The India Saga: 2 days in Jodhpur

The saga continues, moving on from holy city of Pushkar to Jodhpur. We were actually here for a day on either side of Jaisalmer (post coming soon) so you could definitely fit more into two consecutive days. Unfortunately, the diarrhoea chronicles were ongoing for half of the group and so they missed out on the majority of Jodhpur. However, I’d been suspiciously well since Agra, so I managed to take it all in. Nonetheless, here’s a taste of what there is to do if you find yourself in the Blue City.

Where did we stay?

We stayed at Madpacker’s Jodhpur hostel. It’s a very modern hostel for reasonable prices and serves some great western food if you’re craving (try the milkshakes). We met the owner at the rooftop bar and he explained how he wanted to create a calm environment that feels like home (aimed at Europeans). In all honesty he was a bit of a prick, but his hostels are great and he’s since expanded across India.

Mehangarh Fort

This fort gives a stunning panorama over the city and is a must-see during your time here. It takes up a morning to see the whole thing but it’s very impressive. It counts as a heritage site meaning the interior has been maintained as well as the vast exterior.

Fort exterior

They offer a student discount (400INR instead of 600) but they get very strict about what counts as a valid student ID. I didn’t have my university card with me and was using UNiDAYS. If you stand your ground they’ll concede. Make sure to get the audio guide, it adds a lot to the experience if you’ve only used the Lonely Planet guide for previous forts.

The ornate designs actually act as one way windows. They’re drilled in such a way that they look decorative from the outside but allow someone to see outside from inside the fort.

For some added adrenaline consider riding the Flying Fox. This is an awesome zip line that is located on the edge of the fort and has a stunning view over Jodhpur. It isn’t cheap though- 1250INR for students.

After you’ve wandered round the fort, feel free to walk over to Jaswant Thada- a dazzlingly white mausoleum less than 1km away.

Wander the Old City

If you’ve followed the same route through India as this saga then you’re probably used to the chaos of the old city. Jodhpur is no different.

The clock tower is a good landmark to head for/ask directions for to know you’re in the old town. It’s a century old yet surprisingly still working.

Once you’re here explore Sardar Market and lose yourself in twisted streets and alleys where anything from spices to silver is on offer. Don’t forget to grab some lunch before heading to the next tourist spot.

Welcome to chaos. Again.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

After exploring the old city, we went to the Umaid Bhawan palace (get a rickshaw but make sure to haggle). The vibe is bizarre because it’s actually split into three distinct sections. It was built in the early 1900s during a drought; the ruler thought that he would “generously” allow people to build him a palace so as to provide a means of employment.

This view makes it look more exotic but in reality I’m just stood in a bush.

As of today it’s split into the original palace complex (still inhabited), a museum and a functioning hotel. The history behind the building is interesting and the fancy polished cars outside are very cool if that’s your thing.

The inside doesn’t take long to see but it is impressive

The palace and hotel sections aren’t open to casual guests so it doesn’t take long to see it all. If you’re only in Jodhpur for a day I’d skip it. On the other hand, if you find yourself extremely under budget maybe splash out on a room; at the time of writing one night is £400 but it was £600 when I visited pre-COVID. Fun fact: Nick Jonas got married here.

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Live the high life. This picture is from the hotel website– as if I can afford this lifestyle.

Explore the Blue City

This was my favourite part of Jodhpur. We returned to Jodhpur from Jaisalmer and I had to convince the others that we could spare a few hours before our flight to Mumbai.

Whilst Jodhpur is marketed as the blue city, I didn’t actually see any areas of blue buildings up close on my first visit; I could see an area from the fort though. When I tried to go, I realised it’s actually really difficult to explain to a rickshaw driver you want to see blue buildings. They had no idea what I was on about.

From the fort you can see the area with the most blue. If you have no plans just walk in that direction and start exploring.

To find the blue buildings, head towards the suburb of Chandpole. If you need a specific point for an uber/rickshaw go to Chandpole gate. If you head towards the clock tower direction you’ll soon be in a sea of blue. Alternatively, as I did, once you reach Chandpole turn off your maps and get lost for a bit.

If you want a good panorama head towards the fort as the incline will give a good view over the rooftops. Some locals may offer for you to go up on their roofs but they’ll likely charge you for the privilege.

When I went, everyone was feeling rough apart from Yash and myself so we set off on our adventure. In the heart of the buildings, the blue is absolutely beautiful and it makes every photo look amazing.

We found a few dogs lazing about and they started following us. This happened a few times and we weren’t concerned. Unfortunately, we then hit a dead end and the dogs started baring their teeth and growling. The options of escape included climbing onto someone’s roof, going through someones house, or trying to run around the dogs. In my head I was doing some Jason Bourne parkour, but in reality I was wondering if my rabies vaccine was up to date.

Luckily, a dad walked past with his young daughter and employed some superhuman parenting shouting that made all the dogs run off. Moral of the story, don’t trust the dogs.

Don’t be fooled by their album-cover-worthy poses.

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Another instalment of the Indian saga comes to an end, I hope you enjoyed these suggestions of what to do in Jodhpur. Let me know what you got up to if you’ve been there before and comment some links to your best photos below!

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The India Saga: A Day in Pushkar

The last instalment of the India Saga covered 2 days in Jaipur and you can read that here. Our next stop was a one night stay in Pushkar, a pilgrimage sight for Hindus and Sikhs. This post is going to be short and sweet on some of the main things to see in Pushkar.

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There are a ton of temples in Pushkar, check them out. Remember to cover your head for Sikh areas of worship

Getting to Pushkar

Pushkar isn’t as easy to get to as some of the other main places in Rajahstan but it’s still pretty simple.

First, we got a bus from Jaipur to the town of Ajmer which is about 10km away. After this you can either get a rikshaw to Pushkar, or the local bus. We tried to go the local way and get the bus but it’s not worth the hassle if you’re in a group. There was nowhere to put our bags and they charged us for an extra seat which we put all our bags on. It ended up being about 100INR cheaper (between 5 of us) than just getting a rickshaw.

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The route: you can go direct to Pushkar if you go with a tourist bus

Where to stay in Pushkar

We stayed at Moustache Hostel and it was excellent. The rooms were clean and spacious with air conditioning, the owners were friendly, it was cheap and there was a free breakfast on the rooftop.

However, it was a small walk from some of the sights in Pushkar so bear this in mind if you want to be in the thick of it.

What to see in Pushkar

Explore Pushkar Lake

The lake was the first thing I noticed about Pushkar; it gave off a serene atmosphere (if you’ve reached the point of drowning out the incessant motorbike/rickshaw horns). Make sure to remove your shoes when walking by it; someone will undoubtedly remind you if you forget.

Unfortunately, there is a common scam that occurs around the lake which involves getting blessed. I’ve written about it in detail here but, to summarise, if someone tries to bless you say no- you’ll save yourself 20 minutes and some cash.

My best moment around the lake involved heading up to the roof of a cafe by the egde and sipping a mango lassi whilst looking over it.

Visit the Brahma temple

By this point we’d seen a lot of temples but that wasn’t going to deter us. There aren’t many Brahma temples in India and so we took the opportunity to give it a visit. In fairness, this was the first temple so far that we had to join a queue to get into.

However, as is the case in a lot of India, if you stop moving you get pounced on. A nearby, all-round dodgy geezer came over and started telling us how much he loves this temple. He then showed us all the offerings we could buy to place in the temple to show respect. However, none of the nationals (we were the only foreigners in the queue) had bought anything from him.

