This was a long awaited trip seeing as Klau has been trying to get me to visit her in Poznan since we met last year. She said that I would love it and loving it was exactly what I did! This was my second time in Poland and I noticed that Poznan has been far less damaged by the wars, therefore much of the original charming architecture remains.
There are many benefits of having friends all over the world but my favourite part about it is exploring their hometowns like a local. I have been able to visit the coolest bars, eaten the best food and seen beautiful sights that aren’t featured in the guidebooks!
Klau (being the gem that she is) met me at the bus station and helped me with my luggage back to her flat nearby. After settling into her gorgeous flat we took the tram into the centre of Poznan for dinner and drinks.
Pro tip – remember to buy your ticket before you board the tram. When you are on the tram you need to validate it….just don’t let the machine eat your ticket (typical tourist mistake or just my luck)….
I knew Poznan was going to be pretty but I wasn’t prepared for how fairytale like this place is! I took about 30 pictures just of the main square!
From being in Warsaw before I knew that as soon as I was back in Poland I would need to hunt for the best Peirogi, no need , Klau knew the perfect place! The restaurant is called Pierozek i kompocik and is situated in the main square (which makes it the ideal location to soak up the atmosphere)!
Before we went for dinner Klau showed me the pretty St Stanislaus church and we found out that there was actually an open air film festival going on in the gardens. I got super lucky as it just so happened to be showing an English speaking film – what are the chances?! So we spent the night at the festival.
We started of the morning by going to a cute cafe (there are sooo many to choose from) called Orzo . We chose the menu where you could pick a breakfast item and your coffee was only 1 zl (20p)!! Over breakfast Klau gave me her favourite suggestions so I could explore the town as much as I could on my only full day!
Smoothie bowl done, coffee done….time to get going!
First stop was the tourist information shop in the centre to pick up my map of Poznan (going retro)! In there I also booked into the Rogalowe Museum (croissant making class), I’ll write more about that later.
It was a beautiful sunny day which really made all the colourful buildings pop…so I couldn’t resist taking a few more shots!
After thoroughly snapping every inch of the town square I headed to the Royal Castle which has the best panoramic views over Poznan.
Before leaving Klau at breakfast she said that I HAD to be at the town hall to see the showat 12pm. Taking her word for it I did, and it seemed like the whole world got the memo too! Everyone was standing outside the town hall for the famous Poznan goats to come out of the bell tower and do a little show at midday. I can’t really describe it you just need to be there….
I was on a time limit but there’s always time for ice cream so made my way to Kolorowa which is the best ice cream parlor in the city!!! On the way there I saw the Plac Wolnosci.
Running now from the ice cream place so I made it to class on time (it was a pastry making class …hence the rush). The class at the museum is a MUST DO when visiting Poznan! The chefs were so funny when explaining the history of the town, plus who doesn’t like tasting croissants?!
After the class head straight to a shop called Fawor that was opened in 1908 to buy the traditional St Martin’s croissant.
By the time the workshop was over it was time to meet Klau for lunch. We went to this vegan burger place called MiXtura which I would also recommend!
After lunch Klau was awesome and took a half day so we rented some city bikes and rode to Malta (not the country I’m afraid but a lake).
After returning our bikes she showed me the area of Srodkai which was once a run down place now it’s buzzing with cool restaurants and cafes.
Later on we met some people at a cool beach bar type place called Kontinenet Art for some volleyball, drinks and street food!
Last but not least….THE BEST HOST AWARD goes to this girl!
It was a super last minute decision to travel again so soon after Asia but with time to spare before I got my allocation from TUI I was straight on Skyscanner to book another flight! I chose to visit Berlin because 1. It was cheap to fly there from Edinburgh, 2. I had been many places in southern Germany so wanted to visit the capital and 3. I have a friend living across the Polish border in Poznan so would see her too!
I took an easyJet flight (think that’s got a bit of every pay check I get) and flew to Berlin Tegal. After speaking to a couple of people who know Berlin it didn’t make much of a difference whether you fly into Tegel or Berlin Schönefeld airport , although Tegel is slightly closer. Before I got to Berlin I bought a Berlin 72 hours BerlinPass as I wanted to see as many things as possible in my short time there. It also gives you unlimited access to public transport (including airport journeys).
A couple of days before I went I also booked a hostel to stay in. Believe it or not I haven’t actually stayed in a hostel before, always Airbnb’s or hotels. I did some research and booked The Circus Hostel through hostelworld. It was great! The hostel was super clean and I met this cool American girl who I was sharing with.
