Travel

Top Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Functional or stylish? We’ve all had to make that decision before regarding what type of daypack we should get for our next big trip.

While deep down we know we should go for functional, the strong desire to still look good while traipsing through the airport duty free section often over-rides. What ultimately happens is sore shoulders from bad straps and frustration when you can’t find anything in your bag and have to unpack everything just to find your passport!

Luckily, those days are over with a huge range of both functional and stylish daypacks on the market. These daypacks can be used for all sorts of activities, from carry-ons to bags used for your daily commute. You can now look stylish while perfectly carry everything that you need while on the go.

It can be tricky to find a decent daypack though, so we’ve done the hard work for you and asked around to find the top functional & stylish daypacks currently on the market.

 

Top Functional & Stylish Daypacks

Listed in order of price (from lowest to highest).

1. The North Face Vault

This one is for the slightly sportier folk. It is one of North Face’s slightly less rugged options. Featuring a FlexVent, suspension system with compression-moulded shoulder straps and a ventilated back pad. It also has a 15” laptop sleeve in the main compartment and comes in a variety of colours and patterns.
Buy on Amazon for $55

 

2. Jansport Hatchet Backpack

This daypack comes in a variety of colours and patterns, from floral designs to two-tone colours. It fits up to 15” laptops and has a spacious interior with various compartments. The padded straps make it comfortable to carry for long periods of time.
Buy on Amazon for $60

 

3. Eastpak Austin Backpack

This daykpack can easily be used for both the office and exploring the great outdoors. It has a padded back and shoulders, making it really comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It has a drawstring close and buckle-strap for aesthetic purposes. The main compartment is roomy with a padded laptop sleeve and two side pockets. It comes in a variety of colours, including a few fun floral designs.
Buy on Amazon for $77

 

4. Chrome Mazer Vigil

Chrome bags are built for the road - from city streets to forests and mountains. The Chrome Mazer Vigil is a water-resistant urban expedition pack. It features a padded laptop sleeve fitting a 15" Macbook Pro, if you should feel like working in the woods or to bring it to your (coworking) office. You will also find hidden reflective attachment loops for any extra gear that you carry around. The adjustable ergo straps with EVA back panel make sure that you're comfortable when walking around. We liked the zip at the top, which makes it very easy to access the inside of the bag.
Buy on Amazon for $180

 

5. Sydney Paige Guidi

This stylish daypack has three external zip pockets and a spacious main compartment with large laptop fleece-lined padded sleeve. The main section has a drawstring and magnetic closure, and the back and shoulder straps are padded. What’s even more awesome about this daypack is that for every bag bought, a matching backpack will be filled with school supplies and donated to a child in need!
Buy on Amazon for $90

 

6. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-Volume Backpack

This Herschel pack has a fleece lined laptop sleeve pocket, as well as ventilated mesh back padding, keeping you cool while on the go. The front magnetic buckles give it an old-fashioned rucksack feel, and this one also comes in various colours and designs (including the popular floral design). There aren’t as many compartments as some other bags, with only the main section and one outside pocket.
Buy on Amazon for $100

 

7. Sandqvist Harald Backpack

This Swedish daypack was designed to work well for both Nordic escapes and city galivanting – while still looking stylish. The interior laptop pocket will fit a 13” laptop and there is a big exterior pocket that will hold a decent amount of goodies to save you rummaging in the main compartment. It comes in petrol blue, blue, and black.
Buy on Amazon for $219

 

8. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack

This backpack features a funky square look and comes in a range of bright colours – don’t worry, they also have the generic black and grey if that’s more your vibe. There is a laptop sleeve in the main compartment, along with a document sleeve. On the outside there’s a small external pocket where you can store your other goodies.
Buy on Amazon for $115

 

9. Heimplanet Monolith Minimal Daypack

If you’re all about living the minimalist life then this daypack is for you. They come in either black, navy, or white. While it looks super basic from the outside, it’s not lacking any features. It is built from 500D Cordura and lined with water-resistant YKK zippers. Overall it can carry 18 litres, and can fit a 15” laptop in its internal sleeve.
Buy on Amazon for $120

 

10. Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L

For travelers that travel with a lot of equipment - this backpack was made for you! Not only is this backpack weatherproof and comfortable to wear, but its aesthetic versatility is hard to match. The expandable design offers storage to hold 2 DSLR camera bodies with 3-6 lenses. The padded laptop sleeve can hold laptops up to 16" and there are 3 Flexhold Dividers that can be used to protect drones, lenses and cameras. There are also many exterior and interior pockets to carry all of the other small things that you take with you.
Buy on Amazon for $289

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget Langer for Travel Dudes

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Great Alternative Bars in Raval, Barcelona

This blog looks to introduce you to alternative bars in the neighbourhood of El Raval that the average tourist would never see.

The aim being that you can mix with locals in environments that welcome people from all walks of life. These reccommendations are for open-minded people that are searching for unique experiences when they walk into a bar, here in Barcelona.

 

Here are 5 great alternative bars in Raval, Barcelona

33/45

33/45 is one of the most intruiging bars you can see in Barcelona, situated on Carrer de Joaquín Costa, this neon lit bar is full of quirky furniture and offers visitors a chance to have a new bar experience. Offering reasonably priced drinks, the bar offers itself to expressive people that do not take themselves too seriously.

Opening every evening until around 2 am (except for midnight on Sundays), 33/45 is an ideal option to anyone wanting to keep the party going around El Raval. This sociable and relaxed environment is encaptured with the unique decoration it has to offer. 

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 4.

Metro: Liceau (L3), an 8 minute walk / San Antoni (L2) a 5 minute walk

 

Madame Jasmine

Madame Jasmine follows as another alternative bar on offer in El Raval. It is seen as a busy and lively bar that is known for its friendly staff, unusual decoration and for being LGBTQ+ friendly. If you go here with an open-mind you will definitely leave with many great experiences to make your time in Barcelona one to remember! 

Opening from 6:30pm until 3:00am you will be able to visit at a time that suits you best. Places like this show why the locals of Barcelona and El Raval love to party!

Getting there:

This bar is located at Rambla del Raval, 22.

Metro: Para-lel (L2 and L3), a 7 minute walk / Drassens (L3), also a 7 minute walk

 

Nevermind

Nevermind is located slightly North of El Raval and is also known for its decoration, as well as its skater-image. Offering itself to skateboard and Street-wear fans alike in a way that stands out from normal bars or pubs in the city. Being located in a close proximity to Plaza Catalunya makes it extremely accessible, which is good to know considering it is open until 2:30 everyday and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Like to two bars mentioned beforehand, customer experiences speak highly of the staff and the drinks prices alike.

Being situated 5 minutes walking from the Universitat de Barcelona means it attracts many students and young people looking to enjoy themselves on an evening.

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer dels Tallers, 68.

Metro: Universitat (L1 and L2), a 3 minute walk / Plaça de Catalunya (L1, L3, L6 and L7), a 7 minute walk

 

Big Bang Bar

The Big Bang Bar is found on Carrer d'En Botella, El Raval. At first glance, this small bar seems to go under the radar and does not immediately jump out to the usual pedestrian. However, you´re not just a usual pedestrian, you are becoming trained in finding these kind of gems in El Raval.

