Nikolo-Perervinsky Monastery (Николо-Перервинский монастырь) which dates back to the 14th century, is situated in the southern district of Pechatniki, between the Moscow river and the Lublino railroad classification yard. The bright blue domes of the monastery can also be seen from Kolomenskoye.
Little is known about the monastery before it was first mentioned in 1623. The early Romanovs were connected to the Church as well as important figures from the Russian Orthodox Church.
The name is very interesting and means “To interrupt” and it is dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Miracle-Worker.
At this monastery you will find one of the last major churches that was built before the Revolution.In the 17th century the abbey expanded very quickly and it was during the time of Patriarch Adrian that the Old Katholikon or St. Nicholas Cathedral was built. He made his summer residence here and oversaw the construction of the cathedral. The Old Cathedral or Katholikon was completed in 1700. Patriarch Adrian was the last priest to hold office before Peter the Great started to reform the church. The patriarchy was replaced with a Holy Synod during his reforms.
The New Cathedral, designed by architect Pyotr Vinogradov, was built on the instructions of Metropolitan Vladimir to honor the famous Icon of the Iberian Virgin, which from the 17th Century was housed in the specially built Iberian Chapel on Red Square. The white, black-domed cathedral, which combines neoclassical austerity with elements of Russian revivalism and has space for over 3,000 worshippers, was an extraordinary project for the time, considering the distance of the monastery from the centre of Moscow and its relative unimportance in the Church hierarchy.
In 1908 the New Katholikon was consecrated to the The Cathedral of the Iberian Icon of the Virgin.
The cathedral is a beautiful white, layered building. It was built-in the Moscow Baroque style and has bright blue and gold onion style domes. It is also fitted with an elegant bell tower and the interiors is extremely rich. In the 18th century a seminary was added to the monastery.
This monastery was not immediately closed down by the Bolshevik government. One of the reasons could be that it was not directly in the center of Moscow. Sadly this church suffered more than any other church or monastery post-war. It was slowly stripped from its treasures and functions and severely desecrated.
In 1920 the abbey closed down.In the 1990`s the restoration process began and in 1991 the Old Cathedral or Old Katholikon resumed services. It is now one of the most active monasteries in Moscow with a seminary and a number of charitable institutions attached to it.
We didn`t have time to visit the premises while we were in Moscow but I did manage to get a couple of photographs from the other side of the river at Kolomenskoye. The bright blue domes is impossible to miss and this is definitely on my list of places to visit when we are going back to Moscow.
Where: Moscow,Russian Federation
When: 12 August 2012
Guidebooks about Thailand talk about the importance of taking your shoes off before you enter temples or the house of a Thai person. What I didn`t know was that it also applies to very small shops. The photo that you see below was taken at a small jewelry shop in Koh Phangang. Many foreigners must have offended the owner because this sign was posted on the ground before you enter the shop and you couldn`t miss it.
I have also noted it in a couple of smaller places Koh Samui but not so much in Bangkok. This custom is not only limited to Thailand but also in other Asian countries.
Why are the Thai people offended?
The feet of a person is the lowest realm of his/her existence according to Thai Buddhism. The head is the highest and the feet are the lowest – the most unholy part of the body. Not only do you offend a Thai person by not taking off your shoes but also if you show the bottom of your feet when sitting or if you point with your foot to someone or something. Bare feet are also meant to be dirty.
Never point your feet at temples,statues of Buddha,monks or the king. The Thais are really offended and will not forgive you.
If you are in doubt follow the rule of thumb. If there are shoes by the door or the entrance , remove your shoes before you enter. You will definitely make a good impression.
When: March 2013
Aerolineas Argentinas in conjunction with Austral Air have introduced the South American Pass in 2012. This Pass allows you to visit Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.This is good news for people travelling to South America because you could save a lot of money especially if you are planning to fly a lot.
