A Travellerspoint blog

Poland 2013 Part One

October 26th-November 9th 2013. Gdansk, Warsaw, Zakopane and Krakow.

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Here is my latest slightly delayed post for a two week trip to Poland I did last October/November.

Day 0: (Travel):

So I left my home town of Nottingham on a National Express Coach to Stansted. I left knowing that my suitcase was about 2kg overweight as I was flying with Ryanair and only had 20kg allowance, however I knew if I could get it out ok, I would be able to get it back as coming back I flew with easyJet with 23kg and unlimited hand luggage. So once arrived at the airport around 5am I attempted to weigh my case to doubly check that my scales were correct and that I had to either wear 2kg of extra clothes or stuff as much as possible into my Canada Goose coat pockets. However Stansted would prefer you pay £1 to weigh one suitcase and so turn all the digital scales on the conveyor belts of which was annoying as I had no English money. So just had to guess at what to take out, once I put my case on the conveyor though it only weighed 18.5kg so asked if I could transfer some things out of my hand luggage back into my case as this was now overweight due to having to shift stuff out my big case, the woman said yes and told me to just move to the side, so once again I messed around getting irritated with the padlocks and zips and a security guard watched me mess around opening both cases ect before deciding to come and tell me that I couldn't unpack there as it was where people were queuing, except it wasn't, it was a closed check in desk not due to open for another hour! But anyway I finally got my case through and got through security. The flight was pleasant and we landed in Gdansk around 10am.

GDANSK
Day One: 26th October:

So I decided to get a taxi to my hotel from the airport as I had read they were really cheap, which they were. I paid just over 50 zloty to Gotyk House on Mariacka Street. The drivers didn't speak much English but with a pen and paper they will get you where you need to be, remember your in Poland so people speak Polish and I think people need to be more grateful and thankful when they do come across English speakers whilst abroad as I think it can be taken for granted sometimes and generally expected that people should speak English. Anyway I was dropped outside Gotyk House which is a very beautiful old building on a very beautiful street in the heart of Gdansk. My room was ready so I unpacked and settled in.
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Around 11:30am I headed out to begin exploring and walked down to the start of the 'Royal Walk' which begins at the first gate. I then followed the route stopping for lunch in Subway (I am a fussy eater so prefer things that are in my comfort zone) it was raining, but managed to get some nice photos. At the top I came out near the river and followed left down to the Crane which in all reality is pretty unspectacular but is of course a symbol of Gdansk and does just seem to fit right there by the river. Across on the other side was the Soldek ship. There were many ships around and seagulls which just set a really nice atmosphere despite the bad weather. I carried on along the river and walked back in the direction of the central station, following the road past Ibis down to the Memorial to the shipyard workers which was really poignant and stood out boldly in contrast. I entered the shipyard where their are some structures which appear to have been made out of bits of old ships. The museum was closed as it was Saturday so I walked back stopping at one of the supermarkets 'Biedronka' and getting a sort of picnic type dinner to take back to the hotel as I was really tired having not slept for over 36 hours due to travelling so wanted an early night. I actually was in bed by 4pm and slept right through until 7:30am the next morning!
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Day 2: Sunday 27th October:

I awoke this morning after sleeping right through from 4pm until 7:30am, I could off actually slept longer but I had said I would be down for breakfast for 8am and so had to be ready.
I had breakfast which was really nice, it consisted off a basket of different breads with ham, cheese and different spreads like jam and soft cheese to choose from and also a yoghurt with either tea or coffee.
I left the hotel around 8:30am and caught the bus to the Music Academy where I then crossed the road to where the Westerplatte bus stops, upon checking the timetable there was only one bus due that day which was luckily 20 minutes from the time! Arriving at Westerplatte you start with various time lined information boards documenting the history off the island. It is fascinating how the first shots of WWII were fired here and yet is pretty much unheard off unless you research things to do in Gdansk! There are also things here like remains of old bunkers and ammunitions sheds. One of the ruins can be walked around and is half collapsed which gives off a really eerie feel and you can only imagine the stories that once took place. There is also a large monument which if climbed gives off great views of the surrounding area. There is a small shop serving hot drinks and cold snacks and also a souvenir stand. Luckily there were many buses departing back to Gdansk so after around an hour I headed back to the train station to get the train to Sopot.
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The trains to Sopot leave very frequently even on Sundays, so managed to get on one straight away, the journey takes around 20 minutes or so and it is clear that once out of the station in Sopot which direction to go to get to the main street of the Town. The atmosphere was that off a proper seaside town with the great atmosphere that England now lacks due to tackiness. It was beautiful, I walked down the pier which again although drizzling with rain gave off a really lovely atmosphere. The sea was incredibly calm, almost no waves at all. I then backed back down to the beach and dared to brace the freezing conditions of the Baltic Sea by paddling, it isn't called the Baltic for nothing! However within a minute or so I noticed that lots and I mean LOTS of Jellyfish were being washed up millimetres from my toes as they were hard to see against the sand, which probably was why people were giving me strange looks, so I quickly hopped out and put my shoes back on. I then found a dry patch of sand and sat just watching this beautiful, clear, clean ocean for around 45 minutes. By this point it was beginning to get dark and I was still tired so decided to head back to Gdansk for another early night. I didn't see much of Sopot but it was beautiful, I think it would be a lovely place for families. Another picnic dinner in the hotel and in bed by 6pm!
Weather today was pretty much drizzle all day.
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Day 3: Monday 28th October:

So today I woke up and got ready again for another 8am breakfast. I didn't leave the hotel until around 10am and headed to the Roads of Freedom museum, unfortunately this was closed due a mistake of my own for misinterpreting polish week day names. It was a shame as I was looking forward to this but instead caught the tram to Brzezno where I sat on the beach a little while watching the sea gulls before catching another tram two stops up and walking round to the beautiful, little old lighthouse. It was closed and I knew this before going, but wanted to see it. It was quite small but very fitting within Gdansk and had a lot of character. There was an information board on the wall outside depicting it's history in English which was interesting. After this I didn't have anything left to do and was really ready to get to a big city so decided to have lunch and then walk around the small streets surrounding Mariacka, looking in shops and just taking leisurely time to enjoy the atmosphere. I actually ended up back at the hotel for 3pm, but needed to pack and needed to be up for 4am so an early night was much appreciated.
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Overall I enjoyed Gdansk and glad that I went however I feel I am more of a city girl and enjoy having lots to explore in terms of shops ect, so was ready to leave. I would come back again with others but not as a solo traveller. I would recommend this beautiful town to anybody on a first trip to Poland as I am really glad I visited and did thoroughly love every minute even if I didn't actually do much!

WARSAW
Day 4: Tuesday 29th October:

So this morning I awoke around 4am to get ready to leave for Warsaw. After packing and getting ready I left the hotel around 5am and walked the 10 minute walk (15 minutes with my two suitcases) up to the main train station, it was dark but there were plenty of people around so didn't feel any unease about walking at this time of the morning. The train left at 6:20am ( I like to be early!) and took around 6 hours to get into Warsaw. Once at the main station in Warsaw I felt quite excited to be in a big city with lots to explore. I caught the bus two stops, getting of at Constitution Square and taking the 5 minute walk to Globetrotter Hostel on Aleja Wyzwolenia. At first it isn't apparent where the hostel is, as it is inside what appears to be a block of flats, I had written down it was number 10 and then noticed there was a sticker on the door. I was checked in straight away and the room (8 person dorm) was clean and spacious with plenty of plug sockets and lockers. The hostel itself looks like it was possibly once flats and therefore gives it a nice homely, cosy atmosphere. There was also a kitchen with everything you could possibly need including free unlimited tea, coffee, juice ect.
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Anyway I was really eager to get out and explore so caught the tram up to the Old Town starting at Castle Square which I must say is incredibly beautiful! I walked down the road where the orange colour wall is (part of the Barbican I think) to the Statue of the Little Insurgent, which is very moving and sends you all cold. If I am right it is based on a thirteen year old boy who fought in the Warsaw Uprising.
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I then continued backwards to Castle Square, browsing the stalls full of hand made gifts. I walked down Krakowskie Przedmiescie, looking in shops and stopping off at Starbucks, I continued in the same direction cutting down one of the streets leading onto Marszalowska. It was still early and so decided to explore the area around Marszalowska and the main station, looking in shops, buying gifts ect before walking back down to the hostel and stopping at a restaurant called Secado (I think) they had open kitchens and different styles of rooms. I ordered chicken and homemade fries with salad and fennel, I don't like fennel, but the rest was delicious and really affordable. I was in bed for around 9:30pm.
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DAY 5: Wednesday 30th October:

So I got up around 9am this morning and as I was getting ready there was a guy sat at the table and said to me 'your not Polish are you', and I said 'no' and he said 'you look very western that's why' and I said 'yeah I'm English' and he then replied 'we love the English but the English hate us, you say we take all your jobs and benefits and are over running your country, I suggest you go back to England, there's nothing here for you to see I hate this country, it's rubbish I would go to England to if I wasn't scared of being bullied in the street' ect ect, I was just like what am I supposed to reply to that!? Haha, I just made my excuses and left as soon as possible! I don't personally have anything against anyone who lives in England, does it really matter what country your from? I don't think it does. Anyway I started the day by catching the tram to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, there is lots of information and very sad pictures. It gave me a much better understanding of what the Uprising was all about and how bad a situation Poland was in. I do recommend visiting here as it is very informative and takes around 1.5 to 2 hours.
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Afterwards I caught the tram up to the Memorial to those who were deported and murdered in the east which is a very gripping memorial and speaks for itself. It is lots of crosses on top of a sort of train wagon with various names wrote on the rails. I then walked around to the Ghettos Heroes monument which is just outside the new Jewish museum which isn't quite ready yet, again another memorial which serves it's purpose. I then walked down to Plac Bankowy where I attempted to visit the Tomb of The Unknown soldier, however the whole area was cordoned off due to retiling of the square and could only catch a glimpse of it. I had then planned to visit the Jewish Historical Institute, by this time it was nearly 3pm and it closes at 4pm so knew I had to be quick! So I headed in the direction and unfortunately missed the turning onto the correct road and ended up walking about 45 minutes in the wrong direction! I did pass various interesting points along the way, including the sign for where the old Warsaw ghetto used to be, a old bank with bullet holes along the side and various other monuments and signs. My feet were really hurting and I was becoming tired and knew if I did find it, it would be pointless as it would be nearly closed, so disappointingly I headed back to the centre around the main shopping area (Zlote Tarasy) and did some more shopping, had dinner and headed back to the hostel for 9pm.
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DAY 6: Thursday 31st October:

This morning I left the hostel around 10am and walked the 5 minute walk to the Gestapo Headquarters museum. It is small and takes less than an hour to get around, however I found this was the most moving and 'best' museum I visited whilst in Warsaw. You start by watching a 5 minute presentation which gives details on how trials were performed, reasons for taking people there and how they were treated, very moving. There are then a few interactive computer type things that give lots of easy to read information with diagrams and moving pictures. You can also see some of the cells. I highly recommend visiting here, very informative and gives a real sense of the terror that was once about.
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Afterwards I headed up to Pawiak Prison which was used during the war and also beforehand too. The main room was things I already knew from visiting other places but would be interesting for someone with little knowledge about events during the war and the type of things that happened to people. You then can walk around the different cell like rooms which give good interesting insight to what actually happened in Pawiak during the war with artifacts and stories ect. Again it didn't take too long to walk around but is a must for anyone interested in what happened during those terrible years. I bought a book from here, I haven't had chance to read it yet but was really cheap and seems to have lots of information on the history.
After here I walked about ten minutes up the road to the Umschlagplatz memorial. It is situated where the Nazis used to deport people from the ghetto ect, not much too see but it does it's job and is a beautiful place.
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I then continued up the road to the Arkadia shopping centre where I had some lunch and browsed the shops before catching the tram back to the centre and then another tram up towards the Copernicus Science Centre. This place is amazing, I love things like this and feels it brings fun and excitement to a trip to balance out the more interesting, knowledge related history places. It was mainly interactive and had a separate section for adults which made you learn a lot about yourself through interactive experiments based on you. It would be a great day out for a family and could spend the majority of the day here. Very fun, efficiently run and highly recommended.
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By this time it was getting quite late, so headed back to the centre to have dinner before returning to the hostel to prepare for my last day in Warsaw.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 13:46 Archived in Poland Tagged history travel warsaw poland jewish europe gdansk zakopane krakow solo 2013 Comments (0)

Poland 2013 Part Two

Two Week Poland Trip 26th October-9th November 2013

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Day 7: Friday 1st November:

So this morning I had a little later start and left around 10:30am and walked down to the Lazienki Park, it was ridiculously cold on this day and so didn't spend too long here but it is a beautiful place. I caught the tram from just outside the main entrance up to the Old Town and explored some of the smaller streets coming off Castle Square leading to the Old Town Square. It is like a completely different city in contrast to the centre around the train station and Zlote Tarasy ect. Full of character. However I did notice that some shops were closed even though it was 11 o clock! It then hit me that maybe it is a public holiday as there was hardly anyone around apart from a few tourists here and there, and I did remember reading something. I had planned to go back the Historical Institute of Polish Jews today but had a feeling this would be closed too. After exploring the Old Town and its quaint little streets and doing some souvenir shopping I decided to head back to Plac Bankowy and found the institute without a problem today and just had I guessed it was closed, disappointing but I knew I was visiting similar places when I got to Krakow. So instead I had some lunch and headed towards Zlote Tarasy which was closed too, but walked to Ul.Prozna where there are some old houses with faces of people draped on the walls, very moving as these were probably victims. The coldness just added to the feelings felt when stood looking up at all of those faces. I continued on down this road and back out onto Marszalowska where I went and sat in Starbucks for an hour or so as there was nothing left to do and by this time it was around 4pm so decided to head back to the hostel to pack and get ready to leave in the morning.
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Day 8: Saturday 2nd November: ZAKOPANE

