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Facing my Fears – Caving in Budapest

I am petrified of being in confined spaces. Cole knows this, but he still insisted we go caving in Budapest to face my fears. It was a terrible idea.

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Cole caving in Budapest

The idea of caving in Budapest is akin to my kind of hell. And Cole’s dream adventure.

Squeezing through chest tightening gaps 20 meters underground in the pitch black? Silence surrounding you while being covered in dirt? No thanks.

Cole caving in Budapest

I guess being claustrophobic does not really help my case but caving in Budapest was not high on my to do list. So when Cole told me that’s exactly what we were doing. I was petrified.

However, being the stubborn adventurous and competitive person I am, I wanted to overcome my fears. I smiled, nodded and told him I would be fine.

How wrong I was.

Caving in Budapest

I woke up with a deep feeling of dread in my stomach. Breakfast tasted like sandpaper. Coffee did nothing to ease the nerves, and Cole’s excitement and attempts to lighten the mood with terrible jokes about getting trapped were no help at all.

My nerves were rattling more than the ancient bus as we trundled up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before I knew it we were at the caves and suiting up. With every layer of protective gear I strapped on I felt more and more trapped.

Four Jandals Caving in Budapest

Putting on a brave face for the camera.

I tried to make small talk with the others on the tour but when I told them I was claustrophobic they looked at me like I was insane for coming caving. Maybe I was.

All too suddenly we were at the entrance. I had expected a big opening that would get gradually smaller so I could at least see some light coming in. Wrong again.

It was just a door. A locked door.

As I stepped through the void I started thinking maybe I can handle this.

CRASH!

The guide slammed the heavy door and locked it with a resounding clank that still haunts me in my sleep. To me it was the sound of fear. I was trapped.

Irrational thoughts flooded my mind.

What if I lose the guide and I can not get out because I don’t have a key? What if we need to get out in a hurry and we lose precious seconds while the guide unlocked the door?

As the guide went over the safety talk I gazed blankly into the darkness. I took nothing in. All I could think about was the door and my uncontrollable shaking.

Shaken out of my inner nightmares as everyone begins to move I see the guide is pointing down a 10m ladder into a hole no larger than 1 meter square. “I thought we were already in the caves!” I exclaim. They all laugh as he confirms that is exactly where we are going.

It was the last straw. I had to get out.

Backing away I grab hold of Cole’s sleeve. He has already noticed my anxiousness though and is hurrying me out with the guide close behind.

With every step towards the door my stress levels lowered.

I cannot explain how good it felt to walk out of that cave.

I gulped fresh air as relief, happiness and freedom washed over me.

As quick as it had begun my caving experience was over.

For Cole it was just beginning as he left me with my eBook on the surface 2 hours as soon as I was free! Can’t say I blame him.

Caving in Budapest

Extra Travel Information:

Try caving in Budapest with the awesome guides at Caving Under Budapest.

Fly to Budapest easily from pretty much anywhere in Europe with Jet2.com and we recommend staying at Marco Polo Hostel as they are quiet and have a brilliant breakfast buffer.

This is a post from a series called Facing my Fears. It helps us to step outside our comfort zone, in comfort. Check out the rest of the series here.

Disclaimer: We were invited to step out of our comfort zone by the Visit Hungary Tourism Board for our trip to Budapest. As always our thoughts, recommendations and fears are always our own.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Laurence

    September 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    You know, sometimes we just need to say no to things. You totally made the right decision here – I’m actually amazed you made it inside 😉 I can’t imagine how scary that would be if you suffer from claustrophobia!

  2. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    September 7, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Adela, I totally sympathise with you here. I freaked out when I was almost at the top of a mountain (I have a terrible phobia of heights) and had to sit down and wait while my partner and his family made the last bit up to the top. I felt sooooo relieved when I realised that nobody was forcing me to do anything that I didn’t want to do.

    Also I LOVE your facial expression before going in the cave, it is priceless haha!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Cole hates heights too Tom so at least I have him beaten there haha. I am just lucky he didn’t mind going on without me.

  3. Ele

    September 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Bookmarked both the post and service provider. That’s the Budapest I want to see.

  4. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 8, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    We’re proud of you! At least you tried. Caves aren’t my favorite thing in the world either and I’ve never been in one with a locked door which is just extra creepy. Maybe try a doorless cave next time…

  5. Arti

    September 8, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I would have the exact same feelings as you had before you set out on your adventure. The photos are wonderful, give a feeling as if I was down there in the dark space with you!!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      Thanks Arti 🙂 It was lucky Cole continued on so that we could get the photos haha.

