5 best things to do in Madeira

View from Restaurant São Cristóvão, Boaventura

Although it is part of Portugal, the island of Madeira is closer to mainland Africa than it is to Europe. Only 500km away from the Canary Islands and a three-hours flight from Paris, this stunning island is often compared to Hawaii due to its volcanic landscapes. If you are looking for adventure, botanical wonders and dramatic coastlines this is the right place for you.

In this post I have highlighted five reasons to visit Madeira, a destination that offers a glorious climate, a stunning natural scenary and challenging mountain hikings.

Let’s discover together the best things to do in this subtropical island!

1. Ponta delgada and São Vicente

Located in the north coast of Madeira, Ponta Delgada and São Vicente are small villages which economy is based on agriculture, services and tourism. The main attractions in this area are the dramatic “São Vicente Caves” and the festival “Arraial do Bom Jesus”

São Vicente Caves

Formed 890.000 years ago from a volcanic eruption in Paul da Serra, they were first reported by the English naturalist James Yate Johnson in 1885. These are among the first caves of volcanic origin to be opened to the public in Portugal (1st October 1996) and may be visited by following an underground route over 1,000 meters long.

At the end of the tour, visitors are welcome to access the Volcano Center, a pavilion where to discover more about the birth of Madeira and the evolution of the caves among the years.

Arraial do Bom Jesus

If you go to Ponta Delgada in September make sure you see this festival. It takes place the first weekend of the month and it is one of the biggest on the island. Pilgrims come from all over Madeira in a desmonstration of faith to devote the Imaculado Coração de Maria.

The rest of the year, Ponta Delgada is a quite rural area which activity is based on agriculture and some tourism. There you can find a few hotels and high quality local restaurants. Surounded by stunning cliffs and located close to the mountain, this part of the island is ideal if you want to enjoy wild nature.

2. Porto Moniz

Still in the north of Madeira we can find Porto Moniz.

This area is known due to its three natural swimming pools filles with salt water and its black sand beach. This unique pools are formed by natural volcanic rock structures which allow cool, fresh sea water to enter, offering a refreshing experience to visitors. Enter in this pools will cost you only 1 or 2€ per day.

Personal tip: Use some water shoes and a mask to have a better experience

3. Ponta do sol

Situated on the south coast of the island, Ponta do Sol is more turistic than the above mentioned places.

Although the economic activity is based on the primary sector, mostly on the production of sugar cane, bananas and floriculture, Ponta do sol is considered the sunniest point of the island, which is an attraction for both locals and foreigners. Here you can enjoy a cute pebble beach and amazing sunsets.

In case you´d rather enjoy the mountain than the beach, there is another stunning attraction in this municipality: Paul da Serra, the only plateau on the island of Madeira with an altitude of 1,500 meters, from where you can enjoy the stunning views surrounded by indigenous vegetation.

4. Levadas 

Walking along the levadas is one of the main tourist attractions of Madeira. But do you know the origin of this paths?

Levadas are channels of water with a slope originally created to transport the water from the north to the south of the island, where the climate is drier and the population higher. The origin of these paths dates back to the 15th century, when the levadas were created as a way to irrigate sugar and vineyard plantations.

Nowadays, the levadas are an extraordinary way to discover the magnificient nature of the island.

In this post I want to share with you two of my favourite levadas:

Levada das 25 Fontes

This is one of the most popular levadas in Madeira. Its name comes from the number of little waterfalls that you can find once you arrive there. The path is stunning and it allows visitors to admire a wide variety of flora and fauna.

To walk along the 25 Fontes levada I recommend you to wear comfortable mountain shoes and clothes. The climate in this mountain is really damp and warm, therefore do not forget to bring some shorts and something to drink.

It took us around 4 hours to finish the whole path. Would you also like to enjoy this magic place?

Vereda de Ponta de São Lourenço

This mini levada is situated on the very east point of the island. Unlike the “Levada das 25 Fontes”, São Lourenço’s climate is windy and semi-arid, which explains the lack of trees and the low vegetation that you will find along the path.

Walking along this levada you will enjoy stunning rock formations, resulting of the volcanic origin of the island. Take your time to appreciate all details!

After a few kilometers you can find the Sardinha house. If you are wondering why someone would like to live in the middle of a levada, let me tell you that São Lourenço is part of Madeira’s natural park. Therefore, the Sardinha house is the base for a group of people, who work for the park and who are responsible for watching over the area and its species.

Since this part of the island can be very warm and sunny, I recommend you to walk this levada early in the morning. It took us around 3 hours to reach Ponta de São Lourenço and come back.

If you are interested in more Levadas take a look at this page, where you can find more than 50 walks, safety information, points of interest and more!

5. Funchal

The capital of Madeira is located in the south coast of the main island. The majority of the population of this volcanic island live in dramatic Funchal, with abundant plant life, colourful gardens and an eternal spring climate.

