How To Make Friends In Hostel?

Hello all fellow shy travelers! Today’s travel post is all for you. As totally introverted and socially awkward person traveling and especially hostel life may feel like a nightmare. You want to make new friends and learn about these amazing different cultures but something inside you just makes it impossible. With these tips you will be step closer to being that social traveler in hostel. (Or at least everyone will think that you are the social one…)

Of course anyone asking themselves the question ‘How to make friends in hostel?’ can follow my tips but these are made especially for all us shy people who wouldn’t usually start conversations with strangers.

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Photos from Unsplash

Everything starts with a smile

Don’t laugh, it’s the truth! With smile you can go a long way making friends in hostel. If you look like you are having the best day of your life, other hostel guests will more likely begin chatting with you than if you are just sulking in the corner. Make eye contact (not too often that’s just creepy) and smile. They will probably answer to your smile and if you are lucky even start talking with you.

This usually works because there is two types of people in hostels. Those who want to talk for others and those who don’t. And then of course those subcategories for people who only talk for pretty girls, with the staff members or when they are intoxicated. So, when you smile people know that they can safely approach you and start talking. Soon you may find yourself with new friend!

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Greet everyone always and everywhere

After smiling greeting other guests is the most important thing in making hostel friends if you ask from me. I have had many people starting interesting conversations with me after I have greeted them for a few mornings and evenings in row. Some people just take longer to warm up for you and greeting them every time you see them is good way to achieve just that.

In the other hand. It’s also the best way to make new friends on your first day in the hostel. And with the people who have just arrived to the hostel and are going to spend there their first night. You could call it the good first impression. You will snatch the best new hostel friends for yourself before they make friends with someone else and starting conversation with them will be harder.

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Easy questions always work

The most usual way to start conversation with someone in hostel is to ask where they are from. You might think that asking persons name would be one of the first questions but surprisingly sometimes it may take hours of talking before thing like that comes up. Crazy, right? But if knowing someone’s name is important you can always tell the “by the way, my name is ____” and they will probably tell you theirs.

The beginning of conversation when making friends in hostel usually goes by asking and answering questions. You will get hold on to it quickly after making your first few hostel friends. Ask them about their home country, how long they are going to stay in the destination, where they are going next, where have they been before, what they know about your home country and even tips for some destination they have been before. After a while the conversation will start flowing on its own. So, don’t worry too much.

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Pay attention to the small details

Paying attention to people around you is important part of making new hostel friends. Why? You may accidentally find reason to start conversation. I just recently talked a little with another hostel guest because we had identical laptops.

A few times I have made friends because I saw someone reading books, watching Youtube videos or talking with someone else about concert they have just been to. If you know something about the subject yourself, feel free to start conversation. “Excuse me, I could not hear you talking about being in the concert. You have good music taste, I love that band.” It may seem hard at first but after a while you will get used to it.

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Ask help or offer help

You are sitting in your dorm room, new guests walks in and you greet them happily. They start searching for their bed but look a little bit confused by the numbering system of your room’s beds. You have been following them in the corner of your eyes while surfing on your computer. Then you ask if they need help and tell them where their bed is. They will probably thank you and you can introduce yourself and ask where they are from. After that it’s easy to start talking and if they don’t look too tired after traveling you can even tell them that you were just leaving to eat something and ask them to join you.

Asking help and offering help is easy way to break the ice and start new friendship with your fellow hostel guest. I think this is one of the most common ways of making friends in hostels.

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Bride with food

You can’t get true friends with money but food is totally different subject. Some of the most interesting hostel friendships I have had have started with food. Recently in Bremen my dorm roommate made me breakfast because I woke up too late to eat it every morning. We talked a lot after that. During my Japan trip I made friends again and again with food. I especially remember the Halloween night when group of us ended up sharing candies to everyone and talked far into the night.

