Chalaadi glacier

Georgia (Eurasia), Zsofi

We went on a hardcore snow hike into the mountains.

When I planned our trip, I looked for a hiking path. I was a bit worried, cause there was a path which went towards Russia, and I found that if you want to get home, then don’t go this way, cause they will first shoot, and then ask. The Georgian – Russian border is not the most peaceful place on Earth, I expected this. We went on another way.

It’s breathtaking to walk here in winter (okay, it was spring, but there was snow till the knee). It was very very difficult to get forward, because of the know. It was difficult to move in the snow, and also the snow level was that high, that it covered the tourist signs (if there were). We tried to go by GPS, but also wasn’t the best.

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I had one of my best experience in my life here. Have you ever seen an avalanche? It is awesome. We went next to a river. On one side there were the steep slopes, and high mountains, the other side was much more friendly, with pinetrees (what can stop the avalanche), and less steep landscape. We went on the friendly side of course.

I heard some strange noise, and we didn’t know first what it is. I was kinda shocked when we found the source. On the mountain side, you could see avalanches running down the mountain. It’s crazy to hear, crazy to see. I felt so small and fragile, but also safe from the other side.

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We went close to the glacier, but not till the end, cause we had to turn back if we wanted to get back in daylight (and yes, we wanted to get back in daylight). Again strange noises… After a while I recognized, that they are gunshots. I became totally stressed. What if they just started to shoot each other? How will we go down from the hill? How will we survive??? But we went on. After a while (after a long time) the shots ended. When we arrived back to the car, our friend said that they found bear footprints, close to the village. Most likely the people called hunters when they saw the bear, the hunter scared it away with the shots. Lucky, that the bear didn’t come on our way…

Other visited places: Gachedili canyon, Koruldi lakes, Martvili, Kutaisi, Mestia, Zugdidi, Prometheus cave

Wishlist: anything here

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Background story, arrival, Prometheus cave

Georgia (Eurasia), Zsofi

We went to Georgia (Eurasia) for just 3 days. 3 of the 4 of us had a new job, and we didn’t have days off yet, and also when we bought the airplane tickets, we knew, that soon we will have new jobs, and we won’t have days off, so we booked for the Easter Holiday. I want to go back once, to see more, cause I totally felt in love with it. Just check the pictures, and hope you will understand 🙂

So 3 days, huh? Okay, let’s try to do as much as possible. I think we were successfull with it. We planned to rent a car. It was a good idea. You cannot count on public transport, and we had very limited time. We had just 2 options actually, cause we arrived around 5 am, and went back to the airport around the same time, so we needed a car rental 0-24 hours. Our 2 options were a Toyota Yaris, or a Nissan X-terra. There were no real difference in price, and we planned to go to the mountains, so we chose Nissan X-terra. It was a very good choice. I have no idea how would we manage with a small car. There is not too much traffic. There are more cows on the roads than cars. The quality of the roads can also show this. For a long time, we had just dirt roads, no asphalt.

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First stop was this cave. Already the neighbourhood was nice.

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It was a pity that the guide forced us to hurry, but most of the caves works like this. This is the biggest cave in Georgia (Eurasia). I loved, that in the end, we came out from the cave in a boat, on a small, extra clean watered stream.

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Other visited places: Gachedili canyon, Koruldi lakes, Martvili, Kutaisi, Mestia, Zugdidi, Prometheus cave

Wishlist: anything here

 

Peak Musala

Bulgaria, Zsofi

We started the day early from Sofia, and we planned to stop hiking on the way to Varna. Of course, what else than the highest point, which is almost 3000 meters. We arrived to the staring point, we jumped out of the car. Just for my information, I asked Laci (he organised the hiking) how high are we at the starting point. He answered 1700 m. I didn’t believe him. Seriously I thought he is kidding. I couldn’t imagine that we will go up 1300 m. We did.

I can separate the hiking to 3 parts. First was in the forest, an average one. On the way back, we could reach the forest a bit after sunset. The wolves were howling, and I was scared. We started to play music on the phone, to scare them away.

The second part, as we saw in advance, was a more or less flat part. Great, then we can go faster there. No. We already saw in the beginning, that this will not happen. We were just after the melting of the snow, so the ground was muddy, and wet. All of our shoes got wet, and Maya once sank in the mud (it was funny, sorry). If this wouldn’t be enough, there were pinetrees everywhere, and there were no tourist signs. On the way back we were worried, that we will stuck in this in the dark, but we almost got out of this, when the sun went down.

