La Armonía de Cordoba

La Armonía de Cordoba

As soon as the sun slipped into the horizon, red tinge appeared on the sky. Its flaming colour blended perfectly with bone-like whiteness of Old Town buildings, while the green water of Guadalquivir refclected the light. Bewitched, we stand on the Roman Bridge with a dazzled look–enjoy the perfect moment and feel like never ever want to go home. Cordoba was showing its beautiful twilight to us, and that scenery was frozen forever in our memory…

Night view of Roman Bridge with Mezquita-Cathedral in the background

Night view of Roman Bridge with Mezquita-Cathedral in the background

Going to Cordoba was part of spiritual journey.

I still remember the day when I was in junior high school; sat in my class listening to my teacher’s lecture. He told us about magnificent Andalusia, Spanish region that was once conquered by Muslim rulers. Cordoba, the capital of Andalusian caliphate, became center of civilisation during Islamic golden age. It was the place where all greatest minds gathered, knowledge was developed and wisdom was reaped. It was the residence of famous Muslim scholars like Ibn Rusyd (Averroes), al Qurtubi and Ibn Arabi. It was, in short, the proof of glory of Muslim medieval civilisation.

At that time, my little mind was so fascinated by the story that it became a lifetime dream to visit Andalusia. However, when I actually reach the sacred city eleven years later, I knew that my mind has evolved. By the time I finish this journey, I no longer view Cordoba only as ‘the lost treasure’ of Muslim. It is, afterall, a living witness of how multiple civilisations clashed and tried to defeat each others.

Statue of Averroes (Ibnu Rusyd), great Philosopher who translated the lost Aristotle works into Latin, re-introduce it to the West

Statue of Averroes (Ibnu Rusyd), great Philosopher who translated the lost Aristotle works into Latin, re-introduce it to the West

Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba is the prominent icon of this city. Originally built as Catholic church, it was turned into a mosque in 8th century when Muslim caliphate conquered the region. When Christian kingdom reconquested the city, the building changed back into cathedral. Thus, today it uniquely becomes a kind of ‘sandwich’ architecture; Christian decorations are stacked upon Muslims ornaments and so forth. In one side, you can still see a beautiful Mihrab that shows direction of Mecca where the Imam used to lead the pray, but on another side you can see a fully functional chapel with its mass preparation. Christ sculptures are everywhere but indeed you walk through the mosque pillars once used as praying rows. The church tower was once a mosque minaret but now is occupied with huge bell.

Seeing through those intertwined ornaments, it becomes clear that this building reflects how religion was used as a symbol of power. Still, isn’t it so beautiful to see how different cultures blend together?

Jesus sculpture with Moors ornaments background

Jesus sculpture with Moors ornaments background

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Once mosque pillars

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The Mihrab

Lely and I spent two nights in Cordoba. We stayed in a nice backpacker hostel where we met Gul Yoo, a funny Korean guy who lives in Russia and was in the middle of his one-year-travel-around-the-world. He was a keen fan of Renaissance art and told us bunch of interesting stories (and suggestions) about our next destination: Italy. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to walk around Cordoba together but still we manage to keep contact via Facebook. I think the best part of doing (semi) backpacking trip is that you always end up with new friends after 😉

Apart from Mezquita-Cathedral, another must-visit spot in Cordoba is of course the Old Town! It just feels amazing to stroll around those medieval buildings with its exotic corridors. Wander around. Get lost in the maze. For every entrance always lead you to another unexpected exit point. For every narrow street always surprise you with enchanting building in. And one typical charasteristic of this place is that that you can find ‘hanging flower pots’ arranged symmetrically on almost every wall of the buildings, especially the garden. Oh I really love the sensation of getting lost in Cordoba Old Town!

Cordoba Old Town seen from Cathedral Minaret

Cordoba Old Town seen from Cathedral Minaret

Strolling around the city corridors

Strolling around the city corridors

Typical hanging flower pots of Cordoba

Typical hanging flower pots of Cordoba

Another beautiful spot in Cordoba is Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. It is basically a palace for Christian king who visit Cordoba. I like the wonderful gardens and flowers and ponds and how we can spend the day taking pictures from any angles here 😉

Gardens of the King

Gardens of the King

Also, do not forget to enjoy the Roman Bridge of Cordoba. The twilight (and night) scenery was just unforgettable! The bridge was always busy; it somehow connects the old town with the new city of Cordoba. From this point you can see Mezquita-Cathedral, Guadalquivir river, and Calahorra Tower all in one scene.

