Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fotos para la historia

Acabo de recibir unas fotos para la historia! Como ya os conte hace un tiempo, vi la final de la Eurocopa cuando visitaba Sofia, en Bulgaria. Alli me encontre con algunos espanyoles y vimos el partido juntos. Y ahora acabo de recibir esas fotos!!


Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia and one of the coolest cities I have visited recently. The Old Town is quite small and compact and that makes it easy to walk it all in a short time. As usual in the Baltic countries, all downtown is medieval.

This is the main square, where the city hall is. It is quite nice and houses are beautiful.

And these are three typical houses. Nice, isn't it!

And the walls of the city. This is one of the coolest things in town. A complete ancient wall with turrets!!

And the view over downtown from a nearby hill (where the Parliament and the Cathedral are).

And this is Alexander Nevski church, just in front of the Parliament.

More towers!

And a nice old street near my hostel.

Tallinn even has a beach near downtown! Pirita is its name. But as you can see, the main problem is still the weather... Estonia is very much in the North!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


After visiting Vilnius, I went straight to Trakai, a little town 45 minutes away by bus. The main attraction there is a castle on an island in a lake. It sounds cool and it definitely is!

When I arrived at Trakai, I found out the castle was around 2 km away from the bus station, so I had to work quite a lot. The weather was ok and it was nice to walk by the lake. There were some boats by the shore. They were so colourful!

After a while walking, I started seeing the island castle far away behind another island's trees.

And finally, I arrived there!

The castle was beautiful and quite well preserved. At that moment, I noticed it was the cover of my guidebook! So it was a good decision to come here. Hehe... These are some of the pictures I took there.

And this is a nice panorama from the opposite coast.

After that, I came back to Vilnius, had a quick dinner and flew to Riga, in Latvia, where I slept.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Last Saturday, I visited Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. The weather was really bad when I arrived, with a big downpour... The Old Town, as usual was medieval and there were many churches. Lithuania was part of Poland for a long time and still has some remnants from that period: the main religion is Catholicism. Some parts of the city could be in Spain, Portugal or Italy: narrow streets with churches everywhere.

This is the main street in the Old Town, Pilies Gatve.

And this is the Cathedral.

This is Bernardinu Gatve, a pintoresque street going from near the cathedral to the beautiful church of St Anne.

This is probably the most important landmark in the city: St Anne's Church. Napoleon said he wished he could put it on his hand and carry it to Paris. He really liked it... me too :)

This is the Church of St Nicholas, very colourful...

And this is the main square. The city hall is on one side of it, just at my back. The colourful houses are the most striking features of this place.

And finally, St Theresa's Church and the Gate of Dawn, the only remaining original gate in the city.

I continued my way to the bus station and got onto a bus going to Trakai, a near-by town. That will come tomorrow!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back from another backpacker's adventure

Hi! I am back! Finally i made it!

Since Saturday, I have been traveling in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I arrived this morning back to the Netherlands. The conditions of the trip quite in the limit: just a backpack with 5 kg in total, alone, lots of walking and a really restricted budget. And the result: one of my nicest times in Europe lately!

On Saturday morning, I flew with FlyLAL to Vilnius in Lithuania. The flight was to Riga in Latvia, but the stopover time was 9.5 h!! So, I decided to visit Vilnius and Trakai. In the beginning, I thought it was far too much to be visited in one day. But in the end, I could make it! Then at 23h, I flew to Riga (Latvia).

On Sunday, I visited Riga, a superb city. In the evening, I traveled to Tallinn (Estonia) by bus.

On Monday, I visited Tallinn, a lovely and attractive city. There I walked around the Old Town and also went to the beach, in Pirita.

On Tuesday, I took a bus back to Riga at 6.30am and back in Latvia, I went to Sigulda, the entry point to the River Gauja Valley National Park. At night, back to Riga, short nap in the airport and back to Amsterdam.

In the coming days, when I get some of my energy back, I will tell you more about each place (I promise I will try not to make it boring!) and post some photos!

Now, some statistics! :)

With this trip, I have overcome a psychological turning point... I have traveled in or to more than 30 countries! In total, I have been to 31 countries now. As I told you some time ago, most of these trips have been within Europe. Besides, I have achieved my objective of knowing Europe before leaving the continent for PhD studies.

This is my current map of visited countries:

And this is a zoom over Europe:

In the coming months, until September, I won't travel to new countries in Europe. I will travel to Morocco and around Asia: Japan again, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. And after that, it will be time for hard work. Not more traveling for a while. But I will have traveled to 35 countries and have many plans for the future!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Plovdiv (Пловдив)

During our last day in Bulgaria, we visited Plovdiv. Plovdiv is a very old city (older than Athens or Rome) and has a nice Roman theatre and a nice medieval old town. The city is the second biggest in Bulgaria, but the historical center is quite small and can be visited in half a day.

This is what the Roman Theatre looks like!

And these are some photos taken in the medieval town.

Enjoy the weekend!!

This weekend, I will travel to the Baltic countries: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I will be back on Wednesday or Thursday.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Trip to Bulgaria in the map

Click on the image below to see where we went in the map.

Rila Monastery (Рилски манастир)

During our second day in Bulgaria, Felipe and I went to Rila Monastery, a nice monastery in the middle of the mountains which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in the early eighties.

It took around 2 hours by car from Sofia to get to the monastery. The trip started using wide road and little by little we got into the mountains. The entrance already showed there was something beautiful hidden inside the walls.

And this is what was hidden, a superb church and a tower. The view when you get there is impressive. With the mountains as the perfect background, the colourful and densely decorated church is really beautiful.

And the tower looks quite nice too!

Everything was full of religious pictures like this one:

This is the chimney in the monastery kitchen. It looked quite curious. The walls were so dark!

On the other side of the monastery, there was another gate and behind it there was another small building with some restaurants.

In the end, this day trip to the mountains and to this superb monastery was completely worth it!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sofia (София)

As I told you in some of the previous posts about football, last weekend I went to Bulgaria with Felipe. I did not really know what I should expect of that country and what we could find there. When I thought about Bulgaria, I just thought about Hristo Stoichkov ;-)

Sofia turned up to be an interesting city. The historical center is really small and you can see everything in about one day. The interesting thing is that Sofia, or Bulgaria in general, is a place where many cultures got mixed: Turkish, Russian, Greek, Western European. Therefore, you are walking in some streets and you can see a bizantine church, a mosque and a synagogue in the same square... Interesting.

Bulgaria is still not used to tourism, at least the Eastern and Central parts of the country, and just a few people can actually speak some English. Besides, everything is written in cyrillic (e.g. Russian letters) so it can be a bit confusing for some people. However, the weather was great and prices were ridiculously low for westeners! You could drink half a liter of beer for less than one euro!! And for 5 euros you could have a proper meal!! Tomorrow, I will tell you about our trip to Rila Monastery, but I wanted to tell you that a shared taxi among 4 people hired for a 5 hours drive and a 2 hours wait cost exactly 15 euros per person!! Try that in the Netherlands...

So, let's proceed with some photos, as usual!

The first thing you notice is that you will have problems reading the names of the streets if you cannot read any cyrillic:

This nice building is the National Theatre. Soviet associated countries have always been famous for their support of culture.

This is Alexander Nevski Memorial Church, a very beautiful church in Russian style, which has become one of the symbols of the city.

And this is the view from the entrance:

This is the Russian church, which looked similar to the ones I visited in the Kremlin, when I visited Moscow in 2006.

This nice bizantine church is called Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church and it was a bit off the center.

This church is called St. Nedelya and was just in the real real center of Sofia, just next to the Prime Minister's residence and the former Party House.

And this mosque is not far away! Behind it, the Baths of Sofia... However, my camera got broken and was the only camera we had at that moment... so I have not got any pictures of that beautiful building.

Finally, the women's market, a traditional street market when local people bought vegetables and other stuff. Quite authentic!

Off the city center, the city looked really poor and untamed, which made it also attractive! Just different from all Western Europe: so homogeneus!!