Simply By Joy https://www.simplybyjoy.com Escape the ordinary Sun, 12 May 2019 17:37:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 Swimming with sea lions in Lima, Peru https://www.simplybyjoy.com/swimming-with-sea-lions-in-lima/ https://www.simplybyjoy.com/swimming-with-sea-lions-in-lima/#comments Tue, 07 May 2019 18:54:51 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=444 Last February I’ve spent a few weeks in Peru with my partner in crime. He is a real water and wildlife lover. I, on the other hand, am not a big fan of water. He had convinced me to go swim with sea lions… After setting aside my fears, I experienced a great water adventure with one of the cutest animals I’ve ever encountered. While researching about this activity I realized there’s definitely poor information about this on the world wide web – so here you go! 😉

PS, I already warn you for the pictures: some water came into the Go Pro case & ruined the quality of most pictures. Also, I was terrified. WATER and SEA LIONS from close-by aren’t my cup of tea.

Option 1 – Islas Ballestas (can’t interact with the animals here, read further for swimming!)

In Peru, you can easily visit the Islas Ballestas. These famous Islas Ballestas are groups of islands which are located about 4 hours from Lima. You’d have to navigate yourself to the small town named ‘Paracas’. What’s so special about these islands? How does ‘penguins in Peru’ sound to you? Strange? Well, that’s the spot to encounter wildlife such as sea lions, penguins, pelicans, etc. This tour consists of a boat ride and some information on the islands and the animals.
I, myself, didn’t make it to Islas Ballestas but instead I went for an alternative:

Option 2 – Swimming with sea lions on Palomino Island

How to get there?
First thing you’ll have to do is to get to Callao. Callao is considered to be one of the dangerous places in Lima, however, I didn’t notice any danger. Just don’t provoke and avoid going when it’s dark. It is a port town located about 30 to 40 minutes from the capital city. Tell your taxi or Uber driver to go to ‘Port of Callao’, get out at the square and follow the next instructions:

Find a tour
As we got out of the Uber, we immediately got approached by several tour companies that were selling the tour to Palomino Island. We choose the one that was least pushy and that offered us a fair price. We were the only foreigners in the group, which I like as it gives a more local experience. There were other tours where foreigners did join. If you mind being to the only outsider, choose your tour wisely. Later on, I learned that it is also possible to book this tour in advance (online). Of course, you’re going to pay a higher price. You have got to determine what you prioritize… An example of a company that uses online service is Mar Adentro.

Departure time
These ‘swimming with sea lions’ tours usually start around 10 am. We made sure to be at the location at 9:45 so we could find a tour calmly. One circuit usually takes around 2,5 hours until you get back at the starting point.

Action, action, action!
The boat ride takes about 45 minutes for you to get to the exact location. This gives you the times to enjoy the sun, the views and the wind in your hair. It’s also the time when you’re going to change yourself into a wetsuit, in order not to freeze when you get into the water. Because YES the water is cooooold. The smell and the noise of the sea lions will give you a heads up once arrived. You’ll be free to drive into the water and swim. Enjoy! The sea lions are super curious and will approach, listen to your guide and don’t touch the animals. Let them play around and do their thing 😉

Look right.

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Iquitos, the gateway to the jungle https://www.simplybyjoy.com/iquitos-the-gateway-to-the-jungle/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:36:27 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=415 As very first stop of our one month-trip through Peru, we spent several days in the jungle. I’m a big nature lover so my boyfriend didn’t need to do much in order to convince me to travel there. There are many options to visit the jungle in South America, but Iquitos is kind of a special place. The city is only reachable by plane or boat, there are no roads leading to this city. It’s completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle.

How to get to Iquitos?

As already mentioned, Iquitos is completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle which makes it impossible to reach it by car. There are only two ways to reach the city. The first way (and less popular way) is by boat. The boat takes several days which makes it more time-consuming. However, I’ve read and heard good things about the boat trip. Concluded, I can’t tell you much about traveling there by boat, but I’m sure that the World Wide Web has something in petto for you. Reaching Iquitos by plane departing from Lima takes about 2 to 3 hours. At the airport in Lima, you can find many travel agency stands that sell tickets for about 200 to 300 sol (ir y revuelta). But of course, there’s still the internet if you prefer to plan your tickets ahead.My flight to Iquitos was one of the most beautiful flights in my life… Make sure you get a seat at the window!