There are lots of things to do in Funchal, many of which are free. From cable cars to colonial architecture, this city is a fantastic holiday destination.

Lets explore some of the best things to do in Funchal:

Funchal city

Old town Funchal is relatively flat and easy to explore by foot.  Here are some of the highlights of Funchal that we discovered during our trip:

Santa Maria

In 2010 the project “Arte Portas Abertas” breathed new life into the historical center of the city by turning old, disused doors into works of art. Rua Santa Maria is the best place to enjoy the creativity of local artists.

Funchal Market

Fruit, fresh fish, vegetables, flowers and souvenirs are beautifully displayed in Funchal’s “Mercado dos Lavradores”.

 

 

 

Santa Clara convent

Built in the 16th century, by order of the second captain-major of Funchal, this convent is a valuable heritage for its furnishings. Nowadays, this unique place is still the house of Franciscan Sisters, who kindly open their doors for those ready to admire the stunning Amarante Chapel and the courtyard.

Opening hours:

Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm & 15:00 pm – 17:00 pm

Cable car

Ready to enjoy magnificent panoramic views from Funchal?

The cable car is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. It takes you from the old part of Funchal to Monte in around 15 minutes. As you go up the environment evolve and the urbane mesh is substituted by green slopes and flowery hills, with the city and the sea in the background. A stunning experience not suitable for those suffering from vertigo (although one of my companions suffers from vertigo and he took the cable car without hesitation. Yes, he couldn´t move a muscle during 15 minutes 😉 therefore, he took great photos 🙂 ).

Opening hours:

Monday to Sunday: 09:00 am – 17:45 pm

Wicker toboggan ride 

Once you reach Monte you will find a very special type of transport: the Wicker Toboggans, which is a unique experience not to be missed 😉

The “carros de cestos” are produced with wicker and wood. Traditionally, they have two seats and are driven by two men called “Carreiros”, who are dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The downhill journey is made in about 10 minutes (around 2 kilometers at a speed of 48km/hour) of pure adrenaline. Ready to try it?

Madeira botanical garden

One of the most beautiful, colorful gardens in the island is Madeira botanical garden. Built in 1881 this part of the city was created by the Reid family as a private park. Luckily, this 80,000m² park is now open for everybody ready to enjoy its fascinating collection of a wide variety of plants.

Opening hours: 

Monday to Saturday: 09.00 am -18.00 pm (last admission at 17.30)

Madeira typical food

Espetada

Espetada is made with meat cubes – it can be chicken, beef or pork – in a laurel skewer and grilled on wood. To accompany the dish, locals suggest “Milho Frito” (fried maize).

If you want to try the best espetadas of the island, I highly recommend you the local restaurant São Cristóvão in Boaventura, north of Madeira. Try them while enjoying a stunning view of the blue ocean and the magnificent Madeira’s cliffs.

 

Scabbard Filet

Espada“, or black scabbard fish, is the most typical fish of Madeira. This kind of fish swims in deep waters and has a fearsome appearance, at least before cooked. However, it is really tasty, mostly when they prepare it with some fruit sauce.

Picadinho

Another traditional recipe of Madeira.

Prepared with beef cut into small cubes, fried and seasoned with garlic, “Picadinho” is always a good option if you want to try some local food.

Octopus

Tropical fruits

Bolo do caco

A typical bread made from wheat flour. Its name is due to the way it was traditionally cooked: on a basalt stone called “caco“.

It can be consumed hot as a meal entree, with garlic butter spread to melt, or as a main dish.

 

Your turn

The island of eternal spring, the “Hawaii of Europe”, the blossom island…

Madeira is a stunning place full of exotic plants, tropical fruits, steep cliff edges and beautiful waterfalls.

Have you ever been to Madeira? Is there any other hidden gem in this island you would like to recommend us?

In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via any social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.
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How to experience the best of Paris like a local

 

While travelling around the globe, understanding local’s customs and way of life is important to feeling like you are connecting with the local culture and community. Paris is a place with deep-rooted traditions and is a city that offers a wide variety of possibilities for both locals and tourists. In 2018 around 40 million people visited Paris area, hitting a new record.

Recently, I asked in IG if you guys wanted to discover what do locals in Paris do. Due to the positive reactions I asked a raised and born Parisian boy to help me writing this post. Loic is a young engineer who is about to show you 10 iconic sights, secret spots and locations you should visit to experience the best of Paris like a local.

1. La butte aux cailles

A hilltop neighbourhood of Paris which was once home to countless windmills and many vineyards.

“It small streets and cozy bars contrast with the noisy, busy areas os Paris” says Loic. “This “oasis” is like a small village inside the city. A haven of peace for those who are looking to experience the real Paris.”