Once you enter the Big Bang, the black and white tiles on the floor combined with the wooden bar take you back in time and gain your full attention. With live music the norm here, this bar converts itself into a very intimate gig that you can enjoy with your partner, friends or family. The dark lighting is pierced with bright lights that really set the ambience as the evening draws in.

An ideal location for a drink at night as it is open from around 9pm until around 2:30 am most evenings, being closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We would urge anyone who enjoys live music with great drinks to visit here.

Getting there:

This bar is located at Carrer d'En Botella, 7.

Metro: Liceu (L3), a 9 minute walk / San Antoni (L2), a 5 minute walk

 

Centric Bar

Lastly, the Centric Bar is the most traditional option of the 5 bars, offering cheap tapas and a very wide range of drinks for you to enjoy in a very sleek and rustic setting. Opening from 8 am (9am Fridays and Saturdays) and closing between 1-2am everyday, this choice enables you to enjoy breakfasts and lunches, as well as tapas and evening meals. 

It is worth noting that the compact design of the bar means that it gets busy quickly here, especially around midday as the lunchtime rush ensues. Despite that, this bar is also reasonably priced and well-staffed to ensure you have a great time.

Getting there:

This bar is located on Carrer de les Ramelleres, 27.

Metro: Universitat (L1 and L2), a 4 minute walk / Plaça de Catalunya (L1, L3, L6 and L7), a 5 minute walk

 

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A Pocket Guide to the Thai Islands

We all crave an island escape... and your choices on which Thai islands to visit are endless.

This comprehensive condensed pocket guide should help make picking which one to visit a little easier. I haven't visited every island in Thailand... Those missing from this guide include the Similan Islands, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta... time to start planning my next trip!

 

Here's a guide to Thailand's islands:

Koh Chang and Koh Samet:

The Bangkok crowds' best kept secret, Koh Chang and Koh Samet are favored for their proximity to the city - both under 300km away from BKK, perfect for a weekend getaway. Off the beaten path, they're less developed but still equally as beautiful as other islands.  Think white sandy beaches and luscious tropical jungle... Paradise! Koh Chang is bigger, meaning more hotels and restaurants etc. It's quickly becoming a tourist favorite. The majority of Koh Samet is a national park; a recent 11pm noise ban sees the music stop before midnight… This isn't the place for all night parties.

Choose these if you want an undisturbed getaway and only have time for a quick trip - buses run from Bangkok, including Suvarnabuhmi, to the two piers servicing the islands.

 

Koh Tao:

Divers flock to Koh Tao, a dream surrounded by aquamarine waters and thriving coral reefs. Busiest around full moon - as backpackers trek over from Koh Phangan - it is hedonism's ultimate antidote... This doesn't mean that after a day spent submerged scuba diving, you can't let loose. Sairee is lined with beach bars, and most hotels/hostels in the island's smaller villages have their own bar set ups in place…

Choose this if you want to get PADI certificatied at a bargain price with the added reassurance of international dive instructors. It’s also perfect for a post Full Moon Party detox, the local nightlife's laidback and dissapointment free.

 

Koh Samui:

Koh Samui is one of Thailand's most well known islands. With an airport on the island (budget permitting), ferries can be skipped! A foreign tourist destination, enter the luxury resorts and fast food joints lining Chaweng. If you're mid gap year/backpacking across South East Asia, stay in Chaweng. Home to ArkBar (and their famous pool parties), and outdoor club Green Mango, it's the perfect Full Moon Party warm up. Bophut and Lamai are both under ten minutes away by taxi, close enough to the action but more exclusive.

Choose this if you want an island that doubles as a complete holiday; a great base to explore the surrounding islands and Ang Thong National Park. P.S. whilst not Bangkok's Grand Palace, Wat Plai Laem and Wat Phra Yai - the Big Buddha Temple - are both 10 minutes north of Chaweng and worth stopping at.

 

Koh Phangan:

No introduction's necessary... Koh Phangan's Haad Rin Beach is home to the epic Full Moon Party. Accommodation in Haad Rin itself is generally sub par; one of the only selling points being that they're in walking distance from the action. Beachside resorts are plentiful but a 30 minute drive from Haad Rin. Sadly, Koh Phangan is known just for the Full Moon Party and not much else...

Choose this if you don't want to catch a speedboat back to Koh Samui at 5am post party (I wouldn't recommend this, for safety reasons amongst other things). P.S. if the Full Moon Party leaves you nursing a huge hangover, head to Amsterdam Bar for a lazy day spent poolside with panoramic views, or INFINITY Beach Club, the private cabanas and hammocks a perfect contrast to the hungover hubbub of Haad Rin. Both reachable by taxi.

 

Koh Phi Phi:

I don't know if it's the absence of cars and the fact you can walk everywhere that makes Phi Phi my favorite, or the carefree atmosphere, but something changes every time I arrive. The sheer cliffs of Phi Phi Don (the main island), jut out regally from the azure waters. Ask me to define paradise and I’ll pull out a picture of this place. Yes, it’s succumbed to tourism, but at its heart everything’s the same. It’s easy to see why the islands were chosen as the filming location for The Beach. Side note: Maya Bay really isn’t worth the 200 baht per person entrance fee; avoid tours and rent a long tail boat on Phi Phi, making sure to swim with the monkeys - remember to bring some fruit - on your way to Phi Phi Leh Lagoon - home to some of the bluest waters I’ve yet to come across. No trip's complete without trekking up to the viewpoint. Walk back through the jungle, following the signs, to the secluded Long Beach.

Choose this if you want to feel like you've stumbled across an uninhabited island. Although Phi Phi is no longer untouched, it holds the charm of an era pre mass tourism. P.S. it’s also a major diving hub, and a great place to get PADI certified.

 

Phuket:

Although not a first choice for a small island escape, Phuket has its perks. The resorts here are larger and more plentiful; you’ll find everything from malls to multiple golf courses, and as of July 2016 even an Elephant Sanctuary, scattered across the island. Patong’s nightlife rivals some of Bangkok’s, hosting everything from bars and clubs to the infamous Ping Pong shows, centred around Bangla Road. Head up the coast to Surin and Kamala or south to Karon and Kata, to escape the hedonism and westernized facade. Multiple day tours are on offer to Phi Phi from Phuket, meaning you don't have to overnight there.

Choose this if you don't want to leave behind all the comforts of modern conveniences. Phuket is, like Koh Samui, a great base providing you with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore.

 

Travel tip shared by NextStepTo
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Blooming Mad Over the Western Cape West Coast’s Wildflowers

The Western Cape’s wildflower route has become one of South Africa’s most popular attractions.

People are absolutely blooming mad over these flowers – and it’s easy to see why. The flowers that you’ll see along the West Coast and Namaqualand are endemic to the Western Cape, so you will not be able to visit any other place in South Africa that will be as colourful.

Each year, families or young couples drive from near and far to appreciate this short-lived spectacle. Even people who fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town rent a car to embark on the West Coast wildflower route.