Transportation: from the airport to the city center

When you walk out of the airport many people will try to get you in their taxi… DON’T fall for these people. Walk a little bit further and stop a three-wheeler. These mototaxis (or three-wheelers… however you want to call them) are very efficient and cheap. A mototaxi from the airport to the city center is about 8 to 10 soles. The city center of Iquitos is called ‘Plaza de Armas’.

Just outside of the airport: choice enough!

Accommodation: Hostels or hotels

In Iquitos, you can find everything. From the most shitty hostels to a Hitlon hotel. Because I travel on a budget I stayed at the Casa Celestrial Hostel. I’m mentioning the hostel because I was very satisfied with the hostel since it fitted my budget very well. The stay there was smooth and easy, and a very good location as well. The owner spoke both English and Spanish. If you’d like to check other options I can tell you that generally hostels aren’t expensive in Iquitos – 1 night could cost you between 16 to 22 Peruvian Sol per night.

Tourist scams

People on the street try to address you. First, they try to become your friend by asking about your home country and by asking your name. See, that a trick. The owner of our hostel specifically warned us about that. By knowing your information they will contact the next hostel, tour guide or whatever you’re planning on doing or visiting and they’ll claim that he has sent you there. When that happens, the people of the agency or hostel will have to pay that person a commission. Even though they didn’t do shit.

Wifi

Be prepared for a little internet detox. The wifi in Iquitos isn’t as strong as we know it like back home. So, do much of your researching, booking, downloading before you get to the city.

Gateway to the jungle

All tourists who make it to Iquitos are preparing their trip to the jungle. My tip is: don’t book in advance, especially not on the internet. Don’t bite from the first time. The best thing you can do is hear people out, negotiate the price and tell them you contact them later once you’ve decided. There are tons and tons of jungle experiences that are sold in Iquitos. I’ve heard good and bad stories there. I, luckily, had a good experience with our tour. We stayed at a lodge which was very authentic. Our tour guide, Louis, was the owner of the lodge. I cannot express how much I appreciated him. He gave us so many great memories which I am so grateful of. I think I can write a book about him and his stories. If you’d like to know more about my stay or get a contact please contact me in private. I’d gladly provide you his phone number. Ps, post about my stay in the jungle coming soon!

Buy bottled water, don’t drink from the tap

Water on tap in Iquitos is not drinkable. Always buy bottled water. In fact, when I took a shower I felt very weird afterward. Like … not clean.

Try to avoid touristy restaurants and eat street food

The touristy restaurants of Iquitos are much more pricey than the street food places. Also, how much more authentic is it to eat with locals instead of being surrounded by all English speaking people. At night, street food is found generally everywhere.

Ayahuasca

You’ll get the opportunity to do Ayahuasca. When I was there, I got many opportunities too, but I didn’t do it. I can’t tell you much about it but what I can say is … Be careful. If you do decide to do it, then do it with full awareness. Make sure you’re with trustable people and with a clear head. I’ve heard many great things about it and many people recommended it to me. However, I’ve also heard some horror stories. Know that you’ll be puking your organs out, and you’ll be shitting your pants. However, I heard the trip is nice. I heard that people really get to know themselves afterward. Everyone says it’s a medicine, I’d rather call it a drug but I suppose it’s a matter of perception and everyone should decide for themselves what they consider it to be.

What to do in Iquitos?

Monkey Island – La Isla De Los Monos

Isla De Los Monos or Monkey Island is a sanctuary for monkeys owned by a family and opened up to the public. At this rescue center, you won’t see poor animals being locked up in cages that are way too small for them to live. In contrary, you’ll see the monkeys running and playing around in open air. Getting there: So, you should be very careful when navigation to Monkey Island. We tried… At the harbor, we contacted a local driver, made a deal and … finally, he dropped us off somewhere that clearly wasn’t Monkey Island. Concluded; we didn’t get to see the real Isla de Los Monos, but instead saw a mournful ‘rescue center’… It was quite sad and poor looking one which made me doubt if it was a real one. Again, a tourism scam.  The real Isla De Los Monos is located about 45 minutes by speedboat. This is the right information I got from the tourism center: take a speed boat from Puerto de Productores (and not Port Bella Vista – this is the mistake we made). There, look for a boat that goes to Varadero. It’s recommended to call the place when your boat leaves to any of these phone numbers: 065 235887, 965841808 or 987610985. By doing that, they can send a smaller boat to pick you up in Varadero.

