11 Fun & Interesting Facts About Switzerland That Show It’s The Best Country To Live In

Switzerland is one of the smallest, yet most special countries in the world. Everybody knows about the famous Swiss chocolate, cheese and watches. There’s a lot more unique things about this country, though. Don’t be surprised if you want to pack your bags and move out to Switzerland after reading these

11 Fun & Interesting Facts About Switzerland:

  1. Ever wanted to lease a cow? Of course, you did. Welcome to Switzerland, where that’s actually possible and you get to keep all the cheese that’s made from your cow’s milk.
  2. In Switzerland, you’re never more than 16km (10 miles) away from a lake. In total, there are about 1,500 of them in the country. Your summer vacation is safe!Switzerland Travel Inspiration
  3. The clean air, abundance of nature and high-quality health care in Switzerland lead to the second highest life expectancy worldwide – right after Japan.Switzerland Travel Inspiration
  4. Being an animal-loving country, it’s against the law to keep only one guinea pig. You need to have a pair. Isn’t that adorable?
  5. There is free water everywhere. Whenever you see water running through a tap anywhere, just fill up your bottle, it’s safe to drink. The city of Zurich alone has around 1,200 fountains providing drinking water 24/7.Free Things To Do in Zurich
  6. In case the 1,500 lakes aren’t enough for you, you’ll be happy to hear that the Swiss built actual pools into their rivers! The water of rivers like the Rhine or Aare is so clean, it’s a delight to swim in them. Some people even use the currents to commute home after work in summer, storing their belongings in waterproof bags and literally floating home.Free Things To Do in Zurich
  7. The Swiss are big-time gourmets. Besides their world-famous chocolate and cheese they actually produce some of the finest wine in the world – but keep it for themselves. Only about 2% leaves the country, so if you’re looking for a unique wine experience, Switzerland is your destination!
  8. What else comes to your mind when you think about Switzerland? Yodeling, obviously! There’s a festival held every three years with 10,000 yodellers, flag-throwers and alphorn players showing off their special skills.
  9. Who doesn’t love some naked hiking? It’s pretty popular in Switzerland, even in winter, and many bathing areas have dedicated FKK (“Freiköperkultur” = “free body culture”) areas as well. Feel free!
  10. The Swiss have way more say in politics than most other citizens worldwide. They have the right to challenge a law passed by Parliament if they are able to gather 50,000 signatures within 100 days. After that, a national vote is scheduled and all citizens decide by a simple majority if they want to accept or reject that law. This isn’t just a theoretical possibility, it is really done regularly.
  11. This won’t be a reason for you to move, but it shows the caring attitude and open-mindedness of the country: Zurich has big vending machines that sell safe, government-subsidized syringes to heroin addicts, and it’s coming to smaller cities now as well. Whatever your take on drug policies is, at least this hopefully decreases the spreading of easily to avoid diseases.

 

Ready to book your flight now or need some more Switzerland Travel Inspiration? Make sure to read this list of free things to do in Zurich, as it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world.

 

Original Post Here: 11 Fun & Interesting Facts About Switzerland That Show It’s The Best Country To Live In

Morocco Travel Blog – Photo Diary

While I’m going to write more than one Morocco Travel Blog, this is going to be only a photo diary of my two weeks in Morocco. In the map below you can see the route we covered in one week, the rest of the time I spent in Marrakech and Essaouira. Well, I left Essaouira after only one night because I had some bad experiences and didn’t feel safe there at all.

Generally, my Morocco trip was very polarizing, something I never experienced that strongly before. I was completely amazed by the stunning landscapes and the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen, but at the same time very disappointed by the vibe, (non-)hospitality and food in Morocco. I will write more about that soon, but for now, I’m just going to leave you with this photo diary of beautiful Morocco.

If you’re planning on road tripping the country (which I would definitely recommend over taking public transport!), make sure to read these 8 essential tips for driving in Morocco.

1. Marrakech to Ouarzazate – The Atlas Mountains

The first leg of our road trip was supposed to take 4 h 13 min (206 km) and was probably the most exhausting and at the same time most beautiful drive I’ve ever done. The Atlas Mountains are unbelievably stunning, the scenery completely changes every few minutes.

One of the best things about Morocco: Cheap, delicious and fresh Orange Juice wherever you go!

When we finally arrived in Ouarzazate, we found this beautiful hidden gem outside the town, by the lake: Ecolodge L’ile de Ouarzazate. Some food and a Berber Music jam session helped us recover from this exhausting drive that ended up taking like 7 hours.

Ouarzazate Morocco Ouarzazate Morocco

2. Ouarzazate to Merzouga – The Sahara Desert

The next morning we left early again, because we had 5h 9min (366 km) drive ahead of us – according to Google. It obviously took a lot longer again because of all the stops we needed to make to take photos. The landscapes slowly turned more deserty and the greens faded.

We made it to Merzouga 2-3 hours before sunset and got ready for our glamping adventure in the Sahara desert. A one-hour camel ride and sunset over the sand dunes later, we had a hot shower in a luxury tent in the middle of the desert. Crazy.

Morocco Glamping Sahara Desert

3. Merzouga to Todra Gorges – The Canyon

Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary

Since we were really tired from all the driving, we decided to take a different route back to Marrakech and make two stops on the way instead of one. The 200km drive was supposed to take 2h 42min, so we arrived in Todra Gorges in the afternoon and had some time to relax and walk between the canyon. This was probably the most impressive landscape of the entire trip for me, I absolutely love canyons, they make me feel so tiny. Not that I ever feel big with my 157cm 😀

Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary

Morocco was definitely the trip of the most special accommodations! In Todra Gorges, we found this insanely cool hotel/guest-house built into a canyon. The rooms were actually carved into the rocks, how cool is that?

Morocco - Todra Gorges Morocco - Todra Gorges Morocco - Todra Gorges

For a more casual view of this road trip, you can watch my Instagram story highlights of Morocco here.

4. Todra Gorges to Aït Benhaddou (via Gorges du Dadès)

Another day, another drive. We were gonna spend the night in Aït Benhaddou, which would have just been a 1.5hr drive (80km), but I really, really wanted to find this cool zigzag road that I saw everywhere on Instagram lately, so we did quite a big detour. Although I recently decided not to center my trips around certain Instagram photo spots, this one was an exception. Isn’t it the coolest road you’ve ever seen?

Since we went to Morocco during Ramadan, we were really looking forward to staying at a more international hotel and have a nice glass of wine after this intense road trip. And like all other places before, this one was incredibly special and beautiful again:

Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary

5. Aït Benhaddou to Marrakech

Our last day of driving: 3h 38min (185 km) back to Marrakech. Since we drove the same way through the Atlas Mountains a few days ago, we decided to take one of the back roads instead of the main route. Even though it took longer and the roads were pretty bad, we were rewarded with more stunning views. Oh, and we found this cutie on the side of the road. He got lucky, I stole an apple at the hotel breakfast in the morning and gave it to him:)

Morocco Travel Blog - Road Trip Photo Diary

Moroccan traffic jam?

 

6. Marrakech

You can pretty much do most of Marrakech’s highlights in two days. I didn’t do everything, skipped on the tanneries e.g., cause I was really exhausted from the constant hassle and had to catch up on work.

Here’s a few places worth seeing, though: Jardin Majorelle is definitely a very pretty and colorful garden, but also very crowded and not exactly cheap, the entry fee without visiting the YSL museum is 70 Dirham. If you’re on a budget, I recommend you skip this one and visit the next places I’m listing instead.

If you’re into stunning architecture and Instagram, this is your place: Palais De La Bahia. Be prepared to wait a bit for your perfect Insta shot since there are lots of girls in waving dresses with their Instagram husbands 🙂 Entry fee is only 10 Dirhams.

Another great photo location are these tombs in the center of Marrakech, though not as big and stunning as the Palais mentioned before. Entry fee is 10 DH as well.

This beautiful shopping “mall”, called Ensemble Artisanal, is perfect if you’re tired of the noise and hassle of the souks, here you can just look without being bothered. The pieces have price tags as well, so you won’t be overcharged – also recommendable to go here first to get an idea of prices before you head to the souks.

That’s it for my personal Morocco Travel Blog – Photo Diary. I’m going to write about everything you saw here in more detail later, but these photos should be enough to convince you that a road trip in Morocco ain’t a bad idea 😉


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Living in Cairo – Which Neighborhood Is Best For Expats?

This article was originally published here: Living in Cairo – Which Neighborhood Is Best For Expats?

Are you thinking about living in Cairo, but not sure what’s the right neighborhood for you? Together with an American expat living in Cairo, I created this guide to the best locations for you (and your family) to enjoy the best of what the capital of Egypt has to offer. Not every person is looking for the same thing when choosing where to live. We all have our own needs and desires. Rest assured though, Egypt is one of the most welcoming places we’ve ever been to, and here are the top 10 reasons we love Egypt!

