CuddlyNest blog Balkan budget ski resorts

Best Dirt-Cheap Balkan Ski Resorts for Family Christmas Holidays You Can Ski below $20 a Day

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Balkan ski resorts In Southern Eastern Europe packs the best value per buck, if you ask us. While there are many opportunities for Christmas holidays spent together with family or friends, Balkans can offer you one of the most fun and unforgettable ways on skis. You can choose from resorts totalling in 883 kilometres of slopes, served by 521 ski lifts. That said, skiing opportunities in Southern East Europe Balkan countries are virtually endless.

While skiing is for everyone, skiing in Alps in France or Switzerland can get expensive. To have more fun while spending less, we suggest skiing in Europe in Slovakian Tatry, or go to Balkans instead.
Not only it is much more enjoyable stay away from tourist-crowded ski destinations; you will also save quite a bit of money by going to the budget Balkan ski resorts. Offering world-class skiing opportunities for just a fraction you would spend in the US, Western Europe or even Scandinavian glaciers, CuddlyNest made a list featuring the best Balkan ski resorts that are also family-friendly.

After all, Christmas is all about being together with your loved ones, isn’t it?

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Vitosha, Sofia – Bulgaria

Budget-friendly Resort for All, € 18

We already wrote about 15 good reasons to visit Balkans this holiday. But here comes another one. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, hosts one of the least expensive, but well-rated ski resorts in Balkans. With more than 20 km of ski slopes available and 15 lifts in disposal of skiers, there is plenty of space to practice, learn and simply enjoy skiing for all technique levels.

 

The winter sports area is situated between 1340 and 2290 m, and while most of slopes are for those aiming at blue trails (easy level), approximately 30% of ski slopes is for intermediate skiers. If you are sure about your ski and want to go for extreme adrenaline trails, there is not that much to see in Vitosha. Only 2 km of total ski slope area is surviving advanced skiers.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Sofia, Balkan Ski Resort Prices

As for pricing, you will save quite a bit when skiing in Sofia. Day ticket for adults cost approximately €18 (BGN 35), while youth and children day passes come at approximately €14 and €11, respectively.

Night Skiing in Sofia, Bulgaria

The resort is opened from 9 am to 4 pm, but you can also ski at night. Night skiing is operating from 6.30 pm until 10pm, daily, so you can enjoy starry sky while going back to top on the escalator chair.

The resort is one of the best established in the whole region. Although there are no recently opened slopes, the very first slope with the 2-person fixed-grip Dragalezvi-Saslona chairlift was opened back in 1956. After that, the resort undergone 2 large upgrades, with each adding 5 slopes. The current slopes is the result of 1984 upgrade. However, there have not been any Olympic games hosted in Vitosha, so while you get a great value for the buck, do not expect the world-class training slopes, especially if looking for moguls.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Skiing Babin Do – Bjelašnica – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Want to ski on Olympic Games slopes? The winter Bjelašnica Olympic Mountain Ski Centre facilities are located on the eastern slope of Bjelašnica. Close to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is plenty to do both in winter and summertime. While it is one of the most marvellous places to go for a hike in summer (or winter, if you are into ski shoeing), do not get carried away with hiking trails.

Olympic Ski Resort in Balkans

Indeed, Bjelašnica is one of the top ski resorts, having more than 12.5 of slopes available. Good for both skiing and snowboarding, the resort lies around 27 km away from the capital city of Bosnia, making it an attractive destination for those who want to spend some time in the city where the World War I started. The capital boasts beautiful architecture, and affordable restaurant scene – you may want to check it now, and book Sarajevo hotel in advance.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Balkan Skiing Red Trails

Contrasting with other Balkan ski resorts, there is more to do for intermediates than those who are beginners. Located between elevations 1,270 and 2,067m over the sea level, skiing near the capital is also one of the most affordable, considered great Bjelašnica summit slopes. With day pass costing adults €18 (BGN 35), and €13 (BGN 25) for children, you can enjoy the slopes where Winter Olympics of 1984 were hosted. It is an experience of a lifetime to ski the same slope where Bill Johnson (US) won the alpine skiing downhill, and twins Phil and Steve Mahre (US) slalom.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina – Babin Zub for Beginners – Serbia

Located in Southern and Eastern Serbia, Stara Planina offers one of the least costly options for beginners. The perks of choosing Stara Planina as your Balkan winter ski destination also include the fresh countryside air. The slopes practically end at the village Jabučko Ravnište, and you can go straight to your home after a long day on skis.

