Category: Travel

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 😉

Visiting Kyoto temples

No one really knows how many temples are exactly in Kyoto, but most estimates lie between 1600 and 2000. Even a very strict sample of the biggest and the most famous counts a few dozen, so it is quite difficult (and pointless) to try visiting all of them within one trip.

So here’s my list. Each temple here has its own specialty which differs it from the others. I ranked them by my subjective impressions after visit =)

One week Tokyo itinerary for (almost) sakura season

Planning the trip to Japan, I quite often felt like going mad from the amounts of information to process and organize. The only reason I’m still sane and writing this post is japan-guide.com which is my example of the perfect travel guide (I wish there was the same for all other countries…).

So here they are, the results of my research. Note that this itinerary was highly affected by the season – we usually try to travel during Swiss public holidays which meant that this year we arrived to Tokyo just a tiny bit out of the cherry blossom full bloom. You will most probably want to adjust this plan if you travel at a different time.

Three reasons to visit the coastal city of Kamakura

Kamakura is a small, rural town. It is not crazy touristic which is surprising considering the quality and diversity of its attractions coupled with easy access from Tokyo: a direct JR train connects the Tokyo station to Kamakura with just an hour of train ride.

Let’s see what this town is capable of and why you might want to go there.