We politely declined, explaining it feels fake to buy an offering for a religion we don’t follow. At this point he promptly lost his cool and shouted we were treating his temple like a museum. We couldn’t do much about it because we were stood in a slow moving line so we just got berated for 5-10 minutes before we progressed through into the temple.

The temple was nice though, worth the shouting.

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I actually didn’t take any pics of the temple so this is courtesy of Wikipedia. It’s better inside.

Trek to Savriti temple

Pushkar is a pilgrimage sight,and so temples make up a significant proportion of the things to do. When you’re wandering around Pushkar you’ll see this temple looming over the city.

It’s not far away, but it is high up. You can get up there in 15 minutes if you’re fit enough to keep a good pace going. At the top you get some great views of Pushkar, and it’s a bit more peaceful than the Brahma temple because the strenuous journey dissuades some scammers.

Two pieces of advice:

  • In the summer this walk can be sweltering so I’d try and do it early on if possible.
  • Grab some energising corn from the blokes at the foot of the hill (choose your own or they’ll give you an old burnt bit that everyone else has turned down).
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A pretty hazy view but peaceful.

Sample some rustic Indian cuisine

This isn’t exactly specific to Pushkar but I had some cracking meals here so I thought I’d mention it.

If you remember the Jaipur post, I recommended the Old Takeaway restaurant which does fantastic meat. Well, Pushkar is considered a holy city and everywhere is vegetarian, with the added restriction of no eggs. Whilst this limits the variety of food available, it does mean that most of the restaurants do great vegetable curries. As I mentioned earlier, the corn is great and there’s other street food to be sampled as well- we had falafel.

Finally, if you’re looking to indulge a western sweet tooth, there is an impressive ice cream sundae shop called Habits.

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The cows are sacred and there’s lots of them.

Explore the surrounding area on a motorbike

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Poser

I’ve added this for completeness as my mates did it just before we got the bus to our next destination. There were spots all over to hire motorbikes and it was very cheap (a few hundred INR for the whole day- maybe too cheap).

I sat this one out. I didn’t back myself to not get severely injured and we only had 45 minutes before our bus, so there wasn’t much that could be done; they just rode around the quieter areas for the novelty. I spent my time having a mango lassi on a rooftop cafe.

However, if you find yourself with several spare hours, hiring bikes can be a fun way to explore some of the neighbouring towns, including the much less visited Merta.

If you are going to hire a bike see if any insurance is included (we definitely didn’t have any) and consider where this would invalidate your medical insurance, especially if you don’t have a motorbike license.

Enjoying the blog?

A short post but hopefully it comes in useful when organising a post-COVID travel extravaganza. Drop by Pushkar and let me know what you did and how you found it.

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The Indian Saga: How to spend two days in Jaipur

The saga continues, 3 weeks in and onwards from Agra, towards Jaipur. Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. The enclosed Old City is great for exploring on foot and exploring some temples or palaces a bit further afield is a nice way to mix it up.

This guide is going to go over our two days in Jaipur including the sights we saw and some of the restaurants we went to. If you haven’t read the last few chapters check out Delhi and Manali.

Day 1 morning: Entering the Old City

We got up bright and early for a full day of sightseeing and headed towards the old city from our hostel- Road House (as much as I like to think I choose good hostels, this was pretty average).

When you reach the edge of the Old City take a moment to admire the elaborate gates including the Ajmeri, New and Sanganeri Gates. They’re a good picture opportunity and also have fruit vendors outside if you need some breakfast.

Once inside, we spent a while exploring the bazaars. They’re separated by trade, as in Delhi, but the omnipresent chaos meant we didn’t really appreciate the differences; aside a quick stop to haggle over some scarves. Nonetheless, I was starting to get used to the mayhem that had severely annoyed me in Delhi. The bazaars are spread all over the old city so use them to fill in the gaps on the walks between the main sights.

Hawa Mahal exterior

Once some of the boys had been relieved of their money for cashmere, we walked over towards our first main sight; the Hawa Mahal. This translates as the Wind Palace and has a ton of windows, 953 for the pub quizzers, but with most of them shut it’s actually quite serene inside (yes you can go inside if you go to the entrance around the back). It’s definitely worth going inside, it’s 200INR for foreigners and boasts impressive architecture.

The view from Hawa Mahal

Pit Stop

By this point the sun was high and the humidity was rising, so we stopped for an Indian pick me up. Up until this point, I’d been fairly wary of cold Indian street food as I thought if it wasn’t heated it couldn’t kill the bacteria.

However, as I was still struggling with diarrhoea from Agra I thought this was my best opportunity- you can’t get diarrhoea when you already have it (I know acknowledge this was a deeply flawed plan but it worked).

We got traditional sugar cane juice. It’s dirt cheap (10-25INR) and just the process of seeing them grind huge amounts of sugar cane for a small glass of juice is worth it. After squeezing it they added some lime and salt which probably helped with all the sweating. They tried to add ice but I had enough sense to turn it down before drinking it out a dirty glass (maybe bring your own container). It’s delicious, thirst-quenching, and probably worth a short bout of diarrhoea to be honest.

Day 1 late morning: City Palace

It’s up to you whether you want lunch before or after seeing the city palace. We got a rickshaw here and it cost next to nothing after some intense haggling (but they will try to rip you off- shock).

My trusty Lonely Planet guidebook assured me the complex was a mixture of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture and regardless of your architectural knowledge, it’s well maintained and pleasant to explore. In particular check out the seasonal gates, just off the main courtyard. There are four gates, one for each season, and the stand out one is the peacock one.

Peacock gate

After wandering the rest of the complex and exploring some of the galleries inside (the arms and armour gallery was a cool break from the outside) we stopped by a fortune teller who offered to do a palm reading for a few hundred rupees. We nominated Mike, split the cost, and sat down in awe.

He asked a few broad questions including his name, age, nationality and occupation, to which Mike politely responded that he was 20, British and a medical student. The palm reader entered a state of deep focus whilst intently staring at, and caressing, Mike’s palms. He reached a state of calm before breaking the silence to declare he will be a doctor in the future. Wow.

Day 1 lunch: Ganesh restaurant

After trekking around the Old City all morning, we’d worked up an appetite and opted for the recommended Ganesh restaurant. This is a small pure vegetarian restaurant that is very proud of its “lonely planet recommended” status (read: stickers everywhere).

It’s near the Ajmeri gate but it’s quite difficult to find so keep an eye out for the sign leading down an alleyway. We tried the recommended paneer curry and it was great, we also got to watch the chef make it which was reassuringly hygienic.

Day 1 afternoon: Amber Fort

Our afternoon was taken up by exploring the Amber/Amer Fort which is a short drive away from the centre. Unfortunately for us we chose the wrong rickshaw and the bloke drove us around random tourist spots in the old city and to various shops before we jumped off and found someone else.

The fort shuts around 5:30 and I’d budget at least an hour and a half/two hours to check it out. The exterior is stunning, consisting of mostly marble and sandstone, and towers over a lake which can give a good reflection on a still day.

The fort exterior con monkey

The entrance is quite a walk uphill and you can get a golf cart, elephant ride or save money and use your legs. We opted for the latter. Once you’re at the top work your way through the various courtyards and try to appreciate the architecture and history instead of getting distracted by monkeys like I did.

You can also head next door to Jaigarh Fort if you bought the composite ticket (also includes several other sights in Jaipur including Hawa Mahal) or, like we did, explore some of the small quiet temples nearby.

