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The Architectural Marvels of Russia

A trip to Europe is the best thing that one can enjoy in their lifetime. With varied culture, architectural marvels, delicious food, natural wonders and much more on offer, there is nothing better than a well-planned trip to this continent. However, before you experience the architectural marvels, enjoyable food, or enjoy the culture and natural wonders, it is important to create your to-do list.

A European vacation can be overwhelming but with good planning (like setting up an itinerary, arranging proper transportation and having expectations in place), it would surely become one of the most memorable trips. Getting a tour package helps to set up a fixed plan in place, however, that is at the cost of flexibility. The usual recommendation is to plan your trip on your own to extract the maximum from your holidays. Make sure to get your documents in order so that you have the required permit to travel across Europe.

Don’t forget to establish a budget for your European trip as costs can go higher, or if not, set in order. Plan your itinerary and pick the destinations carefully. Make sure to arrange your trip to cut down on unnecessary travelling across Europe. Pick up the locations that are on your must-see list. Research cities and the sites that you want to explore, and book your transportation accordingly. Due to numerous types of accommodations and the associated costs, it is important to plan your stay as per your planned budget.

Accommodation and travel during peak seasons, like summer, will be costly. Therefore, make sure to plan and book early to get the best deals. Consider travel insurance from a proper insurance company. This helps avoid any unfortunate incidents related to flight cancellations, lost luggage, medical emergencies and similar situations during your holidays. Understand the local rules and laws of the places you plan to visit.

Okay. This time Russia is our destination. What’s there awaits? The imposing snow-capped mountains, golden coloured sandy beaches, deep lakes, numerous rivers, icy tundra and picturesque villages. Those are the perfect destination for holidays. The world’s largest country also boasts of culture, architecture, history, and some incredible works of art. With its large coastline and impressive cities with charisma and drama, there is a plenty on offer for travellers in this country.

Moscow, one of the main cities has an extensive history of fabulous art and culture. Many major historical places for tourism is located in this mega-metropolis. Red Square, for example, one of the largest and famous squares in the country is located here. This place has a hypnotic pull on visitors to the city. In the past, the Red square used to be a big marketplace with traders from all over the world descending here. Post the Revolution, Red square continued to remain as one of the most important locations in Moscow. All major roads in the city lead to this spacious place surrounded by attractions, such as Lenin’s Mausoleum, GUM Mall, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Armoury Chamber and Kremlin.

St. Basil’s Cathedral was constructed by Ivan “The Terrible” in the mid-16th century to honour his military conquest. This Cathedral looms majestically close to Kremlin and is one of the centrepieces of the Red Square. This building is witness to countless historical and political events in Russia’s history. The Cathedral has a 156-foot central nave surrounded by nine small separate chapels, four of which are raised such that their position displays the location between heaven and earth.

The Armoury Chamber in the Kremlin Museum showcases valuable gold, silverware, ceremonial arms and armours, as well as artefacts that peak into 12th to 17th century. Another major attraction is The Moscow Kremlin. This fortified complex near the Red Square serves as the official residence for the President of Russia. The complex is majestic and overlooks the Moskva River to the south. The Moscow Kremlin is one of the best-known Russian citadels with the Grand Kremlin Palace located inside it.

Lenin’s Mausoleum also famously known as Lenin’s Tomb is situated in the centre of Moscow near the Red Square. This granite structure monument is the resting place of the famous Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin. His preserved body kept here is on public display since shortly after his death.

For shopping enthusiasts, the Red Square has the GUM and TSUM malls. These are the most over-the-top shopping destinations in Moscow with a wide variety of things on sale.

While you are in Russia, for sure you want to swing by at St. Petersburg’s. This city boasts of culture and heritage with palaces, museums, winding canals and broad avenues. St. Petersburg’s history is filled with numerous architectural and artistic treasures, making it one of the most visited cities in Russia. Often referred to as the Museum city and cultural capital of the country, this place has close to 100 museums showcasing the Russian history of literature, art, theatre and music.

