Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kithira

The Island of Aphroditi as they call it...



Then again according to the cab drivers, every island is the island of love. Although, this is where I had met my boyfriend... so I guess, it possibly could be.


Now it doesn't matter where you stay in Kithira because you will need a car regardless. You can book them at the airport if you fly, which costs about 50 Euros and is about a half hour, or you take the cheaper option which is the boat...about 20 Euros and a 7 hour boat trip. I usually go on the boat, you tend to meet interesting people there if you are able to make conversation with them. 


The beaches you NEED to visit include:
Diakofti
Kaladi
Avlemonas
Chalkos and
Lykodimou.
These are the prettiest beaches on the island in my opinion. Agia Pelagia is okay, there is a beach near by which won the blue flag (clearest waters in 27 islands from memory) and that has a little bar too. Diakofti has "Mina's" which is cool, they have really nice sweets and are good people, and Avlemonas in my opinion is just over priced (except for the souvlaki store)... though the water is beautiful.




In regards to food, I'd definitely head down to Maria's - It's a seafood restaurant. It doesn't look the best, actually it doesn't look good but it's the freshest seafood on the Island. Now, people may try to deter you from going there but I guarantee you - it's worth it. It's also the cheapest seafood on the Island. Agia Pelagia has the ultimate loukoumades. They are absolutely divine, and Maria (it's a popular name in Greece clearly) has amazing sweets in xora which is the town.


The shopping is also in Xora, but there is really only one worth while store there - It's close to the book store where the courtyard is. A nice cafe with awesome Ice-cream is Fos Fanari in Xora. Lastly, the crepes in Kithira are the best I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering as I.. type. Nutella crepe with cookies is all you need to order, at Bannilia cafe in Kapsali (where all the bars are - the whole two of them!).


Okay enough about my homeland... Off to the other Islands.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Athens

Athens is a beautiful city if you know where to go.


First place NOT to go is Omonia. I cannot guarantee that you will get out alive... Hence why the hotels are so cheap there! But, if you want to book there, good luck on your journey. Let me know how it goes for you.


Other then that, Pireaus is a bit iffy. Parts of Pireaus are quite expensive and pretty, other sides are not. I think its just safer to stay closer to the Plaka (away from the Omonia side)... or if you are looking to splurge a bit - hit up Glyfada, Kolonaki, or where I stayed at my Aunts (the ultimate money saver) in Chalandri. I also stayed in Argiroupoli with the boyfriend which was very pretty! (It's south so it isn't too far from Glyfada). Chalandri is great because its just a five minute walk away from the shopping streets, cafĂ©'s and restaurants. 


You have to try the waffles here - now they are no Max Brenna, but they come pretty close! (Don't tell my boyfriend. I denied the whole thing). Get cookies. Especially in crepes with Nutella. They also have white chocolate Nutella. I miss Athens. Mostly for the glyka (sweets). The spanakopita... and most of all... THE 70% OFF DESIGNER ITEMS. This will never happen in Australia. Definitely hit up Carouzos in Glyfada, they have amazing shoes. The other place, I cannot remember the name. But if you do go, its close by, it's on the corner and it starts with K. Its mainly shoes and downstairs... BAGS. Lots and lots of bags! 


Obviously the other places to go to are:
The Acropolis
The Acropolis Museum (which is fantastic. Girls a word of warning - Do not.. Repeat.. Do not wear a skirt! The ground is glass... and people literally look up your skirts because you are on the second floor!)
The Plaka needs to be seen as does Ermou, another shopping street, and if you have time, I hear Kifissia is pretty but I haven't been there I must admit!


Kalhnyxta pedia!

Nice

Pretty little Nice,


The French Riviera - can you ask for more? Not really!


Now, there isn't too much to do in Nice - its more relaxing then anything. Chloe a great friend of mine (mentioned in Monte Carlo) had also accompanied us here. We also squidged her into the Mecure, as the receptionists were quite pleasant. 


