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The Yosakoi Dance Festival in Kochi

Yosakoi Festival
Yosakoi Dance Festival Parade © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

Quite often these days with all the Covid-19 restrictions, rules and travel bans, one question keeps coming up. Where shall we travel as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted?

I know very well where I will like to travel, where I will like to go back. Back to Kochi in Japan and join again the Yosakoi dance festival as we did in 2019.

Let me tell you bellow about one of the most memorable holidays that we ever had, our Yosakoi dance festival experience.

Visiting Kochi in Japan

Most travelers when they visit Japan, tend to travel to the well-known cities across the country, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Kobe, etc. We wanted to go off the beaten track and avoid the tourist traps.

So, when I ask a Japanese friend of mine to recommend some less well-known places, he said “if you are going to Japan in August, you must visit Kochi and enjoy the Yosakoi dance festival. So, we did just that!

We flown with British Airways from London Heathrow to Tokyo International Airport an eleven and a half hours flight and from there with Japan Airlines in an hour and twenty minutes we were at Kochi Ryoma Airport in Nankoku city.

Yosakoi Dance Festival – Kochi 2019

Yosakoi Dancers
Yosakoi Dance Festival © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

The Yosakoi festival is one of Japan’s most celebrated festivals, it takes place the second week of August, from the 9th to the 12th for 4 days in the heart of Kochi City.

Around 18,000 dancers participate in more than 200 teams, including many teams from abroad, like US and Europe.
The participants in the festival wear traditional Japanese costumes, as they parade through the Kochi city, dancing and performing well orchestrated choreographies. In their hands they hold wooden hand clappers called “Naruko”.

Originally “Naruko” was an instrument used by Japanese farmers to scare and deter crows and other pests from attacking and destroying the rice fields. If used correctly they make quite a loud noise.

Also, it is considered a traditional toy for young kids. These days the Naruko hand clappers are used in Japanese dance festivals such as the Yosakoi, as a rhythm instrument held by the dancers.

What does Yosakoi means?

Yosakoi Dancer in Kochi
Female Dancer at the Yosakoi Dance Festival © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

That was my first question to our hostess in Kochi. Apparently the “Yosakoi” name comes from “Yosakoi Bushi” which is a folk song, from the Edo era (between 1603 & 1868) indigenous to the Tosa region, a former province of Japan in the area that is today the Kochi prefecture on Shikoku island.

The song is describing a love affair between a monk and a beautiful woman. “Yosakoi” means come and visit at night, and “Bushi” means warrior often used to refer to Samurai. So “Yosakoi Bushi” means, come and visit at night Samurai!

If you would like to hear a really beautiful version of the “Yosakoi Bushi” folk song check out the video here.

What are the rules of the Yosakoi Dance Festival?

Yosakoi Festival Kochi
Young Kids Dancing at the Yosakoi Dance Festival © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

The rules are actually quite simple, the Yosakoi dancers are required to march forward dancing while holding the “naruko” clappers in their hands.

The dancers have to incorporate phrases from the “Yosakoi Bushi” song into their dance music.

However, the style of the dance is free style. Participants can dance their own way and bring their own choreography. The regular participants in the festival are taking it very seriously and there is fierce competition between the teams to outperform each other.

There are also some teams who are open to join them for a small fee and participate in this vibrant festival from the inside.

It doesn’t really matter if you speak the local language or not, as long as you hold “naruko” in your hands and you are ready for a dance, you can join in. That’s the spirit of the Yosakoi festival. Yosakoi makes the world smile!

If you are not brave enough to join in, you can watch Yosakoi teams dancing throughout the day for free!

Kochi Castle

Kochi Castle Japan
Kochi Castle © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

Since you are in the city you have to visit the Kochi Castle. A very well-preserved castle with a wonderful museum next to it. The Kochi castle is actually one of the twelve Japanese castles with its original towers still intact.

The entrance to the gardens and the surrounding area is for free but if you wish to climb to the top of the castle, there is a fee of 300 Yen each (Two Pounds).

Also make sure you have a small plastic bag with you to put your shoes in, as you will be asked to take them off in order to climb the internal wooden staircase which is quite steep. So, make sure you have a thick pair of socks on.

The views from the top are magnificent, well worth the effort of climbing up and down the steep staircase.

The Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden

Makino Botanical Garden Koch
Makino Botanical Gardens © Courtesy of Kochi Prefecture

This is another of our favorite spots in Kochi, the Makino botanical gardens are well worth a visit. A stunning display of orchids as well as some giant lily pads in the green house. Over 3000 different species of plants and flowers are in the botanical gardens.