Calahorra Tower on the end of the Roman Bridge and the Guadalqivir river flowing under

Calahorra Tower on the end of the Roman Bridge and the Guadalquivir flowing under

Not only church and mosque, Cordoba also has a Jewish synagogue, which is one of the only three synagogues left thorough Spain. Not many things left in this small synagogue but still it’s interesting to see that this city has a trace of three religions. At a glance it may look like a miniature of Jerussalem; a holy place for Abrahamic religions with their intertwined history.

The Synagogue

The Synagogue

Afterall, Cordoba might be the witness of some religious wars in the past, but still it maintains religious diversity in harmony. As written in the small handbook I got in Calahorra:

“Oh my Christ/ who welcomes Christian, Jew and Moor/ provided their faith/ is directed towards God”

“Let the Moors (Muslims) live among the Christians while preserving their own faith and not insulting ours.”

(Alfonso X, The Wise)

“My heart has become capable of every form/ It is a pasture for gazelles/ And a convent for Christian monks/ And a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaaba/ And the tables of the Torah, and the book of the Koran/ I follow the religion of love/ Whatever way love’s camels take/ That is my religion and my faith”

(Ibn Arabi)

*) This post is part of my Euro Trip series. Cordoba, 6-8 September 2015.

La Belleza de Barcelona

La Belleza de Barcelona

Before coming to this city, Barcelona in my mind was just one of European football capital. And ex-Olympic Games host. Never thought about its marvelous Gaudi architectural design, its hilly contour alongside beaches, and its Catalan culture blended in the red-yellow buildings.

Three days and three nights in Barcelona were simply amazing.

Lely and I got wonderful host (via AirBnB), Isabel, a young artisan living with her two adorable cats. Isabel was a woman with very warm personality, typical Southern European people. She was genuinely friendly and lovely! Her parents originated from Andalucia but she was born and raised in Catalunya—thus she was able to tell us about how North and South Spain were totally like two different countries 😉

We also unexpectedly got new travelmate, a guy who also stayed in Isabel’s flat for a week vacation. His name was Ramin—a half Persian and half German. Ramin, Lely and I ended up exploring Barcelona together for three days, and it was really wonderful time 😀 Here are some highlights of our visit!

Sagrada Familia

If Gaudi is the God of architecture, Barcelona is simply his throne on heaven. All his beautiful works are spreaded over the city, with a single incredible masterpiece under spotlight, Sagrada Familia. This cathedral was built on 1882, but until today, the construction has not even finished yet. Ha! Just wait until 2026 when it will be done……….they said.

The first time I saw this church, honestly it looked a bit spooky. The gothic exterior seems like ancient building you saw in horror movies. But when you get into it…the  view was breath-taking! Sagrada Familia was purposedly designed to imitate tropical rain forest. When you’re inside the building, you’ll feel like standing in the middle of jungle. The pillars vined to the ceiling as if trunks of gigantic trees tried to scratch the sky. The colourful window glasses reflected outside light as if sunshine pass through colourful leaves. The roof itself was formed like dense vegetation covered a huge forest. It was just…..beautiful 🙂

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A building across three centuries

Gaudi was apparently an architect with deep interest to nature, and he applied this natural form into his masterpieces. Who thought a hive or a form of plants can be embedded in construction? Sagrada Familia is a must-visit-object during your trip to Barcelona (and of course because it’s kinda ‘signature building’). Still, I think EUR 15 is probably too much to enjoy this masterpiece. I mean, I can even observe the whole archeological site of Italian Pompeii ruins all day long with less than that…

Another notable Gaudi work was Park Güell. However we didn’t get into this park since we (Lely and I) didn’t want to spend more money 😛 So we just walked around another free park nearby and eat chips…

Parc de la Ciutadella

Have you ever been to a place where you feel like you can just spend the whole day there? Where you can just enjoy yourself and have serene ‘me time’? Where you can just wander around to chase after some inspiration? Parc de la Ciutadella is, for sure, one of this kind of place. If I live in Barcelona, this park will likely be my ‘runaway haven’ of daily stress. I don’t know, it feels so comfy just to walk around and enjoy the company of the crowds. The voice of street musicians, performance of street artisans, people doing sports, reading books, family hangouts, amazing fountain monument, beautiful pond with boats…..oh I simply fall in love with this park 🙂

Parc de la Ciutadella

Parc de la Ciutadella

Not far from the park we can see Arc de Triomf, the Barcelona version of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. It’s like seeing its Paris sister painted with Catalan national colour of red and yellow. Afterall, this zone can absolutely be interesting choice for ticket-free tourist spot!