  6. bronwen burmester

    September 9, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Great post Adela and neat phtos and I would have been just like you adela, brave Cole….but not me!

  7. Mike

    September 9, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    You don’t look afraid on the pictures. You were really having fun and overcoming your fears. Congratulations to you Cole.

  8. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    September 10, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    I totally get this. I never knew I had a fear of caving until I was deep inside of one! Turns out, I’m claustrophobic! I’ve done some caving since, but I know all that build-up dread. Good on you!

  9. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Totally feel you on this one…I hate the dark and enclosed spaces…You made it further than I would have!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      We can hang out on the surface next time then D.J. 🙂

  10. Suzy

    September 12, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Wow – good for you for even tryng! It looks like Cole had a great time, though. Caving isn’t the first thing I’d think of when I think of Budapest. That’s why travel blogs are so great – always new ideas for traveler! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      We didn’t even know the caves existed until just before we went. Was such a unique experience. It is where all the hot water comes from for the hot baths.

  11. Callie

    September 13, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    That sounds scary! No shame in sticking to the surface 🙂 I hear you – I went with a group to rappel down a waterfall in Ecuador once and backed out once I was all strapped in and literally hanging over the ledge. The guide had to pull me back up as everyone was watching…

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      The rappling sounds awesome (sort of). I might freak out because I hate heights haha.

  12. Ali

    September 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Caves are NOT my thing at all. I didn’t realize it until recently, but I don’t like the enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Doesn’t help that I whacked my head on the stone when I was in there.

    • Adela

      September 15, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Ali I totally know where you are coming from – I can not think of anything worse than enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Some of us are just not meant for caving

  13. Nat

    September 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    I would be exactly the same, I don’t think I could have even gone through the door. Looking at the photos too things certainly did seem to become tight. I notice Cole is wearing a GoPro. Have you managed to edit the video? It would be great to see 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      The video is quite grainy actually. Need to learn a few more editing techniques rather than just using Windows Live Movie maker. We have had ours for a while and do love it. Just need to use it more. Going to check out your review now.

  14. Jemma

    September 17, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Awwww you can totally see the fear in your eyes in that picture! Well done for having the guts to turn back, I think having the guts to do that is commendable. Caving is my worst nightmare too, can’t think of anything worse than being in a tight tunnel like that. Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies, so kudos to you for even suiting up. If my boyfriend suggested it to me I’d tell him to go play in traffic! 🙂

  15. emma@greenglobaltravel

    September 18, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Well done you for trying anyway! A lot of people wouldn’t have done even that much.

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    September 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I’ve seen the movie The Descent and could never ever do this.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      Haha we luckily didn’t encounter any flesh-eating monsters 🙂

  17. Adrian

    September 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I would say, This was one of the awesome adventurers you had. I can understand how terrible it was for you but that’s the real taste of life.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Pushing yourself past your own limits is what makes life so interesting!

  18. Trudy

    October 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Wow. Love your face in that pic. Sounds amazing but I just don’t know if I could do it. You are awesome for trying!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Adela gave it a good go! The problem was the slamming of the door. But at least she decided to stop at the start and not halfway through when we were crawling on our bellies 🙂

  19. Craig Makepeace

    March 1, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Yeah, this freaks me out! I could never work in an underground mine or anything. Let me see light 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      It was an awesome experience Craig! Well for me, Adela not so much haha.

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Adventure Travel

WHY WE LOVE TRAVELLING IN ANTIPOLO (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)

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Antipolo is one of the seven most popular cities in Philippines which is located in the province of Rizal. The city of Antipolo is famous for being a pilgrimage site and is popularly known as the “pilgrimage site of Philippines”. Being the heritage city of the country Antipolo holds many beautiful and amazing places where you can explore your travel buds. The main and the enshrined attraction of the place is the marine image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage present in the Antipolo museum which was brought from Mexico during the year 1626.

There are many beautiful and extravagant places present in the beautiful city of the Antipolo where one can easily find peace and can explore the beauty of Philippines, the Antipolo style.  The city consists of many historic and natural sites which will blow your mind off and are worth visiting. We have some tourist attractions in Antipolo where you can go exploring with your friends or family or even alone.

