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Hakone: Mt. Fiji and Onsens

Heading south from Tokyo, towards Nagoya, we stopped in Hakone for one night. Yet another hot spot for tourists, Hakone is most widely known for its picturesque views of Mt. Fiji and its abundance of natural hot springs. However, the chances of actually seeing the infamous image of Lake Ashinoko with Mt. Fuji in the background are quite slim due to weather and poor visibility. 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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In the Swiss Alps, Cows Wear Bells

That’s right, you read it: in the Swiss Alps, cows’ wear bells. Not a small dinky bell, very large, very noisy solid bell dangles around their necks. Supposedly, there are even ongoing discussions involving animal cruelty and these bells, but that’s not the topic of this post. The sound of the bell is pleasant at first but after about an hour of sitting on top of a mountain in what should be a peaceful and silent area, the constant noise from the bells becomes something else. Continue reading

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Zurich for the Weekend

There is no shortage of clean drinking water in Zurich; there are over 1,200 fountains that tap into the never-ending source of pristine groundwater. We were at the lake one afternoon and mentioned to the group we were going to buy a bottle of water. They quickly corrected us that there was a fountain not far and we could get free water. One girl accompanied us and when I saw her cup water with her hands from a fountain which a young girl was stomping and splashing away in, I almost choked. It looked like a regular fountain back home which re-circulates the water meaning we would be drinking some pretty nasty water. Feeling it would be rude we took one or two sips before excusing ourselves stating we really weren’t that thirsty (we were). Back home, we googled it and learned that Zurich has an excess of ground water, therefore, the fountains do no re-circulate water. In Switzerland, if there is a fountain or tap which you can’t drink from, there has to be a very obvious no-drinking sign. Continue reading