Hotel Lupus – Review

Year 2020 has been special and different for all of us. Long-haul trips got canceled, so many countries closed their borders and put lockdowns.

My way of planning travels changed as well and from well-planned trips that I used to make, I chose more spontaneous stays close to home. One of those was a trip with my family to a town located around 100 km from my hometown – Gołdap.

In this post I would like to share with you a review of the hotel where we stayed – Hotel Lupus.

How to reach the hotel and first impression

Hotel Lupus is a newly opened hotel located in Gołdap’s city central, so it is a good place for exploring the town. You can find a grocery store next to it as well as tourist information within 10 minutes walking distance. If you travel by car there is a big parking lot in front of the hotel.

There is no sign on the building with information about the hotel. We arrived late in the evening, so with the darkness it was tricky to find the place. Fortunately, there is a restaurant in the same building, so we simply asked the personnel and were directed to the hotel’s reception that was on the first floor.

As I said the hotel has been recently opened, according to the receptionist it was 5 days before our arrival, so I think there will be some outside sign with the hotel’s name on it in the future.

Check – in experience

On our way to Gołdap I called the hotel and informed that we would be arriving later than we planned, which was not an issue. When we arrived, a super friendly receptionist welcomed us, and informed us that our rooms are of course ready.

It was a spontaneous trip, but for a special occasion – my mum and my sister’s birthdays. When I booked the accommodation, I asked them to prepare a flower and some chocolates in both rooms, as a surprise for the girls. It worked perfectly. When we entered the rooms, on the table  the girls found a box of chocolates and a rose. Thank you very much for making our arrival special.

Room and general impression

We booked two rooms – one double and one triple. Our rooms were located on the same floor as the reception, close to each other. From the triple room we had a view over the main street and the parking lot, but there was a proper sound-proved window, so we did not hear any traffic noise.

Both rooms were big and spatial. In the triple room, where I stayed with my sister and her boyfriend, we had one queen-sized bed and one single bed, a desk and a wardrobe. In the double room, where my parents stayed, it was a double bed and a wardrobe.

There were TVs missing in both rooms. However, it looked like the owners of the hotel have it planned to equip the rooms with TVs in the future.

Both rooms had a nice and big bathroom with shower and space for our cosmetics. That is a big plus, because for me there is nothing worse if I do not have space where to put my make-up stuff in the hotel bathroom 😊.

Breakfast and restaurant

There is a restaurant in the same building as the hotel. The name of the restaurant is Turystyczna. In the price of the accommodation was included breakfast as well, which was served in that restaurant. Breakfast was simple, but fresh and tasty. We could choose between cereal with milk or yoghurt, bread, ham, cheese, and some vegetables. Besides that, there were also warm dishes like scramble egg or sausages. 

The breakfast area was clean, and the food was fresh and tasty. Unfortunately, there was not choice of products for people with allergies like gluten and/or lactose intolerance.

Throughout the day the restaurant serves lunches, dinners, and pizza. We had a dinner there after arrival and the food was tasty and the portions were good. More about places to eat in Goldap you can find in my other post Goldap – the hidden treasure.

Even if the hotel had some deficiencies, I can highly recommend it for its helpful and friendly personnel as well as for its location and comfortable beds. I booked the accommodation calling directly to the hotel and we paid around 100€ for two rooms for one night. You can book the hotel through my blog here. 

Do you like this review? Check other hotels reviews here

See you on the road,

Kaja

Once Upon a Road review
Location
5/5
Comfort
4/5
Service
5/5
Breakfast
3/5
Cleanliness
4/5
General Rate
4.2/5
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Tężnie i widok na miasto

Gołdap – The Hidden Gem

Gołdap – The Hidden Gem

Year 2020 has been special and different for all of us. Long-haul trips got canceled, so many countries closed their borders and put lockdowns. The good thing is that in all this craziness I could spend more quality time with the people that I love and care about.

I managed to visit my family in Mrągowo – my hometown – and spent with them a whole month. Normally, with work and everything going on, a two-week stay was the maximum that I could achieve in one visit.

This month was special, but today I would like to tell you about our spontaneous trip together to a city 100 km away from home – Gołdap.  

It is a small town located in northeastern Poland, in the region of Masuria. The town is located next to border to Kalinigrand Oblast which is giving its typical border town charm with mixed polish and russian cultures. 

Tężnie i widok na miasto

Where to stay

As I said in the beginning, it was a spontaneous trip planned the day before, so we did not have so much time to look for a specific accommodation, which I think it was a good thing. Goldap is a spa town with many hotels, B&B, and private rooms, which gives plenty of possibilities for accommodation, mostly during low-season as we stayed.

We end up in the newly opened Hotel Lupus located in the city center, with a nice parking place and a restaurant. I can highly recommend it for its location, comfortable beds, nice design, and nice personnel. If I visit again Goldap, I will probably stay there again.  For my whole hotel review click here.

Zdjecie pokazujace budynek hotelu w Goldapi
Korytarz hotel Lupus

Where to eat

Our stay in Goldap was short, because it was only one and a half day, but we ate in two nice restaurants which I can highly recommend.

1. Restauracja Turystyczna, Królewiecka 619-500 Gołdap

Our first meal, which was a special birthday dinner, we had it in a place called Restauracja Turystyczna, which was a restaurant located in the same building as our hotel.