Tip: Use the bathroom before leaving home if you’re embarking on a day drive to the West Coast, as public toilets are few and far between.

 

The best viewing times for West Coast wild flowers

Drive the West Coast flower route from the end of August to mid-September to have the best chance of seeing wildflowers in full bloom. Visitors often make the mistake of driving too early or too late in the season and are left disappointed by meagre splashes of colour here and there. Keep in mind that if the sky is cloudy or overcast, the flowers don’t open. Keep your eye on the weather forecast, so that you can plan your trip for a sunny day or perhaps phone the West Coast National Park on the day to check the weather before making the trip: +27 (0) 22 772 2144

 

The quaint towns you’ll come across along the wildflower route

It’s advisable to begin your drive from Cape Town early in the morning, so that by the time you reach the flowers, their petals will have opened. You may also miss some traffic – not guaranteed though!

 

Yzerfontein

Follow the R27 out of Cape Town, driving through Bloubergstrand and Melkbosstrand until you reach the R315 intersection. Turning left will take you to the lovely small town of Yzerfontein where you may see carpets of cheerful white or yellow daisies. Also, keep an eye out for the pretty flowering grasses that glisten in the sunlight. Stop at the beach to admire the azure ocean as you enjoy sipping the hot coffee from the thermos flask you brought along with you.

 

Darling

Driving from Yzerfontein back to the R27/R315 intersection, cross the R27 and follow the R315 to the quaint town of Darling. In 2016, the famous Wild Flower Show takes place from Friday 16 September to Sunday 18 September. You will be welcomed by the burst of colour and fresh perfume of a variety of “pypies”, vygies and daisies, as well as other fynbos species. Often the most beautiful flowers are small and grow close to the ground, so keep your eye on the ground as you wander along the dusty paths. Tickets for the Darling Wildflower Show cost R50p/p for adults and R30p/p for children older than 13. Entry is free for children under the age of 13. Pensioners will pay R30p/p on the Friday. Tickets will be available on the day at the festival door and online at Quicket.co.za.

Return the way you came by driving back to the R27/R315 intersection where you will turn right to follow the R27, which will take you to the West Coast National Park. (Kindly note that road works are currently under way and that there are stop-and-go measures in place, which could delay your journey by up to an hour). The West Coast National Park can also be entered at the second gate situated in Park Street, on the Langebaan side of the park.

 

West Coast National Park

The Potsberg section of the West Coast National Park is where you need to be. Here, over 80 different species of wild flowers are on display. Do not rush the drive because on the way there are wonderful places to braai (bbq) and picnic, with some spots almost on the rocks. Many families gather at these braai areas and enjoy the ocean spray while cooking lunch on the fire (admittedly also battling to keep the fire burning at the same time). These picnic spots are called Kraalbaai, Preekstoel and Uitkyk.

The West Coast National Park’s Geelbek restaurant sells ready-packed picnic baskets if you wish to travel back to the picnic sites, or you can take a seat and order a delicious meal, mostly traditional South African fare.

Tip: While you’re in the West Coast National Park you have to visit Langebaan’s sparkling lagoon.

The West Coast is so inspiring that many South African artists have written songs and poems about its unhurried way of life, beauty and serenity.

 

Tankwa Karoo National Park

If you’re not in a hurry, you can journey onwards to Tankwa Karoo National Park where the beauty of the flowers becomes even more impressive. On the Roggeveld Escarpment, you’ll see gorgeous lilac, white, burned orange, red and pink flowers.

Why not make a weekend of it and stay the night somewhere in the area. Consider one of the small towns along the way, or book accommodation at either the West Coast National Park or Tankwa Karoo National Park.

Tip: Book your accommodation for the popular flower season early in the year.
Photo of Tankwa Karoo National Park

West Coast National Park accommodation:
Tel: +27 (0) 22 772 2144

Tankwa Karoo National Park accommodation:
Tel: +27 (0) 27 341 1927

Iceland: Northern Lights, Fairy Tales and Top Travel Tips

There are so many journeys I am still dreaming of, but this one I know, will always be one of the most meaningful ones to me.

My passion about Iceland has grown over the years. It all started with a thing for fairies.

I read a lot of books about them and I learned, that Iceland even has an elf minister.

Whenever there is a building to be erected, this minister has to check first, if any fairies live on the ground.

If so, there can't anything be built. There happens to be a road for example that winds around a big rock. You couldn't move the rock, because it's a fairy meeting place.

Later, Björk became one of my favourite artists. When I listen to her music, I dream about the vast landscapes, the amazing national parks and of course of Northern Lights.

 

I am always excited to go on a new journey, but this time it's even more thrilling.

Arriving at Reykjavik airport, it feels like time someone pushed the "winter fast forward" button. There is snow and icy pavements, a Christmasy feeling arises. It's about 17:00 and it is completely dark outside. We obviously missed the few hours of daylight today. These days the sun rises at about 10:15 and sets at about 16:15.

Note to ourselves: days must be planned wisely.

Our first excursion day starts with a stroll through Reykjavik. No matter where the wind comes from, I want to pretend it comes from the North Pole. It is sooooo cold. We walk along the boardwalk Sæbraut and pass by Sólfar.

The next building along the way is the impressive Harpa, a beautiful building with many sparkling little windows and a fantastic view onto the harbour. Harpa is a very young concert hall and conference centre. The opening concert was held on May 4, 2011.

It is designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects in co-operation with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, who is one of my absolutely favourites. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with irregularly-shaped glass panels of different colours.

 

Up on a hill in the city centre you find the probably mostly discussed building of the Iceland - the Hallgrímskirkja. While they were certain about the place and even the name of the church from the beginning on, it took a long time and a lot of arguing until its completion.

In 1937 architect Guðjón Samúelsson received the order to build the church. With his house of God he wanted to create a unique building that symbolically combines Iceland's landscapes and modern architecture. The fassade is supposed to show the famous basalt columns. The very high neo-Gothic hall should underline the barren vastness. The white interior should be a symbol for Iceland's many glaciers. One could expect that this intend had as many opponents as proponents.

During the construction (until 1974), church services were held in the basement. Afterwards they happened in a worthier room, but it took another 12 years to finalise the  construcion in 1986. Unbelievable but true, the church still wasn't quite finished. The font and windows were only provisional and needed to be replaced. Finally in 1990 the organ was built.

Today the church is not only used as a church, but likewise for exhibitions or performances. The tower is open for public from 9:00-18:00, daily. We think with this story it is ok to invest 600 ISK to enjoy the view over the city from up here.

 

The day draws to a close, so it's time to hop into the car to drive to the Blue Lagoon. We want to be there for the sunset. Let me tell you, even if you are not a spa lover, you do not want to leave this place again, once you dive into the blue milky water.

The power plant Svartsengi carries water with a temperature of 240°C  from a depth of 2 km. This water is used to heat the surrounding villages and the nearby airport. Furthermore, electricity is produced with its steam.

The remaining water (still with a temperature of 70°C) is gathered in the Blue Lagoon. It is naturally enriched with silica, salt and algea. Combined, they form the lagoon's typical blue-grey water colour. The ground of this lake consists partly of shelly and blue sand. People with skin diseases, especially people suffering from psoriases realize a healing impact of the water. The Bláa lónið today is Iceland's most popular natural bath.