Other then going to the beach which is very pretty, you need to eat in Nice!... In the 'Old Town'. It was the best food I had other then the steak in Paris. It was very flavoursome, and not too heavy on the stomach! Do not eat where the markets are though as they tend to over charge for the lack of taste in their food. Walk about five minutes away from the main area and yo will stumble upon beautiful restaurants with an abundance of unique influences. 


The patisserie's are also exquisite. The crunchy pastry with the sweet and soft creamyness on the inside (yes - I do realise creamyness is not a word). It's a nice break from the rush of everything. So in Monte Carlo and Nice I was not with my Contiki crew, so I had a nice relaxing time. At night, I suggest you roam the streets and have a squiz as the fountains and the statue men high up in the sky near the centre of Nice as they light up in different colours. It is quite pretty! 


There is also pretty good shopping here in Nice, mainly in the city centre. There is a variety of expensive and high street brands, so there is a good mix. You will without a doubt find something unique here and never stop wearing it!


Other places to visit include:

  1. Matisse museum
  2. Le Chateau
  3. The Russian Cathedral
  4. The Nice Port - Where the clubbing is great!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Monte Carlo



Word of advice... DONT forget your ID at your hotel when you get dressed to go to The Casino de Monte-Carlo! Walking back to your hotel in high heels whilst everyone is enjoying their time in the casino is a bit of a drag. Regardless of that it is absolutely beautiful place due to the stunning water fountains and the perfect GRASS! I have never seen grass so perfect!


The shopping here is ridiculously expensive so unfortunately I am unable to comment on where to go after seeing an endless sea of top notch brands, so instead I focused on the food. Again the stalls with the nutella crepe's became my ultimate best friends whilst walking around the 'port'. The reason for the inverted commas is mainly because its not your average port. The boats are more yachts and are actually divine to see. I had spoken to a lady working on one who ended up being Australian! She loved it and said it was a great way to travel the world and nearly talked me into getting a job on one of them - even though I get sea sick!


There is a pub located at the end of the port, (when you look at it and the water is on your left side) that has really nice steaks called Brasserie De Monaco. If you like rare steak - I'm sorry to tell you but French are the only people who know how to cook a rare steak! Believe me! So take this into consideration when ordering. They also offered raspberry beer which was pretty nice considering I'm not beer's number one fan. It was also completely packed and we had to wait to get a table but I assume that is because of the World Cup (football - or soccer) finals.


Also, we stayed at the Novotel and squished in a friend of ours that we met up with - and although it's not what I would call cheap, it's one of the cheapest I found  in Monte Carlo averaging about 100 Aussie Dollars per person. Hence why we stayed only one night.


Next Stop Nice.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Rome - Venice - Florence

Venetia! 


They say that the best thing to do is to get lost in Venice. I will always agree with that saying. You find beautiful little boutiques that sell Venetian masks (clearly a given) but they are unique. I don’t suggest that you buy the cheaper ones in the Piazza mainly because they don’t look as beautiful. The price of these are not cheap – averaging around 40 Euros per mask, but they are great quality and have an immense amount of colour. The red and green one below was about 40 euros where as the gold and black one was about 90-100 Euros. 

It all depends on the budget – they also have a cheaper range but are not as extravagant. The architecture of Venice is just breathtaking (sort of like the Austrian Alps) and is best seen during a "romantic" gondola ride – if that rocks your boat. Depending on the ‘rower’ it can be romantic as they do sing – but in my experience, he just tried to get us girls to sing for him, whilst chatting on the mobile and ordering a vitamin water from a shop nearby. Regardless, not only is the jewellery shopping intense (and expensive!) but so is the view. The Novotel is actually located in Venice right on the water and is probably the best price you will find for a decent hotel seeing as all the hotels in Venice like to charge a large amount. Other than that, you can stay in Rome and get a boat in the morning to reach Venice and then again in the evening to return to your hotel. (Just in case you aren't the "getting lost" type - Streetwise Venice Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of Venice, Italy)


Florence 

Well make sure you have a lot of time on your hands if you actually want to see Florence. The abundance of museums and art galleries make it hard to just choose one of each, so plan to spend 2 full days in Florence otherwise the closest you will get to the David is a post card...Like me! Ben and Jerry’s is always a nice, refreshing feed when spending hours in the sun waiting for entry to the galleries as is a beautiful crepe with Nutela and cookies! Warning – If you like Nutela you will get addicted to this in Europe!