It chucked it down- poor monkeys

Day 1 dinner: Old Takeaway the Kebab Shop

After our veggie lunch we were looking forward to some meat. Old Takeaway the Kebab Shop is recommended, we had lollipop chicken, and has attracted a significant following. However, as with all great things, copycats have emerged (check my post on scams here).

Be wary that you actually go to the right one- lonely planet’s current advice is the one next to the mosque.

Day 2 morning: Jantar Mantar

Our second day followed a similar formula- spend the morning in the Old City before exploring further afield in the afternoon. The last sight we were sure we had to see in the Old City was the Jantar Mantar. This consists of nineteen astronomical instruments, one of which is the largest stone sundial in the world!

It’s very cool to wander round and, even if you aren’t into the science/physics, it could pass for a surreal sculpture park. I didn’t find the information there particularly helpful and I’d recommend reading up on it beforehand (here’s the wiki page) in order to have a better appreciation for what you’re seeing.

Day 2 afternoon: Galtaji

This was a trip I was particularly looking forward to. Galtaji is a large temple complex and is also affectionately known as the Monkey Temple; I like monkeys so it was an obvious choice.

The temple is 10km east of Jaipur and instead of paying a rickshaw to wait we used Uber which was surprisingly effective and cheap (we managed to get an idling rickshaw on the return journey pretty easily though).

When we entered we wandered through the various small temples within the complex. The complex as a whole was stunning due to the size, but a lot of the initial temples had gurus demanding money which got annoying quickly.

There’s a few small temples at the start to check out but be wary of the gurus

As we progressed further into the complex, the number of monkeys started to increase and then some absolute psycho decided it was feeding time and brought out a ton of fruit. All hell was unleashed (you can buy small bits of food to give the monkeys- I wouldn’t after seeing this). As the dust settled we looked around and one monkey had sacked off the fight and settled on Yash’s head.

Another reason I was looking forward to the complex was Lonely Planet’s extract saying one can jump into the sacred tanks from the nearby cliffs. I am a big fan of a cliff jump and came with my trunks. What I found was some very dirty water (with some locals swimming in fairness) that definitely had a layer of monkey poo on. Enter at your own risk.

After seeing the complex you can keep walking up the hill to the Surya Mandir, a sun temple. It’s small but you get a good view over the city, albeit it was very hazy when we went. You can continue walking along this 2.5km trail to Suraj Pol gate leading into the city. We ended up running back down the hill after a pack of dogs chased us and tore into a solo wandering dog.

The view from inside the sun temple

Enjoying the blog?

The saga continues once again. Jaipur was a lot of fun both sight-wise and food-wise; hopefully this guide can inspire your next trip. Let me know what you thought in the comments and where you’ve been in Jaipur.

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The India Saga: 48 hours in Agra


After a brief interlude where I actually managed to travel during COVID (check out the first post on Slovenia here) I’m back to reminiscing about past exploits. If you can stretch your minds back to the last India saga post, we were in Delhi and quickly becoming travel savvy.

Our next stop was Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, and just a quick train ride away. We gave ourselves 2 days to see as much as possible. This guide will give you an idea of the main sights to see in Agra in 48 hours and the minimum time you need to spend in Agra.

Day 1 morning: Fatehpur Sikri

We arrived late at night and we actually travelled back out of Agra on our first morning to Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is a great day trip from Agra, located 40km to the East, it’s a city created in the 16th century that holds the claim of being the capital of the Mughal Empire for 10 years.

It’s cheap and easy to make your own way there. Make your way to the main bus station and you’ll find a bus heading there fairly easily for around 50INR. Ignore taxi drivers telling you the buses aren’t running (check my post on India’s scams here). The bus takes about an hour but be prepared to stand for a lot of it- luckily we managed to get seats on the outbound journey.

Our trip to India actually coincided with monsoon season and we’d been lucky so far. However, the heavens had opened during our journey to the bus station and I was getting worried the bus was going to flood. At the peak of the downpour, a bloke went floating past the bus on his bicycle; he’d clearly made his decision that he wasn’t parting with the bike.

Within a few minutes of rain rikshaws were already struggling

The bus dropped us off about a kilometre away and we opted for the arduous walk uphill to Jama Masjid, instead of paying for a rikshaw or waiting for the shuttle. The mosque is claimed to be the tallest gateway in the world and we found it was surrounded by an army of photogenic goats.

This part of the complex is free to enter and comes with all the beggars, pickpockets, and fake tour guides that hang around free tourist sites. It detracts from the beauty of the architecture and you have two options: perfect your ghosting game and don’t respond to anyone, or be assertive until they leave you alone.

Once you’ve seen enough of the mosque complex and you’re sick of being harassed, head to the palace complex. If you can make your way through the hoard of fake tour guides trying to convince you to hire them and get through the entry point you’ll be at peace.

The mosque gateway

Neither of the complexes are massive but I much preferred the palace complex; they’re both beautiful but you can let your guard down a little in the palace and its very peaceful. If you have the Lonely Planet guide book with you, it has a mini tour inside so check that out.

We spent maybe 2 hours in total, and a lot of the complex is uncovered, so bring lots of water if you’re going in the middle of the day. I’d also recommend some snacks to keep you going, we waited until we got back to Agra for lunch.

Day 1 afternoon: Explore Agra

On the bus back, I felt a growl in my stomach. I’ve travelled enough to recognise the feeling; I had diarrhoea and the hostel was over an hour away. This time we didn’t have seats and the bus was boiling. I was starting to sweat and feel dizzy to the point that an old Indian guy offered me his seat. I took an anti-diarrhoeal tablet to try and pause the cramps until we could get back. We quickly hailed a rikshaw at the bus station. Unfortunately this, of all the times, was the journey where the driver tried to take us to his mates shop to buy some fake jewellery. After a few choice words and some dangerous flatulence I got him to take us to the hostel and all was well.

I wasn’t alone in this episode and everyone was feeling ropey so we spent a lot of the afternoon relaxing. We watched a film at the hostel cinema with Keventer’s milkshakes from nearby (great milkshake chain- definitely recommend).

Best Milkshake Shop in India | Order Milkshake Online - Keventers
Isn’t even a sponsored post, they just bang

Once the sun calmed down a bit we set off walking around the streets of Agra. Whilst the immediate area around our hostel was just a dirty main road, if you make an inroad into the winding streets of Agra, it’s quite a fun city to explore and get lost in the backstreets of. It also gives an opportunity to scout out some spots for dinner or jump between cafes trying out their lassis.

We ended the night early to be fresh for the Big Dog tomorrow morning: the Taj Mahal

Day 2 morning: Taj Mahal

Everyone sees the Taj Mahal when they come to Agra, it’s what Agra is known for worldwide. Being a wonder of the world, it comes with a hefty price of 1050INR for foreigners with an optional extra 200INR to see the mausoleum.

The main benefit of staying in Agra, as opposed to coming in on a day trip, is that you avoid the swathes of tourists doing just that. We went for a sunrise viewing which meant arriving at the Taj for 6am. Whilst this means the complex isn’t packed, don’t expect complete tranquility; there will still be a lot of people who have the same insane urge to get out of bed at 5:30am.

Taj Mahal at sunrise- I used a Samsung S6 for this photo

Once you get let through the gates, there is a mad dash for the perfect picture spot that shows the Taj with the water features in front. In the past I’ve found some wonders of the world or famous landmarks can be quite disappointing. I didn’t find that for the Taj Mahal; it was stunning (even with some scaffolding on it). It’s a must-see.