Aerolineas Argentinas is the official airline of Argentina and they are known for delays and strikes. They have improved their service a lot over the last year and delays are not that common anymore. However, the one thing that didn`t change is the fact that they overcharge foreigners. If you don`t have a DNI (Argentinian local document) you can be charged double the price when booking a ticket online or at their offices. This is where the South American pass could be to your advantage.
There are certain conditions if you want to make use of this offer:
1. The price is based on your total mileage, and, to be eligible you must fly in and out of the continent on Aerolíneas and visit at least two countries.
2. If you have return tickets with Aerolineas Argentinas you get preferential rates for flights to other South American countries.
3. Minimum 3 coupons and maximum 12 coupons.Each flight corresponds to a flight coupon.
4. The pass only applies to seats in the economy class.
5. No need to start the trip in Buenos Aires.
** Please check the Aerolineas Argentinas official website for more details as I have only listed some of the important ones.
How to book the South American Pass?
1. If you start your trip in Argentina you must have an international return ticket arriving to South America with Aerolíneas Argentinas.
2. if you start your journey in any other country in South America, you must have a return ticket to South America from Aerolíneas Argentinas or any other carrier.
3. Bookings can be made on the official Aerolineas Argentinas website. (http://www.aerolineas.com.ar/en-EU/VuelosBaratos/SouthAmericanPass)
An update from travel forums:
People had trouble getting through to the toll-free number after they experienced problems with the online booking system. One person complained that the line went dead after 20 minutes and he couldn`t get through after many tries. Agents are also not helping and says that the only way to purchase is through the online system. He eventually found a sales office in Florida and for an extra $10 service charge managed to book his flights with the Argentina pass. The number is 1-305 261-0100.
The Dover to Calais ferry was my first experience with a ferry and I was very excited when we boarded. Unfortunately my excitement didn`t last long because I didn`t feel well for most of the trip. I was definitely not born with sea legs.
Why is this route so popular among travelers?
Calais is the traditional entry point for cross-channel ferries into northern France and gives easy access to most of the north-east, including the French capital, Paris. It is also well situated for excellent transport links to Belgium and further into the continent. The Dover – Calais ferry route is one of the busiest in the world, with many crossings available everyday.
The Port of Dover is very busy especially over weekends. Not only do they transfer passengers but also vehicles. It was quite a sight to see our tour bus going on board. We also didn`t have to worry about our luggage as it was taken care of by Contiki. Our check-in went smoothly and before I knew it, my passport was stamped and I was admiring the White Cliffs of Dover from the deck.
The ride takes about 90 minutes and there is a lot to do on the ferry -shopping,eating and drinking. If you are tired of sitting inside and you want to get some fresh air then pop outside to the deck to admire the view. It is quite windy and can get cold. I felt worse inside the ferry and spent most of the time outside. The ride can be rough and make sure you have some tablets for motion sickness if you are prone to getting sick on a boat or ferry.
This is a very popular route and prices are very competitive. A number of ferry companies transfer passengers between England and France daily. Booking through Contiki definitely had its advantages and we were saved the hassle of buying tickets as it was included in the price of the tour. If you are traveling on your won then you will be pleased to know that all the companies accept online bookings.
Ferry companies that travel between Dover and Calais includes:
P & O Ferries (poferries.com) has 5 ships and makes 23 trips a day between England and France. They have the most frequent service has by far. It takes 90 minutes to cross the channel. Return fares are from £70. (Please check their website for up-to-date information and special offers.)
DFDS Seaways (dfdsseaways.co.uk) is a new company that operates one ship five times per day (return crossings). Their prices are very competitive and return fares are available from £58 or £39 for a five-day break. (Please check their website for up-to-date information and special offers.)
There are more companies that travel the channel. I have only mentioned two of them.
How to get to the Dover Ferry Port:
The Dover ferry port is located on the south-east coast of England and is easily connected to the local rail and road networks. Dover’s ferry port is directly linked to the M2/A2 motorways via Canterbury and M20/A20 via Ashford and is just 70 miles from London.
