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Best places to stay in Florence

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Best places to stay in Florence

Florence

Did you know that the citizens of Florence are called Florentines (and Fiorentino in Italian)? And this is just one of the very many interesting facts about this fascinating town. Every year, people from all around the world flock to the charming Italian city of Florence, to experience the city’s amazing attractions. There are a number of fascinating and interesting places to see in the city and they include; Repubblica Square, the Baptistery, the Cathedral, Signoria Square and Loggia dei Lanzi. In Florence, tourists often get to take a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery and explore its beautiful collections of Italian Renaissance paintings. Florence is also regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance. You will get a chance to see the works of the Middle Age’s greatest artists such as Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

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Best places to stay in Florence

There are three essential choices of location when it comes to choosing where to stay in Florence. You can either stay in the historical center, which contains most of the main sites you may want to see in Florence. However, the city is small and in the end, it doesn’t matter where you stay, you will still be able to visit all the city’s attractions with no stress. Therefore you can stay outside the historical centre but still within the city of Florence, or you can stay outside the town’s borders. If you are travelling on a budget, then just find a location that agrees with your budget. No matter where you stay, you’ll still be able to enjoy a good time in the city.

Best things to do in Florence

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, popularly known as the Duomo di Firenze, is the centrepiece of the city. This is one of the world’s largest domes. The top of the cathedral is the highest point in central Florence. From there you can easily access the adjacent Giotto’s Campanile for another impressive view of the city and a view of the Duomo. There you can also experience the Opera Duomo Museum, where you will get to admire unbelievable works of genius by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and others.

The Uffizi

The Uffizi is a complete treasure trove of Renaissance art. There you would find The Birth of Venus, which is one of Botticelli’s finest pieces alongside hundreds of more remarkable works of art.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Galleria dell’Accademia is the home of Michelangelo’s most famous work of art-the statue of David. Unlike in the past, tourists are now allowed to take pictures inside the galleria, which means you can take a cool selfie for your Instagram.

Mercato Centrale

The nineteenth-century Mercato Centrale consists of two floors of foodie paradise. There you would find food vendors selling both cooked and raw food items. There are so many choices that it is often hard to decide what to eat. You’ll find endless options for burgers, pizzas, pasta, dumpling, gelato and many more.

How to stay safe in Florence

Try not to move around all alone at night. If you are alone on your trip, then ensure you return to your hotel before nightfall. If you must go out at night, avoid the narrow streets and use well-rid major roads instead.

Beware of pickpockets. Don’t be absent-minded while on the streets. Do not walk about with earplugs or ipads plugged in and playing loud music. Always pay attention to your surroundings so you do not get pickpocketed. Also do not move about with a lot of cash in your pocket.

 

Best time of the year to travel

June to September are really warm months. The citizens often leave the city to escape the heat in August. The coolest months are December and January. There’s rainfall from October to December and from March to April. If you want to avoid rainfall or very hot temperatures, then plan your trip for May to early June.

Where & what to eat

Florence has a local cuisine that is distinctive from the rest of the country. The local food possesses a very simple, yet hearty characteristic that would have you always overfed while in the city. It is more than just pizza or pasta, in Florence, you’ll find the Out-of-the-world Italian dishes you’ve always head about.

Getting around

You can get around on foot

Walking is one of the most convenient ways to get around the city, it is also the cheapest means. Just find you some comfortable shoes and get moving. The city is small anyway, so you wouldn’t be walking any terribly long distances.

If you are not a fan of walking or you want to go really long distances, then you can also use the bus or trams. The buses run until almost midnight while trams operate well past midnight.

Cars are not a very convenient means of moving around, due to the fact that there is usually traffic in the city centre and a lack of parking spaces. However, you can always rent a car and book a hotel with a parking space if you really want to drive while in the city.

Cycling in Florence is a cool choice, especially when the weather is cool. It’s also extremely affordable; it only costs a few Euros a day to hire a bike. You can also hire electric bikes or use a bike-sharing app.

There are a lot of white cabs in Florence but many times the city experiences a scarcity of cabs especially during big events in the city. Cabs are also very expensive and the rates get even higher during the holidays. You can get charged up to twenty euros for a trip of a few kilometres in the city center especially if you have luggage or if you’re charged at night rates. If you need a cab while in the city, you can call them on the phone or walk down to the taxi stops at the main squares.

