Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beautiful Prague

Hi everyone!

My friend called me some time ago and asked me if I would like to go somewhere with her in week 6. I'm always ready for a trip so we booked flights to Prague, Czech Republic! The prize was a bit ovet 100€ so I think we got them really cheap.

As the day of our departure was closing up I realized that I had a flu coming up! :O The day before our flight I was basically sneezing my brains out and feeling sicker than in years... But my condition was better on next day (and that was a blessing!).

We booked the flights from Norwegian and I just got to love the ckeck-in system where you can do it by yourself. Its super easy and I hope they will become more and more popular also in other countries. We took only cabin baggages so it was really easy to just do the check-in and wait for the flight to leave.

The flight took about 2 hours to reach Prague and during the flight I had to buy 3€ water bottle because otherwise I would have cought my lungs out. 3€!! I mean it had to be somekind of special water to be so expensive, right?

What made this trip special was that we didn't book any hotel or hostel, but decided to try councsurfing. I must admit that I was a bit nervous! We received really good instructions how to reach our host apartment and it took us around 1 hour to get there. We had to use bus and metro to get there, but they were really easy to use.

I recommend for a weekend trip the 3 day "card" (its infact a piece of paper), because it's really cheap and convenient. It was a bit over 300 korona (about 11€) and you can use with that any public transportation. The usage of the card is really simple: you can buy it from the airport, you hop on a bus or any other public transport system and feed it to this machine that will stamp a date on it. Do this only once and so that the most emptiest part of the card is on top and inside the machine!

I'm used to cards that have to use everytime you go on a metro or bus, but in Prague you mark just once the date and then you just need to keep it with you. I used it many times and then we were stopped by a police man who was checking the tickets (so you need to have the ticket or else...), he wasn't really happy that I didn't know how to use it :D Anyway, he understood as I explained that I didn't know one time was enough.

Anyway, our host was really nice and the apartment was in perfect location. We had a good access to metro and it took us around 5 minutes to reach the city center. We arrived pretty late so the first evening we just arrived the apartment, ate a dinner and went to sleep. The next day was really beautiful and sunny and we headed to the city centre and the Old Town of it.

What a beautiful place it was! I'm letting the photos talk to you:

The next day wasn't so sunny, but we decided to go to the castle and the famous cathedral St. Vitus. 

On the last day we just went to do a little shopping and wandered around. During our trip we saw the most important attractions and shopping places and I have to say that extended weekend is quite enough to explore this city. 

All in all, Pragua was amazing city and definetely one of the beautiful cities I have ever seen. The architecture was really nice and the people seemed very similar to Finnish people so that was of course a plus ;) They like saudage and beer like us! The beer was extremely cheap compared to the prices here in north, so I recommend everyone to try that. I'm not a huge fan of beer but the dark beer I tried was awesome!

The food was really heavy but mostly delicious. And of couse cheap! If you want to eat and drink with good prize, try to avoid the restaurants near tourist attractions. The prise in those can be much higher than in those that are in small alleys.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year full of travelling ♥

Year is ending soon and now is time to check all the places I travelled this year!

On February it was time for Japan! I discovered that I have distant relatives living there and I had an opportunity to go and meet them ♥ So on Valentines Day I headed to Osaka. I bought my tickets from Stockmans's Hullut Päivät-event and they cost only ~600€. My relatives were really kind and let me stay at their place and they took me to many places. It was so nice! I had a good change also to travel alone around Osaka and Kioto and it was really nice to just walk and look around. We went to Nara as well and we saw deers and temples. Finnish readers can read my posts from Japan in my main blog Matsukaze, starting from here. Actually this was my second time in Japan. I went to Tokyo for a month couple years ago and it was amazing trip. I need to write about it here too.

Kinkakuji - the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.
June was really chilly this year but regardless of that my boyfriend told me that we are going north around midsummer. V's dad lend his car to us and we tuned it so that we could sleep in the back space of it. Our roadtrip started on 20th of June and we headed straight to north. We stopped in many places here in Finland because I wanted to see and explore my own country as well. It was actually my first time in Lapland so I was thrilled to see it. Unfortunately the weather was really cold and it made sleeping on first night really hard. But we learned from the trip so much so we are better equipped when we decide to go on a roadtrip again! The northest point where we went was Tromssa, Norway, but we didn't spend much time in there. The views in the northern Norway are unbelievable! We reserved a cabin from caravan site in Birtavarre and slept there one night. When we came back to Finland we visited Santa Claus in Rovaniemi and took a bit different route back to home. We went to Sweden also at some point when we drove near the border. Here is our route:
Actually we went back to Rauma but Google Maps can mark only ten places at the same time...

Tromssa seen from top of fjeld.
On September I went to Stockholm with my boyfriend but this time it wasn't for leisure; it was a trip to hell and back, to be more precise, trip to seminar where my opponent crushed me mentally. I survived, barely. Truth to be told, I don't really want to even remember this trip, but for your sake I will tell shortly our tour in Stockholm. We went there by boat because its really convenient and cheap way to travel from Turku or Helsinki to Stockholm. We arrived there on morning and travelled with tunnelbana (metro, subway, underground, you name it) to the centre of the city. We spend some time in nice cafe called Espresso House since there was a wi-fi and after that I wanted to show Gamla Stan (Old Town) to my boyfriend. It's really easy to go there with tunnelbana and it's truly a very beautiful place. You can find duty free shops and other small boutiques from there and also Royal Palace, Parliament House and Storkyrkan (the Great Church) among other things. Remember to wear good shoes before going there! After out tour in Gamla Stan we met with my teacher in T-centralen- station and went together to Stockholm University where my seminar was held. Our campus is really beautiful, especially in summer. It takes quite long to walk from the tunnelbana station to there and many students go there by bus. Anyways I had my horrible seminar and after that we went back to city centre and had some food in a Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately I was in shock still and I can't remember the name or exact location of the restaurant. The food was ok, nothing special, or it could also be because I didn't really have any appetite at that time. We came back to Finland with an evening boat, so it was only a day in Stockholm trip.

