Oslo

Type : City break
Best Date : May-Aug
Expense : Very Expensive
Things to do : Scooter around city, Visit Museums, Dine, Boat cruise
Points of Interest: Opera House, Vigeland Park, Nobel Peace Prize Museum, Viking Boat museum, Royal Palace, Akershus Fortress, Radhuset, Holmenkollbakken (Ski museum), ect

Brief

Oslo is Norway’s capital city which was founded around 1050 by King Harald Hardrada. The city was shortly affected by a great fire to which King Christian IV built a new town just west of the original city and named it after himself as Christiania. The spelling was later changed to Kristiania but then by 1925 the name was reverted back to Oslo. Oslo or Christiania back then was made the capital of Norway 1814.

Today Oslo is the centre stage for beautiful Scandinavian architecture, culture and cuisine. Yearly it is the centre stage for the Nobel Peace Prize and has hosted the Winter Olympics at 1952. The city is said to be fun, artistic, creative in so many ways so lets see how my trip went.

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The Place

I went to Oslo for a quick weekend break away from London, It is officially my first visit to a Scandinavian country after finding out Finland and Estonia are not Scandinavian nations. My trip to Oslo was different as I did not explore on my own but had a few friends with me on this trip. I arrived in a rainy Oslo away from a rarely sunny London, the weather was not entirely on my side throughout the trip as it was raining from time to time which halted parts of my trip. Another struggle on this trip was how expensive everything was from food, travel, tickets and even the toilets which costs 20Nkr equivalent of just under £2. Nonetheless the experience was amazing.

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I arrived 12 hours earlier than my friends, giving me a whole day to explore with a closer observation. Firstly I walked from my hostel to the Opera House which in my view was advertised as the cities main attraction. I didn’t go inside the building but I believe I didn’t need to as in my opinion the beauty of this building was from the outside. The beautiful white building where its roof cleverly acts as a ramp and observation deck is a sight to see and a modern attraction for the city. Furthermore surrounding this building is the coast and loads of monuments and artwork to admire from this building. The Opera House is a good starting point when visiting the city.

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Next I walked along a street called Karl Johan’s Gate which is a road full of shops, pubs and restaurants. This is also the main road locals and tourists walk along to get to many points of interests such as the Oslo Cathedral, Norwegian Parliament, Ice Skating Rink, National Theatre and the Royal Palace.

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The first attraction I crossed at the start of Karl Johan’s Gate street near Oslo’s central station and the Opera House is Oslo Cathedral which is the countries main church. In my opinion this building is nothing outstanding compared to other city’s main churches but this does have significance and is a beautiful architecture worthy for a pass-by. Next whilst walking along the street you would pass the Norwegian Parliament which is also known as Storting. The building itself is small but there is a guided escorted tour for tourists, this itself I didn’t do but is said to be worthwhile. Just in front of Storting is a small well looked after park, in which an ice rink is temporarily placed when winter, however this I didn’t see as my visit was not in season.

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Within this little park is the National Theatre which hosts many of Oslo’s classical modern music and drama. Surrounding this small park is an amazing arcade of shops and restaurants which looks amazing. Finally just a 5 minute walk from this area if you keep walking west of the Karl Johan’s Gate road you will get to the Royal Palace which has an amazing exterior. Like London the palace is famous for its ‘changing of the guards’ which I didn’t know happened so I missed this aswell, furthermore the palace also has guided tours which is another popular tour in Oslo. I visited the Opera house, roamed central station and walked Karl Johan’s gate passing many of the cities point of interest on my first day and including a pause due to the rain, roaming these in just 6 hours I believe my first day was fulfilling.

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Fontana Sentrum – where the ice rink would be placed

The next day, now with my friends we done something random and experienced a virtual reality gaming experience at “VR Games Zone” something which is not advertised as a tourist attraction but something which I believe should. The experience was different and unlike anything I do when travelling, the VR game was like an escape room trying to work together in order to finish the game. I’d say this experience did make my stay more enjoyable and even though this was not on the tourism map, I do advise this when in groups of four or more.

