Tag Archives: #toursandattractions

It’s a small world at Miniaturk. Well in Turkey anyway!

Once again Istanbul has been a great place to stay. The culture the atmosphere and the people have been kind and gracious. If you are considering a trip to Turkey, then I would say without any hesitation, “do it!”

What to do in Istanbul?
The Galata Bridge on the Golden Horn

As Australian’s, we’ve been to Turkey for the last couple of years. Last year, we experienced the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli peninsula, which is considered a rite of passage for many Australian’s. Here we paid our respect to the fallen heroes of WWI.

What to do in Istanbul
A monument in Eceabat Turkey, depicting trench warfare between Australian and Turkish troops

Then we visited Istanbul and had an incredible meal at Mehmet Gürs marvellous Mikla. Both times have come away with the same impression of Turkey. “What a remarkably friendly place!” Although the tensions of the regions have affected Turkey we have found it to be a safe place to go. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed in the amazing history, culture, markets and food.

What to do in Istanbul?
The amazing colours in the spice Bazaar

Therefore, why not dip your toes into Turkey? And if you only decide to visit Istanbul, there is a remarkable little place that showcases all of the major attractions within Turkey called Miniaturk.

What to do in Istanbul?
Miniaturk, is a miniature version of all the sights of Turkey.

Miniaturk, is park consisting of miniature models of the sights of Turkey. It’s located alongside a stretch of the Golden Horn and is a nice place for families and backpackers to discover what Turkey has to offer.  If you haven’t finalised your itinerary whilst backpacking in Turkey, stop by at Miniaturk and discover which cities contain some of Turkey exquisite architectural history.

What to do in Istanbul?
Miniaturk  is alongside the Golden Horn. It’s on the right in this picture, behind the white tent.

See places like the Galata Tower, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Green Tomb of Bursa, Cappadocia or the white terraces of Pamukkale all in the one park.

What to do in Istanbul?
Look at the detail they have put into the model of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

The models contained are a remarkable re-creation of these attractions and you can’t help but marvel at all the places to available to see. During our visit, we constantly commented about going to see certain attractions.

What to do in Istanbul
It looks like I’m on the roof of a football stadium. Alas it’s only the Miniaturk Stadium model.

Spend some time walking up and down the walkways, it takes a good one and a half hours to traverse the entire site.

Urban Adventure Tours

There is also plenty of things to entertain you and your family. Miniaturk also has a large playground, games arcade and a small train that the kids can ride on. For the older kids and adults, you can also try the helicopter flight simulator. Who’s the best pilot in your family?

What to do in Istanbul?
How about testing your helicopter piloting skills at Flyride?

Additionally, Miniaturk has multiple food stalls scattered around the park and a nice restaurant if you prefer something more substantial.

What to do in Istanbul?
If you are starting to get hungry! Take a break at the Miniaturk restaurant before continuing.

To finish the day, stop into the souvenir store and take home a memento of your time in Turkey.

What to do in Istanbul?
On the way home, pick up a souvenir from the gift shop.

Overall Miniaturk is a fun and amazing place to visit. Get some inspiration of other attractions around Turkey. At an inexpensive cost, Miniaturk is an ideal place for a young family to experience some of Turkey’s attractions without actually having to visit them. Of course, it is always better to see them up close and personal. But if you don’t have the time, this is the next best thing. So, if you are in Istanbul visit Miniaturk and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

What to do in Istanbul?
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Additional Information for Miniaturk

Address: Sütlüce Mahallesi, İmrahor Cd. 7/1, 34445 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Ph: +90 212 222 28 82
Website: www.miniaturk.com.tr

Cost 15 TRY per person (AUD$5)

Trading Hours:
  • Monday 9am–7pm
    Tuesday 9am–7pm
    Wednesday 9am–7pm
    Thursday 9am–7pm
    Friday 9am–7pm
    Saturday 9am–7pm
    Sunday 9am–7pm

Available accommodation in Istanbul

Looking for something else to do in Istanbul, try these tours available through Urban Adventures!

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Sarajevo Scars and Smiles, an Urban Adventure

In all our travels, Sarajevo would be one of the top 10 cities that has intrigued me the most in the Balkans. A city still rebuilding. Trying to ensure their past mistakes don’t erupt again. When speaking to its residence you can see their frustration from their “scars and smiles”. Yet, those frustrations aren’t directed towards the different ethnic groups, they are directed towards their over-governed parliament. With unemployment rising, Sarajevo is becoming more reliant on tourists visiting and understanding the beauty, culture and pain of this remarkable city.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Miljacka River, Sarajevo from the Yellow Fortress

During our stay here, we base ourselves at two completely different accommodation options. For the first part of our visit, we stay outside of the city centre at the four-starred Hotel Emiran. Then for the remainder of our stay we head into the old town and experience what hostel living is like at Hostel Franz Ferdinand. It is here that we organise the Scars and Smiles, Urban Adventures tour online.Urban Adventure Tours
Urban Adventures offer two quality tours, the Story of Sarajevo and Scars and Smiles.

