Travelholidayblog's Blog

A blog about travelling

Inspired by Iceland

Start by taking a leisurely tour of Reykjavík. The mix of the old and new in the capital’s midtown is seen in the 19th-century Alþingishús and the Ráðhús, barely a decade old. Colorful rooftops abound, and ornate gingerbread can be spotted on the well-kept older buildings. Make sure you visit one of the seven outdoor thermal swimming pools, a great way to relax after a day of sightseeing and fun for the whole family.

On Day 2 head out to the countryside for the famous Golden Circle tour, and take in the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir hot springs area, and Þingvellir National Park. There are many organized tours that cover this route, or you can rent a car yourself.

If you leave on Day 3, stop at the surreal Blue Lagoon, for a late morning-early afternoon dip that will leave you refreshed and is only 20 minutes from the airport if you have an afternoon flight connection.

If you have an extra day, wake up early and head north to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on Iceland’s west coast. The Hvalfjörður tunnel cuts travel time dramatically. On emerging from the tunnel, bypass the town of Akranes and drive north to Borgarnes. Just north of it, turn west (left) on Route 54 out on the peninsula and head to the tiny village of Arnarstapi. If you left the capital before 9 AM, here is a good place to have lunch and take a stroll along the shore, watch small boats come and go, and marvel at the seabirds as they dive and soar. Afterward, enter Iceland’s newest national park, Snæfellsjökull, and marvel at the mystical moods of this mountain as you circle north to Ólafsvík en route to Stykkishólmur. It takes a little over two hours to drive back to Reykjavík from here.

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List of the “must see” in San Francisco

Here is enough to experience and explore in San Francisco to fill a hundred itineraries but most visitors want to see the more famous sites right away. Here is a basic list of the “must see” attractions and areas of San Francisco, separated into weekend-length groups. For more information on any of these attractions and activities, visit www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com.

Items marked with a star (*) are included in the San Francisco CityPass, www.citypass.com.

The First Visit

  • Ride the Cable Cars* – There are three lines for this famous transportation system, Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason and the California Street Line. For more information contact the San Francisco Municipal Railway at 415-673-MUNI (6864) or visit www.sfmta.com.
  • Cross the Golden Gate Bridge – Explore on foot or by car, bicycle, tour bus or fire engine tour. Travel under the bridge on a bay cruise or soar over it by helicopter or seaplane. For more information about the bridge call 415-921-5858 or visit www.goldengate.org.
  • Visit Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf – Fisherman’s Wharf is the most visited section of San Francisco. Enjoy street performers, fresh seafood , unique shops and visit the Boudin Museum & Bakery Tour* to see loaf after loaf of San Francisco’s famous sourdough French bread baked. Take in the fresh sea air as you watch fishermen coming and going from their daily journeys. Visit the sea lion colony on the west side of Pier 39 home of the Blue & Gold Fleet* and Aquarium by the Bay*. Alcatraz, the former federal prison, once housed some of the most notorious criminals. Today it’s a national park, reachable by a brief boat ride. For more information call 415-981-ROCK (7625) or visit www.alcatrazcruises.com.
  • Visit Chinatown – The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the “Dragon’s Gate.” Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city within a city is best explored on foot; exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums comprise its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a “dim sum” lunch or witness the making of fortune cookies. For a more “local” scene, walk one block over to Stockton St.
  • Visit Union Square – The landmark park is the heart of the city and is known for fantastic shopping. Sporting new granite plazas, a new terraced stage on Post Street, light sculptures designed by artist R.M. Fischer, a café, the TIX half-price ticket center, and four grand entrance corner plazas bordered by the park’s signature palms, the remodeled square pays tribute to the Square’s distinctive history and captures the unique flavor and beauty of San Francisco. For more information visit www.unionsquareshop.com.



