Prague Walking Guide

Walking Guide 1: Prague Old Town

Start at Old Town Square. You will see there, the Astronomical Clock. You will be in front of the clock at the hour for the “show” that was by the way nominated one of the most deceiving attractions in the world. You can also see the Church of Our Lady before Týn, Nicholas’ Church, Kinský Palace and Statue of Jan Hus.

Head towards Wenceslas Square and pass by the upside-down statue of King Wenceslas on his horse by David Cerny. The Statue is definitely one of the weirdest things you will see in Prague.

Then go to the Old Jewish Quarter to see the Old New Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.

Walk back towards the Vltava River,  passing by the Rudolfinum, where performs the Czech Philharmonic. Take a pic inside The National Library; It has an infinite book tower at the entrance.

Finish the walk of the old town by going to up the Powder Tower by Charles Bridge to have a breathtaking view of the old town and the Prague castle

P.S: Have dinner at one of the restaurants in old town square. Try one of the typical Czech foods like Goulash. The beef goulash was my favorite. Have coffee and dessert at Kafka Café right behind St Nicholas Church.

Prague old town walking guide
Prague Old Town Walking Guide

Walking Guide 2:  Prague Castle and Lesser Town

Walk thought Kampa Island. You will discover interesting sculptures by David Cerny in the park. The Cruise of the Vltava starts there, take the relaxing hour tour and enjoy the ride. When back, right before getting to  Charles’ Bridge, check out the John Lennon Wall. Have your sharpie ready, to be able to write down something and leave a mark on that wall.

You can then go under the bridge to get to Kafka Museum. You will again see one of David Cerny’s sculptures.

P.S: Right next to it, don’t miss the narrowest street in the world. It has a crossing light!

From there, you can walk to the castle. There are some stairs that will take you right to the entrance of the castle. It’s a 10 min walk/climbing stairs. Visit the Prague Castle area at your leisure and finish with a walk through the Castle Garden.

P.S: At the entrance, the ceremonial rotation of soldiers starts every day at noon and rotation at the observation posts occurs every hour, on the hour. 

The  Castle Garden offers a panoramic view of Prague all along the way. It ends on a small street. Walk down the stairs; the road leading to the Lesser Town has small shops and galleries tucked into every narrow nook. 

P.S: Finish your day or start your night at one of the restaurants by the river. The view is just gorgeous. I went to Hergetova Cihelna, the view is priceless.

Prague lesser town walking guide
Prague Lesser Town Walking Guide

For the full articles about Prague and more pic check out   https://leilaspassport.com/2015/10/15/prague-2/

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Napa Valley

How to spend a day in Napa… The first rule, don’t be too ambitious; wine tasting is about taking your time and enjoy. Don’t try to hit as many wineries as possible.

I picked two wineries for my day trip: Sterling Vineyard because it offers s great view of the vineyards and Castello di Amorosa for its castle.

Napa wineries are situated in different regions; you have Calistoga, St Helen, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville. I started my day ay Sterling Vineyard, in St Helen. You have to take a Cable car to get to the winery hence the amazing view of the vineyards that you will have one up there. The tour of the Domaine will walk you through different tasting tables as well as a quick look at their cave. They offer a great wine and lunch pairing that I recommend taking advantage of.

From there, get back to the main road and go toward Castello Di Amoroso. You will found a castle in the middle of the vineyards. You can tour the castle and enjoy wine in the cave tunnels of the castle.

On the way back to the Bay area, you can stop at a final winery. I stopped at Domaine Carneros. It was nice to sit down outside in front of the vineyards and enjoy some wines. Their wines were amazing

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Austin

Austin is an amazing city to visit during events such as SXSW  Music Festival in March, the F1 Grand Prix in October or at any other time.

Austin is not like other Texas City. You do get that Southern Texas feeling, especially when you go to the bars, but just enough of it. The people are very welcoming to a big city and most of the population is young and outgoing.

Here is how you can spend a weekend in Austin

I stayed at an Airbnb on East Austin on S Congress  Ave. The street has Antique stores on one side like the Uncommon Objects that is one of the best antique stores, and Food Trucks on the other. On a Parallel street, East Cesar Chavez St., you have the 3 famous food trucks, Le Barbecue THE place for famous Texan barbecue meat. Make sure you get there before they open as the line can get long or the meat can sold out . Next, to it, you have the perfect donut dessert place Gourdough’s. I just wanted to try all of them from the Fat Elvis to the Funky Monkey.  A little bit further they have the Taco Truck Torchy’s Tacos, great place for a late night craving stop.

From East Austin, you walk 5 minutes and you cross the bridge that will take you to Downtown Austin. Visit the State Capitol. The building is mighty and so is inside. Take a tour, visit the different chambers and see the pictures of all of the governors hang on the walls over 4 levels. Next to it, you have the University of Texas at Austin.