Belen Market

The Belen market is characterized as a vibrant and exotic place. You can’t miss this out when in Iquitos! The size of the market is enormous and you won’t believe your eyes when you see what you’ll encounter. It’s recommended to go there with a local guide as it is easy to get lost. However, I think if you think rationally, you’ll be able to find your way back. Also, big tip: be aware of pickpockets. It’s commonly known that tourists at this place are a frequent target.

Puerto Belen

They call Puerto Belen the Venice of Iquitos… Only much more poor. You’ll encounter houses put on poles to stay above the water. It is located at río Itaya, right next to the Belen market. We spent half a day at this location, going around by boat. It’s a sketchy area, but it is worth visiting. I recommend you to go there with local in order to obtain a more local experience. If you’d be interested feel free to contact me and I could provide you the telephone number of a friend we made there. Wear decent shoes or even boots, feet might get dirty. Apologies for the quality of the next video!

Manatee Rescue Center

Ever heard of a Manatee? To me, it is the cutest animal I’ve ever seen. At the Manatee rescue center, you’ll encounter several animals that have been rescued out of several terrible situations, for example out of the hands of local people that keep them (sloths, monkeys, …) as a pet. Of course, there are so much more situations I could sum up. That’s where this team of people comes in. They started out as a rescue center only for manatees and finally grew to what they are now. Visit their website for more information. Getting there: You could reach the place by getting into a mototaxi. The address is Carretera Iquitos – Nauta, km 4,5. You could find it on Maps.me by typing ‘Centro de Rescate Amazonico (CREA)’.

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Tips for the solo traveler https://www.simplybyjoy.com/solo-traveler/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 18:11:40 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=384 For this article, Nyala and I put our heads together to spread our advice and solo travel experiences throughout the World Wide Web. Because hey, this is what the blog is about… right? 😉

A few months ago Nyala contacted me seeking advice on solo female travel. She asked me for some general travel tips and more information on the financial aspect of her future lifestyle. Now, she is fully enjoying her gap year and totally rocking life.

So now, the essence of the article. Solo (female) travel. We’d like to start off by saying ‘it’s freaking 2018‘. Take advantage of all knowledge and power that we have acquired and shared throughout aaaall these years of the Internet.’ Benefit from the internet, from the other technological advances and from the ways of transportation that are available today. Agreed to that? Then continue reading for our tips as a solo (female) traveler. By the way… We put female between brackets because we are both female and we’re the ones to come up with these tips 😉 But I’m sure they’re applicable to everyone!

Traveling solo is a real challenge. Sophisticated, but still a challenge. Yes, there have been moments that I haven’t felt too safe, and yes, I’ve had difficulties. But that makes us who we are, right? I’m pretty sure this is what every solo traveler will tell you.

Take care of your valuables. Always keep them safe. Just a quick reminder: valuables aren’t only the (over)expensive smartphones and cameras we own, but also your passport and other forms of ID. Losing a passport in a foreign country could lead to many difficulties and troubles. We cannot stress the importance of your passport. Just to keep it safe we recommend you to leave it at the hostel or hotel you’re staying at. Locked away. Take a picture or copy your passport and/or other important forms of ID. By doing that you don’t have to carry the valuable travel-permits and IDs to a bar, restaurant, museum or whatever place you go. Bring enough locks with you, so you can lock away your valuables if needed.

Another tip we’re giving you is (and this should be common sense): be aware of pickpockets. They’re everywhere and they’re fast. Maybe you can bring two wallets on your trip: one that you take with you while being out and about, the other one (with -obviously- some extra cash), you keep aside with the other valuables. That way, you’ll always have a back up when things go wrong!

Make sure there’s at least one person that knows where you are. Obviously, don’t text or call that person anytime you take a step … Just tell someone about your general itinerary or plan of the day. It might be someone you met at a hostel, a member of the staff, a roommate, or even a friend at home. Another tip we’d like to add is to make a small emergency contact list for whenever things go wrong. 

                                                    

Carry information about the hostel/hotel with you.  Carry around a business card or note of the hostel/hotel you’re staying at. Imagine sitting in a cap, somewhere in the middle of nowhere and not being able to pronounce the address right.

