Tokyo On A Shoestring

As one of the strangest, most fascinating countries in the world, Japan, Land of the Rising Sun, has an equally interesting, influential and unique capital. Mad, fun and more than a little bit kooky, Tokyo offers the very best of modern entertainment alongside ancient traditions and ways of life, making it way up on the list for most travellers! And though Tokyo's pricy reputation can put the economical traveller on edge, a limited budget shouldn't stop you from enjoying this awesome Asian city!

There's much to see and do for minimal yen! Tokyo is the capital of quirk and one of the busiest places on the planet - just to stand in its streets is an experience!

What to eat

The Japanese have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Why? Largely because of their diet. Japanese food is healthy, delicious and can be incredibly cheap if you know where to look and avoid expensive tourist restaurants. From sushi to ramen to some of the best food on the planet, Tokyo is taste central and has the highest number of bars, restaurants, cafes and eateries of any city in the world - over 140,000. So whatever food takes your fancy, you can guarantee to find it. In the land home to cosplay, manga, and tonnes of imaginative make-believe, hundreds of themed restaurants make the experience even more fun. So name your theme - you'll probably find an eatery to suit!

Where to go and what to do

A cluster of 26 districts, 23 wards, 8 villages and 5 towns, Tokyo as a whole is huge, but there are plenty of cheap and even free attractions to be found amidst its boundaries!
  • For an infamous scenic visit, visit the busy four-way crossing in Shibuya, by the station, or head to the 'cool district', Harijuku on a Sunday to witness the latest in youth fashion culture - this is cosplay and dress up central, so bring a camera! Nearly every conceivable look will grace the streets here, so it's quite the colour scene.
  • Tsukji Fish Market  in the Marunouchi & Ginza district is the world's largest seafood market, so well worth a look. From the tuna auction at 5am (arrive by 4.30am) to the sight (and smell) of hundreds of varieties of fish, it's a market you have to see to believe. It's an early start though, and most of the bustle will be over by 11am. But while you're in the area, why not check out the shopping scene in the rest of the Ginza area?
  • Sumo in Ryōgoku is seasonal, but as the national sport of Japan, deeply traditional, and a primetime TV high that must be seen if you can. January, May and September are the best times for sumo. Seats cost between ¥8200 and ¥14300, and can be bought a month in advance, or on the day (though you'll need to get there early!)
  • Alternatively if you're looking to escape the rush of the city, Higashi-Gyōen, or The Imperial Palace East Garden is a beautiful Imperial retreat, open regularly to the public and free.
Where to stay

If you're heading to Tokyo, don't expect to stay in spacious sprawling luxury! With over 35 million people living here (in a city measuring 13500 square kilometres - thats a population density of 2642 people per square kilometre!) space is a serious commodity. But that's all part of the fun! From cute little capsule quarters to rooms the size of a closet, Japan's miniature living makes staying in Tokyo a unique experience - just watch your wallet. Despite their modest rooms, hotel rates can be sizeable! But from traditional to contemporary - and very futuristic - there are still places to stay for cheap. Look for business hotels and basic hostels - or go for a local stay to save some yen.
  • Hotels - The Hotel Hoteiya in the Shitamatchi District costs the equivalent of £31 for a double room. Popular with budget travellers it is minimal, but has WiFi, laundry, and satellite TV, but be warned - bathrooms are shared. For something more upmarket, the Shinjuku Washington Hotel is close to the Harijuku district and offers reasonable room rates - just avoid the costly hotel bars and restaurants!
  • Hostels - Khaosan Tokyo Annex - one of the cheapest hostels in Tokyo at ¥2300-5000, has regular discounts. 
  • Guesthouse - K's house (little more expensive but a backpacking favourite due to its homely feel (tatami communal area) - it's more like an apartment than travel accommodation. 
  • Ryokan - Those hoping for a more traditional stay can still find it - even on a budget! Traditional Japanese inns, or ryokan such as Ryokan Katsutaro in the Yanaka district, nearby to the shopping and food hall mecca of Ginza, offer a more historical stay experience, though amenities like WiFi are still available. You can expect to pay around the equivalent of £70 a night for a double room here.
Eating and finding things to do are the cheaper sides to Tokyo trips, so expect to budget a little more for your accommodation. Also, be aware that some budget to middle-price hotels may not accept cards - unless you've already paid, it's best to bring cash. In fact you'll find the Japanese prefer cash in most situations - great for the shoestring traveller who needs help controlling their budget!