When I booked our rooms, I booked a table as well and that was a good idea. When we arrived in the hotel, there was waiting for us a beautifully decorated table with flowers on and glasses for wine. I would like to thank the personnel very much for that.

Let us come back to food. Me and my family are kind of picky if it comes to food, which make us not an easy type of customer 😊. However, I need to say that all of us where super satisfied with the food we ordered. All meals where fresh, tasty, and nicely served. See the pictures that we took.

You can find more information on here 

2. Matrioszka, Partyzantów 27A, 19-500 Gołdap, Poland

We had lunch on day 2 in a restaurant called Matrioszka. Here you can eat both Polish and Russian cuisine which gives you plenty of options. It is  heaven for people who likes dishes based on potatoes and flour, but meat lovers will find something to eat as well.

I can recommend a soup called Żarkoje (It is kind of a stew soup) and the Matrioszka plate with potatoes pancakes and more.

You can find the whole menu on http://matrioszkagoldap.pl/menu/

Lalki Matrioszka
talerz z zupa
Stół zastawiony jedzieniem

What to visit

Goldap is mostly known as a ski and SPA resort. You can visit here places and attraction such as:

1. Mini graduation towers and medical SPA with Mineral and therapeutic water drinking room, “Zdrój”

Graduation towers are known for their good effect on the human respiratory system and are recommended for people after lung problems as  rehabilitation. The salty water that is going down on the walls makes the air around full of iodine, which is like the one that we can breathe walking next to the sea.

It is a perfect place nowadays with COVID-19. We spent there half of the day, I think. Relaxing first in the salt cave, drinking mineral water, looking at the landscape view from the top and playing mini golf.

I think it is a good place to relax, recharge batteries and enjoy the time with your beloved ones or alone with a good book. Highly recommended.

Address: ul. Promenada Zdrojowa 20, 19-500 Gołdap

More information here 

Tężnia i gofry
Przejście pod tężniami
Ja i tężnie
Krany do nabierania wody mineralnej
Salon wypoczynkowy, Gołdap
kobieta grająca w minigolf
2. Water Tower

This attraction as many others is open only during summer (May – September)

It is an old water tower built in 1900 and which supplied the citizens with running water until 1996. Now it is an architectural monument with a viewpoint on top, cozy café and a museum.

Address: Ul. Paderewskiego 35, 19-500 Gołdap

Pricelist and more information you can find here: http://www.wieza-goldap.pl/en/

Wieża Ciśnień Gołdap
3. Ski slopes ¨Piekna Gora¨

As a winter sports lover you can find here 4 different ski slopes with a lift, from which the highest has 750 m of trails and it is the highest one in the lowlands in Poland.

More information: http://zajazd-rudziewicz.pl/en/skiing-slopes/

4. Revolving Café

This coffee place is a unique one and we wanted to visit it but it was closed :(. It is a place located on a hill and the building rotates which gives you a possibility to enjoy the view 360 degrees around. Is it not an amazing idea? I am sure that I need to come back there to try it.

Address: Konikowo 11, 19-500 Gołdap

More information: http://zajazd-rudziewicz.pl/en/revolving-cafe/

5. Bloodless Safari and ecological farm

Goldap can be also a good spot for exploring the area with many historical as well as architectonical monuments, among others you have:

  • Railway bridges in Stańczyki
  • A pyramid in Rapa
  • Bunkers in Mamerki
  • Weir gates near Węgorzewo
  • Borecka and Romincka Forests

That is all for today. I can highly recommend Goldap as a place to visit in Poland,within the Masuria region. I hope you find my post inspiring and helpful when planning your own visit to this beautiful town.

Stay safe and see you on the road!

Kaja

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IntercityHotel Essen review

Time for next hotel review!

Every possibility to travel is good. In September 2019, our friends invited us to their wedding in Essen , Germany, so we made a quick and intensive weekend trip to celebrate with them their big day.

I will not write here about the party, but because of it I had chance to stay in another hotel in Essen (you can find the first hotel review I did from Essen here). This time we stayed in IntercityHotel Essen.

Location and first impressions

InterncityHotel is located in the center of the city, around 5 minutes walking from the train station. It is a perfect location if you need to stay only one night, and you need to have good connection to trains, subway and other local transportation.

For us it was important that the hotel was close to the train station as we traveled from Stockholm to Essen the same day, and our airplane landed in Dusseldorf (around 30 minutes train trip to Essen). We had only few hours between our arrival and the start of the wedding.

Check – in experience

We arrived at the hotel around 1 p.m., and our room was not ready yet. It is my fault, because I did not inform them that we would be arriving earlier and check–in starts at 2 p.m. As I mentioned before, we were short on time, so I asked the personnel in the reception if it was possible to maybe change the room, so we could check in earlier. After a few minutes we got our keys and we could go to our room.

The guy in the reception unfortunately did not speak English very well, so it was a little bit complicated to communicate with him. Fortunately, his manager came to help and explained us that the room we got was prepared for one person, so we needed to take an extra change of sheets and towels. I have to say that it was a weird thing for a customer to do  by themselves in a 4-star hotel. 

Room and general impression about Intercity Essen

Our room was located on the first floor with a window to the street and a view towards a construction site. We needed only the room for one night, so that did not bother us, mostly considering that during weekends they do not work on construction. I am sure that it would be annoying for a longer stay. I cannot complain because originally that was not our room. On our key it was written a room number located in another corner that was probably prepared according to my specification to have a room in a quiet part of the hotel.

