This is a small Turkey travel guide for everyone visiting this magical destination. This country of tulips and the sultans will make you want to come back again and again! In Turkey you will find a marvel of incalculable cultural and historical value. From Mount Nemrut in the vicinity of Malatya you can see wonderful views of Anatolia and Kurdistan, as well as enjoy its famous stone statues. There is also Mount Ararat further east. It is the highest peak in Turkey with more than 5,000 meters and this is where it is said that Noah's Ark was discovered.

We landed at night and as soon as we got off the plane, we began to see that the Turkish winters are really cold. We wanted to do everything without losing a minute, to try to reach the last public transports that go towards the center. We did not consider choosing another option, like taking a taxi or spending the night at the airport.

The customs procedures were fast. We removed the backpacks, and changed some money to move. We looked for the station inside the big airport, and when we finally reached the metro, we relaxed. Test passed! One hour and two transports later, we arrived at Sultanahmet.

Usually, we try to travel with a reserved hotel for the 1st day of the trip. More than anything because after many hours of flight, it leaves us more relaxed knowing that we have a place to sleep on arrival, without worrying about haggling or going here and there to compare prices. Even more if we arrive at night to a totally new city. This time, we did not have anything.

Only a vague idea of ​​the area where we wanted to stay. It was so late that there was practically no movement in the streets. At that time we still did not know that we will be observing the city in these conditions that is so desolate. The silence and quietness could only occur only at these late hours of the night.

We started walking, with a guide in hand, towards the area of ​​the hostels. We were wrong a couple of times on the way, and there was no one to ask if we were going in the right direction. Added to it the darkness did not allow us to read the name of the streets on our tiny map. So we practically ended up with the head tucked inside the guide. Until at a certain moment, we looked up to see if we were on track.

And there it was. The crush. I saw her, she saw me. There she was, illuminated and lonely, in front of us. Dazzling as it was 400 years ago. So beautiful that I almost felt like crying. We could not think of anything other than contemplating it. In that moment, I think that the Blue Mosque was the most beautiful and perfect we had seen in a long time. We were silent, partly because of the emotion, and partly because the fatigue and the cold did not allow us to say a word.

When we managed to look away from her, Santa Sofia appeared before us, just in front, as if they were watching each other with suspicion, in a competition of egos and vanities. But perhaps because the Blue Mosque was the first one with which we crossed glances, it became our favorite. Even if Hagia Sophia was there, at a step, trying to conquer us. With us there was no case. Love at first sight is like that.

Every time we plan a new destination, I think what it will be like. We imagine ourselves walking through its streets, observing its people, photographing everything. The most interesting part begins when we arrive at the desired place, and we can place a real image, generally quite different from what we had in mind. Neither better nor worse. Different. In those moments, our brain automatically deletes the idealized image (or not) that we had incorporated, to start archiving the true image, also subjective.

After all, there are so many different Buenos Aires, Montevideo or Istanbul, as people who know her. So one day we reset the preconceptions and we face a more western Kuala Lumpur, a less chaotic Bangkok, a more touristy Luang Prabang, a Koh Lipe not so paradisiacal, or a Havana much more beautiful than any modern city can reach. The feeling could be compared to reading a book, and a time later, watching the movie based on it.

Everything we put together in our minds, the faces of the protagonists, the stages, the voices, everything, absolutely everything, is transformed into five minutes, even if the story is the same.

We never imagined Istanbul. We dreamed about hundreds of places, but Istanbul was not among them. If a few months ago I had been told that in the summer we were going to be putting together our backpack to travel to Turkey, I would not have believed it. Maybe that's exactly what made this city (and the country) surpass any expectations. It was all so fast, so improvised, that I did not even have time.

When I wanted to start imagining it, it was already late and we were seeing each other face to face with this city that dazzled us with every step with its beauty. They say that sometimes what we plan least is what best comes out. Perhaps the fact that it was not a destiny thought, helped so that it became a dreamed place to our eyes. Who knows!

When I went through it, the first thing that struck me is that it is much more western than I imagined . Everything could indicate that we are in the downtown area of ​​any other city in the old continent. Its cobbled streets, the architectural style of its houses (many converted nowadays in restaurants and hotels), the way of dressing its people, the means of transport.

And when we are convinced that this city is so beautifully European, there are the calls to prayer from the minarets of the mosques, which come to ruffle our skin by overlapping from different angles of the city. It remind us that Istanbul is also beautifully Asian. A city, two continents. Before the trip I read that Istanbul is the most European city in Asia, and the most Asian in Europe. Will there be a site described in a more cosmopolitan way?

There is no doubt that a city with 13 million inhabitants should be large, but Istanbul seems much more so for the amount of attractions it has to enjoy. It takes several days to acclimate to the rhythm of the city and see at least the places considered essential in the travel guides. We were only here 3 nights because we had a limited time in Turkey and there were other places we wanted to visit. But we would have stayed longer because we loved the city, in addition to the occasional things that we wanted to see.

That is why we can assure you that there is no way to consciously and productively visit the most important places in Istanbul in a couple of days. Unless we only see Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and little else, without dedicating ourselves to strolling, or discovering mosques or less crowded corners. Anyway, everything is said, there are people who visit it in 2 or 3 days and feel that it is enough, and that more time there would not be worth it. That is never our case (we always want to stay longer), But punctually in Istanbul, time flies by (even more so in winter, as the days are very short).

This city impacts you at every step, for asleep or with jet lag you are. Wandering around its corners are much more Europeans than one might imagine, it is hard to realize that one is walking through ancient Constantinople. Yes, Constantinople! So many times we hear it in school history classes, which does not seem real. This city was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. When it was founded back in 600 BC it was called Byzantium, a name that lasted until 330 AD.

Then it was Constantinople, until 1453, time of which we left as a legacy some churches, palaces, cisterns and the famous Hagia Sophia. Then came the period of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, which came to encompass the Middle East, North Africa and much of Eastern Europe. In those days of splendor, they say that through the streets of Istanbul you could hear Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Russian, Arabic, Romanian, French, and English.

The official name of Istanbul was imposed in 1930. Eventually it was declining, until in the 90's it began to resurface, until it became what it is today. For that reason, it is hard to imagine the centuries of history that these streets lived.

Orienting ourselves in the city, in a first glance of the map, and to those who come from cities hundred percent in the form of a grid, seems a bit complicated. However, by walking a bit and incorporating some quick reference sites, we will see that the reading is simpler than it seems.

Istanbul is crossed by the Bosphorus Strait, which not only links the Black Sea with the Sea of ​​Marmara, but also is responsible for separating Europe from Asia. A city in the middle of two continents is not usual. In fact, there are only three bicontinental cities between Europe and Asia. Atyrau in Kazakhstan, Orenburg in Russia, and of course, Istanbul in Turkey. In turn, on the European side the city is again divided into two by the Golden Horn. It basically separates the old town, where the Sultanahmet neighborhood and the bazaar area are located, from the most modern part.

The main tourist attractions, such as Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace, are located in Sultanahmet. It is very close to the bazaar area, where the crowds fill the streets, walking from here to there, buying and selling. From here we walk to the Golden Horn, where the famous Galata Bridge is located, with fishermen at all hours, an even greater crowd, hundreds of seagulls fluttering in search of food. Here we see one of the best views of the city, especially at sunset.

Crossing the bridge we reach the most modern area, Beyoğlu, where the Galata Tower and the Istiklal pedestrian street stand. We walk to the well-known and bland Taksim Square.

As if all this were not enough, being a city surrounded by water that joins two continents, there are ferries that cross the Bosphorus Strait all the time joining both banks. Traveling to the Asian side, that is more local, is another interesting visit.

Leaving aside all the attractions that Istanbul has to offer, there is something that is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable. Walking through its streets and getting lost among its bazaars is an experience for the senses. The view has to be attentive to everything, not to overlook any detail. But if there is a sense that is the protagonist in this city and should stay wide awake is the sense of smell. Istanbul is an incredible mix of aromas.

The environment that surrounds us would not be the same if not for the special character that gives the smell of roasted chestnuts, spices, or even coffee, if we passed the corner of the Egyptian Bazaar. We could feel satisfied and believe that with these two "open" senses we already have more than enough. Well, no. Istanbul would not be the same without the shouts of street vendors trying to get someone to buy their simit (bread roll with sesame), corn or chestnuts.

Or without the calls to prayer that are heard from every corner of the city and that melt in one. Or without the flavor of the typical döner kebabs that they sell in the street stalls. Or without the soft texture of the carpets that our bare feet feel when entering the mosques. It is as if all our senses should be placed in ON mode, to perceive in the best possible way each space and each moment in this historic and beautiful city. It without doubt would not be the same without those small details.

There is a mosque more impressive at each step, some so majestic and others so beautifully simple (and simply beautiful), new aromas to perceive, magical corners and filled with centuries of history to discover. Is three days is a lot? How can three days be sufficient when a life would not reach to discover Istanbul thoroughly?

How can we summarize in three short days a city that took centuries to forge? How to understand in this lapse 1000 years of history? There is no way. Any time is short in Istanbul. Let's look at the glass half full. We will always have an excellent excuse to return.

Day 4

It's time to get up early and a long road to head to Cappadocia. And so, after visiting Istanbul, with 10 hours of night bus, we reached the charming village of Goreme, in Cappadocia. A trip that I recommend to photographers, geologists, and travelers. If you are looking for nightclubs and trendy places you have missed your destination.

We go towards the city of Ankara. To leave Istanbul there are two bridges that go to the Asian side. It takes less than 5 hours to Ankara and most of the journey is by highway. We make a small stop in the great salt lake of Golu. The salt lake of Tuz Golu was perhaps the biggest surprise. I had never heard of it.

I did not even believe that there was such a thing in Turkey. Imagine then my expression transfixed when I found myself in front of a stretch of white that goes beyond the horizon and seems to know no end. It is more salty than the Dead Sea. This lake allows you to walk peacefully on the surface. If it were not for the mild temperatures, we would seem to have ended up in a boundless land in Iceland.

Day 5, 6 and 7

Who has not heard of a fairytale land in the middle of Turkey. That place is the Cappadocia, where one of the most spectacular landscapes of the planet is hidden and where thousands of people live in incredible caves. This place is ideal to get lost and enjoy everything that surrounds us in a relaxed way. Goreme is a valley that hides an endless number of churches and houses excavated in the rock, being a true open-air museum.

Unique tufa formations, have been shaped by weathering over millions of years. They are friable to the point that they allowed the man to derive dwellings inside giving life to rock settlements. At Göreme we really get the feeling of being on another planet, and what excites us the most is the chance to be able to live it! These rock formations, in fact, are still used today and house residences, restaurants, shops and so on.

Staying at the Inn in Göreme was a fabulous experience. Sleeping in fairy chimneys, in addition to being very typical and charming, has a comfort not just: within them the temperature remains constant, and the thermal excursions of the desert climate are not even felt!

They say that living in Cappadocia in a hot air balloon at dawn is an experience that deserves the trip. This I can confirm. A compromise could be to enjoy it at least from below, getting up at 4 in the morning to capture the hot air balloons that rise in flight, drawing a unique scenario. The canyon of the Ihlara valley is another wonder of nature, but that has thrilled me less. The landscape is radically different from the rest of Cappadocia, but it is undoubtedly a pleasant excursion to do. The rift is several km long and we walk through a path that runs along pigeon houses and rock churches on one side, and a relaxing stream on the other.

Since Cappadocia is the object of repeated invasions, since the time of the Hittites the inhabitants began to build underground shelters, later used by the Christians. They were self-sufficient cities in all respects, and, for many months a year, up to 20,000 people lived there! An example? Derinkuyu: in the bowels of the earth. City dating back to at least 2000 BC, but discovered less than 50 years ago!