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Everything starts from the common room

After long day adventuring around the new city you are probably ready for the bed. However staying unsocial in your dorm room means no easy friends for you. Buy food or snacks from convenience store, take book or computer with you and set towards the common room or kitchen area. Then just find nice spot for yourself with many seats around you and began your waiting. Eventually someone will start talking with you.

Just remember all the other tips I have shared. Remember to greet every guest arriving to the room. Usually if you greet someone and even more often if you are the only person in the room, they will ask would it be okay to sit with you. Then just start talking. Ask them where they are from and hope for the best.

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The more the merrier

Don’t be scared of big groups. It’s more than normal for hostel friend groups grow uncontrollably. You may talk with one person, then third person starts talking with the two of your, fourth person asks if you know any good restaurants and you start all together planning meal together. Then a few hours later you will find yourself with six other hostel guests from too small restaurant for you all to fit in properly. Just normal hostel life…

So, be prepared to hang out in bigger groups and don’t be scared to start talking with people even if they are already with someone. And if you are asked to join group going out say yes! You can regret later and find stupid excuse to escape.

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It will either work or not

In the end you can’t force hostel friendships and making friends in hostel is more about lucky than social skills. Sometimes you make too many friends to even remember their names and sometimes you will only smile for someone and that’s it. That happened for me in Sweden. During my stay I only talked about two sentences with my roommates and I never met anyone else in the hostel. Bad luck.

My last tip for making friends in hostel for shy people is to just go for it. At first it is hard but you will get used to it quickly. Always keep in mind that if you don’t want you don’t have to see anyone here ever again. Heck, they don’t even know your full name so they will never find you anywhere. You can make fool of yourself or be totally awkward without any consequences. Making friends in hostel is perfect way to learn social skills. Feel free to fail as many times as you need.

And that’s all I have to say now about making friends in hostel from the introvert’s point of view. Do you have any tips or tricks for making friends? Or maybe someone more social person would like to tell how they start the first conversation in hostel? Like always all comments are welcome and thanks or reading.

And btw, don’t forget to follow my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love,

Lost Viivi 

14 Free Things To Do in Kyoto, Japan

For broke traveler like me Kyoto is heaven. However to find the free and cheap things under all the expensive ones can be tiresome. To safe you from this task here is my free tips to Kyoto. This free things to do in Kyoto, Japan list includes some of my favorite destinations in Japan and maybe in whole world. I even left some out of this list because I would talk endlessly about Kyoto. Still after almost two years I keep naming this city as my favorite travel destination.

(I will add some photos to this post later today or tomorrow… Sorry!)

14. Heian Shrine

White sand, bright red buildings and tourists with cameras. There is 600 yen admission fee to get in the garden but at least for me the free front area was enough. And you should not forget to walk a little farther away from the shrine to see the huge Torii gate and beautiful red bridge next to it. If you want to take photos without other tourists interrupting you, go just after the opening in 6 am. Because I am not morning person I almost visited this shrine too late. It closes already at 5 pm.

 

13. Kiyomizudera Temple

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The temple itself isn’t free but the area around it is enough to keep you occupied for a while. There is souvenir shops, free food samples, smaller temples, pagodas, old buildings and a lot of people. It’s easy to get lost here but you will definitely found something interesting on every alley. I recommend this for those wanting to free samples of local sweets because you can find those from almost all of the souvenir shops. Also if you are kpop, kdrama or Korean beauty product fan, there is interesting shops for you.

 

12. Nishiki Market

Maybe not place to do shopping if you are short of money but still forth of visiting. Nishiki market is street full of fish, sweet and food sellers. Some even have free samples. Opening hours depend on store but I recommend visiting either on morning between 9am to 11am or on afternoon between 2pm and 4pm. Most of the stores are open at that time and they have a lot of free samples. But if you are on budget and trying to find sales go just before closing time at 6pm.

 

11. Gion

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Have you ever dreamed of seeing Keishas and Maikos? At Gion it may be possible! It may be hard to spot them and requires some getting lost in smaller streets of Gion. However even lazier traveler may be able to see normal Japanese girls and boys wearing their kimonos. Just don’t be rude and ask before taking photo.