So I awoke this morning at around 4am and got ready to leave for Zakopane. I left the hostel at around 5:30am and caught the tram the two stops up to the train station. I had booked this ticket online before I left for Poland and cost me around £20. The station is easy to navigate if you look correctly at your ticket and the information provided within the station. Anyway the train left around 7:20am and was comfortable. The views coming up into the mountains were unreal, so beautiful and atmospheric. Just what you would imagine from mountain towns and villages. The train arrived at Zakopane at around 3pm and I was so glad to get off after all those hours. I chose to walk to the hotel I was due to stay at which was called the Willa Carlton and situated around a 5 minute walk from the main street of Krupowki. I had never been in a place like this before, surrounded by beautiful mountains, just such a great atmosphere. I knew almost instantly that I would have such a great time here and would end up falling in love, which I did! Anyway I knew that the hotel was around 15 minutes away from the station but chose to walk regardless of my two heavy suitcases. I arrived at Willa Carlton at around 3:30pm and checked in straight away. It is an old, dated building but it just fits in nicely with the whole town and it's surroundings. The room was spacious with good storage options, a desk, tv, large radiator and double bed with small tables. The bathroom again did it's job with enough space, no bath though. I did notice that every time I took a step the floor creaked quite loudly but this wasn't an issue. I quickly settled in, unpacking the essentials ect and then headed out and took a slow walk down Krupowki, the main street. And wow it was so full of character with a excellent warming atmosphere, it is so hard to explain. I browsed the shops and stalls buying some gifts and souvenirs. I had dinner at the Sphinx restaurant which was great value for money and huge portions! I then continued the walk down to where the market place is and then turned back around towards the hotel. I arrived back at the hotel for around 7:30pm and had a shower. The water was cold! Not freezing but cold all the same, so it resulted in a quick hair wash and scrub down and then jumped in bed, it was quite cold in the room as well and the radiator didn't seem to heat up. I was then half asleep when I heard a key turn in the door, and it creak open, I sat up wondering what is going on and there was a man that about jumped out of his skin when he saw me and said sorry repeatedly before locking the door again. I wonder what he could of wanted and who he was I do not know, but didn't have anymore issues with that during the stay and felt like it was a genuine accident.
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Day 9: Sunday 3rd November 2013:

So I awoke this morning and had breakfast at the hotel, which was a small buffet with things like cheeses, ham, breads, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, coffee, tea, juice ect. I left the hotel around 8:30am and walked down to the bus station, which is next to the train station. I was headed for Morskie Oko. The minibuses to Morskie Oko will park in the lay by type feature opposite the bus station with a sign in the front window. There was a bus waiting as I arrived and hopped on. It cost 10 zloty each way and took around 45 minutes if I remember correctly. I was quite scared about doing this trip as I had never attempted anything like this before and wasn't sure about how I would find my way ect but once you are in the car park it is obvious which way to go as there is a man on a stall that will take your entrance fee for the park and horses and carriages waiting to take people up. I had read on here that the horse and carriages won't leave until they are full and there wasn't a single person in them so decided to walk. For most part it is a long tarmac road with little to see. There are a few creeks, waterfalls and mountain views to be seen on the way up. About half way I came to some rocky steps which you follow up to the top, and then carry along the tarmac road once again. Then I arrived at a large clearing with the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains! I knew I wasn't far away now and it was just beginning to rain. It was incredibly windy and when I put my umbrella up it shot off down the side of the mountain! So I carried on and about twenty minutes later I arrived at Morskie Oko! So beautiful, something that somebody like me could only ever dream about and look at in brochures! I stood looking out over the clear blue waters for some time before taking the steps down to the edge where I took some photos of myself. I could of sat here all day except the wind was getting so bad I was finding it hard to stand straight and the rain was really coming down fast now so made for the hut by the lake which sold hot and cold food, snacks, drinks, souvenirs and had toilet facilities and places to sit. I had something to eat and a hot drink to warm up. I stayed in here for around 45 minutes and the rain showed no sign of stopping so decided it was probably time to head back, as I had completed what I set out to do and was really happy that I had the courage to come here after all the doubts I had. So I walked back down which took me about 1 hour and a half in horrible conditions, it was so bad that my trainers had water puddles in the bottom as they couldn't physically soak up any more water! I stayed quite dry myself though thanks to my Canada Goose jacket which was worth every penny! I bought some gifts from the stands in the carpark at the bottom and jumped on one of the buses back to Zakopane. I was wet, freezing and tired and so once in Zakopane I headed straight back to the hotel to get changed and begin drying some of my things out. It was about 3:30pm and had decided to go back out for dinner and to walk around looking in shops ect at about 5 o clock but once I had got snuggled up, warm and dry the tiredness hit me and my muscles began to ache and so just caught up on some programmes on my phone and did some reading before going to sleep.
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Day 10: Monday 4th November 2013:

So I awoke this morning to aching legs from the long walk yesterday but got up regardless and had breakfast before leaving for Kasprowy Wierch. I got the minibus which pulled up at the bus stop. Once there I intended to take the cable car both ways, however due to construction work it was closed until the following day, so that blew my plans right out of the window! So with it being quite early and not really having any back up plans I decided to start the walk, I kind of knew I wouldn't make it all the way, think it was a 3 hour trek up. I began walking and the scenery was beautiful! After around an hour you come to steep, rocky steps which just never end! I became incredibly tired and made it to the one and a half hour mark so half way before finally giving in and heading back down. I got some really great photos though, so was pleased I made it as far as I did. Afterwards I headed back to the centre of Zakopane for some lunch before walking to the end of Krupowki to where the market is. I bought some gifts before heading to the Gubalowka funicular station which is at the back of the market place. The funicular runs every few minutes and takes around 5 to get to the top. I was taken back by the incredible views, never would I of thought I would be in such a beautiful place in all my life! It was cold, but I just couldn't move away from the spot I had glued myself too! There are shops and restaurants up on Gubalowka apart from many of these were closed but would be a lovely way to spend an afternoon in summer! There was also a fun looking toboggan run which was running but I didn't have the guts to go on it! I had my photo taken with a sheep and dog with a Gubalowka sign and one of the traditional looking hats and thoroughly enjoyed it up there! After around an hour I took the descent back down via the funicular and continued to browse the shops on Krupowki before having dinner again at Sphinx, I had a pepperoni pizza which was delicious and then decided to head back to the hotel to get ready to leave for Krakow the following morning.
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Day 11: Tuesday 5th November 2013: KRAKOW

I walked to the bus station in Zakopane which is located next to the train station and caught the 8am bus to Krakow. The bus was comfortable and had lots of free seats. The journey took around 2 hours and I got off at the central station in Krakow. Again I decided to walk to the hostel I was staying at which was called Hostel Centrum on Sw.Gertrudy which was very centrally located. The woman helped me carry my cases up to my room. The room itself was spacious and very clean, I also had a locker which is a must for me. It turned out I was the only one in the room for two out of the four nights I stayed there. I unpacked the essentials before heading out to explore Krakow! I headed to the main square about a 5 minute walk from where I was staying. It was beautiful! So atmospheric! I got some lunch and began the Royal Walk starting at the Barbikan and following it down through Florian's Gate to the market square where I detoured to have a look in the Cloth Hall, which was full of stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs, handicrafts, gifts ect I bought a few things from here and carried on towards Wawel Hill Castle, by this point it was raining quite heavily so decided not to walk around the castle complex and walked by the river instead. I had a look at Smok the dragon and also the very moving memorial to Dzok the dog who waited for his master to return at the same spot he died at for over a year. I then walked back in the direction of the square stopping for a hot chocolate and then continued back to the hostel, ready for an early start in the morning.
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Day 12: Wednesday 6th November 2013:

I awoke early on this day, eager to get the first bus at 8am to Auschwitz-Birkenau , I have been to concentration camps before and have a very keen interest in World War II and the terror surrounding it. I just had a feeling I had to visit here as this is the most infamous camp and comes up in the majority of books. I knew it would be incredibly sad and moving. I decided to take the guided English tour at 11am I think it was. The tour guide spoke good English and explained all the key details. There is also time to read things at your own pace. The camp itself is a moving place and has a sobering atmosphere. It was deadly quiet with only the sounds of people in our group. The tour lasted around 1 hour at Auschwitz camp where most of the exhibitions are and then we got the free bus which takes around 5 minutes to the Birkenau section of the camp. Here are many barracks and also part of the railway line, remnants of the gas chambers and a memorial. It was a very sobering experience but it was something I knew I had to do, and also a main part for me choosing to come to Poland. I bought some DVD's from the shop and also some books. I didn't arrive back in Krakow until around 4pm and decided to have a walk around the main shopping centre, Galeria Krakowska. I had some dinner here also. I then headed back to the hostel, arriving back at around 7pm.
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Day 13: Thursday 7th November 2013:

I left the hostel this morning at around 10am and walked down to the Jewish Quarter. I started at the Galicia Jewish Museum which gave insight to the horror that Polish Jews were subjected too, and highlighted main sites and towns within the Galicia region that had fell victim to the horror. I bought quite a few books from here. I highly recommend this museum. After here I continued down to where the old Krakow ghetto once was and went to the Pharmacy Under The Eagle museum situated on the square. It had lots of information about the Krakow Ghetto and what happened within the walls. It was quite small but took around an hour to get around. After here I walked the 10 minute walk to Oskar Schindler's factory. It was incredibly detailed with the effect that you are walking around the ghetto and parts of Krakow, the information was detailed however I was hoping for more information related to Oskar and the factory and also the people who worked there. I would still recommend visiting however you could be there all day and still not of read all of the information. By this point in the trip although I was loving Krakow and the experiences I was getting, I was becoming quite homesick and found I was starting to count the hours down until I could leave for the airport, but still wanting to stay at the same time if that makes sense. So I went back to Galeria Krakowska, having dinner and then sitting people watching in Starbucks until I headed back to the hostel at around 7pm to get ready for my last day in Krakow.
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Day 14: Friday 8th November 2013:

I had booked to go to Wielickza Salt Mines with the tour company See Krakow, they picked me up at 11 am outside the hostel. It only took around half an hour to get to the mine and once there we had to wait a while before our guide was ready. We then entered the mine via lots of steps. The mine itself was spectacular, very beautiful, especially the main chapel. The salt could be seen and tasted if wished coming through the walls and explanation of why this happened was given. Throughout the mine was various cafes and shops and also a restaurant. It was a very good, informative tour that lasted around 2-3 hours. I bought some gifts from the shop which included things made from salt. We then came back to the surface via a very cramped shaft which was claustrophobic and a bit scary but all part of the experience! We arrived back in Krakow for 4pm and the driver dropped me back at the hostel. I had a very early morning ahead the next day so decided to grab some dinner and get a early nights sleep.
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The following morning I awoke around 4am and the transfer I had booked was very efficient showing up at 6am. I arrived at the airport for around 6:30am, I still had over an hour before check-in opened which was a good job as my case weighed 26kg and I had a 23kg allowance. My hand baggage weight was unlimited though, however my hand baggage was pretty much full to the brim. So once again I began messing around trying to put some of the heavy things in my small case and pockets and managed to get it down to 23.6kg which was allowed through! I got some breakfast from the café upstairs before checking in and heading through security. I still had over 2 hours before my plane was due to leave but this flew by as I was just so tired so was more than happy to just sit around in a world of my own. I flew with EasyJet who were very reliable with friendly staff and are now actually my first choice of airline due to cheap prices and reasonable allowances. The only thing I was disappointed with is that they didn't accept zloty in less than a ten note and if they did it was a rubbish exchange rate which they did tell you about so had saved around 40 zloty for nothing but it wasn't a lot so didn't mind.

Absolutley loved Poland and would love to come back and explore some of the other cities and would love to take my family to Zakopane. Had some great experiences!

Posted by KayleighTwyman 07:33 Archived in Poland Tagged winter history travel mountain lake warsaw poland museum plane religious trip jewish fly europe war salt auschwitz mine gdansk concentration_camp zakopane krakow cold nazi polish two october weeks sopot november ww1 solo easyjet 2014 2013 polski wielickza Comments (0)

Paris, France, Part One

3rd-10th August 2013

sunny

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So here is my latest entry for my Summer trip to Paris, solo for one week. I stayed at MIJE Faucounnier Hostel in a private room which was very nice, clean and comfortable. Very centrally located, just off the main street of Rivoli. Weather throughout the trip was sunny and generally quite hot. I also did a day trip to Provins which was beautiful. The report is presented in the original day-by-day format I posted on TripAdvisor.

Day One: Saturday 3rd August 2013:

Arrived in Paris at 8:45am after a long, tiring journey on the overnight coach via Eurolines, I chose this option as it was considerably cheap, and it gave me a different experience of entering a country other than plane, the journey wouldn't of been so bad if it was in the day time when your not tired, but I couldn't get comfortable towards the end and got slightly irritable. I was the only person who had two seats to myself, so was lucky in that respect. I got a National Express coach to London from Nottingham and then had a three hour wait before getting on the Eurolines to Paris. We took the ferry from Dover and then I slept the majority of the way to Paris Gallieni. I got the bus from the coach station and got off at Saint-Paul on Rue De Rivoli, I was supposed to be staying at MIJE Fourcy hostel on Rue De Fourcy (just off Rivoli) but it turned out they'd booked me into a different branch of theirs (Fourconnier) on Rue Fourconnier, just of Rue de Fourcy) which was no big deal as it was pretty much the same location and it does state on their site that you could be placed at any three of theie hostels. I chose with this trip to pay a little extra for a single room which was definitely worth it, bright, spacious, bathroom and wardrobe with coat hangers and free breakfast, more like a hotel than a standard hostel, super clean, fresh sheets everyday and beautiful French windows opening onto the street below.
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So I left my bags in the luggage room as check in wasn't until 3pm and got the metro to Opera where I went to The Paris Story, and excellent way to start a trip to Paris, it is a small cinema type attraction which shows a film about Paris and it's history, it made me fall in love with the city before I'd even stepped barely a foot in it! There was also a miniature model of Paris with all the attractions set in the correct place and interactive quizzes ect. The film didn't last too long, which was good as I did want to start exploring.