You must see to appreciate and enjoy these lovely gardens. Make sure you allocate 3-4 hours at least for your visit, so you don’t rush. If you get thirsty or fancy a quick snack there is small cafe on the side of the botanical gardens.

Where to stay in Kochi

Sansuien Ryokan Kochi Japan
Sansuien © Hotels-Fairy.com

During our seven days in Kochi we stayed at Sansuien. A very beautiful Ryokan, which is a type of traditional Japanese inn, with a beautifully maintained garden. There was also a nice spa available for the guests to come and relax after a long day sight-seen.

The Makino Botanical Garden are within a short taxi ride from Sansuien, the Kochi Castel, was less than 10 minutes by foot and the city center was another 15 minutes stroll.

Cycling and Testing Electric Bikes in Ireland

Electric bikes in Ireland

Last September we were very fortunately to spend a week in Ireland. The Emerald Isle was our test track for the electric bikes that we wanted to buy. Dublin was our base and Cormac of Greenelectricscooters.ie was kind enough to provide us with the electric bikes for our test rides.

Why Ireland?

Because of the numerous cycling possibilities. Our visit to Ireland was a wonderful experience, a country with a beautiful scenery, rich architecture and cultural heritage.

The vast countryside of Dublin, with the countless quiet and twisty country lanes to cycle and test our electric bikes was the perfect testing ground.

We stayed clear of the major truck roads. The minor lanes were generally quiet, unless we came close to the more touristy spots. Also, we found the Irish people to be very friendly, most welcoming and very helpful when we needed directions.

Why buy an electric bike?


Country road in Ireland

These days for most people sustainable travel plays a bigger role in the decision-making process when booking a holiday.

Whenever we travel for work or holidays, we are always aware of our carbon footprint, what impact has our travel to the environment and how we can offset it.

Also, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has made us seek a healthier lifestyle, which makes an electric bike the ideal partner for this transition. To become fit again and at the same time enjoy the outdoors a lot more.

An added bonus to owning an electric bike for us, is that it saves us money on short commutes within our town.

Where in the past we would have taken the car for a short distance trip, now we take the electric bikes.

Cycling with an electric bike


Electric bikes in Dublin Ireland


An electric bike makes cycling a lot easier. These days there two different types of electric bikes, those that have a thumb throttle like a scouter and those that have a pedal assist.

These are two different approaches, the thumb throttle will engage the motor without you pedaling at all, so you can cruise down the road with no effort at all.

On the other hand, a pedal assist electric bike will stand still without pedaling. However, when you do start pedaling the motor will kick in and it will amplify your input (from +60% to +300%), and make cycling a lot easier.

We went with the pedal assist electric bikes as we wanted to keep fit and also it feels more natural, like you are cycling a normal bicycle.

Electric bikes are heavier than normal bicycles as they house the electric motor and the battery. Electric bikes tend to weight around 18 kgs on average, where normal bicycle will weight around half of that.

Cycling routes suitable for the electric bikes in Dublin


Dublin Castle

Cormac, the man behind Greenelectricscooters.ie had a number of cycling routes to suggest to us. We will only mention here a handful of them, some were outside of Dublin and some were within the city.

With the exemption of the last cycling route, Malahide to Drogheda, all other distances bellow are calculated in a loop (to go and back) from the Grand Hotel in Malahide where we stayed.

Malahide to Howth – 32 Km

Since this was our first ride, we choose an easy ride just 32 km but it was a very rewarding one as the views at the Howth were spectacular.

We also stopped at the Howth castle and the National Trust museum which is next to the castle. On the way back we took a small detour, to the visit and explore Portmarnock beach.

The Sally Gap – 84 Km

This is a very well-know cycling route in Dublin but definitely a tough one if you are on a normal bicycle or out of shape like us. However, it was not a problem with the electric bikes we were able to climb up to the 680 meters plateau like professionals.

The views from the top are very rewarding, the highlights of the ride were the Lough Tay lake with its dark waters and the Glenmacnass waterfall.

We got back to our hotel and our electric bikes still had some charge left. So, the 100 km (60 miles) range of the electric bikes is a very genuine quote.
We were also very surprised to see that both electric bikes where fully charged within 3 hours.

Cycling to the Phoenix Park – 44 Km


Deer at Phoenix Park in Dublin

Another gem route suggested to us by Cormac of Greenelectricscooters.ie. Cycling to the Phoenix Park from our hotel was a lot easier than the Sally Gap, as the park is only 50 meters above sea level.

