NAGASAKI

I’ve had a little break from writing but I’m back to it this evening with a post about the amazing city of Nagasaki! Nagasaki was the second destination of our trip after Kyoto, and we reached this by using both the JR services and the Shinkansen, a journey of around 4/5 hours. As I’ve said in previous posts, I would highly recommend covering Japan by train, its such a brilliant experience and also allows you to see lots of cool scenery in a small amount of time. Nagasaki was a great destination to visit, and somewhere which I really didn’t know much about before I went. Of course, Nagasaki is most well known for the awful events of the atomic bomb, dropped in 1945, however this city is also a place of such beautiful landscape, rich with history which I wanted to share with you in this post.

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NAGASAKI PEACE PARK


The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of the city on the 9th August, 1945 during WWII. This park is beautiful and peaceful, as well as devastating and emotional. The memorials, dedications and statues help us to understand the extent of the harm caused by this bomb, and the legacy of peace that is now in the centre of Nagasaki’s culture. Although very upsetting, this park is also the most beautiful place for a day out in Nagasaki, and is probably the number one must see of the city. It’s also wonderful to see the unity of people wanting peace and you can see this below with the colourful dedications to those who died, and a future of world peace.

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OURA CHURCH AND GLOVER GARDEN


The Oura Church is another historical destination, known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs. As one of the first western style buildings, this has been declared a national treasure and the oldest church in Nagasaki. Now, I am aware that visiting churches isn’t for everyone, but for a peaceful moment in your day and also an incredible view of the city, this is a lovely place to visit. Beside it is the Glover Garden with Glover Residence being the oldest Western style house surviving in Japan. It’s always good to find nature within a city, and this garden again is a peaceful retreat, and you can get the best view of Nagasaki harbour, as you’ll see in my pictures below. The walk up to the Glover garden and Oura church is also so cute and picturesque, it looks like something out of a Disney film! There’s so many little shops that you can explore here from souvenirs to cake.

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Look how cute this little toy shop was!


THE HARBOUR AND CITY CENTRE


Of course Nagaski’s beautiful harbour is unmissable and a great attraction especially if the sun is shining! The city centre also has lots to offer, and it’s easy to get around to main attractions by tram or by foot. Exploring by tram is a great way to get to places quickly whilst also having a great view of the city and immersing yourself in the culture. The locals we met were kind, welcoming and fun in Nagasaki, and made our stay even more pleasant. One of my favourite destinations within the city centre was actually Chinatown, and the former Chinese settlement. Seeing these historical buildings within a bustling city was so exciting and great to see.

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MOUNT INASA


We decided to visit Mount Inasa at night, something that I would highly recommend doing. Mount Inasa rises to a height of 1,093ft and can be reached by the Nagasaki Ropeway. Prices are affordable and well worth what you get included, for example the ropeway includes a tour guide giving lots of fun and useful information about the city below. This is such a fun evening activity, or something for the day if you would prefer, and the views you get are just incredible. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see such a great city at night, and this is actually labelled Nagasaki’s ’10 Million Dollar Night View’, which is very true. It was such a pleasure to be able to see this beautiful valley city lit up at night.

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So overall an absolutely wonderful stay in Nagasaki! We managed to do this all in two days, so it’s easy to pack things in with the transport links of the city. We stayed in the wonderful and affordable S Peria Hotel, which had a great room and amenities that I was very impressed with. For lovers of history and culture, Nagasaki is the perfect city for you and here you are also given the opportunity to experience a vibrant environment and see great landscapes!


Keep on following the blog for two more posts on Japan on Hiroshima and Tokyo and then see where my next adventure takes me! You can keep up with me on email, or by following on WordPress, or let me know what you think in the comments or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com 


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HAVANA, CUBA

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 My family and I visited the most beautiful, inspiring and memorable city we have ever been to – Havana, Cuba. It exceeded our expectations by such a great amount and I never stop thinking about returning. Not only was the scenery amazing but the people had such a great impact on me, people who have close to nothing gave so much love to all of our family.

I haven’t had a chance to properly share my photos before and these are so special to me so I hope you enjoy them! I’ve included some tips and things that we did on our trip. All destinations are linked with their tripadvisor page for more info. My top 5 tips are listed at the end of the post so keep reading for those!

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So I had no idea that there is a forest in Havana! We were taken here as part of a car tour we did with two brilliant guides. This place is beautiful and you forget you’re in a city. However it is also a place of magic and spirit where many take voodoo dolls or perform sacrifices. Although this sounds scary, you’re unlikely to see any of this taking place, however I would highly recommend going with a guide, who will explain the history and beliefs around the forest! I took some of my favourite pictures here.

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This incredible building can be seen in the Plaza de la Revolucion. Famous for being the destination of Fidel Castro’s rallies, this square is an must see destination. The Jose Marti Memorial is a huge tower which dominates the square and from which you can get an amazing view of the government buildings – one of which is pictured above.

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The above photo is taken outside the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This is probably the most famous hotel in Havana as it is often used by celebrities and political figures on their visits including a recent visit from Obama! You can come here even if you’re not booked in and look at their room with celebrity photos or sit outside and have a cocktail! The outdoor bar overlooks the Malecon, the perfect spot for a drink at sunset – which is made even better by the live band willing to serenade you if you wish!

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The amazing Malecon pictured above. A popular walkway with an amazing view, one side of the city and the other of the sea!

My number one recommendation is go out and meet the locals! Don’t be afraid to go into the backstreets of Old Havana – everyone we met was so friendly and that is what made the trip so special to us. The above photo is of a lovely couple we met whilst walking around who insisted on taking us to see an original member of the Buenavista Social Club perform in a bar, something so special that we wouldn’t have found on our own! Old Havana is beautiful and fascinating and is where we spent a lot of our time. You’ll find markets, churches, restaurants and local people who want to talk to you and make you feel at home.

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If you’re looking for a good beach there’s beautiful ones about 30mins – 1hr out of the city. For us, we didn’t find it necessary to hire a car in the city as taxis are so cheap and you can hail them pretty much anywhere. We actually found a wonderful driver at our hotel – El Presidente – who was called Gustavo and so we used him for the rest of our trip! He is pictured below and is one of the best people we have ever met so thank you to Gustavo for making our trip so special.

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Go and watch the baseball! The Estadio Latinamericano is home to the Industriales and watching this was one of our best experiences of the trip: the stadium was packed and it was an amazing game with such an excited crowd. They actually have a seating area for tourists, as tourists pay more for tickets, and there is a great view from there. However, we decided to sit with the local people of Havana and this is something I’d recommend doing if you want to get the full experience of a Havana baseball match.

Finally my 5 top tips:

1. Pack all your toiletries and necessities before you go. Unlike other countries, you will not be able to buy these easily in Havana so you must bring them with you, especially things like sun cream and after-sun.

2. Immerse yourself in the city! In my opinion it’s essential to get out and meet the real people of Havana. By doing this it made Havana our most special and unforgettable trip to date!

3. Bring extra toiletries. We left extras for the cleaner of our room who we had befriended over our trip. She was so appreciative and she didn’t have access to our products over there, so it’s a nice gesture if you can pack some extras!

4. Don’t be afraid to use local taxis. All the local taxis in Havana are old traditional cars which you can usually see in pictures online. Although these cars have an overwhelming smell of petrol, it’s really fun to ride around in them, support the locals and meet some really lovely drivers!

5. Go and see some more of Cuba. We stayed in Havana for the duration of our trip but were still able to drive out to beaches, or get the train to smaller towns which were beautiful. If you have lots of time explore the rest of the country!

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Eléna Continue reading “HAVANA, CUBA”