If you get here for the sunrise you’ll probably be able to get a half decent photo with no one in the shot, but your angles may be compromised if you aren’t speedy. Everyone stands back to admire the sun rising and bathing the Taj in light, so you have a bit of time to get your photos in.

Take it in from every angle

Once we bagged the classic picture, we took the opportunity to explore the building up close (we hadn’t splashed out on the mausoleum) and to see the the Taj from all sides. The complex is by a river and it’s possible to sit on the other side of the river to get a completely different perspective when the sun sets behind the Taj (for free!).

This is the view from the fort but you can see how the bank of the river would give a good view of the Taj

As with the palace complex at Fatehpur Sikri, the entry fee deters scammers and fake tourist guides (any guides inside tend to be legit) despite the fee for nationals being only 45INR. As with the day before, we used the Lonely Planet India guide for our background knowledge which has a section on the Taj inside.

Day 2 afternoon: Agra Fort

After an early start we headed back to the hostel for a cheeky nap and spot of breakfast. The last main sight for us to see was Agra Fort, so we got a rikshaw across Agra.

It costs 550INR for foreigners and has a similar exterior to the Red Fort in Delhi. It is thought to have originally consisted of over 500 buildings but various groups attacked the fort and now only 30 or so are left.

Agra fort exterior

If you aren’t massively into Mughal history and you’re on a tight schedule then it’s not a must-see but its a pleasant way to spend an afternoon exploring the splendour of the fort and appreciating the maintained gardens.

On a practical side note, this was a Sunday and I found I needed to withdraw some cash for my entry fee. I had to go to 5 different ATMs to find one that had money in it. Someone later told me that ATMs aren’t restocked on Sundays. I don’t know if that’s true but for the rest of the trip I avoided withdrawing on Sundays and had no more issues.

After this we walked back to our hostel, again exploring the backstreets of Agra and sampling lassis (it was sweltering by this point ~3pm). Once we grabbed our stuff it was time to go, and we headed off to Jaipur by bus.

Where did we stay?

We stayed at Gostops Agra and on the whole it was decent. It had great facilities, notably a quaint rooftop bar and a comfy basement cinema, and also offered a cooked breakfast (eggs). That said, a sizeable proportion of the hostel simultaneously developed diarrhoea so maybe sanitation standards weren’t up to scratch, but in India there’s a high chance it could have happened anywhere.

How long do I need for Agra?

We stayed for nearly two full days (i.e we arrived at night and saw Fatehpur Sikri the next day and then the Taj Mahal/Agra Fort the day after before leaving late afternoon). I would definitely stay overnight in Agra so that you can see the Taj in the morning.

However, I don’t think it’s necessary to stay an extra day for Fatehpur Sikri. It didn’t take anywhere near as long as we thought and, if we didn’t all have diarrhoea, we probably would have been bored for most of the afternoon. If you don’t have the time then I’d stick with one night in Agra.

Another week (fortnight?), another blog

That’s all of the wisdom/ramblings I have on Agra. Hopefully it can give you an idea of how long to stay and what to see or avoid. Let me know what you thought of Agra and how you found the Taj Mahal in the comments!

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The Slovenian road trip- Bovec to Ljubljana

All good things must come to an end; this road-trip was no exception. From the first day in Ljubljana to our days exploring Lake Bled and Bohinj, we squeezed a lot of Slovenia into just 5 days.

Our last day involved a huge drive across Slovenia, from Bovec all the way back to Ljubljana, to return our rental car. The next morning we were getting an early bus to Venice airport for our flight home so we needed to spend the night in Ljubljana.

A lengthy slog by Slovenian standards

Give this itinerary a read for some ideas of pit-stops if you’re ever exploring this side of Slovenia!

Slight detour pre-blog

This post is getting published on the 25th November. I have 5 days of Movember left (if you haven’t heard, Movember is an initiative in which men grow moustaches to draw attention to men’s health including mental health and testicular/prostate cancer).

I’m still trying to reach my donation target, having well and truly reached terrible moustache status.

If you want to donate then click here

Thank you from men everywhere x

Tolmin Gorge

Tolmin Gorge is a 45 minute drive from Bovec and is a smaller alternative to Vintgar gorge. The water is the characteristic electric blue that is seen around Slovenia, but it doesn’t take long to see it all.

Once you enter, the map lays out the points of interest such as the Bear’s Head (doesn’t look anything like a bear’s head) and Dante’s Cave. Bear in mind the latter few spots involve a hefty amount of incline.

As pleasant as the gorge is, it’s not an essential stop if you’ve been to other gorges on your trip. That said, it broke the journey up nicely for us and only cost €5 (the prices change depending on the season).

This is near the end of the circuit and you can see the bridge that the first picture was taken from. That gives you an idea of the incline near the end…

An easy way to save money at the gorge is to park in their “overflow” car park (P2). It’s free as opposed to the main car park by the gorge entrance but requires either a refreshing 1.5km walk there, or a free shuttle bus (didn’t seem that regular when we were there).

Predjama Castle

The next stop on our trip was to Predjama castle, a quick pit-stop before the famous Postonja caves. The castle is built directly into the side of the mountain, seemingly hanging off the edge; it makes for an impressive photo.

Unfortunately, entry to the castle costs approximately €10 extra when bought alongside the Postonja cave tickets. The caves were pricey enough and we realised that the impressive part of the cave is the exterior, as opposed to walking around the inside. We ended up just wandering up to the edge and admiring the external architecture; it’s completely free!

If you aren’t going to the caves then definitely don’t drive out of your way for the castle (it requires a bit of driving down narrow winding roads at fairly high speed), but it’s a great add-on to the cave experience, especially if you have time before your entry slot.

Postonja Caves

We’d heard a lot about these caves from other tourists and blogs we’d read and the consensus was they’re stunning; whether it’s worth the entry price was up for debate.

Student tickets to the caves cost us just over €20 each (+€5 for parking which I thought was cheeky). You choose a time slot and you’re then separated by dialect. Depending on the popularity of your language depends on whether you get a real guide or an audio guide.

Surprisingly, English didn’t make the cut for a real-bloke so I settled for a posh British accent in my ear. That being said, the person guiding us around in silence got really bored 5 minutes in and just started chatting to me in perfect English, supplementing the information he knew I was hearing through my earphones.

Once you enter you go on a train ride a few km into the caves before starting to walk around. The cave is cold and the train ride is freezing. I’m known to claim that I’m from The North and I don’t get cold but it was testing me, so bring a jumper.

The stalagmites take millions of years to form and are huge

The caves are immaculate, both in size and geology. The audio-guide explains the millions of years that have resulted in the huge stalactites/mites to form and the magnitude is really impressive. To finish off it ends in a concert hall bit of cave that has great acoustics and is actually still used on occasion.

This ended up being the priciest thing we bought on the trip but I think it’s worth it. It’s something a bit different from hiking outdoors and the scale of the caves can’t really be described (the pictures don’t do it justice either).

Dinner

After Postonja we set off on the home straight to Ljubljana and managed to drop the car off and seamlessly get on the bus back to the city centre.

Our first night in Ljubljana had seen us get falafel wraps from a takeaway but tonight we were more prepared. We went to Druga Violina, a very well-priced Slovenian restaurant that is recommended for anyone on a budget.

It’s possible to get three courses for about €12 and we opted for soup to start (what you’d expect for the price) and then I got Slovenian sausage cooked into potato which was delicious. Nicole got a bacon and truffle pasta dish which was also exceptional for the price. It isn’t gourmet but it certainly beats a lot of meals I’ve had in the past that have cost significantly more.

