Otentik Trip 2019 with We Like Travel and Attitude Hotels - Mauritius.Read More
We had a layover planned in Doha after the trip to Vietnam and unfortunately things didn’t goes well and we ended up in Doha only in shorts and tank tops as our luggage stayed at the airport.
We called Uber that took us from the Airport to our accommodation, Al Najeda Hotel by Tivoli.
This hotel was absolutely wonderful, we were only at the first floor but the rooms were spacious and feels very luxurious. I could even see a bit of the Doha skyline from the balcony.
I didn’t know what to expect from Doha but I was really surprised that it felt like being on a massive construction site in the desert with no people at all during the day. Whole city was totally empty. We took the taxi ride to check all the skyscrapers on the famous Doha bay and when we approached that area, it was again completely empty.
We asked the driver to drop us back to the hotel as there wasn't anything to do except maybe walk in the bay, but it was too windy for that. We couldn't visit the Islamic Museum of Art or the Mosque as we weren’t dressed appropriately so we had kinda mixed feelings from the whole Doha experience. Thank you again Qatar Airways!
Our hotel was right next to the Souq Waqif Market, so we went to explore it. Finally we were able to see some local people, and grab some food. I have to say that the kebab was delicious and then we returned back to our hotel.
I don’t think I will come back again to Doha, this place didn't have a character and felt like fake city.
At the morning we took the taxi to the airport and later boarded the last leg of our trip back to Prague.
When we started planing our trip to Asia, we were considering Sri Lanka, Philippines or Vietnam. Somehow Vietnam won the competition and once we’ve settled on a destination, next thing was to find a reasonably priced flights from Europe.
We found several options available with flights to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang and with number of a different airlines.
I wanted to fly with some good airline and made a stop over either in Doha or Dubai. So we decided to try Qatar Airlines and their Dreamliner and booked the flight to Ho Chi Minh City with 18h stop over in Doha on the way back.
Our flight was departing from Prague Airport, and our check-in was smooth and plane was fairly new. I can imagine better entertainment system though. Anyway, food was good enough for plane food and cabin crew was lovely and helpful.
We had just two hours in Doha before we got to our second flight to HCMC, so not a much time. Smoking lounge at Doha Airport was tiny, smelly and disgusting room but at least I could inhale some nicotine there.
Prices and currency exchange rates
100K VND = 4.3USD or 3.80EUR or 100CZK
Prices: Water from 3.5K VND per 0.5l bottle, Fresh Coconut Water from 15K VND, coffee from 15K VND, meal in restaurant from 30K VND, box of Marlboro from 28K VND, motorbike rent for a day 150K VND
Our plan was to stay in Ho Chi Minh City for day or two and the move slowly to the north towards the city Da Nang. We only had two weeks so unfortunately Hanoi and the rest of the north Vietnam was impossible to make this time.
This time of the year in south Vietnam, weather is pretty consistent, sunny with around 35C and very humid. Simply perfect weather for me :)
Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon
Our flight landed at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at the afternoon. Once we pass through the security and got our luggage collected, while still connected on Free Airport WiFi, I’ve used Grab app (iOS or Android) and booked a car to get us to our accommodation.
This is a must have app when you are in Vietnam. If you travel solo, you can book a motorbike with driver for very cheap. If you are a couple or group and need a car ride, usually the price is half of normal taxi price for that distance. On the top of that you can order a food delivery through the app and also a normal taxi, and way more. Pretty much it is an Asian Uber on steroids.
They even have a benefits system and I have received a two free rides worth a 100k VND each but I couldn't figure out how to use them. It was still pointing me to the T&C which had like two lines and no value.
Our accommodation for first two nights in Ho Chi Minh City was Apartment in Icon 56 Building in Quán 4 just over the river from the city centre. We have booked this accomodation through Booking.com in advance and the price seems to be reasonable. Apartment owner was waiting for us at the lobby when we arrived. The apartment was clean, with working AC and little balcony. It had included in price access to a rooftop swimming pool with great views around the city.
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is a crazy buzzing city, it has 14,5M citizens and 7.5M motorbikes, so you can imagine the noise and smell on the streets. It took us a while to figure out how to cross the street but once you realise that you just need to keep walking and don’t stop under any circumstances, you’re gonna be fine :)
Vietnamese cuisine is famous and we have found a few lovely restaurants, best one was Ngoc Chau Garden with “home like” food and lovely staff. First day we have wandered around the Quán 1 (City Centre), visited famous Ben Thanh Market and spend some time at the end of the day in our rooftop pool too.
Almost everywhere you going Vietnam, you will find a working WiFi network, however for maps, swarm check-ins instagram, long journeys etc. a permanent mobile data connection is a must have.
We found a little corner shop that sold me a local (VietnaMobile) SIM card for 150K VND with unlimited 3G valid for a month what sounded like a reasonable price to me. After a day of usage, I’ve realised that I may need something more faster than 3G and I bought another SIM card from another random street vendor for 250K VND that had 4GB of LTE per day for a month.
Have to say that both SIM cards worked as advertised and with Kate using the 3G and myself with LTE one, the had no issues to get connected anywhere.. Mobile coverage was pretty good even in countryside and for most of the train journey we had a working mobile network too.
On the second day we’ve decided to move on and purchased a bus ticket for one of the sleeper buses to the place called Mui Ne, Phan Thiet , north of the Ho Chi Minh City.
You have two companies that operate sleeper buses and we did go for the Sinh Tourist, second option is Hanh Cafe. Don’t ask me why the second bus operator have a cafe in the name, it is certainly a bit confusing.
Price was slightly higher as it was a public holiday that day in Vietnam so we paid 399 VND pp. I think that was a double, normally it should be around 200 pp. Always check local holidays when you travel :)
Sleeper buses are pretty cool, unfortunately they are made for Asian people so with my 185cm I couldn't properly sit and I had to be in kinda weird position. It was also too short to stretch my legs when I was in sleeping position. Kate had literally no issue with her 155cm :) I think that those 200km was my maximum that I could handle in that position.
Our bus was scheduled to depart from Sinh Tourist office in city centre (Quán 1) at 7am but it was late for almost an hour. The 215km journey to Phan Thiet took us around 5 hours including a 30min stop for toilet.
We have arrived at Mui Ne around 1:30pm at the afternoon, over an hour later than it was scheduled. From the place where bus stopped it was about 2km to our hotel so we obviously called a Grab :)
Phan Thiet - Mui Ne
Mui Ne is a totally different world, coconut palm trees, rowing fishing boats, fisherman and warm sea. This is how I was picturing south Vietnam. Wonderful Pink sunset was just a cherry on the cake :)
We had booked accommodation in La Marina Boutique Hotel & Spa, and it was really a great choice. Hotel is located just a few meters from the beach, with lovely swimming pool and restaurant serving local food. Our room was wonderful and spacious with lovely sea facing balcony.
After check-in we had a quick lunch in the hotel restaurant and later went to stroll around the beach. As it was off the main season, it was almost empty, just a few local people and plenty of Vietnamese rounded rowing boats.
