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Nagoya: The Home of Toyota

Our reason for stopping in Nagoya was simple: visit the Toyota factory, and catch a flight to China. Although Nagoya is Japan’s fourth most populated city, it’s off the mainstream tourist path. The Toyota Motor Corporation headquarters and many of its domestic production plants are located in the city of Toyota – yes, they actually named a city after the company – about an hour train ride east of central Nagoya. Confusingly – and impressively – there’s not one, but three, Toyota Museums in the Nagoya region.

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Bulguksa Temple Stay

A temple stay was one of the things I was looking forward to most in Korea; which brings us back to the fact that disappointment is most prevalent when expectations are high. We had made our reservation through templestay, an organization in Korea that opens up several Korean temples to foreigners to “experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples.”

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Philippines’ Gem: Palawan (Coron and El Nido)

The province of Palawan is home to some of the most picturesque places I have ever been; I’m talking post-card perfect, no need for photo-editing; just raw beauty. It is rapidly becoming a huge tourist destination for both Filipinos and foreigners and is drawing more and more people every year. While most foreigners seem to congregate in El Nido, we decided to make another stop en-route by first taking an overnight ferry from Manila to Coron, spending a few nights there and then another ferry to El Nido. And I can’t stress how glad I am that we went to Coron – if I had to do it again, I would probably skip tourist-crowded El Nido and just visit Coron. Continue reading

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Dubai: The World’s Biggest Everything

A stopover in Dubai en-route to India was an obvious choice for us as almost all flights from Europe to Asia go through Dubai. Most flights arrive late in the evening/early morning and the connecting flights leave hours later. We thought it would be much better to spend a couple days gawking at the engineering marvels in Dubai. Since the early 2000’s Dubai has been dumping money into infrastructure and luxury accommodation to attract tourists and has become a city of the world’s biggest/best everything. As an example of how far the country will go to attract tourists you just have to look at the Palm Islands: because the beautiful pristine coastline wasn’t long enough for the amount of tourists, Dubai built the Palm Islands with the first (Palm Jumeirah) adding 78 kilometers of beach to the city and another two islands are in the works. 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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A Day of Food in Ljubljana

I have always wanted to do a food tour. I’ve heard so much about them from friends and fellow travellers expressing what a great way they are to experience a new city/country. We looked into it in Venice but it was insanely expensive. So, the next day we scheduled a food tour through old town Ljubljana with “ljubljananjam.” The company is a one-woman show; Iva was enthusiastic and energetic, she clearly loves her job as much as she loved food. Continue reading