Monday, September 24, 2018

The Daughter of the Baltic: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki is the capital of Finland and its largest city .Helsinki is one of the cultural hot spots of Northern Europe. It is an ideal holiday destination for both for lovers of the arts and those who relish its exciting and vibrant nightlife. Helsinki is also a child friendly city perfect for family vacations and being surrounded by forest lakes and the sea. It is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. This beautiful city ranks on the top of the world’s most favourable place to stay due to its almost zero crime rates, peaceful surroundings, equality amongst men and women, great educational system and world renowned healthcare system.

Here are some of the top activities, events and places to visit in Helsinki.

Atelijee rooftop bar is frequently regarded as one of the best views in all of Helsinki. The Atelijee rooftop bar on top of the Torni Hotel looks out over the busiest part of the city right to the coastline including the cathedral harbour and Finland hall. During the day you come across the hustle and bustle of the city and in the evening it turns into a romantic spot to watch the sunset. On top of this you can also enjoy quality cocktails, a thriving atmosphere and works by Helsinki artist in Atelijee.

Pihlajasaari Island is one of Helsinki’s most charming and peaceful beaches. It lies on Pihlajasaari Island which can also be reached by a short boat trip from the mainland. The island’s recreational park has beautiful ocean views from its sandy beaches with the city in the distance and cruise ships passing close by.

Sibelius Monument and park was designed by Eila Hiltunen the monument to the great Finnish composer was unveiled in 1967 and raised immediate controversy and not a little criticism. This monument was formed by collection of large metal pipes that creates music as the breeze blows through them. The monument is a part of a beautiful park.

The Esplanade: after you finish visiting Soumenlinna, take a walk along Helsinki’s famous Esplanade. The beautiful tree lined street is filled with delicious restaurants and cafes, prestigious hotels and in the summer spacious parkland for picnics. It is a lush oasis in the heart of the city.

Temppeliaukio church is built directly into the solid rock known as rock church. It is built round in shape where the light enters through the dome roof around the copper center. The church is one of the most popular places to visit in Helsinki and there are concerts organised in the venue.

Buy and sell vintage items: There are plenty of thrift stores and flea markets in Helsinki where you can buy and sell old clothing and household items including rare vintage items. The Hakiniemi flea Market is one of the largest and well known. Kallio is also famous for many thrift stores.

Kamppi Chapel is a chapel of silence. It is made from wood and has an unusual shape of a cone with simple interior. It is one of the busiest areas of Finland.

Helsinki is famous for winter ice skating. Artificial rinks are set up during the winter. The most popular is being in the central square next to the train station. You can also visit one of the recreational skating tracks set up in the public parks. If it is cold enough from the sea to freeze over, you can skate on that too.

Christmas is a time for treating you.You can’t do it much better than at one of Helsinki’s luxury spas. Depending on which spa you go to, you can get treatments, massages, facials and of course use the traditional Finnish Sauna. If you are daring you can jump into the freezing Baltic Sea to cool down from the sauna, which is surprisingly good for the skin and circulation.

For dinner try one of the many varieties of blini at Galleria Hariton, Helsinki’s best traditional Russian Restaurant. For something less buttoned up book a table at Tori and sample stick to your ribs meat barks and arctic char in a setting akin to the coolest bistros of Williamsburg.

Helsinki attracts foodies. It is a cheap place for international cuisine. Ravintoal Konnichiwa is the most popular restaurant.

Route to Helsinki: Numerous Airlines fly to Helsinki from main cities in Europe. Its official airline is Finnair.

Do keep this place on your bucket list since Helsinki has many must see sites and highly desired experiences too.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Comoros Islands: The Tropical Charm off the Beaten Path

Comoros Islands
Comoros is a group of four islands off the African coast on the eastern side. It is situated between the historic Mozambique and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the lesser known countries of Africa because of its sparse population. Comoros islands is made up of Nqgazidgz, Mwali, Nzwani and Mayotte the oldest of the islands.

