Milano, Italia


Milano, Italia. I must confess I loved this city so much I wrote the name in Italian and not English. It deserves to be visited! That is all I can say in short.

As for what to do, the main tourist attractions like the Gothic Duomo di Milani cathedral, the Castello Sforzeca, San Carlo al Coso, and so on, really are worth seeing. Even if you don’t go inside (I didn’t), your soul will benefit from breathing in the beauty that is the ancient history and perfected architectural structuring that comprise the main tourist attractions. Milano is a centuries old world city of arts and culture, situated in the northern Lombardy region of Italy, and of course many famous painters, thinkers, and artists from the Renaissance period come from this region as well as fashion designers and luxury makers like Ducati.

So, when you are walking through the streets of Milano, you will see many fashion shops lining the streets of the old historical places like Gucci, H&M, Prada, and so on along the cobble-stone streets and classic European architecture. This is what makes Milano so attractive to tourists, the mix of old and new, the couture lines of fashion, and the wealth and power of its history and modernity. There is no shortage of pizza places, gelato shops, confectionaries, and so on lining the streets. All you need is Euros, a camera, sturdy shoes, and a little bit of time, and you will thoroughly enjoy being in Milano. I say sturdy shoes because even though it is tempting to wear fashionable shoes like heels, if you want to walk around, better to pick something you can feel good wearing after a few hours because Milano is a sight to enjoy.

Of course, as this is Europe and Milano is one of Europe’s most famous world cities, it can also be expensive. Everything costs money, from the Metro to the buses to the museums and the stores. The nice thing, is that stores are open on Sundays, like Carrefour (the supermarket), and some other well-known shops, so unlike in Germany, if you want to go buy food, you don’t have to go to the Hauptbahnhof on Sunday to buy it.

The worst thing about Milano, for me, was the circular maze of streets. They were clearly marked, which was very nice, however, in the first few hours, I had trouble getting used to the streets marked ‘via (Italian person’s name here)’ veering off from a circular roundabout. Once I got used to the layout, however, I found I had no problems getting around.

The Metro is easy to use, with a single ticket journey costing 1.50 Euros one way (you can transfer between lines until you exist the metro station). A day pass is 4.50 Euros, which I think is a little high, but I am used to Germany’s metro rates, for which I usually bought the week pass for 12 Euros or so for a couple zones.

Milano is by all accounts beautiful, but I was personally surprised how not-crowded it felt for me (there were tourists wandering about in the Piazza del Duomo, but that was to be expected and I did not even mind the people one bit), and also how small it was geographically. Since it is an ancient city of Europe, it was built compactly around the main village and castle and had a gate and fortifications and so on. Then it spread outwards as the population grew, which explains the circular layout, but for a world city, it really is not as big as I expected it to be. Perhaps it was the pleasant architecture lining the streets, and the overall feeling like being in Milano was a five-senses treat that made the distances feel shorter.

For my stay, I took a night in a hostel called New Generation Hostel, which you can find on or just use the link. It cost 13 Euros for a bed in a 6 person dorm room, which was surprisingly nice given the fact that it was a mixed dorm. By nice, I mean the other people were really kind, welcoming, pleasant, and under 30. It’s a youth hostel, in general, so at night there were lots of boys and a few girls from Canada, Serbia, Denmark, and even Italy drinking beers and playing chill out music in the dining room, sharing travel experiences and stories, a very pleasant atmosphere. I was treated to Italian pasta by one of the guys staying there, a very easy and tasty pasta dish, and entertaining conversation. Everyone was very chill, there was no stress, and you get a croissant and coffee in the morning. Very basic, no frills.

So, time for the photos. Here you go! I didn’t have so much time in Milano to explore everywhere, but you might be inspired to give this city a visit even after my short stay.

Trenitalia from Bergamo to Milano If you take the low cost way, which I did, and fly to Milan Bergamo, airport, you have to take a 30-45 minute train or bus from Bergamo to Milano Centrale or Milano Lambarde. It costs about 5 Euros and it was very pleasant.

The Duomo di Milani and I
The Duomo di Milani and I
The Castello Sforza
The Castello Sforza
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
A beautiful view of the Piazza del Duomo
A beautiful view of the Piazza del Duomo
Gelato shop in Milano
Gelato shop in Milano

As always, all opinions are my own.


Nuremberg, Germany


Nuremberg was a short mid-point destination between Munich and my flights elsewhere, owing to the fact that Ryanair operates out of Nuremberg and not Munich. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant German city to walk around and enjoy the old churches in the promenade city square for a few hours.

Personally, Nuremberg had a bit of a chilly feeling for me in its city atmosphere. Perhaps it is because of my own scant knowledge of Nuremberg, other than its involvement in Nazi Germany and the Nuremberg Trials, or because the Metro lines have a kind of war time trench-tunnel feel with the brick walls and low, dark ceilings, but it was overall a creepy city for me. Not that that is a bad thing, per se. It has the vibe that it has seen a lot of sadness and dark days mixed in with its brighter future.

Here are some photos of Nuremberg during my journey around the pedestrian areas:

Nuremberg, GermanyNuremberg cafe, Germany Church in Nuremberg, GermayNuremberg cafe, Germany

Malta – island of happiness


I am writing to you from the beautiful, sunny island of Malta, which is a country in the Mediterranean Sea. It was founded by knights in roughly 3,700 BC, so there is plenty of history mixed with modernity here.

During my short but wonderful stay on the island, I visited Valletta, which has many historic sights and architecture, and is currently the capital of the island.

Valletta, Malta

I also went to the beautiful Blue Grotto, next to the adjacent town of Qrendi. This is a panoramic view which has sparkling blue waters and if you take a boat, you can evidently see lots of the sea caves which are slightly visible from on land (I did not have the opportunity to take a boat trip, but maybe I will if I come back).Blue Grotto, Malta

I also enjoyed walking along the Dingli Cliffs, near the town of Rabat, pictured below. It is a scenic walk where the cliffs of Malta drop 50 meters down to farmland and vast expanse of sea. Beautiful!Dingi Cliffs, Malta

For my visit, I stayed a few nights with gracious and kind Airbnb hosts, a husband and wife team from Europe who have two properties in which you can stay, one in Sliema and one in Mellieha. Both are walking distance from the sea and the hosts are available if you need them for assistance, and happy to go the extra mile to make sure you have a very pleasant stay. This is the view of the water a few minutes from the apartment:

Mellieha's blue waters, Malta

And the view of my room:

Seaview apartment Airbnb in Mellieha, Malta

It is easy to go from Mellieha to Valletta, which is where all the bus lines stop and start, and connect all over the island. You pay only 1.50 Euros for a day ticket in winter and 2 Euros in summer, with a 2 hour window to transfer once to another bus.

What to do in Malta: Everything.

I spent time in Valletta, Sliema, Rabat, Mdina, and the Blue Grotto and the Dingli cliffs, and checked out Popeye village. If you like beautiful old buildings, sun year round, kind, friendly people (the islanders all went out of their way to help me, from giving me free bus rides when I didn’t have any cash to making sure my stay was as pleasant as possible), Malta is definitely a place to visit. And, with low cost fares from Europe on Ryanair and Wizzair (my round-trip ticket cost $55 from Nuremberg), you cannot go wrong on this island.

To book a room in the place I stayed, which is a perfect home away from home if you want a low-key experience for a low cost (between $20 and $30 a night), either go to Airbnb and find ‘Five Trees Bed & Breakfast’ in Malta, or find them on Facebook at Five Trees Bed & Breakfast.

This was a collaboration between Five Trees Bed & Breakfast and myself. As always, all opinions are my own.




Prague, Czech Republic


After a few more days in beautiful Munich, I took a short trip to Prague.

One of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague sits on the river Moldau and its history dates back more than a thousand years. It is famous for its   fairytale atmosphere and ornate architecture, as well as its beer, arts, and culture.

I took a Flixbus from Munich directly to Prague, which cost only 30 Euros round trip, and booked the cheapest room in Prague I could find, at the PLUS Prague Hostel for 15 Euros for two nights. Staying in a dorm is often the lowest cost option for short stays, and honestly, most of the time you will not be needing the room if it is only a day trip.

The Flixbus is a great option for getting around Europe because it is very cheap if you book tickets about a month or so in advance, and if you want to change your reservation, the change fee is only 1 Euro plus the extra cost of the new ticket, if there is any. And, reservations can be transferred between people, so if your friend cannot use his ticket to Vienna, for example, he could transfer the money credit to you easily, unlike airlines, which make you pay a name change fee.

PLUS Prague Hostel is exactly what a great backpacker youth hostel should be: cheap, large, and close to the city centre with all the right amenities. They even have a saltwater pool and sauna, work out room, and beach volleyball court, as well as restaurant and bar, should you want it, but I did not need these things. I did appreciate the clean bed in a warm room and the hot shower, because anywhere you travel, those comforts cannot be beat.

I spent most of my day seeing the main sights of Prague, which was an easy 10-15 minute street tram right away from PLUS Prague Hostel, on the 6 or 12 street tram. You just hop on and hop off wherever you want to go, as long as you have a ticket, or you can ride black and risk the fine. Day tickets cost about $4.50 for 24 hours, and since I am not a native to the Czech Republic, I thought it was best to buy the ticket and support the transit system.

Walking along the Charles Bridge was beautiful, as well as seeing the sights of the  Prague Castle, and the gorgeous red roof views from above the city. I walked through the cobble stone streets, going in some souvenir shops and taking lots of pictures, but mostly enjoying the warm sun and the beautiful architecture. There are lots of street musicians and artists in Prague, so if you want to hear music and see art for free, walking in the touristy areas is the easiest way to do it.


I also enjoyed watching the boats coming up and down the river from the bridge. It is quite a magical experience to see them always coming and going. Prague river boats

There is a lot of art on the streets of Prague, which seems to be home to the arts and culture sector of the world, with numerous museums and galleries on practically every street. I especially liked this stained glass butterfly in a public park near the PLUS Prague Hostel. It lent a childlike charm to the neighborhood, coupled with the small playground nearby.

Prague Butterfly

What I noticed most about Prague, in the short time I was there, was the fact that so many tourists filled the streets of the Old Town of Prague, like shadows. As I stood on the bridge listening to a quartet playing soothing bosa nova sounds, I thought that all these people were like shadows.

Prague, waiting at the tram stop

I splurged in the evening on a 7 Euro ticket to the Andy Warhol exhibit in the old town square in Prague, which was somewhat worth the price. There were a lot of reprints of Andy Warhol’s most famous works, such as Marilyn Monroe and flowers, but some of the art pieces I found entertaining and funny. Besides, one simply cannot go to Prague without visiting a gallery or art museum!

As the sun set over the church spires in Prague’s old town square, I admired the architecture once more and appreciated the giant bubbles a man was waving into the crowd from two large circular hoops, a street vendor. A crowd of people had gathered to watch the bubbles and take photos, or try to pop them. Here’s one last photo from Prague:

Prague bubbles in old town square

As always, all opinions are my own.

Day two and three in Munich – Hotel Laimer Hof

Hello again from Munich!

For the next two nights of my Europe trip, I stayed in a small castle on Laimer Strasse, which is actually the site of a 3 star hotel called Hotel Laimer Hof. I would describe the hotel as a charming sort of bed and breakfast, run by owner Sebastian Rösch and his family. It is a five minute walk from the actual palace of Nymphenburger in a very quiet and expensive neighborhood called Neuhausen.Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-22 um 13.29.54

My room had two twin beds, a dresser, and a desk, so it felt slightly cramped for space, but it has a definite charm. It has the feel of an old-fashioned country cottage tucked away in a green neighborhood amidst colorful residences and neighborhood cafes and small shops away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The full bathroom is tucked away next to the room, with plenty of hot water in the shower. It is not for those wanting a stay in a super-fancy, extremely spacious 5 star chain hotel, but it has a great location and amenities of a quality place for a much lower price.

Ask the desk staff for anything – they are more than happy to assist you and you can even rent bikes for free, although due to my jet lag, I did not take advantage of this. Instead, I spent my stay mostly resting in the comfort of my room when I was not at the Nymphenburger Palace. I was surprised with a complimentary fruit plate upon arrival, which really came in handy on Sunday when I was hungry and after an evening walk, did not see anything appetizing!

I enjoyed taking advantage of the hotel’s proximity to the Nymphenburger Palace to stroll through the gardens and enjoy the warm spring sun and fresh blooms. I wanted to stay at this hotel largely because the Nymphenburger Palace is one of my most favorite places in all the world — it is a magical, mystical relic of German royalty and walking through the gardens makes me feel transported to that era as well.

Nymphenburger Palace in spring time
Nymphenburger Palace in spring time

The complimentary breakfast offers bread, fresh fruit, eggs, sausages, a tea selection, coffee, and cereal and milk. I also tried aloe vera honey tea, which quickly became something I would like to drink again! It has a fresh, sweet flavor without being overbearing.

Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-22 um 13.29.34IMG_20170319_032548971IMG_20170319_032716298IMG_20170319_035107466_HDRThe only downside of this hotel is that it is a little out of the way from Munich’s city centre if you are without a car, although the 16/17 street tram will take you down to the Hauptbahnhof in a short 20 minute ride or less. Overall, the neighborhood is quaint, quiet, and gives one the ability to enjoy a sampling of what life in Munich is like with the comfort and amenities of a full-service hotel. The staff is very friendly, family owned, and willing to assist guests, and would do anything to assure you a pleasant stay, so if the Nymphenburger Palace is on your sightseeing list, this is an excellent location for a short trip.

This was a collaboration between Hotel Laimer Hof and I. As always, all opinions are my own.

Mövenpick Hotel – Back Again In Munich!


What better way to spend my first night back in Munich, Germany than a night at Mövenpick Airport Hotel? Having stayed here once before in 2016, I came back for a second visit because I enjoyed it so much.

As I learned at dinner, Mövenpick Hotels is part of the same ownership as the renowned ice-cream line and chocolate bar line of the same name. Located a little out of the way of the airport in Hallbergmoos, my best friend Raphael and I took a taxi to the airport (which cost 17 Euros). You can also access the hotel by the train plus a bus from the airport, but due to my large suitcase and our desire to have a quick and easy trip to the airport, we opted for a taxi.

The staff at Mövenpick is wonderful, very friendly, professional, and often humorous. They made me feel like a princess during my overnight stay and I have only good things to say about this hotel. The rooms are spacious, with a large and comfortable queen sized bed (or you can choose from two twins, as part of your options) and cheerful bright pink and white decor. The lively feel of the hotel offers a nice change from the stress of flying and the impersonal nature of airports.

Raphael and I ventured down to dinner at around 9 pm, during which we were served by a professional and kind waitress named Susanna S., who graciously allowed me to change my order of pumpkin soup after it had arrived to tomato soup, which turned out to be the best tomato soup I have ever had yet. The kitchen even gave me two huge bars of Mövenpick chocolate as a parting gift, and owing to it being my birthday, they offered us two flutes of rose champagne as a present. Raphael had a steak hamburger with wedge-shaped fries and vanilla ice cream with a generous helping of syrup. I should note: Guests are offered a bread basket with two types of dip as a free appetizer to start.

We slept very soundly in our room, which is spacious enough to host an armchair, large window overlooking the gardens, desk, and large tv on top of a dresser. The bathroom is also large, with a vanity detached from the washroom and plenty of mirrors. There are plush white robes and slippers should you want them, and lots of channels on the TV to watch, so I was able to catch some of the tennis matches going on at Indian Wells.
The next morning, after a breakfast down in the eating area — a very pleasant place as it is surrounded by glass windows and a high vaulted glass ceiling looking out to a lawn and wooden pagoda outside — we filled up on the continental breakfast buffet and their amazing cheese-filled omelets, which is complimentary to your stay. I took a quick refresher in the sauna, which was in use by three other guests at the time, but they were all very friendly as well.

By the time we checked out at noon, I was wishing we could extend our stay much longer! Mövenpick did everything they could to ensure I had a clean, comfortable, relaxing visit and made me feel like I was part of a warm, welcoming community of professional hospitality employees. I would most certainly stay at Mövenpick again, even though it is slightly out of the way from the airport!

Another thing to note: Mövenpick offers DB passes, so you can buy a full day pass for all zones at the hotel before taking the bus a quick ways to the S-bahn. There is a convenience store right across the street in case you forget something the hotel does not provide, but rest assured that you stay will most likely need nothing else.

A brief photo gallery of my stay in Mövenpick Airport Hotel below!

This was a collaboration between Mövenpick Hotels and myself. As always, all opinions are my own.

Top 10 Arts and Culture Destinations in Munich, Germany

“The city with a heart” as Munich is called, it is truly a small global city packed with roughly one million people. There is an old-world charm surrounding the capital of Bavaria; here, you can almost imagine you are a princess or prince stepping out of a fairy tale castle, as you walk about the cobble-stoned streets of this busy old-world place
If you love art and history, Munich is a wonderful destination. In particular, my top 10 favorite places to visit:
Munich is one of my favorite places in the world because it is so fairy-tale like and close to the Alps. While visiting Munich for the second time, also for three weeks (a good duration to see all the sights, and to take a few day trips to nearby towns as well), I’ve complied my top ten favorite tourist destinations.

1. The Residenz Museum
Situated in the square in downtown Munich, right next to Odeonsplatz, is the Muenchen Residenz. Inside, there are restored rooms and galleries upon galleries of paintings and furnishings from the Whittelsbach family’s old royal residence. Though the building was burned down, the interiors have been restored — behold, jeweled crowns and tiaras, old swords with gilt stones in their hilts, and winding rooms like a maze filled with rich colors and chandeliers from centuries past. My favorite place inside the Residenz? The Antiquarium, where the curved ceiling stretches from entrance to exit with rich frescos, and portraits in gilt frames and white busts line the room’s stone floors.

Inside the Munich Residenz
2. BMW Welt
Shaped like a new-age modern piece of art, the architecture of the BMW Welt is worth visiting, especially at night, when the twisted glass structure glows with a soft purple light outside, and inside, the cars gleam in the artificial lights. Any car lover will enjoy a visit to the BMW Welt, where small cars mix with new cars, and a range of models are displayed in a large, airy, two-leveled structure. Walking inside this place gives me the feeling of walking on the moon. Take a picture standing next to a car, or riding one of the large, super-fast-looking motorcycles. It’s free to browse inside the BMW Welt, but the car museum adjacent to it costs money if you want a guided tour.
Inside the BMW Welt
3. Neue Pinakothek
Who doesn’t love the famous painting of bright, cheerful sunflowers clustered in a simple urn by Vincent Van Gogh?
Print of Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
You can see it in real life, with your own eyes, in the Neue Pinakothek, which contains galleries filled with collections of more “modern” painters. Situated in what I call, “Munich’s Art Neighborhood,” you can walk from the Neue Pinakothek to the Alt Pinakothek (where the “old” painters’ collections are displayed), to the Egyptian Museum, the Brandhorst Museum, and the Lenbachaus. Tip: go on Sundays to view art — most galleries (besides the Lenbachaus) can be viewed for 1 Euro.
4. Englischer Garten
Mother Nature’s art is often beyond compare, although art is in the eye of the beholder.
Walking through the Englischer Garten takes one back to an era long-ago, and transports the strollers, joggers, dog-walkers, and bicycler’s into the era of Jane Austen’s time. Imagine you are walking in the late 1800s in these natural gardens, which stretch along the Isar river on the east side of Munich. You can view large swans gliding like white apparitions in the evening darkness if you find the pond. Don’t expect to cover all of it in one go, however — like Central Park in New York, this city garden is really a large expanse of nature inside a concrete jungle.

Capturing the sunset on a bridge over the Isar
The Isar at sunset

5. Nymphenburger Schloss – “Castle of the Nymphs”

It’s hard to visit Germany and not visit an old palace.
This one looks like it comes straight out of a fairy tale, with a glittering ballroom inside the main palace that you can view when you tour the rooms, leading to galleries of the famous 30 beauties of Bavarian ruler Max Emanuel (his consorts). The main pavilion was completed in 1675 and the palace, itself, has been a favorite amongst Bavarian rulers for centuries. It is now a museum, and the immaculate gardens and acres of forest are open to visitors as well.
The ballroom inside Nymphenburger Palace
Nymphenburger Palace
Nymphenburger Palace
Inside the Nymphenburger Palace
A panorama view
Another view

6. Museum Brandhorst
It’s worth it to visit the Brandhorst museum if you want a glimpse into the hearts and minds of modern art and their creators. Although some of the collections will make you go, “huh?” the point is to expand you mind and appetite for creativity, so give it a go. I would recommend going on Sunday, however, when entrance is only 1 Euro, to avoid the feeling of buyer’s disappointment if you don’t like what you see. Modern art, is, quite often, intended to shock, after all.
A sign of the times.
Image of Cy Tombly’s paintings in Museum Brandhorst, from
7. Staatsoper – Munich National Theatre
It is difficult to buy a ticket to the prized ballet performances at the Munich Staatsoper, so check a month in advance, to be safe. Performances take place in a round theatre with gilt rococo decorations all over the interior, and plush red seats. You can still grab a spot in the balconies for 7 Euros, if you can’t find a place to sit, but beware, the view is not as good because you are in the galleries. It is worth it, however, any way you can get in, because the dancers are excellent and the music is impeccable. Often, the ballets will be famous classics like “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” or “Romeo and Juliet,” so if you go, you will be treated to a life-changing artistic experience. Dress up, because everyone else does, too.

At “Giselle”
View of the Munich National Theatre
Standing by Odeonsplatz
8. Pinakothek Moderne
If you love art, and want to consider yourself a snob, wander around the rooms of the Pinakothek Moderne (Museum of Modern Art). There, you will find large, blown up photographs from the 1970s of street-scenes in Canada, crumpled metal from scrapped cars stacked in strange sculptures, a display of old computers, chairs, a 1960s mod living room, and much more. The more traditional “paintings” are in there, as well, so if you feel flummoxed by the display of rectangular cabinets or the rug, or even perhaps the large “omelet” painting-display, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with lush colors of rich tones depicting dark-skinned women bathing or dancing, and plenty of long-haired maidens bathing naked.
What’s not to love about being a painter?

Painting in the Museum of Modern Art
9. Marienplatz
Just walking through Marienplatz will transport you to the “old world.” However, it is also one of the best places to go in Munich to see old architecture — look at the Old Town Hall and the New Town Hall — and the Fraunkirche is right around the corner, look for the two tall towers (this gave English bombers directions during World War II, which is why, unlike most of rebuilt Munich, this church was not destroyed by fire bombs).
Of the many places that do not accept credit cards, you can still buy food at Hans im Glueck, which is a popular burger chain in Munich that also serves vegetarian burgers.

Munich dress code in winter — long down coat, jeans, and boots. The more designer, the better.
Expensive fur coats and leather gloves were common Munich dress a few decades ago

10. Viktualien Markt

Food is an art form in and of itself, and if you are not shy, you can wander the many stalls of spices, fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, and breads to find samples of these tasty offerings. Of course, you might be tempted to buy some of the food, so bring some cash with you. Although Munich is a global world city, “nubar” or “cash only” is still quite a popular way for vendors transactions.
Fruits at Viktualien Markt

Bonus places:

Angel of Peace — It’s a little park with stairs leading up to a painted stone building with a tall golden statue of an angel near Munchener Freiheit.

Next to the Angel of Peace, photo by Raphael Weiss
Enjoy Munich! Remember the Lenbachaus is not 1 Euro on Sundays, and dress up for the ballet!

Salzburg, Austria

The “city of salt,” Salzburg is located on the western tip of Austria, close to the German border.

From Munich, you can take a Flixbus, which is similar to a Greyhound or Megabus — buy tickets online and make sure you bring a passport or other government I.D. — for less than 25 Euros round-trip.

It’s called a Flixbus because you can buy your ticket and if you don’t use it, you can redeem your money for a different journey.

On the day I visited Salzburg in late-November 2016 with my travel buddy, here’s what we did:

9:15 am: we arrived at the Flixbus station, carrying our I.D.’s. I didn’t think this was so important until I saw a young German woman crying and pleading the bus driver to let her ride the bus. She had forgotten her ID. I watched her mother (or older friend?) forego her own journey to comfort her, while we were waved on to the back of the bus where there were still seats.

11:20 am: we arrived in Salzburg, at the Hauptbahnhof. After walking in some direction towards a beautifully forested mountain that loomed ahead of us, we asked direction at a hotel and were pointed in the direction of the promenade in the Altstadt (old town) on the left bank of the Salzach River. The medieval and baroque architecture makes this city a very quaint and beautiful tourist destination.

In Salzburg

Nested up on a mountain above the Salzach river across from the Altstadt, is a fortress that has guarded Salzburg for about five centuries. No one thought to attack the town because of the fortress, and the city prospered by trading salt. Now, it is still a very “small-town” atmosphere, with plenty of tourist attractions in the older districts.


We walked around the narrow, cobble-stoned streets on the right-bank of the Salzach, closer to the cliffs, for a while, taking in the street vendors selling salt pretzels and other small broetchens and the small shops selling Weihnachten (Christmas) ornaments, eggs, and other trinkets.

We ate lunch at the Hotel Goldene Ente, a 14th century hotel that serves traditional Austrian food on its menu. I ate a salty goulash with hot water and copious slices of lemon, and my travel companion had the classic roast pork with a light and tangy golden beer.

Afterwards, we took a turn on the outdoor ice-skating rink in Mozartplatz, which stands right outside a museum and an old church. Admission is 5 Euros per person, plus 4 per pair of skates. There is a slight discount if you are a student.

Iceskating in Mozartplatz

Stepping into a small cafe nearby the ice-skating rink, we drank small cups of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, which come with a glass of cold water.

Austrian hot chocolate

We walked around the bazaar afterwards, which sold all manners of roasted chestnuts, Weihnachten decorations and ornaments, traditional Austrian souvenirs, salted pretzels, and traditional hot Austrian foods.

After petting the horses that draw the old-fashioned carriages that you can pay to ride around the old city in (they were too expensive for my budget, being 60 Euros for an hour), we headed towards the cliffs and took an elevator to the top that takes one to the Museum of Modern Art.

Stepping out, you can look all over the brightly-lit town of Salzburg from this vantage point, and walk to the old stone fortress located nearby the Museum of Modern Art. You can walk through the forested paths, or sit on the bench, overlooking the city below, eat at the restaurant by the Museum of Modern Art, or even walk down the cliffs.

Mountains across from the fortess
Salzburg from the mountain

After more wandering through Salzburg, we ate at a Chinese buffet in the old-town touristy district near Mozartplatz, owing to the lack of places that accept cards.

Walking by the Salzach river at night, we were awarded with a brilliant display of lights in the dark water — the lights from the church and the many old buildings that were reflected in the glistening glassy surface.

Salzach at night

Back at the Hauptbahnhof, the bus gathered its passengers up, and we were transported back to Munich. Bring your passport — there is a border-control check where the guards will ask you just why you’re visiting.

Enjoy Salzburg! Bring a camera to take pictures, and Keep Traveling!

Munich, Germany

Munich, wow, what can I say.

It’s like going back in time to the land of princes. Bavaria is such a royal land, and the people are very proud. You’d have to understand a bit of German history to understand why, but Germany used to be full of small kingdom-states before it was unified into Germany, and Bavaria was the biggest and most powerful of them all. There’s a lot of magic still in Bavaria, where the mountains border Switzerland and Austria.

In Munich, you can see the Alps in the distance to the south, and if you go up St. Peter’s Tower, you can see all of the city stretching out around you. Every day, I tried to visit somewhere new — art museum, neighborhood, famous tourist spot, and so on. I saw the Swan Lake ballet there in the beautiful Opera house, toured the Royal Munich Residence, went to the Neue Pinothek and Alte Pinothek (art museums), BMW Welt, the Olympic Stadium grounds, and walked miles around the town, hopping on the metro and hopping off as I wanted.

The metro was so easy to use that you could get practically anywhere in Munich. I stayed a hostel, Smart Stay Munich, which was cozy and centrally located, clean and quiet. I recommend it to anyone wanting a cheap place again.

Photos of Munich:

Walking around in Munich


The street trains


View of Munich from St. Peter’s Tower


Sunset over Nymphenburg Palace
Swans at twilight in the Englischer Garten
Nymphenburger Palace
Swans from Nymphenburger Palace
Harps in the Munich Residenz
Living room in the Munich Residenz
A hallway in the Munich Residenz
A bed in the Munich Residenz
Inside the Portrait Room in the Munich Residenz
The Antiquarium in the Munich Residenz
A ballroom in the Munich Residenz
A large painting over an ornamental desk in the Munich Residenz
Inside the Munich National Theatre
Outside the Munich National Theatre, standing next to the Munich Residenz
Watching the surfers at Eisbach, in Munich
The Jean-Paul Gaultier collection exhibition in Munich
Marienplatz at night

Istanbul, Turkey

I stayed in Istanbul from October to December in 2015, and was not bothered by any political conflict because Istanbul is located so far west in Turkey, so I recommend going here even if you are a little scared, because the sights and the experience is well-worth the visit. 

Istanbul has a sense of nostalgia, being part of the Ottoman Empire, and a historical city in many ways. Separated by the Bosphorous, there is a Europe side and an Asia side. Visit Istanbul to see its bazaars, especially the Grand Bazaar, the old city with is palace and mosques, Golden Horn, and the seaside.

Below, some photos from my own trip, although I am sure you will take many from yours.

The Bosphorous


The Bolu mountains

Yet, Istanbul is Istanbul, and it’s a beautiful city with plenty of magic. For romantic idealists, they practically wrote the book in Istanbul — go anywhere and you’ll learn of beautifully sad tales of princes and lovelorn ladies who were destined to love apart from one another. Or so it seemed.

I immediately fell, grudgingly, in love with Istanbul, the moment I was able to explore on my own. The Hagia Sophia stands directly across from the Sultan Ahmet (the Blue Mosque), and the majesty of the blue tiles inside, called iznek tiles, made my heart stop for just a few beats. I loved walking around on my own through the streets, which were reminiscent of Cairo’s, but vastly different. The sellers of Turkish delight and other typical Turkish wares, the music, the restaurants everywhere, Turkish coffee, Turkish tea — I loved them all.

The Blue Mosque

Because I was there working, however, in Istanbul, I didn’t get so much chance to explore, but on the weekends I would take the metro and wander around Taksim, Golden Horn, or my favorite, the Old Town where the Blue Mosque was.

Because of a show I did for L’Oreal Paris, I was flown to Cyprus, along with 10-12 other models from various agencies, for a few nights. I got to walk around a little bit, but most of the time, we were rehearsing in a grand hotel and casino called Cratos Hotel & Casino, where the show took place. Afterwards we had to stay for photographs for some magazine to show off the people who were at the party.

The view from my room in Maslak


Flag of Istanbul waving in the breeze

Orhan Pamuk’s books capture the sense of Istanbul’s nostalgia perfectly, for it’s truly a world empire that’s crumbling and decaying.

Market fruits on the street

I am glad I got the opportunity to go to Istanbul. The beauty of the old-world city I experienced there, and the people I met, truly changed my life yet again.

More photos from Istanbul:
In front of the Blue Mosque, the Sultanahmet
Turkish lamps in a shop in Golden Horn
More Turkish lamps
Standing underneath the Turkish lamps
Walking in Taksim
Turkish delights sold by a street vendor
Embroidered pillows, rugs, hats, and souvenirs in a shop near the Hagia Sopia
The Iznik tiles inside the Blue Mosque, the Sultanahmet
View of Halig, Golden Horn, from the train as it stopped at the station
View of the Blue Mosque from the outside
After a photoshoot at Atolye Gri studio with head photographer Bora Balbey
Cty of Istanbul at night from a tower rooftop
The fountain in the square between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque