DIY Machu Picchu as a must choice

 Machu Picchu. We all heard this name before. Most popular place in South America, maybe even in the world, that attracts thousands of visitors every week, and my biggest mistake ever.

 Arriving at Cuzco already gives you the idea on how many travelers, from all around the world really, do come to see this biggest remaining side of ancient Inca town. Streets of this Peruvian town are just packed with many agencies that offer an organized tours to see Machu Picchu, that include everything. Sounds nice and easy, why not? Well, no. As soon as I arrived at Cuzco, I went to the first agency, I spotted, to buy a 2 days trip. I did not plan on doing so, but as soon as I saw the price, I did. I paid only 95$, and in this price I`​ve had a transport, one night in a hotel, ticket to Machu Picchu side, lunch, dinner in the evening and an English-speaking guide. I did some research before on prices, and it was always coming as a 200$ all together, that`​s why as soon as I saw the price of 95$, I just booked a trip. The problem was that we have been given only max of 5 hours at the side. This is not enough! You need a whole full day to properly explore it! I did not hike the mountain, I did not go to see the Sun Gate. I didn`t even see the Aguas Calientes, closest village to Machu Picchu, properly. That is a big hole in my heart, and I just do not want you to experience it. Yes, maybe there are some agencies that do offer a 3-4 days trips, where you can spend the whole day at the side. Not a problem then, just book it. Otherwise never book a 2 days tour. Here, remembering planning on getting there myself, I will share with you how to reach Machu yourself.

 Step one and most important. Please do book your ticket for Machu Picchu side in advance. Thought, I bought a tour just 3 days before going, I`ve read that it is more difficult for solo visitors to purchase one. You can do it online, and you need your passport to process. Here is a link to click. You can also do it in the office in Cuzco and Aguas Calientes.



Option number one (cheap)

  1. Lets start from Cuzco, town in Peru, as a nice and easy option to begin, thought very beautiful itself. So take a bus from Cuzco to Santa Maria (towards Quillabamba) as early in the morning as possible. The bus will take 5-6 hours.
  2. Catch a collective from Santa Maria to Hidroelectrica (an hour of journey).
  3. From Hidroelectrica just walk following the rails to the town called Aguas Calientes. Shouldn’t take longer than 2.5 hours. Of course you can take a train, but the area around is way to beautiful just to do it.
  4. Stay minimum for two nights in Aguas Calientes (loads of dorms available).
  5. Start the scent of Machu Picchu early in the morning. I would say 4-5 am.
  6. Climb the steps to the entrance and wait in a queue to enter (have a passport with you). Climbing should take around 2 hours. You can also take a 20-minute bus ride that operates every 15 minutes starting at 5:30 a.m. (24$ adult round trip, 12$ child round trip, 12$ one way). Side is open from 6 am till 5 pm.
  7. Stay there till they will close the door and return to spend another night in Aguas Calientes.


    Option number two (most expensive)

  1. Take a train from Cusco straight to Aguas Calientes. It is quiet expensive, but if you can spare some money, it will be quickest and most convenient option that will take less than 5 hours (1h to Poroy+3.5h in the train). The so-called Cuzco train station is in the nearby town of Poroy. I will take an hour to get from central Cusco to the train station by taxi. Bus is an option as well.


Option number three (the cheapest)

  1. Take a van/collective from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo (less than an hour of journey).
  2. Take a van to the Kilometre 82 train station, a 30-minute journey from where you will start walking to Aguas Calientes.
  3. Walk 30 km to Aguas Calientes, following the rail line. You can take a rail too from there, but the whole path is just amazing, and it should take just less than 8 hours.



