Having spent a lot of time in Cannes since my earliest childhood, I have a special relation with this famous city of the French Riviera. Everybody knows about its glamorous Film Festival, but beyond the glitzy image Cannes is an authentic Provençal town with a lot to see and do.
The Parliament, inside and out
Budapest’s most prominent building really is an architectural masterpiece and you realize it even more when standing next to it! Impressive from the outside without any doubts, don’t skip the guided tour to see it from inside as well. The official tour is organized in many languages and short enough to enjoy the beautiful interiors without getting bored (book you tickets here). Highlights include the grandiloquent main staircase, the dome which is home to the guarded Holy Crown of Hungary (no photos allowed in that part of the building), the magnificent Assembly Hall and the famous numbered cigar holders. No smoking allowed nowadays but those have been kept because of their historical value. You will learn that when they were in use, the interest of a hearing could be measured by the amount of Havanas left consuming on them…
Rio is one of those cities of the world with a real wow factor, thanks to its spectacular natural setting (in the same league as Hong Kong and Cape Town) and cultural diversity. In 48 hours you can cover the main highlights but you will have to hire a personal driver/guide. I recommend Marco Tedesco for his in-depth knowledge about Rio, kindness and flexibility (you can contact him at [email protected]). It’s funny how the landscape changes on your way through the city, from beaches to tropical forest, always guided by the Cristo Rendentor that can be seen from almost anywhere. Let’s find out what are the places to put on your bucket-list and how to spend 48 hours in this truly amazing city.
That’s the big question when you plan to visit Iguazu. The answer ain’t easy and depends a lot on the time you have. I arrived on the Argentinian side, visited the falls there, transferred to Belmond das Cataratas on the Brazilian side and visited the falls there the next day. What’s nice on the Argentinian side is that you get many different viewpoints, but on the other hand you need a lot more time than on the Brazilian side. Main paths are located far from the park’s entrance and you need to take a small train to reach their starting points. Begin with the Devil’s Throat which is at the furthest. You will see it from above, after walking for about 15 minutes on a footbridge set on top of the river. Look down on your way and you may see different animals in the river, like caimans, turtles and fishes. The view from the observation deck is impressive, but the place is crowded… Then take another path to get different views, like the Upper Circuit that meanders through the jungle with many different observation decks towards the falls. Look up to spot beautiful birds (toucans, vultures, condors…). On the Brazilian side it’s different. The path to the falls starts right in front of the Belmond hotel and quickly reaches them. At the end there is a nice footbridge to get close to the falls (and wet). The view of the Devil’s Throat from below is spectacular (and a lot more enjoyable without the crowds!). All in all, if you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a nice touch of the falls I recommend the Brazilian side. But is it worth travelling all the way there and not getting all of it? So allow yourself 2 days in Iguazu, start with the Argentinian side as early as possible on day 1, then spend some relaxing time at the Belmond and proceed on day 2 with the Brazilian side before the national park opens to the public.
Enjoy Iguazu falls, they are just as gorgeous as you can imagine!
Iguazu is one of those places where it’s easy to choose your accommodation. Not too many options, and one that’s stands out from the rest: the Belmond das Cataratas. Located on the Brazilian side and within the national park, you get privileged access to the falls before the park opens to the public. Keeping in mind how crowded the falls can get during the day, that’s a very big plus. Don’t bother booking a guided tour of the falls though, it’s unnecessary. Unlike the Argentinian side where you have to choose from many different paths, on the Brazilian side there is only one easy and clearly marked path that starts right in front of the hotel. In my next article I will debate the pros and cons of each side of the falls. But for now let’s focus on the hotel itself.
What I liked:
- the location right in front of the falls and within the national park
- the amazing pool (especially at night)
- the hotel’s very nice tropical garden and its beautiful birds
- the great breakfast on the poolside (and caipirinhas a bit later)
- that feeling of serenity and loneliness right next to a highly touristic attraction
What I disliked:
- the somehow old-fashioned and not so over-the-top rooms (nice bathrooms though)
- a strange moldy smell in the rooms…!
- the lack of signalization in the corridors (that place is huge and you get easily lost)