Abu Dhabi, November 2017

Hello readers,

I know it’s Christmas and Abu Dhabi is a warm (even hot!) place and not quite fitting, but I still wanted to post about my trip this year. My Christmas holidays were nice and peaceful, but there wasn’t any snow. So I don’t really feel bad about writing about a trip to a warm place! I’ve been told not to go there in the actual summer, because I am not used to the heat that much. So November was perfect!

One of my very good friends has been living and working in Abu Dhabi (capital of the United Arab Emirates) for a few years now. She’s invited me a few times, but I never found time to actually go there. Finally in November this year I went by bus to Munich to meet her and go to Abu Dhabi together. Munich was very cold, I remember. I had to take different kinds of clothes, because Abu Dhabi would be warm. I also tried to not pack too revealing clothes, because I’ve read that it can be frowned upon in the UAE.

Our flight was overnight and in the morning we arrived at the airport of Abu Dhabi. Tired, I got a bus ticket from a machine  and we took the airport bus. I can’t remember much of this trip, I was almost sleeping! After sleeping and relaxing at my friend’s place we went for a walk to see some sights of Abu Dhabi.

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This one is Emirates Palace, you can even get “gold” coffee there. I didn’t see the ATM, “that dispenses solid gold bars” (like my Lonely Planet Guide suggested), but there was a all girl band playing nicely and great interior design.

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The next day my friend had to work so I went to the market (Souq Central Market) alone. I didn’t buy many things (actually, I might have bought nothing), but had some soup at an Asian place (it was way too big, so I took some home). Abu Dhabi is so much different than Austria, those tall buildings, the busy streets, the amounts of people, the heat in November. I also found the street names confusing, not knowing how to speak Arab. It was quite an expericence to just walk around!

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The next day, my friend and I went to Hiltonia Beach Club at the Corniche, to sit and enjoy the sun a bit. It wasn’t expensive (I think it was like 12 Euros for the day, including towels). The website says 100 Dirham for the day. The view was very nice!

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After that we went to the Observation Deck at 300, to get a view of the city from above. We even had some lunch there. According to their website it’s on the 74th floor and the fee is 85 Dirham.

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For me the absolute highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We walked around and even went to the library in one of the towers. As a woman you have to wear a piece of clothing, that they give you and cover your hair with it. And everyone has to take their shoes off.

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My friend chose to take me to the Mosque at dusk, so we could see it in the light and the dark, which was a great idea!

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On the last day, my friend took me to a place called Sushi Art, which had one of the best sushi I’ve ever had. It’s located in a mall (so many malls in Abu Dhabi!), which also has an amazing view.

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Since we are talking about food in Abu Dhabi, I have to give a special thanks to Jenny Walker, author of “Pocket Abu Dhabi“, because she suggested going to the restaurant Al Ibrahimi. It was so delicious, just the best! It’s close to Madinat Zayed Mall (kind of behind it) and offers food from for example India or Pakistan. I wish I could eat there every day! It was also inexpensive and the staff was so nice and friendly. My friend and I found another restaurant with the same name, the other one was more crowded, but still very good food (it also came pretty fast, because we were in a hurry!). I am not sure which one is the first restaurant we went to (and which the other), but here is a link to the Lonley Planet suggestion: Al Ibrahimi

I have to add that I did like the decor, though! It also looked like there was a buffet at times.

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We went to most places with the bus, because of our budget. It’s pretty doable, you just have to know where to charge your bus card. Unfortunately, my trip was very short, so I didn’t get to see the whole city. I also would have liked to go to the desert! But maybe I’ll go visit my friend again some time!

 

Looking at my past trips, I haven’t really been to any place that exotic. I’ve been to Sri Lanka and Bali, though. But that was already some time ago. Lately I’ve only been to Austrian places or places close to Austria. I will try to explore the world a bit more, see different cultures and experience life there!

 

 

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Hiking the Path of the Gods, Italy

Hello!

I haven’t been traveling as much as I wanted this year, because I’ve been busy writing my master’s thesis. At the beginning of August I went to Italy with a friend and we did an amazing hike that I would recommend to anyone going to Amalfi Coast.