South America in numbers-cost of accommodation, transport and food

 Backpacking, as a new way of life for loads of us, or just as an episode, always requires loads of planning ahead. It is probably the fastest growing way of traveling nowadays, especially for young people. Costing, creating your trail and allocating the amount of time, you are planning to spend in each place, is something every traveler came across. ffffdd I know it from autopsy, especially from my 6 months trip in South America. Budget was as important to me as a discovery of every possible amazing place in this colorful continent. It is not easy to find this balance, but well possible. I, myself, spend more time in Bolivia and less in Argentina, to keep my finances in place. Luckily, Bolivia became as the highlight of my journey, and I found Argentina least attractive. Mathematics and rational thinking is laughing at as at this point, as of the fact that longer you are planning to travel, the cheaper it will get. I did my backpacking in 2015-2016, but I have rechecked the recent, as of May 2017, prices, to provide you with a very current information on Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. So where do we stand with the cost? Lets have a look.


Argentina

Overlook: Most expensive in South America and expensive in general. Difficult to fully explore and enjoy for a budget backpacker, but possible to survive.

Accommodation: Not as expensive as food and transport. Hostels starts from just 7$, hotels from 14$.

Transport: Extremely expensive as of South American pricing.

   Buses: Thought, the distances in Argentina are great, and you know you will need usually 10-20h to get from A to B, buses are still way more expensive than expected. If you are brave, try to hitchhiking. Otherwise expect to pay around 100$ for a 10-12h of a journey. I paid around 180$ for a fully recline chair from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires, and it took 22 hours.

     Public: 0.40$ in Buenos Aires for a single ride. Please note that you need to buy a Sube Card, or you can pay to someone to swipe you in.

    Taxi: Since there is one official tariff, you are not going to be charged more. Relatively  cheap at 0.92$ for 1 km.

Food: Hot-dog and burger stands are on every corner in Buenos Aires, and usually cost 3$, but meal in restaurant is for 15-20$.

Daily budget: You can easily make it at 35$ a day, but this does not include traveling between cities, going and eating out.


Bolivia

Overlook: One of the cheapest countries in South America. Please do enjoy, buy organized trips, eat only out, stock up on anything you need (clothes, backpack, etc).

Accommodation: Hostels start at 4-5$, hotels at 8$.

Transport: Very cheap, especially between cities (but dodgy buses with no toilet), very cheap to travel around the city too.

    Buses: Depending on the comfort, 1-3$ for 1h of journey.

    Public: 0.15$ for micro bus for single journey, 0.40 $ for single ride in a minivan      (La Paz).

    Taxi: 1.43$ for 1 km, as official info, but it can be way cheaper!

Food: Main meal in the market (with drink) cost 1-2$. Soup 0.50$.

Daily budget: Possible to make it with just 15$ a day.


Brazil

Overlook: Not cheap, not expensive either. Buses tend to be pricey, but accommodation and food are affordable.

Accommodation: Hostels starts at 5$, hotels at 12$ (Sao Paulo).

Transport:

    Buses: 40-50$ as the cheapest sit for 11h of journey (Catarinense company).

    Public: 1$ for single journey by metro, 0.74-1.10$ for the bus (Sao Paulo).

    Taxi: 0.82$ for 1 km (Sao Paulo).

Food: Kilo shops are the cheapest, it is a buffet style restaurant where you dish the food yourself, and you pay for the weight of it. Approx 7-8$ for 1 kg.

Daily budget: Can start from 20-25$ a day.


Chile

Overlook: A bit more expensive then Brazil, cheaper than Argentina. Capital Santiago a bit expensive. Buses and restaurants are pricey, accommodation is not so cheap as well.

Accommodation: Hostels start at 9$, hotels at 25$.

Transport: Relatively expensive.

   Buses: Expensive, but you can save by buying in advance (around 20% cheaper). Around 90$ for 22h of journey (Santiago to San Pedro).

    Public: You have to buy a Bip card that cost 2.24$. Micros always cost 1$ per trip, and the metro ranges from 0.90$ to 1.05$, depending on the time. If you ride the bus then transfer to the metro within 60 minutes, you will just be charged the difference in fare.

    Taxi: 0.97$ for 1km. Please note that its normal to cheat on tourists. I did not watch the tariff, and I paid 35$ for 5 km!!!

Food: Expensive to eat out in a restaurant in Santiago, easily 15$ for a lunch for one person. Fast foods and food stands (hot-dogs, empanadas, churrascos, chips, burgers, pizza slices) are cheaper (2-5$) and can be found very often. There is a big, main mercado, where you can eat a big main meal for 5-6$ in Santiago.

