Meanwhile it’s been two weeks since we arrived home. I can say that even if we didn’t start with our jobs yet, we already have the feeling of being fully caught by the “normal lifestyle”. But from time to time we still think about the past year with all the extraordinary experiences and we cannot believe that this dream is over. This year has been by far the most impressive one in the life of both of us so far and by now we’re pretty sure that if we’re going to look back in 30-40 years from now this will be one of the top 3 highlights of our lives. And nobody can take the memories away. Read more
“One country, two systems” is the idea proposed in 1984 by Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the People’s Republic of China. This proposal was made in the negotiations with the British over the future of Hong Kong when the lease of Hong Kong to the British was to expire. So, in 1997 after one and a half century the UK returned Hong Kong to the Chinese making the Chinese chief executive to exclaim “Now we are masters of our own house”. Read more
A well-known saying is that “All good things come in threes” so after Hurricane Isaac in Miami and Cyclone Oswald in Brisbane it was time for the third encounter with Mother Nature’s rainy show. We got the news of a cyclone hitting the northeast coast of Australia when we were on the flight to Cairns.
We planned 12 days in Cairns and were pretty sure that we will have at least 3 days with good weather for a liveaboard in the Great Barrier Reef. The cyclone season ends in April so theoretically we did everything right but in practice it was a little bit different. Read more
Moorea and Bora Bora are among the best if not the ultimate destinations for honeymooners and lovers of turquoise water. In fact I recently saw a survey made by tripadvisor and both Moorea and Bora Bora were rated in the top 10 best islands in the world. Read more
Bula means “Hello” in the Fijian language and on every island you are welcomed by the locals who sing a Fijian song for you followed by a loud BUUUUUULLLLA.
Fiji is a paradise. It consists of an archipelago that includes more than 300 islands out of which around 100 are inhabited. If you think you have never seen a picture from Fiji you are probably wrong because the gorgeous scenery was the stage where lots of movies were shot including The Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields, Return to the Blue Lagoon with Milla Jovovich, Castaway with Tom Hanks, and Jodie Foster’s “heaven” sequence in the sci-fi movie Contact was also filmed here. Read more
The ferry ride between the North and the South Islands of New Zealand is considered to be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. And this was not even between the best things we saw in our three weeks journey through the South Island. If you’re looking for postcard perfect landscape and a little bit of everything what nature has to offer, the South Island is a top choice. Here are some of the main attractions that we visited. Read more
In our second part of the journey through the North Island we visited the nice little town of Rotorua. Rotorua is also world famous for white water rafting so I could not miss the opportunity on this one. Rafting rapids are classified from grade 1 – 6 where grade 6 means it is unraftable because it is too dangerous. The Kaituna River has rapids of grade 5 so you can imagine that we got the shot of adrenaline which we paid for. And to make things even more amazing, the Kaituna also has the highest commercial raftable waterfall in the world, a spectacular drop of 7 meters. This was definitely one of the craziest rides of the trip so far. Read more
“Traveler, your dreams are waiting” is the message with which you are welcomed at the airport in Auckland but the start of the trip to New Zealand has not been the best one ever. When we arrived at the check-in counter at the airport in Sydney we were asked for a return flight out of New Zealand because without one we were not allowed to check in. Because we wanted to stay flexible we have not bought a return ticket before but at this point we were advised to buy a fully refundable ticket and pay only the cancelation fees. We did this and hoped this would be the only impediment in travelling to New Zealand. But boy were we wrong. Read more
I know many of you will argue my opinion when I’m saying Sydney is probably the most livable city in the world, but when you fall in love for someone (in this case the city), it doesn’t matter what everyone else tells you :=).
The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast
The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast are both the perfect regions for spending a holiday. While the Sunshine Coast is mainly visited by families because of the nice and quiet beaches, the Gold Coast is world wide known for good surfing beaches and even has a town which is called like that, Surfers’ Paradise. Read more
We just returned from Fraser Island and can say that we added something to the top 10 best places we have visited so far because this island is outstanding. We actually went there twice, but because the first time was right before cyclone Oswald hit Australia, it was raining all the time but we knew we had to go back.
