Benches of the world – Via Instagram

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I love benches. It’s a place to take a break after a long walk or run. It’s a space where people can sit and admire the scenery. It’s a place where couples sit and hold-hands. It’s a space where I … Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

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Weekly photo challenge: Green My photo gallery: Fried-peppers tapa in Madrid, Spain; Friends on the green grass in medieval Toledo, Spain; a pastel green building in Gumairaes, Portugal; Looking-up the well in the caves of Sintra, Portugal; Dark green Christmas … Continue reading

I Found Nessie!

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Hellooooooo!!! Wow, it has been an amazing couple of days in Scotland. Above is a picture of Duncan, our lovely tour guide, and I at Loch Lubneig. I booked a tour through MacBackpackers tour group a few weeks back because … Continue reading

Haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Above: Scott Monument for Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish poet.
This was my first view of Edinburgh as I walked early in the morning from the bu station, through the new town, and into the old town of Edinburgh.

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Above: This was my second view. Breathtaking, right?! And lucky for me, it was a very clear day in Edinburgh, so no clouds or fog obstructed my view of the looming (extinct volcano) Castle Rock.

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Above: Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street Garden.

Unfortunately I only have one full-day in Edinburgh, and although I got here early, I didn’t sleep very well on the overnight bus from London so as much as I wanted to see all of Edinburgh, my sightseeing didn’t extend further than the Free Sandeman Walking Tour. So, check out a few of my pictures (not many, as my poor fingers were frozen after 3+ hours of walking) and then at the end of this post I’ll tell you about Haggis!

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Above: St. Giles Cathedral as taken with my iPhone 4S. And believe it or not this is the original photo, no alterations! I love the bright blue sky contrasting with the stone building.

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How about a creepy graveyard? This is Greyfriars Kirkyard and There are a ton of Ghost Tours offered here in Edinburgh, and after hearing about the very dark past of this city, I understand why. Also, this Graveyard served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling as she wrote the Harry Potter series! I don’t have photographic proof but our tour guide told us that graves for many Potter’s exist, as well as a McGonagall (William) and a Tom Riddle grave!
Anyways, I learned a lot of historical facts about Scotland and Edinburgh: hangings, torture, wars and dogs.
I’ve found some other online sources to share some of these stories with you (because I’m lazy and I would probably get the facts wrong if I tried to write it on my own):
Greyfriar Bobby: the story of the loyal dog and his master (ever seen the movie Hitachi?!)

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The dark and disturbing history of Edinburgh: the Covenanter’s Prison.
Seriously, take a read, it’s really interesting (albeit disturbing).

Head into the Grassmarket and you can see where the gallows used to be, as well as the ‘Last Drop’ pub which got its name as it was where individuals sentenced to death went to get their last taste of Scotch Whiskey.

My favourite story was of Maggie Dickson. She was sentenced to death for concealing her pregnancy, which was illegal back in 1724. Oh, she also got knocked up illegitimately by another man after her husband left her, hid her pregnancy (the real crime), had a still-born and attempted to discard of the corpse in the river.
Anyways, Maggie had her last drop, was hung and pronounced dead. Then, during her body’s journey to her grave, she ‘came back’ and was heard banging and knocking from inside her coffin.
She was quickly taken back to the gallows, about to be hung again, but then the judge intervened, saying that it was double-jeopardy and she was allowed to live. Well, that’s the version I was told, here is a link to the story according to the Grassmarket website.
I could go on-and-on with all the stories I learned today, except typing on an iPhone is not very easy, so I’ll end my rambling now.

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Above: Beautiful Victoria Street.

Haggis Time

**uh oh! Sorry all-wordpress screwed up! I wrote an entire post about Haggis and it didn’t upload! :(**
I’ll write one again for tomorrow!!

Meandering the streets of Prague

There is no denying it. Prague is beautiful.
‘What’s so great about Prague?’ someone asked me the other day.
For me, the colorful tall buildings of the Old Town combined with the sound of street musicians playing Jazz in the Square and the smell of hot wine from nearby street-vendors mixed together into the most perfect Autumn scene.
But, for others Prague is something completely different.
I already wrote a fee post about Prague: Prague at Night and Foodie Haven in Peague — so check them out for some other pictures and my first impressions of the city.