Get your shit together. When you’re at a new place, try to act like you know what you’re doing. We know it’s not the easiest thing to do but if not, you’ll make yourself vulnerable to evil-minded people. So, try to avoid opening a map in the middle of the street and enter a shop or a restaurant to figure out your way. Try to figure out the destination by understanding the map and orientation point.  Let’s all take one minute to appreciate the existence of the Internet. Have you ever heard of this great app called ‘Map.me’? Check it out, very useful while traveling ling and even without internet connection.

Don’t be shy; socialize! Traveling alone is all about exploring ourselves and meeting new people, right? Meet other travelers. I’m sure they’ll enlighten you with tips, new friendships, and great adventures. Look for the backpacker areas and sleep in hostels, these are the most solo friendly locations you’ll find. And… hostels are usually cheap! 😉 

Of course, there is always a “but” when it comes to talking to strangers. If you meet new people, make sure they do not have any bad intentions before telling them where you are staying or where you are going.

Get off your lazy ass. Wherever you go, you’ll find lots of different ways to transport from one place to another. Public transport is always a good idea: it’s usually the cheapest and fastest option (in big cities). But if you have trouble figuring out tramlines or busses, you still call a taxi or rent a bike.

Special tip form Nyala: Besides public transport, I highly recommend renting a bike. You will see way more of the city/place you are staying, get around faster and you’ll be able to orientate way better than if you would’ve taken the underground. While traveling through Europe by train, I often cycled around in the cities I was staying at. Usually, my hostels had bikes available for a small fee or even totally free of charge.

There are even other ways if you don’t like the idea of taking public transport or renting a bike! The apps “Taxify” and “Uber” are really helpful. The driver will come to wherever you are and you will be able to see the exact location of the car when the taxi is approaching. The less convenient aspect of these apps is the need for wifi or mobile data.

Safety first! As we already mentioned above, be careful when you meet new people and make sure they don’t have bad intentions. And also, listen to the locals. If they tell you not to go to certain areas or places, don’t go. They live here and know thing better than you do. Just be conscious of the neighborhood you’re walking through 😉  

Last but not least, probably the most important part of your trip: enjoy! Try new food, explore new cultures, face your fears, take a lot of pictures, videos, and so much more! Have the time of your life exploring the world as a pro solo traveler!

Cheers!

Joyce & Nyala

Follow Nyala and her adventure on Instagram and check out her travel blog!

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Amsterdam – things you might not know https://www.simplybyjoy.com/amsterdam/ Tue, 17 Jul 2018 10:18:53 +0000 http://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=353 Welcome to yet another article about a lovely country called: the Netherlands! In this section, I’ll mention 8 things you might not know about this marvelous city (yet). Cheers!

Amsterdam has it all: canals, a nice atmosphere, sex shows, legal (soft) drugs, etc. It is the city where controversial freedom is present. Personally, I think Amsterdam is one of the most charming cities in Europe. It’s not a secret that I love the Netherlands -which isn’t common to say for a Belgian-, and after reading this article I’m sure you’ll love it too. 

And yes, you might think you know Amsterdam: It is the capital city of the Netherlands, you can buy weed legally (for personal use), the red light district is where you can find prostitutes, the house of Anne Frank, Vincent Van Gogh, … I’m sure you know it all. But what if I told you that Amsterdam is more than that? Let me enlighten you with fun facts about this precious city that you didn’t know. 

  1. Amsterdam in the local mouth is ‘Mokum’. Mokum is derived from Hebrew, meaning ‘place’.
  2. Amsterdam counts more canals than Venice. The total length of all canals together is 100 km
    (328084 feet). The century canal ring is declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010
  3. There are more than over 2 500 houseboats floating on the canals of Mokum.
  4. The ‘IAmsterdam’ sculpture has been captured on camera countless times. It is the city’s most photographed object. However, all these posers and photographers don’t know the purpose of the sculpture: In 2005 Amsterdam decided to start a campaign to rebrand the city. ‘Iamsterdam’ is one of the actions they took. The sculpture is located right in front of the Rijksmuseum.
  5. Amsterdam counts more bridges than Paris.
  6. Unlike other countries (for example Belgium) the royal family doesn’t live in the capital city Amsterdam. Yes, for the smartypants among us: The Netherlands is a kingdom.
  7. The smallest house in Europe can be found in Amsterdam. It is 2,02 meters wide and 5 meters deep! (6,62 feet wide and 16 feet deep) The tiny house is located in Oude Hoogstraat 22.
  8. The name Amsterdam originates from ‘een dam’ (English = dam) in the river Amstel. Amstel + dam became Amsterdam.