Antipolo Cathedral: – Being the most historic and antique church present in the city the Antipolo church is widely famous for its renowned icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The church is located in the proper town and every year on the month of May Antipolo becomes the centre of attraction for many of the visitors and tourists who travel from faraway lands and locals in order to pay homage to the Our Lady.

Boso Boso church: – This church is mostly a remnant of a centuries old church which was destroyed during the Second World War. This beautiful remnant of the church belongs to the Spanish era that dominated the country of Philippines that for more than 300 years. It was constructed in the year 1700 under the Jesuits. After getting destroyed by earthquake in 1800, the church was abandoned in the 1930 and got into a fire scandal in the year 1945; it got restored back by the government in the year 1995. If you are a great lover of history and past things this place might fascinate you.

Hinulugang Taktak: – The name of the place means “where the bell was dropped”, is a waterfall that was designated by the government of Philippines as a national park. The mesmerizing waterfall got its interesting name due to a turn of event down the history. The priest of the nearby church on the demand of the town people had thrown the church bell into the river as it was causing unwanted sound in the town every time it rang during the Angelus.

Mystical Cave: – The cave is named as mystical because one can see the several religious images that appear inside the cave. Mostly the images are in stalactite and stalagmite formations that mainly resembles religious Gods. The cave consists of two floors but the visitors are allowed to explore the first one without permission.

Pinto Art Museum: – If you adore art and paintings and want to connect with the Antipolo’s culture then this art museum is an amazing chance you to get connected with the locals. The museum mainly displays the art, sculptures and paintings of the local artist bringing out the cultural background of the place.

Not only have these amazing historic places given you a clear image of the Antipolo’s beauty and history but there is a little more than just places that you will find fascinating. As the city of Antipolo is situated in a higher elevation than the Metro Manila, it gives you a breathtaking view of the metropolis at night, which is a sight to behold in the ancient city. In order to stay in the city you can easily find vacation home in Antipolo Philippines where you can stay and enjoy of your own.

Not only just places the city of Antipolo provides you exquisite food choices to make your taste buds go bananas or you can have fresh locally grown mangoes and cashews. The most famous dish in the city is the Suman, which is normally a local delicacy that is made from glutinous rice.

Antipolo is a breathtaking place hidden in the depth of Philippines with a mesmerizing history and culture. It will not only make you fall in love with itself but also will make your eyes reach with beauty.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Top of Cappadocia day trek with Middle Earth Travel

Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

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Tibet appeals to travellers in many ways. The first and most important thing is the beautiful natural scenery. However, Tibet is a bit different from the other scenic spots. There is a charm to this place, which is not found anywhere. Travellers have a mind which wanders and loves to explore new things. They can get this experience for their Tibet travel as the various associated activities can completely thrill them. From photography to trekking and cycling, the options never seem to end.

Almost everyone is well acquainted with the various joys of cycling in Tibet, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Tourists can pass through several spots and they can enjoy every bit of this beautiful natural land. Cycling happens on various routes and these routes have to be understood thoroughly. In this article, we will discuss about the cycling tour to Ganden Monastery from Lhasa and provide you every detail that you need.

Why travel to Ganden Monastery?

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique appeal which calms the soul of all wanderers. They are struck by wanderlust and the monasteries in Tibet, offer them something to cherish about forever. For those who love religious places, Tibet has plenty of offerings. The monasteries, the temples and the rituals, Tibet’s heritage have always echoed through the ages.  This brings us to Ganden Monastery, which is truly a magical place. It is an absolute wonder in front of the eyes and the viewers are left completely captivated. This was the very first monastery, which laid the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism. The vast expanse of land on Tibet’s western site is absolutely heavenly. Emperor Yongzheng who was from Qing Dynasty gave a very special name to this monastery and called it “Yong Tai”. Situated at a height of 3,800m from the sea’s level, the elevation is majestic. Lagyi Hall, Angyiukang, Yangbagyain Hall are the major construction in this monastery.

Located 47Km away from the capital city of Lhasa, this monastery witnesses a huge influx of people every year. This is an important structure as far as Tibet’s cultural heritage is conserved and it is preserved for this reason. The cultural and artistic significance is terrific and Ganden will always be the centre of Tibet’s attraction. It joins the famous Sera Monastery in a unique list, which also features Drepung Monastery. These three temples are considered “great” and the visitors value them greatly. Tibetan Buddhism features many activities and some of them are grand and marvellous. Once in a year, a giant picture of Buddha is unfolded and it easily attracts disciples from all parts of the country. Cycling to this monastery can provide a great experience, but you must follow the basic guidelines. Once these points are followed, your trip will not only be great, it will be perfect.