Serbia Ski Resorts

As for the offering, the Babin Zub is perfect for those families looking for a place to practice skiing safely. Out of 13 km of the resort’s slopes, more than half is for those trying to learn. When surpassed the blue slope skill level, you can either go for red or black slopes, both of which are equally abundant, compromising 3 km each.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina Ticket Prices

Day tickets for adults and children are little bit more expensive but considering 5 lifts for just 13 km of ski slopes, you can be sure you will not freeze at the line waiting to go to top. Gondolas will take you to the top, and you can be sure the chairlifts are up to the latest standards, being constructed just back in 2006. Daily ticket for adults cost €19 (RSD 2250) and €15 (RSD 1760) for children.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Sljeme (Medvednica) – Zagreb – Croatia

While Croatia beaches and historical sites are appealing to those families seeking sun and summer in the midst of winter, there is a lot to do in Croatia for those willing to take up skiing, too.

Best Croatia Small-Scale Ski Resort

Sljeme ski resort near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is small enough to feel cosy and always be sure about where your family members are. One of the best ski resorts for those with young children, Sljeme ski area is totalling in 4 km. Mostly serving those who go after blue and red tracks, the ski area is equipped with a 3-person chairlift to bring you 1030 m high into the mountainous area, and 2 J-bar lifts to bring you to the top of the slope again.

Croatia Ski Resort Near Zagreb

The day ticket is one of the least expensive, costing €13 (HRK 100) for adults and €7 (HRK 50) for children. Operating from 9 am to 4 pm, Medvednica is a good option for those looking for a wintertime activity close to Zagreb, Croatia. After visiting Zagreb SPAs, you can relax in tranquillity on skis!

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CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Phillipines Travel Ideas

The Philippines on Budget: Travel to Chocolate Hills Where Sterling Pound is Strong

Phillipines: 7,641 islands with sunshine, birds and Chocolate hills. What not to like?

What to See in Phillippines

Visit Magellan’s Cross

Magellan’ s Cross, originally believed to have miraculous healing powers, was planted in 1521 in Cebu. The original cross, however, chipped away.

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Chocolate Hills Travel Advice

Chocolate Hills are one of the main attractions for tourists visiting the Philippines. 

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Dive into Palengke

Palengke markets are Philippino speciality. From farms to crafts, you can find anything here.

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Visit a Butterfly Farm

Butterfly farms in the Philippines are a thing. Go and visit one in 

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Go Tarsier-watching

Tasier-watching can become one of the best experiences you will ever have. Tarsius syrichta species can only be found within forests, and going to one of the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao will make you come back for sure.

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Learn Diving

Diving in the Philippines is a must. Have you tried yet? The best places to go diving in the Philippines are Barracuda Lake in Coron Island and Puerto Galera in Mindoro.

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Try Halo-halo

The sweet dessert – ice cream you that is so common to the Asian world of ice creams, can be tasted on almost any corner shop of your choice. From ice shavings to condensed milk with small chunks of sweet boiled kidney beans, to coconut gel, and tapioca, the dessert is not only sweet and refreshing but also extremely budget-friendly. 

Phillipines Travel Ideas

Budget Travel Tips

Budget travel tips to visit the Philippines on a budget are a must if you wish to enjoy the Southern Asian destination not breaking the bank. The British pound here is strong, and travelling here for US citizens does not require a visa, so one can surely say that budget travel is definitely an option – as soon as you get here!

