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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Frequent traveler bonuses -how to travel for free!

Year 2019 is the one when I managed to do some of my travels for free, or almost for free. Some of them due to my work of course, but in this blog post I would like to tell you how to travel for free even if you do not work in the travel industry.

Frequent traveler bonus

As you probably already know, many companies have a membership where you can collect points and then use them to book your next stay at hotel, flight ticket or simply upgrade already booked services. 

Every company have their own name of it as well s rules about how you can earn points or how and when you can spend them. The base of all of the is that you are a frequent and loyal traveler/customer.

Today I would like to tell you about the one that I use and the one that I could already use to book my trips.

SJ Prio - Swedish railway club

Let’s start from our first trip this year being booked almost completely using points – weekend trip to Linköping – Sweden by train!

In May 2019, due to a board game convention, we decided to visit Linköping in Sweden. This small and nice town is within around 2.5-hours trip by train from Stockholm, so here starts our first travel by points. My life partner – Carlos, used to commute every day by SJ (Swedish railway company) using monthly ticket. Each month he needed to buy it, so it was smart to join a frequent traveler club runs by SJ.

Each month he was collecting around 3000 points so in the end he had many points that we could use to book the trip to Linköping. We managed to book two round trip tickets in first class, so our trip was comfortable. The seats at the first class wagon are wider, plus you can choose between coffee, water and some snacks included in the price. Cost of the trip: 0 SEK (payed by SJ points) and we have still around 16 000 points to use :). 

 

More information click here

Hotels.comRewards system

Another bonus club that we use is Hotels.com Rewards club. The rules here are simple, for each 10 nights that you book through this website you get one for free. If you book two rooms or more on the same stay, the nights count also double 😊.  The type of accommodation that you can book for free depends on the type of the previous 10 accommodations that you have booked.

I like this reward club very much, but if you do not travel so often then it can happen that you lose your earned nights. However, the time in which you need to collect 10 nights extends every time you book and use a new stay (counts also as a bonus stay).

We could use our first free night this year on the same trip that we used SJ points, so we did not pay for our first night at Best Western Hotel Linköping (check review here). I think that is cool when you can stay two nights at the hotel and paying only for one 😊. What do you think?

Club One by Tallink Silja Line Cruises

The last bonus club that I would like to tell you about today is Club One by Tallink Silja Line. It is a ferry company running cruises between Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Riga. You can book 12, 23, 48 -hours cruises or even longer stay with hotel packages on one of the cities mentioned above.

As you probably noticed, I like a lot travelling by boat. I think it is one of the best ways of travelling from point A to point B, because as soon as you enter the ship you can feel that you are on holiday. It is also a way where you have a chance to relax and get bored in a positive way.

I like to book weekend cruises when I am exhausted with everyday responsibilities and simply when we would like to spend some time together. Due to my ¨addiction¨ to those cruises, of course I am also a member of the Club One.

How does it work?

The rules in this club are also simple and clear. You earn points for each euro that you spend on booking as well as on the ship. The amount of points depends on the level that you are in (silver, gold, etc.) and it’s between 30 and 40 points per 1 euro. So, I buy all my perfumes, make up and alcohol while we cruise 😊.

My first trip by points was on October 2019, when we decided to spend a nice day in Tallinn, which is our favourite destination with Tallink Silja Line. You cannot pay the whole trip using points, so it was not entirely for free, but with a big discount. For the whole weekend trip with two nights on board, day in Tallinn and breakfast included, we have paid 950 SEK (around 85€) for 2 persons. To compare, that is worth the regular price for 2 people for this cruise and it would be around 2000 SEK (around 180€).

This membership has also some cons. Unfortunately, there is a limited time during which you need to collect the points and use them. If you do not do it you will lose your points, and there is no way to make the time extended. Another thing is that you must book a specific cabin with your points, so if you do not have enough you cannot book the lower standard and pay for upgrade.

More information click here 

Summarizing, I think that the frequent travelers’ clubs are a great idea how to keep customers happy with the company and I think it is a smart way of traveling by using them. Of course, when you choose the one that you would like to use, be sure that you are traveling a lot with that company, because most of them have rules about expiration days for your points.