Daily budget: Starts from 20-25$, and can be done for 20$ only when cooking by itself.


Colombia

Overlook: One of the cheapest countries.

Accommodation: Hostels starts at 5-6$, hotels at 10$.

Transport: Public, taxis and domestic transport is very cheap.

    Buses: 11h of journey starts at 25$ (Cali-Bogota).

    Public: 0.49$ for single journey.

   Taxi: 1.54$ for 1km. Please use only licensed taxis, ideally recommend by hotel

Food: Very cheap to eat out. Rice, beans and meat can be found at 1.5$.

Daily budget: You can survive at 15$ a day.


Ecuador

Overlook: Vary from very cheap (in less touristic places) to more expensive (Montanita, Banos).

Accommodation: Hostels starts at 5$, hotels at 10$ (Quito). Hostels starts at 10$, hotels from 25$ in very touristic Montanita.

Transport: Cheap in general.

     Buses: 1-1.5$ for an hour of journey.

     Public: 0.25$ for single ride (Quito).

     Taxi: 0.40$ for 1km (Quito)

Food: Loads of very cheap places to eat, but need to be found in less posh streets. Rice, meat, salad with drink can be found for 3-4$.

Daily budget: Can start from 20$ a day.


Paraguay

Overlook: Very cheap, the cheapest next to Bolivia when it comes to food, transport and accommodation.

Accommodation: Hostels starts at 5$, hotels at 8$.

Transport:

      Buses: starts at 1$ for 1h of journey.

      Public: 0.40-0.60$ for a single ride (Asunción).

      Taxi: 0.94$ for 1 km (Asunción)

Food: Very cheap, if not the cheapest in South America. Main meal can be found from 1.5$ in mercado area.

Daily budget: 20$ a day, but can be done from 15$.


Peru

Overlook: Peru is very affordable, just a little bit more expensive than Bolivia, cheaper than Ecuador. Cusco, from where you can do Machu Picchu, is most expensive along with Miraflores area in Lima.

Accommodation: Hostels start at 6$, hotels at 8$ (hotels at this price are in a very dodgy areas in Lima).

Transport:

     Buses: Can be found at very affordable price or for twice more for the same standard bus, so it is good to do some research. Starts from only 35$ from Lima to Mancora (18h of journey). Here I have to recommend a Civa bus company as of a cheap price and very good comfort.

   Public: Starts at 0.15$ for single ride (Lima).

   Taxi: 1.52$ for 1 km (Lima)

Food: Very cheap. In mercados possible to find a main meal for 1.5$.

Daily budget: Same as Bolivia and Paraguay starts at 20$, but can be done even from 15$.


Uruguay

Overlook: Expensive, just a little bit cheaper than Argentina, thought the size helps to explore it better.

Accommodation: Hostels starts at 12$, hotels at 16$.

Transport:

     Buses: Around 7$ for 2h of journey.

     Public: 1.10$ for a single ticket (Montevideo).

    Taxi: 0.74$ for 1 km (Montevideo).

Food: Very expensive to eat out, especially in the evening in the restaurant. Lunches starts at 8-10$, but as the cheapest one in a dodgy place.

Daily budget: Can start from 35$, very similarly to Argentina.


Getting from the Airport to the city center in Wrocław (updated June 2018)

 Welcome to Wrocław, the coolest city on Earth. The best place on the planet. Most beautiful, amazing, interesting, with the tastiest food ever and the best nightlife, you will experience. Yes, you guessed it right, I am from there. Been born there, raised, studied and worked. Welcome to my home. However, since I wont pick you up from the airport, at least I can guide you on getting from there to your hotel.

Bus

  • Update April 2018. New bus available from the airport to the city center called WRO AIRPORT EXPRESS, a nice and easy option for tourists.