Before we went to the Amalfi coast, we did some kind of road trip (with buses) from Venice to Naples (best Pizza I’ve ever had, I tell you!) and then further to Pompeii. Pompeii was very interesting, but unfortunately we couldn’t go to Mount Vesuvius, because people weren’t allowed due to it being dangerous then. From Pompeji we went to Amalfi coast (again with buses), to the town of Agerola.

Agerola is located a bit away from the beaches (which are for example in Positano or Amalfi) but staying there was much cheaper and once you’ve figured out the bus system, it’s very easy to get around. Also we were close to the starting point of our hike. We went there in the morning to start our hike to Positano. We took some coffee and fruit from a Bomerano shop and a coffee place (we already had granola bars and water) and started the hike. The most popular route can be hiked from both sides (you can also go from Positano to Bomerano, which goes up and is harder, there will be pictures of the stairs later!), and we took the easier route. We also wanted to combine the hike with going to the beach and having lunch in Positano.

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We started the hike in the morning, but not too early. It was still a bit foggy, and there were a few hikers but not tons.

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It was still hot and we made some breaks along the way (including breakfast, since we had to catch the bus, but didn’t want to get up too early).

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The path is well marked, but we still used the app “Agerola Experience“, which is pretty helpful and free! We had brought enough water, but there is also this water spot on the way.

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After the water spot, the path got a bit more rocky, but still very doable in running shoes. Like the next picture proves!

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Still foggy!

 

 

 

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Sign at the end (or the beginning if you do it the other way round) of the hike

At the end of the hike there was a small coffee place with lots of dogs! We enjoyed sitting there very much (and having some coffee). The place is called Il Chiosco Del Sentiero Degli Dei (I linked their homepage), they also offer juices and ice cream according to their website. Some people even drank Limoncello. It was perfect to sit there after the hike and the view was amazing!

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After spending some time at the coffee place, we headed down to Positano, which meant many, many stairs! We were happy we chose the easier route and didn’t have to walk them up this way. I can’t really say how long the hike took us altogether, since we had many breaks, enjoying the view and then spent a longer time at the coffee place. The website positano.com says it takes about 3 hours (Link), which seems about right!

 

 

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A look back

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From some spots you could see Positano very nicely. We went to a beach nearby the end of the stairs (which meant walking down more stairs) and had a nice time there. After that we went to Positano and had some more pizza!

I really enjoyed hiking the Path of the Gods. I also liked that one could choose between the easier and harder way. Maybe next time I’ll do it the other way round, starting in Positano. I suggested going back this way to my friend, but my suggestion wasn’t very well received, so we took the bus. The time at the beach was the perfect ending. I always enjoys hikes that end with swimming in the sea or a lake!

 

More information

 

Snowshoeing in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park (Finland)

At the beginning of this year, we went for a winter hike in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Finnish Lapland. We went there by car from the Rovaniemi area. Although we started a bit late in the day we still caught some nice hours, seeing the sun go down and even some northern lights!

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With the car on the way!

Surprisingly, we didn’t see any reindeer next to the road (except for one in captivity in Levi). It’s good that none went on the road, but I would have liked to see them from afar since everyone is talking about how they are everywhere in Lapland!

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At the visitor centre, we hired one pair of snowshoes (we had already brought another one) for 15 Euros (for the whole day). It was a nice place, you can also buy tea or souvenirs there and find out more about the national park.

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At first, we walked on the ‘regular’ snow, which was much harder than walking on the path, like we did later. Uphill was especially tough sometimes!

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There was a place with many huts that we came to at some point. It seemed very nice, also to stay in them in summer! I don’t think people stay there in winter, it’s way too cold!

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Then we came to Orava Ave (‘Squirrel Ave’) where those funny sculptures are placed. Unfortunately, it was too cold to get my fingers out to handle the camera properly, so I was just hoping for the best!

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Back to the (then closed) hotel and the visitor centre!

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On our way back we went to a viewpoint to take some photos of the aurora. We had read about how to take those pictures with long exposure settings and it really looked beautiful! But my toes were almost freezing off! (I’m glad they didn’t)

It was a great day and I think this National Park is a very beautiful and enjoyable place to visit any time of the year! I’m happy that I got to see it in a wonderful winter!

