Travelling in Southeast Europe? Here’s What You Should Definitely Do!

But could you believe that while Paris and Italy and England are extremely popular locations, they definitely aren’t the best ones in Europe to visit? In fact, South East Europe offers some of the wildest, most picturesque places on the continent.

Now, southeast Europe is quite a big chunk of countries to visit in a single trip. We thought, why not choose our favorite locations for you? To be frank, we certainly believe that those will be awesome as standalone trips too. So, without further ramblings, let’s run through them!

Spend a day or two in Croatia!

One of the most beautiful countries in Europe is certainly Croatia. With all the castles and old architecture, no wonder it was one of the main locations the Game of Thrones crew chose to shoot at.

But the beauty of its cities doesn’t end just there. Rent a yacht in Croatia with 12knots.com and you’ll be sure to experience one of the most amazing times of your life. The Adriatic sea is certainly one of the most beautiful in Europe, only maybe rivaled by the Black Sea.

Make time to roam around the Albanian Riviera.

We briefly mentioned the French Riviera in the intro, but we truly believe there are other, just as good, rivieras in Europe.

The Albanian Riviera is certainly in the top five most beautiful places in Europe and the town of Himara is surely the top destination if you’re looking to have an awesome time during your trip.

Plan a trip across the mountains of Bulgaria.

Certainly, our favorite choice, a summer trip across the Bulgarian mountains should be on the list of every person that loves traveling.

Grab a rental car and roam across the Rila and Rhodope mountains. Get yourself across Old Mountain and witness some of the most beautiful sights in the world, like the Seven Rila lakes hidden high in the mountains.

A bonus is that you’ll get to go through some isolated villages with no more than ten people living in them, which gives you a perfect opportunity to see how people lived sixty years ago.

And why don’t you enjoy a summer trips across the Crete island?

After spending some days in Bulgaria, it’s a great idea and opportunity to hop over to the beautiful Grece and visit the Crete island.

Explore the biggest island in Grece. It offers everything from small villages to metropolitan cities bustling with life, shops, and beaches — there’s pretty much something for everyone’s cup of tea.

With so much to do and see in Europe, it’s definitely worth exploring the Southeast part of the old continent. With some of the most picturesque places, the scenery and nature is nothing like you can see anywhere else. We’d love to hear what’s your favorite place to visit in Europe in the comments below.

Egypt Travel Photos – Pyramid of Djoser (The Step Pyramid)

The Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest Pyramid in Egypt, which was built about 4,700 years ago.

Located at Saqqara Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis, the 6-tier, 4-sided structure is the earliest colossal stone building in Egypt. It was under maintenance on the day I visited but nothing really distract its raw beauty.

Djoser’s Step Pyramid complex included several structures pivotal to its function in both life and the afterlife. A pyramid was not simply a grave in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to facilitate a successful afterlife for the king so that he could be eternally reborn.

Entry hall: Step Pyramid Complex

Entry hall: Step Pyramid Complex

Roofed colonnade corridor leading into the complex:

Temples of the festival complex:

Egypt Travel Photos: Memphis

Ancient Memphis was the homeland of creator God Ptah, God of the arts, architecture and crafts. The UNESO world heritage site is the first Egyptian capital in history. Today above the ancient memphis lies the modern town of Mit Rahina, that’s famous for its beautiful palm trees.

Excavations are still on-going at Memphis as the city has influenced Egypt so much and there are still so many more secrets to be revealed.

Before my trip to Egypt, the Sphinx at Giza Pyramids was the only one I was eyeing for. But after I came to Egypt, Sphinxes can be seen quite regularly, especially around ancient temples and tombs. Sphinxes are often guards and protectors of Egypt ancient sacred places. The Memphis Sphinx (c.1550 – 1669 BC ) was unearthed in 1912 at the exact same spot we see it today. It’s one the the largest monuments ever made by Egyptian alabaster.

Ramesses II is regarded one of the greatest and most powerful pharaohs in Egyptian history. The colossal statue of Ramesses II dates back 3,200 years, and was originally discovered face down in marshy ground near the Great Ptah Temple in Memphis.

It took several attempts by various people to extract and turn over the colossus. it wasn’t until 1887, a British engineer who succeeded in raising the colossus and moving it to its current location. To do this, he used a system of pulleys and levers.

During his remarkable around 66 years of reigns, he bought many wars and built cities, temples and monuments extensively all over Egypt.

The great Abu Simbel Temples in Aswan are two massive rock temple built by Ramesses II for himself and his wife. It was also so incredible to see Ramesses II’s mummy in the Egyptian Museum. I can never forget the sight of the prominent bridge on his huge aquiline nose.

