Bastei Bridge Hiking, Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

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The best way to get closer to Nature is to walk through it, live it, and spend some time in it. I don’t know why this place has got “Switzerland” in its name but I must say that hiking in the Saxon Switzerland National Park is not lesser than seeing Switzerland itself.

Saxon Switzerland National Park is situated at the border of Germany and Czech Republic. You can say that Saxon Switzerland National Park is adjacent to its extension in the Czech Republic known by the name Bohemian Switzerland National Park.

I am not much of a history expert but if I guess the term Saxon and Bohemian are there because this part of the national park is in Saxony region of Germany. And, Bohemian is there because of Bohemian rulers in Czech republic if I am not wrong.

How to reach Bastei Bridge from Berlin?

If you want to reach the Saxon Switzerland National Park from Berlin, you can take a regional express train also known as EC (the trains red in color) to Kurort Rathen railway station. These trains are available from Berlin main railway station also known as Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

It takes around three hours to reach Kurort Rathen railway station. Alternatively, you can also come to Dresden, the capital city of the free state of Saxony and take a local train from there. Once you reach the Kurort Rathen railway station, get down there and catch a ferry across the river Elbe and get down on the other side of the river and start hiking towards the Bastei Bridge peak. It is a very small hike. The total distance that you walk is around 1.5 Km which takes around one hour to reach the peak or the Bastei Bridge view point.

More about Bastei Bridge and Saxon Switzerland National Park:

Saxon Switzerland National Park has a rocky terrain and canyon landscape. This area is famous for the sandstone. Though not much above the sea level but still it offers a very beautiful view of the area around like the river Elbe (especially the curve of the river Elbe), rocky terrain and fissures, a remote hamlet, large farms, chains of hills, very dense and green forest on the hiking way.

The hiking starts after you cross the river Elbe. If you happen to travel from Berlin to Prague by train, it is river Elbe along which the train runs most of the times. The view is really spectacular most of the times. There are some small shops where we bought French fries before starting our hike. Once you leave the village, the hike goes along a small canal and after some time once you step into the forest, you can see fern groves all around and even the old lying logs.

trying to go for a hike on a clear day so that you can see distance. If possible, stay there until the sunset. Though the timing is set for the hiking so make sure if you can stay there until the sunset. During the sunset, the setting sun rays reflect the Bastei bridge sandstone and they also flash over the top of the trees which make it even more beautiful.

Moreover, the oak and maple trees make it overall very much more beautiful. Bastei Bridge is famous because of it is a bridge constructed over two cliffs and it used to be a part of the castle at the top. This bridge is still intact and forms a nice viewpoint because both sides of the valley can be seen from the bridge.

Viewpoints around Bastei Bridge:

There are a lot of viewpoints set up at the different peaks. you can hike to 2-3 viewpoints easily in a day if you love hiking. Here are a list of the viewpoint and peak in the Saxon Switzerland National Park around Bastei Bridge.

  • Bastei Bridge
  • Castle Ruins, Neurathen
  • Ferdinandstein and,
  • Felsenbühne Rathen

Vatican City: Strange Facts & Visiting Tips

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Vatican City seemed as cryptic as walking into a mysterious zone where every inch of the foothold holds some stories. When I was a child I came to knew that Vatican city was the world’s smallest country. Just imagine how had that be like to imagine visiting the smallest country in the world?

Enter into Rome and the most of the tourists just want to go to the Vatican city. I was a no exception. Also, I had no expectation of seeing some barrier or kind of wired fencing around the Vatican city. As I grew up, I had already come to that Vatican city is a kind of place where the Pope lives and it is more like a sacred country.

When you reach nearer to the Vatican City, you see a large fort wall. And that’s the wall which separates a country from a city. Astonishing, is not it? Do not undermine the strength of the Vatican city in terms of the administration and facilities. It has every basic entity which a country needs to be run properly.

Also read: St. Thomas basilica church, Santhome

On another note, if I had to compare Vatican City, I would compare it with the Gosaba island in the Sundarbans but that would be far-related and weird. Moreover, Gosaba island is secluded even though it has a whole municipality of its own.

Some strange facts about Vatican City:

  • Vatican city has its own barracks but that’s for the Swiss Guards which were hired by Pope Julius-three as the mercenary force.
  • Vatican City has a Television Center. Wonder, from where the live telecast and the message of the Pope come from.
  • Vatican city also has other facilities like a super store, Drug store, post office, railway station, Greenhouses, English Gardens, Library, Colleges, Radio station, Italian Garden, Guest house, Audience hall etc.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peters Square occupy more than one-tenth of the total area of the Vatican City Alone.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is believed to be sitting atop a city of the dead. The story goes like this: There was a great fire in Rome in A.D. 64. During that time, the emperor of the Rome was Emperor Nero. Trying not to take the blame on himself, instead, he blamed Christians of the fire. So, to take the revenge, he also burnt them alive in the same fire. St. Peter, after whom the basilica and the square have been named was also one among the victims. St. Peter was one of the most profound disciples of Jesus Christ. Later, when the Christianity was declared as the official religion of Rome, a basilica was made atop the same blaze.
  • Vatican City even before being declared as a sacred area was already being treated as a sacred area.
  • During the second world war, even though the Italy was an integral member of the war, Vatican City expressed a neutrality in the war. The neutrality was waged to such an extent that even if Rome be bombarded, Vatican City, lying almost in the center of the Rome, should not be touched.
  • Unlike citizenship of other states, which is based mostly on the place of birth, citizenship of Vatican City is granted on the grounds of appointment to work in a certain capacity in the service of the Holy See. It usually ceases upon cessation of the appointment. Citizenship is extended also to the spouse, parents, and descendants of a citizen provided they are living with the person who is a citizen.

