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.

 

 

 

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How do you travel?

Do you buy cheap airfares or pay the price for the experience?

There is now the popular arguments between family, friends and even oneself on whether to travel cheaply or pay more for the added perks on flights. We know there are two types of carriers, “standard or premium airliners” which we recognize as flag carriers and even somewhat being the symbol of aviation in its country, secondly the increasing popularity of “budget or low cost airlines” the companies giving passengers very cheap tickets for bare necessities (no thrills as its known). I work for an airline and I know that the battle of the skies is difficult for every carrier out there. Its simple the more passengers the higher profitability which will also illustrate its reputation. Wealthy carriers are consistently advertising, upgrading seats, product and services, lowering prices also comes to the equation but only to an extent and with unfavourable consequences. Budget airlines spend less which enables them to lower tickets, this results in no food (buy on-board), less legroom (more row of sellable seats), undesirable airports and many more. Standard and budget airliners are now far apart on the service it offers, for us as passengers there is now a huge choice and it is something that divides opinions. So what is your method in flying?

Budget/ Low cost Airlines (Flying Cheaply)

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Advantages

Spend less money (more for the holiday itself)

One of two reasons I believe people travel with budget low cost airlines, is the price. There are many people who believe that air transport is only a small part of the holiday and would rather spend more on hotels and activities than a simple flight. Furthermore if the flight is only 1-2 hours there is no real effect on sitting in a budget airline than that of a more luxurious one.

Only pay for what you need

There is plenty of aspects on a standard airline company that an individual traveller doesn’t desire, such as insurance, food and even baggage weight. This is something budget airliners capitalises on and gives passengers the choice to pay for only the services you require, which is popular amongst many youthful travellers who aren’t swayed by insurance protection or seat choices, this is normally known in aviation as ‘no thrills’ flights.

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Disadvantages

Less Comfort

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Everybody has heard the saying that ‘you get what you pay for’, which is true when it comes to spending on flights. Easily seen when you book economy, business and first class within a single carrier and somewhat true when choosing between standard and budget flights. Cheap airlines usually only incorporate the essentials (the product required by law) which are very basic seats, a stowage and a toilet (no thrills as they call it). Take note low cost airlines have also been looking at the possibility of charging to use toilets but were unsuccessful due to various laws. Leg space is also affected and many (not all) budget carriers give the bare minimum required by the law, in order to increase the number of rows which will fit more people

No Baggage Allowance

If you know about aircrafts, you would know that weight is a big issue. The heavier the plane the more expensive fuel it uses resulting in higher costs, reason why many airliners are strict on baggage weight. Cheaper budget airlines do not give complimentary baggage weight as these need to be purchased, usually at a high cost.

Undesirable Airports

Getting away from huge costs and taxes reputable airports demand are something low cost carriers prefer to get away from. This enables them to avoid charges such as parking and facilities, overall lowering ticket prices to sell to customers. However although very attractable to customers at first (due to prices), these airports may be further and somewhat difficult to get to, resulting in further costs and unnecessary journeys to and from the airport.

Less protection

Many have experienced the undesirable event of delays, cancellations, overbooking, missing a flight and even damaged luggage’s. Many budget carriers do not include protection for these in your ticket bill, and again would require to purchase if you want one, some being very expensive.

Standard/ Premium Airlines (Pay for the experience)

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Advantages

Better products, comfier and more convenient

Standard or more premium airlines attract their customers for the product and service they offer. Leg space and recline are usually the simple advantages from budget to premium airliners, however the seats itself could be more comfier (leather, foam, ect). Long-haul flights (on standard/ premium flights) usually have IFEs (In-Flight Entertainment) which budget carriers do not equip themselves with due to its initial and running costs. Simpler products such as storage, tables and arm rests are also usually enhanced (depending on airline carrier) and probably the most important in the modern world are charging points which are now being increasingly introduced in all tiers on these airline companies. Furthermore these airlines also lend blankets and pillows for extra comfort something that low cost carriers do not.

Meals and giveaways

Depending on the journey and duration of flight the airline would offer complimentary meals, it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack depending on the time of the flight. Two meals may be offered for longer long-haul flights depending on the carrier. Amenity kits are sometimes offered on standard airlines but on budget carriers food and amenities must be purchased.