What we did not know was that the Phoenix park is the largest enclosed public park in Europe almost 2000 acres. It is also the official residence of the president of Ireland as well as the residency of the US ambassador in Ireland.

The gardens of the park were bursting with flowers and the whole park was very well maintained. We spent half of the day exploring the park and taking photos of the deers who live inside the park.

We also had a nice relaxing and very tasteful time at the Phoenix Café near the Walled garden by the Ashtown castle.

Bonus tip, get yourself the thee Jams selection pack that they make and sell in the café. It is a really, and I mean really nice jam (Blackcurrant, Raspberry & Strawberry). We only regret that we did not buy more.

Maybe the nice man of Greenelectricscooters.ie could get some for us? I hope he reads this.

Malahide to the Georgian Dublin – 42 Km


Dublin Trinity College Irleand

Our next cycle route took us inside the old Dublin town. It is really amazing how a small medieval town like Dublin between the 1690 to 1820 was transformed by a classical architectural frenzy with numerous castles, mansions, grand houses and public buildings.

Nearly a century of peace and prosperity allowed Dublin to expand outside of the boundaries of the old medieval town and become the second most important city in the British Empire.

After so many years this prosperity is still clearly visible throughout the architectural landscape of the city.

The House of Lords, the Georgian House Museum, the Long Room of the old Library, (65 meters in length) holds more than 200,000 very rare and really old books, making it one of the most impressive libraries in the world.

The Long Room of the old Library in Dublin

Malahide to Drogheda – 50 Km

We chose this cycle route in order to explore the country side outside of Dublin and also pay a surprising visit to Mr. Cormac of Greenelectricscooters.ie, they are based in Drogheda.

We wanted to personally thank him for arranging the delivery of our electric bikes at our hotel for the test drive and also order our very own electric bikes.

Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland. It is positioned on the Dublin–Belfast corridor on the east coast of Ireland. The Drogheda Museum Millmount, the Mellifont Abbey and the St Peter’s Church are really worth seeing if you have the time.

Unfortunately for us this was our last cycle ride with the electric bikes for the day and for the whole holiday as we had to hand them back to Greenelectricscooters.ie.

Within a week of getting back to the UK, the courier delivered our electrics bikes and within a few hours we were able to take them out for our first ride. By far the best purchase that we have made this year.

Travel Tales and Tips from my Amsterdam Travel Blog

Rijksmuseum

They say that “There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.” It is fascinating to think that a year ago we spend a memorable week strolling happily around Amsterdam, taking photographs and scribbling on my notebook, my very own Amsterdam Travel Blog.

This year due to Covid-19, life for a lot of people has been very harsh, travel plans had to be cancelled. Life takes a very different perspective. The way that we all do simple things this year and have to follow the new Social Distancing rules.

Allow me to take a step back from this reality and present you with my very own Amsterdam Travel Blog.

My notebook is off the shelf and as I am turning the pages, I am overflown with memories, laughs, and cheers, everything is coming back.

Arriving at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

We arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on a cold but sunny Tuesday morning. For those of you who are not familiar with Amsterdam, Schiphol is the main international airport in the Netherlands, located approximately nine miles from the center of Amsterdam.

Schiphol airport is actually considered to be an airport city and is the primary hub for the Royal Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, Amsterdam Airlines.

So, plenty of choices when you are looking for flights to Amsterdam.

After we cleared passport control and got our luggage, we headed to the Schiphol train station, which is located directly below the airport.

The train took us to the center of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Central Station) within less than 20 minutes. Trains from Schiphol to Amsterdam city center leave from platforms 1 or 2. A single train ticket cost us €5,00 each.

Amsterdam Canals

Accommodation in Amsterdam

Houseboats in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, rightly called, “The Venice of the North” is a famous tourist destination built around various canals. Perhaps, this is the reason that more than staying in a hotel, most visitors arriving here, prefer to stay in houseboats. We did the same.

Our first two nights were at Radisson Blu hotel, and then five nights at the Trijntje houseboat. Most houseboats available in Amsterdam have been specifically designed to provide their guests with a really unique experience, cozy and very inviting atmosphere.

The best thing is that staying in houseboats in Amsterdam, is well within the reach of the average tourist. If I remember well, we paid 150, Euros a night, which is reasonable as hotels in Amsterdam are not cheap.

I also promise you; you will not find a better city center location than this one. It is very quiet at this part of the Prinsengracht. Most museums, retail shops, restaurants, cafés and clubs that make Amsterdam unforgettable are within walking distance.

The Trijntje houseboat was our luxurious home away from home for five nights in Amsterdam.