The city is spread over 85 meters deep with 12 underground floors (8 open to the public, 4 reserved for archaeological and anthropological research). The tunnels in some places are so narrow that you have to walk down, but they come out in relatively spacious areas. At regular intervals there are ample ventilation chimneys that allow an excellent air exchange. These chimneys were the focal point of the system. It was a collective communication route, as well as goods entry and exit channels, were reported outside only as wells, connected directly to the groundwater that flowed under it.

At Selime the Byzantine monks obtained and frescoed incredible rock churches, and they say that George Lucas set the Star Wars (Planet Tatooine) there. It seems to be just a rumor to attract tourists, as the Skywalker home set should be in Tunisia, but Selime really makes the idea and there is no need for this input to visit a place that takes your breath away like this.

The town of Uçhisar is identifiable with its castello. It is a wonderful troglodyte fortress carved into the rock, which represents the highest point of Cappadocia.

Well yes, I think that Turkish cuisine is one of my favorites. Strong pieces experimented here, were the pottery kebab with meat cooked in an earthenware pot, broken at the time of serving. I like the börek, rolls of a particular puff pastry stuffed to taste. For this last specialty we came back for two nights in a row in the restaurant.

Göreme and the other places mentioned above, are clearly touristy. But in any case far from mass tourism and speculation you can enjoy undisturbed a real landscape with tears in your eyes.

From here I get to Mount Nemrut, which stood on the cover of my Routard guide and which seemed to be one of the most beautiful sites in the whole of Turkey. The only way to get there was with an organized tour. So I slipped into the office of one of the countless agencies lined up along the main road of Goreme (all proposed similar excursions) and contracted an acceptable price (about 150 euros, including two nights and meals).

I did halfway with their tour and after Mount Nemrut, I have had to be in Urfa. The group was small and even if it was heterogeneous we immediately got along. And the two very capable guides. That's why I'm not against organized travel, especially small laps within a trip.

Nemrut Dağı in Turkish is pronounced Nemrut Daah. This is why I prefer to call it Mount Nemrut, which is what it means. The quickest way for those arriving from Istanbul is in the areo (up to Adiyaman, from where you can find buses to the site). But I, coming along the winding and dusty streets of Anatolia, suffering the heat and the uncomfortable seats, felt of having earned this goal to the end. I felt it mine.

To go to Nemrut dagi, we stop at Kahta, a city of little interest but large tourist hotels, for what I saw. To go up to the mountain we start at night, to get to dawn at the top. After leaving the minibus, we walk up a rocky path up to about 2,150 meters of the summit. And so our journey was like that. It was very cold and above us there was a huge amount of stars.

When the sun rose, it lit up a valley of reddish rocks and a long golden strip. It was the Euphrates River, which flowed beneath us. Think of the history, the millennia of which this river had been silent witness and what he would have seen along its course, when it would arrive in Iraq (where at the time there was a terrible war), it made me feel the grain of sand of a huge hourglass. It made my head spin. Or, perhaps, it was only the emptiness below me that gave me vertigo.

The light, like every day for more than two thousand years, slowly illuminated the summit, revealing the enormous stone heads of the Greek gods who were scanning the horizon. Because the mountain is a great funerary monument erected by Antiochus I, Hellenistic king of the first century BC. He had himself buried in a huge mound on top of the mountain, being sculpted sitting among the gods of Olympus while looking east and west, the path of the sun.

Time has reduced the ambitions of Antiochus and the sculpted bodies, rediscovered only in the 800 after centuries of incomprehensible oblivion. Now they are without heads, resting, almost mockingly, tens of meters lower. But it is precisely this disordered and ruined aspect that makes this place so enigmatic and powerful.

With these images in my eyes, which I already knew would never leave me again, I turned my gaze to that flaming dawn, trying to imagine what awaited me in the east.

Day 8

We return to the road to travel the 500 kilometers that separates the Cappadocia from the theater of Aspendos. As the route is very long, it is best to get up early and make a stop along the way in one of the old stops along the Silk Road. This theater of Greco-Roman origin is considered one of the best preserved on the planet.

Among the few places in the world where "good weather" is still a guarantee, born exclusively to satisfy the needs of the most pretentious tourist, among the most famous and wonderful seaside resorts of the Mediterranean, Kemer surprises me and excites me, offering me a lot of more than the classic holiday I was prepared for.

The sea is definitely one of the strong points, of a color ranging from celestial, to emerald green, to deep blue, clean and untouched, together with its equipped or wild beaches, made of pebbles and sand.

History and culture await us in the immediate vicinity, because in addition to excelling for truly cutting-edge tourism infrastructures, Kemer has also been able to preserve a great part of its glorious past, such as the Roman theater of Aspendos, the baths and the remains of the agora of Perge, the walls, the cistern for water collection and the necropolis of Termessos.

The port of Antalya is a crossroads of romantic caiques, typical Turkish boats originally used for fishing and transport, which will lead you to full sail to discover a sea and coastal views almost invisible or inaccessible from the mainland, also for a pleasant navigation of one day only!

I decide to rent a car and venture into the mountains of the hinterland where it is impossible not to meet some hospitable and kind turkish "granny", dressed in their traditional clothes, proud to offer you tastings of local cuisine. The desserts dipped in the honey are a pleasure for the palate, while the raki, brandy flavored with aniseed, is a real delight for the spirit!

A half day of shopping is a must for looking for necklaces in silver and semi-precious stones, local ceramics, a crochet shawl, as much as it is priceless one hour of relaxation in the hammam to give me a relaxing and regenerating massage. Night falls at Kemer and everything is transformed, sparkling with lights and colors, vibrant with sounds and songs, immersed in the exciting and engaging whirl of dancing until the first light of dawn.

I return to the hotel, in the air still the sweet smell of fruit and lemon balm coming out of the hookahs. And it's day again and again an intense and exciting day awaits me in this amazing Turkish seaside resort!

If the car has not finished until the hat, two hours from the theater of Aspendos is the famous Mount Olympus and its famous fumaroles, which we go to see them at night. There are numerous hotels in the area so it was the perfect culmination to a very long day.

Day 9

From Mount Olympus we have less than two hours to visit these tombs dug into the rock, the tombs of Fethiye. They are located very close to Roman ruins very well preserved in the town of Myra, with a theater worthy of admiration and little visited. And as the day goes by ruins, we end up in the Greco-Roman ruins of Patara,very close to the sea and only an hour and a quarter from Myra.

Day 10

We get back early because we need three and a half hours to reach Pamukkale and its incredible calcium formations. As the Greeks saw that their waters had therapeutic properties they built here the city of Hierapolis. The theater is quite well preserved. And then the white show par excellence. Pamukkale, in Turkish means cotton castle. It is natural site characterized by gigantic calcareous pools placed side by side. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen, so beautiful that I struggled to leave. Do you know when you cannot help but look back at what you are leaving? Here, it went exactly like that.

Day 11

From Pamukkale we go one hour and a half to the fascinating Greek city of Aphrodisias. Everything is in an excellent state of preservation and the circus where races were held is almost intact, without forgetting the odeon and its great theater. After the visit we can go to Priene where we spend the night after traveling less than two and a half hours.

Day 12

At the top of the mountain and after making a small hiking trail are the ruins of Pirene, which have the theater with the best views of all Turkey. We visited the ruins we went to Ephesus, an hour away. It is perhaps the most visited Greek city in Turkey, due to its excellent state of preservation and because numerous cruise ships stop at the port. As Ephesus is very large, the ideal is to spend the rest of the day on the beach and visit it the next day. An interesting beach is that of Mocamp.

Day 13

We get up early to see the city with tranquility and especially the great Ephesus library. It is very big, but the cruises make their streets stuffed with tourists from 11 in the morning. Ephesus is perhaps the jewel in the crown of Turkey and why many Greeks pull their hair not to be currently in their territory.

Day 14

A little over two hours separates Ephesus from Pergamum. This last one was one of the most important cities of the Greek world but now part of the city is in Germany! The museum of Pergamum lodges the famous Altar of Zeus, eagerly requested by the Turkish government without answer on the part of the Germans. Even so there are many things that were not taken and we visit as the temple of Trajan. We then set sail for Istanbul and stop to sleep halfway.

Day 15

Once back in Istanbul, this great trip ended knowing that we have traveled the best places in the country.

And to finish

Maybe you think the trip was a beating, but nothing could be further from reality. Being able to see such a number of monuments, two more or less per day, meant that traveling in Turkey in two weeks was like 3 weeks, but it is certainly not done for all kinds of people, especially if you are looking for a very relaxed trip. A circuit of the Cappadocia state circuit can be an interesting option if you want to have everything to your needs and in a more relaxed way.

My trip to Turkey was a puzzle of emotions. Every time I immerse myself in the photos I cannot understand how one country can contain so many extreme different beauties from each other. Yet, among many landscape diversities, my trip to Turkey has been characterized by a beautiful constant: white. Excluding Istanbul with its color vortex, all the stages of my tour have filled my eyes with candor. That pleasant candor that, even in rather crowded places, manages to convey serenity.
China wallpaper

My legs were shaking with fatigue. The Great Wall of China melted into an unintelligible embrace with the mountain on which it had lain for millennia. We climbed with the conviction that the only way to finish what we had started was to keep pushing. We have to keep moving despite the fear that it lodged in our throats and from the fatigue that burned us in the body.

Our greatest adventure in the most wonderful Wall of all time began that warm spring morning in Beijing. We never would have imagined to what extent we could prove ourselves, nor the danger in which we were about to lay down our lives.

The Wall has more than 5000 kilometers, the great majority of which are not reconstructed, nor subject to control. This and an article that we read on the Internet pushed us to search for an adventure in the Great Wall of China. It was one that unknowingly, would take us to the limit of our will and would put us face to face with our worst fears in more than an occasion.

We arrived at the village from which we would begin our ascent without setbacks. The weather was unbeatable, and after buying some fruit in a street stall, we began without delay to advance along the road marked with red ribbons tied to the branches of the trees.

We advanced at a leisurely pace with the dirt path that ran between the trees and went into the mountainside. From there we could see, on the distant top of the mountain, the Great Wall of China. Gradually, the road became more and more inclined. The dirt track became more treacherous as we advanced. After crossing with a group of people going in another direction to start the journey, we did not see another soul in the mountain.

Without realizing it, we find ourselves using not only the feet but also the hands to move forward. The handles were those arranged by nature of branches, trunks, roots, rocks, and ledges. Each step had to be calculated, each branch, each root, had to be tested for its resistance.

Suddenly I stayed on boards with the mountain. We collided with a smooth rock surface in an ascending plane, with the only help of a small ledge on the side of the mountain. One by one we climbed slowly, stuck to the face of the stone, standing firm, swallowing the scare.

We passed that test and laughing we assured each other that the worst had happened. But the road, from there, did nothing but get worse.

The difficult road

One hour. We stop to rest and drink water. Two hours. We should continue, we should be close. Three hours. Silence, nobody wants to say what we all think. Weariness took over each one of us. We found ourselves climbing the same stones, crawling through the earth, putting all the weight of our body on a root, on a branch.

The sun, pressing us, was already hidden by the West behind one of the walls of the valley through which we ascended. We were afraid to drink water. Something already told us that the day would not go according to plan, and we were terrified to be stranded and without water in that remote mountainous wasteland.

When we approached the 4 hours of climbing, we found the road more difficult. An ascent to 45 degrees as far as the eye could see where the options were loose stones or slippery ground. We faced it with the conviction that that had to be the end, the top of the mountain was not seen in front anymore.