Highlights of the amazing cycling tour from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery

Cyclists are of different types and they begin their journey, by having different trips in their minds. We have introduced trips of various lengths and they are tailor-made for each type of traveller. Some people can opt for the short and customized tour, while, others can choose the longer version. The distance from Tibet’s Lhasa to this amazing monastery can vary slightly, depending on the route taken. Cyclists have to travel 60Km to reach their destination and not much difficulty is faced in the process.  Don’t forget to be in a relaxed mood, as you take this trip. Lhasa is a great spot to be in the right frame of mind and two days can be easily spent here.  The famous trip begins from Lhasa River and cyclists go upstream.  Picturesque villages and some amazing farmlands fall between that and they are just perfect. Reaching Ganden is easy and once you reach here, your soul will be touched by a positive vibe. The environment is filled with peacefulness and everything seems perfect here. One night can be spent here to soak in the feeling. The return journey can start next day and Chubuxi village falls in the route. Tibet is all about the unique lifestyle of the locals and this is something you can’t afford to miss.  From Chubuxi, the trekking trip to Samye commences.

The most classic 6 days Lhasa and Ganden Monastery Bike tour, you will enjoy the cycling joy and Tibet wonderful natural landscape and Tibetan monasteries architecture. Most tourists can complete this short ride after relaxing yourself in Lhasa for two days. The ride route begains upstream along the Lhasa River, and you will pass some farmlands and small villages. Then arrive in Gandan monastery, one of six Gelug sect monasteries, and worship this famous monastery. Then you are expected to spend a night at Gandan monastery to experience the peaceful environment. Next day, you will head back to Lhasa, and visit Chubuxi village at the foot of Gandan monastery. On the way you can experience the daily life of local people. Moreover, Chubuxi village is the starting point of Ganden to Samye trek. Finally we move back to Lhasa and the ride ends.

Tackling the changing altitude on the way to Ganden Monastery

The altitude in Lhasa is about 3600m, and that of Ganden Monastery is 3800m. There is no strict change of altitude, so it’s relatively easy for travellers who want to try short cycling in Tibet.  Cycling is a strenuous activity and it can take a toll on your health. That being said, cycling in the rough terrains of Tibet is even more challenging. Ganden is situated high above the normal sea level and this steep rise can often weaken cyclists. The high altitude woes will continue, if proper precaution is not taken. Carrying additional oxygen cylinders is a must and this should be done in advance. The temperature changes greatly and travellers should also be aware of this. However, if you choose us for this trip, everything becomes easier. The freezing months can pose a far bigger threat and that should be avoided at all costs.

The perfect time to take Lhasa – Ganden Monastery cycle tour

Tibet embraces every season fabulously, though the conditions are not favourable every time. Travellers and especially cyclists must understand the timing absolutely well. If the activity is done in a pleasant month instead of the harsh winter, the fun can increase manifold. The best time for cycling is from May to October because good weather and temparature. The other months can be targeted as well, but the safety issues become important in the hilly roads.

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit – How can we help?

Exploring Tibet is a fun activity, but Tibet travel permits matter greatly. Foreign travellers must fulfil the necessary travel guidelines to get in this region and we can help you from all sides. We make the process easier, by getting you the right documents at the right time.

What to pack for this cycle tour? – Bicycle Rent and Other Tips

Taking the most essential things can do the job here. The all-important ID card and travel permit is absolutely essential and it gets the first priority. Take a medium-sized backpack to put in your things and pack it with the right kind of warm clothes. Waist packs also come in handy, as they store many important things. This is a place where you will see high elevation, so oxygen should be there in abundance. Avoid getting sunburn by taking a good sun-screen cream or lotion and lastly don’t miss out on the medicines. Helmets and other cycling wear can be taken, as it is very essential. The bicycle can be rented easily and it is supplied by the tour operator itself. An important trip in this aspect would be to prepare for the changing weather. It can stay sunny or it can rain, so plan accordingly.

The challenges in Tibet are quite tough, but it will gift you an experience, which you will not forget in a long time. Cycling here is precious and it is an important aspect that strengthens Tibet’s tourism.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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