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TOP FIVE COUNTRIES YOU CAN TRAVEL TO BY ROAD IN WEST AFRICA.

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TOP FIVE COUNTRIES YOU CAN TRAVEL TO BY ROAD IN WEST AFRICA.

It is no doubt the pandemic is a hard one especially on lovers of adventures and vacations. However, as the lockdown gradually eases off and many health team try to find a cure to COVID-19, it is time to sketch your bucket list of where to travel especially locally once things get better.

We have decided to help you with a travel- friendly list especially if you currently reside in West Africa, is stucked there (because of the ban on international flights) or will be visiting West Africa. Here goes the list.

Countries you can travel to from West Africa includes:

GHANA

Known for its colourful cultural wears and music and ranked Africa most peaceful country, Ghana is indeed a nice place to visit and enjoy a vacation in, especially in it’s capital, Accra.

Ghana weather is on the hot side. It can also get pretty hot, reaching about 30°C or 86°F, on most days. The heat is tempered by the cool breezes blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean.

They speak English as an unifying language. Two of the most widespread native languages are the Twi language of the Ashanti people – which is spoken in the southern and central regions – and the Dagbani language of the Dagomba people – more commonly spoken by people in areas to the north.

Ghanian food is a mix of indigenous flavours and outside influences – like European and Indian. You will find tomato-based stews with complex flavours throughout Ghana. The stews usually contain a type of marine or freshwater fish and are eaten with a dough, which is used to scoop up the fish and soak up the fragrant sauce. The dough – sometimes called fufu or akple – is made from any type of starch including cassava, plantain, yam, maize, millet, sorghum, potatoes or cocoyams. Another staple of Ghanaian cuisine is jollof rice: a one-pot rice dish that includes a variety of Ghanaian spices with tomatoes and chili. Peanuts are often used to flavour stews and garnish dishes. You will be sure to find taro leaves and okra in many of their dishes.

Considering trying Ghana for a vacation after the pandemic? Yes! Though ensure you have yourself a Kente cloth (a fabric worn by Ashanti royalty) while leaving. Also remember to change your money to cedi since this is the currency used in Ghana.

 

SOUTH AFRICA:

Wow! Now, this country, also known as “Rainbow Nation”, is known worldwide for their skills in sports including rugby, cricket, golf and soccer. They have about twelve tourist centres you don’t want to miss out either. You should also note that South Africa is the 24th-largest country in the world. That will help you when you feel you have exhausted all the places to visit while there.

South Africa has a generally temperate climate being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides and is home to the oldest meteor scar in the world – the Vredefort Dome in a town called Parys. It is known for the winds.

At least thirty-five languages indigenous to South Africa are spoken in the Republic, ten of which are official languages of South Africa: Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venḓa, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans.The most common language spoken as a first language by South Africans is Zulu (23 percent), followed by Xhosa (16 percent), and Afrikaans (14 percent). English is the fourth most common first language in the country (9.6%), but is understood in most urban areas and is the dominant language in government and the media. So be sure to keep your English language skills handy.

Don’t leave South Africa without eating their special meals: biltong & droewors, boerewors, malva pudding, chakalaka & pap, braai/shisa nyama, bunny chow, bobotie and melktert. South Africans enjoy not only beef, but mutton, goat, chicken and other meats as a centerpiece of a meal incase you are meatatarian. On weekends, many South African families have a “braai,” and the meal usually consists of “pap and vleis”, which is maize meal and grilled meat.

The South Africa currency is rands which is equivalent to 0.060 USD.

 

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia is a landlocked country on the Horn of Africa, in the east of the continent. It is bordered by Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Somaliland (Somalia). Ethiopia covers Simien Mountains. There is a list things to do there and places to visit like the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, The Holy City of Harar, Gondar, The Blue Nile Falls, Addis Ababa and The Aksum.

Ethiopia enjoys a mild climate, with average temperatures below 20°C in the highlands. This number can rise past 30°C on the lowland fringes of eastern, southern and western Ethiopia. Generally the best time to visit is between October and June, when it is the dry season.

However, Amharic is the “working language” in Ethiopia together with Oromo, which is one of the two most widely spoken languages in the country though English is the most widely spoken foreign language.

