 kyat/day small (more risk of breaking down)
• 6,000 kyat/day large (faster, longer battery)
I also saw some people on bicycles.
Over 2,200 stupas and pagodas in the area today. (Used to be over 10,000 built between the 11th and 13th centuries.)
Two parts: Old Bagan and New Bagan.
Popular: Sunrise Hot Air Balloons August-March (expensive $300+)
Must-See Ananda temple in Old Bagan
The region is known for lacquerware and sand paintings.
Here's my mental cultural checklist for each country I visit. I'm not super strict about it. I just try to let things happen naturally and I've rarely regretted it!
• Ride a public bus and/or train
• Eat something local from a street vendor (preferably cooked/avoid meat)
• Buy & try local fruits, veggies (preferably peelable)
• Learn to say Hello and Thank You in the local language
• Talk to at least one new person each day
• Visit at least one museum
• Visit at least one park/green space
• Look for local street murals and/or public art
• Drink a local beverage (non-alcoholic, usually tea)
• Participate in local events/festivals or volunteer for local organizations when possible
What's something you enjoy doing to enhance your travel experience?