One of the famous attractions, The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, was constructed at the same location where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. The summer and Winter Palaces located in this city were the official residences of the Russian Monarchs. These attractive buildings have a lot of history associated with them.

Another major tourist attraction is the Hermitage Museum that has an impressive collection of paintings. This museum of art and culture is the second largest in the world and is home to the largest collections of paintings in the world with six historic buildings containing these collections.

Well, that’s all folks! I’ll see you on the next trip!

A Life in Ubud After Nightfall

Nightlife in Ubud is dedicated for those with the love of culture, music and fine dining experience. Well-known for its relaxing ambience, quiet environment and traditional atmosphere, this upland destination has several corners to see besides rice terraces, cultural places and temples. Most of the bars are sophisticated and laid-back, showing sports action or hosting live music for casual gatherings until around midnight, while not many late-night clubbing scenes available for the nightcrawlers. With wining, dining and soothing music being accessible, below are some evening hotspots to prove that there is still a life in Ubud after nightfall.

Ayung Valley Restaurant

Some of Ubud’s fine dining experiences are located outside the central. Kubu in the Kedewatan Village brings up a tropical breeze and intimate space of private cocoons overlooking the Ayung River. Open until 11 PM every day, you can feast a fine Mediterranean-European cuisine prepared with the freshest premium produce. Around the neighbourhood, Ayung Valley Restaurant sits majestically in such an unspoiled terrain sweeping vistas of the Ayung River. Popular among nature enthusiasts, this venue at The Royal Pita Maha will surely delight your eyes on superb dining, a perfect chance to relieve yourself from the stress.

Cescades

Further up, Alila Ubud’s Plantation Restaurant is serving authentic Balinese cuisine and farm-to-table Western tasting menus with lush rainforest views from every corner of the table. You can also chill at the valley’s edge of The Cabana Lounge. Serving cocktails until 11 PM, this venue attracts those who are in need of a tranquil break. Driving 30 minutes to the east, Cascades at Viceory Ubud offers jaw-dropping views of Petanu River valley and high-quality dinner experience, marking it as one of the world’s most beautiful restaurants.

 

The Bridges

In the centre, Rondji Restaurant offers mix selection of Balinese and Spanish dishes. Hidden inside the Blanco Museum, this place will allow you to have an elegant dining experience with scenic views of the Campuhan River valley. Just next to it, Bridges is a casual fine dining restaurant surrounding with the calmest sound of the river flow. Apart from romantic dining experiences, you can also chill yourself with wines and cocktails at DIVINE wine and cocktail bar while enjoying live music every Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday, cocktail lovers can go up close and personal to watch the bartenders performing their magic skills right before your eyes. By all means ask them to share the method in creating the best cocktails. While Friday, the Bridges’ sommelier proposes five wines to taste and you can get a chance to go further to expand your wine knowledge by joining the one-hour interactive wine tasting masterclass session.

Petani

Driving 15 minutes down south of the central Ubud, Petani Restaurant at Alaya Resort Ubud is a street-front restaurant with vintage and contemporary elements in the interior. Live music performance is available almost every night of the week with a legendary double-neck guitar, Balawan, takes to the stage with his magic fingers every Friday. 5 minutes’ walk down the road, The View at Plataran Ubud Hotel & Spa allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. The ambience brings a sense of tranquillity and peace, as if it is designed to make you feel an integral part of the nature while you dine.

 

Golden Monkey

Ubud’s nightlife activities are centralised in the central. After spending an hour enjoying cultural performances at Ubud Palace, you can walk around to discover some places cool down. LaRamona is a hipster spot around the corner. Offering a new style and atmosphere in Ubud, this place is a funky space that musically inspired and flavourfully rich. Next to it, Golden Monkey serves a large selection of classic Cantonese favourites. You can discover Chinese ornaments are all over the place, creating an authentic vibe of a Chinese restaurant.