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The Charles Bridge is the most famous image of Prague. Statues line the walkway and during the day there are artists, musicians and beggars as well. Every tour book will tell you to go during off-peak times such as the morning or at night. I went around 7:30 pm and it was fairly quiet, but I’m sure if you went in the early morning it would be better. If you’ve got a good camera you could get some amazing foggy-morning photos!
I walked this bridge everyday on my way to sites and just to be there. It’s crowded, but don’t rush across! Take the time to stop and admire the view.

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My advice: head to the bridges on either side for some great views of the bridge itself.
Next I wandered to Kampa Park.

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As I mentioned in previous posts, I love Autumn! This park was beautiful and I found the creepy baby sculptures by David Cerny.

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Then, not even a 5 minute stroll away is the Lennon Wall.

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Then, up to the next bridge, outside of the Kafka Museum, I found David Cerny’s Proudy (stream) sculpture. Or, as most people call it: two guys pissing.

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What’s really interesting is they move and the streams spell out famous quotes from Czech Literature into a puddle shaped like the Czech Republic! Hilarious!
Next up is a not-so-hilarious statue: Don Giovanni, in memory of Mozart.

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Yeah, it’s pretty frightening!
Next up is a Church. Yes, I know, I said I didn’t like churches. But this church was free and took zero effort to get to! Awesome! And, it does look pretty phenomenal inside and there is a severed hand hanging from the ceiling! Say what!?! Cool right!?

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Above is a view from halfway up Petrin Hill. GO THERE! And, don’t be lame like me, go to the top! Views are free!

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There are still old-style looking trams in Prague, but don’t be fooled, as they have some of the most modern transit I’ve seen so far!
Music in Prague
The real reason I left sunny Spain and Portugal for cold and dreary Prague was for the music. I had met a woman when I was in Paris last time, and she raved about the Opera she had seen, and told me how Prague is really famous for orchestras as well.
The first concert was an intimate performance with a quintet playing in the small Spanish Synagogue.

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They performed the Best of Gershwin and it was an awesome performance.
But, it didn’t compare to the following night.

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I watched the Czech Philharmonic perform in the Rudolfinum! Wow! They played symphonies by Dvorak and their conductor, Jiri Belohlavek was superb! I had goosebumps the entire performance! Honestly, the best solo moment of my entire trip!
And there you have it. That was Prague. I think I’m going to need to return – who’s with me!?

La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona

Oh Barcelona, how I wish I had more time (and energy) to explore all of what this city has to offer.
I was sick in Barcelona. Fever, stomach flu, ‘wish I was at home in my own bed’ sick.
My last day in Barcelona I didn’t plan on leaving my bed. But, all I could think was ‘I might never come back here’. So, I forced myself to eat some food (1 euro fruit smoothies from La Boqueria Market are heaven) and couldn’t resist trying one of the delicious vegetarian tempura wraps.

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At around 2pm I finally gathered enough energy to metro to La Sagrada Familia.
Now, thankfully I was visiting during low-season, so I only waited in line for about 20 minutes. Entry: 14 euro (ouch) plus another 3 euro for the audio guide. If you’re going inside the Sagrada, spend the extra 3 euro, it’s worth it. I didn’t pay to go up in the tower (another 3 euro) because there are scheduled times and the next available was at 4pm. I wasn’t sure how long I would last so I opted out of the view.
If you like art, Gaudi, Architecture or history this is definitely a must see. If you’re like me and old buildings don’t usually excite you, I would personally save my 17 euro and just look up pictures online.
It is beautiful.
It is awe-inspiring.
It is a ‘must-see’ in Barcelona.
But, I already knew after visiting the Alhambra and the Cathedral in Seville that this sort of thing doesn’t really inspire me. But, I was told by multiple people I had to see it.
Check. It’s off my list.
Seriously–I am done visiting churches and historical buildings. It’s just not my thing. Unless of course inside a church there is a famous pastry: I’ll pay 20 euro just so I can try a new food. Food is where my priorities lye.
Anyways, here are some pictures from La Sagrada Familia.

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Have you ever been to Barcelona? What were your favourite sites or activities?

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Day Trip: GuimarĂ£es, Portugal

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Before coming to Portugal, I knew little about the country. I knew it was beside Spain, that the language was Portuguese and that the capital was Lisbon. So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Portugal to discover that it … Continue reading