TheTurtleTrip: DISCOVER SUOMENLINNA SEA FORTRESS

In 1991 Suomenlinna was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites as a unique monument to military architecture.

We reached this UNESCO World Heritage Site by ferry from Helsinki Kauppatori (Market Square).

SUOMENLINNA boat

SUOMENLINNA boat

The trip (about 15 minutes) from Helsinki to Suomenlinna was more like an adventure than a short ferry ride. We could enjoy the magnificent views of frozen Helsinki and the surroundings from the sea. The highlight was the crossing through the ice covered waters. We could hear our ferry breaking through huge blocks of ice along the way… it sounded pretty crazy 😮

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna

When we stepped off the ferry, we already knew that Suomenlinna worth a stroll 😘

First we saw the Jetty Barracks, main gateway to the fortress. It’s the beautiful pink building that was designed to accommodate 250 soldiers in peacetime and now houses the visitor information center, some restaurant and the Jetty Barracks Gallery.

Jetty Barracks

Jetty Barracks

Stepping along the blue route we could see tourist attractions like Suomenlinna Church, Great Courtyard, Ehrensvard’s tomb, Center Shop, the Suomenlinna Museum and other amazing sights.

Suomenlinna Church

Suomenlinna Church

hobbit-style homes built into the ground, Suomenlinna

hobbit-style homes built into the ground, Suomenlinna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ehrensvards tomb Soumenlinna

Ehrensvards tomb Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna is an important historical site and one of the most popular tourist attraction, but it also has a lively community of some 800 residents. There is a school, library and grocery store, and more to make the island a good home for its inhabitants.

Cafe Vanille on Suomenlinna Island

Cafe Vanille on Suomenlinna Island

hobbit-style homes built into the ground.

hobbit-style homes built into the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We could enjoy the silence of the Island because there were few tourists. Maybe because it was a weekday, and the weather wasn’t very friendly.

After a few hours of exploring the place, we can say that Suomenlinna is more than a sea fortress- it’s haven of peace, reflection and history.

It is the place where you are one with nature.

Suomenlinna surrounded by half-frozen sea

Suomenlinna surrounded by half-frozen sea

 

We liked this peaceful winter day… and we were ready to come back in Helsinki.  🤗

Have you ever been to Suomenlinna? We would be happy to read your experience or tell us in the comments if Suomenlinna is on your bucket list 🤗

 

 

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TheTurtleTrip: OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES IN HELSINKI

Seeing Helsinki from the air, I said…

We have arrived into a proper winter.

We were so eager to explore the attractions of the city and now we are happy to share in the post our         W😍W trip in the capital of Finland.

Strolling through the city

Helsinki is an eye-catching city and its sights are almost within a walking distance. We noticed that there are many wonderful places to see.

Railway Station, Helsinki

Railway Station, Helsinki

 

Railway Station is a fairly typical station inside, but what makes it really spectacular is the clock tower and the two pairs of statues holding the spherical lamps outside. We found out that it was chosen as one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations by BBC in 2013.

 

 

Tuomion Kirkko or Helsinki Cathedral

Tuomion Kirkko or Helsinki Cathedral

 

 

Tuomion Kirkko or Helsinki Cathedral is a white and impressive Lutheran Church, with beautiful green domes and astonishing architecture. It is probably Helsinki’s best-known and most admired symbol. We liked the cathedral and the view from its steps that lead down to the Senate Square and the Statue of Alexander II.

 

 

Uspenski Cathedral, is the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe. The red brick facade, green roof and the golden cupolas make it a quite special church. Stepping inside, we felt a peaceful and contemplative atmosphere.

Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

It was nice that we could take photos and videos with our drone from this place.

Curious to see the beauty of this Orthodox Cathedral from all angles…? Check out our Instagram account @theturtletrip 🤗

The SkyWheel is the newest landmark of the city. We couldn’t enjoy the panoramic views of the city and the sea from this sky wheel because it was closed.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Experiencing the tram sightseeing tour

We found out that an exciting way to enjoy Helsinki beauty on cold days is with the tram. We purchased day-tickets and started our tour with tram 2 that is recommended for sightseeing and then for architectural tour we took tram 4. So, for a whole hour we saw the city in the warmth 😊

tram 2

tram 2

tram 4

tram 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the public transportation system in Helsinki is very good, we used it to visit other amazing tourists’ attractions that are not located in the center.

Temppeliaukio Church or Rock Church

Temppeliaukio Church or Rock Church

 

Temppeliaukio Church, known as a Rock Church because in fact is built into rock. When we entered in the church it was a really special ambiance, something different from other churches that we visited. It was very peaceful and spiritual… This was lovely!

 

Sibelius monument, Helsinki

Sibelius monument, Helsinki

 

 

 

Sibelius monument, located in the Park with the same name. It is made from silver tubes of various sizes that evoke the pipes of an organ. Near the monument is the bust of Sibelius. It is a noticeable and unusual monument.

 

 

After our walk through the park we managed to find near to the water, the lovely Café Regatta.

The hot chocolate was really yummy 😋

Café Regatta, Helsniki

Café Regatta, Helsniki

Going to Hokey Match

Finland is one of the world’s leading Ice Hockey nations and it has been consistently ranked among the best teams in international hockey.

