Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mt. Untersberg in Salzburg, Austria (Sound of Music site)

I insisted.
If in Austria, mountain we must go.
So go we did.
Regret we did not.

This was tricky, I wasn't that excited about The Sound of Music sites ie the mansion, abbey, castle or pavilion when I was in Salzburg. You know what I mean right, this is what Salzburg is famous of and yet my excitement level was just so-so, at the scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), mine was between 5 to 6. What is wrong with me?

So, you must be wondering... If I am not interested with The Sound of Music and stuff, what is there for me to look forward to? Well, there is this 3 things I was excited about (of which I kinda regretted it, a repeat trip need to be plan as usual huh) :

  • My accommodation at the foot of Mt. Untersberg
  • Mt. Untersberg itself
  • Stepping foot in Salzburg - UNESCO site.

I'll share my accommodation with you later, you'll love it! But now, we shall talk about the mountain itself - Mt. Untersberg. The journey from the city to the cable car station takes approximately half an hour or so, hence plan your day well as you need to coincide with the bus service there.

#TravelTips 1 : You can only visit the mountain on a non cloudy day. The cable car close if it is too cloudy, you can't see much anyway kan.

#TravelTips 2 : Operating hours changes according to month/season. You can check HERE on the operating time.

The ride up takes around 10 mins or so and... as as everyone would have known, Austria is a beautiful country. Very beautiful.

Don't you just wish you live here.

#TravelTip 3 : Cable car fee changes according to season, check HERE for more detail.

#TravelTips 4 : If you wishes to follow The Sound of Music trail, click HERE for the list and whereabout.

As we ascent. 

I have to admit, abit gayat by this time lah. 

This mountain is not so popular hence you hardly get any crowd, you don't have to be kiasu nor need you rush to go up/down. Just walk and take your own sweet time.

There is also a cafe up at the mountain station, you can always have your lunch here or sip your hot coffee/tea while enjoying the magnificent view. Bottom line, don't rush and pace your self.

Alternatively, you can also hike here on good weather. Perhaps I should try this one day as the view is superb I heard.

#TravelTips 5 : Nature lover, you can also hike here. Found this blog on the route etc, hope this helps.

I wouldn't dare to stand at the end like this.

The most I do/dare. 

I climbed higher actually till this point HERE, but surprising and as usual lah I didn't take any picture. Hahhahahhah....

I will share with you on where I stayed while in Salzburg in my next entry. Very quaint local house *I loike*. Till then, good night.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Babe's Magnet! (Part 5)


My other entries :
Babe's Magnet! (Part 4)

Babe's Magnet! (Part 3) 
Babe's Magnet! (Part 2)
Babe's Magnet! (Part 1)

Sharing with you my 2014 magnets from both my trips and those given my my dearest friends.

 Love love love all my Scandi trip fridge magnets.

Count how many Taiwan fridge magnets I have (different cities of course).

Just realised I have 3 Turkey fridge magnets and I for the wooden one if from who. Yikes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

#TravelTips | Money-changers in Zagreb, Croatia

I was compelled to blog about this.
Truthfully, I was rather annoyed, frustrated and crossed when I first step foot in the city thus leaving a bad impression on Zagreb.

This was how it started...

It was pretty much of an overland trip right from Frankfurt to Salzburg, followed by Vienna and Ljubljana till where I am now, Zagreb. All the cities I covered was using Euro currency except for Croatia and Bosnia, and since these two currencies were not available in Malaysia, I figure (and this works like charm in all the countries I visited so far) we can either change in at the bus or train station we disembark in (or the airport for some of you). We have everything pretty much figure out but as usual, Murphy Law decided to step in and stir things for abit, adding spices (and perhaps some herbs too) into our trip. 

And there goes the Pandora box... Sigh.

Due to the timing when we arrived, the money changers at the Autobusni bus station were all closed so we head down to our hotel straight away. After settling our stuff, we venture into the town to shop, sightseeing and of cause, look for money changer. If you have been traveling for quite a bit, your mind tends to function like a clockwork, first location you'll seek for is the Tourism Information Centre, this is the one place that will never fail you. Until today. In Zagreb.

