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La Paz, Mexico I’ve been staring at the same email for 15 minutes now. One of my best engineers has quit, I’ve had two new projects dumped on me, and now I’m being sent to Poland to sort out a problem I thought was fixed. A week before Christmas, London is cold, dark, and depressing. I have a successful career in IT – and I’m thoroughly miserable. I lay my head flat on my desk and decide: enough. From Mexico City to Tranquility Bay Fun fact: Mexico City sits nearly 7,500 feet...
I’ve been staring at the same email for 15 minutes now. One of my best engineers has quit, I’ve had two new projects dumped on me, and now I’m being sent to Poland to sort out a problem I thought was fixed.
A week before Christmas, London is cold, dark, and depressing. I have a successful career in IT – and I’m thoroughly miserable. I lay my head flat on my desk and decide: enough.
Fun fact: Mexico City sits nearly 7,500 feet above sea level. The low pressure causes altitude sickness. But it also means water boils at 92°C / 198°F. That’s right – in CDMX, your tea or coffee isn’t quite as hot as you’d like it to be :)
After a week of headaches, lethargy – and cold tea – a short flight dropped us in La Paz on a glorious, sunny afternoon. You could almost taste the oxygen in the air.
Manuel Márquez de León is a small, efficient regional airport, and it only took half an hour or so to get our bags and escape Arrivals.
There’s a pre-paid taxi booth, which does the 20 minute run into town for about US$12/person. Not expensive, and unless you’re renting or being picked up, you’ve no other option. Uber doesn’t operate from the airport, and there’s no public transport. It’s a smooth trip. Traffic in La Paz is minimal; the roads mostly good. Good, because my seat belt won’t fasten.
Speeding into the Centro gives you a first chance to take in the scene: dry desert air, scrubby vegetation, palm trees and cacti, and the ever-watchful mountains to the south.
We got to our Airbnb without issue, to be met by our grinning Mexican host, Miguel.
“¡Hola! ¡Bienvenido a México! Is your first time?”
We made our introductions, dropped the luggage, had a quick tour around the apartment, and headed to the beach.
Our casa was about as central as it’s possible to be, and the walk to the sea should have taken about 10 minutes. It took three or four times that long; excited as kids on Christmas morning, we couldn’t stop taking pictures.
When you’ve spent so long looking forward to getting somewhere, the clash with reality on arrival can be jarring. Not so with La Paz. There are honest-to-god cactus trees growing in the streets! Palm trees, terracotta roof tiles, pretty low-rise houses, painted in soft pastel colours and then, dear reader, there’s the malecón. I’d explored it on Google Map., Seeing it in the flesh was breathtaking. It felt like we’d been transported into an old Western movie.
The malecón, or boardwalk, runs for 3½ miles along the seafront. For much of that length, it’s in impeccable condition: marble flagstones, solid sea walls, clean, tidy and well-presented. The Paceños take real pride in their waterfront.
In the central section, along with the heart of the Old Town, traffic is calmed. Every few hundred yards there’s some kind of sculpture: Jacques Cousteau, a frequent visitor. Mermaids and dolphins. A whale shark. The immense and moving Perla de La Paz:
And at the very heart lies El Kiosco (“the Kiosk”) – a bandstand and function area which hosts civic and cultural events on a regular basis.
As well as the bars and restaurants across from the malecón, there are hotels and dive shops, market stalls, street sellers selling incredibly cheap and tasty food.
But we were still to discover most of this. Climbing over the low wall by the Kiosk, we took off our shoes and splashed out into the crystal Sea of Cortes. Despite being November, the water was around 26°C/80°F.
Drying off, we wandered along the malecón to the La Paz sign. Mentally, this was the moment I’d been looking forward to.
Six months of planning, 6,000 miles to get here. We’d arrived in Mexico. In the bay of La Paz. The Jewel of the Sea of Cortes. We had our photo taken in front of the sign.
It felt wonderful.
Over the weeks and months, we got to know the place pretty well. A few things you notice pretty quickly.
For example, La Paz has an official population of around 250,000, as of the 2015 census. It’s a big, low, flat city. Most of the buildings are one or two stories high. When land is so cheap, there’s little incentive to build high. The grid system works pretty well: despite occasional brutal thunderstorms and an impenetrable city roadworks policy, there is essentially no traffic.
After London, that’s a joyous feeling.
On the flip side: waste processing – and infrastructure in general – lags well behind Europe. We asked in every place we stayed, but there is no coherent plan for collection and recycling in La Paz. To make it worse, literally, everything comes with single-use plastic.
I paid for some bread and milk in Oxxo – before I’d even got my wallet out, they were scanned, scooped, dropped in a plastic bag, and handed to me by the bagging assistant. (Top tip: 10 pesos. Don’t be a Scrooge!)
Street tacos are often served on plastic dishes. These are washed and reused, but there’s a plastic sheet underneath the food – which isn’t. Buying empanadas? You may be able to buy them loose or in a paper bag. In Soriana, you get an 8” x 8” single-use plastic box for them.
And then, of course, there’s water management. Tap water isn’t drunk in Mexico: you get bottled water in. (It’s fine for making tea/coffee, and ice cubes in bars and restaurants are also safe). At the other… Uhm, end of the process, you’ll see waste bins beside most toilets. These are for toilet paper, sanitary products, and anything else that can find itself flushed away back home.
Mexican plumbing isn’t geared up for it. Use the basket. If you’re embarrassed at the thought, imagine having to explain to your host or front desk how you’ve blocked their pipes!
One other thing to bear in mind about La Paz is the cost of living. Yes, it’s Mexico, so it’s a lot cheaper than the US, Canada or the UK. But it’s also on the Baja peninsula. It’s the best part of 1,000 miles up to Tijuana, and the same again down to the nearest city (Mazatlan) across the Sea of Cortes.
To all intents and purposes, Baja California Sur is an island. Many staple products have to be shipped, flown or hauled from the mainland. And that costs.
Everything, from buses to beer, to cornflakes costs a bit more than in the big cities across the sea. This might partly explain why La Paz has one of the highest standards of living in Mexico – you need to be earning to afford it.
There’s a lot of talk on Facebook groups and bulletin boards about the experience of being a Gringo in Mexico.
Let’s cut to the chase: Is La Paz a safe city? Obviously, I can only speak from my experience, and not for locals or other individual ex-pats or tourists.
At no time – not once – did I feel in the slightest danger in the three months I lived there. My partner got peseros to Zumba and boxing in the dark; not miles out of town, but a long way from the Centro. She also felt comfortable.
We’re not crazy-drinking teenagers, but a few times we were out for beers and ended up slightly the worse for wear. We felt in no danger walking home, and indeed, didn’t elicit very much interest from anyone. Ubers are safe, reliable and cheap.
My view on this is pretty much the same as you’ll read in sensible travel guides everywhere. Don’t walk around wearing conspicuous jewellery. Don’t flash cash. Don’t get involved with drugs, don’t get blind drunk and try to stagger home in the dark.
La Paz is a safe city (far safer than many), as long as you use the same common sense you would go anywhere else in the world.
Another topic that comes round from time to time on the boards is the “Gringo Tax”. For those not in the know, this is the idea that Mexicans will use any opportunity to extort additional funds from their “wealthy” visitors.
(You may not consider yourself wealthy – I’m an English teacher, so I certainly don’t. Nevertheless, when the minimum wage here is around US$32 a week, and I earn upwards of $10 an hour teaching online, it’s easy to see how the disparity arises).
Personally, I don’t think there’s much to the Gringo Tax. Sure, some chancers will take the opportunity if it comes round. And sometimes we’re just idiots!
I dropped some washing round at the laundry near our place. I was in a hurry, so I grabbed a couple of carrier bags, stuffed the washing in, and left them with the attendant.
When I queried the bill, it was pointed out that the price was per bag. Two bags – twice the cost. The woman helpfully suggested that next time I read the price list carefully before dropping the laundry.
Gringo tax? Idiot tax, more like.
La Paz is a perfect place to explore the rest of Baja California Sur. Car hire is pretty straightforward – just make 100% sure you check what is and isn’t included in the price. I found it really hard to compare companies, as they rarely compare apples and apples online!
In particular, check insurance is included and what it covers. It’s common for rental web sites to advertise daily rates as low as $3-4/day – then hit you with the extra $20-30 when you get into the office.
Buses between the major destinations are cheap and fairly frequent. They’re pretty luxurious too – if you don’t mind having Mexican soap operas or kids’ movies forced upon you by the in-house TV screens.
The must-visit locations are Todos Santos, Cabo San Lucas, and the beach strip running northeast of the city.
Todos Santos is a small, sleepy community an hour’s drive from La Paz. Its inhabitants are a mix of long-time local residents and immigrants; apart from its lovely old architecture, it’s mostly known for its art and craft scene. Everything is very expensive here, so bring a card – and some cash too, as the ATMs are unreliable, and at least one won’t pay out on foreign accounts.
Fun Fact: The famous Hotel California here was founded by a Chinese immigrant, known locally as “El Chino”. In the 1950s he started shipping ice from La Paz to Todos Santos and became wildly popular for having the only bar in town with a cold beer.
Cabo San Lucas is 2-2½ hours drive from La Paz. Depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll either love it or hate it.
“Cabo” has direct flights into major cities in the US and Canada, and is unashamedly a tourist resort. Everyone speaks English. Most visitors are wealthy compared to the locals, and the prices reflect that. (Think: US$11 for a pizza).
The Centro and marina would be beautiful, were it not for the crazy loud party bars, drunken tourists, and kids following you around trying to sell you drugs.
Pharmacies are everywhere, sometimes 2-3 in a row. They sell everything legal and some questionable. The kids even seem to be edging into this market – they were selling cocaine, marijuana, and Viagra. My only consolation was that they weren’t trying to sell me the latter!
We hated the place. It’s a Mexican Theme Park for gringos who want the comforts of home, in warmer weather, by the sea. This is not authentic in Mexico.
The whole area is unquestionably beautiful, but take my advice and get a bus or Uber out to one of the quieter beaches along the coast.
There are 5-6 beaches stretching off beyond the eastern end of the Malecon, starting with El Coromuel which is a stiff walk from the Centro. For the rest, you really need a car, cab or Playa Bus which can be arranged from the Tourist Bus Station by the kiosco.