This is place to take pretty selfies and admire the architecture. If you are hungry -and out of money like me- just visit the shops on Shijo dori (from Kamo river to Yasaka shrine). There you can find free samples to try.

 

10. Philosopher’s Path

Beautiful walk starts from Ginkakuji and runs two kilometers along the river until Nanzenji neighborhood. Philosopher’s Path belongs to my free things to do in Kyoto list because it is one of the most beautiful places in Kyoto around the year. However I have two recommendations: spring and autumn… I visited during colorful fall and it was perfect. The trees surrounding this path are cherry trees so during spring and hanami this is perfect cherry blossom viewing spot.

This walk got its name because it is told that one of Japan’s most famous philosophers used to meditate and walk this path. Don’t settle for only walking! There is many pretty shops, cafes and restaurants that you can visit. Also many small temples and shrines welcome visitors.

 

9. Umekoji Park

Around Kyoto aquarium and Railway museum is located Umekoji park. Even if you don’t have money to those two attractions is just enjoying the park nice experience. When I visited there many locals were playing football and walking their dogs. Stop by to buy hot drink from vending machine and took small break from your day. This may not be the most interesting free attraction in Kyoto but good spot to relax for a while. Also the neighborhood around this park is beautiful. There is many small ponds and idyllic forest.

 

8. Nishi Honganji & Higashi Honganji

Honganji temple kyoto

Two huge (and free) temples in the center Kyoto. If you want to take look to older Japan and Buddhism, I recommend to visit these two. At some parts it’s prohibited to wear shoes so prepare pair that is easy to take off an put on. I didn’t want to include too many temples and shrines on this free things to do in Kyoto list but Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji are close to everything and easy to access. Also if I should recommend places for day trip in Kyoto, these two would be on my list.

 

7. Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace is free to visit and offers wide look to Japanese history. There is free English tours but you have to reserve place for one beforehand. A few years ago Imperial Palace was only accessed by guided tours that were hard to book but fortunately nowadays anyone can access the palace’s grounds. This makes it one of my favorite destinations in free things to do in Kyoto list. (I had so many problems booking that free tour during my Kyoto visit two years ago…)

In addition to the palace I recommend walking around the Imperial Park that has many smaller attractions. Also the neighborhood around park is interesting and has many things to see. For example river next to Horikawa Dori is worth of seeing.

 

6. Kamo River

free things to do in Kyoto

Join in the locals sitting on the bends of Kamo river. In Kyoto I lived right next to Kamo river so it has reserved its special spot in my heart. There is not many things to see when you first visit and you may even ask why would I include this normal river to my free things to do in Kyoto list. However if you sit down and look around, this is the best place to see local life and Kyoto’s true side. Fishers, families playing around, couples walking around, young adults drinking and having fun.

One of the best things is that Kamo river runs along the whole city and past some of the major attractions. You can walk from Fushimi Inari to Gion and back. If you have bike and time, try day trip out of the town. One man told me about his trip while I was staying in hostel and apparently if you follow the river you can see some amazing and beautiful Japanese views.

 

5. Arashiyama

free things to do in Kyoto

Arashiyama is huge area in west Kyoto. There is many things to see and most of them are free so it is good addition to our free things to do in Kyoto list. Firstly, just walking around the area is interesting experience. Remember to take good shoes because I totally destroyed mine here. Walk bends of the river towards the forest and you will see beautiful photographic spots. Not so many people go there but it is definitely worth it.

Then secondly be part of the tourist masses and visit souvenir shops you can find from the main street of this area. They have tasty free food samples. And thirdly go to bamboo forest (read below) and Kameyama Park. Kameyama Park is extremely beautiful during fall when you can admire the colorful mountains and river from its observation spots. It is accessible from Bamboo forest but not so many tourists visit here.

 

4. Bamboo Forest

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This major attraction from Arashiyama deserves its own spot on my free things to do in Kyoto list. Why? It is one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto and maybe in whole Japan. If you have seen beautiful bamboo photos when looking up Japan, I bet those are taken in Kyoto’s Bamboo forest. If you want to have photos without huge tourist crowds, go super early. Also good tip is to walk and walk and walk. Most of the people just visit the beginning of this path in bamboo forest so if you walk more than them you will also find spot with not as many people.

 

3. Kyoto Station

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Almost everyone visiting Kyoto will walk around station at some point. I recommend it as the place to start your trip whatever you are seeking for free things to do in Kyoto or want to use as much money as possible. It is a little hard to find but Kyoto station has tourist information with free maps, flyers and helpful staff members. It may sound touristy but there is no better place to start your trip.

When you walk up the stairs of station (often decorated with light show or other decorations) you will find observation deck that is often forgotten. This is good alternative for Kyoto Tower if you don’t want to spend money. If you want to see the station from high, find free Skyway path that walk above the station. Kyoto station has also three shopping malls and even if you don’t want to buy anything it is fun to just walk around. Also find food section and they usually serve free samples.

And the last but not least thing to see in Kyoto Station is just outside the front doors. Aqua Fantasy Musical Fountain Show has amazing name but it describes perfectly what this is about. Colorful lights, water and of course music amaze people on evenings.

 

2. Yasaka Shrine

Known also as Gion temple this shrine is next to Gion area and in the end of Shijo street. It’s big area with people constantly passing by. You can buy food and crafts from small stalls. One of the free and main shrines worth of visiting. At weekends you may see locals wearing pretty kimonos and visiting the shrine. Don’t just visit the main shrine but walk past it and wander around the whole area.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha

Magical Forest Kyoto Torii

My ultimate favorite place in Kyoto, Japan and maybe whole world. I don’t even know why I have so utterly fallen in love with this mountain full of torii gates. It is perfect for everyone from photographers to travelers seeking for free adventure in Kyoto. Definitely one of the best free things to do in Kyoto.

Hike to the top and back requires good health (or many breaks) because it takes about two hours. Fortunately there is many break points and several vending machines. Just remember to take coins with you. In addition to admiring the red torii gates taking over all of the paths you should look for the amazing views to the city. Sunset from mount Inari is breathtaking. If you have more than enough time, try the not so popular paths and you may find secrets… For those interested I have written story from my trip to Fushimi Inari.

 

These were my favorite free things to do in Kyoto. Do you have any additional tips? Or maybe favorite places in Kyoto? All comments are welcome like always. Also if you are interested I wrote this short text about my home country Finland. Or if you are interested to read more about Kyoto, here is my top 10 things to do in Kyoto list.

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love

Viivi Severina

Tips For Solo Female Travelers

Happy International Women’s Day all fellow female travelers!

Traveling as solo female traveler is adventure not any man can even imagine. There is many small things you have to remember if you decide to do adventure as solo female traveler. Not all countries are as safe or as comfortable to go without male company or safe group. It’s kind of annoying that gender can affect our lives so much but this is our society and we have to deal with it.

Women’s Day is often seen as the celebration for independent and strong girls. And that’ why I wanted to share today some tips for all women who want to travel alone. I may not be the best person to give these tips but this text is based on my own experiences and observations.

I hope you will enjoy my tips. And I hope you will keep traveling even if many people seem to think that solo female travelers are just playing with the fire. Let’s show them some girl power, shall we?

1. Trust people but doubt everyone.

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Photos from: unsplash

I often hear that as female traveler I shouldn’t believe anyone (especially men). You may follow this advice blindly but I have one I think fits traveling better. Trust everyone but always doubt anything said for you. 

Trusting people has taken me to the most amazing experiences. Getting tour around Tokyo by super nice local girl, going around Helsinki with fellow travel blogger (when my friends thought I would surely get murdered) and maybe the funniest memory: forgetting my umbrella when it was raining and random person offering to walk me back to my hostel so I don’t get wet. If I hadn’t trusted those strangers I would have never ended up to the most memorable situations of my life.