If you are travelling alone and don`t have transport then the best option is to get a train to Dover Priory railway station which is about 5 minutes from the ferry port of Dover by a taxi. The other alternative is to take the regular shuttle bus services that is leaving from outside the station entrance every 20 minutes to Dover Eastern docks. These shuttle services operate between 7:00 am and 21:00 pm daily and the charge is minimal.
Where: Dover (England) to Calais (France)
When: March/April 2004
Counterfeit bills is very common in Argentina especially in the big cities. One of the reasons could be the current economic crisis. In a previous post I have written about exchanging money in Argentina. However, when you are exchanging money ANYWHERE in Argentina, you need to make sure that you are not handed counterfeit or fake money.
I was recently waiting for my bus at Retiro bus station in Buenos Aires, when a young German traveller was handing a 100 Peso bill to the lady at the kiosk. She immediately told her that the money was fake. The girl explained to her that she got the money from an ATM in the city. The woman told her that it is normal and you cannot trust anybody. I was alarmed to say the least. Imagine, fake money from the bank? What is happening here?
This subject was also discussed in one of the travel forums where I am a contributor. A lady said that they received fake 100 Peso bills from the ATM in Calle Florida near Avenida Sante Fe. The bank in question was Banco Patagonia, 999 Florida. The person received six fake bills and went to complain to the bank manager but nothing could be done and they lost the money. Another person received fake notes from Citi Bank,also in Calle Florida.
Exercise care when dealing with taxi drivers and night clubs.
Each person dealing with money in Argentina is affected and should know what to look for when they receive money.
What to look for?
It is not difficult to identify fake money and I will give you a couple of tips on what to look for.
1. Hold the bill up to the light and look for the security thread. The $50 and $100 pesos will have a shiny thread that weaves in and out through the material.
2. Feel the money. Fake money will feel like normal paper. If you touch the face of the man on the bills ( The $100 pesos bill has the face of ex-president Julio Argentino Rojas) you will feel that the paper is slightly raised. The same goes for the diamond shape at the top of the bill. This diamond shape also changes colour. The $100 peso bill has one dark blue diamond and the $50 peso bill has two black diamond shapes. They are also slightly raised when you touch the paper. The paper that money is printed on is normally expensive and feel different to normal paper.
3. There are two identical numbers on the face of the bills. In the top right hand corner and in the bottom left corner. These numbers must always be the same. Be careful when you receive money and make sure that the same number is not duplicated on various bills. This is a sure sign of a fake note. The number can also be seen as a watermark at the back of the bill.
4. The Watermark is very important and criminals printing fake bills always battle to get the details right. The number in (3) above can clearly been seen when the bill is turned around and held against the light. The face of the ex-president ($100 note) and the activist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento ($50) can be clearly seen when the bill is held against the light. With fraudulent notes the watermark is there but not clearly defined and the contrast is not good. In addition you will see the initials of these men at the bottom of the watermark image.
It seems like the most popular fraudulent notes are the 100 and 50 peso bills. It is also important to note that the old 100 peso bill have been replaced with the new Eva Peron note, although we don`t often see the note, it is in circulation.
How to avoid being given a fake note and what to do when you receive one?
Take your time when receiving bills and check for the above. Don`t worry, people are used to this and won`t feel offended. The only people who might feel offended and say something is the taxi drivers.
If you are handed fake notes by the ATM, keep your receipt and ask to speak to the Branch Manager as quickly as possible. It is not likely that you will be refunded but it will bring it under the attention of a senior person. Most likely it is somebody working inside the bank who has replaced the real notes with fakes.
When you withdraw money from the ATM ask for smaller denominations. I have mentioned before it seems like the most popular fake notes are the $100 and $50 peso bills.