Due to the enlargement of the power plant, the original bathing lake had to vanish. In a minor distance, the new Blue Lagoon was built. To this refurbished and enlarged "Super-Spa" people from all over the world come to relax and make use of the healing earth. 

The waterfall of healing water is used as a natural massage including skin peeling. You can relax in a steam bath built into a artificial lava cave and of course, you can use several saunas as well. More than 120.000 people come each year to spend a few relaxing hours in the Blue Lagoon.

As we walk from the car towards the lagoon with our thick winter coats, hats and scarfs, we cannot imagine to only wear a swim suit in a few minutes and take an outside swim. The second we leave the warm building is tough, but the moment when you dive into the hot water is incredible. For hours we just float through the water, search for the hottest streams and have a drink from the bar (Yes, in the water!).

After this extraordinary spa event, you actually don't want anything, but cuddle into comfortable clothes and go to bed.

 

However, our day is not over yet. At 20:30 we get picked up at our hotel for a Northern Lights excursion. Oh, I wonder for how long I have desperately wished to see those lights. I have always been uncertain, if it will ever happen, because it means travelling north in the winter (too cold, too cold).

Here we are (with 12 fully packed busses, yay), ready to head for one of the most exciting excursions in my life. The omens are favourable, the tour guide says. Much different from the days before, when they couldn’t spot any lights or the tours even had to be cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

We drive out into the dark. We are told fairy tales and facts about the Aurora Borealis and Icelandic myths.

Northern Lights scientificly is are natural lights that display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar winds are directed by the Earth's magnetic field into the atmosphere.

It feels a bit like being in an American storm chaser movie, or in one of those supernatural TV shows. “We have spotted a magnetic field”, the guide says and we stop on a field. All the sudden the guide screams “it’s happening, get out, it’s happening”.

And there it is!

It starts with a little glow and evolves to be a green glimmering strap drawing itself over the night sky.

I stop breathing!

I am so thankful for this dream coming true. The light gets bigger, disappears and comes back again. I have no words for it, but I try to capture this moment. Of course, the photos are far away from reality, but see for yourself.

 

On Sunday, it’s our “bottom left corner excursion day”.

We drive along the so called Golden Circle and start with the Þingvellir National Park. The park is located about 50km north east of Reykjavik on a plateau. The national park of Þingvellir encompasses 27km² and was declared in 1928. Today it is the oldest one of Iceland. The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which traverse the region. The biggest one is Almannagjá, a veritable canyon. This also causes the often-measurable earthquakes in the area.

Þingvellir is a former place where in ancient times moots where held. The Alþingi (assembly) at Þingvellir was Iceland's supreme legislative and judicial authority from its establishment in 930 until 1271. The Lögberg (Law Rock) was the focal point of the Alþingi and a natural platform for holding speeches. The Lawspeaker, elected for three years at a time, presided over the assembly and recited the law of the land.

Before the law was written down, he was expected to recite it from memory (how many laws could there have been?) on the Lögberg over the course of three summers along with the complete assembly procedures every summer.

Inauguration and dissolution of the assembly took place at the Lögberg, where rulings made by the Law Council were announced, the calendar was confirmed, legal actions were brought and other announcements made which concerned the entire nation. Anyone attending the assembly was entitled to present his case on important issues from the Lögberg.

 

Next en route, after driving through stunning beautiful sceneries with lakes and even a little forest (they are hard to find) is Geysir. The Great Geysir, or Stori-Geysir, has been dormant since 1916 when it suddenly ceased to spout. It came to life only once in 1935, and as quickly went back to sleep.  

Since then its repose has sporadically been disturbed by the dumping of tonnes of carbolic soap powder into its seething orifice in order to tickle it to spout.

It is not exactly known when Geysir was created. It is believed that it came into existence around the end of the 13th century when a series of strong earthquakes, accompanied by a devastating eruption of Mt. Hekla, hit Haukadalur, the geothermal valley where Geysir is located.

What is known is that it spouted regularly every third hour or so up to the beginning of the 19th century and thereafter progressively at much longer intervals until it completely stopped in 1916. Whether its silence is eternal or temporary, no one knows. When it was alive and shooting, it could thunderously blast a spectacular jet of superheated water and steam into the air as high as 60 to 80 metres according to different sources. Its opening is 18 metres wide and its chamber 20 metres deep.

 

The attraction of the area is now Strokkur (The Churn), another geyser 100 metres south of the Great Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 6-10 minutes and its white column of boiling water can reach as high as 20-30 metres.

The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron. Belching sulphurous mud pots of unusual colours, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here. Don't be afraid, you will get used to the smell of sulphur.

Now, during winter it is fascinating how the hot water freezes seconds after it erupts from the ground. The results are bushes and branches covered with an icy coat.

Yet another and final highlight of this journey is already waiting in line: Gullfoss. If you search for pictures on the internet, you are already overwhelmed by its beauty and it suddenly hops onto the "Top 3 to do" in Iceland.

When we arrive at the nearby parking lot, we can already hear the water, but without this sound you would not guess it is there.

Gullfoss is in the river Hvítá, which has its origin in the glacier lake Hvítávatn at Lángjökull glacier about 40km north of Gullfoss. The glacial water is brownish, since it carries lots of sediments that the glacial ice has carved off the earth.

About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down into a wide curved three-step staircase and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11m and 21m) into a crevice 32m deep. The crevice, about 20m wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime.

Gullfoss is called the "Golden Falls", since on a sunny day the water plunging down the staircase truly looks golden. To stand at Gullfoss and wallow in the beauty and the wonder of nature is an uplifting experience.

Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century must have felt the same. She lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else. At this period of time much speculation about using Gullfoss to harness electricity was going on. Foreign investors who rented Gullfoss indirectly from the owners wanted to build a hydroelectric powerplant, which would have changed and destroyed Gullfoss forever.

As the story goes, we shall be thankfull to Sigríður Tómasdóttir that we can still enjoy the beauty of this waterfall, because she was the one that protested so intensly against these plans by going as far to threat that she would throw herself into Gullfoss and therby kill herself. To make her threat believeable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren't paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape. The people believed her and listened and the powerplant at Gullfoss was never built.

See, you just have to love Iceland for its wonderful fairy tales.

 

During our last dinner we recall the past (only 2) days.

It is unbelievable, how many amazing things we have seen!

Sights of which some might think they will never see in life.

Oh lovely world of travelling, you are the best medicine and make everything feel so right, that there is only one feeling left:

Happiness!

 

Travel Diary shared by Landmeedchen
www.landmeedchen.com

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Where To Stay In Rome: Our Rome Accommodation Guide

Rome, the capital city of Italy, is a cosmopolitan city packed with history, culture, and delicious food.

With nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture, and culture on display it’s no wonder that hordes of tourist’s flock to this city every year. Because of its popularity among tourists, there are also plenty of accommodation options.

It can get a bit overwhelming trying to find the perfect place to stay while in Rome, which is why we have created the ultimate Rome accommodation guide.