Between screams, directions and a growing desperation to get there, we advance to the top. Now it was safe, there was only one obstacle left to get to the Great Wall of China, which although we could not see it, we could feel it.

A gigantic stone blocked our view and the ascent. It was too big to skip, too smooth to climb. I was just below the rock, with my feet still on an incline. A couple of Chinese appeared from where we came and with a speed worthy of envy went up to where I was. Seeing them, I decided to wait to see what they did with the obstacle that stopped us.

But they also had no idea of what to do, so they stopped on a path that went away on the side of the mountain to see what I was doing. The whole situation must not have lasted more than a second, but it seemed like a lifetime. First listen to what no one wants to hear on the mountain: falling stones.

Fear paralyzed me for a fraction of a second. The Chinese shouted maybe one of the few words they knew from English, careful! Careful! Instinct took the reins of my body and leaped headfirst under the great stone that happened to be an obstacle to my salvation.

Where my head had been a second before, passed one, two, three rocks the size of a watermelon at high speed. I felt them bounce against the great rock that had become my protection, and the fear of not being able to turn around filled me.

Even before the noise of falling stones disappears, I was already screaming like crazy, until I heard her telling me that everything was fine. I decided that we had to put ourselves in a more secure position and moved to where the Chinese were. We heard the falling rocks again.

I was paralyzed by fear. The stones passed us by as if they did not want to touch us. While at last, he was approaching me, the Chinese and I started shouting so that, whoever was going down the side of the mountain, be more careful. Then we saw two girls.

They were Uruguayan, and they quickly told us that they were coming from the Wall, that we were indeed there, but that it was so destroyed that there was no way forward. That it was best to go back where we had come from. Impossible, we said. We had not gone through everything to leave without touching the Great Wall of China. After I exchanged information with the Uruguayans, we discreetly went by the road on the side of the mountain.

We all ran. There it was. What a vision, what an emotion. We reach those walls erected at the dawn of time, millennia ago, and we touch them. We smell them. We feel it with the touch, we walk it, and we caress it with our eyes. We hug, we sit, we breathe. We drink water and smile. But I, aware of the time it was and how much light we had left, I was inflexible. We have to continue, I said.

Odyssey in the Great Wall of China

We started to move towards the East, in the direction of a tourist stretch of the Wall from where we could take a group back to Beijing. We do not get very far. Soon we were face to face with a wall of rock and bricks about 20 meters high that was erected there where the passage of centuries had destroyed the Wall. We did not know what to do and time was pressing.

Suddenly we saw, as if from an apparition, a couple coming down the same wall that we had called impossible. Once they reached us, we attacked them with questions. They came from the East, they told us that we had a very difficult hour, two more walls like this one, and then we arrived at the reconstructed tourist section, from where we had about two hours until the exit.

The other option was, once again, to return. We doubt it, of course. We were tired and the mathematics did not give. We were going to end up in the dark. But we decided to move forward, partly because of stubbornness, partly because the other option was to spend the night in a hotel in the village on the other side of the Wall. The couple gave us one piece of advice to follow the red ribbons. So we keep moving forward, we keep pushing.

The Great Wall of China, in its time, was built on the sinuous line formed by the tops of the mountains of the north of the country to defend against the constant foreign invasions. At present, a large part of the more than 5000 kilometers of it is practically destroyed due to lack of maintenance.

The road alternated steep rises almost vertically by segments destroyed walls that seemed more like walls than stairs (and often that was the case) and even steeper descents in which we had to descend with the tail stuck to the ground to maintain the center of gravity as stable as possible.

How beautiful is the Great Wall of China? Like a celestial viper, it extends through the mountains of the North to beyond the horizon. It is a symbol that hides in its sinister dichotomy different meanings. On the one hand, it is one of the greatest monuments to the will of man, to the infinite capacity to create and build humanity. On the other, it symbolizes the obsession that has always marked the civilizations of wanting to separate themselves from the different, to keep the "others" out.

In a world that increasingly builds more walls and fewer bridges, the Great Wall of China, which did not stop to stop foreign invasions, stands triumphantly as a reminder that divisions are never, but never, a solution. And we had it for ourselves. We looked for that, that I dreamed since I was a boy. The Great Wall of China unfolding to the horizon, bathed in the light of the setting sun, lashed by the wind, desolate in all its magnificence. In the midst of exhaustion, nerves, and fear, the smiles managed to surface on our faces.

But the view to the East was very different because it marked the way forward. And there, where the Wall ends and the mountain ascends. How we do? When we arrived, we saw that indeed the Great Wall of China had disappeared and we had only one option: to climb the mountainside. The red ribbons guided us to the base.

I went first to find the best way. From the accumulated fatigue my legs trembled and threatened not to push me up enough to reach with my hand the next hold. With the instinct as a guide, I moved slowly, with the strong wind tugging at my shirt, through a narrow space that sank into the rocky wall until it reaches the root of a tree, from which it pushes me up.

But there was still one last test. I only saw the emptiness. At that point, the wall was cut and reappeared by passing a rocky point, but the union of the other side of the rock was the wall. My fear of heights, which until now had helped me to hold on to the stones, beat me. Fear overtook me. I could not move a millimeter of the body. I felt my heart pumping hard as if trying to make the most of its last beats, I saw the abyss as a hole and felt, as I had felt on another occasion in the Himalayas, that the abyss wanted to swallow me.

Slowly, sitting on the stone, with my legs almost hanging in the air, I used my arms to move laterally the meters that separated me from the wall of the wall on the other side. The most difficult part was getting off one foot because I could not see where I was walking. Millimeter by millimeter I was lowering it with every molecule of my body in tension until I touched a brick. I breathed and tried to put some weight on it.

I was loose. The typical swaying of a tile that does not fit shook me with a new wave of fear that terrified me, but I was on my way. Without letting go of the stone with my hands behind my back, I supported the other foot and looked up. I quickly found the way to go down to a safer place, from within the other stretch of Wall.

How sweet is the air that is breathed after fear? The euphoria was taking over us as we approached. There was no doubt, that tower was rebuilt, and from his window, someone was seen taking pictures. We accelerate the pace with anticipation.

We arrived, and once again we shouted, we embraced, we celebrated. Once again, we caressed the Great Wall of China with its sight in its infinite extension towards the sunset. It took us a total of 6 hours, but the worst was over.

Back home

We walked along the reconstructed part of the wall, always towards the East, for almost two hours. The road was, then, easier and easier. Some sections were reconstructed in cement, and others in wood. There were fences where the wall had collapsed, and we even saw tea stalls, now abandoned by the late hour in which we were.

Our mood became euphoric. Now the smile did not escape from our faces. How thirsty I am! I shouted at the wall. And on the next step, I found a bottle of mineral water almost full and closed. We found a path that left the Wall and went in the direction of a village, and we followed it. The descent was hard, it always is. That is when the knees are punished, but the spirit (and gravity) was responsible for pushing us.

We caught the night halfway to the village, but we continued, already on a relatively firm road, with cell phone flashlights. An hour later we arrived at the route. We followed her to the blessed village, where a family of tourists, with wide eyes as they listened to a very limited version of our story, told us how to get to their hotel, where they could help us.

A taxi to a subway station, and a couple of stations later we arrived at the house of our hostess. We collapsed in her living room, even trying to process, while she warmed us some hot dumplings, after everything we had lived.d.
Jesus christ images wallpaper hd

Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity that recognizes him as the Messiah. The Gospels tell of the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. We do not know the exact date of birth of Jesus. The traditional date of Christmas on December 25 was conceived late in the IV century, and even later dating a year 1 BC, as it dates back to the King Dionysius Exiguus in sixth century.
For both men and women, unwanted body hair has become a real problem. Over the years, many methods have been adopted for the removal of hair from wax to the traditional razor, electric shaver and more recently to the epilator. For exceptional results, you have to choose an epilator that has a powerful motor, settable speed, integrated skin protection and that is easy to handle.

The general conception of people is that only women want to remove unwanted hair. Well, it's not like that anymore! Based on market research of companies that care about personal care products, men also want to get rid of unwanted hair. To get a smoother skin for longer, men use different methods of hair removal, and now they are not ashamed anymore. Enough with preconceptions!

What is an epilator?

It is a temporary hair removal device that can run on battery, can be rechargeable or powered by electricity.
Epilation consists of tearing the hairs (sorry it's a bit raw as a scene) together with their follicle. As the hair is removed together with the follicle, you will have a slower regrowth and the skin will be smoother for longer.

The epilators are made up of numerous automatic tweezers, which remove more hairs at the same time. Let's say that represents the evolution of simple tweezers, which rips a hair at a time. So, if you're always in a hurry, do not worry, the men's epilators eliminate more hairs in a single pass, making the operation faster.

The hair will grow back in a few weeks, but, of course, how many weeks depends on the person. The re-growth, in fact, is linked to a double thread at the speed of the hair growth cycle, so it varies from subject to subject. They are easily transportable and therefore ideal to take them with you on trips. For you who travel often, for work or for fun, I am a godsend. You can remove unwanted hair at any time!

Is it a hassle for you to epilate the body with traditional epilators? There is a method of permanent hair reduction that is much faster and lasts longer. It is the pulsed light epilator.

Items to consider when buying an epilator

The epilation of men is different from that of the women, for many reasons. Men generally have harder skin, and body hair is thicker and thicker. For this reason, you need an epilator that removes as many hairs as efficiently as possible. You can buy an epilator with fewer tweezers, but it will take forever. The more time it takes and more pain you will feel! Many female epilators have difficulty removing male hairs, so you have to be careful when buying an epilator. I recommend you buy one of quality. They cost more, but all the money spent is worth.

What features make a SUPER epilator?

The power of the engine, the number of tweezers and the brand. Motor power It is important because the hairs of the males are thicker and require more power. The number of tweezers, the more they are, the better. They allow removing more hairs in a single pass. The process will be faster and the pain will be more bearable. Go on the safe side. Buy top-of-the-line Braun, Philips and Panasonic epilators.

An epilator works quickly and is designed for larger areas such as legs, chest, and shoulders. These devices are available in the dry only version, only wet or wet and dry in combination. If you want to wear the epilator even in the shower, we recommend a wet & dry epilator.

You have to choose the model you like best, even if it is designed for women. Do not be afraid especially not be ashamed to buy an epilator. What is important, as I have already explained, is that it has a powerful motor and a lot of tweezers. The aesthetics do not count! So, you will use it in your bathroom, away from prying eyes.

Is epilation necessary for men? And above all, does the epilator work for men?

YES! An epilator is very useful for men. Let's see the benefits of an epilator. First, it's very easy to use. Unlike tweezers, epilation does not involve the removal of any hair individually. In addition, unlike waxing, the hair removal process does not create disorder for the home and does not require long preparations.

The results last longer than shaving because the hair removal removes the hair from the root, it does not cut it only superficially, at the skin level. The hair torn from the root becomes weaker and the speed of regrowth decreases with each epilation. It can be used many times. You will have one single expense a little more conspicuous, the purchase cost.

It can be used comfortably at home. The men's epilator can be applied to large areas of skin such as shoulders, legs, abdomen or chest, and on small areas. As the hairs are torn from the root, they grow back more slowly. Usually after 2, 3 or 4 weeks. The time of regrowth, however, varies from subject to subject. It depends on the speed of regrowth of the hairs of every single person.

Some disadvantages of the electric epilator

The epilator works similarly to waxing, and like waxing, it does not exfoliate the skin from accumulated dead cells. Tear only the hair from the root. The exfoliation gives a shine to the skin that the epilator, unfortunately, does not give. In addition to the initial purchase cost, after a certain period of time, to keep it always efficient, you need to change the discs or blades. It can be painful and cause redness, ingrown hairs, and irritation.