Some people may call me starry-eyed and naive but trusting people doesn’t mean that I am not on my toes in these situations. I trust people but I doubt everyone. And when i say everyone I mean literally everyone because you never know what are the people’s true nature if you have only known them for a short moment.

2. Be ready to lie if needed.

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When you travel alone as girl you have to be ready to use all your actor skills. Walking alone at night? Talk to phone like you are having conversation with your beloved badass boyfriend. Too enthusiastic wooer? You are waiting for you best friend and can’t talk right now. Make stories ready before traveling so when you have to do some acting it feels natural to lie.

This may sound funny or stupid but sooner or later as female solo traveler you will feel need to escape some kind of situation. If you want to take this to next level some woman travelers use fake wedding rings to avoid unwanted attention.

3. Girls are confident, strong and cool.

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Whatever you were boy or girl acting like local can save you from many problems “normal” tourists have to face. One of the key features I think is important for surviving as solo female traveler is being confident, strong minded and seem cool but kind. The truth is that “bad people” try to find easy targets so you have to make yourself someone who will probably survive anything.

  • So how to act like you belong to this new unknown city you are visiting as solo female traveler? It is easier than it may sound like. (Maybe I should write longer post about this subject?) Walk like you know where you are going.
  • Throw away maps and download them to your phone so you can check them like you were just reading text message.
  • Always listen to music or act like you are listening to music. Put headphones on and listen to your favorite songs. It will calm you down but also make you fit in better. No lost scared tourist would close the world away with music. If you hate music or feel like you want to hear what is happening around you, you can just listen quietness and act like you are listening to music.
  • When in need ask help but continue your way after that like you own the whole city.
  • Practice basic words (thanks, sorry, etc.) and use them while smiling sweetly. If someone asks you something tell them confidently that you are not living here so you can’t help them. Being honest is the best in these situations.

4. Say no! (And yes…)

For me the hardest thing to learn has been how to say no. Believe me you have to learn and use that word a lot. No, I am not bying anything. No, I am not going to that shady looking bar you are trying to track me because they will pay you if I go inside. No, no, no… But between saying no to everyone you have to learn when is the right situation to use yes. That one small word will get you to the most amazing adventures. Don’t be afraid to say yes to other people but more importantly to yourself.

5. Check everything before going.

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Where is closest police station? From where you can get help if needed? What time sun sets? Is there any areas you should avoid or be careful in? Is there any known scams or other warnings happening in the area? When does the last bus/metro leave and if you miss it what can you do?

You should do some research before going. Not only about the places but also how to survive in bad situations or who to trust when in trouble. Not police can be trusted in all countries and not all places are safe to go alone as female traveler. Even if you will probably survive without checking things before your trip knowing as much as possible will calm your mind and make the travel experience more enjoyable.

6. Trust your instincts.

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At first this may sound funny but I think it is the best safety net one can have. Our instincts are usually the first thing telling us that something is wrong or that we should definitely run from this dangerous situation. If you feel like person isn’t trustworthy or that you are taken to place you don’t want to go just say no.

Even if you don’t realize it your brains keep reading other people and their body language. If someone is acting threateningly or if the situation quickly changes to weird, it is your instincts that make the alarms go off in your head. Sometimes our instinct may be wrong but it is better to be safe than dead in side alley because you didn’t trust your own judgement.

7. Know the risks and dangers.

It may feel uncomfortable and unpleasant to think these thing but before deciding to travel alone you should truthfully tell yourself all the problems you may have to face or risks you are taking. If even after thinking trough all of those you feel like traveling is the only option for you, you are ready.

8. Don’t think too much and just go.

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You will often meet skeptic people and probably your own family or friends will try to change your mind about traveling as solo female traveler. Lonely woman who is traveling is often seen as crazy person who is just trying to find the trouble. Our society even now thinks that women can’t travel the world alone like men.