Being in Helsinki we wanted to not only see the main tourist attractions, but also experience what Finnish people do and so, we decided to buy tickets for an ice hockey match, knowing also that hockey is the most popular sport in Finland.

We bought the ticket from Helsinki Ice Hall, with one hour before the hockey game HIFK vs Ilves starts.

The arena was almost full and the atmosphere was awesome.

Hokey match, Helsinki

Hokey match, Helsinki

The match ended with the score 3-0 for HIFK.

It was our first time at an ice hockey match and it will remain a memorable experience. We are going to include it in the list “living like locals”.

In the end…we can say that we didn’t see a match… in fact we saw a show.👍👍👍

Hokey

Hokey

Hokey match

Hokey match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helsinki is a really interesting place to visit and we hope you like it … So we will be happy to know about your experience in Helsinki! 🤗

 

EXPERIENCING JAPAN CULTURE THROUGH NAGOMI VISIT

A friend of mine told us about the Nagomi Visit …  this idea immediately caught our attention and we put this experience on the bucket list.

“Long story short – Nagomi Visit connects you with local foodies and families by visiting their homes during your trip in Japan.”

Experiencing for the first time this type of activity… on the other side of the globe, make us feel uncertain. But … it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. 👍👍👍

During our stay in Japan we were lucky to visit two amazing families.  They met us at the metro station with a welcoming board with our names on it.  After that we joined them on the way to their home, having a casual talk about the neighborhood. The hosts were lovely, friendly and very nice 🤗

We couldn’t have imagined a better host families.

Nagomi Visit, Aki host

Nagomi Visit, Aki host

Everything was perfectly prepared by our first host, Aki. We felt so welcomed at her home😊

The food … yes, we made a lot of new discoveries. Aki, cooked for us an authentic and delicious Japanese dinner, including vegetables, tofu, seaweed, rice balls, salad and miso soup – all served in lovely small bowls. The food was S😍 tasty.

The individual care to each dish was evident and our deepest thanks for receiving us in her home … was more than what we expected.

We end up the dinner with a cup of tea … probably it had some magic because now is my favorite one. Happy me 😊

Nagomi Visit, host Aki

Nagomi Visit, host Aki

Nagomi Visit, host Aki

Nagomi Visit, host Aki

Beside the delicious meal, we shared a lot of our travel stories and differences between our countries.      Aki is a real ambassador of Japanese culture, she answered to all our curiosities about their history and daily life 😙

Thank you again to Nagomi Visit and our lovely host Aki for an enjoyable evening and a lifetime experience.

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

The second host was a very friendly family, Yoshiko and Fuyuki.  The time we spent in their home was really enjoyable 🤗

The food … I loved a lot the idea with home-made sushi. Basically, we should made sushi by ourselves, using our imagination to mix the ingredients that where on the table… sounds nice, right? 🤔 … and trust me everything was very tasty 😋

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

Nagomi Visit, Yoshiko and Fuyuki

We chatted about the everyday life in Japan, work, hobby, sightseeing, culture, food and sake. Yoshiko and Fuyuki were interested about European way of living and our overall interests. On the other side we aimed for learning about the Japanese culture and how their day to day life looks like.

There were a couple of hours with a lot of enjoyable moments 😙

Yesss 😊 … And the surprise at the end of the lunch … we saw and learned how to prepare and serve the traditional matcha tea 🍵.  It was an amazing experience that helped us to understand and get closer to the Japanese culture.

Thank you Yoshiko and Fuyuki for the experience of eating sushi in a different way. 🍣  Good idea to try at home 😊

We are glad that we met Aki, Yoshiko and Fuyuki and now we have new friends in Japan 💙

We can truly recommend everyone this non-touristy adventure!… It is a good way to understand what the word hospitality means for most Japanese people.

Still talk about these awesome dinners with our friends that joined us to the Nagomi Visit 😊

We will certainly keep in contact with our hosts and hope to be able to provide the same outstanding experience when they will visit Romania or Republic of Moldova  🤗 🌍 🤗

No book or travel guide can replace the experiences we had with Nagomi Visit.

P.S. All the information about how to find and visit a host, we found on Nagomi Visit official site.

TheTurtleTrip: SNOW VILLAGE IN YLLAS, FINLAND

Lainio Snow Village changes its size, shape and design each year. This winter it was built for 17th time and we could enjoy a unique decoration of snow and ice on the Game of Thrones theme.

It was cool to find out that this construction project requires 20 million kilos of snow and 350 thousand kilos of ice, as well as a few weeks of labor by the talented snow architects and designers from Russia, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine.

Snow Village

Snow Village

We’re amazed to see the snow art gallery with a lot of breathtaking sculptures. With every visiting room from the gallery, our admiration grew more and more 💗

Cinema Snow Village

Cinema Snow Village

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

Snow Village rooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If somebody asks me which room or sculpture I liked more, it will be really impossible to give an answer. All that we saw was unique. 🤗

 Marvelous place, with a WOW at every step.

The main feature of the village is the Snow Hotel. We hope that on the next trip to Lapland we will spend at least one night here.

