Guide: NYC-Toronto-Niagara Falls-Buffalo-NYC by public transport only
When planning US trip, I discovered there are three options most people use when leaving NYC to visit Niagara Falls and Toronto; either they take a train to Buffalo, pay to a tour company or fly. Trying to avoid any more flights and wishing to spend more than just an afternoon in Toronto, I was searching for option number four. Something that would not require renting a car.
After days of research and contacting some locals, I found the solution. Keep reading to discover how you can pay less and get more. Note you’ll need to book your trip months in advance, if you want to save.
From New York, NY you take megabus to Toronto for 15 USD. You’ll spend 12 hours on the bus, which is a little tiring, so wear something comfy, take a book or your favorite magazine, and try not to forget a pillow. The bus we took was at 7.50am, but if we did it again, we’d change it for the one at 11.50pm instead. It’s a long ride and if you’re driving at night, you’ll most likely manage to catch some sleep. Not as much as you wish and sure, you won’t wake up feeling fresh, but at least you won’t throw the whole day away because of one bus ride. Tickets can be booked here. Pricing for tickets increases according to how many people have booked tickets, therefore I advise you to be quick and book yours around 2 months in advance. I know greyhound does the same route, but I am not sure about their starting price or anything else, because I’ve never used their service before. Find more information on their website.
Five days at the heel of Italy
Puglia, the region in the heel of Italy’s boot, offers you to escape from the crowds, but still enjoy authentic Italian cuisine (it doesn’t get any better than that!) and historic buildings. My recommendation would be to book your accommodation in Bari, the capital city of the region, because it has great national and international connections.
We landed at Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport late afternoon and took a local bus to the city (the bus tickets can be bought at the book store on the first floor of the airport, and yes, you must buy them in advance). After a long unplanned walk around the city, we found our way to the hotel we booked. It was a short walk away from the bus and train station, so the location was perfect. Same foes for the price; I usually pay as much for 3 nights at hostels in 10-bed dorm. Free breakfast, which was served every day, was another wonderful addition.
On our first full day there, we did some sightseeing and enjoyed the sun. Luck was on our side; the weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time. The path also led us to Swabian Castle. The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, widely known as the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle), was built by Roger II of Sicily around 1131. Destroyed in 1156, it was rebuilt by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The castle now serves as a gallery for a variety of temporary exhibitions in the city. It was a big disappointment, though. Half of the area was closed due to building work, which is something nobody tells you when you pay for your ticket. Apart from a short film and a small museum, you couldn’t see much. Make sure you walk through the old part of the city, it’s magnificent! If you’re looking for a list of attractions – visit one of the tourist offices (one is on Piazza Moro, in front of the railway station, and the other in the city at Via Giuseppe Sangiorgi) and take a lovely free map, which is very helpful, when wandering around.
The following day we took a train to Alberobello. I fell in love with that city when planning the whole trip (as much as it was planned). It’s a small town, about one hour away (by train) from Bari. Alberobello has only about 11 000 inhabitants and is famous for its unique prehistoric trulli buildings. The trulli are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields. Characteristically, they feature pyramidal, domed or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs. You can read more about that on Unesco website or watch a very short documentary here.
The center of Alberobello is very attractive with many terraces. That’s where the biggest and the main square and the town hall are. Not that far from the square, there’s the Basilica. This beautiful church was designed by the architect Antonio Curri.
16 travel goals for 2016
Since the new year has just began, I thought I could share with you my goals for the next 12 months. Although 2015 was a success when it comes to travelling (after all I saw 5 new countries!), I am already daydreaming of new destinations and maybe it’s just me, but once I write goals down, I work harder to achieve them. Also, it gives me an oppurtunity to track down my progress.
1. Get a new camera – ACCOMPLISHED
Right now I don’t have any. My last one got stolen and for the past two years I’ve been using my family’s, which does not meet my requirements. The more I wander around, the more I miss having a professional camera with me.
2. Meet with more couchsurfers – ACCOMPLISHED
I still remember the evening when I first heard about couchsurfing. What a fantastic idea! But how could one get into it when not being able to host and lives in a small village no tourists ever visit? These days I still can’t host, but since I’m now very close to the capital, I can hang out with fellow couchsurfers and exchange some tips.
3. Visit Madeira
4. Learn to communicate in Brazilian Portuguese
And Portugal in general, but Madeira is my number one right now.
My wish is to be fluent in another foreign language. Last year I got the oppurtunity to start a course, now it’s my time to do more.
5. Improve my French – MILDLY ACCOMPLISHED (I can tell that the cow is eating grass and few more things duolingo taught me)
Because “je m’appelle Ursa” and “merci beaucoup” are not all I should have known after 4 years of learning.