 

 

 

 

 

If you liked my article about A’dam, make sure to check out the city’s biggest rival: Rotterdam! Ps, make sure to check out part two of this article as well! (coming soon)

 

]]> Rotterdam, my favourite place to be https://www.simplybyjoy.com/rotterdam/ Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:48:04 +0000 http://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=298  My dear Rotterdam

Rotterdam, oh my dear Rotterdam. Underrated AND Amsterdam’s rival city. Ever heard of Rotterdam? A modern port town located in the South of Holland. Its history goes beyond far; too far to write about it on my blog but I can tell you this: back in the early 19th century Germany bombed the city of Rotterdam. It completely destroyed the heart of the city and all its beauty. BUT this tragic event created the opportunity to build the city to the Rotterdam as we know it today. Nowadays, Rotterdam is most famous for its architecture and its arty touch.

Already convinced? let me write down some things to do (the rest of it I’ll let you discover by yourself).

   

Things to do

  • Markthal
    Just a little sum up: beautiful building + good food + drinks + nice atmosphere. I don’t know about you but I do not need more to be convinced. 🙂
  • The Delfshaven
    The Delfshaven gives an impression of how Rotterdam used to look like before the bombing in 1940. (read intro)
  • Euromast
    The Euromast is a tower with a height of +- 185 meters (609 feet), which was built for the world’s biggest flower exhibition in 1960. A rotating elevator will bring you to the top that offers you a view over the skyline of Rotterdam. Entry fee is 9,50 euros (without discount).
  • Het Park
    Rotterdam offers lots of parks but my favorite is ‘Het Park’. It’s a great place to escape from the city for awhile. Other parks are: Schoonoord, Vroesenpark, Arboretum Trompenburg and more!
  • Erasmus Bridge
    The Erasmus Bridge is a beautiful landmark of Rotterdam built over the Maas River. This bridge, designed by Ben van Berkel, connects the northern and southern part of the city.
    Reconsider crossing the bridge on a windy day! I did it and I really do not recommend it! Terrible idea 🙂
  • Old Harbor
    The Old Harbor was built in the 14th century. Old! The location of the Old Harbor offers beautiful views and a cozy atmosphere. By the way: the famous cube houses are located in this area!
  • Museums
    There’s a variety of museums to visit:

Boijmans van Beuningen
Maritime Museum
Kunsthal Rotterdam
Het Nieuwe Instituut

  • Bars
    The most popular party street in Rotterdam is Witte de Withstraat and its side streets.
  • Coffee shops
    Just to make sure: I’m not promoting drugs but for the potheads among my readers: yes, there are coffee shops in Rotterdam as well.
  • Shopping
    Chains & boutiques: Rotterdam has it all. The main shopping street is the Lijnbaan.

Transportation

Transportation by public transport is very convenient @ Rotterdam. Buy a weekend pass or an OV card (top up money on these cards and scan it everytime you get on & off a bus, tram or metro). Other options are renting a bicycle, or walking.

Food

Thanks to the big variety of nationalities Rotterdams kitchen offers a wide range of choices. Compared to my latest trips in Europe I can say that I ate the best and the cheapest in Rotterdam. My favorite restaurants (and hotel) is Bazar. It was recommended by my dear cousin & Instagram influencer Roxanne. Check out her page for more tips on food in Belgium and neighboring countries.

Money money money (must be funny)

Rotterdam is SO much cheaper than Amsterdam. The city is completely hidden in the shadow of the famous Amsterdam (unfortunately).

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle; I want to ride my bicycle

If you’d like to save money on your journey I advise you to rent a bike. It is a rather cheap, easy and fast way to move around.

Typical tourist

Heading to Rotterdam to gain some cultural experience? Get a welcome card. This offers quite a bit of discount at museums and other sightseeing spots.

Best time to visit

The most pleasant time to visit is spring & summer… March until October. Other months are nice too, just wear warm clothes and hope the weather gods are in a good mood!

And the rest of it …

See for yourself! Cheers✌

    

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1 year anniversary: guest posts https://www.simplybyjoy.com/1-year-anniversary-guest-posts/ Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:50:31 +0000 http://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=301 Happy birthday! Leveling up! I’m glad to announce you that Simply by Joy is one year old now! First of all: thank you for checking out this page. Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible 🙂 Since Simply by Joy isn’t only based on my own stories but also on the stories friends and readers I’ve invited them to write about their favorite travel destination. 

