A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

Want a cup of tea?

United Kingdom

overcast

Packing was a drag, but I eventually got it done after having to keep it to a minimum of 20 kilograms and 5 kilograms in hand luggage. Everything was going well, had to check my luggage into Toronto International at about 10:20AM since my flight departed at 11:20AM on the first of July. It was a 12 hour flight, something I wasn't really looking forward to. Something I also wasn't looking forward to was leaving my family for a month or two. It really sucked, but this needed to be done, its something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

After a long and tiring but exciting flight I finally landed in Heathrow London at 11:20AM on the 2nd of July. My first order of business was definitely checking in the hotel, the Mariott Maida Vale in London. Was a long subway ride down there, but was definitely worth it in the end, the hotel was excellent and just fit for a single person like me. Sleeping on the plane was definitely a good idea since I was excited to see the rest of London in just one day.

The Big Ben

The Big Ben

Big Eye London

Big Eye London

I decided to go easy on my first day, I had 3 days to fill, I decided to go to the London Eye and The Big Ben, and I must say that it was amazing but not suprisingly packed. People were everywhere and it was definitely a hassle to try get a shot of the two sights without some random heads popping in the picture.

stonehenge

stonehenge

Day 2, I booked a tour down to Stonehenge. It was about 45 pounds, but I could totally worth it. It required a 2 hour bus drive down to the henge and it was really just amazing. They supplied a pre-recorded tour guide and just told me and other visitors what they think happened, and how it came about. Personally, I think that long ago, some people were just bored. But all in all, it was a real great experience to see that. After that, at about 15:00 we headed back to the meetup place for the tour, I was tired and sleepy. All I really wanted to do was go back to the hotel and sleep, and that's what I did. I went back to my room, and slept.

Day 3, I woke up pretty early since I slept at about 19:00 on day 2. And since today was my last and final day before heading to Paris to explore my next country. Since it was an early day, I decided to head to the British Museum, which I was just interested in the Egyptian and Chinese exhibits. After the British Museum I wanted to go to Madame Tussaud's, the famous British wax museum, it was about 25 Pounds for the entrance and totally worth it. All the wax figurines/sculptures all looked amazing and very realistic and according to the information it was the same measurements as the actual celebrity being sculptured. I spent a good 3 hours at Madame Tussaud's. It was about 15:00 when I decided that it was time for me to visit Oxford Street, the street with a lot of shops and malls. A woman's dream, even though I didn't purchase a lot, it was definitely a whirl winding experience, the shops there were incredibly huge and the crowd was just amazing, atmosphere felt like a real shopping experience.

Next thing you know, I had to pack up my stuff and leave for Paris the next day.

Posted by alexhalili 20:35 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Eiffel you Paris

France

paris

paris

All my stuff was packed and I was on the road again, not necessarily road, but on the railway. It was about 125$ for my trip and I was ready for my next travel adventure, and that meant having to go to France, Paris was my blatantly obvious destination. I was leaving London St. Pancras Railway Station at about 12:00 and heading to Paris Nord. It was about 3 hours until I finally arrived at Paris at about 15:00 and I decided to just take a rest and nap, next thing I knew it was 20:00 and I was hungry. I went out to get a classic croissant and devoured it, it tasted like the original thing. Next thing you know I was at a street vendor, bargaining a glass Eiffel Tower for 4 Euros. And after that, it was back home.

Eiffel tower

Eiffel tower

Day 2, apparently after the sun goes down the Eiffel Tower lights on so I postponed my trip to the eiffel tower so I can see and admire the lights. I decided to go to the art museum in paris because i have an appreciation for fine arts. i saw the monalisa, it was a lot smaller than i expected. it was the size of a normal piece of paper after touring and seeing the exhibits, I decided to look for what everybody buys when they visit frnace, perfume. it took a long time to find something that wasnt to sweet or had no fragnrance but i finally found it and bought it for 15 euros. it was already past sunset so i was headed on my way to the eiffel tower. i thought it would be a waste to climb it because it lokks just beautiful as it is when you're looking at it from the ground.

perfume

perfume

Day 3, since seen the Eiffel tower it was all I really wanted to do I made my way back to Paris Nord to catch a train to Netherlands.