The room had a nice size and it had everything you need to have in a hotel room including wardrobe, safe box, tv, mini bar (extra charge) and shoe cleaner 😊. If you like to have coffee in your room probably you would have  been disappointed, because they do not have it in this hotel. However, there is bar down at the lobby, next to reception, where you can order drinks. I did so, and the coffee was tasty plus big thanks for getting lactose free milk for me.

As I always say, the most important part in the hotels is cleanness and bed. And here goes a big applause for IntercityHotel Essen. The room was spotless clean, and the bed was amazingly comfortable. I slept like a baby. I am big fan of hard beds and the bed in our room was comfortably hard with cozy pillows and sheets.

I apologize for not having pictures of the room, but as we arrived late to Essen and we were really tired and short with time so I completely forgot to take them  😉.

Breakfast and restaurant

Next day, after partying the whole night, it was time for breakfast experience. My favorite part of staying at hotels is the morning breakfast with a good variety of choices and the most important thing: that I do not need to prepare breakfast myself.

When looking for this hotel I did not check reviews about breakfast like I usually do most of the time, but it was a nice surprise. The breakfast at Intercity hotel was tasty, fresh, and with a variety of ham, cheese, bread and the most important for me, tea.

I started my day with a small bowl of cereal with yoghurt, followed by some sandwich and I finishing my meal with fresh bread with Nutella 😊. We walked up early this day, so we had a little bit extra free time to relax before my cousin would come to pick us up, so we decided to have a cup of coffee after breakfast.

As I cannot drink milk with lactose, and I forgot to take my pills with me, I asked a waiter for lactose-free milk. Again, it was not a problem and we could enjoy our coffee shortly after they brought it. Unfortunately, the coffee that they served during breakfast was weak and tasteless. Big no for my taste. If you like strong coffee, I recommend you to order it in the bar next to the reception.

Summarizing today’s post, I would like to say that this hotel is worth recommending if you need to have a short stay in Essen.  I think we will stay there again next time we visit this city.

I booked the hotel from the travel agency Ticket.se (where I work) but you can also book it through booking.com using the following link and help me to grow my blog 🙂

That is all for today. I hope that you could find all that you were looking for.

See you on a road!

Kaja 

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Finnair and Helsinki Airport review

In July 2019 I had the opportunity to fly with a Finish airline – Finnair as well as visiting Helsinki International Airport. In this post I would like to share with you my opinion about both of them.

Let’s start with a Finnair. That was my first flight with that airline, and I have to say that my first impression was a positive one. I took a flight from Stockholm to Warsaw via Helsinki (yes I know, Helsinki is not on the straight way to Warsaw, but that was the only flight that fit my time schedule 😉 ).

First flight first impression!

In short flights in the Nordics, as well as above the Baltic Sea area, most of the times you will fight with Finnair’s preferred partner – a company called NoRRA (Nordic Regional Airlines). That happened during my trip. The plane was a small one with only two seats on every side. For me that is a convenient solution. Even though the plane was not the newest one, it was a comfortable trip. The most important thing for me is the cleanness of the airplane during my trip. And here the company surprised me in very good way. The plane was spotless clean and the service fabulous.

Service after boarding

Directly after being able to remove the seat belts, stewardesses started serving beverages. Every customer could choose something to drink between coffee, tea, water and local finish juice in several different flavors. Normally, I am not taking warm drinks on the plane. I read somewhere that the cans where they store water on the planes are not always properly cleaned and that it is easy to get stomach pain. This time, I took a risk, because it was an early morning flight, and everything turned out ok. It was not the best tea in my life, but was tasty and warm, and that was what I needed. 

Helsinki Airport - terminal 2

As I said earlier, I had to change planes in Helsinki Airport to flight to Warsaw. On my inbound travel I had 1.5 hours to kill on the airport. I decided to take a walk around the terminal (I was landing and departing from terminal 2). It is a middle-sized terminal, with many different stores where you can buy tax-free products, local food or clothes and electronics. Almost like on every other airport in the world. However, as it is in Helsinki, they have one, cute small store dedicated to Mumins! Paradise for all children, both the small ones as well as the big ones 😉.

Where to eat on the airport

You can find there also several restaurants serving everything from pasta through fish and deer meat, Espresso Housea Swedish competition to Starbucks, and even an Irish Pub. On my way home, when I had longer waiting time in the airport, I had lunch in Fly Inn Panorama Restaurant & Deli. I ordered a pizza with deer meat and mushrooms. The dish was tasty, and quickly served. The portion was big, so I could not eat everything. The place was nice, with a good viewpoint for departing planes. If you love planes, like I do, you will surely enjoy lunch there. The price was reasonable. For a pizza with water I paid around 20€.

My favorite place on the airport

I would like you tell you about my favorite place on this airport. Wandering around, I found a Book Swap room towards the end of the terminal. Is it not an amazing idea? If you are traveling long and you already read your book, you can leave it there and take another one. Big applause for the creators of this room. 

The room is not only made to exchange the books. It is also a place where you can relax, read, or event take a nap while waiting for your next flight. Remember! Those type of places are designed to relax and rest during long flights, so keep your music with low volume in your headphones not to bother other travelers 😉.

I spent in this room like two hours reading, thinking and watching planes getting ready to take off. If I will visit this airport again, I am sure that that it will be the place where I will spend most of the time. I do not buy unnecessary things on the airports, and there is limit of how much coffee you can drink during the day 😉, so I really appreciate a place where I can sit and read in peace. By the way, you can also take your coffee with you and enjoy it in a peaceful environment.