Holiday in Casablanca, Marocco

ON the industrial outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco, feral dogs roam the grounds of an abandoned meatpacking plant. Today, the sprawling factory, still replete with dangling meat hooks and blood-stained floors, is the unlikely venue for Casablanca’s largest independent art exhibition space, Les Transculturelles des Abattoirs, or the Transcultural Slaughterhouse, which has featured unusual site-specific pieces: sets of sculptured feet placed side by side on the ground, for instance, and faces pasted directly on the white tiles lining the space’s walls. If you need a place to stay in Casablanca, why not a Riad?

The transformation was made possible in 2009 when Casablanca’s mayor, Mohamed Sajid, warded off eager commercial developers and placed the 215,000-square-foot complex (rue Jaafar el Barmaki Avenue, Aïn-Sebaa Hay Mohammedi; 212-526-51-58-29; casamemoire.org) in the hands of Casamémoire — a nonprofit architectural preservation society — with help from the city’s nascent arts community. The move was a testament to the emerging importance of Casablanca’s cultural sector, as were the openings, over the last two years, of a stable of contemporary art galleries across the city. Stayrentals.com has plenty of holiday houses in Marocco.

Nestled amid the street peddlers and roaring diesel engines that clog Casablanca’s boulevards is the nearly two-year-old Galerie Atelier 21 (21 rue Abou Mahassine Arrouyani; 212-522-98-17-85; atelier21.ma). For Aziz Daki, the gallery’s co-owner and an art historian, the city’s mushrooming art scene is a reflection of the cultural interests of King Mohammed VI, an enthusiastic collector. “His passion for the arts has been one of the inspirations for what is now a growing group of Morocco-based collectors,” said Mr. Daki, whose gallery represents 14 Moroccan contemporary artists. “He really is one of our art world’s most important role models.”

The years since the 1999 transition from the relatively repressive reign of King Hassan II to the more tolerant and economically savvy regime of his son, King Mohammed VI, have meant big business for entrepreneurs like Youssef Falaky, a co-owner of the six-month-old Matisse Gallery (2 rue de la Convention, Quartier Racine; 212-522-94-49-99), a spinoff of a location in Marrakesh. “Before the death of Hassan II, people were living in the dark,” he said. “No one wanted to look rich. But now people are spending, and that has meant more investments in the art market.”

Hassan Hajjaj, an artist who splits his time between his native Morocco and London, was one of the first artists featured in Matisse’s Casablanca space. “Casablanca has its own special flavor,” said Mr. Hajjaj, whose work updates stereotypical Orientalist imagery with an almost Andy Warhol Pop Art flair. “The city is at that stage where there are a lot of hungry people that need spaces to show. It’s a big, chaotic city. But good things are growing out of it.”

Myriem Berrada Sounni, 29, who owns the 11-month-old Loft Art Gallery (13 rue Al Kaissi, Triangle d’Or; 212-522-94-47-65; loftartgallery.net) with her 26-year-old sister, Yasmine, said the city’s art scene has gone mainstream. “At the opening of our last exhibit we had ministers and presidents of banks,” she said. During a recent visit to the gallery, little red dots signaling a sale could be found next to nearly every painting on its pristine white walls. “In Casablanca,” she said, “art galleries are now a place for people to see and be seen.”



Visiting Tokyo if you are a vegetarian

Being vegetarian in Japan in generel is not easy, as many dishes contain fish broth or traces of fish in various shapes. I dont think there are any signs or words that would be especially helpful, as you would have to say them in a certain context when asking for something, or you might just be misunderstood. Telling a restaurant owner youre vegetarian doesnt mean they would understand that you also dont consume stuff with traces of fish in it.

Best thing is to write down on a paper written in Japanese what you cannot eat. But i wouldnt count on cheap places to be able to follow your request. From what i see, 8 out of 10 dishes here have something to do with fish, meat, or something with fish in it. The rest if tofu, pickled vegetables, seaweed dishes, and so on. There is YASAI RAMEN (vegetable ramen), but that doesnt mean there isnt animal products in the soup.

But take a look at the link i posted and see if any of those restaurants are near where you are going. Many japanese local restaurants sell one type of food, so if a specialty of a place is tuna fish, or fried pork, then it wouldnt make much sense to go in there anyway.

Maybe you can find some Izakaya that has a big variety if dishes, and then try to see what they can offer. Izakayas usually have a lot of different things on the menus.

