24 hours in Athens

September 2016

Once you step in the land of Zeus, the state of being free from tension settles in.

A ticket to the city centre, please

From the airport, cross the street and take the metro to the city centre. The metro runs every half an hour and the ride is around 40-50 min. Find out more, here

First stop, the ancient citadel – Acropolis ( UNESCO symbol of World Heritage), Agora, Pantheon, Temple of Hephaistos. To get here, stop at Monastiraki Station (16 stops from the airport). The entrance fee to Acropolis is € 20 . A bit too pricey for Acropolis only. Have good shoes with you because the stairs, rocks are very slippery.

In the Monastiraki area you’ll find lots of restaurants. Choose one and enjoy the Greek hospitality, which is one of the best. I’m starting to drool already. Also in this area there is the flea market and if you’d care for some drinks and a view over the city checkout the A for Athens or 360 degrees rooftop bars. These bars are crowded and you’ll have to wait a while for a table, but it’s worth it.

Next, Syntagma station, to see the Greek Parliament. the presidential guards, National Gardens and if you walk 10 minutes or less you’ll get to Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. 

For the architecture lovers, there’s a sculpture you cannot miss while in Athens. It’s called Dromeus, the runner, it is made entirely out of glass by Costas Varotsos in 1994.  To see it stop at Evanghelismos Station and walk about 5 minutes. It’s located next to Hilton Hotel.

That’s it 😀 24 hours 😉  If you want to explore the city with a local, try this scheme (you must register 72 h in advance).

@travelonrepeat. Checkout my captions of Athens here

‘kaabo’ Welcome to Lagos

The 2nd most populous city in Africa and the 7th fastest growing metropolis in the world.

Not a must visit country, but if it happens to get there here’s what you need to know 🙂

In Nigeria, you have the rainy and the dry season. The rainy season (May to August), but it’s common for rain showers to linger on till November.   I’ve been to Lagos at the end of July and I had sunny and rainy days. The dry season usually starts in November and ends in April.

Getting around

If you want to see the city, the best way is to hire one of many state-registered and privately run taxis, from which you will be shown the sights.

Money

The local currency is Naira (NGN). I recommend you pay with your credit card. You can also find ATM’s at the hotel.

If you go out please avoid exposing valuables, avoid isolated and badly lit areas at night and if you need a service always ask the reception at the hotel.

What to see

The Lekki Conservation Centre – is a nature reserve, 2 km nature boardwalk, suspended on metal frames. Highlights of the trail include the tree house built on a stout dawadawa tree. A sturdy wooden ladder is mounted on the side of a tree and you can enjoy a view over the city. Best time to visit is early mornings.

The Lagos Carnival& Lagos Water Regatta – hold during Easter (late March or early April) http://www1.lagoscarnival.com/?kw=festivals

Eleko Beach – public beach, east of the city is popular for is clean stretch of sandy beach. There are numerous bars and restaurants serving locally caught fare, and a barbeque can be arranged at the beach huts, which can be rented on a daily basis together with deck chairs and stools.

Again, keep belongings with you , buy or bring bottled water, pay close attention to swimming safety.

What to eat

Breakfast foods include akara, a bean fritter, deep fried in palm oil. In between meals, Lagosians are known to snack on roasted plantain fondly called boli, and eaten with a side of roasted groundnuts. When in season, corn is roasted or boiled and is a popular stomach filler. Other foods include the highly seasoned of barbecued fish called suya.

For souvenirs, go to Quintessence – a tasteful art gallery and gift shop with a wide range of authentic arts, crafts, textiles, etc. ( open from Monday – Saturday 9am – 6pm)

or

Lekki Craft market – open air African market

TIPS:

Watch out for mosquitoes, because they carry malaria ( use sprays with a high DEET);

Always take care of your valuables and keep them safe inside the seif at the hotel. Keep your trolley bags locked, don’t take anything from strangers. If you go out carry a copy of your passport.

Don’t go crazy with the food as you can get food poisoning. Be aware of what you eat and drink.

Don’t go all adventurous around the city. It’s not safe.

If you are not allowed to go out, staying at the hotel only, should not be boring. I stayed at Sheraton Hotel in Lagos and I had nice conversations with the staff. They were all friendly and easy going people. Also during the weekends you have live band by the bar, food and drinks are served until late. Just be yourself and enjoy. Remember, nobody knows you there, dance like you just don’t care. That’s what I did and I have great memories 😀

P.S. There’s a shop, ATM, Italian restaurant, pool, tennis court at the hotel. I recommend the tennis court. Enjoy your stay 😀

Photos: #travelonrepeat DSC_0001

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I love Moscow

I admit that Russia was not really my cup of tea, but after spending a few days in Moscow the misconceptions and the stereotype barrier faded away.