After the VR games we tried out one of the many electric scooters which appear randomly across the city for hire. There were various different companies which offer these and it was simple and cheap (especially for Oslo) to use, all you will need to do is download the app input your details and ride away to any destination of your choice. You are charged by the time you use these scooters and once finished all you will need to do is stop the ride on the app. We started from the central station and rode along the coast side and our target was the ‘Viking Ship Museum’ but only ended up in the ‘Aker Brygge’ area where the Radhuset, Nobel Peace prize centre are situated. So we got our scooters around central station and headed towards the coast as I was aware of a cycle lane where we could ride freely without hitting crowds of people (you are allowed to ride freely on pavements or roads). On our way towards Aker Brygge we passed by the Akershus Fortress and many amazing views. Again like other attraction I didn’t go in as I didn’t have time and I couldn’t find the entrance, however the exterior was more than enough to admire. Another few minutes ride and we arrived at Aker Brygge.

Here we decided to have a quick stopover which eventually ended up to be the final of our journey with the scooters, the price in total for about 40 minutes was £4 which is extremely cheap compared to other aspects in the country. We parked and ended our scooters in front of Radhuset which I believe is their town hall, the main administrative body of the city council where pre booked tours are required to visit, for me I didn’t bother. However this area was a brilliant scenic place with plenty of restaurants and shops. Another attraction here was the Nobel Peace Prize Centre which was opened in the year 2005 by King Herald V of Norway and showcases many articles and debates of cultural, political events which promotes peace and conflict resolutions. Other attractions around this area are the Astrup Fernley Museum, Semstrum Gallery and many more. This area was expensive and the upper end of the city which is why we didn’t dine here. Overall this place is a nice area to hang around as there are plenty of people, food carts and the environment is just amazing. We decided not to continue our scooter ride to the Viking Ship Museum as it was raining which kind of ruined our plans, so we just walked back central had lunch then after the rain stopped somehow decided to head towards Vigeland Park.

To end the day we decided to go to the Vigeland Sculpture Park which is the sculpture installation within Frogland Park, this was amazing and opened my eyes to a new perspective of Oslo. I said at the beginning that the Oslo Opera house was the cover attraction of the city however I believe the cover attraction should be this park. About a 20min ride away from central Oslo, this park which is also known as the Sculpture Park was beautiful in lots of ways. Frogner park has over 200 sculptures made of cast iron, bronze and granite, one of the notable sculpture known around the world is the ‘Angry boy’ which tourist love to take photos holding its shiny left hand. The sculptures were created by Gustav Vigeland between 1924 to 1943, all the sculptures were amazing with information and meaning beyond my knowledge so next time I would love to travel here with a tour guide. I highly recommend this park, one of the highlight of the trip.

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Lastly on my last day we visited the Hollmenkollen Ski Museum which is a bit further to the city centre. You will need to take the metro and a 20 minute walk to reach this attraction but it is worth the travel. The museum is situated below an actual ski jump arena which was a part of the 1952 winter Olympics in Oslo it showcases not only ski jumping but winter sport, polar explorations and the history of skiing. You can also go up the top of the ski jump which offers breath taking panoramic views of Oslo. It is also possible to zipline down from the top which is a brilliant extra bonus for the thrill seekers. Furthermore there are lots of different amusements like simulators in order to enjoy the place. Coming here is well worth the further travel, give this visit around 3-5 hours.

Other points of interest which we missed during this trip that are important should you visit Oslo are The Viking Boat Museum, The national museum where the famous painting ‘Scream’ is situated, Kon Tikki Museum, Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and so much more. The two I regret not visiting are the Viking Boat Museum which is meant to be a must see whilst visiting the city and the National Museum as I didn’t know the world famous painting scream was situated here.

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https://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/

Conclusion

All in all my opinion of Oslo was impressive, a definite eye opener. However the experience is somewhat impacted by how expensive the place really is and I would hate to lie that budgets dont come to mind (for the average visitor) visiting this city. The city is diverse, there are places for art, places for relaxing, areas for nightlife and many different places for adventures. Although there is plenty to see and do for 5 days, I believe a 2-3 day stay is ok as any more would start to hurt any pocket (unless your a millionaire). The highlight for my trip would definitely be Vigeland park which was beyond my expectation, I am a little confused as to why this isn’t Oslo’s main cover to attract tourists. Furthermore the electronic scooters were amazing and these should be introduced in other countries.