Do you want out of the hustle and bustle of the city? Are you dreaming of more peace and quietness with green areas for your kids? Or do you not like gated communities and prefer to stay where the parties never end? Whatever your preference may be, in Cairo there is enough to choose from for everyone!

Cairo is the largest city not only in Egypt but in Africa. With Cairo’s population of 9.5 million people and an approximate area of 528 km², the constant struggle is traffic and congestion. For over a decade, efforts have been made to expand and build the city of Cairo. The result is modern and new cities like New Cairo and 6th of October. There, the influences of western civilization can be seen in the infrastructure of streets and buildings – ultimately, creating a new style of life that is a far-off concept from Downtown Cairo.

With newer areas bringing in a new kind of life to Cairo, there are now more places to choose from than there ever was. If you are unsure about these new developments, and wondering what’s the best place for living in Cairo, we’ve got you covered.

New Cairo – What is it all about?

Just 25 km away from Downtown Cairo awaits a more peaceful region: New Cairo. It was developed in hopes of fulfilling the cities need of more space. But what they did was change Cairo’s potential forever. With a little over a decade spent on expansion, it has already evolved and became the home for not only Egyptians but Expats as well.

New Cairo has an estimated population of 5 million people and is still growing and developing into the new hot spot for living in Cairo. It offers plenty of establishments for everyone to enjoy. From shopping malls like Cairo Festival City with an outstanding outdoor area to developments offering cafés and restaurants with spectacular sitting and entertainment such as City Square in Rehab, Emerald Twin Plaza, and Waterway. Like these developments, there are other plenty of great places to go out and enjoy time with friends and family.

Who is New Cairo perfect for?

New Cairo is an excellent place to raise a family. It offers some of the top schools in Egypt like the American International School in Egypt, Cairo English School, and Canadian International School of Egypt. These are only a couple of reputable private schools that are highly recommended and all conveniently located in New Cairo. Not only great for your kids to receive an education based on worldwide standards but a possible job opportunity for foreigners. They are always looking to add new talent to their staff, plus they pay in US dollars or Euros, depending on the originating country of the school.

New Cairo is also home to The American University in Cairo, which is an excellent option for your children to further their education. They successfully offer an American education system, a large campus providing several amenities, on-campus housing, and a student life that is similar to the US.

If you’re not familiar with Egypt then you’re probably thinking it’s mostly desert and there aren’t enough green areas to enjoy. That would be a wrong conception. There are plenty of private sporting clubs that provide green areas and much more for you and your family. Take a look at Platinum Club e.g., a huge sports and social club, ideal for families.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, you will find a list of some of the best compounds in New Cairo.

Living in Cairo – New Cairo Rating

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6th of October – What is it all about?

6th of October has a similar concept as New Cairo, the purpose being to declutter Cairo. Featuring a more urban life – a different style than traditional Cairo that has become a popular trend in Egypt. The top area is Sheikh Zayed. 6th of October is a newly developed area, just 32 km (20 miles) from the city of Cairo. Its developments didn’t come about until 2008. Considering it is still fairly new, it doesn’t have as many accommodations as New Cairo. But that doesn’t mean it won’t offer just as much in the future.

Who is 6th of October perfect for?

6th of October actually has one of the top industrial zones in Egypt. Top companies like Seoudi Group, Bavarian Auto Group, Coldwell Banker New Homes, and General Motors Egypt are located here. Smart Village is an important technology business district that’s also located in 6th of October. These developed enterprises offer a wide variety of jobs convenient for people looking to move into the new neighborhoods of 6th of October.

No need to worry about where your kids would go to school either, since one of Egypt’s top schools, The International School of Choueifat is located in 6th of October. There are also other prestigious options such as Heritage International School and  The British International School, Cairo.

Although 6th of October is fairly new there are still major developments in the area that make it very attractive. Mall of Egypt, one of the most famous malls in Egypt, is one of them. They are now the only facility in Egypt that offers an indoor snow park.

If 6th of October is a neighborhood you plan on living in, take a look at Dream Land. It is massive and an integrated, closed-in community that provides enough amenities for everyone. It offers residential living, a sports club, cinemas, spas, medical center, Dream Mall, and well-known school, The International School of Choueifat. There is also an amusement park, Dream Park. Perfect for some weekend fun with family and friends.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, you will find a list of some of the best compounds in 6th of October.

Living in Cairo – 6th of October Rating

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Tip: When you get there, you should absolutely check out these 5 Must-See Places in Cairo!

 

The other options: Zamalek or Maadi?

Maybe you are not excited about the new style of a more westernized way of life in the newly developed cities. And maybe you do love Cairo for the bustle. Then Maadi and Zamalek are the two main options to consider when deciding on where to live. Maadi and Zamalek are both situated along the Nile. Zamalek is the northern part of Gezira Island situated on the Nile and Maadi is located along the eastern bank of the Nile.

A common debate in Cairo is Zamalek or Maadi? A difficult one to settle considering both are affluent suburban districts that offer plenty of benefits. Personally, as a foreigner in Egypt, these are the areas that attract me the most.

They have many similarities, both have lean and leafy streets with luxurious apartment buildings and villas situated along the side. Having some of the finest cafes, bars, and dining in Egypt, there is plenty of fun and activities to enjoy. Not only that, but there are a diversity of art exhibits, museums, high-end shops, and boutiques. Some areas are quiet and very safe with most streets having security officials at most corners. It’s very easy to commute and many businesses and shops can be found on one street. For that reason, they are both attractive areas for families and home to many European expats.

Like many, you might be wondering what are the differences between the two? How do you set them apart from each other?

Maadi – What is it all about?

In Maadi, there are several great places to dine such as The Platform. As the name states, it is a platform presenting many of the preferred cafes and restaurant branches of Cairo specializing in coffee houses, Italian food, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Many love The Platform because of its location on the Nile, with its waterfront sitting.

Road 9 is a popular hub in Maadi. From modern and commercial shops to upholstery and shoemaker shops to European style bars to coffee houses and hookah cafes to diverse dining – it’s all here. A favorite spot to eat for many is Zooba because of their unique and modern touch to popular Egyptian street food. Other favorite places to eat on Road 9 are Kazouza Street Eats and Grapes Restaurant & Lounge. If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy a drink with friends, Villa 55 Restaurant and Pub is great. There is also an excellent selection of bakeries such as Ralph’s German Bakery (a personal favorite), TBS Bakery, and Nola Cupcakes.

Maadi is full of greenery and offers many outdoor activities, a major attraction to the area. Wadi Degla sports club is a famous sports club in Maadi, a perfect place for families to enjoy sporting activities and the outdoors. There’s also the Wadi Degla Protectorate, a massive canyon park, to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, camping or dog walking. Absolutely perfect for amazing photography considering there are breathtaking sceneries, especially at sunset.

Maadi being an affluent area, it doesn’t fall short on prestigious schools. Some options for private, international education are Lycee Francais Du CaireVictoria College School, and Maadi British International School.

Cost of apartments in Maadi come at an average price of 5,900 LEper m² and villas have an average price of 13,600 LE per m².

 

Living in Cairo – Maadi Rating

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Zamalek – What is it all about?

Zamalek has a superabundance of embassies and consulates, making it the top residential area for diplomats. Known for its high standard of living, Zamalek tends to attract the most influential people of Cairo. It is an impressive area and living there offers little to no disappointments.

Zamalek, like Maadi, offers plenty of green areas. In fact, the island was first referred to as “Jardin Des Plantes” (Garden of Plants). This was centuries ago when French landscape designer, De la Chevalerie, created island landscapes with gardens and plant nurseries. Still today Zamalek consists of lots of streets with greenery; making it a perfect place to go for a jog or take your dog out for a walk.

Some main attractions of Zamalek include the Opera House, Cairo Tower, Culture Wheel, Gezira Sporting Club, Nile front hotels, and Boats.

Situated on the Gezira island is the Gezira Sporting Club, the oldest sporting club in Egypt, offering sporting activities and large green fields for residents in the district. There is also Aquarium Grotto Garden, a lovely haven in Zamalek, a beautiful park for a relaxing walk and enjoy the scenery.

Zamalek is situated on the Nile and offers an amazing selection of cafes, dining and nightlife fun. It is the hot spot for Cairo!

One of my favorite cafes to enjoy a lovely morning/afternoon on the Nile is Left Bank. You will love this place with its mix of French and Egyptian cuisine with perfect sitting and beautiful interior design. Right next to it is another fabulous restaurant, Sequoia, with an atmosphere that’s perfect for a date night.