First focus on the company that you travel most with, maybe some train company that you commute to work like my boyfriend or the hotels that you stay frequently. That could be through websites like hotels.com or simply directly hotel chain clubs, like I am at Best Western.

I hope that I have inspired you with this post and let me know in the comments what type of frequent traveler clubs you are using.

 

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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8 places to visit in Costa del Sol

8 places to visit in Costa del Sol

Are you ready for the next package of useful information about the Málaga region? Previously, I told you about how to go around Málaga and where to see a traditional flamenco show. If you did not have a chance to read it before, click here! Today I would like to tell you a little bit more about Málaga surroundings and what I have visited there. 

Fuengirola – the city of 100 faces

Let’s start my story with the small town where I had the pleasure to stay and work for three months. Fuengirola is a small town located next to a beautiful sandy beach. This town offers everything that you need to enjoy a sunny holiday in Spain. You can find there a beach with all kind of water attractions (mostly during summer season), plenty of good restaurants and pubs (from typical tapas bar to Irish pubs), and other attractions for the whole family like Bio Park or fan parks. In this post, you can read about the places and events in Fuengirola that, in my opinion, are worth visiting.

Fruit market on Tuesdays

Every Tuesday many tourists and locals visit a famous fruits and vegetables market in Fuengirola. According to the Berlitz’s pocket guide about Andalucía, it is the biggest of this type of market in the area.

I just loved this place. It is full of colors and local products. It is nothing better than different types of fruits and vegetables from local producers and with lower prices than in the supermarkets around.

The address where you can find this market is: Calle Recinto Ferial, 29640 Fuengirola, Málaga, Spain

When: Every Tuesday between 9 a.m and 2 p.m

Read more about local markets here!

Flea Market on Saturdays

You can find a flea market on Saturdays in the same place where the fruit market takes place on Tuesdays. Who does not like to visit those places where you can find different types of treasures as well as trashy souvenirs?

In Fuengirola you can really find everything and anything. From old clothes, books and toys through old posters, instruments and up to even furniture and antiques. I heard and read a lot about this place before visiting it, but still, I got surprised and even overwhelmed with the greatness of it.

Feria de Pueblos (April)

For one week at the end of April, the marketplace changes for a big international fair called Feria de Los Pueblos. It is a place where different countries promote their cuisine, culture, and music. This fair is a perfect place to go with friends/family for dinner (street-type food), drinks or for a long dancing night.  In addition to eating and drinking, you can also buy local products, jewels or ride the carousel.

If you visit Fuengirola at the end of April, be sure to visit Feria de Los Pueblos. You will not have  problems finding the place. You only need to follow the people from Los Boliches train station. At this time almost everyone is going to the fair.

Benalmádena

Another City located in Costa del Sol that is nice to visit is Benalmádena. The city is divided in two parts: Benalmádena Costa and Benalmádena Pueblos. It is located 13 km from Málaga Airport, and the same distance from Fuengirola. You can reach it easily by train, which goes between Fuengirola and Málaga. Benalmádena has many things that are worth visiting.

 

Let’s start first with Benalmádena Pueblo:

Looking to the mountain direction from Carvajal Beach you can see a big white building. It made me curious the first time I saw it. I checked the Berlitz Guidebook and I found out that it is The Buddhist Enlightenment Stupa.

The Buddhist Enlightenment Stupa in Benalmádena is the biggest of this type of building in whole Europe. Here people can come to meditate. According to the girl who works there and the Buddhism believes, it is a place of unlimited energy source. You can read more about the history of Stupa here.

For me it was a nice opportunity to learn more about Buddhism and the history of Buddha. The guide inside was knowledgeable and friendly, so the visit was even more interesting. During summer you can join different types of activities there, like for example yoga classes, meditation sessions or even lectures about Buddhism.

How to go there

Walking:

When I found out what it was, I decided to visit it. One sunny Sunday I took my backpack, a bottle of water, and started my walk up the mountains. From Carvajal it took me around 1 hour and 15 minutes, with stops for pictures, to reach my destination. Walking was mostly on local roads and mostly without a proper sidewalk, so be careful when walking there. However, it was worth doing it.