I had a wonderful time in Moscow ❤ and I hope you find this post very useful 😉

First thing to keep in mind: VISA   Once you land, you don’t need to fill in a landing card. They will check your visa and give you a card with a stamp on it. Don’t lose this card and keep it safe with your passport during your stay in Russia. You will need it when you leave the country.

Transport from/to the airport

All the international airports in Moscow have a fast train connection to the capital city centre ( 35-45 minutes) and each rail terminal is connected via metro circle line.

Aeroexpress train is the fastest way to get to the city centre. We bought our tickets online, but you can also buy them from the vending machines. Unfortunately, it’s closed between 00:30 and 5:00, so if you arrive during these hours I recommend to pre-book a transfer. Otherwise, a taxi from the airport to city centre it shouldn’t be more than 1,800 – 2,000 RUB, but the drivers will try to rip you off and charge you double.

Transportation around the city

The public transportation in Moscow is the best and the most efficient in the world. Always on time and in service. Around the city the fastest way is the metro. You only wait 2-3 min between trains plus the architecture of the stations is astonishing.  Every station name is written in the Russian alphabet. It’s best to have with you a map that has both Russian and common alphabet letters. Also, the colours of each metro line are helpful. Almost nobody speaks English, so you’re on your own 😀  Click here for more information about metro tickets. We found the 3 day pass the most convenient.

Money

You can find ATM’s at most metro stations, banks, large hotels, but it’s best to have rubles before heading to Russia.

Drinks

Vodka is cheap and there are literally hundreds of brands to choose from. Take note you cannot buy alcohol in shops that is above 0.5 % between 22:00 and 11:00. Also, avoid attracting unwanted attention by not speaking loudly in your mother tongue, or walking the streets if you have been drinking.

Where to stay

Most hotels in Moscow, have an impressive architecture and surprisingly the prices are very reasonable. We stayed at Petroff Palace. This hotel is close to public transportation, the staff is very helpful and the architecture is exquisite. It certainly looks like a palace.

What to visit

Bolshoi Theatre – the prices for performances are varied. You can find tickets starting at £ 50 pp, if you buy them online, in advance. Also, you can find good prices 1-2 days ahead of the performance, but only if you’re lucky and the tickets are not sold-out. If you miss it though, you can visit the theatre on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. There are tours in Russian and English ( 1 hour long), but they are limited to a max. of 20 people, so make sure you arrive there earlier. You’ll have to stay in line, because the tickets are selling right before the tour starts. The English tour starts at 12:15 and the tickets are 1300 RUB pp ( approx. £ 15 ).

Red Square – St. Basil Cathedral ( if you go there on a Sunday, you can see the interior for free), Lenin’s Mausoleum, GUM ( it’s like a Russian Harrods, the shops inside are pretty expensive. The architecture is beautiful and the building is more than 100 years old), State Historical Museum (the big red building from the square).

For these attractions, stop at Teatralnaya – Театра́льная or Okhotny Ryad- Охотный ряд  or Ploshchad Revolyutsii- Пло́щадь Револю́ции Metro station and you can easily walk around them.

Kremlin – stop at Biblioteka Imeni Lenina ( here, you can also walk 5′ to see the public library for free). For Kremlin, we bought our tickets online. We visited the Armoury chamber. After seeing Kremlin I had only feelings of admiration for Russia 🙂 Too bad, you cannot take pictures inside the rooms.

Pushkin Museum – stop at Kropotkinskaya. Visit this museum only if you have extra time to spend, because most of the artworks inside are replicas of famous sculptures, paintings…

Novodevichy Convent – stop at Sportivnaya – Спорти́вная. UNESCO heritage, resting place of Chekchov. The ticket costs 600 Rub.

Stop at VDNKH – ВДНХ metro station for Space Museum, 250 Rub pp entrance fee and Ostakino Tower – the TV tower. The ticket for visiting the observation deck is a bit pricey; 980 Rub

Stop at Partizanskaya – Партизанская metro station to visit Izmailovsky Market. Buy your souvenirs here 😉

Note:  Most museums are closed on Mondays.

Just for fun…

Fire a Kalashnikov in Russia – Shooting Range ” Labyrinth”   I fired a gun here for the first time and it was exhilarating 😀 I totally recommend this. Make your reservation online and they will call you for confirmation, give you the exact directions of how to get there and a password that you’ll need it for access.

