Tag Archives: tourism

Bucharest: hidden cafes, imposing buildings and bookstore tourism

It’s typical that the best cafes and bars are hidden in courtyards between several apartment blocks, a friend explained as we went for drinks to a trendy bar, complete with trees and a touch of South American fusion in its menu. With many outdoor cafes and bars outside of the tourist area thus hidden, Bucharest’s eclectic facades look somewhat grim. But who stays with the facades anyway? Bucharest invites the viewer to move on and search deeper.

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Comino: when beauty and comfort go separate ways (but only 15 min apart)

Between the main inhabited islands of the Maltese archipelago lies a not-at-all hidden gem, the island of Comino. It has only three permanent residents and serves as a bird sanctuary. It is also known as a habitat for various reptiles. As such, it is not overdeveloped like the island of Malta, and tenting, heavily restricted on Malta, is popular here. Despite these advantages, it′s not the land that attracts hordes of tourists to the island. Like a cumin seed from which its name is said to be derived, it adds delightful flavor to the archipelago experience.

Tourists looking at the rocks through their smartphone screens

I finally went there after visiting Malta on vacation and having moved to live here this year. I was told that May is the best time to go, and it′s best to skip the high season, but I missed that chance this year. I can see why people were giving me this piece of advice. The Blue Lagoon, the most famous place on Comino, with sea so magically blue that it could serve as an endless artistic inspiration, was littered with noisy party boats, pedestrian paths full of vendors selling stuff, so and reminded me of Sharm el-Sheikh a bit. Continue reading

A short trip to Rome with good tips

Ah, work-related travel… Anything is better than those single-day trips to Brussels I was made to take at some point, but I′m sure that everyone who travels for work is struggling to strike a balance between being fresh and alert in the morning and seeing as much of an unknown city as possible during the limited leisure hours. I stayed in Rome for four days and three nights, with a very busy schedule, but not only the organizers made sure that we see something, but also I was blessed to have a companion who has lived in Rome, as well as a colleague who grew up there and generously shared tips before I went.

I was prepared that if I do not manage to see the famous landmarks, at least I will enjoy charming urban landscapes.

Yet I managed to see everything I wanted – Rome is really easy to navigate, walkable, and has efficient public transportation, given its size and Mediterranean culture.

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Visiting the South-East of Malta: Marsaxlokk and Birzebbugia

The best excuse to explore more of one′s country of residence is teaming up with people who are there for a very short visit. This is how I set out to explore the famous South-Eastern areas on a warm and lazy Sunday. Specifically, the fish market of Marsaxlokk has become a popular tourist attraction, and as for Birzebbugia, I did not know what to expect at all.

My first impression of Marsaxlokk was that it was shockingly hipster. I realized that I hadn′t seen such a concentration of hipsters anywhere in Malta. Whatever their lifestyle, the faux-lumberjack look is not popular with the Maltese at all. Accordingly, hipster men were in a company of colorfully dressed women, who would otherwise not stand out as much. There were many elderly tourists, too, probably English, given how much they had undressed for the bright but still not so generous Mediterranean sun. And some local families, too, looking for a bargain.

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Prague, second attempt

Kinetic head of Kafka by David Černý

“…And if you′re planning a stag party, have a nice stag party,” a flight attendant said on my Amsterdam-Prague flight. To me, putting the words ′nice′ and ′stag night′ in one sentence is a sign of out-of-the-box thinking taken to the extremes, but I smiled to myself. This sounds very Dutch. After all, Amsterdam ran an information campaign for purchasers of substandard  drugs to seek medical help immediately. What else could the service industry wish typical tourists in Prague, I wondered, remembering my first trip there in 2011. “May the content of your stomach be easy to clean?”

 

I went to Prague to attend a conference, and decided to stay the weekend after with friends. I was highly motivated to bust the myths I created for myself last time and to enjoy a completely different experience.

 

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Thailand mourns its king

After 70 years of rule and a long illness, King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on Thursday. He has witnessed 19 coup attempts and a multitude of electoral swings. Educated in Switzerland, the king was fond of arts and deeply interested in the welfare of his subjects, whom he supported through various Royal Projects. These are celebrated by various UN agencies, as Thailand has become a ‘development success‘ during his rule.

Sign outside a Bangkok cafe

Sign outside a Bangkok cafe

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Trying out the treetop walkway before fall colors it

Half a year ago Anykščiai treetop walkway was one of the five finalists for the UNWTO Award for Innovation in Enterprises – a reward for innovative tourism projects. When it was opened in August last year, people were crowding to enter it, and even the president of the country took selfies on it. Continue reading

Barter trading in Kenyan markets

On a minivan from Maasai Mara, I thought my pockets were already stuffed with beadwork and souvenirs, so there was no way I would acquire more. When a trader lifted his arms, with bracelets and necklaces hanging from them, towards my window as we briefly stopped by an ATM somewhere close to Narok, I told him I was not interested and continued writing my diary. “Do you have a spare pen?” he asked. Indeed, I did. “Are you interested in trading it for something?” I asked to confirm, and thus started one of my favorite adventures in Kenya.

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Lake Vištytis: natural wonders and border tourism

Vištyčio ežerasI discovered Vištytis in March while carrying out a project on borders. Everything was covered with snow and the little houses on the campsite by the lake seemed lonely and as though they were spending winter in hibernation. But I was interested in everything: the mysterious landscape, conversations with locals who speak both neighbour countries’ languages, and the legends about the devil that carried the stone – we had to study this in primary school. I thought that not only the beauty of the surroundings and its special location on the border, but also the charming coat of arms with a unicorn would be useful for Vištytis’ tourism marketing (more on heraldry here – a cartoon style coat of arms from 1757-1792). Therefore, when the weather got warmer, I invited my friend, a keen traveller, to explore this beautiful site in more depth.

Vištytis is a special place, because the state and administrative dependency have changed since the times of Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but the status of the borderland has remained the same.

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Heritage-chasing in Segovia

Having worked with Asian Studies over the past couple of years, I heard the argument that, when faced with a vast choice of European locations to visit, East Asian tourists take into account the UNESCO list of world heritage. So I was not surprised at all when I saw that many of our fellow passengers on the bus between Segovia′s distant train station and old town held guidebooks in Asian languages. The small town graces UNESCO world heritage list since 1985 because of its prominent Roman aqueduct and other remains of various eras.

Segovia is cute, and its winding streets easily absorb crowds of tourists so that walking there would not feel artificial and de-localized. The aqueduct, over 800 meters long and built, apparently, around 50 BC, is the most obvious tourist spot, where people make selfies, wait for buses or catch taxis to take them back to the train station. The station is notoriously far, buses run quite seldom and are poorly aligned with train schedules – this is probably an incentive to use taxis. Yet with more than two people on board, a taxi pays off. Solo travelers returning to their train could easily find company for taxi sharing by the aqueduct, since most people hanging out around the aqueduct will probably be tourists.

Segovia aqueduct

Segovia aqueduct

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