This historically working-class district has become the favourite area for hipsters and artist, providing him with a special charm free of international fashion stores and full of street art.

2. La rue Crémieux

At one time this little cobble street was a “secret place” few people knew about.

This is a colourful residential area which receives its name due to Adolphe Crémieux, a lawyer who defended the human rights of the Jewish people in France. Amid the colourful façades you feel more in Portobello than in Paris. That is the reason why this street is so special” he smiles “However, it is Instagram which is making this street famous”.

He is right, IG is becoming this part of the city the most Instagrammable one irritating its residents. So please, take this into account when you visit this street and avoid being laud and noisy 😉

3. Le parc des Buttes-Chaumont before chilling next to Canal de l’Ourcq

“A green, peaceful oasis in the northeast of Paris. From this park I suggest you to walk until “Canal de L’Ourcq” where you can enjoy a nice aperó at sunset”.

To better understand this park, I would like to share some facts with you.

Before “Le parc des Butter-Chaumont” was opened by Napoleon III, in 1867, it had a sinister reputation. Until 1760, the bodies of hanged criminals were left in this area after their executions. Nowadays, this pleasant spot in the middle of the city has 2.2km of paths, a lake, a suspension bridge and a temple called “Temple de la Sibylle”, a miniature version of the famous ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli. A nice place to go for a casual stroll under the sun.

4. Le pavillon de l’Arsenal

A center for information, documentation and exhibition of the urban planning and architecture of Paris.

“Here you can better understand the evolution of the city of Paris throughout its architecture. You can also enjoy their regular temporal exhibitions about new architectural and urban projects. And, it is for free!“.

5. Restaurant “Au dernier metro”

Close to the Eiffel Tower there is a lively, welcoming restaurant where Parisians like to spend some time gathering with friends and relatives while enjoying a nice meal.

“It is an authentic Parisian restaurant. It is located in front of the metro. Here you can meet locals and enjoy a nice beer. My suggestion is to order a “planche de charcuterie” (a plate of cold meats & cheese) and a glass of good french wine”.

6. Have a crepe in “Le petit Josselin” next to Tour Montparnasse

“A small, cozy crêperie with tasty crêpes and galettes. It is located nearby the “Tour Montparnasse”. In fact, my recommendation is to first visit the top of the building Montparnasse and then to come downstairs and to enjoy a delicious “crêpe caramel au beurre salé” :)”.

7. Bar “À bulles”

Located next to Pigalle is a cozy bar/restaurant which offers a wide variety of tapas and local apéritifs.

“This bar is a hidden gem in the middle of Place Pigalle and the area of Moulin Rouge. They open from Tuesday to Sunday until 2 am in the morning, so you can either go for a drink in the evening or have lunch at midday.”

Find more information in the website: Bar à Bulles

8. Le Marais

“If you like to have brunch on Sunday morning this is your place.”

Le Marais is a historical medieval area of Paris converted into a bobo (bourgeois bohème) quartier full of wine shops, fashionable art galleries, fashion boutiques, trendy stores, restaurants and hotels.

“This area is a unique one. I like to meet my friends and go for a drink on Friday evening or a meal on Sunday morning. At the same time, every time I need to buy some clothes, I always walk around Le Marais and check all the stores. Here you can find everything!“.

9. Les Catacombes

The Catacombes are ossuaries located under the streets of Paris which contain the remains of around six million people. These ossuaries were created to provide the overflowed Parisian cemeteries with a solution.

The entrance to this underground cemetery is located in the Place Denfert-Rochereau, a square known by locals as the place where most demonstrations and protest marches in Paris either start or end.

“The Catacombes are a travel in time. They are a network of underground tunnels that you cannot find in many countries. To visit the Catacombes is a unique opportunity to understand the history of France.”

10. Cine UGC les Gobelins

Have you ever thought about going to the movies in Paris?

“If you ever plan to go to the movies while visiting Paris I highly recommend you to go to Cine UGC. This theater is located at the entrance of Mouffetard street, the party place of the city. So after the movie you can directly go to enjoy a glass of wine and a dance night.”

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Paris? Is there any other hidden gem you would like to recommend us? In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

What to do in Jiufen

If you are staying more than a couple of days in Taipei I highly recommend you to spend some time in Jiufen, a nice traditional taiwanese village located two hours away from Taipei.

Although Jiufen was founded during the Quing Dynasty, it became popular when gold was discovered in the area. The gold industry carried this city industry until the 60´s. From the 90´s onwards, this gold mine town became really popular among tourists.

The name Jiufen (Chiufen – EN: nine pieces) comes from an ancient legend. Regarding this legend, nine families used to live in this town. Since going to the market was a huge inconvenient due to the lack of transportation the nine families came to an agreement; whenever one family went to buy groceries at the market, they would have to divide them into nine pieces, each for each family.