A shuttle bus operates on the route Airport –  City Centre (Plac Dominikański) – Dworzec Wrocław (Central Bus and Railway Station). A ticket will cost PLN 10 or 2.5 Euro (to be paid directly to the driver by cash or by card). The journey will take about 30 minutes. Bus is waiting just outside the airport, blue colored, can`t be missed.

Departures from the airport:

04:10 05:00 05:50 06:40 07:30 08:20 09:10
10:00 10:50 11:40 12:30 13:20 14:10 15:00
15:50 16:40 17:30 18:20 19:10 20:00 21:05
22:55* 23:40* 01:00*        

* departure time depending on the aircraft’s’ arrivals

Price: 3$ or 2.5 Euro or 10 PLN (but paid only in Polish currency PLN) 

Length: 30 minutes

  •   Nice, easy and cheap option. The bus stand is located just outside the main entrance on the right hand side and runs very frequently (mostly every 20 minutes). The number is 106, but no need to remember that, as it is the only one there anyway. Night bus 206 is also available available. See the timetables below. The ticket cost 3.40 złote (around 1$) and is valid for a single journey. Ultimately, for the same price, you can buy a time one for 30 minutes, if you need to change. Students and pupils have 50% off on all public transport, but I am not sure if polish authorities do accept foreign student cards. You can buy a ticket at the kiosk inside the airport, from the dispenser close the stand, or just from the machine inside the bus that is, actually, inside every public transport in Wroclaw, but accepts only cards. The bus will terminate at the main railway and bus station (called Dworcowa), from where you can continue your journey, if Wrocław is not your final destination. The railway station will be just in front of you, and the main bus station, called Wroclavia (with shopping mall), is hidden behind it.

  For the city center (where your hotel/hostel probably will be) you have to get off just one stop before the last one. The stand is called Renoma, and from there you will, I assume, just walk to your accommodation. It takes around 30-40 minutes to get to the city center, unless traffic is very bad.

106: PORT LOTNICZY (Airport bus stop) Day Bus

PORT LOTNICZY – DWORCOWA

Airport-Main railway/bus station

W dni robocze (Mon-Fr)
Sobota (Saturday)
Niedziela (Sunday)
05 20 43 53W  
06 03 23 38 53W
07 03 18 35  
08 01 26 40Z 53
09 13 28 53  
10 13 28 53  
11 13 28 53  
12 13 28 53  
13 13 38 53  
14 02 10 25 50
15 08 24 49  
16 08 24 50  
17 07 29 42 54
18 09 31 56  
19 11 21 31  
20 03 33    
21 03 33    
22 03 18 33  
23 04 34G    
05 32 52  
06 12 32 52
07 12 32 52
08 12 32 51
09 11 31 51
10 11 31 51
11 11 31 51
12 11 31 51
13 11 31 51
14 11 31 51
15 11 31 51
16 11 31 51
17 11 31 51
18 11 31 51
19 11 31 58
20 12Z 33  
21 03 33  
22 03 33  
23 04 34G  
05 32 52  
06 12 32 52
07 12 32 52
08 12 32 51
09 11 31 51
10 11 31 51
11 11 31 51
12 11 31 51
13 11 31 51
14 11 31 51
15 11 31 51
16 11 31 51
17 11 31 51
18 11 31 51
19 11 31 58
20 12Z 33  
21 03 33  
22 03 33  
23 04 34G

206: PORT LOTNICZY (Airport bus stop) Night Bus

PORT LOTNICZY – DWORZEC AUTOBUSOWY

Airport-Main railway/bus station

niedz. (Sun)/ pon. (Mon) – czw. (Thur)/ pt. (Fr) pt. (FR)/ sob. (Sat) sob. (Sat)/ niedz. (Sun)
00 07 37
01    
02 07  
03 37Z  
04 37Z  
05 03Z  
00 07 37
01    
02 07  
03 37Z  
04 37Z  
05 03Z  
00 07 37
01    
02 07  
03 37Z  
04 37Z  
05 03Z

PLEASE NOTE that the night bus 206 with Z letter does not go straight to the city center, you have to change, so during the night I really would suggest taxi or Wro Airport Express buss!!