The delicate parts, like the pubis, are very sensitive to the epilator. Epilators have advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you whether or not to use it. The epilator market, in general, is aimed at women. For this reason, there are very few epilators created specifically for men. The Braun Silk Epil 9 9-561 is small and easy to use. It is convenient because it is wet and dry (you can also use it in the shower). For us men and for those who are beginners, this is a great feature. The hot water relieves pain.

It is a cordless, portable and practical epilator. It allows you to remove the hair quickly, and the skin remains smooth for at least 4 weeks. It has a hair removal head 40% wider than previous models. This means that it can eliminate more hair in a single pass. The tweezers are not only wider, but also longer. They also capture the shortest hairs.

The Braun Silk Epil 9 9-561 has 6 extra accessories of the shaving head, the trimmer hood, the massage hood, the hood for the face. There is a cap in contact with the skin and a charging base where to place it and to charge it for the next use

The massage cap reduces the pain you usually feel during epilation. I remind you that over time you will feel less pain and the hair will become thinner and thinner. The other accessories allow you to use the epilator on other parts of the body such as arms and armpits. It is very convenient for people who have sensitive skin and are easily irritated. In fact, unlike other epilators, the Braun Silk Epil 9 9-561 does not pull the skin during epilation and prevents redness and pain.

The larger head of 40% allows you to remove more hairs in a single pass. The high frequency massaging head makes epilation a little more delicate. The SmartLight light helps to see even the shortest and finest hairs. The Wet & Dry technology allows you to also use the Silk-épil in the shower or in the bathtub for hair removal quicker and less painful.

Braun guarantees that the skin remains smooth for up to 4 weeks with the Silk-épil 9-561. The Epilation is fast. It has numerous interchangeable heads. It is easy to clean since it is impermeable to water. It has a beautiful design, is handy, compact and light. The battery has excellent autonomy and can be recharged quickly. For safety reasons it cannot be used while it is attached to the power cord (only for charging). For us, the Braun Silk Epil 9 9-561 is the best epilator in circulation for women and men.


Although not designed for men, the Braun Silk-épil 7 7681 is one of the most used among men. The reviews of users who have used, and who use this epilator, are very positive. Braun 7681 is really effective! It's a wet & dry epilator. It can also be used in the shower. It is cordless and battery operated. It is equipped with a flexible head that adapts to the curves of the body, making epilation more precise. This epilator effectively removes even the very short hairs, up to 0.5mm. It has 40 tweezers that remove hair directly from the root, making the skin smooth for weeks.

It is equipped with 5 different accessories, namely the razor head, the regulator cap, the maximum efficiency hood, the hood for sensitive areas and the hood for the face. Let's see them in more detail. The razor head converts the epilator into a normal electric shaver. You can use the Regulator cap to adjust the hair at a certain length before starting the epilation process. The hood allows the epilator to keep in close contact with the skin, for a faster process. Once used to epilation, switch to this hood for better results. The Cap is used for sensitive areas such as the armpits and the groin. It allows greater control and precision.

The Hood for the face guarantees greater precision in removing facial hair. The massage cap is already attached to the epilator. During epilation, by means of mini rollers, it performs a skin massage to relieve the pain of the process. Remember to take it with you on business trips and on vacation. Unwanted hair will only be a memory and you will have smooth skin for weeks!

I think a review must be as objective as possible. If the product has something negative, you need to let it be known to its readers. I must be honest! The negative part of this epilator (and of all the others) is the pain that is felt during the process. Unfortunately, there are no epilators that do not cause pain.

For those who have been using an epilator for some time, any epilator is a known problem. The good news is that over time your skin will begin to get used to it, and the pain will only become a tingling.

The Braun Silk Epil 7 Xpressive Pro 7681 is very effective. The epilation process is fast. You can also epilate yourself in the shower. Speed 1 is for a more delicate epilation, speed 2 for extra efficiency. An integrated light illuminates the area of hair removal, to see all the hairs, even the smallest ones.

You can use it all over your body. It is equipped with a good razor and a precision regulator. It has an ergonomic design. It is easy to clean. You can rinse it under running water, it's waterproof. It's cordless so you do not have the thread problem that can hamper the process. It is easy to use. You can take it with you anywhere. It is very delicate in sensitive parts, like the bikini area

You cannot use it while it's in charge. It is a little expensive, but worth the money spent. The massage cap, unfortunately, does not reduce the pain. It already has a good battery life, but Braun could do better. It can be noisy.

My final opinion

The Braun Silk-Epil 9 9-561 is an extremely efficient hair removal epilator. Compared to many other epilators, it removes unwanted hair in fewer passes. It also removes those small and thin hairs that even the wax cannot eliminate. Although not designed exclusively for men, it is powerful enough to eradicate any type of fur, even the thickest of males.
I want to tell you about my last trip to Lapland. For some time it was a trip that I wanted to do. But with the cold, the snow, and the distance, there was always an apology to postpone it. Without thinking much and seeing in the calendar four days off, I went to Finland. Santa Claus was waiting for us! The day was clear when I left on this trip to Finnish Lapland during Christmas where I set out in the footsteps of Santa Claus.

After a few kilometers from the capital of Lapland (Rovaniemi), we have been able to talk to Santa Claus, know his history, his Post Office, the town where he works every year to distribute gifts in a reindeer sleigh, the Santa Claus Village or Napapiiri.

In the last hours of the day, we approach the snow-covered village of Rovaniemi with dozens of restaurants, hotels, bars, cafes, and supermarkets and charming places. We booked the hotel on our own with some beautiful wooden cabins at the foot of a ski resort but only four kilometers from the city center. It had fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with sauna and a loft.

christmas Aurora Rovaniemi Lapland santa claus

Santa Claus Village

From the first hour on the breakfast buffet we have in the panoramic restaurant of the Lapland hotel where we stayed, I had a restless smile. Although I could have gone down in search of the bus to get closer, I decided to take a taxi to arrive almost without people to that desired place! Santa Claus village or the town of Santa Claus in Lapland!

How could it be otherwise without snow in the distant land of the symbol of Christmas? There is no missing ingredient to what we could have imagined. Santa Claus village is a kind of theme park 8 km from Rovaniemi just where the line of the Arctic Circle passes. It includes its workshop, a post office, a shopping center, ice slides, the Snowman or ice bar-restaurant. There are several facilities where you can take a reindeer sleigh ride or hire activities with huskies or snowmobiles. There are restaurants, villas to stay and a Christmas building-house. It is precisely this building-Christmas house that makes the reception and small museum the first one we have entered.

The museum turns out to be rather a simple Christmas exhibition that combines some traditions and explanations of the Sami life. There are nativity scenes or a modern lego. There is a door where Santa Claus lets himself "fall" from time to time. The rest of the building works as a shop and restaurant. It is also access to where one can stay in any of the apartments with the best Christmas atmosphere. The heart of this park whose access is completely free (except for the hiring of activities and the entrance to the Snowman) is the Santa Claus Office or Santa Claus workshop. It can also be visited without paying except the photos.

We are on the coldest day of the trip so far. It seems that tonight the temperature has reached -20.5 ° C although small arctic squirrels seem to adapt perfectly to the environment. After a stop for a short coffee and buns, we approach another jewel in the crown of the place, the main post office of the town of Santa Claus. We are thousands of kilometers away from the big cities of the world but from here leave millions of gifts both by mail and in the sleigh of Santa Claus on Christmas night. Inside is a small shop decorated with much love, with an area to buy parcels and another to sit down to write your own postcards or letters.

Any package, letter or postcard that you send bears the seal of one of the most special places in the world. We were not going to miss the opportunity, of course. This place also receives thousands of letters from all over the world and are piled up waiting to be read by the white-bearded old to prepare their gifts this year. Another interesting thing to know is that you can decide dates between buying stamps from there, sending your postcards, packages or letters.

It is time to continue what else we can visit in this great town of Santa Claus that receives so many visits a day. It is important to know that it is open all year round, not only at Christmas. Although Lapland at Christmas is magical, you will not have any problem at any other time.

We went out again in the cold (although it has stopped snowing) to the Santa Claus Office to the Snowman or ice bar-restaurant. After passing a playground for children, some great snowmen give us access to the bar and restaurant area. It's amazing, even the smallest detail is all decorated. Although perhaps, more than a cold drink, what we want is a hot soup or a good cappuccino? We walked to the top of the Santa Claus village or Santa Claus town and we approached a kind of reindeer farm. We plan to enter it tomorrow in another great activity that we have reserved.

We sit near a fire that they have outside to warm us. Further on there is also an area to book snowmobile rides or huskies sledding. Although I believe that today is not the day for it and I would reserve it for another specific day. We read that in what is called Santa Claus Gift Claus or main shopping center there is a place to put a stamp on the passport!

We are in a large enclosed space full of small shops, restaurants, coffee shops (where we get warm again) and the line that marks the Arctic Circle! Right in this same place, the center of the long covered space is the information point where you can stamp the passport. But what most strikes us is a new activity that allows one to fly over the clouds in a flight in search of the Northern Lights. It's expensive.

We are already entered hungry and near us was a restaurant with a lot of charm on the outside that inside is a little cave. They serve a kind of buffet with beers. It was perfect to regain strength.

Nothing of the previous thing would be complete if it were not because in this town it is Santa Claus! Yes, the true, unique and greatest symbol of Christmas that made this place officially its "office" to listen to the wishes of its visitors since 2010 although it has been doing it for centuries.

Someone tells the story that, after World War II, Finland was destroyed. It was the first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, who decided to hold a ceremony where the Arctic Circle begins and build a small cabin enlarged with time. The history of Napapiiri is born, a town that grew up where in 1985 Santa decided to install his office and workshop to distribute the gifts every year.

christmas Rovaniemi Lapland santa claus

As we said before, visiting Santa Claus village is completely free and allows you to enjoy 5 minutes with him. But the condition is not being able to take pictures from the moment we walk through the entrance path behind the door of his workshop. You can buy them when you finish besides a video of your experience. However, today the elves have been magical with us and the blog has served to allow us to enter. We open the door and walk down a path with music and an atmosphere that takes us to a magical world. If it is already exciting, the emotion still rises.

We climb a staircase to the upper floor. Regalitos, strange watches, pendulums, photos of their encounters. Everything leads us to a final door where even an elf offers us a gift that Santa Claus can hide behind his chair to give to the little ones when they enter. An elf receives us at the entrance of his office. Joulupukki (Finnish name of Santa Claus) is already ready to receive us. It is curious to know that in Finland is presented on Christmas Eve to distribute gifts (as he does in the houses year after year). While in the United States it seems that he does it "stealthily" when nobody sees him. And there he is.

It's our desired moment of the day and it finally arrives. We can only say that health was one of the most important issues. The great Joulupukki showed that he is not only a character who creates magic for Christmas but his heart does not fit into that suit. Many keys already have a little detail that that old man with white beard and the red suit had for all of us. I am sure that he will fulfill many wishes of travelers (and those who are not) for the next new year. We say goodbye. After the office, there is a control center where you can record video and photos of your meeting with the most important person of this time of the year.

In the outskirts of the town of Santa Claus, it has already got dark. The building where the illusions of children and adults are fulfilled looks beautiful in colored lights, Christmas trees and the line of the Arctic Circle with its 66º 32 '35 " perfectly marked in blue to the room where it receives us. Every December 24 in this same place, Santa is received by many visitors to greet Christmas and go out on his reindeer sleigh to distribute the gifts that night.

