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Entries about sightseeing

A Neapolitan Finish

Limoncello Adventures - Naples

sunny 21 °C
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The final day of the holiday was the trip back to Naples, with time to explore the city before flying home later in the evening. We began the day by leaving the hotel and heading to the station, just as we did yesterday on the way to Pompeii, however this time we carried on, past Herculaneum and onto Naples itself.

After arriving at Naples Central station we headed through Garibaldi Square and into the Old City. After passing what felt like Ethiopia, with Black Africans selling cheap tat on the street we made it into the Old City, with little shops along the thin cobbled streets

Old City

Old City

Unfortunately this part of Naples is not particularly pleasant, being in bad condition and nothing particularly special to look at. Before long we had made it to the other side of the area without even stopping.

We had arrived at the main commercial shopping street, but again, we barely stopped. We had planned to stop for an ice cream - but even though it was 20C, there were few places if any that sold it - and when they did it was a fortune! - maybe it's out of season? The locals were wearing puffer jackets after all!

Town Hall

Town Hall

After a lot of walking we had made it towards the port where a lot more of the sights are located. Walking past the town hall we had views of the Port and the huge cruise ships that had shown up.

Port

Port


Castel Nuovo

Castel Nuovo

Next to the port is the castle, which imposes on the whole of the local area with it's circular towers. We took a walk along the side towards the waterfront, before heading south to the Ovo Castle, and where there were more views of Vesuvius across the bay.

Ovo Castle

Ovo Castle

Heading back towards the city we stopped at the Piazza del Plebiscito, where the royal palace and basilica are located opposite each other on this square just around the corner from the castle.

Piazza del Plebiscito

Piazza del Plebiscito

The final place for us to visit was the beautiful Galleria Umberto I, reminiscent of the famous shopping gallery in Milan, where we stopped for food and grabbed some postcards.

Galleria Umberto I

Galleria Umberto I

We then headed past the castle to the port itself where we caught the bus and headed to the airport, despite it being several hours before our flight.

However time passes quickly, and it didn't take long before it was time to start boarding. After getting passed the 'bag police' at check in who were strictly enforcing the baggage allowances, we boarded the plane and hoped we could fly directly to Luton instead of stopping in Milan again!

Luckily we were on a direct flight this time, and after getting through the airport we were eventually back home after a busy weekend in the sun! Although Naples was a bit of a dump, and not really worth visiting unless there already. However the rest of the trip around the Amalfi Coast was beautiful and it was a pleasantly surprising weekend away that is highly recommended!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 03:23 Archived in Italy Tagged city sun castle sightseeing limoncello Comments (0)

Shrine City

Cherry Blossom Adventures - Kyoto

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Travelling via Himeji, by mid afternoon we had arrived in Kyoto. After being helped out of the right exit in Kyoto's huge station by some locals, we stopped by the supermarket before heading to our hotel.

Our Ryokan

Our Ryokan

After staying in a hotel with an onsen in Hiroshima, Kyoto was providing us with our most traditional hotel setting - a ryokan, a traditional Japanese style inn. Part of the reason for this wasn't just to add something traditional to our trip, but also because it was much much cheaper.

The trip itself was planned for over a year, and back in June I had had a quick look to see the status of hotels during the peak season. By then, still 9 months in advance, 80% of hotels were already booked. Although sharing a toilet and sleeping on mats on the floor for three nights wasn't ideal, it was £150 more for a Love Hotel in the suburbs, or £50 on top of that for the next cheapest hotel. Therefore we decided to rough it. It would be traditional, the location was good, and it wasn't for too long.

Arriving at the hotel, we were greeted warmly by the owner, who despite not having the best English was very chatty. After grabbing dinner we settled in for the night on our straw mats.

Inside our room

Inside our room

The following morning, after an uncomfortable sleep, we headed out for the first of our two days in the city. After sorting out our two day transport passes, we then headed out of the city to the Daigo-ji shrine, to the south east of the city.

Daigo-ji

Daigo-ji

Kyoto was coming towards the end of the cherry blossom season, and in a few days it would all be gone, but whilst we were here at least we got to see the city of Shrines covered in cherry blossom.

After arriving at the nearby train station, it was just a ten minute walk up the hill to the shrine, with the grounds covered in cherry trees. We started by heading to the Buddhist temple at the end of the complex, which is reflected below into a large pool of water. It was at this beautiful spot that I proposed to Chris.

Engaged

Engaged

After he accepted, we enjoyed the special moment before continuing with our sightseeing. We walked around the shrine itself, before heading to the hall at the entrance, where there was a beautifully landscaped and zen garden.

Zen Garden

Zen Garden

Sitting in the already warm morning heat, we enjoyed the surroundings before heading off to our next sight in the city, the Philosopher's Walk. This old canal is lined with cherry blossom, and thus was a real visual treat during this week.

Philosopher's Walk

Philosopher's Walk

It was full of people, including newlyweds taking photos, but we still managed to enjoy the views and stopped for an ice-cream pudding. Annoyingly for a city this size, there is a very limited metro and train network, with a reliance on buses. With many many people in the city at this time it made the journeys generally quite uncomfortable, but nevertheless we still managed. With it already being early afternoon, we headed to our last area of the day - Gion. We started at the Yasaka shrine in Maruyama park, which was teaming with street food and visitors.

Gion

Gion

We then headed off through the Geisha areas in the heart of Gion, before reaching the Kiyomizu-dera wooden hilltop shrine. Unfortunately it was undergoing renovation, so we weren't able to see it in it's full glory, but there were still grand views over the valley below.

Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera

After a busy day in the heat, we headed back in the afternoon to our hotel for a well earned rest. After sitting down for a while I went into my suitcase to grab some holiday notes. Putting them back ten minutes or so later I noticed a bug inside my suitcase. Flinching I realised it was a massive centipede! How on earth did it get there, when it was locked all day, and how was I going to get it out?

Chris passed me a bag, and we attempted to tip it from my raincoat on which it was laying, into the bag - but as soon as we moved the coat it quickly crawled deeper inside my suitcase. Panicking that it may get lost inside and crawl to lay eggs, I grabbed the coat, wrapped it up and put it in the bag as soon as I could, hoping it was inside!

Running past the hotel owner, I opened to front door and tipped the raincoat out, luckily seeing the centipede drop to the floor, but then crawling quickly towards me. After shaking the coat to remove any eggs from the coat, I quickly headed back inside making sure the door was closed. It later turned out that this bug was the Mukade - a venomous centipede that can eat mice... lovely.

Somehow managing to sleep that night, the following morning we headed out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for it's torii walk. Unsurprisingly, it was full of tourists, but we still got to enjoy walking beneath the arches.

Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari


Kinaku-ji

Kinaku-ji

We then headed across the city to the Golden Shrine of Kinkaku-ji, which if I'm honest paled in comparison to the similar Golden Temple of Amritsar. Nevertheless it was an interesting sight, and after stopping for frozen cola, we headed towards our next sights in Arashiyama.

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama is a suburb on the edge of the city, and contains several exciting places. The first was the Bamboo walk, which although pretty was pretty spoiled by so many tourists, which prevent the serenity from being taken in. We then continued our walk by heading through a park, and heading down to the riverside, where the river was full of boats, including one taking tourists for lunch with a couple of geishas.

Geisha Lunch Boat

Geisha Lunch Boat

After grabbing a bit of food we crossed the wooden bridge and headed up a hill to the Monkey Reserve. A long walk, but fun to see monkeys giving death stares and demanding food.

Monkey Park

Monkey Park


Kyoto Castle

Kyoto Castle

After a long day, we headed back to our hotel via Kyoto Castle, but with it having already been a long day we decided not to head in and instead went back to our hotel for a rest before packing our bits, as tomorrow we would be headed to the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:49 Archived in Japan Tagged monkey hostel sightseeing shrine eastasia cherryblossom Comments (0)

Maple Leaf Overload

Canada - Toronto

overcast 18 °C
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After the trip to South America, and the brief weekend away in Germany, the next holiday for 2017 was a 6 day trip to Canada with Fara.

Although Canada has never been top of my list, it has been somewhere I planned to eventually visit, especially after having been just metres away at Niagara Falls in 2013. And with my friend Halina from my Erasmus time now living in Toronto, this was the perfect opportunity.

Getting a bargain deal on flights, we flew out the Friday before the May bank holiday to Toronto from Gatwick. Getting on the flight we were already overwhelmed with Maple Leaves literally everywhere we could imagine - the plane wings, the brochures, the plastic cups. I was sick of the sight of it before we'd even reached land and started flying over Newfoundland.

Having taken off at noon for the 8 hour flight, coming in to land it was now 3pm - the longest three hours of my life. Meeting us at the airport was Halina, who then took us via bus and metro to her home in the city that she was letting us stay in whilst she crashed with her boyfriend.

Halina's neighbourhood

Halina's neighbourhood

By this point it was already 5pm, and having travelled all day it now felt like 10pm, and thus Fara and I felt way to tired to do anything major today. We therefore went for a short walk around the neighbouring area, in order to get food, with Halina and her boyfriend joining us. Unfortunately not being in the mood for anything more exciting on a Friday evening!

And this is where jet lag became a problem....heading eastwards I don't get too affected, but travelling westwards is where I encounter issues. There are simply too many hours in the day! I therefore easily headed to sleep at 8pm, but was well awake by 5am!

Having been awake for around 5 hours, Halina and her boyfriend met us the following morning and we went for a Canadian breakfast at a local cafe.

The closest I was getting to a Canadian bear this holiday...

The closest I was getting to a Canadian bear this holiday...

We then walked through the city, arriving first at the city hall and Nathan Phillips Square, a modern complex compared with the Old City Hall next door.

Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square

After walking through the market buying souvenirs, we then headed over to the Distillery District - a gentrified former industrial area that now has many small artisan shops.

Distillery District

Distillery District

Originally having considered travelling over to the Toronto Islands, due to the bad weather in the city the previous few weeks they were flooded and therefore closed to tourists. We therefore stuck to Toronto, viewing the Islands from afar at the coastline on Lake Ontario.

After saying goodbye to Halina's boyfriend, we then headed to the CN tower - still the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, for views over the surrounding area. Unlike the Burj Khalifa, which took over the tower's height record, the views are impressive, being able to see a wide area as well as the ground itself, via the glass floor. This was a scary sight but once reassured that the glass is stable is an interesting experience!

270_DSCF9445.jpg90_DSCF9465.jpg

Coming back down we headed to get some Poutine, before saying goodbye to Halina for now, and heading back to the house via the University. However having woken up early for a busy day, by now we were shattered. We had been invited to a party, but before 8pm we had both fallen asleep and ended up missing it. But at least fully rested for our day trip to Niagara Falls.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:45 Archived in Canada Tagged tower walking toronto city canada sightseeing exploring Comments (0)

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