After here I caught the metro to Tuileries and bought my first ever Crepe-Ham & Cheese-YUM! The Tuileries is a beautiful garden/park and has a small fair type amusement bit which is good for families ect. It was in the Tuileries that I first encounted the 'petition girls' asking if I spoke English, I knew who they were straight away from the descriptions given on TripAdvisor (scammers), I just said 'No' and they left me to it. I encounted quite a lot of these girls on my trip but just say 'No' and they won't pester you. So I walked through Tuileries up to Concorde, so beautiful and a major monument in Paris. I then headed towards the river and walked along the side up to Pont Alexandre III which is so much more beautiful in real life, it was from here I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower which looked quite small at that particular angle. So I walked across the bridge and up the side of the river round to the Eiffel Tower, which just took me by surprise as it was GIGANTIC, one minute you couldn't see it for all the trees and tall buildings, the next it was right there looking over you! I took some photos and found the line for the lift entrance-LONG, there was no way I was prepared to stand in that after having little sleep for 32 hours so I found the line for the steps entrance which was short and I was climbing the steps in less than 10 minutes! The views was fantastic, especially of Montmartre which looked so beautiful sat amongst the city. I only made it to the second floor as the top was 'temporarily closed', maybe because it was too busy? I don't know but I climbed back down and walked across the river and up to Avenue Kleber where I walked down to the Arc De Triomphe, which again was astounding in real life, so huge yet so elegant. I found the subway entrance and as I'm under 26 it was free, the lines moved fast and the views were pretty, especially as these ones had the Eiffel Tower in them. I then had a look at the ever burning flame which was quite moving before heading down the Champs-Elysees, which was quite atmospheric knowing your on one of the most known boulevards in the world as they say. I had a look in the car showrooms and bought an amazing ice cream, like I've never tasted before!
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I walked all the way back down to Concorde and caught the metro to the Georges-Pompidou centre, which was interesting to look at and I did intend to look around the modern art gallery but I was just so tired, I planned to come back sometime during the week (never actually got the chance), so instead sat outside and watched some amazing street performers, some had really amazing talent! I ate at a little street restaurant/café near the Georges-Pompidou which was really nice before walking around the Fontaine Stravinsky which was interesting and different before walking back to my hostel to check-in, unpack and get a good nights sleep!
The weather was very hot on this day and due to my sun cream being in my suitcase, I got quite burnt and blistered on my shoulders and neck area.
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Day Two: Sunday 4th August 2013:

So I left the hostel around 9:30am and walked down Saint Antoinette to where the Bastille Monument stands and up to the market, very vibrant with a mix of stalls. I bought some really nice clothes from here and browsed the colourful fruit stalls. I continued up the same road to the metro where I took it to the Grevin Museum at Grands-Boulevards, fun and interesting with wax models associated with history and modern day celebrities ect, I found the light and music show a little unrelated and not so great, but the rest of the museum was fun and entertaining, this would be good as a stop off for families with children to entertain ect.
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Afterwards I hopped on the metro to Saint-Michel where I walked down the boulevard stopping at Brioche Doree, where I got a baguette, fruit and Pain-Au-Chocolat and walked across to the magnificently beautiful Jardin Du Luxembourg, where flowers were bright against a brilliant blue sky, children having fun sailing boats in the fountains and many people sun bathing and picnicking, it was just a wonderful sight of summer and fun. I found a nice shaded spot on the grass where I ate lunch. I then intended to go on the Paris Walks tour about the resistance and WWII ect, except I walked the wrong way down the boulevard Raspail and ended up near the Catacombs instead of at the intersection at Sevres-Babylon and by the time I got there, I was 15 minutes too late which was disappointing, anyway by this time the heat was beginning to get to me and I had acquired quite bad sunburn to my head which was making me feel a little off, so decided to escape the heat and head back to the hostel for a quick nap before heading back to the Eiffel Tower in the evening to get some photos ect, I also browsed the street stalls which were quite nice and got a bag, there was also some good performers and street artists ect. I also noticed a lot of guys selling mini Eiffel keyrings and Eiffel Tower sculptures for next to nothing, 5 for 1 euro but would suddenly run away if they seen Gendarmerie or heard sirens which I thought was weird? But all in all the atmosphere was great at the Eiffel Tower, I also bought sausage and chips which I ate on the grass in front of the tower whilst listening to some people perform Bob Marley songs which was really relaxing and had a great feel of summer around. I then attempted to make it back to the Georges-Pompidou for the last admission at 8pm but sadly arrived just after five past, so instead headed back to my hostel for an early night.
Another great day in Paris, weather was really hot and muggy.
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Day Three: Monday 5th August 2013:

So this morning I left the hostel a little after 9:30am and walked up by the river to the beautiful building known as the Conciergerie an old Palace and prison where the Queen Marie-Antoinette was held and stood trial. The building itself is beautiful and stands out vividly against the river. It was free for me as I am under 26 and an EU citizen. You enter into a grand hall with vaulted ceilings, a spiralling staircase and numerous fire places, you can only imagine what great things took place here. You then continue through the book shop into the old prison part where there is an information room and room set-ups on how each room would have looked, like the preparation room ect. The security man here tried it on with me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable as he grabbed me by my arm as I tried to leave but I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit. You then go upstairs to another exhibition room which is primarily in French but has the blade from an original guillotine believed to have been used to execute a famous serial killer. You then enter the chapel and leave through the women's courtyard back through the main hall. It was very interesting and I would really recommend visiting here.
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Afterwards I doubled back towards my hostel to the 'Memorial De La Shoah' a museum and memorial dedicated to the French victims of the holocaust. It was very moving, some information was just in French but there was enough in English that if you were to read it all you would have been there all day. There is a wall of names outside which is just unreal in quantity. The memorial downstairs is very moving and there is apparently ash of victims buried here in the walls, in soil bought from Israel. It is an ever burning flame and very peaceful. I bought a book and two candles to light at home from here.
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I then walked along the Rue De Rivoli and did a bit of shopping before feeling quite unwell and like I was going to collapse (I put this down to the heat and probably doing too much before my body had got into a routine) So I went back to the hostel and had around an hour sleep before leaving for a river cruise I had booked at 6pm. The river cruise was an hour long and very pleasant with a nice breeze, taking you under 22 bridges it was very scenic and did the main stretch in Paris. There was also a free audio guide telling you what buildings and particular bridges were and the history behind them which was interesting. Also included in the booking was a three course dinner at the Bistro boat situated on the river right next to the cruise boat. I am quite a fussy eater and don't generally like going out my comfort zone with food and although it was very nice I was a little unsure and wasn't something I would normally go for, but it was nice food. I had Tomato, Mozzarella and Gazpacho for starter, the tomato was a sort of soup/sauce and was delicious and mozzarella is one of my favourite things, it was the gazpacho that put me off, although not bad tasting, the look and texture of it was not really that appetising. Main course I had Pork Belly served with French Style Ratatouille, pork being one of my favourite foods too, it was very nice except it was served with a brown, lumpy sauce that tasted of meaty fat. The ratatouille was nice, something I have never tried before. Dessert was Summer Tart which was delicious. The overall evening was very good, relaxing and atmospheric, the staff pleasant and food portions generous. Afterwards it was around 8:30pm so I walked down the river and across to Concorde where I caught the metro back to my hostel for another early night.
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Yet again another wonderful day apart from feeling ill in the afternoon, weather was hot and muggy with a 5 minute thunderstorm whilst I was asleep that dried up within minutes.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 08:51 Archived in France Tagged me landscapes beaches bridges churches art people trees sky night planes boats trains museums paris france culture travel theatre memorial town museum cathedral hostel prison tour medieval capital hot trip jewish europe holocaust alone latin jew coach catacombs solo cabaret solo_travel report 2013 national_express provins Comments (0)

Paris, France 2013, Part Two

3rd to the 10th August 2013

sunny

Day Four: Tuesday 6th August 2013:

So this morning I got an earlier start and left the hostel around 8:30am and headed to Gare De L'Est to get the train to Provins, a small, very scenic and picturesque town around 1 hour and a half from Paris. Upon arriving in Provins it is a short walk into the lower town which has some nice shops and a few cafes where I had something to eat and bought some gifts. It is very medieval style and has a lovely atmosphere, very quiet with cobbled streets. I then followed the signs for the Medieval Town which took me up quite a steep hill past the rose gardens and up to a square bustling with life. I followed the signs to Caesar Tower which has a sense of abandonment about it which just adds to its beauty. There were a few families picnicking on the bank and crows flying in and out of the tower, very big and the age is very prominent. I sat here for quite a while before walking even further up to where the Medieval Ramparts were and a tourist information centre where they had a large picnic area and little shop. I hung around here for a bit until it was time to go to the first show; The Legend Of The Knights which takes place in a covered, open aired theatre next to the Ramparts, the show was AMAZING! Bursting with energy and although in French the storyline very clear. They used horses, pigs, ducks ect all trained and well taken care of, they incorporated things like stunt riding, dressage, jousting and sword fighting and it was just indescribable, the energy of the actors alone was just magnificent, I think that is what makes things like this so good is when the performers are just bursting with so much energy and show that they are genuinely enjoying themselves. The show lasted around 50 minutes and afterwards I made my way up to the second show, set inside the Ramparts, called The Eagles Of The Ramparts, this one was completely open and with the sun bearing down, you could feel it burning so I put my umbrella up for shade. This show was also very good with an opportunity to hold one of the birds. They had eagles, vultures, owls ect all very well trained and did some amazing tricks. The vultures were HUGE!
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This show lasted around 35 minutes and afterwards it was time to go and get the train back to Paris, so I walked back down the same way as I came up around a 20 minute walk and got to the station 5 minutes before the next train left! Upon arriving in Paris I visited a few shops that were on my list and got a pizza from a take away shop on Rivoli (something I had fancied all day!). Around 8pm I walked down to Pont Neuf and waited for the Ghost Tour (booked on Viator) that left at 9pm. The tour guide was called Laura and was very nice and knowledgeable on the subject. The tour was interesting and I learnt quite a lot. Things like King Henry and how he was killed, the Cemetery of the Innocents story, the Templar of the Knights, Marie-Antoinette, Montmartre amongst many more. It lasted until around 11pm and went super quick, there were some quite obnoxious young people from Scotland that were making offensive comments (probably unknowingly) but the tour guide coped well and didn't seem affected, however I think some other people on the tour was a little annoyed by it, it finished just outside the Hotel De Ville and so I went back to my hostel from there.
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This day was a particular highlight for me, down to the shows in Provins (exactly the type of thing I love), the weather was hot yet again, but felt a lot better today.

Day 5: Wednesday 7th August 2013:

It was raining quite heavily when I woke up on this morning which was quite sad although it was quite a lot cooler which was a little more comfortable. I left the hostel a little later around 10am and headed for France Miniature out in Elancourt, it takes around an hour by train and there's a bus that stops right outside the station that goes past it, you will know when your there because the stop is called 'France Miniature' and there a huge signs on the road. I love things like this, a little different but still related to the place I am visiting. I was given a free English map and for each model there was a description and some information which made it even the more interesting, actually knowing what I was looking at, the models are numbered and are so on the map too, so is easy to follow round. It is basically the whole of France on a miniature scale, set into sections like the Alps, North, East, South-East, Central ect. There were things like castles, chateaus, churches, landmarks ect all down to the very last detail, beautifully designed with trains running on tracks around the park and boats floating on the lake. There were things like little seaside towns with scenarios depicted like roadworks and people sat eating ice cream, I could of spent all day looking at all the little details which is what made it so great. The rain had eased by now but it was still quite grey and damp. I stopped half way through for lunch at the restaurant on the site and to be honest there was only like three choices on the whole menu, I had steak and chips which was very nice and good quality for the price. I then continued looking at the last of the models. There is also a few rides at the back which would be fun for children and a gift shop.
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I headed back into Paris around 2pm and caught the metro to the Natural History Museum which I was quite disappointed with as it is set in a large park but is actually in many different buildings all of which you have to pay separate admission prices for which I didn't think was right. I went to the Gallery of Evolution which was nice to look at but after around half an hour I decided I didn't want to be traipsing round looking for different buildings so instead stopped at a food van and bought the most delicious thing ever, I can't quite remember what it was called but it was a bit like a giant waffle with chocolate in! I then walked up to the the Musee Magie, near where I was staying and found the admission price quite expensive for what it was compared to other places I had been in Paris. There were a few interesting things but I don't recommend it, I only spent around 20 minutes here before catching the metro to Chatelet on Rue De Rivoli and doing some more shopping, I then went back to the hostel to get changed and caught the metro to Grands-Boulevards where I ate at the Hard Rock Café, expensive but worth it. It was now around 8pm and so walked the short distance to the Theatre Nouveautes? for my booked performance of 'How To Become Parisian In One Hour' I had a seat on the front row and the theatre itself was quite small but cosy in a way. The show was hilarious and was certainly true, there were jokes about French waiters, the metro, nightclubbing, relationships and shopping in Paris ect, I found I could relate to quite a lot of it or if not came across it later on in the trip. Definitely recommended, a really enjoyable night.
I got back to the hostel just after 10pm.

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Day 6: Thursday 8th August 2013:

So this morning I planned on leaving early but awoke half an hour late, as I wanted to try and be one of the first in line for the Catacombs as I had read that the queue can get quite long as they limit the number of people to 200 inside at one time. It doesn't open till 10am but I was there for just before 9:30am and already the line was stretching around the small park/square in the middle, the sun was already shining and quite hot, but I got my place in line and had bought some breakfast to eat whilst stood there (such a good time passer), at 10am once the queue started moving it did move quicker than expected although I did get quite agitated towards the end. It was here that I witnessed the 'water bottle' guys and how disgusting and uncaring they are, basically all over Paris you can find men stood in the street with bottles of water in a bucket with ice for 1 euro however on numerous occasions the men would go behind a bush where people were queuing, open what looked like a homeless mans quilt on a extremely scruffy mattress and top up the buckets in full view of the people queuing who he was trying to sell the water too. Once I moved round to near the entrance there was another man stood there, he also disappeared only to retrieve more bottles from a disgusting bucket with flies swarming and then started relieving himself with bits clearly splashing up the side of the bucket, so, so disgusting!
Anyway I was stood in line for a little over 2 hours, but once inside the Catacombs it was worth it, very cheap entry price. You have to go down quite a lot of steps and enter into a series of tunnels which are quite dark and get quite damp towards the end, some of the tunnels were completely empty and were a little scary! You follow the tunnels round until you reach the memorial part which is where the bones are, very eerie and quite an unusual dampish smell. The bones are really close to you, but are fascinating to look at and imagine who they could of belonged to, there are thousands and thousands here, and are all artistically placed. They have plaques with years on, and some parts of the tunnel of bones have collapsed leaving bones sprawling onto the floor (these bits are closed off), I had previously been to the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora (Czech Republic) but seeing it on this scale and in this environment was much more full on. I was down in the tunnels for around 45 minutes before submerging up around 85 steps back to the surface, be warned where you enter is around a 10 minute walk on ground level from where you exit so can be a little confusing but it does show you on a map before you enter. There is a shop across the road from the exit where I bought a book about the Catacombs and its history, I haven't had time to read it yet but it does look interesting.
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It was now around 12:30pm and so I caught the metro to Saint-Michel where I walked across and past Notre Dame which is huge! To the Deportation Memorial, it is very moving and such a quiet, peaceful place for thinking and reflection. You enter down some steps into a open type courtyard with very high walls that gives you a feeling of being enclosed which obviously a lot of them would of felt, you then enter the building where there are triangles on the wall with names of some of the concentration camps and there is also a long memorial type feature which is very beautiful. I only spent around 15 minutes here, but felt it was enough as there were people sat on the bench crying, so thought I'd give them some space. It is set directly behind Notre Dame in a small, pretty park.
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Afterwards I walked back to the metro and caught it to Trocadero where I visited the Aquarium, I have never been to an Aquarium before so was quite excited as I love things like this, the admission price was high but average for these kind of things. There were many types of beautiful exotic creatures and some more not-so-beautiful weird but fascinating ones too. There were small tanks were you could get really close to detail and there were larger tanks that housed things like small sharks and huge fish, sting-rays and sword fish. There was also a petting pool with Koi type fish which was fun for the kids. The Aquarium is big and doesn't take long to get around but it was good and well-maintained. I really enjoyed it.
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I was getting tired by this point and drained by the heat, but I ploughed on and headed up to Montmartre, getting off the metro at Anvers and walking up the bustling tourist street directly in front, leading up to Sacre Coeur, the street was packed with people, vendors and souvenir shops which had a buzzing atmosphere, the souvenir shops were selling slightly different things I had seen so far so bought a few things from these. Once at the top of the street, and got full view of Sacre Coeur, it was beautiful, almost peaceful sat up there, despite the hundreds of milling tourists taking photos, sat on the banks and wandering around. I bought a Banana and Nutella Crepe (my first) from a shop on the corner of the street which was beyond delicious, words cannot even describe! I sat on the wall at the bottom of Sacre Coeur and ate it while watching the many different types of people. I then decided to take a walk to the top and on the way up the first set of steps I encounted the 'bracelet' men who tried to grab my arm, I said 'No' and he replied back 'Don't worry, I not make you pay, no scam here' I was like yeah right, what made you say it then haha, but just walked away and carried on with no more hassle. I got someone to take my photo and the views where beautiful over the rooftops of Paris, it's so much more higher than you think! The walk isn't all that steep and was easily doable. Anyway it was getting a little late now and so I walked back down the same street and onto the boulevard where I followed it round to near the Moulin Rouge (such an iconic place), not the best of areas, sex shop after sex shop but can imagine the fun that young people could have here at night with the club lights and music ect. I visited the Musee Erotisme, near the Moulin Rouge which was actually quite cool, it housed many different little statues and artifacts and strangely enough I could see the art form in it. Really interesting and quite quirky, it isn't big and only takes around 20minutes to view but would recommend it for a bit of fun!
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I had then planned to go to Tour Montparnasse but decided to skip this as I felt I had already visited quite a lot of high viewing points in Paris and still had gifts to buy and spending money left, so instead I headed back to my hostel area where I did a bit of shopping before returning to the hostel for a 45 minute power nap before departing to Pyramides, Cityrama for a booked Open Top bus Tour of Paris Illuminations. It didn't start till 10pm and I got a good seat, you also get the option to listen to the audio guide which was really interesting, the tour lasts around an hour and a half and covered quite a lot of ground, it was nice to see Paris from this different angle and witness the atmosphere of the night time. I really enjoyed this and was another particular highlight. Due to the late finish around 11:45pm I was a little nervous getting back but it was fine, I caught the metro from Tuileries to Saint-Paul and there where quite a few people on the metro and walking the streets, there were even people still sat outside restaurants which was really reassuring and not once did I pass through a part where I was completely alone.
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I arrived back at the hostel around 12:00am and went straight to bed.

Day 7: Friday 9th August 2013:

So this morning I left the hostel around 10am and caught the train to Versailles, the price was really cheap for the tickets, except as I was about to put my ticket through the machine thing to open the gate a woman grabbed my arm and pleaded me to let her through the gate with me, I said you have to have a ticket and she said yeah mines ran out, so I was like yeah buy another one? But before I could say no she had rammed her way through with me, it annoyed me as I am a tourist visiting and willing to pay the price to see the city and all it's surrounding attractions, this wasn't the first time I'd seen this happen either and people would frequently hop over the gate, grab the door as people were coming out the exit and go in that way ect, and it was annoying but I suppose you get people like that everywhere. But anyway I arrived in Versailles around 11:30pm and having skipped breakfast walked across the road from the station to a small shopping place and had a baguette and cheese fritter type thing, the queue was quite long at the ticket kiosk next door, but there was a sign saying that if you were under 26 and an EU citizen then it was free and you just went straight up to the Palace and stand in line at Gate A. So I walked up and it took no longer than 10 minutes, my first impression was just 'Wow' it makes Buckingham Palace look like a council house! I am not too interested in places like this and visited due to the fact of it's popularity and something to fill my last day with, but I am really glad I went. The queues were HUGE! Weaving up and down the courtyard! There must of been easy 1000 people or more stood there, however the queues move quite fast, and I was only queuing for just under an hour an improvement from the Catacombs at least. As I entered the first courtyard a girl stopped me asking if I wanted to walk round with her so we could take photos of each other ect and I agreed, she was very nice, from South America and spoke good English. We walked through the main Palace, it was amazing but I don't feel I can give it full justice as I don't really agree with the type of décor and don't really find it all that appealing myself but it was beautiful in it's own way. It was hot and crowded so we walked round quickly and then headed to the gardens which were spectacular! I enjoy things like this! Flower beds, statues, sculptures, a huge beautiful lake/pond? It was beautiful! We took some photos and said goodbye as I wanted to get back into Paris to do some last shopping. I got back to the hostel around 6pm and got changed ready for that nights event before walking by the river and looking in the shops around the Notre Dame, crossing to Saint-Michel and having a look round there too, I bought quite a bit but by this point it was 7:15pm and time to head to Paris Paradis Latin Cabaret on Cardinal Lemoine. I had chosen the meal option which was absolutely delicious and just to my taste (not too fond on the starter) except the portion sizes left a little to be desired for. Also included was a half bottle of Champagne and a photographer came round taking photos with the option to purchase for 10 euros, I had mine done with one of the guys wearing loads of make up in a fishtail suit. The atmosphere was great, bursting with energy and who'd of known that the waiters got up to perform as well which was unexpected, everyone was really friendly with beaming smiles making you feel really welcome. The show was great a little tacky at times but I was expecting that, there was a trapeze artist and a guy on one of them one wheeled bike things throwing things on his head ect, the waiters bouncing around the room with energy clapping along just creating a fabulous atmosphere. It was really enjoyable and was a great finish to a great trip!
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I walked back to my hostel, there were plenty of people around and it was really lit up from the street lights so felt safe.

Here is the link to my youtube channel which contains videos of Paris plus all the other places I have visited: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTlPcT9mu3v1OVkAmRoBs4A

Posted by KayleighTwyman 04:58 Archived in France Tagged art museums paris france culture travel theatre memorial town museum summer tour hot trip europe holocaust alone latin catacombs solo cabaret solo_travel report 2013 provins street_performers Comments (0)

Prague, Ceska Republika 2013 Part One

March 30th-April 6th 2013

overcast

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So here is my latest entry for my Easter trip to Prague, solo for one week. I stayed at Prague Square Hostel which was very nice, clean and comfortable. Very centrally located, situated one minute away from Old Town Square (Staromestke Namesti). Weather throughout the trip was generally mild, cold if you spent enough time outside in one place and the odd bit of sunshine, but no rain which was lucky. I also did a couple of day trips from Prague including: Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov, both of which you can read in their individual posts below. The report is presented in the original day-by-day format I posted on TripAdvisor.

Day 1: Saturday 30th March 2013:

So I arrived in Prague at 1015am from Heathrow, having spent the night sat in Terminal 3 due to the early morning flight.

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I had booked a transfer from the airport to my hostel on Melantrichova via Prague Airport shuttle who were great, on time, great value for money and very friendly.
I dropped my cases of at the hostel and headed straight for Old Town Square, less than a minutes walk away. I strolled around the Easter markets and bought a hotdog which was great, very different to English sausage. I then positioned myself at the Astronomical Clock, (one of the main things to see in Prague), ready for it to strike 12pm. It wasn't spectacular but I wasn't expecting it to be, it is a very beautiful landmark and very important to Prague as a city.
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I then walked down Melantrichova and onto Rytirska where I began my statue walk with a gold, footless man sitting on a bench outside a hotel, then continuing down to a Theatre type building was a strange figure shrouded in a cape, on closer inspection you realise the cape is empty and full of darkness, it was a type of memorial to Don Giovanni I think. I then carried on to Wenceslas Square walking down to the statue there, which was King Wenceslas upon his horse a symbol of the Czech Republic as a whole. I then took one of the streets that lead off Wenceslas Square to the Lucerna shopping centre to see King Wenceslas on his dead horse, this one was quite spectacular as it was larger than expected. After that I walked down the same road stopping for lunch at a medieval style restaurant called U Ceskych Panu, I had chilli goulash in bread, although the goulash was very nice I didn't like the bread but the restaurant itself was very nice, quiet and peaceful. I then cut through Charles Square onto Resslova and visited the Cyril and Methodius church where the paratroopers of operation Anthropoid died, it was very informative and very moving, I highly recommend this to anybody interested in history. The Czech Parachutists came up with a plan to assassinate a Nazi named Reinhard Heydrich, when the Nazis found out they ordered a mass search for the parachutists, they were soon located in hiding at the Church of St Cyril & Methodius, having lived in the crypt out of refuge, the Nazis soon arrived and attempted to flood them out through the window. Each parachutist ended up dying, some taking their own lives.
Afterwards I continued up by the river stopping at the Zibrodli Theatre to see the giant embryo sculpture on the side, a creation by the Czech sculptor; David Cerny, I then walked to Charles Bridge and climbed the tower, lots of steps! But the views were worth it! It also gives you a feeling of Medieval atmosphere as it looks out over the Charles Bridge, the tower itself is also mainly wooden steps and you can see wooden beams and rafter like features also. I then walked across the bridge looking at many of the great statues along it, apparently if you touch or kiss the gold on the statues it is supposed to bring you good luck, wealth and a return trip to Prague. The bridge has a life of it's own, with many vendors and stalls to browse, although many overpriced it gives it a fun atmosphere, even the beggars that position themselves add to the amazing atmosphere of it all. I turned left at the end into Kampa Park stopping to watch an Easter folklore type music show which was good, once in Kampa Park I went to see David Cerny's giant babies, that were positioned crawling on the grass, at first they appear quite cute in a sense but when you see their faces it is a sort of weird technology type grid that gives them a sense of strangeness.
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I then walked under Charles Bridge and upto the Narrowest Street In Prague which was quirky and not something you see all the time, it has traffic lights to tell you when the passage is clear, although not worth visiting on it's own if it is going to take you out of the way, I highly recommend seeing it if in the area as it makes a great fun photo opportunity. I got some photos and then walked up the road to see The Peeing Men which again was very quirky and different, another statue by David Cerny, two men with rotating hips appearing to be 'peeing' on the map of Czech Republic, although quite bizarre, it is again something you don't see all too often. I don't think many people know the actual meanings behind Cerny's sculptures and are left to be interpreted by the onlooker.
After this I walked to Letna Park and climbed the hundreds of steps, which were very steep and tiring, upto the Metronome which was actually quite ugly and looked useless, however from a distance for example from the street known as Parizska it can actually look quite peaceful and mysterious in a way. Anyway, I found a perfect spot near the Hanavasky pavillion for taking pictures, magnificent view I could of sat there for hours!
After I walked down the long slope and crossed Cechuv Most Bridge and walked down Parizska, a very expensive street and back into Old Town Square where there was a great performance of children performing Czech folklore on the easter stage, I watched this for around half an hour before going to find the last sculpture on my walk of Sigmund Freud hanging in the street, it is literally a statue hanging one handed of a pole into the middle of the street, again bizarre but strangely unique and intriguing. I then got a great little hot chocolate for 40czk which was very nice and warmed me up. By this time it was around 7pm and I was very tired as I had been up all night travelling so returned to my hostel got my room key and unpacked and went to bed.
The hostel is very nice, the rooms spacious with lockable lockers, it is very clean offers free internet and breakfast. The weather today was mild with some sunshine. So far Prague is a very beautiful city and I cannot wait to see more of it!
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Day 2: Sunday 31st March 2013:

I awoke and left the hostel around 9:30am this morning and walked up to the IMAGE Theatre on Parizska (just off Old Town Square) to pick up my tickets for the following evening, it was stated that the box office was to open at 10am and if it is one thing I have learned about Prague is that they arn't great time keepers as the woman turned up to open the theatre at 10:20am, after I got my tickets I then walked to the Marionette Theatre on Zatecka to pick up my already purchased tickets, this too stated it was to open at 10am I was here a little after 10:30am and it was closed, I gazed through the window and to my surprise there was a oldish naked man stood in his boxers getting dressed, so I figured maybe he had overslept or something and was going to open the doors, sure enough once dressed he came to the door opened it and locked it behind him, I asked if I could pick my tickets up but he didn't speak English, so I then left it as they were reserved and paid for anyway and headed to the Torture Museum just by Charles Bridge, three floors of artifacts and informative descriptions, eye-opening to what medieval people had to endure i.e suspected witches ect, I found the museum interesting and would reccommend it to anybody interested in the more gruesome side of history.
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Afterwards I walked down the river to Psstrossova to the Globe Bookstore which has a wide range of english language books including some really nice souvenir Prague books. I did purchase a book here for less than 200czk.
I then walked to Wenceslas Square via Charles Square to the Vytopna Railway restaurant, my drink arrived via train and the food itself was very nice, I had pork schnitzels in a sort of baked bean/chilli bean sauce with peppers and pepperoni pieces ect.
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It was now around 1:30pm and I was due to meet for the World War II In Prague Tour at 2pm by the Powder Tower on Namesti Republiky. The tour was very informative and I chose to do this as I am planning on doing more war history related things here in Prague and wanted to broaden my knowledge of how the world war II affected Prague and the Czech Republic. I came away understanding a lot more, especially things like the Nuremburg Trials, the Czech hero Nicholas Winton ect. Our guide Marek was easy to talk to, answered any questions honestly and overall I really enjoyed it and would reccommend it to anybody wanting to know more about how Prague was affected during world war II. Also Marek pointed things out like the various types of buildings you can find within seconds of each other which I hadn't really noticed, but this is probably what makes Prague beautiful. Also the tour ended at the top of Parizska with the view of the Metronom, which did look alot better from a distance. The tour finished around 4pm so then I walked down Parizska to Old Town Square and tried Trdelnik, and it was amazing! Very tasty! A sort of contrast between popcorn and pancakes.
I then continued down to Na Prikope and visited the Communism Museum which did give me a better understanding of Communism itself but I found there was too much reading and not enough exhibit type things, I did purchase a book here called A Brief History Of The Czech Lands that looks easy to read.
So after this I wanted to get some dinner and although the Czech cuisine that I have tried already was extremely nice I decided to opt for a McDonalds as I am a fussy eater and fancied something a little closer to home. It was now around 5pm and I went back to the hostel for half an hour or so to drop things off and just have a small rest.
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I then walked about 2 seconds up Melantrichova to the Sex Machines Museum which was better than I was expecting as I thought it would be just for fun but it does detail some historic, interesting pieces and also shows a spanish film. This would be fun for hen/stag does, or anybody in Prague looking for something less serious and just plain fun. By this time it was around 7:30pm and so I walked back to the Marionette Museum on Zatecka, this time the man was fully dressed, the theatre was bigger than made out to be on Trip Advisor and I got a front row seat. I admit it is not for opera lovers but more of a comedy showing the marionette art ect, you could see the performees hands and the back drop kept getting jammed but for me this added to the atmosphere as it was all really old. The marionette of Mozart was really good and really funny. I really enjoyed it and it was a good laugh so I would recommend visiting here too. A very cultural and traditional show for Eastern Europe.
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I then went back to the hostel and had a hot shower before bed as I had an early morning the next day.