Overall Oslo was an enjoyable place that must be experienced by all. Although this is not just a simple getaway and careful planning and saving may be required for this city.

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A Small Circuit Around South East Asia

My first trip of 2019 and its a pretty big one. I visited 4 places of different characteristics. Kuala Lumpur which is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities, Siem Reap a majestic Cambodian Province, Langkawi a large adventurous island and Finally Koh Lipe a calm relaxing Thai island.

All were great and had its own approach

First Stop Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

The First stop and my base city for this trip. For the first part in Kuala Lumpur I stayed in popular KL hostel Backhome. An eye opener with lots of different things to see and do.

Second Stop Siem Reap (Cambodia)

One of the main reasons to venture in this part of the world was to visit Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have to admit the fact that Angkor Wat is consistently top 3 must visit places in various websites, made visiting this city a must.

Then Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Venture to one of Malaysia’s popular island. Travelled by plane instead of boat due to work perks. Quieter than the usual islands I visit like Boracay, Crete, Cebu and others but Langkawi didn’t fail to impress.

Fourth Stop in Koh Lipe (Thailand)

A short venture to another small nearby island. Koh Lipe happens to be crossing the boarder to Thailand. An interesting experience with a beach immigration system.

Finale, Back to Kuala Lumpur

A rest back in Kuala Lumpur, this time a more chilled and comfortable accommodation, ready to fly back to London.

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Koh Lipe

Type : Island
Best Date :  Nov- May
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Walk along beach, Sun bathe, Scuba Dive, Kayaking
Points of Interest: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, Pattaya Beach, Walking Street

Brief

Koh Lipe is one of the southern most island in Thailand just in the edge of the Adaman sea near the border with Malaysia. The island is only about 3.5km long and lies within the Tarutao national marine park a popular dive spot.

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The Place

Koh Lipe was the last place I visited on this small south east Asian circuit venture. The purpose of this visit was to relax before heading back to London. It is a relatively quiet and calm island but can have its congestion with many tourists arriving for day tours. Nonetheless Koh Lipe is was an interesting visit, a place that small groups can enjoy.

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Firstly I want to write about getting to the island itself. There are no airports in this island so boats are the main mode of transport to get to and from the island. As Koh Lipe has a low sea level, there is also no piers for larger boats to dock and thus they have a to stop at offshore pontoon where passengers will take a smaller long tail boat to arrive on the island. These are said to cost 50 baht however I didn’t need to pay this when I arrived. Upon arrival depending on where you departed/arrived from/to  there is also an immigration and custom system which was unlike any other as you line up on the beach (a sight to see).

Popular ways to get to Koh Lipe are from Langkawi (Malaysia) or Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and Pak Bara from Thailand. There also several possible ways to travel to and from small islands within the Andaman Sea. I arrived and departed from Langkawi and there for required to through an immigration system.

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Pattaya Beach

One of the main points to visit in the island is Pattaya Beach the main point where visitors arrive and depart. This beach is a stretch of beautiful white sand south of the island. Arguably this beach is the most popular of the beaches with the most shops, bars and restaurants beachfront. This beach also connects to walking street one of the main parts of the islands. There is also an beachfront makeshift movie theatre  placed at night beachside which is an interesting concept.

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Pattaya Beach

Another popular place to see is Sunset Beach. The smallest of the main beaches visited. It is said you can see the best views of the lovely sunset however I in my opinion there is a better location. This small stretch of white sand beach is not very popular for high end hotels but a place for bungalows. Sunset beach is a bit further away to walking street than Pattaya and Sunrise beach.

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Sunrise Beach

Lastly Sunrise Beach where I stayed and another popular place unwind, popular for sunrise yoga and morning jogs. In my understanding this is the longest of all the beaches on the island. This is my favourite place in the island as it is much more quieter than other areas, this is also where a beautiful spot is to watch the sunset (in the northmost end of sunrise beach). However I did notice that the tide can get very high making the shore very thin, so walking around the beach can be difficult. Nonetheless there are many quiet bars, restaurants and massage places beachfront which makes this my favourite place to roam.

