Rocking it in METEORA

I must admit that till the moment I began to plan my trip to Greece, to me, Meteora was the name of my favorite CD by one of my favorite bands – Linkin Park.

Holy Trinity Monastery at Meteora, Greece
The Holy Trinity Monastery is not the largest of the six remaining cloisters, however, the most picturesquely positioned one.

Since last Christmas, I know better; much better: Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece, about 350 kilometers north of Athens. It is famous for one of the largest complexes of monasteries.

So my initial rock-band reference was not that mistaken, after all: Meteora is rocking – big time!

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ATHENS for First-Timers – Beyond the Acropolis

Yes, I’ve travelled the seven seas – at least metaphorically – yet never made it to Greece. Which is ironic since basically all of Greece is located on the seaside: with 13,676 kilometers of coastline – that’s roughly the little something of 8,498 miles – and 3054 islands and islets, Poseidon definitely is boss.

Not the only amazing facts: Next to Golgota and the Capitol, the Acropolis in Athens is one of the hills on which Europe was founded. Therefore, there is no excuse for having not yet visited the cradle of our civilization.

Cat at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Although Greece is basically sea-girt, besides lots of water, there are many rocks. As well as cats.

So as we got nearer to Christmas and the holy days became holidays, the question of where to spend them was quickly answered: Athens – for the first time.

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TOKYO – introduction to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods

Tokyo – my first encounter with Japanese everyday life and culture – left a good impression and prepared me for more to come.

Students at Tokyo in Japan
A warm and fun welcome to Tokyo by these sweet ambassadors.

Tokyo – the first cut is the deepest, but this one didn’t hurt at all – so let me introduce you to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods.

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KAWAGUCHI-KO – taking a shot at Mount Fuji

I’ve heard that there are people travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo just to take a good shot of Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji seen from Kawaguchiko in Japan
This is the picture I wanted to shoot. I didn’t. The person credited below did. (Photo: Kpravin2, Mount Fuji Japan with Snow, Lakes and Surrounding Mountains, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This majestic, perfectly shaped volcano – that erupted lastly in 1707 – seems to be hiding behind clouds most of the time so that it can be a challenge – or a hobby – hunting the best view. Or at least a glimpse.

No, I won’t spend my leisure time travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo. However, after my trip to Hakone had been Fuji-wise a wash-out – literally, I decided to take another shot – and this time hopefully not only at, but also of the mountain.

 

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NAGOYA – enjoy the ordinary

Tourist attraction wise, Nagoya has by far less to offer than Tokyo or let alone Kyoto.

bye:myself at Nagoya Castle in Japan
Shogun for a day.

I would say that brands like Mitsubishi, Toyota, and even Shinkansen – all settled in Nagoya – sound more familiar than the city’s own name.

I guess that’s the reason why most foreign visitors just skip Japan’s fourth-largest city located on the Pacific coast in favor of the more glamorous metropolis.

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PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s provincial capital

Phnom Penh hasn’t much to impress – hence it surprises by being probably world’s most provincial city with more than two millions inhabitants.

Phnom Penh
One of the main streets of Phnom Penh – still having a certain provincial flair.

It’s rare to travel a country and not missing much by avoiding its capital. Actually there are tourists who do not make it to Phnom Penh: They go from Bangkok to Siem Reap and from there straight to Sihanoukville from where they cross the border to Vietnam via Kampot and Kep; and that’s it.

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Guide to SIHANOUKVILLE

Sihanoukville has no great reputation as a beach destination – particularly with European tourists and travellers.

Beach at Sihanoukville in the Sunset, Cambodia

The beach at Sihanoukville is great for a couple of relaxing days.

But I find that already this picture shows that Sihanoukville absolutely has its nice corners and can be the perfect gateway to various great locations.

 

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KOH RONG & KOH RONG SAMLOEM

While Sihanoukville has a rather bad reputation as a beach destination, travellers are raving about Koh Rong and mainly the much smaller Koh Rong Samloem, two islands off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Koh Rong

Truth of the matter is that it’s irrelevant which island you’re on, the right beach is key: While the area around Koah Touch – Koh Rong’s main jetty – and Saracen Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are terrible dumpsters, Sok San Beach on Koh Rong’s west side and Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are dreamy and Edenic.

 

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Guide to KEP

Kep is located about 20 km / 12.5 miles from the Vietnamese border and maybe that’s the reason why it isn’t as popular as it could be.

Kep Crab Statue
There is even a crab greeting the visitors in Kep.

Because Kep has much more to offer than many people think – especially those who just come here for the next leg of their journey.

I spent one day here and that was only because I didn’t have more time. Kep is absolutely worth a visit of three to four days, especially if you also go to the secluded Rabbit island.

 

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KAMPOT and THANSUR BOKOR

Actually Kampot was my favorite place in Cambodia. But that’s because it is exactly how I like cities when I travel: used to some tourism so that people don’t stare at me like the circus came to town. And not overrun by travellers so that people are oblivious or even annoyed.

Kampot in Cambodia

Kampot’s elegant promenade.

It’s the perfect mix, and one day was far too short.

But since I had only three weeks for Cambodia, I had to choose and divide my time square and fair.

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