After 3.5 km walking up the hill, I finally reached the Stupa. It was worth every drop of sweat and pain in the legs. The view from up there is stunning. You can see almost the whole Costa del Sol. I recommend visiting the Stupa early in the morning so you can enjoy it without a crowd of tourists. 

By bus:

You can also reach there by taking the bus M- 121 and M- 103 from Benalmádena. You need to take the bus at the bus stop called: Arroyo de La Miel, in direction to Estupa Tibetana.

From Fuengirola there is no direct bus to Stupa (according to google maps), so you will need to go first to Benalmádena by bus M – 120 or by commuter train C1 and then switch to bus M-121.

 

Colomares Monument - Castillo Monumento Colomares

On my way back from Benalmádena Pueblo I took another way down. As an explorer type of traveller, I try to not take the same path twice 😊. That was a very good idea. While walking down the hill I saw a beautiful castle that to me it resembled a Disney Castle. As a big fan of Disney Movies, that was the first association in my head.

When I came closer, of course, I realized that this building does not have anything to do with the famous Disney castle. This monument was created to commemorate the discovery of the new world misnamed America by Columbus and was ready for visitors in 1994. The building is a mix of different styles and you can find there a ship that represents the discovery, the crown of Castile and his Queen Elizabeth who supported Columbus when no one believed him, as well as his mausoleum.

On this day I did not enter the Colomares Monument because of lack of time and an empty stomach. The entrance ticket costs around 4€ and you can buy it at the entrance.

Benalmádena Costa has also a lot to offer to its visitors. From a romantic walk next to the sea, through beautiful views from the peak of the mountain, up to nice beaches with plenty of restaurants and pubs.  I will not write here about all the attractions that you can find there. My idea is to share with you my experience and show you the places that I have visited.

Benalmádena Car Cable – Teleférico de Benalmádena and Falconry Show

Teleférico is one of the not-so-many paid attractions that I visited in Costa del Sol. However, it was worth every penny to go there. The easiest way to reach the Teleférico Cable Car from Malága is to take the commuter train C1 in direction to Fuengirola and get out in Benalmádena Arroyo de La Miel stop. From the station, you will need to walk around 200 m and you will get there.

The cable car will take you to the highest point in Costa del Sol. There you will find a small restaurant with tasty coffee, a falconry show, and the most important: a stunning view over the whole coast. When the weather is great you can even see the African Continent.

Falconry Show

Twice per day, you can see a falconry presentation up in the mountain. Shows are at 1 p.m and 5 p.m. They have a big variety of different types of birds, so you can learn many interesting facts about them.

I have mixed feelings after attending this show. The first thing that I saw was a beautiful falcon chained to the ground in a short chain so he could only sit and look pretty for tourists. Is it ok for this amazing bird to be chained as a prisoner? I do not think so.

The second doubt I got when at the end of the show, one of the employees took a basket with newly born falcons, and let people touch them and take pictures. When I asked him if their mom will not be refusing them after it, the answer was that they are taken from their parents immediately after birth, so they can be prepared for shows.

I am against all tourist attractions where animals are imprisoned. There are so many ways to learn about animals and we do not need to harm them. Build a sanctuary, teach people how to act in balance with nature. Do not make a show where people will eat popcorn and applause for a trick that caused pain to an animal.

Summarising I can highly recommend the cable car, but not the show. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and sun protector when going there. You can walk around the top and see the views from different balconies.

Benalmádena Port and Passeo de Maritimo

After the cable car, I decided to go see the famous Benalmádena port and walk through a path by the coast line. I got positively surprised. Compared to Fuengirola, this Paseo de Maritimo is way more beautiful. It is located between the sea and buildings, where you can find many small restaurants, shops and pubs. I think it is place that you should visit being in Benalmádena.

Park de la Paloma

On the way from the cable car to the harbour, I found a great place for green–area lovers. Parque de la Paloma is a big green area with a small lake in the middle. You can meet there mostly local people and free roosters 😊. It was nice to see how Spanish people spend free time with family, making picnics, barbeques, or taking a nice family walk by the lake. I am sure that I will come back there and explore more one day.