From budget-friendly hotels and hostels to chic and classy hotels, we’ve covered all the bases when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of where to stay in Rome. Browse through some of the below options to make the best decision for booking your Rome accommodation.

 

Where to stay in Rome: Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Rome

With so many beautiful neighborhoods in Rome, it’s hard to choose the perfect spot for you. We’ve listed a few of the more popular neighborhoods for tourists and what they have to offer to help you make your choice.

 

The Termini District

The Termini District is the best area to look at for budget minded travelers as this area has the best budget and mid-range accommodation options available. You’ll also find some great hostels and guesthouses in this area. Termini is also next to the most popular train station in Rome, making it a convenient place if you’re traveling into/out of Rome by train. It’s a bit further from the central district, but you’ll easily get buses to and from this area. The trendy neighborhood of Monti is just minutes away.

Look for accommodation in the Termini District 

 

Monti

Monti is a picturesque and convenient neighborhood to stay in Rome, situated between the Colosseum and Via Nazionale. It’s a trendy neighborhood packed with wine bars, boutiques, and some really good restaurants. It’s also walking distance to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and only one metro stop away from the main train station.

Look for accommodation in Monti

 

The Historical Centre / Centro Storico

If being in the middle of the action is your thing, then you’ll want to look for accommodation in the historical centre. This area holds 90% of the tourist sites, including the Vatican, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and P. Navona. Expectedly, accommodation tends to be more expensive in this area. There are a few budget-friendly options available, just don’t expect too much from them in terms of size.

Look for accommodation in the Historical Centre

 

Trastevere

The cobblestone walkways in Trastevere are some of the most charming streets in Rome. This neighborhood is popular for going out at night and is conveniently located just across the bridge from the heart of the historic centre. There are also lots of food options available. There is however, no metro station so you’ll have to make use of buses, trams, or local trains if you need to make use of public transportation.

Look for accommodation in Trastevere

 

Where to stay in Rome: Rome Accommodation Guide

Now that you know all about the best Rome neighborhoods to stay in, let’s jump into the best Rome accommodation. From easy on the budget hostels and cozy boutique hotels to luxury five-star hotels and apartment rentals – we’ve covered them all.

If there’s also a specific feature that you’re looking for, then check out our unique accommodation guide that highlights a few properties with specific features – from the best party atmosphere to the best vintage design.

 

Budget-friendly Hotels in Rome

We know that not all budgets extend further than the basics, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a dodgy hotel in some back alley. We’ve found a few budget-friendly hotels in Rome that are still modern and comfortable.

 

Vatican Relais Rome

Located just a five-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Relais Rome is a great budget-friendly choice, particularly for family travelers. There are six stylish and contemporary rooms with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and private bathrooms. The hotel is surrounded by several restaurants and the popular shopping destination Via Cola di Rienzo is just three blocks away. A continental buffet breakfast is included in all rates.

Rooms from €130

 

YHR Guesthouse Suite 51

Centrally located in historic Rome, YHR Guesthouse Suite 51 is 500 meters from the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere. The rooms are located on the second floor of a 19th-century building. Each of the rooms are beautifully decorated and include air-conditioning, minibars, coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi. The guest house also includes communal spaces such as a kitchen and breakfast room, where guests can enjoy an Italian style breakfast.

Rooms from €90

 

Colosseum Garden

Located just two minutes from the Colosseum, Colosseum Garden offers a great location and budget-friendly rates. The rooms and apartments are small, though to be expected in Rome, and the apartments include fully equipped kitchens and patio gardens. The hotel’s lounge and terrace feature colorful and retro designs, creating a fun, urban atmosphere.

Rooms from €100

 

Hotel Marcantonio

Hotel Marcantonia is located just 200 meters from Roma Termini Station making it a super convenient for those traveling by train. The hotel is set in a 19th-century building with modern interiors. Small and basic, but clean and friendly, located on the 5th floor but there is an elevator and 24 hour reception. A simple breakfast is served to your room in the mornings.
 
Rooms from €80
 

Hostels in Rome

Gone are the days of dark and grungy hostels. There are loads of fun, fresh, and modern hostels in Rome that cater for students, young travelers and even older travelers looking to explore a more interactive accommodation style. Below is a list of a few of the top hostels in Rome, offering great features, locations, and friendly vibes.

 

The Beehive

Stylish, eco-conscious and clean, The Beehive ticks all the boxes for a good hostel. It’s a bit more on the luxury side, though still maintains a homey feel. It has a friendly, laidback vibe with spotlessly clean rooms and common areas. The main downside is the lack of a guest kitchen, though private rooms have their own kitchenette and there is an on-site restaurant. The on-site café caters specifically for vegetarians and vegans. It’s located two blocks from the central train station.

Dorms from €35

 

Generator

Generator hostels are popular throughout Europe, and the hostel in Rome lives up to the brand’s reputation. Situated on top of one of the seven hills in Rome, the location is central and convenient. It’s within walking distance of the Roma Termini station and the Colosseum – public transport is also nearby. It’s quite a large hostel with 78 rooms spread across seven floors, so you’ll likely always get a bed. On-site amenities include free Wi-Fi, deli-style café, bar and chill-out lounge. There’s also a cool rooftop terrace, with awesome city views.

Dorms from €29

 

The Bricks, Rome

Located a bit further out from town, 1.5 kilometers from the Vatican Museums, The Bricks Rome makes up for it in design. The rooms are setup apartment style.  Each floor includes a kitchen, a shared bathroom and several apartments. There’s a quaint central courtyard between the two buildings, which includes a few colorful café-style tables and chairs along with a rooftop sun terrace with sun loungers. Rooms cater for two to four guests, rather than the larger dorm rooms found in most hostels – therefore, rates are more expansive than traditional hostels.

Rooms from €70

 

Boutique Hotels in Rome

If cozy, intimate and welcoming is your kind of vibe then you’ll love the below list of boutique hotels in Rome. The limited number of available rooms means that the staff are extra devoted to making your stay in Rome the most unforgettable one.

 

Residenza Torre Colonna

One of Rome’s more unusual boutique hotels, Residenza Torre Colonna is housed in a medieval tower in the centre of Rome. Each of the five guest rooms are stacked on top of the other in one of the city’s Medieval watchtowers. The inside is not what you’d expect, with rather contemporary furnishings with bold colors on the walls. The roof terrace is a highlight, with a hot tub and views over Trajan’s market. Breakfast is included in rates.

Rooms from €200

 

Nerva Boutique Hotel

Housed in a vintage building, just five minutes from the Colosseum, Nerva Boutique Hotel is a friendly boutique hotel with Mediterranean vintage décor. It has a lovely homely atmosphere, and the staff add a personal touch to each guests’ visit. There’s plenty of light, with bright open spaces decorated with contemporary artworks and warm color palettes. The breakfast, which isn’t included in rates, includes traditional croissants, cakes, fresh fruit, cold cuts, and cheese.

