Two days in Kyoto

Holidayen is all about travel planning and creating automatic itineraries, and as we prepare ourselves for the launch, we would love to share itinerary ideas for some of the wonderful destinations around the world. Starting in the series today, we have here, a two day itinerary for the beautiful city of Kyoto.

First, a primer on how to get around the city. Subway and buses are your best bets, cabs fare are on slightly higher side, so the recommended way is to grab a two-day unlimited subway and bus card for 2000 yens from your nearest subway station and forget about the hassles of buying tickets for each ride. While subway rides are pretty standard with maps and station names in English, buses can be tricky, names and routes are almost never in English, and English knowing locals are not as ubiquitous as you might expect. But nothing to worry, take a copy of this document http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/img/basunabieigo-omote.pdf and you will never need to worry about anything else about traveling. Armed with your unlimited travel card and the Bible of bus rides, let’s begin!

Day 1

In case you are not aware, Kyoto is world famous for its temples, so will begin the trip with some of its most popular temples and shrines. Begin your day with an early morning walk through the thousands of torii gates at Fushimi Inari shrine. The trail takes you through the wooded area to the summit of the mountain, entire trip taking around 2-3 hours.

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You can return from Yotsutsuji intersection (around halfway point with a good view of Kyoto) if walking 2-3 hours is not your thing.

Grab something to eat in the bustling shops of Kyoto station on the way to next stop, Nijo Castle. You can get good shots of the castle and grounds from the old foundation stone.

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You can also walk to the Kyoto Imperial Palace nearby, however, you can enter the castle grounds only through prior online booking. For lunch, head to Nishiki Market for some authentic local street food. 

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Spend the evening at the famous Golden Pavilion temple or Kinkakuji. The temple complex and the landscape are a unique picturesque combination of natural and architectural beauty. A perfect place for photography indeed!

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You can visit around the neighborhood around the temple thereafter and head to Pontocho for dining. You can find a wide range of dining options there. from inexpensive street food to expensive establishments.

Day 2

Begin the day from Ginkakuji, beautiful temple on the Eastern side of the city. It is also known as Silver Pavilion, and you guessed it right, modeled after the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji.

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From Ginkakuji, walk to the Philosophers’ Walk, especially beautiful during the Cherry Blossom season, when it is full of tourists and locals. There are a number of temples around which you can visit on the way. The walk ends at Nanzenji Temple, which is another good temple to visit.

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In the afternoon, explore Higashiyama district just south of the Nanzenji. It is an excellent place for some souvenir shopping as well as exploring the way to the Kiyomizudera temple complex through the maze of streets going up and down the hills of Higashiyama. Like any other major tourist areas, plenty of options for eating and a good place to sit and eat before visiting Kiyomizudera, the next stop.

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Kiyomizudera is especially beautiful during Fall and Spring illuminations, but definitely a must see regardless of that during other seasons.

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After marveling at the beautiful wooden architecture, head back downhill through Higashiyama towards Gion, which offers plenty of options to spend the evening sipping sake or tea with geiko and meiko entertainment. Most popular street for dining is Hanamikoji street which houses a number of restaurants serving traditional Kyoto cuisine. A perfect place to end the scenic trip of Kyoto!

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Feel free to comment with your suggestions for improving this trip and happy traveling!

Image Courtesy: Japan-Guide

Munich Loves You

The city’s slogan, “Munchen Mag Dich” which translates to “Munich Loves You” just sums up exactly the warmth and friendliness of this welcoming Bavarian capital. Munich may evoke images of beer and ledehosen, but this is a very incomplete picture. The city is sophisticated and has many cultural attractions including art galleries and museums.

Among Germany’s principal cities, Munich is Berlin’s more cosmopolitan alter ego and has treaded an alternate path through history, maintaining sovereignty from Germany till 1871. In the aftermath of WW-I, it became a breeding ground for social movements and a hotbed for Nazi activities, the imprints of which can be seen in the haunting Dachau concentration camps.

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While spring and autumn are the best times to enjoy Munch, winter marks the beginning of Fasching, six weeks of street celebrations before Lent. The end of Lent is marked by Starkbierzeit, a must for strong beer drinkers. The Munich Film Festival is held in June. Of course, in September, you can enjoy Oktoberfest.

It’s easier to get by here without any German language skills than it is in most other areas of the country. It’s still a good idea to know some basic phrases in German in the event you need something and only German speaking people are nearby.

Munich is home to several museums and churches, presenting German history and culture through the ages. The Bayeresches National Museum or the Bavarian National Museum has an eclectic collection including Gothic and Renaissance art.image

For car aficionados, the BMW Museum has a large collection of cars and motorcycles from the inception of the company to the present. Most museums are closed on Mondays, so you should plan your itinerary accordingly. 

Art and architecture lovers will enjoy the ornate historical churches in the region. The 15th century Church of Our Lady contains art and Gothic style architecture. The 600 year old Church of St. Peter is the oldest in the city. St Johann Neponuk Kirch is an ornate church from the Rococo period.

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The Nymphenburg Palace is known for its magnificently vast gardens, stables, winter ice-skating, natural history and science museum and open public parks, while the Treasury at the Residenz has one of the best collections of ecclesiastical treasures in Europe. For a broader cultural experience, catch a play either at the National Theater or the Residenztheater. 

Olympic Park, the site of the 1972 summer Olympics and the Allianz Football Stadium draw the sports enthusiasts among travelers. There are also quite a few tours that you can take while staying in Munich – walking and bicycle tours of varying lengths and interests.image

An essential destination on any European itinerary, this compact, cosmopolitan town has a lot to offer. Like all good things in life, a trip to Munich leaves you wanting more of the city.