Next day we have decided to try a tour to the famous Red Sand dunes. I’ve done some research online but then we have asked on reception and they’ve booked for us a Sunrise private Jeep tour for 25 USD for both of us. (Half price of what I have found online, so its worth to ask for sure)
The tour started early, driver picked us up at 5am at the hotel and we drove for about 45min towards the place with dunes. From there we could either take a quad bike for 300k VND pp to get on the top of the Red Dunes or we could also walk to the top which should take about 30min.
As the sun was quickly rising, we have decided to pay extra and go for quad bikes to get to the top faster and obviously the same thing did the other tens of tourists that were arriving in another jeeps. Soon there was about 30 people on the top but the view was totally worth it.
Some people paid extra few bucks for sand sledging but I’ve rather took some shots with my drone and then enjoyed watching the rest of the sunrise with Kate.
It all took slightly over an hour and we jumped back to the jeep and they drove us to the White Sand dunes that were slightly smaller and even more crowded. We didn't stay there for long as it was staring to be unbearably hot so we moved towards the Fairy Stream.
A popular photography hotspot in located 18km northeast of Phan Thiet with dramatic landscape of reds, whites, oranges sand dunes on one side while the other is an expansive field of verdant trees, blossoming flowers, and coconut palms.
The stream is about ankle-deep for the most part and the water is flowing from Ham Tien’s Dinh Mountains. Entrance fee is just 15K VND and it was certainly a lovely and refreshing experience.
Our last stop on the tour was at the Mui Ne Fishing Village and then the Jeep returned us back to the hotel.
We spend the rest of the day at the Mui Ne beach and hotel pool relaxing and planning the next few following days of our trip. I could certainly imagine to stay in Mui Ne for longer but we had to go.
As our next stop was around 235km far city Nha Trang, we have booked again a ride in a sleeper bus. This time with the second company Hanh Cafe, their bus was a little bit different but still sized for Asian people :)
We spend the morning at the hotel pool as the scheduled departure was at 1pm from the stop next to our Hotel. We paid 149K VND pp for a 5h journey this time non stop and finally slightly after 6:30pm we arrived at Nha Trang.
We had booked room at V Hotel and when we arrived and got to our room, it was smelly room without balcony. After my complaint at the reception they offered a free cancellation as they have no other rooms available. That wasn't a big deal and after a quick search we found another hotel that based on the description was similar to one we picked at first.
When we arrived to the Boss Hotel, they tried to give us again a small room without the balcony first but after my another complaint they had changed the room and we were finally happy :)
Nah Trang is a completely different story compared to Mui Ne, pure party town, full of pubs, bars and restaurants buzzing all night long and beyond. As we are not party animals, drinking with Russian and Chinese tourists wasn't on the plan.
At the morning we tried to give a chance to the hotel breakfast as it was included in the price. Breakfast room for about 20 pax was tight packed with huge queue outside and the breakfast didn’t look very appealing, so we decided to find another place to eat.
After a long stroll around, we finally found Alpaca Homestyle Cafe that serve us a lovely breakfast. Then we rented a motorbike at the hotel and drove around to explore the city.
Nha Trang Bay
We have grabbed lunch and then decided to go to the port where we booked a boat trip to explore the islands of Nha Trang Bay. We had option for Speedboat 700K VND per person or fishing boat for 400K VND per person. Speedboat was like waste of money and old fishing boat sounds like more fun. As it was of season, we were the only one on the boat and it took about 45 min to reach the first stop that was Mun Island.
Not sure what to think about this island. Entrance fee was 25K VND per person and there was nothing except sun beds and rocky beach. I’ve expected some snorkelling activities or something but there was literally nothing on the island except one shop with water and some souvenirs. When we arrived the island was fully packed with Chinese tourists, luckily they started to leaving and within 30 min we were almost alone. This island didn't impressed me much though, rocks were sharp and water was clean but nothing special. After an hour the boat came back and took us towards next island.
Our next stop meant to be tiny Mot Island however our driver just passed by and we stopped at next one called Mieu Island. Entrance to the beach was 100K VND per person but the beach was pretty good. We were there almost alone and the boat returned after 3 hours and brought us back to the port.
Next day we spend on the Nha Trang beach and at the evening we went to the Nha Trang Train Station and book a train tickets for train SE8 Vietnam Railways. We didn't know what to expect from Vietnamese trains, so instead of the whole over 500km journey to Da Nang, we split it in to two parts. First would be to the city called Quy Nhon, stay there overnight and move to Da Nang next day..
Our train arrived on time and it was actually pretty comfortable, way better than the bus before and also quite clean for Asia. Train ticket was 236K VND pp on for the 219km journey to Diêu Tri and it took about 4 and half hours. From there it was about 15km to Quy Nhon and we used Grab app to get a ride (30K VND).
Quy Nhon - Diêu Tri
This was just our sleep stop over, so we haven’t really seen much from the city. We stayed in Hung Gia Hotel, small but clean Hotel with working AC and early at the morning we called Grab again and returned back to Diêu Tri train station.
We tried to book the train tickets to Da Nang through the reception at our hotel but as it was last minute, we somehow couldn’t do so without Vietnamese Credit Card. We have decided to get them at the train station and when we arrived, obviously the only way to pay was in cash and we didn’t have enough.
I’ve called Grab motorbike that drove me to the nearest ATM and back to the station, paid for the tickets 425K VND pp for a Vietnam Railways SE2 train and we still had a bit of time left to grab a coffee at before the departure. Train journey took slightly over 6 hours and again it was fun and great experience to see the passing country through the window.
We arrived to Da Nang train station around noon and we took a Grab ride from the train station to the hotel. We had booked two nights in Aria Grand Hotel close to the beach. This Hotel was fantastic, clean and spacious with lovely balcony.
Staff was super friendly and helped us rent a motorbike (160k a day) so we went to explore the city.
Called city of bridges for a reason, Da Nang is wonderful with all the spectacular bridges over the river Hàn, about 1M of citizens, lovely chilled down atmosphere and wonderful beaches. Easily my favourite city in Vietnam. I loved the Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng) and the Night Market with delicious food right next to it, little peninsula with Buddha statue overlooking the bay and pretty much anything here.
Hội An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town. It’s obviously a tourist trap but still worth a see. So as it was just a short motorbike ride from Da Nang we went to see it. The Old town is packed with merchants selling everything you need and don’t need with plenty of little cafes and restaurants to grab a coffee or beer. It was roasting hot and full of tourists so after and hour or so we have decided to come back to Da Nang.
Spend the rest of the day on the city beach and planned the trip to the Bà Nà Hills Park for the next early morning.
Bà Nà Hills - Golden Bridge
We get up early, sit on motorbike and stopped along the way for breakfast by the road. It was over an hour long ride and when we arrived at Sun World it was about 30 min before official opening time.
Golden bridge, the main attraction was build and finished last year and it quickly become an internet sensation. It is actually part of the Fun Park and the only way to get there is to pay entrance to a park and then get a 5.5km cable car to the top of the Bà Nà Hills.
Entrance fee is 750K VND and I do suggest to be there as early as you can to not only avoid the masses of tourist coming later but also to get a chance to experience a sunrise or at least the morning light :)
It was fun to but after two hours it started to be unbearably hot and the park filled with millions of people so we get back to the cable car and then jumped on our motorbike and drove back to Da Nang.
City beach in Da Nang isn’t that bad but there is a little peninsula in Da Nang that we knew must have a way better beaches so we decided to explore it further. After driving around for about an hour around the military bases and radars we have finally found a wonderful private beach where we spend the rest of the day.