The Paris counterpart

The Paris counterpart

Montjuïc Hill

When I went to Edinburgh, I was fascinated by how the hilly contours of the city fits perfectly with its coastal line. Barcelona was, apparently, possess similar charm with the Scotland capital. This city was also surrounded by hills, and Montjuïc was one of them. This hill has actually been shaped with many enchanting buildings on it. My favourite was Palau Nacional (National Palace), in which you can watch fantastic Barcelona view from the top. Its design was simply fascinating; a palace on high place with gradual waterfall on the way up. Perfect photo spot 🙂

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The National Palace, home of National Art Museum of Catalan. However the entrance ticket was EUR 12, quite expensive I think, considering that all museums and national galleries throughout UK are completely free.

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Fabulous Barcelona from top

There were also many other interesting spots on Montjuïc Hill, such as the ex stadium for 1992 Olympic Games, a castle, Spanish village, parks etc. Walked around the hill can be quite exhausting but it’s totally worth it considering the wonderful spots–you can probably spend the whole day to explore each of them.

CosmoCaixa Science Museum

If it wasn’t because of Ramin’s idea, I wouldn’t probably end up in this place. Why would one go so far to such a romantic city like Barcelona only to visit science museum…? 😛 But apparently this museum was being underrated. It’s actually pretty impressive spot! Well, especially if you love science of course–like Ramin does. During the whole trip I’ve never seen him become sooo excited, so passionate as when he’s in CosmoCaixa. He enthusiastically explored those science models, and tried to explain to me how the model works………which made me look like an elementary kid tried to understand a professor’s lecture of Physics theory 😛 I was enjoying the moment though 🙂

Nevertheless, the museum was great and some of the models were really worth it. My favourite was the tropical rain forest imitation! It’s totally awesome, something you can’t find in other science museums (oh like I have visited so many :P) I just wonder how they brought up all the vegetations and well, eventhough I’m not sure if some of the fishes actually live in real rain forest river, afterall the whole design was fairly attractive. There are also aquarium and planetarium. CosmoCaixa is, I think, a perfect place for family recreation with kids. The entrance ticket was also quite cheap, like EUR 4.

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Tropical rainforest imitation: top view

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Tropical rainforest imitation: side view

Flamenco Dance

‘To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love’ (Jane Austen)

Under the dim light of Los Tarantos bar, three men were sitting on the chairs; a guitarist, a percussion player, and a clapper-vocalist. The audiences filled up the room, took their silence as the show was about to start. When the sound of guitar strings reached our ears, a slender woman entered the stage. Her frilly dress swayed beautifully as she moved her ankles. Loud applause soon filled in the air, welcomed the performers with excited feeling. This was it, a Spanish Flamenco 🙂

Flamenco was actually an Andalucian gypsy tradition. I have wondered about watching Flamenco since the Cordoba visit, but apparently the show was quite expensive (like EUR 25). Fortunately we found an affordable one here in Barcelona, only EUR 10 for around half hour performance. The seat was limited but luckily we came just in time to get one, eventhough it was in the back row. I was, uhm, quite short to look over other audiences’ heads on the front seats so I kept straining my back to be able to see the performance clearly.

Shot of stage

Shot of stage

The woman, she danced so brilliantly that I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her ankles, her feet moved so fast; each slams fitted in harmony with the music beat. It’s like watching ‘ladylike’ version of  tap dance, which I believe took more effort since you have to do it with high heels and under long tight dress.

In contrast with typical red colour associated with flamenco, the dancer’s frilly dress was black with big yellow polkadot accent. She occasionally swayed the dress with her hand, revealed her agile skinny legs. As the show reaching its peak, the guitar and percussion beat got quicker, the vocalist shouted and clapped louder, and the dancer moves were getting incredibly vivacious. Her facial expression reflected her impressive effort as I can see the sweat streaming down her skin. We were so absorbed by the show, as if the whole energy was transferred and the room was heaten up. It was totally unforgettable moment!

The dance came up in two parts in which the woman dancer had duet with a man, and when she danced solo. She changed her dress between the parts and while waiting for her, the guitarist played an absolutely stunning piece of Spanish instrumental. Overall this show was very very good value performance, but still, I will not refuse the next chance to enjoy Andalucian Flamenco in Granada 😉

Barcelonetta Beach

Visiting Barcelona certainly isn’t complete without going to the beach. Unlike most of British beach, Spanish beach is of course that kind of ‘proper beach’: blue water, white sand and sunny sky. And rows of tanned bikini bodies. Barcelonetta were also completed by diverse range of restaurants and bars along the shores (eventhough the seafood ones were quite costly).

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Breezy breezy beach

Plaza de Catalunya

It is the heart of Barcelona city so of course we must come here! 😉

Senorita!

Ola Senorita!