The Great Ptah Temple in Memphis built by Ramesses II:

Egyptian Museum

There are many Egypt ancient antiques in the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. But it was a really a different experience to see all these historical treasures in the country where they were originated.

I was finally able to visit Egyptian Museum in Cario for real. Truth be told, the museum is a bit run down than what I was expecting. But I was thrilled to see everything it hosts, especially the mummies of ancient Pharos and Queens.

 In 2020 the museum is due to be superseded by the new Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza. So I made it just in time before the new transformation.

Here are some photos of the musuem.

From the Tomb of King Tutankhamun:

Egypt Travel Photos – Coptic Cairo

Coptic Cairo is a part of old Cairo that comprises many ancient coptic churches, historical sites and a Jewish Synagogue.

This part of Cairo is definitely cleaner and more pleasant to look at.

The Convent of Saint George

The huge wooden door stood 7.6 meters tall, dated back to 10th century

Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga)

Abu Sarga is the oldest church in Egypt dating back to the 5th century A.D. It is believed The church’s been constructed on the spot where the Holy Family stayed for three weeks during their sojourn in Egypt.

Church of St. George

Egypt Travel Photos: Mosque of Muhammad Ali

There are many distinguished mosques along the way during my middle east trip. To me, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali has the most WOW factor.

No matter which direction you are from approaching the Cairo city, The great Mosque of Muhammad Ali is one of the first landmarks to be seen.

One of the downside to travel in Egypt is that you can’t explore freely as a tourist. You might not want to wander alone on the streets of Cairo anyway after seeing the dirty roads, run down buildings, police armed with guns and local people passionately following/grabbing every opportunity to get money from foreigners.

But the Mosque of Muhammad Ali is just so beautiful to look at, outside and inside.

Egypt Travel Photos – Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple was the last stop of my Nile Cruise tour. Now I understand why older people lover travelling by cruise. It’s the comfort, the convenience and the glorious food served on the cruise ship. Maybe I’m officially old, running around all day and everyday in heat made me long for my cabin so much.

The city of Luxor is my tour guide’s hometown which is both pretty and clean.

Here’s a map of ancient Luxor:

An avenue of Sphinxes leads to the entrance the Luxor Temple. There were originally two 25 meters’ tall obelisks standing in front of the entrance but only one remains now. The other one is in Paris.

Avenue of Sphinxes
Pylon towers with only one of the two obelisks standing

Walking pass these two pylon towers, you’ll enter into the great court of Ramese II, where you can see the Mosque abu al-Hallaj built and still sitting on top of it.

More photos of ruins of this amazing ancient temple:

Processional colonnade of Amenhotep III
Sun court of Amenhotep III

Egypt Travel Diary – Karnak Temple

Gigantic Obelisks, rows of statues and impressive Egyptian pillars.

On another bright sunny day, I walked into the breathtaking Karnak temple complex. This is believed to be the second most visited Egyptian sites right after Giza Pyramids.

The complex comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings near Luxor, in Egypt. Construction at the complex began nearly 4000 years ago in the Middle Kingdom and continued for almost 2000 years, although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom

Here are more pictures of Karnak Temple:

Egypt Nile Cruise – Colossi of Memnon – Temple of Hatshepsut

It’s been a year since my trip to Egypt and I still have lots of photos to upload.

That 5 star nile cruise was definitely the most enjoyable part of the whole trip in Egypt because Cairo is somewhat a let down. 🙂

As much as I’m adventurous at heart, civilisation is still a must for me. It was such a treat to be able to relax in my gorgeous, comfortable cable and enjoy the views and air conditioning after touring in the scorching heat and being chased by locals everywhere.

I was hoping to get some really nice sunrise and sunset photos on the cruise but unfortunately failed. There wasn’t even one morning or night that the sky turned into a lovely red, purple or orange colour due to sunrise or sunset. It was always kind of misty grey. Never the less, I think it’s still pretty dreamy. What do you think?

Sunset on Nile River – Egypt
Egypt Nile cruise

During the Nile cruise, we went to see Colossi of Memnon: and here are some photos:

The tour guide explained something but I forgot the most of it. So I’ve copied and paste some information from wikipedia as a reference guide:

“The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of the PharaohAmenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt during the Dynasty XVIII. For the past 3,400 years (since 1350 BC), they have stood in the Theban Necropolis, located west of the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor.

The twin statues depict Amenhotep III (fl. 14th century BC) in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards (actually ESE in modern bearings) towards the river. Two shorter figures are carved into the front throne alongside his legs: these are his wife Tiye and mother Mutemwiya. The side panels depict the Nile god Hapy.