Pack your Hammock

Sleeping in a hammock in the Philippines is allowed, and as long as you can find a beach (of which there is plenty of), there will be no problem with getting your body rested for the night under the starry night sky.

Hitchhike to Beach

Hitchhiking to the beach and back! What could be better than not missing out on meeting locals while taking on hitchhiking?

Avoid Manila Island

Manila island is probably one of the most expensive places you can possibly go to in the Philippines. Avoid the crowds and go for less touristy and posh places.

Eat Lumpias and Shop Local

Eating lumpias is probably one of the best ways to explore the Filipino islands. Make sure you do not overdo it, though!

Phillipines Travel Ideas

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Cuddlynest Winter Destinations New Year 2020

Best New Year’s Eve 2020 Destinations

Christmas is a date with great importance for the whole family and the loved ones. Surely more than one has planned to spend an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in some world-famous destination to start the year in a different way. Well, that is our goal today, discover the best places to spend the first night of 2019 to remember your whole life.

Berlin

Take advantage of these dates to soak up culture, art, and good beer. If you are also one of those who likes to do some exercise to download such copious Christmas meals, do not miss the Silvesterlauf race, or the Pancake race (ok, it may not be the best example), a race where thousands of runners dress up and enjoy the taste of the pancakes while touring the picturesque streets of Berlin. At night the party moves to the Brandenburg Gate, from where you can enjoy the fireworks and the Berlin party.

To find the best accommodation, we recommend you click here.

Koh Phangan

The famous party island in Thailand (for sure you have heard about the Full Moon Party). Well, if your idea is to spend the last night of the year surrounded by madness in the company of your friends, this is your place. As soon as the sun sets the party starts at Sunrise Beach and it does not end until … until one wants to. You can even start the first dawn of the year with a good dip on the beach while watching the sunrise. It sounds good, right?

Do not think much more and start planning here.

New York

We could not miss the city of skyscrapers. Surely we are not very original when we recommend you to go to Times Square, but if you are in New York that night and do not pass by there you may regret it for life. Just like if you do not visit the most famous tree in the world at Rockefeller Center or you do not take your family to ice skating in that same place.

Without a doubt, 2019 is going to be an unforgettable year so it is best to start it here.

Sydney

Who says it’s cold at Christmas? Well, the Australians certainly do not. Christmas can be spent on a boat while you enjoy the fireworks and the famous Opera House as a backdrop. Another alternative is to pass it ashore at a table in the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Of course, there are thousands of places to spend this magical night. Luckily for you, we can offer you the best in each place, so that wherever you are, you always feel at home.

www.cuddlynest.com

 

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CuddlyNest blog Rome

When Ancient Romans Got it Wrong: What to See in Rome (Temple of Ridicule and More)

Rome CuddlyNest Travel Guide

What you see in City of Rome tourist guides is nowhere near what it should have been. Read about the anecdotal (and ridiculous) temple-large errors made by Ancient Romans.

From cats laying on every corner of the ancient lapis Tiburtinus, ruins to no-frill Pizza Ebraica in the Jewish Quarter in one of the 200-year-old bakeries, the ancient Romans (and their further generations) have left a lot to explore for those visiting Italy. Read this if visiting the Ancient City of Rome on Christmas or celebrating the New Year 2020.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Torre Argentina – Cat City in Rome

While Torre Argentina is just one of the many historical squares in the very centre of Rome dating back to the Republica times, the cat sanctuary is surely worth a visit. Just near the portico of Pompey where the famous betrayal of Julius Caesar happened in 44 BCE, volunteers take care of around 130 cats. The Torre Argentina square itself is built on remains of Pompei Theatre and is the ancient Campus Martinus. Named after Strasbourg, the square homes 4 temples. The assembly of temples was once encircled by a circus, Roman Baths of Agrippa, Circus Flaminius, and  Porticus Minucia Frumentaria, enclosing the ancient square.

