Montezuma, Costa Rica – take a note

Montezuma is a town in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica located in the south of Cóbano – the district that it belongs to and where most services are at. It started as a remote fishing village and has gained popularity since the 1980s among tourists on a budget.

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The town features a mix of local residents as well as foreign who come for the beaches, rivers, and beautiful waterfalls that can be found surrounding the village. Montezuma has well-known healing arts and yoga communities and is known by filmmakers and artists from across the world for the annual Costa Rica International Film Festival in May.

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The center of Montezuma consists almost entirely of accommodations, restaurants, and souvenir shops. There is no bank and no post office in Montezuma (although there is an automated teller machine that works at certain times when there is not a huge crowd in town).

“One of my favorite spots is Montezume. It is a lovely town located at the Pacific Ocean where you get an amazing experience of pure contact with mother nature. It makes you feel peaceful and grateful. Unforgettable.”

Leonie Leandra

Country: Costa Rica

Country’s capital: San Jose

Official language: Spanish

Currency: Costa Rican colón (1€ = 598 CRC; $1 = 534; 1£ = 760 CRC)

Population:  7494 inhabitants

Total area: 316.61 km²

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Paris, always a good idea!

I remember being in Paris for the first time: I was six and I immediately fell in love with this city.

Since that time I have come back to the French capital in different occasions, and I had the opportunity to explore this amazing city.

Exactly one year ago, I came to Paris with my boyfriend to celebrate our first anniversary together and, even if it could sound like a clique, Paris is not only an incredibly romantic place to spend time with your love one, but it’s also a city that offers everything you could wish for: good food, cultural exhibitions, amazing walks and entertainment.

TRAVEL TO PARIS – FRANCE

  1. AIRPLANE to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (airlines such asTAP or British Airways flight there)
  2. TRAINto Paris (from London it is about 2 hours and it costs between £60/75€/85$ and £120/150€/$170)

From the airport to Paris

  1. TRAIN RER BFROM Paris CDG Airport to Paris takes around 45 minutes and it costs £7.90/10€/$11 (adult fare)

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Whatever you’re looking for Paris is always a good idea, and here there are some tips to enjoy a three day trip in one of the most inspiring cities of the world:

FIRST DAYLouvre museum (ticket: £12/15€/$17), Notre Dame (ticket: £2.4/€3/$3.40 full price/ under 26: £1.6/2€/$2.30) and Les Marais.

Breakfast at Angelina

Angelina is an elegant café situated in Rue Rivoli, very close to the Louvre museum. This is the perfect place to start your first day in Paris. The breakfast menu is very rich and it is not easy to decide between pastries, omelettes and croissants. I suggest you to try the hot chocolate (one of their specialties): it’s the best way to fully enjoy a Parissienne breakfast experience!

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Berthillon: the best ice-cream in the city

Enjoy a nice 20 minutes walking from the Louvre to Notre Dame and you’ll reach one of the most suggestive places of Paris: “Ile de la citè”, a small land surrounded by the Sienna River. Especially in the summer, you cannot miss what it is considered the best gelato place in the town: Le Berthillon. Be prepared to queue outside, but I assure you it will be worth it: I’ve tried the vanilla and raspberry flavors and it was one of the best ice-creams I have ever had!

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Romantic evening at Le Pompidou 

Museum ticket price: £11/13.80€/$15.50/ reduced: £8.7/€11/$12.30)

Le Pompidou is the most famous museum of contemporary art in Europe and it is interesting to visit it also for admiring its particular architecture. Le pompidou is located in Les Marais, a place where is nice to have a walk to enjoy the suggestive atmosphere of the city by night.

 

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Le Georges restaurant: In the last floor of the museum there is a restaurant that offers an amazing view of the city: the ideal place to enjoy a romantic cocktail with an amazing view!

Chez Omar, the best couscous in town: Chez Omar is a small Moroccan style restaurant located in Le marais.