My Amsterdam travel blog by bike

Getting around in Amsterdam

Agree or not, sight seen in Amsterdam is somewhat incomplete if you don’t try to explore this beautiful city on a bike. Other than the cruises, the best way to explore Amsterdam is on a bike believe me.

Getting around this Dutch city is always a pleasure on a bike without getting confused between streets and city traffic. So, we rented two bikes, and we set off to explore the city.

Cultural Walks and Tours in Amsterdam

Museums, Canals, Cruises, Historical Buildings; all this and much more was awaiting us on our arrival in Amsterdam. Considered as one of the smallest capitals in Europe, Amsterdam is a hub of charming tourist attractions.

Below are some of the historical places that we visited during our holiday in Amsterdam.

The Anne Frank House

Our first visit was to the Anne Frank House, the place where Anne Frank hid and wrote her famous diary during world war II. This is a historical attraction of Amsterdam that will remind you of the second World War, when there was destruction all over.

The Koninklijk Paleis

Koninklijk Paleis or the Royal Palace on the Dam, was very high on our list, and we were not disappointed, a must-visit place during a trip to Amsterdam.

This former Queen’s residence was designed by Jacob van Campen. Watch out for the classical and magnificent interior and discover the rich history of the Royal Palace, that is set almost at the central point of Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum

When discussing the top places to visit in Amsterdam, one can not forget mentioning the famous Rijksmuseum. Also known as, The Dutch National Museum, this tourist attraction is a famous arts museum that was set up by King Louis Napoleon in 1809.

The main highlights of Rijksmusuem include Orient Art, Painting Department, Dutch History, Sculpture and Handicrafts and Print Room.

The Stedelijk Museum

Also known as, the Municipal Museum, Stedelijk Museum is one of the most modern arts museums of Europe. It was founded in 1885 and houses the famous Dutch and French paintings of 19th and 20th century.

The walk inside the sculpture garden of this museum was really a pleasure, and we saw the works of great artists like Renoir, Moor, Rodin, Visser and Laurens.

Van Gogh museum

The Van Gogh Museum

We really enjoyed watching the most extensive Van Gogh collection in the world at the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam. The museum houses a huge collection of 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 letters, all of which are worth seeing.

We got to learn about Van Gogh’s works in the Museum’s Library. Apart from the library, there is a workshop and three different floors in the Van Gogh Museum.

Eating Out in Amsterdam

We were pleasantly surprised with the numerous choices of international cuisines on offer. Amsterdam has all the reasons to be called a foodie’s paradise.

You can really spoil yourself with all sorts of sweets, cakes, and desserts. A huge variety of delicious dishes from around the world are available at every street.

Stroopwafels

No wonder why, two full pages of notes have been scribbled in my Amsterdam Travel blog, on snacks, launches, and diners around the city.

Amsterdam has a lot in store to tickle your taste buds including some really delicious traditional Dutch delicacies. From the popular delicacies to the popular restaurants, we visited and tasted there are quite a few that definitely worth mentioning bellow, so if you are in Amsterdam you will not have a problem satisfy your culinary cravings.

Stroopwafels

For those of you who have a sweet tooth, Stroopwafels form a sinful temptation. This rich Dutch cookie is a must try if you really want to taste the true culinary delights of Amsterdam.

Also known as, syrup waffle, Stroopwafel is made up of a thin sandwich of two buttery waffle layers with sweet molasses in between. Watching this amazing waffle being made in front of your eyes is a pleasure in itself.

Pannekoeken

Poffertjes Pannekoeken or the Dutch pancakes taste almost like the French crêpes. Made up of buttery batter, these traditional delicacies are served in a plate-sized serving dipped with Dutch syrup.


Dining will be an experience of its kind if you relish the Pannekoeken with Poffertjes, also known as puffed pancakes. You can easily get these dishes at the bakeries like the Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam.

Dutch Cheese

Those of you who love cheese (I do) must try the famous Dutch cheese in Amsterdam. Gouda and Edam are the two very popular cheeses available in this city.

Also, try the goat cheese and different variations of handcrafted farmer’s cheese at places like the Amsterdam market stand. Taste the Dutch cheese yourself and also buy it to gift it to your loved ones back home.

Dutch Chocolate

Prior to the Swiss Chocolate, it was Dutch Chocolate that made the world aware of the seductive taste of the cocoa bean. While having a culinary delight in Amsterdam, make sure to choose a Dutch Chocolate as a dessert to have the proper aftertaste of the true Amsterdam cuisine.

Puccini was our favour chocolate shop, and we got plenty of Verkade and Droste chocolates to bring back home.