Walking Street is in my opinion the main roaming place away from the beaches. This short 15 minute (walking) stretch is full of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. In my opinion at night this is the brightest and noisiest area in the island it is a busy street however it is not overcrowded and messy. This street has plenty sea food restaurants which is very popular in the island. There are also plenty souvenir, tour shops and massage parlour around here and most importantly for tourists this is the place for ATM machines and money changers which are very relevant in the island.

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Tourists come to this islands for the calm and relaxing atmosphere which you wouldn’t normally get from other islands. However a few activities are very popular in Koh Lipe, these are Snorkelling, Scuba Diving and Kayaking. There are a few different companies to choose from so research for best prices are a good idea. I did love my Scuba diving experience where I saw schools of fish, many different breeds and types of underwater creatures.

Conclusion

When I planned this trip I knew it would be a quiet calm place with maybe a few hundred visitors. However I was surprised when my hotel and scuba diving activities were fully booked, the island also had a few more people than I thought but it wasnt overcrowded. The sand and beach was lovely but there were plenty of boats parked in the shore which in my opinion ruined the potential scenery of the island. There were plenty of dogs around and unlike the aggressive dogs around the Philippines the dogs here were very friendly and many tourists love to play with them. My favourite part of the visit was definitely the Scuba Diving and also just walking around this small island itself. I’d say a 2 night stay is enough as anything longer would result into potential boredom as the island is small with not much activities or things to do, however if your purpose is to relax then maybe you could stay a little longer.

Back to “A small circuit around South East Asia”

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A year full of discoveries 2018

So its another year with plenty of trips being fulfilled. I have managed to tick off my hit-list it has been wonderful with plenty to write about. Last year (2017) I missed out a trip to Helsinki and Tallinn with the winter proving too expensive for me to finish the year off, however 2018 fulfilled this plan.

Below are just some of the places ive managed to visit, click on them to read some of my write-ups. Next year I already have plans to go to Cambodia, Turkey and Chamonix in France. Other places that are a possibility are Morocco, USA and a return to South America.

South American Trip

Sao Paulo, Mar 18First trip of the year and entering South America for the first time on a Brazil and Peru trip. The city was safer than I thought I used public transport and walked everywhere.
Lima, Mar 18 The Peruvian capital was a pleasure to visit, its museums were different to any other in the world.
Cusco, Mar 18 The city is beautiful, old churches and Incan ruins was out of this world. Be very careful when visiting this place as the high altitudes do affect people in different ways.
Ollantaytambo, Mar 18 One of the smallest but most beautiful places I have stayed. Me and my brother stayed next to a river with some of the best views of the surrounding river.
Aguas Calientes, Mar 18 The main stage for the world famed Machu Picchu, one of the best places I have been, truly majestic.
Rio De Janiero, Mar 18 As long as you’re extra careful Rio is a safe place to be, maybe a few money hustle form a few taxi drivers or vendors but other than those it is safe. Its scenery and beaches are some of the best in the world.

Wales Trip

Cardiff, Apr 18 A short weekend in the welsh capital, a place full of investment in order to establish it as a shopping haven.

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Philippines & Japan Trip

Manila, Jun 18 Its that time again where once a year I visit Philippines. A base to srelax before we head off to Japan.
Osaka, Jun 18 Our entry point in Japan, smaller than Tokyo but a metropolis nonetheless.
Kyoto, Jun 18 Beautifully preserved temples and religious places. Home of the world famed Geisha entertainers and the most cultural traditions preserved.
Tokyo, Jun 18 Last city visited in Japan, a beautiful busy metropolis. Very crowded and bustling 24 hours a day. Bright lights, most modern technology and cuisine were a huge plus for this city.

England Trip

Devon, Sep 18 A short weekend trip to the English country side, new attractions has been built in Ilfracombe attracted more tourists.

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Finland & Estonia Trip

Helsinki, Dec 18 The Finnish capital had little to offer in attractions however the beauty of the capital is its people, arts and history.
Rovaniemi, Dec 18 A true winter wonderland, the coldest place ive visited and the most magical place for families.
Tallinn, Dec 18 (post coming soon) Outstanding pagan churches, Medieval Castles and modern festive market. Spookiest place ive ever been to with many stories of haunted past on many building in the old town.