SECOND DAY: Disneyland Paris (ticket price: £51/64€/$72 – one day ticket) 

Make your dreams come true and enjoy a magical experience surrounded by Disney attractions. Walking inside the princess’s castle and flying with Peter Pan made me feel like a child for one day.

The park is full of different attractions, shops, restaurants and various exhibitions that take place during the day.

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TRAVEL TO DISNEYLAND

From Paris to Disneyland

  1. TUBE – it is the best way to go from central Paris to the Park. The stop is Marne La Vallèe-Chessy and it takes about 45 minutes. Price: £6/7.50€/$8.50

THIRD DAYTour Eiffel (Lift entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): £8.7/11€/$12.3 Lift entrance ticket to top: £13.4/17€/$19 Stairs entrance ticket (valid to 2nd floor): £5.5/7€/$8), Montmartre and Champs-elysèes.

A walk through Montmartre: This place is surrounded by musicians, stands and tiny shops. Get lost around the streets since you find the basilica of Sacre-Coeur, situated at the top of a hill from where the view of the city is amazing.

Champs-elysèes: Have a walk through one of the most famous avenue of the world, here you’ll not only see the Arc de Triomphe, but you’ll find also cafés, restaurants, luxury shops and theatres.

Tour Eiffel at sunset: enjoy an amazing view of the the most iconic symbol of the city (metro stop: Trocadero)

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Paris, France – take a note

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is located on the Seine River in the place known as “région parisienne” (Paris Region). 

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Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name. In the 12th century Paris was home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century the capital of France became an important centre of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts, a position it still retains today.

Paris is home of the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre and along with many other famous museums it is also covered of contemporary art and many notable architectural landmarks. Paris is also known for its fashion, particularly the Paris Fashion Week, and for its high quality food having some three-star restaurants.

In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. 

paris france

Sofia Casotto is back with us and on tomorrow’s post she is going to tell us all about her romantic trip in the city of Paris! Check out all the suggestions and ideas she has for you to do in the city as well as to where to eat and stay!

“You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

From the movie Midnight in Paris (quote chosen by Sofia Casotto to describe Paris)

Country: France

Country’s capital: Paris

Official language: French

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  117,170 inhabitants

Total area: 105,4 km²

Easter break suggestions

Easter is just around the corner and with it comes some days off for you to enjoy anywhere you want! So have you already thought where is the special place you will spend your Easter break? Here are my top suggestions!

1.Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is beautiful city and it gets even prettier when Spring comes because it is the time when all the tulips fields gain their colors. Along with a beautiful landscape there is a lot to visit in Amsterdam during Easter time such as Paaspop festival in Schijndel and Zieuwent festival in Gelderland. It is also common to see their traditional camp fire which they light up during Easter time. There is also their fantastic and diverse Easter market to shop! There is a lot of things to get entertained!

The easier way to get there is by airplane. Amsterdam has an airport (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol) which is only 20 minutes way from the city centre by train.

tulipas amesterdao

 

2.Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is one of the two Portuguese islands located in the Atlantic ocean. Just like Amsterdam the island gets especially pretty when spring comes because all nature gets greener and the flowers gain bright colors.

If you are religious Madeira is definitely a great choice! During Easter there is religious parades to watch in the streets such as the recreation of Jesus suffering in the streets and where people can participate. For example one person from the audience  carries the Cross and enacts the crucifixion. On the Good Friday there is also a special mass in the church dedicated to Easter. On Sunday, Easter day, there are many religious parades and some small stalls selling local pastries and sweet breads. Make sure to try the honey cake and also the caco cake!

To get to Madeira you can take an airplane to their airport (Santa Cruz Airport) and then from there a taxi which takes around 20 minutes to Funchal.

madeira

3.Berlin, Germany

During the Easter week the capital of Germany has a lot of cultural activities to do and also specific events dedicated to Easter such as the big fire camp of Britz Garden and the Easter Market in Breitscheidplat. For the little ones there are thematic activities in Tierpark, one of Berlin zoos. If you have some free time from the Easter activities ther is also many monuments in Berlin to visit such as the Parlament or the Wall of Berlin.