Barcelona was, after all, a bit like Spanish version of Edinburgh; only with a lot more lively atmosphere and of course a far better weather 😉 Stunning architectures, strong art and cultural nuance, also hills and beaches in-one. Three days were absolutely not enough to reveal all the beauty of this city. If I have a chance, definitely I’d be very willing to explore this wonderful city again and again! 😀

 

*) This post is part of my Euro Trip series. Barcelona, 8-11 September 2015.

Elegant Edinburgh (3)

Elegant Edinburgh (3)

To read before: Part 2

Day 4 (16 December 2014)

After 2 days fully exploring the city center, we decided to see another part of Edinburgh. We went to coastal area of this city where there lay “Britannia” royal yacht, a vessel that used to sail around the world by British royal family. My classmate, Lukas from Germany, joined Lely and I for this trip. We met at city center and went together by bus to the Ocean Terminal, a beach-side shopping mall and an entrance to Britannia.

Britannia, apparently was not a huge ship I imagined as Titanic-look like. However, still it looks majestic. It hasn’t been sailing anymore since 1997, and now permanently moored at Edinburgh’s coast, connected to Ocean Terminal. It is now a kind of Royal Museum that become one of the most popular tourist attraction at Edinburgh. An adult ticket to enter Britannia was priced £12.75, but we got student’s discount to be £11.50 (don’t forget to bring your student ID!).

Her Majesty's Yacht "Britannia" (photo by Lely Tri W)

Her Majesty’s Yacht “Britannia” (photo by Lely Tri W)

Before entering the yacht we were equipped with a kind of walkie-talkie that contained audio explanation of Britannia’s each room. The audio was available in several languages (even Thai) but not Bahasa Indonesia 🙁 so we chose English instead.

There were twenty-something rooms inside the 3-levels deck. We went through almost all parts of the yacht, from the forecastle, car garage, royal family’s bedroom, dining room, bar, crew’s room, even the laundry and mini-hospital. All rooms were carefully designed as it was used before. You really can sense the feeling of ‘royal heritage’ here. Well I’m not that into British Royal family things, but if you’re fan of them (like Lely), you will be really satisfied by this yacht original exhibition. You can imagine how Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William and Harry, and other royal family members spend the past days sailing on this yacht.

The

The forecastle

View from the side

View from the side

 

Front deck

Front deck

Ring the bell

Ring the bell

It’s a coincidence that I went there right on my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. I took this chance by making a short congratulation video in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s honeymoon suite (well I don’t know if it’s good choice considering what happened to their marriage–but anyway :p).

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Charles-Diana honeymoon suite

The Queen's bedroom

The Queen’s bedroom

The Prince's bedroom

The Prince’s bedroom

The recreation room

The recreation room

The dining room

The dining room

The hall

The hall

The pretty stairs

The pretty stairs

The old photograph

The old photograph

 

The Royal Deck Tea Room. Enjoy ocean view along with British tea

The Royal Deck Tea Room. Enjoy ocean view along with British tea

 

Cheers!

Cheers!

After exploring Britannia, we walked through Ocean Terminal and try to find something to eat. However, we ended up going back to city center and eat at Yokoco again^^” I felt a bit regret to forget visiting Edinburgh Royal Garden. It was actually near Ocean Terminal, however since the sky is getting darker (and I was starving) we decide to rush back to the city.

I spent the last night in hostel by sitting in the lounge, having some conversation with Alex, a French guy who’d been my roommate along with Sharon. Oh, I also unexpectedly met an Indonesian family in this hostel the morning before (mom, dad, and son). They had holiday while attending their son’s graduation from Queen’s Mary College at London. I was so surprised (and happy) to meet them. We were walking together to the city center but I forgot to ask their contact :/

Day 5 (17 December 2014)

It was a packing day! Lely and I decided to get the most of our last day by taking pictures of some beautiful objects around the city. We will continue our trip to London by train at 11 am. It’s sooo sad to leave Edinburgh 🙁 I have fallen in love to the city. I promise will go back again by the next summer (well I really hope so!)

St Giles Cathedral (photo by Lely Tri W)

St Giles Cathedral (photo by Lely Tri W)

Edinburgh Central Mosque

Edinburgh Central Mosque

To be continued in London (Part 1).

Elegant Edinburgh (2)

Elegant Edinburgh (2)

To read before: Part 1

Day 3 (15 December 2014)

One thing I really wanted to do in Edinburgh was: hiking! Yes, there’s a hill in the middle of city named Arthur’s Seat, where you can see all the city view from this top. It wasn’t really a difficult route, just take around 2-3 hours to go upside down. However, during my 4 days stay I didn’t get a chance to hike this hill 🙁 A bit disappointed but I promise will go back here again. I hope I can re-visit Edinburgh next summer to do these things: reach Arthur’s Seat and watching Royal Military Tattoo at Edinburgh’s Castle!

