Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hello Christmas…or new destination

Hello guys!!! Do you remember Christmas is soon?
Even though we Ukrainians celebrate it on the 7th of  January, i've decided to have both this year (why not, ha?). That is why just in a couple of hours i will be flying to the one of the best Christmas destinations - Vienna!

I will explore all Christmas markets and events that are happening there and of course will update you with awesome pictures.
All great advices and tips are more then welcome and i will gladly follow them, so start typing right now! =)

What are your plans for Christmas? I want to know everything!

And of course, I wish you great holidays, lots of presents and fun! <3

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hello Utrecht and Gouda…or feel yourself at home

Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and be ready to find yourself in the coziest places in Holland.

After admiring all those enormous andmodern architecture in Rotterdam I’ve decided to travel to more Holland type cities and that is how I found myself in the train going to Utrecht.
From the first small paved street that leads from the railway station to the city I started feeling myself very different. Even though it was early morning and there were not many people around, this city has hugged me and kind of whispered “feel yourself at home”.  

I didn’t know any directions to follow, any spots to see, I just grabbed a map (remember my tip from previous post?) and started wondering. 
Everything around was still in deep sleep and it was perfect. From street to street, from bridge to bridge the feeling of being tourist was flying away. I just picked the direction (in a way “hm…I will turn left here”), put on the headphones and started exploring.

It seemed like people living there felt themselves as in the fairytale: tiny gardens near the houses, small decorations around the doors, candles on the windows and of course nicely parked bicycles by the entrance. Utrecht would be perfect for the artists, as amazing paintings could be done everywhere.

I decided not go straight to the center and found a beautiful park, extremely green after the night rain and admirably empty: no tourists, no excursions and no huge groups of students shouting. This place would be just perfect for the every Sunday morning walk with a dog – oh how lucky the locals are.

By the exit of the park I found an awesome place in front of The Central Museum, which I recommend you to explore, especially if you are traveling with kids – The Dick Bruna House. 

This place is totally created for kids, where the book character - colorful Miffy rabbit is waiting for them. 

Even I has felt myself as I child there. Several rooms are telling about the history and the creator of Miffy and everything is interactive – kids can push the buttons, sing, draw pictures and enjoy every minute. On the second floor a special gym is created where you and your children can play together and do whatever you like. This place is full of laugh and happiness. So just get inside!

When you are back to grown up life again take a walk along the canal and allow yourself a bit of windows gazing. Dutchmen are very open people and as they say they have nothing to hide. That is why they don’t have any curtains on the windows and if you are so eager to feel how locals are living just have a quick look at someone’s window (though, remember being polite and try not stare for a long time J ) As I am fond of the interior designs and international life-style, this experience appeared to be indeed interesting. Locals have a great taste and their apartments in those old tiny houses look extremely cozy and sweet. Did you notice it?

By the end of your window gazing trip you will find yourself in the heart of Utrecht surrounded by magnificent medieval Dom Tower and Dom Church. If you are lucky enough you will have a possibility to climb the tower and to see the beauty of the city from the high. But don’t get upset if you are not, you still have a possibility to go inside to the incredible church garden. I’ve spent there almost an hour sitting and admiring it, watching people going here and there and listening to the bell sound. Great place!

You will be amazed of what Utrecht can offer: from long shops streets to green parks; from small cozy cafes to fancy ancient restaurants; from old universities on every street to modern blows shown in architecture, sculptures and even in crosswalks :) Everyone will find something special here – all you need is just look around.

And if it is not enough for you, by the way home just stop for the couple of hours in Gouda – the cheesy city. It is very popular for its cheese festivals and markets, but even without them this tiny town is great for a small walk. 

You will see a magic Town House and the main scene of all the festivals; you will have a chance to see the famous Dutch windmills surrounded by small cozy houses and of course you will taste the prominent cheese of which locals are very proud.

In fact, Gouda (the cheese) is everywhere in Gouda (the city) J You can find a shop on every street, the lights in the center are made of its shape and there is even a huge monument to the cow – as the main source of its preparation. I bet you will enjoy it.

The Netherlands is full of amazing places and there is a couple left I would like to tell you about soon and I hope you don’t mind<3

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hello Rotterdam…or 7 tips for one-day trip

When it wasdecided that Amsterdam would not be my only destination, the first place I thought of was Rotterdam. What I knew about it? Well, let’s see…it dramatically differs from all other Dutch cities and it has a cool bridge.  Not too much, right? But then I’ve Googled a bit and discovered that Rotterdam is like La Defense in Paris – extremely modern and full of skyscrapers, metal and glass and for that reason a lot of people don’t like it at all and I wasn’t among them.
So that was it: next morning I woke up in one skyscraper, grabbed coffee at Starbucks and took a train to the city full of other big and massive buildings.
Well let’s be honest, it is not all about them. This city offers a variety of interesting places and things to do and here are some tips for you:
  • Enjoy the unusual architecture:

It is obvious that the first building you will see will be the Railway Station and even there you will understand, that Dutch people probably have great imagination and designer skills, as each building looks unique and unusual.

