Recent Posts

Lisbon: National Azulejo Museum

Lisbon: National Azulejo Museum

When you come to Lisbon, you will notice that tiles or azulejos in Portuguese, are everywhere. It is part of the city image and you will find a hard time finding two identical designs.  If you are a graphic designer or even remotely interested in […]

Review: Lapland Letters

Review: Lapland Letters

When I was a child, I used to get super excited when I got a letter through the post. A letter for me? Wow! Nowdays letters are mostly bills, formal notifications and documents, so no excitement here. But this week we got a special delivery […]

Hospital in the Rock: A different kind of museum

Hospital in the Rock: A different kind of museum

There are so many museums in Budapest – you will be spoilt for choice. It is likely that you are going to spend at least half a day on Buda side of  Budapest, and visit Buda Castle or Fisherman Bastion. 

If you want to go somewhere, which is different from a usual art gallery or museum environment, I recommend to visit the Hospital in the Rock, which offers fantastic opportunity to see a secret place and hear stories of the people, who was working or was treated there.

Hospital museum does not sound very exciting, but I assure you that you will change your mind as soon as you sign up for their guided tour. A word of warning: due to distressing nature of some objects  on display, the museum is not suitable for children under 6 years old. As a suggestion, you can always take turns if visiting with small kids, as there are plenty of cafes and open spaces for kids outside of the Museum entrance to run around if they are too young to visit.

However, I think for older kids the museum is a must, as it shows how difficult life was at the time of the World War II  and the hardships, that people had to live through. It is great we are living in peaceful times now, but I think it is important to educate the kids about war and its awful consequences for everyone. 

The visits are conducted by the guided tour, as you wont be able to find your way around on your own. The tour lasts just under an hour and is available in other European  languages with prior booking.  Fruzsina was showing us around and it was a delight to listen to her, she was also happy to answer any questions we had. I personally think that if there is a guided tour in the museum, it gives you so much more in terms of information and an insight, which you are unlikely to get just from looking at the exhibits.

Museum displays are far from boring, in fact the scenes from the daily life of the hospital were recreated using historical archives and photos. Also there are some medical instruments  on display, which belonged to some of the doctors , working in the hospital.

From talking to Fruzsina, it appeared that the museum also has a great outreach programme, and they know many people, who either worked at the hospital or was treated here.  The tour gains a whole new perspective, as it does not just tell you how the hospital was functioning, but also highlights the stories of real people and their experience.

Second part of the museum is dedicated to the times, when the hospital was planned to be used as a nuclear bunker. Surprisingly, the Hospital in the Rock was classed as a secret location and was turned into museum only very recently in 2008. 

If you like to learn how it would be possible to survive in the nuclear bunker during the attack, the guided tour will have all the answers for you. You will also be able to see some pretty cool equipment for air cleaning, cisterns for fuel storage and protective clothing.

The museum has taken nuclear theme further, as part of the exhibition is dedicated to bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, showing the devastating effect on the environment and population.

I found this part quite upsetting, especially when you see personal belongings discovered after the bombings or learn the fact that people, who are closest to the centre of the explosion simply evaporated due to extreme heat, without leaving a trace.

There is also a touching display of paper cranes, symbolizing wish for peace and telling us the story of Sadako Sasaki . You would also be able to see a replica of the crane, folded by former US President Barack Obama, when he visited Hiroshima.

Once your visit is over, don’t miss fantastic souvenir shop, as you will not be able to buy such souvenirs anywhere else in Budapest. They have gas masks, syringes, war-style belts – I thought it was a great touch, rather than selling run-of-the-mill pens and key rings. 

Have you ever been to a museum, which was unusual and not what you expected? Please share your experience in comments and we might go and visit it one day!

Disclaimer: My visit was hosted by the Hospital in the Rock, but all opinions are my own.

Review: Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm

Review: Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm

When you travel, have you noticed, that you skin sometimes does not like local water or moisture levels in the air? My skin is quite particular, as while it is mostly all-right when I am at home, it starts a little strike as soon as […]

Spa Experience: Ironmonger Row Baths, Old Street, London

Spa Experience: Ironmonger Row Baths, Old Street, London

On a rainy afternoon in November, I set off to experience the Thermal Spa Experience and Gold Turkish Delight treatment at Ironmonger Row Baths, which are not far from the Old Street station in London. The Baths were easy to find and I was directed […]

Graham’s Port Lodge: Tour and Port Wine Tasting

Graham’s Port Lodge: Tour and Port Wine Tasting

If you are travelling to Porto and you are not opposed to alcohol, a visit to a Port Lodge is a must. Port wine was actually called after Porto and the vineyards along the Douro River provide grapes for its production.

 

We have selected to visit Graham’s Port Lodge as port wine of this brand is one of the most well known in the UK. The lodge is located a fair distance from Vila Nova de Gaia main strolling promenade, but I can tell you now that  it is worth making the trek. You will be able to see a series of warehouses and the actual town of Vila Nova de Gaia without touristic crowds. It is a steep walk, but when you reach the lodge, it looks as if it has been placed here by accident.

However, it is quite the opposite- when you see the lodge,  you will be able to imagine how the warehouses and lodges, which populated the area in the past, looked like. The area which has grown around Graham’s Lodge now is filled with modern apartments and usual infrastructure of hairdressers/mini-markets and bakeries. But at the lodge –  it is peaceful, with grape wines growing over your head and there is also a surprise, waiting for you at the end of the tour.