We walked in and enquire on where to go, what to see and how to get to Lake Plitvice the next day, our questions were handled not in a friendly manner nor was it full heartedly, in fact very unwelcoming to my personal opinion. One country that I was excitedly looking forward to (merely because of Lake Plitvice) now being smeared by the tourism inhospitality. To add on, the direction to the money changer wasn't the nearest nor was it the best direction given (the public gave a better direction, seriously) and as we were walking, we found few more money changers within a min or two walk from the Tourism Information Centre. Someone is not doing their homework well. Hem...

What done is done.

So, here is what I would like to do, I shall share the locations of money changers within walking distance to the square. Some I might not capture the road name but you can back track by the pictures and ask around. Boleh kan? *smile*

1. Autobusni Bus Station
It is located at the same floor as the ticket counter. That's is the only direction you need to know, unless they renovated the bus station lah. Ahaks.

2. Glavni Train Station
There is one located inside the train station - near the luggage storage area. If I remembered correctly, it is on the right side from the main entrance.

#TravelTips : There are a few backpacker hostel and guesthouses near this area.

3. Cvjetni Shopping Center (Bogovićeva ulica 5)
It is a walking distance from the Ban Jelačić Square (main square). The money changer is located one level below, near the lift.

Money changer on the left (written 'exchange').

4. Behind Tourism Centre (Vlaška ulica Street/near Zangreb Catherdral)
I fail to get the exact street name but base from the picture below and the landmark (Zagreb Cathedral), it should be within this proximity. You bound to stroll to this area if you are heading to the Zangreb Cathedral.

5. Airport
This is very obvious, you can get money changer in almost all airports *smile*.

Well, hope this helps.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

#AirBnB | First experience - Oslo, Norway

First time trying out AirBnB with mix emotion.
I am sensing fear? Curiosity? Excitement? Doubt?

We've booked for 2 location during our Scandinavian trip, one in Estonia and another one here, in Oslo, Norway. Everything was perfect until I bumped into a few reviews with the one in Estonia (I am still baffled on how I managed to miss these negative reviews). I was so freaked out that I requested to cancel and thankfully it can be done (3 days prior to arriving), phew.

Because of the above incident, I am so skeptical with our Oslo leg, so many thoughts came running to mind, one have to understand my sentiment on why I never fancy couchsurfing or AirBnB (those staying with host type). There is nothing to do with the host or those who swore by it being the best way to travel and know the locals, for me, I like my privacy, freedom and space (my me-time I call them). Embracing one of this style of travel or accommodation kinda worries me, will I loose my cool or get annoyed? Having read the recent news on how a girl who did couchsurfing with her mom and how she got rape in the next room (without her mom knowledge) was scary and freaky. I brave and told myself, I should at least experience it once. At least. Once (saiko diri sendiri giler-siler).

Here is my story... 
(being my first experience, I actually forgot to take the host photo, and took a couple of her cute cats photos instead [ngok ngek betul]).

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She is a bookworm. Good news for us and you know what, she have tons of traveling books. Well, I love her already *smile*. And she have 2 of the cutest cat ever and they are super friendly and 'well educated' (read 'train')... brownie point!

It is a fairly small apartment but the location is perfect; within Muslim area hence finding Halal food was easy peasy. There are even  a few mosques within 1-2 minutes walk from her home, she said she can hear the sound of azan faintly especially on Fridays (somehow I felt proud).

She briefed us on how to operate her door, her kitchen and showed us around her cozy little nest *heart sangat*. Bilik air dia bersih giler sampai I rasa I kena mop lepas guna okay. Bersalah sebab kotorkan masa mandi.

Cereals available for us.

Our room. 

Simple, clean and neat. 

What I find amazing was that she prepared a welcome pack for us (no photos of it as I ter-mess it up *bluek*); consist of towels, raincoats and a few other things. She even put some biscuits for us in our room (sedap giler!).

