Photo diary: The catacombs of Paris

Many people recognize Paris as a capital of romance, so they often miss one of the darkest secrets this beautiful city is hiding. Just few steps away from Denfert-Rochereau metro station, there’s an entrance to Paris Catacombs. Underground ossuaries hold the remains of about six million people in a small part of the ancient Mines of Paris tunnel network. A little history lesson: the ossuary was founded when city officials were faced with two simultaneous problems, a series of cave-ins starting in 1774 and overflowing cemeteries (particularly Saint Innocents). This underground cemetery has been open to the public on a regular basis since 1874 and it’s still well-visited nowadays. Visitor numbers are restricted to 200 at any time, therefore be prepared to wait outside in a queue for a little less than an hour. We didn’t have luck when we went – the rain was pouring down and the wind was playing its own game with us, but not even that convinced us to leave the line.

As for every other tourist attraction in Paris, you have over 200 stairs to climb. 130 to go down and 83 to go up. Not that surprising, I suppose. It’s not everyone’s style to go there, that’s understandable. But even though it sounds a bit morbid, I can’t recommend the catacombs enough. Seeing skulls and bones pilled up in different formations is not just scary, it’s also utterly fascinating and so inspiring! While there, I took over 300 photos and when going through them, I got goosebumps, so I simply have to share the best ones.

Photo diary: Catacombs of Paris | The Cheerful Wanderer

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The best places to enjoy dessert in Ljubljana

It’s no secret I love food and I bet you won’t be surprised when I say I LOVE dessert. Don’t we all? Here’s your guide to the top places to enjoy a finger-licking dessert when you’re in Ljubljana and your sweet tooth calls for a luciously decadent treat.

ZVEZDA

Zvezda means star in Slovenian. When you enter, I suggest you to go to the glass case full of delectable cakes and desserts and choose there, rather than just look at the menu. The selection of cakes and ice creams is very wide; they offer chocolate cakes, raw, vegan and diabetic cakes, pies, studels, nut rolls, creams in a cup and more. Check out online. The quality has never been a question, anything you pick is amazing. You can also try Gibanica, a traditional Slovenian cake! But be ready to wait a little bit to be seated, the cafe is very popular with locals and tourists, and because of that almost always full.

The best places to enjoy dessert in Ljubljana | The Cheerful Wanderer
Price range: €4 – €16
Address: Wolfova ulica 14, 1000 Ljubljana

RUSTIKA

Chocolate lover? Then Rustika’s a place for you. Exquisitely designed chocolate that melts in your mouth. You for sure won’t stop after your first bite. They also offer homemade ice cream, cookies, cakes and pretty much anything you can imagine being made out of chocolate, so if you need to buy some sweet souvenirs while in Slovenia, look no further. Everything is made from natural Slovenian ingredients.

The best places to enjoy dessert in Ljubljana | The Cheerful Wanderer
Price range: €2-€100 examples in online store
Address: Trubarjeva 44, 1000 Ljubljana

PUFFY LIL’ PANCAKES

One of the most popular places to have a sugar fix. The pancakes are fluffy, but if you ask me the best part are various amazing toppings. No idea what I’m talking about? See their Instagram.

The best places to enjoy dessert in Ljubljana | The Cheerful Wanderer
Price range: €3
Address: Čopova ulica 14, 1000 Ljubljana

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A day in Helsinki

Many travelers decide to take a day more in Stockholm or Copenhagen instead of heading to Finland’s capital. I visited it for a day, while staying in Tallinn last summer and I truly enjoyed the city. However, it was a cold day when I was there – the temperature was below 15°C and the wind was howling. Not that surprising considering we are talking Scandinavia.

First of all, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to get through the city. Helsinki is compact and walkable, and it has an excellent public transportation system. A very popular option is underground metro, but you can also use bus or tram. The last one was my choice. I highly recommend buying day ticket, if you’re in hurry. It’s going to save you lots of time. Prices can be found here. All of the transport options operate on the honor system; you don’t need to present a ticket, but if you’re caught by a patrol without one, expect an 80 euro fine.

Things to do

1. Swim naked in the oldest public indoor swimming hall in Finland
Yrj0nkatu Swimming Hall is not only the oldest indoor swimming hall but also one of the most impressive buildings in the city. You can swim care-free and enjoy the sauna after. They have separate swimming days for men and women. Women are welcome on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun, while men get Tue, Thu and Sat. If you want an authentic Finnish experience, buy a second floor fare, because it includes so much more.
Address for your GPS: Yrjönkatu 21b, 00120 Helsinki

2. Grab fresh fruit at the central market
Perfect place to do souvenir shopping, buy fresh vegtables and fruits (berries everywhere!) and eat some local food. You can’t imagine how happy this market can make you feel when it’s one of the first things you see in the city after you get off your ferry feeling hungry.