Jiufen Old Street

Located within hills, next to the mountains and facing the ocean, Jiufen Old Street is known for its foggy weather and its beautiful views. The street is full of local snack vendors, traditional products and souvenirs stores.

Among the various snack vendors you can find some Jiufen traditional food such as taro balls, fried meat balls and taro cake. In addition, chinese tea houses are really popular among both locals and tourists.

Instead of having lunch on the street surrounded by locals and thousand of tourists – be careful, Jiufen is so trendy that its old street is usually crowded with people in the noon time, especially on the weekends- we decided to stop in a nice cafeteria with natural juices and beautiful views.

Temples in Jiufen

Jiufen is not only a touristic old street. If you are curious enough, I highly recommend you walk up the main road to the top of the hill.

On the way you will find a first temple – which was full of locals praying and some tourists – and at the top of the hill you will find a second one, – to find this temple you may need to get yourself lost among all the tiny Jiufen non-touristic roads. This is quite an adventure! and locals are so nice…! :). Sadly, I don´t know the name of this second temple, however, I still remember the peaceful, good vibes that we could feel up there. In fact, we were alone in the temple, no locals and no tourists. A heaven of peace!

Another interesting – and really well-known – temple is Fushan Temple. This 200 years old temple is dedicated to Tudigong, the God of Earth, and it is an interesting blend of Japanese, Chinese and Western elements.

How to get to Jiufen?

There are two different possibilities to reach Jiufen from Taipei:

Train to Riufang and then bus to Jiufen From Taipei Main Station – Take a train to Riufang – the views during the trip are really interesting. Once you reach Riufang, leave the train station behind you and go straight, cross the main square and turn left.  After a 5 minutes walk – you can always stop at a local vendor to buy some tasty tea – you will reach the bus stop. Don´t worry, you won´t get lost! All tourists are walking the same direction 😉 There you will find all the information related to the bus and its schedule.

Direct bus to Jiufen – Apparently there is a direct bus from Taipei to Jiufen. At that time we were recommended to take the train, so we could make other stops if we wanted to.

The bus starts at Zhongxiao Taipei Station and it drives you directly to Jiufen Old Street.

Your turn!

Have you ever been to Jiufen?

This ancient gold-miner town is a once in a lifetime must-see place. Although it is becoming too touristic, this place maintain some ancient charm that makes it special.

I highly recommend you to escape the town bustle to climb the hill, to reach the highest temple of Jiufen and to enjoy a moment of peace staring at the sea. It is a good idea to reconnect with yourself and to recharge some energies while contemplating an amazing view.

Enjoy your time at Jiufen and feel free to send me a photo via IG or Twitter. Share this post or comment below if you want to share your experience with us.

 

 

Must-dos on a short trip to Taipei

Our Taiwan trip is coming to an end…

It took us 10 days to visit the west coast of this magnificent island: Kaohsiung, Kenting, Changhua, Taichung… All were great, beautiful places where we had the chance to learn more about local traditions, local culture and local food 😉 Each city had a positive impact on us. What a country! 🙂

Therefore, we couldn’t finish our Taiwan adventure without visiting the capital of the country: Taipei (and some other places nearby… We love to discover!).

Taipei is the most inhabitant city of Taiwan with an estimated population of almost three million people, as well as the most modern city of the country. Here visitors can enjoy fascinating attractions both modern and historical. And while a three-day break is nowhere near enough time to see it all, here you can find some of the “must-dos” on a short trip to Taipei:

Lungshan Temple

Located in Manka district, this temple was founded in 1738 and dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Today, Lungshan Temple is no longer the original building constructed at that time. In fact, many deities of Taoism have been included in the temple structure among years.

The present temple consists of three halls: the fore hall, the main hall and the rear hall. The first one is used as the entrance and the space to worship. The second one, located in the center of the whole complex, is home to a statue of Guan-Yi, the main God of the temple. The third hall was added at the end of the 18th century.

Something that fascinated me about this place was the waterfall located at the right corner of temple´s main entrance. This is known as the Waterfall of Cleaning Your Heart.

Tradition says that when visitors come to the temple, they must first clean their hearts with the spring water. In this way they can clean their minds and dignify their bodies, so that they are in a good position to worship the Buddha and learn the wisdom.

 

Taipei Liberty Square

This magnificent square known as Liberty or Freedom Square, is a massive 240.000 square meter plaza located in the Zhongzhen District.

This place is dedicated to leader Chiang Kai-Shek and it hosts many of Taipei´s public gatherings. In fact, the National Theater and the National Concert Hall are located in this complex and they host over 8000 different events each year.

Bopiliao Old Street

Bopiliao Old Street is located in Wanhua, one of the oldest districts in Taipei. This area has undergone different historical periods during his 200 years of history, starting all the way back in the Ching dynasty period, running through the Japanese occupation to the post World War II period.