What to do in Sarajevo?
The Scars and Smiles Meeting point – City Hall & National Library

The Scars and Smiles tour starts at 9:00 a.m and our meeting point for the tour is the impressive city hall/ national library building. Our friendly helpful guide for the tour is Almedin, who you cannot miss due to his 205cm height. Almedin is the tallest tour guide we have ever had. No need for an umbrella or a sign, because if you can’t see him, then he’s not there!

What to do in Sarajevo
At 205cm, Almedin would possibly be the tallest tour guide. He’s holding a homemade weapon used during the Siege of Sarajevo.

Group sizes vary from day-to-day and on our tour, we only had one other guest. Almedin spoke excellent English and was a toddler during the Sarajevo siege, so has an honest family perspective of life during wartime.

Where to stay in Sarajevo
One of the many mortar and bullet riddled apartment buildings in Sarajevo

During our tour, Almedin speaks passionately about the scars and smiles of the Bosnian people. He talks about why the war occurred, how it ended and specific tragedies that had befallen its residents at the time.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Sarajevo has multiple cemeteries scattered throughout the city, highlighting the toll of the war.

We are taken on a 3 hour journey around the city of Sarajevo and visit important places like the Sarajevska brewery, the only source of fresh water in Sarajevo at the time. Almedin then speaks about the importance of the Sarajevo roses, shows us a memorial for the children and takes us for Bosnian coffee.

What to do in Sarajevo?
Sarajevska Brewery was the only source of fresh water in Sarajevo during the war, due to its underground spring.

An intriguing and at times moving tour, Almedin speaks about life after the conflict and finishes the tour at the Sarajevo National Theatre.

What to do in Sarajevo?
The end point for the tour is the National Theatre

Once the tour is completed, guests can either join Almedin for a drink at a local pub or state their farewells. I suggest having a drink with this kind gentleman and learning more about Bosnian and Herzegovinian hospitality.

What to do in Sarajevo
Trying a Sarajevska beer with Almedin after the tour.

Overall for the price, the Scars and Smiles tour is a fantastic way of getting to understand Sarajevo and its tragic history. So, book your Urban Adventure tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

What to do in Sarajevo?
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Additional Information for Urban Adventures: Scars and Smiles

Cost: Adult –  €24 (AUD$36.50) Child – €13 (AUD$20)

    • Tour Highlight
      • Learn how Sarajevo has rebuilt itself since the war
      • Experience the startling contrast of war times and peaceful times, and see how locals are honouring the past
      • See important sites such as the National Library and Central Bank, and hear about the history that haunts them
      • Visit the Sarajevo Brewery, which provided the city with drinking water during the siege
      • Visit the marketplace that was the site of the 1994 massacre, and see it as it is now, with locals going about their day-to-day

Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, entry fees to sites, food samples in the market, drink (glass of wine, beer, or soft drink) at the last stop.

Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, souvenirs and items of a personal nature, tips/gratuities for your guide.

  • Schedule details
    • Duration: 3 hours
    • Meeting point:City Hall/National Library (at the stairs), Obala Kulina bana, Sarajevo
    • Starting time: 9.00 AM
    • Ending point:Sarajevo National Theatre, Obala Kulina bana 9, Sarajevo

Book your accommodation in Sarajevo here!

Book another Urban Adventure tour here!

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Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour

If you were to tell me before we started this trip that I’d be going to visit a salt mine, I may have laughed. That would be because in Australia when I think about salt mines, I picture a stark salt pan. Therefore, when we were looking for another tour to do in Krakow we wanted something less emotionally draining than the Auschwitz and Birkenau tour we did the day before. The Krakville tour operator suggested for us to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. So, after a bit of umming and ahhing we decided why not?

Urban Adventure Tours

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 1978 and consists of 300kms of tunnels. The mine has been in operation since the 13th Century (that’s an old mine) and is open for visitors daily from 07:30 a.m to 07:30 p.m. The mine can be visited without a tour group, but you may have a long wait depending on the number of visitors and tour groups.

The tour starts mid-morning and our meeting point for the start of the tour is the Krakville office building in the Old Town Krakow. Once again, we are given identification stickers to ensure we aren’t separated from our group. This straight away tells us that the mine is busy. We all climb into mini vans and are driven approximately half an hour to the town of Wieliczka.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The small office of the Krakville Tour Company in the Old Town

It’s not long before we are at the mine and climb the steps to the mines entrance. On arrival it is raining, but that hasn’t stopped the crowds from showing up. There is a large number of tour group already here and a fair contingent of lone travellers negotiating the throng of people. The mine has some additional souvenir shops and a cafe outside if you must wait for a while.

The waiting crowds have some shops to buy food before entering the Wieliczka Salt Mine
An outdoor shop at the Wieliczka Salt Mine

After a short wait, we are guided past the crowds and into the mine. We are given radio receivers so that we can hear the guide as she explains the enormity of the mine. First, we descend down 350 steps to the entry-level of the mine. Like a column staircase you’d find in a hundred-floor building we descend down and down. It is quite a work out and if you make the mistake and go to fast down, you can get quite dizzy.

Staircase in Wieliczka Salt Mine
Some of the flights of stairs going down, but these aren’t the first 350 steps.