Price: 1$ 

Length: 30-40 minutes

Taxi

  Nice, quick and comfortable way. Please always agree on the price before getting in! You shouldn’t pay more than 50-60 złoty to the city center area. That`s around 15$. Taxis are just outside the main entrance, and driver should speak good/enough English.

Price: 15$

length: 15-20 minutes

Other

I am sorry, but there are no more options, unless you want me to come and pick you on my bike. The tram does not go there, and we do not have an underground. Walking is not an option too, since the airport is on the edge of the city.

Please contact me if you need any tips. I will be more than happy to help and thank you for visiting my city 🙂

Bolivia in one finger

  Bolivia is, and probably always will be, one of the most diverse, colorful and simply amazing places I have ever visited. I felt in love with the landscape, people and atmosphere as soon as I crossed the border on the desert between Chile and Bolivia. It was one of the nine countries, I have visited during my six months backpacking trip through South America. Even planning this trip at home, I already knew that Bolivia will be my favorite destination. The one, I will remember forever. And it happened to be one indeed. In this section, I will briefly write you about my experience, but my main goal is to give you an overall look at prices, transport and food in this absolutely stunning country.

  Probably the hardest thing to deal with in Bolivia, and pretty much in every Latin country, is zero to minimum English-speaking people around. I have to admit that it was difficult at times with my limited Spanish. You really have to learn basics to travel there around, otherwise you may miss or lose on loads of things. Thought, in most hotels or hostels receptionists speak English, it’s not always guaranteed, and remember that they are not going to be with you everywhere anyway. But here’s something to cheer you up. Bolivia is one of the cheapest places in South America, I think only Paraguay is cheaper, so enjoy! That can also be handy in taking Spanish classes there. Sucre, capital, is most popular for it, with prices starting at just under a 5$ for a day long course. Apart from study, once there, if you need a new clothes, buy them. That’s the best place to stock up on anything you need. Don’t also waste your time in the hostel’s kitchen to cook. You can get an amazing main meal for just 1-1.5$ that comes usually with drink and sometimes even with a soup. Trips are very affordable, even that I prefer always to do everything on my own, I bought few, and I was very pleased with them. Plus, I have met other travelers too, while doing so. Prices depends on season, agency and your negotiation skills, but let’s say one day trip to the jungle can cost around 20$, including all meals, transport and guide. Ha, almost forgot to mention how important negotiations are. Try to do it if possible, especially while dealing with travel agents. You can always get a discount. I never done it while buying food or meals, simply as It was cheap already. I was even paying more, just as I felt that they deserved a little bit extra from us, tourists. But hey, do what you want!

  Transport.  When it comes to transport you wallet is happy, but your back not so. Buses are very cheap, but that reflects on the comfort you are getting. There is not much choice around too. Well, loads of companies, but with the same standard buses (as of Feb 2016), so there is no need to look around too much, check just few to get the cheapest price (they don’t differ that much neither) and buy a ticket. Average bus ride for 8h will cost you no more than 11-12$. 80% of the bused do not have a toilet, or there is one, but permanently closed to the public view. Don’t panic. Bus driver will be stopping very often next to the toilets, restaurants and shops, so you will be able to stuck up on food or use a loo. Your intake and outtake will be well taken care of on the road. You don’t even have to go to the shop really, there will be loads of colorful ladies popping in to the bus to sell all kind of food and drinks. From hot meat, corns (my fav, miss them with all my heart), vegetarian or meaty delicious pastry, to nuts, all kind of fruits and sweets. Try saltena, they are all homemade and extremely delicious!!! Anyway, even that I mentioned how uncomfortable buses can be, with minimum recline chairs and no toilet in, there will be nothing more amazing and beautiful than what you will see through the window on the road. Landscape is just breath-taking. You think you are getting from A to B, but what you’re really doing is having an amazing cheap trip thought the Andes, valleys and jungle.

