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!
Summer is coming and, when it arrives, all Catalans use to go and bath in the Costa Brava –in our opinion, one of the finest landscapes of Catalonia. It may not be the typical exotic coast, but it has the incomparable Mediterranean charm of its cliffs and its plant life. The Costa Brava, which literally means “rugged coast”, is the scenery of our summer childhood memories. The coast follows the Catalan counties (comarques) of La Selva, Baix Empordà and Alt Empordà, all of them within the province of Girona, whose inhabitants have seen how fishing has been replaced by tourism as the main business of the area.
We love Italy, that amazing country surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, home of the Occidental culture, a land of art and gastronomy. Italy is a synonym of good wine, better music and lots of romanticism. And the best part of it is that we are quite close to such a paradise. So there was no better way to celebrate Dídac’s birthday last summer than a short break to Tuscany.
Despite our trip mainly took place between Pisa and Firenze, we decided to rent a car in Pisa to spend a day driving (without map and without GPS!) to discover some hotspots in the region. In our plan we had two must stops: San Gimignano and Siena, but we still had time to end our day with a nice dinner in Monteriggioni.
"There is a thing that makes any trip unique. We know that where we walk around, where we eat, where we sleep, where we take a rest or where we laugh are places that probably we will not visit again. Places that we discover while knowing that some seconds later we will no longer be there, in an ephemeral manner, but with the same enthusiasm as two kids discovering the colors." Mapping The Map