However take note that even premium/ standard carriers are starting to roll out a buy on board system (buy your meals) on short haul routes this is a model that may increasingly be popular and even the norm in the future.

Higher Standards

For premium and standard carriers, their brand is most precious, to attract customers means to give customers the best they can give. Usually the products on more expensive carriers are steadier and more robust, generally made from better quality materials. Inflight meals are also of better quality than what you can get in low cost carriers as their budgets for these would be paid for in the ticket prices. Furthermore Staff appearance (uniforms) are usually better and more fashionable than that of budget carriers and their training are far better which would results in better customer service.

Standard Baggage

Depending on the airline you travel with, there will be complimentary baggage weight for you to use (usually 20kg-40kg), this is something that is not included in cheaper carriers and thus an advantage for premium and standard airliners.

Choice of classes

If money is not a big barrier for you, standard airliners offer different classes and tiers, these have different products, services and food, something that budget airlines don’t offer. Depending on your standard of life, to be able to choose your tier and how much money you want to spend is another advantage over cheaper airlines with only one standard cabin and layout.

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Disadvantages

More expensive

Probably the only big disadvantage of standard and premium airlines, is the cost of their tickets. Usually double or sometimes triple of that on a budget airline the price is usually the big reason why many turn away from high end carriers.

Overall

There are positives and negatives flying both budget/ low cost and standard/ premium airlines, it just depends on the type of traveller and travel you are or having.

On a personal view, I am content to fly with both low-cost and standard airline companies for shorthaul flights but would edge more in favour for expensive carriers for long-haul flights as long as I am happy with the service I can get.

I wouldn’t mind flying budget/ low cost for Journeys less than 2 hours (short-haul) such as domestic routes or flights to neighbouring countries. These routes are too short for me to care about the service I receive as I usually just fall asleep for the duration of the flight without needing to eat, drink or entertain myself. My only disadvantage would be the airports I may likely be arriving or departing from as it may be too far and inconvenient for my target destination. However if the price difference from budget to standard are not too great then I would spend that bit more for the extra perks.

On longer (long-haul) flights I would pay the price for the extra service and comfort provided by standard/premium carriers. This is because travelling to the likes of Dubai which is 8hrs or Hong Kong 13hrs (from London), is just way too long for no thrills. Simple aspects such as blankets, pillows and meals would benefit largely in a long flight, likewise a big advantage are the IFEs (In Flight Entertainment) which would largely entertain anyone for many hours. Furthermore to be able to eliminate the fuss of further spending before , during and after the flight (on long journeys) would make travels so much better knowing everything is paid for in advance and all you need to think about is the holiday ahead.

So in conclusion, the most important aspect of the flight for me is the experience and not the money I spend as I’ve always seen the flight as a part of your holiday (the beginning). However if there is very little to no difference on the flight experience I am choosing from, then why should I spend just for the sake of a brand.

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Next Trip: Japan, the new and the old

My last overseas trip to South American  was somewhat of an eye opener. The terrain, nature, culture and infrastructure of both Peru and Brazil was amazing with so much learnt. After Peru and Brazil I travelled across the United Kingdom to Cardiff, Wales’s capital city. Cardiff had similarities to London (my home) but is developing with huge investments, hopping to be a striving tourist destination, especially for shopping. However now its time to go far again and I’m using my yearly trip to the Philippines (which is my second home) commencing this May 18th to venture to new places and excurse to a nearby Asian country. Whilst in the Philippines I’ll be staying in my home city of Quezon City but I plan to roam and visit places I have never been yet, however till now i don’t have a clue where yet.

One thing is for sure and that’s a confirmed trip around Japan. Knowing me I like to roam as many cities in a limited amount of time, just like in Peru and Brazil with a duration of 10 days and my ‘South France and Spain trip’ which took me only 5 days.

The Journey

The cities I will visit in Japan are Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto which should show me many of the old and new aspects of the country.