 

 

CP Lounge

Lively ambience can be found along Jalan Monkey Forest. If you ask any cab driver in Ubud to direct you to the best music spot, they will most likely direct you to XL Shisha Lounge. The vibe is a bit of Middle Eastern with a comfortable lounge style setting. With a small dance floor, the music plays a certain charm to move your feet until 2 AM. About 5 minutes’ walk down the road, CP Lounge is the only place in Ubud where you can dance until the wee hours of the morning. Featuring a spacious open-air lounge, jam sessions under the stars start from 9 PM and DJs continue the party at the dance floor inside until 4 AM. Further down, Laughing Buddha Bar is a small bur but very popular for drawing crowds of soulful live Jazz music lovers. Other genres also feature Latin, blues and freestyle acoustic among other performances. To entertain the nightcrawlers, the kitchen is open until 1 AM every day serving Asian & Mediterranean menu.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Hello Winter From Dubai

As the cooler weather makes its way back for the autumn-winter season, Dubai’s outdoor venues come alive, offering something for everyone. Whether you prefer to stay on land or head out to sea, it’s all possible – because in Dubai, even the sky isn’t the limit.

Dubai is as well known for its stunning vistas as it is for its amazing food, shopping and outdoor adventures, and now that the weather has cooled down, why not take it all in from a different perspective? A hot air balloon ride gives you a bird’s-eye-view of the city’s beautiful landscape at a leisurely pace that allows you to truly enjoy the spectacular scenery, from the city’s skyscrapers to the desert dunes beyond – a trip everyone should take at least once in a lifetime. Many companies offer a take-home video for a souvenir so you can relive the experience in the years to come. Some even serve breakfast beforehand, which is always handy when you’re up at dawn to watch the sunrise.

The “Old Dubai” area that includes the neighbourhoods on the shores of Dubai Creek is arguably one of the most atmospheric in the city, and there’s no better time to enjoy this than when the weather cools down and you can take your time strolling through its winding streets. Begin your day at Creekside cafe down by the water, where you can munch on classic Emirati dishes with a modern twist (red velvet luqaymat, anyone?) while you watch the boats go by. Craving a little shopping? The souks in the area are a riot of colour and enticing bargains. Afterwards, hop onto a dhow for a trip down the Creek. Alternatively, if contemporary boating is more your thing, then why not fulfil another modern Dubai tradition and hire a yacht for the day? You could spend it enjoying a barbecue and sunshine with your friends while floating around Dubai Marina instead.

Dubai’s gorgeous winter weather is perfect for enjoying a picnic in one of the city’s many green spaces, such as Safa Park or Zabeel Park. Pack your own food hamper or let someone else take care of things for you, then lay out a blanket and while away the day enjoying nibbles and conversation. Alternatively, head
to Ripe Market and sample goodies from one of its many food stands before browsing the stalls of locally-created, handmade brands and wares.

While the dazzling horse racing scene in Dubai is better known, camel racing is just as worthy a race experience that’s also closely tied to the local culture. Rise before dawn, head down to the camel race tracks, and join in the excitement as throngs of loyal fans cheer on their favourite racers – some of them even watching from cars that follow the action at speed. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the opportunity to take photos with and pet the camels in a designated area.

The creations in this garden are seemingly miraculous, using flora to construct awe-inspiring pieces of floral art formed into shapes ranging from a peacock to an Emirates airplane. Whether you’re walking under the canopy of rainbow umbrellas or admiring one of the jaw-dropping installations, this place is a riot of colour, and the best part is that it’s all made with living flowers, expertly cared for and beautifully bloomed. There are more than 100 million blooming flowers here, and the Airbus A380 piece has even broken a Guinness World Record.

Catching a film outdoors makes the experience that much more theatrical and memorable. With the winter weather come pleasantly cool evenings, when a variety of venues across the city host regular movie nights, giving you the chance to watch both new and classic films under the starry night sky. You can even enjoy delicious food from top restaurants as well as fresh popcorn and other movie-favourite snacks. The whole experience doesn’t just feel like more of an occasion, it also brings out a wonderfully unifying community feel.

In a city that loves adrenaline-fuelled activities as much as it does a relaxing spa day, the option to go skydiving has become one of Dubai’s most popular “must-do” activities among both residents and tourists. During the mild winter, Skydive Dubai’s campuses reopen to offer bold fun-seekers the chance to soar over the desert dunes or the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina, with entire experience recorded for them. Don’t
worry – you’ll be accompanied by an experienced instructor, and they even offer courses for more dedicated “jumpers”. This is definitely one for the bucket list!

There’s no dearth of water parks in Dubai – and that’s a good thing, considering how much fun they can be, at almost any time of the year. During the cooler months, it’s a great way to spend the day, and there are so many to choose from that you’ll never get bored. Favourites include Wild Wadi and Aquaventure, which both offer a great range of rides, pools and fun for the whole family, while a more recent addition is Legoland Water Park. But if you’re looking for a slightly different and more physically demanding water-based experience, why not try Aqua Fun? Dubai’s first-ever water obstacle course is where you can run, jump and slide over 74 different obstacles, guaranteeing excitement and laughs for all ages.

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Zeno Indonesia

A Day to The Far East of Bali

Everyone wants to travel at one point or another to cool off from life’s routine worries and hard work. But travelling is not only about visiting from one place to another, it is more about satisfying one’s inner yearnings for taste and class. Many people assume that travelling to the far east of Bali is time consuming, which is not entirely a wrong assumption. However, it is actually doable for a day trip.

Some destinations in the east coast are just magical! They are a combination of unspoiled surroundings, remote locations, intense vistas and snuggly warm people. For adventure lovers, this is probably it; an opportunity to engage with the natural wonders. In addition to that, the presence of Balinese historical sites along the area is such a delight for those who want to go deeper into an understanding of Balinese culture. Definitely worth the time and effort!

Starting early in the morning is a must. Driving 2.5 hours from Denpasar, you will reach at Candidasa. You can make a quick stop here. Feel the tropical climate and smell the fresh morning air from the ocean, it creates an intoxicating perfume to mark the start of the day.

Driving another 30 minutes further up, you will pass by Bugbug village. Since you are here, you may want to consider visiting Bukit Asah Bugbug. If you are looking for a silent and a peaceful scene, this semi-hidden spot offers green hills with the exotic expanse of blue sea. While hearing the roar of the ocean waves, embrace the blowing cool breeze to maximize the relaxation of your solitude. Morning visit doesn’t attract many visitors, which is a perfect time to retreat from the frenetic city.

Moving on from your solitary moment, the next stop is the neatly crafted garden of Tirtagangga Water Palace. Quite well known for its holy water and religious ceremonies, this location consists of three separate complexes each having its own set of ponds and attractive sculptures which simply add to the beauty of the overall water garden. As you enter the place, the first thing that comes into view is a long row of sculptures of guardian figures. You will also notice the neatly placed polygonal stepping stones to tour the area over the ponds and pools. Pools in the complex have designs from the olden days and created with natural materials like sandstone. There are a lot of stories behind the creation of this garden.

 

Another historical site nearby is Ujung Water Palace. Located at Tumbu village, a short distance from Tirtagangga, Ujung Water Palace was basically the resting and entertainment place for the Kings of Karangasem and their guests. On similar lines like Tirtagangga, this place has a beautiful park with huge fish ponds surrounding the heritage buildings. From the highest level of this palace, you can have an enchanting view of the sea line and hills with absolute greenery. It also displays the beauty of Mount Agung and nearby green terraced rice fields.

 

Driving another 30 minutes to the north, slightly after lunchtime, you will arrive at Amed Beach. Almost 90 percent of the population in Amed relies on fishing, which explain the traditional fishing boats line the beach area. Apart from fishing, hospitable people can also be spotted selling salt, trinkets, and other items to support their families and the community. Unlike in the southern coast, the local people of Amed are genuinely warm and friendly to visitors. With the large number of tourists flocking to this part of the island each year, this village has transformed from quiet fishing village and is currently on verge of change. Amed village has now become backpacker’s area near the coast with ease of access to Jemeluk Bay, which is the next stop.

Jemeluk Bay is only a short drive up from Amed Beach. Be prepared for a bumpy road! However, the view is breath-taking. One of the first beautiful glimpses of the Jemeluk Bay is from the sunset point. Along with the scenic view of Amed Beach coastline, it is easy not to capture Mount Agung of your sight. Several options for lodging have come up in this area along with new restaurants and shops popping up, making it a much sought-after tourism destination.

With easy access, Tulamben Beach is located 30 minutes’ drive from Amed village. Overlooking the Lombok strait, the sea water in this beach is calm and clear with gradations of bluish green colour. Rich in marine bio life with a thousand-year-old shipwreck and coral gardens, Tulamben is an all-year diving destination for the diving enthusiasts. A perfect place for underwater photography. With the overall surge in tourism, the small village of Tulamben is developing.

Not far from the beach, Paibon Tulamben Temple is just around the corner. This temple signifies and highlights the Balinese Hindu culture and religion. Like many other temples on the island, Paibon Tulamben Temple signifies the honour shown to the Sea Gods. The temple complex has multiple temples in it and each one is visible from the next one forming a chain. This was built as early as the 16th century during the Majapahit era to offer spiritual protection to the people living in the area.

There you have it! A one-day trip to the eastern part of Bali doesn’t seem impossible to do. Of course, there are still tons of places and hidden spots need to be discovered. However, the list mentioned above suits for either tourists who have limited visiting time and scheduled plans or local people who need to get away from the chaotic southern part over the weekend.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Embracing Life at The Gillis

Life offers stupendous opportunities to everyone to explore and to dig out the real meaning of life as well as to comprehend the intricate and obscure working of nature. As for as I am concerned, the opportunity has been bestowed to me in the form of travelling as it allows me to accumulate the unknown and to complete what is missing.

So, there I was, visiting the Gili Islands. Starting with the most famous one, Gili Trawangan tenders to unveil the uniqueness and different colors of joy in the form of music, parties, excursions and other amazements. Being Human, variety is the necessity of the life, and sometimes we need to enthuse ourselves with the excitements of dance and parties. Pubs, beaches and clubs in the island furnish these desires to its pinnacle and then there is no needing felt to go elsewhere. Gili Trawangan is the place to exert all extra energies. The local pub, Tîr na Nôg, though doesn’t render enormous options but its fresh juices are one of the best in the island. Blue Marlin Café not only excels at rendering the indigenous drinks and food but also provides elegant foreign drinks and food as well. However, too much party and drinking sometimes make the environment unbearable as well and thus compels me to seek out placid and smooth spot.

Gili Meno is the place that alleviates that commotion and ruffle of daily life by providing calm and sedating surroundings. Here the environment is tranquil and nature can be felt more lucidly. As smaller in size and having lower tourists’ density, the place offers me a unique opportunity to completely revive my inner soul with sense of ultimate content. The beautiful beaches incite people to have a walk over it. While walking on these charming beaches, it seems that the nature is uttering its melody through the composition of winds with waves striking the shores. The sun setting scene at the white beach of Gili Meno hazes my brain confusing the scenery with that of the heavens. The aroma of the atmosphere in the evening seems to uttering some untold romantic story. Sasak Café and Ya Ya Warung are two of my favourite dining resorts. In the evening, I grazed upon that lonely bunch of trees. The scenery reminded me of the words of Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

When it comes to Gili Air, the island offers an exquisite blend of traditional values with the beautification carried out by craftsman of science and technology. It is composed of modern resorts with most up to date technologies and at the same time provides the opportunity of seeing natural bounties in its full exposure. Being an epicurean person, it gives me great delight to get taste of several types of food. Bel Air Resort gives the yummy food. Its pasta is one of my favorite dish. The island not only suffices the need of having delicious and luscious food but also comes in hand by providing one of the world’s most sorts after snorkeling spots. For me, it’s not simply the island; it is completely a novel world exhibiting the experiences that can’t be narrated by simple words.

Phnom Penh – Pear of the Asia

Phnom Penh didn’t start life as a main defrayal until behind the Angkor time in which Angkor Wat plus the nearby cities grown to fame. King Ponhea Yat in the mid of 15th century escaped a Siamese attack in Angkor and established in a piece of what is nowadays Phnom Penh, ascertaining a palace.

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