The village also has an Ice Restaurant, Ice Bar and Ice Chapel. Never imagined that an ice building could reflect so good all needed aspects of living in a small community … we even realized that can live there for a while without any issues. 👌

Ice Chapel

Ice Chapel

Ice Restaurant

Ice Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t go to next itinerary without enjoying a meal and a hot drink in the Snow Village Restaurant, the atmosphere inside was unique.

PS. Strolling through this unique place, we can say that this year The Snow Village is perfect for a winter adventure for Game of Thrones fans.

We finished our visit of the Snow Village with a very nice impression and we were ready for Aurora hunting activity. Read more about lately activity here.

Have you seen any Snow Villages in the past? How it was? Tell us if it is on your bucket list for 2019? We are happy to hear from you 😘 ✍

TheTurtleTrip: OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES IN LAPLAND

Our flight landed in the afternoon of 24 January and we stepped out into a frozen beautiful land, transformed by winter into a fairytale.

     We’ve Found Winter Paradise.

Lapland is a charming place, somewhere between fairytale and reality that beckons us to experience its wonder.

We have pick up the car from Rovaniemi airport and headed to Saariselka, where we have booked our house. After about 3 hours of stunning snow scenery on our road, we have arrived to the destination.

The owner of the chalet, greeted us with a cheerful hello and a warm smile. The Aurora house is located in the forest that gives a special charm to it. We also liked that inside was clean and pleasant.

Aurora house

Aurora house

Aurora house

Aurora house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our trip promised to be full of joy and not only because Lapland was spectacular, the main reason was the birthday of my lovely husband 💖

Drive around the forests on a snowmobile

We got equipped with some warm suits, face masks and helmets. Then it was the time to live a new adventure.

snowmobile adventure

snowmobile adventure

Snowmobile driving offered us a breathtaking winter scenery of the forest and a lot of adrenaline 😄

For night activity, we choose to drive with the snowmobile till the highest point in Saariselka. The place offers us a beautiful white landscape and the silence was so compact that you can almost touch it.  It is a good spot to see Auroras and night sky. We weren’t so lucky to see the Northern Light there because it was cloudy.

night snowmobile adventure

night snowmobile adventure

night snowmobile experience

night snowmobile experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without a doubt the snowmobile experiences was one of the most entertaining experiences we’ve had in our trips. We made around 50 kilometers.

Snowmobile driving was incredibly fun! 😍

Husky sledding

Dogs sledding in Finnish Lapland was on our bucket list from the moment we planned our journey.

On the second day of our trip, after snowmobile driving, our adventure continued with the husky safari.

My heart warms when we met the dogs! They were so cute, friendly and we loved to pet them 💗🐶💗

husky

husky

husky dogs

husky dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few minutes of interaction with these adorable animals, we get the instructions how to manage the dog sled and finally start our ride through the snowy forest. Dima was the driver on the back of the sleigh, while I comfortably sat in the front. ☺

The excitement of gliding across a frozen landscape in a dog sled was a wild and irresistible feel for us.

After about one hour of sledding, we were back at the farm from where the tour started. The instructor invited us into a nearby yurt and served us with warm tea, coffee and some cookies. We talked about the life of the huskies and how to become a professional dog sledder and to take part in competitions. Basically, it is A HUGE amount of work.

It was one of the most magical days we’ve ever experienced.

Aurora hunting

It’s never a guarantee that you’ll see the Northern Lights…it is always a surprise.

We got a bit unlucky with the weather cause was cloudy for most of the trip. However, on our last night we checked the weather forecast and at about 100 km from the place we were, the sky was clear. We decided right away to not sleep that night and act like professional aurora hunters 🤭. Based on the Aurora forecast we had 5 % chance to see this magic phenomenon. It sounds disappointed…but we said that we should do all what depends on us and karma will help us… and voila…the clouds cleared and we could see the spectacular AURORA! That’s something we never get tired of seeing.

This was the best reward for us.

Aurora

Aurora

Frankly speaking, we didn’t know what to expect when it comes to the Northern Light. Sooo…seeing it…was so beautiful and is really an amazing phenomenon to witness.

The highlights of our trip in Lapland are the unique outdoor activities we tried.

We are so happy that we could live the real winter adventure and also feel it meditative charm and peace.

PS. I loved the squeaky sound of walking on the snow and I really miss it now.  Sometimes it’s the most insignificant thing that brings a lot of joy.

  Lapland made us it huge fans.

Have you ever been to Lapland? Which experience are you most excited to live? Share your thoughts with us 😊

TheTurtleTrip: LOVELY DAY IN SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE, ROVANIEMI

Magical is truly the word to describe Lapland.

Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus and an amazing city on the Arctic Circle.

We visited Santa Claus Village in the end of January and for us it was the best time – it felt Christmas Vibe, there was snow everywhere and not so crowded like in other periods of time, as we read.

Within the mini village there are many activities like, reindeer and husky rides, snowmobiles, ice slides, shops etc.

Simply seeing Santa Claus Village blanketed in snow. It was just so pretty!

