Saturday 5 May 2018

One Day in Bamberg, Germary : What to See and Do

It took me several months of meticulous planning for that two-week trip in Europe. The initial plan was to go directly to Amsterdam after Prague to meet my cousin and her husband, but I really wanted to go to this idyllic Bavarian town in Germany, and so I did. I will never regret that decision.

It was a 4-hour train ride from Prague to Bamberg. Not only that it is possible to see much of Bamberg in a day, but I also chose this place because of its picturesque and charming beauty too. I picked a hotel close to the train station since I was arriving at night and will only be spending one whole day there. In the morning, I spent a few hours walking all over old town. Bamberg Old Town is located in the middle of Regnitz River, across two bridges. It was a political force in the early-Medieval times and became UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Bamberger Dom (Bamberg Cathedral) is a historic church which was constructed as early as 1002, and is also a home to the tomb of Pope Clement II, the only pope who is laid to rest north of the Alps. Inside the church I saw notable sculptures such as the tomb of Heinrich II and his wife Empress Kunigunde, a true-to-size statue of the Bamberg Horseman and the Veit Stoss altar. Bamberg New Residence and the Rose Garden is a magnificent building which served as the seat for Bamberg's prince bishops in the 1800's. Just like Prague and Hallstatt, visiting Bamberg is like walking through fairy tale. After visiting the New Residence, I strolled around Little Venice, enjoying the pleasant day I was having. It is the former fishermen's district in Bamberg dating from the 19th century. What I noticed about Bamberg is their love for public art, evidenced by art pieces on display scattered around the village. Before my day ended, I visited Schlenkerla, one of the famous breweries right in the center of Old Town and also a home to the original smoked beer. I was lucky that the place was not busy, so I stopped by to have a taste of this popular beer. Needless to say, I really fell in love with Bamberg. I wish I had more time to venture more outside the city. Maybe in the future. 

Here's my suggested itinerary if you only have one day in Bamberg, Germany:
  1. Visit Bamberg Old Town.
  2. Bamberg Cathedral 
  3. Bamberg New Residence and the Rose Garden
  4. Little Venice
  5. Caffèbar Kranen
  6. Bamberg Old Court
  7. Walk around the town to see art displays
  8. Schlenkerla
ciao bellas xx

Tuesday 1 May 2018

What To See and Do in Prague in Two Days

Just like every other girl, I also want to have my own fairy tale. I felt like it was a dream come true when I set foot in Prague. For me, Prague conjures up fairy tale scenes I used to see as a child. The excitement was building up inside me, I was very eager to see what Prague has in store for me!

I took an overnight Flixbus from Salzburg to Prague and as soon as I got off the vehicle, I smiled. It was an exhausting 12-hour journey (including a 4-hour stopover in Munich), but all my tiredness vanished when I saw its beautiful classical architecture, luring me to take pictures - plenty of them! On a chilly March morning after settling in my airbnb apartment, I took a quick shower, layered on sweaters and headed out to start wandering. The first stop, like always, was food. I found a cafe called Bakeshop Praha near my airbnb located in Old Town Square. The bagel with beet cream cheese was super good, and insta-worthy too!

With only one whole day in Prague, I certainly didn't have enough time to explore everything the city has to offer, but I have plenty of time to see and experience many things. I started strolling through the narrow cobbled streets of Old Town and climbed to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower. From the top I was able to admire Prague Castle from a distance and the beautiful view of the city as well. The next stop was Church of Our Lady before Týn, which I admired gloriously while I was atop the tower too. It is a Gothic Church which is not only one of the many dominant features of the Old Town, but also a home to an organ, dating from 1673, which is the oldest in Prague. It also has the most interesting altar paintings by Karel Škréta and the tomb of the astronomer Tycho Brahe. After that impressive tour of the Cathedral, I walked via Staroměstské nám to see the House at the Stone Bell. It is one of the many interesting medieval buildings in Prague. The house features a stone bell on one of the corner walls and has a history stretching back to the 13th century. The next stop was the Astronomical Clock, where I also watched a procession of the Twelve Apostles sets in motion. Every hour from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm, tourists from all over the world gather in front of the Old Town Hall to witness this performance which was once considered one of the Wonders of the World. The Dancing House, which is a great modern place of interest was my next destination. It is also called Fred and Ginger, which resembles two dancers. While exploring, I discovered Gorlice by accident - a large chamber where the original sculptures of Charles Bridge are. It was totally worth a visit! The next place I went to visit was Vysehrad Fortress, a famous historical fort which has a really amazing view of Prague which was founded in the second half of 10th century.

I continued my journey after having a delicious traditional lunch at a restaurant called Lokál U Bílé kuželky located near Charles Bridge. I was lucky that it wasn't fully packed during my visit so I was able to find a spot in the front room. That pork leg schnitzel with knedlíky was really good, accompanied with a pint of unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell straight from the tank - it was to die for! From the restaurant, I wandered the cobbled stone streets to explore more of Prague. While walking leisurely, my attention was caught by a guy singing the most popular songs of The Beatles, and then I knew I arrived at John Lennon Wall - the only place in the city where graffiti is legal. After taking a couple of pictures and joining the crowd to sing the chorus of "Hey Jude", I left smiling, thinking how much my father would love to see that. A couple more of pictures of the bridge and then I started feeling tired so I decided to sit at a bakeshop near Charles Bridge. In between reading a book and watching people, I sipped a cup of hot coffee. It was indeed a perfect way to enjoy that chilly afternoon. 

It was getting dark and I was getting exhausted, probably due to lack of decent sleep that night so I walked back to my airbnb apartment and called it a day. 

On my second day in Prague, I headed to the Old Jewish Cemetery located in the Jewish Quarter. It is one of the must-see attractions in Prague. Its history dates back to the 13th century when a decree ordered all Jewish people from different parts of Prague to move to a single location. The cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish burial sites in the world, with thousands of tombstones and hundred of thousands of people buried in the grounds. Going to Prague Castle, I stopped by to get some Trdelnik - a spiral-shaped dough cake grilled around a stick and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It was so good that I had two more that same day! On my way up the castle, I took a quick detour to see the beauty of Church of St. Nicholas. My trip to Prague won't be complete without paying a visit to Prague Castle. It was built in the 9th century, located on the top of Castle Hill, and is the largest ancient castle in the world! The last (but not the least of course) stop for that day was St Vitus Cathedral - the largest and most important religious building in Prague. 

My train going to Germany was leaving at night. I was again halfhearted to leave but at the same time I was excited for what's waiting for me in Bamberg. 

Here's my suggested itinerary for a two-day trip in Prague:

Day 1.

    1. Walk around Old Town Square and climb up the top of Old Town Hall Tower (opening hours all year round : Monday - 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday - 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, entrance fee Basic : 250 CZK, Family : 500 CZK)
    2. Church of Our Lady before Týn (opening hours March to December : Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, voluntary admission fee : 40 CZK) 
    3. House at the Stone Bell
    4. Astronomical Clock (watch the procession every hour)
    5. Dancing House 
    6. Gorlice (opening hours January to March and November to December - - 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, April to October - 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, adult ticket : 60 CZK, child, student, or senior : 30 CZK, family : 120 CZK)
    7. Vysehrad Fortress
    8. Lennon Wall
    9. Charles Bridge
Day 2.
    1. Old Jewish Cemetery (opening hours : November to March - Monday to Sunday except Saturday - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, April to October Monday to Sunday except Saturday - 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, closed on Jewish holidays)
    2. Church of St. Nicholas
    3. Prague Castle (opening hours : April to October, Prague Castle Complex 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, Historical Buildings 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, November to March, 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, Historical Buildings 9:00 am to 4:00 pm)
    4. St Vitus Cathedral
    5. Letna Park
Ciao for now xx

Sunday 8 April 2018

How to Visit Hallstatt from Salzburg in One Day

A wonderful village which is home to a few locals, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in my entire life. Since I was young, I’ve been dreaming of visiting this quaint town. Hallstatt is indeed a fairytale come to life. I literally fell in love with that small, gorgeous town in an instant. 

I went to Hallstatt from Salzburg by taking the public transport. It was March and places such as salt mine and the funicular were closed until May. It was still wintery with a lot of snow and I felt like I was a kid, very giddy and excited to wander around the place! To catch the 6:03 am bus at Salzburg Volksschule Gnigl going to Bad Ischl, I left my hotel in Salzburg early in the morning. I arrived at Bad Ischl Station and had some time to kill before taking Bus 542 going to Hallstatt Gosaumühle so I decided to have some coffee to combat the cold morning and walked around the station while waiting too. It was a 32-minute bus ride and as soon as I arrived at Hallstatt Gosaumühle, I looked for Bus 543 which took me to Hallstatt Lahn (Busterminal). The bus left the terminal at 8:49 and after 8 minutes, I finally arrived at Hallstatt Lahn. After getting off the bus, I descended a short flight of stairs to the ferry terminal. The ferry's timetable changes depending on the season of the year but during my visit, I didn't have to wait for so long. I hopped on to the ferry when it was ready, bought a ticket to the ferry man, and then sit comfortably, feeling very ecstatic that I am finally setting my feet on Hallstatt’s ground!

It was chilly and there were tourists everywhere. I started wandering around Hallstatt Town, admiring that charming little town. I still couldn’t believe I was there! I walked to the multi-colored Market Square, ducked into any souvenir shops that I saw, visited the cemetery and Hallstatt Evangelical Parish Church, climbed up through the little staircases until I found myself above the crowds, and took a cable car up to the World Heritage View. The wonderful view of the valley and the lake was inexplicable! I walked and walked until I can’t walk anymore. I took a mental picture of the place in my mind because I want to remember this place vividly – something I always do whenever I am totally engrossed by something. After strolling for hours I felt the need to rest my swollen feet so I looked for a decent place where I can eat and of course, where there is a really good view of the lake. In a place called Restaurant am See located at the Market Square, I indulged myself with some fish, baked potatoes, and wine before deciding to leave that lovely village, half-heartedly. If I had more time to spend, I would definitely stay longer. Maybe next time. x 

Here’s how to get to Hallstatt by Bus from Salzburg. Take note that I didn’t pre-book anything on this trip, I just bought the ticket directly from the bus driver. These links were really helpful during my planning stage. 

1. Take Bus 150 from Strobl Busbahnhof and get off at Bad Ischl Bahnhof.  To enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way to Bad Ischl, sit on the left side of the bus.(17 minutes, 1 stop) 
2. From Bad Ischl Bahnhof, take Bus 542 toward Gosausee and get off at Hallstatt Gosaumühle. To enjoy the view, make sure you are seated on the right side of the bus. (32 minutes, 20 stops)
3. From Hallstatt Gosaumühle, take Bus 543 towards Dachsteinseilbahn and get off at Hallstatt Lahn (Busterminal). (8 minutes, 1 stop)
4. From Hallstatt Lahn (Busterminal), walk and descend a short flight of stairs to the ferry terminal.

Ciao for now xx