The nightlife in Zamalek is outstanding. All of the top hotels in Zamalek offer impressive restaurants and clubs with tons of entertainment and spectacular views of the Nile. Some of the best spots are NoxThe Terrace, and The Birdcage.

Zamalek also has many Nile boats; a great option for a night on the Nile. Most of the boats have morning cafes, daytime and nighttime dining as well as bars and nightclubs. Some of the boats to check out are Le PachaNile Maxim, and Blue Nile Boat.

Properties in Zamalek have an average price of 20,550 LE per m².

Living in Cairo – Zamalek Review

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Activities                  ● ● ● ● ●

Nightlife                   ● ● ● ● ●

Job Opportunities     ● ● ● ● ●

 

I hope this guide gave you a bit of an orientation as to where you should be living in Cairo. All of these neighborhoods have a lot of expats living there, so you won’t be the only “new kid on the block”.

 

New Cairo Compounds

LAKE VIEW RESIDENCE

Developer: El Hazek Group

Location: Google Maps, Lake View Residence

Price: 2.5 – 7 Million LE

 

SKY CONDOS BY VILLETE

Developer: Sodic

Location: Google Maps, Sky Condos

Price: 2.5 – 7.5 Million LE

MOUNTAIN VIEW

Developer: Mountain View

Location: Google Maps, Mountain View 

Price: 5 – 25 Million LE

EASTOWN

Developer: Sodic

Location: Google Maps, Eastown

Price: 1.8 – 5 Million LE

PALM HILLS CAPITAL GARDENS NEW CAIRO

Developer: Palm Hills

Location: Google Maps, Palm Hills Capital Gardens 

Price: 2 – 8 Million LE

MIVIDA

Developer: Emaar Misr

Location: Google Maps, Mivida 

Price: 3 – 12 Million LE

KATAMEYA HEIGHTS

Location: Google Maps, Katameya Heights 

Price: 5 – 70 Million LE

 

6th of October Compounds

OCTOBER PLAZA

Developer: Sodic

Location: Google Maps, October Plaza 

Price: 2 – 4.5 Million LE

 

THE CROWN

Developer: Palm Hills

Location: Google Maps, The Crown

 

MOUNTAIN VIEW CHILL OUT PARK

Developer: Mountain View

Location: Google Maps, Chill Out Park

Price: 1.5 – 4 Million LE

This article was originally published here: Living in Cairo – Which Neighborhood Is Best For Expats?

One Day in Istanbul – Best Photography Spots

This article was originally published here: One Day in Istanbul – Best Photography Spots

You want to explore and capture the highlights of Turkey’s biggest city but have only one day? Read my guide to the best photography spots in Istanbul and you’re all set. Can’t travel right now? Check out my 360° photos of Istanbul and feel as if you were there in real life! This magical city is huge and seeing the highlight attractions in one day requires some planning – or just reading this blog post 😉

I’ve been to Istanbul three times – two of them for a 1 Day Stopover only, so I know how to get the most out of one day. I’m not a big fan of guided city tours because there is usually no time to take the shots you want. If you’ve run into this problem as well you’ll find some useful information here. If you can, try to spend more time in this fascinating metropole though.

Sultanahmet, the Old City of Istanbul, is where the top attractions of Istanbul are located and where you should spend your day if you only have a limited amount of time. This part of the city is what used to be called Constantinople – Istanbul as we know it today was built around it. Let’s jump into our One Day Itinerary and discover the best photography spots in Istanbul!

#1 Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Closed on Mondays
Summer: 9am – 7pm
Winter: 9am – 5pm
Entrance fee: 40 TL

Istanbul’s most famous attraction originally was a basilica from the 6th century, built for Roman Emperor Justinian I. This masterwork of engineering later became a mosque, but isn’t a working mosque anymore. It was converted to a museum in 1935. The dome with its 30m diameter was the largest enclosed space worldwide for over 1,000 years. For more info on Hagia Sophia click here.

 

Tips for photographing Hagia Sophia:

Hagia Sophia is perfectly lit outside and therefore an excellent motive for long exposure photography. You can try playing with angles and involve the colored water fountain or the little food carts in front of the building. Ideally, you have a wide-angle lens to capture the entire beauty of this UNESCO World heritage site from the outside as well as the inside. Tripods are not allowed to take in. Use one when it gets dark outside for some beautiful long exposure shots.

One Day In Istanbul 

#2 Sultanahmet Mosque (aka Blue Mosque)

Open every day from 9am – 9pm
Entrance fee: Free of charge, donations welcome

The Blue Mosque with its six minarets and beautiful architecture seems even more impressive to me than the Hagia Sophia, which is right across the Sultanahmet square. This building is an active mosque, which means that it is closed to Non-Muslims for half an hour before and after the five daily prayers. On Fridays, it is closed for 2 hours.

Before you go in, you will have to take off your shoes (plastic bags to carry them are provided) and women need to cover their hair with a headscarf (also provided). It should go without saying that you should cover your shoulders and knees. The inside of the mosque will leave you in awe with its amazing details. It is a place of worship, so please behave respectfully – be quiet, don’t take photos of praying people, and don’t use your flashFor more info on the Blue Mosque click here.

Tips for photographing the Blue Mosque:

Just like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque is a great subject for long exposure photography. Again, you will need a tripod and a wide-angle lens. If you happen to be here during prayers and can’t enter the mosque, take the time to shoot a timelapse, as it will be even more interesting when it’s busy. This mosque is, for me, the best photography spot in Istanbul!

To get great shots from above, go to one of the rooftop bars across the square. Sultan’s Pub and Blue Hotel will give you a great view over Sultanahmet square and the Blue Mosque. You can even see Hagia Sophia. Unfortunately, the roofs of the other buildings stand in the way for a perfect shot. You can take great timelapse videos and long exposure shots from here, especially during sunset. In winter, the rooftop bars are often closed – ask nicely and usually, they will let you go up anyway and bring you some hot tea (no food though).

 

The Blue Mosque & Sultanahmet Square in Virtual Reality / 360°

 

 

#3 Grand Bazaar

Open daily 8:30am – 7pm
Closed during religious holidays

Istanbul’s grand old bazaar is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls with around 4400 shops. This huge bazaar is a labyrinth of 60 streets and side streets and you can easily get lost amidst all the different colors and flavors. It is divided into “themes”, so you will find spices in one area, leather in the next and silver in another one.

It is normal and expected to haggle over the prices. Start at 50% of what the vendor is telling you as a retail price. After a little bit of bargaining back and forth, you can usually agree on about 75% of the original price. Only go if you are in a good mood though, as it can be pretty exhausting listening to pushy vendors for hours. If you have enough, just follow the Exit signs. The Grand Bazaar is only about 15mins by foot from Sultanahmet squareFor more info on the Grand Bazaar click here.

 

Tips for photographing the Grand Bazaar:

The shopkeepers will usually be happy to take photos of and with you. Some parts of the Grand Bazaar are not very well lit, so a tripod will help if you don’t want to use your flash (try to avoid using in-camera flash whenever you can!). On the other hand, it can get pretty busy and your tripod including camera might just be run over by shoppers. A gorillapod is a nice alternative, you can set it up on tables or shelves without needing a lot of space.

There are so many great photography spots in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar: Piles of spices always make for great colorful photos, but you will also find many weird curiosities, just keep your eyes open. Taking videos of locals serving tea or haggling over carpets can be nice little scenes for a travel video. Colorful lamps will make for a great blur in the background of a sharp subject in the front.

 There is a “photo booth” where you can dress up as a Sultan and/or Sultana. One print is 20 TL, if you want all of the shots you get a CD + print for 100 TL. Of course you are not allowed to take your own pictures! On the photo you see me with my friend Rapha from Journey Wonders  – having fun dressing up 🙂

#4 Galata Bridge

Take a stroll across Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn of Istanbul with its 490m length and 42m width. The famous landmark has a long history and the one you see now is the fifth bridge, which was completed in 1994. The construction itself is not beautiful, but the feeling is. You will experience the local color and characters of Istanbul. Fishermen are lined up casting into the water below and entertaining everyone by tossing up small fish into the air for the seagulls. There are several restaurants and coffee houses underneath the bridge where locals enjoy a meal watching the rush of the ferry boats and fishermen.

 

Tips for photographing the Galata Bridge:

It is hard to get a clear picture of the skyline from on top of the bridge since all of those fishing lines will show up in your shots. This is what makes the spot special though, so try to include the fishermen and recreate the spirit in your photographs. For a better view of (one side) of the skyline, walk down the stairs to the lower level of the bridge. At night you can take long exposure shots from any angle you like, from the same spot or you just walk away from the bridge for a while and use a wide angle lens so you get the entire bridge on your photo – a great Istanbul photography spot!