Santa Claus Village

Santa Claus Village

Christmas exhibition

Christmas House hosts the unique Christmas-theme exposition. The exhibition is like a voyage back in time where we could learn about Christmas holiday and its most recognized traditions in different parts of the World, about the real Santa Claus as well as the history of the Christmas tree🎄

Christmas exhibition

Christmas exhibition

It is a very informative exhibition that leads to Santa’s office. It worth to take a look  😊

Say Hello to Santa Claus 🎅

We have met Santa Claus in person at his office. He greeted us with a big smile and with his arms wide open. We were lucky because the waiting line to get into his office was short.

Santa knows several different languages and we really enjoyed to speak with him. The atmosphere inside was fascinated. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that Santa was in our small hometown Moldova. The time we spend with Santa was so lovely  🤗

Everybody can visit Santa Claus for free, the only cost is if you want the photo with Santa as you can’t take any with your own.

Meeting Santa is a memory we will hold for a lifetime.

We promised ourselves to bring our children here when they will have about 5 years old or so…We can’t imagine how happy we could be if we had experienced this amazing adventure in our childhood 😄

Santa is here

Santa is here

Santa’s Official Post Office 🏤

This is where all the letters written to Santa Claus from children around the globe make their way here. Each Christmas, Santa receives about a half million letters and even more remarkable is that every single letter is read by Santa and his postal helpers.

Guinness world record: The longest wish list to Santa Claus consisted of 75,954 wishes was presented to him at his official post office in Rovaniemi, on 5 December 2012.

It is nice that you can send postcards to your loved ones with a stamp and post mark from the Arctic Circle. Another lovely thing is that you can ask Santa to send a letter to your family or friend anywhere in the world.

Santa’s Official Post Office

Santa’s Official Post Office

We wanted to make a special gift for our nephews and ordered a personalized letter from Santa Claus that will be send for Christmas 2018. I can’t wait their reaction 😄

Eating time … Santa’s Salmon Restaurant

After some hours of strolling through the frozen village we get hungry. We started to look for a place where to eat and get warm up… and found a teepee-looking house. Getting inside we was so surprised that the salmon was cooked over the fire in the center of the restaurant. It was our first time when we ate in such a place and it was so magic that we step inside without even thinking about such a nice frame.

Santa’s Salmon Restaurant

Santa’s Salmon Restaurant

The salmon that arrived at our table was…yummy 😋

Finnish people have their recipe to cook the salmon…so we challenge you to try it at home, you’ll never regret.

Santa Claus Village

Santa Claus Village

It’s easy to believe in magic, when you see it with your own eyes. Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi for sure offers magic for everyone, regardless of the age 💙

Would you go to Finland to see the real Santa Claus? Or, have you already seen him? We would like to read your experience in the comments of this article.

Santa Claus Village

Santa Claus Village

A LOVELY DAY IN PLOVDIV, BULGARIA

One our way home from Sofia, my husband suggested to spend some hours in the oldest living city in Europe and among the six oldest cities in the world, Plovdiv. I was wondering how is possible to not hear about this city before.

As we had a great experience with free tour in Sofia, we decided to join the free Plovdiv walking tour . An excellent way for a better introduction to Plovdiv’s best sites and learn about the unique history of the town. The adventure begun at 2:00 pm in front of the Municipality Building.

Adi, our guide took us to the most important tourist attractions from the town, so we will list those ones in this article.

We started our tour with Knyaz Aleksandar I, it is said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe, spanning 1.7 km. It is a nice street with shops, coffees, restaurants and maybe the most impressive is the Roman Stadium that is buried underground.

Knyaz Aleksandar I, Plovdiv

Knyaz Aleksandar I, Plovdiv

Roman Stadium, Plovdiv

Roman Stadium, Plovdiv

The stadium has only been partly excavated due to its difficult location. It is practically impossible to destroy the lively pedestrian street, so we could enjoy only the northern end of it. It was amazing to know that beneath our feet are the remains of great Roman structures dated sometime between 117-138 AD.

Kapana “The Trap”  is one of the oldest parts of the city and it was known as a home of craftsmen. The project of making Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019 have changed this small corner of the city into an artistic and creative district. Nowadays, it is a place where contemporary businesses are opened, like ateliers, studios, workshops, coffees and friendly bars.

Kapana,“The Trap” Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap” Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap”, Plovdiv

Kapana,“The Trap”, Plovdiv

Walking through these small and colorful streets of The Trap, recharged us with positive vibe.

Old Town is the perfect place to walk through the narrow cobblestone streets, breath history and enjoy the ancient houses and ruins. There are a lot of landmarks that we loved.

Old Town, Plovdiv

Old Town, Plovdiv

Dzhumaya Mosque is a still-working mosque and we were surprised to found out that is the second-oldest in Europe.

Dzhumaya Mosque, Plovdiv

Dzhumaya Mosque, Plovdiv

Nearby, we enjoyed a traditional Turkish coffee.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv

Hisar Kapia, the fortress gate situated in the heart of the Old Town. This famous stone arch is about 2000 years old.

Hisar Kapia, Plovdiv

Hisar Kapia, Plovdiv

Church of Sveti Konstantin & Elena, it is Plovdiv’s oldest church.