At the bottom of the stairs the guide checks to make sure we are all alive after the workout and explains the ground rules of the tour. Like don’t wander off, as there are so many tunnels, therefore getting lost is quite easy.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the many places of worship in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

As we walk through the tunnels we encounter open chambers within the mine providing a visual aid about the construction and operation of the mine. In total there are 20 chambers available to be visited. The guide explains that the workers would construct churches, halls, theatres and specific carvings as they were down in the mine for large amounts of time.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
The story of the Hungarian Princess and the lost ring.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The main hall is hired out for special occasions.

We walk through various places of worship and are shown some of the incredible wall fresco’s etched by the workers. Photos are allowed to be taken at a small additional cost and there are photo permit places along the route. The mine also has an underground souvenir store and a large restaurant and cafeteria area.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
A formal dining area in the Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Food is available at the cafeteria in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

Overall, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a worthwhile attraction with the website stating that tourists should allow three hours to visit the site. The temperature of the mine averages 14 degrees Celsius so warm jackets are handy. You will be amazed at the chambers and carvings done by the workers. Photos are a must so my advice is pay for the permit. So, book your tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Wieliczka Salt Mine
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Additional Information for Krakville Wieliczka Salt Mine

ul. Mikolajska 8, Krakow
Ph: +48 607 750 901
Website: www.krakville.com

Cost 109PLN (AUD$38)

Trading Hours
  • Daily from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.
  • Price includes:
  • transport by bus to and from Salt Mine
  • tour attendant
  • guide in Salt Mine
  • admission fees
  • duration 4 h

Available accommodation in Krakow

Other tours available through Urban Adventures

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Bran Castle the home of Dracula

What are the first things that come to your mind when someone mentions Transylvania? If you are like me you think of Dracula, vampires, dark nights and scary castles. Through the popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, Transylvania has always had an intrigue for travellers. With many fans doing the trek to visit Bran Castle, commonly known as “the home of Dracula”.

Urban Adventure Tours

During our travels, we always had Romania pencilled in as a possible country to visit and after some investigations we decided to base ourselves in Sighișoara and do a day trip to Bran Castle. Although Bran Castle is the home of Stoker’s Dracula, Sighișoara is the actual birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind the character.

Vlad Dracul
A portrait of Vlad the Impaler in Bran Castle.

Arguably, one of the prettiest villages in Romania, this picturesque village is home to one of the oldest medieval citadels in Romania. With its many Church’s, restaurant’s and residences located on top of a hill the colourful town oozes character.

Sighisoara, Romania
Beautiful Sighișoara, with one of the many church’s in the medieval citadel.

For our day tour to Bran Castle we opted to go with someone who knew Transylvania well. After a quick internet search about tours from Sighișoara, we came across, Emanuel Enache. Emanuel is the owner and primary tour guide for tour business, YourGuidein Transylvania. Emanuel offers his customers personalised tours throughout Transylvania, so we booked him to take us to Bran Castle. Booking was easy through his website, and he responded back quickly to organise morning pick up’s and inclusive tour information.

The Doubletree by Hilton Sighisoara
The Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara, our base for our stay in Transylvania

The tour commences at 10:00 a.m with Emanuel picking us up from our hotel during our stay the Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara. After introductions Emanuel places emphasis on us becoming friends from the start. His point of us meeting possibly only once in a lifetime is a good excuse for us to be friends from the outset. It’s not hard to like him, with his bubbly character and charm.

Transylvania and Bran Castle
The Transylvanian countryside.

The drive from Sighișoara to Bran Castle takes two hours, which fly by as Emanuel provides us with the history of the Transylvanian region, economy and life. This insight gives us an appreciation of the Romanian people and its culture. Emanuel has no set schedule to his tours, he allows his guests to dictate when they would like to stop for lunch or rest breaks along the way.

Once in Bran, Emanuel allows us to walk around the souvenir tents and food stalls whilst he organises skip the line entry into the castle. The various stalls show off their Dracula inspired souvenirs, from magnets, coffee cups and T-shirts. There is something for everyone!

Some of the souvenirs available at Bran Castle
If you are looking for a Dracula souvenir, then the Bran Castle stall’s will have something for you!

Bran Castle is one of the seven castles of Wallachia, and although Vlad the Impaler ruled the region during his reign from 1448. It is unknown if he used Bran Castle. This doesn’t take away from the breathtaking visual of this castle on the hill. Today it is mainly a museum to Queen Marie of Romania, who lived in the castle during her lifetime.

A bedroom in Bran Castle
One of the bedrooms inside Bran Castle, the furniture was all donated back to the Castle.

The three level castle is impressive, like many castles throughout Europe, so if you like castles then have a visit, the picture of Bran castle on the hill is a good photo to show your friends. Emanuel is excellent explaining the rooms, and the history of Queen Marie and the royal family, there is some rooms dedicated to the vampire myth, but they aren’t that interesting.

Inside Bran Castle
The interior of the three-levelled Bran Castle

Overall, Bran Castle by itself is something I wouldn’t do by myself. It is a nice drive but the castle is just another castle, if you don’t have the story about it. What made this tour especially worthwhile was Emanuel’s information and conversation about Transylvania, the castle, Dracula and the vampire myth. Emanuel’s engaging personality makes is tour worthwhile. Emanuel offers plenty other tours throughout Transylvania and will pick you up from your accommodation.