A Quick Tour of Japan

This was my first trip to one of the richest and most powerful country in Asia, one which has rich history and best preserved tradition. I expected a very busy working country and also the most technologically advanced. My trip consisted of three of Japans most notable cities or prefectures (as its known) in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I only had a total of 6 days and took the local trains to travel around except for a flight to Tokyo. I saw the most modern side of Japan but also its magical history and culture all whilst experiencing Japans world famous dishes.

Please click on the cities below to see how my journey went.

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First Stop Osaka

First part and entry point of my Japan trip was Osaka, starting with a busy airport and a confusing transport to our hotel. City looked industrial with many modern amusements.

Next Stop Kyoto

 A tiring start to the Kyoto experience, as we used a very busy commuter train to travel from Osaka. Although it rained on our Kyoto visit, the city definitely had character.

The Finale in Tokyo

The last city on my Japan trip, a bustling mega city.

 

 

 

Cardiff

Type : City
Best Date : 
Apr-Sep
Expense :
Fair
Things to do : Nightlife, shopping, dining, sightseeing ect
Points of Interest: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Bay, Principality stadium, Caerphilly stadium, Cardiff Millennium Centre and more
The Good: Plenty bars, restaurants and shops
The Bad: I cant think of any

Brief

Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and is known to be one of Britain’s flattest cities. It is located South of the country at the mouth of ‘River Severn’. The city is best known to be the smallest and newest capital cities only becoming a Capital on 1955.

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The Place

Cardiff is an interesting place to go whilst in the United Kingdom. Although relatively small there are various places to visit and whether you want to relax, dine, shop or learn the city has plenty to offer.

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Firstly Cardiff is famous for its shopping, the city has gone through heavy investment to establish itself a haven for shops. The capital itself is known as the city of ‘shopping arcades’, there are plenty of indoor Victorian arcades all which are lit by daylight. The shops within these arcades vary from traditional products, jewellery, textiles and also many cafes and restaurants. ‘Cardiff Market’ is also a credible place to visit. A traditional Victorian indoor market which sells fresh fruits, vegetables from local farms and fish which have just been caught.

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Secondly the bay which has gone a huge redevelopment, host many luxurious cafes and restaurants for a chilled relaxing day or a lively night atmosphere. Across the road from the bay is Cardiff’s ‘Millennium Centre’ which is the city’s stage for performing arts, many shows are played here every month. Next to the Millenium centre is the ‘Pierhead’ which has had significance in shaping the city. Once the centre of commerce for the country, now used for various exhibitions about the city and can host conference for locals. ‘Roald Dahl Plass’ named after the famous Cardiff born author is the plaza in the heart of the bay, this is a popular place for open air concerts. A walk along the bay when the sun is out is an amazing experience, it is not that big but the scenery and atmosphere is special.

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Next is Cardiff Castle situated in the centre of the city. It is just above £10 for a ticket to enter which includes various different exhibitions. Significant for 3 different ages in the Romans, Normans and Victorians this castle stood tall and defended the city in many different accounts, even through the world war the castle was used as a bomb shelter. Inside the castle you will gain an insight to the castles history through many different artwork and exhibitions, you will see the remains of Roman ruins and Nomadic architecture and Victorian artefacts. In the castle you will gain a feel for the city through the different ages. Although the castle is excellent to visit I have been and seen better, however the fact that the castle was occupied by multiple generations of the city is somewhat unique.

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Another place to visit in the city is the ‘Millennium Stadium’ or as  of 2016 the ‘Principality Stadium’ as its now known due to sponsorship. It is  the national stadium of Wales and is the 2nd largest stadium in the world with a convertible rooftop. the stadium is famous for hosting rugby matches but also hosts football, concerts and other events. The stadium has a capacity of 74,500 seats but can be added or reduced for different events.

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The city also has a booming nightlife with plenty different clubs and pubs within the city. Furthermore with a university just down the road from the city centre, plenty lively parties are frequent.

Other places to visit are Cardiff’s National Museum, University, Bute park and the Doctor Who Experience. I walked through Bute park but didn’t have the chance to visit the others.

Conclusion

All in all Cardiff is an excellent city to visit for a short stay. A day or 2 is enough and anything more may prove to be too long unless you want to take it nice and slow. The city was calm and pretty chilled in the mornings but very busy in the evenings. There is a fair amount of tourism in the city but not as much as London, Paris, Barcelona and other cities alike.