We really liked this city a lot so we have decided to fly back to Saigon instead of the long train journey and save some time so we could stay longer in Da Nang.
I found flights with Jetstar Pacific for 70Euro pp (including seats and luggage) so we book them and extended stay for extra night in our lovely Aria Grand Hotel.
Next morning we went to visit the Mÿ Son, Ancient Hindu City build between 4th and 14th Century by the kings of Champa about 70Km from Da Nang. Spectacular abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples in a valley roughly two kilometres wide that is surrounded by two mountain ranges. I do recommend you to get there as early as you can as it can be really hot there not to mention the loads of tourist too. Entrance fee is 150K VND pp and there is also a little museum and few shops with refreshments.
After another hour and half ride on motorbike and little stop for the coffee, we have arrived back at our hotel, packed our luggage, check-out and spend the time waiting for the flight at the rooftop hotel pool.
Our plan was to return to Saigon for last couple of nights, get to day trip to Mekong delta and do some souvenir shopping, so I’ve booked for our next place a lovely apartment in Ho Chi Minh City for three nights.
Two hours later after the booking was made, property have cancelled it and stated that they were overbooked. Booking.com promptly offered another apartment that seems to be fairly similar to one we chosen originally, so I’ve confirmed that.
JetStar Pacific flight was scheduled at 4pm from Da Nang Airport and unfortunately it was over two hours delayed. Da Nang is probably the worst airport I’ve ever been to. No Informations, No Airline reps, No Informations at all. Very frustrating. It was almost 8pm when we arrived at Ho Chi Minh City airport. Again Grab saved the time and money and within 30min we were at the apartment location.
Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon
Now the booking trouble part.. When we arrived, I’ve tried to call the owner of the apartment with no response. The SIM card we purchased for data had some allowance for local calls too. I keep trying calling for about 30in and when we still had no response, I’ve send message to booking support. The reply was, “we will contact you in 48h”. I nearly exploded, I kept trying to contact booking over the chat or email, bit with no response. I found UK customer care number but the Vietnamese SIM card in my phone did’t allow international calls and using my Czech SIM card fro calling Uk number from Vietnam would be too expensive.
So I’ve continued to try to contact booking through chat with no response. It was 11pm when a lady that saw us sitting in the lobby of the apartment and offered to stay for a night in her room. As we still didn't hear from booking yet and had booked place that we couldn’t get in to (I couldn’t cancel the booking either as there was a fee) we agreed and stay for a night. Around 1am booking finally responded and offered another place, as it was too late already, we decided to sleep where we were and move to another place next day. The place offered from booking.com wasn't the same category as the one we booked so I’ve asked them to find another one. They couldn't find comparable place in the city centre so they offered place in Vinhomes Central park slightly further away. As we had our plans completely ruined for two days, I’ve agreed and we moved to our new apartment.
It was slightly after 11:30am when we arrived at Landmark 4 Apartment in Vinhomes Central Park. Check in time was at 2pm but the owner agreed that we can drop the bags to the apartment earlier than that. We met with the owner and at noon and she gave us the key and we could leave our stuff in the apartment. She asked for payment in cash but the booking meant to be paid with the card. She asked for extra 2% charge for credit card payments which I’ve denied and advised her to contact booking.
We went to the city centre to get some food and to Ben Thanh Market for some souvenir and presents shopping. When we arrived back to the apartment, owner was fine with the card payment without the fee :). I’ve mentioned that we booked also a breakfast and she didn't know what I’m talking about but agreed to drop us some food at the morning. (it was pho soup with piece of bread)
Mekong Delta - My Tho and Bén Tre
Next morning was time to go to Mekong Delta. We booked a tour organised by Get Your Guide and for the price 400K VND it was totally worth it. We met at 8am at the location in city centre near Ben Than Market as our Apartment was slightly far away from the centre. (they do a hotel pickup too within certain area) and with small bus we went towards My Tho. It took about hour and half and at My Tho we jumped to the boats and went down the river towards the Unicorn Island. There we got to the small rowing boats for a ride through the Mekong canals surrounded with the coconut palm trees towards Coconut Island.
We stopped at the coconut sweets factory, did some sweets shopping and had lunch at the restaurant before a boat ride back to the My Tho.
After a short bus ride we stopped at Vĩnh Tràng Temple, visited the Pagoda and then the bus drove us back to Saigon.
We spend our last day shopping and then got a Grab ride back to our Apartment, packed all our stuff and went to sleep as we had early morning flight from the Ho Chi Minh City Airport.
When we arrived at the Airport, we were already checked-in online so I was just looking for Qatar Airways Baggage drop.
With the bag on the belt, lady at the check-in counter told us that we wouldn't be able to access our bags in Doha. When I stated that we booked a separate flight with 18h layover and that we need the bags, she called Qatar Aiways representative to sort it out.
Lady from Qatar Airways pretty much just repeated that we cannot get our bags with our tickets and if we want them in Doha, we need to purchase a two new tickets. That doesn't make sense, so I’ve asked her for her name what she denied to tell and when I took my iPhone to snapped a photo of her, she called a security on me.
Later on at the Airport I found on Qatar Airways web page that they should gave us our bags in Doha when we asked and it was later confirmed on board by the cabin crew.
When we arrived in Doha, I found the Qatar Airways office and tried to get our bags. First lady at the counter almost agreed but then a man jumped in and asked for 30USD per bag to get them. When I was comparing that there is nothing about fee stated on their website, he decline to talking to me.
We pass the security and as I didn't want to give up, I went to another Qatar Airways office and tired to asked for the luggage again. This time the guy was calling somewhere and after like 30 min he said the same, we had to pay for the bags or they will go directly to Prague. I was tired and almost agreed to pay when he told me it will take another hour at least to get them.
We were already for almost two hours at the airport and I didn't wanted to cut more time from our stop in Doha, I’ve finally gave up.
Except those two little issues, one with Booking.com that let us down and the later with Qatar Airways leaving us in Doha only with shorts and camera, it was an amazing trip to a wonderful country.
We definitely need to come back to see the north of the Vietnam one day. Hanoi and Halong Bay I’m looking at you. :)
I’ve had a quite busy end of last year and my girlfriend had to work until the 30th of December, so we haven’t planned much for the NYE. My brother had a bungalow booked in Donovaly, Slovakia and we decided to give it a shot and try to get a room about three days before the planned date. To my surprise they stile had some rooms left and after a little bit of haggling we agreed on price and it was all set.
Gothal is located in a lovely little village called Liptovská Osada about 10km drive from Park Snow Donovaly. You can rent a bungalows or a stay in the apartment house Smrek, which we decided to go for as it was just two of us.
Water World that belong to Gothal is an amazing place to refresh after a day skiing the slopes in saunas, whirlpool or swimming pools.
Our plan was to go ski on a New Year but the snowing was so heavy and the visibility was just about 5m, so we gave up. Instead we had great fun with snow boards :)
Christmas time is wonderful everywhere and Prague is no exception, Christmas Tree at the Old Town Square was spectacular this year. It was re- lit up every hour and accompanied with a lovely music from a famous Czech movie “Three Wishes for Cinderella” that helped to created a festive atmosphere. Unfortunately there was just a little bit of snow and we didn't get a proper White Christmas but it was beautiful anyway.
