After a travel hiatus of 18 weeks, my wanderlust had grown into unbearable measures. I was back in the working life so another long trip would have to wait. Luckily Easter was on its way which meant a long weekend. Last year, I spent an amazing Easter in Latvia. It seemed like the Baltics were a good place to go during Easter, so this year I headed to Latvia’s neighboring country, Lithuania. I took two extra days off from work, so I had six whole days to explore Vilnius and its surroundings.
After landing in Vilnius, I took the train from the airport to the city centre. The trip takes seven minutes and costs 0,72 €. The trains only run once an hour but there are also several buses from the airport to the city.
After lunch, I checked in to my hostel. I stayed at Home Made House, which truly lived up to its name. This small hostel, with room for only twelve people, is super cozy.
A museum in Vilnius worth visiting is The Museum for Genocide victims. Entry to this powerful museum is only 2 €. In the basement there is an old KGB prison. Grim, grim place.
On my last day in Vilnius I treated myself to the most relaxing massage at Tailando Masazai. A 60-minute massage cost 25,50 €.
Yeah, in true Easter spirit I mostly just ate. A good holiday, then!
When my friend Ina and I were in our early twenties, we made a pact: we would visit New York together before we turn thirty. This year, after many years of dreaming about it, we finally followed through with our pact. Ina’s boyfriend Daniel and my sister Pia joined us for an exciting week in the Big Apple. We booked our accommodation through AirBNB. Eight nights in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn cost 1500 €.
This blog post is hard to write because New York makes me speechless. I can’t count the times I’ve been moved, delighted and amazed by this place. New York is hands down the most incredible city I have ever visited. I wish I’d come sooner.
John also introduced me to Whole Foods. Oh. My. Goodness. I could write an entire blog post about this supermarket chain. Best store I have ever visited. Whole Foods has an unbelievably large variety of fresh food, the only problem is knowing when to stop filling your basket…
New York is a massive city, and especially popular among tourists, so it’s easy to find a free walking tour. As the city is so big, the tours are usually built around a theme or a certain part of town. We participated in the SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown tour organized by Free Tours by Foot.
Our tour guide recommended that we enter the Broadway Lottery. Many theatres organize raffles, where approximately 30 tickets are sold at a fraction of their normal cost. At the recommendation of our tour guide, we entered the raffle for the Wednesday matinée show of Kinky Boots. Usually, there are less people than tickets so basically everybody wins! Tickets usually cost closer to $200, but by winning the raffle, you can purchase tickets for $37. Kinky Boots was one of the highlights of our week in New York – it was such a funny, spectacular and over-the-top show!
After a short stint in Finland (which included a wedding, spending quality time with my mum, eating twice at my favorite vegetarian restaurant and suffering from a ruptured ear drum due to flying while sick), I returned to Prague. I had an entire week in Prague, but since I still felt a bit under the weather after having a bad flu, I made it a calm week. My days mostly consisted of drinking lots of tea and a little bit of sightseeing.
Prague is a popular tourist destination so it’s very easy to find a walking tour there. I participated in the Sandeman’s New Europe Free Walking Tour. Sandeman’s is a big company that operates free walking tours in several large cities. It was the first time I participated in a Sandeman’s tour and I have to say they live up to their reputation! The tour was interesting and our guide Colin very engaging. The free walking tour takes approximately three hours.
The highlight of my trip was probably having a massage. In Prague, there are massage parlors in every corner of the city, so you can just pick and choose one. Many of the massage parlors have discounts during weekdays. I went to Shanti Massage, where they have happy hours from 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays. Between these hours, a 60 minute massage costs 490 Kč (approximately 20 €).
The town of Kutná Hora, approximately 70 kilometres from Prague, makes for a good day trip. There are several organized tours to Kutná Hora from Prague, but the best way is to just go there using local transport. The train ride from Prague to Kutná Hora takes around one hour and costs 205 Kč round-trip.
I already mentioned Country Life in my previous post, but I can’t praise this place enough. Located right in the city centre, this vegetarian restaurant offers a pay-by-weight buffet for 29,50 Kč / 100 grams. I ate here nearly every single day.
Kraków, one of Poland’s oldest cities, is situated in Southern Poland, approximately 2 ½ hours from the Slovakian border. I spent four nights couchsurfing in Kraków.
Krakow is quite a small city, so a few days is enough to see everything in the Old Town and Kazimierz. Best part: you can easily do it all by foot! But if you don’t want to, there are several buses and trams with good connections to almost anywhere in the city. Ticket prices start at 2,80 zloty for a single 20-minute ride.
Do you know the feeling of going somewhere new and having no expectations? And the place turns out to be way better than you could ever imagine? That’s what happened when I travelled to Riga over Easter.
The one great thing about the world being vast is that there are so many places to go. Knowing I would have four days off during Easter, I went onto the website Halvat Lennot and looked where in the world I could travel quite cheaply. With my destination set as anywhere I found roundtrip flights to Riga for 159 € with AirBaltic. Now, this is not a very cheap flight, but it was Easter so I think it was a fair deal, knowing how much the prices go up during the holidays.
Like I said, I had no expectations, just that wonderful feeling of going somewhere new again. I arrived in Riga on Easter Friday around noon. It is easy to travel to Riga from Helsinki since the flight takes less than an hour. From Riga airport you can take bus #22 to the city – the ticket costs 0,60 € if you buy it at the airport and 1,20 € if you buy it from the bus driver. I got off the bus at Stockmann and started walking towards my accommodation, Barons Hostel. The hostel is outside the old town and is not too easy to find since there’s only a small plaque with the hostel’s name next to the door.
After eating, my head was a bit clearer and I found the hostel just 100 metres from Rama! I rang the doorbell and was let into the building. The hostel is situated on the top floor of an old apartment building.
It was so nice to just hang out in the hostel common room, drink tea and talk with other guests and with the hostel’s Australian manager, Eve. It felt like being in someone’s home.
Another hostel guest had told me about a day trip to Sigulda National Park that was organized through Couchsurfing. It’s great going abroad without any big plans what to see and do, because then you can join others for these kinds of trips. On Saturday, seven people parted Riga and took the train for about one hour to beautiful Sigulda.
After the train arrived in Sigulda, we walked through the small village of Sigulda towards Sigulda National Park.
The park was magnificent and the company was the best! People who participate in Couchsurfing are usually the kindest and most open minded people you can possibly meet.
In the evening, some of us went out for dinner, and afterwards the others headed to Ala Folk Bar but I was so tired after walking all day that I headed back to the hostel (okay, truth be told, I was the oldest one in the group but not let in due to my young looks – not the first time that’s happened…).
The next day I participated in a free walking tour. There are two different companies that operate free tours: Tours in Riga, which organizes a 1 ½ h tour in the old town and Yellow Free Tours, which organizes a 2 ½ hour tour outside of the old town. I participated in the first mentioned.
On my last night I joined another hostel guest, Dave, for a walk around town.
My return flight left on Easter Monday but I still had time to visit Riga Central Market in the morning.
Riga is a cozy little city and I loved spending my Easter there. But I know that the best places are made up of great people, and my journey wouldn’t have been half as good if it weren’t for all the wonderful travellers I met during these four days, so thanks to each and every one of you ♥