 

General tips for a day in Istanbul:

  • Start with the Grand Bazaar and go to Sultanahmet square in the afternoon so you can see the sun setting over Istanbul. Make sure to be there early enough so you can go inside the Hagia Sophia museum. Unfortunately, both times I went, I was too late to go inside. For sunset, go to a rooftop bar and when it’s dark you can go back down and take long exposure shots at Sultanahmet square. If you have enough energy left, take a stroll over Galata bridge.
    • Download the Istanbul map on Google Maps before you go there so you can access it offline. Open the Google Maps app on your phone, type in “Istanbul”, then click on “Istanbul” in the bottom left and download the Istanbul Map.
    • Sultanahmet square, between Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosque, has a free Wi-Fi hotspot you can use to direct you to your next destination or look up facts about the buildings or photographic inspiration. Most cafés and restaurants have Wi-Fi too.
    • If you’re traveling on a budget, avoid eating at Sultanahmet square as it is overpriced.
    • Be careful with your valuables, there are pickpockets in Istanbul just like in any other big city.
    • Ignore the shoeshine guys on Galata bridge. Their trick is to drop something, hope you inform them about it and then offer to polish your shoes as a gesture of gratitude. They expect cash in return.

     

    Getting from Atatürk Airport (IST) to Sultanahmet

    By public transport:
    Bus 96T from Atatürk Airport to Taksim also passes through some parts of the Old City. The easiest way to get to the Old City from Taksim by public transport is to take the funicular inside the metro station at Taksim Square and then transfer to tram at Kabataş station. Your final tram stop will be called Sultanahmet and is right in front oft he Hagia Sophia.

    By taxi:
    There are countless taxis, and fares are relatively cheap. The distance is about 20km and the ride should cost around 40 TRY.

     

    Getting from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to Sultanahmet

    By public transport:
    There are shuttles working between Taksim and Sabiha Gokcen Airport every half an hour. The duration of the trip takes 1 – 2 hours, depending on the city traffic, the shuttle fee is 15 TL. More info here. From Taksim, either take a taxi or the funicular inside the metro station and then transfer to tram at Kabatas station. Get off at Sultanahmet tram stop, in front of Hagia Sophia. If you have only one day in Istanbul, you can get the same shuttle bus back to the airport in the evening.

    By taxi:
    A taxi ride from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to Sultanahmet is about 45 km long and will cost around 85 TRY.

    Here are some more pictures of Istanbul, maybe these will convince you to visit and stay longer than a day 🙂 After all, you’re visiting two continents by traveling to Istanbul.

This article was originally published here: One Day in Istanbul – Best Photography Spots

 

Driving in Morocco – 8 Essential Tips To Survive Your Road Trip

One of the best ways to explore Morocco is certainly by driving yourself instead of using buses and taxis. Nothing beats a road trip with a good friend, fun music, and some snacks.  I highly recommend driving in Morocco as the stress-level is much, much lower than when you have to rely on public transportation (I did both!). It’s not exactly a hassle-free country, so when you’re not up for constant haggling and broken or too cold AC’s, you’re much better off with a car. There are quite a few things you should know before you start your road trip in Morocco, though. Here’s everything you need to know:

1. Know the car rental process

Renting a car can always be tricky, but especially so in Morocco. Whether you book online before or while you’re there, you should know what you’re doing. First of all, don’t expect to get the car you paid for. You’ll get whatever they have available.

Second of all, they likely won’t speak English and the rental agreement won’t be in English, either. Always have a translation app handy. I recommend you get full insurance as you can’t trust anyone in Morocco, especially not the police. If there was an accident, I’m pretty sure all locals would stick together and blame you, whether it was your fault or not.

Also, make sure you take a video of the car before you leave with it and document every single scratch. We rented our car in Marrakech from V7 Cars and can definitely recommend it. Our hotel, Hotel & Ryads Barriere La Naoura, organized it for us and translated the contract. They brought the car to the hotel and picked it up, it was really an easy process. Their number is 06 61 49 98 88 and their email: abdou.loc6@gmail.com. We talked to Mr Benrazzouk Abdelhaq, he only speaks French, though, so ask your hotel for help. 

We paid about $45 a day for a new Renault Clio including everything. While it seems much at first when you compare it with prices they show you online, you will be surprised how many extra fees they come up with once you get the car, so this wasn’t a crazy amount.

2. Drive very carefully and not at night

You have to pay attention every second as the roads are so curvy and narrow that accidents can happen easily. Even if you stay in your lane, you need to be prepared for other drivers not doing it and shooting around the corner on your side of the road. I just started honking before driving into curves to let people know I’m coming, something I learned while driving in Bali. Since there are no lights along the way, never drive during the night.

3. Don’t let corrupt police scam you

If the police stop you for speeding or crossing lines (which will likely happen to you as it’s so common), don’t pay them. They’re usually very friendly at first, make some small talk and then tell you that you have to pay 400 Dirhams because you did XYZ. Doesn’t matter if you did it or not. Tell them you don’t have any cash and they can send the invoice to the rental car company. They won’t because they’re just scamming you. I knew these tricks before so I told the police officer I don’t have 400 Dirhams and he asked if I had at least 100, haha. I told him I had 20, but that wasn’t enough for him and he let us go. Nice try, b******.

4. The roads could make you sick

If you’re one of those people who can’t read in the car or sit in the back, I recommend you take motion sickness medicine before you do the Atlas Mountain road trip. The zigzag roads will make you nauseous very quickly, especially if you’re not driving yourself. I drove the entire way as I couldn’t handle being the co-pilot on these roads, it made me want to through up after a few minutes. Even though I was driving and I usually don’t have problems then, I still felt horrible when we finally arrived.

5. Make sure you have an offline map

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be an old-school paper map, just download the route on Google Maps before you leave, or use a navigation app that works offline, like maps.me. Even if you have a navigation system in your car, we quickly noticed that a lot of the towns are not in the system, and since there rarely is cell service between towns, you might get lost without having an offline map. 

6. Don’t underestimate distances

There are two reasons a drive in Morocco will always take you quite some more time than Google Maps suggests. The good one is that you’re gonna want to stop to take photos ALL THE TIME. The views are amazing, a new mind-blowing scenery awaits you every few minutes. The not so good one is that driving in Morocco is very exhausting, especially if you do the route through the Atlas Mountains.

As described before, you need to pay a lot of attention to the road and can’t drive fast most of the time, it’s not like you’re going on a highway. The average speed limit is 60km/h and while you can (but shouldn’t, of course) drive faster sometimes, you will also have to go much slower many times which can really slow you down. Some roads have a lot of truck traffic as well and the narrow one-lane roads don’t always let you pass them easily.

7. Prepare the days on the road

Morocco is a big country, so if you plan on road tripping it, you’ll spend a lot of time in the car. I recommend you always have some necessities in the car before you start your day driving. First of all, have tissues/toilet paper at all times. Most of the road-side stops don’t have any. Since I lived in Egypt for some time, I got used to and actually prefer the good old butt shower, but most of the time you won’t find a high-pressure hose in Morocco. Instead, you have to deal with a bucket of water, which isn’t really easy to handle properly.

Next thing you always want to have more than enough of is water. You never know how long you won’t be able to find a cafe/supermarket on the road and it gets pretty hot, especially during the summer months. You need to stay hydrated to be able to focus on the road. We did our road trip during Ramadan and it was a real pain in the a** to find any open shop, especially in the morning.

Last but not least: Snacks and good music (also offline – no service, remember?). Because what’s a road trip without it?

8. You won’t be able to get work done

Admittedly, this point is not relevant for all of you, but for the entrepreneurs, workaholics and digital nomads among us: Don’t expect to get any work done on a driving day, even if you’re not driving yourself. You won’t have service most of the time and even if you could work offline, you’ll quickly give up as the roads are so curvy, all you do is try to hold your laptop so it won’t fall off your lap.

That’s all the tips I have on driving in Morocco, I hope they were helpful. Don’t let them scare you, you’ll have the most amazing time exploring the country by car, I promise. I would always recommend doing a road trip over bus rides or taxis since you have the freedom to go at your own pace and take as many photo stops as you like. The landscapes are so stunning, you probably won’t want to close your eyes even for a short nap! Plus it’s just so much more relaxing than having to deal with people trying to sell and over-charge you constantly.


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Best Snorkeling in Mexico – Top 7 Places

This article was originally published here: Best Snorkeling in Mexico – Top 7 Places

Snorkeling is one of the most popular and enjoyable activities in Mexico’s beach destinations. Whether you’re on a family vacation or partying it friends – you shouldn’t miss the spectacular underwater world. So, where do you find the best snorkeling in Mexico? The Caribbean side of Mexico offers a variety of places where you’ll find excellent snorkeling spots, and you don’t even have to go scuba diving to see the rich marine life here.