I will never forget the hands of Santa Claus. They were white and the softest I've ever touched. I could not find out where his house is hiding but I'm sure that these days we will find out more clues that will take us their, the cave of her elves or find one of the reindeer that pulls her sleigh every year. Legend has it that the location of Santa's house is one of Lapland's best-kept secrets and only a select few, his elves, are aware of his whereabouts. But, as we always say, this is part of another beautiful story.

The temperatures begin to fall with the darkness and it is a good time to take the bus just in front of the main Gift House and get closer to Rovaniemi. This same bus stops in Santa Park but will also be the subject of another exciting day. It's around 5:30 when we step on Rovaniemi. Almost without realizing we have been almost 9 hours!

christmas Aurora Rovaniemi Lapland santa claus

Rovaniemi - the capital of Lapland

This small town of 70,000 inhabitants stands out more for being a perfect base for all the activities that can be done than for its tourist attraction. Along the main street, we can find several companies dedicated to organizing sleigh trips, snowmobiles, Aurora Borealis hunting. Logically they did not guarantee anything because they are an unpredictable phenomenon.

The Koskikatu Street is the main street that gives life to Rovaniemi and around which are the shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and markets. There is another street that extends the offer. I could say that the Lardi square with a large clock that marks the temperature would be the heart of everything. The main purchases that can be made, as it could not be otherwise, are made from reindeer pieces. I believe that Rudolf spent some time here, otherwise it would be impossible to have posters with his picture. We will have to keep looking.

The main attractions are the Presbyterian church, the Jätkänkynttilä bridge over the Kemijoki river that we have seen several times these days. We do the river walk and the Arktikum museums of Sami culture. There are wildlife and attractions to learn while playing or the Pilke Scientific center which is a kind of interactive exhibition quite funny as they say. We dine in a restaurant where we order salmon soup, reindeer stew, and king crab.

Seeing the night clear we took some warm coffee to the car and we went on an adventure in search of the northern lights. We had been told that you could see on one on every three clear nights. We crossed our fingers so that this was one of those nights. We had to get away from the lights of the city, so we started to drive north, along a lonely road. It not only had trees on the sides but houses that looked like they were taken out of a movie.

I am sure that today is one of those days when the time has stopped and any thought has gone into the background before my first encounter with Santa Claus. My enthusiasm and affection for the little things that happen to us in life is incredible. But today, just to see Santa in this small place far from the world, in this town full of magic, I have fulfilled a great dream, to know that Old man with a white beard and red suit who will visit us again on Christmas night. Do you believe in the magic of Christmas? I was sleeping at this hour as the child who has reached their most magical dreams! Santa Claus exists!
I just returned after a stay of several days in Iceland during the winter solstice. In December low temperatures are already well established on the land which is also a country geographically half Europe and America. What's in winter in Iceland, other than cold, freezing wind and ice? There are some primeval landscapes, a magical and fleeting light, and almost no tourists. And with a lot of patience and some luck, perhaps some aurora borealis. In fact, it was the main motivation for the trip. It was all very tempting for a photographer.

Winter travel in Iceland has its charm. They are auroras Borealis or northern lights. You can enjoy the snowy landscapes and the best-known traditions of Icelanders since summer lasts only three months. For me, the best days are after a heavy snowfall, as the sky shines like opening the contours of the fading city. Children enjoy it very much.

If you visit Iceland in winter, chances are that you can see the white Christmas like in Christmas movies. The houses are colorful with maximum two floors. Outside of Reykjavik, in rural areas, there is snow in abundance. Every morning snowplows pass through the streets and bike lanes. I do not know who would we be without them.

I find it very romantic to drink coffee and look out the window or sit on the couch and read, listen to jazz and drink a glass of wine or beer. We love bathing in very hot water. All pools have jacuzzis, mostly outdoors. The good winter in Iceland is also surrounded by snow and we watch northern lights in the sky.

When does winter begin in Iceland?

The winter in Iceland according to the Old Norse calendar begins in October between 21 and 27. This day traders in the downtown street of Skolavordustigur invite everyone for beef soup. This month is called Gormánuður. The Viking calendar distinguishes only two seasons: summer and winter.

Fleeting and cold wind

But shooting at this time of the year on a destination bordering the Arctic presents its difficulties. First, the few hours of light. After a long night and a long morning sun peeked over the horizon at about 11:30 AM in the morning and hid back by 3 PM. Then, every night we went out to the field several hours in a stubborn attempt to observe auroras. The lived excitement and jumping for joy at the first sight of the northern lights remain among our fondest memories.

The second problem for the photographer is some pretty severe weather, although they were expected given the latitudes where we were. Both during the day and night temperature range between -1 and -3 ° C, down to -11 sometimes. Although we are accustomed to such temperatures, the fact is that the combination with the constant winds between 35 and 90 Km/h subjected to thermal sensations equivalent to -15 to -30 ° C, which was quite harder.

It was also impressive driving both day and night on roads and tracks in full blizzard or sandstorm. But to me personally these extreme conditions motivate me even more and I've always enjoyed them. I demonstrate the strength of wild nature and sometimes are the way to get images out of the ordinary. So I had to use shutter speeds and higher ISO than usual. Fortunately, my camera allows shooting at high sensitivities with low noise and an image stabilizer.

Clothing to Photograph Iceland in Winter

One of the most troublesome things to work under intense cold is clothing. Outside we had one or even two thermal tights, plus a high mountain pants and other waterproof up to stop the wind. In the upper two thermal shirts under a fleece jersey, and a thick jacket fleece and down anorak or wind jackets (even at times both at once). A thin thermal gloves under mittens fleece for hands and cap with fleece insulate us. The 4x4 car we rented was, besides our means of transport, our shelter from blizzards and low temperatures in Iceland.

With the cold and wind, everything is more difficult and, as we work frequently at dusk and night. Sitting on a comfortable sofa with a cup of chocolate, wrapped in a warm flannel blanket and a house of solid walls. And you are near a window receiving the light passing through the glass, you will feel even more comfortable.

I had long wanted to live it, not another destination, but to experience the freezing cold and the polar night. With only 5 hours of dim light of the sun, near the sinuous profile of the horizon of snowy mountains around us.

Since the December 21 winter solstice began, temperatures are negative and at this time, will fall further, reaching approximate minimum limits of -40º C or even less. Each year at this time, the inhabitants of the northern lands of the northern hemisphere or Boreal enthusiastically celebrate the return of the sun.

The new small great adventure

I fly to Norway to experience the polar night and the first frigid winter storms beyond the Arctic Circle. I live there for a few days in a small cabin of only 8 square meters with the basics and two bunk beds, a table, and 4 chairs. Once there we visit the area and take photographs. We also indulge in other sports, mountain and ice climbing.

What is the polar night?

It is the eternal night, in the days pass without sunlight. This effect is due to the tilt of Earth's axis, therefore, in the Geographic North Pole (where it crosses the Earth's axis), sunlight does not reach this point for three months a year. There is no dawn (sunrise) and sunset (sunset). As we go down latitude, 'traveling to the South' that time of darkness become lower, reaching nearly a month in the Arctic Circle. In the area in Norway this astronomical event occurs, we were between the boundary of the almost total darkness and very little daylight.

From Norway to Finland

An eternal night? Between 20 and December 23 each year, in northern Finland, almost so. The sun rises shortly before 12 am and goes to sleep less than an hour later.

This is the winter solstice, to a world famous midnight sun. In southern Finland, on the solstice day there is about six hours of daylight. However, for long distances with the north, the feeling is much more extreme in Lapland. Winter can be very hard in northern Europe. The cold and lack of light cause a lot of people see the solstice with hope.

The legend of the longest night

In northern Finland and Lapland lands in general, the Samis had the tradition of sacrificing females of their livestock to the goddess of fertility, love, spring and the sun, the Beaivi. The festival celebrated on the day of the solstice is known as the Festival of Beaivi.

Endless Return

On the day of our departure at the airport, we had no idea of the mess we got into. We were returning exhausted, but happy with what we had seen and photographed. The auroras were very shy, but we saw landscapes and had experiences that had been very satisfactory.

The simple return home became a new journey within the journey. Heavy snowfalls and ice that were affecting northern Europe had left many closed or highly affected airports. Our plane left Iceland with eight hours late and when we stopped at Gatwick airport and London, we are plunged into total chaos. All flights canceled and hundreds of thousands of travelers caught in the UK.

After our initial shock and despair began a marathon search for a way to escape from the British Isles. It became a challenge. We find no ticket on any plane, train or coach before Christmas. Apart from many roads of England and France were cut off by snow and ice. With the help of laptops and credit cards, and thanks to the experience of organizing trips, we got a room in a hotel, a precious commodity in those moments of chaos in which thousands of people had sleeping on the ground of British airports.

This had been the longest return of our lives, for one of our shorter trips. In life a travel photographer may never know when a normal path will become an ordeal. The good thing is not to despair and even learn to enjoy it.
After my first incursion into the Scandinavian countries, I got more desire for cold and snow. I found a wonderful offer to Switzerland and the best thing was that I would travel around Christmas. I had been dodging it for a long time and there I was alone, lost in the heart of Europe and even without stepping on it. My 6-day trip integrated by train through Switzerland was through Zurich, Lucerne, Basel and Colmar, Bern, Freiburg and Gruyeres and Lausanne and Geneva.

My winter adventure decidedly began in Zurich where I arrived with the flight after a stopover in Amsterdam. From there my itinerary started on trains, which at first I thought I would do by car. The infallible Swiss train network is sensational. Needless to say that they work perfectly. Driving in the middle of winter with snow, ice, and fog? Without much hesitation, I got on the sensational train system!

I arrived at the Zurich airport from where I easily took the train (Flughafen Station) that left me 12 minutes later at the Zürich Central Train Station. It was easy, convenient, fast and cheap! I booked my apartment for a night very close to the station, since the tourist part of Zurich is relatively small and is very close to the station. Everything can be done walking without any problem.

My first host was a lovely Italian and Swedish couple, who had settled in Zurich after traveling. There was a huge mural with a world map decorated on one of the walls of the living room with the trips made and to be done. I arrived late so, immediately, I went to bed trying not to bother them too much. Also, the next morning I was going to get up early. Until the alarm clock decided not to sound, hahaha!

When I got up startled from so much sleep, I found the couple parting with laughter in the living room. After thanking them a million times for coffee and a delicious piece of lemon cake, I went out to visit the city.

This small Swiss city was frozen but not snowed. I begin my visit to the Altstadt, the old town. The first thing I did was to take the most commercial and busiest street in Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse. This street, full of the most important shops, trams and lots of commercial life, also houses the renowned and historical Confiserie Sprüngli.

Going to is almost mandatory when you are in Zurich, trying your coffee, or confectionery, and it is well worth it! It is Switzerland and its chocolate is forced in this famous and spectacular chocolate house. Which one is the best? The hot chocolate that gave us energy that cold December day and that they prepared it with milk without the fat!

I continued my walk along the Limmat River (which cuts the city in two) passing through the emblematic Grossmünster, Fraumünster and the Church of St. Peter. We continue going through its charming streets full of details, streets so beautiful and full of places such as Augustinergasse, St.Peterhofstatt, Munsterhof or Storchengasse. After a stop in the Paradeplatz square for some sandwiches at a bus stop (to keep time), I decided to keep walking towards the Lake Zurich. I spent the whole afternoon strolling through the beautiful Belvoir garden. The views of the lake with the mountains with snow in the distance seemed to be taken from a postcard.