Monique – New Zealand

New Zealand is by far my favourite holiday destination. It’s a remarkable country that has it all. New Zealand has something to please almost everyone. You can find some of the most fantastic sceneries. Within a few kilometers, you’ll find yourself on the beach or on top of a glacier for some Heli Hiking! Be impressed by volcanoes, thermal landscapes, fjordland and fantastic mountains.

Everywhere you go you’ll be surprised by one spectacular view after another. It’s a country where you can still wonder about on a beach and run into seals, sea lions or even pinguïns. If all this beauty and quietness gets too much it’s also the place to be for thrill seekers. Of course, everybody knows about bungy jumping and rafting, but my personal favourites are Jetboating on the Shotover jet, Heli Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, and if you love hiking you should definitely not miss the Tongariro Crossing.

For the finest beaches, you should visit The Bay of Islands on the North Island or Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island. And at this last destination, it’s also great to combine beautiful walks with canoeing or a ride on one of the fast water taxis. And let’s not forget the people. The Kiwi’s are super friendly and hospitable. Truly awesome folk.

      

If you want to find out more about this fantastic country, please read more on Monique’s blog: www.ontdeknieuwzeeland.blogspot.com or visit her Instagram page @ontdeknz

Amber – Portugal & Tenerife

Hi y’all! I’m Amber, a 19-year-old travel nut from little, rainy Belgium. It’s sooo hard for me to choose one ultimate travel destination…. I’m so lucky I’ve already had the chance to travel to a lot of different places. For instance; this year, 2017, I traveled to four different countries.

I went to Germany (Berlin), Tenerife, Portugal (Lisbon) and Italy (Milan + Venice). I actually love the city life and the beach life… both stole my heart this year. But I think I’m more fond of the beach, certainly during the academic year. I really like to have my holidays quiet and tranquil. This year I visited Portugal and  I loved it for its amazing views and peaceful places. We hiked to places without tourists and breathtaking views… it was wonderful, really. Tenerife is my second fav destination. In Tenerife, we hired a car and went to a few hotspots. We made it to El Teide, a volcano surrounded by an amazing national park. Again, Amazing views here. No houses, no animals, only arid nature. I will never ever get tired of these views. I mean… How beautiful can the earth be? I think I’m probably going back next year… yeah, definitely… I’m going back.

Check out Amber’s blog the Comfy Creative & Instagram account!

Kyana – New York City

New York City is the love of my life. But why actually? In 2013 I went there for the first time and well… she stole my heart. In February 2018 I’m going back for the fourth time because I have never felt more home somewhere else but in NYC.

My place to be in the city is East Village, Saint Mark’s Place to be more precisely. I recommend it to all of you. The atmosphere is amazing and it just feels so different than anywhere else. It offers many piercing/tattoo shops, cafes, vintage stores… The nicest place to have dinner is Little Italy, for sure! It’s a downtown neighborhood very close to SoHo and China Town, also two of my all-time favourites.

With the NY-subway you can go from Financial District (Manhattan) to Coney Island (Brooklyn) in about 40 minutes. The city also offers super nice museums, for example the MoMA, the MET, NYC museum, Natural Museum of American History etc… Times Square, Penn Station, Central Park Bryant Park… all those places are incredible and really make me feel at home, although I’m not a New Yorker ( yet 😉 ). I’m always trying to tell people how good NYC has been to me, but it’s so hard to put your feelings into words. But anyway, I still think she is the greatest story I’ve ever told.

Liked her story? Check out Kyanas pictures on Instagram!

Joyce – Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has it all: mountains, beaches, vineyards, colorful neighborhoods, outdoor markets, … For me Cape Town is the most beautiful city on earth, exploring CT is a pure pleasure. It’s not only the scenery that is amazing but so is the food (as a real foodie I can only guarantee this 🙂 ). The city has a variety of outdoor activities for the adventure seeker. Hiking up the Lions Head and Table Mountain is a must. Even without hiking, you can enjoy the views thanks to the scenic drive routes through the mountains (such as Chapman’s Peak Drive) and the cable car available at Table Mountain. By the way, did I mention Cape Town has a beach full of with penguins?! I think visiting Cape Town should be on everyone’s bucket-list.

Check out my Instagram page for inspiration!