Balandra Beach may have launched the career of a thousand Instagram influencers, but it’s a little over-rated in my opinion. It’s certainly pretty and scenic; but the water only comes up to your knees, even when you’re a long way out. For me, a beach where you can’t swim is missing something :)
If you want your Instagram shot, stop off at Balandra. Otherwise, carry on up the coast to Playa El Tecolote. It’s more remote and exposed, bigger, quieter, and affords lovely views of Isla Espirito Santo.
La Paz is a peaceful, pretty, and easy place to live. The natives are warm, the weather warmer, the sea a delight. If you’re used to the conveniences of home, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and other box stores are on the outskirts of town – but honestly, for simple living, you don’t need to venture out there often. (Unless you need tea. Don’t get me started about trying to find British tea!)
But for us, it’s just a little too quiet and peaceful. Sure, there are bars, restaurants and a club or two. There’s even a regular open mic at Bob Marlins. But after living in London for so long, eventually, the peace and relaxation turn into antsiness and a need for more stimulation.
We’re now in Guadalajara. But I’ll always think fondly of La Paz. It was the right venue, in the right country, at the right time. It looked after me during a big change of life, and it carved a place for itself in my heart.
Give it a go – it may end up doing the same for you.
Marco Crawford is a recovering IT manager. He’s now travelling through Latin America teaching English and exploring Latin culture.
His favourite quote is: ”Nobody’s gravestone reads ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office.’’”
Marco blogs at “Jocks Away Travel Blog”.
The post Peace in La Paz, Mexico – Personal Musings of A Gringo appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
Buenos Aires, Argentina The city-state of Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. It’s rich; diverse culture has been shaped by the flow of migrants looking for a better life. Buenos Aires’ residents have come for over 100 years from all over Europe and Russia. This sprawling metropolis is home to 13 million people spread across 40 diverse neighborhoods or barrios. The buildings and traditions have been stitched together from worldwide influences. European style architecture dominates...
The city-state of Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. It’s rich; diverse culture has been shaped by the flow of migrants looking for a better life. Buenos Aires’ residents have come for over 100 years from all over Europe and Russia.
This sprawling metropolis is home to 13 million people spread across 40 diverse neighborhoods or barrios. The buildings and traditions have been stitched together from worldwide influences. European style architecture dominates the city center. When I first landed in Buenos Aires on a flight from Madrid, I thought the plane never left Spain!
Buenos Aires an amazing place to visit and explore. So many places to see and things to do. You’d be hard press to spend only a couple of days exploring this expansive place. You’d need several days or even weeks.
But where to stay in this sprawling metropolis?
There are many neighborhoods and sections of Buenos Aires, and there are many places you pick. There are some neighborhoods I’ve omitted because either the location is too far away from cool stuff to do (and things to see) or simply there are not many options in terms of accommodations like “Retiro” for example.
I’ve also omitted the “La Boca” barrio, though beautiful in the daytime it can get very seedy at night. It’s generally not a good place to be, and it tends to have a higher crime rate than the rest of the city. I’ve picked (and tested) the best places where you can have fun and stay reasonably close to all the tourist attractions, while being safe, in Buenos Aires. You can read all about it below.
I spent about two months in this city. To say it’s huge is an understatement. I’ve stayed in dank hostels in downtown and event rented fancy apartments with the celebrities in Palermo. There are some seedy areas in the city and some very cool places. I’m here to give some insights on where to stay and what to do in those places.
This guide to some of the best neighborhoods will help you to choose the best place for you. A base to set out explore this fascinating city.
Pro Tip: Read my detailed travel guide on Argentina for tips on traveling in the country and how to save time and money.
This is the corporate heart of the city. During the day, it is busy and lively. At night when the office workers leave, it is quieter. Plenty of restaurants and shopping catering for residents and tourists. There are easy transport links to the bus and rail network. An ideal central location for exploring this vast and fascinating city.
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This is Buenos Aire’s cultural and historic district. No doubt, you will find the most iconic architecture in the city. Just walking around the Plaza de Mayo will show you most of the European style buildings of the city.
Go for a stroll and admire the buildings. This is the oldest public square in Buenos Aires. It’s the place where the public have gathered throughout history. The Casa Rosada is the government house. It is also known as the pink house. Guess why! Eva Perón spoke from the balcony in 1940 – an event that is featured in the song Evita.
There is an interesting museum behind Casa Rosada that explores the history of Argentina. It is free to visit. The Cabildo de Buenos Aires houses the national museum. It concentrates on the May Revolution and the fight for independence.
A national monument that commemorates the 400th year of the founding of the city. It was erected in 1936 and has recently been cleaned up and restored. It is an impressive 67m high. Stand at its base and marvel at the widest street ever. The Avenida 9 de Julio has so many lanes.
Impressive and slightly terrifying for the pedestrian, but don’t worry, there are lots of people crossing the street towards the Obelisko. The monument is worth checking out at night or dusk when it lights up and displays all its glory.
Browse through the shops in the Florida Mall and enjoy the street performances of Tango. Then visit the Confiteria Ideal, a beautiful building that has starred in many films. Take a tango lesson or join in with a dance party at El Baso on a Friday afternoon.
The Palacio Barola is uniquely designed around Dante’s Divine Comedy. It is an office block with 22 floors. To see this remarkable building, you need to book onto a guided tour. A 1920’s elevator takes you from floor to floor. On the roof, there is a lighthouse from which you can see a panoramic view of the city. You may prefer a night tour, which includes a wine tasting.
The Casa de la Cultura has a room – the Salon Dorado, inspired by Versailles. Think gold cherubs and rococo style. This building was commissioned for the La Prensa newspaper. The building is topped by a bronze statue of Pallas Athena – the goddess of wisdom. She represents the freedom of the press. Visit on a Friday evening to enjoy a musical performance.
Take a guided tour of La Botica del Angel, the birthplace of the “café concert.” This was the home of Eduardo Bergara Leumann. He was an actor and TV presenter with a flamboyant style. The interior displays bling at an extreme level. If it glittered, he loved it.
This is the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. The site of the first industrial works in the 17th century. It housed the dockworkers and the brickmakers. It is named after the patron saint of seafarers.
The most multicultural area of the city. The colonial buildings and the cobbled streets echo the lives of past inhabitants. Now the buildings house antique shops, steak houses, cafés, and tango parlors. The area is famous for its murals and pop-up galleries. The Paseo de la Historieta runs through San Telmo, and you can see comical structures throughout.
Budget accommodations are plentiful in San Telmo, so if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend you stay here. There are also lots of places to eat for cheap. There are few luxury hotels, but they do exist in San Telmo. See below.
The Plaza Dorrego is the beating heart of San Telmo. A historic square with plenty of bars and cafés. You may be lucky and witness an impromptu tango performance. Or you can visit one of the many milongas (tango parlors) to see the dance that was born here.
On Sunday, the square hosts a sprawling antique fair. Almost 300 stalls crowd together accompanied by street entertainers. In the surrounding streets like Calle Defensa, the stalls offer crafts and unique gifts. If you are looking for clothing, visit Pasaje Guiffra.
This Dominican convent was built in the 18th Century. The British lay siege to it in the 19th Century. It was turned into a museum when the Dominicans were thrown out. The interior is a beautiful example of the Spanish colonial style. Manuel Belgrano, a national hero, is buried here. A beautiful building a short walk from Plaza Dorrego.
This is a small narrow house that was supposedly built by freed slaves. Or gifted to a free slave. It’s a great and charming story that highlights the historic slavery that existed in Buenos Aires and the rest of the world. It is a fascinating little house and worth including in a walk around the historic buildings. Blink, and you may miss it.
Take a breath and look around. The mix of cultures has resulted in some lovely and unusual buildings in various styles. Many of the old colonial houses are now galleries and shops. Look out for the Solar de French. Once the home of a French soldier, now a place to shop. Many quirky artisanal wares.
The building was a tobacco warehouse built in the 19th Century. The museum has been recently restored (2010) and contains an impressive amount of Argentine art. Also, work by many modern artists like Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse.
Palmero is the largest neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Lively and vibrant. Palmero has it all. Historical museums, restaurants, art galleries, and green spaces. It is so large that it is a collection of neighborhoods. Each has its own distinct feel and attractions. This place is also active at night, featuring bars and nightclubs.
If you’re staying in Buenos Aires a little longer than a month, Palermo is your best choice. I recommend you find an apartment rental. My then-girlfriend (wife now) rented an apartment for a month in Palermo. It’s one of the up and comping neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and fairly clean. Outside of this, check out my recommendations for the best accommodations in Palermo.
MALBA – Museo de Arte de Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. Founded in 2001, it boasts a fabulous collection of Latin American art. Tickets are cheap and start at $2 per person.
Museo Evita – dedicated to the life and impact of Eva Perón
Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández – the collection of the family Blanco. A small museum filled with a collection of religious icons and silver.
Palmero has two notable gardens. A botanic garden and a Japanese garden. Both are an exquisite day walking around fabulous green spaces. There’s a small fee to get into the Japanese garden but well worth it. You can always see this along with other notable attractions via the Hop-on-Hop-off bus.
Parque Tres de Febrero contains the Galileo Galilei Planetarium. There are many other green spaces to enjoy. An impromptu picnic?
This used to be known as the city zoo. It still retains the collection of animals.
The Argentine meat platter is impressive. Most restaurants serve this grilled dish. La Cacrera is well-known for this dish.
The Plaza Serrano is the place to go for cocktails and drinks. If you want a view of the ocean with your favorite drink, then head to the historic Club de Pescadores.
For shopping and food, visit Palmera Hollywood with its fashion stores and upmarket restaurants.
A wealthy barrio with upmarket boutiques and exclusive schools. It’s famous for its buildings. The former palaces and townhouses are in the fine art style. A quiet walk in the early morning or late afternoon will let you experience how it resembles Paris.
If it’s your first time in Buenos Aires, this would be your ideal place because it will have most of its famous tourist attractions within walking distance. Buenos Aires is a big city, but I walked from neighborhood to neighborhood without exhausting myself. It’s a pedestrian-friendly city.
Outside of the famed cemetery with the same name, the Recoleta neighborhood is full of colorful things to do. There’s a shopping mall and a movie theater right next to the cemetery if you get tired of looking at tombs.
All the graves are above ground and are ornately decorated.
The building styles are an eclectic mix of ancient, modern, and quirky.
There are at least 6,400 graves.