I left Wahidah to chat with our host while I busy playing with her cats and taking their photos. Ahaks. Oh! My favourite part was that she did alot of overland travels and she have been to Greenland. A tiny island in Greenland where one needs to take a helicopter to get there to be specific. You guys just have to see her photo albums.... takat my trip yang gi naik husky sled etc tuh memang tak heranlah. Rasa macam nak terus book flight gi Greenland masa tuh.

To ease her guest, she also prepared all sort of local brochures for us and guided us on how to get around; from one point to another etc. I told her that I will definitely do a repeat and I would want to stay here again. InsyaAllah.

Oh! By the way, she loves spicy food. Gonna bring some curry powder packets the next time I am here *wink*. Bila tuh? Jeng jeng jeng....

Detail : https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1656648?euid=f74b04ad-779c-d22b-9473-09858119cf85

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#TravelTips | Tallinn City Walls Walk, Estonia

Another UNESCO site checked.
Tallinn Old City in Estonia. The Dancing Eesti.

Gaining popularity from travelers visiting Scandinavian countries, Estonia is merely 2 hours ferry ride from Helsinki, 16 hours from Stockholm and one can also travel overland from St. Petersberg, Riga and practically everywhere. 

We decided to circle the whole town and walk along 'the great wall of Tallinn', and later walk around its medieval town. It was certainly pleasant and fun while embracing the history. I have also shared some tips at the end to ease those who wishes to visit Estonia.

Historical background
Estonia was eventually occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, only to be conquered by Nazi Germany (1941-44) and then retaken by the Soviets. In World War II, the city was quite extensively bombed by the Soviets, although luckily the medieval town remains. The Soviet Union undertook a program of massive Slavic migration, and just over 40% of Tallinn's current inhabitants are Slavic (compared to an average of 28% for the entire country). On Aug 20, 1991, Estonia declared independence and Tallinn became its capital once again.

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Viru Gate

26 towers out of 45 still remains todate, guarding the city of Tallinn, Estonia. One prominent and best preserved of them all (and also the closest to my hostel) is Viru Gate. 

Viru Gate from the outside.

Stalls selling winter attire.

Hellemann Tower
Named after Laurentius van der Helle, this is the oldest sections of Tallinn's city wall and was the largest and strongest defence systems in the entire Northern Europe for 3 centuries.

Time : 1st May  - 30th Sept - 09:00am - 7:00pm. 1st Oct – 30th April - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Entrance Fee : €3

View of Tallinn Old Town.

Climb up the tower to get the Tallinn Old Town view.

Great Coastal Gate and Fat Margaret's Tower
Still a mystery to the locals on how the tower got its name  - Fat Margaret's Tower. There were saying that it was named after one of its larger cannons aside from the story of a person called Margaret who once worked here. Having said that, it was used as a storehouse for gunpowder and weapons as well as a prison before. Today, it has been transformed to an Estonian Maritime Museum.

Time : 10:00am - 06:00pm (close on Monday)
Entrance Fee : Adult €5, Family ticket €10, University student €3, School student €3

Wooden Stairs Tower
Found this unique tower with a wooden stairs at the side, however it is not open for public. Anyone who knows the name of this tower, please share with me *smile*.

Destroyed wall.

Köismäe Tower

The surviving five storey stone defense towers built in 1360 are still in existence todate, now they are stamped in many Estonia coffee table books, travel sites and postcards – a picture perfect of the Tallinn medieval town.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Tallinn’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is dedicated to the Virgin with Three Hands.  The Virgin is the protector of all living beings who have been falsely accused or unjustly persecuted. She also protects those who have suffered innocently, without cause. 

The church fuses together both Catholic and Orthodox religious traditions and is subject to the authority of the Pope. From Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church website.

One of the many walls.

Kiek in de Kök or Peek into the Kitchen Tower
The story behind its name is that back during medieval period, the guards joked around that they could see through the chimney hole and into the kitchens of the houses below, thus Kiek in de Kök or Peek into the Kitchen came about. It is famous for the hidden tunnels (Bastion tunnels) that run underneath the old bastions of Toompea hill. They have also opened a café for traverls to sip a cup of coffee while enjoying the great views of the upper town Toompea and the harbour.

