Although Japan might be one of the most interesting and culturally rich countries in the world, most travelers use to have a limited time to visit it. Thus, the aim of this post is to share the route that we completed when we discovered Japan in 2015. We have written a lot about this beautiful country in previous posts, but we wanted to give you a full idea of the kind of trip that we did and to prove that some of the main hotspots of the country can be seen in less than two weeks.
As we already explained in this post, when flying from Barcelona to Tokyo we did a stopover in Moscow that gave us some time to visit the city and the same happened in our trip back home. This means that we had less time for Japan due to the lenght of our stopovers. Nevertheless, in 11 days and thanks to the wonderful Japan Rail (JR) Pass we left Japan with a good number of must-see places in our bags.
The geography of Lisbon has turned it into a city full of hills that are overcome by means of the funiculars, which are an essential part to Lisbon’s mobility. This particular geography, together with certain amazing monuments, brings to visitors lots of opportunities to enjoy great views of the city and to take nice pictures anywhere. We reached Lisbon by car last summer after a short visit to the Alentejo region and we definitely fell in love with that colourful and vibrant city that we could observe from many viewpoints. Those are, in our oppinion, the best places to see Lisbon on your feet.
1. Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Inaugurated in 1960, the Monument of the Discoveries is located in the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary, from where ships used to depart to explore and trade with India and Orient. The monument recalls the Portuguese Age of Discovery (XV and XVI centuries). If you visit the Belém quarter don’t forget to climb up to the top of this monument to have amazing views of the compass rose and mapa mundi (a gift from the South African government) at its feet and the Jerónimos Monastery in the background.
Kyoto is the jewel of the Japanese culture, the ancient capital of the Japanese Empire and a must-see in any trip to the country. From the Arashiyama Mountains to the old Gion, Kyoto is a city full of magic, where tradition lives together with modernity. But with more than 1,600 Buddhist shrines and 400 Shinto shrines it is always difficult to choose the ones to explore during the few days that a visitor can spend in the city. And thus, while planning your trip to Kyoto, you start reading and searching for those hotspots that you shouldn’t miss.
We are sure that when we visited the city we missed great shrines, but we’re also happy to know that we saw other ones that put inside us the peace of mind and the smell of incense that makes us dream about a second trip to Japan –a really addictive country! Below you’ll find out the main shrines and moments from our visit to Kyoto.
Pisa might be one of those cities in the world where you can always find plenty of visitors, especially in summer. We have already told you that we are not quite enthusiast about those highly touristic places, but we also think that if everyone wants to visit a city, it must be a good reason for it. Pisa is a common destination for student groups, but nor Dídac or me, at our age, had ever visited this Italian hotspot until last summer. Pisa entered into our plans when we saw cheap flights from Girona’s airport that perfectly suited some additional vacation days. And thus we decided to buy them and stay in Pisa for two nights before moving to Firenze. The first day was devoted to Pisa, the second one we had the opportunity to briefly explore the Tuscany region by car.
We are used to travel on the weekend or while our (never enough) holidays and thus we try to make the most of our trips with lots of planning and less room for improvisation. But last summer, in Portugal, we had the three things that any traveler needs to decide the destinations along the way: a car, a camping tent and a travel guide.
We had travelled through central Portugal from Lisboa to the medieval jewel of Guimarães and our next stop in our way back home was fixed at Burgos (Spain), a city dominated by its amazing Word Heritage cathedral. But we still had one night and some hours driving to reach Burgos, so we decided to open the guide and look for hotspots in the way back to Barcelona. We had heard about Miranda do Douro, a Portuguese town, belonging to the Braganza district, located in the border with Spain and next to which environmental cruises depart to sail through the international natural park of the Douro river. Moreover, the town has a municipal camping site, so we couldn’t ask for more!