You may come across cats in Rome almost anywhere you go, due to Italy’s no-kill cat law. The famous cat sanctuary, however, was upstarted by gattare, or cat ladies, who upon the excavation of the site, started to take care of the sick and wounded ones. Today, when visiting the Torre Argentina Temple D, you can watch cats sunbathing on ancient steps either from street level, or head down the steps to the underground office, where you can adopt or give a donation to the sanctuary.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Pasticceria il Boccione  – Get Pizza Ebraica

While watching cats taking sunbaths on the steps is probably one of the most relaxing activities you can enjoy whilst in Rome apart from laying in your Rome hotel bed, nothing can make it better than having an Italian pizza slice (almost as good as the Portuguese pastel de nata) in hand. 

Italian politics and past malefatte set aside, one can make be sure that the Jewish Quarter homes one of the city’ tastiest must-visit spots. Getting to the two-century-old family-owned Pasticceria il Boccione poses itself as a challenge, though. Although the unsigned corner shop is hard to spot, it is surely a good idea to get a no-frill burnished cake, tart or the famous Pizza Ebraica. Recipes brought down from generation to generation boast in the fresh ricotta cheese flavours, and cakes are full of fruit and sultanas.

While the origins of the Jewish Pizza is still a myth, arguments were put forward that Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century brought the dish to Rome from Sicily. While back then pizza had no other meaning than pie, today, one is sure to get a savoury and fresh tomato-flavoured dish,

Going back to Ancient City times, CuddlyNest further brings you to the very first days of the Empire.

Rome CuddlyNest Pinterest Pin - Best Roem Holiday Roman Holiday Archeological Sites to Visit

Ostia Antica – Wander through Millenia

Ostia Antica is probably one of the best examples of how Ancient Rome looked at the very beginning. Then undeveloped Ostia was probably the first Colonia of Rome. As the legend of by Ancus Marcius goes, the inscription of the old castrum with the oldest archaeological remains date back to 4th century BC. While you should definitely not miss taking a break and visiting Capitolium (temple for Roman Juno – the Greek equivalent of Hera -, as well as Jupiter and Minerva) staying idle is not the best strategy whilst visiting Ostia.

What one should be attentive towards, is the realization that archaeological sites as Ostia are bringing out many layers of history. From the very first archaeological remains to the largest and most considerable part of the buildings dating back to 3rd century AD, there is a lot to see in Ostica. Even now hardly spottable, the wall of opus quadratum is a good example of the considerate ancient building technique.

Rome CuddlyNest Travel Guide

Castel Sant’Angelo 

The round keep of Castel Sant’Angelo protected the castle for centuries – and it still does protect the Roman heritage.

Instantly recognizable, one can hardly mistake the building for any other – first built for emperor Hadrian, it was then converted into a fortress in the 6th century. Today, when visiting the castle, you would be amazed by both its dramatic history and the collection of paintings, military protectionist memorabilia and sculpture from collections of Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo.

As Rome was in times of perceived or real danger,  popes could escape to Vatican by Passetto di Borgo, a secret passageway built in the 13th century. If you ever took the European History class, then better know that it was here where Pope Clemente VI, famously holed up in the castle in 1527. 

Visiting Sala Paolina, and watching the frescoes depicting the life of Alexander the Great is a must, too. While not exactly ancient, hearing Vissi d’Arte from Puccini’s Tosca is a good place to start to relive the story of Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi on the terrace two storeys up, while sipping a caffè.

Temple of Ridicule – a Mystique or Evidence

Lastly, even Ancient Romans used to make mistakes. Ridiculous or confusing, Ancient Rome never had an Aedicula Ridiculi, although many thought it to be the case, drawing from the little evidence we have today. 

Almost three centuries ago, in 1698 book a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities,  French scholar wrote about the Little Temple of Ridicule, locating it along the Appian Way, at the second milestone outside the Porta Capena. While now known for the ridiculous mistake, the guide would not reveal the necessary information.

The temple’ s location also carries a significant meaning – it was thought to be on the spot where bad weather forced Carthaginian general Hannibal to give up on besieging the capital in 216 BC. Also, the second-century Hannibal grammarian adds to the story, confirming that Hannibal turned back at that spot, being alarmed at certain portentous visions. Romans, then, as told by Danet, “therefore built a little oratory under the name of the God of Joy and Laughter.” 

