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Bohol: The Island of Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills

The island of Bohol was our last stop in the Philippines before continuing our journey East to Hong Kong. The adorable island of Bohol is a quick ferry journey from Cebu (an international travel hub in the Philippines) making it an ideal place to stay. Type “Bohol” into a Google Image search and two things will come up: cute bug-eyed tarsiers (amongst the world’s smallest primates) and the majestic Chocolate Hills (some 1,200 limestone mounds that turn cocoa-brown in the dry season); hence the “adorable” adjective when describing Bohol. Continue reading

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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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Cappadocia: A Surreal Landscape

Our first views of Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey, were from the window of our shuttle van which picked us up at the Kayseri airport and drove us roughly an hour to our hotel in Göreme. Although we had Googled the area and had an idea of what it would like, it was still pretty cool to see the mars-like landscape in person. When we arrived at our hotel the receptionist asked us if we had already signed up for the red, green or blue tour. Neither of us had a clue what he was talking about and excused ourselves to go Google it in our room. We clearly had done very little research of the area because the first thing that comes up is those tours and almost everyone (who doesn’t rent a car) does a tour. We are usually fairly anti-tour but this one was the only way possible to see everything in the region in a limited time – and I was really interested in learning more about how the landscape was formed. Continue reading

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Istanbul – Not what we Expected

I was really getting used to flushing toilet paper, transit systems that were integrated with Google Maps, organized infrastructure, and pedestrian crosswalks that were respected. I was enjoying simply being left alone when I walked down the street. I was getting used to people who respected queues, waited their turn, didn’t push and shove or budge their way to the front. I started assuming that all food was safe to eat and drinking the tap water was OK. I loved getting on trains that left the second they were supposed to and travelled at speeds upwards of 300km/hr to get you to your destination in a timely manner. We’d been enjoying all these ‘privileges’ (without thinking of them as such) over the past four months of our trip, ever since we left Latin America. Don’t get me wrong; Europe was by no means perfect and there were some exceptions to the above, but they were just that: exceptions. By and large, Europe is very efficient and extremely Westernized.  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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A Night at the Opera in Vienna

Maybe it’s due to the fact we had just watched ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” where there is a lengthy action scene shot in the Vienna State Opera House (ranked as one of the best action scenes in the Mission Impossible series) or that it is one most famous Opera Houses in the world as proclaimed by National Geographic and Fodors to name a few, but we decided we wanted to spend a night at the opera in Vienna. We found a blog where we learned we could get standing seats for only €3! Click here for the how-to guide we followed. Continue reading

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Milan: 2015 Formula 1 Grand Prix & International World Expo

We had one main reason to go to Milan: the Formula 1 Grand Prix. We booked tickets before we even left for Europe and scheduled our whole route through Italy (which doubled back through Milan) so we could be there on the day of the race. Tickets were 85 EUR each for general admission, and of course, not within our daily budget, but there are some things worth splurging for and we deemed this as one. Continue reading