July 2013 - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sightseeing in Hungary: Vác

8:50:00 PM
About half an hour by train from Budapest there is a small town called Vác where you can experience a relaxing atmosphere with the local Hungarians. Every summer in the last week of July they also have festivals in the town, which attracts visitors from near and far. The locals like spending the summer nights in the pubs and you can easily hang out in the main square situated not too far from the train station, or perhaps have a beer while enjoying the view of the Danube river.

A photo of the main square, where you also can see the remains of some of Vác historical buildings beneath the glass floor.

The main square again..!

The relaxing atmosphere of Vác

My stepmother is Hungarian, and her relatives all live in or close to Vác. Every time I've visited the city I have been taken really good care of, and enjoyed the time spent with my extended family here. Vác is situated in the vicinity of many interesting tourists destinations as well, so it has been easy to experience a lot of Hungary during my previous stay. But of course, with my 3 years living in Asia it has been a rather long time since I last had the chance to go for a visit. This time I spent most of my time with my brother in Budapest so I didn't visit any other famous tourist destinations, but I did enjoy a lovely day with my extended family in their home.

The Danube seen from the house of my Hungarian family

Green great landscape!

My expended family has a huge garden where they keep all sorts of animals, like goats, peacocks and deers. Recently the family took in a baby deer that had been abandoned by its mother, and the baby deer has become completely tame. I got to pet it and hold it, and it is soooo cute! I've always been a big animal lover and a tree hugger (haha..), so getting the chance to hold Bambi (yeah, that's his name^^) was one of the biggest highlights of my trip.
Me and Bambi. He's sooo adorable!! 

Bambi came to greet us as soon as he saw us entering his garden^^

Unfortunately my stay in Hungary this time was rather short, but I know I'll definitely have the chance to return here again some time in the future. I had a great time visiting my brother in Budapest and my extended family in Vác, and I'm already looking forward to the next visit. Next up: Norway and Latvia!
A collage of a couple of my photos from Hungary.

Other posts:
Sightseeing in Budapest: Giraffe Hop on Hop off City Tour

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sightseeing in Budapest: Giraffe Hop on Hop off City Tour

11:15:00 PM
The Giraffe Hop on Hop off Bus
This week I have been visiting my brother and the rest of my extended family in Budapest, Hungary.
Last time I visited the country was back in 2007, so many years have already past since I last sat my foot in this magnificent place. Although I spent almost a month with my family here last time I still hadn't had the chance to see a lot of the Hungarian capital. With only a few days available for sightseeing my brother recommended me getting a ticket with one of the tourist buses here, and we ended up going for the Giraffe Hop on Hop off tour.
The view from our Giraffe tour bus.
A lady in a traditional Hungarian attire.

The company offered a 2-day bus ticket for 5000 forint, or 4500 for students. I asked if it was possible to have a one-day break between the two days, but apparently that was not possible. Instead, the guy who sold us the ticket gave us one day extra for free. A big plus for the good service! :)
St Stephan's Basilica

The ticket with Giraffe offers you 3 different lines which enables you to reach all the main tourist spots in the city. The red line and the yellow line are buses and the blue line is a river cruise on the Danube river. Since the tickets give you unlimited access to these services during the two-day span of the ticket you have the chance to get off the bus at the distinguished bus stops and walk around freely to take a look at whatever you might be interested in on the way.
Enjoying the view of Budapest.
All the main tourist attractions are easily accessible from the bus, and with my brother along as my own personal guide I felt that I really got to see a lot of what Budapest has to offer. Among the places we passed by were the St Stephan's Basilica (a Roman Catholic basilica named after the first king of Hungary), the Heroes's Square, Buda Castle and the House of Parliament.

In the pictures above you can see the Heroes' Square where you can get of the bus  and take a look at the Museum of Fine Arts or the Palace of Art. In addition the square is considered the entrance to the City Park, where you for instance can visit Vajdahunyad Castle or the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath and Swimming Pool. 