Rovaniemi, Finland

Two days after visiting Oulu (see my last post) we went from the cottage (Mökki!) near Rovaniemi to see the city centre. There weren’t that many people because it was the first day of the year.

Before we went to the centre we went up Ounasvaara, where you can ski and do all kinds of sports. We went up to the hotel rooftop and saw some remains of the New Year’s Eve party that must have taken place there the night before!

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Then we went to the centre and took pictures. Not many shops were open and there were some groups of tourists. It was nice and not too cold to walk around. We also had some coffee in a coffee shop.

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It was -8 degrees to be exact!

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The german translation seems a bit funny, but we get what they mean!

 

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“Reindeer man’s road” hihi

 

Then we had some time left and went to see the Santa Claus Village. It was very touristic, but I it’s also nice for people who love Christmas and kids! It’s supposed to be open the whole year, so you can always have Christmas there. People go and take photos with Santa or buy gifts and souvenirs.

 

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We saw some animals, too, that was nice. Although I did feel a bit sorry for them!

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During my whole time in Lapland, I didn’t even see one reindeer in nature. And people say they are everywhere!

 

 

 

Oulu, Finland

This winter we went from Helsinki to (Finnish) Lapland via Oulu. This was the cheapest option: we took a plane from Helsinki to Oulu, then a bus to Rovaniemi. Both times, on the way there and back, we had some hours to see Oulu. The first time it was rainy (30th of Dec 2016) and the second time (4th of Jan) it was snowy and very cold!

I liked the town, even though the second time it was windy and freezing (in my home country temperatures hardly go below -10!). I found the statue of Toripolliisi funny and cute and took many pictures of it (or him).

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I think the sign says that postcards sent from the market hall next to Toripolliisi will have a stamp with him on it.

Here are some pictures of the market hall:

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We had some salmon soup in the market hall (twice, actually, because it was so good!) which included (delicious) bread and butter. The price was € 7,90. The only thing I didn’t like was that you had to pay a euro for going to the bathroom, even if you were a customer.

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Some more images from the area around Toripolliisi, there even was a skating rink on the market square. Some dangerously living person was biking on it.

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Statue in the centre

I would definitely go back to Oulu to see more of it and have more salmon soup!

 

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Once more Toripolliisi!

 

 

Travel Memories – Canal Lachine, Montreal

This is more a photography post than one about travelling. We went to take pictures at Canal Lachine in Montreal in December 2014 and we caught the perfect day for doing so!

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It was a very enjoyable walk and I recommend going there when being in Montreal! Now I want snow even more, but it’s not snowing this year, apart from one short time. I guess Canada has more snow than Austria!

Travel Memories – Québec City

Almost exactly two years ago I went to Québec City. I was there once before that trip, but that time had been in summer. So Québec City in snow was a first for me!

I went with friends by car from Montreal and we stayed in a nice hostel named Auberge Maeva. Our trip lasted one weekend. I really liked seeing the city in snow and for people who like Christmas decorations, it’s a great place to go to! Québec looks even cuter in the time before Christmas.

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Skating rink

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A pub we went to shortly

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Chateau Frontenac

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Funny little restaurant building 🙂

I’m not that happy with the sky on my pictures, I hope I am better at taking photos now. Back then I had only bought a better (amateur DSLR) camera a few weeks before and was still figuring it out!

After visiting Québec we went to see the Montmorency falls, it looked amazing in snow!

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After writing this post I feel two things: I’m missing Canada and I’m wishing for snow. Unfortunately, here in Austria, I might have to wait a bit longer! If you have the chance to go see Québec City in winter I suggest you give it a go, it’s really worth a visit!

Travel Tip: Riegersburg and Zotter Chocolate Factory (Austria)

Our trip to Riegersburg and Zotter Chocolate Factory was about a year ago, in November 2015 and we had beautiful weather. I really recommend going there in autumn because of the colours, it just looks amazing.

Both, Riegersburg and the chocolate factory, are in the same area, easily reached from Graz. Graz is located in Styria, South of Austria.