To get to Berlin you can take a flight to Berlin airport (Berlin-Schönefeld Airport) which is about an hour way by train from the centre.

berlim

4. Disneyland Paris, France

Easter also means family time and what better way to spend some family time than in Disneyland? The Disney themed park is a fantasy world for everyone, from kids to adults everyone will be surrender to its magic once you pass the main gates!

“From the 28th March to the 12th April 2016 Disney will welcome you with magical Spring parades, friendly smiles and fairytale fun.” – Disney website

Disneyland has a variety of Disney hotels with different themes where you can stay at. If you go on a longer vacation you can also take some time to visit the capital of France which is about 40 minutes from Disneyland.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is the closest to Disney so I would recommend flying there and from the airport take shuttle or taxi which will arrive at Disney land in about 30 minutes. The shuttle stops at every Disney hotel making it very easy for you if you have chosen to stay at one of them.

disney

5. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is considered by many one of Spain prettiest cities! If you have never been there Easter is a great time to do so. With the Spring coming the weather will warm up in the city which will make it look even prettier!

Plus just like Madeira, Barcelona is a very religious city and there is many Christian celebrations and parades also. They have the “Semana Santa” (Holy Week) which goes from 20th of March until the 27th of March (Easter Sunday) and it marks the end of Lent and commemorates the death and rise of Jesus. Barcelona, as part of Catalunya, is traditionally less religious than other parts of Spain. However, it still has its fair share of celebrations during this period. Holy week begins on Palm Sunday, when a procession traditionally takes place around the cathedral with people holding palms. A week of religious ceremonies follows, ending on Easter Sunday. Barcelona looks beautiful during this period. The sun is beginning to return to the city and chocolate and cake shop windows are filled with every sculpture imaginable made out of chocolate.

Barcelona airport the only 25 minutes by train or taxi from the center making it the quickest and easier way to visit Barcelona.

barcelona

Bruges, for the best chocolate at the best view

Brugge (how is written in Dutch) is a small picturesque town in Belgium. It is a beautiful place, with the canals and gardens and plazas and chocolateries. It is great to walk around, enjoy the stunning views, and have a picnic.

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My boyfriend and I went there in the winter, so it was cold and dark early, but it was still an amazing trip. A little advice: if you visit it in the winter, go prepared for the cold.

TRAVEL TO BRUGES – BRUSSELS

  1. AIRPLANE to Brussels Airport (airlines such as Air India or Jet Airways flight there)

From the airport to Bruges

  1. TRAIN – it is the best way to travel to Bruges. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and you can take it at the Brussels-South Railway Station (20 minutes away from the airport also by train).

We stood at De Vijf Zuilen. A little inn owned by a really nice and welcoming couple which we totally recommend. The decoration is really unique, and every room is different from the other. The owner, Ginette, serves you a fresh breakfast every morning, and you can take the leftovers for lunch or as a snack if you wish.

De Vijf Zuilen Inn

Prices from: £31.8/40€/$45 per room and per person

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The inn was just outside the city centre, but it was a perfectly walking distance, even in a rainy weather like we had. The city has countless beautiful corners, gardens and plazas so walking is definitely the best way to move around.

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If you like chocolate, Brugge has a LOT to offer, there are chocolateries everywhere. We tried three different ones, but I’m sure they are all delicious.

And there are the waffles! Along with chocolateries, you can find little waffle shops everywhere. But try them outside and not in a coffee, their better and cheaper.

About restaurants, we tried Bistro Du Phare by recommendation of the De Vijf Zuilen’s owner and had a delicious pasta dinner. There were other options, all looking delicious, but pasta was the most budget friendly. This is considered a cheap restaurant in Brugge.