That would be everything for today. Summarizing, I enjoyed my time during my flight with Finnair and on the airport in Helsinki. I can recommend it to you! If you have any questions about me, my blog, traveling and food leave your comment and subscribe to my blog!

See you on the road,

 

Kaja  

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Best Western Hotel Linköping – review

In June 2019 I had the opportunity to visit again Linköping in Sweden due to a board game convention: LinCon. This time we (me and my boyfriend) chose to stay in a hotel located in the city center, with good connection to Linköping University, where the event took place. As a big fan of the Best Western hotel brand, I found a nice, cozy hotel called Best Western Hotel Linköping. This is a 3-star hotel located in the main square in Linköping, on Hantverkaregatan 1.

How to get there, check-in and the first impression!

As the hotel is placed in the main square, it is easy to reach from the train station in Linköping. You can easily walk there, and it takes around 15 minutes. If you have heavy bags with you, or you do not want to walk, you can always take a bus. From the train station almost all the busses are going to the hotel and you can stop on the bus stop called Kungsgatan.

My first impression was good. Nicely-designed reception and friendly staff. I had booked my room through hotels.com, where I could use my free night (more information about memberships and how to travel for free coming soon). As a member of Best Western Membership program too, I asked if I could use it during this stay. Unfortunately, most of the times the hotel membership does not apply when you book your room through third-party companies like Hotels.com. However, the girl in the reception was really nice and we got two coupons to use in the hotel’s restaurant for 140 Swedish Crowns. That was super nice of them.

In our room

We got a nice, cozy room in the 3rd floor. The place was small, but for our stay it was more than enough. There were no toiletries in the room as conditioner or body care, so do not forget to take yours with you. In the bathroom you will find only liquid soap/shampoo dispensers hanged onto the wall. It is environmentally friendly, but I like to have something extra to care about my skin and hair.

The only issue with the hotel was the noise from nearby restaurants and clubs during night throughout all of our staying (It was Thursday to Saturday). The windows are not soundproof at all. However, if you can sleep with earplugs, the hotel provides them for free and you can find them in your room. For longer stays the noise, as well as lack of wardrobe, could be an issue.

Breakfast and service

We had breakfast twice there and, in my opinion, it was a good breakfast. Not the best in my life, but for a 3-star hotel standard it was more than enough. They had a variety of tasty and fresh bread, pancakes, fruits, hams, cheese, cereal and more. I think that everyone could find something appealing to eat.

I really love that they have a big variety of teas and those super cute teapots, where you can brew your morning beverage. As a tea lover, I really appreciate it. If you have any allergies you can choose this hotel, because like most hotels in Sweden, Best Western Linköping also offers a lactose-free and gluten-free variants on their food and beverages.

I can highly recommend this hotel but remember to take into consideration the noise before booking your room. As I mentioned before, I booked it through Hotels.com and we paid 757 Swedish Crowns (around 70 €) per night for a double room. I think that for Swedish price levels and the good service that we got in the hotel, it was a good price.

Check my other hotels reviews here!

See you on the road,

Kaja

Once Upon a Road review

Localization
4.6/5
Comfort
3/5
Service
5/5
Breakfast
4/5
Cleaning
5/5
General Rate
4.5/5
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Internship in Costa del Sol – how much it costs.

It has been already one month since I started my internship in Spain. I decided that probably many of you would like to know how much it costs to live here. In this post I would like to cover this topic and how to make shopping smartly to save some money.

My three-month internship here is unfortunately unpaid, so I came here with a tight budget. However, as a traveling-addicted person I would like to explore as much as I can here with the money I have. After one week living here, I have decided that I need 600€ for monthly expenses and the rest I can use for traveling. Read forward to see what I am spending this money on. 

1. Renting apartment

Renting an apartment is one of the biggest expenses here. Of course, you can try to find accommodation through Couchsurfing, however I am staying here 3 months and I need my space.

Costa del Sol is a place which people from Sweden, Norway, Finland and England choose as an escape from a cold winter in their countries. Here they can enjoy the sun almost during the whole winter.

That makes the real estate industry grow really fast. There are several rental options like room rental, apartment rental or simply aparthotel or hotel.

There is plenty of websites like https://www.milanuncios.es/ where you can find information about room rental from a private person or use a holiday rental agency to find it through them. I chose to rent the apartment through an agency to have comfort with communication in English. In Spain not everyone speaks English.  I found the apartment through https://www.spainhouses.net/ .

I think it was a great idea to do like I did, because I feel safe and everything is perfect. I am renting my apartment together with my classmate, which is also doing an internship in the same company. In my opinion, it is the best option if you can share the cost of accommodation with someone. We pay 800€ per month, including all utilities. However, if we would have a consumption on utilities for more than 60€ per month we would need to pay extra. It is a 65m2 apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a small kitchen and a balcony with sea view. I was thinking that this is a really good price, but according to a colleague who lives here, it is an expensive one.

Be careful with the distance from work when you look for an apartment. Costa del Sol is a mountain area, so 2.5 km on the map to an apartment that is for example up in Benalmadena will not be the same as 2.5 km if you will have an apartment next to the sea, where you have flat ground. I asked a friend to come and see the apartment and the area before I decided to take it. 