Inside Bran Castle
The view from the third floor of Bran Castle

Transylvania itself is a beautiful part of Romania and a definite place to go with its history and pretty towns like Sighisoara and Sibiu. So, contact Emanuel and YourGuideinTransylvania and book your Transylvanian tour today. And tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Do a day trip from Sighisoara with Emanuel, YourguideinTransylvania to visit Bran Castle the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula
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Additional Information for YourGuideinTransylvania’s Bran Castle Day Tour

Strada Ilarie Chendi 35, Sighișoara 545400, Romania
Ph: +40 745 501 861
Website: www.yourguideintransylvania.com

Tour Information
  • Duration/Distance:

    7 – 8 hours / 282 km

    Price: 79 euro/person*

    * minimum 2 pax

    Included:

    – Pick up / drop off at your hotel

    – Transportation

    – English licensed guide

    – Permanent assistance

Available accommodation in Transylvania, Romania

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Animals and Aquariums – The Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

If you have had the pleasure of travelling with children, you would know that sometimes it’s hard to keep them happy. In their minds, Museums and Art Galleries can be boring. That’s because most young children don’t appreciate looking at the ancient pottery from Pompeii or the subject and detail of Rembrandt’s The Nights Watch. Basically, unless there are dinosaurs or places with amazing interactive fun, children become disinterested quickly. They want to go to places like Disneyland,  Sea World or the other major amusement parks. But, at times we all become those little kids and desire that entertainment. Feeling in a fun and happy mood we head off for a day at the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

Urban Adventure Tours

After a lovely breakfast at Cafe Clave, we decide to walk the 1.1 km from our Scandic hotel to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The entrance to the Berlin Zoo

Now, if this is your first trip to Berlin, you may want to think about purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card. This transport tourist card lasts up to 6 days and covers all your public transport options. It also comes with a booklet containing discounts to many of the major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium. Additionally, it comes with that all important city map, so you can see the various tourist sites and construct your touring itinerary accordingly.

The Berlin Welcome Card covers transport and discounts to many major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.
The Berlin Welcome Card Booklet

If you are short on time, you can do the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium separately. We opted to combine the two at a discounted price (See below).  Since the zoo is the larger of the two complexes we do the zoo first.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Some gardens inside the Berlin Zoo

As mentioned the zoo is large, exhibiting a wide range of animals from around the world. Our recommendation is to examine the zoo’s map provided and work out a plan of attack. That way you won’t be backtracking and possibly missing some of the animals. Of course, the information is in German so have your translating app available if you can’t read German.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
One of the zoo keepers feeding the wolves

The zoo has set times for feeding and information on the animals (again in German), but it was still interesting seeing them being fed. From wolves, elephants, gorillas, rhinos, lions, zebras and giraffes it was amazing to see the children’s young faces light up in awe of these magnificent creatures.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The majestic elephant walking around his enclosure
Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A Rhinoceros in his muddy enclosure

Finding food is not an issue at the zoo as they have a large cafe, a restaurant and many food carts scattered around the park.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A cafe in the zoo, they also have a restaurant and food carts.

Exciting times are ahead for the Berlin Zoo as they are finishing their new Panda enclosure as they are expecting them to arrive in June 2017.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The street entrance to Aquarium Berlin. There’s another entrance from inside the zoo.

Once you’ve finished in the Berlin Zoo make your way to the Aquarium. Here you will find an arrangement of diverse types of fish, amphibians, reptiles and creepy crawly insects.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
An iguana at Aquarium Berlin

This three-story building holds a vast quantity of fish species of assorted sizes and incredible colours.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
No need to search any further, I found Dory!

There is a warm, humid, central forest area that has some crocodiles, which was inviting on a cooler Berlin day. Like the zoo the aquarium has a cafe, in case you want a snack or coffee.

Overall, both the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium are wonderful places to visit in Berlin. By using the Berlin Welcome Card, we had a 25% discount on the combined price, so great value for money. There is enough fun and intrigue for children to enjoy the day. The zoo also has a large playground area, so your children can burn off some extra energy if required. Visit the zoo and aquarium today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Want a place to take the family in Berlin! Head to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium for a day of fun.
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Additional Information for the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Berlin Zoo

Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.zoo-berlin.de

Opening Times
ZOO CASH POINT
1. January – 26. February 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
27. February – 26. March 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
27. March – 24. September 9:00 am – 6:30 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
25. September – 29. October 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
30. October – 31. December 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

*Note:

The Zoo closes at 2 p.m. on 24 December.

Please note that the ticket offices close approx. one hour before the zoo closes. The animal houses close 30 minutes before the zoo itself closes.