3. Be in awe by Temppeliaukio Church
Build in a rock and opened in 1969, this rock church will take your breath away. The church is used frequently as a concert venue due to its excellent acoustics.
Address for your GPS: Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki

4. Take a photograph in front of Tuomiokirkko Cathedral
One of Helsinki’s best known landmarks. The green domes of this white-walled Evangelical Lutheran Church that towers over Senate Square (Senaatintori) was originally built to honour the Russian Tsar, Nicolas I. It was finished in the early 1850s.

A day in Helsinki | The Cheerful Wanderer

5. Walk up the hill to Uspenski Cathedral
It was completed in 1868 and is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. Unfortunately it was not possible to enter inside when I was there, but I’ve read it’s just as stunning as on the outside.

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Top 10 most romantic breaks in Europe

Europe is ofter referred to as the most romantic continent. Not surprising, there’s so much diversity that every one can find something for themselves.

10. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, also known as the Nordic Venice, is a harmonious city filled with colourful façades and eye-pleasing monuments. Modern art and historic charm are one in Swedish capital.

Top 10 most romantic breaks in Europe | The Cheerful Wanderer

9. Lisbon, Portugal
Hilly colourful streets, charming restaurants and cozy little cafés are just some of the reasons that contribute to the romantic character of Lisbon.

Top 10 most romantic breaks in Europe | The Cheerful Wanderer

Photo credit: Flickr

8. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
No matter what the time, strolling along the waterways in Amsterdam always feels calming and romantic. Water does its job, we could say. At night, the bridges are illuminated, which makes the city even more magical than it already is.

Top 10 most romantic breaks in Europe | The Cheerful Wanderer

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20 reasons to visit Estonia

It’s no secret there’s a small country up there called Estonia, but how much do you really know about it?

Estonia got on my must-visit list around two years ago, when I saw a picture of Tallinn at one of my favorite travel blogs. I was blown away with what I viewed, the capital city seemed to be so colourful! This summer I got a chance to explore more than just the most touristic city in this Baltic state. Here are 20 reasons why you should book your airplane ticket as soon as possible.

1. Colourful streets
As I mentioned, this was one of the main reasons I wanted to see Tallinn. If you’re like me, enjoying to photograph cobbled streets and buildings of all colours, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven when visiting Tallinn. My camera was out all the time. Two tips though: don’t wear high heels and for the best photographs in summer months, get up early before all tourists start pouring in.

20 reasons to visit Estonia | The Cheerful Wanderer

2. Cute restaurants and bars
As a food lover, I must point this one out. You can order a cake in almost every bar (and they are all incredibly delicions) and the food is great. If you’re travelling on low-budget, I highly recommend you Drakon, a is an old-fashioned pub in Tallinn wherein all the meals cost 1-3 units of money. It’s right next to Town Hall Tower, so located at old city centre, but unlike other places around, this one is very inexpensive. When entering, you’ll be taken into medieval times, when the soup was drank out of clay pots (and not eaten with a spoon) and electricity didn’t exist. Perfect place for rainy days, which I couldn’t avoid. I can guarantree elk soup and carrott pie are very tasty.

Another amazing restaurant in Tallinn is Trofé. Their grilled salmon was one of the best dishes I have ever eaten (and I eat all the time!).

I mustn’t forget to mention Must Puudel, a retro bar with a wide range of beers, dreamy ice cream (peanut ice cream with salty peanuts…) and great meals. It is super groovy, but a little hidden, so make sure to go in. Also, the staff is really friendly.

However, you can’t really avoid touristic prices in Tallinn, that’s why I suggest you to visit more cities that you can easily reach using public transport or by car. In Viljandi I enjoyed Seljanka soup for 2€ (if I’m not mistaken, that would be around 6€ in Tallinn).

3. Tallinn airport
The largest airport in Estonia is only 4km away from the city centre. It’s small compared to bigger airports (Istanbul, for example), but so very cute. Excellent facilities, comfortable seats, modern look and positive messages on toilet doors (“Lipstick will save the day!”) all helped to make it my favorite airport. They also have the coolest business card exchange there with houndreds of cards pinned to the board.

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