Dutch Beer

Situated near Belgium the talented beer brewer, Amsterdam is famous for its Dutch Beer. Beer lovers won’t be able to resist sipping some of the finest Dutch beers while indulging in a dining experience at Amsterdam.

You can also enjoy going on the special beer tours and visit the famous breweries of Amsterdam. We stopped at Oedipus Brewing, north of the River IJ.

My Amsterdam Travel Blog - Le-Hollandais

Popular Restaurants in Amsterdam

We also planned to dig into the gourmet cuisine of Amsterdam so we visited some of the most popular restaurants of the city.

We headed towards Rose’s Cantina, known to serve the New Mexican dishes in Amsterdam. All kinds of exotic beverages are served at the famous bars like Ship Chandler’s Warehouse, Moeders Restaurant and Le Hollandais.

Nomads is another exotic bar in Amsterdam serving all types of beverages. So, now you won’t have to worry where to eat and what to eat as you can simply try the above-mentioned delicacies and popular restaurants of Amsterdam to satisfy your taste for the local cuisine.


I can talk and write about Amsterdam and the unforgettable holiday that we had for a very long time, but I feel that my Amsterdam travel blog is incomplete, there are things that we didn’t have time to see and do in Amsterdam.

So, first thing on my bucket list as soon as the current pandemic is behind us (and believe me it will end soon) to head back to “The Venice of the North.” My Amsterdam travel blog will get another chapter soon, so stay tune for an update at Hotels-Fairy.com.

Amsterdam city of love - Amsterdam Travel Blog

About the Author

Nectarios, is a senior editor at Hotels-Fairy.com. He is also ardent traveler, a digital nomad. When he doesn’t travel, he manages a small hotel on the beautiful island of Crete.

How to survive a flat share

Flat share with friends

A flat share may be a new experience for you, especially if you are heading off to university. Living at home with mom and dad doesn’t quite teach you the necessary skills to live on your own with a roommate. It isn’t always possible to share a flat with a friend or acquaintance, and living with a complete stranger is common for people seeking to spread the cost of rent.


Unfortunately, sharing a kitchen, bathroom, and living room with a new person can have its problems. A flat share can be a culture shock for some that have never had to deal with a roommate before. Surviving a flat share is a skill, but not everyone can cope with living with another person.


Here are some key tips to remember when renting a flat that will keep both you and your roommate sane.

flat share with pets


Choose your roommate carefully


You may not have the luxury of choosing your roommate. Students at university may be put together with other individuals without much thought. This can be difficult as you are unaware of the other person’s habits and lifestyle.


If you have the option to choose your roommate, it can save you plenty of headaches later on. The best flat mate isn’t always your best friend. You may find that living in the same space with your best friend ruins the chemistry the two of you have.


It is important that both roommates understand each other’s lifestyle. Living with someone who is up all night or comes in at all hours of the early morning may not suit your 9 to 5 job or going to school.

sleeping on the sofa


Respect privacy


A bedroom becomes a special place when flat sharing. It allows each roommate to escape from the other or the communal areas of the flat. Having a private space can save a relationship and keep both flat mates from falling out.


When sharing a flat, you must respect your roommate’s privacy. Don’t go into their room without knocking and being welcomed in. It sounds simple to knock before entering your roommate’s room, but it can be something you are not used to living at your parent’s house.

Flat share meeting


Communicate for a perfect flat share


One of the most important aspects of any relationship is communication. You may not be close friends with your flat mate, but living together means you will see each other regularly. Good communication can keep the two of you on good terms. It can also prevent issues from coming up from time to time over problems with the living arrangements.


Modern technology makes it possible to communicate more easily than ever. A WhatsApp group is perfect for anyone with multiple housemates. Of course, the best way to sort any issues you have sharing a flat is to speak face to face. Major issues should always be communicated in face to face situations allowing all parties to understand the problems.

Pub


Hang out with each other


You may think that flat mates spend all of their time together when they are not at work or school. That isn’t always the case. Flat mates may become friends over time but often, still have their own friends. Spending time together, especially when first moving in together, can help build a relationship between flat mates.


New roommates can plan a few different events such as a film or video game night to get to know each other. You could even plan a small party allowing a few friends to come over and meet each other. There are even more activities new flat mates can enjoy such as playing mini-golf, going to the cinema, or even just hanging out at the local pub.

Keep out from my room

Make rules for a perfect flat share


Sharing a flat isn’t always fun. To make the relationship and flat share work, however, you must come up with some rules to abide by. One of the biggest problems flat mates have is with cleaning. Oftentimes, cleaning the house can drive a wedge between people in a flat share.