At night, go to the famous 6th St. It is full of bars. Pick any Piano Bar and enjoy the beer and the ambiance.  In Austin, in every bar, you have a great band signing, all you need to do is to grab a drink and enjoy the music. This is how locals like to spend their outing nights.

You have to take a cab or the bus to go towards Barton Hills and get to Barton Spring Pool which is a natural pool where you can go skinny dipping ( or not). From there continue your route to the Zilker Botanical Garden and enjoy the many gardens it has to offer; Cactus Garden, Japanese Garden and the amazing Butterfly Garden.

From East Austin, you also need to take a cab to go to the French Place which is also the Art District. During the day all the galleries are open and offer unique pieces. At Night, the bars and French restaurants like Justine’s Brasserie live up the neighborhood.

If you are a F1 fan like me you have to go to The Circuit of the Americas outside of town. That Circuit is breathtaking. If you are lucky to be there during a F1 Grand Prix or another Car Race, the Cars noise is very impressive.

 

Amsterdam Windmills Tour by Viator

The half a day tour including the Zaanse Schans WindmillsMarken Clog Maker and taking the boat to Volendam Cheese Factory. Make sure you are on time because they leave EXACTLY on time.

The bus drive from Amsterdam to the Zaanse Schans Windmills is around one hour. At Zaanse Schans, we visited one of the oil windmills and were able to go on top of the Windmill. After, we had some free time to walk around the windmill field and take a bunch of pictures. Then, we headed to Marken where we saw a Clog Maker making a Clog right in front of us. Such an interesting process; how from a piece of wood one can make a shoe. You will have the opportunity to buy clogs from them. From there we walked through the village to get to the boat and sailed to Volendam. In Volendam, we visited a Cheese Factory, learned about the Cheese tradition and were able to buy Cheese from them. The cheese was amazing. I wish I bought more. Before heading back to Amsterdam, we spent some times in Volendam Village enjoying the village and some beer.

It feels nice to spend some time away for the busy Amsterdam and see the countryside.

Without the tour and unless you have a car, it is impossible to go to those 3 places so it is definitely a worthy tour to take while in Amsterdam. It is only half a day so once finished you still have time to visit a few places in the city. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and you have enough free time to wander around, shop and discover these 3 unique places.

Duration: Half Day

Price: $56

Website: Viator 

Rating:   5-star-rating

 

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Ultimate Guide to Cartagena

I stayed in Boca Grande, the Miami Beach of Cartagena. The other good place to stay is inside the walled city, in the old town.

 

Day 1: The walled city and the fortress

Enter the walled city. The clock tower, Puerta Del Reloj, is the symbol of the city. When walking around, you will see colorful Fruit Ladies. Tip them and you will be able to take pictures. The old town has the most famous ice cream shops. If it’s a hot day, you will need to go to Gelato Paradiso for a threat. For lunch or happy hour stop at Plaza Santo Domingo to enjoy a drink, traditional food and at happy hour time, the Colombian dancers gather and you can admire the Maple Dance, the traditional dance by the slaves.

After the visit of the old town, head first to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, the old fortress and then to La Popa, a cathedral on top of the city. You will need to get a cab to go to those 2 places.

At night, have dinner at the sophisticated restaurant La Vitrola. It is a dressy spot for both locals and tourists. Then walk to Café del Mar at the entrance of the walled city. The huge outdoor lounge offers the best view possible of the sunset. Grab a Club Colombia Beer and enjoy the best DJ. That lounge is my favorite lounge is the world.

 

Day 2: The Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca

You will need to book a tour to get to that beach. Every morning the boats leave for Playa Blanca from the main port. Note that you will have to pay for a port tax. It is a 45min ride and you will found yourself in paradise. The Water is clear and the sand white.  The Seafood lunch is part of the tour and it is so good. The downside is the beach is full of locals that are trying to sell you items. Be patient and politely say no.

If you want a private beach, you will have to go to a resort.

At night, you can party on a Chiva Party Bus. Book the party bus at your hotel or online. The Chiva Bus is a typical Colombian Party Bus. They pick you up at the hotel; there are music and local alcohol on the bus. Everybody is dancing and singing. After partying in the bus, all the Chiva buses stop at the walled city before dropping everybody off at a club in Getsemani. They come back around midnight to pick you up.

 

Day 3:

  • You can go to the beach in Cartagena.
  • You can go to Santa Marta Beach by boat or taxi but it is 4h away! You might want to stay the night there to fully enjoy the beach and relax
  • You can so go to the Lost City – El Pueblito, the archeological remains of a lost city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in The Tayrona´s National park. Again, it will be better to stay in the area for the night to fully enjoy the experience.
  • You can go to the Mud Volcano and enjoy healing powers of the mud baths

 

 

Ultimate Guide to Medellin

I stayed at the Diez Hotel in Zona Rosa which is the best neighborhood for cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Day 1: Day trip to Guatape

It is 2 hours away from the city. I took a private tour. It is very affordable and Andres Munera was an amazing tour guide. I will recommend everybody to take the tour with him.