Here are a couple of Taiwanese restaurants for vegans in Tokyo. You can try them if you have hard time with finding Japanese.

http://e-food.jp/cgi-bin/restfind/view1.cgi?no=897

http://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ000246540/

If not, you can also try The Pink Cow. They have various vegan foods and they have events in the evenings all the time. The owner and staff are foreigners, so shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t speak Japanese. Sometimes it’s possible to get things off the menu but without the meat/fish/egg etc…while the Japanese is a bit rusty after years of not living here, used to point on things on the menu and ask something along the lines of:

niku (meat) to sakana (fish) irinaide kudasai=
meat and fish without please

egg=tamago

At times dishes would still have the miniature fishes or fish flakes sprinkled on it, so would need to send it back, but it was part of the trial and error 🙂
http://www.thepinkcow.com/NewHome_e.htm

http://www.vegietokyo.com/info4vegie/restaurant/index.html


Holidays in Tel Aviv

Confused by the variety of places to go out to in the city? here are some tips to get around in the telavivian nightlife
With so many options for a night out: culture, music, bars and restaurants,

With so many events and festivals held all year long and especially during the summer,
With so many people coming from all over the country and the world to enjoy what Tel Aviv has to offer,
No wonder they call it the city that never stops.

And the city indeed doesn’t stop. At any time of the day or night you can find people in the streets, spending their nightime on one of the city’s newest bars, or zipping quality coffee at the 24 hours Cafes.

You can choose from a wide selection of nigh time activities: Night menus at restaurants, Israeli music concerts at bars, Local and international DJs playing various kinds of music at one of the city’s mega clubs, or a nice stroll at the scenic Newe Tzedek or the hype Port.

Going out in Tel Aviv tips:

When: People in Tel Aviv go out anywhere between 8PM & 4 AM. Most restaurants are open until at least midnight, offering special night menus beginning at 11 PM. Local bars start the evening around 9 PM – if you arrive later to a popular bar it might take you a while to get in. Dance bars & Clubs be packed by 1 AM and all night long.
During the weekend (Thursdays – Saturdays) “out of towners” join the local & tourist crowd so be sure to arrive early or have reservations.

Age: Bars, clubs and dance bars usually check for ID. The entrance age changes according to the specific place or party, so check in advance.

Tipping: Since most waiters and bartenders live off tips only, it’s a customs to tip them generously. Either way – 12% is the official tipping rate.

Alcohol: Most bars and clubs offer a wide selection of alcohol, draft beers, vodka, whiskey and many cocktails. Israelis usually don’t drink as much as in other countries so you won’t find many drunk people on the streets 🙂

Where: Tel Aviv has several entertainment areas, each has it’s own atmosphere, people and customs. Each area will offer you the local bar, the local successful restaurant and usually a good place to listen to live music.

The main areas are:

Florentin:
A very hip neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv with many young people, offers a wide selection of bars, cafes and restaurants all located close to the canter of the neighborhood on Florentin street. Located at the south of Tel Aviv, Florentin attracts mainly young crowd. The streets may not be the cleanest the city has to offer, but if you want to go out casually and meet nice people, that’s the place for you.
More information about florentin you can find here

Neve Tzedek:
Being the first Hebrew neighborhood in Tel Aviv ,this neighbourhood is a collection of small, historical & picturesque houses. It’s special nature has been recently discovered and today Newe Tzedek is the most stylish place to live in. Due to its layed-back nature, you can find small Cafes and Bars along the narrow streets. Europe in Tel Aviv.
For more information click here

The port:
Newly renovated, the port offers the ultimate night hang out – a stroll along the wooden boardwalk, a variety of bars and restaurants open late to accommodate those who choose to spend their time at one of the clubs.  The port is highly recommended for a night out during the weekends. During the week, some of the places offer parties thrown espcially for the tourist crowd.
More information here

Yad harutzim:
As you get southern part of the city, the venues become larger & louder. Yad Haruzim will offer you the city’s Mega bars & clubs, usually open at 12 AM and go on all night long. Being an industrial area, you can also find some of the finest restaurants.
More information here

