A Ticket To Amsterdam

Amsterdam!!
It just broke the clichéd opinion that I had about this city before visiting. I knew this place more as a city for stoners and thought it to be over-hyped. To my surprise, it hosts some of the most beautiful canals, bridges, flowers and dutch architecture. The streets were all vibrant and buzzing with people who are moving around on cycles at any hour of the day.

Also known as a city where Cannabis and prostitution are legal, and where you can savour some of the most amazing dutch pancakes, and of course, lots and lots of canals and bridges.

Before I could explain any further about the city, let me just dive into the actual things to do and places to visit in Amsterdam. We spent around 4 days in Amsterdam during mid-October.

Temperature : 15-20 C  (Warm clothes recommended as the place is windy)

Accommodation : We stayed at our friend’s place in Amsterdam Amstel which is pretty close to the city centre. Since I had already done my research about good hostels, dropping in some suggestions here : ClinkNOORD, Flying Pig

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Canals of Jordaan

Main Places to Visit:

Rijks Museum – It is one of the best museums that I have seen so far. It showcases the rich heritage of their ancestors and their lifestyle incredibly. If you plan to visit, don’t forget to cover 2nd floor and also, the 1.2 section in 1st floor.

Red Light District – The widely renowned red light district of Amsterdam is a must visit after 11pm when the streets get lit up with red lights.

Zaanse Saanch – It is 40 min metro ride from Amsterdam to this beautiful place which is designed in a way to give you an essence of age-old dutch countryside with windmills!! It takes atleast 3 hrs to explore this place properly. Don’t miss this place if you have enough time.

Anne Frank House – It was the place where Anne Frank was reportedly in hiding for around 2 years during WWII. However, if you are planning to visit this place, ensure that you book your online tickets (no offline tickets available) well in advance (We couldn’t get the tickets :/ )

Vondel Park – If you want to relax in a very silent place filled with beautiful trees, canals, and swans, you must visit this place. It had insane variety of trees sporting different fall colours. It is also a place where public sex is legal!!

Van Gogh Museum – If you are into paintings, you should consider visiting this place. (We couldn’t find time to visit it)

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At Museum Entrance

If you want to go shopping, you can find many shops near Dam Square or for street shopping, you can visit Albert Cuyp Market.

Also, you might want to get clicked before ” I Amsterdam ” Symbol which is just close to Van Gogh/ Rjiks Museum. You are lucky if you get a good picture without the crowd.

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Coffee Shop (Smokeys)
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Adam’s Lookout (Look at the view)
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Amsterdam Canals (Canal Cruise)

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Few Travel Tips :

If you are below 25 yrs, you are most likely to get a discount in entry fees in most of the museums, historical monuments in Europe. Just ask them about it and flash your passport and you get a discount 😀 (I availed many such discounts)

If you are planning to rent a bicycle in Amsterdam, you can visit Mac Bikes . They charge around 10-15 Euros per day. Also, ensure that you carry a mobile holder otherwise it gets difficult to deal with google maps.

If you are planning for shopping, never plan it on Sunday as most of the stores remain closed that day. During regular days, the shops shut by 7-8 pm, so plan your shopping accordingly. Also, street shopping markets shut by 5 pm

Ensure that you have a minimum of 2-3 hrs to explore each museum. If you don’t have enough time, ask for the must-visit spots in the museum at the ticket counter. Also, while planning for museums, check for working days.

Pick pocketing is common in Europe. Be alert (Especially your passports and wallets)

You can get a metro pass for 4 days which costs around 18 Euros. It would be really helpful for internal travel.

If you are into exploring other museums, you can checkout “I Amsterdam” Card which offers many activities at a discounted price of 75 Euros per person. It covers most of the museums. Since I am not into museums, I didn’t take one.

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I hope you find it useful if you are planning to visit Amsterdam 🙂

Feel free to ping me on my Instagram or email me for any more travel tips or doubts 😀

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Backpacking Trip To Spain

When it comes to ticking things off my bucket list, I have my head clear and my mind focussed 😀

Do you think anyone would want to have ‘facing a gruesome accident but managing to get out alive’ in their bucket list? Well, I did tick it off my list 😛

Brushing aside such not-so-sane things, I do have some travel goals and Europe was always on the list and I wanted to do one backpackers trip with strangers before I turn 25. And yeah, it’s done now (atleast, a little part of Europe)

Spain and Portugal exploration happened to be my first leg of Europe journey. To all those people who wanted to know about how I have planned the trip, about the backpackers group and about my experience in these two countries- this blog post, the upcoming one and my Instagram posts would answer all your queries. I will be pitching in my suggestions about the places to visit, the places you could skip and also, the precautions you need to take based on my personal experience.