The tour is fully accessible with kids and buggies, the lodge has been equipped with lifts and sloping surfaces. At the start, we met our guide Anna, who took us on an hour-long discovery inside the lodge. I am not going to tell you all the details, that Anna shared with us, should you decide to do the tour yourselves. 

The tour covers such areas as history of port wine, production, storage and different types of wine, as well special kinds of port wine produced by Graham’s.  Sadly, some of the traditional methods are dying as young people are not interested to learn the craft, but Symington family, which owns the lodge, is investigating possible solutions for this.

What really struck me was  that after the tour you gain such an appreciation of how much work goes into each bottle of port wine and how many people are actually involved in producing best quality wine. It is not a factory, where bottles get filled and dispatched, it all starts with grapes in Douro valley, harvest, careful selection and blending with years of family expertise and respect for everyone involved in the process.  I can promise you that after the tour you will never look at your bottle of port with the same eyes!

After the tour you will be given an opportunity to try a selection of port wines and your guide will provide tasting notes. You can also additionally order a selection of tasty snacks, like cheese or chocolate, to go with your wines. The room, where your tasting is going to take place, will depend which wines you have selected, but both the Tasting Room and The Vintage Room are beautifully laid out.

Tasting room has plenty of light and space for the kids to relax if necessary, and if you manage to get the seat by the window, Porto will be visible in the distance.  

We were in the Vintage Room  and I momentarily thought that I have been transported into one of those 19th century cigar rooms for gentlemen, where they have enjoyed their after dinner drinks. 

We have tried Six Grapes, 10 Years Old Tawny and 20 Years Old Tawny – the first and the last ones being my favourites. Now equipped with all this knowledge from the tour and actual tasting, I feel much more confident when shopping for port wine, whether it is for myself or for presents. Actually, I will definitely be giving several bottles as Christmas presents this year.

At the end of the tour, you can shop to your heart content in a wonderfully stocked Lodge shop.

Remember, I also mentioned that there will be  a surprise at the end? The terrace and the view of Porto is breathtaking. There are plenty of seats to relax and enjoy any extra drinks you want to try or you can take the place at the front and enjoy the view. We finished the tour when it was getting dark and Porto was glistening with lights in the distance, but the view is so nice, it does not matter which time of the day you visit. 

Overall, this was a fantastic experience and I loved discovering how port wine is made. The environment in Graham’s Lodge is welcoming and friendly, it offers accessible space and you can bring your kids with you. Parents will certainly enjoy the tour and the tasting, so I highly recommend putting Graham’s Lodge on your list of places to visit when you are in Porto. 

You will need to book your visit in advance at Graham’s 1890 Lodge website.

Have you visited any lodges when you were in Porto? Let me know how your visit went!

Disclaimer: We were guests of Graham’s 1890 Lodge, but all opinions are my own. 

Lisboa Card: Is it worth it?

Lisboa Card: Is it worth it?

On our recent trip to Lisbon we made a very good use of Lisboa card and I wanted to share the benefits of having one if you are spending 1 – 3 days in Lisbon.  The card costs 19 Euros for 24 hours, 32 Euros […]

Which Royal Palace to visit in Seoul?

Which Royal Palace to visit in Seoul?

There are 5 Royal Palaces in Seoul and if your time is  limited, it might be difficult to decide which one to visit. While Gyeongbokgung Palace is the most well known and most grand of them all, my heart really stayed with Changdeokgung  Palace and I want […]

How to avoid crowds in Dubrovnik?

How to avoid crowds in Dubrovnik?

We have all been there: arriving in a certain place and discovering that not just you but hundreds, and I repeat, hundreds of other people want to see the same place, try the food at a restaurant or take a picture at Instagrammable location. Dubrovnik is one of those places , especially so in the summer months. 

Here are my three tips on how to avoid the crowds in Dubrovnik Old Town.

  1. Check the cruise ship timetable and try and come on the days when there are no cruise ships in town. Tricky, but probably do-able.
  2. Stay the night in Dubrovnik and either go very early in the morning (before the crowds ) or enjoy the town in the evening when the cruise ships are gone.
  3. Go and visit Dominican Monastery.

Let me tell you more about option number 3, as this is what I have done on my recent trip to Dubrovnik. Located on the eastern side of the old town you will find the Monastery, which is quiet and serene and there is no-one! Majority of people go and see the City Walls, hang out at the cafes on the Stradun or go on the “Game of Thrones” tour. 

The entrance is only 40 kunas (£4.00) and you have a green courtyard and a small museum all to yourself. No need to thank me!

There is plenty of shade as well and an opportunity to explore cool rooms with exhibits on religious art and craftsmanship. There was also jewellery displayed when I visited , if you are not that interested in religion. 

The courtyard is delightful and when the plants are in bloom it makes it even prettier. 

It is so quiet here, you will never guess you are in the middle of crowded town.  Street noise does not really travel here, so all you hear is the sound of your own footsteps or your children delight when running through the hallways or like in the case of Luca, peaceful breathing.

Disclaimer: My ticket to the Dominican Monastery was provided at a media rate, but all opinions are my own.

Best views of Dubrovnik

Best views of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a gem. So pretty and stylish, that you will find yourself liking it despite the large number of cruise ship visitors and never ending climbing staircases. If you take the bus/taxi from the airport, you will see fabulous views of Dubrovnik once you […]