“Explore the possibilities” is the motto of the island of Tasmania. And this place has tons of possibilities to explore. Unfortunately we stayed just one week on the small island that the Aussies call Tassie but it’s for sure a place where we will return some day. Read more
Whenever you thank an Aussie for something he will answer with “No worries, mate”. It looks like the Australians are always in a good mood and never have any worries, but with the most beautiful nature, most pristine beaches and nice weather all year round, why would they. And The Great Ocean Road is definitely no exception from the “No worries” list.
When we made the plan for the trip around the world one thing was certain from the beginning and that was spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney. I knew the city has many attractions but I didn’t expect it to become my new top favorite city. This city is incredible, you have tons of things to do and places to visit with the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge being only the top of the iceberg. Read more
After witnessing the magical Iguazu Falls we headed for Rio de Janeiro only to see that the Brazilians have the same habits of eating very late like their neighbors, the Argentinians. When half of the bus was already sleeping around 10:30 PM, we stopped for dinner while the other half was hurrying to get a good seat at an “All you can eat” restaurant, and again, all of this at 10:30 PM. Read more
After a heavy rain which flooded the airport in Buenos Aires and led to the cancelation of all flights, we ended up spending the night in the airport. Fortunately for us, the airline tried to make it up on us and offered us a night in one of the most luxurious hotels in Puerto Iguazu and this package was probably more expensive than the flight tickets so in the end it was a good deal if it wouldn’t be for the experiences during the flight but that’s another story… Read more
The capital of Uruguay is situated just a 35 minutes flight from Buenos Aires. In the short time that we spent here we tried some typical Uruguayan food like chivito (a steak sandwich with cheese, ham, lettuce, tomato and spicies), pamblona (pork or chicken meat stuffed with pepper ham and cheese, a little bit similar with Gordon Bleu). We tried also a typical alcoholic drink named Medio y Medio that is a mixture of sparkling wine and white wine. Read more
After a flight that felt almost like in a shaker and a landing which tested the plane’s structure we arrived in Buenos Aires.
The portenos (that’s how the people from Buenos Aires are called) do most of the things that are important for them with a lot of passion. And we tried to experience these passions Read more
On the last 4 days we hiked more than 60km on the “W” trail in the National Park Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia. This is the most hiked trail in South America with over 200,000 tourists every year. It’s called “The W trail” because of its shape which looks like the letter “W”.
We were told that the weather in Patagonia can change very quickly and you can experience all 4 seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter in one day and it is not uncommon that winds reach speeds of up to 100km/h. Read more
When we left El Calafate we headed to Puerto Natales because we wanted to hike the National Park Torres del Paine. Unfortunately the weather forecast was very bad for the days to come so we decided to head further south to Punta Arenas. Here you can book a tour to the Island Magdalena which has one of the biggest colonies of Magellanic penguins. There’s not much to be said other than seeing penguins for the first time in nature was really amazing. Read more
After visiting mainly big cities in the last one and a half months we really needed a break from all the noise and the masses of people and we probably could not have found a better place to recharge our batteries than the Banff and Jasper National Parks in the province of Alberta, Canada. Read more
Our trip was really great till now but what made it perfect were the people that we met. That was also the case in Calgary were we met Sarah and her lovely family. Sarah’s parents were fabulous and treated us like their own children and made us feel like home. Sarah actually hosted us twice, once when we flew in to Calgary and the second time when we returned from Banff and Jasper. On Saturday she took us sailing to the Glenmore Reservoir where she works over the summer as a sailing instructor. Sailing there was awesome, more about it in the “amazing thing” chapter. Thanks Sarah! Read more
After driving over the TransCanada Highway which is the world’s longest national highway (8030 km) and one with nice views of mountains, rivers and waterfalls, we arrived for a short visit in Vancouver. Everybody that we met on the way and who has been in Vancouver before told us that it’s a very nice city but really have to be lucky with the weather because it rains most of the year. And we were lucky as we had two nice sunny days. Read more
After leaving Canada by the Greyhound bus we arrived for a short stopover in Seattle. The city is very nice with a lot of cultures and it’s hard to find some dish that’s specific for Seattle because it has cuisines from all over the world. But fortunately Hilary, our CS host in Seattle recommended us probably the #1 place to visit here, the Pike Place Market. Read more
Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the world, established in 1872. It is known for the many geysers and hot springs as well as for the diverse wildlife that can be seen here like bisons, grizzlies, black bears, wolfs and so on. Read more
After a short stopover in Salt Lake City where we visited the Mormons temple we drove to San Francisco. On the way we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is the place in the salt desert where all world land speed records were measured. Afterwards on the way to San Francisco we drove through the states of Utah, Nevada and California seeing almost nothing but desert areas. Read more
Yosemite National Park is known for its spectacular granite cliffs, the waterfalls, giant sequoia groves and the biological diversity.