Each one a marvel. It’s worth taking a tour to learn about some of the fascinating people buried here.
Famously Eva Perón, twenty years after her death.
Every grave has its own tale to tell. Not just the high-status ones.
Open 8:00 am, and the gates close at 6:00 pm.
One of the 12 largest bookshops in the world. The fabulous El Atenceo Grand Splendid is worth a visit. Not just for books but for the building. It began in 1919 as a theatre. A short spell as a cinema. Now an exquisite bookshop. You can drink a cup of coffee while listening to the piano player. Admire the sumptuous theatrical décor. Red velvet drapes and fresco ceilings provide the opulent backdrop to the rows and rows of books.
The National Library of Argentina is built in the brutalist style. It is built on the grounds of the demolished Unzué Palace. This was the residency of President Juan Perón and his wife, Eva. The reading room on the fifth floor has a spectacular view. You will need identification to gain access to the library. The library has close to a million historical documents, some of which date back to the 16th century. A fascinating glimpse of past lives and troubles.
At not one but three museums.
The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes houses art by Titian, Goya, and Rembrandt.
The Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo has period furniture, silver, and some exquisite Zubov miniatures from Russia.
The Centro Cultural Recoleta has sculptures, interactive exhibits, events, and workshops.
Enjoy a walk around the sculptures. The park was named after Carlos Thays – a French landscape architect. He designed many of the green spaces around the city. Look out for the impressive sculpture by the Columbian artist Fernando Botero – the nude male torso (Torso Masculino Desnudo). As well as Marta Minujín’s United Nations statue and many others.
Stroll through Calle Junín to see some of the wonderful former palaces like Palacio Duhau and Pizzurno Palace.
At the weekend, make time to visit the Feria de Artesanos de Plaza Francia. The 150 plus stands offer a wide range of high-quality handcrafted goods. At a substantial discount to the same goods gound in the upscale shops. A festive atmosphere is provided by a range of street performers. Plenty and varied street food to enjoy as you decide what to buy. Or just soak up the atmosphere. All kinds of traditional and modern items made from silver, leather, and ceramics.
Need a coffee break? Then head to the year-old Café La Biela. Serving its customers for 150 years. You can sip your coffee on the terrace shaded from the sun by a giant rubber tree. The name means ‘connecting-rod.’ Once, it was the meeting place for racing car champions. The interior is decorated with motoring memorabilia. The café is recognized as a Place of Cultural Interest.
This was once a run-down dockland. It has been refreshed through a decade of regeneration. This is a quiet and safe place to visit. Celebrated architects like Santiago Calatrava have contributed to the transformation.
This place is surrounded by modern high-rises yet close to the historic district. There are many waterfront restaurants, and if you happen to be there during New Year, there’s the fireworks show.
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Puerto Madero is a hip hang out. There are lots of modern structures and top-notch restaurants throughout. It’s a perfect place for a late-night stroll.
This nautical museum is close to the Sarmiento. This ship is a corvette. You can find out about its history from the exhibitions and items displayed inside. It had an interesting working life that included a rescue mission to Antarctica as well as naval battles.
You can explore the ship and take that perfect Instagram photo from the deck. A view of the Buenos Aires skyline. You are standing on a ship that has been six times around the world. It was built in 1890. Only ever used as a training ship.
The bridge designed by Calatrava. A fantastic blend of engineering prowess and art. Based on the idea of a couple dancing the tango. The bridge swings 90° to allow ships to pass up the river. Keep an eye out, especially if you’re there on the holidays for spectacular fireworks!
The best way to see this giant park is by bike. There are many hire shops. You can explore a variety of habitats from forest to lagoons. Enjoy a stroll along the ocean’s edge. This is a free attraction.
In 1536 this was the first settlement of what was to grow into Buenos Aires. A large Mansion was constructed here in the 19th Century. Some of the original structures were destroyed in the process. Tourists can now explore the site as a collage of different times. Colonial buildings alongside a ruined mansion.
This is a district that manages to balance being modern and traditional. This is the barrio with a large Jewish population. Take a stroll around the streets, and you will come across historic synagogues.
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Murillo is both the traditional and current center for the craft of worked leather. You will find many shops covering any item that can be made out of leather. If you have the time, you can have a custom made item to fit you.
A multicultural community with a varied range of restaurants. Sample Jewish dishes at La Crespo. Try middle eastern cuisine at Sarkis. If you’re a meat-eater, you’ll be in heaven!
Argentina has some of the best beef in the world. Definitely go for the Argentine Parilla.
A circular park covering 12 hectares. Plenty to do and see. The park contains the Bernardino Rivadavia Argentine Museum of Natural Science. It is open every afternoon until 7 pm. For festivals and events, visit the Eva Peron Amphitheatre.
At the edges of the park, you will find an assortment of stalls. A book fair all week and a weekend market.
As well as the buildings, you can admire the art. Villa Crespo is famed for its murals. Buenos Aires is acknowledged as one of the top cities for urban art. They can be seen all over the area, but there are some spectacular examples at the crossroads of Castillo and Serrano. You can take an organized tour to seek out the hidden gems. This is free art on a giant colorful scale.
Visit Club Silencio for cocktails while you watch a performance. You begin the experience with a blindfold and are led through a sensory musical experience. This club is based on the David Lynch club of the same name in Paris. Or you can go to Villa Malcolm for cheap wine and tango dancing. Café San Bernardo offers pool, dancing, and your drink of choice.
In this friendly neighborhood, you can see old Anglo-Saxon style family houses mixed together with sleek, high-rise apartment blocks. There are two things to watch and listen for while walking around the sidewalks.
The unique dialect that is a mixture of Spanish and German. It’s called Belgranodeutsch. The other is the dog walkers. They have masses of dogs. There is a rule that there is a maximum of ten dogs per person. This is often ignored with people walking twice that number.
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This is the area for fashionistas. The shops are centered around Avenida Cabildo. You can get anything from top designers down to fast fashion.
There are many green spaces across Buenos Aires. In Belgrano, the park is designed by the French-Argentine architect Carlos Thay. It was created by moving a river by building an artificial embankment. Over 60 different varieties of trees and plants grow here. It is a pleasant green space to relax in the midst of the city.
There are many sculptures to enjoy as you stroll around. Most famously a replica of the Statue of Liberty. It was made by Frédéric Bartholdi. The same creator as the iconic statue.
In the evening you can watch tango dancers at the bandstand.
There are two museums. The Larreta Museum is housed in the former home of the Argentine writer Enrique Larreta. Inside there are exhibits of his modern art collection. His love for Spain is reflected in the exhibits and the beautiful tiled floors. Outside, the garden is laid out in the Andalusian style.
The Historical Museum Sarmiento was once the town hall. It is built in the style of an Italian townhouse. The museum covers Argentine history. You can take a guided tour, and there is a museum gift shop.
This is the largest stadium in Argentina. It is the venue for most of the international football matches played in this country. Depending on your preference you can watch a football match or a concert. Or you can visit the sports museum on the site. At 3,500 square feet, it is the largest museum dedicated to sporting achievement in the World. The stadium sits in the Estuary of the Rio de la Plata. The silver river, but the English mistranslated it as a plate. The Argentine name for the stadium is Estadio Monumental.
If you are passing the Inmaculada Conceptión Church in the afternoon, you may be lucky enough to see a bright and colorful wedding party. The building itself is beautiful. It is built in a round shape and has a lovely interior and an interesting history.
After you have enjoyed the architecture, make sure you end up in the Barrio Chino – China Town. You enter through an ornate stone archway. Here you can enjoy the noodle bars and street food. But you can also sit down in a high-end restaurant to enjoy the very best oriental cuisine. Around February, you may be fortunate enough to see the Chinese New Year celebrations. Plenty of shops selling a mixture of oriental goods.
Are you looking for the best hotels in Buenos Aires, regardless of the location? Don’t have the time to look at the various neighborhoods and barrios? Here are my top picks for hotels and other accommodations in Buenos Aires!
If you want the best views in Buenos Aires, there can be none better than the Hotel Panamerico! The top floor lounge is reserved for guests only, and you won’t be able to get the insane view of the Avenida 9 de Julio with the Obelisko unless you book a room in the hotel. It’s rated at 4.5 Stars, so it’s not exactly friendly if you’re in a tight budget.
I think the view with all the photos I was able to get is well worth it. I think I paid just a hair over $100 a night, but the photos I got from the top are priceless. Just click on the link of this page to get the best deals in rooms.
This post contains affiliate links from Booking.com or similar. It costs nothing to you should you purchase or book from our affiliate links.
The post Where To Stay In Buenos Aires | The Best Places and Neighborhoods appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
The geographic and climatic variety of Georgia makes it an all-season country to visit. Georgian people are fortunate to be living in this fertile edge of the Caucasus. Located at the conjuncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia has always been a beautiful land. Georgian call their country Sakartvelo, “Kartveli” means Georgian in their language. So welcome to the beautiful area of Kartvelian people! Where is Georgia? The Black sea is to the west, Russia to the north, and...
The geographic and climatic variety of Georgia makes it an all-season country to visit. Georgian people are fortunate to be living in this fertile edge of the Caucasus. Located at the conjuncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia has always been a beautiful land. Georgian call their country Sakartvelo, “Kartveli” means Georgian in their language. So welcome to the beautiful area of Kartvelian people!
The Black sea is to the west, Russia to the north, and Turkey & Armenia to the south. Tbilisi is the Capital city of Georgia and the largest. A powerful Georgian kingdom existed between the 10th and 13th centuries. However, Georgia has been a victim of invading empires and conquest.
After a long rule of the Turks and Persians, it was annexed by the Russian empire in the 19th century. Eventually, Georgia became independent on April 19, 1991, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union. Lari is the Georgian currency.
Major Georgian cities include:
Tbilisi – 1,049,498
Kutaisi – 178,338
Batumi – 121,806
Zugdidi – 73,006
Rustavi – 50,000
The northern border of Georgia includes several dramatic mountain roads. These mountainous ranges offer hikes of a few hours and treks of several days. The most crowd-pleasing trek is the four-day route from Mestia to the unbelievably delineated Ushguli. Shkhara (5193m), Georgia’s highest peak, is steeping behind Ushguli. Mountain biking territories are also available in Georgia (bikes available for rent locally). A three-hour road trip to North of Tbilisi leads you to Mount Kazbek (5047m).
