Tag: travel report

Taormina: sea, ancient ruins, and volcanic dust

It is so unbelievably sad that Italy is living through really dark times at the moment. For a traveler like myself it is double-fold devastating: only few countries can boast amazing landscapes, rich culture, and delicious cuisine compared to that of Italy. In these dire times, I would like to think about all the beautiful things that Italy is home to and celebrate its potential for cultural visits which we all can hopefully soon enjoy again.

This story is of a little town of Taormina which finds itself perched upon a tall rock on the Western shore of Sicily. Taormina is a tiny city and is probably not the first one that you think of when someone mentions Sicily. Most of the travelers use the town as the base for conquering Etna, one of the world’s most famous volcanoes, and, to be honest, so did we, but this little Mediterranean town certainly has a charm of its own!

The Circle of Life: Mara

How many places there are on our planet that just force you to think “fantastic”, “unreal”, “unearthly”! Be it endless sands of a desert, black volcanic ground, or unmerciful, shining and blinding snow of mountain ranges – sometimes it is hard to believe that all of these actually belong in our world.

But today I would like to tell you about the most earthly world. With its wide rivers, green plains and forests full of life, and a dome of sky covered with perfect clouds, this place is the real Garden of Eden from which, for some reason, humans have banished themselves.

This post is about the second part of my safari adventure in Kenya. The first part – about the desert region of Samburu – can be found right here.

The Circle of Life: Samburu

Like many other travelers, I, of course, have my own bucket list. Africa has always taken an important place on that list, but my position to actually checking it off has been so far: “Well.. maybe in 5-10 years when I have too much money and no idea how to spend them…” As you might have already guessed, the fate ruled otherwise, and this October I happened to find myself on an actual African safari (have no worry, no animal got hurt =)).

Here I learned what is a real animal horror caused by a gaze of a lion just a couple of meters away; woke up in the dark from cries of hyenas surrounding my tent; understood why Africa and Kenya in particular are invaluable to every human on Earth, since this is exactly the place that gave birth to humanity millions years ago.

Lugano: to the other side from the mountains

Lugano is the biggest city in the “Italian” part of Switzerland, canton of Ticino. Located on the eponymous lake and surrounded by picturesque forested mountains, it offers the most typical impressions of nature and culture of this region of the country.

I have to say, travelling across Italian Switzerland is quite a strange experience. It is almost impossible to tell Lugano from cities of Northern Italy. Everything is the same: food, vegetation, building styles… Pretty much everything, except for prices. Looking at them, you are reminded that it is still Switzerland… So why pay more if Milan is only one and a half hours away by train? Let’s try to find out.

Four lessons of Mount Fuji

The magical Mount Fuji has been charming her visitors for many a millennia. Every year millions of tourists travel to small towns at her foot to climb or just admire the landscapes and her snowy peak.

For centuries Fuji inspired artists and poets, but this mysterious mountain is also able to influence less pretentious matters. For example, today we are going to learn from her how to travel and do sightseeing correctly =)

So what can Mount Fuji teach us?

Hiroshima and Miyajima island

A visit to Miyajima island near Hiroshima was recommended to me by a friend. Without that we would probably not even consider and totally miss this place which turned out to be a decent match even to Mt Fuji. So now I am fulfilling my duty of passing the recommendation on =)

We did Miyajima (and Hiroshima) as a day trip during your stay in Kyoto. Travel took away a big chunk of the day so we had to skip some interesting things =( If I knew more about Miyajima beforehand I would make sure we have a less restrictive travel plan…

5 days in Kyoto

When they say that Kyoto is a real treasury of history, have no doubt: just to give an example, they have a dumpling shop that is over 1000 years old. Considering that it’s a family business, this means that somewhere in this city lives a dumpling cook in 25th generation…

Just walking around the city, you will discover lost of interesting places hidden around the corner, be it an old building, or an ancient statue, or a temple. Because of that, you will probably want to include in your itinerary some free roaming time outside touristic areas.

A day of fresh air in Arashiyama

At Kyoto’s western border, a small but scenic Hozu river separates the city from pure, forest-coated hills of Arashiyama which also gave their name to the nearby Kyoto outskirt. The area is a great choice to visit on a sunny day as it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as forest or river walks, monkey park and a cruise down the river with a traditional boat.

It’s not surprising that Arashiyama experiences a huge inflow of tourists to its best assets. It will take careful planning and willingness to wake up at dawn to avoid the crowds, secure all the tickets and get the most out of your visit to this place.

Geisha experience in Kyoto

To many tourists an image of a Japanese geisha is still coated with mystery and enigma. At least I definitely had that feeling, so of course I really wanted to get a glimpse on their very special culture. Fortunately, Kyoto has the most geisha in all Japan, so it was a good place for trying to unravel the mystery of geisha (or geiko, as they call them in Kyoto).

Two maiko – geisha apprentices; picture: japan-guide.com

For many years and decades a geiko-hosted dinner and her performance was a luxury and a privilege that tourists could not even think about. But the recent multiplication of tourist influx to Japan encourages geiko to provide their services to foreigners too, and nowadays it is not an impossible task to meet a geiko or even hire her to host you at dinner.

There are multiple ways for Kyoto visitors to get an understanding of geisha history and see what modern geisha look like. What you choose must depend on your itinerary, time allocation, and, of course, your budget 😉