Day 3: Monday 1st April 2013:

I got up early and left for the Old Town Square ready for 9am for an organised tour with Martin Tour to Terezin. The coach was comfortable and as we drove out of Prague the english guide pointed out things of interest and told us some interesting facts like for example Skoda translates into 'what a pity' and names of Prague districts translate into names from the medieval times as things like 'cut throat area', 'stolen bag area' and 'nice villiage' ect.
Once we arrived at Terezin we had a little free time to get a drink and browse the shop where I bought a book called History Of Terezin for only 60czk. We then met our english guide and started the tour walking through the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' gates where all prisoners would of entered, I have previously visited Sachsenhausen in Germany so sort of knew what to expect however Terezin was different as it is a Austrian fortress and so quite picturesque, you could never of guessed the horror of what happened there. We then walked through an underground passage and up to the execution range which was strangely very peaceful with birds singing and deers prancing around, still extremely sad though. We then walked back to the bus past the graves with stones upon them, nobody knows the true numbers of victims of Terezin, but my heart goes out to all of them. Once back on the bus we took the short ride around the corner to the Big Fortress where most of the Nazis lived in great peace with great gardens, we visited the museum and then went to the art gallery which documents all the art that came out of Terezin including children's art, also propaganda, we also got to see part of the original propaganda film made by the nazis to show that Terezin was a town given to the Jews.
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After arriving back in Prague I went to the Gastronomy Museum, which was very interesting and different to museums you normally find, it documents in easy to read information and beautifully detailed exhibits the timeline of food and cooking from Prehistoric times right up to the present, the woman who worked there was very nice, showing me things of interest and showing me around the amazing modern kitchen, I also got to try a sample of a drink called Medovina I think which was amazing and so I bought a bottle to take home, she also gave me a sample of palm cake I think it was called which was also great.
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After this I walked around the easter markets and bought some gifts and some more Trdelnik. I wandered through the streets surrounding the left of Old Town Square browsing the souvenir shops ect. I had dinner from one of the stalls in Old Town Square of potato, chicken and cheese pieces which was advertised for 39czk per 100g except they do the portion for you without knowing how much it costs before they hand it you so it turned out for this huge portion they handed me it cost 350czk! And it wasn't even that nice! But after that I sat watching the folk performers on stage with a great hot chocolate before it was time to head to the IMAGE Theatre on Parizska, sadly no photos or videos could be took and they didn't even sell a dvd, as it was the best thing I have ever seen in my life, compared to the reviews on here it was spectacular, how they do it is amazing, I seen Black Box, obviously its all strings and people dressed in black but still the effects are amazing and I would highly recommend this to anybody in Prague, you cannot miss it. I did purchase their booklet which explains some of the history and how its done but I would love to go back stage and see for myself :)

Walking back to my hostel after the show, I seen Old Town Square lit up in the dark and it was really beautiful and atmospheric with snowflakes whirling in the air but not settling.
The weather so far has been ok, a little cold, snowflakes but not settled snow at least and no rain :)

Day 4: Tuesday 2nd April 2013:

So this morning I got up extra early and left the hostel around 7:30am and caught the metro to Dejvicka, I was heading to Lidice and small villiage totally destroyed by the nazis due to the assassination of nazi Reinhard Heydrich, the women were sent to concentration camps, the children gassed and the men shot. At the time of it happening no explanation was given, children were ripped from their mothers arms and told they would be reunited within 1 hour however that never happened, it wasn't until the women survivors returned to their home town of Lidice that they found out the true fate of their children, they were gassed in Chelmno. They also returned to what they thought would still be the villiage of Lidice, their home, however it was just open plains with just the stream running through, the nazis had razed it to the ground. A horrific tragedy, and extremely heart breaking. Anyway I followed the directions for the airport bus like what was said to on TripAdvisor and went to the stop a little further up. There were two stops titled Kladno, but I realised not all the Kladno buses stopped in Lidice, asking the drivers they couldn't understand my accent and thought I was talking about the airport so was little help. So after missing one bus and walking back and forth up and down the bus stops a Kladno bus stopped and the driver understood that I meant Lidice. It was around a 30min drive out of Prague, going through various small villiages. You know when you are at Lidice via the bright yellow bus shelter and large white crossroad sign, but the driver had already turned round to tell me I was there. Once of the bus it was obvious where to go, a large pavillion stood in some trees. The memorial is extremely beautiful and truly heart touching. There is also a strange atmosphere, I was completely alone whilst walking around the once was town. There is a beautiful monument to the children of Lidice, 82 I think died without looking at my notes. Carrying on through the fields you come to a large stone which was where the first house of Lidice once stood, further up is then where the church and school was and then the remaining foundations of Horak's farm where all the men were lined up and shot, these foundations are the only proof that anything once stood here. There is then a small stream, and you cross the bridge and walk up the hill to where the old cemetry once stood, yes the nazis destroyed this too, you can also walk around the newer cemetery. From here you can see the new town of Lidice that overlooks where the old town used to be. It is unimaginable, words cannot even begin to describe the horror and brutality. I then walked back up the left side through the flower garden, eventhough there were no flowers this time of year, I then went to the museum where first you get shown a documentary. In the museum itself are various photos of the families and children who lived there, which was awful to see, one photo of a couple smiling on a boat was taken just 3 days before the horror happened. There is also a small café type venue on the site offering really cheap warm food such as burgers, chips, jacket potatoes ect and other things like crisps and drinks. So after Lidice which I really recommend visiting although it does bring tears to your eyes, it is very different from concentration camps, I headed back to Prague.
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Once back in Prague I went to the Ghost Museum which I was expecting a lot more of, I am fascinated with ghosts and the paranormal and although I did expect it too be slightly fake, it was worse, it was just masses of reading depicting legends of water fairies and things like that, downstairs there is a fake sort of ghost walk which I suppose would be fun for kids, I spent around 10 minutes in this place before realising I didn't want to spend no more time here and so walked down to Petrinske Sady, stopping at Hunters pet shop to get my dog a present. Once at Petrinske Sady I caught the Funicular up to the top of the hill, I do not know how people manage to walk up there it is unimaginably steep! So once at the top I walked to Petrin Hill Tower and climbed the hundreds of steps to the top, it's all open aired so it gets pretty scary haha! The views were incredible though! So after this I took the long steep walk down to the bottom and had a look at the communism memorial before getting the tram to Narodni where I stopped at Cafe Louvre and ordered the famous hot chocolate which I can say is amazing, really thick and a real chocolate taste! I also had a large chocolate cake which was delicious but got quite sickly with the hot chocolate aswell! I really recommend this place!
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So after this I walked back to my hostel, stopping at Pylones on the way, a top of the range, great quality novelty shop, and it was amazing! I bought my mum and brother a present and also got myself something too, just alot of fun really! So I then dropped things of at my hostel before getting a pizza and eating it in Old Town Square, around 5:45pm I walked down Tynska to McGees ticket office ready for the Prague Castle After Dark Ghost Tour, which lasted 3 hours long. It was great, real historic stories of Prague and it's people and also some mystical legends, it makes you realise that when you are walking down a street in Prague that some things you walk by and make nothing of actually have a deeper story to them, very interesting, also Prague Castle in the moonlight is amazingly beautiful and atmospheric. Our tour guide spoke very good english and was easy to talk to, answered any questions and was just generally great! So again I would recommend this!
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After the tour around 9pm I walked back to the hostel, I am on the top floor of the hostel and for some reason they turn the lifts of at certain points in the day meaning you have to walk four flights of stairs! And the lights in the corridor was off this evening making it difficult for me to get my key in the door so I turned the light on, and the generator which was right behind me made a loud bang and a flash of light came from the inside before the lights actually came on! Pretty scary.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 12:15 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague travel medieval europe czech_republic solo 2013 Comments (0)

Prague, Ceska Republika 2013 Part Two

30th March-April 6th

overcast

Day 5: Wednesday 3rd April 2013:

So yesterday I left the hostel around 9:30am and headed for Namesti Republiky, via Celetna which seems a quite tacky tourist street which is a shame as it is the main street that connects the two squares together. Anyway I found the yellow kiosk ready for the 2 and a half hour Jewish Walking tour, our guide was very knowledgeable on the whole history of the Jewish religion in general and gave us interesting information about the Jewish population specifically in Prague, we seen three synagogues which were very interesting as I had never been into a synagogue before and was nice to see how it contrasts with a christian church. We also seen the Old Jewish Cemetery where nobody has been buried for over 200 years, you could see all the old graves and tombs and the higher the grave was it meant generations of families were buried on top of one another, also we viewed the oldest synagogue in Prague from the outside which was still very medieval and on the medieval street level. Overall a interesting tour, however I would of liked some more recent information about the Jewish population of Prague in World War II ect, but still a recommended tour to do.
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After the tour around 12:30pm I headed to Prague Zoo, which was quite easy to get too. The zoo itself isn't the largest but is still interesting and had some animals/reptiles I had never seen before. It has a few quite steep walkways and so you get hot and tired quite easily, so unfortunately I didn't make it all the way round the zoo but stopped in the restaurant which was nice and good value for money. I then took a ride on the chairlift which takes you up the steepest part of the zoo and you can view the layout of the zoo from the ride, the ride itself was pretty scary but nice at the same time, after this I realised in fact I had seen the most interesting parts and so decided to head back into Prague. This would be a fun day out for a family in Prague and I loved it! :)
I also crossed the road over to Troja Chateau which was much more beautiful in real life, I took some pictures and then got the bus.
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Once back in Prague I walked around the streets surrounding Karlova and Husova just off Charles Bridge and bought some gifts. I then visited the City Of Prague Museum, it was quite interesting with some good pieces of information and some good exhibits, it also houses the Langweil's model of Prague and cardboard model of the city of Prague back in the Medieval times, which was really interesting to see, you also then view a 3D film where you appear to be walking through the streets of the model which was really good, I would only recommend visiting here if you have more than a few days in Prague, as most of the information you can pick up from places around the city. By this time it was around 6pm so I went to drop things back at the hostel before walking up Pariszka to Cechuv Most where I boarded the Bohemia boat for a 3 hour river cruise on the Vltava. It was extremely beautiful passing under Charles Bridge and there was a old style jazz band playing which added to the atmosphere. Also included was a unlimited buffet of hot and cold food such as Chicken and port schnitzels, chips, meatballs, goulash, rice, salad, cheese, and desserts. The food was hot and very nice. I also went up on the top deck to take some photos but by this time it was very cold. I would strongly recommend doing a river cruise, they are beautiful, relaxing and very atmospheric.

After this around 10:00pm I went back to the hostel stopping for Trdelnik on the way. :)

Day 6: Thursday 4th April 2013:

So yesterday I left the hostel around 9:30am and headed for Kralovstvi Zeleznic, a model railway, I love things like this as it is something different, anyway after realising the tram number 12 didn't run from where it was stated I had to walk to Metro B and get off at Andel, the place is only around a 5 minute walk from the Andel metro, but when I arrived at Kralovstvi Zeleznic, it happened to be closed to the public for the morning which was really disappointing but I didn't mind too much as I had already seen the one in Berlin which is much bigger, so after this bad start to the day I headed back to Old Town and to the Choco-Story Museum situated on Celetna. There was a man outside who gave me a voucher for a bag of free sweets. The museum was surprisingly really interesting, with easy to read information in the right quantities without being boring and really good exhibits, also included in the price is a free chocolate demonstration which shows you how they make truffle type chocolate and then you get to taste one which were really nice, I personally loved this small museum and it was a fun side trip to all the sadder, historic things I have been doing, so I would really recommend this museum, it only takes around half an hour-45 minutes to get around so doesn't take too much time out of the day.
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After here I walked up to Namesti Republiky and had a quick look around before it was time to depart with the tour to Kutna Hora, about an hours drive away from Prague a small mining village on a mountain. It was beautiful, first we visited the Sedlec Ossuary which is a church completely decorated by human bones, some of which still had war wounds on them, very interesting and very cold inside, after here we went to St. Barbora's cathedral, personally I am not too interested in cathedrals and churches ect, but this was beautiful, both inside and out! We then walked across the replica of Charles Bridge into the historical quarter where we viewed the Plague Column, right next to this was a cordoned off area, which turned out too be where a mine shaft had completely collapsed taken half the square with it!, After the square we took a tour around the beautiful Italian Court, the chapel and the mint, which was very interesting. After this it was time to go back to Prague, a very quick visit of around 4 hours but definitely worth it! I would off loved to go down into the silver mines but they are not open this time of year.
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We got back to Prague around 6pm and so I had a walk around the shops surrounding Melantrichova and having a hot dog, trdelnik and hot chocolate in the Square before returning to my hostel for an early night ready to depart for Cesky Krumlov the next morning.