Below are the best places to visit in Comoros Islands.

Moheli is a favourite place when it comes to biodiversity and natural ecosystem. Moheli is the smallest of the four main islands and is renowned for its diverse wildlife. One can spot turtles at the beaches amongst other endemic bird species. Parc Marin de Moheli is a protected area and is a home to a variety of animals and reptiles. A sea turtle nesting site at Itsamia a village in Moheli attracts tourist from different parts of the world. At this forest one can get to see the iconic largest fruit bat in the world.Niumashuwa bay is a diving spot and a good starting point for visiting the marine park.

The first look at the site of Lac sale, Grande Comoros seems to be a crater. The place is often called a holy place. Lac Sale is famous for its natural hot sulphuric springs.

The architecture of Mahore Mayotte resembles the island of the French. The unique selling points of this island are the white sandy clear beaches and scuba diving. Scuba diving can be practised at Mayotte since all scuba divers can experience an array of aquatic wildlife under water and bright coral reefs which make the diving experience memorable.

Anjouan is also known as Nzwani. It is said to be the most alluring of all the islands of Comoros. Anjouan is partly responsible for naming as the Island of perfume. The air is thick with the aroma of cloves and Ylang Yland flower. These are used to make essential oils making Comotros one of the largest exporters of vanilla and spice. The place is truly enigmatic and intriguing. In the center are the old citadel and some mosque. There are also stunning beaches and breathtaking waterfalls, enhanced by abundant vegetation.

Dziani Boundouni is a beautiful sulphur Crater Lake situated right in the heart of the island of Moheli. One can also enjoy a pleasurable walk from the capital town of Fomboni known for its beautiful beaches.

Cuisine in Comoros is a delightful fusion of Arab and French dishes. Fresh seafood and dried varieties is available throughout the year. Fish is quiet often served in every meal particularly in stews along with staple dishes such as rice and meat.

Nightlife is virtually nonexistent. You can always buy your alcohol from Chinese and Indian merchants near Volo Volo market on Grande Comore. There is also a good selection of French Boxed wine and South African Castle beer.

Chomoni and Bouni Beaches are a must to visit in Comoros. Predominantly all the beaches are beautiful, however there are a few worth mentioning. Chomoni and Bouni are white sandy beaches offering a thrilling experience underwater. Rocks are also formed out of volcanic lava at Chomoni Beaches. Riding in a dhow which is a traditional trading ship is also a part of these exciting packages of Comoros.

For a lovely stay, Itsandra hotel is the fanciest hotel on the island and has a private beach restaurant and most importantly Wi-Fi facility.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Secret Beach Destination Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is an African nation with pristine nature and fantastic views. Though the country is less known among the top African tourist destinations, it is a place with fascinating islands, high peaks, beautiful beaches, extraordinary wildlife, vibrant culture, historical monuments and warm climate. All these make it a perfect winter escape destination. For the travellers Sierra Leone is still West Africa secret beach destination.

Explore the best places in Sierra Leone:

Wild life sanctuary: Some of the world’s rarest wildlife lives here. Tiwai island wildlife sanctuary in the Moa River is a home to around 80 rare and elusive pygmy hippos. Walking trails take you deep into the forest where chimpanzees, red colours and Diana Monkeys cavort in the canopy.

Lakka is a coastal town situated 15 miles to the west of Freetown. The Lakka beach is the most romantic Atlantic coastline. It is easily accessible, yet it is away from the hustle and bustle of the Sierra Leone city. If you are looking for a unique and relaxing vacation experience then this stunning beach is just perfect for you.

Turtle islands are situated off the southwest peninsula. Turtle islands are a group of eight isles, which are habited by the community of fishermen. It takes 3 hrs to reach these remote islands by speed boats. Fishing and swimming in the fresh and clean water makes a trip to this island a truly fascinating experience.