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Reference:

http://www.visitcardiff.com/
https://www.citybaseapartments.com/blog/facts-about-cardiff/
http://www.pierhead.org/en/
https://www.cardiffcastle.com/about-the-castle/

My Ilocos Trip

Holiday 2017 in the Philippines I decided to go north to the preserved Spanish colonial villages. Using the luxury Partas bus from Cubao I excursed north from Manila to visit the countries north

(please click on the cities to find out more)

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First Stop Laoag

My base for a night, the small city was capital of north Ilocos, it had important historical significance which is shown in many of their museums and buildings

Next Stop Paoay

Laoag’s neighbouring city, this is the more active area of the holiday with its 4×4 sand dunes and sand boarding.

The Finale in Vigan

Vigan one of Philippines highly preserved Spanish colonial cities. Capital of Ilocos south region, Vigan is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in the country.

The Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu Experience

Brief

Machu Picchu is the Incan citadel on top of the Andes mountains, located in Urubamba province within the Cusco region in Peru. The famous mountain attraction is 2nd in Lonely Planet’s must go to places in the world. Furthermore the Incan citadel is about 2,500 metres high, said to be made for the emperor Pachacuti but was later abandoned at the time of the Spanish conquest.

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The Experience

 Entering Machu Picchu you will require your paper ticket and your passport, in what is like an airport style entry.  At times there is a long line but when I was there it was just a walk through. Take note there is only one toilet at the entrance of the site so emptying your bladder before proceeding would be sensible. If you do go back out to go to the toilet you will need your ticket and passport again and may need to line up.

Entering Machu Pichu there will be some people presenting themselves as tour guides (for a price) I believe they are legitimate guides but I don’t really know how much they were as I didn’t take one which I do regret, as the site itself had no descriptions and without the guide you would just be walking around the Incan ruin without any explanations.

Machu Picchu has various different routes, I think 5 in total which all circuit to the exit. It is possible to take all the routes but it can be tiring and time consuming. Attendants are ever present on the site as they look after the ruins and protect people from dangerous areas, however the site itself was relatively safe and controlled with plenty of resting areas. All ages and abilities can visit the site as there is nothing too difficult, I even saw a woman on a wheelchair so I believe it has disabled access routes.

The ruins itself were amazing with the huge boulders and stone walls still fully standing. The most Iconic building for me was the Guardhouse Watch Tower which had the best views of the whole citadel. Everything about Machu Picchu was great with uncountable scenic areas and magnificent ancient structures. I did however miss out on seeing the Alpacas and Llamas, which would have been one of the highlight pictures of the visit, nonetheless the experience was one of kind. Visiting Machu Picchu also requires a lot of luck, some days you can have very clear skies whereas others may get rain and worst clouds where you cant see anything. However the walks were too easy and I was definitely looking forward to the higher more challenging mountain ahead with Huayna Picchu.

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If you have bought the ticket to Huayna Picchu, the entrance to the mountain is at the back of the site. you will see a little hut with the map of Huayna Picchu, it has two gates one for exit and the other for entrance. It is advisable that you arrive 15 minutes before your allotted time as there can be an instant rush when the gates open, but I believe you can enter at anytime within your allotted time. Again your passport is required for this as they carefully monitor whose gone in and whose gone out.

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Huayna Picchu itself has one huge circular route but a few detours to turn back. I can only say that the higher you go the more difficult the climb is as stairs get steeper and thinner with not much to hold onto and there are points (higher up) where if you proceed there is no return and you will need to follow the route ahead. In my experience all climbers help and encourage each other where possible and no one was selfish, if someone looked like they needed help nobody would just walk pass that person. There is plenty of resting points on the mountain many with great views, but some areas are so tight you couldn’t stop as people behind would like to keep moving. To climb Huayna Picchu you will need to be a little fit but I did see 8th graders and seniors so i don’t think you need to be highly a20180319_113358thletic. Best advice is to take your time, do your own pace and bring lots of water. If for any reason you cant handle the climb don’t be ashamed to turn back or ask for help. As you climb up there will be plenty of different panoramic views of the scenery around but the best place is the view of Machu Pichu itself (if its not cloudy). Furthermore at the top you may take a picture of the Huayna Pichu sign which many mountains have at their peak (this area is a good resting point). The experience at Huayna Picchu was one of a kind, there was fear, adrenaline and also excitement. I have to admit the site was somewhat dangerous as there were little to no barriers, marshals and places to hold onto, which for me was the beauty of it all.