You shouldn’t listen these people. Of course there is some dangers and risks that only female solo travelers have to face but other than that girls are as capable to travel as boys. If world is place where women have to stay in kitchen just so we can live and not get in danger, I don’t know if I even want to be here anymore. Is staying back home and not risking it by traveling life worth of living? Maybe for some people but definitely not for me.

So, I will keep solo traveling as lonely totally risk hazard female and I courage you to do the same. Let’s enjoy our lives and not believe those who don’t believe in us. Happy Women’s Day everyone!

 

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Like always feel free to tell your thought and tips on the comments. Have you any bad or surprisingly good experiences as female traveler? Or if you are man what is your view to this whole “female solo traveler” thing?

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love,

Lost Viivi

 

How to survive lethal case of wanderlust?

I may have been quiet last week not blogging and not even answering many comments. Sorry for that but I have had total writing blog. I have had lethal case of wanderlust. Endless longing to travel and not any sure travel plans waiting for me. Well, until I booked tickets to Sweden and Poland on Sunday night. So… I am leaving this Saturday for week long solo trip! I have totally needed this.

Wanderlust
A strong desire to travel and wander around the world. Longing to see new places and experience new things.

When I was thinking about subject for today one idea stuck out of everything else. How to survive wanderlust and longing to travel if you are in life situation where you have no way of travelling anywhere. If you have been reading my blog for sometime now you may know that I am currently studying in university. I have weeks full of school so there is not a much time for travelling.

I am sorry to inform you that there is no cure for wanderlust but you can always try to ease the symptoms. These next tips are something I keep doing when bad case of wanderlust tries to take over my mind. I know there is many people reading my blog who can identify with me. Some of you may be in school or work, maybe you don’t have money or you just are too shy to even try yet. Whatever the reason is I hope you find help from these tips.

 

Plan Future Trips

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Photos: unplash

One of the best and easiest ways to help your wanderlust is to plan the trips you are surely going to make when you can travel again. Choose new destinations and add them to your bucket list. I have always believed that imagination is the strongest weapon human can have so why not to use it? Daydream. That is my biggest secret of surviving lethal case of wanderlust.

Make lists. List all the places you want to visit. Beautiful beaches you have to see one day. Interesting festivals, tourist attractions that seem overrated but are must see things and secret spots that are often not talked about. Plan your trips to all those places. Good thing is that there is always new trips you can plan. There is endless amount of cities, places and experiences to plan and dream about.

 

Virtual Travel

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I could get lost for hours doing virtual travelling around the world. I use this website but normal google maps street view is as good for this. Basically you go to random place in street view and start wandering around without looking the map. I get hooked with this “fake travelling” when at one point people on internet played this game were you went to random spot of world on street view and kept wandering around blindly until you found airport.

You never know where in the world you will end up going. And when you find something interesting you can always add it to you bucket list. My favorite places to see are Eiffel Tower, small streets around the world (especially China), Japanese shrines and Iceland’s raw nature.

 

International Friends

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Surprising but effective way of beating your wanderlust is to find friends from different parts of this world. Even better if those friends are as interested about travelling as you are. Getting to know new cultures through your new friends is almost as good as travelling and it prepares you for your future trips.

I have learnt so many new things just talking with people from countries I haven’t known that much before. I have got new friends because of blogging but also from my school’s exchange student programs. I never stop wondering how there can be so many different countries and cultures in this world.

 

Read Books, Watch Movies

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I have always been that bookworm girl who would rather spend evening reading good book than going out. Maybe that’s why for me the best way to escape has always been by reading. There are millions of stories about travelling.  Movies, TV-series and books. Some of my favorites are:

  • Cheryl Strayed: Wild (Book & Movie)
  • Under The Tuscan Sun (Movie)
  • The Bucket List (Movie)
  • Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (TV-series)
  • Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love (Book)
  • Lost in Translation (Movie)

 

Hometown Travel

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I would bet that there is places you have never been before close to your home. Or even the places where you have been before may seem different if you look them from the traveler’s point of view. If you can’t leave for longer trip do something new close by. Maybe you can do weekend hiking trip? Or visit your city’s tourist information and play tourist for a day in your own city?