Roman amphitheater is impressively preserved site, which is actually still used for various musical and opera performances. View of the city beyond the stage creates a unique frame. This symbol of the town is simply spectacular.

We promise ourselves to come back and to live the unforgettable experience of a life concert on this glorious theater.

Roman amphitheater, Plovdiv

Roman amphitheater, Plovdiv

Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum is a stunning building outside with a gorgeous baroque architecture. The lovely facade impressed us. We heard that is worth to see the museum inside, we didn’t enter because it was closed due to the Christmas holiday.

Ethnographic Museum,Plovdi

Ethnographic Museum,Plovdiv

The time we spend exploring the Old Town, worth each minute.

 Plovdiv hills

One of Plovdiv’s nicknames is “The city on seven hills”.

The history of Plovdiv hills is really interesting. While Plovdiv once had seven hills, it only has six today. Markovo Hill, the seventh, was destroyed during the early 20th century and used for raw building material.

If you have more time to spend in Plovdiv, you can hike its hills and enjoy the splendid view over the city from the top.

Due to limited time we has in Plovdiv we could wonder on the beauty of the city only from the top of one hill.

Strolling around the city, we felt like we were in a history book –seeing the buildings and evidence from almost every historical period.

After our unforgettable experience in the city it is not a surprise to us that Plovdiv has been listed as the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The motto “Ancient and eternal” is not random.

The future European Capital of Culture combines history, art, culture and business- things that very barely can be found together in one city.

Have you heard of Plovdiv before? It is Plovdiv on you bucket list?  Tell us in comments, we’d love to hear from you 😊

Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture in 2019

Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture in 2019

 

10 THINGS TO SEE AND TO DO IN SOFIA, BULGARIA

Sofia, an awesome place to visit!

Many iconic buildings, places and architecture, roman ruins over the city center, numerous green areas, friendly locals and delicious traditional food (at least we loved it). On top of all of this, Sofia it’s also a budget travelers destination.

What more could travelers wish for?

There are a lot of interesting things that you can see and do in Sofia. The main sights are concentrated in the City Center, so we have listed top 10 places that impressed us and maybe will help you to plan your visit in the capital of Bulgaria. Beside the photos, we also highlighted some information that we found interesting.

Read the list below to find out how to experience it for yourself.

 

Church of St. George Sofia

Church of St. George, Sofia

 

Church of St. George which is considered to be the oldest building in Sofia, dates back to the 4th century and together with ruins of the Antic town Serdica now is surrounded by the buildings of  Presidential Palace.

 

 

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral  (my personal favorite) the biggest and most gorgeous Christian temple in Bulgaria. It was nice to find out that the cathedral crypt houses the largest collection of Orthodox icons in Europe. Getting inside we could pray and admire the splendid examples of the art of iconography.

 

 

Saint Sofia Church

Saint Sofia Church

 

Saint Sofia Church that gave the name of Sofia to the city. It is located in the city center and its underground level is turned into a museum where you can stroll in old-time catacombs. We couldn’t enter because it was closed due to Christmas holiday.

Next to the church there is the monument to the Unknown Soldier commemorating Bulgarian soldiers who died protecting their country.

 

Nedelya Church, Sofia

Nedelya Church, Sofia

 

Nedelya Church, this is a church with a sad history… in 1925 a terrorist attack was carried out, aimed to kill the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III. He was not killed because delayed with a half an hour, anyway this attack brought a tragic end for a lot of people which were inside the church.

P.S. Bulgarian people often use this example when they are late 😊

 

Petka Church, Sofia

Petka Church, Sofia

 

Petka Church was constructed in the 14th century by saddle makers. It is very short because churches built during the Ottoman period couldn’t be higher than a soldier on horseback, so they were partially buried. This is the first time when we enter in such a small church, however it filled our souls with pace.

It worth.

 

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker , Sofia

 

 

Russian Orthodox Church St. Nicholas Miracle-Maker  surprised us with its beautiful architecture and ornamentation.

 

 

 

Saint Sofia Monument

Saint Sofia Monument

 

Saint Sofia Monument probably the most famous monument in Sofia, it is a 24-meter-high bronze statue.

It’s a symbol of the city because St. Sofia is city’s patron.

 

 

 

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

Yellow Cobbles, Sofia

 

Step on the Yellow Cobbles that cover the area around the National Assembly and then down towards the National Gallery of Art & Ethnography Museum. It is something that we found amazing in Sofia and we though that the bricks are colored in yellow. When we asked our guide, he explained that the cobbles were made in Hungary and were a wedding gift to Tsar Ferdinand I from the Austro-Hungarian emperor. The bricks are a symbol of Sofia and are not colored, they are made from a very expensive and special yellow material.

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater

Ivan Vazov National Theater, Sofia

 

 

Ivan Vazov National Theater,  we really love this stunning building, considering to be one of the most ornate in Sofia. It was constructed by the Austrian architects Helmer & Felneris in 1907.

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

Public Mineral Baths, this building with elegant style and architecture was a public bath with separate facilities for men and women. They come here to relax and interact with each other’s.

It was like Facebook today 😄

Nowadays the building hosts a permanent exhibition of the Sofia  History Museum. The Public Baths is located near the Central Mosque. 