The statues are made from blocks of quartzite sandstone which was quarried at el-Gabal el-Ahmar (near modern-day Cairo) and transported 675 km (420 mi) overland to Thebes (Luxor).

Including the stone platforms on which they stand – themselves about 4 m (13 ft) – the colossi reach a towering 18 m (60 ft) in height and weigh an estimated 720 tons each. The two figures are about 15 m (50 ft) apart. “

Including the stone platforms on which they stand – themselves about 4 m (13 ft) – the colossi reach a towering 18 m (60 ft) in height and weigh an estimated 720 tons each. The two figures are about 15 m (50 ft) apart. “

-Wikipedia

After the Colossi of Memnon, we visited Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut:


Sphinx guarding the temple
Copying the Angry Bird:)

This temple is noticeably different from any other ancient temples in Egypt and the owner of it was also legendary. Hatshepsut was a confirmed female pharaoh whose reign was long and prosperous.

Hatshepsut’s temple is considered the closest Egypt came to classical architecture. And there’s more information about it:

“Hatshepsut’s temple employs a lengthy, colonnaded terrace that deviates from the centralised structure of Mentuhotep’s model . There are three layered terraces reaching 29.5 metres (97 ft) tall. Each story is articulated by a double colonnade of square piers, with the exception of the northwest corner of the central terrace, which employs proto-Doric columns to house the chapel. These terraces are connected by long ramps which were once surrounded by gardens with foreign plants including frankincense and myrrh trees. The temple incorporates pylons, courts, hypostyle, sun court, chapel and sanctuary.”

-Wikipedia

You might have seen the Horus statues in this post about the Tempe of Edfu. But look, Horus also made an appearance here in Hatshepsut’s temple:)

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Copying the Angry Bird again


Egypt Photo Dairy – The Temple of Edfu

After visiting Kom Ombo temple, we sailed to Edfu and toured the temple of Edfu, also know as the temple of Horus. It is the largest temple dedicated to Horus. If you’ve heard the tales related the age old conflict between Horus and Seth, you’ll be delighted to see the original scenes and inscriptions kept almost perfectly inside the temple.

The statues of Horus feature a large bird with a very serious, nearly angry facial expression. It’s said that the popular game “Angry Birds” is inspired by the look of Horus. Everyone was trying to pose a photo with the largest Horus Statue in the centre court, looking angry. But I guess only Horus wears the look the best.

Here are some photos of the temple of Edfu:

Egypt Photo Diary – Kom Ombo Temple

I’m slacking off and not updating my Egypt travel photos on the blog as quickly as I wished for, but it’s better late than never right?

After visiting the amazing Abu Simbel, my driver took me back to the cruise. Oh how I enjoyed my spacious, comfortable cabin and all the luxury the cruise had to offer after a long day running around in the heat!

Next stop was Kom Ombo Temple. also know as temple of Sobek and Haroeris temple,where we visited early in the morning with a small tour of 3 people including me.

What can I say, there are so many multi thousands of years old, grand temples in Egypt and each one of them is magnificently beautiful in their own ways.

Here are some photos of Kom Ombo Temple:

And of course, I had to ask my guide to take a picture of me standing like a Chinese Soldier🙂

Egypt Photo Diary: Abu Simbel

Nile Cruise – High Dam -Philae temple & First Bitter Taste Of Traveling In Egypt

After visiting Saint Catherine Monastery, we continued our journey to Cairo. The road trip to Cairo was long but I looked out the car window with great interest. The Egyptian land! Africa! The part of world I always wanted to travel to! Can you imagine how excited I felt? There was endless desert. And the Red Sea. The Red Sea in Egypt looked differently compared to the Red Sea I saw in Israel. It was dreamy pink dotted with may private luxury beach resorts that were not accessible to local Egyptians.

At 11:30pm, we finally checked in my hotel in Cairo. Instead of staying in Cairo for sightseeing as per our itinerary, I was told to catch an early flight the next morning and start Nile Cruise. Can’t remember the reason why but it was a private tour, the decision was easily made for me. So I got up 4am the next day and caught the early flight to Aswan.

A local tour guide picked me up at the airport and that was the start of Nile Cruise. The ship was marvellous and my cabin was luxurious but there was no time to enjoy it yet. After quickly checking and dropped my luggage at the reception, we headed to High Dam and Philae Temple.

High Dam was a bore, haha. Sorry to say that, I understand the importance of it but it’s a very plain sightseeing place with not much to see.

We then caught a little boat to cross the water to reach Philae Temple on the island. Before setting our foot on the boat, the tour guide gave us a lecture about tipping. Note, it is compulsory to tip in Egypt so the boat driver must be tipped separately. That was kind of expected but little did I know that what I experienced in Egypt really showed me a different level of harassment.

