Traveldiary: Florence | 13.12.2019

Let’s continue part 2 of my 3 day Italy trip. I arrived at Florence’s central station S.M. Novelle fairly easily by train. First thing which greeted me was not my friend “L” staying here for a language course and my guide for the next couple days but a moody rainy weather being worse than in Bologna. Luckily i brought along a small umbrella and we made our way to our hostel. I immediately realized the tiny pavements which we had to squeeze through and share with other passerbies.

For today we only opted in for the museum galileo which is a historic museum about medieval discoveries around astronomy and physics . To be honest it was an interesting cup of tea but not my cup of tea. From inside the museum i could see how the clouds thin out and the sun set in a melancholic way.

Exhausted by the previous days i immediately sunk into my bed.

The next day began for me as early as 06:30 am leaving the hostel at 07:00 am with the goal in mind to catch the sunrise. The streets already began to be busy with people starting their work in the morning.

I first walked along the Arno river gen West. Although many people already were ready to snap a picture of Ponto Vecchio with the Sun in the back i realized i could not do such feat with my smartphone camera. So instead i hasted the Arno river gen East to be just in time to snap a photo catching the red sky reflecting the sunrise above the bridge.

After my Tuna Panino, which was superb, I proceeded with the main touristic activities starting with the climb on the cupola of the cathedral at 08:30 am. Following the climb of the cupola i of course also wanted to climb the bell tower as well. In my opinion the cupola had a better viewing platform even providing benches, while the bell tower had some kind of checkpoint levels every couple hundred stairs where the bells originally were located. I enjoyed the view on both high grounds especially with that slight fresh breeze in the morning while still feeling the light exhaustion of the exercise. A noticeable advantage of being an early bird is that you can have all the sightseeing spots for yourself (or share it with way less people). The descend of the bell tower at around 10 am already gave me a hard time though since many other tourists started their day now all wanting to climb up the tower.

 

 

After visiting the interior of the cathedral, museum and Baptist i headed to the Oblate Library where my friend would wait for me to spend the rest of the day. This might be a secret spot on its own since you are alleviated to a rooftop level and are able to see the cathedrals cupola from a unique point of view.

We sat down drank a coffee (coffee here seriously is way more delicious and cheaper than in Germany) and made our way to Ponto Vecchio. Fun fact: This bridge did not get destroyed during World War II because Hitler seemed to develop a liking to it. From my point of view it was just a normal bridge though with loads of jewelry shops on it (cultural ignorance intensified). My very first Italian ice cream was purchased at Gelateria Santa Trinita and compared to German ice cream it is indeed worlds apart and super smoother.

No time to lose we headed to Piazzale Michelangelo to arrive in time and look for a spot for the sunset.

In the evening we visited the Christmas market at Santa Croce. Now in comparison to my sweet hometown’s Christmas market this one was just not right.

The next day I already had to say goodbye to Florence getting my bus from Florence directly to Bologna airport taking a bit time off at the S.M.Novella church before hastily grabbing a magnet souvenir and board the bus.

Traveldiary: Bologna | 12.12.2019

It just so happened, that two of my friends were going to live for an overlapping time frame abroad in Italy. So using this opportunity of an exclusive translator and guide i went “out of my way” to visit them both.

My first mistake was to be not enough prepared for this vacation. I just had to power knit my scarf until 4 am and catching my bus from Dresden to Berlin at 7 am was no easy task. I arrived at the city of Bologna were I met with my friend “E”. After unloading my backpack we headed to coffee and the first sightseeing spot – little Venice. There exists 7 secrets in Bologna and this little window displaying a hidden view to the canal is one of them.

At 4 pm we started hiking to San Luca trying to catch the sunset at 4:45pm. Although google maps would suggest a duration of 30 minutes of walking time in retrospective this was way too late to start the hike and i am very thankful for having a friend who kept up with the fast pace without complaining. Unsurprisingly when we reached the top it was already dark and a thick layer of fog obstructed a view of Bologna. Nonetheless we were as happy as hot when we arrived at the church.

In the evening while having dinner i learned a new fun fact. The Spaghetti Bolognese as we all know it has its origin from Bologna and is actually called Tagliatella al Ragu. However since this is very hard to remember it seems that people just shortened it to Bolognese as in the people of Bologna.

Bologna has 3 nicknames. The fat – because of all its delicious food. The red – because of all its red rooftops. And the learned – because its University founded in 1088 is (one of ?) the oldest universities in the world. A high percentage of residents are students and as i’ve been told there are also a lot of exchange students, so called Erasmus students, among them.  It seems that some local residents don’t really like having so many foreign students coming and going to the city, because they misbehave and cause an increase of rent prices.