There was the typical Swiss landscape that we all imagine. What surprised me the most in my first foray into this country was to see that I really breathed a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere throughout the city. It gave me a fit of laughter when I caught some armed police officers inside their van, looking at their mobile phones with a face of extreme boredom. What kind of infractions can be committed in a city that seems so quiet?

It was still cold so I decided to make a stop for a hot drink in a café-restaurant hidden in an old building in the center. It turned out to be a very authentic place. I took my coffee in a fine tableware and silver spoons surrounded by paintings of great painters such as Braque, Chagall, Miró, and Picasso hanging from the walls. How to make your wine glass fall while you dine!

Its historic center was what I liked the most and the views on both sides of the Limmat. Although, here I also meet for the first time in these 6 days, with what I least liked about Switzerland and what would be the common denominator in the trip, the Swiss timetables. That, at the time of travel (and even more in winter), play a fundamental role in the enjoyment and relaxation of a trip. Everything closes around 5 pm. There are few people walking down the street after 7 pm and at 9 pm it is an almost absolute solitude. Dining is strictly early. To my surprise the day starts late, few people walk before 9 am.

It started getting dark and I realized that, despite having fallen asleep, Zurich did not have much more to offer. I returned walking along the beautiful Rennweg street with medieval buildings and enjoy the atmosphere of the premises that were beginning to be closed. On the way home curiously I found a wine store. So I was encouraged to take a gift for my apartment couple who had offered me complimentary dinner that night.

When I arrived with the bottle of Rioja, they left me amazed with their surprise of a Raclette! I could not be thankful enough for the incredible generosity of the couple. After putting on my boots with a delicious dinner and typically Swiss white wine, I still enjoyed the evening exchanging impressions, telling my adventures and even taking out the guitar and singing.

I arrived in Zurich without much expectations and I liked the city much more than I imagined.

To spend a white Christmas, we started a trip to visit the beautiful Vienna in Austria. We arrived at the airport in Vienna at night, with a cold that was peeling and it snowed everywhere. We took a taxi and headed to our hotel at a little out of the center of Vienna. Fire, fir and other decorations are at the rendezvous. Everything is perfect to put me in the mood! I take the room upstairs. After having some odd problem with the room we go to sleep.

Day 1

We got up early to visit Vienna, and what was our surprise. It was snowing! This made us very excited because although we had seen snowy landscapes, we had never seen snow like that. We take the tram to Schottentor. Our first visit was to the Christmas market of the city of Vienna. It is a beautiful market with wooden cabins, Christmas carols, and decorations, in which people walked in the snow having a hot punch!

Just near is the impressive building of the Vienna City Hall (Ringstrasse). It is not for nothing considered as one of the best Christmas markets not only in Vienna but throughout Europe. For 1 euro we buy a punch before continuing on the road. Next to the Ringstrasse is the Austrian Parliament, a beautiful neoclassical building. Right in front is the Hofburg Palace that has been the residence of the Habsburgs in Vienna for more than 600 years.

In the Hofburg Palace, we visited the more than recommended Museum of Sisi, which tells of the obsession with beauty and rebellion of this character. We pass through the Library, which we saw from the door since we found the price of the entry excessive. We also see the Imperial Apartments where Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth lived. Like the museum, the visit to the imperial apartments is very interesting.

After leaving the palace we headed towards Karl Platz where we could enjoy the impressive building of the Church of San Carlos Borromeo and walk through its Christmas market. Around 3:30 pm and after having lunch at a fast food establishment, we decided to visit the Vienna Opera House. For our frustration, we could only visit it from the outside since it was closed.

Just behind the Vienna Opera house is the Karntnerstrasse, Graben and Kohlmarkt, three of Vienna's most commercial streets. All were adorned with spectacular Christmas decorations. Next to it is the incredible Vienna Cathedral (Stephansdom), right in front of a huge Christmas tree. We were able to access the cathedral for free and see its interior.

We considered climbing to its tower but it was very cold and it was snowing so we decided not to go. The tower had no windows so we could freeze! When leaving it was quite dark, although it was only 4:30 pm! The snow had soaked our shoes. We started our way back to the hotel, but not before going through the Hofburg Palace and the Austrian Parliament again.

When we arrived at the City Hall of Vienna, we were shocked with its Christmas market and lighting. That seemed like Disneyland! There were lights in all the trees in the shape of an apple, hearts, and sticks. There were small houses decorated as "chocolate houses", multicolored fountains and extraordinary lighting in the Town Hall.

We opted to make a stop in the market, considered as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. We decided to try the punch. After this and getting soaked with Maroni (roast chestnuts), we returned to the hotel.

Day 2

The second day, dawned with a radiant sun, something rare in Vienna. We set out to visit the Schonbrunn Palace, which was somewhat far from the center of Vienna since it was the summer residence of the emperors in the city. Upon arrival, we found that the palace had its own Christmas market and its own giant Christmas tree. We bought the tickets for the Imperial tour. We spent time visiting the palace gardens.

It was all snowy, not like the postcards in spring in which everything is very colorful, but that was not an impediment for us to love. The gardens have an impressive fountain and just at the end, on the top of a hill is a viewpoint. The views from there were amazing. We could see almost all of Vienna. The most entertaining was the descent of the hill since being all snowed, people slipped and had to go around various obstacles.

While it was time to enter the palace, we went to visit the Hundertwasserhaus. It is a very original and colorful building somewhat far from the center of Vienna and that reminded me of Gaudi's architecture. Just in front is a small and flirtatious shopping gallery, although a bit expensive.

Then we went to visit the Secession building. Right next to it is the Naschmarkt, Vienna's best-known market. The Naschmarkt is a market whose fruits, meats and vegetables give it a special color. Since we were there, we decided to have lunch at one of their food stalls. In the end, we return again to the Schonbrunn Palace to visit its interior.

The rooms of the Schonbrunn Palace in the Rococo style are incredibly beautiful and full of history. In the end, steeped in the history of the imperial family, we made a stop at the Christmas market of the palace to take a punch and eat some Maroni.

Already well into the night, we went to the Museumsquartier, galleries in whose inner courtyard are located fashionable venues of Vienna. Upon arrival, we have a small disappointment since these premises were nothing more than tents mounted in which people crowded for a drink.

After having a drink, we left Museumsquartier, but not before stopping at their Christmas market to eat again Maronis. We then go back to the hotel.

White Christmas

Day 3

Last day in Vienna, we left the hotel very early to visit the Belvedere Palace, the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. There is a tremendous cold as the temperature reach 11 degrees below zero! Upon reaching the palace we find a majestic exterior. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. Inside it was "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt. However, due to the fact that said interior had no greater interest than that of the exposed work, and that the price was excessively high, we chose not to enter.

After admiring some snowmen that were in the palace gardens (including a Doraemon), we headed to the center to see the Anchor Clock or Ankeruhr. There it seemed that they were going to ring the bells at the end of the year. There were enough people waiting for the spectacle of the clock. When the happy show began we were left to take pictures!

After the disappointment of the clock, and ice cold weather, we go to a well-known chain of cafes to be able to warm up. When we left, walking for a while, we happened to visit the Imperial Crypt. After thinking about it we did not enter due to the lack of interest that awakened us and that was not among our plans.

Again we took the subway to go to the Prater, the oldest amusement park in Vienna and in Europe. Due to the time of year, almost all the attractions were closed, except its famous Ferris wheel which is one of the symbols of Vienna. This wheel, managed to survive even the bombing of the World War II, although that, was very damaged. For a few euros, we climbed the Ferris wheel and we could enjoy stunning views of Vienna at Christmas and snowfall.

We concluded the day again visiting the shopping streets of downtown Vienna and the City Hall market. Here we could enjoy our last punch and of course our last maroni. Then we returned to the hotel because the next day we have the flight very early.

In short, Vienna is an Imperial city that is worth visiting to soak up history. Despite the cold, I would not change the date of my visit since the beauty of this extraordinary city, in December is joined by the white Christmas spirit of its streets, markets and people.

We wanted to take a little break in December and have chosen a destination that promises warmer temperatures even in winter. Tel Aviv is the second largest city in Israel and is located directly on the Mediterranean coast. Our expectations were really exceeded not only in terms of the weather. We had read and heard a lot in advance about the city that never sleeps, but Tel Aviv definitely offers more than just party and highlife.

Each quarter has something special for itself in individually furnished cafe and restaurants. It is easy to get into conversation with people. They are very helpful and speak almost all English. And of course, the best the white city has to offer is Tayelet, the long beach promenade.

We had a direct flight, which we had booked together with our hotel. Meanwhile, even cheaper airlines fly for a third of the price to Ben Gurion International Airport. The pre-entry checks are intense and take time. After coming out of the airport, we drove this time with a very official driver in the city on the Mediterranean. With a warm shawarma in hand we walked in sweater from Allenby Road along the beach towards Jaffa.

Jaffa is the oldest part of the twin city of Tel Aviv. Both cities were united only in 1950, with Jaffa today still likes to be referred to as the Arab quarter of Tel Aviv. There, in turn, was the apartment for our stay. Our accommodation was a small boutique hotel in the center of Tel-Aviv, just a 2-minute walk from the beach. The rooms were very clean and modern.

My first way on vacation is always directly to the sea. The highest feeling for me is still to breathe in a fresh sea breeze and put my feet in the sand. When the sun is shining on my head, my feelings dance Lambada. Since we were in Tel Aviv during the Israeli winter and 20 degrees are already cold for the Israelis, relatively few people are frolicking on the beach.

To our delight, we had small sections for ourselves time and again. We could sip iced coffee, read a book and listen to the sound of the sea! The almost 5 km long Tayelet Promenade stretches from the north to the very south to Jaffa. We walked along it, always looking in the direction of the horizon.

A few blocks of concrete, in which well-known hotels have settled, are right across the street, but not exactly the most beautiful sight. But the promenade still delights walkers, joggers, cyclists and dog owners alike. Along the promenade there are also several cafes and restaurants right on the beach, which provide for the physical well-being.

While our brains were already fully poled on New Year's Eve and Christmas we felt the mild temperatures months ago. Tel Aviv has some magical and delightful corners. The old town of Jaffa in the south with its picturesque streets has a very special flair. In between are a number of historic buildings, one of the oldest ports in the world, cute shops, the street flea market full of antiques and lots of urban sidewalk cafes and bars.

We were amazed when Jaffa greeted us with a sparkling Christmas tree. The cultural mix made perfect that the Jewish holiday Hanukkah is celebrated according to Jewish calendar this time between 25 December and 1 January. Hanukkah is an eight-day festival of lights in honor of the re-inauguration of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Therefore, in front of the Christmas tree in Jaffa, there was also a large, eight-armed Hanukkah lamp, with a candle lit on each of the eight days of the Hanukkah festival. The landmark right in the center is the three-story Clock Tower. Around the Ottoman building, the dealers sell souvenirs for tourists, but not two minutes walk away we find the legendary street flea market around the Rehov Yefet.

As we continue up the roads, we come to Kikar Kedumim. The central square offers an excellent view of the coastline. We can see the tower of Saint Peter Church sticking out from all directions. Below the square is the small fishing port Namal Yafo. There is a refreshing lightness here, and a walk along the promenade takes us past a few restaurants, catamaran schools and the lighthouse.

After tracking down my friend in the cozy bar, we were in the process of sipping our glass of red wine for the first time. We turned around and saw a bar waitress lighting the sixth candle on a small Hanukkah chandelier. She handed each guest a little donut in the festively decorated bar. There was mushroom soup, Lebanese cheese and all sorts of small snacks on a mixed plate.

Our evening end quite secular contrary to the first impressions. After an Israeli beer at the Main Bazar, we drove straight to Rothschild Boulevard, where we were to immerse ourselves in the nightlife of Tel Aviv. There was a end of the year party that night, so we treated ourselves to the bar.

Before stocking up on New Year's Eve alcoholic drinks, we had a plate of cholent on Sheinkin Street in the city center. The stew is typically served for shabbat and, admittedly, tastes as good as it looks. Since no work is allowed to be done on Shabbat, the stew is brought to boil on Friday afternoon and cooked until Saturday noon. That's how it tastes, but at least it respects the tradition.

Hanukkah decorations

A round trip through Italy, and also with your own car. That certainly comes to mind when you think of holidays in Italy. But on such a road trip you get to know a lot of a country. For many it is the perfect holiday to live in a beautiful apartment or a chic hotel, to lie on the beach, to read a good book and just relax.

I am rather the vagabond vacationer. I have to see something new. I need culture. I love Italian food. In short, I have to drive around. Of course, I cannot travel all over Italy on our tour. There are just too many cities that interest me.

Day 1: Venice

We rented a car on the internet. The owner called us as soon as we arrived in the lagoon city of Venice. He came to pick us up and took us to the rental agency. We book an Italian car. Once the formalities are completed, we head to our hotel. 10 years later, we are back in Venice. We park the car at the hotel. Our hotel is located 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge, with our room overlooking the canal.

To reach the center of Venice, we took the bus to Piazza Roma. This is relatively cheap and you can easily travel in the Vaporetto (the water bus) in the city center. We see the famous gondolas as we stroll along the grand canal by Vaporetto. We also see the Grand Canal palaces. We go to the lido (island at the end of Venice) with the Vaporetto to swim at the beach of Lido.

To appreciate Venice, we get lost in the small streets, to discover many places and take the many bridges. There are very chic cafes around St. Mark's Square. What am I in love with this city? Especially in the evening, when the day trippers are gone, and we have the city almost alone, it is just beautiful. Behind every street corner, behind each bridge, there is a new postcard motif.

Italy Wallpapers

Day 2: Verona

We head to Verona. We have a small stop on the road to taste their paninis and especially drink. It is very hot. We took the highway to Verona. Yes, in Italy, there are also tolls! We booked a room at the hotel that is a little outdated but of Italian style. To get to the center of Verona, we opt for the bus that has a stop in front of the hotel.

We bought our tickets at the hotel because Verona is a small town with small streets, where cars do not have the right to move and therefore, it is difficult to park. We descended in front of the Roman arenas. It is the 3rd largest amphitheater in Italy and the best-preserved arena. It has become one of the largest opera houses in the world with 22,000 spectators.

Our next stop is Casa di Giulietta or Juliet's house. Who does not know the story of Romeo and Juliet? Lots of lovers from all over the world come to see the magic balcony. We see the walls of the entrance porch, fully covered with sweet notes in all languages, stuck with vile chewing gum. As a token of their love, the lovers pose a padlock. If you have a broken heart, you can write to Juliette, and she will answer you!

We move through Piazza Delle Erbe. This is the ancient Roman forum, now the most beautiful square in Verona. We stroll along the Adige and stop in front of the Duomo. There are very nice houses on small streets. We were surprised that the shops close so early at night (7:30 pm) for a tourist place.

We returned late to the hotel after some difficulty finding the bus stop back! Because the bus stops in the city are very badly indicated we must ask the driver to stop. We stayed next to the church with the sound of the bell every 30 minutes (except at night).

Day 3: Milan

We were woken up at 7am. We head to Lake Como. We pass by the city of Brescia. From Brescia, we went to Lake Iseo. We stayed for a while taking pictures because it was really too pretty. It was a real puzzle of a landscape with the Alps in the background! You can swim in the summer! The most beautiful place to admire the lake is in my opinion from the city of Sarnico.

There are small bridges from which we have great views of the lake. All while eating an ice cream is the best! We head to Bergamo, in the plain of Po in the morning. The city has been preserved since the 16th century and is completely surrounded by ramparts on which one can walk. Once up, we go around the old public square from where we can admire the civic tower, which rings 100 strokes every night. We also visit the Duomo (the Cathedral) and the Colleoni Chapel.

We reach Bellagio, a very nice little village on the shores of Lake Como. Bellagio is known for its stairs. It takes two and a half hours. We stayed at a hotel located in the top of Bellagio. We had to pass in the small streets of the village. This is a typical Italian hotel, a little dated, with a very small parking (little room to go inside).

We walked along the lake and went to the beach, where we swim. The water is a little cool but many people bathe there. We returned because there was a lot of wind and the storm began to arrive. We could walk to the village center along the lake. The staff was very nice.

Stresa looks like Monaco with its vegetation and its flowers along the lake. It looks like Monte Carlo with its palaces along the lake. As we walk along the lake, we see there are also many small beaches where we can swim. We stopped on one there. From Lake Maggiore, we can see the Borromee Islands comprising the Isola Bella.

The next stop on our trip to Italy is the fashion metropolis of Milan. When planning the trip I was not sure if it would be worth a stop in Milan. I had not read so much good about Milan as a destination for a city break. Not every Italy travel guide praises Milan as a tourist attraction.

Since Milan is on our itinerary, I still decide to spend a day here. And I will not be disappointed. We stayed at a hotel with parking that was very well located. Our hotel is a bit out of the city center, so we take the subway to town. The main attraction in Milan is certainly Milan Cathedral. And every travel guide writes that you should visit this best in the morning because then the flow of visitors are not quite so big.

Nevertheless, we start our perfect day in Milan in another district. Brera is the historic bohemian district of Milan. From the Montenapoleone station leaves the metro. When I get off my first look was at the Emporio Armani Caffe. Yes, I'm obviously in a fashion metropolis. Through small streets, we walk to the Brera Academy.

If you walk through the streets, you should definitely throw one or the other view into the courtyards. They are partly beautifully designed. Or just take a look at the upper floors. One discovers here one or the other stucco ceiling.

A look into the courtyards in Milan's Brera district sometimes shows true gems. The street picture changes in the area of Via Fiori Chiari. There are pedestrian zones with small shops. At every corner, we find a bar, a café or a restaurant. We sit down for breakfast in the bar Brera.

With Cappuccino and Cornetto and the stuffed croissants, we watch the hustle and bustle on the street. In the morning fewer tourists seem to walk around than the locals. Somehow I have the impression that everybody knows everybody here. I really like sitting here.

From Brera, it is only a short walk to the 600-year-old Castello Sforzesco. Through a suspension bridge, we enter the courtyard of the castle. Here it is not nearly as pompous as in other castles. The Castello reminds me more of a fortress. In this castle lived and ruled the Dukes of Milan, who obviously put less emphasis on optics than on defense.

There are several museums in this castle, which show, among other things, the last work of Michelangelo or a ceiling fresco by Leonardo da Vinci. Since we only have one day in Milan, and the queue at the entrance to the museum is unfortunately not very short, we look at the castle from the outside and then head towards the city center.

Via Dante is a traffic-calmed, wide shopping street. It leads us almost directly from Castello Sforzesco to Milan Cathedral. Just before we reach the cathedral, we turn off to Piazza Mercanti. I had already read on the internet that this place should be beautiful. And that's exactly what he is. In the Middle Ages, Piazza Mercanti was one of the centers of the city. Here was operated since the 13th-century trade.

Around the rectangular square are beautiful old lodge houses with great balconies. One of the houses seems to stand on stone stilts. Here students and tired tourists bustle in the shade. After an overpriced espresso near the Piazza del Duomo, which still has to be somehow anyway, we continue to the Milan Cathedral.

I am almost awestruck shortly before this magnificent building. Big, bright and with lots of decorations and turrets he stands in front of me. Unfortunately with him also a lot of tourists with their selfie sticks.

In contrast to the Cologne Cathedral, we have to buy a ticket to come to the Milan Cathedral. In front of the ticket counters are the usual long lines. Here I have a good tip for you. At the back of the cathedral is a large building. Again, you can buy the tickets officially.

When we arrive there, there is no queue at all. One can choose between tickets only for the church, or church and the roof of the cathedral. Since we were in Barcelona on the roof of the cathedral in the spring, we decide against it here in Milan. If you have not done something like this, do it. It's worth it.

Right next to the cathedral is one of the oldest and in my opinion the most beautiful shopping arcades in the world: the Viktor Emanuel Gallery. In this passage is certainly not the shopping in the first place at least not for me. Here is the motto for me: Just look, do not buy. But that's also nice here.

There is a fantastic mosaic floor, stucco on the walls, and great old shops mixed with chic designer shops. Leaving the mall on the north side, we come to Piazza Della Scala. Here is not only the famous opera house, the Teatro Alla Scala but also a statue of Leonardo da Vinci.

A delicious dinner not in the city center, but near our hotel completes my perfect day in Milan. As I sit with my pasta I wonder what my conclusion of Milan will be. There are not only beautiful and perfectly styled people. But besides the people, this is a really nice city. Especially in Brera, which I found extremely charming. We went back to the hotel that was not bad.

Italy wallpaper

Day 4: Siena

We pass the San Siro stadium, before leaving Milan. La Spezia is the ideal place to visit the Cinque Terre National Park. After a three an half hour drive, we arrived at La Spezia. A train allows us to stop in the 5 villages. We stopped at the last village called Monterosso. It is the biggest of the 5 with its beach (pebble beach, with few places because many are private).

We took the train back to the second village, which is one of the most beautiful villages in the Cinque Terre. On arrival, we could see the wild sea. We see a nice panoramic view of the city by accessing the trail behind the church. We took the train back to Riomaggiore. We took the walk of the path of love, walk of 20 minutes to the village of Manarola.

We then head to Tuscany with a stop in Pisa. Apart from its historic center with its tower, its Duomo, there is nothing extraordinary to see in Pisa. It is possible to climb in the tower of Pisa, but it is necessary to reserve in advance. The children under 8 years are not allowed to go up there. The tours of the tower, the museum, the Duomo are not free.

To reach the city center, we took the bus because, in Florence, cars do not move. We visited Florence under a heat (40 degrees). The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral is a very beautiful masterpiece. To visit it, you must have your shoulders covered, and not be in shorts. You can buy a poncho. The door of the Baptistery is nicknamed the door of paradise. The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in the city, with its jewelry shops.

We took a hotel a little away from the center, so we could park the car in the parking lot of the hotel and enjoy the pool. As in most Italian cities, it is impossible or forbidden to drive in the streets, and parking is expensive. As a result, we took the bus to the center of Siena.

The hotel staff provided us with information on how to get to the city center, a stop was located right up to the hotel. We had trouble getting back, as the buses never take the same route to and from. We walked in the heat! Siena is known for its ocher houses, its large square-shaped shell St Jacques, and the beautiful Duomo. The visit pays off!

Day 5: Rome

We continue to Rome, the Eternal city. I was really looking forward to it. Again, I was looking for a hotel for a long time. We finally decided against a hotel in Rome. One of the main reasons was the car, which we have with us on our tour. Parking in the city is expensive.

What do I do in Rome on a day? What should I look at? Rome is a fantastic city full of history. There are wonderful fountains and places where you can sit down and drink an espresso. Because we stay in a hotel outside the city, we start our day at the Central Station of Rome, Stazione Termini. Here are the usual hustle and bustle of a central station.

Nevertheless, we get fully motivated in the underground line in the direction of Battistini. The track is full, and to be honest, I have to clench my teeth to keep from getting straight out. At the Ottaviano station, we leave the subway. Okay, there can be no question of empty streets here. The crowds are already heading towards the Vatican.