I will enter Japan through Tokyo  but will transit (flight) straight to Osaka where I will stay one night. This should give me enough time to visit places such as the ‘Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium’, Osaka Castle and other attractions in the city. I will then take either train or bus from Osaka to Kyoto where I will stay for 2 nights, giving me 3 days to roam. Kyoto which was once the capital city of Japan is famous for numerous Buddhist temples, imperial palaces and much more. I intend to visit many of its attractions and dine in their many traditional restaurants. After Kyoto I will head back to Osaka and fly straight to the capital Tokyo where I will spend a further night. I believe Tokyo will be the bustling modern city of Japan, one of the worlds most advanced in technology. Furthermore as an extra bonus I may see some of the sites for the Olympics due to commence in 2020.

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I expect Japan to be very technologically advanced but very intact with their history and ancient culture. Furthermore I’m guessing Kyoto to be very strong in traditional culture and religion, whilst Tokyo and Osaka being a modern metropolis with the most modern infrastructure. Finally I think Japan will be fast paced and one of the most expensive ive travelled.

 

 

Peru Rail

Brief

Peru Rail is a railway operator that services locals, tourists and freight. It was founded by a Peruvian entrepreneur and a British company  in 1999. Mainly operating in the southern region such as Cusco, Arequipa and Puno20180319_042142

Cost

I only know the price to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo, and it is quiet expensive and ranges from £60 – £100 (even more) depending on time and how busy it is.

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Experience

Peru rail is ha20180319_034403.jpgnds down one of the best rail transport I have ever experienced. The old carriages with the river and mountain scenery was like no other I have done before. Furthermore their service was delightful and goes well with the vacation ambience.

Our first and onwards journey was at 05:05am from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is advised to arrive at the station as early as 30 minutes before the train departure where the train station and ticket office officially opens as well.

Remember your baggage does have a size limit of 157cm/ 62 inches (height, 20180319_035509.jpglength and width) and a weight limit of 5kg. However for those travelling from far and who do not have a hotel or hostel to leave your baggage, there is a free bag drop at Ollantaytambo station. Although it is not always manned and you may need to get attention to get someone to attend the facility and take your baggage. Another thing to remember is your passport, because upon entering the boarding area and train, the attendants require both tickets and passport.

In the station (rail side) there is a small basic café, the train was already parked and there is plenty taking pictures with the train. There is not too much security and safety precautions at the platform and plenty of tourists walk along the rails.

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The carriages are divided between local and tourist passengers, which sounds wrong but with good intentions. Local passengers carry huge amounts of baggage and I believe their carriages would be plain and basic. On the other hand the tourists carriages are designed for the extra experience, the walls are covered with Peruvian artwork (wallpaper) whilst the table has a map of the Inca trail. Furthermore the tourist carriage has enhanced seats and a sunroof window for extra views of the mountains ahead.

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All train tickets have allocated seats and not a free for all or first come first serve basis. Some seats are facing the direction of the journey and some facing rearwards, there are also 4 grouped communal seats and the standard 2 grouped seats. My experience for my onward journey was a 4 grouped forward facing communal seat which can be either awkward facing other people or good in meeting other travellers, for me it was more positive as we got to meet two other young travellers which we conversed throughout the trip. The carriage was not too congested and I say my onwards experience was positive.

During the journey there is audio with Peruvian music and facts of Machu Picchu. There is also complimentary snacks and drinks which mimics that of an airline and heavier food to purchase if you want. On my onward journey we were given cookies and I chose to have mango juice but there were choices of various juices, water, tea and coffee.

The journey (Onwards) took over 2 hours and you can just disembark and go on your way.

Returning I took the 15:20 journey back to Ollantaytambo. Everything was definitely a bit more complicated than my onward journey. Firstly finding the station was difficult as it was not the same place I arrived (disembarked) from but a 5 minute walk up the hill. There were also much more people taking trains at this time and the station was very congested. Furthermore identifying your train is confusing as there is always one small screen with many similar numbers and times, the language barrier was also a problem. I found tourists helping each other rather than asking the attendants or relying on the info board all through till entering the train.

Returning I had a 4 grouped communal rearward facing seat, which for me was a bit uncomfortable as the guy opposite me on this route kept hitting my legs with no care at all. The snacks we were given returning was better though with some Inca corn which was actually very nice. Again I had mango juice but my brother had tea which was not a good idea as this journey was a little bit wobbly.

Overall Peru Rail’s journey to Machu Picchu was an amazing experience. Everything was just out of the ordinary from the train to the scenery. Its something I probably will remember for some time to come and I don’t think many would come close to the experience ive had.