Ethiopian cuisine (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ምግብ) characteristically consists of vegetable and often very spicy meat dishes. A typical dish consists of injera accompanied by a spicy stew, which frequently includes beef, lamb, vegetables and various types of legumes, such as lentils which are not only healthy and nutritious, but is also a great way to expose children (if you are visiting with your kids) to new flavors and teach them about other parts of the world at the same time.

Be sure to change your money to Ethopian Birr (ETB) in any Ethiopian bank while visiting. It is a plus to know their currency is known to be very strong.

A little extra tips…

While in Ethiopia, you might want to check out:

  • The Omo Valley and the ancient coffee ceremony to magnificent rock-hewn churches and the Queen of Sheba’s legacy.
  • Marvel at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
  • Feel the heat at the Danakil Depression.
  • Be on top of the world at Semien Mountains National Park.
  • Feed hyenas at the historic town of Harar Jegol.
  • Travel back in time at Lake Tana monasteries.
  • Immerse in nature at Bale Mountains National Park.

 

TOGO

If you are a humanitarian and love to know people of diverse culture irrespective of socio-economic background and share your life with them, Togo might be a perfect place to visit.

Togo is a sliver piece of land which finds itself hidden on the topographical map between the countries Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin.  In West Africa, Togo stands to be one of the prominent tourist destinations with quite a variety of tourist attractions to offer to its visitors. It offers some extra-ordinary and interesting sites: Togo has great beaches, scenic spots and busy markets to make any holiday a memorable one.

It’s climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 27.5 °C (81.5 °F) on the coast to about 30 °C (86 °F) in the northernmost regions, with a dry climate and characteristics of a tropical savanna.

Togo is a multilingual country, which according to one count has 44 languages spoken though the official language is French. Two indigenous languages were designated politically as national languages in 1975: Ewé (Ewe: Èʋegbe) and Kabiyé.

The national dish in Togo is Fufu – ball of cassava served with soup. Other dishes are often staple foods including maize, rice, millet, cassava, yam, plantain and beans. Maize is the most commonly consumed food in the Togolese Republic. Fish is a significant source of protein, and bush meat is often hunted and consumed.

 

The currency of the Togolese is West African CFA franc.

MOROCCO

This North African country is mostly visited by tourists to see the famed Sahara Desert. Other places they want to see may include: Hassan II Mosque, Mint Tea and Pastries, Majorelle Garden, The Islamic Architecture, Todgha Gorge and The Tagine.

The best time to visit Morocco is during spring (mid-March to May) or fall (September to October). The weather is warm but pleasant, unlike the cold temperatures and snow of winter, or the scorching heat of summer. The coastal regions can be visited year-round.

In Morocco there are two official languages, Arabic and Amazigh, which are spoken in the streets and villages of Morocco. Classical Arabic, more commonly known as Literary Arabic, is the administrative language of the country. Generally speaking, you will hear Moroccan Arabic spoken in the streets. However, 18.3 % of Moroccans speak English -English is the second most spoken foreign language in Morocco, according to the most recent data disclosed by High Commission for Planning.

 

Tip:

You can say “As-salaam Alaykum” (literally) “Peace be with you” as a form of greeting to a Moroccan, interchangeable for “hello”  and “Walaykum As-salaam” is the response. Meanwhile, “Sbah l’kheir” means “good morning”.

The main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is couscous. Beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco, usually eaten in a tagine with a wide selection of vegetables. Chicken is also very commonly used in tagines or roasted. They also use additional ingredients such as plums, boiled eggs, and lemon.

The best currency to use in Morocco is Dirham, denoted as MAD or Dhs. It’s preferable when you go out pay in Dirham currency. The Moroccan currency is the Dirham. £1 sterling is approximately 13 Morrocan Dirhams.

I hope you enjoy your stay in these countries. Bon voyage!

Compiled by: Chisom Juliet Obi

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TOP SEVEN PLACES TO VISIT IN MALAYSIA

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TOP SEVEN PLACES TO VISIT IN MALAYSIA

It is easy to assume that many people know of the country called Malaysia. The Asian country stands out in many regards and ranks very high in terms of diversity. It is a country defined by a blend of ethnicities, religions, customs, and by extension cuisines. The country is geographically diverse, too, being made up of large islands, tropical rainforests, and the fertile highlands. Furthermore, Malaysia is made up of two major landmasses – East Malaysia, situated across the South China Sea within the Borneo Island and West Malaysia, located along the entire southern part of a peninsula shared with Thailand.

