A Travellerspoint blog

Cappadocia

2021 POST PANDEMIC TRIP

70 °F

So much fun - yes, Cappadocia was a great adventure. 3 days is all you need to see everything but a 4-day trip will give you time to relax and enjoy everything without exhausting yourself. The history from the underground caves to the open-air museum are must-see sights, but they are probably most famous for the hot air balloon extravaganza. So beautiful seeing all the colorful balloons in the early sunrise. Our pilot was fantastic and skillful almost to the point that the flight was boring. The $70 price tag was a bargain that will be a lifelong fun memory.

Of course, you are in Turkey so the best advice I can give you is to be careful not to overpay. In the town of Göreme where we stayed, every other shop is a travel agent so walk around and see who offers the best price.

We took a taxi to the underground without negotiating a price but our driver was an excellent tour guide so I felt that the knowledge and insight he provided was worth the extra money. When he suggested other things to see we wholeheartedly agreed. I'm sure he saw sucker written on our forehead but I had fun so if he thought he was bamboozling us I'm okay with that because I enjoyed the adventure. One of the places we went to is Aladdin ceramics and yes, we bought a plate which again I'm sure we paid too much for but at some point if you like something then sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pay their price. Well, not their initial price - to give you an example, the price as marked was $3400 and we wound up paying $1200 - in my opinion, still too much. Hopefully, by the time we get home and see it, we will be happy with the purchase but currently, I'm having a bit of buyers remorse.

Overall, the food was delicious and we had great weather - a fun time was had by all!

Göreme
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Göreme Open-Air Museum
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Uchisar Castle
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Derinkuyu Underground City
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Hot air ballooning
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Posted by 123Joanne 13:46 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

L’viv

2021 Post Pandemic Trip

semi-overcast 60 °F

I love this city! The people, the old town, the street musicians, wow, they are fantastic. I've been here two other times and I cannot remember the street musicians being so talented. Maybe it's the pandemic and professional musicians are out of work so they try to earn extra income playing for tips. What a joy it is to be able to sit in a park, or walk the streets, and have the sounds of live music everywhere. If you have the means, please tip these people, they have worked hard to accomplish this level of talent and they deserve to be compensated for your enjoyment.

The Covid precautions aren't as strict as other European countries we visited so you feel like the pandemic is over and that can be troublesome. They do require you to wear a mask indoors but depending on the establishment, sometimes the mask rules aren't enforced. Personally, I always wore a mask indoors so this is just an observation of others.

The food here is fantastic! It's more a meat and potatoes countries but I did notice a few vegan places. The restaurants are always fun and they make it interesting with their themes which I'm sure the proprietors thought of when they were intoxicated. You have the most expensive restaurant in the world, a bunker restaurant where you have to give a secret password to get in and upon entry, you are given a shot to drink. If they suspect you are Russian, they will throw you in their jail cell. The coffee house where you can mine for coffee and they will put it to fire to crystalize the sugar. The Arsenal where there are no plates or silverware but you will enjoy the best ribs ever. Then there's a restaurant with no menus. That's right, you tell them what you want and if they can, they will make it. There are a lot of other places so plan on gaining a few pounds and enjoy the silliness.

Our favorite thing to do is sit in the Ivan Franco park and drink dollar beers while people watching. It's a great time to relax and gain your energy for your next adventure.

Statue of Taras Shevchenko
Ukraine's greatest nationalist writer, rises up in the middle of pr Svobody. It was a gift to the people of Lviv from the Ukrainian diaspora in Argentina, the bewhiskered poet set against a wave-shaped relief of religious folk.
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Saint George Monument
This monument is dedicated to the policemen of Lviv who lost their lives in the line of duty. The monument stands in front of the police office. St George is represented sitting on a scared horse, wanting to kill the serpent with his spear.
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The Monument to the Victims of Communist Crimes
Is a historical memorial to the millions of innocent people who became victims of the Soviet power and Stalinist regime. The memorial is placed to remind people of those times of despair and hopelessness so that kind of tragedy never occurs again. Fresh flowers are often put at the foot of the monument.
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Monument to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus
The place where the statue is located is also called the Square of St. Mary. The statue is a tall figure of Mary with a sacred crown over her head.
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[b]The Statue of Liberty
This beautiful and unique monument to liberty in Lviv. It is set on the dome of a house that was constructed in 1870 - 1890. The statue was designed by the same master that made the famous Statue of Liberty from New York.
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Church of the Jesuits
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Opera House and Fountain
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Rynok (Market) Square
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Ivan Franko Statue
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Ivan Franko Park
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Beer Belly of Ukraine because it's Ukraine 😂
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Street Flower Mart
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Street Musicians
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Not so much
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Posted by 123Joanne 18:28 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

Vienna

2021 Post Pandemic

rain 65 °F

Don’t leave home without it, your vaccination card that is. They don’t require masks everywhere, but if you are using public transport you are required to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination whenever asked. I’m okay with this, the last thing I want is to ruin my vacation because some numskull didn’t care about protecting others.