 

Reference:

Perurail.com

 

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.

My Brazil and Peru Trip

A successful weird little venture which started off in Brazil over to Peru and then ended in Brazil in a quick 10 day holiday. Ive made a compilation of my whole journey.
(please click the city for more about the trip)

1st stop: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Straight from London and my first stop. This part of the trip was and insight to one of Latin Americas richest metropolis.

2nd stop: Lima, Peru

After a glimpse of life in one of South Americas most developed and rich citiy I go to one of its most undeveloped capitals (In my opinion). Nonetheless the experience was a valuable learning curb. In this Leg I visited Central Lima and the Larco Museum to build the flavour of my trip ahead.

3rd stop: Cusco, Peru

And now it was time to acclimatise and get ready for our main purpose (Machu Picchu). A quick roam around the city, into their market and main points of interest. Getting a feel of rural Peru.

4th stop: Ollantaytambo, Peru

Basing at Ollantaytambo the night before Machu Picchu, so we could get an easier transit to the mountain attraction. However I just fell in love with the village and wished I could have stayed longer. The scenery was just amazing.

5th stop: Aguas Calientes, Peru

Again this village was amazing, it felt like a movie set. A quick snack before and after our trip up Machu Picchu. Very touristic but still a pleasure.

*** Machu Picchu***
Preparing to travel
Travelling to Machu Pichu

A spectacle to see, the most amazing place I’ve been to. Hiking up Wayna Picchu was also something I’m glad i did, the challenge of those slippery un-barricaded steps was a worry but seeing the famous Machu Picchu from another height and view, it was all worth it.

6th stop : Back to Cusco, Peru

After an adventurous time across Peru’s smaller rural villages it was time to head back to Cusco and roam the city a bit more. Excursing outside the city with the ATV tours showing us Moray, Salt Mines and more.

7th stop: Back to Lima, Peru

Finishing Peru its another round of Lima but this time it was the wealthier Mira Flores, here we did shopping in Larcomar and the Indian markets.

Finale: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Although the bad reputation, I needed to see the paradise destination for myself. In my opinion well worth the visit and what a way to end the trip.

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Its been great Sao Paulo… Next up its Lima, Peru…

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CUSCO

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Rio De Janeiro

The finale of my Brazil and Peru trip.

Type : City, Beach
Best Date : Dec- Mar
Expense Fair
Things to do : Shop, Dine, Adrenaline Sports, Attractions, Beaches, Golf, ect
Points of interests : Christ the redeemer, Copacabana, Maracanã, Sugarloaf, Ipanema and many more
The Good:
Beautiful beaches and attractions, so much to see and do
The Bad:
Huge reputation of being dangerous

Brief

Rio De Janeiro (or Rio) is a beach city South East of Brazil, it is the second most populous in Brazil behind Sao Paulo. It was the first entry point for the Portuguese explorers which was then fortified in order to keep other nations out. The city’s name means river after the explorer Gaspar de Lemos mistakenly thought Guanabara bay was a mouth for a huge river. Interesting facts are that Rio is home to the biggest annual carnival, 8th largest library and urban forest in the world.

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The Place

Rio De Janeiro (Rio) is an interesting place for tourism as there is so much to do and places to visit. However the reputation of its crime rate always shadows what the city can actually brings.

There are so many different places to visit in Rio from its wonderful beaches to its colourful vibrant towns and districts. Rich in both history and modern culture the city has plenty of museums, stadiums, monuments and events to show the world.

Beaches

First lets start off with Rio de Janeiro’s beaches, one of the popular places to go in Rio and the reason for many visitors in the city each year.

Firstly the most famous of the Beaches is Copacabana beach known everywhere around the world. Situated in the south zone (zona sul) this 4km stretch is home to many beach sports such as volleyball, beach football and many more. Throughout Copacabana there is plenty of  bar stands, restaurants and cafes to unwind and relax.

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Next to Copacabana is Leme beach which is the small shore in between ‘Leme Hill’ and ‘Princess Isabel Avenue’. This beach is near to the ‘Forte du Caxias’ with views of the famous ‘Sugarloaf’ mountain.

