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Varanasi, the holy city of the Ganga (Ganges) and ghats is an easy place to get lost and maybe even lose yourself. As with most busy cities in India, bazaars and shops are everywhere. Whilst the lanes and bazaars near the Ganga are a nice place to amble around, the holy river of the Ganga and the many ghats that line its banks are the main draw to this photogenic Indian city. In North India this is one of the cities that visitors to really feel India.
Rajasthan and Jaipur conjures up images of the mighty Mughals that ruled much of India from the 16th to 19th century. Today we can still see their influence on Indian culture in Jaipur in the form of art, architecture, food and dance. One of the many great reasons to visit India is due to its cultural diversity and regional differences. Whilst you may need to venture out of Jaipur to see more traditional and authentic Rajasthani culture it’s still a great place to get a taster. Our top 6 things to do in Jaipur:
Staying at a budget hotel called Smyle Inn meant that we were right in the middle of Delhi’s main bazaar, albeit on a street off the main road. With only a short 3 day stay in the capital of India, location was important to squeeze in many things to do in Delhi.
The convenient location meant that we battled our way up and down the main bazaar a few times a day. It proved to be a good training ground for what should be a simple task: walking down a busy street in India.
Our three day stay in Tokyo was short for such a big city but we had other places in Japan to explore such as Kyoto, Koyasan, and Osaka. To get a little local taste of Tokyo in such a short time we enlisted the help of a Tokyo resident to give us a local’s guide to Tokyo the capital city of Japan via Tokyo Free Guide. In a packed half day we visited districts off the beaten path such as Shimokitazawa, Nippori, and Yanaka.
Istanbul has gone through a few hardships of late but it’s an amazing city to explore that is buzzing with culture and flavours making a visit to this beautiful capital city of Turkey most enjoyable.
Istanbul exists over Europe and Asia, divided by the Bosphorus strait and connected by two suspension bridges.
The European side of Istanbul is considered the old city because of its historical significance and you’ll find most of the famous tourist attractions here. The Asian side is more residential, with high street shopping, markets and nightlife.
Here are just 10 of the many top things to do in Istanbul:
Holidays in Iceland have always had a reputation for being on the expensive side, but with Iceland Air’s great flight and accommodation deals and Iceland’s depreciating currency we thought it was a great opportunity to visit the land of waterfalls, fire and ice.
With so much natural beauty to see and do outside of Reykjavik we pondered whether to take the many guided coach tours or to self drive to see the natural beauties around the Golden Circle and the Icelandic Southern Shores.
Researching the Iceland activities and tours we wanted to do, we calculated that it would cost £554 for two people. Pretty expensive, especially when you consider that most of the tours require you to be stuck on a coach for half a day.
We looked into hiring a 4×4 to do our own self drive tour, which surprisingly came out much less than the combination of tours, totalling £311 for 4 days hire including petrol via Thifty. Not only was it cheaper, but we would have more flexibility and could drive off in any direction at a whim (we did get stuck up a mountain though), and we wouldn’t be stuck on a slow coach for most of our time.
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.
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 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.
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.