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5 top countries you should visit at least one time in your lifetime!

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Do you dream of exotic and interesting far off places? Why spend your vacation at a resort in the USA when there are incredible places all around the world where you can experience a totally alien but fascinating culture. There are many countries that could vie for a place on your bucket list but here are five of the best.

Australia

The Land Down Under is a place like no other. From huge vibrant cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to the dry red center and the Great Barrier Reef and tropical islands, Australia is a land of contrasts. It is a laid-back country with a great sense of fun but also a legacy of sporting prowess. From trying your hand at panning for gold to diving with sharks there’s an amazing array of adventures to have. There are incredible landmarks including Uluru, Sydney Opera House and Harbor, the “Big” things and its many rocky outcrops and mountains. If there’s one place it worth considering getting a travel loan to visit, it’s Oz.

 

Vietnam

If there is one over-riding image of Vietnam popular in the media, it is the number of motorcyclists in the major cities. Motorcycle travel across the whole country is popular and roads are surprisingly good. Vietnam Motorbike Tours are a terrific way to see the best sights and attractions. You can easily visit the top cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Dalat, Da Nang and the stunning Hội An, the picture-postcard perfect Ha Long Bay as well as the incredible beauty of jaw-dropping Hai Van Pass. With a long and rich history and one of the most fragrant cuisines in Asia, Vietnam deserves a spot on your bucket list.

 

South Africa

Known as the Great Mother or the Rainbow Nation, South Africa pulls in visitors like a moth drawn to a flame. A country of stunning contrasts, South Africa is a melting pot of cultures. From the two amazing coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban to the bustle of Johannesburg to outback towns where pre-apartheid life seems stuck in time, urban life is very different to the countryside of the Garden Route and the wine growing regions like Stellenbosch. Of course, the great attraction is the national parks. You couldn’t pay a visit to South Africa without a safari trip to see the big five game animals.

 

Indonesia

Thailand has topped the list of Asian destinations for many years now but don’t overlook Indonesia. This highly populous nation of more than 17000 islands, 300 languages and many varied cultures is a diversity lover’s dream. It is simply filled with a myriad of adventures. Have some tropical R&R in beautiful Bali, go volcano trekking in Sumatra, or go shopping in a cool, glitzy mall in the capital, Jakarta. Wildlife is beguiling with orangutans lazing in trees and Komodo dragons menacing those who dare come too close. There’s adventure around every corner.

 

Greece

Being one of Europe’s top tourist hotspots shouldn’t put you in mind of overcrowded beaches lined by high rise hotels. Greece is an absolute charm whether you choose the magnificent mainland or one of its idyllic islands. The capital, Athens, is one of the most historical destinations on the planet and the marvels of the ancient civilization will leave you in awe. The country boasts 6,000 sitting in the beautiful Aegean Sea, each with its own character. Some have huge party resorts while others might only be inhabited by a goatherd and his family and their animals. Island hopping by boat is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in the beauty of Greece. The food’s not half bad either!

Which is going on your list of must-visit places?

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Travel Tips

Hiking up and around the Caldera of Santorini

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Santorini is not a typical summer destination where sunbathers go to revel in the sandy beaches. In fact, what draws visitors to this volcanic island is its unique architecture of white-washed houses sitting atop of the caldera, accompanied by the most amazing sunsets Instagram is so full of. 

The only way to really appreciate the beauty of this island is to explore it on foot. There are several hiking trails on Santorini that will take you up and down the winding paths connecting the points of interest you shouldn’t miss. Grab some comfortable footwear and prepare to be stunned by the scenery along the way.

Hiking Trail of Ancient Thira

This trail can be done in two ways – either from Kamari Beach to Thira or from Perissa Beach to Thira and vice versa. Seeing as Santorini is one of Greece’s most spectacular islands, it goes without saying that it is abundant in historical monuments and the ancient Thira is one of the greatest representatives. For this reason, hiking to Thira is ideal for those with a knack for history and the love of nature.

This is an easy trail lasting around an hour and a half (around 3 kilometers). You can start at Kamari known for its unique black-sand beach. You should head uphill toward Zoodohoos Pigi chapel and Ancient Thira where you can spend some time exploring the archeological sites. After that, the descent toward Perissa starts and the beach will come into view shortly. Parissa beach is 4 kilometers long, well-organized with lots of beach bars and restaurants you can enjoy after a lovely hike.

Hiking Trail from Pyrgos to Kamari or Perissa

Pyrgos is a small inland village that often gets overlooked in the face of Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli but it’s actually rather charming and picturesque. This is why you can choose to hike through it and avoid the crowd usually encountered on the other more popular trails. 