Eventhough didn’t manage to hike Arthur’s Seat, we did reach one of Edinburgh’s highest point: Calton Hill. It wasn’t even actually a real hill, just a fancy park that located in higher place. But from there, you can enjoy a very very dramatic scenery of Edinburgh. It was sooooo pretty!

Welcome to Calton Hill

Welcome to Calton Hill

Dugald Stewart Monument and Edinburgh city center (photo by Lely Tri W)

Dugald Stewart Monument and Edinburgh city center (photo by Lely Tri W)

 

Edinburgh and its sea shore

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Princes Street view from Calton Hill (photo by Lely Tri W)

We got new friend accompanied us here, Mas Salam, an Indonesian student at University of Edinburgh. He became a ‘tour guide’ for our trip to Calton Hill and brought us to some recommended food place at Edinburgh Old Town. It was always nice to have ‘local people’ to show you some hidden gems of the city you travel to 🙂

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Edinburgh and its sea shore

Undescribably beautiful

 

Try to climb this pillar and feel the heavy wind!

Try to climb this pillar and feel the heavy wind!

View from the top of pillar (photo by Lely Tri W)

View from the top of pillar (photo by Lely Tri W)

 

Still at Calton Hill

Still at Calton Hill

Calton Hill view from below

Calton Hill icon from below

 

Selfie time! ;)

Selfie time! 😉 (photo by some random Chinese guy)

Calton Hill is definitely a must-see tourism object at Edinburgh. Eventhough the wind at the top was unbelievably strong and freezing, the splendid view was really worth it! It’s also a perfect place for people who want to enjoy Edinburgh’s top scenery without heavy-hiking (eventhough still, I want to hike Arthur’s Seat). Oh, and the good news is, it’s free 🙂

At the afternoon Mas Salam brought us to Yocoko Noodle Bar, a small Japanese restaurant in Old Town which is incredibly tasty (and not costly). After having the late lunch, we continued our walk to University of Edinburgh. It’s one of the oldest University in Scotland (not to be confused with St Andrews University, the Prince William almamater) and currently rank World’s Best 20 Universities.

One of the University's building

One of the University’s building

At the evening, after accompanying Sharon went back to Manchester at Waverley station, Lely and I again visited Princes Street Chrismast Market. For me I went here three-times in a row and never get bored! We decided to enjoy the night view by taking a ride on “Edinburgh’s Eye”. Perfect scenery from above 🙂

Standing near Edinburgh's Eye

Standing near Edinburgh’s Eye

One thing I admire about Edinburgh is its city design. It seems like this city actually had a wavy-bumpy surface formed by natural hilly contours. Whoever the city designer was, he succesfully changed the wavy contours to be exceptional architectural masterpiece. You can feel it especially when walking around the city center. The roads were upside-down, but somehow the bridge, the buildings, the castles, the hills, everything was just placed accordingly to create breath-taking view anywhere you look. And still you have that ancient buildings which are well-preserved, make it feels like walking through Medieval Ages anywhere you go. See? Great combination of nature and history. It’s like getting two of my favorite things in the present of Edinburgh 🙂

Well, the story hasn’t yet to be ended!

Places Visited & Budget Spent

Calton Hill

Entrance ticket = free

Edinburgh’s Old Town

Well it’s just streets with old buildings, gift shops, and nice restaurants, so it’s free! Yet so pretty!

Princes Street Christmas Market

Edinburgh’s Eye = £6 (student’s concession)

Food

Yokoco’s stir-fried duck = almost £5

Yokoco’s fried rice = £2.65

It came with big portion so I shared both of the meals with my friend so we just pay half each 🙂

To be continued in Part 3.

Elegant Edinburgh (1)

Elegant Edinburgh (1)

Day 1 (13 December 2014)

As I walked down the street in that biting cold evening, the shrilly sound of bagpipes vaguely reached my ears. I speeded up my steps to look for the source of the sound, and surprisingly found a young man wearing that traditional tartan kilt in front of a hotel’s gate. Few people flocked up around him while he continuously play the bagpipes. By that time I realized that I’ve already arrived at Scotland, in its capital city of Edinburgh 🙂

Typical Scottish man with tartan kilt and bagpipes

Traditional Scottish man with tartan kilt and bagpipes

I got 4 days and 4 nights to explore this stunningly wondrous city. Edinburgh is like an elegant lady. She has that perfect combination of everlasting beauty. Her amazing natural landscapes and fascinating antique buildings were beautifully wrapped up by impressive city design. She’s just simply magnificent!