The temple, however, never existed. While the oratory with its significant Roman architecture still stands strong on the site, it is now commonly argued that it was a tomb of a woman who died nearly 400 years after Hannibal’s invasion. 

However, some references to the temple on the ancient texts were misleading. Pliny the Elder has mentioned the temple in his Natural History, while writing on birds. The story of a shoemaker who once buried his beloved pet raven, apparently, was far from the truth.
The Aedicula Ridiculi was still brought up in magazines centuries later, is a fun fact, as in Dolman’s Magazine “the ancient Romans went so far as to erect a ridiculi aedicula, or chapel of laughter.” 

 

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Rome CuddlyNest Travel Guide

CuddlyNest Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kyoto 2020

All You Need to Know about Japanese Tea Traditions Before Travelling to Kyoto

Japanese Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha are important parts of Japanese traditional culture to understand the extraordinary culture of Japan. After all, Japanese is claimed to be one of the most intelligent nations, thus signalling the benefits of green tea.

Japan Tea Houses 2020

Japanese Green Tea

While India is widely known for its long run tea-growing tradition, from Darjeeling to Dirlgiji tea, in Japan the presence of tea was first documented only in the 9th century. The tea tradition is process-focused, as brewing and serving of the tea are the two main variables.  

However, the tea itself carries an important role here as well. Green tea contains not only caffeine but also an amino acid L-theanine, which makes it available to cross the blood-brain barrier, thus leading to healthy long-term development.

The key to a wholesome Japanese green tea flavour lies in its brewing. While you should definitely visit the Ippodo tea store in downtown Kyoto, we also recommend bringing some tea back home as a souvenir to your family and friends.

Japan Tea Houses 2020

Celebrate with Tea: Breaking the Seal and Celebrating Light

Japanese tea ceremonies, just like songs and religious music, are varying from season to season. While some traditional ceremonies are held no matter the season, some are specific to the occasion, or time of the day. Kuchikiri-o-chaji 口切の茶事  tea ceremony, just as 暁の茶事 celebrates the new beginnings.

Kuchikiri-no-chaji

The first celebration is held in November. Green tea leaves are usually harvested in spring, and then safely stored in a cool place until late autumn. The tradition of breaking the jar on the first week of November, Ro is used to indicating the start of the winter. In November, when the new tea is plucked again, there is a breaking of the seal of the tea jar, in Japanese Kuchikiri.

To be a part of the celebration in November, head to the Kyoto chastise tea rooms to experience the Japanese tradition considered the most formal of all. For where to participate in tea ceremonies, head here.
With the new season, tea rooms also replace paper on their sliding doors and do all other repair work in order to celebrate the new season.

Winter Tea Ceremony Akatsuki-no-chaji

The latter, Akatsuki-no-chaji, or dawn tea ceremony, is held in early winter, to enjoy a light rising after a cold winter night. Albeit not commonly held in public tea rooms, the dawn tea ceremony has magic on its own.

Japan Tea Houses 2020

Enjoy the Tea Ceremony in Kyoto

Since the day Buddhist monk Eichū brought green tea to Japan, and served sencha (underground Japanese green tea) to the emperor, tea has been one of the central traditions to Japanese nobles. 

Today, you can participate in tea ceremonies in Japanese temples, like Jotokuji temple, or in tea rooms or Kyoto hotels.

Camellia Tea House

Camellia tea ceremony is held in English. Just in between the Ninen-zaka steps and the famous Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, the place s an oasis for peace and quiet, away from tourist crowds. Cuddlynest tips: order Uji matcha tea and wagashi for a sweet treat here.

Ran Hotel Kyoto

Ran Hotel in Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy the tea ceremony if you are looking for a tatami tea room. Taisho Period art decor will accompany the ceremony, but you can just simply sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Chion-in Temple Tea Ceremony 

Traditional tea, anyone? Hop into a metro and go to the geisha and entertainment district of Gion in Kyoto. In Chion-in Temple, you will be served tea by English speaking waitresses in kimonos. The simplicity and sheer natural taste of the green tea will make your Kyoto trip much more enjoyable.