Aquarium Berlin

Budapester Straße 32, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.aquarium-berlin.de

Opening Times
AQUARIUM
1 January–31 December 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

TICKETS – Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

Aquarium & Zoo – Separate ZOO & AQUARIUM Combination
Adults 14,50 € 20,00 €
Children
4 up to 15 years
7,50 € 10,00 €
Small Families
(1 adult and his or her children up to 15 years)
25,00 € 33,00 €
Large Families
(2 adults and his or their children up to 15 years)
39,00 € 50,00 €
Concession*
students, apprentices, ALG I+II recipients, the severely disabled and their accompaniment, accompaniment if explicitly required on the disabled visitor’s ID
10,00 € 15,00 €

 

Welcome to Berlin Card

For more information on the Welcome to Berlin Card , click here

Book accommodation in Berlin via Booking.com 

Book UrbanAdventures guided tours in Berlin 

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Do you want to go to Disneyland Paris?

As a family, we have had some wonderful adventures. We have been lucky enough to take our girls to many overseas destinations. So, why not let them choose some of the things we do! In 2015, we did a trip to Hong Kong and the girls selected to go to Disneyland. We spent two full days there and they were hooked. Therefore, when they first heard we’d be visiting France on this journey they were definite that they wanted to visit Disneyland Paris and do it all again.

Disneyland Paris
The front entrance into Disneyland Paris

After looking at our schedule we decided that this time we would only spend a day at Disneyland. With the theme park only opening at 10 am we could take our time getting there. From our accommodation at the B&B Hotel Paris Porte de la Villette we jump onto the Metro to Chaussee d’Antin La Fayette. From there we take the 5-minute walk to the Auber RER station and purchase our train tickets for Disneyland Paris. Disneyland is about 45 minutes out of the city in Gare de Marne la Vallee Chessy. The cost of the train ticket from Auber to Disneyland is €15.20 one way per person.

Once arriving at Disneyland Paris, if you haven’t purchased your tickets, then head over to the ticket office. Just so you are prepared the Parks offer various entry options.  Now, you would have just heard me mention “parks”, because Disneyland Paris contains two parks; Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. You have the option of visiting one or both parks. We of course decided to visit both.

Disneyland Paris
A bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse after entering Walt Disney Studios

Excitedly we entered Walt Disney Studios and had a look around. Our first stop in the park was to visit the animation theatre. Here we discovered how the Walt Disney studio created their animation and creature effects.  Only lasting about 10 minutes is gives us some valuable information about animated production and set design.

Disneyland Paris
Watch how Disney Studio’s creates their animations in the Art of Disney Animation theatre.

Much of the Walt Disney Studio’s areas are based on a certain theme. Be it Ratatouille, Toy Story, Lilo and Stitch or Armageddon, the sections have rides and theatre shows based around these popular Disney Studio titles.

Disneyland Paris
People moving into the Toy Story themed area. Look there’s Buzz Lightyear.

We found that it was quite easy to fly through Walt Disney Studios and quickly moved to the Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Paris
The girls out the front of the impressive Disneyland Park entrance.

Like the Studio, the Park is separated into defined areas. There’s Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. These lands are separated by a central plaza and main street containing the various Disney retail and food outlets. Also scattered throughout the park are food stalls and restaurants.

Disneyland Paris
One of the many Disneyland souvenir shops.

A family could easily spend a day or two exploring these two sites. We spent most of our stay in Disneyland Park and whilst there probably tried out every ride and feature available. Unfortunately, some of the park is still under construction, with a Pirates of the Caribbean area still being developed. Saying this though doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the park.

Disneyland Paris
The Pirates of the Caribbean ship. It wasn’t accessible the day we were there.

Now for the important detail, which will determine if you elect to stay or go to Disneyland Paris. The cost… It can be expensive, we were there for a twelve-hour day and spent close to €600 for a family of four. So, I would consider that an expensive day out.

Disneyland Paris also has accommodation available in their hotel, with room packages including access to the Disneyland Parks. So, it may be a better option to book your accommodation at the hotel and access the parks that way. This way you don’t have to worry about transport to the parks and accommodation in Paris. Likewise, you could find some cheap accommodation in Marne-la-Vallée and just worry about tickets into the park.

Although expensive, we had an awesome time at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland holds some fascination and wonder to people of all ages. It is an extremely fun day, although sometimes you may need to line up to access the more popular rides. They offer a “Fast Track” ride option which costs a little extra, where you are given a time to go on a particular ride. This way you can have fun elsewhere in the park and when your time gets closer you just go to the fast track lane and hop onto the ride.

Disneyland Paris
As the night sets in, it’s finally time to call it a day.

Overall, Disneyland Paris is an amazing place. My recommendation is that if you are planning on going, make sure you have saved your pennies. But sometimes, spending quality time and enjoying a fun-filled day is more valuable than the cost. Because I know, these memories will last forever. Therefore, when you are in France, pencil in Disneyland Paris for a day or two, enjoy an incredible experience and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Disneyland Paris
Tiggr and Eeyore having a photo with the girls
Additional Information for Disneyland Paris

77777 Marne-la-Vallée, France
Ph. +33 1 60 30 60 53
Website: www.disneylandparis.com

Price
  • Prices range from € 42.00 – € 223.00 for Passport ticket entry
  • Full ticketing information available here
Opening hours
Disneyland® Park

10:00 to 23:00

Extra Magic Hours

8:00 to 10:00

Walt Disney Studios® Park

10:00 to 18:00

Book accommodation near Disneyland Park, Marne-la-Vallée.