Try to pay the taxi drivers with smaller notes. If you have no choice and need to pay with a $50 or $100, make sure you check the watermark in front of the driver. Also try to memorize the last 3 digits of the serial number or fold the corner of the note. Why? They tend to swap notes and say that you have handed them a fake note thus keeping the fake money into circulation.
They cannot help you. It is tough times in Argentina and unfortunately people will scam the innocent. It is not important if you are Argentinian, old, young or a tourist although the unsuspected tourist is often the victim.
Don`t even bother to go to the police. You will just be wasting your time. Like one officer said to a couple who complained:”Go to a kiosk and find an old man who will not know the difference and pay him with the fake note”. Imagine that!
Sushi at the Coliceum? That sounds a little strange. Indeed, we did have Sushi at the Coliceum but not in Italy. We went to a lovely Japanese restaurant in Surat Thani,Thailand,called Yayoi. How does the Coliceum fit into all of this? Yayoi is situated in a building called The Coliceum. The Tai people spell it a little different but they pronounce it the same.
It is a `girlie` restaurant. It is decorated in various shades of pink and has flower art on the walls. Not that it means it is for women only. It just reminded me of a place where girl friends could hang out.
I was dying for sushi. It is very difficult to find fresh fish where we live in Argentina. We do have the normal hake fillets and trout but they are either iced up or very expensive. We don`t have a Sushi restaurant in our town and have to go to the city. My husband doesn`t like the idea of raw fish and he would rather visit a steak house.
It reminds me of the time when I was working in the Corporate World. My boss loved Sushi and often suggested that we have management meetings at one of his favorite restaurants in Bedfordview called “Jungle”. I loved sushi from the word “Go” but sadly two of my colleagues couldn`t stomach raw fish and they suffered a lot during these meetings. Maybe it was some sort of punishment for them!
When we walked through the night marked close to the Thairungruang Hotel we saw a woman who was selling corn. I wanted to buy one from her but she charged 120 Baht, which I thought was ridiculous. That proved my statement when I saw the prices in the restaurant. A box filled with a lot of goodies cost 159 Baht. I couldn`t eat it all. The food was really good.
Will I recommend this restaurant to other travellers? For sure! The food was excellent, well priced, the waiter very friendly and the atmosphere great. If you are in Surat Thani and you feel like sushi go to Yayoi Restaurant in the Coliceum. You will not be disappointed.
Where: Yayoi Restaurant in the Colicuem Building,Surat Thani,Thailand.
When: 13 March 2013.
Planning a trip to Argentina and unsure if you should exchange money into Argentine Pesos before you fly? It is understandable that you would like to have some local currency on you. Maybe you need to pay for a taxi or buy something small. In my opinion don`t bother to exchange money before you depart your home town. I am specifically referring to people who travel with US Dollars and Euros. You will be paying fees to the banks to have the money converted and in the end you will find that you have lost money in the process.
It is indeed interesting times in Argentina and the situation can change overnight. There are all sorts of restrictions for Argentinians and we cannot go to the bank and purchase US Dollars like we used to. I find this very alarming in a country where everybody is supposed to be free. My blog is not political and I don`t write about political issues. For now I will try to explain why it is better for you to enter Argentina with your local currency and exchange it there. Most importantly where to exchange it and what rates to expect.
When you walk in the “Micro Centro” or city center of Buenos Aires you will always hear people shout “Cambio”. We call them the “Arbolitos”. “Cambio” means “Exchange”. To be honest they drive me nuts when I go to the city. I guess mainly because I look like a foreigner and after 5 years in Argentina I will always be and look like a foreigner. They approach people and ask if you want to exchange money. Personally I would not change money with them. You never know if you will get counterfeit Pesos or where they want to exchange the money.
Money exchange offices or “Casa de Cambio” are all over the city. They are reputable and some have been in business for more than 30 years. You will identify them with signs that have written on “Money Exchange”. If in doubt ask at your Hotel or Hostel. They will point you in the right direction.