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The third part was the steep one. And the most beautiful. We passed by a few tarns, the last one was totally frozen, that was the best. And I started to feel horrible because of the height. I had a headache, I felt that the air has less oxygen. The end was a via ferrata. I don’t think that I would make it without my friends. So here is a picture of us 🙂

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Other visited places: Sofia, Varna

Wishlist: Burgas, Sunny Beach

Leukerbad

Switzerland, Zsofi

Well, this is just a small village in the Alpes. But worth to visit especially if you like spas. There is not really any other thing in the village, just the spa and a hotel. The water is warm, it has outdoor part, so you can chill outside in the winter. Just sitting in the hot, and watch the gorgeous landscape. That’s all.

Oh yeah, and they have saunas. After spending time in the sauna, I’m not a big fan of going into cold water. Here of course you have the cold water option, but what I loved: you can just walk out to the balcony, lie down on a bed, and cool down on the air (with a landscape of the Alpes).

Other visited places in Switzerland: Bern, Geneva, Zürich, Friburg, Lausanne, Montreux, Neuchatel, Grotte de Vallorbe

Wish list: Aletsch, Peak Dufour

Vík

Iceland, Zsofi

Loveliest sea shore ever. Even if there is no 40°C here, this is my favorite.

This is a cute village in the middle of nowhere. Okay, in Iceland more or less everything is in the middle of nowhere. And you can get to everywhere on the only highway that they have. Vík is the southernmost village in Iceland, and it’s specialty is it’s black sand shore. The whole island, is vulcanic, this is why the sand is also black. Incredible.

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Other visited places: Blue Lagoon spa, Reykjavík, Out of Reykjavík

MAP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&usp=sharing
tick Vík on the left side

Wishlist: anything here

Montreux

Switzerland, Zsofi

Little bit of history

You can find this lovely town next to Geneva Lake, in the french part of Switzerland. It was inhabited already in roman times. From 14th century it was the property of different dutches. Nowadays its famous for festivals (Jazz Festival, Freddie Mercury Festival). The band, Queen, had a studio here, where they made few of their albums.

What to see

Chateau de Chillon is the main attraction here. It’s built in the middle age, and because of it’s situation (built on a rock next to the lake), it was easy to protect. Also the list of tourist sights ends up with L’Eglise St Vincent and Freddie Mercury memorial. But if you come here, it’s not because of these, but the lovely view of the lake.

Other visited places in Switzerland: Bern, Geneva, Zürich, Friburg, Lausanne, Leukerbad, Neuchatel, Grotte de Vallorbe

MAP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&usp=sharing
tick Montreux on the left side

Wish list: Aletsch, Peak Dufour

Bern

Switzerland, Zsofi

Little bit of history

The city was found by Berthold V Zähringen dutch. In 1353 it joined the Swiss Confederation, and played an important role from the beginnings. During  the inner wars, it was destroyed by other cantons. It was under french rule for a short while in the beginning of the 19th century. Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland (Switzerland does not have an official capital).

What to see

I went in winter, and it wasn’t the best idea (I was living close in winter). In winter two main attractions are not available. The Rose Garden, and the Bear Park (they are sleeping).

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But the Old Town is amazing also in winter. I always loved these city, where there is a river, and it makes a U-shape, and Old Town is in the U-shape. They have style.

Compared to that this is the capital of Switzerland, it doesn’t look like that. It’s more a cutie, calm town. Zürich was much more cosy.

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You can see things about Albert Einstein (he was working in Bern for a while, and one of his son was born here), for example a cafe (nice place, recommended), or a museum.

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Bern Cathedral is a gorgeous building, just as I expected from these people. This is Switzerlands biggest church.

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The other very famous place is the Clock Tower. Funny one. I prefer the one in Prague.

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The building of the Parliament was a bit disapointing for me. For such a rich and fancy country, I expected something much more. Maybe the problem is that I live in Budapest, and the Parliament here is an architectural beauty, so I have high expectations.

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Other visited places in Switzerland: Geneva, Zürich, Friburg, Lausanne, Leukerbad, Montreux, Neuchatel, Grotte de Vallorbe

MAP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&usp=sharing
tick Bern on the left side

Wish list: Aletsch, Peak Dufour

Grottes de Vallorbe

Switzerland, Zsofi

It’s a cave system in Switzerland, close to French border.

Best thing in it is the underground river. It’s really a river, not just a stream. A lot of water, and a lot of energy. It’s crazy to see such a thing in a cave.

It’s not the easiest to get here, but also nice to take a walk around the cave.