I was thinking about a short trip from Prague and realised that I’ve never been to Saxon Switzerland that is just slightly over and hour drive from Prague. So we have decided on a sunny summer Sunday to give it a go.
The Bastei is a rock formation towering 194 metres above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains of Saxon Switzerland in Germany. Reaching a height of 305 metres above sea level, the jagged rocks of the Bastei were formed by water erosion over one million years ago.
It’s beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
When I was contacted first time to work with Air New Zealand over a year ago to go to a cool trip to California desert, I couldn't make it. They came back to me few months later and were keen to work with me on some project. So I've asked, Why not to sent me to New Zealand? and they agreed. It took another few months to iron out all the details, organise ground support and set up the itinerary and then we finally set the date. As I did not want to travel alone, they were very helpful and agreed to cover ground support for my partner too.
Day 1 - 2 On Board
Air New Zealand flight to Auckland was from London Heathrow on Tuesday at 3pm with two hours layover at LAX. It was a pretty long journey and don't judge me, my biggest worry as a smoker was, how i gonna survive 25 hours on board without cigarettes. So armed with nicotine patches and chewing gums we boarded our Boeing 777 at LHR. Luckily Air New Zealand was so great they've booked me Premium Economy seats to make the journey more pleasant.
Boeing 777 is large, beautiful and comfortable plane, Premium economy leather seats were wide enough and very comfortable with adjustable leg rest. I've spend most of the time on board during the flight editing pictures from wedding i shot last weekend and later watching documentaries on in-flight entertainment. After slightly over 11 hours we landed at LAX. With a hope that there would be a smoking zone somewhere at the airport we started queuing for immigration. Yep, unfortunately even in case you're only transferring through LAX, immigration is a still necessary to go through. It's not a pleasant experience and queues were long, it took us for over an hour to finally pass through but it has to be done.
I was lucky, there was an outdoor Smoking zone at LAX so I've used remaining time to fill my lungs with smoke, and then we started boarding for our second flight to Auckland. Same plane, different crew and at 10pm we took off for another long flight. Regardless of the fact that I can't sleep in planes, I've managed somehow to fall asleep for couple of hours, so when we landed at AKL I wasn't that tired. My compliments goes to all cabin crew who make the flight more enjoyable.
Day 3 - Auckland
Our driver was already waiting for us at the departure hall and drove us to our hotel in Auckland. It was almost 7am on Thursday when we finally get to our beds at Heritage Auckland Hotel and had some proper rest. We didn't want to sleep all day so I've set alarm at 2pm and we went to explore the city. We walked towards Viaduct Harbour, area full of restaurants and bars right at the waterfront. It was the end of autumn and weather was mild, around 16C and with occasional sun spells.
At the evening we met for a dinner with Iva from Air New Zealand Marketing at Soul Bar & Bistro, fancy restaurant in Viaduct Harbour waterfront area. She gave us SIM card for data and calls and other permits and informations about our trip. Was lovely to meet her and after dinner we walked back to our Hotel.
Coincidentally my good friend from Dublin Loky, who moved to New Zealand few years ago was coming back from a holiday in Fiji and arrived in Auckland on the same day as we did. We couldn't miss that opportunity to meet up with him and grab few drinks. We ended up in tiny Mo's Bar, lovely place to enjoy few drinks and have a chat. It was great to see friend on the other side of the world but we didn't stay long as we had another early flight at the morning and around 2am we returned back to our hotel.
Recommendations for Auckland:
Sleep - Heritage Auckland
Places to see - Viaduct Harbour, Princess Wharf, Sky Tower
Day 4 - Hawke's Bay
After a good sleep in our hotel beds taxi picked us at the morning and drove to the Domestic Terminal at Auckland Airport for a short flight to Hawke's Bay Airport. This ANZ flight was operated with a small propeller plane and flight took only slightly over and hour. At the airport we picked up our rental car from Budget and drove about fifteen minutes to Napier.
Napier is located in Hawke's Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island and it is the largest wool centre in Southern Hemisphere and has the primary export seaport for northeastern New Zealand. It is also a popular tourist location, with a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was razed in the 1931 earthquake.
Our accommodation for next couple of days was Art Deco Masonic Hotel right at the Marine Parade and boy it was a beautiful hotel. Built in 1861, in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake the hotel was destroyed, mainly by the fire that followed rather than by the earthquake itself. There were two main earthquakes thirty seconds apart with the biggest reaching 7.9 on the Richter scale. It was rebuilt to it's current glory and we had wonderful stay there.
Next on our itinerary today was a trip to Te Mata peak, just south of Napier rising up to almost 400m. It is a great lookout spot with panoramic views of Hawke's Bay. Our lunch was booked in Craggy Range Winery located just in the shadows of the Te Mata. Their Terrôir Restaurant was beautiful sitting right between vineyards and food and wine was delicious.
From there we drove back to Napier and as the sunset is at this time of the year quite early, around 5pm we've decided to walk towards Ahuriri Beach. It turned out to be a pretty spectacular sunset.
Day 5 - Hawke's Bay
You know that I love a good sunrise and have no problem to get up early. Napier has one of the earliest sunrises in the world so it would be a shame to miss that. After chilling on the beach until the sun was up we went for a breakfast in our hotel's Emporium Eatery & Bar and I have to say it was extraordinary and very delicious.
At 10am we had booked Art Deco Vintage Car Tour and our guide Pamela met us on the front of the hotel and drove us around the city in old vintage car with a lovely commentary. After the tour we jumped to our rental car and plan was to get to the Cape Kidnappers just few kilometres from Napier. Unfortunate one of the way how to access is was through the private property which was closed today and only other way was walking on the beach for about 4hour each way. As we didn't have that much time we drove back to Napier to grab a lunch at Milk and Honey and chill the rest of the afternoon on the Ahuriri Beach
Our dinner was booked at Elephant Hill Winery, another cool winery at Te Awanga, between Napier and Hastings. We had a lovely meal accompanied with great wine and then full and tired drove back to our hotel.
Recommendations for Hawke's Bay:
Sleep - Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Places to see - Te Mata Peak, Cape Kidnappers, Art Deco Vintage Car Tour, Te Awanga
Day 6 - Wellington
We couldn't miss that lovely breakfast in our hotel and then with full bellies drove back to the Hawke's Bay airport for another flight at 9am to WLG. After just slightly less than two hours we landed in Wellington, Capital city and second most populous urban area in New Zealand. First thing I've noticed was how windy it was there. Our taxi was already waiting in departure hall and drove to our first stop, Weta Workshop. As it was already a time for the lunch we went first to get some food at The Larder, well known foodie spot in Wellington located just few meters from Weta.
Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company based in Wellingtons neighbourhood Miramar, producing effects for television and film. It came to worldwide prominence with director Peter Jackson's film trilogy The Lord of The Rings, producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons, creatures and miniatures. From the latest blockbusters, they worked on effects for Blade Runner 2049, Power Rangers, Thunderbirds are go and many more. Our tour took about one hour and It was a great experience to see behind the scenes on how of some of the effect were created.