 

 

 

 

Sofia culture and architecture are very special because it reflects the influences from every historical period it has gone through.

Learning about the history of Sofia made us curious to explore more and we decided to spend the last day of our trip in Plovdiv – another city full of history and interesting facts.

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM SOFIA

Did you ever wake up in the morning and had no idea what to do for the next 2 or 3 days …?                           – we experienced it before Christmas Eve as we decided not to go to home this year.

Solution …? – hmm, we opened google maps and found that Sofia is at just 500 km far away from Bucharest. So, it took just few seconds to make the decision … no words needed, just look at each other … in only 30 minutes we already were on our road trip.

Joining the free tour in Sofia

One of the most affordable and interesting way to discover Sofia is by joining the local guides from Free Sofia Tour . Niki was our amazing guide, that shown and told us the most important places and facts about the capital of Bulgaria. As we joined the tour on Christmas Eve, our small group were of 6 tourists from 4 different continents, which was nice 😊

The most amazed thing that for sure I will not forget about Sofia is the Square of Tolerance where you can find the temples of the 4 major religions: a mosque, a Catholic cathedral, an orthodox church and a synagogue. Sofia is unique in Europe, by having these places of worship for four major religions so close together.

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

Square of Tolerance, Sofia

I am grateful that our guide shared with us the strategic point where we saw all those temples together …it gave me an inner emotion full of peace.

Great experience – In just few hours we get a bunch of information about Sofia and we interact with friendly people.

Strolling through the city

Before visiting Sofia, many time I heard the phrase “Sofia is a city of contrasts”.  So, to get convinced about this, we went for a walk through the city.  Look at these photos and tell us if you feel the same…

Church of St. George, Sofia

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

 

Saint Sofia Church

Ivan Vazov National Theatre, Sofia

 

 

Roman ruins, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Mineral Baths, Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you curious to know more about any of these places, check our article 10 Things to see and to do in Sofia

Enjoying the Vitosha mountain

Sofia is located at the foot of the Vitosha mountain, that makes it’s an uncommon capital. Anytime you can have a break from the city and be in contact with nature.

From almost any location in the city, we could glimpse the beauty of the mountain. It creates a perfect frame for the historical buildings and for all tourist attractions.

Taking our car and driving from Sofia up to the mountain was the best thing we could do on the Christmas day. On the top of Vitosha we breathed clean air, enjoyed the beautiful snowy scenery and the amazing view over the city.

Vitosha Mountain

I will never forget the beautiful sunset. We were so lucky to see it.

Sunset seen on Vitosha Mountain

I could not take my eyes off … it was wonderful.

This was a perfect way to recharge our batteries 😊

After a cold and fresh walk, we get very hungry 😋

Excellent occasion to eat an authentic Bulgarian food. We were at Izbata Tavern, welcoming place with typical Bulgarian interior, tableware with traditional tint and folk music. Here we taste the amazing Bulgarian cousin, that we liked a lot. For appetizers we ate Eggplant chaviar and main dishes Veal satch and Kavarma. 

Izbata Taverna in Sofia      

Appetizers at Izbata Taverna in Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tavern is part of tourist attractions from Sofia.

Trying traditional cousin is another great way to experience a destination.

Accommodation? –  a lot of great options for affordable prices. We chose “BW Premier Collection City Hotel” as it looked to meet our needs: good breakfast, central location, parking and excellent rate on booking submitted by more than 1000 reviews. It come up to our expectations. 😊

Sofia will remain in our hearts as a city full of history…that was conquered by different imperial powers which had left their marks… and in the end created this unique culture.

P.S. Visiting Sofia we managed to add one more capital in our bucket list for 2017 🤗

 

VASA MUSEUM- MOST VISITED MUSEUM IN SCANDINAVIA

When we decided to visit VASA Museum we didn’t expect to be such impressed. It exceeded our expectations by many times.

The first thought upon entering the museum was: This is history coming alive.

 

The ship itself is amazing. Somehow…it remembered us the Pirates of the Caribbean movies 😄

Located on the island of Djurgården, VASA is the most visited museum in Scandinavia. The museum hosts a beautiful piece of history… the world’s only preserved 17th century ship.

It is unbelievable that after 333 years (1628-1961) under water the ship has been restored, and now we can see more than 95 percent of the original ship.

The museum offers us a really unique artwork. We found a lot of information about the history of the ship, life on the board and what caused its sinking by ten different exhibitions that are exposed around the VASA ship.

The 8 things that we find interesting from the exhibitions are:

 

  • For one ship of the VASA’s size, roughly 1,000 oaks were needed.
  • In the VASA, there were 8,558 iron bolts and about 20,000 wooden nails. The largest bolts measured two meters.
  • The VASA weight was estimated at 700 tons.

 

 

 

 

  • The cook made food for all the crew. The largest cooking pot was a 215- litres iron cauldron.
  • Food ration per man and month: bread ½ barrel, meat and dried fish 8.5 kg, dried peas- 16.2 litres.