Day 7: Friday 5th April 2013:

I got up a little after 5am and left the hostel at 6am, it was still dark and hardly no one around, there was a few people though which was good or I would have probably have been scared entering the metro alone with just a few beggars outside, but once inside the metro it was reasonably busy. I got to Na Knizeci around 6:15am, so was really early for my coach to Cesky Krumlov which was due to leave at 7am, but better early than late! :). The coach was comfortable, magazines, newspapers and a film was available as entertainment but in Czech only, they also served free hot drinks which was great. The journey is a little under 3 hours, and it went really fast. Once in Cesky Krumlov the weather was completely different from Prague , with quite a lot of snow still on the ground, it was really cold, gloomy and spitting with rain. The main town square is around a 5-10minute walk from the bus station. On the way to the square there are amazing views over the small, medieval town which were beautiful. I walked to the square and seen the Plague Column, then walked up Radnici and stopped at the Marionette Museum, which was just fascinating, a large collection of marionettes from all different types and years. It was great although didn't take long to get round. After this I walked up to the castle which still has some extremely medieval features and you can feel the oldness of it in the atmosphere which was great. I bought a ticket for the tower only as I had just missed the tours that go around the castle, the tower has lots of uneven wooden steps with wobbly rails which was scary but yet again added to the atmosphere of the place. The views from the top were amazing and I took some pictures before heading back down as it was really windy and cold. Unfortunately the bears weren't in the moat and the dungeons weren't open for some reason so after around an hour walking round the castle and surrounding grounds I headed back to the main centre of the town. As I was only here for around 5 hours I didn't want to wander to far down the backstreets in case I got lost as there weren't many people around and if I got lost I was scared to of asked someone for directions and them not speak English. If I had been there in summer overnight it would of been perfect, such a beautiful little town and well worth the trip. I then had lunch at a small restaurant, I can't think off it's name without looking at my notes I think it may of been U Hroznu or something along them lines, anyway it was great value for money and the food was delicious! After this I went and sat by the river watching some people thatch a roof with wooden tiles. I then had a walk around the streets surrounding the square and bought a few presents. By this time it was time to head back to the bus station. A quick visit and I would of loved more time to explore if the weather had been warmer but in all honesty I couldn't wait to get back on the bus because it was really cold. But a amazing beautiful, medieval town, definitely worth a visit!
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On the way back the journey wasn't quite as comfortable due to a really large man sitting next to me and DSCN0592.jpgresting half his belly on my leg, every time we turned a corner he would fall on me and his belly would wobble against me, also every time he moved his arms I got gassed by this sickening smell of sweaty body odour, it seriously was not nice. It was that I have anything against large people it's just that he didn't have any respect as he spread his legs out so one of his legs were on my side and I was forced to have to sit half way up the window ledge, whilst he was sat quite comfortably taking up a seat and a half!

Anyway once back in Prague I had a walk around getting some last presents before going back to the hostel to freshen up from the bus experience and headed to U Pavouka Medieval Restaurant on Celetna. It was a historical fantasy show and it was amazing! Really, really good! Worth every penny! I even tried some food I had never tried before, yes it's touristy but it is great quality and you will love it! There are various actors including pirates, belly dancers with snakes and fire and the best part was the medieval band itself, just their energy alone, the music was great and the way they moved was fantastic! It is called Historical Fantasy Show, so don't come here expecting a history lesson, it is purely for fun, and all the waiters ect are in medieval attire, such a great evening to end a great week! You also get opportunities to have your photo taken with the pirates and the snake. It was just great! I would highly recommend this to anybody going to Prague as a night of fun! On the way back to the hostel I walked by a man playing music from wine glasses, he had them all on a table with a liquid that appeared to be gas inside them, anyway it was really good, top quality music!
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Day 8: Saturday 6th April 2013:

So yesterday I got up around 8:30am to get ready and packed my suitcase up, I left the hostel, leaving my cases in the luggage room around 10am and walked up to the Staromestska tram stop, except they wasn't running due to the Czech marathon, so instead I walked up to the Castle District via Nerudova Street which is pretty steep but it is a lovely street. The weather was a little humid, the type were you get really hot if you walk but cold if you sit down, so that was irritating. On the way up I stopped at the Wallenstein Gardens to see the 'drippy wall', apparently the longer you stare at it the more creatures you see like gargoyles, snakes, dragons ect but I couldn't see any! There was also a very pretty bird of which species I had never seen before randomly dead in the middle of the path which was sad to see.
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After reaching the top I headed to the Museum Of Miniatures Museum, which was small but very interesting and different. It is a museum of microscopic art i.e a picture of Jesus on a poppy seed, a flea holding various items and trains on a hair, you have to look through the microscope to see them and they are quite amazing, it was only 70 or 80czk to get in, so reasonably priced compared to some other museums and such in Prague, but yes it is worth a visit if you are in the Castle area.
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After this I walked down to the Castle and bought a hot chocolate whilst waiting for the Changing Of The Guards Ceremony. I had been stood waiting for over half an hour and all people could do the whole time was push and shove which is expected at things like that. The ceremony was very nice and royal and lasted around 10-15 minutes. Afterwards I entered the castle courtyards and St.Vitus cathedral is just breath taking considering I'm not interested in Cathedrals much. I was planning on doing the long visit ticket at Prague Castle but I was tired and hot after all the pushing and shoving and generally getting quite annoyed at people, so I chose the short visit ticket, which included entrance to St.Vitus Cathedral, St George Basilica, Golden Lane and a palace I think. I went to the first three. Golden Lane is such a quaint little historic street, and the houses are set up to replicate their original set up which was nice to see. There are also a few shops in some of them.
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In between the Basilica and Golden Lane I took a quick detour down a road between the two to the Toy Museum or Museum Hracek, 2 floors of old, antique and slightly more modern toys and collections, really brings childhood memories back, includes things like dolls, bears, trains, mechanical toys, Barbies, army, Star Wars ect. Also in the courtyard in front of the museum was a strange statue of a man with a golden penis.
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After this I decided to head back down into Old Town as it was around 2pm. I got a hot dog on the way down and then went to sit in Old Town Square, I then took the walk to the cheapest Absinthe shop I could find and purchased a bottle for around 290czk. After I had exactly 50czk left and just enough to buy one last Trdelnik, yum! I was going to use the rest of the afternoon for any last shopping, but seeing as I had no money left I didn't feel like walking round, so I just people watched in Old Town Square till around 4pm when I went back to the hostel to get my cases and quickly ensure everything was packed ok. Afterwards I went and waited around half an hour for my airport transfer via Prague Airport Shuttle, on time, reliable, great value for money, highly recommended! So around 5:15pm I headed for the airport leaving Prague behind me. Such and amazing week, I feel I have succeeded in making my trip a mix between both culture, fun, history and experience, I have loved every minute of it and hope I will come back to Prague one day after exploring a few other countries first.

Other Photos:
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Hostel: Prague Square Hostel, Melantrichova 10:
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Travel Photos:
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Please see my YouTube Channel for all my videos from this trip- http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTlPcT9mu3v1OVkAmRoBs4A

My main highlights of my trip include:
The IMAGE Theatre,
Lidice,
The Choco-Story Museum,
Kutna Hora
U Pavouka Medieval Dinner Show
and of course Trdelnik!

Travel Information:

National Express Coach-Nottingham to Heathrow-Left: 23:25, Arrived: 2:30

Sat inside Heathrow for five hours with two nice women and hot chocolate!

British Airways-Heathrow to Vaclav-Havel-Left: 7:15, Arrived 10:15

British Airways-Vaclav-Havel-Heathrow-Left: 19:40, Arrived: 20:40

National Express Coach-Heathrow to Nottingham-Left: 22:30, Arrived: 1:15

Prague was a beautiful city rich in culture, history and fun! I really enjoyed my week spent here in the Czech lands and hope I can carry my experiences learned onto future trips!

I will be going to Paris in August, preparations now underway! :)

Posted by KayleighTwyman 12:11 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague travel medieval europe czech_republic solo Comments (0)

Berlin, DEU 2012

October26th-November2nd 2012.

semi-overcast

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So this is my new entry for my most recent trip to Berlin, Germany for a week; 26th October to 2nd November 2012. The weather was more or less pretty cold and one day of rain. Overall I loved the city, much better than London! Easy to get around, not too busy and cheap! Would definatley go again!
So I will post my entry in trip report format, it will be the same as what I posted on TripAdvisor.

Day One: Friday 26th October.

I arrived at Schonefeld airport at around 10am from the UK. I followed the directions to the train station and got the RE4 to Friedrichstrasse. The train station is really easy to find, turn left coming out of the airport and follow the covered walk way and your there! From Friedrichstrasse I made my way to the hostel I'm staying at which is City Hostel Berlin. It's very nice, clean and the staff so far seem very pleasant and happy to answer any questions. Anyway I left my case in the luggage room at the hostel as check in wasn't untill 3pm. I walked the short walk to Brandenburg Gate, which is pretty impressive.

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I had a reservation to visit the Dome Of The Reichstag at 2.45pm and was early so decided I would try my first CurryWurst, which smelt amazing and looked it too! I bought one from one of the stands on Unter Den Linded near the Brandenburg Gate. To be honest I was a little disappointed the texture of the sausage was very different to what I am used to, it was nice but I couldn't eat it all.
261020127484.jpgAfter this I walked down to the Murdered Jews Of Europe Memorial and walked around it for a while. Walking through the massive grey columns gave you a feel of how the Jews felt; closed in, sorrounded. I then queued up to go down to the Documentation Centre, in where if you read every bit of information you could spend well over an hour here, but I had to get to the Dome so spent around 40 minutes reading the timeline and reading bits of information in the other rooms. There was also a audio room where you could listen to stories about people in the holocaust and war times. The place is very quiet and well laid out. you have to go through security to get in. It is free of charge however there is a donation box.
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It was now half an hour before I had to be at the Reichstag so made the short 5 minute walk over to it. The entrance for visitors is just down the side of the building, and you enter a small white building where you go through security before waiting outside to be escorted up to the Dome. Once in the main building we went up in a mirrored lift which gave the visual effect of the lift being enormous! I entered the Dome, the architecture being amazing, I walked slowly up the spiralling slope getting great views over Berlin including the Berliner Dom, the Fernsehturm and the River Spree. There were also some cranes which ruined the view slightly. Be advised if you are uneasy about heights do not look down, I made this mistake and felt as if I was about to fall. Once at the top you can look out onto the open sky. 261020127503.jpg261020127507.jpg261020127509.jpg261020127510.jpg261020127513.jpg261020127515.jpg261020127517.jpg

After the Dome it was around 3pm so I went and checked into my hostel, unpacked my things and made myself comfortable. around 3.30pm I made my way over to the Eastside Gallery getting the train to Ostbahnhoff. The Eastside Gallery is literally just across the road from the station, you will see it as you come out. I'm not really into art or galleries but this was really impressive. The artwork was bright, some humorous, some more with a stroy behind them. I walked down the wall taking photos and gazing at the amazing pieces of the wall. I would reccommend this for anyone in Berlin, great way to spend an hour or so. After this it was time for me to go back to the hostel after a long tiring day of travelling I just wanted to get an early night. So I walked back to the station and grabbed a quick McDonalds before making my way back.

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Overall a fantastic first day in Berlin!

Saturday 27th October, Day 2.

This morning I awoke around 9pm and got ready to go down for breakfast. Considering I only paid 10euro a night for the hostel the breakfast was quite impressive and of good qaulity. I had a freshly warmed roll with cheese and ham and orange juice, there was plenty more to choose from too. After this it was time to make my way to Starbucks near the Brandenburg gate as this was the meeting point for my booked tour of Sachesenhausen Concentration camp. Whilst waiting I bought a hot chocolate from Starbucks and a sandwich from the shop next door (Can't remember it's name) for later in the day, as food isn't availble at the camp and the tour goes on most of the day. The sandwich was very nice. Anyway our tour guide was James, he was very nice, helpful and full of the relative facts. Great guide. The tour company was New Europe, which I highly reccommend from this experiance. The tour itself was very interesting and very in depth at what happend at Sachsenhausen, you can walk round some of the original buildings viewing exhibits and such. It was very interesting and gave you a strange feeling being there knowing what had happened on the spot where you are standing. I feel I came away with a good understanding and better views. It's really hard to explain, you have to visit to understand what I mean. It's also upestting looking at some of the pictures in the exhibits. I would reccommend this tour, it was a 'good' day out, meaning good for learning and really trying to understand this awful part of history.
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After Sachsenhausen I decided I would visit the Berlin Gruselkabinett (Berlin Chamber Of Horrors), I'd read mixed reviews on this and half expected to be disappointed, I only visited as I do like the quirkier, weird things and also wanted to be a little less serious and become a bit mroe cheerful after my day at Sachsenhausen. I was quite disappointed, they have a maze upstairs where people jump out at you which would be fun if you were with others, they also have a exhibit to medical history, however this is small and the models are plastic, in the basement there is a exhibit about the war which isn't too bad but not great. The whole place is set in a old war bunker, the bunker itself is pretty creepy and does have an atmosphere to it. Overall I found it tacky and cheap, it would be a fun way to spend a few hours with children but not really for adults travelling alone. I reccommend visiting here with children, if not then I wouldn't visit.
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I also bought the Berlin 5 day Welcome Card, and had a rather rude encounter with a man at the BVG office in the Friedrichstrasse station, he called me a 'wrong woman' because I had asked for the book and map that goes with the card which you don't get straight away if you buy it at the ticket booth in the train station, apparently I was asking at the wrong place although he did give them too me. After Gruselkabinett I decided to head back to the hostel, on the way I grabbed a burger and some fries (I will eat at restaurants later in the week, just needed something quick these past two days)

So again a great, learning filled day in Berlin.

Sunday 28th October, Day 3.

This morning I awoke around 8.30pm and got ready for a long day by eating at the hostel and leaving for Mauerpark flea market around 10am. I arrived at the flea market on Bernauer strasse around 10.30am and it was exactly what it says; a flea market selling second hand goods, not like markets I know back in England where most of them are new stalls with high prices, this was low priced, nobody pressurising you to buy anything, so was comfortable at going around at my own pace, I didn't buy anything here but did see some good bargains, you could possibly spend the whole morning here, I didn't as I had a booked tour of Spreepark so left around 11.30am (a good job I did as I underestimated how long it would take me to get there) Anyway I got the train to S Planterwald, and coming out of the station you continue in the same direction till you get to a main road here you cross and continue down the road in the same direction your already going, around 5mins later I reached the entrance to a wooded area (Treptower park?) At the entrance there was a small white box with Spreepark labelled on it, which meant I was headed in the right direction, following the main path around 5mins later I reached the entrance, a elephant missing it's trunk, a train ready to depart for a tour and a cafe where I waited for Christopher the tour guide. The tour itself was German only, but I didn't mind as just wanted to look around and take some photos, there was around 50 people on the tour so felt comfortable not speaking German. It was 15Euro which is a fair price I think, but could probably be lower. The park itself is very atmospheric; manmade fun being completely overtaken by nature, you are free to take photos and explore the rides as you want. It was very cold and as the tour lasted around 2 hours by the end I was ready to leave, but very glad I did it. I'd reccommend this to anyone into nature, photography, quirky atmospheric, calm places.
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After Spreepark I caught the train back to Brandenburger tour, where I ate some German Fries from one of the little booths situated on Unter Den Linden, after this I crossed the street and entered Madame Tussauds, I'd read mixed reviews on this and was expecting to only spend around 20mins there, however I was pleasantly surprised, the attraction itself is medium sized with intereactive exhibits and oppurtunity's to have your photo taken proffesionally in a fun environment. The figures were very life like the first few I thought were real people, until I became used to seeing them. I bought two photos at the end for 13Euro which I didn't mind as I had a discount via the welcome card, and the photos were great qaulity and souvenir.
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After Madame Tussauds I caight the bus to Alexanderplatz, where I enterted the TV Tower (Fernsehturm) I waited in line for my ticket and they said approx 1hr20min wait, probably because it was a busy time 7pm. So I went and found somewhere to eat, I was in a rush as I didn't want to miss my entry time so got a mcdonalds, located in a shopping centre opposite the tower. I gained entry to the tower around 20mins earlier than expected. Going up the lift, the digital screen counts how many feet you are going up, untill you reach the top 203metres. The views over Berlin are spectacular, you couldn't see much in terms of landmarks as it was dark, but seeing the city lit up, it also gives you an incredible idea of how big the city actually is.
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After the TV tower, I headed back to the hostel to get some more money as I wanted to go check out Checkpoint Charlie museum seeing as it was still quite early and I probably wouldn't have time to do this on any of my other days. From my hostel it is approx a 5 min walk to checkpoint charlie. Once there a very nice tourist took my picture and then I entered the museum, at first glance it looks pretty overwhelming, bits of inofrmation dotted everywhere, but you sson get the hang off how things worked, and to my surprise I really enjoyed it, coming from someone who isn't into museums. I really liked the escapee stories the best, and the story about Wallenburg, all in all it was very informative, quite easy to understand and reasonably priced given the discount. Again this I would reccommend to gain some understanding of Berlin and Germany's past.
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So far my view on Berlin is a vey laid back, easy going City, which is good, I definately prefer Berlin to London already, let's see what the rest of the week brings! :) After checkpoint charlie I have now returned to the hostel and look forward to yet another very full day ahead tomorrow.