Between 2000 and 2009 the government repaired the buildings, built a Culture Center and invited artists to decorate the street. Today, Bopiliao Old Street is full of creative paintings, as well as of stores such as a barbershop, a Chinese medicine store, clock stores and a tea house.

Ximending

This part of the city got its name due to its position outside the west gate of Taipei City. During Japanese times, this was a wilderness area through which there was a road connecting the west gate and Bangka (now called Wanhua). Later, the Japanese decided to set up a business and entertainment area.

One building which perfectly represents this area – as well as one of the oldest buildings in this part of the city – is the Red House Theater, built in 1908. The inside of this building consist of two remodeled floors full of Taiwanese indie, modern art galleries and fashion stores. It is really interesting to take a look around!

Nowadays, Ximending is known as the shopping district of Taipei. In fact, young people like to meet here to enjoy tasty food, have some tea, go shopping or enjoy the last blockbuster at the movies.

What can you find at Ximending?

  1. Tattoo Street – One of the most interesting things you can find in this area is its famous Tattoo Street, where you can get a nice, high quality tattoo.
  2. Penis cakes – Yes, you can find thousand of different flavours
  3. Claw machines – Since I arrived to Taiwan I was impressed because you can find claw machines all around the country (even in some Buddhist temples!!). There are probably dozens of these machines all around Ximending, so you won’t have to look far to find one.
  4. Graffiti Lane – Also called America Street, is full of incredible graffiti-works made by famous Taiwanese graffiti artists.
  5. Nice cocktails – Just behind the Red House, you can find the city’s largest LGBT district, which is a welcome-all environment and Taipei’s best collection of outdoor bar patios.
  6. Tasty Sushi – Have you ever thought about eating sushi from a Conveyor Belt Choo Choo Train? In Taipei it is possible! In fact, if you like sushi this is a nice place to enjoy some fresh row fish.

Memorial Sun Yat Sen

Located in Xinyi Distric you can find a memorial to Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Republic of China.

The hall contains displays of Sun´s accomplishments and today it is a meeting ground for social, cultural and educational activities.

At the main entrance there is a statue of founding father for the public to pay their respect. Outside the main building there is a nice park which includes decorative historical walls and beautiful gardens.

Taipei 101

Probably you have already heard about the tallest building in the world until 2010, year when Burj Khalifa succeeded to the throne. This dramatic building is one of the most photographed spots in the whole Taiwan. We decided to spend one day visiting Taipei 101 and the surroundings, which were built to support the tower´s feng shui and to prevent positive energy to escape.

Although the construction of Taipei 101 started in 1999, it was not until 2004 when it finished. This magnificent, full of symbolism building incorporates a steel pendulum – the largest and heaviest in the world – that sways freely to offset the movement of the building itself. In this way, this enormous pendulum can counteract and help Taipei 101 tower to survive potentially destructive nature forces such as typhoons and earthquakes.

Visitors can see the pendulum once they reach the observation deck. In fact, it has became so popular that it has a mascot 🙂

Some other interesting facts about Taipei 101

  • Height – 508 meters, from which the highest occupied floor is at 438 meters
  • Owner – Taipei Financial Center Corporation. There are many companies based on the tower as well as five floors underground which are home of brand stores and restaurants.
  • Elevator – Inside the tower you can find 61 elevators, which have atmospheric controls to keep passengers´ears from popping. The two fastest elevators (Toshiba Ultra Speed Elevators) inside the building move at a speed of 1.010 meters per min. They are considered one of the fastest elevators in the world since they just need 30 seconds to travel from the ground to the roof.
  • Sundial Tower – This enormous tower is known as the tallest sundial in the world. A circle-shaped park surrounding the building was built to support the tower’s feng shui, as well as to reinforce the sundial effect idea.
  • French Spiderman – French climber Alain Robert climbed Taipei 101 legally on Christmas Day in 2004
  • Tower colours – The tower lights up in different colors depending on the day of the week.
  • Observation decks – Taipei 101 has both indoor and outdoor observation decks. I have been there with people suffering from vertigo, so do not worry if you are one of them. You can do it! 😉
  • New Year´s Eve – Since 2005, Taipei 101 is the place-to-be in New Year´s Eve. Fireworks at Taipei 101 attract thousand of locals and visitors every year.

Elephant mountain

Officially known as the Xiangshan Hiking Trail, the Elephant Mountain is the perfect place to have the most amazing view possible of Taipei 101 – and of Taipei city in general-. This hiking trail is a very straightforward path. The entire trail is 1.4500 meters long and it takes about 1 hour to complete it. If you do not have so much time, or motivation, you should at least reach the top of the mountain to enjoy the view.

