Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki is a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. Evidence of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history remains, especially around Ano Poli, the upper town. Much of the city center was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1917. The rebuilt 20th-century city has a modern European layout. There are so many beautiful churches dotted around so be sure to hunt for them.

Note: Some museums close as early as 2pm, so plan ahead. Everything is really walkable and you can cover it in one day if you wish!

Here are the key things to visit:

  1. Roman Forum 4FF11B03-3184-46A4-8D99-3067FB5592AF
  2. Agios Dimitrios 

  3. Rotonta24E00B39-D521-4CE2-B776-DF109435E9C9
  4. Kamara Arch 7AF275D9-D440-4EF2-BAED-B5174BDA8B9C
  5. Church Panagia Dexia right opposite the arch 

  6. The White Tower along the harbour front 2B05B06A-5B7A-41D4-9362-68BA47ED0AA5
  7. Try a funky boat tour, you have a few to choose from! Not sure where they go but they definitely caught my eye. 653BEB4F-D92D-4B26-8D6D-AEFB240CF965
  8. Alexander the Great statue further down from the White Tower 5BFD6C15-85F5-4695-8307-6853E142615A
  9. Continuing walking along the harbour beyond the statue towards the famous umbrellas, artwork by Giorgos Zongolopoulos made in 1997. 

  10. Metropolitan Church of Saint Gregory Palamas 5A4D2DE7-86DD-430E-B142-90159F1E65F5
  11. Aristolelous Square. I would recommend visiting at night, it’s much prettier and you will also get a chance to see bboy’s busking. D4BA4BF8-205E-4F71-97DD-5E1631F3C703
  12. Ladadika an area filled with restaurants and bars, again great for the night 3520C504-B0CA-4F7E-8092-74B0AB1F3FA8
  13. I ate at Neotabepna (not even sure if that’s the right name but look out for this restaurant based on my photos and definitely try Greek pasta!). They call it Orzo and it’s a much better version of risotto as you still get the chewy pasta texture. 

  14. The best Gyros you will ever have, the name is in Greek so again just look out for the word that matches the photo and it’s on Ptolemon street, around the corner from the hostel I stayed at. 

     

  15. Stay Hybrid Hostel was excellent. Air-conditioned room, much needed for the Summer, spacious and clean. Plenty of common room areas and in the heart of the city.

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Crete (Heraklion), Greece

Expect to be shocked as soon as you step out of Crete’s Heraklion airport with a line of tour company stalls and groups of tourists! Pick up their tourist map because it shows you five routes you can take to tour the key sites in a mapped out way. You can spend two or three days visiting all the sites including the Palace of Knossos, and be sure to enjoy some fresh seafood along the waterfront, they are all in a row. A recommended restaurant would be Kastella 🙂 You can take a 20min taxi from the airport straight to the city 15Euros to most city centre locations. And from the city back to the airport, you can find taxi’s for as low as 10 euros! They will have sign boards so they can’t cheat you. They don’t use their meters in Greece so make sure you clarify price beforehand.

The main area is really walkable and the only commute is to the Palace. c800e5f2-ae88-4dbb-961b-299298c2d39b.jpeg

Heraklion, also known as Iraklio, is a port city and the capital of the Greek island of Crete. It’s known for the Palace of Knossos, just outside the city. The huge archaeological site dates back thousands of years to the Minoan civilization, and includes frescoes and baths. Guarding the city’s Venetian port is the 16th-century Koules fortress. Heraklion Archaeological Museum has a large collection of Minoan art.

Note for breakers: You can train at the town hall 8pm onwards! There are skaters there too.  I was lucky enough to join in on their busking the night I was there which was the highlight of my trip. F666FAB1-D99D-489D-B126-5CF3CEA79414

Note for EU students: You gain free entry everywhere to most sites!

Here are some of the highlights from my trip:

  1. Palace of Knossos –  the main Bronze Age archaeological site at Heraklion, a modern port city on the north central coast of Crete. It really is just ruined remaining but worth a visit since it’s their main highlight. Read some history beforehand as there are limited sign boards at the site. There are tour guides you can pay for outside if you have the extra money. I would also recommend getting the entry ticket that includes the archeological museum as they do a package deal that make’s it a lot cheaper.
  2. Archeological museum
  3. Venetian Port and fortress
  4. Historical Museum
  5. Church of St Titus 16AF610F-7781-4459-A74F-94F609E57A27
  6. Town hall 80632474-941B-4D2C-8484-04014629E8F5
  7. Cathedral of St Minas and Museum of Christian Art which is right next to the church 968CB171-17AE-4955-85BA-4A50A4A9B21A
  8. Natural History Museum 6C14AA04-CB55-42B7-9D00-C19A303F1F68
  9. Morosini fountain, Lion Square. 4CA19B9C-A13A-4989-85AF-5261DD23B52F
  10. Priuli Fountain 5EEFCCC8-4AE5-42A1-84DD-8D2B65FFECDD
  11. Enjoy the main street filled with shops D2FB5736-E979-4B09-83A5-98FEEF2C3E98
  12. Stay at Dom Boutique Hotel – one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at. They had amazing service and it’s in the heart of the city centre.