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French Royalty and the Palace of Versailles

No matter what your first thoughts of France are, it is undoubtedly full of history. The opulence of France is on full show and there is probably no better place to see this wealth than the Palace of Versailles.

Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles taken from the golden gates

Like many tourists to France we decided to make our way to the Palace to spend a day visiting the royal residences and relaxing in the gardens.

After leaving the B&B Hotel Paris Porte de la Villette a little later than we had hoped for, we hop on the 9 am train to Versailles. Train tickets can be purchased from the train stations. Just tell the ticket office we’re you are going and they will give you the right ticket. Likewise, you can use the automated ticket machines to select your required tickets. Please note; conductors do check your tickets so if you select the wrong one you may find yourself being fined or paying for another ticket. This depends on how the conductors are feeling on the day.

When arriving at Versailles station it is a short walk around to the Palace. Just follow the signs and masses of other tourists. Online purchasing is a good idea as you won’t need to line up for tickets at the ticket office. Unfortunately, you will see need to wait in the entry line unless you’ve purchased a “skip the line” ticket, through a third-party operator, for an extra cost.

Palace of Versailles
The ticket office for the Palace of Versailles

We were lucky on the day we were there as everyone wanted to buy tickets from the ticket office. Therefore, no one was using the hidden ticket machines in a different room. We quickly purchased our tickets for the palaces and gardens and headed to the huge line up.

Palace of Versailles
The crazy long line up at the Palace of Versailles. It took 2.5-hours to get through.

Now, we were prepared for the wait, we had some water, some snacks and our entertainment devices to keep us occupied. If fact Josie and I used to time to write a few posts whilst we waited. The girls listened to some music and sang, harmonising the day away.

It was a 2.5 hour wait but the lines constantly moved, so there was a sense that you were going somewhere. Group tours through travel agencies are always available. These tours get you into the grounds quicker, but you have a limited time for your visit to the Palace and gardens. And the Palace of Versailles is a take your time attraction.

When you make it to the front of the line, you will need to pass through a security checkpoint. So, make sure you are sensible and leave any sharp implements in your room. We have seen people try to enter with their favourite Swiss Army knife, only for it to be confiscated.

Once you’re past the security check the Palace of Versailles shows you its wealth around every corner. This Palace has seen Kings and Queens grace these beautiful halls and their need for luxury is incredible.

Palace of Versailles
The stunning architecture of the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors

Once through the Palace buildings you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the enormity of the Palace grounds. Water fountains, sculptures, manicured lawns and flower exhibits are everywhere. Make sure you grab a map so you don’t get lost.

Palace of Versailles
A small garden courtyard inside the Palace of Versailles

As mentioned earlier, you should make a day of it. The gardens contain a cafe and restaurant if you are feeling hungry. We ate a nice lunch in the La Girandole Versailles garden cafe at a slightly elevated price. However, it was great to relax for a little while before exploring the gardens more.

Palace of Versailles
Unfortunately, we were unable to get a good photo of the cafe.

Our Passport Ticket also gave us access to the Petit and Grand Trianons, which once housed the Queen’s, Princess’ and Princes of France.

Palace of Versailles
The entrance courtyard of the Petit Trianon

These Trianons are located outside of the main palace grounds with separate security checks being performed at each site.

Palace of Versailles
The Grand Trianon and its gardens

A fantastic day, the Palace of Versailles is an ideal day getaway from Paris. So, spend a day or book some accommodation in Versailles and tell them Simon of Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for the Palace of Versailles

Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Ph. + 33 1 30 83 78 00
Website: www.chauteauversailles.fr

Price
  • Prices range from € 20.00 – € 30.00 for Passport ticket entry
  • Full ticketing information available here
Opening hours

Palace
from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Estate of Trianon
from 12:00 pm to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Gardens
from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm

Coach Gallery
from 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm
closed on Mondays

Book accommodation in Versailles here.

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German History, a Storyline of Berlin

Urban Adventure Tours

Before this big adventure started, we knew we’d have to plan some activities before we arrived in Europe. After doing some research we booked some tours with Urban Adventures. One of those tours was a Storyline of Berlin.

Urban Adventure’s Storyline of Berlin is a 4-5 hour walking tour, around the streets of Berlin. Germany has had an infamous history and Berlin has been at the heart of those historic tragedies. This tour gives, visitors an honest historical insight into the heartbreaking treatment of the people of Europe by Hitler’s Germany. It then details the subsequent division of a city after World War II ended. The tour does need a little fitness to complete the 5 hour walk. But your tour guide will control the pace of the walk depending on speed and health of their guests.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
The Reichstag is the meeting point for the start of the tour.

Our meeting point for the tour is at the large flag pole in front of the Reichstag building. Here we are greeted by our guide for the day, Sara. Sara is an Italian archaeologist with an extensive knowledge and love for Berlin. Her passion for this city is evident in how she delivers her knowledge to her guests.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
The impressive looking Brandenburg Gate

From the Reichstag, you walk the streets and visit some of Berlin’s main attractions. The Holocaust Memorial is a large eerie art display, that makes you feel trapped the deeper you walk in, with imposing walls on either side. The stunning Brandenburg gate with its horse and chariot to the Topography of Terror, which has a timeline of the horrific treatment of the innocent.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
A hauntingly eerie Holocaust Memorial
Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
A timeline of Germany’s infamous history at the Topography of Terror

Not only does the tour take in all this history, Sara also ensures that you have a couple of rest stops. A stop at a local café for some refreshments and a toilet break. Then another pause later when you visit Rausch’s, an incredible chocolate store with samples and magnificent chocolate displays.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
Here is the Brandenburg Gate made from chocolate at Rausch’s Chocolate House.