Side note: We didn’t realise that Friday is the Open Kitchen market in the city centre and we missed it on the route we took. This is a great option if you’re around (on Fridays only) and serves a variety of street-food cuisines for low prices.

Ice Cream

Tom you’re a fatty, why didn’t you get dessert at Druga Violina when it’s so cheap?

Because Cacao was beckoning. On my first day I’d tried Vigo, the ice cream specialising in chocolate. Now I was trying their competition. Cacao does extravagant flavours for an ok price (slightly expensive for Slovenia) and the scoops are huge.

Cacao starts late but finishes with a medal position for ice cream in Slovenia.
Also note the similarity of the white chocolate ice cream with the cave picture above

I opted for Viennese Sacher Tort flavour which actually had chunks of cake inside whilst Nicole went for white chocolate and pistachio. The flavours were bang on, definitely try it when you’re in Ljubljana.

If you wander round the city centre on a walk you’ll find it, it’s always busy.

The end

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Slovenian road trip series, and that it’s inspired you for your next trip. This was a heavily budgeted trip so let me know any splurges you made on your trip in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out the vlog of this trip here and subscribe to the blog for more updates!

A 1 day itinerary in Bovec

The fourth day of travelling meant leaving our cosy airBnB to drive across the country to Bovec. Sitting nestled within the Julian Alps, in northwestern Slovenia, Bovec is a nature haven for hiking and adrenaline sports alike. If you’ve stumbled across this and want to start at the beginning of the journey then head to day 1 in Ljubljana.

En-route to Bovec

Before getting into this one day itinerary of Bovec, I’ve temporarily revitalised my Youtube page and posted a vlog on my week in Slovenia. Check that out here if you hate reading and subscribe to the page for high-quality (questionable) infrequent vlogs whenever I go travelling!

Pre-itinerary: a brief request

I don’t make any money from my blog, and I don’t really intend on doing so anytime soon. However, I am currently taking part in the Movember challenge. Facial hair isn’t a great look on me but it’s for a great cause; all the money goes towards men’s health including mental health, testicular and prostate cancer. If you’d like to donate, or see the state of my face, then check the link here. (

Thank you. Now, onto the itinerary.

8am- Vršič pass

The drive from Lake Bled to Bovec is around 85km and takes between 1.5-2 hours according to google maps- depending on your route. The quickest route actually dips into Italy to bypass some mountain roads but this takes away all the fun (and potentially your insurance if you’ve rented a car).

Add the Vršič pass in as an intermediate stop as this is a site in itself. It goes through the mountains and is exceptionally scenic. Just before you reach it you’ll go through Kranjska Jana and Lake Jasna. It’s actually two artificial lakes but the clear water and the mountain backdrop it stunning and definitely worth a quick stop before the pass.

You’ll soon find yourself heading up the actual pass, which is 50 hairpin bends (25 up and 25 down- 1 is dubious and likely just for the round number) and is a very fun drive. The only irritating part can be the huge numbers of cyclists, which quickly become tiresome to overtake on the limited straight stretches of road. With this in mind, give yourself an extra hour when planning your journey. You’ll also definitely want to pull over for photos at points, they actually have lay-bys to do this on the pass.

Visit And Explore Vrsic, The Highest Mountain Pass In Slovenia
Full disclosure- this pic is from Wiki

11am- Explore the adventure shops

Once you’ve arrived in Bovec it’s time to organise your day of adventure. Unfortuately for us, we ended up trekking across Bovec (twice!) for our apartment keys and only left the apartment at 12:30. Realistically, the absolute latest you can organise an adventure sports half-day is 12:00. By 12:30 it seemed everyone had already set off and we were settled with more hiking.

Option 1: Mountain Biking/Kayaking/Canyoning

Bovec is made for exploring the outdoors and there’s something for everyone. If adrenaline sports are your thing, I’d add an extra day onto your itinerary. This will give you the opportunity to do one of the popular full day adventure packages.

If you’re on a budget then you’ll need to save up for Bovec. Even a half day can cost up to €50 and abseiling down a waterfall is not the place to be cutting costs. That said, it seems every resident in Bovec has some sort of referral discount code so ask around and compare prices.

The Julian Alps terrain make ideal mountain biking conditions and the numerous waterfalls dotted around the area allow for a range of canyoning abilities. The Soča river that weaves through the valley also makes for an exhilarating day of navigating rapids.

Option 2: Hiking

For the more frugal traveller, or those that don’t have the forethought to book ahead/arrive in time, exploring the Soča valley on foot can be very rewarding. The Juliana trail stretches 267km and is an it’s possible to spend a few days hiking a stretch of it starting in Bovec.

For an afternoon, there are tons of smaller walks available. To explore some of Bovec’s stunning waterfalls head to Slap Virje or Boka waterfall. We headed to Slap Virje, a short walk from Bovec that’s well signposted. It’s possible to drive there but the walk is pleasant and saves you the parking fee. You can’t officially swim in the waterfall (it’s really cold anyway) but there are some nearby pools that you can take a dip in if you’re desperate.

Slap Virje

The walk to Boka is about 10km so the loop trip will take up most of your day. We decided to walk along the river towards the confluence of the Soča river. This was recommended by our host but I’m not sure why, it literally is just the where the river joins into one. That said, the river is a dazzling blue and the walk along it was very pleasant.

Soča river- the camera doesn’t do justice to how blue it is

An alternative hike is to take the Kanin funicular to “station D” at 2200m which opens up the opportunity to hike along the mountain tops and gives some panoramas of Italy and Slovenia

5pm: pre-dinner snack

Yeah, I’m a fatty. Deal with it. Bovec town centre has some cute wooden stalls set up which open in the afternoon until around 7-8pm (when we went in September anyway). Some of them serve savoury food but the sweet pancakes looked absolutely delicious. We unfortunately waited until after dinner to get our pancakes and found out they’d already shut so get here early!

If you do miss it, there is an ice cream shop across the road that does great ice creams for very reasonable prices- I got grape&blackberry (2 scoops, not one monstrous combination of fruit).

You shouldn’t have trouble finding the huts but if you do, they’re on the main street near Hotel Alp Bovec.

7pm: Dinner

Whilst it might not have been as tiresome as some of the previous days (check out the day I nearly made Nicole cry from hiking), I’d still built up a chunky appetite by the time we got back to our apartment.

Unfortunately, it seemed that many of the restaurants were attached to hotels and inns and without being a guest, or having a reservation, it was very difficult to get a table (if you managed to get the staff’s attention). The places that weren’t attached to hotels were fairly pricey for average looking food.

We ended up actually going to the 1917 Grill: the self proclaimed best grill in town. I have nothing to compare to, but it was pretty sensational- especially for the very reasonable prices and large portions. I got a huge burger and Nicole got a giant rack of ribs. Maybe not traditional Slovenian cuisine, but definitely filling after a day being active.

Not one for the vegetarians

It’s situated next to the wooden huts I mentioned earlier, some of which keep their lights on once they’ve closed just to give you false hope they’re still open (yes I’m still upset).

Enjoying the blog?

Another fortnight, another blog. As travel restrictions continue, I’m getting more desperate to travel again. I hope this post inspired you for a future trip, or maybe made you reminisce about a past adventure.

If you haven’t done it yet then join the mailing list below for future travelling goodness and I’ll see you in 2 weeks!

A 1 Day Itinerary in Lake Bohinj

The lesser known relative of Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj is huge and situated just 30 minutes drive from Bled. No trip to Slovenia would be complete without a detour to Bohinj.