Opening hours : Close on Monday

Entrance Fee : Adult €4.50, Child €2.60, Family €9.00 (FREE with Tallinn card)

Maiden’s Tower
This tower have been converted into a museum, exhibition hall and café, traveler can visit the tower, enjoy the great medieval old town view with a cup of jo. Maiden's Tower is located on a higher ground and I find it extremely beautiful at sunset and during the blue hour.

There is a tale saying that the tower was used as a prison for prostitutes and that it is supposedly haunted by the spirits of the prostitutes who were once imprisoned.

#TravelTips 1 : You can walk the whole city, probably takes you half a day.

#TravelTips 2 : If you wish to check-out their museums inside the Tallinn Old Town, the price is very much reasonable. Best to allocate one full day for this.

#TravelTips 3 : There is many ways to enjoy the old town, either museums visit, walls city walks or theater watching. Whichever to one's preferences.

#TravelTips 4 : Souvenirs here are cheap and can been found everywhere.

#TravelTips 5 : The locals are superbly friendly and helpful. Ask away if lost despite that I personally think it is very hard to get lost in this small and quaint old town *wink*.

#TravelTips 6. Try to capture the blue hour in some of your sunsets photographs. It is truly beautiful.

Together but alone.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Quick Stop at Solok Tea Plantation, Padang

Been hearing the Trans Sumatra Highway for the longest time and has always wonder what is so great about this Trans Sumatra Highway or any Trans-highway in Indonesia for that matter. Well, in this trip, I managed to experience it first hand. Certain an awe-inspiring (gawking) experience.

And it was made more special when the journey was taken with great friends.

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En route to Padang, from the Village of Thousands Rumah Gadang after the Twin lake or Danau Di Atas and Danau Di Bawah, we arrive at the serene Solok Tea Plantation; wallpapered with the scenic Mount Talang covered by the morning mist. You can see locals walking towards the plantation to snap a few photos or just to chill and sip a cup of jo by the road stalls. Either way, it is a place where I recommend travelers to stop and witness one of Indonesia's beauty while having Indomie with teh botol. Ahaks.

To get great and awesome pictures, best to arrive early in the morning before the crowd swarm the place, and as usual, pray for a beautiful sunrise. In my case, it just wasn't my luck, no egg yolk to capture.

Having tripping to Cameron Highland a couple of times before, I came to realised that both our tea plantation are similar yet not the same. Instead of planting it at the high hill or steeper slope like the one back home, here it was on flatter ground which allows us to walk almost everywhere and feel safe. But when it comes to picture taking, I prefers the one at Cameron Highland... more majestic *smile*.

I decided to ditch my friends and walk up alone to explore over the other side, nothing much except more tea and tea and even more tea. I also noticed that there some empty areas where food/rubbish was thrown there, I guess either it is the workers' recess ground or tourist picnic spot. The latter was more likely. Tsk tsk tsk... they should seriously take back their rubbish and discard it properly. 

Caught some lavender blooming, ahh.... I was so excited as I was hoping to seeplenty, hemm.... they should consider planting it on a larger scale. I bet it will be a popular local tourist spot *wink. hink*.

Trying to capture the whole landscape in panoramic view. Oklah.....

Despite the distance being 71km from Bukit Tinggi, the journey takes you between 4-5 hours to get here and if you are coming from Padang which is about 65km away, it will be about 3-4 hours depending on road condition and traffic. 

Form the information I gathered, the size of this tea plantation is approximately 540 hectare and the teas are exported to The Netherlands, Japan, Poland and a few other big countries. One can also stay at the villa, homestay or hotel at a nearby town if one wish to wander around or perhaps trek at Mount Talang. For those backpackers or lone travelers out there, there are public buses that can take you here but for us; we chartered a van to take us from Pekan Baru to Padang (a 6 days trip), this way, we have more control on the places we want to visit.

If you plan to drop by at this beautiful place, a 30 minutes pit stop would do unless of course you wanna enjoy their Indomie with teh botol *cheeky smile*.

Travel the world, one step at a time.

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