A Storyline of Berlin tour completes at Lustgarten, next to the Berlin Cathedral. Here Sara will give you advice on where to eat and what else to do with your time in Berlin.

Urban Adventure's Storyline of Berlin
Looking at the Berlin Cathedral Church through the Lustgarten.

Our small group of four found the tour very interesting and well worth the cost. Sara was an excellent guide, easy to understand with a well measured delivery of her knowledge. We have no issue in recommending this excellent tour through Urban Adventures. So, book your next tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Berlin is a place of History, let Urban Adventures take you through the Storyline of Berlin!
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Additional Information for Urban Adventure’s Storyline of Berlin

To see available tours in Berlin, click here
To book a Storyline of Berlin here: www.urbanadventures.com

Price
  • Adults: € 61.00
  • Child: € 31.00

Departure time: 10:00 am

 

Book accommodation in Berlin via Booking.com

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Taking a train from Oslo to Bergen. That’s Norway in a Nutshell!

Our time in Oslo has gone by so quickly, but now it’s time to discover more of beautiful Norway. On this journey, we have experienced some things that most Australian’s would not. We became so excited when it started to snow, I’m sure the Norwegian’s thought us mad. But in our defence, it doesn’t snow in Adelaide, South Australia. After some consideration, we decided that the best way to get a good look around the Norwegian countryside was to hop on the Norway in a Nutshell tour from Oslo to Bergen.

Norway in a nutshell
Snow covered field and mountains along the Oslo to Bergen rail trip

Basically, the Norway in a Nutshell tour is an extensive train ride from Oslo to the historic township of Bergen. This is not just some ordinary train ride, it is a journey that lasts approximately 12 hours. So, you take a roundabout trip, which takes in some of Norway’s most spectacular scenery.

Norway in a nutshell
The Oslo to Myrdal train from OSLO S. The first leg of the tour

The journey starts at the Oslo Central Station (OSLO S) at around 8 am and the first leg runs between Oslo and Myrdal. This leg is the longest of the journey, lasting about 5 hours.

Norway in a nutshell
Comfortable seating on board the Oslo to Bergen train.

The seats are comfortable and the train has luggage areas, so you don’t have to worry about your luggage being in the way. The facilities are clean and the train has a children’s activity wagon to entertain the kids and a refreshment wagon to entertain the adults.

Norway in a nutshell
The fully licensed refreshment cart. There’s a decent range of drinks and hot food available.

On arrival into Myrdal we disembark off the Oslo train and board the Flåm railway. This historic railway takes an automatic guided tour through the snow-capped hills to the picturesque township of Flåm.

Norway in a nutshell
The carriage interior of the historic Myrdal to Flåm railway

The journey lasts for about an hour and has a brief stop to look at a waterfall. The area was covered in snow and the girls had a bit of a play. You will be in awe as the train comes down from the snow-capped hills and enters the luscious green valley that is Flåm. The view is incredible, and if you didn’t want to move to Norway, then this might tip you over the edge.

Norway in a nutshell
All of a sudden the snow disappears and you enter a new world

After a short stay in Flåm, a visit to buy gloves for the girls in the Mall of Norway. And a walk around the area for a good photo opportunity, we are herded on board a ferry for a 2 hour Fjord cruise. The cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen is a visual delight. The slow cruise along the Fjord allows you to easily take photos of the breathtaking scenery. I couldn’t help but stand there against the vessels bow railing and just live in the tranquil moment breathing in that cold Norwegian air. And I do mean cold air….Brrrr!

Norway in a nutshell
The tranquil peace of cruising along the Fjord. In my opinion, highlight of the trip.

Unfortunately, the Fjord cruise had to end at the quiet ferry port of Gudvangen. Here we wait for a bus to take us to the town of Voss. We load up into the bus and make the 30 minute bus ride to Voss and the final train to Bergen. The bus trip passes through some lovely countryside and the final train ride to Bergen takes about 1.5 hours.

By the time, you arrive at Bergen you’ve had a great appreciation of this beautiful country and Bergen just enhances that with its historic buildings and moored sailing vessels.

Norway in a nutshell
The historic building along the foreshore of Bergen

In conclusion, the Norway in a Nutshell tour is a terrific way to quickly discover the Norwegian landscapes and differences in weather patterns. It was amazing entering the snow-covered hills at one end and to come out into green valleys at the other. The highlight of the trip was the Fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen. What an amazing journey! I must admit that the last two legs of the journey melded into each other as 12 hours is a long time to keep focused on. Overall the Norway in a Nutshell tour is a perfect introduction to Norway, so book your tour now and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for Norway in a Nutshell tour

We booked our tickets through Fjord Tours

Fjord Tours
Website: www.norwaynutshell.com

Cost:

One way trip: 1890NOK per adult and 980NOK per child

Round Trip: 2790NOK per adult and 1420NOK per child

Book your stay in Bergen now with Booking.com

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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – A Gold Coast Must-See

I have travelled to the Gold Coast in Queensland many times. Most of the trips have been for my kids to participate in competitions for their various sports, but we have always stayed on or had time for some tourist activities. In November during our visit, we went to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time. Here are my thoughts.