The train station in Vienna is fantastic. It’s not ornate or old-school pretty, but it’s large, functional, and extremely clean. The big negative was our stop was closed in one direction so that made for a fun game of, where the heck are we and how do we get back to the hotel in the pouring rain.

I don’t have a lot to say about Vienna because we didn’t see much due to the rains but I will acknowledge that I probably gained 5-pounds because the pastries are delicious and by delicious, I mean, I couldn’t get enough of them. 😉

Most of your sightseeing will consist of museums, so if you enjoy museums this may be a place you would like to visit. We did go to the Belvedere Palace, which was a beautiful building, but everything inside was paintings - I prefer palaces that show how the people lived.

We stayed close to the main train station (a 5-minute walk) which was very convenient. It’s a 15-minute train ride from the airport and a 7-minute metro ride to the center. Maybe staying in the center would have been better with the bad weather, but because we split our time between Vienna and Budapest we thought the convenience of being close to the trains and busses would work out better. I think if I ever return, I’ll stay in the center, but to be honest, it’s not at the top of places to revisit.

Belvedere Palace
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Stephansdom Cathedral is a thousand-plus-year old cathedral
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Central train station
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Posted by 123Joanne 12:05 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Budapest

2021 Post Pandemic

overcast 60 °F

I’ll be honest, I was in Budapest a few years ago and loved it, but didn’t want to visit this year because of the politics. Is that wrong? The beauty of this city can compete with any Western European city - yes, even Paris (on a much smaller scale). The last time we stayed here, we stayed in an area called the ghetto, and unlike some ghettos in the States, this area is very safe but maybe a bit more Bohemian than other parts of Budapest. This time we stayed in the city center, right in the heart of the tourist area. At first, we didn’t like it much, but there is something to be said about stepping out of your hotel and being right where all the fabulous restaurants are. Of course, you pay a premium for those restaurants, but in these days of COVID, a lot of the smaller places have either closed temporarily or have closed for good. If we come back, I’m pretty sure we will stay where the action is. The people are friendly, and the ice cream is to die for, even in the colder weather. They have yet to change their currency to the Euro, but they will take credit/debit cards everywhere, so there is no need to use their currency (Forint). It’s a must-see city on your travels in Eastern Europe.

Out and about in the heart of the tourist zone
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The Inner City Parish Church is the oldest building in Pest.
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Jozsef Nador Square
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Buda Castle & View from the Castle
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Hungarian Parliament Building & Crown Jewels
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St. Stephen's Basilica the largest church in Hungry
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Monument of Nazi Occupation in Budapest
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Statue of Queen Elizabeth
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Gellért Monument, a tribute to Hungary's beloved famous saint
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Little Princess (Boy Jester) statue sitting on the railings of the Danube promenade
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Other fun statues
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Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial, a series of 60 pairs of steel sculpted shoes commemorating Jews shot here by the Nazis. As shoes were valuable, the victims were made to remove their shoes before being executed and left to fall into the cold, strong current of the Danube. The rivers carried their murdered bodies away. All that remained was their left-behind shoes.
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Posted by 123Joanne 13:15 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Lisbon

2021 Post Pandemic

sunny 80 °F

Years ago during my first visit to Lisbon, I remember thinking this city must be hard on the elderly. Now that I'm a bit older, I can unequivocally state that I was 100% correct. Lisbon is very hilly and somewhat precarious because of the granite cobblestone walkways. Yes, wearing flip-flops doesn't exactly help with stability, but I’m not quite ready to wear more sensible shoes (sneakers), so in the meantime, I will be slipping, staggering, and stumbling my way around. 😊

Lisbon today is a bit more run down than previous visits. Not sure why, maybe they have lost tourists money due to COVID but as I walk around it’s a bit disheartening. Currently, Portugal is at extreme levels of COVID but our plane was full (Portugal requires that you show a negative COVID test) and getting through Customs was its usual long lines with crazy wait times. The streets seem to be packed with tourists, but the fountains are off and the parks are in need of grooming. As before, the people are friendly and helpful, and thankfully they take wearing a mask as a priority. They have vaccine clinics open and ready for walk-ins, I’m just not sure what the percentages of people getting vaccinated are.

I love Lisbon, at one point, we thought of buying a place here, but for now, we will gladly be visitors to this beautiful country.

A great way to get around and avoid walking the hills of the city.
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Praça do Comércio, is Lisbon’s main square. It was built on the site where the old Royal Palace used to exist before it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755.
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View from São Jorge Castle
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Just your typical hilly street.
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These buildings with the tiles are so beautiful.
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This is one of my favorite streets to stroll - Avenida da Liberdade 2
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Posted by 123Joanne 11:52 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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