Rooms from €260

 

Hotel Art by The Spanish Steps

Hotel Art is a four-star boutique hotel set in a converted chapel, just 300 meters from the Spanish Steps. The 46 rooms are spread across four wings, each with its own color and design. Each room has an exquisite old masterpiece on the wall from an Italian artist. The rooms include all the basic amenities, some even with whirlpool tubs. Italian architecture is highlighted throughout the hotel, including a deconsecrated chapel in the hall, vaulted ceilings, and frescos. Pets are also welcome here and breakfast is included in rates.

Rooms from €260

 

Luxury Five-Star Hotels in Rome

If you’re looking to completely splurge on your Rome accommodation, then we’ve found the best hotels for you. Offering complete five-star luxury from start to finish, you’ll find a little piece of heaven at each of these properties.

 

Villa Spalletti Trivelli

Villa Spalletti Trivelli is set in a historical villa, just 200 meters from the Quirinale Presidential Palace. The luxurious rooms are decorated with a combination of modern and traditional styles, featuring elegant antique and contemporary furnishings. The hotel also features a wellness center with gym, bio sauna, Turkish bath, and massage treatments. Rates include a buffet breakfast with both Italian and American options, served in the shaded garden terrace.

Rooms from €890

 

Hassler Roma

Hassler Roma is one of the city’s most famous hotels, set atop the Spanish Steps. Its restaurant, the Michelin-starred Imàgo, is located on the 6th-floor and has panoramic views over Rome’s rooftops. There’s another two on-site restaurants, Salone Eva and Palm Court. Wellness facilities include gym, sauna, and Turkish bath. All rooms are spacious and classically furnished and include free use of a smartphone (for both national and international calls).

Rooms from €1,300

 

Rome Cavalieri

Rome Cavalieri is surrounded by large Mediterranean gardens, with stunning views of Rome and the Vatican from its hilltop position in Montemario. Each of the 345 guest rooms has its own balcony along with luxurious interiors and marble bathrooms. There are two restaurants and four bars, including the 3-Michelin star rooftop restaurant, La Pergola. L'Uliveto features a poolside terrace where you can enjoy classic Italian and international dishes. Additional features include large wellness center with gym and Grand Spa, two tennis courts, and indoor swimming pool. The hotel is famous for its large art collection, including antique furniture, paintings, tapestries, statues and artefacts.

Rooms from €690

 

Apartments/ holiday rentals in Rome

Apartments / holiday rentals are ideal for larger groups of travelers and family travelers. It means that you have more space and privacy as well as more functional amenities (like fully-equipped kitchenettes and private laundry facilities). Here are a few great options for apartments in Rome.

 

Amazing Piazza Venezia Suites

Situated in the center of Rome, the Amazing Piazza Venezia Suites is a just 65 meters from Piazza Venezia. Apartments are spacious with separate dining/ seating areas along with fully equipped kitchens. All include small furnished balconies, overlooking the quaint cobblestone street below. Apartments can cater for up to four guests. A free breakfast is included in all rates, which is situated at a nearby café.

Apartments from €480

 

Vino e Oli Residenze

Vino e Oli Residenze has an ideal location in Rome, just 500 meters from the Vatican Museums and a kilometer from Peter’s Basilica. All units include dining and seating areas along with kitchens equipped with stovetops, dishwashers, microwaves, large refrigerators, electric kettles and espresso coffeemakers. Décor is extravagant, including bright and colorful furnishings mixed with a vintage flair – each apartment has its own unique style. Apartments cater for two to six guests, with either one or two bedrooms.

Apartments from €250

Airbnbs in Rome

Home Sweet Home

This quaint home is located near  Basilica of St. John Lateran and is surrounded by restaurants and cafes. It features one bedroom and bathroom and caters for up to three guests. The decor is clean and crisp with a black and white theme. There is a small lounge with flat-screen TV and kitchenette with microwave, electric kettle, toaster, and coffeemaker.

Apartments from €70

 

Coliseum View Suite

The best part about this stylish and bright suite is its Coliseum views. Housed in an old Roman building, it keeps the typical Roman charm while keeping modern. It's just a minutes walk from the Coliseum and surrounded by cafes, restaurants, bars, and gelato shops. This is the perfect spot for first-time tourists to Rome.

Apartments from €86

 

A Hipster Dream in Monti District

Located on the second floor of a historic building, this Airbnb is an ideal option for a couple or group of travelers (up to four). Both the building and the flat have been recently updated, with the interior featuring small 'hipster' accents. The apartment has beautiful furniture and decor, including leather couch, facebrick ceilings, old school tables, instagram'esque artwork, and hipster light fittings. Views overlook the bustling Monti neighborhood.

Apartments from €90

 

Rome Accommodation With….

…party atmosphere

The Yellow Hostel

Voted the best party hostel in Rome, The Yellow Hostel is for travelers looking for a lively and youthful atmosphere. The hostel hosts parties with various talented DJ’s almost every night, and if there’s no party that night the staff know exactly where to send you. The hostel also prides itself in being super ‘cool’, offering iPad’s for rental, a chillout patio and outdoor lounge, and gourmet restaurant. Its location is relatively central, situated near the Roma Termini station.

Dorms from €30

 

…A vintage design

Villa Laetitia

Villa Laetitia is a historical residence designed by Armando Brasini, restored to its current splendor by the Fendi Venturini Family. Each of the nine rooms feature a unique style with beautiful artworks, photography, and vintage furniture. The rooms take up two floors of the villa and the garden house, with most overlooking the ancient Tiber River and Della Vittoria district. The experience of staying here is a blend of luxurious and homely. Guests can also taste delicious Italian fare from Michelin-starred Chef Danilo Ciavattini in the hotel’s restaurant, Enoteca la Torre.

Rooms from €140

 

…a central location

Condotti Palace

Situated on a cobblestone street lined by restaurants and shops, the Condotti Palace has a great location in Rome. It’s within walking distance of numerous iconic sights, including the Spanish Steps which are just two blocks away. Other sights within a 15-minute walk from the hotel include Via Condotti, Piazza Popolo, Santa Maria del Popolo church, Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese gardens, Pantheon and Palazzo Barnerini.

Rooms from €320

 

…a true Roman experience

Il Boom B&B

With only three guest rooms, the Il Boom B & B offers a taste of Roman life with its homely atmosphere. It’s situated in a quiet area near the lively Trastevere area of Old Rome, close to several cafes, restaurants, and historic landmarks. Set in an old house, the cosy rooms feature vintage décor with vaulted ceilings and lovely city views. Only one of the guest rooms have an en-suite bathroom and guests need to walk up a flight of stairs to access the rooms – true Roman style. Rates also include a small buffet breakfast with sweet and savory treats.

Rooms from €270

 

And if you’re budget can’t afford any of the above hotels, you can always try CouchSurfing! We hope that we have helped you figure out where to stay in Rome with this post!

 

Prices correct at time of writing.

 

Looking for things to do in Rome? Check out our Rome Activity Guide for a full list of the must-see sights of Rome.

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget for Travel Dudes

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One of Italy’s Best Day Hikes is near Cinque Terre

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Activities

The Ligurian coast boasts some of the most scenic hiking trails in all of Italy, including the well-beaten paths that link up the enchanting five towns known collectively as Cinque Terre.

While tourists swarm straight to Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, those looking for a less-congested but just as spectacular walk should set their sights a little further northwest to take on the San Fruttuoso to Camogli hike.