Putting into perspective the natural attraction sites, cultures, history, and many factors, we make a list of the TOP 7 PLACES/SITES TO VISIT IN MALAYSIA.

 

CAMERON HIGHLANDS

This is one of the oldest destinations of attraction in Malaysia. It comes with a gentle atmosphere, an escape from the heat the lowlands are known for. It is located within the Titwangsa Mountains and is a beautiful tableland with a touch of English garden lure. The area is the major flower and tea producer in Malaysia.

Top attraction sites and fun activities in the Cameron Highlands:

  • Tea plantations, forests, lakes.
  • Time Gallery; a museum that throws more light into the development, history, and people from the region.
  • Brinchang and Tana Rata; the most popular and historic towns.
  • Honey bee farms, vegetable farms, and fruit orchards.
  • Mount Brinchang; one of the most outstanding mountains of the Camerons, offering impressive views.
  • Mossy Forest

While in the Camerons, you can take a car drive to the mount, partake in the wildlife recreation, or take a boardwalk across the standing plants and trees.

 

PENANG

This Island of Penang is a well-known destination for tourists and visitors. It is located within the Strait of Malacca off the northwestern coast of the western part of Malaysia. It is known for its list of colorful cultures, which is attributed to the location around the busiest shipping routes around. It is popularly known as the food capital of the country.

Top attraction sites and interesting activities to do in Penang

  • George Town; a historically diverse location and the capital of the island
  • Botanic gardens.
  • Bird Sanctuary
  • White Beaches
  • Butterfly Park
  • Jerejak Island (which was a prison and leper colony)
  • Temple of Supreme Bliss

 

KUCHING

Across the entire Borneo Island, Kuching is the largest city. It is a well-known destination because it is a nice base for combing the state of Sarawak and Borneo’s rainforest. There are a lot of remarkable sites that would be of interest to visitors and tourists.

Some of these top attractions sites in Kuching are:

  • Astana Palace and Fort Margherita; historic landmarks,
  • DUN complex; a classic structure
  • Sarawak River
  • Main Bazzar; the oldest street in Kuching.
  • Planetrium
  • Picturesque

 

TAMAN NEGRA

The Taman Negra stretches across three states along the northern part of West Malaysia. It is known as one of the oldest tropical rainforests that can be seen anywhere in the world. Also, it is a known popular destination for adventure and ecotourism. Taman Negra is a national park that bubbles with wildlife. Some of this wildlife range from Malayan Tiger (rare species), Asian elephants, Sumatran Rhinoceros, and exotic birds.

Some of the top activities to do in Taman Negra, Malaysia includes; canopy walk, hiking, fishing, jungle hikes, climbing the Teresek Hill. You can well as use the guided night safaris to see nocturnal animals like leopards, owls, water dragons, and cats.

 

KUALA LUMPUR

This is the capital city of Malaysia and was created about two hundred years ago. The city was calm and bare, but today, it is full of life and activities and is the largest metropolitan city in the country. KL, as the natives call it, is a melting pot of culture. It is also known for the high-rise buildings, exotic shopping centers, and exciting nightlife. The diversity of the cuisine options are admirable too.

Top sites of attraction in Kuala Lumpur include;

  • British colonial buildings
  • Petronas Twin Towers
  • And many others.

 

GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK

This particular site is known for its outstanding formation of karst limestone as well as the unique cave systems. Coming to this park, you will get to see for yourself why it is known as one of the most glamorous sites in the entire country. In it are some of the largest cave systems in the world. Some of these include:

Sarawak Chamber, which is one of the most extended cave chambers in the world. It is so large that it can contain up to 40 Boeing 747 aircraft. Furthermore, the park is located along the sparkling rivers, rainforest, deep ravines, and rugged mountains. Owing to the Gunung Mulu Park location, the most efficient mode of transportation to this place is by air, through the Mulu Airport.

LANGKAWI

The Langkawi is situated off the northwestern coast of Malaysia within the sea of Andaman. It is an archipelago of 99 islands.

Some of the top beautiful sites in Langkawi include:

  • Beaches, rainforest, forest-clad mountains and mangroves
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Limestone cliffs
  • Furthermore, Langkawi allows tourists to witness the natural beauty of the archipelago.