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Japan Tea Houses 2020

train Bangkok to Chiang Mai

The Most Incredible Train Journeys to Take in South East Asia

Asia Travel Advice Trains to take

Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai scenery, or getting to Ella in Sri Lanka eating crispy dahl balls, train in South East Asia is a full-blown experience. What you see through a train window is incomparable to what you catch in the first and last 2 minutes of your flight or ferry, not talking about the sustainability of train travel. Here are the best train journeys you can take whilst in Asia.

When it comes to trains, there is little we can say to choose another transport mode. Trains are the most sustainable way to travel in a region, and you can get an authentic travel experience by travelling together with locals – after all, conversations only get interesting after a while.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand

One of the most popular routes in Thailand is a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Taking the night train is a special experience on its own in Asia, as sleeper trains and buses are one of the most popular for both locals and tourists. 

Both cities have some 680 kilometres (422 miles) away from each other, but travelling between the two isn’t as difficult as you may think. The sleeper train takes around 13 hours and is comfortable for both first-class as well as second-class sleepers. 

Our tip? The night train Bangkok to Chiang Mai will not allow for much scenery to see in the evening, so make sure you sleep early and wake up in the early morning to catch the sunrise as you arrive into the hilly countryside of Northern Thailand.

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai Tickets

If you are more into sleeping in a hotel in Bangkok and then taking a full-pledge scenic train ride for the day, then trains from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station run every day, also in the daytime. Third-class tickets are the cheapest, though the wooden benches can quickly become very uncomfortable and the carriages can be stuffy and crowded. Seats aren’t allocated either. But what else you would want from an authentic solo travel experience, when you see locals all around, can strike some simple gesture-conversation or take amazing travel portraits during 15 hours or scenic ride.

Second-class seats (that can recline) are the next cheapest option. Tickets typically cost around 500 THB (approximately 15 USD) in a carriage with fans; air-conditioned carriages are a little more expensive, but to make the best value for your buck, you may just take a sleeper train and skip the hotel booking in Bangkok.

If you book a bunk in a train Bangkok to Chiang Mai as sleeper carriage, second-class bunks (in a fan carriage) cost around 800–1,000 THB (approximately 25–30 USD), but you have to pay a little more to get an air-conditioned carriage. The lower bunks are slightly more expensive, but at the same time have more space. At the first-class rooms, however, sleep four and these are lockable.

If you are a solo female traveller or take a gap year trip to Thailand, then there are carriages available solely for females and their young children. For those looking for accessibility, there are very few and selected trains which are wheelchair accessible. 

To buy train Bangkok to Chiang Mai tickets, you can go to any of the major train stations, through agents, and online. To make sure you get to one point to another, and does not lose you hotel booking in Chiang Mai, you should book a trip at least a day in advance of travel by train Bangkok to Chiang Mai to ensure you get the tickets you want.

Asia Travel Advice Trains to take

Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

If you wish to experience the beautiful views of Sri Lankan Hill Country with all its tea plantations, you should definitely opt for a  train over a plane. Getting from Kandy to Ella, it will take around seven hours, but worry not about getting hungry on the train. There are many sellers offering fruit and snacks on the way.

Both cities have some 140 kilometres in between, and taking a train for around 7 to 8 hours is just enough to enjoy the scenic train ride without the hustle of booking a hotel in Sri Lanka.

The train was initially conceived by the British Colonial government in 1864 to transport tea and coffee. However, the mysterious fungus wiped out entire crops in Sri Lanka, so the coffee plantations were ruled out, and therefore, you only know Sri Lanka for its tea now.

For years, crates of tea were the primary passengers on this route, until people started to travel in the 1960s. Today, taking a train in Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest ways to travel around, and is vital for locals. 