 

  • In the year 1628, Vasa was to have had a crew of 145 mariners and 300 soldiers.
  • Sailors were paid partly in cash, partly in clothes and rations. Annual salary for senior captain – 475 dalers, master- 152 dalers, ordinary seaman- 57 dalers and ships’s boy-38 dalers)
  • The majority of the skeletons in the Vasa are identified as men, as would be expected, but there are also two women and a few, whose sex cannot be determined.

The historic collections contain many things that were found in the ship; from tools to decorative pieces, as well as personal belongings from the crew.  Inside the museum you can watch the movie in alternating languages which explained about the building and the recovery of the VASA.

 

 

We spent more time in this museum than planned. Definitely a nice surprise that is worth a visit.

We hope that VASA will be preserved for many years, so more people could visit, wonder, and imagine what kind of life our ancestors had, compared to this technological era.

Enough to entertain those who immediately get bored when visiting a museum 😄

Hope we made you curious to visit the VASA Museum. If you are looking for other activities in the capital of Sweden, be inspired by OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM STOCKHOLM.

 

 

 

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM STOCKHOLM

 

This already became a tradition, to celebrate my birthday in a new city. This year we decided to explore the beautiful capital of Sweden, Stockholm.

Worth it every second. Stockholm is the city to feel, to see, to explore and to enjoy each moment.

From our escape we noticed that Stockholm is clean and super organized city, the nature is amazing; thanks to the citizens – nice people who care and love it a lot. It is definitely a beauty.

We didn’t have time to get bored, coz Stockholm is known by its museums, architecture, islands, bridges, cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops which forms a magic frame.

Strolling through the historical heart of Stockholm

Luckily Stockholm is nice for strolls.

Walking through the streets of this beautiful city it was really engaging. This was the best way to enjoy the architecture, interacting with locals and feel the vibe of the city. We planned our walk in order to see the most famous sights as:

Stortorget

 

 Gamla Stan, which is the oldest and one of the most popular districts. Stockholm’s foundation begun here in the 13th century.

 

 

Alley of Marten Trotzig, the narrowest street in Stockholm. The alley has an interesting, historical charm and a funny legend.

It’s said that, when you pass through this street you need to touch both sides, think on a wish and it will come true.

I’ll keep you posted if this works 😀

 

 

 

 

The Great Church  officially named Church of St. Nicholas and informally called Stockholm Cathedral.  

A nice church with a sunning architecture.  Many royal marriages took place here.

 

 

 

The Iron Boy Statue known as “the little boy who looks at the moon”

It is Stockholm’s smallest statue, having only 15 cm high. It said that the sculpture brings good luck to anyone who caresses the boy’s head or offers a small gift to him. Both are done frequently as you can see in the photo. The head is completely polished from all loving hands and there are some coins given as a gift.

 

 

We also did the free walking tour in Stockholm, and it is a great way to learn about the city and its history. The tour guide was friendly and stories she told us plus the views made this experience great.

The waterfront area Strandvägen is one that I loved the most, as I am always happy close to the water. We also find the Parliament House close by.

 

 

 

 

 

After admiring the beauty architecture from the old city, we decided to follow the Monteliusvägen, a walking path lined with charming houses in one side and stunning view over the city on the other side. We could enjoy a magnificent view of Lake Mälaren, City Hall, and Riddarholmen.

It was lovely.

Stockholm gave me the best gift, by joining three of my pleasures: enjoying the history area, walking through the waterfront promenade and a stunning view of the city from the top.

Vasa Museum

This was a surprise. The Vasa is one of the few museums that literally took our breath away.

The minute, We entered the museum and saw the incredibly preserved 17th century ship, we was amazed. The ship is really gorgeous and we are very grateful that I could see such a unique art treasure as it is VASA.

We heard and learned about these epic ships in school or from books but till this moment I didn’t realized just how gigantic these wooden vessels were in reality.

The Vasa remains in amazing condition, giving us a peek into the past. It is unbelievable that after 333 years (1628-1961) under water the ship has been restored, and now we can see more than 95 percent of the original ship.

It says that Vasa is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, We are happy to be one of that over one million visitors a year.

The museum offers a very informative exhibition about the life on board. If you want to find more, check out the VASA MUSEUM- MOST VISITED MUSEUM IN SCANDINAVIA.

Stockholm Subway Art

 Just … wow.

It’s amazing how artists turn ordinary places into magnificent jewel.

Traveling by subway I felt like I have step into an exciting story full symbolism. Metro in Stockholm is not just a transport between two places. From about 100 subway stations over 90 are decorated with art works, paintings, sculptures, engravings, mosaics and installations … It’s marvelous.

About 150 talented artists have transformed the city’s subway into a world of colour and visual stimulation, now called ‘world’s longest art exhibit’. It stretches for 110km.

Hopping from stations to station, some of them impressed me a lot. Let enjoy the photos.

 

 T-CentralenThis blue mural shows the silhouettes of workers, vines and flowers that gave me a feeling of calm and wander. The artwork of this station reflects the beginning of the subway and the continuity of this art treasure.

 

 

 

 

Kungsträdgården This station painted in such bright colours helps to plant a smile in the mind of people waiting for the next train. The using of green symbolise the nature and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solna Centrum metro station is painted bright red with a lot of green trees and various animals. The paintings from this station raise two big social questions like deforestation and rural depopulation.