On October I went to Thailand as those who have read my blog can remember. Firts we went to Hua Hin and stayed there for a few days and then headed to Bangkok. You can read more from my previous posts! Thailand was really exotic for a Finnish girl and the best part was when we went to the jungle and waterfall. I hope I can have a change to see something as beautiful again someday.

On November, we decided together with my friend Elina to go celebrate our birthdays to Istanbul, Turkey. This was my second time in Turkey but first time in Istanbul and I really fell in love. For more information about Istanbul, please see my previous post! :) I really want to go there again for a longer period.

Istanbul on evening

On December I went again to Stockholm, but this time I went to see a Japanese band called One Ok Rock. Together was my best buddy Jonna and we sailed trought the storm (literally) to hop on a broken tunnelbana (literally) to find a expensive taxi (literally) who would take as to our hotel with the price of 666SEK. Literally. I mean what is the chances that the price is exactly 666? I must say that someone downstairs didn't like us showing our faces in Stockholm that night! Anyway we found our way to the place where the gig was held and everything was ok. Next day we did some shopping in Drottning-street which is easy to access from Gamla Stan. It's really popular shopping street in Stockholm and I found lots of nice staff (including Christmas presents) from there.

Truth to be told this was the busiest year of mine so far and I LOVED it. I had a chance to travel so many places with nice people so I feel very grateful. All in all I went to 5 different countries in one year. I wish next year will be full of travelling again. Next trip is planned to be on February but I'm not sure yet whether to go or not, because I need to safe money for my student exchange in Japan.

I wish you all a happy New Year 2015 and I hope you will have a chance to see many new places during it!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Historical Istanbul ♥

I had a change to go and see Istanbul this fall and I think I fell in love. I mean Istanbul has so much to offer for a traveller and those who love history (read: peoples like me).

Our journey took place in early November as we flew with Turkish Airlines from Helsinki to Istanbul. The travel time was really nice compared to the long flights to Asia! Only 3-4 hours and we were there. I think Turkish Airlines was chosen as a best European airline in some competition, but I have to wonder why. Well it wasn't bad, but the crew was all over the place and there was not enough food for everyone (or was, but not what they wanted to eat).

Anyway, we arrived to Istanbul and took a taxi to the hotel. Our hotel was situated in the old town and it was bit hard to find. The view was quite nice along the way although it was already completely dark as we arrived in the evening. It took as quite some time to reach the hotel because of the traffic jams and everything and when we finally arrived we found out that there had been some kind of mistake and the room was double booked. Well, we were sent to another hotel which was under the same name and in the same area, just a bit closer to the shops and everything so infact it was a good thing for us.

The hotel was nice and the staff was nice but the room was not what we expected. We had booked a suite because it was super cheap (like normal room price) and we only got... well, a normal room. It wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't a suite! :(

We decided to go and look around the surroundings on that same evening and we found out that Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia were basically on our backyard! It was a really amazing sight with the dark sky, gorgeous mosque with lights and all the people around.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand

After 4 days in Hua Hin it was time to head back to Bangkok. Our plan was to take a bus, but eventually we just grabbed a big taxi and went with that. It didn't take as much time to go Bangkok as it took when we came to Hua Hin with taxi, so that was a big plus. Still, the way there is pretty boring and I slept some of the time. When we were near Bangkok I noticed that the sky was getting darker and darker and at some point it started to rain.

We stayed in a hotel named Bangkok City Hotel and our room was quite nice. It appears that there is many hotels with 'Bangkok' in their names, so taxi drivers can get a bit confused. Just a word of advice: take the hotel card from the reception, it helps you a lot.

So what did I see in Bangkok?

Baiyoke Tower II, the highest building in Thailand.

Bangkok seen from our hotel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Khao Takiab "Monkey Mountain", Hua Hin, Thailand ♥

I know the last post was about Pala-U but actually we went there day after our trip to the " Monkey Mountain". And I have to say that it was a great experience, not only because of the monkeys (I love monkeys) but also because of the great views.

Khao Takiab is located in the southern part of Hua Hin and the easiest way to get there is to take a taxi or tuk tuk. Our hotel was located along the Damnoern Kasem Road, which is pretty much in the middle of the Hua Hin and it took maybe about 15-20 minutes to get to Khao Takiab. There was a tuk tuk station near our hotel, so we just walked there and asked someone to take us there. Unfortunately I can't remember how much it cost us to get there, but it was reasonable price.

When we arrived, we could immediately see why Khao Takiab had earned it's nickname Monkey Mountain; there was monkeys everywhere! They were sitting and walking among the people and some of them were climbing on the trees and eating bananas. How cute is that?

Truth to be told, there is nothing much besides the monkeys. Just some souvenir stores, maybe some restaurants and a buddhist temple. It's important to wear something that covers your sholders and knees before going to these temples, so I bought cheap pants from a souvenir store and used those. It was a really hot day and if you want to see the temple itself, you need to climb maaaaany stares to get there. It was painful and exhausting to get up there, but worth it. You could see the whole Hua Hin from there and also the blue sea.

Here is some pictures from our day: