Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Banská Bystrica is a city in central Slovakia located on the Hron River in a long and wide valley encircled by the mountain chains of the Low Tatras, the Veľká Fatra, and the Kremnica Mountains. This is also where Outbreak Europe Summer edition is held (Bboy jam). The town isn’t big, literally one high street, two malls and a waterpark. But worth a visit because it’s really pretty!

Accom: Kuria Hotel. Blown away by how cool the building was! Felt like I was living in a different age. They have done really well to preserve the historic buildings across the city

Here are some photos from the event. The first two days took place near the water park and the final day at Urban Spot for Rep your country. And of course photos of the town.

 

 

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is set along the Danube River by the border with Austria and Hungary. Stay in the old town, the heart of the city where you will then have easy access to all the main sites. You can take bus 61 from the airport to Hlavna stanica railway station and it’s a 20 minute walk to the old town from here. The old town is predominantly pedestrianised so you will have a great time sitting outdoors at a restaurant without having to breathe in fumes!

Note: Most museums are closed on Monday’s so plan what you want to enter ahead of time. Pre-buy your bus tickets from the yellow machines and make sure you get them stamped when you enter the bus. You buy a bus ticket according to journey time e.g. to get to Devin’s castle, you buy a 30min bus because the journey take’s around 25mins.

You can cover everything in 2 days. It’s very easy to get around!

Here are my recommendations:

  1. Bratislava Castle and it’s surrounding gardens. Views of the castle is of course, better from further away from it, in particular, from the bridges.
  2. St Martin’s Cathedral. Between 1563 and 1830 St Martin’s served as the coronation church for Hungarian kings and their consorts, marked to this day by a 300-kg gilded replica of the Hungarian royal crown perched on the top of the cathedral’s 85-metre-tall neo-Gothic tower. If you pick up a tourist map of Bratislava, in red, it marks out the path the royal people would walk after they were coronated. You can also spot metal crowns on the road marking out their paths.
  3. Old Town Hall and the square is a really nice chill spot 773F45C0-3A84-45F0-A2C8-F8D4B8841B10
  4. Primates Palace, pretty in pink! 21B7DE9B-19BE-4491-8DBB-631027B72289
  5. Michael’s Gate – is the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications and ranks among the oldest town buildings.186F4349-3F25-4371-BC6B-8AB1FEB7C2B9
  6. Galerie Nedbalka. I liked the umbrella’s outside! C9FAC51A-14AF-41F7-BF67-4FC7B7854066
  7. Grassalkovich Palace. Just outside the old town, 5min walk and really pretty with a fountain in the front. 3D00B59D-A651-4C3B-ADDB-443F9FF93AC8
  8. Slavin Memorial. To get here, take a trolley bus 203 from Grassalkovich palace and get off at the end station where you do a short walk up hill to the beautiful memorial site. The statue there is as tall as the Rio Jesus Christ statue. 88CD1E2B-9179-4108-ABE8-01BD129C5CD5
  9. UFO observation deck. Definitely go up top at sunset! You can avoid paying the entry fee if you have a meal but of course the restaurant isn’t cheap. Be warned, it’s super windy. C3EAEE2F-9704-40DE-8F74-77E39F0CD069
  10. Old and new National Theatre. Which do you prefer?
  11. Eurovea mall is about a 15min walk away from the old city, beyond the green bridge and is their latest development.  The surrounding area, with a fake beach has many restaurants along the river. 201924AB-2F61-4274-9D83-9708A2C12DAD
  12. Man at work statue and right opposite is statue that holds a hat.
  13. Take a bus under the UFO bridge to Devin’s castle
  14. Best place to have breakfast/brunch or dessert – Mondieu. Their hot chocolate is incredible!
  15. Slovakian food to try – Their garlic soup in a bread roll and sheep cheese pasta. Bryndzové halušky is one of the national dishes. This meal consists of halušky (boiled lumps of potato dough similar in appearance to gnocchi) and bryndza (a soft sheep cheese), optionally sprinkled with cooked bits of smoked pork fat/bacon.2B716332-3DE7-46C5-BAC2-ED01737994FC

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is a global financial centre and transport hub in China, with the world’s busiest container port. It is buzzing with life and here are my top recommendations as a tourist:

  1. Yu Yuan (Yu Garden) is a really big area with traditional looking buildings, temples, tea houses and of course, a garden. You will find constant rows of shops and street food too, so make sure you come with an empty stomach!

     

  2. The Bund and Nanjing Road can be done together as they are within walking distance. The Bund is where you’ll get great views of the Shanghai’s financial district and it’s tall towers such as the Oriental Pearl TV tower. Nanjing road is full of bright lights and your common shops, but the atmosphere is particularly great at night.
  3. Qi Pu Lu is where you can find several buildings filled with market style shops which is particularly useful to get a bunch of cheap stuff or very good quality fake branded goods. The branded goods are not always laid out but trust me, someone will approach you to bring you to secret stores and rooms (I felt safe, but would never go alone so go with your gut feeling).
  4. Tian Zi Fang – known for its artsy area with bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studio, galleries and boutiques. It is also known for old Shikumen houses (stone-framed-door houses). Consider trying ‘Smoky Cookie’, where they use liquid nitrogen so you can have a bit of fun blowing smoke through your mouth or nose from the cookie!
  5. Qi Bao Water Village – there are many water villages but this is the closest one if you don’t have much time. They have maintained their traditional buildings and are known for rivers running through the village. Another place filled with narrow alleys of shops and street food, as well as museums which are also great to visit to learn more about Chinese history and culture.
  6. Visit a Speakeasy Bar – Speak Low is ranked one of the best bars in Shanghai, having placed #15 The World’s 50 Best Bars Awards 2016. Slide behind the secret bookshelf of a cocktail supply store and find a speakeasy bar with wood panels, jazz music and well-dressed bartenders. 2/F & 3/F, 579 Fuxing Zhong Lu (near Ruijin Er Lu) 复兴中路579号 (近瑞金二路).
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  7. Hai Di Lao Hotpot. Literally the best hotpot because of the incredible service. You can expect to queue for at least one hour, but while you wait, they provide free snacks, drinks, origami paper, games, massage chairs and even manicures. I suggest you opt for the VIP room (you have an extra $130 RMB) but get a personal waiter who will take good care of you e.g. give you bibs, hair ties, zip lock bags for your phone, refill your drinks, organise the food for you etc.

    Extra tips: Download we chat because whatsapp won’t work in China. Download baidu maps because Google maps won’t work in China. It would help if you or your friend had a China bank account because a lot of things are paid through we-chat, which requires a local bank account. We-chat gives you access to their bicycles, their version of uber and many shops prefer to run cashless! I suppose this system doesn’t make it tourist friendly, but it makes sense that we move towards a cashless society.

Bath, United Kingdom

Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Honey-coloured Bath stone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture. Here are my recommended places to visit:

  1. Roman Baths and Pump house – The Roman Baths complex is a site of historical interest in the English city of Bath. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level.
  2. Bath Abbey – The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
  3. The Royal Crescent and Victoria Park – The Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent with a park near by. No. 1 Royal Crescent is also a museum if you wish to see the interior. 20180307_12485120180307_12595420180307_130144
  4. Parade Gardens and Pulteney Bridge – You can catch a great view of Pulteney Bridge from the Parade Gardens as well as opposite the Gardens, so why not walk a short circular loop. Designed by Robert Adam in a Palladian style, the bridge is exceptional in having shops built across its full span on both sides.
  5. Sally Lunn’s for their buns – Bath’s oldest house (c.1483), home of the famous Sally Lunn Bun (a semi-sweet bread) and tearoom. I tried the salt beef and cinnamon bun.
  6. Jane Austen Centre and Regency Tea Room – Small museum chronicling the life and times of the famous writer, Jane Austen, plus Regency tearoom.20180307_142052

Bologna, Italy

Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Among the city’s many medieval towers are the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda. Top recommendations:

  1. Climb the medieval leaning towers ( Due Torri- Torre deli Asinelli) to get a birds eye view of Bologna city, you have to buy tickets (3 euros) from Piazza Maggiore tourist information centre. 498 steps, spiralling up!
  2. Visit Piazza Maggiore, the center of Bologna’s political and social life since the 13th century when the square and the buildings surrounding it began being built. It is one of the biggest and oldest squares in Italy. The buildings that surround the square are Palazzo re Enzo and Toree Dell’Arengo, Neptune fountain, Palazzo D’accursio, Palazzo Del Pedestal and Basilica of San Petronio.
  3. Santo Stefano church20171128_113751
  4. Walk the narrow streets surrounding Piazza Maggiore where you can find various cafes, market stalls and shops20171128_105206
  5. Have plenty of pasta! 20171128_124508.jpg