From there we were picked up by taxi and dropped to our hotel Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay where our luggage was already waiting for us. Lovely hotel located in the popular Oriental Bay. Sun was already going down so we decided to walk around city a bit to find some place for dinner. Small Italian place called Pizzeria Napoli was looking cozy so we gave it a try. Food was nice and staff professional and welcoming. After dinner tired we returned to our hotel to get some sleep.
Day 7 - Wellington
Today the first thing on itinerary was a visit of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa few minutes walk from our hotel, where we learned a bit from the history of this beautiful island. Te Papa was recently named one of the top 25 museums in the world by Trip Advisor so surely you should check it out. After visit we walked a bit around Queens Wharf and then came back to our hotel to get ready for a Zealandia Eco Sanctuary Tour.
Zealandia is a protected natural area in Wellington where the biodiversity of 225 ha of forest is being restored. Most of New Zealand's ecosystems have been severely modified by the introduction of land mammals that were not present during the evolution of its ecosystems, and have had a devastating impact on both native flora and fauna.
The sanctuary, surrounded by a special predator free fence, is a good example of an ecological area, which allows the original natural ecosystems to recover by minimising the impact of introduced flora and flora. It become a significant tourist attraction in Wellington and is responsible for the greatly increased number of sightings of species such as Tui, Kaká and Takahé.
We spent a nice four hours there walking around and were lucky to spot Takahé and Tuatara. Unfortunately famous Kiwi's were sleeping as they are nocturnal birds. It's a great place to visit and Teresa, our guide was very knowledgable and trained to spot the birds.
From Zealandia we called taxi that drove us back to Oriental Bay and went up to Mount Victoria lookout to watch a glorious sunset.
Day 8 - Wellington
Only scheduled activity on our itinerary for today was a private Wild Wellington Nature Tour to visit Terawhiti Farm that used to be the oldest and largest sheep station, located along the south coast of Wellington and since 2009 is home of a Wind Farm with 62 wind turbines, able to produce enough power for every home in Wellington City. Access to the Fur Seal colony at Tongue Point was possible only through a private property thus only for available for tours. It was great to watch this lovely animals in their natural habitat. As the wind was really strong visibility was great and we could see South Island in far.
We returned back to Wellington at late afternoon and spend the rest of the day wandering around the city fighting with strong wind, we took Wellington Cable Car up to the Botanic gardens and as it got darker we grabbed street food in the city and came back to our hotel to get some sleep for another early flight following day.
Recommendations for Wellington:
Day 9 - Dunedin
Our flight from Wellington Domestic Airport was at 8am and it took about two hours. It was significantly colder when we landed in Dunedin, just around 5 degrees celsius. We picked up our car from Avis at the airport and drove to our new home for two nights, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City right in the centre of Dunedin. We dropped our luggage, got quick shower and moved to the next place on our itinerary, Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
Orokonui is an ecological island wildlife reserve similar to Zealandia, located in the Orokonui Valley near Waitati, about 20 km to the north of central Dunedin. It was raining a bit and most of the birds were hard to spot so we didn't spend long there and went to explore Northern Beaches around Port Chalmers. Unfortunately rain gets worst so we returned back to our hotel.
We didn't know where to go for dinner so I checked on Foursquare that Etrusco at the Savoy had the best rating from all restaurants around and it was just across the road from the hotel. Restaurant was quite crowded and buzzing when we arrived and that is always a good sign in the restaurant. Food was soo delicious! It was probably the best Pizza I've had outside of Italy and Kate's pasta was also very yummy.
Day 10 - Dunedin
We've decided to get out of the city and go to the Nugget Point for sunrise. It was about hour and half drive so we left hotel at the dark, what i didn't realised (and didn't checked) was a fact that South Island sunrise is happening an hour later than at North Island so when we arrived at the spot it was pitch dark and I've started to feel that something is not quite right :) Luckily we had some food with us so we've enjoyed tasty breakfast in the car and as it started to get brighter we could finally see how beautiful scenery around us really is.
Nugget Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse built in 1870 at Nugget Point in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand just at the beginning of Catlins Forrest Park. An easy 20 minute return walking track leads from the car park at the end of The Nuggets Road to a viewing platform right next to the lighthouse overlooking "The Nuggets". Once we enjoyed the place enough we jumped to the car and drove back to Dunedin.
We stopped at the Tunnel Beach about 8km southwest of the city centre of Dunedin. Tunnel Beach has sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves and it's a great photo location.
At the afternoon we had booked Dunedin Heritage City Walking tour with lovely guy Athol that took us around the city centre. It's a lovely city with interesting architecture and European feel. Dunedin Railway station is absolutely beautiful and it was shame we didn't have more time as I would love to go on one of their scenic train trips. After we had enough walking I went to return our rental car and it was almost the time for dinner. We chose once again Etrusco and it was all superb as yesterday.
Day 11 - Dunedin
For today we had planned 6 hours Elm Wildlife Tour to see Royal Albatross, Sea Lions, Fur Seals and hopefully some endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins. Dunedin's Otago Peninsula is renowned for hosting the world's only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and various other unique species.
We had some breakfast at the hotel and then went for a coffee to Standard Kitchen. Weather was pretty rough, with little bit of rain and strong wind.
At the first stop at Taiaroa Head which is the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world we weren't lucky, no birds in sight. So we moved towards Cape Saunders and our second and final stop at the Papanui beach and it was a different story there. Fur Seals on the rocks, Sea Lions just relaxing on the beach, totally ignoring us so we could get close enough to take pictures and watch them. We were already cold and slightly wet but still hoping to see one of the rarest of penguins species in the world.
Our guide explained that we would have to wait a bit longer to possibly spot them as they are fishing all day in ocean and coming back to land only at the evening. Obviously it's hard to predict wild nature but we've decided to wait. To make our wait to be more pleasant, it started to pouring rain. After about two hours on the beach, soaking wet and freezing, that little guy showed up from sea. It was an amazing experience silently watching him walk to the land while drying his tiny wings. Super cute animal.
Then finally we were happy enough and jumped back to the minibus that took us back to the Hotel in Dunedin. You can call me crazy but Etrusco were so good two previous nights that we ended up there for dinner again and we felt almost like a regular customers, we even received shots on the house :) After dinner we walked back to our hotel to pack and get some sleep before another early morning flight.
Recommendations for Dunedin :
Sleep - Scenic Hotel Dunedin City
Places to see - Tunnel Beach, St Claire Beach, Dunedin Train Station, Papanui Beach, Cape Saunders, Dunedin Railway station
Day 12 - Marlborough
At early morning our driver from Classic Jaguar Limos was waiting at the hotel and dropped us to the Airport from where we had about two hours flight back to Wellington and then one short around 40min flight through Cook Straight to Marlborough Airport in Blenheim. Weather has improved and when we landed, we were greeted with a lovely sunshine. Our taxi driver was waiting for us and we went straight to our hotel for tonight. Marlborough Vintners Hotel is a beautiful luxury five star hotel surrounded by vineyards and mountains in the heart of Marlborough. Apartment was truly stunning with terrace leading to vineyard.
At noon we had planned bicycle ride with Vine tasting so we walked across the road to the Vines Village to meet with Peter from Explore Marlborough who would be our guide around the vineyards. We have picked up our bicycles and cycled towards first Winery.
Forrest Wines Estate - John and Brigid Forrest have been crafting wines since the late 1980’s. After succesful careers in cinetific research and medicine, the young family came back from living and working overseas to get a start on a fairly green New Zealand wine industry. Recently they started focusing also on low alcoholic wines and I loved "The Doctors" Riesling with only 9% of alcohol.
Framingham Wines - The original vineyard was established by Wellingtonian engineer Rex Brooke-Taylor who took the name ‘Framingham’ from his ancestral home town near Norwich, England. By combining small batches of fruit from different parts of the vineyard, their build depth of flavour and texture and by using experimental techniques and blending options they get as result rich, expressive wines that are lovely to drink. My favourite was Select Riesling from their F range.
Wairau River Wines - Established in 1978 by Phil & Chris Rose, and today joined by their five children and extended family., Wairau River produces distinctive Marlborough wines from their 100% family owned estate vineyards. I never thought that I'm a Riesling person but again my favourite here was their Summer Riesling. It was the time for lunch so we had a lovely burger on their summer garden and then Peter had to leave so we cycled around a bit, stopped by Wairau river and then decided to give a try one more vineyard.
Hans Herzog Cellar - For the love of wine, Hans Herzog changed 500 years of winegrowing lineage in Switzerland to pursue his dream to find the perfect terroir to make truly outstanding wines able to stand amongst the world’s best. It's incredible how many grape verities they growing and the vines were exquisite there.
After cycling for almost 20k and several glasses of great wine we had enough and returned to our hotel to get ready for dinner at Arbour.
Set in the stunning landscape of rural, wine growing Marlborough, Arbour is a modern restaurant, with innovative cuisine, an extensive wine list and friendly service. They have different menu everyday so we decided to go for a five course one. Food was beyond amazing and they won several food awards already. Liz, the co-owner looked after us very well and it was a great end of a lovely day. Well end of the day maybe but as we were in Blenheim where my friend Loky reside last couple of years. He was waiting at the Marlborough Public House. We had couple drinks there and went on quick tour the bar. We ended up at The Yard Bar and i think that around 2am we have got taxi back to the hotel.
Day 13 - Marlborough
Have to say that it wasn't easy morning after last night drinking. Vintners Hotel is absolutely lovely and i would love to stay few more days here, however there was another exciting day ahead of us. So we packed all our stuff once again and Stephen from Marlborough Tour Company ,our driver for today and tomorrow, was already waiting at the hotel to drop us to Picton, picturesque seaside town on the north coast of south island known as the gateway for Marlborough Sounds. We had quick breakfast there and bought some water and food then boarded on small boat from Beachcomber Cruises company and went through Marlborough Sounds towards our first stop at the Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary
It’s taken an enormous amount of work over decades to return the bush and the birds to islands like Motuara, which was covered in lush forest when Captain James Cook used it to claim British sovereignty over the South Island in 1770. In the beginning of the 20th century, the island was used for farming, but in 1920 Motuara was declared a reserve. The bird sanctuary is now predator free, and you can spot birds like Tui, Bellbird, Cheeky robins and Fantails, as well as Yellow-Crowned parakeets and around 200 South Island saddleback. The most important species on the island - the nocturnal Okarito brown Kiwi - is hidden from sight to most. It was amazing experience to be on island alone only surrounded by birds.
Frome there we went to our next stop, Ship Cove, small bay just west of Motuara Island. The name Ship Cove was given by Captain James Cook on 15 January 1770 when his ship the Endeavour anchored there to replenish supplies of food, water and wood. Cook would return to the cove a further four times over the course of his first and second voyages to the Pacific. Our plan was to have a snack in little shed from supplies we bought in Picton, however I had to grab my camera and take some pictures first. As I was leaving the shed, flightless chicken size bird called Weka curiously popped up from the bush interested to see who are the intruders.
Knowing that we are alone on island I left all the camera bags and food in shed and walked just few meters to the beach. When I came back ten minutes later I've Immediately realised something is wrong here, most of the food were on the floor, packs half open and big bag of bread was missing. It took me only a few seconds who to figured out who to blame for the mess. I caught that little Weka bird steeling our shoes later on so if you spot them, be aware :)
When we had enough of beach we went to explore Ship Cove further and tried to find small waterfall, unfortunately we must missed the turn so we returned back to our boat. It was just in time to get to our last stop for today, Bay of Many Coves.
Set in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, Bay of Many Coves Resort is a luxury five star resort hotel nestled amid a rolling landscape of native bush that kisses the shoreline of the beautiful bay below. Originally a family retreat from hectic city life, Robert and Colleen Gilkison eventually moved in permanently in the early 1960s. Capturing the truly special nature of the property, its new owner Errol Christian named it ‘The Gem’ and the opportunity to experience the very best of authentic New Zealand was born. The only way how to get to this pure paradise is by the boat or with helicopter. Our luxury one bedroom apartment was beautiful with warm wooden interior mirroring untouched native setting that sweeps down to the secluded bay. It wasn't really warm outside but we still couldn't resist to dip into the outdoor hot tub and enjoy the glass of bubbles.
Our dinner was booked in their fine dinning restaurant The Foredeck. Superb fine dining experience with awesome food and wine.
Day 14 - Marlborough / Auckland
After a lovely sleep we walked for a breakfast to the Kumatage, second restaurant in the resort. Bay of Many Coves is certainly a place where i can imagine to stay longer, unfortunately we had few more things to do today before we will fly back to Auckland and then back home. We packed our stuff and then just sit and relaxed with coffee on the sundeck until our boat came and brought us back to Picton.
As we arrived to Picton our driver Stephen was already waiting for us and we drove towards coastal village Havelock also called the Greenshell mussel capital of the world. Along the way we stopped at few stops with spectacular views like Governor Bay, Cullen Point and Mahakipawa. Our destination actually wasn't the Havelock itself but location called Pelorus Bridge, at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, which was used as one of the film locations for The Hobbit movie. Absolutely wonderful place. We walked towards pontoon bridge, took couple of pictures and then we get back to the car and returned to Blenheim for our last stop in Marlborough.
Brancott Estate, New Zealand's largest wine company and first winery in this region that started producing Sauvignon Blanc. At the Heritage Centre we met for lunch with Andrea from Brancott and Kelly from Destination Marlborough and they told us bit about fascinating history of this place. We did not want to leave but it was time to get back to the car and start the journey home. Stephen drove us back to the Blenheim Airport which was just about 15min away and we boarded to our first flight of the day to Auckland.
Recommendations for Marlborough :
Places to see - Marlborough Sounds, Queen Charlotte Sound, Motuara Island, Ship Cove, Bay of Many Coves, Pelorus Bridge, Picton, Blenheim
Day 15 - flying back home
Air New Zealand get us access to their Koru Lounge at the Auckland Airport to make waiting for our flight as comfortable as it could be. It was great to grab some food and relax before long flight. Boarding was fast and in little more than thirteen hours we landed at LAX where we had almost three hours layover but luckily again with access to Air New Zealand Lounge. Our final flight was scheduled at 5pm and at noon next day we happily landed at London Heathrow.
Thank you again Air New Zealand for great trip, Hawke's Bay Tourism, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, Enterprise Dunedin and Destination Marlborough for ground support and making our trip as amazing and smooth as it was.