That would be everything for today. If you have any questions about the locations that I put on my list worth to visit leave a comment or write to me at info@onceuponaroad.net.

See you on the road,

Kaja 

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Malaga – the 6th biggest city in Spain that has stolen my heart

Malaga – The City that has stolen my heart!!!

Spending three months during my internship in Costa del Sol has given me plenty of opportunities to explore its surroundings.  After Gibraltar, Fuengirola and Benalmadena, I decided to visit the capital of this region and the 6th biggest city in Spain – Malaga.

From the first moment I fell in love with it. The city is a perfect mix of old and new, as well as it has everything that you need to live comfortably and have easy access to  green areas.

Going around Malaga

Malaga is not really a big city, so it is easy to walk around and get to the main attractions without any problems. To those places that are farther away you can reach using  local buses. Remember! This is Andalusia in Spain, so the bus will show up when it will show up 😉.

We (Me and my parents) went to Malaga from Fuengirola by commuter train, costs around €2.50 per person one way (if you plan to stay longer in Málaga municipality it is cheaper when you buy a 10-trip ticket that costs around €20). After we reached the city, my Dad decided that we should take a Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off buss that took us to all the attractions that are worth to visit in this City. 

Hop On Hop Off Bus

I have always been skeptical about this type of city tours. In most cities it does not offer much with the ticket. However, Malaga has a well-designed package.  I chose  24-hour tickets that cost 29€ per person.  With this ticket I could use buses with guide (they offer guided tours in 8 languages) that are stopping next to every important attraction and are running every 20 minutes (in April).

This ticket also gives you access to museums:

  • Casa y Fundación Picasso (The house of Pablo Picasso)
  • Museo de la Música (Interactive Music Museum – if you like music you should visit it)
  • Museo Alborania de Aula del Mar
  • Museo Carmen Thyssen
  • Museo Revello de Toro
  • Museo Málaga C.F.
  • Museo Picasso
  • Museo del Automóvil
  • Cuevas del Tesoro

Isn´t it amazing? And you know what? This is still not everything that you are getting. In the price it is also included a boat tour around the bay (if the weather is good), free tapas with a glass of wine (specific hours), and a Flamenco Show. I think that buying this ticket was one of the best decisions we have made (Big kiss and thank you to my Daddy 😊).

There is also a 48-hour ticket, so if you would like to see everything and fully use the ticket, I would recommend this option instead. It costs 49€ per person

You can buy tickets in advance on the Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off website, through your travel agency or easily buy it from  company personnel next to the bus stops, and on the main train stations.

Flamenco Show and birthday´s dinner

My parents came to visit me one week before my 29th birthday, so I decided to book a Flamenco Show with dinner included to celebrate it.  I got a recommendation from a friend to visit Cal Y Canto Restaurant which offers Flamenco & Dinner packages.

They have the show twice per day: one at 8 p.m and one at 10 p.m. You can choose between 3 different price options:

1.       The show + 1 drink + 1 appetizer – costs €22 per person

2.       The show + 1 drink + tasting of 4 tapas – costs €36

3.       The show + 1 drink + 3-course meal – costs €49

I decided that we should had a big celebration with dinner. The food was amazingly tasty, and we could try typical Andalusian cuisine. However, no one told us that the portions are huuge, so we should not have had eaten anything in the whole day 😊.

 

As a starter the restaurant served a dish called Russian Salad – it is basically potatoes salad with mayonnaise – it was tasty as well as the well-known Spanish croquette with Iberian ham. 

After this it was time for the main dish. Here we could choose between meat and fish. My Mum and I took tuna fillet, and my Dad went with the meat dish. All the dishes were really tasty, but for my taste they were missing fresh vegetables on the side.

After those dishes and some glasses of wine it was time for desserts. As you probably already know, I am the type of person that loves sweets and everything that has chocolate included. So, you can imagine how happy I was when we got a big portion of chocolate brownie in the end 😊. Even though I was already full after the starter and the main dish, I ate the whole cake. 

That would be everything for today. I am planning to go back to Malaga before I return to Sweden. Come back soon and read more about what to visit in Malaga.

 

See you on the road,

Kaja 

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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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