Ipanema beach which mimics that of Copacabana but is known to be more expensive. Bordering Ipanema is Arpoador beach which is well known for its surfing as the best tides are here.

Other beaches in Rio are Barra beach which is furthest away and the place where most of the Olympic sports were hosted. Sao Conrado is where I stayed, was quiet compared to the other beaches in Rio, this beach is also the landing point for hang gliders. Lastly Leblon which is as small as Leme is said to be the most expensive of all the beaches. Luxury restaurants and hotels reside here.

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All beaches has lovely mosaic walkways and a bike path parallel to it. They were secure with security but all tourists were always advised not to go out to the beaches at night.

Districts and Neighbourhoods

There is so many different districts and neighbourhoods in Rio De Janeiro, all with different stature, culture and interests. In my time in Rio I can say I have visited many of the places but I definitely didn’t do all, some were too dangerous to roam without anybody, other just didn’t have anything to interest me and a few I missed simply because I didn’t have time. These are a few places I found interesting to visit.

First district to visit is Botafago which is known for its middle class colonial homes, museums, theatres and booming nightlife. Botafago has plenty of commercial districts and is safe to visit. The district is also near Urca, home to the sugarloaf mountain.

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Next to Botafago is Flamengo which is more residential than its commercial neighbours. The district has one of the best views of Guanabara bay, it also has many churches and museums. Flamengo Park is one I was most impressed with which was known to be improved by its Olympic fund. The ‘Museum of Modern Art’ also resides here.

Centro is the financial heart of Rio de Janeiro and is home to some of the most notable points of interest in the city. Firstly  the Carioca Aqueduct  which was built to bring water to the city in the 18th century. Its structure still stands today and has been modified as a bridge for the local tram. Another place is Cinelandia which was a street full of theatres and cinemas however has been revamped to modernise with plenty bars and restaurants (only a single cinema still stands) this place is also a popular meeting point for the locals. Museums are plenty in this district with ‘Museum of tomorrow’, ‘Rio Art Museum’ and the ‘National Library of Brazil’ (biggest library in latin America) being just some of the  places to go in Centro. In my opinion Centro is the place to go if you are looking for a more cultural aspect of Rio.

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Lastly Rochina which is known to be home to Rio’s largest favela. It is not advisable to visit the favelas on your own but there are plenty of different tours which will have access to these districts.

Points of Interest

I did most of Rio’s attractions with a day city tour and our first stop was ‘Sugarloaf Mountain’ which in my opinion is one of the city’s main attraction. The peak of Sugarloaf is reached using 2 sets of cable carts first ascending to ‘Urca hill’ then the other reaching Sugarloaf. This attraction is incredible as it has a 360 degrees view of the whole city and beyond. There are restaurants and cafes at the top so relaxing here is popular for tourists and locals a like.

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Christ the Redeemer is probably Rio’s most notable monument. Standing above the ‘Corcovado Mountain’ surrounded by the ‘Tijuca Forest National Park’, this monument is one of the new seven world wonders of the world. The statue itself stands at just under 40 meters tall, stretches 28 meters wide and underneath the statue is a small chapel. The monument is reached by 2 ways, a van transportation or tram, both ways I believe are equally priced. The Christ the redeemer monument for me was amazing, the views of the city were marvellous, however luck is required as the majority of the times clouds can cover the view. At the peak there are huge crowds so the perfect pictures may also be limited.

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Next is the Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selaron) which was made famous by several music videos, most notable from Pharrell and Snoop Dog’s Beautiful. Located in Santa Teresa this was just a plain set of stairs until a Chilean resident fell in love with his district and decided to decorate it. He took tiles from several different countries and made huge mosaic artwork which we can now see made his neighbourhood famous. Again this street is booming with tourists so it is pretty difficult to get the perfect picture you might see others have.

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The Maracanã Stadium is known around the world being the host stadium of the first world cup since the world wars in 1950. Although known as Maracanã Stadium, its real name is Mario Filho stadium named after a journalist who was a strong vocal supporter of building the stadium. This building has huge significance in the city historically and at present as it plays all the games of Rio’s top clubs Flamengo, Botafago, Vasco de Gama and Fluminese. In a country which is crazy for football you can imagine how special this building is.

