Editorials, Travel Inspiration, Travel tips  • 

Top Places to see in Porto: your Travel guide + map

November 28, 2016

porto-city-guide

Porto is one of my favourite cities in Europe, I’ve spent more almost two months exploring its streets, churches, restaurants and wineries. Now I’ve prepared a walking tour of all the must-sees and dos in this unique town, along with some unknown and unforgettable places. Here’s everything you need to see in Porto – and more!

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Travel Inspiration  •  ,

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji: Kyoto’s best kept secret

November 21, 2016

cool-buddha

Apparently some dreams do come true as I visited Kyoto, Japan this year. It was the most amazing experience of my life but I’m positive though that one of the best places to visit was the remote Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple in Arashiyama.

The temple itself is about 12 centuries old and has been destroyed three times. The last time was in 1950s when a typhoon hit Nenbutsu-ji, leaving it in terrible state. In 1955 a famed sculptor and restorer of Buddhist statues named Kocho Nishimura became the head priest of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, which was then a forgotten and desolate temple in the North of Kyoto. Nishimura didn’t have the funds to restore the temple to its former glory but in 1981 he had a magnificent idea.

Kocho Nishimura asked laypeople of Japan to carve rakan statues in stone and donate them to his temple. He even gave lessons and consulted the amateur sculptors. The response was surprisingly overwhelming and during ten years the temple amassed over 1200 statues.

Rakan is a kind of Buddhist “saint”, the one who attained Nirvana. The rakan statues of Otagi are rather laid-back, depicted with a sense of humour. Some of them hold modern props, like a guitar or a tennis racket, some are drinking sake. Other sculptors have apparently used the sculptures as a way to deal with problems of their life, as some rakans are crying or screaming. Some statues are extremely well-made but you can clearly see that most are the work of amateurs. It’s not important though as it wasn’t a competition, just a way to pray and support a forgotten temple.

Though Otagi Nenbutsu-ji seems to be extremely popular on Pinterest, it’s still fairly unknown and you won’t meet a lot of fellow tourists there. The pleasure of exploring a small, remote temple in a Japanese forest, finding your favourite rakan and just relaxing away was incomparable. I highly recommend visiting this place before it gets flooded by tourists like everywhere else in Kyoto!

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The Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple in the background

How to get to Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

Honestly, it’s not easy! I found that the best way to get there is by train to Saga-Arashiyama station. From there it’s about 20-minute walk but you’ll pass some other awesome places like Seiryō-ji temple, Saga Toriimoto (a well-preserved traditional street of Kyoto) and Adashino Nenbutsu-ji temple. Here’s the location on the map:

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Art  •  ,

Is this the most beautiful village in Poland? The painted houses of Zalipie

October 15, 2016

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For the past year I’ve stumbled upon blog posts titled “the most beautiful village in Poland” on various blogs and portals. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the village was close to the city my family lives in, Krakow! I had no choice but to to check if Zalipie was worth all the hype.

Zalipie is know for its hundred years old tradition of decorating the houses with colourful flowers and plants. It was started by Felicja Curylowa who first decorated her home for Catholic feast called Corpus Christi, held in the beginning of summer. The other ladies in Zalipie liked the idea and painted their houses as well. It’s not a forgotten custom though, every year a competition for the most beautiful house is held with more than 100 people taking part! The rules of the contest are harsh though, as contestants have to remove the previous year’s designs from their walls.

I arrived in Zalipie one perfect August afternoon, after driving a little more than an hour from Krakow (sadly, it’s hard to get there without a car). The village is surrounded by lush green cornfields. After a while you start to see the painted houses but also wells, dog kennels, buckets, tables, bridges, even trees! There’s a small museum of Felicja Curylowa where you can see her beautiful folk artworks and another place called “Dom Malarek” (The House of Painters) with modern displays from other folk artists living in Zalipie.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the flowers on every house though! Zalipie is not an open-air museum and painting the walls is not compulsory for its residents. It’s more of a fun tradition they’ve developed. Also, not everyone would like you to take pictures of their house, please ask the owners first :)

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The interior of Zalipie’s church

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zalipie beautiful polish village

Anyway, I can confirm Zalipie is one of the most perfect Polish villages I’ve ever seen and if you ever visit Lesser Poland please make time for Zalipie :)

All the pictures in this post are mine.

Editorials  • 

Alfama district, Lisbon

April 27, 2015
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The view from Miradouro das Portas do Sol

Lisbon’s Alfama district must be the weirdest and most unexplainable place in Portugal. Being the oldest place in the city, just by the walls of Sao Jorge castle, it attracts a great number of tourists who love walking its narrow and steep streets. Alfama is like a medieval village, not only because it’s small and has a provincial feel, but also thanks to its community of people who lived here their whole life and know each other pretty well.

The people of Alfama have become quite an attraction themselves. Tourists are obsessed with Alfama’s quirky decorated doors, street art and most of all – laundry. That’s right, fresh laundry hanging outside the residents’ windows is the most documented sight of Alfama!

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The best and quickest way to get to know Lisbon’s old town is by tram 28, which will take you on a tour around the most popular sights of Alfama, Baixa and Estrela districts.

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