2. Food and other things that I need in home (washing soap, shower gel, etc.).

As I said, in the beginning I came here with a short budget and still I would like to explore a lot. To do so, I decided that I can spend 50€ per week on food and other necessary things. To be able to stick to this budget I need to make shopping carefully and that is why I can give you some tips on how to buy good things cheap and not overpay.

Fuengirola, the small town where I am staying, is a typical touristic place, so shop owners take advantage of it. The first thing that you should know is to not make shopping in a supermarket next to the beach. The prices there are twice or even three times higher than in the shops that are farther from the coast.

I have also found that in Costa del Sol they have local outdoor markets, where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. In Fuengirola this market takes place on Tuesdays. You can read more about local markets here (link to next article). This is the best and the cheapest place to buy fruits and vegetables. The colors, variety and prices are outstanding. As an example, 1 kg of tomatoes or avocado (from local producers) costs 1€ each, or 1 kg of juicy mango 1,50€. I spend every week around 7€ there and I am coming back with my backpack (30l) full of good stuff.

I usually make my weekly shopping in a supermarket called Jamón  Supermarcado. It is close to my office and I can find everything I need there in a good price. They have fresh meat, different types of ham and cheese, and everything you need for a weekly shopping. I spend there between 15-25€ per week. It depends a lot on what I buy, but I always get turkey, yoghurts, lactose-free milk and some snacks to work. I am not eating so much meat here, but once I bought two chicken breasts and I paid around 2€ for it. A good bread costs between 1,50€ and 3,50€. I am buying it in a bakery close to my house. This store (Jamón Supermarcado) is not the cheapest one. You can find here a store called Mercadona, which is cheaper, but I do not have it close.

3.Transportation

I do not use so often local transportation, because I walk to and from work. The buses around Fuengirola cost 1,15€ and you need to buy it by cash from the driver. Remember to have coins, because drivers do not have change.  If you would like to go between cities in Costa del Sol, the price depends a lot on how far you want to go. The problem with the busses is that they do not have accurate time schedules. According to the locals, the buses “comes when they come” 😊.

There is also train between Málaga and Fuengirola with stops in all the towns on the way like Benalmadena, Torreblanca, Torremolinos as well as Málaga Airport. The one-way ticket costs 2,10€ and you need to buy it on the platform before getting on the train. This trains are comfortable and quick. From Fuengirola to Málaga it takes around 45 minutes.

4.Eating outside

The cost of eating outside depends a lot on where and what you want to eat. Until now I have visited some of the restaurants next to the sea (which in theory should be more expensive) as well as coffee places around.

The special food here that you can find everywhere is of course sea food and fish. One of the famous dishes is grilled sardines, which costs between 3,50€ to 6€. For me that dish would be enough for lunch, but probably for most people that would be a starter. A main dish with fish or meat costs around 10€ – 15€ and a paella with sea food – around 25€ for 2 people. 

We are in Spain, so of course tapas are a must. The traditional way of tapas was a social thing, going from one bar to another with friends, grabbing one or two beers and getting some tapas (small dish) for free. Nowadays, it is really difficult to find places where you get tapas for free. Now it is more common that you pay for a drink and for the tapas separately. And here again the difference between prices is big. You can find tapas from 1,50€ per plate up to even 6€ per plate. There are places that make combos such as beer + tapas that cost between 2,50€ to 5€.

In Costa del Sol it is common to drink coffee outside home. That is why you can find good coffee almost everywhere and it costs between 1,20€ up to even 3,50€. Check where locals drink coffee, so probably there you will find a good and cheap cup of coffee. As I mentioned before, you can meet here a lot of elder English people, who runs many restaurants and coffee shops that serve English breakfasts and coffee with brandy for 3€.

 That is everything for today. I hope you found in the information in my post interesting and useful, and if you have some more question about doing an internship and living in Spain send me a message or leave a comment.

See you on the road,

Kaja

 
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Platinia Apartments – Kraków Review

In December 2018 Carlos and I spent 5 nights in a nice, cozy 3*** hotel in Kraków called Platinia Apartments. This is a small hotel located in Starowiślna Street 12. The location of the hotel is perfect!! In the center of Kraków, between the Old Town (around 5 min walking distance) and the Jewish Quarter- Kazimierz (around 10-15 min walking distance). 

First impression and check-in!

We arrived at the hotel on Friday evening. The check–in was quick and the girl in the reception was friendly. After 5 minutes we were ready to go to our room. The room was placed in the 3rd floor (as we requested) but there is no elevator, so you need to take your luggage up by yourself. We knew about it before we requested a room on the last floor, so it was not an issue for us.

In the room it was waiting for us a surprise on the bed <3. A beautifully wrapped package full of treats to warm us up during the cold winter: chocolates, tea and hot chocolate to make in the room. I just loved it. I felt so happy and pleased when I was opening it.

We stayed in the room 34. The room was nice, kind of big and with a comfortable bed (If you like to sleep on a hard bed). In the room we got mineral water, tea, coffee, wine glasses and even a small fridge which we could use to store things. We did not use it because it was noisy 😊.

The bathroom in our room was clean and ok in size. We also got a basic cosmetics kit like shampoo, shower gel, body care and soap. I think the cosmetics have not been of a really good quality, but for the price we paid it was more than enough. The body care smelled nice 😊.