The Gold Coast is synonymous with a few things in Australia – sun, surf, theme parks! After spending some time on the beach, most people that come here immediately fill their days with the thrills of the theme parks. Sure, we have done that too in the past, but really themes parks are not our thing, so we were looking for something else to do for a day.

We had got as far as the carpark a few years ago. There was a short time between other commitments that we wanted to fill in and we had membership at the Adelaide Zoo. The membership gave us reciprocal entry rights at other zoos around Australia. Unfortunately Currumbin isn’t one of them, and for such a short visit the admission price was just not worth it.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary houses Australian native animals. Pretty much any you can think of will be here. The sanctuary is huge, with lots of shady trees. This is perfect to keep the hot Queensland sun off while visiting.

Walkways
Shady walkways to protect from the heat

The first thing we noticed about Currumbin was that it was BIG! No small cages here. There are also some big spaces between the displays. Luckily there is also a little tram to jump on to get from area to area if you prefer. We initially chose to walk rather than get on the tram. The gates had just opened when we arrived. The walk was  peaceful and felt like it was just us and the trees.

Birds
Birds in the aviary

After passing through an aviary, we came to a kids playground area. There were many things to climb on and play with. All had an educational twist to them, with games and challenges. There was a huge spiders web and a gecko wall for climbing on and dinosaur bones buried in the sandpit. As I sat down on the crocodile below a motion-sensored speaker started telling me about the huge reptiles! I was not expecting it and it made me jump so much I nearly fell off the crocodile!

Playground
Entrance to the playground – big kids allowed too!
Crocodile
Luckily that crocodile is not real

Currumbin has an extensive list of wildlife shows and displays that occur throughout the day. There are various animal displays, shearing displays, and cultural displays. We happened to wander past as the Free Flight Bird Show was on and we watched for about 15 minutes as birds flew over our heads. At least, they were mostly just over our heads. They were so close we could feel the wind as they went past, and occasionally got a wing in the head as well. I think we picked the cheap seats 🙂

bird show
Free flight bird show
Pelican
The pelican got lunch too

After the bird show we got swept along with the crowd to the reptile show. Here we got up and cosy with some lizards and snakes. Or at least as close as I like to get. Yes, they let them loose, including a couple a big venomous snakes! I was too busy paying attention to them staying on their own side of the barrier though to remember exactly what sort of snakes they were.

Snake
A snake – no further info matters!

After each of the shows there were opportunities to have photos taken with the animals involved. There was another dedicated area we saw that also had various animals during the day for visitors to get up and close with and have photos too.

One of the most interesting parts of Currumbin for me was the animal hospital. I loved how they had glass walls so you could stay and watch actual procedures taking place. There was nothing happening as I was there. The vets had just woken up a koala. Next there was a turtle about to go in to get his shell mended. I was too busy watching, and didn’t even think about taking a photo!

Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil hiding in the undergrowth
Echidna
Echidna
Galah
Galah and friend
Crocodile
That crocodile is nearly as big as the fake one I’m sitting on!
Koala
Nap time

We meandered through to bush visiting some more animals along the way, and soon came to a huge open area where kangaroos roamed freely. We bought a small cup of food and then hand fed a kangaroo or two. They weren’t all that interested though – I think many others before us had also fed them. The kangaroos happily played in the shade while we patted them.

Kangaroo feeding area
Kangaroo feeding area
Kangaroo
Patting the kangaroo

While we were enjoying walking around, we couldn’t leave without a tram ride, so we hopped on the tram thinking we would do a whole loop and then again walk back from where we were. Unfortunately the tram didn’t do a full loop, so in the end we got off back near the entrance/exit.

Tram
The tram. Each one had a different engine.

We had been looking forward to this moment all day! Now was when we were going to hold a koala! Until now, I had never done this, but there was no lineup, and the others I was with REALLY wanted to do it. I thought the koalas would be quite solid and heavy, but really they weren’t. The one we held was soft, but those claws gripping on to me meant business. I would not like to be on their receiving end if the koala got angry.

Holding koala
I got to hold a koala!
Koala
Bailey did too!

Overall this was a really enjoyable few hours. Being Australian, I have seen all of these animals many times over and interacted with some of them at nearly every zoo. It is quite common to be able to feed kangaroos almost everywhere! Still, it was fun. Our visit was entertaining throughout and I did not feel bored or tired of walking. The highlight was holding the koala.

Additional Information

28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin QLD 4223
Ph: +61-7-5534-1266
Website: www.cws.org.au

Book your stay on the Gold Coast

Budget Tip: Do a Google search for vouchers or discounts. I was able to buy a 4 person ticket at about 35% off the regular prices.

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