Monday 29th October, Day 4.

Today I had another ealry start, I got up around 8.45am and had breakfast before walking the 2min walk to the U bahn station and getting the train to Alexanderplatz where I entered the Alexa centre and visited the Loxx Miniatur Welten attraction, which is located on the top floor. The attraction itself was just as I was expecting, amazing and full of detail. It is quite big, and has all the main Berlin landmarks such as Brandenburg Gate, and the TV Tower. The detail was amazing including even having the shops in their exact places and setting scenarios in the street which you would see in everyday life such as fire engines and car crashes, even the trains where extremely detailed, with people on them and the double decker RE trains where also circulating the tracks there. The airport had planes taking off and landing and the airport itself had great detail. This would be a very fun way to spend a morning or afternoon with a family or friends. The price to get in 8 euro (discounted with the welcome card) was good for the attraction. It looked as though they were expanding it, building more, which should be good when finished. Overall I really enjoyed it and would reccommend it to anyone. I spent a little over 40mins here and would be easy to spend even longer especially in the company of other people.
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After Loxx, I then caught the train and a tram to Hegmeisterweg where I visited Modellpark Berlin, looking at the directions I thought it would be extremely difficult to find but it was pretty easy, and plus this attraction doesn't exist on tripadvisor yet so hadn't been able to read any reviews. Once getting of the tram there was a large white sign post with Modellpark Berlin on, so you know your headed in the right direction, after the sign post it's about a ´5-10 min walk down the main path of the park it's set in. Once there, there is another sign telling you that your there. It was only 4 euro so was really goodly priced. However it was pretty empty, as expected as it isn't advertised on the tourist sites like this, only a few german speaking people only. It's a pretty small attraction, but with space to develop. The models themselves where amazing detail and had absolutly everything down to the last detail, they are fairly big in size, so easy to observe. Some of the models include The Reichstag, a famous fairground and some buildings of palaces and mansions from around the Berlin area. I enjoyed it here and would love to hear of other Berlin tourists visiting aswell, it is a long train ride but if visiting with a family or friends or even alone I think it's worth it.
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After Modellpark I then caught the train back which was a rather long journey including waiting times to the Kurfurstendamm where I visited The Story of Berlin museum, overall a very informative, easy to understand timeline of over 800 years of Berlin history including the reign of King Fredrick, the milestones of Berlin including when monuments and landmarks were erected and even when the first cinemas and tourist attractions where founded. Included in the price you can go on a bunker tour which is really good. The tour lasts around half an hour and is located just outside the story of berlin building. You enter the bunker which is pretty dark ann eerie. The original bunker beds are still there which gives you an idea of how it was set out.
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After the story of berlin I did want to go and have a look at the Topography of Terror however it was 5 o clock and the Topography closes at 6 so hopefully I will have time to visit there tomorrow. So instead I headed back towards my hostel and took a walk down Friedrichstrasse looking for somewhere to eat, along the way I passed by checkpoint charlie and paid 1euro20 to have a photo taken with the gaurd holding the american flag however after the photo was taken he asked for my number and if I could come back at 7pm, I felt pretty uncomfortable and just quickly put my number in his phone with an added 0 so it would come up with wrong number, it was really awkward I only wanted my photo taken and as I walked away he grabbed my arm and said 7 o clock here, I finish. I quickly walked off and found a small Italian restaurant on a little sqaure at the bottom of Friedrichstrasse, I ordered a Pollo di Lasagne, the food itself wasn't too bad, but I wouldn't reccommend it unless your looking for somewhere cheap and are with a bigger group, I felt quite uncomfortable sat alone, however all in all the bill only came to 9 euro for the lasange and a drink. After the meal I caught the U6 back to the hostel to avoid having to walk past checkpoint charlie and risk bumping into the soldier\gaurd again.
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So again another great day! My trip is passing to fast only 3 more days left ;(

Tuesday 30th October, Day 5

This morning I was very tired, probably the busy days in the city are finally catching up with me, I didn't get up untill around 9am, I had breakfast at the hostel and then left for a busy day of shopping.

First off all I headed to the Kurfurstendamm, where I had to buy an umbrella as it was raining for the first time since I have been here. I strolled up the Ku'damm taking in the busy city sites and looking round shops such as H&M and other more German fashion stores. I walked around the Europa centre which isn't that great, just a few cheap fashion shops and an Irish pub. After here I walked down Tauenzentstrasse (spelt wrong I think sorry!) and entered the famous KaDeWe, full of expensive, out of my league shops, I went to the top floor to the food hall and coming from a person not that interested in food I found it amazing! The layout, the various types of food, just incredible. Here I spent around 12 euro on chocolate as gifts for friends and family. After the KaDeWe I walked back down the strasse and had a browse round Bershka which is just my kind of shop, I found it pretty similiar to New Look in the UK. I bought a few items from here before continuing on my shopping spree. The next destination being Harry Lehmann, I'd read about this online and new I'd love it! Situated on Kantstrasse, it's a small perfume shop, although it doesn't sell your average high street perfumes more tradtional, home-made styles. After only a couple of squirts from one of the testers the smell was incredibly strong unlike some high street brands where you have to spray a considerable amount and the prices here were great too, averaging from around 5-10euro for a small bottle which is bargain price considering how strong it is. I bought two bottles for 18euro and very happy that I visited here! After here I headed back towards where I was staying and entered the famous Fassbender and Rausch on Charlottenstrasse\Gendarmenmarkt, again another absolutly incredible shop! With chocolate models of famous landmarks such as Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag. Massive amount of choice between chocolates. They also have a cafe\restaurant upstairs where I purchased a hot chocolate and gold leafed mousee which was also great! I spent around 6 euro on chocolates here considering I'd already bought from the KaDeWe.
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After fassbender and rausch I walked down Friedrichstrasse to the The Topogrpahy Of Terror, a timeline of the war and battle of the Jews\Homosexuals\Gypsies ect. Overall easy to understand and gives you a good understanding of the lead up to concentration camps and deportations ect. I also entered the inside part which was basically the same as the outside timeline just in more detail, I spent just over an hour at the whole thing and feel that was enough for me to get a basic understanding, if you were to read every last bit of information you could easily spend a day here but too get a understanding that is not needed.
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After the topography I walked up Friedrichstrasse and went into one of the many souvenir shops, I love these! Overpriced but fun! I spent around 20euro on two souvenirs for myself a present for my dad and one for my mum, I still have gifts to buy. I then continued up Friedrichstrasse and purchased a cheeseburger as I wasn't that hungry tonight from a street stall called City Snacks, and I can tell you it was amazing! The best buger I've tasted in ages and all for just 2euro! I don't really like burgers all that much but this was great!

After this I returned to the hostel in hope of an early night to restore some energy for my final days in Berlin. Not long left now, it's gone so fast, I could easily stay here another week! :(

Wednesday 31st October, Day 6.

Today I awoke quite late around 9pm and still tired! I think the city is finally wearing me down! Anyway after breakfast at the hostel I departed for a slow, chilled out morning and headed towards Potsdamer Platz, the platz itself wasnt as spectacular as Id read about, however it was still pretty cool. I also took a trip up the PanoramaPunkt, a very high tower and you get similiar views as from the TV tower and for half the price! It was interesting to see views over Berlin in daylight as when I had gone up the TV Tower it was night. Also the PanaramaPunkt has a exhibition all the way round the walkway, I didnt stop to read it, but it was to do with the history of Potsdamer Platz and the very local area.
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After the tower I headed towards Georgenstrasse where there is a small exhibition just outside Friedrichstrasse station called Death Trains, Life Trains or something along those lines, it was reccommended by Lynda, a user of this forum and I am glad she did, it was about trains that took children to England to survive the holocaust ect eventhough they survived some of them were still negelected but the point that they survived is a happy story from a city with so much sadness surrounding it.
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After this I walked down Georgenstrasse and ate lunch at Da Vincis a brilliant, good rate Italian restaurant also suggested by Lynda! The food was very nice, goodly priced and you got quite a large portion too!

After lunch I headed for Hohenschonhausen Prison Memorial for the English tour at 2.30pm, after getting of the tram I walked down Bahnhoff strasse before reaching Genslerstrasse where the prison is located. The tour itself lasted just over an hour, for 5 euro it was fairly priced although I was expecting a little more, maybe more in depth, more stories ect. Our tour guide was German and kept struggling for words making it pretty hard to follow, he was also saying some words in German for the German people on the tour who really should have gone with the German tour. It was still interesting and I would still reccommend it but I would of liked more detail and more stories from prisoners themselves.
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After Hohenschonhausen I headed back towards the hostel and walked down Friedrichstrasse where I purchased some more gifts for friends and family. I also ate at McDonalds again tonight. Im just not that into food and find it easier to eat where it is busy and also in a place I know and can order in English, also I feel pretty uncomfortable eating alone in restaurants if I was here with other people I wouldnt mind.

Anyway after that I returned to the hostel for an early night so I can make as much out of my last day here in Berlin tomorrow.

Thursday 1st November, Day 7.

Sorry that this post is a day late, I had a pretty long, last day in Berlin yesterday but now I am back in the UK I will post yesterdays posts and get onto writing individual reviews on TripAdvisor for each thing I visited, I also now have plenty of time to answer any questions and would love to do so.

So yesterday I awoke pretty early so I could make the most of my last day in Berlin, however I was also really tired after my past days in the City, I ate at the hostel and left for Berlin Zoological Gardens around 9.45am. It was pretty dull and grey and rained quite heavily throughout most of the day, I suppose it represented the way I was feeling about leaving Berlin. Zoo's are normally not that interesting and a place you visit as a child or with children for a day out, I wasn't expecting to be amazed or excited here, but thought I'd take a look around and see what this world famous zoo was about. I can tell you it was really amazing! By far a special highlight from my trip, I am an animal lover but never really been interested in zoos or farms as I went to them alot as a kid. The zoo is really big and you could spend a whole day here looking at the diverse species of animals, 90 percent of which I'd never even heard of before nevermind seen! They have an aqaurium here also but you need to pay a little extra for this, they also have a nocturnal exhibit which was really nice, also the exhibits for the animals were pretty clean and well suited to their individual, natural habitats for example the mountain deers were place in a exhibit with a large rocky mountain, the large cats i.e lions, tigers ect had forested exhibits with a vast water supply, so it was really nicely well-kept and you could see that the animals were well cared for as despite the weather the zoo keepers were still tending to the animals cages.After spending around 3 hours or so walking around the zoo I decided to eat lunch in the restaurant, I had fish & chips and it was decently priced and was of nice qaulity.
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After this I had pretty much had enough trodding around in the wet so headed for the Judsiches or Jewish museum, this was not in my oignial itinerary but decided I really wanted to go. The building stands out from any other in Berlin, it is a silver/grey weird shaped building (representative of a shattered Star of David) with almost no windows. On entering the building you have to go through security much like with many other museums and places in Berlin, I placed my bag on the conveyor belt as usual however when I walked through the detector it started beeping and I remembered I had something in my pockets, that something being a little pot of Leberwurst or Liver Sausage that I had taken from the hostel that morning as a present for my dog back at home (sad I know), and still hadn't had chance to put it in my bag so the man on security made a joke about saving it for his dinner, pretty embarassing for some reason though haha.
The museum was really interesting, pretty small in contrast but good qaulity information, you can view property here that belonged to Jews and also small items which people had with them in concentration camps, seeing these items made it feel much more real and hit home a little of how horrific the holocaust really was, although we will never really understand, not like the victims anyway. You can also enter the holocaust tower which is a small empty tower with no windows, cold and dark and you get a real feeling of insecurity as people emerge from the shadows and also claustrophobia which I feel is representative of how the victims of the holocaust felt, but people have different views also. There is also a main exhibit about the complete history of Jews and how they was hated and murdered way back in the early centuries which was interesting for me as I didn't know this, but why were they hated so much? That question still lays unaswered for me. There is also a Garden Of Exile which you can walk around, it's layed out similiar to The Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial, however the columns are larger and in a much smaller space. I would reccommend visiting here, I was finished within about 1.5 hours and had read almost everything excpet for parts of the permanent exhibit about Jewish history. It is really interesting and reading some personal stories and seeing possessions makes it feel even more like it really did happen. Sad, but interesting.
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After the Judsiches museum I headed towardsAlexanderplatz where I walked to the Berliner Dom, weird as I don't normally have interest in churches or cathedrals or anything of that matter but there was something intriguing about this place, making me want to visit, I still don't know what it is, but I am glad I went. The main room is pretty spectacular, traditional and really big, when you think of the amount of work it took to get the details and such. I also entered the crypt which is a calm but eerie atmosphere also of sadness although the people here died hundreds of years ago it still sad to see, especially the small coffins which hold babies and young children. One question I would like to know would be that are the bones of the people within these coffins or are they just memorials? fter the Crypt I headed up to the Dome walkway of the Dom, loads and loads of steps, really tiring and spiralling thin staircases, quite scary, especially if you look down! And as it was wet outside the stairs were quite slippery! During my visit I have been up the TV Tower and the PanoramaPunkt but this was different as you have to walk the entire height of the building to get to the viewing platform which makes you appreciate it more once you get to the top. On the walkway it was still raining and the walkway itself was incredibly thin! I am glad I went up though as it was a foggy day and this gave a great view and atmosphere over the city which was very atmospheric. After slowly walking down the steps back into the main cathedral I headed for the toilets except you have to pay 40cents, yes it's not alot of money but after paying to gain entry, then a 20 cent donation for a leaflet, another donation in the main room and then 1 euro to light a candle I found it pretty unessercery and inconveniant to pay to go to the toilet. There was a grumpy little woman stood at the toilet door and if you were even 5 cents off she yelled at you, and the queues were really long because onc somebody came out the little woman would go into the toilet with a cloth and wipe the seat a nice idea but when she's using the same cloth everytime it would and without a glove or changing the cloth it would probably be more hygenic not to do it and much more conveniant as people would be able to get in and out quicker.
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After the Berliner Dom, I walked back to Alexanderplatz S Bahn, last minute gift shopping on the way and headed of for Rosenthaler strasse out in Pankow to go to the Monsterkabinett. Once I arrived at Rosenthaler strasse I walked down the road but the road itself was a small, dark, creepy residential street, I needed 39 Rosenthaler strasse but this only went to 35, so i walked around the area for a while to see if the street continued anywhere but I soon gave up as my feet were really wet from the rain and it was dark and spooky, so I headed back to the hostel to get more directions as I figured I was in the wrong place. I was in the wrong place, infact the Rosenthaler strasse I needed was in Mitte where I was staying! I read that the Monsterkabinett closed at 8pm and it was 7.15pm by the time I was on the right train! Once at Rosenthaler strasse it took me another 15mins to find the place, it's down a little grey walkway covered in graffiti, street art and stickers. Upon arrival it was 7.50pm but I was in time for the last show. I grabbed a drink from the adjoining bar which was pretty cool, and coming to this bar down this little backstreet alleyway gives an insight to what Berlin nightlife is like. At around 8.15pm we went down into The Monsterkabinett, for 8euro it is a little over priced and isn't included in the welcome card, but it's a really fun, different attraction and I really enjoyed it. Very different to the usual touristy things and gives an insight to the real, Berlin and the type of Berliner people. Really enjoyed this and glad I found it.
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After this I found a little Italian takeaway/restaurant on Oranienburger strasse called Piccolo Italian, I ordered a pepperoni pizza for take away and really enjoyed it, nice little place and friendly owners. I then headed back to the hostel and packed ready to leave Berlin for the UK this morning. Looking back on my trip I've had a great time, learnt a great deal and succombed to many different experiances. Now I am home I am going to start planning my next trip which I think will be Prague.