Other points

Travelling around - Avoid expensive taxis, and either walk, hire a bicycle or use the metro - it's cheap and simple to navigate, even to non-Japanese speakers. Other options such as busses are more difficult without much Japanese ability, but will still save your wallet from taking a hit! If you're planning to stay out late, seek out some sushi and sake, and try a little karaoke but don't forget about the train time limits. Trains in Tokyo stop running at midnight and start again at 5am. But if you end up stuck after midnight, don't panic! A capsule hotel (often also expensive) isn't your only option. Some manga kissa (an alternative sort of coffeeshop/ media entertainment centre) offer overnight facilities along with their regular DVD, gaming, coffee and recreational amenities.They cost around ¥2500 for eight hours.

Choose your season wisely - You can make your trip even cheaper if you travel off-peak, as prices change dramatically. Spring and autumn are the most popular and pricy times to go as the weather is more pleasant and the city will either be completely in bloom with cherry blossoms (March-April), or coloured by autumn leaves (October).

Lucy is a freelance writer and travel blogger and she provided this article on behalf of Communicaid a cultural and business communication skills consultancy based in the UK.

Playa de las Americas Tenerife

Things to Do in Playa de las Americas

Heading to Playa de las Americas in Tenerife this year? Then don't leave home until you've checked out our Playa De Las Americas guide. This is just a handful of 'must-dos' and no doubt you'll have plenty more to add, but it should give you a flavour of the breadth of things to see and do in this popular region of southern Tenerife.

Siam Park
Nearby Siam Park is a monster of a water park. It's one of the biggest and the best in Europe, offering all manners of different themed rides, slides, flumes and screech-worthy entertainment. Day-long fun for all ages with plenty of on-site amenities including cafes, bars and restaurants.

Dolphin Spotting
From Playa de las Americas you can book onto numerous wildlife-spotting excursions. Head out on a whale or dolphin-spotting trip to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

Top of a Volcano
Mount Teide is Tenerife's resident volcano. It's active but it's been dormant for some time now, and there's a cable car that can take you from the foot of the mountain to the top.

On a clear day you can enjoy spectacular views of Tenerife and the neighbouring island of La Gomera.

Go Golfing
Tenerife is famous for its golf courses. You can tee off with the sun on your skin and surrounded by spectacular views, be it of spectacular seascapes or against the mountainous backdrop of the island's famous volcano. According to Hotels, the five-star Las Madrigueras Golf Resort & Spa Hotel in Playa de las Americas is a great place to stay, and it has its own golf course too.

Visit La Gomera
The tiny island of La Gomera is a nature-lover's heaven. It's a beautiful unspoilt place that you can get to by ferry or as part of an organised tour. Once on the island, explore the rocky trails and deep gorges of La Garajonay National Park, and wander through its traditional Canarian villages and dense pine-scented forests. Unsurprisingly, the park is on UNESCO's protected list so expect plenty of soul-stirring scenery and wildlife.

Places To Visit In Oslo

Oslo, which is the capital city of Norway, happens to be the third largest in Scandinavia. It has a rich history that can be traced back to over a thousand years. If nature tripping is what you go for, then it I definitely one of the travel destinations you have to see at least once in your lifetime; based on area alone, Oslo is one of the largest at 453 square kilometers and most of it is forest.