Some problems in the room

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, we got some issues in our room, that were not taken care of even after us complaining. The first issue was with the shower, it was broken, and it was difficult to keep it in a good position to be able to shower with ease. Another issue was with the daily cleaning. Probably it was made quick and the staff were not detail-oriented or simply did not have enough time (room cleaning times are usually very short in hotels). We did not get mineral water every day, as we should, the shower was not properly cleaned, and, on the floor we could still find sand from the previous day. I think the blanket on the bed had not been washed long time, because every time after the bed was made, I could find fabrics and dust on my sheets ☹.

Breakfast and service

Breakfast was included in the price. Here I got again surprised in a positive way. The breakfast was super tasty. Every day was there a big variety of fresh bread and always something sweet for small desert. You could also order warm dishes like scramble eggs, omelet, toast with fried egg, porridge or sausages. 

The area was always clean, with freshly served ham, cheese, fruits and more. There was also a coffee machine, which had 3 options: espresso, normal coffee or latte. If you prefer brewed coffee in a more traditional way, do not worry. You can always order it in the kitchen and the staff will prepare it for you. 

I can highly recommend this hotel, but remember to take into consideration the lack of elevator before booking your room. As I said before, that was not an issue for us, and after eating so good breakfast and all those sweet treats that we had in our room, it was good to walk some stairs every day 😉. We booked it directly on the hotel’s website and we paid 745 PLN (around 174€) for a double room for 5 days with breakfast included. In my opinion the price was good for the value we got. You can book the hotel here or using booking.com window on my website. 

Once Upon a Road review

Localozation
5/5
Comfort
4/5
Service
5/5
Breakfast
5/5
Cleaning
3/5
General Rate
4.4/5
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Holiday Inn Express – City Center, Essen REVIEW

The last weekend on October 2018 I spent together with my boyfriend four nights in Holiday Inn Express – City Center in Essen, Germany due to our participation on the board gamed fair – Spiel 2018. This is a three- star hotel, located in Thea-Leymann-Straße 11. The hotel is placed in central Essen, with good access  to cultural places (theater and cinema), gastronomy, and shopping (there is a shopping mall on Berliner Platzer)

 

How to reach the hotel and first impression

The best option to reach the hotel is to use the subway and go out on Berliner Platz station, exit B, which is connected to the blue line – good connection to Essen Messa and Essen Hbf (central station). I chose this hotel because of the good connection to these two stations, which were important for us. 

Problems with our room

We arrived at the hotel tired and hungry at 9 p.m. The check-in was quick, so after a minute we were ready to go to our room and finally rest. Unfortunately, our room was nor exactly like we were expecting. First, we booked the room with a king-size bed or with two single beds connected, bit we got the room with two separated bed instead. Between them was a night table, so it was impossible to put them together. 

I thought that everything could be fixed, so I went down to ask in the reception if it was possible to change rooms. In the first moment the receptionist answered in an unfriendly way, saying that they are the ones deciding which room they give to the customers and that we got that room because we booked through hotels.com and that they are fully booked. 

Angry and disappointed, I came back to the room where in mean-time my boyfriend found out that the carpet on the floor was wet and there was a black hair on one pillow. THAT WAS ENOUGH! We came back to the reception and ask for a new room. This was not a nice first impression, but from this moment on, the staff did everything they could to help us. 

Finally in a clean room

After 10 minutes waiting in bar, we got finally a new key to a new, clean room with two individual beds next to each other. From this moment everything started being better. However, we were still hungry, and they do not have a restaurant in the hotel (I sent a message asking about it before traveling there, but until now I have not received any answer). We bought some snacks in the vending machine next to the reception and went to sleep after a long day.

Problem number 2

After we finally fall asleep, the next problem showed up. The rooms are not soundproof. We could hear every word from our neighbor’s conversation. If you are sensitive to noises when you sleep, think twice before choosing this hotel. 

Holiday Inn Start - Breakfast

As I mentioned before there is no restaurant in the hotel, however they have Holiday Inn Start Breakfast area. We use to have breakfast as early as possible, when there are not so many people. I think that the breakfast was OK. Simple, with cereals, different types of bread, cheese and ham, eggs, and some sweets as well as some fruits. They got Carlos with freshly-baked croissants and hot chocolate (it was amazing). If you are allergic to lactose or gluten the hotel does not offer lactose-free products and it offer only one type of gluten-free hard bread. 

Holiday Inn Express - breakfast

Something for businessmen

If you are on a buisness trip , the hotel provides one working station with a computer connected to the Internet and printer. I am not sure if the service is free or you need to pay because I did not use it. There is also wi-fi in every room, so I was using my laptop and phone to work. The connection was stable and quick even if the hotel was fully booked with exhibitors and online journalists due to Spiel 18.

Summarizing, I think that the hotel was overpriced for the standard that offers. We paid 6513 SEK (around 670€) for four nights. That weekend the prices were also higher and most hotels in Essen were fully booked due to games convention. 

Our stay in this hotel was new experience and I learned to check better accommodation before booking it. I am sure that we will not stay again in this hotel next time visiting Essen. 

That is all for today. I hope that you could find all that you were looking for and see you next time. Our next trip – Christmas in Poland. We will visit Crakow, Warsaw and my home town Mrągowo.

See you on a road!

Kaja 

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London Baby

LONDON BABY!!!! The perfect destination for every Nerd!!

Every fan of the American sitcom Friends remembers Joe’s enthusiasm when he learned that Ross was going to get married in London. I think that was the best episode in the whole series. I had also my LONDON BABY trip this summer (2018) with my boyfriend for his birthday.