Eager to explore Berlin in the limited time I had, I left my luggage at the hostel (they had a locker that fitted my hand luggage case) and headed to the Brandenburg Gate to get my BerlinPass. I got a metro (Rosenthaler platz ) which was just opposite my hostel and took it to Brandenburger Tor station.
After getting the pass I walked Unter Den Linden in the direction of the remains of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery. The wall is now full of incredible street art and a definite must see when in Berlin!
I decided to just keep walking around the area and ended up in the cool hipster area of Kreuzburg I felt like a true Berliner wandering in and out of the quirky vintage shops there! Before visiting Berlin I asked a few friends I knew who were either from Berlin or who had lived in Berlin before for some cool suggestions. One of them suggested a visit to Burgermeister which is known to be the best burger joint in the city. By chance one of them was opposite the vintage shops in Kreuzburg under the tracks of the u-bahn.
Fun fact – This green building now housing the burger joint used to be a public toilet (a long time ago I hope)!
I walked back along the River Spree and found out that Mercedes Benz had their own platz here which was kinda cool and flashy.
As this was my first solo travel experience I was a little nervous about being alone at night as I knew that I would not want to stay in the hostel too much. However, if you are a frequent solo traveller you may laugh at my uncertainty because if you don’t want to be alone you never have to be! I spent the night exploring the streets of Berlin and finding nice restaurants and bars with the American girl who I was sharing a room with.
We were not too sure about where to go for dinner so we wandered around the area of the hostel and found a main street called Friedrichstraße. Here we found a nice restaurant called Gendarmerie that used to be a bank so it was very opulent inside with lots of impressive wall art!
After dinner we headed back further towards our hostel and went into a bar nearby called Mein Haus Am See (cool vibes, would definitely recommend)!
Welcome to the 6th blog post in my South East Asia series! Thank you for sticking with me, it’s a little crazy at the moment preparing for the move to Ibiza but here we go with the Phnom Penh post!
In my personal opinion, 2 days is enough in Phnom Penh. Before travelling to this city I had heard mixed reviews, to be honest we did not like it very much. However, if you are visiting Cambodia it is just as important as visiting the temples (if not more important) to visit the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh to learn more about the country’s tragic losses.
Again, we booked through Airbnb for our accommodation. We were actually booked into a hotel room but still through Airbnb which we thought was a nice surprise…. The hotel that we were staying in was called The Bridge and appeared to be very popular with Chinese business men and woman. Our experience at the hotel was not great to be honest. When we were checking in, the receptionist said that there had been a mistake and we were booked into a room for 2 people (not 3). They really were not very helpful and did not try hard to fix the situation. It was quite late when we arrived so decided a room with one bed was a lot better than no room at all (thankfully it was a HUGE bed…). As it was a hotel, breakfast was included. It was nice but had very limited choice…we had french toast everyday..…
On our first night in Phnom Penh we went to the Night Market and tried some street food. Some were better than others and the fried options were very heavy. It was a cool area though, full of locals just enjoying their evening.
Unfortunately, we did not feel safe in this city and sensed that from the first night. I mean don’t get me wrong we were fine, nothing happened…it just always felt slightly dodgy during the day and night.
The next day we wanted to explore as much of Phnom Penh as we could as we had planned to visit the Killing Fields the next day. We got a tuk tuk driver to drop us off in the centre so we could start sightseeing.
The tuk tuk drivers will 100% try to rip you off, so if you have been in Cambodia for a few days try to gage how much you are paying per journey. A 10 minute journey will usually cost 3 USD.
We were dropped off right outside the Royal Palace which is also home to the Silver Pagoda. Unfortunately when we arrived in the morning (around 10am) it was not yet open. So we took some pictures from the outside and moved on!
After doing a little research we knew that we wanted to see Wat Phnom which is set upon the only “hill” in the city. According to the locals, Wat Phnom was the first Buddhist temple created on this site and was built in 1373. It was discovered by Lady Penh who the city is named after. Many people visit this ancient site to wish for luck involving their business deals or exams (I guess it worked as we were over the moon with our degree results days later)!
For lunch we headed to Friends the Restaurant which supports and trains teenagers in hospitality who do not have the opportunity to attend school. IT WAS AMAZING!!!
After lunch we saw that there were stalls opposite that are related to the Friends company, so we went over for a bit of shopping.
We saw that the students were also doing beauty treatments such as nail painting and hairdressing. I left the girls to get their nails done and I went over to the other side of the road to get a NEEDEDKhmer massage.
Before heading back to the hotel to chill by the pool we stopped to look at the beautiful Buddhist temples along the way!