From the beginning of the path – it is a climb full of stairs and Taiwan weather can be really hot, so please do not forget to take some water with you – you can make it to the top in about 15-20 minutes if you are in good shape, if not, do not panic! There are plenty of rest stops and seats all around the path.

If you decide to continue on this path, after getting awesome shots of Taipei´s skyline, you will reach a trail down and some facilities.

Traveller hint: I recommend you to do it or early in the morning or in the late evening, to avoid both tourists and hot weather.

Jiufen

Located less than one hour away from Taipei you can find this picturesque city called Jiufen. If you are able to spend more than one day in Taipei, I highly recommend you to spend some time in Jiufen and to get lost in Jiufen Old Street.

Check the post I wrote about what to visit in Jiufen and discover more about this place – and how to reach it from Taipei.

Must do in Taipei

Mango Shaved Ice

There is one great refreshing snack that we should import to Europe 🙂 and that visitors should try – it is traditional from Taipei.

The mango shaved ice is a bowl of shaved ice topped with fresh mango, mango ice-cream and sweet mango sauce. The bowl is huge and I recommend you to share it (unless you are super ultra hungry 😉 ).

Your turn!

Have you ever been to Taipei?

The capital of Taiwan is a city full of contrasts and nice surprises.

Taipei 101 is the main attraction of the city, however, other parts of the city have also some special charm that makes the visitor fall in love with it.

I highly recommend you to spend a couple of days walking around and discovering the different areas of Taipei. You can find really cool traditional galleries and stores hidden among modern buildings!

Enjoy your time at Taipei and feel free to send me a photo via IG or Twitter. Share this post or comment below if you want to share your experience with us.

It was a pleasure to share this adventure with you & to read your opinions via different social networks. Thank you!

 

8 reasons why you should visit Taiwan

 

After 22 hours travel (including three flights with Cathay Pacific – first time with them and I fell in love with the company), a 3 hours sleep night and two films + 3 episodes of Sex and the City, I finally arrived to Taiwan 😊.

Let me confess that this wonderful country was not in my bucket list. In fact I had never thought about visiting it until a good friend of mine moved there. So, I basically took my decision based on a good friendship. What am I trying to say? Well, let’s be honest: I had no clue about what I could expect from Taiwan. I had no idea about the country, its people, its culture…

Now that I am back in occident I can strongly say that Taiwan should also be in your bucket list, in fact, you should consider Taiwan as your next holidays destination.

To understand why I am saying this I want to invite you to visit my blog within the next weeks, when I am going to tell you more about this amazing place and I am also going to give you a lot of tips to prepare your trip.

Today, to start this blog series about this idyllic asian island I would like to share with you the 8 main reasons why you should visit Taiwan.

Are you ready? Then… Let´s go!

1. The people

No words to describe the kindness of Taiwanese people. Even though most of them do not speak English, they are always willing to help you.

Yes! This trip allowed me to improve my chinese skills 😊

2. The wide amount of beautiful temples

Taiwanese are quite religious with many beautiful temples dotted all around the country.

Do not feel a little intrusive when visiting them, locals are extremely welcoming to tourist that do. However, do not forget that temples are sacred buildings where some rules should be followed.

In the coming weekends I will show you some of the most amazing temples in Taiwan.

3. Taipei is home of the 8th biggest building of the world

Taipei 101 (the figure denote the number of floors) was the tallest building in the world until 2010. This is not only a business building, but also a great place for tourists. From its observation deck on the 91st floor the view is dramatic (I will tell you more on a post dedicated to Taipei 😉 )

4. The dramatic landscapes

When Portuguese sailors first saw Taiwan in the 1500s they literally fell in love with the landscape of the island. In fact, the called it “Ilha Formosa” (beautiful island) and the name remained until the arrival of the Ming dynasty.

5. They have a balloon and an earthquake museum

Can you believe it? I was so amazed when I found out about the balloon museum… I couldn´t even imagine the existence of such a museum!

And the earthquake one? Thanks to it I learnt that Taiwan sits on the same earthquake “ring of fire” as Japan and California.

In 1999 Taiwan experienced a magnitude 7.3 earthquake, its worst in recent memory, which killed 2.400 people. Apparently, the museum was created to inform and raise awareness on how to act in case of an earthquake.

I have never heard about this kind of museums. What about you?

6. Taiwanese food is considered one of the best of the world

Ready to try it?

Within the next weeks I will give some hints about where to eat in the different cities that we will visit together 😉

7. The hiking trails

Taiwan offers tourists a wide hiking trails opportunities, from light treks to real climbs. One of the most known places to hike are Taroko National Park and the beautiful Kenting National Park.

8. Their night markets

While the country is pretty lively during the day (let´s say from 10.00 am onwards), it is when the sun goes down when the island of Taiwan really wakes up and becomes alive.