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Conclusion

My Peru, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu experience has been extraordinary, it has been a trip full of education and challenges with every scenery as extravagant as you would see in magazines. Machu Picchu could prove to be very expensive but I can honestly say it is every penny well spent. It is one of those destination that even the best blogs cannot portray and you have to go and see it for yourself to be able to appreciate the scale of this mountain.

If you are yet to go, it is important to know that the Machu Picchu experience starts as you land in Peru, the journey to the site is as exciting as the mountain attraction itself so enjoy every bit of it.

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu

Aguas Calientes

5th leg of my Brazil/Peru trip

Type : Rural Mountainous
Best Date : Apr – Oct
Expense : Medium
Things to do :Hiking
Points of Interest: Machu Pichu, Huayna Pichu, Putucusi, Inca Bridge, Temple of the moon, ect
The Good: Excellent scenery
The Bad: Very small village

Brief

Aguas Calientes is the village nearest to the famous Incan ruin of Machu Pichu, also in the Urabamba province within the Cusco region. The village has an altitude of 2,040m and is only 6km away from the Machu Pichu site.

The Place

Like Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes is a small rural village which has its own unique charm. Although its attractions nearby are the main reason for the influx of tourists, the architecture and scenery is just something out of the ordinary. People who stay in this village may only be staying to acclimatize to the altitude or maybe to get some rest before or after their visit to Machu Picchu. In my opinion this small village is a great place and to stay here for one or 2 nights is a privilege.

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Aguas Calientes has a handful of magical attractions to visit, most notable is ‘Machu Picchu’ the Incan citadel on top of the Andes Mountain. In order to reach this attraction from Aguas Calientes you would either need to hike 1.5 hour up the mountain or take a shuttle ride up. Although very expensive I do advise to take the shuttle ride up as Machu Pichu itself has plenty of long walks. Once in Machu Picchu there will be a couple of private tour guides if you want to take them (for a price), I definitely do regret not taking one of them as I learnt very little about the site itself. Once entering, there is plenty of different routes within Machu Picchu itself, all showing the different angles of the Incan ruin. I didn’t plan a specific route but me and my brother opted to just go higher and higher. Once committing to a route its a little hard to go back or do another route as there are plenty of ups and downs.

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Behind Machu Pichu is ‘Huayna Picchu’ or ‘Wayna Picchu’ which is the higher mountain that the more adventurous travellers hike up for a better view and a higher adrenaline rush. The lower levels of the mountain is easy however as you go higher the ancient steps get steeper and much narrower with not much to hold onto. I would like to stress that the mountain is a little dangerous with full view of the heights above and the drop below, there is also very little barriers and although marshals are said to roam the mountain I did only see one. Only a total of 400 people are allowed up this mountain a day, 200 on the morning (07:00 – 10:00) and another 200 in the afternoon (11:00-14:00) because of its popularity I highly advise to book in advance.

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Puntucusi is another mountain opposite Machu Picchu on the other side of the vilcanota river, which is free to hike with a challenge. The good thing about this mountain is that it is relatively unknown to the masses of tourists. However this is ungoverned and there are no wardens so care is required.

One way to relax in Aguas Calientes is their hot spring baths which is a nice way to relax if you have done the 4 day trail. This hot spring have strict rules and require full swimming attire, towels and sandals. It is complete with showers, changing rooms and a snack bar.

There are other attractions such as the ‘Temple of the moon’, ‘Sayacmara’, ‘Puyutamarca’ and many more which makes Aguas Calientes very attractive as a place to stay for a little longer than people plan.

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Overall Aguas Calientes for me was a marvellous place to be in, the rail tracks and old rustic structures were a pleasure although many aspects such as food and drinks in the village were expensive as it would be more profitable from tourists. The traditional markets also have nice souvenirs which are again pricey at first but easy to haggle for a good and cheap price. Finally again the same as Ollantaytambo the scenery is majestic a wonderful panoramic place to be around, if I had the chance I would have stayed longer.