Edinburgh: castles everywhere, just like a Harry Potter world in real life

Edinburgh: castles everywhere, just like a Harry Potter world in real life

I spent the first evening to enjoy night view of Princes Street (princes not princess). It’s pretty easy to explore Edinburgh since most of tourist attractions are located in this city center area: Edinburgh’s Castle, Scottish National Gallery, Princes Street Christmas Market, Old Town, and all the shopping centers. Even Scottish National Museum, University of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat, and Calton Hill are also located in walkable distance from city center. I think walking is the best way to explore Edinburgh. Every single step taken was worth it because every road and building is just a perfect photography spot 😉 Still, you need that full-set of winter outfit to brace yourself: it’s Scotland!

Princess Street Christmas Market, stunning view at night (photo by Lely)

Princess Street Christmas Market, stunning view at night (photo by Lely Tri W)

Day 2 (14 December 2014)

I stayed in a hostel dormitory room with 16 beds inside. It was the first time of my life to stay in a hostel, and I was actually a bit worried (I mean, you slept with 16 strangers!). However, I guess I’m lucky to meet nice people there. I met a nice Taiwanese girl and we soon became friends. For two days she joined me and my friend to explore Edinburgh. Sharon, Lely, and I were walking around the city center together.

Three of us

Three of us

In the morning we started our tour by exploring Princes Street Christmas Market. I have never heard of Christmas Market tradition before, and I think it’s something very European. Apparently it was originated in Germany (Wiki said)–no wonder you can find many traditional German culinaries in most Christmas market. Actually it’s very similar with Indonesian “pasar malam” (night market), where people sell food and drinks in open stalls, accompanied by some games and toys (merry-go-round etc). However, this one was incomparably pretty!

A group of street musician playing Christmas carol at Princess Street Christmas Market

A group of street musician playing Christmas carol at Princess Street Christmas Market

Just beside the Christmas Market it was Scottish National Gallery. Many European historical paintings are exhibited here, including special gallery for Scottish art. To be honest I don’t really understand the History of Art (and all those paintings), but sometimes it can show you some surprising piece of historical information.

Painting about the beheading of St John the Baptist

Painting about the beheading of St John the Baptist

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Just about 10 minutes walk from Scottish National Gallery, we can reach Edinburgh Castle on top of the Castle Hill. However, it was a bad weather that day. Strong wind and heavy rain kept coming as we’re trapped in a souvenir store near the castle. As a result, we didn’t have time to explore the castle as the night started to fall (4 pm is almost sunset). Besides, it costs £16 per person to enter the castle and my British housemate said it wasn’t worth it (well for us that’s quite huge money for a castle view).

Just a shot of picture in front of castle is enough :)

Just a shot of picture in front of castle is enough 🙂

After having late lunch, we continued our walk to Scottish National Museum. It’s just few minutes walk from University of Edinburgh. I liked the tunnel design of museum receptionist, and also the main hall beautiful interior. It’s just wow! They have quite many interesting collections there to explore, eventhough not as much as British Museum of course.

Breath-taking Scottish National Museum design

Breath-taking Scottish National Museum design (photo by Lely Tri W)

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The museum was closed at 17.00 so we’re quite in a rush. After that Sharon and I went back to Christmas Market to enjoy the night view (I ended up visiting this market 3 times, never get bored :D). We walked home to the hostel together and buy some food in Tesco. Hostel is a perfect place to stay for low-budget backpacker like us. Aside from its cheap rate (I paid only £31 for 4 nights stay, the same price can’t even pay for 1 night hotel stay), it provides complete kitchen so we can cook our own meal. That night we bought some raw food in supermarket and cook it for dinner and breakfast–save a lot!

Places Visited & Budget Spent

The Hostel (accross Haymarket Station)

Charge per night = around £7.75 in my case. The cheapest one I could find around Edinburgh. Prices may change depend on booking time and staying time.

Princes Street Christmas Market

Entrance ticket = free

Scottish National Gallery

Entrance ticket = free

Edinburgh’s Castle

Entrance ticket = £16 (I didn’t get in though)

Scottish National Museum

Entrance ticket = free

Bus Ticket

One way = £1.30, Day rider = £3.50

Food

Taco Mazama Mexican Kitchen = £4 for small burittos

Tesco’s raw food = just like normal supermarket anywhere. Consider buy raw food and cook yourself! (another friend even brought a rice-cooker for 6 people traveling around Scotland)

To be continued in Part 2.