After exploring Ljubljana and Bled, Lake Bohinj was the third stop on my 1 week Slovenia whistle-stop tour. Nestled in Triglav national park, it serves as an excellent base for hiking, water-sports and even paragliding. This itinerary covers my day in Lake Bohinj and some of the amazing sights on offer.

09:00- Drive to Bohinj

The drive from Bled to Bohinj is roughly 30km, and takes 30 minutes by car, or around 40 minutes by bus. The route, as with many drives through Slovenia, is stunning. Make sure to put your phone down on the way there and take some time to appreciate the views; it’s likely going to be dark on your return journey.

Once you get closer to Lake Bohinj, you’ll start to see signs advertising parking. The parking lots right by the lake are extortionate and charge per half an hour. It’s possible to get a fully day of parking for a few euros if you’re very far from the lake, usually with the offer of a free shuttle bus. However, this places you at the whim of the bus schedule. We opted for a Goldilock’s approach and paid around €7 for the day and accepted the 15 minute walk to the lake.

Welcome to Bohinj

9:30- Stop by the Tourist Office

As you approach the lake, you’ll see a row of shops to the left. One of these is the tourist information centre which is definitely worth stopping at.

The staff are knowledgable and friendly, and can give you a guide of which hikes to do based on the time you have available, current weather conditions, and probably from eye-balling you to gauge your fitness levels.

We were originally hoping to do the hike to the Black Lake, in the Lakes Valley. We were told that, unless we were willing to climb a portion of the walk, she strongly recommended we don’t attempt it in one day, and gave us some helpful alternatives.

10:00- Mostnica Gorge

After having our idea to hike to the Black Lake shot to pieces, we were instead advised to head to Mostnica Gorge. Situated near Stara Funiza, the gorge is beautiful and peaceful, with various landmarks en-route used to track your progress.

Entrance to the gorge cost €2.50 for students. To head all the way to the end, where the waterfall is situated, takes 1.5-2 hours each way. The outward journey is generally on a gentle incline so the return journey is quicker.

The walk is shaded within the forest until just before reaching the waterfall, where the gorge opens up into open pastures and stunning mountain backdrops. There is also a restaurant a few hundred metres from the waterfall which looks exceptionally appetising after the hike there; especially if you didn’t bring lunch!

14:00- Vogar viewpoint

In an attempt to irreparably damage my relationship with my girlfriend, I dragged her on a second hike immediately after finishing the first. There’s actually a turn off on the way back from the gorge, shortly before the start point, so they become one continuous hike.

The viewpoint is 1054m high and is a steep incline, be careful of your footing on the way up (and down) as the rocks can get quite slippery and are unforgiving. It’s quoted as being an hour of pure uphill walking, and an hour down, but took slightly longer as fatigue was setting in.

The walk up is nothing special as your view is clouded by trees but the panorama at the end is exceptional, and really gives a sense of the size of Lake Bohinj compared to Bled.

Viewpoint 1

There are two viewpoints, the first of which is where the paragliders jump from. The second is 5-10 minutes more walking and requires you to deviate from the main path once you reach an inn. You’ll know when you’ve reached the second viewpoint but if you want to make sure then look out for the “love-heart” bench.

Once you’ve taken in your fill of the view, warm up your ankles and start heading down, it’s a lot of downhill (PS I’d heavily recommend shoes with ankle support for this hike unless you’re hypervigilant of your footing).

Viewpoint 2

16:30- Explore the Lake

This was a welcome change to uphill walking and was much more relaxing as we had no set end-point; we ended up just aimlessly paddling across the lake and soaking up the tranquility.

There’s a water-sports rental shop just opposite the tourist centre and only a few metres from the water. It has reasonable prices (they change dependent on season) and we spent around €11 to hire a canoe for an hour and watched the sunset over the mountains whilst we were on the lake.

If you have more time then explore the edges of the lake. It’s absolutely huge and, unless water sports is your passion, I don’t think pushing yourself to see the entire lake is worthwhile.

That said, there are plenty of small natural bays dotted along the edge that families set themselves up in for the day. If you want a relaxing afternoon then hire a kayak for a few hours and find yourself a miniature private beach.

Tranquil views

18:30- Dinner

This day was a heavy day for exercise and we were absolutely starving. Whilst it is not as commercialised as Bled, getting a meal by the lake is not going to come cheap.

We had clocked a few pizzerias in a the town of Bohinj, which is a few kilometres from the lake. The food was much cheaper than the restaurants we’d checked out by the lake and the portions were huge. We both opted for the largest pizzas they made, followed by some pancakes, and I tried not to fall asleep on the drive home.

All in all it’s a great day for outdoors activity. My top tip is to bring some good walking shoes; you’ll thank me later.

Another day, another blog

The Slovenia saga continues with a day spent at Lake Bohinj. I hope this was a helpful suggestion for those who only have one day to spend there. Just like Lake Bled, there is so much to do here, and I’ve only suggested one possible combination. Let me know in the comments where you went and what you’d suggest!

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A Day Itinerary in Lake Bled

When people think of Slovenia, Lake Bled immediately comes to mind. The backdrop of the castle, towering over the church sitting in the middle of the lake, is iconic. It’s no wonder that Lake Bled is consistently on travellers’ itineraries in Slovenia.

Lake Bled sits on the edge of Triglav national park and to limit yourself to just Lake Bled would be an injustice to Slovenia’s nature. This itinerary covers a significant chunk of Lake Bled in just 24 hours, leaving you time to explore some of Slovenia’s lesser-known gems.

(If you haven’t already checked out the 24 hour itinerary for the capital- Ljubljana, you can find it here)

9am- Breakfast

Lake Bled is one of the most visited areas in Slovenia and food prices are more expensive than other regions.

If you’re trying to stick to a budget then either get a few pastries from a bakery, or stock up on breakfast and lunch supplies from one of the supermarkets nearby. We opted to buy fruit and cereal for breakfast and make pasta for lunch.

10:00am- Walk around the lake

Lake Bled is stunning and a great starting point is to walk around it and admire it from all angles.

It’s only 6km in circumference so you can walk it quickly in 1.5 hours. However, I’d recommend slowing the pace to enjoy the view and give yourself an opportunity to take lots of photos.

Alternatively, if you’re short on time then rent a bicycle (some AirBnBs include them in your stay) and you can slash the time needed to get around the lake.

Enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake to start your day

11:00am- Mala Osojnica viewpoint

There are several viewpoints you can climb to get stunning arial views of the lake. One of the most popular viewpoints, and the one we did, is Mala Osojnica. It’s approximately on the opposite side of the lake to where you’ll start walking if you start from the town of Bled.

Getting to the top takes 30mins-1hour and is fairly well-marked (didn’t stop me getting us lost). There is one trail that leads to a very steep set of stairs, this is your first viewpoint. After this stick to the left and you’ll eventually end up at the end viewpoint.

The view is genuinely stunning, and it can be hard to drag yourself away from it to continue the rest of your day. The view manages to fit in both the island and the castle in, and I’d recommend it over paying to enter the castle; many people consider the view is not worth the money when so many free hikes are available elsewhere.

The view at the top of Mala Osojnica

1:00pm- Row to the island

This is a must-do whilst in Bled. At the edge of the lake closest to the town centre, there are rows of electric boats ready to ferry tourists to the island to explore the church in the centre. I’d recommend hiring your own row boat instead, it’s much more fun (and quick to learn- it was my first time rowing).

