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Istanbul Spice Market – Photo Essay

Photo essay from the chaotic and beautiful Istanbul Spice Markets in Turkey.



We love market places. That crazy scene of ordered chaos that spreads through the clogged and narrow alleyways of many Eastern European and Middle Eastern cities around the world.

And the Istanbul Spice Markets is one of the crazier local markets we have been in.

Istanbul Spice Markets – Photo Essay

Istanbul Spice Market

The hustle and bustle as locals go about their daily lives while tourists stumble around in the way of everyone. Shop keepers call out their specials and try to sell their wares to every passerby that sends a shy glance their way.

Dried fruit Istanbul Spice Market

The delectable smells from fresh produce and spices spreads through the hot sticky air. Shirts cling to our backs as the heat seems unable to escape from beneath the high arched dome ceilings above.

It comes as no surprise then that one of the first places we drop into is the Istanbul spice market.

Istanbul Spice Market

We instantly fell in love with the first shopkeeper after he handed us delectable and chewy slabs of Turkish delight. You can definitely taste why it got it’s name! And sharing Chai Tea with them is a delight in itself.

Chai Tea Istanbul Spice Market

Downing a glass of fresh orange juice to wash away the sticky pistachio’s from the Turkish delight we meandered our way through the many criss-crossing alleyways.

Oranges Istanbul Spice Market

We wish that we didn’t have to backpack around for another 10 days so that we could have brought some of the spices to take home and cook with. Saffron, ginger, paprika and chilly all beg to be added to future culinary delights.

Spice Market Istanbul

It was pretty hard to drag Adela away from these gorgeous twinkling lamps. The only saving grace was convincing her that she was going to have to sacrifice one of her many scarves to fit it in her backpack.

Lamps Istanbul, Istanbul Spice Market

Spices in Istanbul Market

With doggy bags packed and sweet-tooths satisfied it was time to head back into the fresh air.

Definitely think we will be back tomorrow to the Istanbul Spice Market and are really hoping that they have markets along the southern shoreline that we can indulge our five senses in while on our Busabout Sail Turkey cruise.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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  1. Angela

    April 23, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    Gorgeous pictures, I so loved Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. Should I go now I’d be in danger of buying EVERYTHING!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      We are still raving about the Turkish Delight we had there!

  2. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    April 23, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    Another great photo essay guys. You definitely gave me a feel of the market. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to visit.

  3. Ayngelina

    April 23, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    The lamp photo is so pretty, great shots.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      Cheers Ayngelina. It was hard work pulling Adela away from buying them.

  4. Laurence

    April 23, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Great colours. Really like the picture of the tea stall with the serving scoop sticking up out of it. Funky stuff!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      We wish we had been able to take away massive scoops of all the amazing smelling spices.

  5. Natalie

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Love the photos. You captured the aura of the spice market perfectly. I am back in Istanbul next week

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Looks like we will just miss you by a few days then Natalie!

  6. Francesca

    April 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    The Spice Market was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul, too. We went back a few times, just to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We also were lucky to be able to bring home some spices and tea. Great post, guys!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      We were gutted we couldn’t buy any as we are travelling around for an extra week and didn’t have the room.

  7. A Montrealer Abroad

    April 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Beautiful and inspiring! So many colors.

  8. Nina F

    April 23, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    What a delightful sensory overload from this market! I would go nuts with the teas and spices, and definitely would not have been able to resist the Turkish delight, either.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      Glad you enjoyed the photos Nina. We just brought some more Turkish Delight to have after dinner tonight in Eceabat 🙂

  9. Amanda

    April 24, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Can’t WAIT to see this in person this summer! I love that shot of the hanging lamps.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 6:52 AM

      Cheers Amanda. You will absolutely love it! Just go earlier to avoid the crowds 🙂

  10. Shanna Schultz

    April 24, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    OMG this looks amazing! I love markets, and I love the fact that all of the labels in this one are in English. Selfish, I know, but this makes it much easier for us language challenged Americans. When we were in Casablanca, we didn’t buy a whole lot of spices because we only had a short amount of time and couldn’t decipher what each one was.

    Any other tips for must sees in Istanbul? We want to go there soon.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 6:55 AM

      I totally get what you mean Shanna about the labels. It definitely helped us out 🙂 We only managed to spend a 2 days in Istanbul (will post more articles soon) but I just recommend visiting everything as soon as they open or just before they close. It is extremely popular with tourists at the moment! The mosques were ridiculously overcrowded with tourists!

  11. Sam and the dunes

    April 24, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Amazing pictures, very inspiring!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Thanks Sam! Have you been to Istanbul before? Love the blog name by the way.

  12. Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush

    April 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Ooooh Istanbul how much I love thee (thy? Is it thy? There’s my attempt at being fancy). Great post guys, I just cannot wait to go back to Istanbul! Are you headed anywhere else in Turkey?