 

One of the best day hikes in Italy!

The whole hike from San Fruttuoso to Camogli is roughly 8.7 km and took us about 4 hours.

We headed straight to Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, the lively road that lines the sea, to catch the sun setting at Bagni Lido, grab an aperitivo, and try out a fresh slice of focaccia al formaggio, the region’s famous bread stuffed and baked with stracchino cheese.

By 10pm, we had to catch the train back to Genoa. We wish we had more time to explore Camogli—it’s yet another charming Ligurian town that rivals the five among the Cinque Terre, or even the "Alternative" Cinque Terre.

 

Need to Know: Hiking Italy

Take the ferry & train:

To do this hike, we recommend taking the ferry from Genoa with Golfo Paradiso. See their schedule and current rates on their website (we paid 15 Euros for a one-way from Genoa Porto Antico to San Fruttuoso).

We saved money (and escaped the crowds) by going straight to San Fruttuoso, hiking, and then taking the train back to Genoa from Camogli.

Come already fueled & bring supplies:

Bring plenty of water (we recommend at least 2 liters per person), especially on a hot day. There’s no place to fill up on the path, until you get close to the finish line.

Be prepared with a few snacks as well, and know that the options available in San Fruttuoso are extremely limited. We couldn’t find any small store, only bars and restaurants.

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44° 18' 57.0852" N, 9° 10' 28.2" E
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7 Awesome Places to Visit in Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna may very well be one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.

Sure, you may have heard about Modena, Bologna and the other cities in the region, and you may be aware that Emilia Romagna is home to amazing cuisine, and the best cars in the country.

Yet, the region is a lot more than just a cradle of excellent produce and supercars. The region offers beaches, nature, culture and locals among the friendliest and most welcoming in Italy. Not to mention the Po Delta, one of the best places in Italy for birdwatching.

Book your Italy train travel on ItaliaRail.

 

Here are the 7 best places to visit in Emilia Romagna, roughly listed from north to south:

1.     Parma

Home to Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham, two of the best-known Emilia Romagna products, a Parma food tour should be a must for all foodies. If you don’t have enough time for a tour, head to Salumeria Grisenti for some food shopping and don’t miss ice cream at Gelateria K2, a short distance away. For a truly local street snack, opt for ‘pesto di cavallo’, a raw horse burger sandwich (yes, really). If you're a cheese lover, then a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese tasting is also a must! And for the aspiring chefs, a hands on traditional cooking class is also a really awesome experience.

Parma is also a lovely place to wander around - the Duomo (Cathedral) and Battistero are worth a visit.

 

2.     Modena

If Parma is the home of fine food, then Modena is the home of fine cars – how about Ferrari, anyone? Those that want to get to know more about the past, present and future of the historic car manufacturer should make a beeline for the Ferrari Museum in Maranello and book a test drive on the track just in front of it. In Modena itself, the Enzo Ferrari museum is also worth a visit for its exhibits focusing on the life and times of Enzo Ferrari, and for the unusual shape of the museum building itself, looking like a car bonnet.

 

3.     Ferrara

Not far from Bologna, Ferrara makes a wonderful day trip. The highlight is massive Castello Estense, a moated castle located right in the centre of the city where you can visit the former apartments and prisons. The Duomo, city walls and ancient Jewish neighbourhood are also worth a visit. If you’re having lunch in Ferrara don’t miss trying salama da sugo, a huge stewed sausage usually served with mashed potatoes.

 

4.     Po Delta

The delta of the Po, Italy’s longest river, is located between northern Emilia Romagna and Veneto, and can easily be visited on a day trip from Bologna or Ferrara. Excursions include the small islands of the delta, with lighthouses and wild parties in summer, some excellent birdwatching and sunsets among the best in Italy.

 

5.     Bologna

Very few first-time visitors include Bologna in their Italy itineraries, but those who do usually end up having an awesome time and often list Bologna among their Italy highlights. So, why is Bologna so cool? It’s the largest university city in Italy, with a lively nightlife scene and a very chilled vibe.

Three must-dos in Bologna include climbing Torre degli Asinelli, one of Bologna’s ‘Twin Towers’ from where you’ll get a great view over the city, lunch at Past Fresca Naldi for some delicious home made pasta and a walk to San Luca Sanctuary just out of the city.

Just be careful, though – if you’re still at university, don’t climb Torre degli Asinelli. Locals believe you’ll never graduate otherwise!

 

6.     Ravenna

Ravenna used to be the capital of the Western Roman Empire and one of the main cities in Byzantine times, and nowadays a wealth of historic and cultural sights survives in the city. Ravenna is famous for its early Christian churches with stunning mosaics, part of the reason why the city is UNESCO-listed. It's worth doing a Ravenna guided tour to learn more about all of the churches.

 

7.     Romagna Apennines

Normally when you say ‘Italy’ and ‘Mountains’, everybody thinks of the Alps – even though the Apennines also offer stunning landscapes and crazy adventures. One of the best walks in the Romagna Apennines is the Sentiero delle Foreste Sacre, a 7-day hike including remote stretches of forest where St Francis of Assisi was believed to come to pray and meditate. Other notable sights in the Romagna Apennines include the Republic of San Marino, a tiny independent state, and the Ridracoli Dam where you can kayak around.

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How to Get from the Train Station to Venice City Center

If you want to visit Venice and you prefer train as a mean of transportation, then you should know that there are two stations you can stop at: Santa Lucia and Mestre.

In case you do not plan to stay for a few days in Venice and you want to visit only the center of the town, then it is advisable to stop at Santa Lucia, because it is closer to your destination. The first station is Mestre, so if you want to get to Santa Lucia it is advisable to ask if the train you take has final station Santa Lucia or you have to stop at Mestre and take another train to get there. If this is the first time you visit Venice, then you should check the timetable of the train, because it will help you know when you should get off at the station.

Book your Italy train travel on ItaliaRail.

If the train you take has final destination Santa Lucia, then you have no chance to miss the station because this is the dead end station. You will be impressed by the look of the building which is painted in white and it features the logo of the Italian State Railways on its façade. It is a new building in town, considering that fact that the majority of buildings in Venice are hundreds of years old. When you get inside the station you might be surprised to see that there is a piano. Passersby and passengers use to take photos with it, so you should not miss the opportunity. You have three options to get from the train station to the city center, here is everything you need to know about them.

 

What a vaporetto trip implies

Vaporetto is the term used by Italians to refer to their public water buses. When you get off the train at the station you will notice that it opens onto a flight of steps facing the Grand Canal. Straight ahead you will see the vaporetto docks and the tickets kiosk, so make sure you buy one before you get into the water bus. Because you want to get to the center you should take a vaporetto from line 2, because it is fastest than line 1 and it stops at some of the most important attractions of the city. You will find maps displayed at the railway station that provide information on the main stops of the different routes.

When arriving at the docks you will see signs that will tell you what the number of the water bus is and which direction it goes. Line 2 runs every 10 minutes during the high season, but if you get to Venice off-season then it is advisable to ask the ticket provider the timetable to know exactly how long you are going to wait. You will have to pay 7, 50 euro for a one-person ticket with a single luggage. In case you have extra luggage you will have to pay extra 6 euro.