Taiwan is full of night markets where you will find delicious street food, clothes and tech products. If you really want to understand the Taiwanese way of life, you must definitely visit its night markets.

Taiwan Post Series

Ready to visit the country now?

Within the next weeks we will start a trip visiting many different places such as Taichung, Jiufen, Kenting or Taipei on the blog.

Together we will discover more about the taiwanese culture, its history, its food, its people and its traditions. (If we are connected via IG, I am sure that you have already seen some of my taiwanese pictures 😉 )

Our first stop will be the dramatic city of Taichung.

Next week we will discover more about the third largest city of Taiwan and, at the same time, the most traditional one.

Have a nice week and see you soon! 🙂

 

* when I talk about “tourists” you must take into account that Taiwan is not known for being an international holidays destination, so most of the tourists visiting the island are local or chinese ones.

Primosten

 

Primosten

Primosten is ranked as one of the most picturesque small town in the Adriatic due to its remarkable beaches and its old town, which is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a mound. This ancient place is located only 36 km from Krka National Park (if you want to find out more about this remarkable park click here) and 26 km from Sibenik (new post coming soon! ;)), and it is easily accessible by car.

Although the overcast sky threatened storm we remained firm in our half day excursion and we visited some historical sites such as St. Juraj church (located on the highest point of the island and built in 1485) and St. Roko chapel (a valuable cultural monument built in 1680). From my point of view the most amazing spot was the graveyard which encloses the St.Juraj church, from where the visitor can enjoy a striking view of the open sea.

Primosten

During the summer months many festivities take place in Primosten such as folk music evenings and fishing nights, although the most know is the traditional donkey race (the race of these charming animals is an annual tradition which attract thousand of visitors every year). Furthermore, the port of Primosten hosts many sport and recreation activities such as jet-ski, water sports and beach volley.

Primosten
St. Juraj church

Despite the cloudy sky and the shower that welcomed us at the beginning of our trip, the sun started to shine the moment we descended the narrow slopes of the old town. Therefore the moment we reached the sandy beach of Primosten we could contemplate the calm Adriatic sea, enjoy a nice walk around the town wall and choose a nice restaurant to try some local dishes.

Primosten

If you also want to enjoy a good meal and become acquainted with the local gastronomy I recommend you to visit the “Marina” restaurant (more information here). The place is located in front of a small beach and they serve home made regional food (Tip: The mussels were really tasty).

Before leaving Primosten we could not resist to stop at the top of a mountain nearby the national road to capture this beautiful moment

Primosten

Have you ever been to Primosten? What did you like the most? Share your comments! 

 

 

Crete in 5 days (Chapter I)

 

We needed some holidays so we decided to visit Crete; the biggest greek island located in the mediterranean sea at the same distance from the three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe).

We loved it!

Therefore we would like to share our trip experience with you and, furthermore, give you a couple of tips to visit Crete.

Rethymnon

The third most important city of Crete and our first stop. Actually it was a good idea to start our trip in Rethymnon.

This small city is as charming as its people. Walking among its ancient streets we discovered historical remains located close to modern stores and restaurants ready to welcome the tourists. Do not miss the chance to have a walk around the Venetian Fortezza.

Rimondi Fountain

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Venetian Fortezza

Chania

It is the second most important city of Crete and our second stops. Throughout history many different cultures settled in it, leaving their trace in the architecture of the city.

The prettiest part of the city is the old town, surrounded by an ancient wall. Walking among it narrow streets and contemplating its pastel-colored houses we arrived to the port, where we enjoyed a beautiful view.

But walking around the city was not our only plan. We wanted to try the greek food (tzatziki, greek salat, greek yogurt…). That is the reason why we went to some typical greek restaurants:

To Patriko

We have no words! We enjoyed real home made greek food. The food was delicious! The waitress was delightful, she also taught us some greek words! We highly recommend it!

Address: Panou Korounaiou 25, Rethymnon

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Ta chalkina

Charming place located at the end of Chania´s port. Known due to its greek music concerts this restaurant offers a selection of greek dishes. Do not forget to try its champignons! Amazing!

Address:  Akti Tompazi, Chania

(The restaurants were recommended to us by an expat friend with greek family)

After enjoying such a tasty food we would recommend you to relax and have a rest.

What do you like more, beach or mountain?

In Crete you can easily relax yourself in both of them. In the way between Chania and Rethymnon there are some known beaches where to lay down and have a rest.

In Daratsos beach, located in front of our hotel, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets that we have ever seen.

Although we were excited about going to the beach (yes, in Germany we do not have so many of them) we could not resist to get lost among the mountains of Crete. Therefore we rented a car and we travelled from Chania to Paliochora among extraordinary landscapes where we had the opportunity to make some unexpected new friends on our way.

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But that´s another story.

