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Manila Vanilla

We just liked saying Manila Vanilla, unfortunately there’s no vanilla in Manila. 

Almost every traveller we talked to recommended skipping Manila, or staying for as little time as possible. Given that Dan and I enjoy cities more than most, we thought we would give Manila a chance and stay for two nights. As it turns out, the city is filthy, crowded and the traffic is absolutely horrendous. And there’s really not much to see other than doing a day trip to a volcano which we hadn’t planned on. So, in retrospect, I would probably have to agree with everyone and not recommend Manila as a must-see city, or even one to bother with at all (especially if you are short for time, which we weren’t). Continue reading

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Malaysia

From Thailand, our goal was to get to Singapore – in the most scenic way possible. I mean, why take a direct train through Malaysia when you can island hop from Thailand?? So of course that’s what we did. The ferries between islands cost a significant bit more than the buses on the mainland but we decided it was worth it to see the Malaysian islands of Langkawi and Penang before finally landing on peninsular Malaysia and busing to Kuala Lumpur.

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100 Days in Europe: From Iceland to Hungary

It’s been less than two weeks since we left Europe for Asia, and yet it feels like a lifetime ago. That could possibly be because we’re in Varanasi, India which is a whole world different than Europe. Having had enough of the sensory overload from the city, we’re hiding in a café drinking coffee (made with filtered water) and reflecting on our 100 days in Europe. Continue reading

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Budapest: My New Favourite European City

Budapest has it all. Seriously, within a few hours of being there I had settled on the fact that it was my favourite city so far in Europe. And that’s not an easy feat, we’ve covered most of the ‘must-see’ European cities: Reykjavik, London, Brussels, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Athens, Munich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava. Yes, I admit we’ve missed a few, but you get the point. I thought Budapest would be cool, but I didn’t expect that much – and it blew my expectations away. The city just has so much to offer from modern vegan and raw food eateries to wine bars and hip cafes to a huge influx of craft beer and brewed-in-house bars to organic food markets and Christmas markets all mixed with traditional markets and delis selling Hungarian sausage and around the corner from a crumbling church hundreds of years old is a crumbling building turned into a Ruin Bar. I mean, every European city is a complex mix of hundreds (usually thousands) of years of history and modernization (which in many ways is synonymous to Westernization) but Budapest seemed to pull off the mix of new and old best. It has managed to keep it’s complex and lengthy history alive while showcasing how far the economy and people have come in the past decade. Continue reading

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Recharing and Relaxing in Prague

After an activity-packed 11 days in Poland, we were exhausted when we arrived in Prague. We booked an Airbnb room in someone’s apartment but lucked out and had the place to ourselves for the first two days and we took the opportunity to sleep-in and relax. Our first day and a half in Prague we really didn’t do anything, and it felt great. The apartment was spacious with a beautiful view and a Starbucks across the street; it was pretty easy to do nothing. Continue reading

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Lübeck: Family, Marzipan & the Baltic Sea

Old men are stubborn. This saying is notoriously true, and was a prominent part of our trip to Lübeck. We stayed with Richard Wolf, who was my grandmother’s neighbour before her and her family left Germany in 1952. Richard turned 90 this year! His wife of over 60 years, Barbara, who I met last time I visited Lübeck in 2008, passed away three years ago. Richard’s English is minimal at best and thus we were thankful that Brigitte, Richard’s current partner, was around to help translate, although sometimes things get lost in translation. Continue reading

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Oktoberfest in Munich

We booked a flight from Athens to Munich on October 2nd for one reason: be there for the last weekend of Oktoberfest. It’s one of those things you just need to experience, especially if you’re on an around the world trip and happen to be in Europe in the fall. And that minor detail – that it’s fall, not summer – didn’t hit us until we landed in Munich and it was about 20 degrees Celsius colder than everywhere else we had been (Greece and Croatia had been unseasonably hot). It might have had something to do with landing first thing in the morning barely after the sun rose; but at least that gave us time to get settled into our Airbnb room with plenty of time left in the day. (Another reason we love Airbnb: early check-ins are much more likely than with a hotel or hostel). Continue reading