This post is out of order and only has one theme: Scott taking photos around the world. While he photographed some of the world’s prettiest places, I had to practice being patient while I waited for him and in the process I took a ridiculous amount of photos of Scott taking photos. Also, if you haven’t noticed in some of the other posts his photos are REALLY good. Without further commentary, here are my favorites of Scott taking pictures in cool places. You may need to give this post a minute to load!
There are endless ways to do a trip to Europe and quite honestly the options were overwhelming. There are so many spectacular places just a quick (and cheap) plane or train ride away – how do you choose where to go?? My parents planned a trip to meet us in Barcelona. Done. We had two weeks to make it from Dubai to Barcelona. Next time we make it to Europe I would love to get a Europass and ride the rails around, but that took far too much planning and instead we are city hopping our way through Europe via low-cost airlines!
So our route turned out to look like this: Prague, Czech Republic–>Amsterdam, The Netherlands–>Lisbon, Portugal–> Barcelona, Spain–>London, England
I split our time in Europe into two blogs posts so it wasn’t outrageously long. I really, really wish we had more time in Europe!
Prague, Czech Republic
This city is a fairytale and I have never been somewhere so spectacular. Winter was in full effect when we arrived with snow covered ground and extremely cold temperatures. We went directly from 90 degrees in the desert to 20 degrees and did not have much in our bags for cold weather (although we do have light down jackets from New Zealand) – it was a bit of a shock to our systems. Our first order of business was to buy new, warm shoes and some socks that could keep our toes from freezing. Although we were freezing the entire time, we think that going in the winter added to the charm of the city, as there was hardly anybody there. I can imagine Prague being overrun in the summer with tourists (it is amazing, I totally get why it would be). We absolutely loved our time in Prague and can’t believe we almost left Europe out of our trip.
Nights Spent: 3
Things We Liked
Czech beer, goulash, snow, reasonably priced everything, cobblestones
Things We Disliked
It. Was. Cold.
No trip to Prague is complete without a visit to Prague Castle. I would agree with this, but we also almost froze in the process. The entire visit took about 2 hours from start to finish and not a single part of it was in a heated environment. At St. Vitus Cathedral no hats were allowed either so we were even colder walking through the Cathedral with bare heads (full disclosure: they let me keep my hat on so only Scott had to suffer in the cold with a bare head).
Old Jewish Town
We were staying in the old Jewish quarter, Josefov, which is one of the most preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. We were able to walk around this area, see a really old Jewish cemetery, and visit several old synagogues, which are now used as museums. This was one of our favorite things we did in Prague!
The Jewish quarter in Prague was not destroyed during World War II like most other Jewish quarters in Europe. Hitler left most of the synagogues and Jewish items in Prague untouched so that after the war there could be a museum to an extinct race. That gives me chill bumps – what a dick!
Prague in Pictures
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I have never had a strong interest in going to Amsterdam…all I have ever heard about is legal weed, the red light district, and other crazy stories involving debauchery. Amsterdam is awesome and I was so wrong. It is one of my favorite cities in the entire world and I could easily live here for a little while. The city is full of cobblestones, bicycles, beautiful architecture, old buildings, canals, and so much history.
Nights Spent: 4
Things we Liked
Food scene (although we did not eat too much Dutch food), legal weed, architecture, bicycle culture, museums, cheese!, stroopwaffles, craft beer, bitterballen (among other fried goodies) and walking around the canals.
We also ran into some of Scott’s friends from Boulder and it was amazing to catch up over a beer or two! I love it when things like that work out.
Things We Disliked
We both got sick in Dubai and were still fighting it off during our time in Prague and in Amsterdam – it was awesome to be able to go to a doctor that spoke English and could send us off with some things to help our sniffling and coughing, but it is never fun to be sick.
We did not try a ton of Dutch food (it just wasn’t that available to us), but our stomachs loved Amsterdam just as much as we did. A favorite spot for us was Foodhallen, an indoor food market with almost infinite options — you could get anything from dim sum to a charcuterie platter. One of our favorites was a sampler of 5 different flavors of bitterballen, a meat-based Dutch snack served molten hot.