Besides, horse-trekking is also popular in Georgia. Another profound thing about Georgia is its language. The Georgian comes with its dominant taste that you might not hear in other languages. The unusual sounds make this language unique. Georgian has its 33-alphabet, including some consonants that are to be articulated in the back of the throat. The alphabets look very much the same. A jiggle in mouth and your “K” can change into “V.” Georgian writing is even more beautiful than the spoken language itself.
There are a lot of exciting places to stay in Georgia. Hotels and hostels for any needs and budget. It’s always better to stay near the most famous landmarks, so follow your itinerary. There are some interesting urban spaces to stay in, for example, Fabrika Hotel in Tbilisi. If you are seeking luxury, Radisson Blu, Rooms hotels, Crown Plaza Borjomi, or the most luxurious hotel Paragraph are waiting for you.
Georgian food is deservedly famous among visitors. The popular national dishes include “Khachapuri” (resembles a cheese pie) and “Khinkali” (spiced meat in a dumpling). Dumplings are the most famous in this part of the world. If one wants to enjoy the delicious filling and savory of it, then he must forget a knife and fork because cutting the dumpling would spill the juice and ruin the taste.
Apart from these, Churchkhela is the most eye-catching food of all. It is considered a war food in Georgia because of its proteinous nature. Grape juice is poured over walnuts gently so that it gives the essential taste. Churchkhela is served with coffee at home nowadays.
Georgia’s high-quality beer production is famous all around the world. After independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia improved its quality in beer production and introduced its products to the world. Beer is the long-lived tradition in the mountains of Caucasus. Kazbegi, Aluda, Lomisi, Natakhtari, Argo are some of the Georgian beers.
It also has foreign beers, including; Heinekin, Bitburger, Lowenbrau, etc. The ancient tradition of wine production (red and white) makes Georgia the birthplace of it. French and Italian wines are rival to Georgian wine.
The culture of Georgia lies in its musical folklore. It expresses the beautiful nature, everyday life, and traditional values of Georgia. The most famous forms of Georgian music are church and folk polyphony.
The singers are usually men. The typical Georgian song consists of three male voices. Georgians sing while celebrating events or working. Mravalzheimeri is the most popular song sung at weddings and the new year.
In 1997, NASA sent a Voyager 2 to space with 25 golden melodies. Chakrulo, a classic and old polyphonic Georgian song, is among them. It was also included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
Georgian dance contains life in itself. It incorporates various forms of rituals and ceremonies. It expresses a traditional attitude of men towards women. Male dancers need a lot of energy and stamina. A man dances on his tiptoes without any special shoes. A woman in Georgian dance is reserved and tries to stay humble.
“Kartuli” is a traditional dance performed by both the groom and bride at their wedding ceremony. It represents devotion and love to the bride from her soulmate.
Georgian choreography is full of warrior dances. It reflects the history where men had to defend their land against invaders. People symbolically portray unity between soldiers. Example: “Khorumi Dance.”
Around 80% of Georgia’s population is Christian. Most of them belong to the Georgian Orthodox church. Georgia was the 2nd country after Armenia to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 326 CE. In the 5th century, the Bible was translated into the Georgian language. In the earliest of the centuries, Zoroastrianism was commonly practiced in Georgia.
It always remained a Christian majority despite frequent invasions by Muslim rulers. Regardless of the huge influence of Christianity, Georgia has lots of tolerance for other religions as well. The constitution of Georgia provides religious freedom. The country protects the rights of citizens in this regard and allows them to practice their religion.
People from the Southern and the Southwestern parts of the country (like Adjara) are Sunni Muslims. Islam is the 2nd most influential religion. The religion first came during the era of the third caliph, Uthman. Today, Georgia has two major Muslim groups, the Sunni Hanafis and the Ithna Ashariya (mainly from ethnic Azerbaijan community). There are also a small number of Catholics.
Georgia is rich in natural resources. On the southern slope of, deposits of manganese, silver-lead, coal, barite, and marble are found. In some areas, copper, zinc, mercury, arsenic, and marble are mined. Georgia is also known for its rich mineral waters. Mineral waters have equal importance as the other minerals. Almost all kinds of mineral water are found in the country.
The natural spring water creates a situation for the treatment of patients with cardiovascular, endocrine, and digestive system disorders. Another important resource in Georgia is its river network. Out of 26060 rivers, 18109 are located in western Georgia while 7951 in eastern Georgia. It also has thermal waters, which can be very useful in the agriculture and energy sector.
Georgia has around 850 lakes. The lakes are of very diverse origin. The majority of the lakes contain freshwater with a very little amount of salt. The largest lake in volume is Lake Paravani, in-depth – Lake Ritza. These water reserves are very important in terms of agriculture. Flora is also an important resource in the country.
Nearly a third of the land of the country is covered with woods. The amount of this wood and greenery is higher in the mountains. A magnificent variety of herbs can be found in alpine and subalpine meadows in the woods of the Black Sea coast. Trees of oaks, hornbeams, chestnut trees, maples, beeches are found.
Forests contribute to the economy through the production of wood and wood products. The forests are also important for the country’s biodiversity, which provides a unique ecosystem.
Having less than 100,000 visitors annually to around 6.5 million visitors is not just the outcome of it being a nice place to go. It includes various other reasons. The political change in Georgia has resulted in tourist attraction because it has opened itself to the world. Change in the country’s foreign policy has opened doors for tourism. The country’s policymakers have worked a lot in the tourism industry because of its potential in increasing the GDP.
The eye-catching developments have oriented Georgia towards increased tourism. The main issue with tourism is the language barrier. But in recent times, the Government has adopted pro-English policies. It now ranks 45th in the world out 88 for English proficiency, above Chile and China.
One of the easiest ways to increase visitor ratio is just by allowing people to travel to your country. To achieve this goal, the Government has introduced a non-restrictive visa policy. The food supplies in the hotels and the architecture of hotels and restaurants are not 100% assured. In 2015, World Bank loaned around 60 million to the country.
The money was invested, with a specific goal of improving tourism in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Mtskheta-Mitaneti regions. Previously these regions were out of the tourism circuit. Georgia has improved a lot in the recent past.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia, with over 1.5 million inhabitants. The old town Tbilisi is a grassed enclosure with houses built around small courts. The newer parts of the capital are of modern architecture. The local art shops, wine houses, family-run guesthouses add to the buzz-life of Tbilisi.
The Paris Wheel in the park is the highest point in Tbilisi. It also has a small amusement park, bars, and restaurants. Couples can enjoy the exuberant landscape in the evening. The park can be easily reached by Bus 124. Tbilisi is considered one of the best clubbing cities in Eastern Europe. Many local bars are expanded across the city. Bars lit up Tbilisi in the night.
What to do in Tbilisi is a matter of taste, decide what you want to do, and Tbilisi can offer you any entertainment and sightseeing. Ancient historical monuments, modern architecture, unique gastronomy, wine, and the best night clubs – make your choice!
June marks the start of summer and stays up to August. Summers in Georgia can be a little too hot in the capital, with the temperature rising to 30 degrees. This is a perfect time to head to the mountains or coast. During summers, Georgia hosts traditional festivals, such as Open Air, Black Sea Jazz festival, and many other events.
The colors of autumn are a delight to watch in Georgia. It’s cooling down in the lowlands and a pleasant season to enjoy. Georgia has a lot of trees, and the autumn colors are worth watching. Of course, wine is a national passion in Georgia, and grapes are harvested late September to late October.
The Tbilisoba festival is a treat after summers. The festival is celebrated for over a week in October. People enjoy full swing with lots of food, music, dance, and of course, wine. It is advised to participate in the vintage season and harvest some vine. It is freezing in inland areas until February. The winter is from December to March.
There’s an energetic winter sports scene. Ski resorts open up. Skiing in Georgia is cheap as compared to Western Europe and North America. The crowd here is few, and vibes are relaxing. The ski season here lasts until April. Spring comes with a many spring shower in April and May.
The popular rafting season starts on the Aragvi Rivers north of Tbilisi. The best activities in springtime can be hikes, road trips, and a visit to the beautiful lakes in Georgia. Independence Day is also celebrated during this season (May 26). The parade on Rustaveli Avenue is worth watching.
Founded around 1000 BC, Uplistsikhe is located in eastern Georgia. It is about 10 km away from Tbilisi. Uplistsikhe means “Lord’s Fortress,” and it is an abandoned rock-fashioned town that is more than 3000 years old. It is one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia.
The cave city consisted of a pharmacy, a bakery, and even a prison, and are connected by tunnels. Another darling place to visit in Georgia is the “Katskhi Pillar.” Also known as “the Pillar of Life,” it is a 40 m limestone massive structure. Around the 4th century, this pillar became a place of segregation for the ‘Stylites’ who had a ‘slight’ preoccupation with sitting on top of rocks.
They believed that this process could take them closer to God. How they reached the top and built the church remains a mystery! Another destination of interest in Georgia is Chiatura. It is a small town sheltered between steep valleys and deep gorges. It was founded in the late 1800s. In 1954 the Stalinist Government installed a system of cable cars.
The workers went to the mining destinations with the help of these cable cars. Every corner of the town was connected through these cable cars, and Chiatura was later known as “cable car city.” Some of the cable cars are still used as a means of free public transport. Chiatura is a mysterious and fascinating city where people still feel the demon of the Soviets.
There are a good number of churches in Tbilisi. The Holy Trinity Cathedral is famous among all. Its height is 97.5 m that makes it the 3rd largest in the world. The other two are Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The great Mtatsminda Park is also one of the go-to places in Tbilisi.
You might also want to take a Sulphur bath while you’re in town. They are situated in the Abanotubani district. The Sulphur baths are a great place to relax for two to three hours, especially in the colder months of the year. The price of these baths varies from 30 Lari to 100 Lari. Most of these baths are 24/7 open.
People who have traveled to Georgia before, find it an exuberant place to visit. Many people who did not initially want to put the country’s visit on their wish list, and ended up booking their tickets and starting their journeys towards other dream places, were later found to be regretful of changing their decision because the reviews from visitors of Georgia were extremely promising and astounding.
Georgia has an eye-catching yet serene theme of green colors, a jazz lifestyle, and a fascinating and welcoming environment. Not only this, but its evergreen people make it even more hospitable and worth visiting with their friendly demeanor towards tourists and foreigners.