We hired a boat for 1 hour for €20 and ended up having it for 1.5 but didn’t get charged extra. If you’re a fast rower you can do the round trip in well under an hour but, like I mentioned, I was learning on the job.

Fake it till you make it

It’s also worth noting kayaks aren’t allowed to dock at the island and I’m not sure what the rules are for paddleboards.

Once you get to the island you can either quickly wander round the circumference (5-10 minutes) or head up a lot of steps to ring the bell at the top of the tower, but the €6 fee didn’t seem worth it to me.

Personally, I just enjoyed peacefully rowing across the lake and getting stunning views in every direction.

The tower that you can climb- for a price

2:30pm- Lunch time

Not much to say but don’t forget to grab a bite to eat. We had pesto pasta for the budget but there are a ton of restaurants sitting on the edge of the lake eager for your custom.

3:30pm- Vintgar Gorge

Vintgar Gorge is stunning and a great way to spend an afternoon with a different backdrop to the morning.

It’s approximately 5-6km cycling (but fairly hilly) or a quick drive. However, the €5 parking fee is inevitable if driving, as there are people directing cars and taking payments immediately.

The entrance fee to the gorge is €4 for students (€5 for “real” adults) and, since Covid, it’s a one way system. The actual gorge itself isn’t too long (~2km) and the water is a stunning blue-green.

Once you reach the end you can either walk back the fast/steep way, over the gorge, or take a longer scenic route through a forest and then across fields with a mountainous backdrop.

Note: once you reach the church on the return journey, the paths forks onto a proper road or onto a path through a field; the field path is the right route.

The view in the return journey

6pm- Dinner

Delicious food at Pri Planincu

Having had a fairly bland breakfast and lunch, we splashed out for dinner and went to a bona-fide restaurant. We opted for traditional Slovenian and went to Gostilna Pri Planincu. The food was excellent (we both went for a variety of grilled meat and potato) at a reasonable price for Lake Bled.

If you want super cheap eats, then drive a bit out of Bled. The night we arrived we drove to a restaurant recommended by our AirBnB host called Gostilna Žarson – Leskovački žar. All the grilled meat on the menu was €6-7 and came with traditional Slovenian bread, however a salad cost €5.

The only issue was the menu was in Slovene and no one there spoke English (it was also completely empty aside from us). In the end I literally had to mime a chicken whilst Nicole mooed like a cow, but the food was great.

7:30pm- Bled creamcake

Sugar

Bled is known for it’s famous creamcake and you have to try it. From the €1.50 version at a Spar to €5.50 in a hotel, you can get it literally anywhere.

We opted to go to a local bakery where we could see they’d made it themselves and got a big slice for just over €2. Its essentially a sandwich of thin pastry with custard and cream in between, it’s very sugary and tastes exactly how you’d expect.

I’m not a huge fan of custard but it’s pleasant to try, just be wary trying to cut it; the fork won’t go through the pastry but will push all the filling out so try and get a knife.

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I hope this was a helpful guide for your next exploit to Lake Bled. Let me know any other must see places in the comments and your favourite places in Bled!

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A one day itinerary in Ljubljana

Slovenia marked my first trip since the onset of COVID and allowed me to tick off a country I’d always wanted to visit. My trip was 5 full days with the first day exploring Ljubljana, the capital.

The capital is tiny and you can cover a lot of the main sights in just one day. This itinerary will give you a decent flavour of what Ljubljana has to offer whilst giving you more time to explore the rest of Slovenia.

9am-11am: Ljubljana Castle

The castle is a must-see in Ljubljana, it towers over the city and makes for an impressive skyline.

There are two ways of getting to the castle- walk or funicular. The funicular costs ~€2 and doesn’t start running until 10am, I’d definitely recommend walking it if you’re not averse to 20 minutes incline.

Once you get to the castle you can then pay to explore the castle (€7 for students, opens 10am). I was travelling on a budget and exploring the interior didn’t particularly appeal to me; many reviews state the only upside is the view from the castle tower. Instead, I spent about an hour wandering the exterior and admiring the views over the city from the base of the castle.

If you go there later in the day there’s a wine bar with a view and the castle cafe serves food too.

The edge of the castle after the climb

11am-1pm: The Old Town

Once you’ve finished exploring the Castle, head back down into the old town and just start exploring. Normally I’d say lose yourself in the streets but the old town is so small, it would be embarrassing to do so.

The architecture is two distinct styles, Secessionist and Baroque, based on a destructive earthquake that warranted rebuilding of a significant proportion of the old town. The styles are evidently different once your attention is focused on it, and both give an aesthetic feel to the streets.

If you’re looking for more semi-interesting facts then consider a “free” walking-tour (you pay in tips so it’s not free if you have a heart, but it is cheap). They start from Preseren Square by the Franciscan Church of the Annunication, and go twice a day (11am and 3pm at the time of writing).

The meeting point for the free tour

If you want to do a DIY exploration then you won’t need two hours. Here’s some of the main spots to see:

Triple Bridge

The leads off Preseren Square are heads into the historical centre and was designed to facilitate pedestrians and vehicles on separate bridges, before pedestrianisation was implemented in the 21st century.

Town hall

After crossing the bridge you’ll come to a junction with a fountain. The fountain was intended to be made of a highly valued block of marble but the shipment sank in a storm and so the artist could only afford for a fraction of it to be made from marble.

Next to the fountain is the town hall which you’re free to enter into (mask required).

Ljubljana Cathedral

The cathedral stands tall in the historical centre and makes for a great picture with the castle in the background. Feel free to go inside if you’re dressed appropriately for a place of worship and make sure to check out the funky metal door as you enter

The cathedral door

Butcher’s Bridge & Central Market

This bridge is near the cathedral and rocks a funky glass floor design in parts (watch out for boats passing underneath if you’re in a skirt). It also has some interesting sculptures including Adam & Eve and a disemboweled Prometheus.

The square nearby will inevitably have stalls set up by midday with people selling fruit, meats, honeys- all the fresh produce you could wish for. On a Friday it’s home to Open Kitchen which features cheap international street food and isn’t to be missed.

Dragon Bridge

Not much to say about this one, its a bridge with some giant dragon statues, and lots of smaller griffin statues. There are a few myths surrounding it’s origin but I can’t steal all the tour guides facts so I’ll leave this one ambiguous.

One big dragon

Congress Square

A good end point for a walk around the historical centre, it has a park in the centre and is surrounded by some important buildings including the Philharmonica, Ljubljana university, and the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity.

1pm: Lunch and ice cream

By this point, you’ve probably seen the majority of the historical area and you’ll need to refuel with some lunch. There are an abundance of restaurants in the historical area, with a variety of price ranges.

I liked Klobasarna- a small outlet selling traditional Carniolan sausage with a barley stew and bread for around €4-5 euros. It’s opposite the cathedral which gives a good view and the outside seating is great for people watching.

There’s a lot of choice for great ice cream in Ljubljana for an amazing price. My two favourites were Cacao (extravagant flavours) and Vigo (amazing chocolate). Make sure to save room for one each!

Vigo ice cream- the chocolate drizzle is free!

2pm: Museum or Gallery

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Ljubljana, and Slovenia, head to the National Museum in the afternoon. It’s €4 for students and includes permanent exhibitions of Slovenia under Roman rule and pre-historic artefacts found in Slovenia.

It’s one of the better things to do in case of poor weather when you’re visiting. A strong alternative is the national gallery for €5, featuring a mix of Slovenian and other European artists; just don’t expect to spot a Van Gogh knocking around. Choose one or the other to fill your afternoon.