7 Places for the Best Snorkeling in Mexico:

Cozumel

Cozumel is one of the best places to go snorkeling in Mexico. It’s an island in the
Caribbean Sea off the coast of Mexico and a popular tourist destination known for its amazing scuba diving. Anyone visiting the Riviera Maya will hear about the fabulous
snorkeling in Cozumel. Be prepared to see some amazing butterfly fish, fire coral,
seahorses and even a few shrimp.

Akumal Bay

Ever wanted to swim with sea turtles? The seaside resorts of Akumal in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo are a famous destination for divers and surfers alike. As a snorkeler, you will be happy to hear you can see a lot of green turtles that come here to feed on the ample seagrass beds. It’s best to get to Akumal as early as possible for snorkeling as a lot of people come to have this incredible experience of swimming with sea turtles. Akumal has a gorgeous beach where you can snorkel in a warm and calm water.

Cancun

The first (or only) stop for many tourists in Mexico will be Cancun, visited by millions every year. It’s the perfect destination to enjoy the underwater life with your whole family while staying in western-like resorts and hotels without having anything to organize. Most of the waters in the Cancun area have great visibility and regularly land at the top of many lists of the best snorkeling spots. While you can snorkel off of Cancun’s city beaches, it’s much more enjoyable to take an organized snorkel excursion to enjoy the best snorkeling in Mexico. An expert will take you to the reefs with the best views by boat and help you navigate through it.

Mahahual

Mahahual or Majahual is a small, quiet fishing village located on the Mexican Caribbean coast and offers some of the best snorkeling in Mexico. This reef extends over more than 1000 kilometers off the coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. The distance from the coast to the reef is about 400 meters. If you want to snorkel, you can go there by kayak. The water is shallow near the coast, so it won’t be difficult or dangerous. You can see some seagrass here and there, which are breeding grounds for many
tropical fish species. Seagrass is part of the ecosystem that also includes mangroves and the reef accessories.

La Paz

Discover the beauty and wonder of La Paz and experience the best beach vacation
ever with whale sharks! The giant whale shark, the world’s largest fish, likes to feed in the Sea of Cortez in an area just 15 minutes by boat from La Paz’s Malecón. You might also see real whales off La Paz; humpbacks, grey whales, and even rare blue whales love feeding in the Sea of Cortez’s rich waters. La Paz is the capital of the Mexican state Baja California Sur. It is located in the south of the Lower California peninsula on the Gulf of California.

Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

Discover unique and unforgettable experiences in the land of breathtaking beauty. Cabo Pulmo is famous for scuba diving and snorkeling activities. Swim and snorkel among large schools of tropical fish. The best way to snorkel in Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is to join a tour. Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort is the only tour operator located within the park, and it offers two snorkeling tours daily that will let you experience some of the best snorkeling in Mexico.

Huatulco

The bays of Huatulco hold some fantastic snorkeling spots. In Huatulco, you can discover a wide variety of snorkeling and skin diving sites. Many of the sites you can only safely get to
by boat, there are several though that you can reach by land and enjoy simply going in off the beach. Enjoy some of the best snorkeling in Mexico with starfish, puffer fish, sea urchins, turtles, moray eels, seahorses and mucho más!

When is the best time to go to Mexico?

The best season for snorkeling in Mexico is between November and March. You should be aware though that mid-December to mid-January is high season, so the prices are highest during this holiday time. It’s cheaper to visit between May and November, note that September and October are the two rainiest months though and cyclones are common. From June to August it gets very hot.

This article was originally published here: Best Snorkeling in Mexico – Top 7 Places

 

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

This article was originally published here: 13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Egypt is probably on the bucket list of many travelers, and besides the pyramids and Red Sea, the food is another reason you should visit this country. All the ancient history makes Egypt’s cuisine what it is today, with each civilization leaving a mark on the preparation of dishes. Like in most Middle Eastern countries, a big part of the Egyptian culture is gathering and celebrating with family and friends – around delicious food, of course!

Here are some top traditional Egyptian foods that every visitor should try at least once when coming to this beautiful country, from breakfast to dessert.

1. Ful Medammes

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Ful is the most common traditional breakfast, t’s a stable in every Egyptians’ diet. Ful, pronounced as fool, is made of fava beans cooked with oil and salt. Fava beans (broad beans) are encased in long fat green pods. They require soaking overnight and cooking for hours over low heat in an idra in order to remove the beans casing. Traditionally this is how they are cooked and served by street carts.

Since the fava beans require long preparation, a pre-made version in cans is being sold in local markets and grocery stores. The beans can then be prepared on the stove or even in the microwave. Ful is commonly eaten as a dish with eggs, cheese, pita bread and/or also popular food like ta’meya. It can also just be an easy, quick breakfast made into a sandwich. The beans are packed with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates and iron and they’re low in saturated fats.

2. Falafel, also known as Ta’meya

Falafel are traditionally served in Egyptian breakfast along with ful, eggs, cheese and pita bread. Traditional falafel are made with chickpeas, but Egyptians ta’meya is made of fava beans. Fava beans should be soaked overnight to soften, then crushed in a food processor. They are then mixed with a fresh combination of chopped cilantro, parsley, white onion, garlic and leek, giving ta’meya its vibrant green color. Spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper are added along with chickpea flour. Rolled into balls, and fried! It’s not a surprise why Ta’meya is so popular; it’s packed with loads of unique, fresh flavor.

3. Koshary

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By Dina Said – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36970215

 

Koshary or koshari is one of the most traditional street foods. It is popularly found on the streets of Egypt served from carts and restaurants and it’s a cheap and filling meal – a total carb bomb! A layering of rice, macaroni, lentils, and chickpeas topped off with caramelized onions, thick red sauce, and a garlic/chili/vinegar/ sauce. It is indeed an interesting mix, but surprisingly delicious!

4. Mahshi

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Mahshi is a favorite hit amongst Egyptians and great for vegetarian travelers. Mahshi is basically vegetables of choice stuffed with a rice filling, such as zucchini, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage leaves, or grapevine leaves (similar to Greek dolma). The filling consists of rice, herbs (parsley, cilantro, and dill), tomato sauce with seasoning and a touch of cinnamon. Some people like to add minced meat to the filling for a generous meal. Mahshi is definitely a dish you have to try when in Egypt. You will fall in love, it’s one of my favorites!

5. Shawarma

  Shawarma is such a popular street food that you’ve probably tried it before. Originally it comes from the famous Greek gyros, but of course, the Egyptians put their twist on it. Shawarma is made up of a choice of either chicken or beef marinated with middle eastern spices and cooks all day on the spit with a fat melting on top. The meat is shaved off and put into a wrap where it’s wrapped to perfection. Typically, it is served with tahini and the chicken served with tomaya (garlic sauce). It’s a quick meal but a healthier alternative to fast food and it won’t put a dent in your pocket.

6. Macaroni Béchamel

 Macaroni Béchamel is a classic Egyptian comfort food that will leave you satisfied for a while! Basically, it’s Egypt’s version of lasagna or macaroni and cheese. Made with rigatoni noodles, minced meat cooked in chopped onion and tomato paste, topped with the classic béchamel sauce. It’s hard to not go for seconds!

7. Molokhia

Molokhia is a very traditional dish, and you either hate it or love it (unfortunately, although I’m vegetarian, I belong to the first group). It’s a stew made up of a leafy green, cut into tiny pieces and prepared in chicken, beef or seafood broth mixed with ground coriander and fried garlic. Generally served with rice, bread, and choice of chicken, beef or seafood. The way this dish is made depends on the region in Egypt. Cities along the coast like Alexandria might eat molokhia with shrimp or fish.

Molokhia is named after the leafy green that the stew consists of, also known as jute mallow (corchorus olitorius). It’s packed with essential vitamins such as iron and potassium, Vitamin C, & Vitamin B6.

8. Fattah

Egyptian fattah goes all the way back to ancient Egypt where it was served in big feasts, celebrations such as weddings and the birth of a new baby. Still today fattah is a main dish in the first day of the Islamic feast (Eid-al-adha). It is a combination of crispy bread, rice, meat and vinegar/tomato sauce. For special occasions, the meat used is lamb but on any other ordinary day beef is used. It’s also commonly seen eaten the Lebanese way with rotisserie chicken and tomaya. Although it’s a simple dish it is satisfying and you won’t be disappointed.

9. Feseekh

Feseekh is a hit or miss with even the Egyptian people! It is fermented mullet fish, prepared by letting the fish dry in the sun and then soaked in salty water for up to a month. It is famously eaten in the Spring celebration known as Sham El Nessim. Feseekh is the main dish eaten and served with fresh cut salad and pita bread. If you are brave enough to try it, maybe you will like it. One thing is known for sure – this dish will take you back to the history of Egypt.