After staying in the bar Le Stanze we were off to Piazza Maggiore to discover the next 3 secrets. The first one being a hidden message on a ceiling reading Canabis Protecto. The next one is under the Palazzo Re Enzo building. If you stand in opposite corners facing the wall at the cross section and talk towards the corner of the wall you could actually hear each other. My friend explained, that this kind of mechanism has been used  by doctors among others to speak with each other in medieval times when the black plague was going around. The last fun secret is about the Fountain of Neptune which is facing towards the Basilica di San Petronio. Originally the sculptor intended a more extended variant of Neptune’s male reproductive organ. However because it was facing the church, the church made him chop off Neptune’s limb. Furious about that, he seeked revenge. By building the sculpture in a particular way and looking at the sculpture from a particular point of view, Neptune’s finger can perceived as his male reproductive organ pointing towards the church.

Being totally worn out we then proceeded to call it a day.

I had to catch my train to florence the following morning at 10 am but not before i could take a good shot of the leaning towers of Bologna. The smaller and noticeable more leaning one is the  Garisenda tower whereas the taller tower is called Asinelli. You can actually climb up the latter however it shall bring misfortune to students who have not graduated yet.

On my way back to the central station i passed through the Basilica di San Petronio once again. The facade is actually in its original state meaning it has only been halfway finished and left like that for centuries. One of the perks of being up early is that you can enjoy the place without too many tourists around.

There was some trouble finding the right platform. Apparently there are two different companies with separate customer service stationed at the central station and the one from the other company did refuse to give me any info on my ticket and referred me to  another customer service lady who was fully queued. But eventually i found my platform to go to Florence transferring at Prato.

>>>Traveldiary: Florence | 13.12.2019

 

 

 

My Traveldiary in Japan

Diary: Vacation on Okinawa
A day to day diary of our trip to okinawa.
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Diary: Osaka – halfday | 02.09.2019
10:00 wake up in Kyoto at a friends flat. He just freshly moved in with his girlfriend. The flat has
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Diary: Nara – halfday | 29.08.2019
11:00 wake up, breakfast and heading to Nara. The hostel i stayed in for the last couple days was unbelievable
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Diary: Tokaido Trail
The Tokaido trail is a historic path connecting Kyoto and Tokyo along the coastline. It consist of 53 stations and
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Diary: Tohoku Sandai Matsuri | 05.08-09.08
Goal: Visit the 3 great festivals in the Tohoku region – Kanto (Akita), Nebuta (Aomori), Tanabata (Sendai) additionally checking out
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Diary: Trip to Nikko | 02.08.2019
08:15 Let’s start the day! I will be going with a flatmate today and we are going to purchase the
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Diary: Climbing Mt. Fuji | 31.07.2019
The 31.07 also marks the last day in my sharehouse. Naturally we had a farewell party which lasted until 3
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Diary: Nokogiriyama and Nihonji Temple | 22.06.2019
Although right in the raining season we decided to take a chance on Nokogiriyama since the weather won’t stabilize anytime
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Day in my life 15.05.2019
Today is a special and exceptional day. Not because it’s my birthday but because i didn’t go to university although
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buddha statue with cap and jacket
Mt.Takao 12.05.2019
Actually i didn’t want to write about this trip but Mt. Takao needs to have a  honorable mention. It is
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Rice field
Takomachi – Rice Planting and Bamboo Hunting 05.05.2019
This was organized by Oakhouse, the company which offers the sharehouses, for a small fee. The event took place in
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The oldest Wisteria Tree in Japan
Ashikaga Flowerpark 04.05.2019
Only after this trip i realized, that the Wisteria plant is besides the cherry tree, a big thing in Japan.
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Mt-Fuji and Chureito Pagoda
Trip: Kawaguchiko to see Mt.Fuji 04.04.2019
This was my first ever trip in Japan and i am very lucky to be able to do it within
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The Senso-Ji Temple
Asakusa and Skytree 01.04.2019
Today I was on my way to the Asakusa district which is around 1 hour walk on foot from where
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Naka-Meguro Sakura viewing 29.03.2019
As the Sakura are now in full bloom, we decided to give one of the most famous places to view
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View from Shibuya109 store
Shibuya and Yoyogi Park 26.03.2019
So today i went to Shibuya to look for a jacket. Naively enough i thought since it is going to
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Akihabara 24.03.2019
Still suffering from Jetlag but determined to finally get a Sim Card i headed to Akihabara. After a 25 minutes
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Departure 22.03.2019
Departure: Dresden – 09:25Over: Zurich -> MunichArrival: Tokyo (Haneda) – 15:49 Bites me why i chose such a complex route
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Diary: Okinawa day 6 – Shurijo Castle | 13.09.2019

07:30 again the optimistic initial plan was to wake up at 07:00 and to get to the Shurijo castle as early as possible. Well in the end we woke up at 07:30 and were ready to go at around 08:00. This week is just jinxed but oh well.