 

In conclusion, Malaysia is a unique country with a deep sense of diversity. The rich culture, lush scenery, exotic cuisines, and outgoing natives should be enough reasons for you to make a trip to this beautiful Asian.

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TOP SEVEN PLACES TO VISIT IN INDONESIA

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TOP SEVEN PLACES TO VISIT IN INDONESIA

Indonesia is one of the most popular, populous, and largest countries in Asia. It is a lively country with colorful and sumptuous meals and lots of sprawling sights to make you relish your stay. The lakes, rivers, mountains, caves, and beaches will be worthwhile if you take the time to tour them. If you are a lover of history, you will certainly enjoy being taken through Indonesia’s rich historical heritage.

One of the things that add to the beauty of Indonesia is the fact that it’s a mixture of ‘ancient and modern’ with skyscrapers situated next to ancient temples and mosques.

To help you have a feel of this country, let’s take a look at the Top 7 Places to Visit in Indonesia.

UBUD

This is one of Indonesia’s cities with an increasing number of tourists, owing to its rising popularity. Taking a few minutes drive beyond the heart of the city, you will be greeted with serene towns and paddy fields, situated within the outskirts. The city has a rich history you would love to explore as you make your way through the streets.

Top attraction sites in Ubud

  • Unique temples (having great stone carvings)
  • Museums
  • Nice restaurants
  • Local shops (for your humble shopping)
  • Bars

 

YOGYAKARTA

Yogyakarta is one city you would love to tour because it is the base of culture and arts within the island of Java. It is beautified by the rich cultural heritage of the Javanese, which radiates across many parts of the city. This city is one of the oldest cities in entire Indonesia and is a nice point from where you can tour the other regions nearby.

Top places to visit in Indonesia

  • Art Galleries
  • Museums
  • Walled palace (where the Sultan lives)
  • Shopping malls
  • Spectacular temples

Also, you can witness the beautiful street arts, dining options, among other things.

 

JAKARTA

This is one of the most popular cities in Indonesia. Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and a megalopolis city in structure. Visitors usually love the lively atmosphere, which could sometimes be too frenetic. It is home to more than thirty million residents, with the indigenes being very visitor-friendly. Over the years, Jakarta has been defined by her high rate of development, with an increasing number of high-rise buildings.

Top places to visit in Jakarta, Indonesia

  • Ancient towns
  • Classic restaurants
  • Eclectic bars and cafes.

You will also enjoy the numerous cuisines, cultural diversity, and energetic nightlife of the city.

 

KUTA

Kuta is known for its portable size – a small village with a fast-paced development rate, which is one of the reasons to visit Kuta. The environment is enjoyably serene and welcoming to all.

Top places to visit in Kuta, Indonesia

  • Fast-food joints
  • Bars
  • White beach (a primary attraction site in the city)

 

You can also make a trip to Legian and Seminyak for some quality time of quietness; take a boat ride to the glamorous beaches located within the Island of Gili.

If you are a lover of nightlife, then you will love Kuta.

 

SURABAYA

Surabaya is the second-largest city in Indonesia. It is notorious for the noise and traffic, which is not unrelated to the fact that this city is like a thoroughfare to tourists being a significant transport hub.

Top attraction sites in Surabaya, Indonesia include;

  • Old colonial buildings
  • Arab quarter (with beautiful streets)
  • Large Chinatown (with many bars and restaurants)
  • Beaches of Bali.

 

BANDUNG

Bandung is the third-largest city in Indonesia, after Surabaya and is a lively city, known for its heavy traffic. Owing to this heavy traffic, it can be challenging, yet fun to explore the city.

Top attraction sites in Bandung include;

  • Shopping centers
  • Mountains
  • Architectural masterpieces and many more.

You can also make a trip to the Plea plantations, walk the volcanic peaks, or go for hot spring baths.

 

MEDAN

Medan is situated close to the northeastern coast of Sumatra and is a unique city with an exciting lifestyle and cuisine diversity. If you choose to, you can make a trip from Medan to the beautiful Lake Toba. This city, which is close to Malaysia, has lots of lovely restaurants and food stalls you would love to explore.

 

Conclusively, this beautiful Asian nation has captivating and interesting places to visit and things to do. The architectural masterpieces, diverse cuisines, museums, parks, and mountains are experiences worth exploring.

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