Google what other travelers have to say about your hometown. You may find tips and places you have not paid attention to before. Keep in mind that for some people your city seems as interesting as all those travel destinations you want to visit someday. With open mind and a little bit of imagination you can travel without leaving your own street or block.

 

Read Travel Blogs

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Finally my last tip is to read blogs and get that travel feeling from the trips others have done. Find you favorite blogs and follow them on their adventures around the world. Internet is full of travel bloggers so this is probably the easiest way of easing one’s wanderlust. If reading isn’t your thing find travel Youtubers to follow. There is some with amazing beautiful videos that will leave you in state of wonder and bliss.

 

I hope these tips will help you. Just remember to be careful. I should have probably started by mentioning that all these tips may cause even worse wanderlust than you already have… There is no way out except of course travelling. I hope safe travels for you all and fun times trying to cope with the want of travelling!

So, how do you survive from wanderlust if you can’t travel? All good tips are always welcome.

With love,

Viivi Severina

10 Things to do in Kyoto, Japan

To my own surprise after  wondering what would be my top 10 places to visit in Kyoto most of them were free things. It’s not only because I’m broke and cheap (okay, maybe it has something to do with that fact…). Kyoto just has many free and beautiful attractions!

So here is my top 10 list of things to do when visiting Kyoto (most of them free or cheap). I spend almost two months in Kyoto so I visited most of them several times. If I had only a one day in Kyoto these are the ones I would be considering to visit.

10. Philosopher’s Path & Ginkaku-ji

 Whatever you were deep thinker or just doing touristy things around Kyoto Philosopher’s Path is something you shouldn’t skip. I recommend visiting during fall (the colors are BEAUTIFUL) or during cherry blossom season. Philosopher’s path follows small canal for two kilometers.

There is cute small cafes, shops and small temples to visit during your walk. Or if you are deep thinker you may want to follow the foot steps of Nishida Kitado who is one of Japan’s most famous philosophers and who used to walk this route and meditate. Philosopher’s path starts/ends to Ginkakuji temple that is place worth of visit on its own.

 

9. Kyoto Aquarium

Kyoto, japan aquarium

It may seem stupid to include aquarium in this list because you can find them from anywhere in the world. Fortunately I am not one to follow general opinions. I think I have said this before but if you want to make me fall in love with you just take me to the aquarium. Seeing colorful fishes, sharks, etc. is amazing what ever country you are currently.

Penguins, jellyfishes and pet a sea animals corner made me spend too many hours in this dark huge aquarium. There was also dolphin music show and a lot of souvenirs to buy. I recommend this for all fellow aquarium lovers!

 

8. Train Station

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This may sound lame but Kyoto’s train station was one of my regular places to wander around. There is three shopping centers, countless restaurants and city’s best tourist information. One of my favorite things to do in Kyoto was to eat evening snacks in the free observation deck after I had bought them from the basement floor’s food stalls. (BTW. free food samples are offered there if you go on the right time.)

You can use hours after hours just getting to know all the shops and trying different foods. Get your the best city tips and current events from tourist information. And like I said that observation deck and its Happy Terrace are one of the secret wonders of Kyoto.

 

7. Manga Museum

My plan was to visit here on my last week in Kyoto but then I didn’t have a time. I can however recommend it for everyone because I did hear so many good reviews of it by the other hostel guests. Manga museum is just what it sounds like… building full of mangas you can read! Majority of the books is in Japanese but there is also section for other languages.

Manga museum is located in old elementary school so in addition to all the mangas you can experience the atmosphere of Japanese school life. Admission costs 800 yen (and special exhibitions have their own prices). However there is “special” days when the admission is free for everyone.