Lilinblum & Nachlat Binyamin (Rothchild Quaters)
The Oldest nightlife area in the city – with every step you take you find your self standing in front of another bar. These streets offer you some of the drinking “institutes” – that has been there for decades and doesn’t seem to lose their hype. The perfect location for bar hoping.
More here

Dizengoff & Ben Yehuda
In two of the longest streets in the city, Seems like every weekend you have one more bar to check out. Most bars are small and designed to fit the neighbourhood residents, which means that around 11PM you can’t find a spare sit.

On the beach:
During the summer, the beach takes it’s spot as the center of life, tourists and locals come to enjoy the sun & water during the day the night & alcohol during the night. . The bars are spread on the beach front starting at the port and goes all the way to down to Jaffa.
More information here

So – what are you waiting for? Make your pick and .. Go out! And remember – don’t drink & drive.

Tacheles closing

Nowhere captures the essence and energy of Berlin in the 90s as acutely as Tacheles does. It all started at the very start of the decade, just after the Berlin Wall fell, when a group of artists successfully saved the building – an erstwhile department store – from demolition. Despite resembling an architectural dog’s dinner, the old ruin was proved to be structurally sound and the artists set up a cultural centre and nightclub here. From that day forth Tacheles has been a ramshackle, graffiti-ed temple to art and booze… Go and worship!

This is a must see if you’re in Berlin, you’ll never see anything like it anywhere else. If you can afford it there’s some amazing art for purchase here, but mostly a unique cultural experience. Their website: http://super.tacheles.de/cms/
This space is exceptional and I hope truly that it’s importance and historical relevance is realized and the area preserved and not developed.

have a look at this blog about what is happening now in Berling regarding Tacheles

Guided Tours of Mount Fuji

If you are interested in visiting or climbing Mount Fuji in Japan, joining a guided tour of Mount Fuji is convenient. Here is a list of some Mount Fuji tours in Japan.
Mount Fuji tours are listed in alphabetical order.

1. GoReKi Tours

Offers various mount Fuji climbing tours from Yamanashi. Interpreters are available with an additional charge.Mt.Fuji Mountaineering School GoRiki
4-1-14 Asahi Fujiyoshida-city, Yamanashi
Phone: 0555-24-1032 / Fax: 0555-24-1052
email: info@fujitozan.jp

2. Mount Fuji Photo Tours

Photography tours of Mount Fuji in English. Tours are custom arranged and are guided by veteran Japanese photographers living and working in the Mt. Fuji area.
Contact Form

3. Mount Fuji Sunrise Bus Tour

Offers bus tours to see the sunrise from the Mount Fuji 5th Station. Pick-up services are available at inns which are members of Kawaguchiko Onsen Ryokan Association.
Kawaguchiko Onsen Ryokan Association
Phone: 0555-72-0346

4. Mount Fuji Tours by Tokyo City Tours

Offers Mount Fuji sunrise tours, Mount Fuji camping tours, Mount Fuji climbing tours, and more tours. Pick-up services from Tokyo hotels are included in some tours.Tokyo City Tour
403, 4-35-9 Arakawa Arakawa-ku Tokyo
Phone 03-6824-6333 / Fax 03-6822-6690
email: tctour@tctour.co.jp

5. Sunshine Tours (Japanese Version)

Offers Mount Fuji climbing bus tours from Kansai region and Nagoya area.Sunshine Tour
Osaka Station Dai4 Building 11F 1-1100, 1-11 Umeda Kita-ku Osaka-city
Phone: 06-6344-3077

6. Travex Fujisan Tours (Japanese Version)

This company specializes in treking tours. Offers Mount Fuji sunrise tours, Mount Fuji climbing tours, and Mount Fuji traking tours from Tokyo. Operates buses to Fuji-gogome (fifth station) from Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Travex Tours
Tsuruya Building 2F 2-1-12 Hyakunincho Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone : 03-6233-1723 / 03-6233-1730
email: Finfo@travex.co.jp