  Now few worlds about city transport. Don’t hesitate to take a taxi if you need one. It’s very very cheap, but always remember to agree on the price before getting in. I am not saying they will try to cheat on you, as I found Bolivians more than fair, but just in case. For example 5km will cost you around 3$. Buses and minibuses are way cheaper…surprise, surprise ;). It is very difficult to get your head around, but once you will master that, just go for it! See yourself the real Bolivian transport system, extremely dodgy buses full of amazing people. For example, in La Paz you will be shock how buses do run, but they always have a destination shown on the front window, and they do go to the main “backpacker interest” places, so chill out. From minibus you can get off where you want, and get in where you want, just wave your hand or tell the driver to stop. They will cost you around 0.20$.

 Hostels and hotels are very cheap too. Usually I was paying max 8$ per night. In one of the best Hotels, with balcony and view on Titicaca lake in Copacabana, I paid 35$ (oh well, I need that from time to time), so you can see that good ones are affordable too. There are loads of places to stay around, and I mean it! It is like a backpacker`s dream land, so you will not look for too long to find a place you like. Bolivia is elevated, so the temperature range tend to be as the lowest in South America. That’s why in most hostels you will get a hot water, so enjoy till last, as in other countries that’s like a rare pleasure.

  At the beginning of my trip (in Brazil, Argentina and Chile), I was using a booking.com, but I quickly discovered that I am just paying more, as of booking.com fesses, so do look yourself or look online and then just go to your accommodation. There is hardly any hotel, hostel that is fully booked. As I mention before, it`s loads of them, especially in the city canter area and near all bus stations, so you won’t end up walking with your backpack for too long.

  Maps.me. Please do get a maps.me app. It saved my life many many times. You can use maps with no internet connection, and even, as because it uses a GPS, it will show you your location in most of the places. Plus, it has hostels, shops and all places of interest on it, which make it easier to find your way around.

  Food in Bolivia is like a dream. I loved it a lot. I guess, I still do, but it’s not a culinary side, so I will spare you writing much about it. However, it’s cheap, homemade, delicious and it’s available on every corner. Always go to the big markets (Mercados) to eat. Everything is there, and usually (at least in every place I visited so far) is divided in sections for stands selling fruits, vegetables, meat, clothes, cosmetics, and then there is that amazing food area, I am talking about. Oh, public toilets are there too. Well, to be honest, they are very dirty, smelly and not nice in general, but please don’t act with your nose up. It is a third world country. People live in this condition and often don’t have a choice. Think how lucky and fortunate you are. Use it, pay and leave. Anyway, coming back to my favorite topic, please do visit mercados and try the food there. Its traditional and made in front of you.

As I wrote above, the average price for the main meal and drink is 1.5$. Though, it’s not much of vegetarian range there, you can find something anyway. Otherwise you can have a delicious meat (chicken, beef) with salad and rice or potatoes. Pasta is very popular too. Dishes differ from very mild to very spicy. The most amazing thing is that you will eat with locals. They are all very nice, and they will always talk to you. I really would like to highlight places like that, as usually I was the only traveler there, and that gave me the chance to truly experience a daily life in Bolivia and atmosphere. Don’t be scared and don’t listen about food poisoning, upset tummy etc. For the whole 6 months (and trust me, I ate the cheapest street food, sometimes even sitting on my bum on the street..see pic under), and I’ve never ever experience anything like that!! Be brave and don’t act posh, but if you are like that, then Bolivia is definitely not for you!!

 Girls, now you can relax, finally. There will be non to minimum harassment from Latinos in Bolivia towards you. It’s very interesting about that place, and I still don’t understand why. People are very distant there, not pushy at all, but nice when it comes to interaction. I think Nicaragua and Salvador are on the top of the list, when sometimes I was wishing I could just give them a good old face palm. So, enjoy it and walk around without unwanted attention. At the same time, I felt like Bolivia is the safest place too.

 

Walking in Marrakesh

 After traveling around the Europe it was finally a time to cross the continent. I always loved Africa most, so it came to me as a natural decision to go there first. I pick Morocco, but not so sure why, as I’ve never heard much about this country before. I bought a ticket first, and then I started to plan my journey there. It was only for a week, so I can’t say it was too difficult, but I`ve had a major problem with my safety as for solo female. I remember, even the day before, when I wasn’t even sure if I will catch that fly or not. Luckily I did, and it turned to be one of my first and truly amazing visit to a new continent.