Other notable go to places which I have missed out are the Botanical Garden which is the largest in the world, Sambodromo which is the location of the annual carnival event and plenty more.

Conclusion

My Rio de Janeiro visit was an enlightenment, with all its bad reputation it was good to experience the city for myself. Ive experience some good and some bad, the worst thing ive noticed was that the whole city was in one big hustle with a lot (but not all) of people played for that extra cash, from taxi drivers, airport staff, hotel staff and restaurant staff, tapping fares, asking for tip or selling extras was a usual in the city. The other negatives of the city is its petty crime, yes there are a lot of homeless about, drugs being sold, pick pockets and so much more. However this is not something that should deter a visit to the city, all you need is that extra precaution and vigilance. Don’t go out at night, listen to the locals, don’t wear valuable and hide your electronics are just some of the things to stay safe. Another negative is the chance of heavy rain, like my first day the rain flooded most parts of the city and it was like night time all day as dark cloud cover the skies, when it rains heavy in Brazil the whole day is wasted.

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For me the city has much more positives than it has negatives, firstly the sheer number of things to see and do makes Rio De Janeiro beat other holiday destinations easily. The fact you can relax on the beach, party at night, visit awesome attractions and do extreme activities such as surf, hang glide, scuba all in one city is not something many cities can offer. The scenery of Rio was also beautiful there was just 360 degrees of pure beauty including the favelas. I haven’t been to all of the places possible but from my short stay i can honestly say the city is well worth the visit, a 3-7 day duration is ok. Rio is a tropical paradise and I hope this is the side people see when visiting the city.

Reference

www.rio.com
https://www.momondo.co.uk/inspiration/facts-about-rio-de-janeiro/

 

 

Preparations for Machu Picchu

To visit Machu Picchu I believe careful planning is required as it is not as straight forward as visiting the likes of the Coliseum and Eifel tower. Remember the site is in a undeveloped rural area so various transports and hotels would be needed and you would require to plan a base city to travel from.

There are a few things you’ve got to consider before travelling to Machu Picchu, aspects such as weather, altitude, food, tickets, transport and many moreUntitled

Tickets- Before travelling to Machu Picchu it is advisable to pre-book your tickets as there are long queues and there is a restriction of the number of people they allow in the site. Furthermore if you wish to enter Huayna Picchu there is a limit of 400 people a day, 200 in the morning (07:00-11:00) and 200 in the afternoon (11:00-14:00) so reserving your ticket as soon as possible is highly advisable

Remember to print your tickets- Firstly you have to keep in mind Machu Picchu is a rural mountainous area and because of this there is little to no Wi-Fi or electronics so be sure to print your paper tickets and fully charge all your gadgets for your personal use.

Plan your hotel and transports- Remember the site is in a undeveloped rural area so various transports and hotels would be needed and you would require to plan a base city to travel from. Cusco city may be too far and complicated to travel from on the day (especially for tight schedules), so I believe either Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes to be a more desirable stay for ease of commute to Machu Picchu.

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Bring food and drinks- Machu Picchu is a whole days visit with long walks and tiring climbs so food and drinks are important. There is lots of restaurants at Aguas Calientes village however at the Machu Picchu site there is nothing for sale. I highly advise for each person to bring a big bottle of water and some nibbles as there is a lot of walking and it can get very hot at times.

Bring Cash and Passport- Another advice is to have plenty of cash as only a few establishments take credit card. Passports are also used for entrance to the site so it is equally as important to remember.

Prepare for Altitude- As Machu Picchu is 2,500 metres high, the air is thinner and oxygen less that normal, this could result in sickness and headaches. To prevent this I advise to climatise in one of the towns/ villages nearby first before going straight to Machu Picchu. However I also advise to be prepared bring Coca leaves to chew and for a tea, go to the pharmacy and ask for altitude sickness tablets.

Know the climate-  Lastly before travelling one of the most important fundamental to keep in mind is the climate. You have to remember that although Peru is known to be a hot dry country, Machu Picchu can be the opposite. As the site rises above the clouds you can imagine it being wet and sometimes cold so bringing a jacket and rain coat is advisable. Although the attire you bring should be good for both the climate but also for the activity ahead as there is plenty of walking and climbing.

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After taking these on-board then all you need to do is relax and enjoy the famous mountain attraction.

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