Philae temple is an amazing site. Originally locted in Upper Egypt, the temple complex was dismantled and moved to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, protecting this and other complexes before the 1970 completion of the Aswan High Dam.

As I was in awe at the sight of this ancient construction, two Egyptian men dressed in typical southern Egyptian garments waved at me. And indicated that me should take a photo of them with the temple. So I did. Silly me. The bigger one of these two men then started to follow me and the other one followed on. At first a didn’t understand what was the problem. Then the bigger Egyptian used his body language to demand money.

Ahhh… Of course, you must tip every step you go in Egypt. I paid them. For taking photos of them. And that was the first lesson learnt.

The most important lesson I learnt from my trip is Egypt is to remember not to make eye contact or smile at anyone! NO ONE apart from fellow tourists. I thought in Petra nobody will help you unless you tip them, but in Egypt, you must stay away from local Egyptian as far as possible. They will follow you, ask money from you and try to trick you regardless but just keep walking on and maintain a serious facial expression. Smiling makes you to be perceived a weak person and an easy target.

Back to the Cruise, I couldn’t wait to enjoy my spacious, comfortable cabin and to gaze out at the Nile River, day dreaming. Within a minute, some one knocked on my door. A waiter was outside my cabin. He started to introduce himself and stared at me eagerly. I gave him some money, put “Do Not Disturb” sign out and shut my door again.

There it was, a moment of peace in my own cabin.

A Painful Boarder Crossing and First Stop In Egypt – Saint Catherine’s Monastery

My whole Middle East trip was safe, no gun shot, bomb scare or anything like that. Security check was very stringent in Israel but you can still travel solo freely without being harassed. So I really appreciated Israel and consider it was the most enjoyable part of my trip.

If you ask me what was the scariest incident during the trip, it has to be the boarder crossing into Egypt. The most practical way to travel between Israel and Egypt is overland via the Taba border crossing. According to Smartraveller website ( Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official travel advise site), Taba area is the red, “do not travel zone”. “Within 50kms of Egypt’s border with Libya and Governorate of North Sinai, including the Taba-Suez Road, do not travel”, it says. That really concerned me. But then again, the whole Egypt is orange, “reconsider your travel” zone. Does that mean Travel to Egypt is not an option at all? I really wanted to go to Egypt and the need to get Egypt travel out of my system was increasingly urgent. So after months (even years) of deliberation, I booked the trip any way.

“I will have a driver and a tour guide accompany me all the time. The tour company will organise my visa and send someone to pick me up at the boarder. ” I was assuring myself over and over again. It’s just that due to the security situation in northern Sinai, the government does not allow tourists to ride the bus from Taba to Cairo, and the route between the two cities can be dangerous even for private vehicles. So I was a little bit scared about the safety of travelling with a private tour vehicle.

Thanks God I didn’t see any riots, military bombing or gun held robbery during my entire trip. Only thing was, I was stopped at the boarder terminal and denied entering Egypt. It was past 10pm at night. As you could imagine, being stuck at the boarder between Israel and Egypt during that hour is a little… scary.

The boarder officer wouldn’t allow us pass because you’d need a guarantee letter to enter Egypt. Our travel agent didn’t prepare the letter, my visa wasn’t ready. I was not informed any potential problem. There wasn’t anyone to pick me up at the other side of the boarder!

Without a sim card to call anyone in Egypt I asked the boarder officer to call the travel agent. But it appeared the one who picked up the phone had no idea what’s what. Long story short, I finally got in Egypt just before midnight! After being persistent and kept calling different people, someone finally turned up and prepared my papers. It could be worse right? I could get stuck at the boarder like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal and have slept on the hard bench right? So that was the most scary part of my trip.

We stayed at a charming resort right at the foot of Mt Sinai and went to visit Saint Catherine’s Monastery the early next morning.

Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books. We were not allowed to take photos inside the buildings but here are some photos from outside.

It was quiet peaceful in the early morning then all of a sudden arrived bus and bus loads of tourists. You see, some people are not afraid of security warnings.

To the left of and below the altar is the monastery’s holiest area, the Chapel of the Burning Bush, which is off limits to the public.

The most popular spot has to be where what is thought to be a descendant of the original burning bush in the monastery compound. Due to visitors snipping cuttings of the bush to take home as blessings, the area surrounding it is now fenced off. Every tourist from those big tour buses wanted to take a picture there. So it took me about 30 minutes to finally take a picture of this hot spot without anyone in the frame.

Hot spot. Had to wait for nearly 30 minutes to take a photo of this particular corner without anyone in the frame.

At that point I was still in Asia, next we were going to cross continent along the Red Sea and continue my journey to North Africa. How exciting!