Not only this, but you would also be delighted by the flavorful and delicious Georgian cuisine that you would not find anywhere else in the world. The mouth-watering savory taste of dumplings and the delicious Khinkali with a cold beer are themselves waiting for you to come, try them once, and fall in love with them forever.
You would also not want to miss the magnificent historic architecture that it adorns the streets and roads of Georgia and takes you back to see the world through the eyes of those that existed many years before you. The places that we described before are surely exotic to hear about, but we promise you, they are even a greater delight to visit and will surely treat your eyes with their stunning beauty.
So don’t miss out on this, because we assure you that you too will become a fan of this heaven on earth. Hurry up and find the best economical as well as luxurious travel plans and travel with your family and friends on the trip of your lifetime and visit the lush green gorgeous Georgia!
Paris is one of the most romantic cities and is on most travelers’ bucket lists. Visiting Paris is a must for all of you who love the spirit of Europe and wish to explore the art, fashion, culture, and gastronomical side of this fascinating city. Every year, tens of millions of tourists visit the city, hoping to get their piece of the romantic cake everyone who’s visited Paris is talking about. Once you get a chance to explore this magnificent city, you’ll understand why it is...
Paris is one of the most romantic cities and is on most travelers’ bucket lists. Visiting Paris is a must for all of you who love the spirit of Europe and wish to explore the art, fashion, culture, and gastronomical side of this fascinating city.
Every year, tens of millions of tourists visit the city, hoping to get their piece of the romantic cake everyone who’s visited Paris is talking about. Once you get a chance to explore this magnificent city, you’ll understand why it is the most popular tourist destination in the world.
The City of Lights and Capital of Fashion are nicknames that this city is described with. They tell you enough about how glorious this city is. The monumental value is proven by the fact that a large part of Paris is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paris holds second place when it comes to the highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world (after Tokyo), which shows how seriously they take gastronomy.
But, when it comes to finding accommodation in Paris and deciding where to stay, there’s a lot of choices. Officially, the city has 20 districts that are called arrondissements.
The districts are numbered from 1 to 20, and they are ordered in a clockwise spiral from the city center. The center of the city is called Kilometre Zero (it is where it all starts), and the mark of this location is in front of Notre Dame.
Knowing about the order of the districts will help you get around the city, however, considering that there are 20 districts or arrondissements to choose from, getting information about some of the best ones can help you find the one that fits you.
Let’s take a look at the best neighborhoods for tourists in Paris to stay in.
Please refer to the Wikitravel map for the numbered districts for reference.
This district is great for families and those who want to visit as many art galleries and explore the fascinating architecture of the city. Medieval churches, sidewalk booksellers, galleries, and numerous cafés such as the famous Flore (favored by Hemingway) will easily steal your attention.
You can have an amazing time just walking around this district and absorbing this distinctive architectural style, or you can spend days visiting art galleries and appreciating all the impeccable pieces. Saint Germain is in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris, so the youthful atmosphere from the Latin Quarter is somewhat transferred to this district as well.
For a more touristy place to stay in this district, focus on rue Buci. You’ll have lots of things to see there as soon as you walk out. Enjoy the good restaurant with your family, and spend time strolling around and just breathing in the Parisian lifestyle. Make sure that you visit Luxembourg Palace and Gardens since every one of you will be amazed by its beauty. This is a great place to spend your afternoons when you want to chill after a tiring day.
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Located in the 4th Arrondissement, Marais is the best place for shopping-lovers and those who are looking for rich nightlife. It is safe to say that this is the hippest and trendiest part of the town. Moreover, the area is filled with chic boutiques, interesting galleries, concept stores, cafés, and gay bars.
Since this was once a Jewish quarter, you can find lots of great kosher restaurants. Young travelers can have the time of their life in this area, shopping in the daytime and partying in the nighttime. This is why most Millennials who are looking for a carefree time in Paris head to this place.
Besides shopping, during the day you can spend walking around and chilling in the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. If you feel like getting some historical information, head to Mémorial de la Shoah, this is Paris’s Holocaust Memorial Museum.
It is located in the heart of the Marais on rue Geoffroy l’Asnier. The best part is that the entry is free and they offer guided tours weekly. Any of you who love the work of French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic Movement, Victor Marie Hugo, should check out the Musée Victor Hugo, where the writer lived.
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This is a luxurious neighborhood that offers great sight-seeing and is well-connected to the rest of the city. The 1st Arrondissement has lots of landmarks, so staying here will help you to get around and see it all. Since there are many things to see here, it will be easier for you to pick your place of stay if you know its four quartiers and what they have to offer:
Quartier Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois
This quartier runs along the bank of the Seine, and what you can find here are the Louvre (the “home” of famous Mona Lisa), the Tuileries Gardens, and the west part of one of two remaining islands in the Seine – Ile de la cité.
Quartier Les Halles
This is a place with a more relaxed character where you can enjoy luxurious shopping sprees. What is significant here for all the shoppers is the massive Les Halles shopping center. Besides the numerous stores, you’ll be surprised by the beautifully abstract architecture of this building.
The most prominent monumental site in this area is the Palais Royal. The Quartier Palais-Royal also includes the bigger part of the busy and cosmopolitan Avenue de l’Opera.
Quartier Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme serves as a center for this quarter. It is signified by its 18th-century street grid. The beautiful historic buildings make this area even more impressive, and in them, you’ll find the most luxurious boutiques, jewelry brands, and hotels.
Based on the quartier’s locations and their most popular landmarks, you can search for the accommodation in the one that you find most suitable for you. However, no matter which quartier you stay in, you can use the metro to quickly reach the other quartiers and see all the landmarks in the 1st Arrondissement. What is certain is that none of these quartiers lack luxury and sight-seeing opportunities.
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We’ve finally got to the place for all of the hedonists whose guilty pleasure is the tasty food. Food-lovers will enjoy this area since it offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and places to enjoy the local cuisine. You can check out the Rue de Charonne part, located between the République and Nation squares, which currently presents the evolving dining scene in this hip area.
There is something for everyone so you can find cheaper restaurants, cafés, and bars as well as more expensive ones. Feel free to browse around and try out different places until you find your favorite ones. The cuisine varies from typical French to Mexican, meaning that you can literary try it all out.
Besides enjoying all the tasty food and savory drinks, if you stay in the 11th Arrondissement head to the Opéra Bastille, watch the entertainers at Place de la République, or mingle with the bohemians and bourgeois in the hipster neighborhood of “BoBo” quartier (Quartier de la Folie-Méricourt). Anyone who is looking to relax with their friends or a loved one while indulging in great food, head straight to this district. You won’t be disappointed.
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If you are a first-time visitor, this district can be the best choice for your stay. It is close to all the major attractions, which will make it easier for you to get around. What you can find in the 7th arrondissements are the Eiffel Tower and its Champs de Mars park. This district is a great place for sight-seeing.
History lovers will especially be satisfied with this area. Here are some historical places that you can check out there:
There are also express bus and tour operators the can take you to the famed Versailles Palace. The 7th Arrondissement really has all the marque landmarks that anyone who’s dreamed of going to Paris can check off their list.
The combination of history and fashion can be found at the Parisian mega-store Le Bon Marché, which is one of the first modern department stores founded in 1838. The 7th Arrondissement is recommended for all of you who don’t have lots of time to spend in Paris and want to see as much as they can for a short period.
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The Latin Quarter is the oldest district in Paris and it is known as the district of students. Therefore, if you are looking for an affordable and vivid location that offers fantastic nightlife Latin Quarter should be your pick. Lots of students from Academploy, an educational blog name this quarter as their favorite place to stay in Paris which shows that this is the best pick for the younger crowd. Latin Quarter is in the 5th Arrondissement, and it is the home of the Sorbonne University. This explains all the student-filled cafés.
This is a historic center of educational and artistic achievements. If you decide to stay in this area, you can spend your days visiting attractions such as the National Museum of Natural History and the Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens, as well as the Panthéon building that has the remains of notable achievers like Voltaire and Marie Curie.
Book-lovers will find their place in this district since it is filled with mega-bookstores on Place St-Michel as well as booksellers in the open-air who showcase the books by on the Seine. If you want to avoid the crowds, start with book-hunting early in the morning.
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For a budget-friendly but romantic area, head to Montmarte. This is the most romantic neighborhood in Paris. What makes it so fairytale-like is that it is located on the top of a small hill, so you’ll have a beautiful landscape to look at and enjoy. Montmarte is also known as the Mountain of Martyrs, and it’s set in the 18th Arrondissement.
This charming place still has that village atmosphere that makes your night walks more romantic and takes you back in the time. And in the moments when you want some unforgettable entertainment, make sure to visit the Moulin Rouge.
With many gardens and vineyards, you’ll be able to get lost in nature. There are lots of little bistros, windmills, museums, and artists who are absorbing the atmosphere that resembles the 19th and 20th centuries.
Many novel writers come here to get inspiration that will get them good ratings. This is certainly a place that will leave you with many unforgettable memories. Montmarte is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, artists who are in search of inspiration, and a group of friends who want to enjoy the authentic Paris atmosphere.
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If you don’t mind doing a little bit of walking and taking public transport, consider staying in Belleville. My first time in Paris, I couch-surfed and stayed with a host in Belleville. This neighborhood is the China Town of Paris and the working-class district.
The neighborhood is not very touristy, there’s nothing particular to note except the awesome Parc de Belleville and Edith Piaf’s apartment (incidentally right around the corner of where I stayed). Graffitis might be construed as a bad image for the city but not in Belleville – it’s considered art here!
There are lots of cafes and bars to choose from, and every weekend comes the farmers market. This area is some of the cheaper parts of Paris and still relatively safe and great for families. If you want to experience Paris like a local, stay in Belleville.
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While the weather in Paris is similar to most European cities and there all tourists visiting the city at all times, there are still some differences depending on seasons. So, here are some of the best times to head to the City of Light:
As you can see, Paris has so many different sides, and if you can’t explore all of them, choose a neighborhood most suitable for your needs. To recapitalize and help you narrow down your choices, let’s revise the best places to stay based on the preferences and group types:
With this little list, you can find the area that you like the most and have an unforgettable trip to a place that exudes with history, romance, and guilty pleasures.
About the Author:
Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer, blogger, and content editor at TopWritersReview. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in psychological science. Her passion is traveling and finding ways to enrich students’ learning experiences.