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First, we went to Riegersburg and had Pizza at the restaurant (“Seehaus”) at the lake. The lake looked so nice, it must be fun to swim there in summer. Then we drove to the castle Riegersburg, parked in the town and walked up. We had to pay a fee at the entrance. I remember we couldn’t go inside the castle because it was too late in the year, but we enjoyed the place and the views anyway! Please check their website before visiting because opening times can change.

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Funny dude watching us

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Afterwards, we drove to Zotter chocolate factory and did the tour (we had booked it before by calling). These are the prices.

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You get to see a short film about the history of Zotter Factory and then the tour begins. Ours was with audio guides and the best part is that you get to taste tons of different kinds of chocolate! Even hot chocolate and really weird ones with Tequila for example. I especially remember the Tequila one being pretty good, so I bought some in the shop later to take it home. Also their Soja white chocolate, it’s very tasty!

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Last, we went to the zoo (price is included in admission) and looked at some animals. Unfortunately, it has gotten dark, so we couldn’t see some animals anymore. There were bunnies, pigs, horses, goat, …

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I really recommend visiting the area! There also are many different walks you can do and it’s especially beautiful in autumn. Maybe go a bit earlier than we did, to still see the inside of the castle Riegersburg! Also, there are many more things to see and do in the area, so we might even go there again some time!

Links

Riegersburg (Their homepage had some troubles loading fully in my browser, but if it works in yours, you can click on “Deutsch” and change the language this way!)

Seehaus Riegersburg

Zotter

If you like ham, Vulcano Schinken is close and easily reached by car.

A Walk In The National Park Gesäuse, Austria

Hello readers!

Two days ago we went on a trip to see the (Stift) Admont Library in Styria, Austria and afterwards the national park Gesäuse, which is pretty close to Admont. The national park was beautiful, even though it was cloudy. The mountains looked amazing, the tops covered with snow in combination with the colourful trees.

First, we parked at Stift Admont and went to see the library and museums. This is their website. We paid the student entrance fee (5,80 euros), the regular entrance fee is 10 euros. We also paid for one photography ticket (5 euros), so we would be able to take photos of the library. I asked and they told me that I can’t publish those photos online (or anywhere else). The library is great to see, still. Here is a link with official photos.

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Admont, church next to the monastery

After eating in Admont, at Gasthaus Kamper (Kamper restaurant), which offers warm food even after lunch time (we went there at like 3pm), we went off to the national park!

The following pictures are from our stop at the Eisenbahnbrücke, where I assume the rafting starts in summer!

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There we only walked around a bit, since we were both recovering from having a cold! I’d like to go there another time, to hike properly. The map we got at the information centre in Admont showed many great trails!

We parked at the junction where you can take a right to Johnsbach (coming from Admont). There is also a rafting centre (something I’d really like to try in the area!).

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We walked at the river to take photos and then went on the ‘Leierweg’, which offers benches and games (I’d recommend going there with children, they would clearly enjoy that!). It is also accessible with a wheelchair, as the sign said. It is going upwards for a longer time, though.

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One of the games, we couldn’t get the ring on the poles, just from very close!

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A place to relax in the woods

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Colourful trees!

It ends at a very nice viewpoint and you can get water from a well on the way.

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Viewpoint with hut

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View from inside the hut

Then we drove to see the campsite (‘Campingplatz Forstgarten Gstatterboden’) and I decided to maybe go there some time with a group of friends and then hike in the area. In summer, of course. You can also rent a hut there, but on Friday everything was empty. The season is over, with the cold coming.

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The empty campsite (it even has a beach volleyball court – on the right!)

I have to say I enjoyed being in the national park a lot. It’s very beautiful and it was a calm day, without many visitors!

Link

National park Gesäuse

Travel Memories – Botanical Garden, Montreal

This post is going to be about my trip to the botanical garden in Montreal (“Jardin Botanique”). I went there twice in October 2014, the day pictures are from my first, the night pictures from the second time. I think the botanical garden is very beautiful and I’d recommend everyone to go there when visiting the city. I found out online that “Gardens of Light” takes place in 2016, too: Link

If you are in or close to Montreal, you should check it out!

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In the Japanese Garden

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In the Chinese Garden

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Exhibition about insects, also very interesting to see!

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At night it even looked more amazing!

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I would definitely go again if I visit Montreal once more. Judging from this link I haven’t seen all of it anyway!