Tokeh Beach is a white sandy beach which was the favourite destination for the French supermodels in 1980s and now it is a popular tourist attraction today. Cheerful surroundings, pleasant weather conditions, peaceful environment, clear waters, and lush vegetation in the backdrop all attract the tourist.

Mount Bintumani is also known as Loma Mansa, the breathy King of the mountains. It is the second highest peak in West Africa after Mt Cameroon. It is not easy to reach the summit of the mountain. There are lots of hurdles on your way. You will need to hike across high grass plains, cross rickety rope bridges, gorges and cliffs.

Sierra Leone is famous for its National parks. One of them is the Outamba –Kilimi National park.The Park is a home to several species of wildlife including many different primates, elephants, buffaloes, and lion’s.Bird watchers will also be amazed to see at least 260 different species that inhabit the area. Traveller’s can take a tour of the park; embark on exciting safaris or even stay overnight in one of the many lodges.

The scenic islands in the Atlantic are the most fascinating islands .It includes Banana islands, Bunce islands which can be toured on boat rides. Banana Island is famous for diving and snorkelling adventures besides the old dwarf town of Dublin.

Weather is good all through the year. November to April is the hot dry season which occasionally rainstorm. The rainy seasons is during the months of May to November, In December and January the dry dusty Harmattan wind blows from the Sahara, the coastal region are quiet cooler compared to the northern parts of the country.

Nightlife in Sierra Leone: the best entertainment occurs in Freetown were there are pubs, bars nightlife and casinos. Aberdeen also offers some great night out at Aces, O’Casey and paddy’s bars. Some beach side clubs also organise concerts by local pop band.

Tourism could play a big role in boosting this warm hearted country’s prosperity. No wonder that is why there are so many reasons travellers are visiting Sierra Leone.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Burkina Faso, Africa

Burkina Faso, Africa
This country is one of the poorest nation in Africa and quite possibly, the world. It lacks in resources and wealth, but makes up for its spirit and natural beauty. The cities in Burkina Faso do not offer many sights or tourist attractions. But anyone interested in music and other forms of performing arts, there are truly some of the greatest on offer in Africa. The main attraction here is the natural landscape which ranges in the rugged outcrops of the sindou peaks to the abundant wildlife found at Lake Tengrele and Burkina Faso’s National parks.

Below is a list of the best places to see in Burkina Faso’s.

Arli National park: the open savannah of Arli National park is traversed by the Tambarga and Gobnangou rivers which provide lifeblood for the lions, hippos, elephants, antelope and gazelle that call it home. Guided safari game drives will get you up close to all the wildlife action, particularly at the famous Tounga watering hole.

Sabou: the town of Koudougou is famed for the sacred crocodiles of Sabou which are highly revered by the local people. It is a great opportunity to get up close to these normally fierce creatures as their constant contact and feeding by humans has left them incredibly tame.

Burkina also boast a number of UNESCO World Heritage listed cultural sites, including ancient fortified settlements and mud built mosque that are a legacy of the rulers, conquerors and traders that once traversed its lands.

Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso .The architecture here is very inspiring and the sights will leave you overwhelmed. The city is famous for its arts, dance, live music, awesome festivals and crafts markets. Making a trip to Ouaga is rewarding and worthwhile.

Bobo Dioulasso is a top most attraction in Burkina Faso. Bobo-Dioulasso is a combination of architectural styles. It is a fusion of French and Sudanese designs. The main attraction is the Great Mosque whose design was inspired by the mosque of Djenne. The Grande Marche town is famous for its artwork of tribes from all over West Africa. The city also has an outstanding night scene.

Gorom Gorom Market: Market of different ethnicities comes here every Thursday from all over the country. They are here to sell goods such as jewellery, printed cotton, fabrics, leather and handcrafted items.