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For travel, landscape, and adventure. The best lenses for the Sony A6000. The post The Best Lenses for Sony a6000 Series (a6300, a6500, and a6400) appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
The a6000 series (a6500, a6400, a6300) is an excellent mid-range camera in the Sony Mirrorless lineup. These APS-C size sensor cameras are very compact but powerful and good enough for photographers who want to capture fantastic images but don’t want to travel with bulky DSLRs or full-frame mirrorless cameras. In this article, we compile the best lenses for Sony a6000, and it’s derivatives.
Announced back in February 2014, the Sony A6000 became one of the best-selling mirrorless cameras of all time. Even today, thanks to its low price, it remains one of the best entry into the mirrorless camera world.
The Sony Alpha A6000 was based on Sony’s NEX 6 mirrorless compact system camera and has taken the baton over.
The a6000 is no slouch either; it boasts a super-fast hybrid phase/contrast-detection autofocus system along with a blistering 11 fps burst rate.
With the fast capture, you would think the image quality suffers. That’s not the case; the image quality is excellent and smaller than full-frame offerings.
Ergonomics is also refined, with an OLED viewfinder and hinged rear display, which is all packaged into a solid body that is small and lightweight enough to shoot anywhere and carry anywhere.
Despite subsequent iterations of a6xxx cameras that incorporate numerous enhancements, like in-body picture stabilization, the A6000 has stood the test of time.
You can still buy it today at an exceptional value for the price. It is most often offered with a lens kit, together with Sony’s E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS. It’s a reasonable starting lens that is particularly small and great to travel with, however, no match for the offerings mentioned in this article.
Sony a6000 w/ Kit Lens at Amazon for $648
It matches the APS-C 23.5 × 15.6 millimeter sensor dimensions and consequently able to stay housed in a smaller body. They pack most, if not all, useful features of the A7, including ultra-fast autofocus minus the full-frame sensor.
Choosing between the a6400 and a6500 can be tricky. Their title order is out of step with their actual release dates. The a6500 is older than the a6400!
The a6400 is equipped with newer technology like having a 180° flipping screen, quick AF, and superior tracking and unlimited video recording capacities.
However, the a6500 still boasts a broader ISO range, larger buffer for continuous shooting with RAW, and with a 5-axis in-body stabilization. Both have 4K shooting, 3.5mm microphone ports, and slow-motion shooting capabilities.
If you happen to own one (no matter which iteration), you know how lucky you are. If you don’t and are considering a travel camera, you should definitely give the A6000 series a hard look. In addition, you will need the best lenses to get the most out of your A6000 series camera.
We’re going to take a look at the best lenses for your A6000 series. We split this line up into two main sections: zoom and prime lenses, with each one having a set of benefits.
Modern zoom lenses provide you with the flexibility of multi-focal lengths in one easy to carry package. Prime lenses, on the other hand, have a fixed focal length but are exceptionally sharp and fast.
No matter what your style and preference, you will find the best lenses for the A6000 series camera below.
No matter which A6000 series camera you have, you will no doubt benefit from having the best lenses alongside it. Below are our picks for the best lenses:
Best standard walk-around zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 0.94 lb
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48 (Wide) 3.12 ft (Tele)
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.11x
Focal Length: 18-105mm, 27-158mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 76° 15°
Filter diameter (mm): 72 mm
The ideal step up from the Sony E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens sold with the A6000 is a considerably higher-quality optic. It is predicated on a Zeiss design that contains four aspherical elements and one ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element, as well as Zeiss’s high-performance T* coatings.
The Vario-Tessar TE 16-70mm lacks both the space-saving, retractable mechanism of this 16-50mm lens but provides a higher overall zoom range, along with a constant-aperture layout, which makes f/4 accessible at any given focal length.
It is not as ‘fast’ as the more pro-grade Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master but is much more compact and affordable. Weighing in at 308g, it seems balanced in an A6000 body and is absolutely excellent for everyday shooting.
The Sony 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS is one of the best E mount zoom lenses to the Sony a6000, a6300, a6400, and a6500. This lens has a broad focal range, allowing it to capture all types of subjects.
The 16-70mm f/4 lens includes Carl Zeiss anti-reflective coatings to lower glare and ghosting. The Optical SteadyShot picture stabilization minimizes the camera shake on the long end of the focal range or when in low light situations.
This lens does have a small amount of chromatic aberration in the kind of purple fringing near the borders of the framework, but it’s relatively minor and can be managed by stopping down your aperture.
The 16-70mm f/4 has some barrel distortion standard of wide-angle lenses, but it is not severe. In case you need one super flexible glass to have your travels or use while walking around in the city, this is a superb option.
Best wide-angle and landscape zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 7.94 ounces
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.82 ft (0.25 m)
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.1x
Focal Length: 10-18 mm, 15-35mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 109 ° – 76 °
Filter diameter (mm): 62 mm
Fit this lens for your A6000, and it might feel like taking the blinkers off your camera. The shortest focal length of 10mm is equivalent to having a 15mm lens onto a full-frame camera, providing a large viewing angle of 109 degrees.
The lens is very much like the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS in terms of layout and handling, with a constant-aperture f/4 score and Optical SteadyShot built-in.
Perfect for dark, cramped interiors, sweeping landscapes, and any time you would like to exaggerate the effect of a perspective, this lens takes over where the 16-70mm leaves off, and with a bit of overlap to play.
Picture quality is quite good besides slightly mediocre sharpness when shooting wide-open at f/4, mainly in more half of the zoom range.
The built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system of the A6000 gives a 4-stop shutter speed benefit, making it much easier to attain crisp, blur-free video and images.
The inner focusing system allows for a quick AF reaction time, and extra-low dispersion glass prevents chromatic aberration and increases contrast.
The Sony 10-18mm f/4 is super sharp and well built, which is reasonable considering it is likely to be used by landscape photographers. With a minimum focusing distance of under .82 feet, you might even get dramatic perspectives when shooting up close.
Best mid to telephoto zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 0.94 lb
Minimum Focus Distance: 3.28 ft
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.23x
Focal Length: 55-210mm 82-315mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): -29 °–7 ° 40.’
Filter diameter (mm): 49 mm
As a result of the 1.5x crop factor of this A6000 and other Sony APS-C format E-mount camera bodies, the lens provides an ‘effective’ zoom assortment of 82.5-315mm in full-frame terms, with powerful telephoto reach in the long run.
Downsizing is mostly as a result of this reasonably narrow aperture score, which shrinks from f/4.5 into f/6.3 as you stretch throughout the zoom range.
It also enables a much higher balance on an A6000 camera compared to lenses like the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 along with f/4 constant-aperture lenses, which can also be a lot more expensive to purchase. However, sharpness in the lightweight 55-210mm drops off somewhat in more extended zoom settings and maybe better at the broadest available apertures.
The Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 lens is a fantastic sports lens for the Sony a6000, a6300, a6400, and a6500. It’s also a superb alternative for safari because you get all this range to get under 1 pound. This lens will zoom in on your subjects from far enough away that you’d never miss the action while also being just broad enough to catch wildlife shots.
This lens doesn’t have significant distortion, but it will exhibit a relatively large quantity of sun flare once the Sun is near the frame – a bonus to a, depending on your style.
The Optical SteadyShot image stabilization minimizes the look of camera shake by around four stops and does an excellent job of preventing image blur. While this lens may not be able to handle low light in addition to others, when it comes to well-lit sports and wildlife shooting, it does a good job, especially for the price.
Best Extreme telephoto zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 3.08 lbs
Minimum Focus Distance: 3.22′ / 0.98 m
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.35
Focal Length: 100-400 mm zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 16 °-4 °10’2
Filter diameter (mm): 77 mm
This is the heaviest lens we’ve picked for the a6000 series. It’s also one of the most expensive. It’s large, chunky, and weighs in at almost 1.5kg, which makes it feel a mismatch rather than get an A6000 body.
So why is this lens even in the lineup? Well, if you would like monster telephoto zoom reach, there’s no genuine alternative to this lens other than equally large telephoto primes.
You’re presumably not going to be walking around with this lens in the streets of Copenhagen or Oslo, but you’re going to be capturing some serious close-ups from a relative distance if that’s one of your requirements. Add a Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter, and you’ve really got some serious reach.
Being from Sony’s G-Master line, this one has fully pro-grade build quality and superior performance. The autofocus system is super-fast, perfect for tracking fast-moving wildlife and sporting action, Optical SteadyShot is exceptionally powerful, and image quality is outstanding.
It is pricey to purchase, but you get what you pay for, and also an excellent choice for bird photography, safaris, or faraway portraits.
Best Beginner all-in-one traveling zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 11.5 oz
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48′ / 45 cm
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.29x
Focal Length: 18-135 mm 27-202mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 76° to 12°
Filter diameter (mm): 55 mm
We can frequently feel more is merrier, especially at the telephoto end. Sony and Tamron both make 18-200mm superzooms for E-mount cameras like the A6000; however, there are downsides.
The widest available aperture at the long end of the zoom range shrinks to f/6.3, straying a little to the dark side.
A larger zoom range also usually will come with a more significant compromise in picture quality. This 18-135mm is our preferred alternative. It is more lightweight and easy to manage, pairing better using an A6000 body and gives outstanding image quality. Additionally, it has a quicker f/3.5-5.6 aperture score.
The Sony 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens is an incredibly versatile lens to the novice photographer. With the crop sensor, the 18mm wide end is solidly wide without entering ultra-wide land. The 135mm telephoto end will also provide a reasonable sum of reach for if you want to zoom in.
The variable maximum aperture is most likely not fast enough for aspiring photographers; however, the image stabilization can keep your photos sharp even when you need to slow your shutter speed a little bit to compensate for low light.
Variable maximum apertures mean that on the 18mm end of this range, you are able to open your aperture as broad as f/3.5.
However, on the telephoto end, your maximum is limited to only as wide as f/5.6. But for a lens of this range, it does have a comparatively close 1.5′ minimum focusing distance, which is nice in smaller spaces. This is a great and affordable travel lens.
Best all-around travel zoom for Sony a6000
Weight: 1.01 lbs
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3 (Wide)–0.5 m (Tele) (0.99 [Wide])–1.64 ft.
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.11x
Focal Length: 18-200 mm 28-320mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 76° 8°
Filter diameter (mm): 62 mm
The 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS LE is a good alternative for photographers looking for a high-quality wide-to-long-range zoom.