In Yosemite we drove through the Yosemite Valley where we saw the rock formation “El Capitan” which is very popular between rock climbers. Read more
In LA I finally met my cousins Crina and Ionut who I haven`t seen in 7 years. We had a great time together with their families and on weekend we went together to Long Beach on the ocean. Crina lives close to Disneyland and in the evening we walked through Downtown Disneyland and saw the beautiful fireworks. Read more
Oh my… this is one of the craziest places I’ve seen. And before somebody asks…. “No, we did not get married in Vegas”
Before going there I thought it will be just a place with lots of kitschy stuff. But now I’m so glad that we went there and can say for sure that this is definitely one of the places that I will visit again. You can easily spend 1-2 weeks here without getting bored as you have a lot of entertainment options starting from gambling (what a surprise) to concerts and shows everywhere and tons of restaurants or you can just stay at the pool and relax. And where else can you see the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids, take a ride with the gondola under the Rialto Bridge, see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge and go to the Colloseum all in one day? Read more
All the three canyons Grand, Antelope and Bryce are real wonders of nature.
Grand Canyon has three rims that are accessible for tourists and after leaving Las Vegas we headed for the West Rim which is not the most beautiful of the rims but it is home to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk. Unfortunately the weather was not good there as it started to lighten and because of this the authorities decided to close the Skywalk. So we drove further to the South Rim which is supposed to be the nicest and most accessible of the three. Read more
Miami was one of the closest cities to South America that we could have chosen for our last stop in the US. Not only from the geographical point of view. In Miami 70% of the citizens have Spanish as the first language and right from the airport you really have the impression you landed in a Latin American country because everybody speaks Spanish. There’s a joke in Miami about this that says “If somebody says he is bilingual, it means he also speaks English”. Read more
Right after landing in Quito everybody tries to rip you off somehow because you’re a gringo (slang word used to denote you’re a foreigner). Starting with the taxi driver which asks for 3 times the normal amount for a ride from the airport, continuing with the hostel manager that tells you a price in the evening and in the morning it’s suddenly more, then the guy from the grocery “forgets” to give you the change, then the next taxi driver drops you off 1 km from the expected location just “because it’s too much traffic and you can walk the rest” Read more
After we did not find good offers in Quito for a cruise in the Galapagos Islands we decided to fly there and try to find some better offers directly in the main port, Puerto Ayora. And we’re glad we did because it was not a high season anymore and we found offers up to 30% cheaper than the ones in Quito. The best way to see the Galapagos Islands is with a cruise because in 4-5 days you can see a couple of islands each with different vegetation and animals and you have a naturalist that explains you everything in detail starting from the origin of the Galapagos Islands, to the specific species that can be found here and ending with the history of the people that inhabited these places. Read more
We decided to go by bus from Quito to Lima, a ride that takes around 35 hours. The planned departure of the bus was 03:00 AM but we were told to arrive at the bus station around 22 – 23:00 because the bus comes all the way from Venezuela and could arrive earlier and after a short break it would leave (without us)
We were not expecting much from Lima as most or all of the travelers that we met told us they did not like Lima but let me tell you one thing, WE LOVED IT. People are extremely friendly, everybody that we met tried to help us, Read more
We took the bus from Lima to Huacachina and we chose a company named Cruz del Sur because it was recommended by almost all the travelerswe met in South America. It sounds crazy but the bus services that you have here cannot be compared with anything else in Europe. It could probably be compared with a flight ticket in the first class because you get dinner, can watch movies and the passengers can even play Bingo and win prizes. You also have internet over wi-fi and can transform your seats into a bed where you can sleep very comfortably. Read more