Few tips to have a peaceful stay

  So starting from the beginning, as I mentioned, I was a little bit concerned about traveling to Morocco. Well, mostly because of a general opinion, I read on the internet. That was first and the last time I was reading such a things. Of course you should always be intelligent while planning where to go, and general political knowledge about the situation in the area is essential, but that’s pretty it.

Everywhere will be dangerous if you will act stupidly. I consider Marrakesh as 100% safe place to be for solo travellers. Just remember to: appreciate and respect the culture and the people around you, whenever you are, don`t wonder alone at night in non touristic areas, and keep an eye on your belongings as of thieving. Drinking alcohol in public places is not a good idea too, nobody will arrest you, but you may upset some Moroccans, as it is forbidden in most places, especially in front of mosques. Morocco is a Muslim country (98.5% of the population), so please do wear respectfully. Don’t show too much, whether you are a female or male. Even if you will decide to wear a short skirt nobody will do anything to you, but you might be harassed from time to time. Morocco really is a safe place. Tourist police is on every corner in all main areas, and they do speak perfect English, as it is one of the requirements to become one. They are very helpful, you can always ask them about directions, or you can report any problem. They are there for you. Moroccans speak good English in general anyway, especially males, as they use it for trade, so you wont be lost in translation at all.

 

Public transport is very poor in Marrakesh, probably due to the tiny roads around. Locals just get around on motorbikes and scooter everywhere, so watch out! However, bad city communication is really not a great problem, as taxis are very cheap. I would say the price range from 3-4£ for going from the south to the north (from the airport is way more, I am afraid). But that’s if you’re in rush, walking around Marrakesh is truly a delightful experience. Seems like there is always a new astonishing thing around the corner, whether it’s a building, market or a little tea shop.

It  seems like the best idea to discover the area is just to get lost a bit and wander around. Names of the streets are in Arabic, so it’s not very helpful, but every now and then there will be a sign pointing the direction to Jemaa el-Fnaa, and from there it will be easy for you to find your way around. That is also another reason to book a hotel around that area.

  When it comes to accommodation, try to stay in the city center, called Medina. I pick a hotel just 10 meters from Jemaa el-Fnaa, probably the best place to stay. And the reason for that is because it’s the most lively, colorful area that comes to life in the evening. Its seems like Moroccans sleep all day long to enjoy the lights, atmosphere, music or just a musk of a chilly wind of night. CSC_1105.jpgAll shops are open till late, till people and tourist are still around. You will find everything you need in this maze. Thought, main food stands are way too touristic for me, as they serve the same dished in every single stand, try to look around, especially in small streets. The food is more traditional, way more delicious, and its likely that you will sit with locals. During the day time try to always eat on the roof, most of the restaurants in the center got one. The view on High Atlas range is just exceptional with the unique city architecture, palm trees and Mosques. That will change your meal time to majestic and magnificent experience. Don’t look for alcohol, they don’t sell it anywhere there….sorry.

  If you love shopping then you are in the right place. I truly hate doing that back home, but even there I could walk around markets for hours! Everything is astonishing and very unique: clothes, shoes, hats, bags, tea pots, food dishes…just everything. I think, I will have to especially highlight bags.dsc_0118The quality is incredible, with the big range from very small ones to very big. You can be sure that if you will get one, it will be outstanding back home, whenever you’re from. It was also the only place, so far, I have seen so many spices to buy around. I bought loads of them, especially saffron as It’s very cheap there. If I only knew before, I would arrive there with an empty bag, to be able to carry all that back home. Oh, I almost forgot to mention how important is to negotiate the price. Whatever you will hear, you have to divide in three and start, maybe even in four… especially when it comes to silver. If you see that the seller is loosing an interest, when you’re suggesting a very low price, higher it a bit. You both will always come to a good agreement.