Although this lens is notorious for taking quite sharp pictures, especially in the long run, its biggest asset is most likely its wide focal selection, which allows for one lens to be used in a variety of configurations and even for the video! It’s also quiet; a linear motor is inherited from higher-end Sony camcorders.
Because of its variable aperture range of f/3.5-6.3, it’s not quite as capable as some of the others in low light conditions. But if you’re shooting in well-lit areas, it is more than competent. This lens produces no apparent fringing throughout most of its focal length and only a tiny amount in both 18mm and 200mm.
As expected with a lens using this wide of a focal range, some barrel distortion will occur, particularly near 18mm. Post-processing in Lightroom or even Photoshop may fix these problems. The vast focal range makes this among the very best travel lenses for Sony E mount cameras.
Best carry around long zoom lens for Sony a6000
Weight: 1.88 lbs
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.3 (Wide)–0.5 m (Tele) (0.99 [Wide])–1.64 ft.
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.31x
Focal Length: 70-300mm 105-450mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 34° to 8° 10′
Filter diameter (mm): 72 mm
Making a super-telephoto range at a portable form factor is uncommon. The Sony FE 70-300mm is a sports-and-wildlife-dedicated lens that is also under 2 lbs. It features dust and moisture resistance for use outdoors and has a convenient Focus Zoom button for crucial shots.
Its focal range equal to a crop sensor is 105-450mm, which is phenomenal reach. A unique Focus Range Limiter allows you to constrain the available focusing array to either 9.8′ to infinity or the full range of 3′ to infinity for rapid focusing during sports and wildlife shooting.
Equipped with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, this lens can perform admirably when shooting with slower shutter speeds but do notice that it’s a variable maximum aperture that will sacrifice your wide aperture options in the long end of the range. It’s sharp throughout although it is a hair thinner in the wide end of the range.
Slimming down your gear will enhance your results, which is typical of several zooms in this range. Do note that this lens doesn’t have any panning or tripod-sensing collars, which could be sorely missed in a lens of this type intended for wildlife and sports. The variable aperture means you’re losing some light, and the focusing does tend to slow down in lower lighting conditions.
Best super-wide-angle prime for Sony a6000
Weight: 9.2 oz
Minimum Focus Distance: 7.09 inches
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.11x
Focal Length: 12mm
Angle Of View (APS-C): 99°
Filter diameter (mm): 67 mm
This E mount lens is designed for landscape photographers who love shooting ultra-wide prime lenses, and it excels in its job.
While this lens does produce some mild barrel distortion, this is sometimes almost entirely corrected in post-processing.
Ghosting and sunlight sampling are very minimal with this lens, although its bokeh leaves something to be wanted.
If you’re looking for a wide-angle lens with sharp optics and high build quality, the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8 is an excellent alternative.
The touit is uttered like”do it,” and it means quick little parrot. This lens embodies quickness and mobility. It is designed to have a long working life with its rigid metal bayonet mount and rubberized control ring. It’s designed particularly for crop sensor cameras like the a6000/a6300/a6400/a6500.
Best wide-angle fast prime for Sony a6000
Weight: 14.29 oz
Minimum Focus Distance: 9.84 inches
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.1x
Focal Length: 16mm
Angle Of View (APS-C): 83.2°
Filter diameter (mm): 72 mm
By Sigma’s Contemporary line of high-performance lenses, this 16mm lens offers ultra-fast, wide-angle capacities to E mount shooters. With the very broad f/1.4 aperture, photographers can get sleek, beautiful out of focus backgrounds.
Sigma’s Contemporary line is well known for getting high-quality optics in lightweight and affordable bundles. It’s equipped with a stepping motor which delivers, fast, smooth and silent autofocus for shooting movie.
This lens is ideal for landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors. Additionally, it is optically designed to minimize sagittal coma flare, so this lens an excellent selection for night skies shooting.
It’s built with a special emphasis on silent performance and adjusted optical stimulation. The lens is sharp and reasonably priced, and the only downside we can see is when shooting with the Sun in the frame – specifically flares and aberrations.
Best street photography lens for Sony a6000
Weight: 2.4 oz
Minimum Focus Distance: 7.87 inches
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.12x
Focal Length: 20mm
Angle Of View (APS-C): 70°
Filter diameter (mm): 49 mm
This is one weird lens, a mere slip of a thing, this pancake lens is just 63x20mm small and weighs 69g. It’s meant to be small and light. Couple it with an A6000, and you have a perfect package for travel photography.
The sufficient focal length of 35mm is ideal, and the ensemble is little enough for you to shoot candidly without drawing attention to your self, so it’s perfect for street photography in crowded streets of Paris or London.
It’s one of those few lenses in this roundup that lacks Optical SteadyShot, but the f/2.8 aperture makes up for it and is faster than that of zoom lenses.
The only catch is that, when shooting wide-open, sharpness is only so-so instead of good, and vignetting (darkened picture corners) is quite noticeable. At apertures of between f/4 and f/8, image quality really goes tack sharp.
Best benchmark prime for Sony a6000
Weight: 5.4 oz
Minimum Focus Distance: 11.81 inches
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.149x
Focal Length: 35mm 52.5 (35mm equiv.)
Angle Of View (APS-C): 44°
Filter diameter (mm): 49 mm
The so-called ‘nifty fifty’ is a higher standard lens class on full-frame cameras, in which it gives a standard viewing angle. Nearly every photographer will have had the pleasure to use the ’50 mm’ lens on every camera system.
Why? Because it’s sharp, little to no distortion, fast, and usually very cheap on full-frame cameras.
Take the 1.5x crop factor of the Sony A6000’s sensor into account, and this lens includes an almost identical 52.5mm focal length and a generally fast aperture of f/1.8.
The design makes perfect sense, as the lens would have to be considerably more substantial and bigger if it had an f/1.4 aperture rating, and less well balanced on cameras like the A6000.
Sharpness and contrast are excellent, thanks in no small part to quality glass that includes two aspherical elements and an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element. For handheld shooting beneath dull lighting, Optical SteadyShot is another bonus. We’d expect this lens to be the sharpest at this range, and we’re not complaining, but it could stand to be sharper than it is.
Perfect portrait lens for Sony a6000
Weight: 0.94 lb
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.28 ft (0.39 m)
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.16x
Focal Length: 50mm (35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 75mm)
Angle Of View (APS-C): 32°
Filter diameter (mm): 50 mm
Having a sufficient focal length of 75mm on an APS-C format Sony body like the A6000, and also a fast f/1.8 aperture makes this is a fantastic lens for portraiture.
You’ll be able to take shoulders and head along with half-length portraits from an ideal space, not crowding your sitter while being close enough to engage together.
The f/1.8 aperture allows a tight depth of field, which means you can throw the background out of focus and produce the person you’re photographing really stand out from the image.
Corner-sharpness is a small poor at apertures wider than f/5.6, but that shouldn’t be an issue in portraiture. The aperture remains fairly well-rounded when stopping down somewhat from f/1.8; however, based on seven rather than nine diaphragm blades, it could be better.
Best macro lens for Sony a6000
Weight: 0.94 lb
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48 (Wide) 3.12 ft (Tele)
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 0.11x
Focal Length: 18-105 mm 27-158mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range
Angle Of View (APS-C): 76° 15°
Filter diameter (mm): 72 mm
As a little big for the a6000 show camera, the Sony FE 90mm is worthy of almost any E mount list. It is very popular and scores excellently on DXOMARK.
Offering a 1:1 magnification ratio and a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens works as well for portraits as it does for work. It features a focus hold button, which, when pressed, keeps the lens secured to that focusing distance. This makes fragile macro shooting and wildlife tracking simpler.
This lens is equipped with a linear motor which delivers, fast, smooth and silent autofocus for shooting movie. Additionally, it offers Optical Image Stabilization to minimizes the appearance of camera shake when shooting at slower shutter speeds.
The 90mm focal length is long enough to give you the distance between you and your macro subject (you frequently don’t want to be too near insects and other small living animals ) while also being extended enough for a few wildlife issues.
The bokeh possible is strong with this particular lens, an excellent attribute for portraits.
Here are some photography tips to improve your A6000 photos.
The A6000 has 3-axis in-body stabilization, and some lenses on this list add optical stabilization (the other 2 for a total of 5 axes). In layman’s terms, it just allows it so you can shoot handholding the camera and lens without getting blurred images. Some people report going 2 – 4 stops (some even longer with steady hands!) before the images start getting blurred.
So generally on a bright day, you can shoot 1/120 second shutter speed, and when it gets darker, you might need to shoot 1/30 second shutter speed – without the stabilization, these images will already be blurred because of the handshake (every human’s hand will have movement).
Using a tripod, even a small cheap one, can make the difference between an OK photo vs. a remarkable photo. Sure, there’s an in-body image stabilization built inside the body of the A6000 series camera, but you’re not going to be able to capture images that require long f-stops (think motions). A tripod, along with the right lens, is one of the best investments you will make as a photographer. Check out our recommendations for the Best Travel Tripods for Under $100.
Find the AEB function on your camera (read the manual) – that stands for Auto Exposure Bracketing.
Use it whenever you can. It takes three or more photos in succession with an over and underexposed version of the image.
This will give you a little bit of leeway in exposure mistakes and extra capabilities to process the image in HDR or something similar later.
AEB allows you to capture subsequent shots in different exposures in increments you choose. You can have the camera capture 3, 5, and sometimes nine shots in succession, with each one a different exposure than the other.
Memory is pretty much cheap nowadays, so it’s best just to capture different exposure for each shot. It’s also great as insurance for over and underexposure.
Filters are fun and great for creativity. Mount one on your lens and have a go. A polarizer should be the first filter you buy. Read why you should get a polarizer.
Shoot in RAW (instead of JPEG) or a combination of both whenever you can. The RAW mode will capture all the information that your camera’s sensor is capable of while JPEG will compress the information in an algorithm – which is lossless (you will lose some data). RAW is excellent for archival and post-processing later if you want.
Thanks for reading. The list here can be more exhaustive, but we’ve narrowed the lenses that pair well with the a6000 series. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comment box below!