We decided to flight from Stockholm to London Gatwick with Norwegian Airlines. That is not the cheapest way to go there, because you can also flight to London Stansted from Stockholm Skavsta or Västerås Airport. However, we chose a more expensive option, because Gatwick Airport is closer to our friends place where we were going to stay. It was also a better option for us because, here in Stockholm it is quicker to go to Arlanda (30 min by bus from home), than to other airports where we need go by bus from Central Station (around 1.5 hour plus after 40 min from home to Central Station).

The view of Sweden from the plain

The way we traveled

The flight was delayed in Stockholm, but in the end, we were not too late in London. I think that Norwegian, has comfortable planes and good pilots for a low-cost airline. I have used this airline several times, and always has everything been OK. The flight took around 2.5 hours and the round-trip tickets cost us almost 1600 SEK (around 145€) per person. We traveled in high season and we bought the tickets 3 weeks before our the trip, so it was not a good deal, but you can find this trip for as low as 900 SEK (82€) (round trip). We decided to go with a more expensive and comfortable option because we did not need to pay for accommodation ;). Huge thanks to our great hosts! 🙂

Staying with our friends in Richmond

As mentioned before, we stayed for the weekend with our friends in their apartment in Richmond. This is a beautiful town located at, approximately 15 km from London. I think that is a perfect place to see old English architecture, as well as to find everything that needs to be in a town to enjoy living there like pubs, cinema, shopping centers etc. The town is also well connected with London, where you can go by commuting train. The journey takes around 30 min. I love Richmond and I would love to go back there to explore more.

In this trip we spent a lot of time with our friends walking around London. Every day after breakfast we were taking the train to the city and staying there until late. My boyfriend and I have been before in London, so we decided to not make the typical touristic visits to Buckingham Palace, London Eye or Big Ben (which is still being renovated, and you cannot see it).

Oyster Card and attractions in London

I think the best way to go around London is to buy an Oyster Card, charge it with the needed amount of money (I would recommend 20£ for a weekend), and pay as you go. You can pre-order it before your trip or you can buy it on the airport. All the information about Oyster Cards and prices available at TFL website . We spent around 50£ each fir the 4 days, but only because we were traveling a lot and the trips from the Richmond cost more, because it is placed in a different price zone.

Oyster Card

One of the days we made sightseeing. As I have said before, we skipped the typical TOP 10 attraction in London and decided to go to Greenwich to see the imaginary line that indicates 0° longitude. There is a nice area to walk around, so if you like green areas and places where there are no so many people, I can highly recommend it. I need to be honest with you. I do not have picture of the line because we were lazy to go up to the hill ;). We also had lunch there in one sushi restaurant recommended by one of our friends’ colleague.

After Greenwich we took the Emirates Air cable car, which is going above the Thames River. I did like it to much. The view was not breathtaking due to several construction going on in London and the cable car did not air-conditioning. This day was 35°C in London, so believe me, it was hot there. We decided to buy a combo ticket, line car + boat cruise, so after ¨flying¨ over the river we went down and took a boat. The boat was comfortable with a bar, so we grabbed a beer and enjoyed beautiful views and air- conditioning. The combo ticket cost us 10£ per person. 

Emirates Airline cable car
The Thames
Tower Bridge - London

Harry Potter Tour by Strawberry Tours

As a huge fan of Harry Potter, I had plans for some Harry Potter Must Do attractions in London for our weekend. I did not want to push our friends and Carlos to have a whole Harry Potter weekend, so I decided to choose one of the days to take a Harry Potter Tour (everything in one). Before we went there, I had made some research about available tours in the capital of England, and I had found Strawberry Tours. They have pretty good reviews in TripAdvisor and their tours are for free. You can tip your guide after the trip as much as you think the tour was worth.

Nathan, our guide, took us through places in London where they filmed the movies and which we were inspiration for J.K. Rowling while she was writing series of The Boy Who Survived. We visited The Ministry of Magic, The Diagon  Alley, and The Knockturn Alley. Nathan was friendly, and he knew his stuff so that each Harry Potter fan will approve. I was surprised that they had to close the whole Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in the city, to record one scene from Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. We could also see the street where the entry to the Ministry of Magic was (the sign of the public toilet entrance in the sixth movie 🙂 ).

I loved the tour and I can highly recommend it. It does not include visiting  King’s Cross Station, but we have went there as well after lunch. The station looks like any other station, but you can have pictures with the luggage cart on platform 9 ¾. The best part for me in King’s Cross was the Harry Potter store, where you can find everything that you can imagine from the Harry Potter world. Keep your wallet safe 🙂 .

Our weekend in London is over and I am sure that I will come back there again. I would highly recommend it as a destination for everyone, but maybe for longer time that only few days. There is so much to see.  I think it is not possible to see all of it in one week. In my opinion, London is a perfect place for everyone. Mostly for people who like movies, books, games, musicals or history. Everyone can find there something for their taste.

I hope that you enjoyed my story, and that you have found the information you were looking for in my blog. Come back soon to read more – the next post will cover a review about the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Essen/ Germany.

See you on the road,

Kaja

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Montenegro trip part 2 – Boat Tour and Budva

Hello everyone,

In my last post I was telling you about the first part of our vacation in Montenegro, in which we stayed in Kotor. Today is time to talk a little bit more about our experience in this beautiful country.