Have you ever been in Crete? Which are you favorite places in Chania? Share them with us!

 

* If you want to know more about Crete follow our “Secrets of Crete” section in Facebook and do not miss our next posts (Crete Part II & Part III)!! Stay stunned!

8 Facts you didn´t know about Germany

Ready to discover new facts about Germany?

1. Germans drink around 120 liters of beer annually per person

2. It is said that the Christmas tree tradition comes from Germany

3. 60% of the most popular videos in YouTube are not allowed in Germany

4. Germany was the first country to introduce the daylight saving time

5. Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and it has more bridges than Venice

6. Fanta was created in Germany due to the difficulties to import Coke syrup into Germany during the World War II

7. Each year 5500 World War II bombs are deactivated in Germany

8. Germans have around 300 bread varieties

 

Which fact surprised you the most?

Crete in 5 days (Chapter III)

Since we came back from Crete we cannot stop thinking about its food, its people, its landscape, our new friends “the goats”, its exotics beaches…

Elafonisi

Finally we found a crystalline water beach!!.

Elafonisi is located in the south-east of the island and we really recommend you to spend one day enjoying this amazing place.

An odd thing about this beach is its sand. If you look at it you will realize that it has a rosy color (although we did our best it is difficult to appreciate it in the picture). Do not miss the chance to enjoy this unique place!

Stavromenos

 

Stavromenos is a touristic place full of apartments and semi-rocky beaches where to enjoy the view and some typical local food.

Here we enjoyed a couple of days. We were just relaxed, we swam in the mediterranean sea and we tried all the regional food and wine that our stomach could assimilate.

Where to eat?

Taverna Eleven is a nice and familiar restaurant located at the beach.

Its menu is narrower as those that you can find in other restaurants because they use local products and fresh fish of the day. We recommend you to try the local wine the serve, tasty! and to enjoy the sunset while having dinner on the terrace.

Heraklion

To finish our trip (and because our flight had some hours delay) we decided to visit Heraklion, a city built 2500 years ago and used as a port city then.

In Heraklion we could find ancient monuments like the Morosini fountain (year 1720) and the actual city hall (date from that time) in the middle of modern streets full of fashion stores.

City hall

After those 5 days we fell in love with his island. We recommend you to discover and to enjoy it! If you want more tips about Crete contact us!! We are really happy to give you some tips!

If you want to know where to sleep in Crete check our facebook, more ideas coming soon! Stay tuned!

 

See you soon Crete!

 

*Check my other posts related to this trip to find out more amazing spots: Crete in 5 days (Part I) & Crete in 5 days (Part II) (Press on the name to discover more)

Crete in 5 days (Chapter II)

Our first idea was to drive to the south part of the island stopping every time we saw an exotic beach through the window of the car. However, the charming mountains of Crete attracted us enough to make us change our plans. Driving among the cretan mountains and stopping in small villages was as nice as visiting famous beaches (or maybe better).

During our trip we stopped by different beaches that we found in our way. We do not even remember the name of them but it was a good way to check the shore of Crete.

We also followed the recommendation of our greek expat friend and we drove to Falasarna (probably you have already heard about it). However, we were a bit disappointed as we were expecting an idyllic beach with crystalline water. (At that time we did not know that we had to wait two more days to find something like that). Although Falasarna did not look as expected, the beach was good enough to have a walk and to drink a coffee in a small restaurant located close to it.

After the coffee we felt ready to continue our trip.

Driving around the mountains was an amazing experience. On our way we found small villages whose inhabitants sold their products on the road (we bought some sweet and tasty honey to one farmer. We recommend you to stop and check what they are selling,all of them are fresh products. So delicious!!).

Mountains in Crete are full with all kind of flowers and vegetation. They have also some kind of microclimate. Up there (at 1600 metres) we experienced all kind of climatological conditions: strong and light rain, sun, fog, warm wind… Furthermore we made some special friends: Goats. As they live free in the mountains we payed attention to stop the car every time they were crossing the road.

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After a couple of hours driving among narrow roads we reached our goal city: Paleochora. This small city is located between the mountain and the sea. Its main characteristic are its colorful houses close to the port.

Where to eat?

At the Epar.Od. Street you will find restaurants which serve tasty greek food. Do not miss the chance to have a nice dinner at the terrace and to enjoy the sunset. 

The restaurant where we had dinner. If you like fish we recommend you the swordfish; really tasty!!!

Our day in Paleochora came to an end after 24 hours. It was time to come back to the north of the island driving back through the dramatic mountains of Crete.

This time we finally found an idyllic beach on our way back. But let´s talk about the end of the trip another day.

 

In the meanwhile you can follow our travel journal in facebook to know more odd facts about Crete.

And you, have you ever been to Falasarna? Did you like it? Did you know anything about Paleochora? Leave your comments!