 

6. Gion

gion

Let’s play association game once again! When I say Japan what do you think? I would guess that at least some of thought beautiful geisha. If that is what you wait from Japan then going to Gion is your best bet of succeeding in ‘geisha hunting’. (Don’t hunt geishas please… They are working so if you see them be considering).

Gion is often referred to be the old district of Kyoto. The buildings are photogenic and the shops offer free food samples of traditional Japanese snacks. There is one ‘main street’ but don’t be scared to part from it and wander around the smaller streets. I don’t recommend eating here even if the restaurants seem tempting (the prices are totally touristy/expensive).

 

5. Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Travel Year 2016: Japan Kyoto

The Golden temple is one of the most touristy places in Kyoto. It is still worth of visiting. The main thing to see is the gold-colored temple in water. Just to take pictures with that temple is worth of paying the 400 yen entrance fee. -That however is just my opinion…-

Be aware that there will be a lot of people and possibly waiting to get in. In the end of this walk through the area you can find small food and souvenir stalls. Don’t just run past them even if I don’t recommend buying anything (the prices are high). Try the free food samples because they have some options that aren’t so popular in other parts of Kyoto.

Read about my adventure to Golden Pavilion

 

4. Kiyomizu-dera

kiyomizu

I tried to not put too many shrines and temples to this list but with Kyoto it is impossible. I would do own list for those because I visited so many on my time in this historical city. Kiyomizu-derra is place I hope I could have found earlier during my stay. It’s not even the temple that charmed me but the area around it. All the small shops, tiny alleys and old buildings. 

Even if you feel like paying the 400 admission fee is too much for you to handle I recommend visiting the area. You can’t see the main temple but there is a lot more for this place. There is also many pop culture (and kpop culture) shops for those who share my interest in this area.

 

3. Arashiyama

bambooforest

Arashiyama is area in western Kyoto. There is located two must to go places: Bamboo forest and Monkey park. Also the area of Arashiyama alone is fun to explore. There is a lot of souvenir shops, temples/shrines and free food samples. Just be careful or you will get hopelessly lost…

When you see cool Japan travel photos with bamboos I would bet they are taken in Bamboo forest. It is one of the places Kyoto is popular for. Warning: Its popularity means too much people and if you go wrong time you probably can’t take that perfect bamboo photo without dozen tourist heads disturbing you. I recommend morning or just before sunset. 

 

2. Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art

At first I was surprised that Kyoto doesn’t have that many museums. But after visiting the ones this traditional city has I didn’t have any more complaints. Municipal Museum of Art was amazing and I didn’t even go inside the museum. Unfortunately when I meant to visit I hadn’t checked the timing correctly and it was already closed. However you can always visit the museum’s garden and let me tell you it was enough art for me. There was countless amount of modern art pieces during my visit.

And when you are at it Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art is located perfectly. It is separated from Kyoto’s National Museum Of Modern Art by huge torii gate (see photo above). Close to the museum is also Kyoto zoo and popular Heian Shrine.

 

1. Fushima Inari

torii

My favorite place in Kyoto, Japan and maybe even in the whole wide world! If you have learned about Japan and/or about it religions you have probably seen photos of Fushimi Inari and its endless rows of torii gates. Fushimi Inari, Fushimi Inari Taisha or Mt. Inari is mountain dedicated for fox god. The mountain paths are surrounded by thousands of red gates that are donated by Japanese businesses.

Hike up the mountain is going to be tough so I recommend good shoes and a lot of snacks. Don’t be scared to take the not so beaten path because this mountain is full of surprises and secret wonders.

Read about my adventure to Fushimi Inari

 

I know, I know… Once again I was late with post. Sorry, but I think you are already used to me not following my own rules. I’m waiting excitedly the day when I can write all my posts on the right days. We are going there (slowly) so please bear with my laziness for a little while longer.

Like always comments are welcome! Have you visited Kyoto and what were your favorite places? Or would you like to visit there some day?

With love,

Viivi Severina