Jogja-Gunung Kidul “Adventure” Trip

Jogja-Gunung Kidul “Adventure” Trip

Ini sedikit flashback aja sih tentang perjalanan saya dan teman2 kantor ke Jogja sekitar 2 bulan lalu (9-11 Maret 2013). Kami sembilan cewek yang  hobi jalan2 pengin aja gitu melancong ke Jogja, tepatnya ke daerah Gunung Kidul. Yang jelas ini perjalanan ala “backpacker”, karena kita gak ngambil paket tour dari suatu travel agent. Semua objek wisata, akomodasi, dan transportasi udah kita susun sendiri dari awal. Cukup melelahkan memang (terutama sulitnya cari akomodasi karena pas libur kejepit), but really, worth it! 😉

Cewek-cewek kantoran hobi jalan-jalan

Biarpun kalian udah pernah ke Jogja, tapi jarang  yang udah pernah ke Gunung Kidul kan? Daerah ini merupakan Kabupaten di Jogja yang paling miskin dan terbelakang, penduduknya sering kekurangan air, ya pokoknya kasian gitu deh. Padahal daerah gunung kapur ini potensi alamnya besar sekali lho. Well…bisa dibilang inilah surganya wisata alam Jogja! Well, kalau kamu pecinta nature travel, this is your home! Bayangin, dalam sehari aja, kita bisa mengunjungi 3 objek wisata alam berbeda dan semuanya gak ada yang mengecewakan! Simak nih ya:

1. Air Terjun Sri Gethuk

Air terjun kembar tiga. Tiket masuk cuma Rp 3.000. Kalo mau naik rakit tarif per orang sekali jalan Rp 5.000 (PP jadi Rp 10.000). Bening dan seger banget. Hati2 yah lantai air terjunnya licin, bisa kepeleset. Lebih bagus ke sini pas musim kemarau jadi sungainya enggak keruh kena lumpur.

Naik rakit menuju air terjun. Sayang pas musim ujan, jadi sungainya keruh.

Air Terjun Kembar Tiga

Jernihnya dan segarnya mata air…

Makan siang di pinggir kolam ikan

2. Cave Tubing Kalisuci

Ini yang paling asyik! Wisata susur gua di Indonesia satu2nya emang cuma ada di Gunung Kidul. Yang merintis ekowisata ini dulu adalah si Cahyo Alkantana–tau kan, petualang beken yang jadi host program “TEROKA” di Kompas TV itu loh. Tarifnya murah meriah, cuma Rp 65.000 per orang! (Bandingkan sama rafting yang bisa Rp 150.000-Rp 300.000 per orang).

Get ready before going down! Nine girls in action 😀

Basically di sini kamu di ajak menyusuri sungai dalam gua sambil naik ban (tube). Jadi bayangin aja badanmu telentang di atas ban dan kamu terombang-ambing mengikuti arus sungai, persis kayak kura-kura terbalik! 😀 Pada awalnya mungkin kamu bakalan takut memasuki gua yang gelap dan penuh kelelawar…tapi tenang aja, ada guide nya kok. Mereka yang membawa penerangan dan memberi penjelasan tentang relief2 dalam gua dll, kita tinggal tiduran sambil ngapung2 aja di atas ban =)) Well, di dalam gua gelap pekat sih, ya kayak mati lampu gitu. Mungkin kamu bakal merasa takut terpisah dari rombongan, apalagi kamu kan telentang jadi gak punya kontrol atas banmu. Tapi tenang aja, posisi kita udah dibikin berantai, kaki satu orang terkait pada pundak orang di depannya dan dipegang erat, jadi kita gak bakal terpisah.

Siap2 sebelum masuk gua

Kamu penasaran pengin lihat kelelawar dalam gua? Well, agak mengecewakan sih, soalnya di dalem gua gelap banget jadi kelelawarnya  enggak bisa kelihatan jelas, paling cuma kedengeran suara berisiknya aja (dan hati2 kejatuhan kotorannya :P) Lagian kata guide-nya, kelelawar di dalam gua semakin sedikit karena guanya sering dilewati wisatawan.

“Pating kemampul” di atas ban, kayak kura2 kebalik 😛

Menurutku bagian paling mengasyikkan dari cave tubing ini yaa…sensasi mengapung di atas bannya itu. Pas kita udah keluar gua, kita bisa telentang melihat langit dengan jelas. Feels so relaxing. Damai banget, terombang-ambing mengikuti arus sungai sambil lihat langit yang jernih. Sampe merem-melek gitu hihihi.