I do have to come back to New Zealand for longer to explore this beautiful part of the world further and ANZ would surely be my choice of airline that will get me there.
Air New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to New Zealand via LA, as well as via Asia and North America in conjunction with its partner airlines. Return flights via LA start from £782 in Economy and £2390 in Premium Economy. For the most up to date fares please visit airnz.co.uk/flights-to-new-zealand
I've noticed INFLOW Summits some time ago and I knew they organised some pretty cool conferences and Influencer meetings in the past. When I've received invitation to come to Istanbul to meet Influencers from around the world and enjoy the launch of Tulip Festival my answer was yes.
I've never been in Istanbul before so I was looking forward to visit this city on borders of Europe and Asia with all that multicultural vibe. I was in Prague few weeks before departure so Inflow managed to get me direct flight from Prague to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. It was my first experience with turkish hospitality and everything went smoothly.
When we landed on Ataturk Airport i was picked up and guided to taxi that would transfer me to my hotel. When i got to the taxi I've met guy named Patrick, who was invited as one of the Influencers too. He's damn cool guy, owning and maintaining quite a few accounts including @Paris.
After short drive we arrived at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. What a place! Awesome five star luxurious hotel in Sultanahmet neighbourhood of Faith district between two most known mosques, Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque. Hotel was built on site of former Sultanahmet prison built in 1918 as the first jailhouse in the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
I've got room on third floor with views to the courtyard and sea, room was absolutely beautiful however after I've dropped my bags I immediately went up for terrace on top floor with stunning views.
At the evening we had welcome dinner at the hotel to meet with Inflow team and other Influencers. I was happy to see few faces that i know from Instagram and following for a long time and also to meet new. Here is the crew.
Saul - @saago
Ivan - @aivenn
Yura - @urayxor
Alessandro - @living_europe
Lesia - @mrs.thebest
Nicanor - @nicanorgarcia
Shuko - @studioshuko
Masaya - @moonlightice
Sylvia - @goldie_berlin
Juuso - @juusohd
Teresa - @teresacfreitas
Ekaterina - @travellersplanet
Irina - @absofashionlutely_
Viktoriya - @tiebowtie
Alessandro - @alessandro_carpentiero
and me :) @alanisko
Previous night I've spoked with Patrick and we decided to go shoot sunrise and Irina recommended us to go near Bosphorus Bridge and Ortakoy Mosque. Best way to get there was to call Uber, it was damn cheap around 30 Turkish Liras (5£ ish) and journey took around 20min. When we arrived, sky was amazing pink and we quickly get ready to shoot. That place was just magical, with Ortakoy and Bosphorus bridge as backdrop. I've loved it so much that I've decided to come back next day.
After that we called Uber again to get us back to the hotel and had wonderful breakfast in the restaurant. Next on our busy schedule was visit of MiniTurk.
Miniturk is pretty much a miniatures of cool buildings from all around the Turkey. It's great to walk through enjoy them and learn a bit history.
From there we went for lunch to the now famous restaurant called Nusr-et owned by no one than Mr #Saltbae. It was packed and we were told that Nusr just came back to Istanbul to meet with us. What a experience, he's absolutely lovely and patient guy and steaks were extraordinary delicious.
Next on our schedule was visit of one of the large parks in Istanbul called Emirgan Park, it was full of beautiful tulips so we got the taste for next day Tulip Festival Launch day. We spent there almost an hour running around with cameras and snapping some flower shots :)
Next stop was amazing again, Helicopter ride over Istanbul with Kaan Air. Weather wasn't the best that afternoon but it was still a spectacular ride.
The day of the main event, Tulip Festival. Why not start it with breakfast with the Mayor of Istanbul at Tunuslu Hayrettin Pasa Konagi. In this wonderful reconstructed building we got served breakfast and then had small chat with Mayor.
From there we followed Mayor to open the Tulip Festival Istanbul. They've created World's Largest tulip carpet made from 564k tulips, right at the historic Sultanahmet Square next to the Hagia Sofia Mosque. Spectacular view! Btw, Did you know that Tulip come from Turkey?
Once we get enough shots, we walked to nearby Matbah Restaurant for tasty lunch and then moved for few shots to Gulhane Park also full of tulips. Then we had about two hours of free time and I've decided with couple of others to visit neighbourhood called Balat with lovely small caffees, shops and colourful houses. Very pretty and so far my favourite part of the city. I could spend there walking around hours unfortunately we had to come back as next on schedule was visit of the Basilica Cistern.
Basilica Cistern, largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. This cathedral-size cistern is an underground chamber approximately 9,800 square metres large, capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres of water. It was featured in several movies including James Bond's From Russia With Love or Dan Brown's Inferno among others. Pretty cool place, unfortunately a bit dark for pictures without tripod that most of us left at the hotel obviously :0
Last on the day was dinner in Feriye Lokantasi that had wonderful view of Ortaköy Mosque and Bosporus Bridge and delicious food. We met few other people there including founders of Inflow Summits and finished the evening with few shots outside and moved back to the hotel.
What a fabulous few days it was, Istanbul is amazing city and I know I have to come back and stay for longer to visit places I've missed.
Thank you Inflow Summits for having me and showing me around.
You can find all our pictures under hashtag #tulipfestivalistanbul
My long time planed trip to New Zealand at the end of the March was postponed last minute so I decided to visit Tatra mountains in Slovakia. I was there last time probably 20y ago so I was really looking forward.
Štrbské Pleso - Grand Hotel Kempinski
Grand Hotel Kempinski is located on shores of Strbske Pleso 1346m, second largest mountain glacial lake in Slovakia that is fed by underground springs and has no visible outflow stream. Its surface remains frozen for around 155 days per year.
Hotel offers 98 rooms and fantastic Zion Spa & Wellness. You can enjoy the views of Kriván Peak right from your balcony or while you're swimming in the pool. If you're into cross country skiing, then you would love this place.
Chopok, Jasná - Hotel FIS
Jasná is a well known ski resort in Low Tatras including 55km of slopes. Ski Boutique Hotel FIS is highest situated hotel in the ski resort of Jasna at 1220m and just a few steps walk from a gondola lift to Chopok. Amenities include a restaurant, along with a rustic-chic après-ski bar with an outdoor terrace.There is sleek Spa & Wellness with outdoor hot tub.
Chopok 2024m is the third highest peak of the Low Tatra range in central Slovakia. The peak offers a panoramatic view of High Tatra, Liptov and the valley of Hron.
Lomnický Peak - PanoraMic Mountain Residence
Lomnický Štít (Lomnický Peak) is one of the highest and most visited mountain peaks in the High Tatras mountains. Connected by cable car from Tatranska Lomnica, its summit is 2634 metres above sea level, making it the second highest peak in the High Tatras. You can stay at the top for 50min and enjoy breathtaking views of highest peaks of High Tatras and enjoy tea or coffee in the Café Dedo, the highest placed Café in Slovakia :)
Hotel PanoraMic Mountain Residence is luxurious self catered hotel style chalet in Smokovec surrounded by the High Tatras National Park and offers accommodation in modern apartments offering panoramic views. Each apartment is decorated with rustic elements and fitted with hard-wooden floors. All apartments feature a southern-oriented terrace providing valley views and northern-oriented with mountain views.