 

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 haluÅ¡ky is one of the national dishes. This meal consists of haluÅ¡ky (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

Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital. Its ring of parkland on the River Torrens is home to renowned museums such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, displaying expansive collections including noted Indigenous art, and the South Australian Museum, devoted to natural history. Below is my list of things you can do/visit in Adelaide or from Adelaide:

  1. Central Market: Opened in 1869, this gourmet haunt has 80+ vendors selling organic fruit, premium meats & more.
  2. Rundle Street for shopping
  3. Handley Street for the pubs, clubs and bars
  4. Adelaide Oval, world famous cricket ground
  5. Stroll along River Torrens or grab a free bike and cycle around the river. You will pass Adelaide festival centre, Convention Centre, Torrens River Weir, Torrens Bridge, Golf course, Light statue, Adelaide Oval and St Peter’s Cathedral.
  6. Norther Terrace for the art gallery, State Library, Museum, Migration Museum, Adelaide University, War Memorials, Parliament House and Botanic Gardens.
  7. Adelaide Zoo
  8. Adelaide Hills (vineyards)
  9. Mount Lofty view point (you can hike there too)20180521_102944
  10. Port Noarlunga
  11. Barossa Valley and Handorf
  12. Melba Chocolate Factory: Melba’s Chocolate Factory is a ‘working’ tourism factory in a heritage listed complex 40 minutes from Adelaide, South Australia; in the picturesque township of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. https://www.melbaschocolates.com.au
  13. Berenberg Jam farm and the world’s largest rocking horse: Beerenberg Farm is an Australian producer of jams, condiments, sauces and dressings, located in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.
  14. Horseshoe Bay sunrise
  15. Maslins Nude Beach
  16. Glenelg (direct train from the city centre) – you can spot Dolphins here too.
  17. Victor Harbour where you can also camel ride
  18. Cleland Conservation Park where you can hold a koala or feed a wombat
  19. Day trip to Kangaroo Island with a tour so you will cover: Seal Bay, Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Koala Walk), Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks, Cape du Couedic Lighthouse and Admirals Arch. This day will start around 6:30am and you won’t be back in your Adelaide accommodation till 10:30pm!
  20. Boomer Beach good for body surfing
  21. Flinders Ranges: The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia, which starts about 200 km north of Adelaide. The discontinuous ranges stretch for over 430 km from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna.
  22. Port Lincoln: a city on the Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia. It’s known for its fishing industry and seafood. Axel Stenross Maritime Museum details historic seafaring, with old vessels and a blacksmith’s shop. Nearby, mostly surrounded by water, rugged Lincoln National Park is home to rare flora and fauna. At the edge of the city, Winter Hill Lookout has views of Port Lincoln, plus surrounding islands and coves.
  23. Lake Torrens: Lake Torrens is a normally ephemeral salt lake in central South Australia. After extreme rainfall events, the lake can flow out through the Pirie-Torrens Corridor to the Spencer Gulf.
  24. Lake Eyre: officially known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, contains the lowest natural point in Australia, at approximately 15 m below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, is the largest lake in Australia covering 9,500 km²

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital. It was the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, which famously struck an iceberg and sunk in 1912. As Belfast is quite a small town, I did a full day tour visiting the countryside and coast using this company: http://www.gameofthronestours.com/

  1. Titanic Quarters. A great educational museum presenting the history of Belfast and its shipping industry, as well as the the events that lead up to the famous and tragic event of the Titanic sinking. There is even a short ride inside the museum as part of the tour! You can spend a good 2 hours visiting the whole place. 18766038_10156537768448849_2423457743891510165_n
  2. Queen’s University. The exterior looks incredibly beautiful 20170527_162836.jpg
  3. Go on the well-known Game of throne’s tour. Most filming was done in Northern Ireland and most of the support role actors/actresses are from here too!
  4. Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. You have to get lucky with the weather like I did in order for the bridge to the open for crossing. 18699816_10156532974868849_2409087796334240924_n.jpg
  5. Giant’s Causeway. Unique rock formation with no one really knowing the real truth behind this place. You can apparently find such formation in Scotland too. 18836804_10156537777358849_1680685730415260528_o

Others: Ulster museum and botanical garden, City Hall, Opera House where I watched a show called ‘Crazy’ and St George’s Market.