Kotor Bay Cruise

In Kotor we spend 4 out of our 7 days of vacation. One of those days we decided to take a whole-day boat trip around Kotor Bay. There is a lot of different options and offers that you can find only walking through Kotor, so it is not necessary to book it in advance. However, if you would like to visit Kotor during high season, I would highly recommend booking in advance. I am the type of person that likes to have everything planned, so I found and book a Kotor Bay Cruise run by the 360Monte travel agency. I think that was the best choice ever.

We started our tour at 10:30 in Kotor where we boarded the boat, where the captain together with our guide welcomed us with a glass of wine. According to 360Monte, the boat can take 19 people in every tour, but we were lucky and with us there were only 8 people, so we had a comfortable trip with a lot of space for everyone.

The boat was very comfortable with some sun beds in the front, sitting area in the middle as well as a sun deck on the roof where you could take sun or read a book on comfortable bean bag chairs.

Welcome drink
Perast from the boat

The tour was planned very well. Our first destination was the Blue Cave, being it the farthest point of the whole journey. On our way there, while enjoying the weather and the peaceful environment, we passed by a small town near Kotor called Perast. Our guide told us the story about the fortress that we could see above the town. According to him, this fortress was built to protect the town from pirates coming through Kotor Bay who wanted to plunder and/or destroy it – so they would never succeed.

After Perast we saw The Lady of the Rock island which we visited as a last stop. Herceg Novi and many more small towns around Kotor Bay were also in our way to the Blue Cave.

After around four hours, we reached the Blue Cave. Unfortunately, the weather changed, and we didn’t have chance to see the magic blue water (due to lack of sun light), so this is still not checked on my bucket list ;). (I have a reason to come back to Montenegro in the close future). Back to the topic! We couldn’t see the magic of the Blue Cave, but our Captain took us next to another small cave, where volunteers could swim in.

That was not the end of our travel experience with 360Monte tour. On our way back, we went to see the submarine tunnels that the military used to hide submarines from enemy’s airplanes during the war in 2006. That is part of Montenegrin history. The part of the history that they are not open to talk about. I think that it is an interesting experience to see that amazing engineering work. Here again we had a short stop, so whoever wanted could go to the water and explore the tunnel themselves. I am the type of person that is always cold, so I stayed on the boat ;).

Military submarine tunnel
The Lady of the Rock

Our last stop on the journey was the island called The Lady of the Rock. It is an island made by people from the surrounding towns where, according to a legend, two brothers found a painting of Madonna with Child. One of them was sick and after they took the painting home he became miraculously healed. After that incident it became a tradition to throw a stone there every time someone came back safely after a voyage. People also started to sink old ships to help build the island, where now is placed a Catholic Church and a museum (Don’t forget proper clothes when going to the church! Bikinis are not permitted!). Every year in July 22nd there is a boat procession to The Lady of the Rock to celebrate the day of the miracle there. (This is the next point in my bucket list – to visit Kotor on this day). The whole day boat trip cost us around 50 Euro per person.

Budva - the city that never sleep

Our perfect time in Kotor, with beautiful mornings on our balcony and cozy old town nearby, came to an end. It was time to move forward in our journey to the next town – Budva.  Our host from the accommodation in Kotor offered us a ride to Budva to our accommodation there. It took around 40 min and we paid around 20 euro. Don’t forget to have your camera ready while you go on this road. The view is amazing!

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The view from The Lighthouse Apartments

Accomodation in Budva - Lighthouse Apartment

Our room in Budva

After a 40-minute drive we had arrived in our accommodation: Lighthouse Apartments. This accommodation is located around 2.5 km from Budva, almost on the top of a hill, so prepare yourselves for some training ;).  We didn’t want to stay in central Budva, because we were looking for peace and a beautiful view, and this accommodation provided us with precisely those things. The room was simple, with a small kitchenette and a private bathroom.  The bed was comfortable, with direct view to the open sea, and both the room and the common areas were clean. There was also a barbecue place in the facilities, so we didn’t need to cook so much inside.

The only minus of this accommodation was that it is kind of far from the nearest store, as well as from the other attractions, if you don’t have a car. We could see from our windows the most popular beach in Budva, but unfortunately there are no walking paths going there, so you need to go through one of the busiest roads in Montenegro. It is a different story when going to Budva. It takes around 20-30 minutes walking to get there, and there is a sidewalk the whole way (with a small section within a tunnel, so prepare your phone or other sources of light).

The view from the bed
Sebastian

Ever since the first moment in Lighthouse Apartments we felt like in home. I think that it’s the owners’ praise for their tenants. Jasna and her husband are very warm people, with open hearts and it just feels like home hospitality. There was also Sebastian the cat, whom became my friend since the first day J. I am sure that I will come back to Lighthouse Apartments the next time I will visit Budva, when I am planning a road trip with my family.

This part of our holiday was mainly to relax, so we didn’t plan anything special. We spent our days walking around, eating good food and drinking mojitos. Budva’s Old Town is a beautiful place with many good restaurants, coffee places, and beach bars. We didn’t explore so much of Budva’s new areas, because this it is not our thing. However, if you like shopping and night life probably Budva will catch your heart and wallet ;).

That is everything about our Anniversary Trip to Montenegro. I hope you enjoyed it with me! The whole trip costed us around 1500 – 1700 Euro (include everything, without thinking to much about the budget in Montenegro)

Our next trip will be LONDON BABY!!!!

See you on the road,

Kaja  

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