On our way to the castle we wanted to get some snack from a convinience store for breakfast. We decided to go to the Family Mart which google proudly showed us not to be too far away. However we struggled to find it until we realized, that this Family Mart was in fact part of the Hotel Novotel !

 

09:00 arrived at the castle. The castle has been bombed in the WW II as well and has been rebuilt. It is quite small but if I’d were a king I would feel way more comfortable here since it has the essential facilities but is decently small enough to not have to wander around too much. You can recognize that the architecture is not quite as Japanese as you are used to. Chinese culture had a huge influence in building the castle because before Okinawa was part of Japan it used to be an independent kingdom called Ryukyu and had strong relationships with the Chinese kingdom regarding trades. When Japan closed it’s borders it was an important middle man to trade between China and Japan.

11:00 got back to Naha Airport in time and heading back to Tokyo Narita Airport.

Diary: Okinawa day 5 – Aharen beach part 2 | 12.09.2019

08:00 somehow even though we had plenty of time to sleep it was still a   tough wake up to get the breakfast.

10:00 last snorkeling round. Yesterday i already rented a waterproof case like thing for my smartphone which i will test to it’s limit today. I first tested it without my smartphone inside until i was sure that it worked. Although quite inconvenient the underwater pictures were unexpectedly super good.

15:00 getting our Shuttle bus to the 16:00 ferry.

17:00 arriving at Naha again and hurrily headed to the hostel we stayed in to get my purse back. The whole 19000 yen were still inside! Those Japanese people are just too honest.

18:00 getting to our hostel. Again this time there was no receptionist. So what to do? We called the attached number and the guy told us to just take the keys out of the box of the front desk and leave the money behind on our bed in case we don’t see any staff member anymore.

19:00 eating out one last time in Okinawa with original okinawian food.

23:00 sleep. I got some headache since 20:00 and it got stronger by hour. Since i made sure to hydrate myself carefully another culprit might be the sun, which hit me directly on my head for quite some time while we were out snorkeling.

Diary: Okinawa day 4 – Aharen beach | 11.09.2019

08:00 wake up and eating a small breakfast consisting of meatballs and rice from the Konbini.

09:30 returning the rental car and hastily grabbing our reserved ticket for the 10:00 ferry ride to the Tokashiki port at the Kerama islands. We had some last minute panic moments since we did not find the ticket booth at first sight but eventually managed to get our reserved tickets. The ferry was quite cramped and there was only little space on the first deck’s room however even though a bit uncomfortable it was a nice feeling to just lie down while the ship sways gently from left to right.

Crowded ferry

11:00 arrived at the port in Tokashiki. We are getting picked up by our hotel following a short 30 minutes shuttle bus ride. It seems like we got the dormitory room for ourselves tonight and in general seemed to be the only guests at the hotel (?).

12:00 after unpacking and some fine lunch we were finally getting ready for beach action.

14:00 some emotional Rollercoaster right there: It seems like I forgot my wallet at the last hostel which i was not aware of until the staff actually contacted me. As seen later nothing was stolen from it. Still i had to lock my credit card. Right after locking the credit card there appeared some unknown negative transaction. In hindsight it was just a balancing transaction to transfer money from my old to my new credit card but it was still a shocker.

The snorkeling tour guide was full and not even possible to reserve online, so alternatively our plan for today was to go kayaking to a nearby island and try out snorkeling by ourselves over there. Kayaking was quite fun but as one would have guessed tiring. We effectively only did it for 30 minutes anyway just o get to the nearby island and back. The island had a fantastic rocky mountainish surface to explore and climb. Surprisingly although some stone surfaces were extremely hot other surfaces were on the contrary quite cold. With the crystal blue and clean water we were also able to enjoy some snorkeling. To be honest I was not too excited by the whole snorkeling sports thing but the 30 minutes we actually did do this was super interesting and game changing for me.

19:00 sunset at the nearby observatory and dinner. After it gets dark nothing is really going on anymore.