Bistro Du Phare Restaurant

Prices in average: £12/15€/$17 per person (like most pasta restaurants)

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Places to visit I recommend Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge): it is a medieval bell tower with a beautiful view to the city and surroundings. It costs £6.3/8€/$9 (if you are under 25 years old)

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The City Gates, quite pretty also!
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It is a small city but all parks and canals are worth seeing also!
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Bruges, Belgium – take a note

Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flandersin, the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country.

bruge belgium

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000. Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. It is a oval-shaped  city which is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North for its many canals. Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port and was once the chief commercial city in the world. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, an elite university institute for European studies.

Something curious about Bruges is that its most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells. The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, and you may want to take a note of this – he gives free concerts on a regular basis.

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Joana and Rodrigo, a couple of engineers who enjoy traveling, went to Bruges on a weekend escape and they have best suggestions and plans to do in Bruges. Don’t miss out tomorrow’s post where they will share it all with us!

“The city has countless beautiful corners, gardens and plazas and if you like chocolate, Brugge has a LOT to offer, there are chocolateries everywhere.”

Joana & Rodrigo

Country: Belgium

Country’s capital: Brussels

Official language: Dutch, French and German

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  117,170 inhabitants

Total area: 138.40 km2

Lisbon: where the sun, food and history come perfectly together

Lisbon is a place I have been going to ever since I was a little. It is only about 20 minutes from where I live so I think you are pretty safe following my tips if you want to visit it someday (which I truly and strongly recommend you!)

TRAVEL TO LISBON  – PORTUGAL

  1. AIRPLANE to Portela Airport (airlines such as Ryanair, Tap or Easy Jet flight there)

From the airport to the centre

  1. TAXI – if you feel like you have just arrived and you are a bit tired so you want the easiest and quickest option you can take a taxi just outside the airport
  2. TUBE – the Portuguese tube is cheap and it has only four different lines so it easy to travel with (ticket price: £1/40€/$1.50); the price is the same no matter how far you travel on the tube

Lisbon has an airport very close to the centre – Portela Airport. Once you arrive you can either take a taxi or take the tube.

The tube is the easier and cheapest way to travel around the capital. You can use it to reach all the main touristic attractions.

Whether you are on a long or short vacation Lisbon is a good place to go! When in short vacation I can tell you right away the points you must stop at and the food you should try!

Places to go:

Praça do Comércio, Elevador de Santa Justa, Castelo de São Jorge  (all on Baixa-Chiado tube stop)

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Elevador de Santa Justa
Praça do Comércio
Praça do Comércio
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São José Statue (Praça do Comércio)

Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Ponte 25 de Abril (Take the tube until Cais do Sodré and from there the train or bus)

Ponte 25 de Abril
Ponte 25 de Abril
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Padrão dos Descobrimentos
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Torre de Belém

Finding a good place to eat in Lisbon is not a hard task. I can guarantee you that you will enjoy your meal in most restaurants in the capital if you roughly know the areas to go.  Most typical restaurants are located in Baixa and Bairro Alto. For typical food I suggest Chão De Pedra or Chapitô. 

Chão De Pedra and Chapitô Restaurant

Prices of both in average: £16/20€/$23

If you want to have the full experience of eating while listening to traditional Portuguese music – fado – then I suggest you try A Severa or Parreirinha de Alfama. Docas and Parque das Nações are also nice areas to visit and to eat where pretty much any restaurant you pick is good!

A Severa and Parreirinha de Alfama Restaurant

Prices of both in average: £24/30€/$34

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Alfama is the Lisbon neighborhood known for Fado. This is where most of the houses of Fado are located at and where you will  get the true feeling of what is a Portuguese “bairro” (note: don’t be scare with some people you may find there, this is the place where you will see the “barristas” that may be a bit crazy at times but it’s safe). The closest subway stop is Santa Apolónia.

Pastel de Nata is the pastry I recommend you to try if you visit Torre de Belem since their factory and store is just nearby. The famous pastry house has always a queue of tourists who want to try this egg custard with a choice of cinnamon on top!

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If you are on a longer vacation then I suggest you visiting more than just the capital. I recommend Cascais, Ericeira and Sintra which are all close by bus or train.

Cascais and Ericeira are both beach towns. Ericeira is Europe’s first world surf reserve and it is a picturesque fisherman village where you will eat the best fish and seafood ever! Cascais is fancier but with very nice streets and views also. The beaches have a calmer ocean so many people enjoy it. If you go there make sure to try a Santini ice cream – very popular and delicious!

Ericeira
Ericeira

To go to Ericeira take the tube to Campo Grande and then a bus (Mafrense buses) and to Cascais take the tube to Cais do Sodré and then the train to the stop called Cascais.

Sintra is a mystic village full of history and myths. It has many palaces and wealthy houses from the Monarchy period. Palácio da Pena, Palácio de Monserrate and Peninha are my favourites! While in Sintra make sure to try one of their travesseiros and queijadas – two very delicious traditional pastries from there. To go to Sintra either take a tube to Restauradores and from there the train to Portela the Sintra; otherwise take the tube to Campo Grande and from there a bus to Sintra (Mafrense buses).

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View from Peninha
Sintra
Sintra

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My suggestion to stay if you’re not on a budget is Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, a 5 star hotel in the center of the capital. If you are on a budget Lisbon has many cosy hostels such as Nest House Lisbon Hostel or 5 Sins Chiado Hostel.

Corinthia Hotel Lisbon

Prices from: £92/115€/$129 per room per night

Nest House Lisbon Hostel

Prices from: £9.50/12€/$13.50 in a dorm and £24/30€/$34 in private rooms

5 Sins Chiado Hostel

Prices from: £7/9€/$10 in a dorm

Lisbon, Portugal – take a note

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. About 27% of the country’s population lives in Lisbon making the capital the 11th most populated city in the European Union. It is continental Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. The westernmost areas of its metro area is the westernmost point of Continental Europe.

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Lisbon is the 7th-most-visited city in Southern Europe, with 1,740,000 tourists in 2009. 

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as Paris and Rome by centuries. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political and economic centre of Portugal.

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Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate. It has the warmest winters of all European capitals, with average temperatures 15 °C (59 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) at night from December to February. The typical summer season (from May until October) reaches around 28 °C (84.0 °F).

Tomorrow I will be posting all the tips and places to go while visiting Lisbon, the capital of my country. So if you want to get inside suggestions from a local don’t miss out tomorrow’s post about the fabulous city of Lisbon.

“Lisbon is not only my country’s capital but also one of the cities I love the most. It is a place where the sun meets with great food, a warm breeze, nice people, beautiful monuments and a maze of streets  full of history.”

Carolina Lopes

Country: Portugal

Country’s capital: Lisbon

Official language: Portuguese

Currency: Euro (£1 = 1.29€; §1 = 0.90€ )

Population:  2.7 million inhabitants

Total area: 100.05 km²

MARCH – Best Travel Deals!

Hello March and travelers! Here are the best travel deals for you if you’re planning on travelling soon and aren’t quite sure where to go yet or where to stay at!

MARCH TOP DEALS

Flights

(note: all the flights are from the United Kingdom and the price is one way only; for other countries you can check the travel website link)

  1. London Luton, United Kingdom –  Copenhagen, Denmark: £9.99 (via Ryanair)
  2. London – Amsterdam, Netherlands: £17 (via Momondo)
  3. London – Lisbon, Portugal: £42 (via Momondo)
  4. London – Mumbai, India: £185 (via Momondo)
  5. London – Los Angeles, United States: £272 (via Momondo)
  6. Manchester, United Kingdom –  Shannon, Ireland: £9.99 (via Ryanair)
  7. Manchester, United Kingdom –  Dublin, Ireland: £9.99 (via Ryanair)

Hotels/Hostels:

  1. Wakeup Copenhagen Carsten Niebuhrs Gade ** Copenhagen, Denmark – from £46
  2. Hotel Van Gogh *** Netherlands, Amsterdam – from £17
  3. Radisson Blu Hotel Lisbon **** Lisbon, Portugal – from £41
  4. The Lalit Mumbai ***** Mumbai, India – from £66
  5. La Quinta Inn & Suites LAX *** Los Angeles, United States – from £115
  6. Shannon Court Hotel *** Shannon, Ireland – from £41
  7. The Charles Stewart Guesthouse Dublin *** Dublin, Ireland – from £90

If there is a particular place you are interested to check the discounts or if there are any kind of deals and discounts you would like to know more apart from hotels and flights please comment below and I will do my best on helping you!

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Goa, the Indian paradise

Goa was one of the most special and different places I have visited! Being a European the culture shock can be felt when the moment you land yet it is an exciting cultural shock where you find new exciting things to explore!

TRAVEL TO GOA – INDIA      

  1. AIRPLANE to Dabolim Airport (airlines such as Air India or Jet Airways flight there) – depending on the country you are flying from you may be able to flight directly to an India airport and from there take a smaller flight to Goa or you may have to stop at another country first such as France or Germany.

From the airport to the center

  1. TAXI – it is the best way to travel to the center and also to travel around the center. Indian public transportation isn’t very developed so taxi is the safer and fastest option.

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Goa has many places to explore and one thing that is visible straight way, especially for me being Portuguese, is the influence of the Portuguese architecture and culture in the city!

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Some places I recommend visit are the Old Goa and Panaji, it used to be Goa’s capital and it is where all the monuments are at.

Mãe de Deus church is a must see. It is located in Saligao, Bardez. Its illuminated view in the evenings and the nights has a paradisical charm. That is the best time to view this exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in Goa. Originally situated at Daujim, in Old Goa in the 16th century, of which today only the tallest cross on a pedestal is seen. The church dedicated to the Mother of God came to be built at Bardez in the 19th century.

Mão de Deus Church
Mão de Deus Church

Basílica do Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church is located in Old Goa. It is India’s first minor basilica, and is considered to be one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.

Fontainhas is an old Latin Quarter in Panaji. It maintains to this day its Portuguese influence, namely at the architectonic level, such as narrow and pretty winding streets as found in many European cities, old villas and buildings with projecting balconies painted in the traditional tones and roofs made of red coloured tiles. The Fontainhas’s heritage ambiance represents the traditional Portuguese influence in the area.

Along with their monuments make sure to stop at their clean water and peaceful beaches such as Varca beach.

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During my staying I stood the the Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada hotel, it was a great choice that I really enjoyed! It is a luxury all inclusive hotel perfect for a relaxing and peaceful holiday!

Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada Hotel

Prices from: £200/264.72€/$290

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Another thing I felt in love with in Goa was their food. I loved all the food there! Best places to eat in my opinion are the small restaurants they have by Varca beach such as Jolinn Restaurant or Rina’s Corner Restaurant. They are all huts by the sand very welcoming and with such tasty food! I recommend you to try their Chicken pandulhe and matsala, their grilled fish and the natural fresh juices – everything is so good!

Jolinn Restaurant and Rina’s Corner Restaurantss

Prices in average: 3£/4€/$4.40

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bread

To me it was interesting that even though Goa is India’s richest state you can still see the poverty in the streets so he made me curious to see what it is like their poorest state (a trip I will make sometime!). Goa is also the only Indian state where drinking is allowed so you will find a lot of Indians who go to Goa as tourists and may see them drinking a bit more than usual.

Oh and one last thing, everyone speaks English so don’t worry about learning their dialect.

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