Categories
Barcelona Europe

Visit BARCELONA in ONE DAY

Have you been to Barcelona before?

If you are visiting Barcelona for the first time, you should check out the list of free things you can do in ONE day.

Barcelona can be challenging when you propose yourself you visit as many things as possible on a quick day tour. On this new video I went to these places that you can visit for FREE:

Arc del Triumf

Parc de la Ciutadella

Cathedral of Barcelona

Art Museum

Mercat de la Boqueria

All these places you can visit for free. Also, if it’s you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time, these are some of the most popular and photo-worthy places! I hope you like it! Also, don’t forget to check out some of my recent posts:
Trip to Bali – Traveling Solo for 1 Month
Thank you! Ivan
Categories
Bali South East Asia

Trip to Bali – Traveling Solo for 1 Month

Trip to Bali – Traveling Solo for 1 Month

– Week 1 –

Are you planning a Solo Trip to Bali soon? Then allow me to say that it’s going to be the best experience you had in a very long time!

My name is Ivan and I am a full time Travel Content Creator. In case you haven’t seen my Travel content on Instagram, head to over to my profile to see all the adventures I lived! @acecoolture

Also, I just started a YOUTUBE CHANNEL where I share many valuable Travel tips from many places, I hope you like it – and don’t forget to Subscribe here.

PLANNING THE TRIP

Alright, before you start planning a solo trip to a place like Bali, there are a couple things you need to know.

The first thing is, when to visit Bali. Bali is located in the tropic zone of the planet, therefore, it has a dry season and a wet/rain season. We can consider the dry season the high season and the rain season the low season.

Low season goes from November to March. Prices during this season are low, but there isn’t a huge gap with high season.

High season goes from April to October. This is when most people visit Bali, therefore, it is quite crowded.

Bali has been on the top of the wave, in terms of tourism destination. The thing is that, the cost of anything in South East Asia is so small, that many Freelancers, Youtubers, Instagramers, Bloggers and Vloggers have stablished based in Bali.

So you might be thinking, okay, then everything is well prepared for tourism and there isn’t anything to worry about…well, NO!

BALINESE CULTURE

The truth is that the Balinese culture is still a very modest culture and there are places in Bali that are considered of stream poverty. But, of course this is not a reason to not travel to a country. It just means that don’t expect everything will be as perfect as a typical touristy country.

Another thing to consider is language. Although there are very popular areas in Bali, like Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak or Uluwatu, that speak decent english, other less known regions don’t speak any other language than theirs – Balinese.

Trip to Bali

MONEY EXCHANGE

In terms of Money Exchange, I find best to change part of your money right at the airport when you arrive. The rates are pretty decent and in line with what you find on google.

Apart from this, be prepared to receive a lot of bills. The currency in Bali (IDR) or Indonesian Rupiah, is well devaluated. As a result, you’re going to end up with millions of them in your pocket.

1€ = 15.000 IDR

Another thing I wanted to warn you about is scams. Unfortunately, in Bali there is a money exchange scam very popular. It occurs in the street stands that usually offer higher rates than the normal exchange.

I haven’t experienced it myself, but here are two blogs that talk about it.

It’s worth being informed, not that it’s going to happen to you!

https://www.travelfish.org/orientation_detail/indonesia/bali/bali/bali_overview/169

https://au.hotels.com/go/indonesia/bali-known-scams-to-avoid?rdrId=282

 

Okay, you’re going to Bali! Let’s prepare the trip!

 

TRIP TO BALI WEEK 1 – ESTABLISHING A BASE

Trip to Bali

So, wether you’re staying for 1 month like me, or longer, you want to secure a couple important things:

  • Where to sleep at at reasonable price
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Communications
  • Money Flow

Where to Sleep in Bali?

In Bali there is plenty of room for every type of traveler. Wether you’re looking for a boutique hotel, an Airbnb, a Hostel or a Guesthouse, Bali has it all. It’s just a matter of your budget.

In my case, I decided to keep the costs low while being in a popular area like Canggu.

As a result, I found the best deals on Airbnb and Booking. Note that, if you’re considering staying longer than 1 month or just 1 month, the rates will be more attractive than staying 15 days.

BOOKING DEALS FOR BALI

I found a nice Airbnb in the area of Canggu that costs 250€ / month. But, other areas are also very attractive in terms of price, given they are not as “trendy” as Canggu.

This was my Airbnb / Guesthouse. It was called Omah Bin Suites.

Here is the link if you want to check it out: CANGGU AIRBNB

Depending on what things you’d like to visit, I would recommend staying in an area close by. Or, considering moving around, but as I said before, rates are best if you book 1 whole month.

After all, you can ride your scooter around the island in just 2 hours.

Apart from this, there are many local places called Guesthouses that will give you a decent room at a very attractive price. If you’re not in the need for anything fancy, this is a great option!

I found this website that can be useful for booking a guesthouse:

https://www.baliblogger.info/guide-to-accommodation-in-bali/

Transportation

The traffic in Bali can get really tough, specially, in popular areas like Canggu, Seminyak or Ubud. Therefore, the most popular transport is the Scooter.

Some people have never rode a scooter before and they don’t feel comfortable with this idea. But, in Bali, you can get people to take you around on scooter at a decent price. The service is called GoJek.

Now, if you decide to ride a scooter, I have to warn you that, it can be quite challenging.

First of all, you drive on the left lane instead of the right like other European countries.

Second of all, people tend to communicate with their eyes or by beeping.

As an example,  in an intersection, everyone will dive in at the same time and you need to negotiate your position making eye contact with other riders or by simply predicting their way.

Yes, it sound tricky! but it’s much more simple than it sounds.

Also, if you want to pass someone, it’s best if you beep once or twice to let them know you’re passing.

Now, you might be wandering: Okay, how much does a scooter cost?

I found out that, when you rent a scooter for 1 whole month, it is cheaper than to rent it for 15 days. Here are the rates where I rented the scooter:

Number of DaysCost per DayTOTAL
1550.000 IDR (Rupiah)750.000 IDR (Rupiah)
3023.000 IDR (Rupiah)700.000 IDR (Rupiah)

This are the types of scooters that you can get:


Scooter Bali

EXTRA TIP: Besides renting a scooter when you get to your place, I’d like to let you know the cheapest way to get from the airport to your destination.

When you arrive at Denpasar Airport, you will see a lot of taxi services. They are called Blue Bird. This is the most expensive option you can get.

However, if you download an app similar to Uber called GRAB, you can reduce the cost almost 30% of the taxi rate! To do that, you have to go to the third floor of the parking and order a Grab. It will arrive in seconds!

A taxi from the airport to Canggu was quoted to me at 250.000 IDR (16€). But, I ordered a Grab and I paid 150.000 IDR (9€).

Moving on, now that you have the transport set up, and your on your way to your place, you might want to grab something to eat!

Food

So, when I arrived to Bali, I was impressed by the beautiful cafes you find there! Everything has a kind of aesthetic that, invites you to go and and chill.

The first couple of days, I was spending almost 200.000 IDR / day (12€). As a result, I decided to investigate a little bit to lower my expenses.

These is the typical avocado toast that ruined my budget! ????

Avocado Toast Trip to Bali
Avocado Toast Trip to Bali

If you want to stick to that level of spending, it’s fine! Bear in mind that, this will mean a budget for food of 350€ per month.

In my opinion, I definitely wanted to lower that!

Thanks to the lovely community here, I found out that Warung Food, which is the local food, is actually really good. Healthy and very cheap.

Right now, I’m spending around 30.000 IDR (1,90€) per meal, which cuts in half my initial spending.

Also, you can use the GOJEK APP, which is something similar than Uber Eats and has amazing deals on every type of food and delivered to your place.

Usually, I use GoJek for lunch and dinner. While for breakfast, I go to a caffe called Duatiga in Canggu, with good wifi speed and decent prices for breakfast meals.

As per Warung food, here is a list of good Warung Restaurants in Canggu:

This is what a dish looks like at a Warung restaurant

Trip to Bali - Warung Food

Moving on, now that you know where to eat at reasonable prices, you might want to start posting things on the gram! ????

Communications

By communications, I mean usage of data or wifi!

Since I wanted to book a Grab service, right at the airport, I decided to buy a SIM card right there.

So, I decided to buy an unlimited data sim card, which costed me 250.000 IDR (16€), for one whole month.

I’ve heard,  that some people recommend to buy sim cards directly at the area where you’re staying. Apparently, this can save you some money versus the airport sim cards. I don’t know and I haven’t done the comparison.

Just note that, the offer on these products in South East Asia is so big, that there is always going to be a better offer around the corner.

In my experience, I choose the company that appealed more to me and that on a quick comparison had attractive prices.

Apart from this, in Canggu, Uluwatu, Seminyak and Ubud, there is pretty good wifi connection in the cafe bars. Even at your airbnb or Guesthouse you can have decent connection.

The telephone company I used is called: Indosat Ooredoo. My overall experience was good. I never had any issues and I’ve traveled all over the island. Okay, one day in the middle of the jungle, the signal was low, but this also happens in Central Park!

Ooredoo

Right now, you have a nice place to stay, you’re moving freely on your scooter like Peter Pan in Neverland, and your stomach is full is healthy Warung food. But, are you managing your money the best way?

Money Flow

In Bali, it is important that you know how are you going to withdraw your money and not get abusive atm fees or bad exchange rates.

Although, there are plenty of places that take credit cards, it is always best to carry cash with you.

In my situation, I will be doing regular trips to Bali, therefore, I decided to open a bank account at Permata Bank. Usually, you require a working permit, but at Permata Bank you don’t.

Consequently, I transferred my funds from my European bank to paypal and from paypal to the bank in Bali. This way you have no transfer fees.

They gave me a visa card to withdraw money from the local ATMs and I haven’t had a single fee whatsoever.

But, you don’t need to open an account to avoid fees. I suggest, you speak with your bank before you leave, in order to see if you’re going to get charged abusive fees.

Then, just decide if you need to bring more cash or less.

This is the Bali life my friends! My diary on my first week in Bali ends here. I hope this has been useful to you in any way!

If you need more advice, you have more doubts or anything else, just text me, send me an email, a DM on Instagram. Anything!

I would appreciate if you leave a comment below and subscribe to my blog to support my journey!

Trip to Bali – Things to do as a Content Creator (Week 2) will be ready really soon!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Ivan

Categories
Budapest Europe Travel

Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Hungary

Corinthia Hotel Budapest

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Corinthia Hotel Budapest, Hungary

During winter, many people chose to go to the beach or to some paradise location. The truth is, it’s difficult to find a cozy place in a winter breeze, specially if you want to enjoy a spa, nice restaurants and a comfy room. Fortunately, we found an amazing Hotel in Eastern Europe for a romantic weekend escape: The Corinthia Hotel in Budapest.

First opened in 1896 as the Grand Hotel Royal, Corinthia Hotel Budapest remains among the grandest in the city. Recently renovated, to be a fine distinguished hotel with an original 19th century spa, two restaurants, the biggest meeting room in the city and lovely staff at your service the full day.

Installations

At The Corinthia Hotel you’ll find two great restaurants, two bars, meeting rooms and a wonderful Spa.

I have to add that their breakfast is great! There is a whole buffet with juices, sweets, cereals and even a cook that will make an amazing omelette for you in no time. Both restaurants were amazing and easy to encounter.

We had the opportunity to experience both restaurants and we absolutely loved them.

The Rickshaw:

This restaurant offers a wide range of Oriental Fusion dishes in a moody atmosphere ideal for a romantic dinner or a chill night with friends. I recommend you start the night with Rickshaw golden platter.

 

It’s a dish with Duck spring rolls, beef satay, prawn- and pineapple skewers, prawn cake, feta spring roll, BBQ pork chops, sweet chili sauce, soy-coriander sauce, peanut dip and tomato-ginger salsa. Excellent for a starter.

Also, one of the waiters was extremely kind to us and introduced us to the wide variety of beers they had. My favorite was an Asian one called Asahi. I also tried the Hungarian one but, I believe I prefer the Asian on this occasion.😊

VIEW MENU HERE

The Brasserie & Atrium:

This restaurant offers the very best of international and Hungarian cuisine. Don’t even think about it and order the famous Hungarian Goulash Soup. This famous local dish blends potatoes, meat and vegetables in a nice stew. 

If any of these two restaurants hasn’t content your stomach yet, you can visit one of the two additional bars, and get surprised by an amazing cocktail menu.

VIEW MENU HERE

The Spa:

One of the most famous facilities at the Corinthia Hotel has to be the Spa. As mentioned before, this Spa is original from the 19th century and it is  one of the greatest spas in Budapest.

As you might know, there are numerous thermal springs running underneath Budapest, and that is why it is known for its thermal baths.

Corinthia Hotel Budapest

If you visit Budapest during winter period, this spa will be heaven when you go back to the hotel!

One of its features is the central pool with 28ºC, perfect for a first swim during winter days. Along the side you’ll find 2 Jacuzzis, one at 32ºC and the other at 37ºC.

Apart, you have a steam bath, saunas, temperature showers and a relaxing area. We absolutely loved this place!

Meetings & Events:

Although we didn’t have the chance to experience the different meeting rooms they have, we have to say we did see a big convention and the rooms seemed very big. 

Location

One of the most convenient aspects of the Corinthia Hotel is its location. It is right in the city center, close to any public transport and to the main sites of the city.

To go to Fisherman Bastion, we grabbed a bus and in 10 minutes we were there. The bus stop is 2 min away walking distance.

Only 18 kms. Away from the airport, which is around 30 mins. by car or 50 min. by public transport. If you want to get to your hotel faster, I recommend you buy a BUDAPEST CARD.

Also, it allows you to visit many museums, thermal baths and other great sites in the city, for free!

Even more, it allows to use the whole public transport and get an airport transfer to and from your hotel.

If you want more details on the BUDAPEST CARD visit their site here.

Rooms

We stayed at a Deluxe King room, which is pretty spacious and has a mini lounge area with a two seat sofa and a desk. In terms of rates, this room is rated quite decent for all the services you can find at the hotel.

*Image from the Hotel

For your reference, we travelled to Budapest during January, which is a cold month and also, a low touristic period of the year. So maybe the rates change during the year (i’m sure they do, actually).

The room was very clean at all times. The staff in charge of the cleaning was very kind and gave us free toiletries every day.

If you get an interior room like ours you will have this view out your window. One day, we even got to listen to a classical music rehearsal in the middle of the hall!

Anyway, we truly recommend this unique hotel for a romantic weekend escape to the eastern side of Europe. There are a lot of things to visit, great restaurants, super friendly atmosphere and unique photo spots for the gram 😉

If you liked this post, don’t forget to PIN IT:

 

CORINTHIA HOTEL BUDAPEST

 

As usual, if you liked the post or you’d like me to let you know anything else from this amazing hotel, just drop me a comment and I’ll reply right away!

Don’t forget to subscribe to get more travel advice!

See you around and thank you for reading!

Hugs,

Ivan

-Traveling to Find Cool Cultures-

 

Categories
South East Asia Travel Vietnam

Best Places To See in Vietnam


best places to see in vietnam

Best Places To See In Vietnam

Lonely Planet PathfindersWelcome back to my Blog! On this blog post I’m going to let you know the Best Places to see in Vietnam. Of course I’m going to miss somethings, Vietnam has so much diversity that even in a 3 week trip it is difficult to chose what to visit.

If you do a trip like this, its probably worth investing in a travel guide. I always recommend to most complete one that will give you all the information you need to plan your trip. Lonely Planet’s Vietnam Guide is great!

The Trip to Vietnam

When you think of Vietnam, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Rice fields? Conical hats? and maybe lots of motorcycles?  Yes, I thought the same before going there, but to our surprise, Vietnam was the ultimate paradise to do tourism in many different ambients.

Before I get started, let me tell you that we travelled to Vietnam in August, which is the last month of the rainy season. Although the climate is more relevant in the South than in the North, you might want to consider this alternative, cause things can get pretty cheap as its low season.

Our 3 week route included: 

  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Hoi An
  • Hanoi
  • Halong Bay 
  • Phu Quoc 

We landed in Ho Chi Minh city, or Saigon as the locals call it.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh, was the name of the President of Vietnam who led the war against the Americans and the south Vietnamese. After the war in 1975, the city of Saigon in the south, was re-named to Ho Chi Minh City. But, if you talk to the locals, they will tell you they live in Saigon as they were fighting the North Vietnamese with the Americans.

Ace Coolture

This important part of Vietnam’s history, has an impact on tourism as you can imagine. In Ho Chi Minh, there are many museums dedicated to that era. War museums that illustrate the view of the people from the south. 

We visited a Museum called War Remnants Museum. In this museum you will find tanks, guns, planes and lots of pictures showing the disaster…definitely one of the best places to see in Vietnam.

Ace Coolture

Another place that is worth the visit, is the Independence Palace. This is one of the most iconic sites in Ho Chi Minh city, and its amongst the top 10 cultural sites to visit in Vietnam. 

Ace Coolture

After you’ve explored the city, ate great Viet food, you might want to enjoy a great cocktail at the best rooftop, The View Rooftop Bar. This place is amazing to get a full view of the city, and the barman’s there are very experienced!

Where to sleep in Ho Chi Minh?

If this is your first stop in Vietnam, and you’re a bit scared of the hygiene you’re going to find, I recommend you start off in a decent hotel, while you get used to the Vietnamese life.

Infinity Edge Pool View Hotel, Ho Chi Minh, is the place where we stayed for 3 days. The name of this hotel says it all! It has an amazing infinity pool with views over the city, and a good gym too. Food is continental, so you don’t have worry. But, it’s best if you stroll around the hotel and find a local place to save some bucks 😉

If the price doesn’t fit you, here are other suggestions you can explore:

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Hoi An

From Ho Chi Minh we grabbed a plane to Da Nang, it is the closest airport to the beautiful city of Hoi An. It’s only an hour away and the local airlines are very cheap.

Hoi An is a city with over 120.000 people living there and a UNESCO site. The city has the biggest seaport of South East Asia. The river practically splits the city in two, which makes it even more photogenic.

In Hoi An there is great gastronomy with lots of options to choose from. There are a bunch of little restaurants next to the river that offer from Viet food to fresh Italian Pizzas. But one thing you have to visit is the Night Market. 

The Night Market in Hoi An, is a complete feast for your senses. Lots of different smells, nice art craft jewelries, traditional lanterns and many more! Dedicate 2 hours in the afternoon and then go have dinner to one of the cute restaurants next to the river.

Hoi An

Only 10 min away from Hoi An by car/uber (Grab in Vietnam) you’ll get to the Beach of An Bang. It’s where locals and tourist go to the beach so, if you want to avoid crowds, it’s best if you consider going there early morning.

The old town of Hoi An is one of the prettiest places we saw in Vietnam. Little streets where you blend in with traditional houses, local shops and the daily activity of a typical South east Asian town.

Where to sleep in Hoi An?

Royal Hoi An, Mgallery By Sofitel

Hoi An is the typical Vietnamese town with lots of tourists and local markets to visit. With all that crowd in the streets, if you’re looking for a relaxing hotel, with 2 pools and french-viet cuisine, this is the place!

 

Located along Thu Bon River and just a short stroll away from the ancient town of Hoi An, a World Heritage Site, Hotel Royal Hoi An, MGallery by Sofitel is truly a perfect place to experience a refined luxurious sojourn.

Hoi An is home to an abundance of marvels such as Japanese Bridge, pristine An Bang Beach, Ancient Town, Tra Que Vegetables & Thanh Ha Pottery Villages. Be adventurous & partake in a Vespa tour, photography excursions or the world of rich cuisines.

La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa

What could be more relaxing than spending your afternoon at the pool after a long day of walking, sight-seeing and big noodle cups? This amazing hotel has you covered in every little detail you’re thinking of, to make your days feel like a king – queen!

This hotel is not like the massive resorts you have in mind, it’s more like a big boutique hotel, with all the little details taken care of. My favorite part was the black stone pool and the excellent bloody marys they prepare!

Here are other suggestions for you:

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Hanoi

Hanoi! The city that never sleeps (literally). The capital of Vietnam and an explosion of culture! We had lots of fun in this city. Night life here is so intense, you’ll blend in with the locals without even noticing 🙂

As you can imagine, Hanoi is an over populated city with an intense activity all day long. Many people say that if you survive driving in Hanoi, you’ll survive anywhere in the world. 

We decided to split our time in two different type of activities: cultural sites and fun.

One of the top sites you have to visit is the Imperial Citadell of Thang Long. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. 

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge monument dedicated to the General that led the independence of Vietnam and the unification of the south and the north during the famous vietnam war. It’s worth seeing given the size of this place and the military avenues around it.

Vietnam

Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of its kind! It’s the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. Although it’s now set on an islet within West Lake, the pagoda was originally located on banks of Red River before its relocated in 1615 due to the river’s encroachment.

READ MORE HERE

Ace Coolture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hanoi Opera House is amongst the best things things to see in Vietnam given its Parisian architecture and the ivory colored columns. A must visit in Hanoi for a quick snap shot!

These are some of the top places we visited in Hanoi and we loved it! After all this hustle, you might want to experience Hanoi’s night life.

The old quarter in Hanoi offers many possibilities for a great time. Big discos or small bars with very competitive prices, your choice.

We picked a place called 1900’s. The music was good, the ambient was incredible and the drinks weren’t too expensive.

Where to sleep in Hanoi?

In Hanoi there are a lot of options to choose from, but we decided to blend a bit more with the local culture and other travelers and we stayed at the best hostel of Hanoi.

Cocoon Inn Hostel, Hanoi

This hostel is in the middle of Hanoi and really close to everything. You might feel you’re in the center of humanity at some point, but you’re just in the city center of the most crowded city in Vietnam.

Great people there, great atmosphere, great attention and lots of opportunities to explore! My favorite place in Hanoi!

From Hanoi, we went to Halong Bay. There is a 3 hour ride by bus but it’s really comfy!

Halong Bay

This place is definitely one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, and a must! Ha long Bay is part of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World by UNESCO. Over 1900 little islands, most of then inhabited given the singularity of the natural formations, this place will leave you speechless.

Probably, most pictures you’ve seen of Vietnam have a front cover with a Ha Long Bay photo. One of the best places to see in Vietnam for sure! When we were in Hanoi, we heard many people doubting about visit this place or not. Don’t make the same mistake…VISIT HA LONG BAY!

We went on a party cruise called Oasis Bay Party Cruise. For us, the best option if you’re looking to meet great people and have lots of fun. 

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On board there are several activities you can do: swim on a jacuzzi, do beer yoga, learn Viet cooking style and of course, party!!

The cruise takes you on a 2 night 3 day tour. The first night you spend it traveling to Halong Bay, and the second night we stopped at the Freedom Island! A little island that you can go kayaking, listed to music, do water sports, play volley…lot and lots of fun!!

Ace Coolture

Best places to visit in Vietnam

Believe me, this experience will change your life. You’ll meet amazing people and you’ll have great memories.

I recommend you book this cruise at the Cocoon Inn Hostel in Hanoi. There are some scams around and it’s best if you hire a trusted company like Oasis Bay Cruises.

In case you want to explore other cruises in Halong Bay:

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Back to Hanoi, we flew to Phu Quoc Island in the south for our last visit.

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is one of the best places to see in Vietnam! Those places, that once you see it, you’ll think twice if you’re dreaming. White sand beaches, palm trees, amazing resorts and the smell that something great is going to happen.

La Veranda

The tourism in Phu Quoc is very high all year long, but, during the months of July and August its like rain season, so the tourism lowers a bit. We went there in August and we only saw rain 1 day. Even though, I still think Phu Quoc is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Phu Quoc used to be used to hold prisoners of war. Due to this reason, there is a prison museum you can visit, it’s called The Coconut Prison. It’s quite impactful to see how the prisoners use to live and all the installations. Also, some prisoners escaped through a tunnel which can be seen. The entrance is free, so it’s worth the visit.

Ace Coolture

Another great thing to visit is Ham Ninh Fishing Village. A town where fisherman trade their fish and select it for the best bid. The fisherman are also known to dive for pearls or sea cucumbers. Recently, due to the increment of tourism, they even hand-craft fishermen ornaments for tourists.

Looking for a relaxing beach? Bai Sao is definitely the one! White sand, palm trees, and even an instagrammable spot with a swing hanging from a palm tree.

Where to sleep in Phu Quoc?

Depends if you visit Phu Quoc as a backpacker or as a luxe traveler, in Phu Quoc there is room for both types of tourism.

In our case, we decided to fully relax after our long journey through Vietnam. Consequently, we chose two of the most amazing resorts I’ve ever been to.

 

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel

This amazing hotel, is a unique Oasis in this paradise island. If you’re looking for something premium with excellence attention and service, this is your place.

La Veranda Phu Quoc

Also, it is so unique, I wrote another post talking about it!

READ HERE

Salinda Resort, Phu Quoc

With a dedication to providing outstanding hospitality, Salinda Resort is a five-star boutique resort, located on the prime location on Phu Quoc Island with stunning views on romantic sunsets.

The resort features 121 luxury rooms, suites and villas designed in contemporary style with added local touch that creates an almost seamless transition from the inside out, all whilst being surrounded by the elegance and simplicity of the island’s natural environment. Surrender to the allure of island life at Salinda Resort!

Alright folks, this was it on this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. 

Most importantly, it would be great to know what you think to help me improve on future posts!

Another tip, I recommend that you go during mid season: June, September. Tourism is not too high during these months and you’ll be able to explore everything without crowds.

Finally, if you want to keep the budget low, you can book hostels the same day, with no need to rush in advance. Or even home-stays really cheap (2$/night). In 3 weeks I spent around 500$ and I went “All-In” on drinks, you know what I mean 😉

On my next post I’m going to talk about the most amazing experience I had in Ha Long Bay!

Thanks for reading,

Cheers,

Ivan

“Traveling to Find Cool Cultures”

Categories
South East Asia Travel Vietnam

La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

La Veranda Resort - Phu Quoc

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La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

Welcome back dear readers! Today I’m going to talk about the beautiful hotel La Veranda Resort, in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.Many travelers come to Vietnam and decide to go either from South to North or the other way around. In our case, we went from Ho Chi Minh city to Hanoi ad then flew back down to Phu Quoc Island.

La Veranda Resort - Phu Quoc
La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

La Veranda offers 3 different ambients where to enjoy your meals

The Pepper Tree restaurant is a fusion between Vietnamese and French gourmet cuisine. Fragrant Phu Quôc Pepper and the island’s prized angy fish sauce inspire an artful blend of authentic local and French cuisine – enjoyed with spectacular ocean views.Don’t forget to taste my favs:

Tomato Tartar, Earth Parfums and the Vegetables Roulaf!

Le Jardin, here you can relax in the casual lawn setting or beach deckand indulge in all-day al fresco dining, offering Mediterranean and Western favourites, Vietnamese classics and sumptuous themed buffets.And the glorious

Le Bar, A place to enjoy the best cocktails with a nice breeze coming from the ocean and live music from 8 to 10 pm that will pump you up!!La Veranda Resort - Phu QuocIf all this excitement hasn’t get you considering booking a trip to Phu Quoc yet wait to see what activities you can do at La Veranda!

ACTIVITIES

La Veranda offers a guided tour through the island that takes you some amazing scenes like the Fish market! A typical location where all the fish men gather to collect and sell all the fish caught during the day.

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After a 4 hour tour, you can do a cooking class at La Veranda with the amazing chef Sin! He will make you discover the best about the Vietnamese cuisine and after that, you’ll taste everything! We prepared amazing Vietnamese dishes that surprised us a lot!

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There are so many different sauces and spices that you can use. But the one I remember the most, is the famous Fish sauce they use for almost everything. It’s produced in the island, and you can visit their factory as well. Although i recommend you avoid going there if you have a weak stomach 🙂

Not to mention that before you do the cooking class, it’s best if you don’t have a strong breakfast. Chef Sin will feed you till you have to un-button your trousers haha!   

It’s time to start talking about the beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc! At La Veranda you can take a shuttle to the most known beach in Phu Quoc, Bai Sao! This white sand beach is mostly known for an instagrammable spot with a swing, yes, we took the shot also 🙂

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Bai Sao Beach

This beach is mostly known to have a huge population of starfish under it’s waters. However, we went there during rainy season and we didn’t see any.La Veranda has it’s private beach also, which we enjoyed drinking cocktails and viewing those amazing sunsets!

La Veranda
La Veranda

 is definitely a place to come back! Our days in Phu Quoc seemed to last forever, but days were going by so fast!

Alright folks this was it! What did you think about this hotel?

Please leave a comment and stay tunned for the coming posts about Vietnam! If you like how I edited my photos, you can buy my Lightroom Presets for Mobile. They come with an easy to use and installation guide that will take your social media game to the next level!

You can also follow my adventures on my Instagram: @acecoolture

Thank you for reading and see you around!

Ivan

“Traveling to find Cool Cultures”

Categories
Barcelona Europe Travel

Best Rooftop Bars in Barcelona

rooftop bars

Best Rooftop Bars in Barcelona

What is the best thing to do on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon? Where can you go that is less touristic in Barcelona? How can you view the city from above? Think no more, here I bring you the best rooftop bars in Barcelona!

There are so many possibilities at the rooftop bars. Enjoy a brunch, a nice cocktail, a great swiming pool or a romantic dinner.

The cream of the top in the city are these incredible rooftops. Barcelona is characteristic for it’s simplicity, modernism, great food and also, it’s typical mediterranean culture.

Our culture is based on people that socialize a lot. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do in life. Social gathering happens every day in Barcelona. And yes, some of these happen in our rooftops.

Sunset is the best time to visit the rooftop bars

The thing is that, most of these rooftop bars are managed by hotels. Therefore, morning hours are usually closed for private customers.

There are a few that are starting to open around 12:00 at noon. They offer a Brunch service an even a chill out DJ. But that is not common, yet.

I really recommend you visit the rooftop bars during the previous sunset hours: 17:00 – 21:00. If you go at peak hours, the chances are that you will not have the a place, given their capacity (between 40 to 100 persons at a time).

Now, many people have asked me this question several times: Which is the best rooftop in Barcelona? And my answer has always been the same: Best rooftop for what?

In order to judge properly, I’ve decided to stablish a ranking based on:

City Views, Food & Drinks, Instalations & Service

Also, given I am a well recognized writer in TripAdvisor I will check out each rating and write it underneath.

Oh, sorry, almost forgot! There isn’t a dress code to visit any rooftops in Barcelona, but, some recommend you look fresh and not like you just came from the beach with your sandals and so on.

Dress fresh!

Okay, here we go! Where are the best rooftop bars in Barcelona?

On number 1 position I’m gonna have to pick: HOTEL 1898.

Hotel 1898

rooftop bars

[booking_product_helper shortname=”hotel 1898″]

This amazing city view of Montjuic and the west part of the city is incredibly stunning. Hotel 1898 has the best rooftops in Barcelona, as well as one of the best hotels.

La Isabella is the name of the rooftop. It’s split in different areas, the pool, the lounge area with outdoor beds and the restaurant facing the cathedral.

This hotel is located in El Raval district, it is very accesible from Las Ramblas. It has a unique decoration style, kind of like a french modernist style (i’m not specialist in interiorism, but I just say of what it reminds me, hehe).

The city views are almost 360º. I say almost, because the bar ocupies a spot that slightly covers a bit of the northern view. However, the views are stunning!

The cocktails are incredible, but the best here is the food. Very mediterranean style dishes, with incredible views. Prices are a bit high, but it is worth it. Very romantic place!

The waiters, barmans, cooks are great! Good detail of attention and perfect recommendations!

Here is one last photo…

rooftop bars

Hotel 1898 - La Rambla, 109, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L3, Liceu

TripAdvisor rating: 4,5/5

Hotel Grand Central

Now this has an amazing infinity pool! What a views! Hotel Grand Central is located in the Gothic Quarter district near the Cathedral and is also boundries with the well-known district of El Born.

rooftop bars

[booking_product_helper shortname=”hotel grand central”]

*image from the hotels web page

Hotel Grand Central has one of the best rooftop bars in Barcelona, for various reasons. The city view is incredible. Sunsets here make you feel like if there was no tomorrow. You can spot many known buildings like, Agbar Tower, Hotel Arts and the Cathedral.

In their food menu, there are lots of good tapas to share. All of them with a Mediterranean feel. My favourite has to be: Cherries, black lobster and fresh cheese gazpacho soup!

The sky bar or city bar as they call it, is not very big. You can fit 43 persons max and there are just a few tables where you can sit and lunch or dinner. Then there are the pool hammocks and the tall chairs by the bar. Overall, seems quite exclusive, and quiet, which is what is meant to be.

The service is pretty decent, the waiters pay a lot of attention to you. Also, the dedicated barman is very professional.

The only “but” I would put in this hotel is the entrance fee at the rooftop bar, 20€!

Grand Hotel Central – Via Laietana, 30, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1 Urquinaona

TripAdvisor rating:  4,5/5

Iberostar Paseo de Gracia

Rooftop Bars

This is one of my favourites! Located in the center of Barcelona, right in Plaça Catalunya, this unique hotel offers great city center views!

The rooftop bar at the Iberostar Hotel is open and free for everyone! Off course it will depend on the number of people up there, which I think has a limit of around 80 persons.

As you can see on the photo above, the city views are incredible. From up there, you can see Plaça Catalunya in it’s totality, and the left corner you can see La Sagrada Familia also! it’s beautiful.

The food you can order almost any kind of typical tapas like bravas, olives, or clams. As per the cocktails, I have to recommend the Bloody Mary. It is quite a typical cocktail, but this one was very smooth and very well balanced!

rooftop bars

The infinity pool over the city is so breath taking that makes you dive in right away! I guess this option isn’t available unless you are hosted in the hotel 🙂

The service of the rooftop bar was incredible. There was a waiter who even offered us to take pictures of us 2.

Also, he pointed out the best photo spots and was very kind explaining things from the hotel.

Iberostar Paseo de Gracia РPla̤a Catalunya, 10, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro Station: L1, L3, Plaça Catalunya

TripAdvisor rating: 4,5/5

Almanac Hotel

Almanac Hotel has been rated by VOGUE as the best rooftop in Barcelona. I have to say, I never knew of this hotel until I went just a couple days ago. I believe the Almanac Hotel has one of the best decorations I’ve seen lately.

The rooftop is structured by an indoor bar with lots of accomodation, and then the terrace with a huge area with outdoor sofas.

rooftop bars

Nicolas, the Hotel Manager was so nice with his attention that he even took us around for a mini tour in the Hotel.

They have an amazing restaurant in the bottom floor as well with great Mediterranean food deals.

Cocktails are one of their best tools to attract people, as they have a dedicated barman with lots of experience behind the bar.

The city views are great. This is very close to Paseo de Gracia and once you’re above, you can spot La Sagrada familia and also the famous Agbar Tower.

One of the best indeed!

Hotel Almanac - Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 619, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Catalunya

TripAdvisor rating: 5,0/5

Hotel Mandarin Oriental

Hotel Manadarin Oriental is located in the very center of Barcelona, right at the concurred Paseo de Gracia.

This rooftop is one of the most elegant rooftops to visit. The views are incredible, as you can see the north part of the city and the views at Paseo de Gracia.

rooftop bars

The service at the hotel is outstanding. That day, it rained and many rooftops close for the whole day as they need to put away all the amenities. But, the staff at Manadarin Oriental, allowed us to go up and we were on our own.

I couldn’t have a taste of the cocktails given the situation, but, I saw the cocktail list and it looked incredible!

The views from above are the best. You almost have a 360 view from Barcelona. The ambient is so relaxing with the pool and the hammocks, that you will feel in heaven!

Hotel Manadarin Oriental - Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Catalunya

TripAdvisor Rating: 4,5/5

Hotel Royal

Hotel Royal is located at Paseo de Gracia as well, and they have a very distinguished rooftop, with a glass cover. Which seems great if the weather isn’t promising.

rooftop bars

The ambient is very chilled with a dominant view of the city all around the Hotel. You can spot La Sagrada Familia, Hotel W and Agbar tower easily.

But the best comes behind the bar. A dedicated barman creates refreshing cocktails like this Expresso Martini…

rooftop bars

Also, the barman recommended to try the “Royal Sangria”. Apparently, they have their own recipe which includes peach and melon liquer!!

The instalations are very nice, but don’t expect to find a pool up there. The lounge-type rooftop offers a good and relaxed ambient.

Hotel Royal Paseo de Grácia - Passeig de Gràcia, 84, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Catalunya

TripAdvisor rating: 4,5/5

Hotel Arts

Hotel Arts is located in front of the sea and it is one of the twin towers you can spot in Barcelona’s skyline.

Rooftop Bars

*image property of the hotel

My cloudy day and rain was too poor to take good shots, so I borrowed this one from the hotel!

Hotel Arts is one of the most popular hotels for rich & famous people. Their rooftop is located in the 3rd floor, which is also where the 1 Michellin star restaurant and chef, Sergi Arola, are.

The pool can be enjoyed only by guests, but you can acces to the restaurant and enjoy a fabulous mediterranean meal!

It is a bit expensive in general, but, the views and the service are definetly worth it!!

Hotels Arts - Carrer de la Marina, 19-21, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Marina, or bus

TripAdvisor rating: 4,4/5

H10 Montcada Boutique Hotel

H10 Montcada, is a fabulous hotel located right next to the iconic Cathedral of Barcelona.

The sunset rooftop bar is perfect if you’d like to enjoy the views and great cocktails. Also, they have a Jacuzzi facing the sea, which makes it very appealing if you are hosted there.

Rooftop Bars

*image property of the hotel

Again, my cloudy day didn’t allow me to take good photos. But the hotel has provided these wonderful photos!

The staff are very kind and a very professional barman takes care of you from the very begining.

This hotel is located at the Barri Gothic. With many different sites around the hotel, it is perfect to make a stop and enjoy the views from above!

I really recommend a Gin Mare Gin tonic to get the full Mediterreanan experience!

H10 Montcada - Via Laietana, 24, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Urquinanona

TripAdvisor rating: 4,5/5

Hotel Ohla

Hotel Ohla, is located right at the edge of Barri Gothic, at the end of Via Laietana. This incredible hotel has a very “Chic” rooftop, with a glass viewed pool.

Rooftop Bars

*image property of the Hotel

Again, my cloudy day didn’t allow me to take decent photos of the hotel, but I have to say I was very impressed by the views and they way the rooftop is structured.

Completly facing the city and the Cathedral, you can enjoy a beautiful view, while drinking a nice and refreshing signature cocktails.

Also, they can offer you a list of Mediterranean tapas that will complete your experince and you won’t want to leave!

The elegant design of the rooftop is in line with the modernist architecture of the city, and also contrasts with the neo clasical architecture of the front.

Hotel Ohla Barcelona - Via Laietana, 49, Barcelona

Google Maps

Metro: L1, Urquinaona

TripAdvisor rating: 4,5/5

Hotel Ayre Rosello

Hotel Ayre Roselló, is a unique and modern hotel located in the very heart of Eixample quarter.

The most impressive part of this hotel, is the magnificient views of the gorgeous Basilica de La Sagrada Familia.

rooftop bars

*image property of the hotel

Hotel Barceló Raval

Hotel Barceló Raval, is a modern hotel located in the District of El Raval. This district is really close to some of the most touristic places in Barcelona, such as Las Ramblas, La Boqueria and the popular Liceu theathre.

Their rooftop is the biggest 360 rooftop in Barcelona and the views are spectacular!

Rooftop Bars

In terms of food and drinks, you have a very nice tapas menu with lots of mediterranean food options!

The cocktails are great, although they seem basic in terms of diversity. The typical mojito, gin tonic and a few more.

I really recommend this rooftop bar, if you want to see a 360 view of the city!

Alright folks! this is it. I hope you have enjoyed the reading and if you did, please leave a comment below!

 

Also, I would like to recommend the best way to move around Barcelona is by E-Scooter!

Now you can do so with ECOOLTRA simply download the app for iOS and Android and enjoy 30 min free with my code: TGFJK

 

In case you haven’t read my previous post…here is a link to the most beautiful food markets in Barcelona

THE BEST FOOD MARKETS IN BARCELONA

Also, you can follow my adventures on Instagram: ACECOOLTURE

Thanks for your support!! All the best!

DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE FOR NEW TRAVEL INSPIRATION!

– Traveling to Find Cool Cultures –

Ivan

Categories
Cuba South America Travel

Best Places to go in Cuba


Best Places to go in Cuba

Best Places to go in Cuba

When you think of Cuba, we all have one image in mind…mojitos and wild salsa dance 🙂 At least I do!

I visited Cuba in December and I was really excited as it was my first sponsored trip as photographer / Instagramer. I wasn’t sure if I was going to deliver what they expected from me.

However, before I went, I read 100 blogs about photography in Cuba and I found a common thing in all of them: Light.

Light on earth can change depending on the latitude you’re in, and that is exactly what I read from these blogs. Light in Cuba is very unique during Sunrise and Sunset. What they call “Golden Hour” might have been named, maybe, after contemplating the light in Cuba.

So there I was, trying to capture the best Cuban light to inspire readers from around the world with my photos.

My first stop was La Habana. There you will see the typical colonial buildings from the Hispanic era, and old cars from the 50’s and the 60’s, since the US blocked the commerce back then, and they have been restoring these cars during the past 60 years.

I tried to capture both things, a colonial building with an old colorful car. I guess you can judge yourself if I did a good job 🙂

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Best photo spots in Cuba
Habana

After La Habana, they brought me to Cienfuegos. A colonial French city with beautiful buildings and an awesome sea shore. Here I wanted to capture those old cars in front of a different arquitecture and also, some sunset shots in front of the vast sea shore.

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Next to Cienfuegos, almost an hour away, there is the most ancient colonial city in Central America, Trinidad.

Trinidad has such a beauty, that it makes you think you are actually living like they did in the 1700’s. The Spanish colony back then, had a single idea of arquitecture, based on the romans and the French. Trinidad is a fusion between these 2 styles of arquitecture, and in the middle, you find the active Cuban society. Unique.

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Last stop, was the lost valley of Viñales!

Viñales is known in Cuba to be the region with the most tobacco plants in the island. The valley of Viñales is a vast region where you can only see tobacco plants surrounded by big mountains that create this amazing valley. Capturing the agriculture life there was incredible. They still use cows to help them bring the plants before they are processed.

My idea was to capture this vivid life during sunset, and also, to capture the singularity of the colors there.

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I hope you enjoy the pictures I took and I hope you get an idea of how inspiring it is the light in Cuba!

In case you haven’t read my previous posts from Cuba:

10 Day Tour through Cuba

BEST PHOTO SPOT IN CUBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, if you’d like to edit photos like me, in just ONE CLICK, have a look at my Lightroom Presets for Mobile!

 

Categories
Barcelona Europe Food

Top 8 Food Markets in Barcelona

There has been different Food market re-openings recently in Barcelona, and I thought it could be of interest to share with you some of the Best Food Markets in the city.

In Barcelona there are 39 food markets spread out throughout the city

First of all, allow me to say that in order to judge them, I have categorized these in 3 different aspects: Accesability, Variety and Location.

By Accesability, I mean how easy is to get there from any part of the city. Public transports or ways to access the market.

By Variety, I mean the number of outlets like fruit stands, meat stands, fish stands and ever bars where you can sit down and have a coffee.

By Location, I mean how far they are from the city center.

As you might probably know, Barcelona is known for it’s food diversity, being the first city in Spain with the most number of Restaurants per person.

The upcoming trend of healthy lifestyle, has affected the Food Markets very posivetly. There are a lot more restaurant owners buying directly at the Food Markets to guarantee a great quality and to support the local agriculture.

Well, now that your mouth might be watering and you want to discover some markets here they are:

1. Mercat De La Boqueria

La BoqueriaLa Boqueria is probably the most well known Food Market in Barcelona. This is thanks to it’s fabulous location in the center of Las Ramblas.

La Boqueria, is also known to be a perfect pit stop before you visit any other centric sites near Las Ramblas. Inside there are numerous freshly squezeed juices, fruit bowls or even a nice Jam Sandwich (Entrepa de Pernil – in Catalan).

In terms of accesability, you can get there by metro, bus or even walking distance depending on where you are.

Mercat de La Boqueria – La Rambla, 89, Barcelona

Metro: L3, Metro station Liceu

Bus: Line V13, La Boqueria

If we consider variety, El mercat de la Boqueria has the widest variety of stands in Barcelona. Specialized in very good quality, you can find almost any type of fruit, cured ham, meat or fish. Also, there are a couple of decent bars that you can taste a nice fish tapa or typical sandwich.

Location is perfect, as it stands in the middle of Las Ramblas, a must transit place for tourists!

2. Mercat de Sant Antoni

Mercat de Sant Antoni

The Sant Antoni Food Market has been refurbished recently (2018) and there has been a local re-launch this past weekend that has been very promising.

This is known to be one of the oldest food markets in Barcelona, and even you can see Barcelona’s ancient city walls from the 18th century.

Sant Antoni is the district where this market is located, a very well known district for it’s food diversity. Like the famous restaurants from Albert Adrià.

Accesability is great in Sant Antoni, given there is a free parking underneath the food market and also many public transports that leave right in front.

In terms of variety, Sant Antoni covers every single category of foods you can imagine, and now you can even find clothing shops!

Location is fantastic. The Sant Antoni district is close to el Paralel that is also a must transit place to locate good restaurants.

Mercat de Sant Antoni – C/ Compte d’Urgell, 1, Barcelona

Metro: L2 Sant Antoni

Bus: Line 41, Sant Antoni

The Sant Antoni market also has furniture sales some weekends and even book sales outside!

3. Mercat de Santa Caterina

Santa Caterina Food MarketMercat de Santa Caterina is located in Ciutat Vella. Easily spoted by the innovative design of the rooftop, that resembles the diversity of food and colours inside.

A bit more vanguardist than traditional La Boqueria, this food market is unique also for it’s diversity inside. You can enjoy a good cheese, ham or fruit juice while admiring the amazing rooftop.

In terms of Accessability, this market is great with many public transportation around as well as a giant scooter parking. However, the parkings around it are payed parkings.

Variety is enormous inside, and one of the most atractive things is the numerous bars you can have a great snack in.

Location is a bit tricky, as it stands hidden in the middle of ciutat vella, and if you don’t know the place, it seems a bit difficult to find.

El Mercat de Santa Caterina – Av. Francesc Cambó, 16, Barcelona

Metro: L4, Jaime I

Bus: Line 120, Ciutat Vella

Don’t miss this one if you want to see something in line with the city’s architecture.

4. Mercat de Sant Andreu

Mercat de Sant AndreuMercat de Sant Andreu is probably a food market that might not be the biggest one in Barcelona, but it certainly has the most relevant things in a food market. Located in the district of Sant Andreu, this market offers fresh fish, meat, fruits and even spices.

Also, there are a couple of bars closeby that offer hot chocolatte, many kinds of tea and Ice creams.

This market has suffered a lot from many economic recessions, but it has been refurbished and now it is a solid place for people in the district of Sant Andreu.

Accesability is ok, but it could use a parking nearby. Anyhow, public transports reach here easily.

Variety is also ok, as it offers the basics from a food market, but you can enjoy great icre creams or teas here also.

Location is a bit far from the city center, but public transports reach here easily and in 20 min from the center you can get there.

Mercat de Sant Andreu РPla̤a del Mercadal, 41, Barcelona

Metro: L1, Sant Andreu

Bus: Line 126, Sant Andreu

It has recently been refurbished, so if you’re in the area don’t miss it!

5. Mercat de La Concepció

Mercat de la ConcepcióMercat de la Concepció, is a traditional market mostly known for the flowers and plants stands they have. Right in the middle of the popular neighborhood L’Eixample, this unique market is an experience itself.

When the market opens, it’s like a huge warehouse opening these big doors. You access the market on ground level, but, the food stalks are underneath you. Literally, underneath you. You have to walk through a glass bottom bridge and you can see everything underneath. It’s great!

Accesability is not as other markets, given it’s in the middle of a very crowded district. But, it’s one of those places that you reach walking.

Variety is awesome if we consider every food market has the same food stalks, but this one, also has a large plant section in the back! Which makes it unique.

Location is great. In the street of Arago, it’s very easy to locate and to get there in public transport.

Mercat de la Concepció – C/ Aragó, 313, Barcelona

Metro: L4, Girona

Bus: V17 or Line 34 will leave you in front. Girona is the bus stop.

Go check those flowers and enjoy the experience of that bridge!

6. Mercat de Sants

Mercat de SantsMercat de Sants, is a typical food market located in the neighborhood of Sants with a very unique design. Inside the celings are so high that give you and amplitude and modern feeling at the same time.

Inside you will find the typical food stalls with fresh fish, meat and vegetables, but also, there are plenty of stalls with take away food. This makes it special if you want to taste local tapas like croquetes, empanadas and salads.

The accesability is pretty good if you’re walking or getting there by public transport. But, it could use a parking nearby.

The variety is decent, and you have the compliment of freshly made tapas.

The location is a bit away from the city center, but Sants is located in the biggest train station in the city, so, it’s well situated.

Mercat de Sants – C/ Sant Jordi, 6, Barcelona

Metro: L1 & L5, plaça de Sants

Bus: Line 54, Plaça de Sants

Dive into those excellent tapas!

7. Mercat de Galvany

Mercat de GalvanyMercat de Galvany is located in Sant Gervasi – Sarrià area, a populated residential district with very good surrondings. This market is unique, as the architecture differs from the other food markets. With brick walls and huge spaces inside, it’s a place to even relax during peak hours.

Inside you will find a wide assortment of Cheese, Ham and even spices and Sushi stands!

I find this place quite charming and romantic. One of those places that every town has to have to mantain the culture vivid and fresh.

In terms of accesability, the market is in a residential area that is best accesed walking. Or by bus.

Variety is well balanced with the baqsic food market things, but also, with great assortment of spices and Sushi!

Location is perfect. It is in the north part of Barcelona and there are a lot of residential homes nearby, so buses and metro reach there easily.

Mercat de Galvany – C/ Santaló, 65, Barcelona

Metro: L3, L5, Diagonal

Bus: Line D40, Diagonal

Dive in this little but stylish food market!

8. Mercat de l’Abaceria

Mercat de l'AbaceriaMercat de l’Abaceria is one of the most visual atractive food markets in Barcelona. The first thing thing that will strike you is the numerous graphitis in the metal doors outside. These graphitis have been made by local artists and give this food market a lot of personality.

If you go there in the morning, it is very entertained to watch the owners of the stalls set up everything.

Another good reason to visit this food market is the variety of things they offer. From tools, to houseware and a central fish stall with a big assortment.

In terms of accesability, this market could be better with a parking nerby, but, since it’s located in the center of the city, it seems difficult to access it, unless it’s by foot.

Variety is superb. Besides the typical food market stalls, you can find tools and home accesories.

Location is great as it is right in the center part of the city and it’s very easy to find.

Mercat de l’Abaceria – Travessera de Gràcia, 186, Barcelona

Metro: L3, Fontana

Bus: Line 22 stops right in front

This is it guys! I hope you will enjoy this food market tour! Gastronomy in Barcelona is very important and these food markets will give a good sense of our essence!

Best food markets in Barcelona

Please comment on this post if you have any questions!

 

Categories
North America Travel USA

Top Things To Do In Chicago

Millennium Park

Top Things To Do In Chicago

Last time I was in Chicago, I was 10 years old and I don’t remember much from then. I guess back then, Chicago Bulls, the sears tower were the things I was interested on so, that what I saw.

This time was completely different. I flew in on a weekend to explore a bit of the city. I heard a lot of great things about Chicago, like the unique situation of the city facing lake Michigan.

Before traveling, I always scroll through the different Instagram profiles of each place I go, like @igerschicago, @visitchicago or @chicago, so I can grab some ideas of cool shots I could take.

There are beautiful images of Chicago on the gram! The ones I liked the most were the ones taken with drone. Unfortunately, on this trip I left the drone at home 🙂

Alright, in this blog post I wanted to share with you some of the best things to do in Chicago, considering these are also great photo spots!

1. Chicago Theatre

This amusing Chicago Theatre is probably one the most famous landmarks in Chicago. This place was built in 1921 and during the 50’s and the 60’s it was one of the top theatres in the US.

Chicago Theatre
Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre
Chicago Theatre

I had a rainy day as you can see, but still, the light of the street, the busy traffic & the shops made this place unique.

I had to stop the traffic several times to take this photo 🙂

2. Millennium Park

Millenium Park is a public park located in the Chicago Loop area, close to the lake shore of Lake Michigan.

This park has 2 beautiful sites to photograph: The tulip gardens and the Moon Bean.

At the north entrance of the park, you will find this type of mini garden with lots of tulip flowers and at the end, you can even see the infinity of the street. I found it amazing

Millennium Park
Millennium Park

The Moon Bean or formerly known as The Cloud Gate, is a unique sculpture by Sir Anish Kapoor (searched the wikipedia, I had no clue a minute a go haha).

The cloud gate
The Cloud Gate

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It is pretty hard to get a shot without people, but i recommend you either wake up at 4 am or just tilt your camera angle towards the sky, like I did.

3. Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs Baseball stadium

Hey! I’m not really a Baseball fan, but in the US you have to go to a ball game if you have the chance. The ambient is so festive, you will enjoy!

This is the second oldest baseball fields in the US, after my beloved Fenway Park from the Boston Red Sox!

I found this place very inspiring and there are some awesome photos outside with the crowd.

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4. Bay Area

Chicago has a very big Bay area as the city is facing lake Michigan with a huge lake shore,  sea shore? not sure what’s correct.

If you go there during sunset, on a sunny day, I guarantee you will see one of the best city sunsets in your life!

Unluckily, I had a very cloudy day and you can only see Chicago’s skyline in contrast. But hey, you need to take pictures when you need to take pictures 🙂

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Chicago

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5. Chicago’s famous Bridges

Chicago has numerous bridges crossing the river. This has become a recognizable site in Chicago.

I really recommend you find a tall building around, like The London House Hotel by Hilton. Up there you will be able to see all 5 bridges lined up being stared by huge apartment buildings.

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This is it on this post! I’m sure I may have missed some spots, so please please, leave me a comment about your favorite spots in Chicago and I will be able to check them out next time I go there!!

In case you want to know, all my photos were edited on-the-go with my LIGHTROOM PRESETS FOR MOBILE

Mobile Lightroom Presets
Mobile Lightroom Presets

It is so easy to use these preset filters with the free Lightroom App that you won’t have to waste much time to get those groovy tones going on your images!!

Check out my feed to see the results!! @ACECOOLTURE

See you on the next post guys!!

Hugs,

Ivan

 

 

 

Categories
Canada North America Travel

Best day plan in Toronto!

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On my first visit to Toronto, I got shocked by the skyline I saw from the plane. For someone from Barcelona, like me, seeing these skylines was incredible.

Actually, I found some similarities between Toronto and Barcelona. They are both oriented to the water, there is a very active social life and people seem very calm and nice. Although I wish I had more time to visit the city, I was only there for 3 days so I picked the most amazing things I saw on TripAdvisor.

Toronto

1. CN Tower

The CN Tower is one of the most amazing things you see when you arrive in Toronto. The area is also amazing as you can see the acquarium underneath, the Rogers stadium and many different places to eat.

The entrance is worth 40$ per person. That includes the ride up to the top only. I went there in the morning right before lunch, as I thought at noon would be the time to see a lot of the city.

The elevator ride is great, there is lady explaining in only 3 minutes, what you will find at the top, while your ears start to cover.

CN Tower
CN Tower

Views from above the CN Tower
Views from above the CN Tower

Definetly worth the views! Also, for the curious ones, there is a glass bottom floor that you can stand on top and see everything underneath you. It looks quite scary, and it’s very fun to watch people play around there to get that funny selfie.

Grab your tickets here: CN TOWER TICKETS

2. The Royal Ontario Museum

Scrolling through TripAdvisor’s Best activities in Toronto, I found a huge Dinosaur head staring at me in one of those mini thumbnails pics. Personally, I found it very atractive, but that is because I’m a bit of a freak about Romans, Egypcians, Space & Dinosaurs.

The entrance ticket costs 20$ per person.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), has an amazing arquitecture that was designed by  Daniel Libeskind, Frank Darling, John A. Pearson. It is the biggest Natural history museum in Canada.

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In addition, I have to say I joined the speach of tour lady to a bunch of high school kids. It was quite funny, because I was pretending to look distracted by the arts while listening to what she was explaining. 🙂

YOU CAN’T MISS: The Dinosaur area, The Egypt area, The geology area and the Romans area.

Everything is so impressive!

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Even visit a replica Egypcian Tomb!

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Seems like, this place was probably the one that I enjoyed the most. For all the things you can do inside. Actually, I would go here at least once a month!

Get your ROM Tickets here

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I would be glad to know your favourite Toronto spots! you can write to me with your comments here: acecoolture@gmail.com

Stay tunned for more adventures and recommendations!

Also, if you liked my photos and you want to edit like me, get this amazing set of presets:

https://acecoolture.blog/product/master-collection-lightroom-presets/

 

Looking forward to see you around!

Ivan

Follow me on Instagram: @acecoolture

 

Categories
Hawaii North America Travel USA

Best Snorkeling On Oahu

Best Snorkeling Spot in Oahu

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Best Snorkeling On Oahu

What is the first thing that comes to your mind if I say: Oahu? Exactly, palm trees, piña coladas, beach, surf, all those fun things we all heard about.

In this blog post I will talk about one of the most famous places to do snorkel in Oahu!

Hawaii is formed by a group of Islands: Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai. These are the big ones, but there are other smaller ones. Oahu is the island where the capital of Hawaii is located, Honolulu. This is why it is easier to travel to than the other islands. However, the bigger island is Hawaii (it’s actually called like this – The big island).

If you’re in Oahu, you have many different beaches to go to, and practice almost any water sport you can imagine. Today I wanted to talk about this beautiful beach we found, called Hanauma Bay.

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The ride from Honolulu to Hanauma Bay by car is around 30 minutes. You can get there by bus too, it’s only a few bucks if I remember correctly.

Hanauma Bay State Park is located at the far east part of the Island, about 30 min away from Honolulu by car/bus. The entrance fee is 7.50$ and there you can rent snorkeling gear for 25$/person.

*NOTE THAT TUESDAYS ITS CLOSED*

HANAUMA BAY
HANAUMA BAY

When we went there, there weather was perfect, but you need to consider that any slight wind or cloudy day, will result negatively for snorkeling.

Hanauma bay in Oahu is perfect for snorkel for various reasons:

  1. The coral reef is not very deep, so you can swim along and discover all the little fish down there.
  2. The beach extension is very wide, so there is plenty of room for everyone to dive in from any spot
  3.  The animal diversity is amazing! We saw so many different types of fish. My favourite, a parrot fish!!

Best Snorkeling On oahu

You have to plan that you will spend from 4 to 6 hours there. You can have lunch at the beach with no problem at all.

So, do not even think about it!! If you have some spare time, you can’t miss this beautiful place! Many good memories here, awesome photos and felt like a dolphon for a while 🙂

If you liked these pictures and you want to use my Lightroom Presets on your photos, download them here:

OAHU Collection – 10 Lightroom Presets

Thank you very much for reading!!!

Aloha!

Ivan

FOLLOW MY ADVENTURES ON INSTAGRAM: @ACECOOLTURE

 

Categories
Bali South East Asia Travel

8 places you can’t miss in BALI!

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 Lonely PlanetIf you ever go to Bali, and you are not a lucky digital nomad or a famous Instagramer that can spend 30 days in the magical island, you might want to read this.

We decided to do a 7 days tour through the island, spoting Bali’s most iconic places and activities to get the maximum profit out of it. If by profit we understand amazing experiences and cool activities.

1. Sunrise at the Terrace Fields

Even you are not a morning person, try to get up at least one day at 6am and drive to Sideman, near Ubud. This location is perfect to enjoy the sunrise as there are several terrace fields that you can access pretty easy. This place is not as famous as the Tegalalang rice terraces, but one difference is that the Sidemen rice terraces aren’t as touristic as the Tegalalang and you can get amazing views like this one.

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 2. Get lost through the magical temples

Bali is full of temples, every single village has at least one and in most of them, you have to pay entrance or give some money just for charity. Usually, you are not allowed to go in with shorts or skirts, that’s why at the entrance you will get a very thin scarf to cover your legs. Here is a list of the 3 best temples you should not miss in Bali:

Tanah Lot Temple

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Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu temple

Semarapura Temple

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3. Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is an Island 45 minutes away from Bali. You get there by speedboat from a little town called Sanur. We hired a round trip with a local driver that takes you to the most iconic spots in the island which are mainly 3: Broken beach, Angel’s Billabong and Kelingking beach.

Broken Beach

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Angel’s Billabong

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Kelingking Beach

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4. Stay at the Best Villas

Bali has some of the most beautiful villa’s i’ve ever seen. If you want to have a place where you can relax after a hectic day, with your private pool at a good cost you might want to check out the villas from Berawa Beach State – www.villasdirectbali.com

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www.villasdirectbali.com

5. Have Lunch in a Trendy Cafe in Canggu

Canggu is the most beautiful town we saw in Bali (only our opinion 🙂 ). One of the things we enjoyed the most was the nice cafes and restaurants there. Lots of interesting gastronomic option for you to pick.

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I really recommend to visit:

Peloton Supershop

Nüde Restaurant

Milu by Nook

6. The Bali Swing

Next to Ubud, there is the famous Bali Swing. This place has several swings where you can take amazing pictures while you swing into “Da jungle”. I have to say I felt like a little kid and I would go there again anytime. However, take into consideration that this place is for wealthy moglies, as the entrance fee is 35 USD.

Bali swing
www.baliswing.com

7. Sunset in Balangan Beach

Bali has numerous beaches that you can enjoy a good sunset, but I found spectacular the one in Balangan Beach. The huge rock at the righ side of the beach and watching all the surfers surf on the leftside was just incredible.

I really recommend that you grab your scooter while in Canggu and go to this beach 2 hours before sunset to catch a good spot and have some beers!

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8. Handara Golf Resort, the famous gate

Handara Golf Resort is where the famous Balinese gate is located. Many instagramers visit this place in the north of Bali. I have to say it is spectacular. Definetly worth the ride!

We also stayed at the resort, but I’m sure you can find cheaper options nearby that will suit your budget better.

Handara Golf Resort
Handara Golf Resort

This is it guys! If you have recommendations about Bali, feel free to write us a note and we will be very happy to explore them!

Please like and comment this post if you found it useful!

Follow me on Instagram: @acecooltureSee you soon!

Ivan

Categories
Bali South East Asia Travel

Bali, The Ultimate 7 day Guide

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Community_800px_filled_blueBali is the destination you’ve been waiting for if you’re looking for adventure, instagramable photo scenes, amazing temples and great food diversity. With this guide, I will explain what we did in just 7 days on our first visit to the “Paradise Island”.

You have to consider that your days will start at 7am (or ealier depending on your jetlag) and will probably end at 9pm.

Day 1 – Uluwatu & Balangan beach

Since you probably landed in Denpasar airport, it’s best to stay in the area of Canggu, as it has lots of great accomodations and it is also very close to some beautiful sites.

We stayed at a wonderful villa we found at Berawa Beach Estate. There we had a wonderful pool by ourselves and an awesome continental breakfast every morning!

www.villasdirectbali.com
www.villasdirectbali.com

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www.villasdirectbali.com

Our first day we rented a scooter as it is the most convenient and cheap way to move around Bali.

We headed to the south of Canggu, to visit the temple of Uluwatu.  This temple is located almost 1 hour away by bike and it is known to be one of the six most sacred temples in Bali. The place is fantastic as you can see the temple over a cliff near the sea and I can imagine the sunset is beautiful there!

Uluwatu
Uluwatu Temple view

In this place you can have lunch for only 2$ and it is pretty decent.

After visiting Uluwatu for 2 hours, we decided to go to Jimbaran beach to see the sunset as it was close by and they had really recommended this place on the Lonely Planet book of Bali. However, once we got to Jimbaran beach, we saw it was very dirty and full of abandoned boats like if there had been a huricane or something, but it hadn’t.

So, I looked on TripAdvisor other close sites to see, and we found Balangan beach. I can guarantee that if you see the sunset in this place you will absolutly enjoy it!

Balangan Beach
Balangan Beach

Balangan Beach
Balangan Beach

After a long day remebering how to ride a scooter again and fighting against jetlag, we headed back to our villa in Canggu to rest a bit.

Day 2 – Canggu & Tanah Lot

We decided to discover the beautiful city of Canggu as we were already there and we had realised there were many things to see. In Canggu there is a very active social life. Many cafes, restaurants and shops that you can experience, at this surfer’s paradise!

We had a good & healthy lunch in Nüde restaurant, then we drove to Tanah Lot temple. It is only 20 minutes away from the area of Canggu by scooter.

Pura Tanah Lot, as it is officially known, is one of the most sacred temples in Bali along with Uluwatu. This place is very well know for its temples built in rocks in the sea. It is very peculiar to see and it is even more spectacular to see the sunset there.

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Day 3 –

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Nusa Penida
www.nusapenida.com

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida
Can you spot me?

Nusa Penida

To go to Nusa Penida, its best if you book the fast boat in advance rather than the day before. This will avoid you paying extra money!

Not sure if you noticed, but I got a major sun burn on my neck, arms and legs!!

Pack some sunscreen!

After another peaceful night in our Hotel Grand Palace Bali the next day, was going to be a shopping and relaxing day in Canggu!

Day 7 – Canggu, pool time & shopping

Off course on every trip there has to be some relax. Our way of relax is simple, wake up late, eat a good breakfast, rest by the pool, siesta, and shopping in the afternoon!

Canggu is the perfect city for you to do all that, and more! As we mentioned before, Canggu is full of nice restaurants were you can eat anything for a few bucks!

Also, there are some really good clothes brands which I never heard about before, that I really like now. Atila & CO per exemple!

Not much left for this trip! If you have some questions, feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Also, you can find me on Instagram as @acecoolture go check my profile and follow my new adventures!

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Peace & out!

Adventure, Explore & Culture

See my previous post from:

Cuba

Dubrovnik

Ivan

 

Categories
South America Travel

How to spend 10 days in Cuba

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Lonely PlanetWelcome back! I haven’t been posting anything since my last post of Croatia given a new job opportunity I’m working on. Now I’m very excited to share with you my recent adventure in Cuba!!

Travelling to Cuba can be the adventure you dreamed off! Specially, if your idea of adventure is to explore beautiful cities, hike through a jungle  or jump on a boat to go to a lost Cayo in the Caribbean sea!

Before you go to Cuba, there are a couple of things you need to consider:

  1. You need to buy a tourist VISA  that costs around 24€. I found a webpage that does it and they mail it to you in a couple of days (notice I said mail and not email jejeje). Find this webpage in this link: VISA FOR CUBA
  2. Also, it is very important to buy a health insurance. It seems very common that you get a stomach ache if you try any drink with ice. Not really sure why it happens but, the cost is not high and you can get good medical attention.

Once you have  your tourist visa and health insurance, you are good to go!

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Personally, I like to plan our trips around 2 months before departure. I heard somewhere, that flights cost lower until 52 days before the departure date. After that period, they seem to increase every monday. So yes, you probably figured out I booked on Sunday 🙂

HOTELS

Regarding Hotels, I cannot recommend a time to book in advance, as it depends if its high or low season. Also, for this trip, we decided to only book hotels during our first nights in La Habana and leave the rest as part of the adventure.

CASAS PARTICULARES

In Cuba, it is very common to sleep in people’s houses called “Casas Particulares” or Private homes. These are normal houses that locals adapt for tourist, and they offer every service a hostal or B&B could have. I really recommend this option for tight budgets and even for the experience itself. The cost can go from 15 to 40 CUC (Cuban Peso), which is around 12 to 35€ per night.

There are some webs where you can find these particular houses, but, I recommend to book them once you’re there or to look at the ones of the Lonely Planet Book of Cuba (I got this as birthday present in July…coincidence?) 😆

Enough chat!!! Our adventure began in…

La Habana

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MONEY EXCHANGE

First thing you want to do when you land in Cuba is change your chip. Get ready to be surprised, amazed and deceived.

Second thing you should do is change your money. In Cuba, there are 2 local currencies, CUC & CUP.

CUC, is the most used one and you normally get an exchange rate of 1€ = 1,14 CUCs.

CUP, is the currency in which the locals get their salary with 1 CUC = 25 CUPS.

We didn’t exchange any amount in CUPs just because we thought we wouldn’t need any and it was fine the whole trip.

The office to exchange currency is just outside the terminal. There is a cue that takes you around 20 minutes. It is probably smart if someone waits for the suitcase and the other goes to exchange money, everything can take you 20 min each.

Alright! Now you have money in your pockets and you are looking for a taxi, right? Well, Cuba is also special for that. There are normal taxis and “taxi colectivo”, which means a collective taxi or some type of Uber Pool, but without the app in your mobile.

However, at the airport we didn’t see any taxi colectivo and we went with the regular yellow ones. We paid 30 CUC for a ride to the center of La Habana.

Tip: Ask for the total cost of the ride before!

I heard there are buses that get you to the city center for 2 CUCs but, depends on the time you arrive, for us it was too late (22:00).

We made our first stop at a very nice boutique hotel in the area of Vedado called La Reserva Vedado. We chose this place as it seemed very peaceful and we wanted to enjoy a relaxed ambient during our first night. Simon, the owner, was very kind from the begining and also his staff. The hotel has design touches of minimalism with a little art deco, combined with a colonial-type arquitecture.

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Breakfast is full of everything you could imagine in the Caribbean: mango juices, french toasts, tropical fruit and excellent coffee and tea. You can also order any type of omelet or scrambeled eggs.

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There is a lady at La Reserva called Susel, who also helped us arranging our transports to the other locations we wanted to visit.

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Visit their nice rooms at www.lareservavedado.com !

The next morning  we started our exploration and we went to the Necropolis of Cristobal Colon. Once, the discoverer was burried there, but the Spanish authorities claimed his body back to Spain. The entrance, is 5 CUC, and I have to say, I’m not a big fan of graves, but I wanted to take a picture I really liked.

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Our next stop was “La plaza de la Revolución”, the official translation would be “The Revolution square”. This is where you can see 2 huge drawings of Ernesto Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

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In that same square there is a huge tower that you can visit. The entrance is worth 1 CUC and if you take the elevator to the top it’s 3 CUC more. There are nice views from above and it is a good way to see La Habana and all the different districts.

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Going away from the Revolution square, you can get lost through La Habana vieja, which is the old part of the city. There you can find colorfull streets full of artists and musicians that will cheer you up!💃🏼

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Time for a drink! To enjoy a cold beer or cocktail, you can go to the new hotel in the city, The Kempinsky Gran Manzana. There is a nice rooftop bar with an infinity pool with excellent views of The Capitol.

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If you continue walking towards the Capitol, the street in front has many colorfull houses which I’m sure you’ve seen in some tour guides. It is a bit difficult and dangerous to take a great photo given there is traffic around you and you need to stop between the two lanes.

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It is very easy to get lost in the little streets of La Habana vieja (Old Habana) and bump into scenes like this one…

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Next to the little streets in La Habana vieja you can find the chinese district. We didn’t really go in and explore but, the ambient there is very nice with many low cost food options.

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Following the chinese district and almost about to finish our first day, we went to the famous Malecon. This is a concrete barrier in the sea shore of La Habana, that prevents the waves to go over it.

It is a must visit at sunset/sunrise, as you prefer. In front you can see El Morro, which is an ancient Spanish fortress when los conquistadores use to be here.

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After enjoying a beautiful sunset at El Malecon, we went to our next boutique hotel in Old La Habana.

Revolution boutique hotel is located in the very heart of La Habana, near a very popular street called Obispo. This great boutique hotel has 4 rooms and each one of them expresses comfort and relax.

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At the Revolution hotel you will find peace in this active district. The staff is very kind and hospital. We really enjoyed the tropical breakfast with fresh squeezed passion fruit juice! The rooms are very comfy, specially the bed.

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What I enjoyed the most is having a nice cup of coffee in the mini garden type terrace.

Visit their site at https://www.revolution.boutique

The next morning we grabbed a shared taxi and went to Trinidad. Usually, shared taxis have other travellers, but, for some reason we went on our own. It costed us 100 CUC and it took us 4 hours from La Habana.

Trinidad

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Trinidad is a beautifull colonial city. The best conserved colonial city in Latin America! Many people are shocked by their nice buildings when they arrive, and I must say, it feels like if you go back in time like 50 years.

The town itself is not very big and the streets have this little stones all over the road, which feels a bit uncomfortable to walk in sandals.

Trinidad is full of colorfull houses and nice restaurants to eat almost any type of food.

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Really nice streets to have a stroll and enjoy the colorfull views of the city!

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In Trinidad there are 2 wifi spots only. To get internet acces you have to buy an internet card at the ETECSA store (phone company) and with a code you enter it and you can connect. However, there are 100 people connecting to the same wifi and speed is something you need to remove from your expectations. The cost of 1 hour is 1 CUC (1,00$)

The next morning we hired a shared taxi with some new friends and we went to a beach called Playa Ancon.

The ride was 4 CUC each couple and it took us only 20 min to get there.

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Playa Ancón was very calm, not many tourist there and you could go under an umbrela for free.

Later, there was a beach bar that you could have lunch, it wasn’t super great quality, but we enjoyed it.

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Endless white sand beaches to enjoy nice strolls!

By mid afternoon, we went back with another shared cab. That day, we decided to visit all the little streets we didn’t see at the begining and suddenly, we turned into a street full of artists sharing their paintings and other pieces of art!

I have to say we already had the idea of buying a little cuban painting but…I wasn’t expecting to fall in love at first sight😍. This huge painting of a little cuban boy smiling like if there was no tomorrow, struck me to my deepest feelings.

I promise I will share a photo once I’m able to buy a frame, but I’m still looking for the best one.

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After two days in Trinidad of good food, great ambient and very kind people, we took a bus to Cienfuegos!

The regular line that goes there is called Viazul. The ride costs 6 CUC and it takes around 1 hour. Check out their fares and routes here.

Cienfuegos

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We decided to stay only 1 day in Cienfuegos as we didn’t see many spectacular sights in our Lonely Planet guide. However, I must say, the city itself has a french touch fruit from the first settlers back in the 1800’s.

In Cienfuegos, there is an active night life towards the bay called “Punta Gorda”, where most of the hotels are. We went to watch the sunset there and then we also had dinner in a restaurant close to the bay.

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To move around Cienfuegos , it is easier to grab a tricycle, they are a bit slow, but they will take you almost anywhere for 2 CUC. We decided to grab one and we went to Punta Gorda to watch the sunset.
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This view was from one of the buildings in the square which is transformed as a museum. To visit the building costs 1 cuc and as you can see you have great views from above.
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As I was saying, we went to Punta gorda to enjoy of a beautifull sunset while sipping a Mojito. Sadly, that Mojito made me sick for the next 2 days. I mentioned it at the begining of this post, if you order a cocktail or even a glass of water, make sure you ask how are the ice cubes made. Unless they specify they are made with bottled water, ask to remove the icecubs from your drinks.
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Next morning, in order to avoid a long trip from Cienfuegos to our next stop, Viñales, we decided to grab a taxi. It only cost us 50 CUC and it took us 4 hours to get there. By bus, it is probably cheaper, but, it takes longer and in my situation, I preferred to be able to stop.

Viñales

Viñales is known for the tabaco fields, the red soil and the beautiful landscapes. We stayed in Viñales for 2 nights, but I can guarantee I could have stayed 1 week.

On our arrivial, we met Doña Hilda, I would say the best shared house in Viñales but, we only went to 1. However, I can say it was the best shared house we rented in Cuba!

Doña Hilda is a lady over her 50’s that has a house with 4 individual rooms, right at the entrance of Viñales. Ana, her grand daughter, took care of us the whole time. She noticed I was feeling sick, so they adapted the meals for me.

That first day, we had like 4 hours left of light so, we decided to do the tour through the valley. You can either do it by horse (typical) or walking, which is a 3 hour hike with lots of photo spots.

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After a long day on the road sick, and 3 hour tour through the fields of Viñales, it was time for some rest.

Next morning we decided to visit Cayo Levisa. Many people recommended this one day trip from Viñales, and I must say it is was definetly worth it. In the center of tourism in Viñales, you can buy a 1 day tour to Cayo Levisa for 35 cuc each. First, you take a 1 hour bus to the coast, and then you grab a mini boat that takes 30 min to the island.

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Cayo Levisa is this, white sand beaches with not many people. There is also an hotel in the island, which in my opinion, as there isn’t much to do there.

Sadly, this was our last day in Cuba, so I hope you have enjoyed this post and you are now adding Cuba on your bucket list 😉

Please let me know your comments and any questions you might need to know for your trip –> acecoolture@gmail.com

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@ACECOOLTUREHave a great day and thanks for reading!

Ivan

 

Categories
Croatia Europe Travel

Best tips to visit DUBROVNIK!!

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

Lonely PlanetDubrovnik is full of life and adventures!! You might want to check these tips before you go there!!

My girlfriend and I went for a quick 4-day visit to Dubrovnik in July, and besides the hot temperatures, I must say, I have been surprised by this city and the people living here in a very positive way.

First, let me mention that Croatia was accepted in the European Union the 1st of July of 2013. This is really important to know and to keep in mind while in Croatia. It’s only been 4 years since they’ve entered the Euro Zone, and this means that people are still not used to talking in another currency than theirs (Kuna).

With this post I will try to tell you my experience in Dubrovnik so you can avoid running around like a chicken with no head!

1. Money Exchange

Once at the airport, you will notice a huge line of people at the Currency Exchange desk trying to exchange money. My advice here is: Don’t!

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The exchange rate at the airport is around 25% higher compared to the rates of any local bank in the city. We ended up at this enormous line of people paying 20€ more than the local bank we went afterwards.

The reason for this is simple, if someone tells you that you’re going to a country with not much integration with the Euro, once you’re there, you’ll want to change all your budget as quick as possible to avoid getting high quotations in Euros, Dollars, or Pounds.

In fact, it’s not a bad idea to change some money at the airport, but only the exact amount that a taxi or bus will cost you!

There are local banks open untill late afternoon that will get you a better exchange rate than at the airport. They are not hard to find!

Here is a link to the OTP Bank in case you want to check their rates.

2. Transportation

Getting around the area of Dubrovnik is quite easy, however, the information you will find on the web is mainly on Blogs. Google Maps has no public transportation coverage yet (July 2017) in Dubrovnik.

My girlfriend and I decided to stay at a town near by called Cavtat. It is a town 5km away from the airport and at 22 km from Dubrovnik.

We read on a Blog post that is was quite easy to go from the airport to Cavtat with a local bus that would cost us around 50 Kunas each – around 7€ per person – but, once at the airport, they told us the service stops at 12:00 PM. So…screw! Taxi service from the airport to Cavtat is worth 120 Kunas – 16€ –

Car rentals are a good option, but we decided to move around by bus. Local buses cover most of the area of Dubrovnik. One way trip from Cavtat to Dubrovnik is 25 Kunas each – 3,30€ – so, we decided to move around by bus and save the extra money that a motorcycle or a car rental would cost you.

Another good option if you’re in Cavtat is the ferry. It costs 100 kunas each – 13,50€ – and the return ticket from Dubrovnik or Lokrum Island is included. If you’re in Croatia during the summer, you’ll want to consider fresh option like the ferry!!

So, take the bus or the ferry!! Here is a link to a popular company that does the route: Adriana Ferries.

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3. Where to Sleep

Dubrovnik during the summer is packed! We were not too sure to do the trip for this reason, but, we decided to explore towns nearby as the adriatic coast has one of the most beautiful sea colors i’ve ever seen!!

Cavtat, is a city 22 km away from Dubrovnik that offers a nice bay area, cool swimming spots, nice sunsets and cozy apartments that you can rent at a very reasonable price.

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Cavtat harbour area

We booked via Expedia a round trip of 4 nights 5 days as it was a lot more cheaper than other usual options like AirBnb, Booking, Trivago or Kayak + Skyscanner.

Our apartments were “Nina apartments”, in the top of the hill of Cavtat. You can check them out here: Nina Apartments.

Apartments in Cavtat are between 25€ to 60€ per night depending on the time of the year you go. It is very important to book with 20 days of advance as they have no more than 4-5 rooms each and they get booked very fast during high season.

4. Where to Eat

The area of Dubrovnik and Cavtat is full of restaurants and take-away bars where you will find a big variety of options.

As many tourist destinations, you could expect to have high prices for coffee or sandwiches but, in fact, this place has very reasonable prices.

When we did a day trip to Dubrovnik, we ate at a restaurant inside the old town that was very nice. For 2 sandwiches and 2 lemonades we spent around 150 Kunas – 20€ -. If you want more fancy stuff,  there are plenty of restaurants that offer super duper menus with fresh fish or nice meat, but, we went for the low cost options this time.

Another way to eat is to buy slices of pizza or take away sandwiches at the different food stands you will find. Usually, you’ll spend between 40 to 80 kunas – 5€ to 10€ –

In case you want to check out some cheap restaurants here’s a list from TripAdvisor:

Best Cheap restaurants in Dubrovnik

5. Places of Interest

There are plenty of activites you can do in Dubrovnik and the area around it! Water sports, city tours, turquoise water beaches, Island trips and even a Cable car trip to the top of Mount Srd! I’ve selected the ones I found MUST-VISIT:

Dubrovnik city tour

Dubrovnik is a city with a lot of history, the Kingdom of Ragusa as it was known for decades offers 2 different parts: The old town and the modern part.

The old town is where you will find all these terracota rooftops so typical to see from any photos of the city. Game of Thrones chose this destination because its beautiful location and fortified walls around the old city. For us, the perfect day was to get lost inside the walls of the old town and discover cool photo spots! And the most important thing, it’s free! (unless you choose to pay a 150 kunas – 20€ – to walk on top of the walls). We obviously chose not to..

There are many monuments and places of interest you can see inside the city walls, I discovered an app right before our trip that helps you plan your route in many cities in the world: Visit a city .  Maybe many people know about this app, but I just thought it was very usefull! (not receiveing any compensation from them).

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Dubrovnik’s Harbour

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Inside the walls

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Outside the walls – swimming spot

Dubrovnik Cable Car

If you want to explore the city from above, you have the option to grab a Cable car and go to Mount Srd and enjoy the beautiful views of the Old City.  Check out the Cable car website to know their updated prices: Dubrovnik Cable Car

If you prefer the cheap option, there is also the possibility to go up Mount Srd hiking. I read a very nice review from this hike, but at this time of the year it was too hot to spend 1 and a half hour hiking uphill. Read this blog post about it: Mount Srd Hike

They say the views from up there are amazing!!

Beaches

There are a lot of beautiful beaches in Dubrovnik and the afeas around it. We went to 3 beaches recommended by the locals.

Banje Beach is located outside Dubrovnik and it is very easy to access. After exiting the city walls from the south point, you walk like 10 minutes and there are these stairs that go down the beach very well indicated.

It is a little rocks beach were you can lay your towel and you won’t feel much. You have the option to rent a hammock if you want, although the hammock zone and the free zone are separated by a bar. We disn’t see necessary renting a hammock as the sea view is the same on both sides.

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Banje Beach – Dubrovnik

Pasjaca Beach is located 40km away from Dubrovnik and it is easy to access by bus, but the return bus leaves at 18:00 and you have a 30 minute walk from the beach to the bus stop.

The spectacular about this beach is the way you access to it. There is a wodden stairway to the beach that pases through a cove next to a cliff! Yes, I know, sounds crazy but this place is unique. If you’re staying in Dubrovnik, it is worth grabbing the bus or your transport early in the morning as the beach itself is not very big and it can be challenging to find a spot!

From Cavtat, it is a bit more complicated as there aren’t many buses that go there and the return bus leaves at 13:30 to Cavtat, so, unless you have a car, the only possibility is that you leave early in the morning, return late afternoon to Dubrovnik, and grab a bus to Cavtat!

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Pasjaca Beach – Popovici

Lokrum Island

This Island is located right in front of Dubrovnik and there are plenty of fun things to do there!!

We saw Kayak tours departing from Dubrovnik, Ferry Lines and small motor boats you can rent to get to the Island. In our case we went by Ferry from Cavtat and there were ferries almost every hour, but the return time was at 17:30 the latest.

A two way ticket from Cavtat costs you 100 Kunas – 13,60€ – per person. Also, if you want, you can return to Dubrovnik instead and you will have more return options for the same price!

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Once you arrive, you see a small path with indication signs with the different places you can visit. I wasn’t able to visit all of them, so I’ll recommend 4:

The Nudist Beach

Once you start walking through the path, the second beach you find is a nudist beach. It wasn’t our preference to stay there, but we saw a spectacular view and I decided to take out the tripod and set up the camera XD
The beach itself is nothing else than a bunch of huge rocks over a cliff and to swim you have to find your way down, but it seems quite easy.

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The Dead Sea of Lokrum

The next spot we visited was what they call “The dead sea”.  A small cenote with very salty water that helps you float better (not my case, I always sink no matter what).

It is a gorgeous place. It is like a super small lake with a cove surronded by huge walls. There isn’t much space to place your towel, but the views and the water are fantastic!
Right next to this place is a small heart-shaped cove that you can take beautiful photos!
This photo shot is quite difficult to take as there is a small pond in the middle and you have to climb through the rocks to get there. Unfortunatly, my camera only has a 10 second time shot so, I asked a guy to take the shot for us!

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The Cliffs

Following through the rocks towards the sea there is a cliff with cool jumping spots!! Despite my girlfriend’s fears, I’m a big fan of jumping off cliffs. The rocks there allow you to place your towel almost anywhere. It was very fun to watch some young boys jump off before I could get an idea of what I was going to do.

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Fort Royal

On top of the Island there is a medieval Fort with excellent views of Dubrovnik and the sea around! The hike uphill will take you around 15 minutes if you start from the cliffs where the jumping spots are. By the way, the hike uphill will get you thristy, make sure you have enough water.

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6. Gear and Equipment

The beaches in Dubrovnik and surrondings are mainly made out of rocks. The water sometimes is hardly reachable unless you climb around a few rocks. Specially in Cavtat, there are many little beaches that you will lie your towel on top of a rock.

Also, bear in mind that the water is crystal clear and you’ll want to explore the bottom of the sea everytime you go to any beach. Seriously, it is beautiful!

Therefore, my recommendation in terms of what to bring if you go to Dubrovnik is the following:

  • Snorkeling gear (I bought snorkeling gogles there and that’s about it)
  • Proper water shoes to jump in the water and have rocks underneath your feet.
  • Exterior pillow where you can lie your head (I used a rolled sweater)
  • Water protection for your devices (iphone, camera…)
  • Tripod – It is hard to take steady shots with so many rocks.
  • Sun screen!

With this you’re all set to enjoy the paradise of the Adriatic Sea!!

7. Best time to Travel

I’ve read a lot of things about when to travel to Dubrovnik. After my experience in July I’m a bit confused of what to recommend.

In July, there are plenty of tourists everywhere, but, it isn’t too anoying. There are a lot of little beaches where you can find a good spot and also, if you are patient, you can take photos like if there wasn’t people around (check my Instagram feed!)

On the other hand, from June to September it’s high season! So, if you’re looking for best deals and still enjoy of good weather, my recommendation is you go begining of October.

Thanks for reading this post! If you want to see more cool pictures of our trip to Croatia,  follow us on Instagram:

@acecoolture & @lulawander

Feel free to contact me via email for questions about your trip: acecoolture@gmail.com

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