Bobo Dioulasso is well known for its attractive streets and the bustling market. The Grand Marché of Bobo Dioulasso is the largest town inhabited by the Bobo people. Musee provisional du Houet with regional relics, arts and crafts and the Grande Mosque in the Kibidwe district is also some of the attractions. An excursion outside the city includes the scenic sacred fish pond of La Mare aux Poisson Sacres de Dafra.

Les Cascades de Banfora: take a dip in the terraced pools of Les Cascades de Banfora, a scenic series of waterfalls along the Komoe River. This place is surrounded by sugarcane fields and mango trees. It is also a popular picnic spot among locals. Admire the pristine nature and watch the water pass through layered sandstone towers. Take your swim gear along.

Mountain biking and hiking are one of the popular adventures around the areas of Bobo Dioulasso and Banfora in Lobi region.

Cuisine in Burkina Faso is similar to the cuisines in other parts of West Africa. Sorghum, millet, rice, fonio, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yam and okra are the basic staple food.

The people here will welcome visitors with warmth and charm and endeavour to make their stay a memorable one.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Andorra, a Duty Free Country

Andorra
Andorra is tiny country between Spain and France nestled high in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains. 10% of the Andorra has been declared World heritage sites by the UNESCO. The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is outstanding for its beauty and has pastures, meadows and extensive forest areas. Andorra is a good destination for those interested in outdoor activities. It offers jaw dropping scenery, high quality hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. The hospitality is very warm in this country. Andorra’s low tax and duty free prices makes it one of the favourite tourist hot spots in Europe.

Caldea Thermal Spa: Andorra not only boast great skiing, is a large natural spring complex with various indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis and hydrotherapy sections that are conducted on the 18 floors ,the highest building in Andorra and it is also the largest thermal spa complex in Europe.

Winter sports: Ski resorts and snow are one of the main points of interest for most winter visitors and in the evening by the fireplace. You can take the ski raquettes, a dog sledge and snowboard or simply ski. Because of its elevation it has become a popular destination for those eager to learn sports.

La Cortinada: This sleepy town is just 20 minutes drive away from the capital surrounded by meadows and rugged mountains. It is a home to the lovely 12th century Sant Marti de la Cortinada Church which is famous for the stunning frescoes.

Vallnord is a ski and snow board resort located in the Pyrenees Mountains close to the border with Spain at Tor and Pallars. The Vallnord combines 3 different ski resorts: Arinsal Pal and ordino- Arcalis which together offer skiers an exceptional variety of quality skiing and snowboarding. Arinsal and Pal are linked by a 50 person cable car, with Ordino-Arcalis being a bus journey taking approximately 40 min to travel.

You can sample the finest meat of the Pyrenees: Only the farmers of the Principality know the secret to providing you with the best veal and Andorran horse meat. A long tradition, its quality and its unique flavour are without doubt.

Explore its Romanesque churches: Andorra is dotted with many stone Romabesque churches, filled with stunning pieces of artwork and intricate altarpieces. Some of the most Picturesque churches are the church of Santa Coloma, the church of Sant Esteve and the church of Sant Joan de Caselles.

You can ride the longest slides in the world: In Naturlandia you’ll find one of the most fun attractions in the country Tobotronuc. This slide is surrounded by nature involves a ride of more than 3 miles through the forest of La Rabassa.

Grab a Bite: Borda Patxeta serves Andorran Cuisine, specialised in Capaccios, baked snails, grilled meats and more.

Borda Del Tremat: a cosy restaurant specializes in grilled meat.

Shopping is a favourite pastime for visitors in Andorra particularly because it enjoys a tax free status. The shops are packed with luxury and designer brands as well as shops selling perfumes, tobacco and alcohol. Some of the best place to shop is the Centro Commercial Pyrenees and the streets of Andorra La Vella.

Whether you want to spend days reconnecting with nature or just enjoy a family picnic with an unforgettable backdrop. Andorra has the perfect place for you. Top picks includes Coma Pedrosa community National park and Naturlandia Nature Park.