Other tips to visiting the Vatican City:

  • Vatican City will mostly be crowded on a clear day. So, I am not extrapolating when I say, beware of the pick- pockets.
  • As I mentioned in the beginning that every inch of the sacred land holds some mystery, plus, as a tourist, you would also be allowed not to visit some of the secluded and parked areas, so it is always better to hire a guide.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is a must. Do not forget to go inside the church as well as on the dome top of the church.
    From the top, you get to see the most of the remaining part of the Vatican city. The view of the St. Peter’s square will just be mesmerizing
  • Also, visit inside the church. It is decorated with a lot of paintings including some of the most famous paintings.

Some of the pictures from the Vatican City:

Roman Forum Photo Blog

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An Indian at Colosseum in Rome: Gladiator Movie coming alive

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I was very young when I watched the Gladiator movie for the first time. There were a few scenes which got etched into my mind forever. Especially those fight scenes which take place inside an amphitheater and where Russel Crowe emerges victorious.

Gladiator, Enya, and Celtic Music:

I always wondered. Was the stadium so big during medieval times? Taking some imaginary cues and clues from the Discovery channel and Nat Geo, my inquisitiveness even grew bigger as in how almost close to impossible it had been to erect such a magnificent building. The vividness of the architecture shown in the movie floated over my mind for days.

Years later, when I was doing my masters, that was the first time I got adequately introduced to the Celtic music and learned that “Enya” was one of those singers whose songs echoed in my mind in accord with the emotional resonance.

Those golden wheat fields as shown in the movie in the end and the background soundtrack sung by Enya called “Now we are free” would transport me emotionally into a completely different dimension.

Reaching Colosseum after years watching Gladiator:

During my internship in Berlin, in my last months, I decided to visit colosseum. Though my journey began with Venice but I was actually waiting for to arrive in Rome and see the Colosseum.

When enquired at the hotel about the Colosseum, we got to know that there would usually be a long queue at the entrance. ignoring that fact, we (I and Shayan) decided to go there and deal with our lifetime opportunity. So we arrived at the Colosseum.

Of course, there was a long queue but you beat the wait at the queue with the enthusiasm. The first far glimpse of the colosseum from a distance seems a giant structure from the ancient times. The big pillars, high walls touching the sky is a wonder in its own.

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Colosseum does not seem to be engrafted with the beauty lying inside of it. From the outside, it just looks like an old rickety structure. When we entered inside, there were tier-level structures. The actual grandeur of that magnificent architecture can only be seen when you go inside.

There are tens of entrances to the colosseum. There used to be different entrances for the different class of people. For example, nobles had different entrance than the common man. Also, the sitting arrangement got used to get differentiated among the classes.

The higher hierarchy would sit on the top level while the lower class people used to sit at the lower sitting arrangements. There was also a common ground where gladiators used to fight. When I saw the main arena, that reminded me of the Gladiator movie.

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You can still see the exposed part of the gates and alleys under the arena where gladiators used to stay back before entering the main arena. Those thick walls of small bricks, roman architecture and everything else would take you back centuries ago and force you to think the way it would have been then.

Colosseum in Evening:

It took us a lot of time to visit the colosseum. When the sun went down in the west, we did not realize. Once the darkness engulfed the sky, soon the pale yellow lights were being thrown at the outer walls of the colosseum. I and Shayan just decided to sit there for no reason.

Sky turned from dark blue to completely dark. The number of tourists abated gradually. Even the local by shops got closed. A few couples were walking hand in hand. And we just sat there on the rocks. I must insist that you should also experience something like that. Then, we again decided to take a round of the colosseum from the outside.

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I don’t know what kind of experience I accumulated within me but that surely was something inexplicable. That was so mystifying in conjugation with the past and the movie Gladiator.

Colosseum Photos:

Adventures in Taiwan: 8 Outdoor Things to do

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Taiwan is a small island nation in the East China Sea with modern cities, traditional Chinese temples, hot springs, and dramatic mountainous terrain. Many of us might not have heard of adventurous activities in Taiwan but there are endless opportunities for Taiwan Adventures and below we list all of them.

Adventures in Taiwan: 8 Outdoor Things to do

Cycling Adventures in Taiwan

Cycling activities can be arranged both around Taipei and Taroko Gorge. Experience some of the tough mountain rides in the foothills of Taipei, glide down through the canyon at Taroko Gorge or enjoy the sights with a ride down the east coast.