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Hiking up Hua Mountain, Xi’an https://www.simplybyjoy.com/hiking-hua-mountain-xian/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 14:03:28 +0000 http://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=270 During my three-days stay in Xi’an I couldn’t miss out hiking Hua Shan. The name Hua Shan 华山 is Mandarin: Hua means flower and Shan means mountain. This mountain is one of the 5 greatest mountains all over China thanks to its history and its religious significance. Hua Shan is definitely recommended for the adventure seeker.

The mountain consists of 5 peaks: the North peak, the East peak, the South peak, the West peak and the Middle peak. The view of each peak’s beauty was beyond compare. Hua Mountain is located in the middle of China, Shaanxi province. The highest peak reaches 2 155 meter (7 070 feet) above sea level.

                  

What to expect & what not to expect

Stairs, stairs, and stairs. No, the steps aren’t like the stairs at your home…  Some steps are narrow, some are steep. I do not recommend this hike for people who aren’t feeling fit. During the hike, you get to points where you can choose for more challenging routes. When you consider taking these paths, thinks of the route you’d still have to walk. Even though the route is though I still recommend you to take it. It is challenging but rewarding!

Rumours go that Hua Mountain is the most dangerous hike in the world. Well… Please, do not believe this! Even Chinese children and elderly hike it.  It might have been like that in the past, but nowadays the stairs are fenced off.

Information on the mountain

Best time to visit the mountain is March to November (especially September). It can be very hot during that time, make sure to bring enough water. I advise you not to go on the weekend or during a Chinese national holiday. It’ll be packed!

When you get to there, you’ll have to buy an entry ticket. Prices vary from season to season.

March – November: 180 yuan (student: 90 yuan)
December – February: 100 yuan (student: 50 yuan)
Ticket value for two days!

Transportation Xi’an – Hua Mountain

There are two options when you’re coming from Xi’an. It might be convenient to have a translation of these words, it could make your journey a bit easier.

One-Way Ticket: Dānchéng piào, 单程票  –  Round-Trip Ticket: Wǎngfǎn piào, 往返票
Hua Shan Station: Huàshān huoche zhan, 华山火车 站   –   Xian North Station: Xī’ān běi, 西安北

The high speed train from Xi’an North Railway to Huashan North takes about 30 to 40 minutes. The North Railway station in Xi’an is very convenient to reach. There are free busses at the back of the Hua Shan station that will bring you to the entrance of the mountain. Be careful with unofficial cabs and never buy tickets of a not-ticket office!

The normal train from Xi’an Railway station. Make sure you go to the Xi’an Railway station, not Xi’an North Railway station! This train ride will take you about 1,5 – 2 hours.

Buses are available from the east side of Xi’an Railway station to the entrance of the mountain. The indication of the buses should be convenient because other buses to Terra Cotta Warriors leave from the same location. Make sure you get on the right bus!

The peaks

East peak: The east peak is also called the Facing Sun Peak, which is 2090 meters (6 857 feet high). At the east peak you can find the visitor center, a ticket office and a cable car to the north peak. Hiking up the peak will take you about 4 to 6 hours.

South peak: The south peak or the Landing Wild Geese peak is the highest peak of them all. The top reaches 2 160 meters (7 087 feet). Legends say that wild geese returning from the south often landed at the south peak of the mountain.

West peak: With the shape of a lotus flower the west peak got named ‘the Lotus Flower peak‘. The west peak reaches a height of 2 086 meters (6 845 feet).

Middle peak: The middle peak is named after a Taoist temple situated on the peak: the Jade Maiden Peak.

North peak: Thanks to the cliffs the peak looks like a flat terrace in the clouds. That’s why the North peak is also called the Cloud Terrace peak. Here you can take a cable car to descend.

Plank trail

Must do! Must do! Must do!

A plank road in the sky?! You can find the plank road on the South East of the Mountain. Be prepared for a very long waiting line!

             

Take 35 Yuan in your pocket as rent for the gear!

Tips

  • The biggest tips I have for you: be aware of scams! Only buy tickets at a ticket office, never drive unofficial taxis, … An official taxi will also raise his price, especially if you are not Chinese. Go as low as you can and accept the fact that you’re being ripped off.
  • Bring enough water with you. There are little shops on the mountain but as you might already imagine, they’re expensive as hell!
  • Start slow. If you’re wanting to hike the whole mountain you should start slow. I took a cable car to one of the peaks and started my hike from there (which was still very challenging).
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