Diary: Okinawa day 3 – Cape Hedo | 10.09.2019

09:00 This seems like the norm now. The actual plan was to get up very early and drive to the Daikirenzan, however both of us were extremely exhausted by God knows what so we just stayed and relaxed until 10:00.

11:20 driving along the coast we wanted to get a small taste of the clear water. So we stopped at the next possible spot and walked for a little detour along the beach.

13:00 arrived at the Daikirenzan. Our mistake was to assume that it was only a parking lot with a fee and a restaurant so instead went to a nearby parking lot to leave our car there. We begun some random hikes around that area until we arrived at the okinawa rail observation deck which features a high observation platform in Form of a… bird.

16:00 after walking around the beach and coast area as well as some climbing action we finally arrived at cape Hedo and could get our deserved lunch. The wind was strong and the waves stronger. Although located so remotely, the cape is very pleasantly maintained and features toilets, vending machines,a restaurant and a food stand.

Now here is what we did not consider or better said plant out badly. The Daikirenzan is actually a national park with set opening hours and we just so happened to arrive at the closing time. This should have been easily research able beforehand but we just overlooked that fact. A little bit disappointed we headed to our car to get to our Hostel in Nara.

The original plan also dictated “since we get up early and finish the northern cape area early, we could head back early and see the memorial monument”. Well that didn’t happen obviously. At least we could manage to get some incredible sunset action.

 

21:00 our hostel is a little bit run down but it suffice for the night.

Diary: Okinawa day 2 – Aquarium | 09.09.2019

09:00 headed to the aquarium. Our initial plan was to even start the day earlier. Although the aquarium opens at 08:30 there already seem to be a lot of people around. The area consists of the main building which displays the aquarium and interesting knowledge around marine science as well as a flower park and outdoor dolphin pool. At set times specific shows will start such as feeding the fish in the aquarium,  introductory movie around corals or the dolphin show. We constructed a good plan which allowed us to attend the main shows in the early morning and in the afternoon we would go through the aquarium. At around 13:00 you do feel that there are a lot more people especially children around.

14:30 we finished the aquarium and went to the nearby beach. We noticed in hindsight though, that we did miss the flower garden area. The nearby beach was divided into 3 parts and had plenty of space and even a beach volleyball net. A free parking garage was also located around 5 min away by foot.

18:00 we head to our Hostel but did make a detour to the heart rocks. Supposedly the rocks look like rocks, which they kind of do but not as impressive as you would expect for a google entry with the name heart rock.

Heart Rocks

21:00 getting home

Learnings:

Some corals are in a symbiotic relationship with plants called zooxanthellae which live inside the skin of the coral animals. The zooxanthellae provide carbohydrate food for the coral. Apparently those corals form the coral reefs and are only seen in clean, relatively warm water with good sun lights due to the requirements of the photosynthesis process.

Fetus of a great white shark feeds on milk and unfertilized eggs in the uterus of the mother shark.

Diary: Okinawa day 1 | 08.09.2019

07:00 Day starts after getting home from a nightclub at 03:00

12:00 arrival at the airport and sorting out which hostel to book for the night. The flight by Ana airline took around 2h and was quite cheap, around 90 euros per person round-trip. There seem to be special domestic offers available for foreigners who then do get a huge discount for such flights.

14:00 getting our car at Nissan car rental. Getting there from the airport was fairly easy and it is centrally located – convinient for the return of the car. I never did rent a car but the process was unexpectedly smooth.

14:50 getting to the nearby ramen restaurant they have a very unique way of preparing their food. You can chose various options how your ramen gets prepared such as broth thickness, noodle cooking time, etc. Amazing customization.

15:30 on our way to our hostel by car. It rains heavily which makes me even more tired. Having only slept 3 hours without breakfast I am very lucky to have a good friend who is willing and able to drive.

19:00 arrive at guesthouse and ready to cook

01:00 sleep

Diary: Vacation on Okinawa

A day to day diary of our trip to okinawa.

07:30 again the optimistic initial plan was to wake up at 07:00 and to get to the Shurijo castle as ...
Read More
08:00 somehow even though we had plenty of time to sleep it was still a   tough wake up to ...
Read More
08:00 wake up and eating a small breakfast consisting of meatballs and rice from the Konbini. 09:30 returning the rental ...
Read More
09:00 This seems like the norm now. The actual plan was to get up very early and drive to the ...
Read More
09:00 headed to the aquarium. Our initial plan was to even start the day earlier. Although the aquarium opens at ...
Read More
07:00 Day starts after getting home from a nightclub at 03:00 12:00 arrival at the airport and sorting out which ...
Read More