Bunker42 – the cold war fortress, situated 65 m underground and completely equipped with everything in case of a nuclear attack. This attractions costs 2200 Rub pp. It’s too pricey indeed, but it’s a unique experience. Stop at Taganskaya – Тага́нская.

Parks

Gorki Park – the central park of Moscow. Stop at Oktyabrskaya – Октя́брьская or Park Kultury- Парк Культу́ры

Zaryadye Park – close to Red Square.

Alexander Garden – Kremlin

Note: It’s cold for a walk in the park in a Russian winter so…it will be best to see them during spring/summer.

Other things to see…

Gogol’s House , Moscow State University, Arbat Street, Moscow Business Center (Mercury Tower)

My top beautiful Metro Stations 

  • Sokol Со́кол
  • Aeroport Аэропо́рт
  • Beloruskaya Белору́сская
  • Mayakovskaya Маяковская
  • Teatralnaya Театра́льная
  • Komsomolskaya Комсомо́льская
  • Biblioteka Imeni Lenina  Библиоте́ка и́мени Ле́нина
  • Troparyovo Тропарёво
  • Rumyantsevo  Румянцево
  • Kievskaya Ки́евская
  • Arbatskaya Арба́тская
  • Elektrozavodskaya Электрозаводская
  • Novoslobodskaya Новослобо́дская
  • Aviamotornaya Авиамото́рная
  • Dostoyeevskaya Достоевская
  • Prospekt Mira Проспе́кт Ми́ра

Note: The metro runs from 5:30 until 01:00.

I hope you will enjoy Moscow as much as me and Stefan did

SEE MY PHOTOS :   Moscow, Russia

How to obtain a Russian Visa in the UK

 

 

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How to obtain a Russian Visa in the UK

Me and my partner applied for a Tourist Russian Visa in February 2016. We are permanent residents of UK and we applied in person at the Russian VISA Application Centre in London ( this centre is a partner of the Russian Embassy in UK that accepts and processes the visas).

First thing to do is to check if indeed you need a VISA for Russia. Here you can see a full list of countries that can travel to Russia under a visa-free regime.

STEP 1 for those who require a VISA

Go online here and click on know your visa type in order to understand under which type of Visa you need to apply.

Tourist Visa: before filling in the Online application take a look  the documents you’ll need by selecting your nationality.

For Romanians:

  1. valid passport with 2 blank pages  ( ro: pasaport valid, cu 2 pagini libere pentru viza)
  2. Proof of residence in the UK for the last 90 days ( dovada de resedinta in UK; poate fi un extras de cont, o scrisoare de la angajator care sa dovedeasca faptul ca munciti in Marea Britanie, o factura de la utilitati (factura de la telefon nu poate fi folosita). ATENTIE: Pe aceste documente trebuie sa fie mentionat numele si adresa dvs.
  3. Visa application form printed from the website only – formularul de Visa printat; asigurati-va ca ati scris corect data de sedere in Rusia, sa fie aceeasi ca pe documentele justificative)
  4. Recent passport size-photo  ( o fotografie recenta de tip pasaport, pe care trebuie sa o lipiti pe formularul printat)
  5. A ‘tourist voucher’ and a tourist confirmation’ document signed and stamped by the authorized person – aceste doua documente pot fi obtinute de la hotel sau de la o agentie de calatorii. ATENTIE: data, numele si stampila de pe documente trebuie sa fie lizibile. Ex: agentie
  6. Travel insurance – asigurare, pe care o puteti lua de la o agentie. Va pot recomanda Columbus Direct. Costa in jur de 8-10 lire asigurarea standard pentru doua persoane.

STEP 2

Fill in Online Application Form  and submit it- make sure you write all the information correctly. However you can edit the application, but make sure you keep the application ID that will be given to you, safe. Upon editing you’ll have to enter the first 5 letters of your surname in CAPITAL letters. After you’re done, print the application, sign and attach the photo using glue. ( Completati formularul de viza cu datele dvs. corecte. Daca ati gresit ceva, nu va faceti griji, puteti edita aplicatia oricand. La sfarsit, printati documentul, semnati-l si lipiti fotografia de tip-pasaport).

STEP 3 What happens after submission?

Print the form like I mentioned above and ensure you’ve selected the right Visa Application Centre, because you’ll have to go there in person.

You don’t need an appointment! The centre operates as a walk-in centre. Simply check their schedule. (Dupa ce ati terminat cu formularul, l-ati printat, semnat si atasat fotografia, va puteti prezenta la Visa Application Centre. Nu aveti nevoie de programare!)

FEES (Cat costa?)