Kandy to Ella Train Tickets

As for the types of tickets and where to book a ticket, you should rather opt for what’s your aim on the seven-hour train ride. If you want to talk and experience the rough train ride with locals with chickens in cages, cats and dogs, and children playing around, go for the 3rd class! But if you desperately need some comfort on the ride, here are the other options.

The first-class tickets are reserved, but you should book them in advance to guarantee a seat. You will get a conditioned room, but these rooms have no open doors or windows to hang out and see the magnificent views, other than getting out of the room, hang out the window and try to strike a pose with other tourists around.

As for the second class, you may want to opt for this arrangement. There are options for unreserved and reserved seats, and for the first option, you have to get a train ticket on the day of the ride. You are also, therefore, not guaranteed to get a seat, but you may probably get a seat along the way.

If you do get a train ticket with a reserved seat, however, then the number of seats are constrained, and you would pay double the price of the unreserved one. Because there are only a limited number of seats, during the holiday season you can book a train ticket in advance. 

The third class is quite an experience. You will see everything you can imagine all around, from cats to dogs, to vegetables and chickens, but beware the smell. 3rd class tickets from Colombo – Kandy cost 10 LKR. That is not even worth the conversion…

Kandy to Ella Train Tips and Buying Advice

Some tips before you take the train is to not to take an overnight train, as you will miss the scenery, and sit on the right side of the train from Kandy to Ella, and the opposite on the opposite direction, from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. Also, make sure to charge your camera and bring a toilet or sanitizer, and, although taste some of the snacks offered. from fruits to ‘wade wade,’ a deliciously crispy fried balls of dhal, watering it down with a sweet cup of warm chai. 

Are there any more train journeys you absolutely must consider when in South East Asia?

Make sure you get on the train from Hue to Da Nang in Vietnam, and Alishan Forest Railway in Taiwan, as well as Goa to Londa in India – and read about it on our next article.

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Asia Travel Advice Trains to take

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

7 Wonders of Barcelona: The Legendary Barcelona Spots

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

A journey through centuries on Barcelona’s legendary city streets.

While Catalonia travel destination is as hot in Europe as the Spanish sun, one cannot but agree that Catalonia, with Barcelona shining bright, holds a special vibe. 

We already wrote about the legendary places in Barcelona you must visit – the Bar Marsella, Biblioteca de Catalunya and The Carretera de Les Aigües are all must-visits. But what is the story behind the history of Sagrada Familia and Bunker del Carmel?

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

Sagrada Familia

While Sagrada Familia is not necessarily the oldest, it is surely one of the most famous and legendary spots where the world-famous architect Antonio Gaudi intervenes with the centuries-old Spanish art, still in progress after more than 135 years. 

The beginnings of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia date back to 1866, when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer, a founder of religious association, started to campaign for a temple to the Holy Family. In 1881, the association purchased land, and just a year later, the first cornerstone was laid, kicking off the construction with neo-Gothic design. The first project, however, was designed by  Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, and only after a while, the project was given to Antonio Gaudi.

So, what is so special about the temple? First, Gaudi dedicated his all final years for. Not only he worked exclusively for the Expiatory Temple day and night from 1914, he also lived very next to his workshop in his final months. 9 years later, he came up with the final design for the naves and roofs, and in 1925, the first bell tower was constructed – the only one Gaudo would see in his lifetime. You can still see it on Nativity facade. Dedicated to Siant Barnabas. After getting hit by a tram, he was buried right in the Sagrada Familia, in the chapel of Our Lady of Carmel.

But why the Temple is still a work under progress? Legendary architect’ s death is not the only reason. In fact, Sagrada Familia falls somewhere in between other major European churches – after all, Notre Dame in Paris took 182 years, the old Saint Paul’s in London took 200 years, Reims went through different stages spanning 264 years and Cologne took 600 years… that said, it is fairly decent progress with Sagrada Familia, taken into account the donations.
That leads to the factor of the grinding poverty in the country after WWII and well into the 60s, which seriously impacted donations, no matter how pious Franco’s regime claimed to be.