Once you are in Pyrgos, it will take you around 6 kilometers to get to Kamari or Perissa. First, the path will lead you to Profitis Ilias Monastery which is also the highest point of the island so you can expect to catch some stunning views of the surroundings. Continue south and after 1 kilometer, you will come across yet another picturesque church – the Church of Christ. Similar to the previous trail, you will walk through the Ancient Thira where a signpost will await, telling you there is about an hour and a half until you reach Kamari or Perissa. From there on, you can choose your path depending on the beach you want to visit.

Hiking Trail from Fira to Oia

This is one of the most scenic and extensive walks along the Santorini’s caldera that will take you from Fira (the island’s capital) all the way to the northwestern tip of the island where Oia is located. The route is approximately 6.5 miles long which translates to 2 to 5 hours of walking, depending on your fitness level and the duration of breaks you make. 

Your route should start in Fira where you will head toward the north in the direction of Firostefani. The sea should be on your left the whole time and don’t rely on the signposts too much as they are scarce. After reaching Firostefani, your next stop should be Imerovigli, a village just 8 minutes from Fira perched on a cliff of the caldera. Once in Imerovigli, you can choose between several mazy paths if you want to take a detour around the village. If not, just follow the path you came across which will push you forward toward Oia. This uphill walk will take you across one short section of the road where cars pass but that’s just a 200-meter section after which you continue via a dirt path until you finally start descending toward Oia.

Hiking Trail in Thirassia

This hiking trail is not actually located on Santorini but on its neighboring Thirassia. Not only does it represent a stunning hiking experience but it also provides hikers with a unique opportunity to gaze at the caldera from an entirely different perspective. 

Ferries run regularly from Oia to Thirassia several times a day and the tickets are rather cheap so you can easily hop to Santorini’s sister island. You can start at the village of Manolas and continue uphill until you reach the chapel of Prophet Elias. From then on, you will push ahead toward the southernmost part of the island where the monastery of Panagia is located. All the while, the majestic caldera will be visible just like the Aegean sea stretching in all directions. This track is almost 3 kilometers long and moderately difficult, easily crossed in less than an hour and 15 minutes. 

Additional Tips for Santorini Hiking

  • Stack up on water and snacks as there will be few shops along the way, some of which may not even be open at the time of your hike.
  • Embark on the journey as early as possible in order not to get scorched by the summer sun which reaches zenith as early as 11 am.
  • Prepare your route thoroughly and talk to the passers-by you meet along the trail in case you are not sure about the directions.
  • There is little to no shade along any of the trails so make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen.

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Travel Tips

Unmissable, Romantic New York For Couples

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New York is the perfect destination for couples for so many reasons! There are incredible vistas and delicious food. Then there are the quirky bars and endless entertainments. There are even some pretty romantic spots to experience together if you know where to look. Something that we aim to help you with in the post below. 

Picnic In Central Park 

A long strip of green, in the grey of the metropolis, Central Park is a must for couples visiting New York. In fact, despite its diminutive size, there is no shortage of romantic spots to hang out here. 

For those with a literary bent try Conservatory Water were bronze statues of Alice in Wonderland, and Hans Christian Anderson are to be found. Alternatively, visiting Belvedere Castle can make you feel as if you have been transported into a fairytale. A place especially beautiful when the sun goes down and the moonlight glints off windows and turrets at night, 

Of course, if you want to add an extra layer of romance, taking along your own picnic is a smart idea. You can even go to places that will pack up a luxe lunch for you if you like?

Take In A Broadway Show 

Next, if you are looking for an enjoyable couples experience in the city that never sleeps, heading to the bright lights of Broadway should be your next consideration. In fact, it is where you will find some of the most famous productions in the world are being performed. 

Of course, how much you enjoy this experience as a couple, will have a lot to do with making the right show selection. Happily, there are so many shows to choose from, it should be relatively easy to find something that will delight you both. 

You can even get things like these Book of Mormon tickets online before your trip. Something that means you won’t have to waste time queuing outside in the often bad weather to nab a seat. 

The Hayden Planetarium

Another popular location for couples to visit while in New York is the famous Hayden Planetarium. In fact, there you will find some pretty impressive science and natural history based exhibitions to geek out on.

Then there is the fantastic Dark Universe show projected onto the huge curved planetarium room. An experience that many couples enjoy together. 

Walk Brooklyn Bridge

Finally, one of the most romantic spots in the whole of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. What many people do not realise is that it’s entirely possible to walk the bridge. In fact, doing so can make an enjoyable couples-based activity. 

 

Of course, you can choose to make this 30-minute journey on foot at any time of the day. Although, once the sun goes down, and all the city lights are glowing is the most magical time. An experience that makes a stroll along Brooklyn Bridge perfect for couples looking for a romantic promenade. With the added bonus of getting to look out over the glorious city that is New York! 

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Travel Tips

A Quick Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants on Timog Avenue

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Timog Avenue (and its neighboring street, Tomas Morato) is well-known among the hip and young of Metro Manila as the place to be for a night of drinks and parties. Still, there’s so much more to Timog than just craft beer, tasty cocktails, and pumping beats. Specifically, this long stretch of road in Quezon City is home to some of the best restaurants in town. It doesn’t matter if you love Japanese, Korean, Italian, or Chinese cuisine; you’re sure to find something here to satisfy your taste buds and your hungry tummy.

Are you ready for the ultimate gastronomic experience? Here’s a short list of some of the best restaurants on Timog.

Steak 77

Steak 77, as the name suggests, is one of the best places to get juicy, flavorful steaks in the city. For something straightforward, go for the Steak 77 Ribeye. It has the perfect balance of seasonings, and it doesn’t come with any sauces or unnecessary frills that will distract you from the succulent, melt-in-your mouth goodness of U.S. beef. Other must-try recipes here include the Classic Ribeye, the Classic Kagoshima Wagyu A5 Ribeye, and the US Angus Tomahawk. For some decadent indulgence, order the rich and tender Osso Buco. Steak 77 is located near Santi’s Delicatessen, across the street from Go Hotel Timog. Drop by one of these days to satisfy your steak cravings!

81 Seihai

If you love sushi and maki, then you’ll love 81 Seihai. It’s a fairly new restaurant, with big, bold, and modern Japanese decor that stretches wall-to-wall and up to the ceiling. One of the best sellers at 81 Seihai is the Flaming Maki, which features a generous blanket of melted cheese and a dusting of togarashi for a spicy kick. Of course, there are also plenty of Japanese favorites in the menu like chicken karaage, gyoza, maki, ramen, and even wagyu cubes. There’s also a wide array of main dishes if you’re looking for a full meal, like the Beef Yakiniku Steak and the Grilled Salmon Teriyaki. The highlight of the restaurant, however, are their sushi specials. Executive chef Ronnie de Guzman has more than 10 years of experience in Japanese food preparation, so you know that every dish here is always up to stellar standards. If you’re looking for a chill night out with some delicious Japanese fare to go with it, 81 Seihai is the perfect place.

Seoul in Timog

Are you a big fan of eat-all-you-can Korean barbecue? How about Korean buffets? Well, Seoul in Timog offers both. This bright, spacious, and minimalistically designed restaurant has everything you want in an “unli samgyup” place: quality cuts of meat at affordable prices. What’s even better is that their Php 499 rate is already good for the eat-all-you-can Korean barbecue AND the buffet table. Talk about value for money! In addition, you don’t have to worry about falling in line for too long, since the restaurant is quite big and can seat a lot of people. If you prefer, you can come in at odd hours. They’re open from 11 AM up to 7 AM of the following day! Make sure to try their herb-based pork for a delicate, aromatic flavor.

Causeway Seafood Restaurant

If you prefer Chinese food and dimsum in a family-style setting, Causeway Seafood Restaurant is a trusted name. You can find a wide range of Chinese favorites here, from yang chow fried rice to wonton shrimp noodles. They also serve beancurd rolls, tausi-style dishes, white chicken, sweet and sour pork, and egg yolk pie. For those who love dimsum, visit Causeway from 2 PM to 6 PM for their half-price deal. The place often gets crowded, which means the service slows down during peak hours. Despite this, people keep coming back time and again to enjoy Causeway’s delicious food!

Cucina di Paulina

This Italian restaurant with a twist is located in 8 Seas Food Park. Just head up the stairs, and you’ll be greeted by this unassuming restaurant that serves creative and delicious food. The owner, Bombay Suarez, is actually a wrestler. He’s one of the pioneers of PWR (Philippine Wrestling Revolution),and he brings his passion in the PWR ring straight into kitchen of Cucina di Paulina. You can see and taste this in dishes like the Pigzza, a putok-batok pizza topped with bacon, chicharon, ham, lechon kawali, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and sisig. Eat it at your own risk! If you’re more of a cheese aficionado than a meat-lover, then the Trio Formaggi is the pizza for you. For something lighter, go for the pasta dishes like the Pesto with Shrimp or the Truffled Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo.

These are just five of the many excellent restaurants and diners dotting the length of Timog Avenue. Give them a try the next time you’re craving some good 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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