4pm: Tivoli Park

If the weather is behaving, end a day of frantic sightseeing with some calmness in the park. Tivoli park is a short walk from the National Gallery and is a great place for a relaxing stroll (or cycle). Alternatively, sit down in the well-maintained gardens for a breather and a coffee from one of the cafes within the park.

If you’re still keen to see some sights, the museum of modern art and the zoo are both situated within the park.

Tivoli Park (Ljubljana) - 2020 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with  Photos) - Ljubljana, Slovenia | Tripadvisor
A great place to relax after a hectic day of sightseeing

7pm: Dinner

As with lunch, you’re spoilt for choice for dinner. If you’re on a budget then I can recommend one of three places.

For a sit down dinner, head to Druga Violina (closed on Sundays) where a three course meal can cost as little as €12. Whilst the main courses were excellent, the soup as a starter was exactly what you’d expect for €3, so if you aren’t hungry don’t bother.

For a quick vegetarian bite head to Abi Falafel, the portions are huge and the prices are low. It’s situated near dragon bridge and is a good choice if you’re in a hurry.

Alternatively, if it’s a Friday, head to Central Market where the Open Kitchen will be set up. It has nearly any cuisine you could wish for and there’s something eccentric about eating a Pad Thai in Slovenia.

The view that fits the cathedral, dragon bridge and castle all into one photo- the old town really isn’t that big.

Enjoying the blog?

I hope this was a helpful guide for the next time you’re in Ljubljana. Let me know any other suggestions in the comments and what you got up to in Slovenia!

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How to get an offer on Couchsurfing

I always try to Couchsurf when I travel abroad but I find the chances of getting an offer to varies massively depending on the location. For example, I’ve never managed to get a host in Europe, but in Colombia I got tons of offers. It depends on the popularity of the location and the cost of accommodation there.

However, there are a few things you can do to maximise your chances of getting a free bed for a few nights. This post covers 10 simple tips for getting accepted by a host on Couchsurfing.

1) Make a complete bio

The bio is the main thing your host will use to judge you with, so make it good. Fill out every section and actually think about your answers. There’s nothing more awkward than staying with someone that you don’t actually have anything in common with.

Have a read of some active profiles and you’ll find they can be huge. From places they’ve visited to their favourite films, you can learn nearly everything from their profile.

In addition, try and get some positive references on your profile as hosts can be sceptical to host you with no references. You can get easy references by showing people around your own city or meet up with Couchsurfers whilst travelling.

2) Include pictures

This was my profile picture for a while and it got me several stays in the US from hosts that saw it

No one is going to offer to host you if they don’t know what you look like. Additionally, pictures are a great way to add some information about yourself and actually show what you’re interested in.

Include several pictures and make sure they’re natural pictures rather than solely taken for the purpose of Couchsurfing. A profile photo taken from a webcam always looks sketchy.

3) Read the host’s bio all the way through

Hosts can get a lot of requests and it can be disheartening when people haven’t read their bio and have sent a generic request.

For this reason a lot of hosts will include a “password” that you have to include in your message. This can be at the top of the bio or it can be hidden in the depths so take the time to thoroughly read the bio.

4) Choose hosts carefully

This links back to my Dos and Don’ts in Couchsurfing. There is a tactical element to choosing a host including: how often they host (based on reviews), when were they last active on the app, whether they’re available when you’re travelling, and whether you fit their criteria of a guest (some people only host girls or only host solo travellers etc).

Read through the profile, make sure you fit their criteria, and make a judgement on whether they’re likely to accept you. Do you match the demographic of previous guests? Are more of their reviews for hosting or surfing? Do they only host once every few months?

Opt for high-yield hosts; it saves time and minimises the number of crushing rejections you receive in quick succession.

5) Post a public trip

This broadens your reach to hosts. If you just send a request to a handful of people you’ve given yourself relatively poor chances of getting hosted.

Putting out a public trip post means everyone in that area has a chance to look at it. Not everyone will, which is why you should also request people you actually want to stay with, but a significant number of people will see it.

These are shown chronologically so you’ll likely get an influx of messages (requests/advice) a few days before the trip is said to start. I’ve successfully found a host using this method when my AirBnB cancelled on me 2 days before my trip started, and I managed to get a refund on my hostel when I was offered a stay with 5 days notice.

Bear in mind, it’s still important to read the hosts bio if they’re offering to host you. You might be a match in heaven, or they might be a freak.

What Is Couchsurfing? Everything You Need To Know To Get Started
These are what your public trips will look like

6) Don’t expect offers too far in advance

Any normal person isn’t going to be able to cement in plans for a stranger to stay at their house several months in advance. Many hosts that you message are likely to tell you to message back nearer the time, or they’ll have a paragraph in their bio saying to message a week or so in advance.

This means that if you do message early, it’s unlikely that you’ll get solid confirmations straight away. Don’t take this as a sign that someone isn’t going to host you. Instead, keep your accommodation options flexible; many hostels will allow flexibility for a small fee (check out my post on budget travelling here).

7) Make your messages personal

This is possibly the most under-utilised tactic for getting hosted on Couchsurfing. People will opt for ten copy-and-paste messages over one personalised message and wonder why they get instantly rejected.

Firstly, showing some evidence of having read a person’s profile is expected by many hosts and is necessary to get past an instant rejection. Secondly, it gives you a chance to highlight why you’d like to stay with them over other hosts, and why you’d be a good match.

Once you’ve read through their bio mention some things you have in common, things you’d like to do whilst you’re there, and why you think it would be fun to be hosted by them.

8) Be realistic

If you’re hoping to Couchsurf somewhere like Rome or Paris, you’re going to be lucky to get a host. The more expensive an area is, the more in demand a host is going to be. Be realistic about what their availability is going to be like and, in general, don’t ask to stay for more than 4-5 days when Couchsurfing.

If you’re going travelling for two weeks, don’t expect to be hosted for the entire time, you likely won’t get accepted by anyone. If it’s an in-demand area, mention that you’d appreciate being able to stay for just one or two nights. Even just one night can save a lot of money in areas of western Europe or USA.

Two weeks in Rome vs three nights in Bogota- which is more likely?

9) Say yes to the couch

If you’re really serious about getting hosted then you will exponentially increase your chances of getting accepted if you are prepared to settle for a couch, sleeping bag, or even a space in their garden if you have camping gear.

Lots of people, myself often included, will only opt to stay with someone who advertises they have a spare bed. This means that people who offer couches, or don’t specify, are often more available.

Furthermore, people who generally offer up their couch nearly always have very comfortable couches that are dreamy to sleep on, or it ends up converting into a pull-out bed.

That said, be prepared for a bad nights sleep (you have opted to sleep on a sofa for free after all) and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sleeping situation.

10) Be flexible on dates

Fairly straightforward, your host’s life isn’t going to revolve around when you come over to stay. They’ll have commitments and if you have several days flexibility on when you’re in the area, you’re much more likely to get a host.

When you message to stay, you’ll be asked to include the dates you’re staying for but mention that you’re flexible with dates in your request. Whilst some hosts will reject you after seeing the dates, and not reading the message, most people will at least skim the message, and you’re more likely to get a positive response.

Ultimately, the more flexible you are on Couchsurfing with dates, sleeping situations, and when you need a confirmed bed by, the more likely you are to get accepted.

Just remember not to stay with someone who you don’t share interests with, or seems odd, just for the free room. Stay safe.

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I hope this was informative on some tip to maximise your chances of getting accepted on Couchsurfing. Make sure to like and comment and follow my social media (at the top).

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