The easiest way to avoid problems is by creating a list of cleaning chores for each person. Each flat mate will be responsible for certain areas of the accommodation. You may prefer to create a rota allowing each other to take turns completing chores. If rules are put in place from day one, you won’t have a problem later on.

Fridge full with groceries


Buying items for the flat


There is nothing worse than purchasing toilet paper only for your flat mate to use it all up. Even worse is when they don’t replace it. You may feel like you are paying for your roommate to live comfortably. This can be aggravating and another reason why communication is key.


Making lists of essential items needed for the flat is a great way to keep all parties pitching in. You may create a kitty that everyone contributes to with money. You can then use the house kitty money to get those important things like toilet paper.

Surviving a flat share can be difficult. It is a new experience and one that no schooling can train you for. These tips should help you survive your next flat share and come out better off when you move.

How to rent a room without stress

Housing estate London

What to look for when renting a room?

Finding the perfect room to rent can feel like an impossible task. Although it can be difficult sometimes to rent a room without getting stressed, but it can be done. So we have compiled for you a short cheat sheet, to make your life easier.

You need to remember that your accommodation is the place you will spend most of your time after work or university. Locating the perfect place can have a major impact on your mental and physical health.

Renting a room isn’t as daunting a task as it seems. It just takes a bit of time and research to locate a place that ticks all of your boxes. Before heading out to find your next room or flat, these tips will help you create a strategy to locate the best place possible.

Searching for a room to rent

Research

Finding the ideal room to rent begins with research. Too often people look online for accommodation and select the first thing they find. This inevitably leads to problems down the line. Research is the most important part of searching for accommodation. You will spend more time reading through adverts and scrolling through pictures of flats than actually viewing them in person.

Online research also prevents you from wasting valuable time visiting properties or speaking with estate agents trying to sell you on a place you don’t want. Searching allows you to narrow down your options quickly. You can filter searches to see rooms that fit into your budget. You can also find accommodations that are located conveniently near your work or university.

Good research saves time and money. Getting bogged down looking at the physical properties doesn’t just waste time but can frustrate you.

Visit shortlisted property in same day

Researching properties allows you to narrow down the ones that tick your boxes. After creating a shortlist, you can plan to visit the properties and make a selection. Dedicating one full day, or a weekend, to visit the properties gives you the chance to see everything and make a decision.

Estate agents will try to sell you on a property when visiting. They may pressure you to make a decision by claiming the property is being viewed by other people. While this is often a tactic used by estate agents, properties do go quickly. You may have to act fast and seeing all the properties in the same day gives you the chance to compare them right away.

Finding accommodation doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. Visiting the shortlisted properties in the same day is one way to make the process go quickly. It is also a tactic that prevents you from missing out on the room you really want to rent.

Room for rent for students

Ask questions and make sure the room is for you

A room can tick all the boxes at first but once you have signed the contract and moved in, it may not be the accommodation of your dreams. Estate agents and landlords may not disclose everything about the room to you without being asked first.

When viewing a property, you should ask questions about any aspect of the property that is important to you. Good Internet connection is vital for many people these days.

If you are a student or work from home, you need to know the Internet connection is strong. You may also stream your entertainment and need the connection to stay, well, connected. The property may not have good Internet connection nor mobile phone reception.

A viewing gives you the chance to ask questions about the room that you need answers for prior to moving in. It is also the time to check the accommodation.

You should check the taps to ensure they work. Flush the toilets to ensure they clear and re-fill properly. Look through the wardrobes, cupboards, and test out the doors to see if they work or if there is damage. Any damage should be pointed out to the estate agent or landlord.

Location, location, location

Location is often just as important for a person when renting a room as the accommodation. It is vital to survey the area when visiting a property. You should locate the public transportation links and stops if that is how you travel to work or university.

The public transport routes should be appropriate for your daily travel. You don’t want to select a room that adds to your commute and makes it a hassle. Look for amenities such as shops, supermarkets, restaurants, and pubs in the area. The area should fit all of your needs.

When searching for the right location, one of the worst decisions you can make is selecting a property on a busy street. A street-facing room can make it difficult to sleep or concentrate at night. It may even limit your privacy as people can see in the windows.

You should also shy away from rooms above restaurants, bars, cafes, and any other businesses that stay open late at night.

These tips should help you search for your next room to rent. Creating a strategy can save you time and money. It can also prevent you from renting a room you later regret.