The post The Best Lenses for Sony a6000 Series (a6300, a6500, and a6400) appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
Lake Como (also known as Lario) or Lago di Como in Italian, is one of Italy’s most renowned travel destinations. Its charming villas, luxurious resort towns, historic cobblestone alleyways, and quaint lakeside cafes attract many travelers. A handful of tiny, beautiful villages speckle the lake’s unique upside-down “Y” shape that is surrounded by breathtaking naturescapes. As such, travelers, couples, and adventurers have been seeking out the lake for centuries! Whether to indulge...
Lake Como (also known as Lario) or Lago di Como in Italian, is one of Italy’s most renowned travel destinations. Its charming villas, luxurious resort towns, historic cobblestone alleyways, and quaint lakeside cafes attract many travelers.
A handful of tiny, beautiful villages speckle the lake’s unique upside-down “Y” shape that is surrounded by breathtaking naturescapes. As such, travelers, couples, and adventurers have been seeking out the lake for centuries!
Whether to indulge in the region’s most beautiful wine and local delights or to explore northern Italy’s many breathtaking hikes and lakes, Lake Como is a bucket-list-worthy adventure. Here is a compilation for the best things to do in and around Lario.
Lake Como is nestled at the foothills of the Alps in Italy’s northern Lombardy region. It also lies just south of the Swiss border. The easiest and most popular way to reach the lake is by air and train travel from Milan, Italy.
The most convenient airports to get to the lake will be Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, or via Bergamo Orio al Serio Lugano airport in Switzerland. However, most travelers arrive and depart from Milan Malpensa airport. If you’re traveling on a budget, check out my best day to buy airfare tickets and how to catch mistake fares guides!
Traveling from Milan by train is the fastest way to get to the lake. You can take the Milan Cadorna train station which offers service to Como Nord Lago via the Trenord line or depart from the Milan Central Station and arrive at the lake’s main train station at Como San Giovanni. Both trips should only take roughly 1-1.5 hours.
First, rent a car via Auto Europe as it has the most convenient way to get a car in Milan. Milan is located about 85 km (50 miles) from Como Town. You can easily rent a car at the airports in Milan. However, note that road traffic is often congested on the Milan-Como route and isn’t the most convenient way to get to the lake.
Alternatively, you can start your trip by first traveling to one of the lake’s smaller towns such as Varenna, Lecco, or Bellagio and then taking a ferry or bus to Como Town.
Alternative ways to get to Lario or Europe in general? Read my guide – The Best Ways to Get Around in Europe.
The best time to visit the lake is during the warmer months from March to November, with July and August being the peak summer months to visit (but also the most crowded with tourists).
You can expect lots of rain in the wet, spring months during April and May. The drier months of June and July are best for outdoor activities such as water sports and hiking the lake’s many trails.
You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to where to stay in Lario! All the historic towns dotting the lakeside will be sure to please even the snobbiest.
There are locations where you can stay if you wish to be closer to cultural activities or the best hikes. For example, the north end of Lake Como will feature some of the best naturescapes with scenic hikes, while the southern and western shores will place you at the heart of the top attractions.
Nonetheless, here are the top three places to stay in Lario to indulge in a variety of activities:
Varenna is one of the most beautiful towns to stay on Lake Como’s quaint eastern shore. It’s lined with romantic gardens, fairytale-like castles, and proximity to cultural highlights such as the Villa Monastero. Two noteworthy hotels based here are Villa Cipressi and Hotel Olivedo.
Bellagio is often dubbed the “Pearl” of Lake Como, and for a good reason. Its convenient location, where the Y-shape lake divides, boasts some of the best Lake Como has to offer.
Imagine charming cobblestone streets, botanical gardens, and gorgeous villas peering out over the lake. The elegant Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and the Hotel Belvedere Bellagio are two luxurious hotels not to miss out on when in town.
Tremezzo is another must-see waterfront town with impressive gardens and luxurious villas, with the iconic Villa Carlotta at its helm. It is located on Lake Como’s western flank, but no need to worry – you can easily reach any one of these three popular towns with a short ferry ride. To get the full Tremezzo experience, consider a stay at the popular Grand Hotel Tremezzo or the more humble Casa del Portico B&B.
No matter where you stay in Lake Como, be sure to book in advance in order to secure the best deal as hotels tend to fill up fast, especially during peak season.
It goes without saying that Lake Como features a delicious spread of the best food Italian cuisine has to offer, from air-dried meats to top-of-the-line wine and cheese, pasta, pastries, and not to mention the tourist’s favorite – gelato.
Wherever you choose to base yourself in Lake Como, you’ll have plenty of options for extremely satisfying Italian fare. Here’s just a teaser for some of the best restaurants to eat at around Lake Como:
Whether you are craving melty Italian pizza or freshly-caught seafood, Lake Como has some of the best fine dining and local hotspots to suit every budget.
Lake Como has an endless list of things to do, ranging from leisurely sightseeing to adventurous outdoor activities! Whether you wish to explore beyond the historic towns or stroll around a botanical garden, here’s our recommendation for the top five best things to do in Lake Como.
Italy has some of the best hiking trails in Europe, from the epic hikes in the Dolomites to the famous summits of Mont Blanc, all the way down to the scenic alpine trails surrounding Lake Como. Some of the best hikes around Lake Como are the Pilgrim/Wayfarer’s Path, The Resegone, hiking up to Brunate, Mount Legnone, and Monte Generoso, among others.
If you find yourself eager to explore more of the hikes Italy has to offer, consider hiking the wilderness trails throughout the Gran Paradiso National Park.
These stunning trails can be reached in less than 3 hours from Lario, should you have some spare time to put your hiking skills to the test!
However, as Italy’s oldest national park, Gran Paradiso’s hikes aren’t for the lighthearted; you can expect difficult switchback ridges as you navigate rough terrain through the Graian Alps. You’ll also end up crossing high alpine pastures, deep valleys lush with flora and fauna.
You can always save time and money and go on a hiking tour. The Trails of Italian Lakes, for example, will take you around Lake Como and Lugano with a very knowledgable guide.
By now, you should know Lario is a special place when it comes to elegant and stunning villas. Whether perched waterfront or surrounded by a highly-curated whimsical botanical garden, Lake Como has all types of must-see villas.
Some of the most visited villas around Lario are the iconic Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, Villa del Balbianello in Lenno, Villa Olmo in Como Town, and Villa Monastero in Varenna. How many villas in the famous lake will you check off your bucket list?
You can, of course, take a Lake Como Walking tour and see lots of villas and even discover ones you otherwise wouldn’t from your guide.
If you crave another outdoor adventure, consider making a cycling day trip up to the chapel. Conversely, it’s dedicated to the patron saint of cycling itself – Madonna del Ghisallo.
The route features an intense 1640 ft (500 m) ascent up the chapel, a famed pilgrimage for many Italian cyclists. The climb is guaranteed to be difficult, but the rewarding vistas from atop the hill will make it all the more worthwhile. The Italian Lakes Cycle Tour covers this and much more!
The magnificent 13th-century Castello di Vezio sits high above the charming rooftops of Varenna overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Como.
It’s the best place in Varenna for a picturesque panorama of the surrounding towns and mountains. The 30-minute hike, although steep, isn’t too rigorous. Simply take the cobblestone path up to Vezio from the north end of Varenna at Olivedo.
Your bucket list should have at least 2-3 historic towns other than Como Town or Bellagio on it! In fact, Lake Como is vast and far-reaching, so why not explore a little outside of the tourist zone to other quaint villages?
Navigating around Lake Como by ferry or train is fairly easy, so take the opportunity to discover new sights and smells. Better yet, immerse yourself into the towns to experience authentic working life in Lario like a local.
Cute towns to visit on Lake Como other than the tourist triangle towns of Bellagio-Tremezzo-Varenna are:
If you’re strapped for time or have trouble making a choice with so many options, consider visiting these five towns around Lake Como first! You can always go on a Lake Como Getaway Tour. This will get you most of the highlights in three nights.
Below are the lesser-known towns around Lario. If you’re more into the less trodden places, these towns are definitely worth a look as they offer different views of the lake!
Menaggio has one of the prettiest lake-side promenades of all Lake Como, especially in spring and summer, when the flowers are in full bloom. Beyond the boardwalk lies a lively historic center with the Piazza Garibaldi square abuzz with cafes, and baroque-style neighborhoods painted in shades of pink. Because Menaggio is easily reached from both Bellagio and Varenna, it’s one of the more touristy “alternate” towns to visit around Lario.
Lecco is the town to visit if you wish to experience Lake Como like a local. Hiking enthusiasts will especially appreciate Lecco for its many trails winding through the foothills of the Monte Resegone overshadowing the town. And because of its southeastern location on the lake, Lecco makes for a great last-stop on your train ride back to Milan.
Argegno is perhaps one of the smallest towns around Lake Como, with roughly 1,000 residents. As such, Argegno is very much one of Lake Como’s hidden gems. Despite its small size, the town is brimming with lovely hotels like the Hotel Villa Belvedere. Like most Lake Como towns, tourism plays a large role in the local economy. Argegno is an especially hilly, mountainous town that just might surprise you with its historic churches and restaurants.
Gravedona sits on the northern end of Lake Como and is the town to visit if you love medieval history and atmosphere with its 6th-century crypt at the Church of San Vincenzo and the Church of Santa Maria del Tiglio which features a 5th-century mosaic tile floor. History buffs will adore the medieval mystery shrouding Gravedona.
Domaso is your low-key, budget-friendly Lario town popular among young travelers. It’s also the unofficial capital of windsurfing of all the towns around Lake Como and is also a great location if you wish to go sailing, swimming, or fishing. In exchange for the luxurious hotels, Domaso has some of the best camping facilities you can find around Lario. Because of this, Domaso has an extremely down-to-earth and open atmosphere.
If you have plans to spend a few days around Lake Como, definitely make an effort to visit these off-the-beaten-track towns around the lake. As you’ll see, each is special in their own way. You won’t be disappointed!
For many people, a trip to Italy’s iconic Lake Como is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With all there is to do and see, try to plan a minimum of 2-3 nights, if not more!
Should you ever exhaust your Lario bucket list or crave a getaway to the mountains, don’t forget there are breathtaking hikes and epic trips just a few hours away in the Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc or La Meiji. Ultimately, wherever you choose to base yourself in Lake Como, you will find a diverse array of indoor and outdoor activities to satisfy your curiosity and quench your wanderlust.
The post Lake Como Things To Do, Where to Stay, and Where To Eat! appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
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