  13. linda @spiceboxtravels

    April 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Hi, love this post! Makes me want to visit Istanbul even more. Will be following you on Twitter now, hope to see you there. (I’m @spiceboxtravels).

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Thanks Linda for checking us out and glad you enjoyed the pics! Following you back now too 🙂

  14. Linda @EcoTraveller

    April 25, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Love, love the photos. I have a bit of a thing for markets/food stalls myself… Always manage to end up with more photos of them than anything!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM

      I was going snap happy haha. These were just the best ones (well in my opinion) but could have easily loaded up more!

  15. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    April 25, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    These are great photos — wonderful colors! I came smell the markets now! Mmm, and some lively Turkish music in the background. Ahh, great travel memories!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      So glad we could help bring back some fond memories for you Ellen 🙂

  16. Mike Slough

    April 26, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Pictures are just awesome man love to see more cool stuff.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      No worries Mike we will keep putting up our favourite photos!

  17. Sophie HeadingThere

    April 26, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Beautiful! I think this has to be my favourite April photo essay. Are those apricots filled with hazelnuts? Super cute!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Yea all the fruit are filled with nuts and are DELICIOUS Sophie 🙂 Have you ever been?

      • Sophie HeadingThere

        May 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        I haven’t been there, but it is on my travel wish-list :)So many places to go…

        • Cole Burmester

          May 7, 2012 at 9:31 AM

          We just got back from Turkey yesterday and already trying to plan how we could get back there as soon as possible!

  18. Wanderplex

    April 27, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Really vivid, colorful pictures – I can practically smell the spices!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:58 AM

      We love walking in and being hit by all the smells. Such a chaotic scene but so much fun.

  19. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    April 27, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Gorgeous shots!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 28, 2012 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks Andi 🙂 Have you been to the spice markets or Istanbul before?

  20. Ali

    April 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Andy and I were just in Turkey a couple weeks ago, and we loved Istanbul. I wasn’t a big fan of the spice market because it was so crowded, but somehow the Grand Bazaar seemed more manageable. Wider halls maybe? We did buy some spices at the spice market though, I believe the guy just called it “Turkish spices.” And we bought chili pepper at the Grand Bazaar. We put that stuff on everything while we were in Turkey!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      The chilli flakes they have at all the restaurants are AMAZING! We brought some back to the UK with us so hopefully it is as good.

  21. D.J. - The World of Deej

    May 1, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Awesome tour…like I was there myself!

  22. Liv

    May 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Great photos guys – you really got in there! I love the markets in Turkey (all of them!) The people are so friendly without the aggression you feel in some parts of the world.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 7, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Was less crazy than Cairo that’s for sure! We found that everyone was happy just to chat with us rather than try to convince us to buy something.

  23. Courtney Mroch

    May 7, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Okay, so where exactly was the spice market? We saw signs for it when we were in the Grand Bazaar, but we couldn’t seem to find it exactly. We did pass a sort of market with spices on our way to the Grand Bazaar. (We were coming from where you could get the fish sandwiches on the boats. We walked in this alley and BAM! Suddenly there were shops and stall everywhere. But it wasn’t the Grand Bazaar yet. We still walked several blocks before we reached it.)

    Your pics are great. I really wish we found the Spice Market. Did they sell the apple tea loose? Oh man, that was my husband’s favorite. I liked it too, but he could not drink enough apple tea. Wish we’d bought some to bring home. (Not sure why we didn’t.) I did bring home a small desk lamp though. (Was afraid to try and transport one of the hanging ones.) Your photos of them are great. I fell in love with them too. VERY neat to see this article after having been to this wonderful city. I better appreciate what the heck you’re writing about.

    • Cole Burmester

      May 10, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Sounds like you walked through a part of it Courtney! We didn’t go to the Grand Bazaar ourselves as heard the Spice Markets were a lot better (more authentic). They sold everything lose including a range of teas and spices for every occassion 🙂

  24. Danny

    May 9, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Istabul is one of the most vibrant cities I have ever visited!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 10, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      We loved it and could easily have spent a lot more time there Danny 🙂

  25. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    May 12, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Yum!! Do they give you samples? 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      You bet Christy! We were filled up just walking through it without buying anything haha. But then felt bad and went back through and brought lots of the nicest stall owners 🙂

  26. Aniruddha

    June 21, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    This is a great photo essay! We (from U.S.) are planning a trip in late August and want to visit Istanbul, Fethiye and some historical places on the coast between them. Our only concern is our son who wil be 13 months at the time! Your blog only inspires us to go though! Thanks!

    • Cole Burmester

      June 23, 2012 at 7:06 AM

      Sounds like you have an awesome trip planned! Did you see our Sail Turkey write ups? I am sure your son will love the warm water 🙂

  27. Lauren @ roamingtheworld

    January 9, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    great photos. I also missed the spice bazaar but did manage to buy a lamp! Ha.
    It was too hard to leave Turkey without one!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 16, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      We just couldn’t fit the lamps in our backpacks (luckily haha).

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.



Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

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.

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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Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.




Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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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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