Thank you to everyone on here that has helped me organise and plan this trip over the last few months!

Hostel I Stayed At:
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Flight Photo's:
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Other Photo's:
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Highlights from my trip:
-Zoo
-Judisches Museum
-Sachsenhausen

Flew with Ryanair, East Midlands to Schoenfeld.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 04:17 Archived in Germany Tagged germany berlin fun cathedral prison madame_tussauds trip jewish railway holocaust reichstag alone concentration_camp unusual jew solo sachsenhausen report theme_park flea_market berliner_dom miniature_railway quirky Comments (0)

London, July 2012.

My very first trip alone, the beginning of my travel experiances.

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The reason I decided to go to London was because of a disagreement. Long
story short I had planned to visit a beach destination with a 'close' friend and
had been planning for months only to be told a few weeks before that 'she' had
decided to go with some friends I had fallen out with, so basically I had been
skanked. I was desperate not to waste the days I had taken of work so decided
I'd go somewhere a little more interesting and new alone. I did have second
thoughts about going alone, wether I'd be bored, what people would think of me
ect, but non-the-less I went ahead and booked three nights in The Smart Russell
Sqaure Hostel, Camden, despite reading the negative reviews it was cheap and had
everything I needed. Next I booked my coach tickets with National Express and
chose to receive them via post, only for them not to arrive and after making
several long phonecalls to National Express I finally received a copy via Email
that I had to print off. Not a good start to my trip.

Wednesday 25th July 2012: Day One.

I arrived at Nottingham coach station to board the National Express coach to
London. Onboard the airconditioning was on full blast making the coach very
cold, other than that it was quite a pleasant trip as I had a seat to myself. I
arrived in London ahead of schedule and to save money (As I was on a tight
budget), I decided I would attempt walking to my hostel plus it was only like
11am and I couldn't check in till 1pm. So I followed what seemed to be the right
direction on the map I had only to find 20mins down the road that I was heading
in completely the wrong direction, it was hot, I had a huge suitcase plus a
small bag so decided I would take a bus to my hostel instead. So once back at
Victoria Coach station I boarded a bus to Oxford Street as I had read that my
hostel wasn't far off Oxford Street. Once at Oxford Street I began the awfully,
unrealised walk to the top trugging my suitcase. By the time I had reached my
hostel I was quite exhausted but walked back down and visited the British Museum
which to my disappointment I found rather boring, confusing and exhausting. It
was basically full of old pots from Egypt and other countries. I found it hard
walking up the many flights of stairs. There was a limited edition exhibit which
was a bit more interesting about the history of horses and jockeys ect except I
cam across a rather rude member of staff who shouted across the room that I
wasn't allowed to take photos (There wasn't any signs say not to!) and so making
me rather embarrassed. To visit this museum you must be interested in ancient
history and viewing rocks and ornaments which I am not so probably the reason I
found this place a little boring. After visiting here I headed to Oxford Street
to browse the many shops, as this is what I had originally planned most of my
trip to be; Shopping.

After a bit of shopping and getting a McDonalds I decided to go and sit in
Hyde Park for a while as I was very tired and the weather was very hot! Looking
at the map in Hyde Park I realised I was considerably close to Buckingham Palace
so decided to try and follow the directions. After about three times of walking
round the park I finally found the exit onto Knightsbridge which I walked the
wrong way down so had to turn back on myself. By the time I had reached the
palace itself I was so tired I could barely stand. The palace itself was really
spectacular, I'm not really into sightseeing but thought I'd go and have a look
as I was considerably close. It was beautiful and very atmospheric I would
advise anyone visting London to take 20mins or so just to stand at the gates.
The gaurds were marching back and forth which added to the atmosphere. After
spending around 20mins at the palace I decided it was time to head back to the
hostel, my feet were hurting that much from walking I could barely move but I
managed to make it to the closest underground station being Hyde Park Corner,
from here I was able to get a tube straight back to Russell Sqaure, a few
minutes walk from my hostel. This was my first ever experiance of travelling on
the underground and not a very pleasent one. I hate going down escalators as
when I was little I got my leg caught at the top of one and almost fell down, so
the extremely steep escalators in the tube stations scared me and the dust that
fills the platform gets into your eyes and mouth. Onboard my first tube I was
very overwhelmed by the heat, overcrowdedness and the sheer speed and rattling
of the train. However I finally made it back to my hostel and managed to get a
good nights sleep.

Thursday 26th July 2012: Day Two.

I awoke early the second day as breakfast at the hostel finished early and
wanted to go down and have it. Breakfast there was very simple; toast, butter,
jam, marmalade, tea and coffee, but it did the trick of surpressing my hunger
till lunch time. Anyway this was the day I attended Camden Lock Market, I love
bargains and looking around markets. This market was about a 20min walk from my
hostel. Again it was a very hot day. Upon arriving to the market it looked very
nice; a small river with motorcycle seats. However once walking around the
market it became apparent that most of the stalls sell the same things as one
another for expensive prices. Also if you wanted to look at something the owner
of the stall would be breathing down your neck and pressurising you to buy
something. The food stalls here were of a international variety but I didn't eat
here as the prices were quite expensive. The market continues into an indoor
building, but the inside part was more or less very retro clothing, and other
expensive ornaments and items. Despite my general dislike for this market I did
make a few purchases. After the market I wandered down the road and had lunch at
a Subway branch.

For the evening I had planned to attend a Jack The Ripper Tour, with a tour
company called 'The Ripping Yarns' (booking is not required). I have a
fascination with dark history particularly that of killers and horrible people.
As I had finished at the market a while earlier than anticipated I made my way
over to Tower Bridge where we were due to meet for the tour at 7pm, I arrived at
roughly 4.30pm so decided to go and sit by the river next to London Bridge for a
while. (I was in London at the time of the Olympics so there was a large Olympic
logo hanging from the bridge which bought a nice atmosphere) at around 5pm I
went to have dinner in the nearby Wetherspoons restaurant which was very nice,
it was then time to start the tour. Our tour guide (can't remember his name) was
very good, in the day he was a beefeater and the Tower of London. He set the
scene using his voice and provided pictures and print outs of important
information for us to hand around. He was very informative and introduced us to
many people who could of been 'Jack The Ripper' along with evidence to back up
the theories. He took us to all the important sites. The tour lasted around
2hours and at the end was escorted back to the tube station where we had met.
This tour was fascinating, amazing and very interesting. I would certainly go
again, worth the £7. After the tour I went straight back to the hostel and went
to bed.

Friday 27th July 2012: Day Three.

For day three in the morning I had planned to visit Portobello Road market
after reading all the great reviews. I arrived at the market to realise that
what was on the sale at the time was mostly expensive old fashioned clothing,
jewllery and antiques, I had also read the the market took up several road but
to my disappointment took up a mere one and a half the one mainly selling tacky
t shirts and vegetables, maybe I just visited on the wrong day. So I grabbed a
Subway and departed early to my second planned attraction; The Clink Prison
museum in Southwark. Overall the Clink Museum was rather small and aimed at
children, the exhibits were plastic dummies, however the information given was
very detailed and went into how prisoners were tortured and such, at the end you
can sit in a fake cell and have your picture taken for free which you then
redeem online, the souvenirs here are fairly cheap too. Would make a nice way to
spend half an hour or so in the afternoon. After visiting the clink I decided to
head back to Oxford Street and do some last minute souvenir and gift shopping,
at the time the main souvenir shops had a 50-75% sale on so managed to pick up a
few cheap, nice souvenirs. The souvenirs in general are of a wide range from
keyrings and cups to flags, clothing and other items. I then headed back to the
hostel early in order to get ready to leave the next day.

Saturday 28th July 2012: Day Four.

This was the day I was due to leave although I had to be checked out of the
hostel by 10am I had booked my coach back to Nottingham for 7.30pm so I could
spend the last day doing anything I wished in London. So I trugged my suitcase
out of the hostel and towards the Science Museum which is free entry and looked
quite interesting. It was a nice, calm atmosphere inside but I was generally
disappointed as it was more about history of trains and aircraft and such things
and the modern area was way to confusing to understand, I was expecting many
interactive exhibits but there were few, many of them were just information to
read. Whilst I was there, they had a 'limited edition' exhibit by Google Chrome
which was interactive and quite entertaining. You were given a free ID card
where you could store anything you did on the interactive machines and look at
it online at home. You could compose your own music, view live webcam footage of
businesses around the world and you could even have your photo taken and a robot
draw your picture in the sand. On the top level of the museum was the futuristic
exhibit which was pretty much all intereactive but not very much there. There
was a large spinning table with projected images on it where you could play
games with other visitors to do with futuristic things such as 'Should men be
allowed to have babies?' and having a 'Robot Toilet That Talks To You'.

I finished here at around 2pm and crossed the road to the park and sat here
for a while until I received a phone call from my Dad informing me that the
Olympic Bike Race was taking place and that I should go watch them cycle past.
I'm not into cycling but I though as I'm here it would be a great experiance to
watch a free Olympic event, so I walked up to the top of Knightsbridge where the
crowds were enormous, I slotted in a gap and managed to get front row view. I
waited almost an hour and a half until the finally cycled past which lasted
nomore than a few seconds but the sheer atmosphere was just pretty amazing! I am
glad I went to view this. After this it was time to head to the coach station to
return home. I grabbed a quick KFC and boarded my coach. Again air con full
blast and this time a woman sat next to me eating chinese food which didn't
smell to good also I was pretty exhasuted and the seats were quite uncomfy so
reclined a little but the man behind kept pushing my seat back up making the
journey home uncomfortable.

Overall I had a very nice time visiting London, and made me aware that I
should perhaps travel alone. The hostel I stayed at despite the many negative
reviews was very clean, and had a pleasant stay. Wasn't too noisy and for the
price it was better than expected.

My next destination will be Berlin booked for 26thOctober-2ndNovember 2012.

My itinerary's and things I would like to do in Berlin will be posted beforehand.

Posted by KayleighTwyman 08:49 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england travel market town city olympics hostel buckingham_palace tour capital hot europe uk first united kingdom alone british_museum camden olympic burnt july coach solo clink jack_the_ripper science_museum national_express Comments (0)

A Little About Me.

An introduction to myself, my future trips and what I aim to get from writing this blog.

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Hi, I'm Kayleigh. I will begin by telling you a little about myself; I am a
young girl (Born.14th October 1994) from Nottingham UK. It has always been a
dream of mine to travel all over the world, experiancing many cultures and
experiancing many sights and eye-opening things in different countries, however
that's all I ever though it would be-Just a dream.

My dream became reality during my trip to London 25th-28th July 2012, as it
was my first trip alone and opened my eyes to the world and gave me the motto
'Why wait for everybody else?' Meaning why should I hold myself back and have to
wait for my friends to get jobs never mind passports when I can do it alone and
that way I can achieve what I want, go exactly where I want to and do as I wish
to do. So when I arrived home from London I immediatley began planning a trip to
Berlin which would be my first time abroad alone, so was a pretty daunting task
bearing in mind I was 17 with little money, no german language and not a clue on
what planning a trip abroad involved. Non-the-less I went ahead and booked my
trip to Berlin and the second I booked it my itenerary just came together and
before I knew it a trip which I was scared to go on turned into a trip I
couldn't wait for and counted down the days eagarly.

I hope to go to Japan next July and climb Mount Fuji aswell as other things,
and in the winter months visit another European destination maybe Norway or
Romania. That will be my plan for the next few years, do one 'Big trip' per year
i.e Anywhere out of Europe and one smaller trip in the winter of each year
within Europe.

So I hope you can bear with me whilst I get my blog fully up and running, and
enjoy reading my posts.

I'm due to leave for Berlin on th 26th October and return 2nd November so
that will be my first real input other than London which will be more of a
starter.

Also feel free to view me on TripAdvisor; http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/members/KayleighT368

Feel free to contact me on; Kayleigh-x-Twyman@live.co.uk

Posted by KayleighTwyman 11:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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