Here my brother took me among other things to Vajdahunyad Castle, which was situated about 5 minutes from the Heroes' Square.
The gate to Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad Castle seen from the entrance gate

Inside the castle we also visited the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. I have to say that I personally enjoyed the architecture of the building more than the exhibition (perhaps because most of the information only was available in Hungarian).
The ceiling inside the Museum of Agriculture
Our journey continued to the Buda Castle, where you for instance can enjoy the view of the river, the Fisherman's Bastion or the Matthias Church.
The Hungarian Parliament seen from the Buda Castle
The Fisherman's Bastion
Budapest used to consist of two cities, Buda and Pesth, separated by the Danube river. We also spent some time strolling by the river, which is the second longest river in Europe.
Shoes by the Danube river left as a memorial for the jews killed during WW2
My brother did a great job guiding me around in Budapest
Details from a building we passed by
Orchids and the ceiling of the luxurious Alexandra Bookstore Café 
Wherever you go in Budapest there is something beautiful to see, both in terms of old architecture and art. Compared to Tokyo and Seoul it felt like being in a small village, and I really appreciated seeing something different than the usual box-like skyscrapers. I'm sure I will go back to Budapest again in the future, if I get the chance.

Other posts:
Sightseeing in Hungary: Vác

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lodging in Kamikōchi - Nishiitoya (西糸屋)

4:47:00 AM
Kamikōchi is a popular tourist destination, both for hikers but also for people who want to chill out and enjoy the sight of the beautiful nature. As a result there are a small number of traditional Japanese guesthouses situated by the river where you can stay the night and enjoy the typical hospitality of the Japanese people.
During our weekend trip to Kamikōchi last weekend my boyfriend and I stayed for one night at a guesthouse called Nishiitoya, a name which litterarily means "south thread house".

The Nishiitoya situated right by the river, and surrounded by mountains.

Our Japanese style bedroom

.. And with a typical tokonoma (床の間) alcove

Both dinner and breakfast was included in the stay, and in the evening we had a delicious washoku (和食) Japanese style dinner.
An overview of the food we has for dinner Yummy!
Like most Japanese guesthouses they also offer free access to their Japanese style bath, where one could sit and enjoy the view towards the mountains. In addition they also had a small sauna.

The changing room

For those who want to spend time reading about things related to hiking and nature they also provide their guest with a common room where a wide range of books can be read.
The common room, which offered a wide selection of books about outdoor activities

Our favorite was still the cafe, where they offered free drinks for staying guests and a nice view of the outside river.

After having hiked the nearby Mt. Chogatake it was refreshing to spend a day relaxing in the beautiful Kamikōchi. I already look forward to the next time my boyfriend gets some days off work. This time we're going to visit my hometown in Bergen, Norway.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hiking in Kamikōchi - The Japanese Alps: Mt. Chōgatake (蝶ヶ岳)

1:05:00 AM
When talking about mountains in Japan the thing that first comes to mind for most people is probably Mt. Fuji, a famous Japanese landmark which additionally has become the country's newest World Heritage site. However, there are many other mountains in Japan that can offer an interesting experience for those who are longing for adventures outside of Japan's sprawling city life.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sightseeing in Kyoto: Kitano Tenmangu Flea Market

12:57:00 PM
Although I lived in Kyoto for two years as an exchange student to I never had the chance to visit Kitano Tenmangu (北野天満宮)'s monthly flea-market even once (although I visited the shrine during one of their autumn light-up events at the Kitano Tenmangu garden).
Now I'm back in Japan for work, and before moving to Tokyo I spent a week in Kyoto, during which I finally got myself together and went to the "Tenjin-san" (天神さん) flea market  to take a look at what kind of things they were selling there.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pre-paid SIM Cards for Short-time Visiters to Korea

1:25:00 PM
This news was provided by Community Korea. You can like their Facebook page to get a lot of information to make your stay in Korea more fun!

Hey guys, for those of you who plan to visit Korea or already in Korea for your studies or exchange program, here’s a great tip to stay connected with your friends. (AND avoid wasting your time and energy on Korea’s complicated cell phone registration requirements for foreigners!)
Above is KT’s website (in ENGLISH), Korea’s largest cell phone provider. Use the link above and have a look under the ‘Prepaid Rate Plans’ section. Basically it’s a prepaid SIM card plan, and you can choose the amount of credit to be loaded to your phone starting from 3,000KRW to maximum 50,000KRW. (They even let you talk for 100 minutes FREE if the person you’re calling is using KT) AND most importantly… there are NO ENROLMMENT FEES, NO CANCELLATION FEES AND NO MANDATORY REGISTRATION!! Oooh yes. Saves you so much hassle. 
Visit your nearest KT store, (There are literally hundreds of them on the streets…Even if you’re not in Seoul…you’ll find it!) and ask for ‘KT SIMple SIM card’. Guys there will set up your phone in less than 5 minutes. Plus, the card is free if you top up more than 10,000KRW for the first time. 
Hopefully this helps you guys settling down in Korea. Enjoy your stay!!

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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