Top attractions in Sheffield for a city break

Mercure Sheffield St Paul's Hotel & Spa

Through the years I’ve been to Sheffield a few times for work, attending seminars and visiting clients around the city but I never had the chance to explore Sheffield.

So when my Dutch girlfriend said that she had booked us a long weekend break back home, I had no idea that we would end up in the South Yorkshire and in Sheffield.

Flying to East Midlands airport from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes. On arrival we were picked up a by a Sheffield taxi that we had prebooked the day before. East Midlands airport to Sheffield by taxi is about an hour drive on the M1.

For a British expat coming back to the UK after living abroad for nearly ten years, was really a pleasure to see again the British country side.

We checked-in at Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel & Spa, a very modern hotel in the center of the city, our home for the next three days and we set off to make the most of our long weekend back in the UK.


Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel & Spa

Mercure Sheffield St Paul's Hotel & Spa

With a relaxing spa and impressive city views, the 4-star Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel & Spa features stylish and luxury rooms which are elegantly decorated.

Guests at the hotel can relax in the sauna and steam room at Spa Naturel, which also features an ice fountain. The fitness center has an indoor swimming pool and a fully equipped gym.

Sheffield Day One

The Peace Gardens

The Peace Gardens in Sheffield

First stop just across the road from our hotel the Peace Gardens.
We had a relaxing walk around the Peace Gardens whilst having a wander around Sheffield city center.

The gardens have some amazing water features which are well maintained and was a joy to watch the water cascade down them. This really is somewhere to bring the family on a hot summer’s day!!!

The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Just five minutes’ walk down the Fargate street, took us to the Sheffield Cathedral. We loved this place, a mix of traditional and modern architecture fitted perfectly together in a light, airy and tranquil setting.

The stained glass in the modern chapel was breathtaking, we had a few photos and took some time to rest, reflect and even light candles for our loved ones.

On the way out we came across a group of Japanese tourists arriving with a Sheffield minibus hire company who told us that the Sheffield Cathedral was one of the most popular destination for Japanese tourists in Sheffield.

The Kelham Island Museum

The Kelham Island Museum

Not to waste time we hailed a taxi for our next destination, the Kelham Island Muesum. I have to point out here that Sheffield taxis are very reasonably priced compared to the taxis in Amsterdam.

The museum is located in one of the city’s oldest industrial districts, and it is built on a man-made island over 900 years old. The Kelham Island Museum was opened in 1982 to house the objects, photos and archive material preserving Sheffield’s industrial heritage.

The interactive galleries of the museum present the story from light trades and skilled workmanship to mass steel production and what the life in Sheffield was during the Industrial Revolution. From the Victorian Era and the two world wars to the most recent steel making developments across the world.

On a recommendation by our friendly and very knowledgeable Sheffield taxi driver who came to pick us up from the museum we end up at the Millhouses Pub, where we enjoyed two huge portions of fish and chips with some very nice British ales.

Sheffield Day Two

After a very tasteful English breakfast at the hotel, we walked to the Sheffield Winter Garden which is next door to the Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel & Spa.

Sheffield Winter Garden

Sheffield Winter Garden

We were really impressed with the Sheffield Winter garden; I do not even know how we missed it the previous day as it is exactly next to the hotel. The actual “building” which is a huge glasshouse is one of the biggest temperate glasshouses to be built in the UK.

We were told that there are more than 2,500 plants from around the world in the garden creating a really beautiful atmosphere. The actual building itself is 70 metres long and 22 metres high (apparently large enough to house 5,000 domestic greenhouses!).

Together with Peace Gardens and the Millennium Galleries, the Winter Garden provide visitors with a unique experience in Sheffield city centre.

The Millennium Gallery

The Millennium Gallery

The Millennium Gallery is a great place to come and see the free exhibitions that are on display. On the day of our visit a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition was taking place.

It was amazing to see that most of the Leonardo Da Vinci drawings had the royal seal on them, on the bottom right corner (compliments of Edward VII in the early 20th century). Visitors can see other exhibits as well, generally from the local area.

The Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens Sheffield

Our next stop the Botanical Gardens which are situated approximately a mile South West of Sheffield City center. We could have gone there by foot in 30-35 minutes but since we wanted to see as many attractions as possible, we called the Sheffield taxi company that we used the previous day to get us to the Botanical Gardens.

The Botanical Gardens date from 1833, another masterpiece from the Victorian times. They are classed as a grade 2 listed by English Heritage due to the preservation of most of the original design, and the concentration of historical listed buildings and structures on the site.

The Glass Pavilions are some of the earliest curvilinear glass structures ever built in the UK. The entrance to the Gardens is free through ought the year and they tend to attract plenty of visitors. The Rose Gardens and the Four Seasons gardens were very busy at times.