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Other visited places in Switzerland: Bern, Geneva, Zürich, Friburg, Lausanne, Montreux, Leukerbad, Neuchatel

MAP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&usp=sharing
tick Grottes de Vallorbe on the left side

Wish list: Aletsch, Peak Dufour

Geneva

Switzerland, Zsofi

Huh, this was my longest ‘trip’, away from my home. I was working in Geneva for 6 month. Actually it was an internship for my Masters’ Degree. And actually I didn’t live in Geneva, because on the other side of the border the rental was half the price. I lived in St-Genis-Pouilly, but there is not too much things to see there (just the people who works in Geneva, but want a cheaper accomodation), so there will not be post about it (sorry).

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Don’t be surprised! This is the city of extremely expensive cars, and watch commercials. Seriously, at my working place, the parking area looked like a collection of fancy cars. In one day, I saw more fancy cars, than all along in my life before. I also saw that much watch commercials, that it was enough for my whole life. I’m against such things, but I really started to want a new watch in the end. Crazy.

Little bit of history

In ancient times, it was inhabited by a celtic strain. Romans (Julius Caesar) also passed by during the gallic campaign. In 6th century it became part of the Frank Empire. In middle ages the bishop was the head of the city. Reformation lead to the independence of the city in 1536. In the beginning of 19th century it was part of France for 16 years, before it joined Switzerland. After this, it is understandable that its the french part of Switzerland. During the World Wars, it was more protected because of the independence of Switzerland, and a lot of international organizations placed here their seat (United Nations, WHO, World Trade Organization etc). Geneva is the second most populated city in Switzerland, ~45% of it is foreigner. It is situated on the bank of the Geneva-lake.

What to see

If you have a friend, who were in Geneva, then I’m sure, you already saw picture about the Jet d’Eau. That is the huge fountain in the Geneva Lake. If you can, you have to have a diving in Geneva Lake. It’s full of bikes, and trash.

To Mont Saleve you can hike up (not difficult), or you can go up by the funicular (for pussies). From here you can get the best view of the city.

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One of my favorite museums was Fondation Martin Bodmer. They have a lot of original, old books, and other things that costs a fortune.

I lived there from September till February, but in spring time, the Parc La Grange is amazingly nice, and full of flowers.

In Museum d’Histoire Naturelle I saw the craziest thing in my life (still shocked). I wouldn’t believe if I wouldn’t have seen it with my own eyes. Wait, I still hardly believe. They had a two-headed turtle. Or turtles… Do I need to use plural in this case? Yes, it was real, and it was alive. And it really had 2 heads, which moved separately. (What a crisis, if one head wants to go to one direction, the other wants to go to the other direction…) If nothing else, this worth to go to Geneva.

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Cathédrale Saint-Pierre Geneve is another main point for a sight seeing, in the Old Town region. If you are there, make a walk in Parc des Bastions. Something extarordinary was for me the Reformation Wall in the Parc.

Victoria Hall worth to go for a concert.

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My other favorite museum was Patek Philippe Museum. Yes, its full of too too disgusting watches, where they used too much gold, diamond, and shinny, expensive materials, but they have a lot of lovely ones too.

Jardin Anglais worth a walk too, at least because of the Flower Clock (in warm part of the year).

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Place des Nations is fascinating. One of my fav sculpture is here, the Broken Chair (my favorite is the Knotted Gun, I saw it in Stockholm). And if you are there, you will see the flags of the United Nations.

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But my favorite park was Parc de La Perle du Lac. Usually it’s full of life. In warm, everyone comes here, just lying on the sun next to the lake. A bit higher up you can find Parc de l’Ariana, with Musee Ariana. Nice place 😉

If you are interested in physics, you definitely need to go to the CERN. They have guided tours, you can apply on the webpage (http://visit.cern/tours/guided-tours). Unfortunately now the collider is working, so you cannot visit the detectors, but when I was there they had a shut down 😉

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Other visited places in Switzerland: Zürich, Bern, Friburg, Lausanne, Leukerbad, Montreux, Neuchatel, Grotte de Vallorbe

MAP: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&ll=46.23792248622705%2C6.048043699999994&z=10
tick Geneva on the left side

Wish list: Aletsch, Peak Dufour

The beginings – Catania

Italy, Zsofi

Let’s go back in time and imagine!

[The story starts in the 8th century BC] It is middle of the night and you are lying on your pallet in your cell. It is another stormy night on the sea, and you cannot sleep again. Maybe this trip was not the best idea. But it seemed so promising back at home: new place, new women, being a conqueror, having the glory!

You have no idea how much time did you spend on the Mediterranean Sea, but you finally reached your promised land. It is similar like at home. Good, it will be easier to get used to live here. You are proud to be part of this Greek colony, because you can reach also the unreachable. But there is something here, what you did not have at home. The fire splitting beast above you, the Etna.