If you start walking in the direction of downtown and Stadhuis (City hall  - in more understandable language; by the way, every city is proud of their city halls and in each city they are so different) you will see the police station. And even if you don’t, please, walk around and find it. And I am not crazy!!! Just look at it and understand that nothing bad can happen to the country where the police station is turquoise and made of pixels. Isn’t it sweet?

And these buildings called Kijs-Kubus are definitely worth attention. For the last years they’ve become “must see” of Rotterdam. In fact, you can even go inside one of the cube – whether via museum or via renting a couch in hostel (if you did – please go on and tell me the details). They say, that some welcoming Dutchmen can kindly invite you in if they fill like you’re so extremely interested. Well, why not give it a try, right?

To be honest, you don’t need to search for something unusual – it is just on every step, so enjoy.

  • Become amazed by variety of sea inhabitants on the fish market:

I am not a huge fish lover and kind of not a fan of the fish smell, but as it is Holland, which is so famous for its seafood, why not to watch how it had looked like before appearing on your table? On the weekends a huge fish market opens along the Mariniersweg and trust me you will be shocked by all the variety it proposes.

 And don’t worry after all that nasty smell you will enter the cookies-biscuits corner and start enjoying the air again.

  • Feel the distance:

Bridges are another attraction in Rotterdam. There are two of them and both are extremely cool; oh no, sorry, one is extremely red and another one is extremely modern. One will lead you to the harbor and another to the business area of the city. When one doesn’t have Wi-Fi - another one does. 

One is called Willemsbrug and another Erasmusbrug. Both are always shown on all the post cards and maps and I think they deserve it. 

I’ve even had a chance to see how Erasmusbrug was cut into two parts in order a huge ship could sail further. You won’t need to wait too long, as this happens every 2-3 hours, so be patient.

  • Feel small surrounded by the skyscrapers:

So after you explored enough of the Erasmusbrug, use it to go to another bank of the city to admire all those massive, huge and very high business centers, hotels and museums. Some of them have great terraces on the roof where you can have a glass of wine and enjoy the view. But just hope that it is not windy and at least anything is opened. In my case everything was closed.

After you got off the bridge turn right and go till the end of the street. There you will see the Hotel New York, which makes such a great contrast to all those enormous glass and metal stones. Note, this Hotel has a great restaurant inside and just keep in mind that you will need to walk a lot backwards, so this place can be a great spot to have rest. Trust me! I wish someone had advised me the same J

  • Make million of ships' photos:

I am joking – no need to do that, you will definitely delete half of them. Anyway, boats and ships are everywhere in Rotterdam: boats-houses; boats-restaurants; old military ships; modern cargo ships and fancy yachts – just pick which you like the most. 

If you are a boat fan, you can go on excursion to main harbor or insensibly sneak to some ships exhibition in the downtown. And promise – no more then 5 pictures J
  • Get lost in the park:

Het Park is really huge and very cozy, I would say. Sun is trying to reach you through the trees, ducks are running back and forwards, children are playing, couples are having picnics – just a great place to relax a bit from the noisy downtown. On the weekends different festivals take place there, so you will be able to have even a greater time and meet new people. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?!

  •  Fly round in the sky:

One exit of the Het Park leads to the Euromast – the well-known attraction of Rotterdam, where you can go up in sky, have a meal and enjoy 360 degrees view of the city. Can be also a great experience. I was too exhausted and not hungry at all by the time I reached it, so left this place for another my visit to Rotterdam. But you should give it a try and tell me how was that!

I ended my day walking around shopping mall that is partially inside and partially outside on the street (looks pretty cool by the way), was amazed by the city lanterns that spin around and go up and down all the time. Full of positive emotions I reached the railway station. Great city! Worth visiting! I even think I would gladly live hear for a couple of years and will you? 
Bonus tip: When you just arrive to Rotterdam take a paper map at the Railway station. Sure, we are all cool and have phones, tablets with Google Maps, iGo etc. but it is so cool to have a colorful map in hands with lots of pictures and small advises. And it can be used also as a cover to sit on or as umbrella when it starts to rain J In fact, in Rotterdam I have decided that starting then I would collect the maps from each city I visit. What do you think?<3