After the second breakfast of french toast we headed out the hotel to get our tuk tuk. We asked previously if the guy who took as from the bus station to our hotel the first night would also drive us to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. We knew that this day would be distressing but nothing can quite prepare you for learning about the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge.
We visited the Killing Fields first which is a little outside the city. The entrance was 6 USD which included an audio guide for in-depth information regarding the events that took place there. Afterwards, we drove to the S-21 Genocide Museum to find out about the lives of prisoners before they were taken to the Killing Fields. The entrance fee is 5 USD and an extra 3 USD for an audio guide.
After a long day we spent the evening enjoying the sky bar at our hotel before packing our backpacks again for our bus journey to Sihanoukville then onto Koh Rong Sanloem island!
If you are interested in my other posts about my time in South East Asia or the planning before, below are direct links to my previous posts!
After spending 5 days in Hanoi we flew to Siem Reap on a VietJet flight. The flight cost £75 and only took 1 hr 45 minutes. Siem Reap has a very different vibe to Hanoi, the touristy places were a lot more westernised but outwith the tourist places you saw an unbelievable amount of poverty. Cambodia is a fascinating country that is home to the largest religious monument in the world (Angkor Wat) and some of the most untouched islands with the clearest waters. However, the people of Cambodia have been badly damaged by the recent terrors of the Khmer Rouge that only goes back 40 years. This means that many relatives within current families have been directly affected by Pol Pot’s brutal ruling which turned into the biggest mass killings of the 20th century.
Day 1 – Evening
We arrived at Siem Reap airport in the evening and had already organised with the airbnb hosts a tuk tuk transfer to make it easy! As I said in the last Hanoi blog post, the Airbnb we had there was incredible! So we also found our next place on Airbnb but it turned out to be more like hotel apartments! IT WAS PERFECT!!! The room was super big, big bathroom, nice amenities, free bottled water, a drink on arrival and the staff were some of the nicest people we’ve ever met.
If you would like money off your first Airbnb use my personal code when booking!
After settling into our room we headed towards Pub Street (main strip) which was only a 10 minute walk away from our airbnb. Pub Street was so much fun! It was so different to what we had seen in South East Asia in terms of the range of clubs and restaurants. I suppose it was less authentic but it was fun to go out to a nightclub again! All the restaurants served pretty much the same food (Khmer curry and rice dishes) as well as international cuisines such as Mexican. We noticed straight away that it was more expensive in Cambodia for 2 reasons. 1. It was more touristy and 2. They also used US Dollars.
After dinner we wandered up and down Pub street looking for the best places for music and drinks.
Avoid COCKTAILS and everything that can be made with ice…you do not want to know where the ice in your drink has probably been…..we saw it getting cut….
We woke up and had a super relaxed morning by our jungle pool before exploring more of Siem Reap.
In the afternoon we checked out the Psar Chas (old market) and the Art Market. The Psar Chas also was the food market…..only go if you are NOT SQUEAMISH….dead animals….not quite dead yet fish…..the lot.
As we wanted to start off our visit to Angkor Wat by watching the sunrise over the temples tomorrow we had to get a ticket today. We asked a tuk tuk driver to drive us to the ticket office tp buy a 1 day ticket for 37 USD. You could also buy a 3 day ticket but as magical as the temples are sure to be we may get a little templed out by day 3!
We were keen to book another food tour through Airbnb as we enjoyed the Hanoi one so much. When we researched into the Siem Reap food tours we noticed that they highlighted that they went to the Road 60 area. Therefore….being the cheapskates that we are, we decided to grab a tuk tuk and go it alone.
NO NO NO….DO NOT DO THIS. DO NOT GO THERE WITHOUT A GUIDE!
The funny thing is when we told the driver where we wanted to go for food he asked us multiple times if we were sure we had the name of the place right. Should have been a sign but no….we stuck to the plan and went anyway. Considering we come from very well developed countries we tried our best to only eat in local places….even if it included eating with chopsticks, on the floor, on small stools…you name it we did it! That is the kind of travelling we all liked best and love trying different things! Road 60 was a different story I’m afraid. It was really nice to see the local community just chilling and doing there thing, but the way the flies were landing on every single bit of food, we decided to take a pass on eating there.
Our tuk tuk driver was an angel and stayed to take us back into the centre. He gathered that we hadn’t eaten too much and offered to take us to his favourite restaurant!
After dinner we walked back to Pub Street, dodged the karts selling fried insects such as tarantulas and tried this banana rice snack instead which was amazing (many karts selling this)!