 

 

 

 

 

Universitetet station displays a world full of science and knowledge. This station promotes democracy and human rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tekniska högskolan this station features themes of tech and the four elements: earth, water, air and fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

StadionThis station coloured in blue and with rainbows everywhere makes me happy. I liked a lot the big rainbow that stretches across the tunnel between platforms. It represents the Olympic Games rings.

 

 

 

 

There’s no better way to indulge our love for art than to visit the Stockholm Subway.

I think that the cave stations, which I enjoyed in Stockholm, are not found anywhere else in the world. This makes the Stockholm Metro unique and worth to visit.

If you ask me what I have done on my birthday.

This answer succinctly summarizes my birthday in Stockholm, where I ate plenty, sight saw endlessly and naturally fell in love with the capital of Sweden.

This city became a place in which I promised myself I will come back.

 

OUR TOP 3 EXPERIENCES FROM LUXEMBOURG

Well, that was a surprise!

My favorite new country of this year is most probably going to be LUXEMBOURG. I absolutely enjoyed the weekend I spent there!

Our trip in Luxembourg begins by strolling through the city in order to explore the places, history, culture and of course to interact with the people.

Luxemburg City has impressed us with its unique sights like Notre-Dame Cathedral, Grand Ducal Palace, Gëlle Fra Memorial, Adolphe Bridge, City Hall, Statue de la Grande Duchesse Charlotte, Chemin de la Corniche and its UNESCO world heritage site (Casements and Old City).

We started our adventure with a delicious lunch and aphrodisiac sweets at the Chocolate House by Nathalie Bonn. Here I have experienced the best chocolate spoon until now. The atmosphere was unique as we could admire the Grand Ducal palace while enjoying our amazing lunch.

As I am a view lover of the cities from the above, Chemin de la Corniche was a real highlight of my trip to Luxembourg which provided a brilliant view of the old part of the city. I was here twice, once during the day, to get clear views of the stunning architecture, and once at night, to see how the city is unveiled by the lights at night.

Experiencing this wonderful view, I can understand the reason why the Chemin de la Corniche is called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe”.

Beside the panoramic view from the balcony here is also located the symbol known as Birthplace of Luxemburg.

Mostly, all the architectural jewels and monuments of Luxemburg City got my attention.

Since my husband is a football fan, we couldn’t miss the chance to watch a football match of his favorite team, in a very nice sport-bar. The food was delicious and the atmosphere very friendly.

For something more dynamic we have experienced the nightlife in the city. The atmosphere was really joyful and safe. We had a great night out having fun in more bars and clubs around the Mousel brewery area in Clausen and nearby Grund.

If you plan to explore the city at night, you might take a nap of an hour at 5 pm in order to be fresh later.

Luxembourg City is a modern city with a lot of history. It is the city for all type of tourists, those who love theatres, architecture, museums and for those who want to experience the nightlife, delicious food and friendly spirit etc.

Vianden Castel

After a day of enjoying the beauty of Luxembourg City, the next day we decided to visit the historical Vianden Castel.

After about 30 minutes by car from Luxemburg City, at the last corner on our road trip, we had the “WOW” reaction, being really impressed by the castle’s architecture and authenticity. The strategic location gave us the chance to have a wonderful view of the castle and get fabulous photo shoots. It is magnificent.I had a nice feeling looking to the nature colored in the most beautiful autumn shades that surround the castle standing proudly on the hill above the Vianden town. This picturesque image brought me closer to the history of this architectural pearl of Luxemburg.

Oh, and the rain…

We couldn’t use the chairlift due to the meteo conditions but despite that, we had an excellent time in Vianden town, appreciating the colorful houses, nature, streets and breathing fresh air … all this bouquet gave us an unforgettable experience.

Vianden is a perfect place for a little break from a big city.

Vianden was just like in a fairy tale. No more words, just look at the photo that reflects better the wonder…

European Museum Schengen – half an hour to learn a bunch

Many of the people wouldn’t be aware of the existence of this historical place, at the borders of Luxembourg, France and Germany, considered as birthplace of Schengen countries.

The museum is small but full of interesting information about the concept of united Europe and the history leading to the Schengen Agreement from 1985.

The expositions are trilingual (German, English and French). Very interesting setup, multiple photos, artifacts, interactive information stations, all of this helps to bring the history closer to us.

In front of the museum, there is a beautiful pedestrian walkway. I had a great feeling seeing all the Schengen flags and metal plates on the ground with names of the countries on it.

As it was a sunny autumn day, we took advantage and had a relaxing picnic, followed by a discussion about how we can contribute to the improvement of the European Union. It was a great time with a view of the Moselle River.

This was an amazing day spent in the tiny town of Schengen that reflects a very nice image with the museum, Schengen flags, the monument of 3 steel pillars, picnic on the Moselle River and the information that we found about the significance of this place.

I still can’t get over how beautiful Luxembourg is. It is the first country that I have visited where so many cultures, mentalities and languages act in accordance and perfect balance.  I am grateful for having the opportunity to experience this harmonious diversity.