above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog

A Quick Stopover in Kiev, Ukraine

Cathedral in Pechersk Lavra

These days, with WiFi commonly available while on the go, Independent travel has certainly become "easier". After arriving at the massive central train station in Kiev, I simply typed the words "hotel" and "hostel" in Google maps and immediately a number of properties popped up within walking distance. This can take a bit of "adventure" out of raw Independent travel - simply removing all human contact. I didn't need to try and talk to anyone for … [Read more...]

Looking for Sunshine in Lithuania

The Trakai Island Castle

With my brother and my friend looking to escape the miserable weather we've had all week (they are flying down to Greece in a few days) we opted for a trip together to the countryside before we parted ways. Today we visited Trakai, a prominent and historical Lithuanian Castle located on an island. Spotting an empty boat sitting near the drawbridge to the castle on the water's edge we walked on board. There were no guests but rather three crew … [Read more...]

VW Bus Bar, Naughty Squirrel & Riga Latvia

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We first popped into Riga on a bus from Tallinn - the old town is a short few minute walk away but we didn't yet know this. After we located the word "old town" in Latvian on the Internet and showed a taxi driver our phone screen - he just laughed and pointed in the direction of where we needed to walk. Two minutes later we walked into the Riga Old Town Hostel & Backpackers Pub where we immediately spotted the reception; it was located inside … [Read more...]

Exploring Historic Tallinn, Estonia

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Prior to our most recent trip to Finland and the Baltic States - I was expecting frigid temperatures combined with grey days and rain. Watching the weather several months before this trip we noticed brutally cold temperatures continuing week after week. Therefore we have been pleasantly surprised the past week - to have received a "weather bonus" if you will. It was 29.5 in Helsinki (33 is their all time record) and 31 in Tallinn several days … [Read more...]

Helsinki Summertime Light, Heavy Metal Club and Market

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We are enjoying the long light this time of year in the northern latitudes. And as far as capital cities, it doesn't get much more north than this; Helsinki is at 60 degrees north latitude. A few hours of semi darkness settles in around 1230pm until 3pm and then by 4am its fully light again. Wandering the streets in bright light at 10:30pm is perhaps an odd feeling for those who live in the middle latitudes. And furthermore it seems strange … [Read more...]

Just woke up in “prison” in Helsinki

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"Am I there yet? Am I there yet?" This question rattled around several times in my jet lag induced brain for a few moments before one eye fluttered open. In the foggy haze of nonstop travel for the past few days I looked around. I was in a small room. I noticed the window. It was high up the wall, not in a normal spot for a window. I glanced at the blinking red light. It was 4am. But there was plenty of outside light in the room. There was … [Read more...]