I am NOT an early bird by any standards but I knew waking up at 4am would be worth it this day! We had prearranged the tuk tuk with our lovely driver Sophorn (whatsapp is +855 66 532 326 if you would like to get in touch during your visit to Siem Reap – 23USD for a day at the temples) the night before to make sure he would be ready at the villa for 4.30am.
After a dark journey to the temples we were dropped off in a car park by Sophorn who told us that the entrance to the temple that we were to see at sunrise was nearby.
Bring a torch and wear closed toe shoes…..you cannot see what is on the ground and we saw a dead rat….wouldn’t want to risk wearing sandals!
It was 5.15am and we were one of the first people waiting at the gates, awaiting the opening of the largest religious site in the world (5.30am). It shocked us how warm it still was at that time in the morning so only wear enough clothes to enter the site (covered shoulders and knees).
Before travelling to Cambodia I already had such high expectations for Angkor Wat and it did not disappoint. Exploring the ancient temples just after sunrise was one of the most magical and otherworldly experiences I have ever had!
By the time it got to around midday we were so hungry from walking around the temples (it is seriously exhausting). We went to the Banana Leaf restaurant within the attraction, it was okay, quite expensive but what you would expect from a tourist attraction! Not that we were prepared to do anything else besides getting ourselves out of bed at 4am, but it would have been amazing if we brought stuff with us for lunch….
Bring lots of water, light snacks and sun cream!
At night we tried an Asian fusion restaurant that was close to the airbnb called Lilypop which I would highly recommend!
Day 4 – Morning before the bus
We woke up with a bittersweet feeling about leaving Siem Reap and our beautiful airbnb! For breakfast we found a vegan cafe that was also closeby called The Source Cafe. The smoothie bowl and pancakes were insane!
We repacked our backpacks again (which were getting harder to carry by the minute) and headed to the Giant Ibis Bus station by tuk tuk. We booked our tickets online before arriving and they cost 12 USD each for the 7 hr bus journey to Phnom Penh. After taking this bus, then choosing another bus company for our next journey, I would recommend you (where possible) to stick with the Giant Ibis company as they seem the best for safety and comfort (they even gave us water and a pastry)!
To conclude this long blog post (that I hope you have enjoyed reading) I would like to say that depending on how long you want to visit Angkor Wat for should depend on how many days you should stay in Siem Reap. Personally, I think we stayed slightly too long in Siem Reap considering we were only visiting Angkor for 1 day. However, the airbnb we found was incredible which allowed us to fully enjoy our time there! On our travels we had already recommend to so many people the airbnb/villa that we stayed in because the pool was beautiful and the staff were so friendly (they even left us a little present and thank you card on our last night)!
As usual, any questions just contact me through email, wordpress, facebook or instagram!
As you can see from the title we literally spent 11 hours in Dublin…long story short Matthew said we have to wake up at 5am the next morning because we need to catch a flight to Dublin!
So off we went the next day to hop on a plane to Dublin, the journey from Edinburgh was very quick so we didn’t get a chance to catch up on much sleep but it was worth it.
We didn’t know much about Dublin so we quickly researched the city a bit at the airport (in between croissants and chia lattes from Cafe Nero!) We made a quick list of the attractions that we definitely wanted to do then just went from there.
When we landed in Dublin we took the bus from the airport into the city centre for roughly £10 return. We got off the bus at the O’Connell St stop which was the closest to the city centre. The Dublin weather was very similar to the Scottish weather in April – bright, cold and frequent rain showers (April showers at it’s finest!) After stepping off the bus we were greeted by the eye catching Dublin Spire monument.
Our first tourist attraction of the day was obviously…The Leprechaun Museum, it was wonderful! The story telling was fun and engaging, even got to throw our coins in the magic wishing well and stand next to massive furniture…
The museum revolved around a guide telling us stories from the past of Ireland and it’s mythical friends…not all friendly.
After the museum we got a quick bite to eat before continuing our fleeting trip to the fair city of Dublin.
After lunch we walked to Dublin Castle where we admired the impressive architecture.
We continued our 11 hours in Dublin by admiring the local culture and art. We stepped into City Hall and were memorised by the ceiling design and exhibits.
As we journeyed the heavens opened! It was very heavy rain so we darted into the nearest pub we could find before my umbrella broke. What a find this little bar was, The Front Door Bar was cosy and served the best cider that we have ever tasted. The Orchard Thieves cider on tap literally tasted like sparkling apple juice it was so fresh and unfortunately we haven’t found it since (life long pursuit)….
Before we knew it, it was time to head home 😦 Fairwell Dublin….remember No Rain No Rainbows!