Travel in Denmark to the Land of the Vikings

I traveled to Denmark and Copenhagen at Christmas adnd also Greenland, an autonomous region belonging to the Kingdom of Denmark. Still, it would be my second time in a Scandinavian country. I had visited Iceland and to this day it is the most beautiful place where my eyes have settled. To do this, I prepared a travel plan to make the most of the time and thanks to official websites and blogs of other travelers, our trip turned out very well. With the experience of the trip, I learned many more things that I want to share with you. I hope you find it useful.

The trip in India was totally improvised and, before planning it, I had bought a ticket for Copenhagen in Denmark. I go from a sticky Indian heat to a dry cold glacier. As you can imagine, this trip was quite decaffeinated. Europe has thousands of things to see but now I am hooked on traveling to different cultures. The prices in Copenhagen seemed crazy to me.

Day 1 - Copenhagen

I arrived at Copenhagen airport in the morning and the truth is that it was a little bit colder than I expected. I left there with my little suitcase, took a car that I had rented and went towards the hostel. With my phone sim removed to avoid unwanted charges, but with the phone turned on I activated google maps. The host lived in an old red brick community building now divided into a lot of mini apartments. Upon entering, I felt that I had gotten into an Ikea catalog.

It has a very minimalist decoration, unvarnished flooring, a lot of white to give a sensation of light. As soon as we left the hotel we saw the rainbow and the truth is that it was a foretaste of the time that awaited us. We went to change money in a huge bank, which is in front of the tourist information office in the Vesterbrogade. I was immediately struck by the fact that the city was so flat and full of bikes.

I went through the list of places to see in Denmark and my host gave me some good advice. I started the day walking, going through some of the most tourist sites since the center of Copenhagen is quite small. The truth is that I already thought it was really charming and even more so because of the Christmas atmosphere that was breathed there.

The old center of the city has medieval style with spectacular buildings like Teatro Real. I fell in love completely with the beautiful district of Nyhavn, a promenade along the harbor with colorful houses. When I finished the boat trip I went to eat. It is a lively area, full of cafes and restaurants (possibly the most expensive) of tourists and people stationed in the canal drinking a cold local beer.

But first we went to the Papirøen, located in the port, near the famous Noma, which is nothing else than an old port warehouse and destination of the Copenhagen Street Food, where about 40 stalls of world street food are accommodated. After a few beers we went out and we went to Christiania, which was not very far. We went through the famous porch that says something like we are leaving Christiania and entering the European Union.

We continue walking along the left margin of the channel until reaching the Baltic Sea. Enfrete, at about 200 meters continued the city, specifically the Christianshavn neighborhood. We access through a newly constructed pedestrian bridge. It is home to one of the major tourist attractions of the capital, which is none other than the free city of Christiania or the Copenhagen Opera.

The warehouses are in the shopping area (Stroget). I went back to the hotel walking through its pedestrian streets (Frederiksberggade, Østergade, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet and Amagertorv). I pass through Vor Frue Kirke (The Cathedral of Our Lady) and the Radhuspladsen from where the pedestrian streets emerge. After resting a bit in the hotel pool, in the afternoon I went on the car to visit the city. There was little traffic.

One feels very safe and quiet and many downtown streets are pedestrianized. Passing in front of Tivoli Gardens, I arrive immediately at the Town Hall Square. I move along Stroget Street to reach the Kongens Nytorv, where I see the Royal Theater. After a little bit of music we went for a walk around Stroget, the longest pedestrian street in the world. We entered the Lego store-museum. It's not as big as the one in New York, but it's also cool.

When I arrive in a new city I love asking for an opinion about the points of interest. In this case, the Tivoli Gardens came from the list. This amusement park, opened since 1843 is one of the oldest in the world. It is really a must visit in Copenhagen. In the afternoon I went to the Tivoli Gardens and entered the amusement park. Walking in the Tivoli, I think this amusement park at Christmas is more magical than at any other time of the year.

I found a Christmas theme park, with typical fair attractions such as trains, Ferris wheels, and roller coasters. It was a fairy-tale air with lots of families and children enjoying chocolate, hot wine, and waffles to fight against the cold. It was a really different place. We decided to find a place to eat.

We had a couple of restaurants close to Central Station, and we went there to the district of Kødbyen, in the district of Inner Vesterbro, an area of ​​nightclubs. After hesitating between a couple of restaurants, we opted for one that was on the corner for its good local homemade food.

We ate roasted chickens with potatoes, stew of the day (which was nothing more than a breaded steak with caramelized red cabbage and potatoes). We also opted for the generous and tasty burgers, which we water with pints of local beers that we would try on more than one occasion. It did not cost very expensive. Anyway, we must remember that Copenhagen is among the 5 most expensive capitals in the world.

One of the big problems, when you travel alone, is that you need help to take photos. The advantage? You make friends right away. I saw a boy who, like me, was looking for someone to take a picture of him and we immediately became friends. We continue touring the whole area of the port together in search of the Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue). After about 45 minutes of walking all along the port of the Danish capital, we find it.

It is located in the Langelinie Park, in the Harbor Bay of Copenhagen, which flows into the Baltic Sea. The first time I approached the famous little mermaid was a failure. The tourists-paparazzi were harassing her with flashes without stopping but, who gets up early, God helps! In the second attempt, seeing her at dawn (together with a couple of Japanese) was a success.

More or less halfway, on our right, we find the majestic building of the Opera (the night lighting is spectacular). On our left is the residence of the Danish royal family, Amalienborg. Going around we found a Thai restaurant located in a very nice place at the foot of a canal. It was all very good but spicy.

The collection of this museum enchanted me. There are 10,000 works ranging from ancient art to the gems of Gauguin, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and my beloved Rodin. This building that collects the famous private brewer's collection is truly impressive inside as well as outside. The highlight was the beautiful winter garden that connects the two main buildings. It was a small oasis in an icy capital.

I had many expectations placed on Christiana, for its history but today I am afraid that it is very far from what it was. Still, it is a curious visit. I had heard about this independent community but, today, little remains of that free city, which had been a self-governed hippy commune. It has unfortunately become a neighborhood of squatter houses where it is easy to procure drugs.

A step away from there is the Church of Our Savior (Vor Frelsers Kirke). I decided to enter and climb their vertiginous exterior stairs that spiral around the length of its baroque capital. It is not suitable for claustrophobic and/or people with vertigo). Overcoming your fears will be worth it because the views from there to all of Copenhagen are spectacular.

At 5 o'clock in the afternoon the city was already dark! On the way back we did not even have a coin and the bus was so full that we could not get close to the little machine so we did not pay. I do not like to sneak in but it was impossible. We went to the train station and the reason that the bus was going to burst is that day was the Christmas parade.

So we saw Santa Claus and all his entourage, and also the lights on the pedestrian street. The parade continued until the Radhuspladsen or City Hall Square to light the tree. So after buying a couple of Christmas decorations we went back to the City Hall Square. We came to the double square of Gammeltorv and Nytorv, and from there to the beautiful Magstraede street.

We bought the best popcorn I've eaten in my life. There were many flavors, sweet, salty and even spicy. We chose some caramel candies that served me for dinner. We got off this time in Norreport and visited another Christmas market, that of Kultorvet. Wooden houses sell decorations and sweets, glögg and waffles, but also the typical and tasty Danish hot dogs. There is smell of cinnamon, chestnuts and churros. In that same square there are big stores with cheap and cool things for the house.

For dinner we enter a restaurant with decent food. We ordered salads buffet with garlic bread, nachos and burger, and desserts and beer. We returned to the hotel. The bar was very lively with concert and everything, but we were tired and we went to rest. Luckily in the rooms we could hear almost nothing.

Day 2 - Roskilde

We had breakfast in the hotel. There was a buffet that convinced us all. There were four types of bread, sausage, butter, jams, nutella, juices, coffee, tea, milk, cereals, fruit, yogurt and honey.

With a full stomach we took the car and went to Hillerod to visit the Frederiksborg Castle. It is worth visiting, as it is very beautiful, well preserved and the gardens are beautiful. We easily park the car on the street. After strolling through its gardens (if you want you can also take a boat trip on the lake), we ate on the terrace of a restaurant. After lunch, we went to Helsingor to see the Kronborg Castle, the stage of the Hamlet.

We visit some royal dependencies and the Maritime Museum. We did not go to see it, we only saw it from the outside. It is the place where Hamlet, the work of Shakespeare, happens. In this work, the castle of Kronborg has the denomination of Elsinore. I can perfectly understand the strategic importance of this place since from its windows I can see the sea and Sweden in the distance.

We head to Roskilde. We were in the Viking Ship Museum. We ate some delicious salmon sandwiches there in the museum restaurant. It's not very cheap but it was very tasty typical Danish food. In the afternoon we visit the Roskilde cathedral. It is large and very beautiful. Apparently, different musicians were rehearsing Christmas carols. So we were lucky to hear varied music, choirs of children and a girl who sang great accompanied by a guitarist. When we left we found some assistants of Santa Claus. It was the first time in my life that I saw a reindeer. With the emotion I almost missed the photo.

When we returned to Copenhagen we passed by the marble church (Marmorkirken), Frederiks Kirke. It is one of the best-known buildings in Copenhagen. The interior of Marmorkirken is very spectacular, mainly due to the shape of the building and the feeling that the dome produces from within. The restaurant is very close to the Rundetaarn or redona tower. We went up when it was already dusk. There was also a very cool photo exhibition next to the gift shop and we visited below the church to which the tower belongs.

Next, we went to the Kastellet. At that time, there are no longer as many tourists. We park well in Churchillparken, right at the southern entrance of Kastellet. It is an open site that does not have closing hours. Before entering we see the Gefion Fountain and the Church of Saint Alban (Saint Alban Kirke). It is one of the most beautiful churches.

And from there we went to the Christmas market of Hojbro Plads, where we repeated with the glogg, the hot wine and sausages. We went to see the market and fall in love with all the Christmas decor items. We were surprised to see churros, which together with the crepes and hot wine stalls seem to be the best of the street food stalls.

In the same square there were also street musicians that I want to think they played for pleasure in the street, because they did it wonderfully. In fact I think they won the same as those who charge entry because it was impossible not to stop for a while.

We said goodbye to our guide and that night we went to dinner at a pizzeria on the Nyhavn Canal. There were many people but we found a place to park. There almost everyone moves by bike. We continue to Church of the Holy Ghost and pass the small island where Christianborg Palace is located, reaching Kongens Nytorv. And from there we went back to the hotel where that night, we signed up for happy hour, and we had a good time playing Jenga.

Day 3 - Mon

We decided to take it easy that after all we were on vacation. The bad thing is that with the few hours of light that there was (at half past three it was getting dark). Of course, it was always cloudy and the temperature was between -2 and 2 degrees. We had a leisurely breakfast.

We took the rental car and went to the Mon island. When we arrived, we left the things in the Bed and Breakfast that we had booked and we went to eat in Klintholm Havn, a small village on the coast. As it was a little late, around 5, we did not enter the Geocenter and decided to go directly to the beach. To go down to the cliff we have to go down many stairs, but I must say that the descent was longer than the return.

Mons Klint is a limestone cliff very white and at the foot there is a long pebble beach. It's a pebble beach and there are supposed to be fossils, but we did not find any to my frustration. We were struck by the fact that on this beach the sea has no waves or tides, and is like a raft. The upper part of the cliff also has a very beautiful landscape, because it is a beech forest.

I take photos of the sunset on this beach of the Baltic Sea, which is in an area where there are many holiday cottages. On the Mon island we begin to see farms with a thatched roof, small white churches and meadows with cows and sheep, a landscape that is repeated throughout Denmark.

At night we went to a beach near the B&B to have dinner. There were two good looking restaurants and we opted for a one that is in the harbor with a buffet that was very good. We could taste the typical food of Denmark like marinated herring, frikadeller (meatballs), fillets of battered fish, a kind of meatballs of fish and many types of salad. After dinner we went to the beautiful country house owned by a couple.

Day 4 - Odense

We went from the Møn island towards Jutland, where we had booked a bungalow. For this trip, instead of crossing the Storeabelt bridge, we chose to cross the Lolland Falster islands and take a ferry. When going along main roads and motorway, we really did not see much of this area either. I do not know if it was very worthwhile to take this longer route.

The ferry lasts half an hour and is very comfortable. We park the car in it and there is a cafeteria to eat or drink something. We arrived in Svendborg and ate there a family pizza that was huge. From Svendborg, we cross the Funen island and arrive at Odense, the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen.

In Odense, we visited the museum and Hans Christian Andersen's birthplace. With an atrocious hunger we went in search of a Danish restaurant. As it was the weekend before Christmas it is bursting. So we went to a Greek one, but it would have been cheaper to buy a loaf of bread in the bakery and had eaten the same. We ate in an outdoor cafe. There is a restaurant behind the museum that has a free buffet that includes drinks but it was only until 2:00 PM and we did not arrive on time. In Odense, is also the zoo, the St. Canute's Cathedral but we did not have time to see anything else.

We reach the campsite, which is on a beach in the Vejle fjord.

The truth is that the beach disappointed us a little, because it is made of stones and does not have waves either. The fjord is quite narrow, so we can see the other shore and more than the sea it seems that we are in a swamp. This time we did not find any fossils, although we did see a lot of jellyfish, some dead out of the water and many inside. We must also say that it was quite cold.

Day 5 - Aarhus

We went to visit Arhus, the capital of Jutland. In the morning we visit the Marselisborg Castle, the summer residence of the Danish monarchs. We could see it because they were not there. It is worth visiting, not for the building, but for the gardens and orchards and the beautiful site in which it is located. Admission is free.

After a walk, we went to the center of the city. We visited the Cathedral of San Clemente and took a walk through the pedestrian streets of the Latin Quarter. We ate at a cafe/bar in front of the Magasin store, which had roast chickens and shrimp sandwiches. It was all very tasty.

In the afternoon we went to see Den Gamle By (the old city) which is on the outskirts of Aarhus. It is an open museum organized as an old town formed by historical buildings of Denmark brought from cities and towns throughout Denmark. We loved the place. It looks like a little village from a story. It has a river that crosses it and also horse carts.

There are houses where people lived completely furnished and with people dressed in the old fashioned way. Others are businesses like a carpentry shop or a house where they made coffins and others are old shops. There is a bar to be able to drink something and also eat smorrebrod, as we did. We also had some hot wines (glogg) that warmed our body and soul and some typical sweets that were like little round donuts and with little grace.

From here we went to Ebeltoft which is a coastal town, quite touristy, with beach and many small shops. We arrived a little late and as it about to close we did not enter. From here we went to visit the Sletterhage lighthouse. Like all the lighthouses, it is in a quite charming place, surrounded by a beach of stones, once more, in which we took a nice walk. Lifting the stones we found enough crabs and also enough starfish, of different sizes and colors.

On the way to Billund, we stopped in a beautiful village, Silkeborg. Here we stopped for an ice cream on the shores of Silkeborg Langso, a lake that divides the city. Right there is the stop of the steamboats that moves through the lake. We arrived in time to catch one at 6:30 pm which made a wonderful tour of 1h 30 min. We had not anticipated it and we loved it.

We reach Billund which is located on the Jutland peninsula, separated by the Strait of the Small Belt from Funen Island. There we stayed at the hotel. Billund is a small town where all activity is centered around the Lego factories. There is not much to visit. We got to dinner in Billund, in a pizzeria. It was very cheap and it was not bad.

Day 6 - Billund

We try to find the beaches of Esbjerg, but we did not get it. So we went back where we took a tour to see the Lego factories and we went to see the reception of the Lego Hotel with the store where we chop with another box.

We head to Legoland. We take the tickets in advance on the internet since it is cheaper and we do not have to wait for the queues at the entrance. We took it out in Copenhagen because we wanted to make sure of the weather. We print them at the hotel because we have to take them printed.

There is an area called Miniland with the Lego reconstruction of several cities, also an area with Star Wars scenes and many attractions are decorated with Lego figures. There is also a Polar Zone with penguins and the Atlantis area is an aquarium in which fish live together with the figures and ships of Lego Atlantis. Here lives Crabzilla, a kind of giant crab. We tried not to waste time to see everything.

We ate in one of the many restaurants there and for dessert, we have a super ice cream with 4 balls. To ride there are many queues. The last hour was spent in the lego store where we came out with 4 boxes (we are fanatics of lego).

On the way back, we saw a sign that indicated Jelling and I had read that in this town there were some stones with runes, in which the name of Denmark appears for the first time and we decided to approach. The stones really are not worth much and the center that is next door was closed, but the town is very idyllic.

At the entrance there is a small lake, with its cows on the shore and there was a kind of Viking ship inside. The whole town is very well kept, super clean, with its small church and the cemetery around. The stones are in this cemetery.

We went back exhausted to the hotel. We walked to the restaurant and had dinner there. It is the liveliest thing in the area. Apart from a small shopping center with shops and restaurants, it has a water park and belongs to a resort. We had dinner with American food that was very rich.

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Day 7 - Ribe

Today we visited Kolding, an ancient city of royalty that offers many historical sites. We visit the beautifully restored ruins of Koldinghus Castle. From the castle, there are beautiful views of the Kolding Fjord. We then go south of Kolding to see Christiansfeld, the best preserved old town of Moravia in northern Europe. There is the Church of the brotherhood of Moravia. We ate there after taking a nice walk and seeing its shops.

In the afternoon we went to Ribe. It is the oldest city in Denmark. It is the city that I liked most of all we have visited so far. We took the bicycles and went to see Ribe, where we walked through the streets of the oldest city in Denmark.

Located in a flat and swampy area, with marvelously well-preserved houses, streets, and monasteries from the medieval period. The city is also home to the fantastic Museet Ribes Vikinger. We climb to the top of the Commoner's Tower inside the impressive Ribe cathedral, and thus enjoy the breathtaking views of the old town and its surroundings.

We go to the Mandø island for the possibility of seeing seals. The Mandø island, together with Romø and Fanø are part of the Wadden Sea National Park. We accessed from a place close to Ribe by a small road that can only be reached at low tide. In less than an hour we arrived at the island, which is very bucolic, with its sheep, cows, a mill.

When we crossed the sand and arrived near the shore, we got off and we realized that those species of stones that we saw in the distance were really seals and there were hundreds. So as not to scare them, they do not let us get closer than 50 meters. So we cannot see the seals up close and we can see that some of them enter the water. They come out, and they crawl.

The guide found a small nugget of amber that he gave us. When we returned to the village, I had just time to eat the picnic we had in a fantastic place, overlooking the sandbar and the mill. This was our last full day in Denmark, so we returned from Jutland to Zealand to stay the last night closer to the airport.

We cross to the Zealand island where Copenhagen is. We cross to the Fiona island by the bridge of the Great Belt. It is the greater of the three marine narrows that connect the Kattegat Strait with the Baltic Sea. It is a little expensive, but we save a lot of roads. On the island, there are many more places to visit but we did not have time.

From here we went to Gilleleje, where we had booked the last night in a B&B. Gilleleje is a fishing village and has a harbor with many fishing boats and mountains of nets. There are several specialized fish restaurants and in particular we dined in one, which was very good. On the outside it is like a red prefabricated house, but inside it is very nice and well decorated. We had a craft beer.

Day 8 - Greenland

For breakfast, my hosts filled me with marinated herring, cold meats, fruits, and yogurt. It was a delight. We went back to Copenhagen and as it was early to go to the airport, we thought of going to see a movie in IMAX or 3D. Then we saw a movie in 3D.

After lunch, we leave to catch the plane. We arrived at the airport and we finished our trip where we started it. We are very tired but it has been worth it. The beginning of my trip to Greenland originates from Copenhagen. The trip really begins when we take the plane in Copenhagen to Narsarsuaq. At the boarding gate it is very easy to distinguish between the Danes, the Inuits (Eskimos, but they do not like to be called that because they usually take it as a derogatory way of calling them) and the rest.

Once on the plane, in front of us sits an older man who lives near the border area with Switzerland and who goes there to serve as a doctor. After about four hours of flight we are approaching Greenland. The doctor who has already made the trip several times tells us to look through the window, but unfortunately the sky is cloudy and cannot be seen from above.

Nor can we see Iceland well when we pass over. If I had already seen it on the internet bad weather was waiting for us in Greenland. Even so, as we go down, and cross the dense white clouds, we begin to see the snow of the mountain peaks. It is amazing how the white of the clouds blends with the white of the snow.

And slowly, we go through all the clouds and begin to distinguish the mountains, the icebergs, and the water of the sea with a rich blue color. No doubt the trip is worth it just for the views from the plane when landing. The arrival in Greenland on the flight is impressive, with our noses stuck to the window, like little children in front of a showcase of goodies.

We enjoyed the view of the fjords, the sea ice, the mountains and the sea full of icebergs, all of a vivid color and that was cloudy and the sun was not visible. We notice that the plane takes off the landing gear but, while I only see water and more water, are we going to land in the water? There is the airstrip of Narsarsuaq airport. I did not know it but they told me that it is one of the most dangerous.

Apparently the runway is very short, but the pilots are very experienced and descend without problems on the track, and not on the water as I began to fear. I had not left the plane and only the view from it encouraged me to consider the trip as satisfied. It is an impressive sight.

Denmark was for me a step forward and a great experience. Not only is it a beautiful country, with nice people it has full of places impossible to forget.

The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra

Kailash, the abode of Shiva, is a sacred mountain. Beneath the mountain, Mansarovar lake is also considered sacred. Therefore, thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage to the Mansarovar region every year. The pilgrimage is done clockwise by Hindus and Buddhists. The followers of the Jain and Bonpo religions circumambulate the mountain to the left.

Kailash Mansarovar Tour can be started from Kathmandu through Lhasa. A private vehicle can be hired in Lhasa or Kathmandu. The paved road passes through the uneven terrains of Tibet, making it easier to tour the valley.

Day 1

At 7 o'clock in the morning, the sky is completely clear with a wonderful full moon. When leaving Shegar, we have a very strict check-point. It seems that the road to the Everest Base Camp is very controlled. The road that climbs to the hill of Pang La is impressive.

Our guide tells us that in a few years, the road will reach the foot of the Kailash. We arrive at Pang La (5198 m). We were going to stop only ten minutes because the Everest chain was invisible for several days. We approach the panoramic map and it seems that the horizon is clear and in a matter of seconds, slowly the whole chain appears. The emotion is immense.

Our guide shows us the Cho Oyu to the right of Everest. We can also see on our left the Makalu and the Lhotse. After taking dozens of photos, we take the road again, going down the hill to the north, to go to the EBC. We go through a small town. The color tones of the Tibetan plateau are of great delicacy. We arrive at Rongbuk at 4980 m altitude.

The Rongbuk monastery is the highest in Tibet and in the world. There was a monastic activity for hundreds of years but this monastery was established in 1902. Before the Chinese Cultural Revolution, 500 monks lived here. Now there are some thirty nuns and monks left. Inside are some absolutely wonderful murals.

We leave the backpacks at our hotel and after a hot tea, we take a jeep to travel the five kilometers to the EBC. At the check post we have to show passport and various permits before leaving. Our guide seems to have everything in order. From the barracks, the small hill goes up. It is totally empty since it is not a season of expeditions.

There is a habit among climbers who before leaving leave ephemeral words on the ground. And we, being trekkers, do not have the right to pass the marked limit, that is, to go down the hill, otherwise it would be another permit, that of expeditions!

We have to go back to Rongbuk. The most incredible thing is the photograph of the monastery with Everest in the background and the daily life around the monastery. The restoration of the monastery began in 1983 but as we can see in the photo, today it continues. Known locally as Qomolungma, locals consider Everest a sacred mountain. Before going to dinner and sleeping, my friend has stayed in ecstasy.

Day 2

We got up after a difficult night, which is not surprising at 5000 m altitude. At 6, Everest is completely in the clouds. When leaving at 8 o'clock, the completely clear mountain is splendid. But we must continue towards the west, towards the Kailash.

But as we are forced to go 50 kilometers an hour, there is not much danger. In Tibet, snow is scarce in winter and the thorny brush that resists the ice allows the herd of yaks to feed. The landscape is amazing. We are again in the Friendship Highway, on a plateau between 4400 and 4700 m of altitude between two mountain ranges with the Himalayas to the south.

We see the Langiang Tsho and Pelkhu Tsho lakes and in the distance, the Shisha Pangma (8013 m). During the ten hours of travel, we have passed several hills. This is the last one before arriving at Saga, our resting point for this day. We dreamed of a shower after days without water, but it was impossible. Saga has electricity only for two hours a day and the water is pumped from the Phreatic layers. Then when arriving very late, the hotel had no water for showers, or light.

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Day 3

We are again waiting for about five hundred kilometers of road between Saga and Darchen, to reach the point so dreamed, the Kailash. Crossing a town, again we are surprised to see so many houses under construction, all on the same model. A few meters from here, there is a very strict police control, before the Mayum La (5280 m) hill.

To the south is the fascinating Gurla Mandata (7728 m) that we will now be able to see from any point during the next few days. We get the first view of the Kailash (6714 m). Our guide during the photo stop, called the office issuing permission for the return of the Kailash in Darchen.

We see the sacred Manasarovar lake, south of the Kailash before arriving at our lodge in Darchen (4680 m). Tomorrow is the long awaited day. We are all mountaineers and we have a tremendous desire to put our backpack on our backs and start walking.

Day 4

We depart at 8 in the morning. The weather is very cold but splendid. From our lodge, we see the Kailash at 6714 m. The Kailash is claimed as the most sacred mountain in the world by Indians and Tibetans. It is the center of the world in the cosmogony of Asia. The word Kailash or Gang Rinpoche or Gang Ti-se, in Tibetan, means the jewel of the ice peaks.

The majestic peak of the Kailash has never been conquered by a man. Many explorers tried to climb the peak, but eventually could not. Climbing the peak is now prohibited by the Chinese government.

We have to cross the village of Darchen first (4680 m). Darchen, a village 1200 kilometers from Lhasa, is the starting point of the pilgrims around the Kailash. At 4720 m altitude, after walking almost two hours, we reach the end of the track for buses and motorcycles. Our handbags go from a truck to the back of a yak.

Each one makes this pilgrimage according to their beliefs but also according to their physical and financial strength. Tibetans walk or kneel, alone, as a family, with children on their backs, stopping to sleep on the edge of the road when the body asks for it. We meet fellow Indians on horseback going up the hill of Droma La (5660 m).

They arrived directly from Delhi after changing four flights, that is, they started without any acclimatization. Their physical condition is very poor, and they fall on top of the horse as they get dizzy at the edge of the roads. Many of them, when coming down from the pass on the other side have to walk supported by two guides. This turn of the Kailash is all a show.

We continue advancing and rising slowly and see nomads with yaks on the river Lha Chu. We have a small break for our group at 4895 m altitude before arriving at the Dira Puk monastery (5070 m). We will sleep in barracks in front of the monastery with a breathtaking view of the north face of the Kailash. Around the barracks are horses, yaks, and humans.

Day 5

I wake up at 6 in the morning. Today, each one will rise at their own pace. Our Tibetan guide opens the march ahead, with the fastest while our Nepalese guide is left behind. They rest on the climb, and smile at us. The Tibetans are very nice.

Our Tibetan guide wait for us at the pass of Droma La (5660 m). It is a very emotional moment as we have managed to climb slowly but without problem! There is no photo of the group because the first ones that have arrived have already come down. They will wait for us below. And our guide encourages us to get down as soon as possible.

We see a small lake below the pass. The yaks go down very happy. We arrive at the Zuthul Puk monastery (4850 m). We spend the night in this monastery, also very old but much better than the barracks of yesterday. The temple rises around the grotto where Milarepa, illustrious Tibetan mystic and one of the greatest poets of Asia, meditated for many years.

Day 6

We go down again to Darchen to close the loop following the river Dzong Chu. In the restaurant, we met two Tibetans, a mother and her daughter. They have made the return in less than two days sleeping on the edge of the road a few hours a night. They, as usual, do not seem to have any problem with the altitude. The mother does not know how to write but she knows how to handle her phone very well. They are both admirable.

Our yak arrives with her pastor. Kailash this morning is completely covered by clouds. We had incredible luck with a cold weather at night but very nice to walk during the day. Now our driver is waiting for us for the last stage of this incredible trip. We have three more days to the west and three days to go all the way back to Lhasa.

We go directly from Darchen to the village of Moincer, passing through the Guru Rinpoche Monastery and the hot springs of Tirthapuri, where pilgrims usually come to bathe after returning to the Kailash. The spring that has a temperature of 40 degrees is the source of the Sutlej River.

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Day 7

We head to the famous Guge Kingdom, going down and up hills by some steep roads, passing the most sophisticated checkpoints. We cross a landscape of exceptional natural beauty that cuts our breath. The mountains around the Sutlej river are formed by a semi-consolidated fluvial clay, by sand and gravel, elements affected by erosion, rain and ice.

We stopped at noon in Zanda where we found a lot of police checks, for a delicious meal based on a fish soup accompanied by other dishes, and visit the Tholing Monastery. It was the most important monastery of Buddhism, comparable to the Vatican, almost totally destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. There emanates a feeling of great sadness and desolation to walk among its ruins.

The old Guge kingdom of Ngari was a province that knew political independence, economic prosperity and religious fervor. The ruins date from the ninth century. The kingdom disappeared just fifty years after the arrival of the first Westerners, Portuguese missionaries, in 1624, first to cross the Himalayas from India. The location of these ruins and the beauty of the surroundings are absolutely amazing, and the place is so little crowded that we feel in the deepest recesses of the world.

We left Zanda to spend the night in Tsaparang very close to Guge. Tonight, we slept in a very nice guest-house with hot water and shower in a luxury and a great pleasure after days with wipes. We are at 3750 m altitude and it is not cold at all. We now have the trip back to Lhasa, with another wonderful stop at the edge of Lake Manasarovar towards south of the Kailash.

Day 8

From Guge, some ninety kilometers to the east, we have our next stop, at the edge of the famous Lake Manasarovar, at 4700 m altitude, south of the Kailash. According to the tradition, in the four cardinal points of Manasarovar there are four animals hidden in caves. There is an elephant, a lion, a horse, a bull and from their mouths the greatest rivers of Asia sprout like the Indus, Ganges, Sutlej and Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo).

Lake Rakshastal is located in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar. To our left is the Kailash. At the edge of the lake, we will spend a night in a very friendly guest-house. The ladies of the house prepare dinner for us and our guide helps them. A nomad comes to drink hot tea and have a little company.

At the edge of the lake and a few meters from our guest house, we see the Chiu Monastery. In these places, there is almost nobody, but only nomads.

At night, a couple of young nomads stop at the guest house to rest a little. The owner proposes them to sleep inside, but they say they are going to sleep outside, near their animals. We are almost two thousand kilometers from Lhasa but a light-years away from the way of life.

Day 9

We left very early because many kilometers are waiting for us and it has also started to snow. After half an hour of road, our driver stops at a fuel pump. Because of the cold, all diesel fuel distribution systems are blocked. Cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, pile up around us. There is nothing to do but wait like everyone else.

Finally the situation is fixed at 10. We have many kilometers before reaching Saga, but the controls continue to get stricter. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, we are forced to stop forty minutes at the edge of the road, to respect the schedule. That is to say that we had to do the 195 kilometers from the last checkpoint to Ma Youqiao border, in 4 hours and the driver has gone ahead. Fortunately, the sun has come out again. We pass the next control at 1:40 pm sharp. These are totally surreal situations. After several other checks, we arrived at Saga at 7 in the evening. We have been on the bus for 12 hours.

Day 10

This morning, it is snowing, especially when we pass the first pass of the day at an altitude of 5000 m. At least, we have seen snow in Tibet because despite what we can imagine of Tibet, it is a region where snow is scarce.

A young pastor asked us for help. His motorcycle did not work and his two yaks were down the hill. After arrival in Shigatse we find the hotel of the way with comfortable rooms, hot showers, hair dryer, wifi in each room and a good vegetable soup. It is a luxury after so many days in primitive living conditions.

Bling Bling in Las Vegas - Travel into the World of Poker and Glitter

A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas. It was a trip that was not planned and came up in the chair of a bar. Many times I have been asked why I have not written about Las Vegas. The truth is that it is not a city that I liked. I could not say that I had a bad time because it would be a lie. But if someone asked me about all the places I've been and which are the one I least liked, that place would be Las Vegas.

How did the trip to Las Vegas come about? As I told you before, the trip to Las Vegas arose in the chair of a bar. I won the trip to Las Vegas playing darts and this time it was I who said: Am I going to Las Vegas? But of course, I was not going to Las Vegas for just a week. So I started seeing the things to see and to do around and in the end, I stayed almost a month in the United States.

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First impressions - In the airport

When I arrived in the United States, the first stop was Philadelphia, a short stopover we had on our trip. I remember that the airport was huge and I had to walk a lot until I reached the area where our next flight was coming from. At this airport, we were treated phenomenally. I had the impression that with the whole issue of security in the United States, airport employees would be unfriendly, but nothing could be further from the truth.

They asked us the typical questions of where we are going to sleep and four other things. I took out the bookings I had done in all the places we were going to visit, including Route 66. I think that we won with that. When I arrived in Las Vegas I went to the area where we had to pick up our rental car. That's where we saw the first slots with its little lights and noise. So that you go to set.

Las Vegas appears as a mirage in a desert landscape. It is a city created from nothing in an inhospitable place. As we approached her with the car we began to see the tallest and most characteristic buildings such as the Stratosphere tower or the Eiffel Tower. We were surprised by the size of the city, much larger than we expected. It has something more than a million and a half inhabitants, in one State, Nevada, which has 2 million.

Our Hotel in Las Vegas

Once we had the rental car, we went to our hotel. It is an old hotel, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip on the main street where all the best-known hotels are. It is important to try to stay in Las Vegas during the week because the prices are much cheaper. The trick is to attract tourists and once in the city, they offer all kinds of temptations to spend the dollars. Our hotel was old, but it was cool, clean and cheap. The nice thing is in its tastes. But it cost us 25 dollars a night. I think it made it more beautiful!

The hotel has a self-parking where you can leave the car for free and a valet parking for customers who stay in it. We went to the latter, showed the reservation and a concierge in Bermuda (we are in Las Vegas) took charge of the car and handed us the receipt to pick it up. The hall of the hotel is huge and quite luxurious.

We had to queue for half an hour at reception until we got the key to the room. The guy who looked after us was very friendly. We were talking about football! He gave us a room on the 17th floor with views of the strip (the main avenue of the city) and the pool.

The room we were given was large with a bathroom that had a TV. It was more than one would like to have a floor of that size, but it was not cleaned. I do not mean dirty, but it had the remains of McDonald's dinner from the previous guest.

I went to take out the drinks in the fridge in the minibar but luckily I read a notice that said clearly that it was electronically controlled and any bottle that moved from its position would be charged to the room. So we went for the ice from a free machine that was in the hallway and we refilled the fridge. We did not complain and we went to meet our friends at the other hotel since we had a car and they did not.

Of course, it took us 20 minutes to get from the room to the hotel parking to pick up the car! We go through the corresponding area of slot machines and game tables. Our friends played the darts championship in a casino on the Strip. As you can imagine with the heat, I was wearing a tank top and they did not let me enter the championship zone because I was showing my shoulders! Not that it was the Vatican!

So in order to see how they played, I had to buy a horrible shirt (the only one that was not too big). But well, it was worth it, because one of the boys was champion in one of the championships that were played.

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24 Hours in Las Vegas

This was the first day of the trip that we did not get up early. After sleeping what we wanted in the comfortable beds we went to pick up the car, presenting the voucher that had been delivered the previous day. In 5 'we had the car again. For breakfast, we go to a donut shop near the hotel.

The problem in the United States is how to order a donut because there are dozens of varieties, but it always helps to point fingers. After filling the cholesterol arteries we made a brief stop at the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. It was full of tourists with Elvis included being able to take a picture with him for payment. A way to make a living like any other.

After the photo of rigor, we spent the whole morning shopping. In Las Vegas, there are two huge outlets, North and South. They have practically the same stores. We chose the South for proximity to the hotel. I advise registering on the web to receive offers and print the discount coupons. Although they are not usually used because the minimum amount of purchase does not usually fall below 150-200 $ and are not applicable to products already discounted price.

Although the reviews that I read of the outlets were very variable to us they seemed recommendable. Another good thing for those who love shopping, are the shopping centers "outlets". Here we can find real bargains, like original Levis pants for $ 20 and many American brands. There are a lot of well-known brands and prices unknown to us: Levis 30-40 $, Vans 20 $, Nike 35 $.

Las Vegas has some things that are good from my point of view. Here I tried the best chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream I've ever tasted, that we were not able to finish! After eating in another of the fast food stalls of the mall we went to the hotel to rest in the pool.

When the afternoon began to fall, we managed to spend our second night in the city of sin. We got on the train to Excalibur and we continued walking to New York, where we crossed a walkway to the opposite side of the strip. We took some pictures with vintage cars outside the Tropicana and entered the MGM in search of the lions that we could not locate. From here we walk to the Paris before stopping for the Twisted Mac and Cheese and Coca-Cola at the Hard Rock Cafe.

We had planned a buffet dinner, recommended by all, but after waiting for about half an hour in the queue and seeing that we did not advance a step we left. The hotel is beautiful both the exterior, with the replica of the Eiffel Tower, and the interior, a perfect imitation of the Parisian streets.

We crossed another gangway towards the opposite side of the strip and we entered the Caesar's Palace (Coliseum and Trevi Fountain included). Here we dined at a restaurant, somewhat expensive but was pretty good. Yes, the usual food of burger, sandwich, and salad with fatty sauce.

After dinner, we went to see the show of the fountains of Bellagio (held every 15 mins). It is fabulous. The immense jets of water accompany a musical theme, in our case Viva Las Vegas by Elvis.

After seeing the fountains, we pass in front of two very luxurious hotels such as the Montecarlo and the Aria, with a shopping gallery to look at me but do not touch me. We stop at the Excalibur to play the little machines (the little one had become a gambler) and then we get back to sleep as we were exhausted.

48 Hours in Las Vegas

We spent the morning of our last day in Las Vegas lying in the sun in the pool. We ate at one of the restaurants that prepare food to take to the umbrella as if they were beach bars. Watching people circling the pool sitting on the float with a beer in one hand and the chicken wings in the other was quite a sight.

After lunch, we went out to visit the last hotels that we needed and at dusk, we would head to Fremont Street. At first, we had thought to drive, but seeing the mess that was on the Strip we wanted the 3 days of Las Vegas were really relaxing, so we decided to take the bus and it was a success. The ticket for a day cost us $ 8 per person. It is removed in the automatic machines that are at each stop. You have to take the money just because it does not change. There are stops at the main hotels along the entire Strip, it's very simple.

We got off at the Venetian, without a doubt the most impressive hotel of all. It is both for the perfect imitation of the city of Venice, with St. Mark's Square, the canals, and gondolas, as well as for its size (the largest hotel in the world with 7,000 rooms) and for the luxury shopping arcades.

The ceilings are painted simulating a blue sky where it is always during the day you visit it at the time you visit it. On the other side of the Strip are the Mirage and Treasure Island, the latter with a free pirate show. We could not attend because the schedule did not coincide but we saw the huge ships where it takes place.

Visiting the Strip by day is quite disappointing. It seems that we are in a fake place, on a stage, where everything around us is not real. It looks like a cardboard city. Not counting the hellish heat, and that prevents you from walking it, or stay out of a place with air conditioning for more than two minutes.

Inside the hotels, we lose track of time. We do not know if it is day or night. The light is always the same, and there are always people. In Las Vegas, we can see two areas on the Strip, where all the known casinos are and the old area which is basically the Fremont Street.

The Strip is the area you've seen a thousand times or more on television. You can see super casinos with different themes, the Caesar Palace, the Luxor, the Venetian. You can see the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower. Some hotels are connected to each other, so you do not have to go outside! Inside, in addition to slots of all styles and prizes and various playgrounds, you can find luxury shops to buy you a whim!

When we walk on the Strip at night, because by day it is 50 degrees (at night only 40), on the sidewalks we see a lot of people offering cards to go off as whores. It does not matter if you go as a couple, with friends, or alone. You will hear the characteristic sound of the Strip, the sound of cards of brothel clubs beating with the hands of those who carry them to get your attention. Within the hotels, in case you do not know, while you are playing the drinks are free, both in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

We took the bus again and we left behind the core of the Strip to go to Fremont Street to see the Fremont Street Experience. Between 7 pm and 12 at night the street becomes a huge cinema where images with a musical background are projected on screens that cover it. We were disappointed because it lasted only a few minutes and the music that accompanied the images was lazy.

But the place has a lot of charm. It's the face of Las Vegas 30 years ago, with smaller hotels and large luminous signs. You have to enter the Golden Nugget casino, one of the favorites by the players, which maintains the vintage flavor. It has a curious pool with a covered slide that goes through the center of an aquarium (it is clear that we are in Las Vegas).

The old part of Las Vegas, where it all started. It is an area with a little less glamor than the other, it is interesting to know. I see another face of Las Vegas, one that seems more realistic when you take your eyes away from the lights and the noise of the slots.

In this area, I see a bit of everything from the decline to the desire. The tourists look at the ceiling that is a giant screen, judging the girls in bikini, and the sound of the machines. At night when going out into the street we were hit by the heat.

The return by bus to the Strip was an odyssey because it was full and with some passengers with a dangerous aspect, but we arrived without problems. On the way, we saw the illuminated tower of the Stratosphere, the tallest building in the city (emblem of the followers of CSI).

We said goodbye to Las Vegas having buffet dinner. It also contributed that we went when there was little to close and there were fewer clients. After a few games to the arcades and return in the little train to our beloved hotel.

We ended our stay in Las Vegas. A city that is understood to raise great passions, of one sign and another. Personally, I think it's worth visiting once in a lifetime and it's really hard not to enjoy the days you spend there. Here ended the first part of the trip, an intense week where we had seen a large number of unforgettable places. And those that were still.

Travel between Temples, Villages and Tribal Markets in Orissa

Finally, I have a holiday vacation in Indian style, that is, totally without a plan, or booking, or anything. I got the tickets at the last moment to travel to Orissa. The train came not from the Howrah Station, like most, but from a small station south of Howrah, from Shalimar. It is an almost empty train station, with only a measly tea shop. For me, it was the first time I traveled by train. So it was very exciting.

I am used to long bus trips, but also to their stops every four hours, to stretch my legs and have a tea or eat something. In something the train and the bus are similar. It takes more or less the same (although the train is much cheaper if one travels in Sleeper Class), and the beds are equally uncomfortable. The jumps, rattles, and noises, are similar too. Maybe it's more interesting to go by train because you can talk to more people and that, although as we travel at night we basically spend the night.

Sometimes I was awakened by the passengers who got on the train, the men snoring, the children crying or talking, the chaiwala walking by the train shouting Chai! Chai! Around 5 the children who were next to me wake up and did not go back to sleep, and neither did I.

At 6.30 I arrived at Puri, which turned out to be a village by the sea, overflowing with people. I decided that I would not spend the night in Puri, but would go directly to Konark, which is about an hour away. It has a temple dedicated to the Sun, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. So with the backpack on my back, I toured all of Puri on foot. First I went down to the CT Road to have some breakfast.

I had a tea when I arrived but I needed something for my stomach. I found a hotel with a very nice restaurant, which was the only one that was open at that time, and with a very friendly waiter. He recommended me a paratha (because it was the easiest thing to do, not because it was better), so I did not have to wait long. The parathas of the east are a flat round bread fried in a lot of oil, instead of being baked, and is quite thick.

They are usually filled with a thin layer of potato or paneer (fresh cheese), and taken with something spicy or yogurt. To have breakfast is too much for my stomach (in fact, at any time they are too heavy for me). In the south, on the other hand, the paratha is made on a griddle, with less oil than here. It opens in different layers in a way that looks like a spiral bread with three dimensions and is crunchy.

In Calcutta, I have found it like that in restaurants. In others places, it is horrible. So I decided on the vegetable sandwich, and I was not wrong. It was one of the best vegetable sandwiches I've tried in India so far.

After breakfast and a couple of cafes, I continue walking to the end of CT Road and turn to go to Puri beach, which is very famous. The city is close to the sea, and they have an important fishing industry, especially of dry sardines. In the street, I had seen more or less decent buildings, two or three story high. But when entering the beach I found a village of mud houses, some bricks with one story and probably one room, at the most two. Here the fishermen and their families lived.

The animals were let loose in the yards that shared the different houses with roosters, chickens, dogs, goats, ducks, and cats. The women prepared food in the courtyards (or in the "street", if that is how you can call the small sandy path that wound between the groups of houses to go to the beach), cutting fish or doing some preparation with dried sardines. The children played with the spinning top, and the men bathed and brushed their teeth.

Many came to ask me where I came from. At one point I was surrounded by four or five children and their mothers and fathers, who wanted to invite me to their houses to take fish or tea. They told me that they were Telugu, from Andhra Pradesh, who had come for work in Orissa. Towards the end of the beach, which was getting cleaner and clearer as I left the fishing village, I began to see tourists.

And next to the tourists, are food stalls and people with horses where people could ride and walk on the beach. There were also some men with big tires that were tied with a thick rope. As the currents in Puri are dangerous, people hardly bathe. Those who dare to get in the water often do it inside those tires, as if they were floats. If a dangerous wave comes the men would pull the rope to return the swimmer to the beach. It does not seem very safe anyway, so there are also a few coastguards, easy to identify by the funny little hat they wear.

At the end of the beach, I also saw the place where the Christmas sand sculptures are made. Before leaving for Orissa, I had seen photos, and I was very curious. But the sculptures that were on the page were no longer on the beach. Instead, there was another, pretty too, painted in colors and with an environmental theme:

I leave the beach to walk to the most famous temple of Puri, Jagannath Mandir. It is a temple dedicated to one of the many forms of Vishnu, and some seem to relate to Buddha. He is worshiped along with his brothers Balabhadra and Subhadra. The images of the gods are usually made of wood, and the three of them always go together.

I go around the walls (it's a huge temple complex), observing people buying things for offerings before entering the temple, and going up to a temple. I visit a small library from whose window I can see the square and a bit of the temple. It is a very busy and very lively place, and we were not in festival time. I don't even want to imagine how Puri should be during Ratha Yatra.

In the library, you can go up one more floor to see better, but in my guide, it says that simply giving 10 rupees is enough. However, the librarian asked me, without asking, for 100 rupees, with the excuse that it was for the maintenance of the library. But precisely what this library did not have was maintenance. The books, tucked inside old cabinets, were covered with mountains of dust.

They had a couple of newspapers of the day (which cost one rupee and a half). When I asked him how the money was spent exactly in the maintenance of the library, he dodged the question and ended up saying that it was to buy newspapers and magazines of the day.

I left the library to find somewhere to eat something and find the bus station, which was at the end of the large avenue. I ate a thali with dal fry (yellow lentils sautéed with vegetables), some vegetables in a spicy sauce, and a lot of rice. Tired of not sleeping and with the backpack on the back, and the heat in Puri, I arrived exhausted at the train station.

There I sat in the shade a little bit to enjoy a tea. At the Puri bus station people, cows, and flies accumulated in a true medley. There were many stalls selling jalebis and rasgullas. I try each of them and they were really delicious.

Before going to Konark, I wanted to visit a village recommended on my guide as the ideal place to buy handicrafts and artistic objects typical of the area. It is Raghurajpur. I thought about going by bus but it was very crowded. So, in the end, I negotiated with an autorickshaw driver a round trip for 150 rupees. It is 14 kilometers away, a bit far, so I was convinced by the price. I saved myself from standing on a crowded bus. The place where I was going was actually a little outside, passing a train line.

It was no more than a street full of houses in which the artisans (some were and others did not) sold and exhibited their materials. It is a tourist trap, with all the letters. There was no one there except a French woman with a surreal look, an Australian backpacker, and me too. It was a strange situation.

Some of the artisans spoke English quite well but in spite of everything they immediately adorned their speeches and explanations with words in Oriya, Bengali, and Hindi. The funny thing is that sometimes they looked at me saying "you understand, don't you? Just because I started talking to them in Bengali when I entered.

Some had works of art. But as works of art, they exceeded my budget. Although it was not that they were expensive even so, too much for me. And too much for the trip. The sheets were going to ruin my backpack. In the end, I bought a coconut painted with the Jagannath trio as a souvenir. I returned to Puri and finally took a bus to Konark. The first one was already overflowing with people. When I say to overflow, I say to overflow literally as people clung to the bus bars as they could and went outside.

So I went up to the second, in which there was still some free seats. It was 20 rupees per person for one hour of travel. This bus like the previous one ended with people overflowing through the doors, with some upstairs with their suitcases. I was so tired after the whole day kicking with the suitcase, without rest, that as soon as the bus started rattling my eyes were closed. I opened them to the voice of the conductor, calling me from among the dreams, to tell me that I had already arrived at Konark.

When I arrived it was getting dark. They left me on the main road where there were only restaurants and souvenir shops. Actually, Konark is not a village town. It is a road that surrounds the temple in which there are hotels, shops, restaurants, a small shopping center, and some houses scattered in very good to dilapidated states. It looked like a battle video game in which you enter a desolate village. But with souvenir shops.

I was greeted by a nice old man who immediately asked me my name and where I came from. The old man turned out to be an official Konark guide and guided me to the hotel and the way to the important places. He made me promise that the next morning I would look for him at the door of the temple and enter with him. I tried a couple of hotels but they turned out to be very expensive for the quality of the rooms.

I was just looking for a clean bathroom, hot water, and a little cleaning. But it turned out that looking for those three things was very complicated in Konark. The rooms without anything of that cost were about 400 rupees, and the truth is that they were not worth it. That's worth in Kolkata with all the comforts I was looking for.

So I kept the backpack on my shoulder walking through Konark in the dark visiting all the hotels mentioned in my guide, and a few more. In the end, I reached the entrance of the temple, which was lit and looked beautiful, and I met again with the old guide.

In one of them, I was when the light went out. It turns out that in Konark at about 8 o'clock the electricity goes out and even after two hours, it does not return this way every day. I guess once you know it, nothing happens. In a way, it is a privilege. Looking at the sky I can appreciate all the stars. It's the first time I've seen the stars in this part of India, and it's an unforgettable show.

The room I was seeing with the light of my cell phone and some candles was the dirtiest I had seen, but also the cheapest one with 250 rupees. For one night, maybe for one night, I could have endured, but I convinced myself to see some more and return when there was light. No one was going to come at that time to take away an empty room. So I continue walking until I return to the same place where the bus left me, and I tried the last hotel in the city.

The lodge had nothing majestic, but it was the cleanest. There was no hot water (neither here nor anywhere), but at least the bathroom was good, although it was outside the room and was tiny. I bargained with the innkeeper and in the end, I stayed for 350 rupees. The truth is that the room was large and the bed was huge, and not too hard. I unfolded my sleeping bag and leave my backpack finally and went out for dinner.

I found a restaurant that had a generator, and I ordered dosa. They are the effects of having lived in the south. I am passionate about southern food, especially the dosas, although what really deprives me is the vada sambhar. It is a kind of salty donuts made with rice flour, boiled and then fried, with a crunchy layer, which is taken with a soup of tamarind, vegetables, and lentils (the sambhar).

The hotel had the chhena poda, a sweet that seems to be the specialty of Orissa. I wanted to try it, so I ordered a piece, but they gave me two. It looks like a kind of cheesecake. It is made with paneer, the Indian fresh cheese. The little gold on the outside is very attractive, but inside it is a bit too wet. I do not like the syrup of roses which sweetens much of the Indian sweets. I had to eat the two pieces myself. With that and the dosa I was full, so I went for a walk looking for a tea shop to do the digestion.

Strolling, I end up again in front of the temple (Konark is very very small), and the owner of a restaurant approached me. He asked me where I came from, and I told him that from Kolkata. And it turned out that he was also from Kolkata, so we started talking in Bengali. He was very happy and requested me to have dinner for the second time in his restaurant.

But as he saw that I was not going to eat twice, he invited me to have tea in his restaurant. I was looking for some candy and the man, like a good Bengali, said that he would bring me a great candy. I enter. It was all dark, with candles on the tables, and there was hardly anyone inside, so it was very cozy and pleasant. The tea tasted great, but the sweets turned out to be two warm rasgullas.

The owner of the restaurant told me to take the chairs outside, which was very good, and brought more tea. I was talking for a good time, almost two hours, in Bengali. I told him that I had been studying in Calcutta for two years. Talking about talking we ended up talking about motorcycles, which were a good way to go to the Chandrabhaga beach near Konark. He told me that he would give me his motorcycle if I knew how to drive.

He went to bring it through the alley of the temple, while I stayed drinking my tea and watching the stars until he returned. When he returned, the light returned. I said goodbye, who invited me to everything and did not let me pay anything. I went back to the hotel to sleep, finally, in a bed, and to rest after so many things in a single day.

I woke up in Konark a little late, around 9 o'clock, when I wanted to get up early, but I found it impossible with how tired I was. Although during the day it was quite hot in Orissa, at night and in the morning it was so cool that it seemed like real winter (which it was). So showering with cold water was not too appetizing, but there was no other choice. Actually, after a while, the water did not seem so cold anymore.

The worst thing was the icy little breeze that was coming in through the door. I've already said that the bathroom was not in the room, but right next to it in a minimum cabin, and I could feel the temperature outside. I went out for breakfast for tea and some patties and a little fruit.

I expected to see the old guide around, but he should have already entered with some other group because I did not see him anywhere. The temple had a lot of life in the morning compared to the afternoon. It seemed incredible that so many people could meet in such a small town to see a ruined temple where no religious ceremony is taking place.

The owner of the restaurant where I had gone to have tea the night before, had told about me that at the ticket counter that I was a friend of his. I get inside for free. What I did was explain in Bengali to the ticket seller that I was not a tourist, but that I worked in Kolkata and show my credentials. In many monuments and tourist places there is a rate for Indians and another for foreigners, although when I went to Hampi, I saw you can bargain.

I entered, without a local guide, although the travel guide had several explanations about the temple. It is quite ruined, and the truth is only the part seen from the door is restored. The back is a jumble of smooth stones, to contain the structure, rusty scaffolding, and other remains. A bit disappointing, really. I wonder if so much reconstruction is worth it. Although the front part looks real, from behind with so much smooth stone that obviously was not there originally, one wonders if the temple was like that or not when they built it.

The Konark Sun Temple is designed as a carriage that carries the God Surya (the sun) inside. That's why the horses, which originally had more, I think there were seven, meaning the days of the week. The wheels, which simulate those of the car, are 24, one for each hour of the day. Each wheel has eight spokes, which indicate 8 moments of the day and in which a different image related to that part of the day is sculpted.

Konark was full of tourists who had come to see the Sun Temple. However, within half an hour I was doubtful about it. Had they come to see the temple, or take pictures only? And this was done by families, girls, teenagers, young boys and girls and even retired couples. At one point I was trying to take a picture of the temple, wrestling with my camera, and I could not get it out because there were so many people and I had to give up.

For me, it was the first time, and it was a real shock. The experience was repeated for the rest of our vacation, but it was never as intense as in Konark. I went out, finally, just as a group of retired Japanese people entered with their photo cameras. I wonder if they could take pictures.

I left the temple and decided that it was time to approach the Chandrabhaga beach. In the end, I did not dare to go with the bike of my new friend, and I got on a shared auto rickshaw for 10 rupees. I was going with a group of women from Orissa who were talking to each other and pointing me out, having a great time at my expense. I wonder what they would say. The beach is close, 3 kilometers away, and it is a huge and quiet place. There I relax a little at last, after the burden of the temple and the photos, and I take a coconut. Only the sun was missing, the sky was cloudy that day.

It was time to eat and I went to my old friend's restaurant to have a thali. The food was passable. It was cheap as a thali cost 40 rupees, and was repeated as many times as I would like. In addition, papad was served (a kind of fried or roasted cake that is super crunchy) free while I waited. Even while I ate, people would come to me to say hello, to ask where I was from, if I liked the food, etc.

After the meal, I take a paan, leaves of a plant filled with various spices, seeds, and sugars that are good for digestion. The little man of the paan shop made us a spectacular one, but he ripped me off as he wanted. An error here is not asking the price of a thing before taking/eating/traveling. Always ask. The guy charged me 20 rupees when they should have been 10 at most but I was tired and did not want to argue.

Again with the backpack on the shoulders, I went to the bus station, that is, to the esplanade of the buses, ready to go to Bhubaneshwar. The bus looked like a toy, small and red, and you could tell it had suffered on the roads. I found a place to sit in the back, that was not broken (it seemed like a miracle on that bus). What had been broken was the window next to me, and they had fixed it with two wooden planks. At least there was something that covered me with the wind, but I could not see the landscape. I had to look over the shoulder of the man traveling in front.

However, the two-hour trip did not take too long. Between the sounds and the music, it seemed that I was like in a novel. The towns were passed one after another, full of tea and food shops, gift shops for tourists and people walking by them. At last, I arrive at Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa. I was going to spend two days there.

The next day I had a plan to visit some caves west of Bhubaneswar at Udayagiri and Khandagiri. They were built by the Jains, supposedly in the 1st century BC, for the ascetics of this religion. Apparently, one of the Kalinga kings (the empire that was formerly in Orissa) built them for them. So in addition to religious symbols, in some caves, there are drawings about kings, battles, etc.

In reality, these "caves" are not caves, but hollows dug in the stones of a hill. When I heard "cave", I imagined something under the earth or at least very deep inside, but nothing like it. Some are very very small and none is too deep. It is best to walk and climb to the top of the hill to see the views of Bhubaneshwar in the distance. From Udayagiri the views are the best, and the temple of Khandagiri, opposite, looks beautiful.

But be careful if you go up to Khandagiri. It is full of monkeys wishing to eat all the food you carry, and priests asking for money in exchange for flowers. If you want to enter the temple you have to pay for it separately. So I do not enter. I did not think it was worth it, and I was not going to understand anything either, so I did not care. Udayagiri is what one cannot miss. Again, I spoke in Bangla to explain that I worked in Kolkata and get inside free.

After that, it was already midday and I called the booked car driver to go to Pipli. I returned to Bhubaneshwar and there I waited for him. He arrived in a dusty car that he should not have used in years. There I went to Pipli, which is not far away, while the driver asked me what I had seen in Orissa and how much I had paid to see it. When I told him that I had paid nothing, he laughed a lot. The car left me for shopping.

There were lots of little shops with little glass lamps, bags, toiletry bags, clothes to hang on the wall with images of gods, bookmarks, purses, and cloth filing cabinets. Above all, there were fabrics with mirrors and embroideries of Jannagath. In an hour I just bought some souvenirs and presents, and I went back to the car. The plan was to go to Koraput to visit the tribes.

To visit the bonda women and the other tribes, I had two options. The first and most trite is to take a tourist bus, which is the one offered by all travel agencies, with stops and overnight stays in the same places. You can visit some villages that have been receiving tourists for many years and that have lost much of their authenticity. The other option is which is the one I have chosen.

Finally, I arrive at my destination to the community center, which consists of three buildings, built by the local tribes and with the same materials they use in their buildings. Two of the buildings have three rooms each for accommodation, and the other for the kitchen and dining room. My room is spacious, clean, and with bathroom. Yes, there is neither wifi nor any internet. During the four days that I am going to be here, I will live practically incommunicado since, although there is a telephone connection.

In the mornings it is cool to the point of needing a warm garment until the sun rises since we are in winter and in a mountainous area. The breakfast is excellent, with an omelet, fruit, jam, and toast, among other things. There is also coffee, which as in many cases in these parts, is instant. The third day of my stay is the one that I have scheduled the visit to the weekly market of a village where bonda women go. The bonda people live in remote villages and come down to this town to sell in the weekly market a kind of wine extracted from coconut trees and rice.

When we are approaching the village the guide warns me that photos are prohibited. The best thing I can do to avoid problems with the surveillance is to leave the camera in the car or keep it in a bag to keep it out of sight. At the entrance of the village, I see the first bonda woman with her striking attire and I have to resist not trying to shoot the camera from inside the car.

I have seen numerous tribes all over the world, but the clothing of bonda women is one of the most original. They have their heads shaved, covering their chest with large necklaces of brightly colored beads. The part of the abdomen is covered with a coarse cloth garment, a sort of loincloth, although some have already adopted a conventional dress. The outfit is topped by a small cape, as well as necklaces made of thick aluminum tubes and hoop earrings with pendants. Many of them also have a third slope on the right side of the nose. Being there and not being able to capture images seems like a real torture.

The village is crowded with street vendors so we left the vehicle at the entrance and opted to go down with the camera but stored in a bag. I barely take a few steps and a young man who says he is the controller of the visits, reiterates the prohibition of photos. But in response to my requests, he tells me that if I wait for the influx in the market to reduce, he can give me some photos himself. It was what I was afraid of, and that is that some taking advantage of the circumstances, to get a bonus for allowing visitors to obtain some images.

I decide to take a tour to see the market and test the land and I see that bonda women are a small minority, who do not reach 50. They sell their alcoholic beverages among a multitude of stalls selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables, as well as trinkets and kitchen utensils. Then I learn that bonda men are very fond of raising their elbows to the point that there are quite a few cases of alcohol addiction.

Walking through the market, a bonda woman comes to me, who wears her best clothes, and without further ado, asks me for a photograph in exchange for a tip. Without thinking twice I take the camera and shoot in a hurry, a tenth of a second before a guard comes. I explain to him that she has asked me for the photo but he does not allow. I continue my journey and I stumble with a group of four more tourists, who will be the only ones I will see all morning. I see that they are accompanied by a guide and half a dozen bonda women and I follow them at a distance.

As soon as I leave the market circuit, I see that they start taking photos at their discretion without any restrictions on the part of guards or guides. So I wait for them to finish and when the women go back to the market I call them to do the same. They pose graciously and I take advantage of the fact that there are no intruders to shoot the camera. When I finish they ask me for a tip that I give them and they thank me with wide smiles.

Almost at noon, the influx to the market is reduced and even the vigilantes seem to have tired. In this situation, I approach a large lot at one end of the market, which is the area where alcohol is sold and where the vast majority of bonda locals are concentrated. I manage to find a discreet corner from where I can take images with the telephoto lens without being noticed. They are the only ones I get without authorization from the women themselves. It is time to eat so, not without some sorrow for leaving such a beautiful show, I head to the makeshift parking lot outside the village, where the driver waits for me to return.

When we arrive, the table is set on a covered terrace. The cooks are all women of the local tribes who have been properly instructed. They prepare traditional dishes of the area with very good taste and, also, without spices, which is the first thing I said when I arrived to questions about my gastronomic tastes. Today's meal consists of vegetable soup, cauliflower, chicken curry, rice, and dessert, accompanied by beer. I am not exaggerating when I say that this meal, like all the others during my four days of stay is very tasty.

Throughout the remaining three days other I visit weekly markets of different tribes such as parijan, haraja, mali and others. They are also very striking. Although they are not as spectacular as the bonda, they offer a great spectacle of life and color with their colorful dresses and varied costume jewelry. In the markets, I immerse myself in the tunnel of time, with systems of weights and ancestral measures that have been relegated to museums.

I finally returned to the hotel. At the hotel, I collected my things and left for the train station. After a long journey, I was looking for somewhere to dine and found a southern food restaurant (again dosa, yes). Then I went for tea and sat on the edge of a sidewalk on the street. While I went for tea, I became friendly with a chap from Mumbai who lived in Orissa. He was very innocent and shy, who was waiting for a friend of his who was arriving in an hour. While we were speaking, another man approached us, chewing paan offering to carry my luggage.

At the station, it was very uncomfortable because it was overflowing with people and there was hardly any place to sit. Outside on the platforms, the temperature was cool, but there was no place to sit. In the waiting rooms, it was hot, but it was the only place where there was some space. I managed to sit down. I left the asphyxiating waiting room and went back for a walk on the platform. I went out to the station door, walked, sat on the floor and killed time as badly as I could.

One of the things that caught my attention a lot at the Bhubaneswar station is that every time I went, there were many people sleeping on the floor of the entrance. Anywhere, but especially in the center of the entrance. At any other, noon, afternoon or evening, there were groups of people on sheets and wrapped in blankets up to their heads, sleeping. I had never seen anything like it, yet. In Howrah, you see much less.

At last the train came and we tried again to sleep between the rattle of the train, the cold that entered through the window that does not close, the horrible smell of the bathroom and the screams of the tea vendor. Chai! Chai! I have it engraved in my mind. I arrived in Howrah at 7 o'clock in the morning or so, and dead as I was, I crossed the Ganges on a ferry (the first time I did it), on a morning with a cloudy but wonderful sky.

There were hardly any people on the ferry, some young people who went to work, some older women, and several sadhus, ascetics or, well, older men who have renounced the world to follow their religion or spirituality, usually covered with ashes, orange powders, and very long hairs. Some will be genuine, no doubt, but as there is everything (and here more than anywhere else).

I finally arrived in Calcutta and after a quick tea, I caught the first taxi we saw. But it turned out that the man was not from Calcutta and if he really was a taxi driver, he had just started. He asked other taxi drivers several times along the way, and that my house is in a well-known and easy to reach place.

He did not understand my indications neither in Bangla nor in Hindi, mainly because he did not know the names of the places that I indicated him as a point of reference. In the end, I arrived, to collapse in the room. The first thing I did was to take a hot shower, a real shower.

Travel Adventures in The Azure Window and Malta

Why Malta? Sometimes the destination of travel is chosen by conditions that a priori are not very logical. Malta was a country that did not catch my attention, a few years ago till I read some Malta travel blogs and guides. My original idea for the month of June was to go to the Balearic Islands in Spain. But I had to cancel as the prices were skyrocketing due to some festival there.

Looking for alternatives, I found some flights at good price to Malta and I investigated a little what could be done there. We changed the Spanish Mediterranean islands (which remain pending) for the Maltese ones. Where do we stay? Accommodation in Malta is not cheap. For that week, summer and holidays there was little to choose from.

From what we had, we stayed in the apartments in Bugibba. It was cheap, very basic, but clean and well located near the bus station, restaurants and supermarkets. It would probably have been better to stay in a more central place, like Sliema, but it was very expensive there. Many bus lines arrive at Bugibba, so we had no problem visiting the island.

Do we rent a car or do we move by bus? Buses in Malta reach almost anywhere on the main islands. There are many lines and many frequencies. That said, I recognize that sometimes it can be a bit of a pain, since it limits you and makes you watch for schedules. But soon we read, we consider it a better option than renting a car, especially when it is (almost) high season.

In Malta they drive on the left, which in principle is no problem. The roads are regular, but there is a lot of traffic and sometimes chaotic with little parking. The most practical thing to get around by bus, if you are going to use it a lot, is to buy a card that allows unlimited travel for a week in Malta and in Gozo. You can buy it at bus stations.

I recommend you download the mobile app, that will serve you to get maps, lines, schedules, and transshipments. Our experience with buses was generally good. At the beginning of the route they are very punctual (Maltese punctuality). The problem is that if there is a lot of traffic, especially in the mornings, there is a delay, sometimes considerable. You have to take this into account for transfers.

What to visit in Malta? The same day that I bought the flights, almost two months before the trip, I set out to book the tickets for Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. It is a very important underground prehistoric temple, but there were no tickets left. It is not cheap, but tickets are sold out months before. Keep it in mind if you are interested in visiting it.

Another thing that I did that same day was to write to the Malta Tourist Information Office. They answered me very promptly with a lot of information and they sent me home maps and brochures. It's the same thing you can get there at the tourist offices, but it was good for me to have it at home to plan the visits.

Despite being a very small country, Malta has enough things to see and do, and for all tastes. We wanted to do some beach and cultural visits. Malta is not a destination that stands out especially for its beaches, if we refer to the idea of ​​long sand beach. It does have some rocky beaches and multiple natural pools in the sea, and what we were interested in doing was some snorkel.

With maps and information from the Tourism Office, we designed the itinerary. We take into account the bus routes, and which we adapted according to the weather.

What do we eat in Malta? On gastronomy, Maltese cuisine has a lot of British and Italian influence, for obvious reasons. Do not forget to try the rabbit, one of the most typical dishes. And of course, in the multiple pastiches that you will see in all the cities, the pastizzis. It is puff pastry stuffed with ricotta, peas, spinach, mushrooms, chicken.

Then there is the qassatat, the same stuffings but with another dough, more round and large. There is also the tympanum like a macaroni patty and anything that you put inside a pie, all very tasty. Also there is a small dish, a kind of hummus, but made with beans instead of chickpeas, very spicy, that is ate with some bread cakes that they call galletti. For dessert are very typical cupitos stuffed with figs or dates, I do not remember the name.

We tried more things there, like Gozo cheeses, spicy sausages, stuffed courgettes and some veal discs and also pasta and pizza, which are always available. The predominant beer is the Cisk, a normal lager, but it goes very well. Others found in almost all sites are the Blue Label, a golden ale and the Hopleaf, a clear ale.

I will not go into telling the history of the country, which has a lot and that's why wikipedia and other great blogs are. Mine is going to be more descriptive and I hope practical. Just remember that the currency there is the euro, which is driven on the left and that you have to carry plug adapter, English type. The official languages ​​are English and Maltese. There is no problem communicating in English, although they usually speak in Maltese.

Day 1 - Bugibba

Our flight departed punctually and at 13:30 we landed in Malta. We picked up our bags and outside we wait for a taxi to take us to Bugibba, a transfer that was included in the accommodation we booked. During the trip we glimpsed some of the chaotic traffic of Malta, the sparse vegetation, and the predominant ocher color of the limestone in its constructions.

We left the things in the apartment and went to the supermarket, to buy provisions for the following days. Incidentally we bought a roast chicken with potatoes to eat that day. We would have time to get to know Maltese food.

After we put on the swimsuits, we put towels and snorkel goggles in our backpacks, and went to Qawra Point. We take a detour to see the promenade and place ourselves. Qawra Point is a natural beach-pool located at the end of the St Paul Peninsula, next to Qawra Tower. There are other areas to bathe in the area, including an artificial sand beach. I had chosen this point because I had read that the water was very clear for snorkeling.

We had a very entertaining time, and we liked the place very much. In the water we saw many small fish, an octopus, and the posidonia that populated part of the seabed in that area. There are usually boats, so the swimming area is limited by buoys.

When we got tired after exploring the area, we saw an abandoned boat, which had run aground a few months ago and had stayed there on the rocks in a strange position. We saw that many groups arrived with tables and barbecues. Maybe it could be a good dinner option some night that week.

After a shower we went to dinner at a Maltese restaurant very close to our accommodation. We ordered first Maltese pasta, with cheeses of joy, tomato and sausages. As a second I ordered rabbit and my partner some meat rolls that had a sauce similar to the rabbit. And for dessert, typical pastry filled with dates with two pints of beer.

Day 2 - Paradise Bay

During Sundays churches and other monuments remain closed in Malta. With the fact that for the following days the forecast of the weather was a little worse, we dedicate ourselves to visit some of the beaches. We went to the bus station and waited for our first bus in Malta, which took us to Paradise Bay. Well, it took us close, because we had to walk for a while until we arrived.

Paradise Bay is a small beach with fine sand and very clear water, from which we can see, in the distance, the Gozo island. We spent a very entertaining morning there, taking walks and snorkeling, with that clear water it was nice. We saw many fish in the area of ​​rocks, some very curious, in addition to crabs.

After eating the provisions that we had and taking a cool Cisk, we went back to the road where we had left the bus. We waited for the bus to pass, which took us to the Ghajn Tuffieha beach. It is next to Golden Bay, one of the most famous malta beaches. We decided to go to this one, which we thought was more authentic. The environment of the beach is very beautiful, although with the amount of people there and the algae the beach was hard to see.

We got into the water, which was quite cloudy, and we went to the rocks to see little fish. We saw some, and unfortunately also jellyfish. After a few beers in the bar with good views we left. Before getting on the bus we went to the tower next to the beach, from which there are fabulous views. Bus the bus left us in just over 20 minutes in Bugibba.

As it was early we decided to try barbecue dinner on the beach that night. We went to the supermarket and there were disposable barbecues, so we only had to buy something to put on the grill. We bought some sausages and some zucchini, bread, beer and we have barbecue on the beach.

Travel Adventures in Malta images wallpaper

Day 3 - Valletta

On Monday we plan to go to Valletta, the capital of Malta. It was the day that the worst weather forecast had, in fact, the night before and lightning could be seen in the distance. We got on the bus and it started to rain. The streets looked like rivers. Luckily we were inside the bus (going cold with the air conditioning at the top). At some point inside the bus I realized that I had forgotten the camera in the apartment! That day I had to take all the photos with my mobile.

The buses in Valletta arrive at the Triton Fountain. As soon as we got off we went straight to the Saint John's Co-Cathedral, to see it before it was full to the brim. The cathedral on the outside does not say much, but its interior is very beautiful, very baroque, with decoration to the last detail.

We were struck by the tombstones on the floor, all in colored marble, as we would see in other Maltese churches. We followed the audio guide, which explained all the chapels, the roof of the central nave. In some descriptions it was very heavy, I let her talk and I took photos (with my mobile).

Slowly it was filling up and, while at the beginning we moved freely, each time it cost more. To enter the sacristy we had to queue until a group left. The most important of this room are two paintings by Caravaggio. When we were leaving we saw another line, which was to go up to the balcony to see the church from above.

We ended the visit at 11:45. The sun had risen, and we went to the Upper Barrakka Garden, to see the cannon that they fire every day at 12 and at 4 pm (summer only) from the Saluting Battery. When we arrived there was a balcony to the flag, so we did not see the canon, although we heard it.

We walked a bit through the garden until everyone left and we looked out onto the balcony to see the views of the battery of canyons with the 3 cities in the background. Of course, it had to be difficult to take the bay, since it was totally fortified.

We went back to the main street and walked through the city without hurry. We ate our first pastizzi, which served as an appetizer to kill hunger. We tried cheese, peas, chicken and spinach, the first, more traditional. It was all very good with a beer in the shade. We continue walking towards Fort Saint Telmo, which we did not enter.

We climb to the Bell Memorial, with beautiful views, and then to the Lower Barrakka Gardens, with views of the 3 cities and the Valletta port. Here we sit for a while on a bench in the shade to rest with good views. Our walk through Valletta took us to the Republic Square, where the seat of the government of Malta is, and the town hall. In a nearby square, many terraces in the shade.

We got into a small garden in the courtyard of one of the buildings, next to the Museum of Archeology. We continue strolling through streets with colorful balconies and red telephone booths. We went to eat at the cafe, which, in general, we did not like very much. We ordered pasta with salmon and stuffed zucchini. The pasta was not very good, and the service was very slow.

After lunch we toured the western part of the city. We went through the Anglican Cathedral of St. Paul and entered the Carmelite church. From there we go down to the port (there are small slopes in this city), along streets with more balconies, some of a single color, others with multicolored balconies. On the other side was Sliema and in front was the Manoel island, also fortified.

We went up some stairs to the gardens of Hastings, in the ramparts of the walls. From there you can see the enormous width and the layout of the walls. Having seen the forts that surround it by water, and the walls that close it by land, it seems that Valletta was impregnable.

Then we went down to see better the streets closest to the entrance of the city, which in the morning we had hurried through the rain and soon to reach the cathedral. Thus, we passed through the modern Parliament building, several churches, and the barracks of the Castilian and Italian troops.

We had planned to go in the afternoon by ferry to 3 cities, but it was already late and we were tired. So we went to take the bus. It took us a while to find the place where the buses went to Bugibba, but once we found it, several happened in a few minutes. An hour later we were in our accommodation.

That night we went to see the World Cup football game at a pub, with many screens scattered throughout the place. We had a pizza there and a few beers. When the game ended we went for a walk along the promenade before returning to the apartment.

Travel Adventures in Malta images wallpaper

Day 4 - Mdina

We dedicated the day to see Mdina, the old capital of Malta, and its neighbor Rabat. We took the bus, which dropped us at the Rabat stop in 45 minutes. First we visit Mdina, a walled city with a lot of charm. Just in front of the bus stop is the main door of the wall, very decorated, famous for having left in the first season of Game of Thrones as King's Landing.

Once we cross the door, which is also beautiful inside, on the right we find a small palace that today houses the Museum of Natural History. We see a group of schoolchildren, and on the left the Tourist Office, where they gave us a map of the city (the only one who had not sent us home). In this map an itinerary to follow is indicated, but the city is small and it is not easy to get lost by it.

On our walk through the streets of Mdina we find many mansions, impressive houses and charming places. We visited the St. Paul's Cathedral, in the Baroque style. Since an earthquake in the 17th century destroyed much of the buildings of the city, they were rebuilt in the predominant style of the time.

Inside, the paintings and tombstones on the marble floor stand out. In general we liked the visit, even being the little sister of the one we had seen the previous day. Then we visited the cathedral museum, in which I had not put much hope, since I am not very fond of sacred art. But I was surprised for good, some of the exhibits were impressive. What surprised us most was a large collection of coins, ranging from the Phoenician era, through coins of all Roman emperors, to almost our days.

Our walk took us to a viewpoint on the wall, in which we could see almost all the north of the island of Malta. It was a nasty wind, but the view was very cool. The rest of the time we dedicate it to walk through the narrow streets of Mdina, where we find beautiful corners.

We entered the Carmelite Priory. The whole city (the whole country, I would say) is full of churches, and it is worth looking out. This church in particular was very beautiful. We ended our visit to Mdina and we set out to visit the neighboring Rabat, which is the city that grew outside the walls. But before continuing with the turisteo we stopped at a very famous pastiche, the Crystal Palace. There we tried their pastizzis, cheese, peas, chicken and anchovies.

Since we were half eaten we decided to finish and we also tried the qassatat. I almost liked more than the pastizzis, since the dough does not have so much fat. Of course, we ordered some Cisk to accompany. We also bought some cakes filled with dates that we took to the apartment because with the pastizzis and qassatat we were full, and they were very good.

With a full belly we went to see Rabat. The main thing we wanted to see was the Catacombs of San Pablo, but until we got there we went through very beautiful corners. The city was adorned and decorated for the festival of St. Paul, which was that week. The church dedicated to this saint was also decorated with a multitude of light bulbs. We could not visit it inside since it was closed.

We reach the entrance to the St. Paul's Catacombs. As soon as we enter there is an interpretation center where we are told some historical information about the burials at the time, and later uses of the catacombs. And then we go out into the courtyard where we start to visit the catacombs. There are a total of 23, on both sides of the street. The most impressive is the first, which is the largest, an authentic labyrinth, where we have to be careful about hitting our head on the roofs. The rest of the catacombs are smaller.

In the end we ended up a little tired of going up and down stairs. In general the visit we liked a lot. Already tired we went to the bus stop. That day seemed relaxed a priori, but we ended up very tired. On the way we stopped at Mosta, to see the church of the great dome that can be seen from almost the whole island. On the outside it impresses because of its size, it is impressively large.

We do not know the size until we're on the porch and we see the size of the columns. It is famous for being the largest church in Malta and for having one of the largest unsupported domes in the world. Inside it did not impress me so much, although it is worth seeing the great dome of 140 meters in diameter. During the World War II, in 1942, a German bomb fell directly on the untapped dome, when there were about three hundred people in the church. It was considered a miracle,

Right in front of the church we took the bus that took us back to Bugibba. We bought a tuppana, which is a kind of macaroni pie, and that night we had dinner in the apartment. After we had a few beers in the pub watching the end of the World Cup match and took a walk before the day was over.

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Day 5 - Azure Window

We got on the bus, which leads to the ferry terminal of Cirkewwa, in the north of the island. It is supposed to take about 45 minutes, and our intention was to catch the ferry at 9, so I took the bus that left us there at 8:45. That was the plan, but the bus, between the traffic, and that was more burned than the pipe of an Indian and all the buses overtook us, arrived at the terminal at 9:02.

We had to wait for the next ferry, at 9:45. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to buy the ticket. The journey takes about 25 minutes. It becomes entertaining with the views of the Comino island. We went in the top part all the time, until we got tired, because the wind was quite unpleasant.

When we arrived at the port of Gozo we went to the bus stop. While we wait for several bus companies offered their services, but we decided not to take them. The frequency of these buses is 45 minutes, when the official public transport is between 45 minutes and one hour.

We took the one to Victoria, the capital of the island of Gozo, also known as Rabat. We go to the Citadel, completely walled. We dedicate a few hours to explore it, walking through its streets, its viewpoints, admiring its walls and landscapes.

One of the things that caught our attention was the visit to the silos, which are accessed by a tunnel that connects them. It's a weird feeling to be tucked inside a jar, literally. That same tunnel connects with the bunkers of the Second World War and with a battery of cannons.

One of the most important buildings of the citadel is its cathedral, which we did not visit. From photos we saw that it was very similar to the ones we had seen the previous days, and with the delay of that morning we were short of time.

After touring almost all its streets we left the citadel, and we went to see the St. George's Basilica, but it was closed. On the way we passed through streets full of market stalls, clothes and food. There was a lot of people on the streets of Victoria, which were also decorated for the celebration of St Paul.

We returned to the bus stop, and as there was still time for our bus to leave, we stopped at a pastiche. Here we bought two qassatat, spinach and chicken, very good, and a hamburger patty with mango sauce, that we drink with a beer.

The bus took us to Dwejra, in the west of the island, where was the Azure Window, which fell in 2017 due to a storm. Our idea was to see the landscape and bathe there, which we had been told was a good area for snorkeling. But the day was very windy, the waves hit hard against the rocks, so to swim nothing. But that was a show, we had a good time enjoying it from several points of view. No wonder the window fell, with the force that hits the water. Even without the window the area is very beautiful, it has very nice cliffs.

There is also a curious inland sea, from where boats leave to visit the area on days when the sea is calm. Here there were people bathing, but it was also moving, and the place was small, so we decided not to take a bath.

We waited for the next bus to Victoria and from there we took the bus that took us to the Ggantija temples. The initial idea was to go to Ramla Bay, a sandy beach north of the island. But seeing the windy day it was, we changed to a more dry and interior plan. The bus driver played tricks on us and told us to get off at a stop where the temples were far away.

We searched Google for the location of the temples and we walked there, to discover that the entrance had been moved and we had to walk another time. When we finally arrived, 10 minutes were missing by 4:00 pm, when the entrance is cheaper because we only visit the temples, not the mill next door. So we waited for those 10 minutes and we entered.

These temples were built between 3600 and 3200 BC, before Stonehenge and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The name Ġgantija comes from the word ġgant, which in Maltese means giant. The inhabitants of Gozo thought formerly that the temples were built by a race of giants, due to the size of the limestone blocks that form it. Some exceed five meters in length and weigh more than fifty tons.

Before visiting the temples, we pass an interpretive museum where they put us in a position. They explain different historical theories about their origin and exhibit replicas of some of the statuettes found in the temples. Everything very didactic. In the temples, in addition, there are panels where some of the details that can be seen are explained.

In front of the temples there is a large terrace, with good views of the south of the island and a small plateau where prehistoric settlements have also been found. A very interesting visit, although I liked the temples more than we saw the next day. Perhaps these have more historical value, but in the temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra the most complete structures are seen.

In addition, some of the things that they explained to you had to do with the vegetation, which in summer was not at its best. We board the bus, which dropped us off at the port 10 minutes before the ferry departure. As we already had the tickets, we only had to pass the lathe to board. Once in Malta, the bus took us to Bugibba, this time without delays. Tired, that night we stayed in the apartment and we did not go out.

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Day 6 - Marsaxlokk

For our penultimate day in Malta, we wanted to visit 3 enclaves in the south of the island that were very close to each other. It involved a careful planning of the buses, and that was about to go to waste. We took the bus to the airport, with the idea of ​​linking there with another, which took us to the Blue Grotto.

I was already resigned to wait an hour at the airport, or even to change plans and go to Marsaxlokk, but when I got off I saw the bus stop and we ran. We caught the bus, with the luck that it was also delayed. More happy than castanets, in 10 minutes we arrived at the Blue Grotto. We get off at the Panorama stop, which is there before going down and from where you can see the most characteristic cliff of the area.

We went down to the town walking, for a quite steep slope. There we bought the tickets for a boat ride through the caves, for 8 euros. These are the typical fishermen's boats reconverted, as in so many places, in tourist transport. The ride lasts about 20 minutes and you are getting into the different caves of the nearby coast. It is very good, although I thought it was too short and that they stopped a little in the caves to see them well and photograph them.

We took a short walk around there and took the bus which, this time, arrived before the time. We went down two stops later to see the temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, megalithic temples. As soon as we enter we pass to a cinema with a 4D projection (there is rain and wind) which is an introduction to the history of the temples and their discovery.

Afterwards, it delves into the details like the type of rock used, the statues found, the decoration, and the astronomical alignments. It was very interesting. At last we went to visit the temples. First we went to the nearest, Hagar Qim, which dates from 3600-3200 BC. Both temples are covered by a tarpaulin to prevent deterioration of them, and that tourists are a relief of shade in summer.

Hagar Qim consists of a main temple of several rooms and three small satellite temples, which are more deteriorated. With the help of the audio guide, we discovered decoration details, hollows in the stones probably used for its construction, possible uses, and many more details.

Taking a walk we went to Mndraja, two temples dating back to 3000 BC, located next to the sea, and overlooking the islet of Filfa. In Mndraja there is the image that appears in the Maltese coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents, an altar on which the first sunbeam of the summer solstice strikes. And it is that there are several astronomical alignments that the study of these temples has revealed.

We liked this visit a lot. It is very interesting, and in my opinion more beautiful than the Ggantija temples in Gozo. We ate at the restaurant there, which serves Maltese food. As we did not want to waste much time, since we only had 45 minutes until the next bus passed, we ordered two pasta dishes. We have spaghetti with rabbit and penne with Maltese sauce, both very rich and with a very fast service with two Blue Label beers.

We take the bus to go to Ghar Lapsi, a natural swimming pool frequented by Maltese. The bus does not arrive directly there, so we got off at the Bajjada stop, and from there about 15-20 minutes walking in the sun, luckily it was downhill. But we took it for granted, because we liked the site a lot. For my taste, the most beautiful seabed of all the places where we snorkel.

We saw many fish, perhaps the place where we saw the most, at least in quantity, and there were no jellyfish. The only downside is that the water was cold. I left shivering, but very happy. We took bus, which links Ghar Lapsi in summer with Rabat. There we took the wait for bus to Bugibba. We drink a beer and eat pastizzis. And we ended a day that had gone round, thanks to the luck with the buses.

At night we were not very hungry (the fault of the pastizzis) and we went out with the intention of eating something light. We walked around the promenade and in the distance we saw fireworks, because it was the eve of feast of St. Paul. The Qawra Point beach was full of people with barbecues, and we decided that this was how we wanted to say goodbye to Malta the next day.

Day 7 - Comino

Accustomed to leaving early every day, we took the opportunity to go after breakfast to the supermarket and buy the things we needed for the barbecue and some others to take us home.

The boat was almost full, at first all the people were very seated, but as we were passing through interesting places of the coast of Malta and when we skirted Comino, we got up to enjoy the views better. They showed us several caves with turquoise water and the famous cliff that resembles an elephant. Meanwhile, at the bar they served drinks and food and they explained the schedules.

We arrived at the Blue Lagoon at 11:30. When we disembarked we saw how many people there were and we thought it would be better to go first to the Crystal Lagoon, which is very close, and where we had read that there was very good snorkeling. We went for a walk, finding beautiful views, but when we got there we did not see anyone in the water, we asked and they told us there were jellyfish. There were quite a few, so we gave up on the bathroom.

We went back to the Blue Lagoon, left the towels where we could and went to the water. The truth is that it is beautiful, so blue and with the views of the islet opposite, one pass. But I really wanted to go to the water and I did not take photos. I did two or three and they did not turn out very well. I thought about doing it later, but it happened to me.

In the Blue Lagoon there were also jellyfish, but not many, and with the water so clear it was easy to see and avoid them.There were also many people, especially near the shore, which is where the sand is. It must be said that there is a small sandy beach, but very small, almost all accesses are by rocks.

We went swimming towards Cominoto, the islet that is opposite, which is that it appears in all the photos. We were seeing fish all the way, but where else there was was close to Cominoto, where there is a lot of seaweed and fish that live and eat there.We could see many fish, in quantity and variety, some we had not seen the previous days. The truth is that we were very comfortable.

We sat down to rest on the beach of Cominoto, and to get a little warm, which had frozen. When we went hungry, we went back swimming to the other side to go out and return to the boat, where we had our food. We sat luxuriously, with a cool beer.

Then we thought back to where we had bathed in the morning, but we got lazy and decided to take a bath in the vicinity of the boat. The truth is that the seabed is practically the same and the water is also very clear.

Here we also spent hours. When it was almost time to leave, we went up, and before we were dry we jumped down the slide that they had put on the boat. I did not want to jump, I'm very scared, but my husband encouraged me and in the end I jumped.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the ship sailed. He took us to Gozo, where we picked up people who had made an optional excursion there, and we went around the other part of Comino that we had not seen. We arrived at Bugibba at 5 o'clock, tired, but happy after a relaxing day in a beautiful place. It is true that there were many people, but it did not bother us excessively, being able to be on the leftover boat and having swum to Cominoto, where there were few people. For me the experience was good.

After resting for a while we went to the beach of Qawra Point for the barbecue. There were many people that day, you could tell it was Friday and the day was very good. A good way to say goodbye to Malta. A large full moon appeared on the horizon.He was there so comfortable that it was a pity to leave. But the next day they picked us up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the airport and we had to pack our bags.

The bottom line is that we have had a great time in Malta. It has been a very complete trip in which we have combined beach and snorkel with visits to walled cities, baroque churches, megalithic temples, stunning coastal landscapes and barbecues on the beach.

I liked Malta a lot, but I cannot say that I fell in love. Maybe because in summer everything is very dry and with many people. We have seen beautiful and very interesting things, but the movement from one place to another has not been particularly beautiful.

I have been surprised by the megalithic temples, and that we were left without seeing the Hypogeum. Before going I did not investigate much and when I saw them they seemed impressive to me. On the subject of aquatic activities we have been quite satisfied. We have done a very cool snorkel and the jellyfish did not bother me at the end, although a little yes. We bought a cream, but luckily I cannot tell if it works or not.

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum stands out among the things that have remained in the inkwell. There was the possibility of buying it for the same day at the Fort of San Telmo, in Valletta, but it was very upsetting and we sacrificed it.

We also had to see the town of Marsaxlokk, which I have read is beautiful, and visit 3 cities, which did not give us time. I think that is the main thing that remained pending. I would have liked to visit the Gozo island with more time, staying a night in the lagoon there.