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Cycling in Taiwan

River Tracing / Canyoning in Taiwan

River tracing, sometimes called canyoning, is where we walk/climb/swim up a river. It is a refreshing, exhilarating and challenging experience. Taiwan is the perfect place for river tracing. The mountains are steep and stunning, and the rivers that run through them have crystal clear emerald colored water.

There are a large number of river tracing spots both around Taipei and Taroko Gorge that are suitable for a wide range of abilities and activities can be arranged for half to full day.

Kayaking Adventures in Taiwan

Carp Lake is located a short drive from Taroko Gorge, and it is the perfect spot for an introduction to kayaking. No kayaking experience necessary.Sea kayaking off the coast of Hualien is also possible depending on the season. Some kayaking experience is necessary for this activity.

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Kayaking in Taiwan

 High mountain Hiking: Trekking Adventures in Taiwan

Hiking on Taiwan’s high mountains is a world-class hiking experience. Taiwan has the second highest mountain range in eastern Asia. Many of its tall peaks are easily accessible on a weekend trip from Taipei and they offer some breath-taking views and challenging climbs.

  • Hiking in Yushan’s (Jade Mountain) Southern Peaks, seen from Jade Mountain Main Peak and lit by a beautiful sunrise. Watch sunrise atop the highest mountain in Taiwan and all of north-east Asia. This popular hike is a once in a lifetime experience!
  • Snow mountain hiking– A beautiful hike through a variety of ecosystems brings you to Taiwan’s second highest.
  • The Wuling Sixiu hiking– A challenging hike to the top of 4 mountains in the Sheipa National Park. A very scenic and tough hike.
  • Hiking in Dabajianshan– One of the most iconic mountains in Taiwan, Dabajianshan is a wonderful 3-day hike deep into the Sheipa National Park.
hiking-in-taiwan

Hiking in Taiwan

Paragliding Adventures in Taiwan

  • Paragliding at Luye Recreational Tea Farm

The plateau is the site of a paragliding base at the southern end of the tourist tea plantation area; the base is 150 meters above the plain below, and its fine geographic conditions and good weather make it one of Taiwan’s favorite spots for paragliding.

  • Paragliding in Pingtung County

Pingtung is home to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first National Park. Other visitor attractions here include the island Eden of Xiaoliuqiu, scenic forest-hemmed highways, Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area, and Taiwan’s best paragliding area, Saijia Air Park.

Coastal areas in Pingtung are excellent choices for coastal recreation, whether donning a snorkel to explore the beauty of the corals or hunting for shells on the beach.

  • Paragliding in Jibei Island

Jibei Island lies 5.5 kilometers north of Baisha Island; its size is about 3.05 square kilometers, and it is not only the sixth largest island in the country, but it is also the largest inhabited island among the 28 isles within Baisha village, except for Baisha Island itself.

Jibei is heaven for water activities, housing various types of recreational activities, including banana boat, dragged buoy, two-man speedboat, water motorcycle, under-the-sea sightseeing boat, paragliding and snorkeling

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Paragliding in Taiwan

Surfing in Taiwan

  • Surfing at California B&B

Hotel California is a relaxed and laidback place decorated with surfboards and tropical plants. For the surfers out there, the hotel also stocks a good range of surf wears.

  • Surfing on Fulong Beach

Fulong Beach has clear seawater and long soft beach. It is perfect for surfing, sliding, and sailing. There is a spacious parking lot, camping area, restaurants and food court. It is the best-organized bathing beach in northern Taiwan. Every summer, people come here for a swim or to appreciate the beautiful ocean.

  • Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area

The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, which runs from Juifang south to Beigangkou in Yilan County, is noted for its natural beauty: reefs, rivers, terraced rice paddies, rolling green hills, lighthouses, and two of Taiwan’s best beaches. Recreational opportunities include camping, rock climbing, hiking along a 200-year-old footpath, and water sports, such as swimming, surfing,

Recreational opportunities include camping, rock climbing, hiking along a 200-year-old footpath, and water sports, such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving.

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WindSurfing in Taiwan

  • Windsurfing at Shanyuan

Located 12 km north of Taitung City, Shanyuan is an excellent place for summer fun. This 1.5 km-long sandy beach is perfect for beach volleyball and making sand sculptures, and the coral reefs at the northern and southern ends of the beach are popular with divers.

The clear waters off Shanyuan are also ideal for sailing, surfing, windsurfing and swimming. Facilities include a wooded campground and outdoor restaurant area.

Mountain Biking in Taiwan

  • Moutain biking in Dongshan Area of Yilan County

While much of the county is taken up by mountains, in the northeast lies the Lanyang Plain—an alluvial delta stretched out in a triangle-shaped area of 300 square kilometers, formed as the Lanyang River squeezed its way between the Central Mountain Range on the south and Snow Mountain Range on the north to reach the Pacific.

Rivers and streams snake through the plain like the veins on the back of a hand, a natural state of affairs that provides kilometer upon kilometer of biking beside winding waterways, through fecund and (most importantly for cycling) flat countryside.