However, there is certainly much more to this city than just wooded areas and wildlife. There are interesting sights and entertainment to be had in the capital too. Here are the top 5 places that are a must-see for Oslo:
  1. The Tusenfryd Amusement Park is Oslo’s answer to Disneyland. It is the largest amusement park in all of Norway, housing over 30 attractions such as a 5D haunted house, large and small rollercoasters, carousels, log rides, and more. There are numerous game stations and refreshment areas within the park as well. The newest attraction as of the moment is Thor’s Hammer, an indoor 3D adventure.
  2. For those who find Viking history interesting, the Viking Ship Museum should hit the spot. This museum has two of the world’s best-preserved 9th century Viking ships displayed all year-round. History buffs can also see small boats and other artifacts such as tools, implements, and even household utensils from that era.
  3. If preserved relics from the past do not impress you that much, then pay a visit to the Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology instead. The Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology (Norsk Teknisk Museum) is a place where you can explore natural science and technological principles for technology, industry, science, and medicine. It even houses the National Museum of Medicine, which shows how improvements in medicine, public health and health care have changed people’s lives over the last 150 years.
  4. The National Gallery is where Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures are kept. In this gallery, you can find Edvard Munch’s haunting painting The Scream. The permanent exhibitions showcase art highlights from the romantic period until the mid-1900s. Note that the National Gallery is closed during the holidays—something to keep in mind if you are visiting Oslo during Christmas season.
  5. And finally, no visit to Oslo can be complete without dropping by Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigelandsparken). The creation of sculptor Gustav Vigeland, this area contains over 200 sculptures in granite, bronze and cast iron. Vigeland not only created the sculptures but also designed the architecture of the park itself.  Over 1 million visit this park each year, which is open year-round at all times.
Exploring the city is very convenient, thanks to Oslo’s very modern and comprehension system for ublic transport. All forms of public transport runs on a uniform fare scheme, and each ticket is valid for all modes of public transport. Fare is calculated based on the number of zones that you pass through on a trip; children below four ride for free, while older children and senior citizens pay half-price.

A better option for tourists is the Oslo Pass. The Oslo Pass (costs around 430 nok, which is good for three days, includes entrance to many main museums within the city, as well as unlimited rides of public transport. You can even ride the ferry to Bygdoy Island for free, where you can find even more attractions in addition to the Viking Ship Musuem.

With the Oslo Pass, you can get in the Viking Ship Museum, The Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology, and the National Gallery for free just by swiping it at the designated entrances. Oslo Pass holders are also entitled to a 20% discount off Tusyenwald Amusement Park entrance tickets.

Ali Asjad is a travel blogger based in Stockholm. He writes about issues faced by travelers. This blog was written to address the issue of finding parkering i Oslo.

Greetings from Girona

This wonderful Catalan city was voted one of the best places to live in Spain; furthermore, it is also a very common destination for tourists coming from different parts of the globe. Girona has a population of about 97.198 people, a high percentage of this population is constituted by students that come from other places of Spain and the world, and after all, we can’t forget that this amazing city also houses the University of Girona. If you love beautiful places to visit, but you hate crowded ones, then Girona is the right place for you. Definitely an amazing touristic location with a lot of activities to do and a big advantage, which is: there are no crowded streets, no too much traffic. Great, isn’t it?

The Climate

The climate in this magnificent city is quite good. The summers (June - August) are warm and during the winter (December - February) the temperatures decrease a little bit. During the summer you can expect to find temperatures ranging from 19ºC to 29ºC. During the winter you can expect to find temperatures ranging from 1ºC to 10ºC. There is no need to say that during the summer the tourists’ activity increases. It doesn’t rain frequently in this Catalan city, which means that the rain won’t spoil any of your outdoor plans or catch you off-guard.

The Transportation System

Girona has a transportation system that meets the needs of the population, needs that are not many since it has a population of slightly more than 97 thousand people. Here you can use the bus or the train to get from one place to another. Even though there is not much traffic, if you want to get to somewhere faster without having to wait for the train or the bus, you can call a taxi. Also, you can easily hire a car at the airport; by renting a car you can have complete freedom when it comes to exploring the city. To do not mention that it is the option with the higher cost/benefit ratio. It’s cheap, comfortable, fast, and easy.

The Activities 

The activities available in a certain destination are absolutely important to decide whether or not to visit it. Let’s have brief a look at some of the things you can do in Girona:

Catalan Cuisine: If you are going to visit this Catalan city, there is one thing you can’t forget. You can’t forget to taste the flavorful Catalan cuisine. A different experience that your senses will love.

Relax:We travel for two main reasons: work or pleasure. In this case tourism is travelling for pleasure, and if you are travelling for pleasure you will surely want to relax and get rid of all that stress you were used to. Right? Girona has various hotels and effective services that will allow you to relax and enjoy the Catalan culture.

Girona is what you can call an “old city”, even though it has centuries of history, the people here are mostly young (students and travelers from other parts of Spain), the locals are welcoming and friendly, you will surely love to talk with them and get to know their habits, culture and way of life

This guest post was written by Aronno, a writer who has a boundless love for travel and tourism. If you are interested in visiting Girona and want to rent a car to pick you up at the Girona Airport, simply access and get the additional information you need in a fast and comfortable manner.