We took the scenic route to Guatape and did the first stop at the Tequendamita Fall. If you didn’t get a chance to go see the Tequendama Fall in Bogota, this is the perfect occasion to see the small replica and no bad smell here.  Then, we headed to El penol, the rock of Guatape. We stopped a few times to take pictures of the rock from far. Impressive. All Along, Andres was telling the story of Medellin, Guatape, and el Penol. When you arrive at the rock, you can see all the stairs you need to take to get to the top. 740 of them! Take your time, you can do it. The view from up there is just out of this world. Just relax and admire the view. Peaceful.  After the effort, we headed to Guatape village for lunch. After lunch, Andres gave us a tour of the waterfront and Remembrance Street. I felt in love with that very colorful village.

 

Day 2 and 3: Medellin city

 I took the hop on hop off, turibus. It is the perfect way to visit the city.

The bus stops are:

Plaza Botero is the Home to 23 of Fernando Botero’s larger-than-life sculptures. That Plaza is worth an extended stop to admire all the amazing “large” people sculptures. Parque Berrio is across the street from Plaza Botero, this small park is always filled with juice vendors and local street performers playing traditional Colombian music.

Jardin Botanico is the big Botanic Garden of Medellin.

Pueblito Paisa is small traditional village recreated atop Cerro Nutibarra, a small hill in the center of the valley. The hill offers terrific, near 360-degree views of the city. It also has a church and souvenir shops.

El Castillo Museo y Jardines was Inspired by the castles of the French Loire Valley, El Castillo was constructed in 1930.

Parque Arvi: take the famous Medellin Metro cable to get to that Park, one of the region’s largest nature reserves.

Parque de los pies descalzos : this park in the middle of the city offers relaxing activities that can be done barefoot, hence the name of the park.

 

At night stay in Zona Rosa. The Park is surrounded by restaurants. Pick any, they are all good

For the dance and drink part, head to Mojito Bar, one street away from the park. The little bar runs on mojito and they have salsa classes some nights. Don’t be shy and dance.

My Blog Collabs

Here is the link of all my Collaborations with other amazing travel bloggers, different events and Travel Tours

 

Press Collaboration with COLCOA French Film Festival in 2016

 

 

 

 

Lake Tahoe

If you love to ski, the best time to go to Lake Tahoe is obviously during ski season and this year there is a lot of snow. If not, go there during the summer time to enjoy the town and the lake activities.

The best part of Lake Tahoe is North Lake Tahoe. You can rent a cabin or stay at a resort like the amazing The Resort at Squaw Creek.  That resort has all the needed amenities and more like an outdoor heated pool and a skating ring.

Spend your day the Squaw Valley Ski, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It will be a very enjoyable ski day.  The ski town by the slopes is very nice to have lunch or just a hot chocolate.

Of course, don’t forget to go to the Lake Tahoe. During summer time, you can go boat riding on the Lake. During winter time, take the road along the Lake to go up the mountain and have a breathtaking view of the Lake.

Weekend Gateway, Houston 

Day 1 :

Start the day at the Rice University. The campus is beautiful, you can have a walk around and have coffee at one of the coffee shops there. Take a look at the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyscraper in the middle of the campus. The art structure lightens up at sunset and sunrise.

By the university, take Sunset Boulevard. It is one of the famous streets of Houston. The route is covered with those gorgeous old oak trees.

Head to the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park by the Galleria Mall. The huge waterwall looks like a waterfall. There is a Mexican restaurant by there called El Tiempo Cantina. The best fajita I ever had, so sizzling.

At sunset, go to Jackson Hill Bridge. You will see the crowd waiting for the bats to come out. Under that bridge in the Bayou area, the bats come out at sunset time.

At night go to the Midtown neighborhood. It’s is the young neighborhood with bars and restaurants.

Day 2 :

Start your morning with a walk in Hermann Park. It is a beautiful park in the university area, it has a concert area, a lake with a cafe where you can have breakfast and the zoo is at the end of it. The park is crowded with runners and everybody is just walking around or relaxing on the grass. A part of the park is constructed like the Great Mall of DC.

For the test of the day, you can go to Kemah Boardwalk. It is about 35 miles from Houston. It’s a Pier area by the Houston bay. They have a lot of fun attractions for the kids and they also have restaurants. Enjoy the bay before sunset and have dinner at the best seafood restaurant, Landry’s.

Houston Hermann Park
Hermann Park

 

Houston Hermann Park
Hermann Park

 

Houston Hermann Park
Hermann Park

 

Houston Bat Show by the Jackson Hill Bridge
Bat Show by the Jackson Hill Bridge

 

Houston Seafood Restaurant Landry's at Kemah Boardwalk
Seafood Restaurant Landry’s at Kemah Boardwalk

 

Houston Kemah Boradwalk
Kemah Boardwalk

 

Houston James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skycraper
James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyscraper

 

Houston Oak trees on Sunset Blvd
Oak trees on Sunset Blvd

 

Houston Waterwall
Waterwall