Roma.. 



A culturally diverse environment where the rich and poor live together in order to create a fabulous (but not so helpful) city. If you are a food buff my advice is to go to the restaurants about a 5-10 minute walk away from the main tourist sites because it is cheaper and better quality. I feel as though I am pretty experienced in writing about Rome as I have been there a few times and is one of my top 3 cities! Although the people are not friendly at all, the history of the city is beautiful and is seen everywhere. The fashion labels in Via Condotti– well need I say more. Prada. Louis Vuitton. Chanel. It’s just a dream. I stayed at the hotel Regno on Via Del Corso – great location and great hotel as well. It’s not really a budget hotel – just an average one but pretty good location. I suggest you splurge some money on this one! Obviously the main sites are the Colosseum and Forum- including the Palentine Hill, Circus Maximus, The Vatican, The Spanish steps (don't expect anything beautiful - they are JUST steps!), Capuchin Monks, San Giovani Basilica, Mouth of Truth and the Aventine Hill which has the best view of St Peter's Dome. 

Germany and Austria

Austria
The Austrian Alps made me speechless! For the first time in my life. Most of the Contiki crew went white water rafting - but I'm not a complete psychopath! (Just a tad scared of water sports). But, whilst they were doing their extreme sport, I took a stroll around and took in the amazing view. Apparently, you can also go quite high without having to properly climb the Alps (with a machine) - so that would be pretty awesome as well.

Other then that, if you are a shopper (which I am assuming you are if you have read this far into my blog), you should make your way to the Swarovski factory! They have these crazy, trippy rooms that you would love, but also the jewellery is well.. half price. Just make sure you keep the receipt because if the stones fall out, you need to prove that its Swarovski to be able to get them replaced (anywhere around the world). 

Next Stop - Munich!
I would suggest a three hour bike trip around Munich as it does the trick. If you hire bikes from Mike's Bike Tours, they can show you around too (of course at extra cost). But you will see everything of importance which is great! 

Other then the normal site seeing, there is no doubt that you need to go to a German beer hall. They are hilarious and quite some fun! The food is great - nice and juicy meat, and the guests will skull beer and cheer eachother on... WITHOUT VIOLENCE. Different to Sydney isn't it! 

Now, in regards to clubbing - the best place to go to is Pacha. We have all heard about this in Sydney, but the best place in Munich is Pacha! Definitely dress to impress!

...bis wir uns wiedersehen...

Amsterdam

Amazing little Amsterdam.

Well my first point to make here is that it was so clean it was crazy! Pointer - make note of the bike path! As I had rushed from London to Amsterdam (as we missed the Contiki bus), I didn't have enough time to have a look at the footpath and was nearly crashed into by a bike!

Other then that though it is amazing. The red light district (although a little out there) was a ridiculous amount of fun. There are all types of shows available t watch ranging from the rating X to XX or even XXX. There are also a lot of bars which I am sure I don't need to blog about - let your imagination run! (it is one of the things that Amsterdam is known for in our generation).

It's just fascinating because I do not originate from a culture which is at all remotely like this! In saying that, it is definitely something you need to see, and as my Contiki tour guide had told us "just because it's different, doesn't mean its wrong". This definitely applies to Amsterdam.

Now apart from the crazy night-life, there is also some beautiful places you need to see! The top places I suggest you should see or do are:

  1. Travel the Canal on a boat
  2. Go to the Heineken factory
  3. Go see a peep show (as random as that is!)
  4. Go to the Anne frank museum and house
  5. Visit the Van Gough museum! ( I cannot stress this enough! Especially if you are an art lover!)
  6. And of course - go to the " I AMSTERDAM" attraction... seen below


Now my last tip is, when rushing to book your ticket - please CHECK THE DATE! You can access one great website here, just make sure the date is correct - as I had to buy TWO tickets to Amsterdam!