We also stop at the Curators House Tea Room & Restaurant, a small Café inside the gardens, had a couple of freshly baked scones and two turkey sandwiches with some coffee. The place was packed. Overall we spent 4 hours at the gardens and we wish we could have spent more time there but at 17:30 the gardens close to visitors.

Sheffield Day Three

Meadowhall Shopping Centre

Of course, we could not have left Sheffield without visiting the Meadowhall Shopping Centre.

I had personally been to Meadowhall before, but I knew my girlfriend would love it. She was pleasantly surprised by the experience. There is a lot to see and do, shopping wise there are shops inside that cater to all budgets, and plenty of choice for food too.

There is also a cinema inside the shopping center which is a great way to end the day if you would like to make a day out of your visit.

Unfortunately for us, we were flying back to Amsterdam in the evening and we had to leave Meadowhall by lunch time to head back to the hotel.

Visiting Sheffield

Most parks are easily reach by Sheffield taxi

I don’t know why Sheffield is not actively promoted as one of the top destinations for visitors to the UK from continental Europe. Location wise Sheffield can be reached easily from most of the UK airports at very reasonable times.

Transportation in Sheffield

Public transport in Sheffield is provided by trams and buses. The tramway system, is known in the city as the Sheffield Supertram, which is operated by Stagecoach Sheffield. Most of the attractions in Sheffield, hotels and parks, can be easily reached by public transport.

Airport transfers to Sheffield from the main regional airports are also at a very reasonable rates. The Sheffield taxi drivers are very knowledgeable too. Like having a private tour guide with you.

I will highly recommend you put Sheffield on your travel bucket list. For a long weekend or even a full week, Sheffield would happily exceed your expectations. There are so many things to do and see in the city.

The Industrial Revolution has enriched this former medieval town with Georgian and Victorian buildings that have been well-maintained and re purposed to serve well the modern and vibrant city of Sheffield.

A Digital Nomad’s confession: Driving for Uber & coding Uber clone script

Uber app

A lot of people that I meet in my travels, tend to ask me how I manage to travel for 12 to 15 months at a time? How do I support myself financially? I must be coming for a wealthy family?

The truth is a combination of hard work and smart work, with proper and meticulous planning.

I was born in the US, into a single parent family and from very early stage in my life I learned to work hard for myself.

I did plenty of casual jobs as a teenager but when I got my driving license, I decided to use our family car and drive for Uber in the weekends while I was still at university learning C++, Java, Python and Swift.

Driving for Uber  

Driving for Uber was and still is a great way to make money for traveling, I got many rides from fellow students on Saturday and Sunday nights from downtown. Quite often I use to get back home with close to $250 for a 10 hours drive over the weekend.

However, driving for Uber intrigue my curiosity into mobile apps and how they are changing the landscape of the modern economy. Many people across the world are making a living or supplementing their income by driving for Uber and Lyft.

The sharing economy of Airbnb and the gig-economy are challenging the 9 to 5 stereotypes that our parents’ generation was brought up with.  

The old economy could not support a nomadic lifestyle but the new sharing economy thrives on it.

Coding apps and Uber clone script

Uber clone script

My first apps where simple games that I sold on Freelancer and Flippa, it was nothing major like you seen on the news with the Angry Birds app or the Summly app which was bought by Yahoo on those days for more than $25.000.000.

Or even the Flappy Bird app which by the end of January 2014, it was the most downloaded free game in the App Store for iOS.

During that time, its developer said that Flappy Bird was earning him $50,000 a day from in-app advertisements as well as sales. Not bad for a free gaming app.

I was not in that league but my first apps gave me enough cash to buy myself a ticket to Asia and experience Thailand for couple of months without worrying about money. There I met more like-minded app programmers and got into designing Uber clone script for various taxi startups.

Becoming a Digital Nomad

By learning to code and learning iOS development with Swift, I can now make tailor made apps for Digital agencies and even sell directly to local taxi companies. I have managed to become a location-independent freelancer.

I have been doing this for the last 4 years, and made a reasonable income, and lived all around the world.

Nikola - Uber clone script


From a pure enjoyment and the freedom perspective, I prefer to create my own apps and make a business around it. If you are smart and driven, you can definitely make a living doing just that.

Regardless of whether you write code or designing a product, make sure that your idea solves somebody else’s problem. That is that key to successful outcome.

David, the author of “A Digital Nomad’s confession: Driving for Uber & coding Uber clone script to fund my travel” works for Smart Car Tech an innovative app design company.