With time you keep good relation with Magna Graecia. You can never know when will it be useful to have such a big brother.

Let’s jump a bit in time. Just about 300 years. There is this other city on the island, Siracusa, which has this Hieron. He wants to rule on the whole island, but you did not come here to be ruled by someone on the other side of the island. He tries to expell all the original Catanaeans from their city. But you are smarter! And anyway it does not last long. With his death, the others also comes back to Catania. Everything is calm as long as the big brother does not appear. Athenians arrived to your walls. Of course you don’t want to let them in, but what can you do? They want to rule Siracusa, and for that they need a base on the island. It’s handy to chose Catania for this purpose.

Later on [403 BC] Siracusa finally occupies your city. They do not treat well the locals, all your friends are sold as a slave. You try to protect your home from the Carthagians, and fight for independance in the endless wars.

And then the Romans came [263 BC]. Catania is one of the firsts who falls in Sicily. Thanks to your good relation with Rome, Catania becomes a flourishing city, with rich market. Also thanks to the fire splitting beast, your fields are giving you good vegetables and wine.

Bit more than a hundred years later everything goes wrong [121 BC]. The beast started to split fire. The melted fire was running down on the hill and covered and destroyed the whole town. You were watching this from your boat. All your precious lands and goods are gone now. No more wine, no more fruits, no more fountains in your green garden.

Till 440 the town reborn. But then you have protect it from the Vandals of Gaiseric. Your life is full of different rulers of the town. After the ostrogoths, Eastern Roman Empire (=Byzantine Empire) gets back your beloved city, and owned till 9th century.

Then you have something new! After Byzantine governor of Sicily, the islamic emirate arrives till 1072. On Piazza Duomo, there is Basilica Cattedrale Sant’Agata which you constructed between 1078 and 1093. Then you are just struggling under normans and germans. In 1282 you take part in the revolt against the Anjous. War after war, Catania loses its capital role and in the 16th century you find yourself under the rule of Spain. Then of course, you take part in the rebellion against the foreign government.

And then in 1669 the beast grabbes the rule again. Now you can survive it easier, because the city wall does its job, and protects the city. But the port ends up worse. Worse comes in 1693, when an earthquake destroyes the city, and you also help to rebuild it in baroque style. These events were also source for the main building material, the tuff.

 Chiesa San Benedetto also ruined in the catastrophy, but after you rebuild it, it gets lovely baroque frescos. You are building not only houses, and buildings, but also other esthetics too. You just finish Porta Uzeda in 1696, and Fontana Dell’Elephante is dated back into 1736. Towards the sea, you pass by Palazzo Biscari. If you continue your walk towards the Palazzo degli Elephanti, and walk a few more minutes, you will end up at Piazza Universita. If you go on, you will reach Basilica Collegiata. A cute little church is Santuario Sant’Agata al Carcere. For a bit of rest and nature, you always visit Giardino Bellini.

In 1866 you finally finish the construction of Monastero dei Benedettini which is already that time one of the must see main attraction in Catania. It’s an island of peace in the running city. In the shade of the monastry, you have to see the Chiesa di San Nicolo All’ArenaFontana dell’Amenano is finished also around this time.

In the 19th century you finally can get back to your roots, and Sicily becomes part of Italy. In 1940 you can luckily survive the repeated bombings by running away to the surrunding villages, and in 1943 Britihs Army liberates your island.

The city has an underground river (Amenano), which comes up to the surface only at one place. If you wish to visit seaside, and be active, the best is San Giovanni Li Cuti, with its climbable rocks and clear water.

In modern times you still didn’t stop developing the city. Museo Diocesano Catania is a proof for that.  

Background of the trip

Actually, I started to travel late. My family’s financial background didn’t make it possible to travel. When I was born, back then also political situation of Hungary wasn’t too stable, it wasn’t too common to go abroad.

My grandpa was a geologist engineer, he had tons of maps, atlases, and albums of different parts of the world, so I got amazed of travelling already at early age. I wanted to see everything! All the places, all the secrets, all the people.

And in 2006 the ice broke. My highschool’s french drama group got an invitation to Sicily to a festival. No, I didn’t play, but a few places left on the bus, so obviously my highschool wanted to fill that up. So I went 🙂

MAP: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1356aWVE-FXwQdNVbo1a8Zh-44qeEd8no&usp=sharing
tick Catania on the left side

Other visited places in Italy: Napoli, Rome, Venice, Trieste

Wish list: Stromboli