10. Roz Bel Laban

Roz Bel Laban translates to rice with milk – it’s Egypt’s version of rice pudding. If you’re a fan of rice pudding, you will love this. Rice cooked in milk, sometimes cream (ishta), with sugar typically topped with pistachio pieces. A simple and satisfying dessert that everyone loves!

11. Umm Ali

Umm Ali (Om Ali), is translated to Ali’s Mother. A dish that goes back to the 13th century, legend has it that Sultan Ezz El Din Aybak’s wife made it for a victory celebration where it was made and shared amongst people of the land. Since then it became famously known after her. A hearty dessert combined with sweet flavors of bread (puff pastry), milk and sugar –Egypt’s version of bread pudding. It’s commonly topped with a mix of raisins, nuts, and coconut pieces. And served while hot. It is no surprise why it’s a hit, it is delicious!

12. Konafa

The queen of Egyptian sweets, made of shredded konafa pieces, filled with cream or cheese, baked and eaten with syrup. You will find konafa eaten during gatherings while celebrating the holy month of Ramadan. There are many variations of konafa that are all equally satisfying. It is also very common to find Syrian konafa on the streets of Egypt and it is to die for! Konafa will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth and win your heart in the streets of Egypt.

13. Sahlab

Egypt’s sweet warm drink and my personal favorite – A luscious treat that’ll warm you right up! Its base is hot milk mixed with pure orchid root powder which is what gives it it’s flavourful taste and thickness. Sahlab can be conveniently made with instant sachets that already contain this powder and other ingredients like vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon. You can have some fun with it and add the toppings that you like, me personally I love it with banana and strawberries. Traditionally, Sahlab is topped with a pinch of cinnamon, shredded coconut, crushed pistachio and maybe even some raisins.

 

Which one is your Egyptian food favorite? Did I miss any, would you like me to add something here? Just leave a comment 🙂

If you’re visiting Egypt, make sure you check out my articles about the pyramids and 77 Free Things To Do In Dahab.

Another article I really liked was Mei Mei Chu’s 23 CURIOUS THINGS TO NOTICE WHEN TRAVELLING IN EGYPT – I’m sure you’ll see some of these things as well! I guess I’ve been living in Egypt for too long to still notice most of these things, haha.

           

This article was originally published here:13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

41 Free Things To Do In Berlin – Travel Berlin On A Budget

This article was originally published here: Alittle Nomad

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is probably Europe’s most trending city right now. Especially famous for the great nightlife and hipster vibe, it’s a must-go destination for anyone visiting Germany. And you know what’s the best part of it? It’s sooo much cheaper than other European capitals like London or Paris. It’s a city that’s not only great for foodies and hipsters, it’s also insanely rich in history and filled with the most interesting corners and districts. Whether you have to travel Berlin on a budget or just like to do things that are free (cause who doesn’t?), you’ll be happy to know that I’ve found 41 Free Things To Do In Berlin which can keep you busy for days, if not weeks! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Historical Sites

1. Dome of the Reichstag Building

The Reichstag building is one of the most important and historic buildings in Berlin. It was constructed to house the Imperial Diet (highest representative assembly) of the German empire. Though it costs to enter, you can visit the dome and the roof terrace for free. The views up here are spectacular. You do need to register online in advance to get in so make sure to prepare that ahead!

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2. East Side Gallery

This is a part of the Berlin wall that serves as a thousand meter long memorial with artwork done by artists from all over the world. It’s now like a really cool open air art gallery. Discover all the colourful artwork that send out messages of peace, unity and also some political views.

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3. Museum Island

Take a walk along Spree River and check out the beautiful architecture of important museums in Berlin. 5 museums are located on the northern part of an island in the river. There are entrance fees to get into the museums but it is definitely free to stroll around the area and take in all the beautiful scenery!

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4. Holocaust Memorial

Reflect on the events of the past and pay your respects at the Holocaust memorial. The memorial comprises of huge slabs of concrete – more than two thousand of these in different heights and levels.

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5. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial

Admission to this memorial and exhibit is free. It was the site of the largest concentration camp in German territory. The memorial is one where you can walk around and see where everything was when it happened in its actual place, rather than having everything all in one area. You can see buildings, bunks where the prisoners were kept and even parts of the gas chambers that were left.

6. Topography of Terror

This is an open air museum where you can see the site where the SS headquarters were during the Third Reich of Germany. It’s well worth a visit as the displays are very informative and the presentation rather impressive. The name itself couldn’t be more fitting.  It chronicles the history, timeline and events during that terrible time in history. One of the many free museums in the city!

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7. Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was famous for being the only crossing where tourists and non-Germans can get from the West to the East side and vice versa during the cold war. It is also famous for the face-off that happened in 1961 between Soviet Tanks and US Tanks. Many feared and thought that this point in history could have led to World War III. Today, it is a significant icon of history. The city area around it is also booming with many restaurants, shops and galleries – great free things to do in Berlin.

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8. Berlin Wall Memorial

This monument was created in 1998 to commemorate the division and the deaths that happened there. It features a remnant of the wall. It’s important to remember that this site used to be where the division of the city was and that in the past nobody could cross over as you can now. It’s a must visit to learn more about the history and events that took place during this time.

9. Brandenburg Gate

One of the most famous and important monuments in Germany. A former symbol of the divided city that is now a symbol of unity. It was built in a neo-classical style in the 18thcentury. It’s a beautiful structure and a must-see while in Berlin. It’s also breathtaking at night when it is all lit up.

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10. Room of Silence

A must visit landmark that’s located just off the Brandenburg gate, this place is a 30 sqm. room where you can come in to get lost in your thoughts. A room where you can contemplate all the happenings in the past and let all that history sink in.

11. Berliner Dom

Of course how can you miss visiting this iconic building in Berlin. It’s a cathedral and the inside is filled with a lot of noteworthy artwork. The admission is free during services. Be sure to check ahead the schedule for the services!

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Parks

12. Tiergarten

You must visit the Central district of Tiergarten, where you can find a huge park. Take a stroll and see some statues and memorials, wildlife and a beautiful lake. It’s a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city. You can also do a nice little scenic picnic here!

13. Tempelhofer Park

Another open space and park in the city where you can do lots of outdoor activities like hike, run or bike – all fantastic free things to do in Berlin. You can have picnics here and some people even grill sausages and bring out some beers for a lovely Berlin day out in the sun.

14. Mauerpark

Once known to be in the “death strip”, a militarized area that divided the east and west side of the Berlin wall. Now, the whole area spans both sides of the wall. It is now known to be a social, artistic, cultural center and park where you can lie around, take walks, have picnics and take in all the greenery. There is also a flea market going on every Sunday and it’s known for the Bearpit Karaoke – where people gather in the amphitheater to watch others bravely belt out tunes voluntarily.

15. Lustgarten

It is a park situated on Museum Island with the Berliner Dom right in front of it so you can get some of the best angles for your photos. Sometimes there are even street musicians, adding such a wonderful vibe to the ambiance. It’s one of the most perfect places to just sit around, people watch and enjoy the open air scenery while you travel Berlin on a budget.

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16. Treptower Park

The river Spree runs right through it and this is one of the best places to do a variety of activities from running, to cycling and boating. You must check out the giant Russian War memorial. There’s also a woodsy area that has a rather eerie abandoned amusement park.

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17. Volkspark Friedrichshain

This park contains a huge fountain that features fairytale characters. There is also a swan pond. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of this park are the hills. They are actually rubble covered bunkers that were destroyed during WWII.

18. Schlosspark Charlottenburg

One of the prettiest parks in Berlin, located behind the Charlottenburg Palace. This has one of the best views of the palace and its grounds.

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19. Volkspark Humboldthain

Another one of the more interesting parks as it still has anti-aircraft towers and also some of the remaining bunker walls from the war. You can go up these towers and see beautiful views of the city – a completely free thing to do in Berlin. There is also a rose garden that you should check out.

20. Görlitzer Park

This park is located in the Kreuzberg area, so be sure to pop by here when you’re in the neighborhood. It features a huge open and green space where you can just chill after all the hectic activities you no doubt crammed into your itinerary.

21. Viktoriapark

A beautiful park located in Kreuzberg. Besides being one of the most usual places for relaxing and having a barbecue, it’s also located in the most elevated part of Berlin so you have a gorgeous view. The park also has an artificial waterfall and is bordered by two vineyards.

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Districts and Neighborhoods

22.  Mitte

This is one of the most interesting areas in Berlin as this is where the Reichstag is located, the Berliner Dom, Museum Island and many other popular attractions. You will have no doubt checked all those out but whilst in this area, have a walk around to check out the shops and cafes and some other sites. Don’t miss the Kindertransport Memorial statue which is located in the Friedrichstrasse Railway station (one of the main international railway stations in the Nazi era). This statue which is made of bronze depicts two children about to board a train, but each had very different destinations and fates.

