Poland, the Last Leg of Our Trip
The last stop on our whirlwind tour of the Baltics was Krakow, Poland. We caught the smallest plane ever from Lithuania (it even had propellers) and landed in Krakow via Warsaw. We were only in the country for a couple of nights so really had to condense the major things we wanted to see and do in this historical city.
Our main reason for visiting Poland was to see Auschwitz. We whole-heartedly recommend that everyone should go there, but we’re glad we went at the end of our two week trip through the Baltics.
We got to Krakow mid afternoon and the weather was hot, for some reason I never expected Poland to be a warm country so I was pleasantly surprised. We struck gold with our accommodation.
London is a great city to explore whether you’re a traveller, a tourist, or a local. However there is a lot of shit that people still continue to do or see in my lovely home city. If you’re coming to London I implore you to avoid the following, they are some of the worst things to do in London.
The Shit Guide to London
A busy street full of high street shops is one of the most visited “tourist attractions” in London. Why??? If you really want to shop for major brands that can be found pretty much anywhere in the world go to a more spacious and clean place i.e. Westfield. They have one in west London and east London, so there’s no excuse. Plus you won’t be tempted by the hundreds of tacky souvenir shops selling all sorts of crap with the Union Jack or Wills and Kate plastered all over it.
It’s just a bunch of advertising signage that lights up. That is all.
After a 4 hour coach ride from Riga we ended up in Vilnius the capital city of Lithuania and the 4th country on our Baltic Trip. Like Riga, Vilnius has also been voted as a European City of Culture, and it’s Old Town is also a World Heritage Site. So yes we were excited to explore Riga, stretch our legs and find things to see and do.
We’ve recently discovered an up and coming travel and photography app called Fripito. The concept is a great one. Not only does the app contain travel guides with beautiful photography and GPS information but travelling photographers can also contribute their own photo guides and receive proceeds of the sales. The app is available to download for free on the AppStore or Google Play and guides cost between US$3.99 and US$8.99.
Readers of What Way Today can get a premium subscription to all of Fripito’s guides absolutely free, so read on.
Iceland Guide Preview
We all love a bit of socialising and community action, and Fripito does this well. Fripito works with professional photographers all over the world to create amazing guides to provide travel and photography inspiration. Also anyone with the app can comment and share photography and travel tips too.
Stopping off at Riga Central Market
The next stop on our Baltic trip was Riga. We arrived in the capital of Latvia suitably relaxed and refreshed and got off at the main coach station to start our Latvian travel adventure. We had to walk through the Central Market to reach our accommodation and it was bustling!
Riga is the largest city by population in the Baltics and the Riga Central Market is not only the biggest market in Europe but also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The raw hustle and bustle of daily life at the market was a marked difference in atmosphere to the picturesque Tallinn. The energy that hit us immediately after stepping off the coach widened our eyes and only increased our excitement for things to do in Riga during our 3 day stay in the characterful city.
Riga has a beautiful Old Town filled with Art Nouveau buildings, but unlike Tallinn it feels as though the Riga Old Town is for locals as much as tourists. It is abound with fashionable boutiques, galleries, hip restaurants and bars. After a relaxed day of discovering the Riga’s old town, we hit a few of these bars.
4 Highlights of Estonia
We began the second part of our Baltic trip by entering Estonia and the World Heritage site of Tallinn via the Gulf of Finland by a high-speed hydrofoil which covered the 85 km in less than 2 hours at a cost of 20€ each. Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and this was apparent with the cobble-stoned alleyways and picturesque buildings we saw as we entered Tallinn Old Town.
The old town is no doubt touristy with its pristine streets and many “traditional” restaurants, but it is beautiful nonetheless. There are sprinklings of the new and hip with modern culture graffiti and retro cool Soviet style cafes such as Kohvik Must Prudel facing ornate orthodox churches and historic residential buildings.
Top Things To Do in Helsinki
We flew into Helsinki airport as the starting point for our 2 week Baltic trip taking us through the Baltic states and ending up in Poland. Here’s our list of the top things to do in the modern capital of Finland.
Meeting Moomin in Helsinki
Ateneum is a great art museum in central Helsinki. If you are interested in art it is always worth checking out what current exhibitions they have on offer. On our visit the Ateneum held an exhibition to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Finnish author/ artist, Tove Jansson. Tove Jansson is probably best known for her series of Moomin books. The exhibition was well presented with rooms and rooms of both collected and borrowed work, and plenty of information offered in both English and Finnish. Admission is 13€ pp.
Money is a major factor that prevents people from travelling, but it is possible to save money for travel with a few tweaks to daily life. Many travel bloggers and long-term travellers claim to be able to travel on $30 or £20 a day, even on this shoestring travel budget that works out at £7,300 for a year long trip. That sounds like a lot, and it is, and you may even want to budget more. We’ll share our budget estimates and actual spend soon, but right now we’ll share how we’ve been saving money for our big trip.
Going out is fun but expensive, especially if you live in a big European city. There’s pretty much a pub on every other street in London and with pints now costing over £4 it has become an expensive hobby. I used to pop in after work every day and go out for a big night every other weekend. A conservative estimate puts that at £100 a week on just drinking and I’m a small guy! I don’t not go out anymore but cutting this back and inviting friends around to your home can have a dramatic effect on your wallet.
Eating out isn’t cheap either, with many mediocre chain restaurants and pubs charging at least £15 a head for food plus drinks and service usually means around £30 a head.
From Finland To Poland, travelling through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Planning our itinerary around South East Asia got us thinking about our Baltic trip largely done via coach. During our research it’s become obvious that travelling around SE Asia is not the quickest. Our Baltic coach trip was the complete opposite, and also cheap and comfortable to boot.
Lux Express, one of the largest coach operators in the Baltic region allowed us to travel quickly, cheaply and in great comfort between Tallinn and Parnu in Estonia, through to Riga in Latvia, and then onto Vilnius in Lithuania.
Travel planning can be exciting, and the travel blogs like the ones we’ve listed in our Travel Links page are excellent inspirations. With many travel websites available, research can be time consuming so we’ve listed the best travel websites we’ve found that have been the most useful for the more functional aspect of travel planning and research, i.e. travel transportation, accommodation, and destination guides. Some are general and some of these travel websites focus on regions we are focused on next e.g. India and South East Asia.
Travel Transportation Websites
Rome2Rio is excellent for travellers planning the best way to get from their departure point to their destination. Plot in two destinations and Rome2Rio will provide various air, land and sea transportation options with timing and cost estimates. Brilliant for travellers planning for the fastest or cheapest way to travel and excellent for planning the order of your itinerary to find the most efficient travel routes.