Last weekend we went for a 3 day trekking tour in the Canyon del Colca, the deepest canyon in the world which is situated near the city of Arequipa. The trekking tour was for sure one of the highlights of our trip so far, not only because the scenery was very beautiful but also thanks to our guide Roy. Read more
In Arequipa we stayed a lot longer than we initially planned because we went to a Spanish course for one week. We also decided to stay with an Arequipan family because the Spanish school has a list of families which are recommended to the students. The family which hosted us was really friendly and we also got the opportunity to improve our Spanish knowledge in our spare time. The Spanish School was recommended to us by Jochen and Christina who we met in Huacachina at the sand buggy tour and we also went together to the hiking tour in Canon del Colca. Read more
Cusco is one of the most touristic places in South America because it’s the main starting point for all the treks or trips that go to Machu Picchu. Though it’s very touristic we liked its nice little old town and the markets where you can buy almost anything.
If you want to go to Machu Picchu there are a couple of treks or options. The most famous one is the Inka Trail which lasts 4 days/3 nights but this one must be booked at least 3-4 month in advance because there is only a limited amount of tickets to the trail per day. Read more
From Cusco we went to Puno on the shore of the Lake Titicaca. It is called the highest navigable lake in the world at 3812m. From Puno we booked a tour to the floating islands of the Uros people. The islands are made of bundled reeds and are completely floating and the first steps on the islands felt a little bit strange. Here people live like hundreds of years ago and you really have the impression that the time stopped centuries ago. Their houses are very basic and are also made of reed and in the house they have just one bed where sometimes 10 family members sleep together. Read more
After we successfully crossed the border to Bolivia, we stayed for one day in Copacabana before going to La Paz. In Copacabana people have to pay 1 Boliviano just to enter the town and people who bought a ticket directly to La Paz also have to pay it, no matter if they want or not…. Welcome to Bolivia, that is… Read more
We arrived in Uyuni and because the town is nothing spectacular we hurried up in finding a hotel and went to look for an agency which could offer us a tour to the salt flats and the lagoons. If you google for deadly accidents in the Salt Flats you find a frightening amount of results. This is either because the Bolivians just like to drink alcohol (drivers included) or because of the bad condition of the 4WD cars that are used for the tours. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this… between 2008-2009 16 people died in the flats, including 13 tourists because of drunk drivers who were speeding. So I thought it’s worth spending a few hours google-ing for a tour agency which offers safe tours to probably one of the world’s most spectacular sceneries. Read more
Oh my God, we arrived in a country where drivers stop at the “STOP” signs and pedestrians are not invisible anymore… it’s unbelievable…. Jokes aside, Chileans are very friendly and are the first ones we see in South America which seem to really respect the pedestrians and their colleagues in the traffic. In fact driving in Chile is considered very safe and corruption is almost inexistent in the cases of policemen. Chile belongs to the countries which have very good corruption perception indexes in the world being at the same level as the United Kingdom or the United States. Read more
This region is one of the most beautiful ones in Chile and probably one of the top things to see in South America. It’s the Chileans’ favorite place to spend a vacation because here you have tons of options to spend your time. You can go horse riding, which we did. It was very nice as it was just the two of us and the guide so we had time to enjoy the nature. Because it was our first time we went horse riding we needed some time to learn how to “drive” the horses but afterwards we had so much fun in telling the horses how fast to run. Read more
The first big stop in Argentina was at El Calafate where we arrived after a 27 hour bus ride. The first funny thing that we found out about Argentinians is that they have dinner very late and in the evening restaurants are closed until 8 PM. Even on the bus to El Calafate when almost all the gringos on the bus were already sleeping at 10 PM, the bus crew waked us up to have dinner.