Casco Viajo: Panama City

Its for sure the most beautiful part of Panama City . Casco Viejo is a place where the time stoped in the 1900. Is a must visit neighborhood for food, drink and shopping. Traditional buildings and churches , boutique hotels and a breathtaking view of the new Panama City.

Explore the rum bars and the Panama Hats shops. Casco is also famous for its rooftops. Look up and enjoy the view.

View of the new Panama City

Not everything in Casco Viejo is innocent so be careful when wondering around in day and night . Ask your taxi driver of the places you shouldn’t go as next to Casco is one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhood.

Unexpected Bogota

Bogota has been a total great surprise! Bogota is a beautiful destination for a city break that includes beautiful attractions, monuments and a place where people are friendly and genuinely nice.

The area that most tourist should stay is Chico; is an area safe, with beautiful parks, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls. In Chico you feel like you are in an European city. The apartments and the offices are modern, the streets are clean and the neighborhood is full of life . Colombias love their pets and it is very common to see dog walkers with 20 dogs around them or people walking their dogs in the parks.

Downtown Bogota

In my opinion downtown in Bogota is not the most beautiful part of the city. However is a must visit since it has its charm. For example, the Plaza Bolivar is a must visit. The Parliament and the church is a part you cannot miss since is a big part of the Colombian history.

Plaza Bolivar
the Parliament at Plaza de Bolivar

In downtown, we also find the famous Museo Botero, dedicated to the Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The roads around the museo are also very charming as they have a feeling of another century .

The Museo Botero

Monserate

Is a beautiful monastery on top of a mountain . You can reach Monserate via cable car, via train or you can walk up a very long and difficult walk!

For the locals, Monserate is a holy place where people are going to pray and make offerings. Many people told me that Colombians believe Monserate is a holy place where miracles happen. Lot’s of people walk up on their knees to prove their dedication.

On the top of Monserate you can see the full view of the Bogota, you can shop and eat the local delicacies.

the Candelaria graffiti road

New York City: 48 hours in Manhattan & Chelsea

A dream came true ! Visiting New York was a trip with mixed emotions since I had great expectations. Manhattan is for sure an impressive part of NYC filled with beautiful buildings, parks, department stores etc.

I was not thrilled with the Times Square but I believe everyone should have it on their check list.

The Central Park was worth it ! It is definitely a spot which you need to visit and won’t fail your expectations. It is a wonderful place filled with people and many activities. Is very different from the parks in London – like the Hyde Park. The Central Park has more things to do with beautiful lakes and recreation options.

The MET, which is part of the Central Park is the must visit place in NYC. Is a massive museum where you can spend days wondering around.

The Upper East Side , is a beautiful neighborhood just walking distance form the MET.

The National Library; I really loved it. It is everything you expect from an inspiring library. The building is beautiful while the system that is being used inside the library in finding books is the latest one.

Chealsea ! Walking in Chelsea was one of the best parts of my trip. I loved this neighborhood. Its vibrant, colorful, filled with nice buildings and small shops. Its old and new, classic and modern. It is one of the places that makes New York so different. Google has its offices there and you can see beautiful small enterprises.

The city is definitely a sold out destination which has a lot to offer and a visit is always highly recommended.

Nigeria – Six months in Abuja

Nigeria is a place I will never forget. The largest country in Africa in population and one of the richest country on natural resources in the world. 

Nigeria a place which you will either love it or hate it. I still have not decided..

Lagos is the largest city and is a place where about 20 million people live and work. Every day more Nigerians are coming to Lagos and the city is really over crowded. Most of the population lives in slums, in very poor conditions.

Abuja on the other hand is a very welcoming city to the expats. The city was build 40 years ago and it is the official capital of Nigeria. Wide roads, new buildings and a less crowded place than Lagos. People in Abuja are friendly and nice too. Most of the population lives in the outskirts of Abuja where the housing is more affordable and they come in the capital for work. Some of the people have to travel up to 2 hours to arrive to their homes but I never heard someone complaining.

They say Nigerians are highly corrupted. I believe that because the country is very rich in resources hence the population is starving. Hence, I have lived and worked there for 6 months and I have not a single corruption story to tell you. On the contrary, my experience was that Nigerian businessmen are trustworthy and honest. There are not really many things to do in Abuja apart from seeing the Zuma Rock, the football stadium and the really big Church downtown.

Abuja is the centre for the Diplomats and the government officials so you will find beautiful hotels and restaurants. I have stayed in most of the hotels in Abuja such as the Fraser Suites, the Hawthorn Suites, the SV Chrome and the beautiful boutique hotel Nordic Hotel and Nordic Villa.

It is advised to not walk alone in Abuja, so always use UBER – which has excellent drivers and I have never had any problem, or hire a driver from a company. They can be very flexible with their rates.

Eat at the hotels and at my favourite, Cafe de Vie in Maitama ! Read the Abuja Times to learn the latest news about the capital.

If you need to travel domestically please use the Air Peace. There are many airlines in Nigeria but they are not the best one when it comes to maintenance and there were many accidents reported. I have used the Air Peace several times and I have been told that is the best domestic airline. All the Air Peace flights are always fully booked so if you cannot find a ticket try with Bristow. It is more expensive and you will have to travel to the airport to get a ticket unless your company has an account with them.

One last advice, is to always have a lot of cash with you because the card scams in Nigeria is very often. Most of the ATMs are hacked and they will try to steal money from your bank account.

Abuja

TIP: Before travelling to Africa do not forget to have your World Health Organisation yellow booklet for the Africa Vaccines. Note that you would need to have the vaccines at least two weeks before travelling. For more info visit: https://www.who.int/ith/updates/20110427/en/

Hello Melbourne Vol 2: Wine Tasting at the Yarra Valley

I was really excited to experience wine tasting for the first time. Despite a terrible jet lag,  I really loved it and I am definitely trying it in more countries.

Wine tasting is clearly a big industry for the Australians that is why they were extremely organised. We booked our trip from the Tourists desk and the next day at 8am sharp we had a van waiting for us few meters away from our hotel.

It took us less than an hour to reach to our first stop a boutique strawberry liqueur producer next to a delicatessen.

Next stop on the tour was a cute chocolate factory. It was extremely overpriced but I can imagine being a kid in that store!

After the chocolate factory we entered a boutique Beer brewery and cider producer. Cider is also extremely popular in Australia and I was surprised of all the different versions of it.

The wine tasting was next ! We visited 2 wine yards, in which we drank crisp wines and had amazing Italian food! What else?

 We had cheese platters with grapes, pizzas and hand made ravioli with spinach.

I wont promote a specific wine, but I must admit we had one of the best Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

It is a must try experience as the wine industry is getting more and more sophisticated.

Tips:

Book your wine tour from the office Tourist help in Melbourne. There are tours for every budget and it is best to try it with one of them as the fee to enter the wine estates is more expensive