As for the original maquette destruction in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, when anarchists went on an anti-church rampage, it may surely add to the reasons why their work is still under construction. 

Bunker del Carmel

As for Bunker del Carmel, El Turó de la Rovira, or simply The Bunker, there is a history to the legendary place here as well.

When climbing the spot, the terracotta rooftops stretching out from right to left, BCN city is seemingly infinite, just to end with the coastline. From here, you can see the Sagrada Familia, the Palace of Montjuic and numerous surrounding mountains. 

Then what makes the legend?

The place has been occupied throughout centuries, but only recently by tourists. During the 30s Civil War, the Bunker was used to defend the city from aerial attacks, and thereafter was adapted for slam housing, which was only disbanded in the 1990s with the arrival of the Olympics. 

Today, you can see much less of the old-age stone walls than the recent concrete military build, but still, the place has one of the most magnificent views to the city.

Before you take off to the Bunker del Caramel by the Yellow Line 4 till Alfons X, make sure to pack a couple of bottles of cava or a few Estrellas and a bunch of snacks, but mind that there are no absolutely any facilities. No visitor centre, no shop, no toilet. And as a bonus – ad consequence – no crowds wit families as in Sagrada Familia.

Maze of Parc del Laberint d’Horta

The park is one of the most different from any other attraction you may face in Barcelona. 

Although a little tricky to get to, the park is one of the best non-touristic things to do in Barcelona. You can wander the greenery of the formerly private park. Since 1971 when the park was opened to the public, the park has been carefully restored and protected. With both neoclassical and romantic part of the garden, you can follow the history of garden architecture in Europe whilst visiting the park.

What clearly distinguishes the park from all others is the numerous sculptures with motives of Greek mythology and folklore, as well as fountains, springs, and pools. The pavilions of the intermediate terrace were chosen by poet Joan Maragall to represent classic plays, and in 1898 the tragedy Iphigenia in Tauris by Goethe, translated by Maragall and directed by Adrià Gual, was first played here.

The name of the park comes from the lower terrace with the hedge maze that gives the park its name, made up of 750 metres of trimmed cypress trees. At the entrance of the labyrinth, there is a marble bas-relief depicting Ariadne and Theseus. 

Having a capacity of 750 people at a time, you will not feel like in a crowded tourist place while here. 

The Cat of Raval

The legendary Cat of Raval will bring you luck, as you brush the chubby cat. And who doesn’t want good luck?

El Gato de Ravel isn’t the only artwork sculpture in Barcelona, and you can see Terminal 2 of Barcelona El Prat airport to see Botero’s oddly shaped horse.

Old Street Art of La Carbonería

The street has a special aura not only because of the artistic drawings on what previously was a coal factory.

During 2008 – 2014, the building was a significant part of the Barcelona Okupa Movement. Over the years, anti-capitalists have occupied many empty buildings to protest to their rights, but the squatters were eventually made to leave La Cabonería by the police in 2014.

While the building was once thought to be brought down to make space for new buildings, the city council protected it as a site of historic and artistic interest instead.

Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice

Hospital Torax de Terrassa

If there is any place you would like to explore only by day, it is Hospital Thorax. Set in the suburban Barcelona, it was once a hospital opened next to a pine forest in the 1950s and housed patients with respiratory diseases, at least officially.

The rumours are not as bright, though. During its operation, it had the highest suicide rate of any institution in Spain. The story goes, patients were driven mad by struggling to breathe and the isolation they felt near the forest. The garden is now nicknamed ‘The Jungle’, as it was a common combination to jump off the balcony into the garden. Want it to get greeny – darkish? Listen well and you may hear the sounds of screaming and loud thuds to that of primal jungle noises.

While “The Jungle” sounds more like a rumour than truth, what may very well be true are the inhumane experiments. Claimed true after a patient obtaining a foetus in a jar from the 5th floor of the Hospital de Torax, the place was eventually abandoned by 1997 and has received a lot of attention from ghost hunters ever since.

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Barcelona legendary places to visitt CuddlyNest blog travel advice