Unfortunately, we went to multiple restaurants that happened to be closed for the next few weeks and up to a month. I know it is middle of winter and Europeans love to go on holiday, but it was super inconvenient to make it to a restaurant we had researched only to have it be closed. Fortunately, since so many places were closed upon arrival we discovered some really good Dutch fried food instead that was always open. These places litter the city — they are little shops that have little doors with fried goods behind each door. All you have to do is drop a few coins in the slot next to your food of choice and the door pops open revealing a hot, fried Dutch specialty of some sort. Who would hate that?
Legal weed makes us feel like we are back in Denver again, except for the fact you buy it at certain coffee shops and are encouraged to order a coffee and smoke it right there at the shop. I cannot confirm or deny if I participated, but when in Amsterdam…
Anne Frank House
In elementary school I did a project on the Diary of Anne Frank and I have been enthralled by her and her family’s story ever since. At the time I was just a young girl when I learned her story – but that is why it was so powerful. She was a young girl too, just like me. The only difference was that we were born in different times and that she was Jewish. I never could understand why that mattered. I still don’t.
We visited the house where they hid from the Nazis for two years. You were able to see the pictures on the wall in the bedroom, the bookcase that would close and hide the secret annex away, and the famed red and white-checkered diary that got the world talking. It was humbling to be there and on National Holocaust Remembrance Day no less.
It was especially haunting to learn more about the fact that the Franks were denied a request to be refugees in the USA where they would have been safe, but instead they hid for two years here behind this bookcase before they were found and sent to their deaths. It is all so very relevant to what is happening right now.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank
Portugal was never high on either of our list of places we wanted to go and to be honest we knew very little about it (besides the fact that the weather was way better there than in most of Europe). We thought it would be a nice place to recharge our batteries and try to get healthy since we are both still fighting sicknesses. Unfortunately we are not the best at staying put and instead explored the city as much as we could. Lisbon is very walk able and easy to get around on public transportation – although there are so many hills to navigate! The seafood is abundant, the wine is cheap, and pastry shops are on every corner. It was not a bad place to spend a few days and do our best to learn enough Portuguese to get by (our language skills turns into an ugly mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese).
Nights Spent: 5
Things We Liked
Coffee, cheap and abundant wine, cable cars, seafood, Lisbon Aquarium, castles, and Pasteis de natas
Things We Disliked
Street art is cool, but graffiti and tags are not. Lisbon is full of graffiti and we did not find it to be very appealing.
We had a less than positive experience with Airbnb here — their customer support is the worst and we could not get them to help us in a timely manner and get us moved to a more suitable place.
Palacia de Pena
This place looks like it was created by Walt Disney to put in a theme park – except this one is the real deal. This palace was originally built in the 1800s and it was really cool to check it out.
Pasteis de Nata
We are so addicted to these little egg custards – it was a very unhealthy obsession. A few days of the trip we were on a two or three nata a day habit. They were like crack. These things are just so flaky, sweet, and creamy. We especially liked them when they were fresh out of the oven and sprinkled with some powder sugar and cinnamon on top. I am drooling just thinking about them! We went looking for the best one in town and we decided that our favorite was at a place called Mantegeria.
Lisbon in Pictures
Our time in Lisbon was supposed to be very relaxing. There was not as much to see here as other European cities we had been to and we needed a break. We don’t know concept of rest and instead set out to see as much as we could.
Total Number of Nights: 12
Languages: Czech, Dutch, and Portuguese
Currency: $1 USD = 25.14 Czech Crown = 0.95 Euro
Number of Flights: 3
Number of Miles Traveled: 2,750 miles (including our flight from Dubai)
Number of Miles Walked: 87.3 miles (average of 7.3 miles per day)
Steps Taken: 187,900 steps (average of about 16,656 per day)
Transportation Used: Uber, bus, metro, tram and plane
Type of Accommodations: Airbnb (3) and Hotel (1)
Number of Beds: 4
We were not in Melbourne recently — I am just really behind. Since we left Australia we have visited India, Vietnam, the Middle East and Europe. Whoops. Be on the lookout for more posts to come, but for now here is a recap of our time in December when we went to Melbourne!
The whole point of going to Melbourne was to rest up before heading to India. That was a mistake…we love Melbourne and couldn’t just sit around all day and rest! Melbourne is a really cool city and one that we could see ourselves living in if it was a little closer to our side of the globe.
Melbourne (and the Great Ocean Road)
Things We Liked
Street art, culture, availability of things we need, Queen Victoria Market, good ramen, food, walkable, English, good coffee, and pretty places!
We liked Melbourne more than Sydney…it had more culture and personality to it. It was a bit rough around the edges, but in the best way possible.
Things We Disliked
Expensive city and bugs (on our Great Ocean Road journey some of the stops were not as enjoyable as they looked because of so many flies). Everything else was alright to us 🙂
1. The Twelve Apostles and The Great Ocean Road
We rented a car (since we are experts at driving on the left now) to drive the Great Ocean Road. It reminded us a lot of Highway 1 in California and we enjoyed stopping frequently along the way to take pictures. We even got to see some wild koalas! The highlight was the Twelve Apostles. When we first arrived there it had just started to pour. It was so gray and did not show any signs of letting up in the next hour or so before the sun was supposed to set. We were pretty disappointed, but took some pictures anyway. We moved on to see some other beautiful stops just a few minutes more up the road. As we were checking out the other spots the rain stopped and the sun peaked through enough to enjoy sunset at the Twelve Apostles. It was gorgeous and was one of those, “I can’t believe we are actually here” moments!
2. Movie Night
We went to the movies to see La La Land and the whole night was one of our favorites. We love going to the movies and this whole trip we kept saying we should go and never did until New Zealand when we finally made it to the movies and realizing how much we really loved it. The movie was fantastic (although we were almost scared off because it was a musical) and we would highly recommend it! We got ramen afterwards at one of the most well known ramen shops (ramen two nights in a row — we might have a problem). It was so simple, but this night made us super happy and we have decided to go see a movie once a month in the future (at home too)!
Melbourne is widely known as one of the world’s great cities for street art (and some grafitti). We spent a whole day wondering around the city in search of street art — there are pieces everywhere and a couple of famous alleyways covered in street art. There was also an exhibition going on called the Art of Banksy while we were in Melbourne. For those unfamiliar with Banksy, the famous and anonymous street artist, he is a big deal in the world of street art. He is known for pieces with political and social commentary and most famously for his art featured on public surfaces all over the world. The exhibition featured some of his prints, and the story on his life and art. The exhibition is NOT authorized by Banksy (and may have made him a bit mad), but it was cool to see some of his work in person.
On Traveling in English Speaking Countries
It has been really awesome to visit countries that speak English as their primary language. Traveling to places where English is spoken has never excited me. When I travel across the world I have always wanted to feel like I was transported to somewhere very different. I was wrong. Traveling in places where they speak your language allows you to fully immerse yourself in a culture better since there is more overlap of culture and we can directly communicate, ask questions, and understand everything around us.
I still think I prefer to travel places that the cultural differences, language barrier, and food are very different from my own, but countries that speak English now really excite me. I have a whole new perspective and I am excited to visit other English speaking countries in the future. It has been a great month in places we can fully understand everything and everyone. Not only has it been a nice break from struggling with language barriers all the time, but we also felt that we were able to connect with people more.
All of the cities in Australia we visited had the best Asian food, probably based on proximity to Asia and large Asian populations in these cities. Even after spending so long in Asia, I think that we may never be tired of Asian food. We had ramen two nights in a row (we might have a problem) and I ate the best bahn mi sandwich I have ever had (as I write this we have already been to Vietnam and eaten our fair share of them — the one at the shop outside of Melbourne is still better). I can get behind any city with this much delicious food!
Total Number of Nights: 5
Languages: English (!)
Currency: $1 USD = $1.33 Australian Dollar (AUD)
Number of Miles Traveled: 2,138 (including our flight from Christchurch)
Number of Miles Walked: 39 miles (average of 7.7 miles per day)
Steps Taken: 82,895 steps (average of about 16,579 per day)
Transportation Used: Rental car, taxi, Uber X
Type of Accommodations: Hotel (1)
Number of Beds: 1
Lauren, Scott and I all headed to Sydney, Australia for almost a week. It was the first country I have ever visited that also speaks English as the primary language (besides the USA and Canada). It was an awesome change of pace to be able to communicate with those around us, understand menus, and to not stand out like a sore thumb.
Sydney reminded us of San Diego (minus the driving on the wrong side of the road, cool accents, and being across the world). Scott kept referring to Australia as “Bizarre-o America” since it felt like we were in the US the whole time. To be honest, if I were to have flown halfway across the world on my two week vacation to go to Australia I might have been disappointed. When I travel internationally I love that smack you in the face difference of cultures, food and people. With that being said, after spending three months in Asia this familiarity was just what I needed and what I craved. It was almost reverse culture shock for us and it was overwhelming at times. It made us miss home more than any other place and I can see why people love to travel to Australia.
Sydney (and surrounding areas)
We only made it to Sydney this time around, but after our 3 weeks in New Zealand we fly back through Melbourne to see a bit more of Australia!
Things We Liked
Being able to communicate (ENGLISH!), beaches, ocean walks, people watching, cool/trendy parts of town, easy transportation, availability of everything we know, feeling comfortable, and not standing out.
Things We Disliked
Expensive and limited options for budget accommodations…we disliked very little though!
1. Ben Harper at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt
One night while drinking a few beers in Bali Scott mentioned that Ben Harper was playing in Sydney our first night in town and that tickets were still available. When we looked a bit further we noticed that the concert took place at the Sydney Opera Forecourt, which is the courtyard in front of the Opera House with views of the Harbour Bridge as well. This was the last straw and we booked tickets immediately.
Ben Harper puts on a great show and we had been missing some live music in our lives. Also, the venue was incredible and one of the coolest venues I have ever been to (my beloved Colorado venues of Red Rocks and Mishiwaka have my heart, but I am also a bit biased). It was overall one of the most memorable nights of our trip!
2. Sydney Fish Market
We have realized that we love fish markets. If a city we visit has a fish market you can bet your money we will visit it. The Sydney Fish Market was much different than the Asian ones, but it was so fun. We wandered around the stalls selling fresh seafood and settled on our lunch of oysters, salmon sashimi and sushi rolls on the water.
The Tokyo Fish Market was not for tourists. It was a working market that let tourists get a peak at the end of their workday. It was fast moving and we were just trying to stay out of the way. The Seoul Fish Market was mostly for locals. It is open 24 hours and you could go in, pick out your seafood, and have them grill/cut up whatever you purchased and serve it to you in a nearby restaurant. It was awesome, but the whole time we were never really sure what was happening since we don’t speak Korean. It was overwhelming. The Sydney Fish Market is for both tourists and locals. It was really nice to be able to read signs and order exactly what we wanted. We even learned what some things we have been eating in Asia or have seen in our travels actually are – like I said, those signs in English are really magical to us!
3. The Coast
The beaches, beach walks, and all the areas on the coast around Sydney are amazing. We checked out Bondi Beach, manly Beach and did a couple of the ocean walks. They say a picture says a thousand words…so here are a few.
We certainly missed home this Thanksgiving. We usually spend the holiday in Connecticut with the Berkes and it is probably Scott’s favorite day of the year. We weren’t planning to seek out Thanksgiving food or turkey…it seemed as if we might end up at a hotel somewhere eating bad food feeling worse about being away from home for the holidays than when we started. So instead we took the ferry to Manly Beach to do the Ocean walk and explore before getting dinner in the area. The views were incredible and the weather could not have been more perfect.
We found a brewery in the area, 4 Pines Brewing Company, so we decided it would be as good as a place as any for Thanksgiving dinner. When we got there we found of they had a Thanksgiving special of one pumpkin beer and a turkey leg (with sweet potato mash and green beans) so naturally we all ordered one of the specials. The food was delicious and they gave us another round of pumpkin beers on the house since we are American. My enthusiasm level for pumpkin beer every fall is incredibly high and I generally try to taste test as many kinds as a can. Unfortunately this year I have not been able to have any (apparently it is an American thing), but they brewed up a batch special for the holiday. We watched the sunset from the patio and our evening was really great!
It was nothing like being home (there is nothing we could have done to replace how much we love spending Thanksgiving surrounded by family), but we made the best of it! We were sad and missing home on Thanksgiving for sure. It was awesome to have Lauren there with us to celebrate too!
Total Number of Nights: 5
Languages: English (!)
Currency: $1 USD = $1.33 Australian Dollar (AUD)
Number of Miles Traveled: 4,275 (including our flight from Indonesia)
Number of Miles Walked: 51 miles (average of 10.2 miles per day)
Steps Taken: 109,649 steps (average of about 21,930 per day)
Transportation Used: boat, bus, taxi, metro
Type of Accommodations: Hostel (1), hotel (1)
Number of Beds: 2
I am not sure if we just got to confident or started to relax a bit, but either way we made some mistakes on the Indonesian and Australian legs of this trip. We were with our friend, Lauren, for these legs of the trip and naturally we brought our A-Game to show off what experienced travelers we have become. Some mistakes were not so bad and others could have turned out really terrible.
In an effort not to just talk about the awesome parts about traveling, I give you the mistakes we made (in the course of two weeks).
Mistake 1: Paying for two hotels for one night.
We booked a place on Gili Air for our first 6 nights in Indonesia before Lauren arrived. We realized on the way to Indonesia that we could not catch a boat in time to get to the island that day. We really should have looked into that before we were on our way to the airport. We had to pay for a night of accommodations in Gili Air since we could not cancel and had to find another place to stay near the airport in Kuta Beach (which was a mistake in itself).
Mistake 2: No cash on an island.
We forgot to get cash out before heading to Nusa Lembongan where there is 1 ATM on the entire island. The ATM was out of cash and Lauren had to spot us some cash. Not a big deal, but we know better than to show up on a tiny island with no money.
Mistake 3: We forgot to get Australian Visas!
On our last day in Indonesia we realized we had forgotten to get our electronic travel certificates (ETAs) around 1:30 pm. We had a flight out at 10 pm that same day to Sydney. The three of us applied for our ETAs and two of us got approved immediately. Scott was the unlucky one that had to have his application reviewed by a person. They say that happens a lot and to wait 12 hours before contacting them about the status of his visa (they usually approve it in that time span). Problem was that our flight was in 7 hours and they would not let him on the plane without the ETA. So naturally we panic.
We take a taxi to the nearest Australian visa office. It is essentially the DMV of visas for Indonesian people. They could not help us, but we sat there waiting to talk to someone because we were grasping at straws. Suddenly Scott gets an email saying his visa was approved. Crisis avoided! We left the visa office feeling incredibly lucky that we all got to go to Australia.
Mistake 4: Not reading the fine print of baggage policies on budget airlines.
We arrive to the airport with just under 2 hours until our flight. That should have been plenty of time, but the line to check-in took so long to get through. We were flying Jetstar (the equivalent of the Spirit Airlines of Australia). The limit was 7 kg each for a carry on bag. Usually nobody cares, but we had the world’s greatest rule follower checking our bags. We were overweight and had to check them.
Jetstar is similar to Spirit Airlines (or Frontier) where you have to purchase your checked bag in advance to check-in at the counter or else they charge you around 5 times as much. We obviously did not know any of this. The clerk said he would be nice and we could carry on 2 bags and just check 1. He said it was $120 each. We clarified many times….this is 120,000 IDR, right? Yes, yes. IDR. Indonesian Dollars. Okay. Why don’t we just check all three if it is only going to cost us $27 to check all of the bags…that would be worth it!
We are taken to another guy to pay the fee. As he takes the credit card he mentions $320 Australian Dollars. WAIT A MINUTE. STOP. They were going to charge us $270 USD to check three bags. We ran back to the clerk and he seemed very angry we had misunderstood him. In our defense, his English wasn’t great and we would have never agreed to pay that much. In a last ditch effort to save our wallets we talked them into letting us go with the original plan he suggested to only check one bag and we paid our $90 (begrudgingly)…Jetstar won this time.
Mistake 5: Not arriving at the airport 3 hours early.
I mean, who would have known? This luggage debacle and check-in took so long that we got through customs with not a lot of time to spare. We looked at all the boards and NONE of them had our flight showing. It had not been updated for hours. We run through the airport and finally find our flight on the board…the status was the dreaded “Final Call” so we sprinted to our flight. We almost missed our flight and we were at the airport almost 2 hours early. I hate being late at airports. I just don’t do it.
That is the story how Scott and Shelby became those people that arrive at airports 3-4 hours early from now on (kidding…maybe).
So there you have it — the mistakes we made in Indonesia and Australia. It doesn’t matter how much you travel or how much you have your shit together…there is always the potential to screw something up 🙂
Happy New Year!