And in between every 2 meters the street vendors, who want to sell a ticket at the queue. Since we have no intention of going to St. Peter's Basilica or the Vatican Museums, we do not fall for it. You should really think twice about buying these tickets. At the Coliseum, we saw that the queue in front of the ticket booth with the regular day passes was shorter than the queue in front of the entrance without waiting.

We go to St. Peter's Square. Here it is a lot emptier than on the street. I am standing in the middle of the square. In front of me stands probably the most famous church in the world. Many years ago I was here once on New Year's Day to listen to the address of John Paul II. On this late summer morning, the windows remain closed.

Along the Via Conciliazione, we now walk towards the Tiber. Right by the river is the Castel Sant'Angelo, the Castel Sant'Angelo. From the Ponte Sant'Angelo, we get a particularly beautiful view. I like it pretty much here. After shooting some nice photos on the banks of the Tiber, we plunge into the maze of little streets in the center of Rome.

The good thing about Rome is that so many tourist attractions are so close together that you can combine them with a nice walk. And so we stroll along the Via Dei Coronari and other streets to Piazza Navona. There are many nice cafes and restaurants along the way. In any case, you should stop here rather than at the piazza, where the food is really expensive.

Piazza Navona is a large square with several fountains. And while I stand here and let the space act on me, suddenly a man stands next to me and tries to explain something to me in Italian. But in fact, he just tries to make me aware of the building opposite. This is where the Brazilian Embassy has rented. Through the large windows upstairs we catch a glimpse of the grandiose ceiling paintings.

Our next destination is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome: the Pantheon. Before that, we make a detour to the church of Sant'Agostino. I read in the guidebook, which has some nice pictures hanging on the wall: a masterpiece by Caravaggio and a fresco by Raphael.

The Pantheon is awesome. Awesome and impressed I stand in the middle. This dome was actually thought up by humans almost 2000 years ago. They had no computers to calculate the statics. And by the way, when it rains, it actually rains through the big hole into the church. We saw it with our own eyes.

From the Pantheon, you can comfortably continue to the Fontana di Trevi, the famous Trevi Fountain. Knowing well, and being able to guess from the crowds how full it will be there, I skip this tourist attraction today. In Spain, I spent a New Year's Eve with a bottle of sparkling wine as we stood up and looked at the fireworks. That was a great mood back then. New Year's Eve in Rome. I can all but recommend you. Since it was not nearly as full as it is today, on this day in September.

I continue from the Pantheon in the direction of Campo di Fiori, the great flower market. We are not lucky here. Most market stalls were already closed. Unfortunately, I did not pay attention to the planning. The market closes at 1:30 pm. A little disappointed, we look for a bus that takes us to Piazza Venezia.

From Piazza Venezia, we have the lunch in the "old Rome". This place is a good starting point to explore ancient Rome. When getting off the bus, however, my first glance at the huge monument for Vittorio Emanuele II falls. For obvious reasons, the Romans like to call it "typewriter". It's nice, but not really old. If you climb the stairs, you have a nice view over the city. The Trajan's Column was built in 113 after a victorious campaign and shows sometimes life-size scenes of the battles. Behind the monument rises the Capitol Hill and immediately afterward the Foro Romano.

The Capitol Hill has two paths. There is a fairly steep staircase and a slightly more comfortable ascent. The steep staircase leads to the Basilica di Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Take the more comfortable path and enter the Piazza del Campidoglio. I would like to say that we deliberately choose the steep climb.

In fact, I have read myself in the Italy travel guide. In any case, we are so in front of this great church, in which a look inside is really worthwhile. Via the side exit, we go to Capitoline Square, Piazza del Campidoglio. On the Capitoline, the fortunes of the city were passed in Roman times.

Here there is the senatorial palace and the conservatory palace, where everything secular was regulated. Incidentally, the square between the palaces was designed in the 15th century by none other than Michelangelo. From the Via del Campidoglio we have a great view of the Roman Forum and there is a small bar where we drink excellent espresso for very little money.

The Capitol Square, Italian Piazza del Campidoglio, was designed by Michelangelo. Passing the Capitoline Wolf, we descend the hill again. Again and again, I see the views of the Forum Romanum from above. And as always, when I walk through old streets, I imagine how here the Romans walked through the streets almost 3000 years ago. Right here, in the heart of ancient Rome, I find it incredibly beautiful.

Along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, which is admittedly not old, but was built by Mussolini, we walk on to the Colosseo. The afternoon sun is burning on my head. Just think of enough water and a hat to go to Rome in the summer. In front of the Colosseo, we meet similar hustle and bustle as in front of St. Peter's Square. Here again, various street vendors try to sell "Skip the line" tickets. As I mentioned at the beginning, there is no need to risk anything here. The queue at the counter was actually shorter.

In the Colosseo itself, it is then contrary to expect not so full, which is probably because the security controls here are similar to those at the airport. People only come in droplets inside. It is late afternoon after visiting this nearly 2000-year-old stadium. In fact, for a short time, we have the idea of putting espresso in one of the adjacent cafes.

But the prices and above all the enormous unfriendliness of the waiters makes us quickly realize, how much nicer it is to walk away a few meters from the tourist attractions. Of course, I cannot miss a garden on my trip to Italy. Just outside Rome, in Tivoli, is the Villa d'Este. This beautiful garden with its countless fountains is not only for the eye.

A nice day is coming to an end. With many beautiful and impressive pictures in mind, we sit down again at the main train station to sit in the quiet and tranquil Frascati in less than 30 minutes.

Day 6: Naples

We continue today to the coast. Our next leg takes us to Naples. Vesuvius is 25 km from Naples. We climb the summit of the Vesuvius and discover its crater. The access to paid parking at 1000 m altitude is dented with very limited places. There are several souvenir shops in the car park as well as on the hiking trail. The climb is easy and lasts 20 mins.

At the beginning of the walk, we can see the first volcano with its lava flow, and also the Bay of Naples. Here we are now at 1200 m altitude where we discover the crater that is 600 m in diameter and 300 m deep. As proof that the volcano is not extinct, we can see fumaroles! The magma is located 8 km below the crater.

After Vesuvius, we leave for Pompei, a gigantic site. As a reminder, Pompeii was buried on August 24, 1979, under the ashes of Vesuvius. There are very few car parks near the site to visit (parking is offered if you eat in the restaurant). It takes 4 hours of visit minimum. After paying the entry fee (free up to 18 years), here we are inside this ancient city, in an overwhelming heat. Fortunately, there are many fountains.

We go to the port of Sorrento for the crossing to the island of Capri. Unfortunately, with traffic jams along the coast, we arrive late. The boat's leave too early to Sorrento (7 am). Capri for us was really over! Maybe another time?

Because of this, we stroll towards the beach. We find a public beach and swim in the Adriatic Sea. Because indeed, there are many private beaches and very few public! Our hotel is located just above Sorrento on Via Nastro Verde. From the terrace, we have an exceptional view over the Gulf of Naples to Vesuvius.

Day 7: Amalfi Coast

We went to southern Italy in the Campania region. After 3 hours of driving along the Amalfi Coast, we arrived in a city of "crazy" people. It is impossible to drive if you do not know how to impose yourself. There is no respect for the rules of the road, no traffic lights.

We roll, we brake, we horn, and we go for it. It's the same for pedestrians, buses, and trams. In short, it's total anarchy. Everyone does what they want. Our hotel is located in the station area. We rushed to park our car in the parking closest to the hotel. The neighborhood is very dirty, and people are out at night very late because of the heat. Luckily our room is on the courtyard side.

In addition, young people play football in the streets between cars and sidewalks. We took the metro. There are 2 lines, an old one and a new line. We went up to Vomero Hill. To get there, we took the funicular. What a change of scenery, we found ourselves in the upscale area of Naples. From the hill, there is a very nice view of the Vesuvius. We go down through the stairs that lead us to the funicular. It is already dark. We go back to the hotel.

Day 8: Gargano

We are heading to southern Italy, in Puglia. It takes around 4 hours to travel the 320 km where we cross desert roads. The temperatures are higher, with little signs of houses. The fields are burned by the heat. There are very few petrol stations. We stayed in a B&B not far from the historic center, known for its architecture and its 23 churches. We walked in the heat.

We spent the day at the beach of Alimini, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Adriatic Sea. The water is very hot. We bathe without any difficulty. We have some Coconut to refresh. We also visit Otranto, a small village further south. In good weather, you can see the coast of Greece. Here we visit a church with its mosaic floor and its magnificent ceiling. We slept in a Bed and Breakfast in Castellana Grotta, an old farm of the 18th century.

We visit Alberobello, a village that has preserved its Trulli, houses built without mortar with pebbles of limestone collected in the neighboring fields. The technique of construction dates from prehistory, a technique still used in the region of the Apulia. This site is unique because the houses are still inhabited.

We were able to visit one. The village is divided into two parts with a historical part and a more touristic part with its craftsmen and its stores. We spent the day at the beach. So we had to rent a sunbed.

We slept on the heights of Gargano. Our hotel was located near the beach. Fortunately, we were in a very good B&B where the lady, welcomed us very well. She informed us very well and advised us to visit the medieval town of Offagna as there was a medieval festival.

As the restaurant was closed, we had to go to the restaurant located in the hotel across the street. We were the only ones to eat there, so the place is isolated! We were disappointed by the landscape and the beach of Manfredonia and moreover, the storm arrived.

Day 9: Florence

The route from Vieste to Ancona (more than four and half hour drive) along the coast is not the best place to stay. We still went to Falconara Beach, a beach next to the railway line, overlooking factories. The hinterland is beautiful with its valleys. We spent a very good evening inside the castle with its sets, costumes, and shows.

On our way back to the north, we think about where we best stop off. Because the route is too long for us. We opt for the dwarf state of San Marino. We choose Rimini. After 1 hour drive, here we are in Rimini, in the north of Italy, a seaside resort known for its long sandy beaches.

We were allowed to walk along the sea, but we were not allowed to sit with our towels. This is so in Italy (plan a beach budget or waste your time looking for a public beach with a place) because 70% of the beaches are private! We take a short walk along the sea to the city center.

If like me, you are not a fan of party magic, then you should better avoid this city. San Marino, on the other hand, is very worthwhile. The old town of San Marino is very cute, located on a hill and you can walk and stroll here.

Before going to Florence, we stopped at San Marino (25 km from Rimini), the third smallest state in Europe after the Vatican and Monaco. We parked at the funicular car park. We took the pedestrian path (steep climb) to get to the center of the city. It was a very beautiful city with its ramparts, its city center, and its 3 towers.

We continue our way to the North with a stop in Bologna. The road to Bologna is difficult, turns, and many trucks! (one and half hour drive). We slept at the hotel and there we took the bus to the city center. Bologna is known for its towers and its narrow streets with its red houses. Its many arcades make it possible to protect itself from the sun.

We went back down on foot, then left for Florence (two-hour drive, 120 KM), back to Tuscany. Florence is the world capital of art. We stayed at the hotel located less than a km from the center of Florence.

Here are my impressions of Italy. The tour of Italy was beautiful. I have seen so much, met great people, had nice chats and ate the best pasta, pizza, and tiramisu in my life. I liked the beauty and the architectural richness of the cities with its numerous churches, and cathedrals (Duomo).

I liked the Cinque Terre National Park, Vesuvius, and Pompeii. I liked the not too expensive toll, the margarita, the Aperol, the limoncello, the warmth, and the welcome of the Italians. I would not change a station. The duration of the stays in the cities was just right for us. But I would not do this trip again in September.

It was extremely hot. Over 30 degrees on a city tour is not necessarily a feel-good temperature for me. In addition, it was unfortunately very crowded in the tourist centers.