  At the end, just quickly, I want to mention that Marrakesh, thought touched by a mass, booming tourism now, is still managing to keep their truly Moroccan spirit. Culture is present everywhere. It felt like in Bolivia for me, where people still proudly wear their traditional clothes, selling them in the shops, instead of going for more modern and commercial ones. I loved the fact that they do enjoy Medina a lot too. You can really see that. When there is someone singing, playing an instrument or just doing a fire show, locals are all around. Well, the only thing I did not like was when pushy sellers were all over you, but please note that you can just say no, walk away, it really isn’t a great problem. Mostly they were very nice and helpful. I did visit many countries, but I really don’t have loads on my list I want to visit again. Marrakesh is definitely one of them. So what are you waiting for? Check the flight now and book!

Highlights of Kathmandu

 It will be very difficult for me to write about all must see places in Kathmandu, as I know most of them got destroyed during the earthquake. I was fortunate to see them all just days before it happened. I don’t know how temples look like now, two years after. Maybe some of them got restored. Definitely not a Durban Square, as I’ve heard from Nepalese that it won’t be fully possible, as of XII century technique they used to build it. More or less, Nepal is a highly spiritual country with strong Buddhism influence, you can see and feel all round. I’ve heard once a saying that there are more temples than houses, so I am sure you still will be able to discover loads of them undamaged. Here are some things I did during my stay there, before earthquake struck.sdsdsd.jpg

  • Durban Square

  It’s a number one must see place in Kathmandu. I couldn’t wait to see them while planning my trip back home. There are three of them: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. All of them are fantastic and absolutely breathe-taking. Unique and diverse architecture, that include houses and ancient temples that belong to the periods between 12th and 18th centuries, will take you back in time. All three of them are the main cultural and spiritual places  in Kathmandu.fff I am afraid, I was one of the last people to see them as they were. I know, and I saw, that they  got completely destroyed. I still think it’s worth seeing  what remains now. The major Interesting things to see in Kathmandu Durban Square are: “Kumari Gar” (The Living Goddess), “Kastha Mandap”, Maru Ganesh, Mahadev Temple, Shiva Parvati Temple, Bhagwati Temple, Old palace, Saraswoti temple, Krishna Octangular Temple, Kal Bhairav, Jagannath Temple and Taleju Temple. In Patan I have to highlight: Patan Museum, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Mahabouddha, Golden and Krishna Temple. In the last one you will be able to view the stunning Golden and Lion`s Gate and four temples: Mini Pashupati, Vatsala, Nyatapola and Bhairava Nath. Yeah I know….loads of temples 🙂

  •  View from the Swayambhunath

 After a wonderful walk with few local kids that kindly showed me the way to the Monkey Temple, even that I knew it anyway, I was able to see the great Himalayan range for the first time. You can already spot mountains from the bridge just in front of the entrance. Monkey Temple is an ancient religious complex situated at the top of the hill west of Kathmandu city center. It is very easy just to walk there from Thamel. I would say it will take just an hour of slow walk. After that you have to hike long stairway with 365 steps leading directly to the main platform of the temple. Up there you will face the beautiful view of the city. There`s loads of spiritual things to see around. Just watch out for the monkeys that can still anything you have in your hands, they really don’t give a…

  •    Walking with one local

I don’t usually like to walk with anyone, but I’ve met a student from India that came to Nepal to study Buddhism. At the very beginning he was honest, as he told me that he can show me around if I will buy a bag of rice after for him. I agreed, a bit skeptic, but it was so worth it. He showed me loads of places, I would never discover myself. It’s amazing how you can walk through one small door and see behind one of the most thrilling structures you have ever seen. The religion influence is present, visible and felt everywhere. You won’t be even able to count all the statues there. I am also pointing this to convince you guys to have a tour with local. Buying food would help those students too.

  •    Hospitality

 The Kindness and hospitality of Nepalese is just beyond anything you have experienced before. After all I have witnessed on the streets, shops, hotel, I was able to watch how they all helped each other in that extremely difficult time after the earthquake. I went to Nepal to see the landscape, Himalayas, nature, but I really felt in love with the people there. After visiting 50 countries, they are still my number one.