Sudah keluar dari mulut gua

POSE BINTANG 😀

Kalau tertarik pengin coba wisata Cave Tubing Kalisuci ini, silakan aja hubungi CP-nya. Namanya Pak Muslam (087 738 794 513). Sebenernya ada banyak gua lain yang bisa buat cave tubing, misalnya Gua Pindul, tapi infonya cari sendiri yah, hehehe. Oiya, kalau mau wisata cave tubing ini harus dilakukan pada saat musim kemarau, karena kalau pas hujan deras berbahaya bisa mengakibatkan kematian. Waspadalah!

3. Pantai Indrayanti

Ini juga asyik! Inilah pantai terkeren yang pernah saya datangi, terutama karena berhasil dapet foto sunset yang keren2! 😀 Memang Gunung Kidul terkenal dengan pantai2nya yang eksotis, yah kayak Malang Selatan gitu deh. Tapi bedanya di sini lebih dijaga kebersihannya dan lebih serius dikembangkan sebagai objek wisata. Di pantai ini juga ada semacam baywatch dan petugas kebersihan pantai lho! Toiletnya juga banyak dan bersih. Jadi ini pantainya betul2 bersih sekali enggak ada sampah, keren kan!

Pantai Indrayanti: laut biru, pasir putih, dan bukit karang

Pantai Indrayanti dilihat dari puncak bukit karang…KEREN!

Deburan ombak dari puncak bukit karang

Waktu yang paling tepat untuk datang ke sini sekitar jam setengah 5 sore. Matahari nya betul2 bagus dan kamu gak perlu menunggu lama untuk berburu sunset. Paling seru kalau kamu naik sampai puncak bukit karang dan menikmati pemandangan dari atas sana…betul2 luar biasa. Bikin kamu menahan napas dan berdecak kagum. Kamu serasa ada di puncak dunia *tsaaahhh* Yang sedikit merusak suasana adalah banyaknya muda-mudi pacaran sembarangan, jadi enggak khusyuk deh menikmati pemandangan alam *aslinya kepingin sih* 😛

Nih yaaaaaaaa…saya mau pamer foto-foto sunset yang keren-keren ini…Duh berasa udah jadi fotografer kalender aja. Tapi serius, pantai ini wajib dikunjungi bagi para pemburu sunset!

Sunset yang kereeeeennnnnnn bangeeetttttttt

Siluet sunset

Sunset yang SANGAT KEREN, Bali gak ada apa2nya!

 

Nah demikian sedikit kilas balik tentang perjalanan ke Jogja. Sebenernya hari kedua kami jalan2 di kota Jogja-nya sih, naik TransJogja, ke Candi Prambanan, Cokelat Monggo, Malioboro, dll. Tapi kayaknya udah biasa gitu, jadi gak perlu diceritain lah ya. Yang jelas, selamat mencoba wisata Gunung Kidul…! 😀

Charity Travel

Charity Travel
Traveling is not just about sightseeing and playing around. Traveling is not just about making ourselves happy, but also sharing the happiness to other people. Sometimes, traveling can be our way to create social contribution, that’s what I call  “charity travel”.
Today my man and I went to Karangwidoro village. It’s just a small village behind our campus, though I am sure that not many of our university student notice this village. Similar with Landungsari, Karangwidoro is also a village in city border (“desa di batas kota”). Some area has been filled with extra-luxurious houses of “Villa Puncak Tidar”, while the  remained area is still paddy fields and poor houses.

The sugar cane field

However, I like this village and its beautiful scenery. Long time ago, my man and I have planned to do “charity travel” around this village. While enjoying the scenery, we go around by motorbike and giving out parcels to the poor villagers. Today it has been realized and I am so happy :)))

It’s the second time we do this kind of travel. Previously we only give out two parcels, but now we can present five parcels :))) You know, I think this is the best way of charity. Instead of distributing our donation through certain foundation, we prefer to give it directly to the needy people. We can see directly the smile on their faces, listen to their thanks and pray, and we can guarantee that our donation comes to the right person who really need it. It surely means a lot 🙂

Direct Donation

From Karangwidoro village, we were moving up to Petungsewu village. It is a beautiful village in the foot of Kawi mountain.

In the foot of Kawi Mountain

In this village, we found a really poor house. An old woman living alone in this house since her husband and child died long time ago. She has no longer can hear clearly, but she could understand, smile, and saying thank you. It was so pity that an old woman living alone 🙁 I hope I could enjoy my old life happily with my children and grandchildren…

The old woman in her poor house

In our way home, I feel very happy and satisfied. It feels like becoming an angel, eventhough just one day–well, usually I act more like a devil *evil laugh*. Now I just accompany my man, but the next time surely I will do it by myself and my own money!

On the way back home