£38.40 for normal applications( it takes around 5-7 days) – viza in regim normal;

£45.60 for urgent applications ( the next working day) – viza la urgenta;

If you want your passport to be returned at home there’s an extra £ 9.80 fee.

What happens once I get to the VisaCentre?

You’ll be given a number and wait to go to the counter. There they will check your documents, take your fingerprints, you’ll pay the visa fees and that’s it 🙂

Don’t forget to keep the visa receipt safe.

Cand ajungeti acolo, vi se va da un numar de asteptare, cand nr. dvs. este strigat, mergeti la ghiseu, va prezentati documentele, vi se vor lua amprentele, platiti chitantele pentru viza si gata. Asteptati viza. Procesul este foarte usor, mult mai usor decat o viza de turist pentru America.

Pastrati chitanta!

Enjoy your holidays in Russia

Comment in the section below if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to assist you 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

City-break, Stockholm

Who doesn’t love city-breaks?

It started with 2 days off work and a cheap flight. Tip: If you want to visit a nordic country, look up for tickets in January – February.  The prices are lower and there are many promotions especially at the low-cost companies. Scandinavia is expensive so booking a cheap flight will help your wallet.

In Stockholm you will most likely land on Stockholm Arlanda Airport or Stockholm Skavsta. The most common (and cheapest) transport from the airport to the city centre is by coach (+ it has Wi-fi on board 😉 ) You can buy your tickets at the airport or book them online. Click here  The coach will drop you at City Terminalen, the central bus station.

If you landed on Arlanda, you may also take the train, Arlanda Express. Book here

Travelcard ! 

You cannot go to Stockholm and not visit the underground. Yes, visit! Their subway it is actually the world’s longest art exhibition at 110 km long and it displays a variety of paintings, sculptures and many other sceneries that were put together by 150 artists in over 90 of the city’s 100 stations.

The metro runs from 5.00 am till 1.am

I recommend you visit the stations by yourself. The best option is to buy a 24 h travelcard (you can use it for the buses too and it’s also valid for Djugården Slussen ferries). It costs 115 SEK pp (around 10 pounds). When you get to the City Terminalen station, follow the signs to get to T.Centralen (4′ by foot, just across the street) and when you get inside T.Centralen look for the Information desk from where you can buy your tickets and get a free map of the city.

My TOP 10  stationsGreen line:

  • Thorildsplan
  • Hötorget
  • Bagarmossen

Also, stop at Odenplan, if you want to see Stockholm’s library for free. It’s absolutely beautiful inside.

Blue line:

  • Kungstradgarden
  • Rådhuset
  • Solna Centrum
  • Rissne
  • Tensta

At Kista station, you’ll find Ericsson’s headquarters. Great buildings, modern architecture.

Red line:

  • Tekniska högskolan
  • Stadion

On the Red Line, you also could stop at Östermalmstorg and visit Hallwylska Museum, the house of von Hallwyl family, for free ( closed on Mondays).

Stockholm is divided in 14 boroughs and these are subdivided into districts.

Gamla Stan:  the old city. Stop here to see the old architecture, the palace and visit the Medieval Museum for free. This area is pretty expensive; the shops, the restaurants…if you’re on a budget, choose the supermarket.

Långholmen – it’s a small island and it used to be a prison. During the summer, go for a swim to the beaches nearby.

     – it’s difficult to find a good value hotel in Stockholm.  We found this one  that is located near Långholmen and it turned out to be decent (the beach is only 6′ walk from the hotel).

Södermalm – for vintage stuff mostly + a panoramic view over the city from Fjällgatan or Monteliusvägen.

Galleri Kontrast  (stop at Slussen station)- displays a photography exhibition and the entrance is free.

6′ walk from the gallery, is Katarina Elevator. Use the stairs, because the elevator is not working and when you get on top you’ll see an impressive view over Stockholm.

If you’re not satisfied with the free panoramic view from the places I told you before (but I bet, you will be), here’s another place from where you can enjoy a view over Stockholm: Skyview (stop at Globen metro station). But, you have to pay for it.

Skogskyrkogården  –  UNESCO heritage. Great for photographs. It’s only 5 minutes by foot from the metro station.

Overall, I enjoyed my city break in Stockholm. It’s a really cool hipster city and did you know that Södermalm was ranked as ‘the coolest’ neighbourhood in Europe in Vogue?  Yep, Swedes have beards and bicycles and are indeed…again, ‘cool’ 😀

See my captions of Stockholm, here  

P.S. If you still have time and money to spend have fun at  Abba museum and  Vasa Museum and don’t forget to treat yourself with some Swedish pastries ❤