We had incredible time in Tatras with my girlfriend and i can only recommend you to go there and explore it yourself. Poprad Airport is easily accessible and from there is just few km drive to Highest Mountains in Slovakia.
Special thanks goes to:
Same as last year, Prague's New Year Firework display was happening not at midnight but at the evening of 1.st January so kids can enjoy it too. It was fired from Letna Park and it was very pretty with reflections on River Vltava.
Happy New Year 2018
We were at the dinner on a cold October evening when one my friends mentioned that he can get super cheap fly tickets from Prague to Seoul and after few words we had a plan. I was in Asia only once, few months ago in Singapore and I was really looking forward to see more of it. The only catch was that we will only have two nights in Seoul and then we have to fly back, but the price was too good to not do it.
Flight from Prague Ruzyne Airport with Czech Airlines was more than great as plane was almost empty and we had literally whole back part of the plane just for five of us :)
When we arrived at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, it was slightly after the noon and it was freezing cold with gusting wind but as we managed get a bit of sleep during the flight, after check in to Parkwood Hotel we've decided to explore the city a bit..
It turned out to be a pretty spectacular sunset so we made it to the top of Namsan hill to check out N Seoul Tower. It's one of the few places in Seoul that is not a NFZ for your drone so i was pretty excited to snap few shots from above.
We've spend about an hour at the top of the tower and then went downtown to try some street food in Myeong-dong, apparently the most famous street with food in downtown Seoul.
Parkwood Hotel isn't probably the best hotel, but it was cheap enough and very conveniently located just few stops on Maglev train from Incheon Airport and about 45min from downtown Seoul. We were pretty tired when we arrived there and fell to our beds.
Second day was a beautiful weather, still damn cold but sunny, so we decided to visit old town at Bukchon Hanok Village and then one of the largest royal palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was pretty impressive but I'm sure it would be better to enjoy it in the spring when everything is in bloom.
After that we moved back downtown, done some shopping, visited a few hipster coffee and tea places and end up in Myeong-dong again for some more street food. I'm pretty sure that Seoul must have a a highest concentration of Skin Care shops per citizen, it was literally in every second shop :)
After dinner we went back to the hotel to get some sleep as in the morning we had to get to the Incheon Airport and fly another 11 hours back to Prague.
Here are instagram accounts of my travel buddies if you want to check them out.
We arrived at the Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport EZE at the noon and our driver took as to our hotel in downtown BA. Hotel Meliá Buenos Aires is beautiful hotel conveniently located in the heart of the city.
Once checked in and quick shower, we went to get some lunch and our guides took us to a fancy Palermo district where we had booked lunch at the La Cabrera restaurant to try some typical Argentinian Asado.
After lunch we walked around Palermo and visited few cool places like Dulce de Leche & Co that made some amazing local sweet speciality called Dulce de Leche, awesome local shoe maker POSCO and pretty much wandered around this lovely district. Before dinner we popped in to Jardín Japonése, beautiful Japanese gardens and we walked towards our dinner place Casa Cavia
It's an amazing open air restaurant and bar but i was more than tired so I just tasted few tapas and went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
After breakfast we went with our guides to explore more of the city. We spent morning in La Boca, colourful district of Buenos Aires and then walked through Palermo to our place for lunch called Nápoles.
It was super cool antiques store combined with bar and restaurant and we couldn't stop walking around and taking pictures of all cool staff they had there. Oh yes, food was very tasty too :)
After lunch we went to visit another district called San Telmo and popped in to MAMBA, Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art which had some cool stuff on display. After that we had a bit of free time so i went to visit a bookshop. El Ateneo Grand splendid used to be an old theatre and now is ranked as second most beautiful bookshop in the world and i have to agree. It was spectacular.
At the evening we had dinner at the Faena Hotel, quirky and luxurious new hotel in BA. Food was more than spectacular and after dinner we went to watch Tango show. I've never thought watching Tango will be so exciting, it was an great evening.
After the breakfast I went with Mariano and Elke quickly visit Planetarium Galileo Galilei and took a few snaps. Then we had planed visit of famous La Recoleta Cemetery that contain graves of notable people including Evita Eva Perón and it's ranked as one of the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It was huge and more like little city full of tombs.
Later we went for lunch to Casa Rosada, which is the executive mansion and office of the president of Argentina. Lunch was prepared by personal chef of the Argentinian president and it was delicious. After lunch we've done the tour around Casa Rosada that is surprisingly not pink from inside :)
Just before sunset we had booked tour at the Palacio Barolo, a landmark office building, located at Avenida de Mayo, in the neighborhood of Monserrat. It used to be the tallest building in the city and South America when it was build. Views from the top are spectacular and they took us even to the lighthouse at the very top.
That evening our guides had another surprise for us, dinner at the very popular and busy El Cuartito pizza restaurant. This place is famous for their traditional pizza and queues outside just confirm that. Dinner was again delicious and the atmosphere was very unique.
San Antonio de Areco
We've checked out from Meliá Buenos Aires and went to our Microbus to another place where we gonna spend a day and night, San Antonio de Areco. It is one of the prettiest town in the pampas, located 113km northwest of Buenos Aires, well known for the peaceful atmosphere and picturesque colonial streets. The town dates from the early 18th century and preserves many gaucho and criollo traditions, including the fine silverwork and saddlery of its artisans.
We dropped our luggage to our Estancia called La Cinacina where we gonna spent night and went to explore the town. We had about an hour to wander around the streets before we went to Estancia El Ombú for lunch and horse riding. Lunch was served in typical Gaucho style and horse riding on pampas was a pretty cool experience.
San Rafael, Mendoza
At the morning we sit back to the microbus and our driver took us back to Buenos Aires to the local Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP) from where we had our flight to Mendoza. It was pretty smooth and flight took only something over hour and we landed in San Rafael a city in Argentina's semi-arid Mendoza province, which borders Chile across the Andes. Sycamore-lined streets converge on Plaza San Martín, edged by cafes, restaurants and renowned vineyards producing Malbecs and other red wines surround the city.
Our hotel for next couple of days will be Tower Inn & Suites San Rafael, pretty cool modern hotel with outdoor swimming pool and spa area. I could see the vineyards all around the city from my room at the 6th floor.
That evening we had another small trip planed to place called Los Reyunos. It's a massive Dam built on Diamante River about 40km from San Rafael towards Chilean borders. You'll get the best views from the top of the Dam and you can get a boat trip on the lake itself or if you dare enough, try Zip Wire over the lake, it's great feeling.
We spent morning in San Rafael town wandering around and at the noon we jumped int our microbus and went to Aventura Park, about 25 km from the city of San Rafael at the foot of the hills of Valle Grande. Amazing environment surrounded by native flora and fauna with ideal conditions for mountain activities and extreme sports. It's also great for star gazing, unfortunately we couldn't stay that long. Views are pretty spectacular and after the sunset we had to come back to San Rafael for a dinner.
Salinas del Diamantes - Salt Lake
At the morning we met at the lobby and went for a day trip to a salt lake Salinas del Diamantes located in Nihuil district, 60 km from the city of San Rafael and are constituted by a giant salt mine open pit. It's awesome experience to see how the light break on the surface of the water and reflect everything. Great spot for pictures, just one advice, get some water with you as there is no place to buy something and the sun and salt can get pretty exhausting.
to be continued...