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23. Kreuzberg 

Another great area to visit in Berlin.  This quirky and hipster area has a lot of interesting cafes, street art, thrift shops and also gorgeous Viktoriapark. You can find a lot of bars and food stalls here. There are a lot of shaded pathways that are perfect for walking around or cycling in so you can travel Berlin on a budget. You should also visit the Turkish market here as its home to the largest population of Turkish people in Berlin.

24. Friedrichshain

This is a must-see neighbourhood in Berlin. It has a very alternative and also artsy vibe about it with many techno clubs, indie boutiques as well as Soviet era style buildings. It’s linked to the Kreuzberg district by a castle like bridge. It’s a part of Berlin with such an interesting mix so it’s worth a visit!

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25. Prenzlauer Berg

This is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Berlin. Spend an afternoon walking around and discovering markets, parks, nightlife and a lot of pretty looking streets and buildings. Most parts of this area were spared from much destruction from world war II so a lot of the buildings and architecture have really been preserved.

Squares and Courtyards

26. Die Hackeschen Höfe

A complex of courtyards that feature restaurants, cafes, and markets in the center of Berlin. It consists of 8 interconnected courtyards with a beautiful arched ceilinged entrance. It’s a great place to just walk around in for hours, discovering all the great eateries and other establishments if you travel Berlin on a budget.

27. Alexanderplatz

Check out one of the city’s most visited squares. The square has layers of history on it – from the time it was built, to being destroyed during the war and to being an important site where thousands gathered in protest right before the Berlin wall fell. Now it’s a modern area made for pedestrians with lots of shops and interesting buildings to see and take pictures of – one of which is the Fernsehturm, a 365 meter TV tower which is the highest point of Berlin with a globe at the very top. World Clock (also known as Urania) is also here. Lots of things to see in this square!

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28. Gendarmenmarkt

Another square to visit in Berlin. This one has the most picturesque scenery with a lot of beautiful buildings on display like the Konzerthaus and the French and German churches. You should also come here at night and see these magnificent buildings all lit up! There are some bars nearby so it’s the perfect place to start for a night out in town too – amazing free things to do in Berlin.

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29. Bebelplatz

One of the most attractive public squares in Berlin. It’s also one of the most historic ones and has famous buildings like St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, the State Opera and Altes Palais. Definitely a picture perfect spot! The book burning memorial is also found here – great historic places to see if you’re on a budget.

30. Pariser Platz

A beautiful and historic square that is located just by the Brandenburg gate. The square is closed off to cars making it very pedestrian-friendly. The French and US Embassies, as well as the famous hotel Adlon are located here. This square is definitely a must and the point where you will probably start off if you’re going on a walking tour of Berlin!

Food Markets

31. Arminius Market Hall

An old-school market located in Moabit. Coming here is like going back in time. It features local and artisanal products although it has recently also been serving up some new and foreign food concepts.

32. Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg

If your trip schedule happens to include a Thursday in it, make sure you go here. You definitely need to experience Street Food Thursday as it has one of the biggest diversity of food and different cuisines from around the world – always one of my favorite free things to do in Berlin.

33. Thai Park

This is one of the longest-running street food markets in Berlin. For over 200 years, Thai families in Berlin gather at a park and cook and sell their food. This is THE place in Berlin where you can get the most authentic Thai food. It’s also nice to be caught up in the bustle of the Thai community here! The atmosphere is amazing and perfect if you’re on a budget!

Flea Markets

34. Arkonaplatz

One of the must-see flea markets that feature vintage East German items. You can find an assortment of furniture, jewelry and clothes here. It’s set next to a really huge playground too and is fantastic when you travel Berlin on a budget!

35. Kunstmarkt Straße des 17. Juni

This is a traditional flea market and is one of the oldest and most famous in Berlin. It’s not one of the cheapest as it contains many antiques and unusual items. Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, it’s fun to just have a poke around and examine all the curiosities on display.

 

Other Things To Do and Places To Visit

36. Deutsches Guggenheim Museum

Berlin has its own Guggenheim museum! Admission is free every Monday so be sure to time your visit here on that day to save your travel budget for something else!

37. Landwehrkanal

A picturesque scene, this canal is a long stretch that’s parallel to the spree river. Have a lovely walk here at sunset. Many people gather here also for drinks since there are a lot of beer gardens dotted around! A great local free thing to do in Berlin!

38. Neptunbrunnen

Check out this iconic fountain that is located at the very center of the city. Neptunbrunnen, or Neptune’s fountain is a beautiful sight. Standing at 10 meters tall with a baroque style, it consists of a statue of Neptune (the god of the seas) and four women surrounding him representing the four rivers of Prussia (the old name of Germany).

39. Street Art

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Walk or bike all over Berlin and discover the amazing street art dotted all over the city. There is so much of it here! Check some of them out in these areas: Kreuzberg, Lake Tegel Art Park, Urban Spree Area, East Side Gallery, around Moritzplatz and Urban Nation. Some of the most notable ones are The Cosmonaut by Victor Ash, Elephant playing a balloon by Jadore Tong, Linda’s Ex by Ronald Brueckner and Robi the Dog.

40. Berliner Philharmonie 

For a world famous concert hall, you would probably think that it costs an arm and a leg to get tickets to a show inside and it would never make it on a list of free things to do in Berlin. Yes in some cases, maybe that’s how it is but every Tuesday from September to June, they actually offer free lunchtime concerts every 1pm. Be sure to catch one for a chance to experience this superior concert hall.

41. Tegeler See

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This is one of the largest lakes in Berlin. Take a stroll around here or have a swim if you’re visiting in the summertime. The waters are really nice and clean!

As you can see, there are lots of free things to do in Berlin. It really is one of the most fantastic capitals in Europe. Don’t let a pesky little thing like a budget get in the way of doing as much as you can when you visit Deutschland – it’s much easier to travel Berlin on a budget than other Central European cities!

This article was originally published here: Alittle Nomad

10 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Egypt

This article was originally published here: Alittlenomad

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This is not just another list of things to do in Egypt, because you already know that the pyramids etc. are a reason to visit Egypt. Instead, I’m trying to capture the essence of Egypt: what makes this country special, the reasons I love it and what you’re missing out on if you believe the media and let fear get in the way of your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt. Here are The Top 10 Reasons To Visit Egypt:

1. Safety

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Me without a care in the world in Ras Shitan, Egypt

This might come as a surprise, but believe it or not, Egypt is a safe country. There is a small part in North Sinai that is troubled, but it doesn’t affect the rest of Egypt at all. So forget about terrorism, you won’t see any. Obviously, the country is not completely free of crime, you should be aware of pickpockets, but not more than in any other major city (Cairo is the biggest city in all of Africa so there are definitely some crooks!). Compared to US cities though, the crime rates are much lower here. I myself (solo female traveler) have been living alone in Egypt for 1.5 years now and I feel much safer than in Cologne, where I used to live last time I was in Germany. I even got my credit card back the same day when I lost it in Dahab once.

2. The Locals

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The Middle Eastern or Arabic countries are very well-known for their hospitality and Egypt is no exception. Egyptians love their country very much and will do everything they can to make you feel welcome. You might get a different impression when you only visit the pyramids or airport e.g., because at these popular tourist spots they will give you a hard time. Go anywhere else in Egypt though and you will meet some of the kindest people in the world who will always have a cup of tea for you. The locals are definitely one of the best reasons to visit Egypt.

3. The Cheap Prices

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Tirana Dahab Resort

The Egyptian Pound was devaluated end of 2016 and since then Egypt is one of the cheapest tourist destinations worldwide. For just $25 you can e.g. get a room at a really nice resort in Dahab like in the photo above. Street food starts at less than $1, a bus ride from Cairo to Sharm El-Sheikh costs around $6. A day trip to see some incredible canyons and an oasis in Sinai will only set you back around $30. You get the picture. It has become cheaper than most Southeast Asia destinations like Thailand or Bali, so it’s a great reason to visit Egypt even if you’re on a budget.

4. The Weather

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Beach Camps in Ras Shitan, Sinai

If you’re one of those people who is not a big fan of cold weather (like me), Egypt is your country! It usually doesn’t get below 20°C, even in winter. You might say that’s the case in Southeast Asia as well, but for several months a year, you’ll have monsoon season over there. In Egypt, it almost never rains! That’s why you can visit Egypt all year long and never have to be afraid to lose your valuable vacation days because of bad weather. Ok, it does get pretty hot in July and August, so during that time, you might want to skip Cairo and head only to the Red Sea to spend your days beach-bumming and swimming!