Let’s get started!! 😀

Mumbai > Barcelona > Ibiza > Madrid > Lisbon > Mumbai

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BARCELONA

5 days and 4 nights stay

Accommodation : Generator Hostel

Main Places to Visit:

La Sagrada Familia – Renowned for its captivating Gaudi architecture and magnificence. Book your tickets online and they don’t allow post your time slot (Be on Time).It will be a guided tour provided you make it on time. By the way, it is still being built!! (since a century almost :/ )

Gothic Quarter – Old city of Barcelona. Explore the place on foot. Has a plethora of options for restaurants and clubs. Night life is good here.

La Rambla – You can’t miss this street. It is one of the best to witness the vibe of Barcelona city.

La Barceloneta – Seaside neighbourhood of Barcelona lined up with good restaurants along with a splendid view

Things to Do:

Cycling tour in the city ( they are going to show you some of the best streets in Barca)

Try Sangria and Aperol Spritz if you are into wine and alcohol

Try PaellaTapas, Churros, Croissants  when in Spain (Food)

Camp Nou (didn’t visit as I am not so much into football) and Opium (popular pub) are two things which have good feedback but I couldn’t make it. Try those if you find time.

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Streets of Barcelona 
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L’esquerra de L’eixample
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Gaudi Fountain
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La Sagrada Familia

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IBIZA

2 days and 2 nights

Accommodation : Amistat Island Hostel 

Main Places to Visit:

Sant Antoni de Portmany – Town on the west coast of Ibiza (party place). Explore port area for night life.

Dalt Vila – It’s the old town of Ibiza which should be explored on foot. Such amazing fairy tale streets!!

Castell de Eivissa – You might want to visit this place to get a good panoramic view of Ibiza.

Things to Do:

Boat Party – You should not miss on this. A unique experience all together. Costs around 6-8k per person.

Watch the sun go down with wonderful live instrumental music and some wine at/ near Café Mambo in Sant Antoni de Portmany. Have to say, my best sunset so far.

Amnesia is apparently an amazing pub you can visit in Ibiza. We chose to party by the sea-side with some good wine and good company !! (my way of partying 😛 )

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Carretera de Cala Gracio`
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Sunset near Cafe Mambos in Sant Antoni de Portmany
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View from Castell de Eivissa
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Near Playa De Bossa

MADRID

3 days and 2 nights

Accommodation : Sun Gate One (best hostel in the entire trip)

Main Places to Visit:

Royal Palace of Madrid – One of the most popular places in Madrid. We didn’t enter inside though!! We were enjoying the view with some good live music 😀

Gran Via – This street is always buzzing and is the best for shopping 🙂

Toledo – It’s on countryside, a 45 min ride from Madrid. You can find many local travel agencies conducting a day trip to Toledo. Historically significant place!! Again, explore this beauty on foot.

Also, Stadio Santiago Bernabeu  if you are interested in football 🙂

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Royal Palace of Madrid
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Streets of Madrid
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Streets of Toledo
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View of Toledo from the highest view point
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Near Gran Via

I didn’t find Madrid interesting though!! It mostly had the busy city vibe with good partying and shopping places. Teatro Kapitol is a must visit pub if you are into partying.

Alert : Pickpocketing is damn prominent in Spain. Be very very careful with your belongings!! You never even notice it, they are too good at it.

Backpackers Group

‘When in City’ is one such travel agency which frequently does backpackers’ trips across the world every year. Well, there are enough pros and cons when dealing with this group. So, weigh those if you are planning to join their trips :/

Pros being that you might end up meeting really cool people like I did. It could be a coincidence too. Of course, more than anything else, people you are with, is important.

Cons being that you are going to overpay for their not-so-good service and their not-so-experienced team. You end up paying a premium compared to other such groups. They have limited knowledge about the best places to explore (atleast in case of Spain and Portugal)- had received misleading guidance at times, and you will also see them become stingy :/ (mostly in case of accommodation)  –  which was so disappointing for many of us. Their packages include only accommodation at hostels, internal flights and a trip guide ( International flights , visa charges not included). Many things in their itinerary require additional payment. So, take note of all those.

So, before you go ahead, decide if you are okay with the cons and then take a call.

Well!! These are some suggestions based on my travel experience. DM me on Instagram for more details. Would always love to help you guys 🙂

Hope this post is helpful for those planning to any of these places!!

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Those who made the trip worth-while 😀

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10 Things To Do In And Around Jaipur

Camels decked up in beautiful colors, streets beaming with homes resembling the palace architecture, women clad in colorful sarees with a ghungat (a veil worn to cover the face), men flaunting their multi-color turbans and of course, the scorching heat – If you have experienced all of these, you are definitely in Rajasthan.

We didn’t have enough time to explore Rajasthan completely. So, we thought we would be doing two different trips. One is the short one- includes Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar and the other includes Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaiselmer. The first one is done in this trip and I would be planning my second one sometime next year.

Since many of you requested for this trip details on my Instagram, here I go with all the details and the things to do 😀

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Accommodation

I was exploring Booking.com and found this cute little homestay, Magpie Villa which was right in the center of  Jaipur .We stayed in Jaipur for 3 days. There are also good number of luxurious options available in Jaipur.

Budget options : Magpie Villa , Umaid Bhawan

Luxurious : Rambagh Palace

10 Things To Do In And Around Jaipur

1. Visit Amer Palace and City Palace, Jaipur

City palace is the current residence of the royal family which is in Jaipur whereas Amer Palace is the age-old residence of the royal family when Amer used to be the capital of the state.

These two palaces are a must-visit to see the architecture and mind blowing facilities that the royal family had, back in 16th century.

155-1453715009_56a5ee41a4766Amer fort

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2. Don’t forget the elephant ride in Amer fort, Jaipur

There are two ways get to the top of the Amer fort – elephant ride and vehicles. Elephant safari is something which you need to try here.

IMG_0828Amer fort

3. Visit Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

This fort which is situated on the top of a hill will give you an entire view of the city. This fort has a completely different architecture compared to the other forts in Jaipur. While most of the forts have intricate stone carvings, this portrays detailed paintings as well.

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4. Shopping in the streets near Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Silver and Gem Jewellery is something which I loved about this market.

IMG_0784Hawa Mahal (It’s just a wall – No palace, as the name says it)

5. Taste Pyaas Kachori and Raj Kachori in Jaipur

These are really popular in Jaipur. You can snap a quick break in LMB near Hawa Mahal to taste these. If you are person with sweet tooth, then you would be enjoying the food even more 🙂

kachoriRaj Kachori

6. Camel Ride and Rajasthani women dressing in Pushkar

Pushkar is my favorite part of the trip. You can actually witness a bit of the actual desert atmosphere in Pushkar. Since we went just before the Pushkar Camel Mela was about to start, we could see the preparations in full swing.

Also, you can try dressing up like a local for which they usually charge 100-200 bucks per person. Camel riders usually takes you to this place if you ask him 🙂

IMG_0577Pushkar ( That’s me 😀 )

7. Visit the Brahma temple and Pushkar Lake in Pushkar

This is the only temple which is built for Brahma in the world. More than the temple, I liked the Pushkar lake which is just close to the temple.

8. Shopping in Pushkar Streets

This is one more thing which I loved the most in Pushkar. Home decor and camel leather bags are the best here. I stocked up quite a lot of stuff here. Personally, I found Pushkar shopping much better and cheaper than Jaipur.

unnamed (4)Local Women In Pushkar Market

unnamed (5)Crockery in Pushkar Market

9. Take the rope-way to reach the Savitri Temple, Pushkar

More than the temple, rope-way gives a view of entire Pushkar.

10. Visit the Ajmer Darga

Ajmer was on my list mostly because of the Darga, which is extremely popular. Be prepared to witness some insane crowd 😛

PS : This Darga didn’t really appeal to me as I found it as a place where you find few locals looting money from the devotees in the name of the god (especially if you are an outsider).I personally experienced it.This is not only the case in this Darga but also, many of the temples that I have visited in recent times.

Other than that, Darga was good 🙂 If you are a foodie, then the streets outside Darga need to be explored 😀

unnamed (2)Entrance to the Darga

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Tips

  • Carry a scarf / hat to protect yourself from the sun. Otherwise, you are going to see  50 shades of tan 😛
  • Bargain a lot if you are shopping in Jaipur. Since many foreigners visit these stores, they hike up the prices (Ask for 40% of the price)
  • For camel ride in Pushkar, you can find one place where all the camels are present just near Savitri temple. However, those are a bit expensive. Bargain or you can find a cheaper option if could spot any camel on the road which is not in any group
  • Shorts are not allowed in most of these temples and Dargas. So, dress accordingly
  • Opt for tourist guides only for City palace and Amer fort. Other places don’t require one

That’s it for this blog, DM me on Instagram or email me on lavanyapulijala7@gmail.com for anymore details.

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