Posted by alexhalili 20:29 Archived in France Comments (0)

I Rome'd Around Italy

Italy

Fontana Hotel

Fontana Hotel

For my trip to Europe is I also went to Rome, Italy. The average flight cost is only $86 from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to London International Airport. I took Easy Jet. Nonstop. I left France at 8:30pm and land at Italy at 10:25pm. The flight was approx. 2hrs. I stayed at Rome Italy for 1 week. I stayed at hotel fontana a 3 star hotel that includes beach access, Internet, parking, pets allowed, free breakfast. it has a multilingual staff, and tour assistance. A bar/lounge is on site where guests can unwind with a drink. This Rome hotel also offers room service (during limited hours), currency exchange, and a safe deposit box at the front desk. The property has a 24-hour front desk. The cost is $1302 for 1 week, even though I wasn't staying for a week. I was very impressed by this Hotel. The staff are very friendly and only to happy to help you if you need help finding somewhere to eat or have a drink.

my day 1 itinerary is I went Open Top Bus Hop On Hop Off Tour in Rome. Rome Open Tour is the best way to explore the city at your leisure by hopping on and off as you please and see Rome in your own time. Cost is $28.34. This was well worth doing. It helped me get my excitement as I'd never been to Rome before. It was also amazing as a form of transport during my stay. I would recommend it to anyone. It was good value for money.

Vatican

Vatican

my day 2 itinerary is when I went to Vatican City with an expert guide, I had visited the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica! After paying the entrance fee direct, head inside the world’s largest collection of private art, and i realized in my self why the Vatican is a mecca for millions of travelers. I saw Raphael’s Rooms and then visit the Sistine Chapel to see incredible frescoes by Michelangelo. I Finished with a tour of St Peter’s Basilica, and see the beautiful ‘La Pieta’ sculpture while learning about it from my tour guide.

Island of capri

Island of capri

my day 3 itinerary is I went to Island of capri. I enjoyed the Hop aboard a boat to the Blue Grotto that I went through and I enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the hilltop village of Anacapri. I Explored Capri’s main town at leisure, I saw the of top Naples attractions like Castel Nuovo as I returned to Rome.

Day 4 was a little more simple, all I had to do was pack up my stuff before 12:00pm and leave for the airport and wait for my next flight which was at 2:45pm. Next stop is the next region, Africa.

Posted by alexhalili 20:29 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

It's more fun in the Philippines

Philippines

The second country in Asia that I have been through is Philippines. I stayed there for 1 week. The average flight cost is $488. I took Emirates Airline. Nonstop. I left Dubai at 3:45am and land at Philippines at 4:35pm. The flight was approx. 9hrs. I stayed at Midas Hotel Philippines. Midas Hotel Philippines has a full-service spa, a health club, and an outdoor pool. Wireless and wired high-speed Internet access is available in public areas (surcharges apply). Business amenities at this 4.5-star property include a business center and small meeting rooms. The hotel offers 3 restaurants along with a coffee shop/café and a bar/lounge. The staff can arrange wedding services, event catering, and currency exchange. Additional amenities include a fitness facility, a steam room, and a sauna. Onsite parking is complimentary. I really enjoyed my stay and the staff couldn't do enough to be of service. There was so much choice of tasty food at the breakfast buffet and the location is just right. If you want to go to Philippines, this will be the hotel to stay. Cost is $107 per night.

Tagaytay

Tagaytay

First day sightseeing is I went to a tour of Panoramic Tagaytay. Visit the breath-taking Tagaytay. Enjoy its natural attraction, cool mountain climate and an opportunity to see the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano. On the way to Tagaytay, you will stop by the San Jose Church in Las Pinas to see the world famous Bamboo Organ built by Spanish priest Father Diego Cera in the 19th century. Made from about 800 bamboo pipes, the organ is said to produce a sound unlike any other. You will also have a chance to visit a local jeepney assembly plant for an inside look on how this popular mode of transportation unique to the Philippines is built.

chocolates hill, Bohol

chocolates hill, Bohol

Second day sightseeing is Bohol countryside tour. Visit historic landmarks, the famous Chocolate Hills. The chocolate hills consist of are no less than 1268 hills (some claim this to be the exact number). They are very uniform in shape and mostly between 30 and 50 meters high. They are covered with grass, which, at the end of the dry season, turns chocolate brown. From this color, the hills derive their name, and even get to see a Philippine Tarsier smallest monkey in the world. This tour brings you to the historic Blood Compact Shrine, a historical landmark commemorating the 1st Treaty of Friendship between the east and the west. Next, visit the centuries-old Baclayon Church built in 1595.

pagsanjan falls

pagsanjan falls

Last day sightseeing is I went to Majestic Pagsanjan Falls. "Shoot the Rapids" in dugout canoes and experience nature's wonder. Have an adventure at Pagsanjan Falls. Enjoy its natural attractions and go on a boat ride at the foot of the large falls. Be prepared to board a native banca (canoe) skillfully driven by two boatmen and maneuvered upstream through rocks and boulders amidst steep gorges and lush tropical vegetation. Your destination - the Majestic Pagsanjan Falls. Take a swim or board a bamboo raft through the falls into a cave behind the veil of water. This is an exhilarating, spine-tingling, adrenaline-pumping, two hour boat ride from the Bumbungan River to Pagsanjan Falls whose booming water cascades down from a cliff to the river 300 feet below.

Posted by alexhalili 20:18 Comments (1)

wanna see an Elephant?

zimbabwe

Before actually landing in Egypt, about a month before having to start this trip, knowing that Zimbabwe was a malaria infected area I had to see a doctor. The doctor prescribed me with some medicine, some pills, which cost about 100$ and I had to take them weekly to be certain that I wouldn't be infected with Malaria. And just to make sure, I bought mosquito repellent. Although I was landing in Zimbabwe, Harare was not my final stop, my final stop was Victoria Falls. The home of the famous, Victoria Falls. I had to take a flight, from Cairo to Harare which was 9 hours straight. Then having to catch a bus from Harare to Victoria Falls, which was about 55$ and I thought that was a pretty good deal. The bus takes an entire day to reach the Falls, but I guess its totally worth it.

Sleeping on a bus, wasn't a big issue, the issue was the length of the bus ride. I got enough rest, but not enough comfort. All in all, everything was great. The bus actually dropped me off at my hotel, Elephant Hills. Zimbabwe doesn't have a currency, they use American Dollars, which makes it easier to gage what the prices are and if they are ridiculously priced or not. I got to sleep as soon as possible, on a warm comfy bed, and before I got some shut eye, I put an extra coat of mosquito repellent.

victoria_falls.jpg

After waking up, I had to take a shuttle bus, which are generously provided for tourist to go to Victoria Falls. The bus, picks up many passengers before they actually arrive to the actual destination, but it's alright, its nice knowing that the Victoria Falls is a great attraction and not just some rip-off. The first destination I went to, was the falls itself. Nothing like Niagara Falls though, these falls had a pathway that was required to walk on, you couldn't walk anywhere else. It seemed a little strict at first, but after a while I realized why they did. The further you walk down the falls, the more it felt like it was raining. By the end of the walk, I was soaking, the fact that I hired a raincoat for 3$ was ridiculous, because either way, I still got wet. The falls took a good 3-4 hours, walking the pathway and carefully observing the landscapes and wild animals roaming around, I swore I saw at least 5 monkeys during my time there. I took another shuttle bus back to my hotel, and had to wait an hour for my next shuttle bus, the next shuttle bus was a bus to take us to the helicopter site. I paid to see the helicopter go over the Falls and actually rode over the falls for a good 30 minutes. Even though it was short, it was definitely a hair raising experience since the floor of the helicopter, was made of glass. After all that was done, I took a shuttle bus back to the hotel and that was my 2nd day in Zimbabwe.

elephant_riding.jpg

There are a lot of things to do by the Falls, as this is one of the main attractions that actually bring people to Zimbabwe. It was particularly interested in this activity. Elephant riding, It wasn't like normal things, it actually was pretty normal to be honest. Felt like riding a slow horse. But all in all, they walked us on an elephant for an hour, riding around a game reserve, it was pretty cool as to how many animals live together in harmony. How all the animals, despite their differences depend on each other to survive. That's what the guide says, during droughts, all the animals share food, and water. They aren't ruthless at all. But after that whole heart wrenching story of the animals, I eventually just went home to get ready for my next adventure. Down to Southern Africa, South Africa.

Posted by alexhalili 20:16 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (0)

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