Gay Bratislava, Slovakia – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 13th, 2019

Gay Bratislava

Here are 10 things to do in Bratislava that are worthwhile your time. Two full days and a night were enough for me to explore Slovak Republic’s capital city before hopping on a train in the evening to my next destination. However, it is possible to visit the city in one day, because most of the ones listed here are walking distance from each other in the Old Town.

I was in Bratislava in early June last year and it was not even crowded. The Old Town at noon was quiet and there were only a few tourists. It was a welcome relief for me after visiting big cities, like Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague.

1. Bratislava Castle

Situated atop the Old Town, the Bratislava Castle is an important mid-16th-century building. You can have spectacular views of the Petrzalka and the UFO Bridge not to mention the honor of attending one of the exhibitions.

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Be a Tourist in Athens – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 11th, 2019

Be a Tourist in Athens - Keep Calm and Wander

Here is a list of touristy things to do in Athens. In its evolution, the ancient city has not let go of its ancient character despite the trials of time. So, if you want to be a tourist in Athens, pick some or a few of these places for your two or three days itinerary in the ancient city.

1. The Parthenon / Acropolis

This should be your first stop. Standing on the hill of Acropolis, the Parthenon before your eyes is surreal. You’ll see ancient Greek architecture standing on this sacred hill for about 2,500 years. It is actually a collection of buildings, where you’ll explore Parthenon (dedicated to goddess Athena) known for its best Doric columns.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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The Roussanou Monastery – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 8th, 2019

The Roussanou Monastery - Keep Calm and Wander

Roussanou Monastery sits on a low rock pillar – compared to the other monasteries in Meteora. It is very much accessible to public transport and there is not much climbing involved, but a few steps. The monastery itself is connected via a small bridge and is managed by nuns who are collecting the entrance fee themselves. Yes, it is now a convent for women – since 1988.

There are two rules that visitors need to remember when going inside the monastery. First, you have to cover your legs (aka, wear long skirts). The nuns at the entrance can loan you a plain cloth to wrap around your waist. This also applies to men. Second, photography is not allowed. However, no one is really watching inside, and if you want to take one or two (using your phone), be discreet – like me. 😀

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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These Meteora Monasteries Seem to Hover In the Air

Author: , June 24th, 2019

Meteora monasteries

These Meteora monasteries are hovering in the air. On our way to see these monasteries, our jaws dropped as we passed by the towering rock formations. They are amazing geological formations that will never fail to make you wonder how they came into existence.

While these are marvels of nature, the monasteries on top of these rock pillars are themselves, marvels of human ingenuity. I declare that these natural and human-made wonders are one of the attractions that you have to see, to believe.

Who Built these Monasteries?

Meteora’s first Christian monks set up their monastic life here back in the 14th century. They constructed monasteries on top of these gigantic rock cliffs that must have been very difficult to climb. But, I guess, that was the point of putting these monasteries up there – to get away from worldly temptations and possessions.

And by looking at them, I have no doubt that the monks succeeded in their mission to practice their faith without much distractions from the outside world. They would do everything to live in unreachable places just to experience (or, maybe see?) God in their lifetime.

By Alain, Keep Calm and Wander

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Fira Santorini at Night – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 22nd, 2019

Fira Santorini at Night - Keep Calm and Wander

Fira Santorini at night is truly mesmerizing. When the sun goes down and the lights are on, the island is something you can only see in movies. It will leave yourself breathless, constantly sighing at the beauty that never seems to fade.

Fira is the capital town of Santorini. The white-washed houses you see on postcards are either from here or from Oia. Both towns are expensive, but Oia seems to be more expensive when it comes to hotels/accommodation. However, if I had the money to splurge, I’d prefer to stay in Oia where I’ll have my own infinity pool.

Going Around Santorini

It is easy to get around Santorini. The island has convenient buses from one place to another but it takes around 10-15 minutes to wait at peak hours. Fare starts at 2.50 euros for one way only. Be aware that buses start and end in Fira. This means that if you want to continue your journey to another place, you’ve got pay another fare again.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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The San Miguel de Allende Cathedral

Author: , June 6th, 2019

The San Miguel de Allende Cathedral

The San Miguel de Allende Cathedral in Mexico is the most iconic landmark of this colonial city. This postcard-perfect town is located 170 miles north of Mexico City.

San Miguel de Allende was voted by the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine as the “World’s Best City” in 2017 and 2018!

The old part of this town was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Views From Vancouver’s Quarry Rock Trail – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 27th, 2019

Views From Vancouver's Quarry Rock Trail - Keep Calm and Wander

I did the Quarry Rock Hiking Trail yesterday for the first time. It was a beautiful day – and it’s a weekend, too! That means that hiking trails near Vancouver (reachable via public transport) were, as expected, crowded.

And I survived. Halelu!

Directions: Vancouver to Deep Cove by Bus

Start from the Waterfront Metro Station. Find the way to the water taxi / ferry that will take you to Lonsdale Quay. There’s a ferry every less than fifteen minutes, so you don’t have to wait long. When you get off at Lonsdale Quay, take the 239 bus that goes to Phibbs Exchange bus loop or Capilano University. Get off at Phibbs Exchange bus loop and transfer to bus 211 or 212. The last stop is at Deep Cove. Once you arrive, follow most of the crowd or find a sign that points you to the Quarry Rock trail. This trip should take around 40-50 minutes.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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The Cologne Cathedral Facade – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 25th, 2019

Cologne Cathedral Facade - Keep Calm and Wander

I am going to show you the 360 views of the Cologne Cathedral facade in Germany – before I’ll take you inside. This imposing Gothic Cathedral is Cologne’s most famous landmark and the pride of its people – regardless of their religious affiliation. And true enough, from a glance outside, the cathedral is nothing short of stupendous and magnificent!

If you look at its sky-scraping spires, you feel nothing but like a tiny human in front of a towering giant.

Cologne Cathedral (aka Cathedral Church of St. Peter) stands right on Rhine River. You can’t miss its colossal structure which can be seen anywhere on almost everyone’s rooftop.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Stuttgart Walking Tour – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 16th, 2019

Stuttgart Walking Tour

I decided to have my own walking tour in Stuttgart on my second morning in the city. Yes, I did spend two full days here but on my first day, my friend and her husband whisked me away to Hohenzollern Castle, an hour drive from Stuttgart. We had a short stop at Tubingen for late lunch to meet another friend I’ve never seen for ages. Then, we drove back to the city before the Porsche Museum closed that day.

This walking tour was realized with the help of two of the staff from Novum Hotel Rieke Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof where I stayed. I started at 10:30 in the morning and done by 1:00 in the afternoon – just in time to meet another friend for lunch. That’s right, I have had three reunions on this trip in Stuttgart. 😉 What can I say – the Germans are inclined to my personality!

When you follow this walking tour route, I would advise having these places in your google map ready.

1. Stuttgart Main Train Station

It is good and wise to start from here – assuming you’ll be taking the train from other parts of Germany. If you fancy of seeing the city’s panoramic view, climb the tower attached to the end of this station.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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Germany’s Hohenzollern Castle – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 13th, 2019

Hoholzollen Castle - Keep Calm and Wander

Hohenzollern Castle is just one of the 20,000 fairy-tale-like castles in Germany. Indeed, you can’t be in Germany without visiting an old castle, be it small, medium or large. They’ve got castles in the city to the outskirts; to the plains and hilltops. These castles, of course, were once occupied by the royals and aristocrats whose influence ruled the land.

Where is Hohenzollern Castle?

The address is: 72379, Hechingen, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. But where exactly is this, you might ask. It’s actually an hour from Stuttgart by car. I was lucky that a friend that I’ve never seen for more than 30 years lives there and she was kind to drive me up there with her husband. In other words, I didn’t have to worry about public transport. We only depended on Google map for directions because both of them had never been there before. If I didn’t visit them, they would never have gone there.

How to get there?

The nearest train station here is Hechingen Station (Bahnhof/ZOB, Hechingen). There’s a train at 10:16 AM from Stuttgart and it arrives at Hechingen 11:19 AM. From here, you can take a bus that will take you to Hohenzollern Castle. Don’t forget to ask for the bus schedule so you won’t miss your train going back to Stuttgart or onwards to your next destination. If time is not your issue, then you can stay for a night either in Tubingen or Hechingen.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

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