US Dollars and Euros are also widely accepted at most stores and supermarkets. Check the rate before you exchange. Many of them will give you the “Official rate” or “Bank rate” and you will be losing. Always check the rate. It is very important because you could lose up to 3 or 4 pesos per Dollar if you are not careful. Compare rates that you have been given and negotiate if need be.
Official Bank Buying rate: 1 USD = 5.15 (Buying)
Exchange: 1 USD = 8.4 (Buying)
What about the banks? You can exchange your Dollars and Euros at the banks but you cannot purchase foreign currency. This also changed since my first visit to Argentina in 2007. You will be given the official bank buying rate which is a lot lower than the rate that you will get at the “Cambio offices”.
A word of caution. There is a lot of fake money doing the rounds. Learn how to identify counterfeit money from the real thing. Don`t use the hawkers (Arbolitos) in the streets. Travel responsibly and enjoy Argentina!
*** Information correct at the time of publishing the article. Please familiarize yourself with the currency values before you travel to Argentina.
We stayed at the Thairungruang Hotel in Surat Thani for one night before we departed for Bangkok. It was not our preferred choice of hotel. When we arrived at the bus terminal in Surat Thani an over friendly taxi driver literally bundled us into his taxi and took us to the hotel.
My description might sound a little dramatic but that is how it was. The hotel is very centrally located and close to markets and the Coliseum shopping center.We were booked into a 5 bed room on the ground floor. The room is very basic with a TV and small bathroom. It was a little run-down but clean.
There were two ladies at the reception and one of them was not friendly. I returned later to enquire about the Wi-Fi, which turned out not be free, and she basically shrugged her shoulders when myself and another customer asked about the charges. It cost 100 Baht to activate the Wi-Fi for 1 day. I have read a review where people said that Wi-Fi was for free and they must have changed it. The other customer complained about this and was not happy as generally Wi-Fi in Thailand is for free.
Personally I think that the people who we have dealt with in Surat Thani were the most un-friendly people that I have encountered during my trip to Thailand. It is really sad because Thailand is known for their customer service and friendly people.
Breakfast is not included in the price. It is very basic accommodation for a reasonable price. It is perfect for 1 or 2 nights but in my opinion it doesn`t qualify as an International Hotel as they claim.
Address: 191-199 Metkasem Rd., Amphur Muang, Surat Thani 84000, Thailand
When: 13 March 2013
Are you flying from Heathrow Airport? You may want to consider staying at the Sofitel Hotel, which is the preferred residence of the Queen, according to concierge Nico Di Giovanni.
The Sofitel Heathrow with parking has a futurist and contemporary design. With the spectacular views over London, comfortable beds, and French inspired restaurants, you’ll feel as though you’re on vacation even before you embark on your flight.
The best feature you’ll find at the Sofitel is that it is the only hotel with access to terminal 5. By walking on their short walkway, you can quickly get to the check in counter for an early morning flight, or you can proceed right to your room after a long day of flying.
Parking is just as convenient. With so many rooms available and parking to accommodate those rooms, many guests decide to leave their car with the hotel for airport parking. The problem is that since this is so convenient, many of the spaces and rooms book quickly.
Reserve a Room and Parking Spot Now
People worldwide have discovered how easy it is to book a room and parking at Sofitel London Heathrow. They have experienced the convenience of a walkway that takes them right into the airport where they can proceed to the terminal they need to check in at. They have also experienced the ease of getting to their room in a matter of just a few minutes after a long, exhausting flight. To experience all of this for yourself, simply reserve a room and parking spot. All you need to know is your departure and arrival date and time. You’ll also need to know how many nights you may want to stay at the Sofitel. Many guests decide to extend their stay beyond the one night stay before or after a flight to experience all that the hotel has to offer.
Plan now to enjoy yourself later. Travelling is stressful enough, so take care of the hassle of parking by making a reservation now.