From the moment you validate the ticket you can use it for 60 minutes in one direction. If you plan to stay more in Venice, then you should buy an unlimited pass ticket, which can be used for 1 or 3 days, according to your preferences. For these passes you will pay from 20 to 40 euro, but in case you are between 14 and 29 years you will get the passes at 20 euro.

Make sure to buy the ticket because if you do not have it you can risk a fine around 40 euro. The tickets are available at the conductor of the boat, at main stops and at tourist information offices. You will spend around 45 minutes in the vaporetto in order to arrive at the Venice center, including the times when you will have to walk to the vaporetto and from it.

 

Take a walk to the Venice Centre

Venice is a great place to explore on foot, so if you have no reasons to rush and you have no issues if you get lost a little, then this may be the best option. You should not spend more than 40 minutes if you walk from Santa Lucia station to Venice Centre. You will find signs along the way so you should not have any difficulty in finding your destination.

Also, you can use an online app to show you on a map what direction you should go. If this is the first time when you visit Venice then you may consider its streets a windy maze, so it is advisable to get some help. One solution is to ask a local guide you, because people are willing to walk together with tourists and show them the way. There are online platforms that offer you the possibility to ask a local to help you with getting from the train station to Venice, whether you are walking or going by vaporetto or taxi. And along the way, the locals can also help you get to know the city with very local insights about what to see, where to eat, and points of interests for tourists in Venice.

 

Experience the luxury of Venice in a water taxi

Water taxis are compared with limousines, because this is a luxury option for arriving to their destination. If you are booking accommodation in the center of the city then a taxi will take you to the door of the hotel. These water vehicles navigate the canals of Venice and take you to your destination.

You will not have to wait for the vaporetto to stop in every station, you will get to the center in no more than 20 minutes. If you have luggage then this is a preferred option, because you will not have to struggle to carry your bags. If you would choose to walk, you will have to make a great effort to cross them over the bridges. And as stated before if you would take a vaporetto you would have to pay an extra fee if you have more than one bag.

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10 Natural Wonders in Northern Italy

A tour in the Northern Italy usually stops only in two big cities, Milan and Venice. But of many of you have visited its natural wonders and its unspoilt landscapes?

For this reason I would like to share with you my preferred 10 natural wonders to be explored in northern Italy, well-known or still pristine…enjoy it and let’s start discover and Italy off the beaten paths!

You can travel around Northern Italy by train, book your train tickets here.

1. Portofino

The pearl of Northern Italy, renowned to be one of the most chic and exclusive vacation spot. It is a lovely village that combines old traditions, art and natural wonders. Indeed, Portofino belongs to a Marine Protected Area so you can image the crystal blue sea, perfect for swimming and sunbathe!

It is also an ideal place for foodies that can taste the typical “pesto” and the local “focaccia” but also for sport lovers: here you can enjoy a variety of sports, from horse riding to sailing and fishing. Indeed Portofino is the perfect starting point for a daily excursion to Cinque Terre, 5 romantic towns perched on the mountains and overlooking the sea…the perfect place for a romantic breaks or for trekking excursions on the amazing trails of Cinque Terre National Park (Pay Attention: actually – on 2014 – the famous Love Trail is closed!)

 

2. The Gardens of Isola Bella

A whole Island on Lake Maggiore filled with flowers, plants and trees! It is a splendid and amazing baroque Italian garden divided into ten sloping terraces, adorned with fountains and statues dating back to seventeenth century. The Garden-Island is rich in Mediterranean vegetation but also in exotic plants that can be admired during the summer….and surely your kids will love the beautiful white peacocks that live here! Take a boat to the island.

 

3. Stroppia Waterfalls

Little known but really beautiful, the waterfalls of Stroppia are located in the Maira Valley, near Cuneo. The falls can be admired from the path Icardi, sliding on a vertical drop of 500 meters. The Park offers also a splendid view of wild nature with mountains, meadows, lakes and water slope and it is a paradise for trekking and biking lovers, thanks to the numerous trails.

 

4. Gran Paradiso Mountain

The only peak over 4000 meters entirely in Italian territory. Actually it forms the Gran Paradiso National Park and it is worth a visit because of its unique natural wonders, like glaciers, forests of fir, mountain goats and royal eagles.

During summer the Gran Paradiso Park is a perfect place for trekking, horse riding and biking and, for the brave, it is also possible to take part at rafting and canyoning activities! Families with kids cannot miss a visit at “Parc Animalier” where you can admire a lot of animals like ibex, chamois, deer, marmots, wild boars and owls. During winter the park becomes the paradise of skiers and it also held the annual competition Marcia Grand Paradiso.

 

5. The Italian Boldering paradise is the Natural Park of Val di Mello

Fans of bouldering love the vast protected area that extends over the territory of the town of Val Masino and each year here takes place the Melloblocco International Bouldering Meeting, with competitions, prizes and entertainment for adults and children.

 

6. Lake of Resia

A place with a unique history. In 1950 the construction of a dam led to the union of three lakes that currently form the Lake of Resia. But the most shocking event was the submersion of the nearby small town of Curon Venosta. And nowdays we can admire a charming lake from which emerges the bell tower of the ancient Curon Venosta! The most unusual activities you can do are sailing and diving to discover the architectural remains of the town.

 

7. Garda Lake

The largest Italian lake settled between Verona, Mantua and Brescia. Together with Como Lake and Maggiore Lake it forms the Lake District of Northern Italy. Garda Lake is also one of the most attractive in the Lake District due to the mild climate, a wide range of vegetation, the grandeur of the landscape, the cultural and historical monuments.

It’s ideal for those who want to spend sports and trendy holidays in Italy: different experiences, from catamaran to paragliding and all kind of water sports, just waiting to be lived!

 

8. The viewpoint of Sighignola

This viewpoint is renowned as the "balcony of Italy" thanks to the view that spans over Lake Lugano and the Alps, until Rosa Mountain and Mont Blanc. The summit of the viewpoint can be reached starting from the town of Lanzo. Once on the top, you can take a rest in a quite place, surrounded only by natural wonders and a small chapel.

 

9. National Park of the Belluno Dolomites

This park extends in Veneto to 32,000 hectares. The National Park of Belluno Dolomites offers breathtaking views, high rocky peaks, green valleys and it is crossed by numerous rivers and streams that sink into the valleys. There is wide variety of trees, rocks, animals, and it is easy to plan a trekking or horse-riding excursion thanks to the smooth paths of the Park.

 

10. Tre cime di Lavaredo

The Big top, the Top of the West, and the Small Top are among the most famous peaks of the Dolomites. The compact and harmoniously aligned peaks vaguely resemble three fingers pointing skyward. They are ideal for trekking and cycling lovers, but also historians will find the Tre Cime di Lavaredo very interesting: indeed they were the scene of many battles during the Second World War, from 1915 to 1917, and still nowadays you can see the remains of trenches.

For nature and sport lovers, these places cannot be missed! And you, have you never been in Northern Italy? What places you enjoyed more?

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