5. The Diversity

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The White Canyon Entrance in Sinai

Egypt is one of the most diverse countries you will ever visit. Whatever type of holiday person you are, there’s something for everyone. Nature lovers will enjoy camel a camel trek or hike in one of the various deserts in Egypt. The rich Red Sea underwater world makes scuba divers and snorkelers happy, windy days allow wind and kite surfers to practice their skills. Obviously, history fanatics will have the trip of their life with so much ancient history in Egypt – pyramids, temples and Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The women can spend hours shopping at one of the many colorful bazaars Egypt has to offer, while the men enjoy Turkish and Shisha over a chat with the locals. I will go into more detail in the next reasons.

6. Your bucket list will be empty!

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Me sandboarding in Sinai

Thanks to the already mentioned diversity and cheap prices, one of the best reasons to visit Egypt is that you can cross so many things off your bucket list that you’ll have to sit down to come up with more stuff – seriously. You can visit the pyramids and take a selfie with the Sphinx, go on a Nile cruise, camel trek in the desert, scuba dive the Red Sea, learn to kitesurf, go sandboarding, drive a quad in the mountains, hike amazing canyons, visit colorful bazaars, drink tea with Bedouins in an oasis, freedive the Blue Hole, you name it. Must I say more?

7. The Beaches

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Ras Hankorab Beach south of Marsa Alam

Egypt has some of the most amazing beaches in the world and the best thing is that most of them are almost empty. Whether you’re into all-inclusive resort life (Marsa Alam) or prefer laid-back, simple huts in Sinai, there’s something for everyone. Besides the popular tourist areas in Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, you can also avoid the crowds and go to some secret beaches that almost nobody ever heard of.

8. The History

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Ok, this is a very obvious reason to visit Egypt, but it can’t be left out. Discover the majesty and incredible stories of ancient Egypt at the pyramids, museums and countless temples all over Egypt. If you want to skip forward in history a few centuries, you can walk in Mose’s footsteps, climb Mount Sinai and visit St. Catherine monastery, one of the oldest libraries in the world that just reopened to the public and holds the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts, only outnumbered by the Vatican Library.

9. The Underwater World

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The Red Sea

If that wasn’t enough already, Egypt has an entirely different world to offer underwater. The coral reefs are some of the best-kept reefs in the world and marine life is abundant despite dying corals all over the world. Whether you’re a scuba diver, freediver or just a snorkeler, you will be swept off your feet by the underwater world. Marsa Alam is a great destination if you want to see dolphins, turtles, sharks and the very rare dugong. In Sharm El-Sheikh you can dive one of the biggest wrecks in the world – the SS Thistlegorm. For ocean (or sea) lovers, the Red Sea alone is a reason to visit Egypt.

10. The Food

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Koshary

Last but not least, for most people food plays a big role in really experiencing a new country. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will surely enjoy the local cuisine, at least if they’re into fried or sweet dishes. It’s not a great cuisine for weight loss, but you’re only here once, right? Unless you fall in love with the country and end up never leaving like I did 😉 Anyways, here are the most important traditional Egyptian dishes everyone should try!

This article was originally published here: Alittlenomad

Street Art Milano – Photos, Stories & Locations

Check Original Article Here: (Street Art Milano)

Are you looking to explore a different side of Milan, away from Piazza del Duomo, malls and churches? Why not discover Milano street art and get to know the local culture from the creative side? Let me show you some of the best pieces, their GPS locations and stories behind them (as far as I know).

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Milano Street Art didn’t actually use to be a big thing until about ten years ago. Rome and Bologna were famous for it, Milan joined the list only recently. Most of the graffiti and tags used to be in the outskirts of the city and found in the “not so nice” neighborhoods – where police and other people were pretty lenient and didn’t really care about seeing them all over.

Nowadays, you can find street art everywhere in Milan. And such a wide variety, too! You can find them anywhere from street walls to shop shutters, inside the walls of the metro station and under bridges and manholes! There is a good balance of street art in Milan – some of them are commissioned and some are “wild” ones. From graffiti and tags to sculptures and beautiful murals – Milan has it all!

Surprisingly there are no Banksies around, but there are still so many great ones dotted all over that you’ll have enough to discover however long you’re in Milan.

Below are some of the best pieces, including their GPS location so you can easily look them up on Google Maps + as much background information as I was able to find.

Most popular neighborhoods to see Milano Street Art:

  • Street Art Evolution: Discover stencil art, wheatpasting, sculptures, sticker art and street installations
  • Via Conchetta: A mural that stretches over 300 metres reflecting environmental and mobility issues in the city
  • Leoncavallo: The highest number of street art creations, an art mecca for a wide range of creative souls
  • Basilica di San Lorenzo: one of the oldest churches in the city with a mural of portraits
  • Isola: A bustling neighborhood in the north of Milan surrounded by industrial buildings and railway tracks that has recently undergone an urban requalification
  • Niguarda: Located north of Milan’s city centre (a bit further than Isola), has several big pieces of Street Art (see below)

Some of the best Milano Street Art Masters & Pieces:

 Blu

Location: Island Napoleon Castle, Via Palestro

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Blu is one of the world’s best street artists and famous for criticising capitalism and society in his art. This piece at an abandoned staple displays a scandal that happened a few years ago, when it was discovered that there are high amounts of cocaine in Milano’s water.

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On the railway wall in Piazza Monte Titano, there’s another famous work by Blu which shows giant bicycles crushing tiny cars, a sarcastic overturn of what happens daily in the bike-unfriendly city of Milano.

The Fernet Branca Project: #CIMINIERABRANCA

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Location: Viale Jenna 44, GPS

This piece of street art was done in the Fernet Branca distillery in Milan which has been around for 170 years. They commissioned “Orticanoodles”, two young Italian artists using this pseudonym. The mission was to restyle the long-forgotten chimney, now it’s a very well-known place in Milan. The project featured beautiful colors that symbolized the process of the making of the Fernet-Branca Liquor. Colorful shapes of herbs and other symbols that tell the long history of the company intertwine, making their way up into the sky. At 50 meters high, this street art project stands to be the highest in Milan and one of the highest in Europe. You may even see it at night as they implemented an LED lighting system. It definitely adds a gorgeous and modern sight to the Milan landscape.

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Right across the street from the distillery, you will find the “Tango D’Amore” (Love Tango) by Christian Sonda.

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Pao:

Location: Viale Jenner, GPS

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Pao is one of the most famous street artists in Milan. He became iconic for drawing penguins on street poles. All over Milan you will be able to see Pao’s “Panettonis”, as the Italians call them. There are named after the famous “Panettoni” cake (read my post about traditional Milanese Food to learn more about “Panettoni” here), as his work was done on mounds of concrete blocks shaped like the cake. You can see some of his psychedelic work in Porto Romana, an area, a couple of streets away from a wall where street art was commissioned to commemorate the 140th anniversary of The Orthopedic hospital.  You will find many of his pieces and they’re usually relatively easy to recognize thanks to his unique style.

Milano Street Art: Niguarda (Neighborhood)

Location: Niguarda, Milano

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Volkswriterz – Niguarda Antifascista

On the other side of the road, there is another huge piece of street art, probably the most meaningful and historic amongst all of these. It resembles the antifascistic movement of Milan and next to the statement “Niguarda Antifascita”  you can see two girls who were messengers with their bicycles when the Germans arrived. One of them was shot 7 months pregnant, and the amazing community of Niguarda wanted to remember them. They keep repainting the wall to make sure this terrible part of history won’t be repeated. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of this one, but you can see the Google image search results here.

This especially cool one we found at the Metro station Maciachini:

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Milano Street Art: Isola (Neighborhood):

Isola is famous for its collaborative pieces, often commissioned by local businesses. Top street artists work together to create creative masterpieces, like this one in Piazzale Archinto, an auto-repair shop.

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Isola is famous for its collaborative pieces, often commissioned by local businesses. Top street artists work together to create creative masterpieces, like this one in Piazzale Archinto, an auto-repair shop.

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More Milano Street Art in Isola:

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Painted Boxes #energybox2015

DSC04595-200x300.jpgPainted energy boxes have become popular in many major cities around the world and are also found in Milano’s Street Art Scene. Traffic light boxes are all over the city, used as blank canvases for artists to unleash their creativity. While it started as illegal painting, artists are now able to apply for designing one of Milan’s electricity boxes.

 

 

 

La Stazione di Porta Garibaldi

Location: Metro Station “Porta Garibaldi”

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Milan’s most famous metro station when it comes to street art: Porta Garibaldi. In 2011, a local art college got the permission to cover the walls of the underground station in paint. Though these graffiti weren’t produced by “professionals”, they’re still amazing to look at, especially because of the variety of creative styles. Each piece was designed by different students and often times you won’t notice they’re still students. Some of them look a bit like Banksy’s, as you can see:

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Check Original Article Here: (Street Art Milano)