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Kanazawa: The Gold Leaf City

After visiting Hiroshima, one of the most devastated cities from WWII, we headed to Kanazawa, a city that managed to escape any damage during WWII. Kanazawa, a castle town founded in the late 1500s, also boasts escaping any significant damage from natural disasters and while it used to be a powerful and strategic city, it never fully industrialized. Consequently, it is one of the few Japanese cities where many of its buildings are still original and is home to many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts. Continue reading

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One Night in Hiroshima

In 1945, the first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima. The destructive power of the bomb obliterated nearly everything within a two kilometer radius. Since then, great efforts have been taken to rebuild the city. Maybe it’s something embedded in our psyche that gives us a desire to go somewhere where such great destruction occurred because, like so many others, Dan and I wanted to experience the city. We caught a morning train from Osaka and booked one night in a hostel. In retrospect, we could have day tripped, although the change of scenery, not to mention upgraded accommodation was a nice change. 

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Exploring the Small City of Bratislava

We arrived in Bratislava in the afternoon and our airbnb host met us at the train station. He had already bought three tickets for the bus and he offered to carry my luggage. He rode the bus with us to our apartment and showed us around. The apartment was one of the best we have stayed in – everything was there. The bathroom was stocked with toiletries and the kitchen was stocked with everything you could possibly need for cooking as well as enough food in the pantry for a dinner or two, all for our use. We were very pleased and happy with the fantastic start to this new country. 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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Meeting Dan’s Family (Poland: Part I – Warsaw)

We left Berlin early in the morning to ensure we arrived in Warsaw on time to meet Dan’s sister, Jessika, and his mother, Ewa, at the airport when their plane landed. When we arrived (a bit late) they were waiting for us with Ewa’s brother, Krzysztof. We picked up our rental car and followed Krzysztof back to Otwock, a small town about 45 minutes from Warsaw where Ewa grew up. Her entire family still lives in that town and her brother and his family currently live in the same apartment she grew up in! Since she left, Ewa has only returned to Poland twice, once in 1998 with Jessika and Daniel. Dan barely remembers this visit and was essentially re-meeting his entire family; a very special part of our trip! Continue reading

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Ljubljana: Finally a Couple Days off the Beaten Path

After Venice, we planned to head to Croatia, a country I have heard so much about and always wanted to visit. When we looked at a map, the distance was quite far, so we decided to split the journey in two and stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia; a country I had heard very little about. I had no idea they won “Green City of Europe 2016” award, or that they have a completely unique cuisine or that their forested mountains are reminiscent of British Columbia. Continue reading

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“Little by little, one travels far” – J.R.R. Tolkien (England)

One of the first things I did when we decided on dates for Europe, was start messaging all my friends and family who live there. Staying with people you know in other countries and cities has countless benefits: you get to catch up with someone you likely haven’t seen in a long time, you are shown a different side of the area, you can get away from just the touristy spots, you can often drive around (without having to weigh the pros and cons of a rental car), you get a glimpse as to how people in that area live and, in my opinion, it improves the overall experience. Oh, and free accommodation doesn’t hurt the budget… Continue reading