Photo of the Week: Freedom

IMG_4979Dachau, Germany

Standing at the entrance of the Dachau concentration camp, it’s impossible to remain unemotional. This place in particular, brings to life the inhumanity of Hitler’s regime. This was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in 1933 by Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, and was used as a prototype for the many others that sprang up around Europe.   Over 200,000 Jews and other political prisoners were imprisoned here until the camp was finally liberated on April 29, 1945. The the iron gate with the ironic motto “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) belied the horrors that happened inside.  Once you entered, the only freedom was death.

Every Monday of each week, I’ll share a photo with you from my adventures around the world and at home.  Most of my photos have little or no post processing.  If you would like to see more, please click the ‘Follow’ button.

Trip Report: Portugal

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Portugal  is a small country nestled between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean at the westernmost point of continental Europe.  It was once a powerful seafaring kingdom that controlled many of the routes to Africa, South America, and Asia.  The home of world famous football player,  Cristiano Ronaldo, is filled with lush landscapes and striking scenery. Though not as well known as some of its neighbors, it is a country rich with culture, interesting architecture, and fairytale castles. The laid-back vibe combined with great food and cheap wine makes this a must-visit destination.   Here is the cost breakdown of our trip to Portugal to help you plan yours:

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  • Time Cost
    • Total Days In Portugal: 8 days + 1 layover day in London
    • Total Days Off From Work: 5 days
  • Monetary Cost
    • Hotel: $1100 + 8,000 Hilton Points + 7,000 SPG points
    • Flights: $815 pp +13,000 Avios
    • Transportation: $90 pp ($110 for car, $35 pp for train)
    • Admission fees: $80 pp
    • Food: $45 pp per day
    • Total Per Person: $1,800+ 4,000 Hilton Points + 3,500 SPG points + 6,500 Avios

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If you’ve been following along with our blog you’ll know that we usually try to maximize our travel days and minimize our costs.  This usually happens when we find a good flight deal with availability around the holidays.  This system has allowed us to travel more frequently to many amazing places around the world. Admittedly, this did not happen on this trip.  A series of mistakes cost us time, energy, and money in the form of unused hotel rooms and additional flights – read about our mishaps here. Even with all the disasters, our trip was very memorable for all the right reasons.

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There are a variety of things to do and see in Portugal, whatever your interests and tastes may be.  Visit the northern city of Porto and sample the famous port wine.  Zip over to Belem and indulge in the egg tarts.  Wander through picturesque castles hidden in the rolling hills of Sintra and feel like you’ve stepped into a Disney movie.  See the busy city from the rickety tram, and fall in love with the architecture of Lisbon.  Eat and drink until you are completely sated without breaking the bank.  To read more about our trip to Portugal, click on the links below:

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  • Read about all our rookie mistakes that we made on this trip
  • Alternative accommodation option with AirBnB

Porto

Lisbon

Sintra

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Check back next to read about our trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Photo of the Week: Walkway

IMG_5971Dresden, Germany

Last year, on our whirlwind trip around Eastern Europe, we visited Dresden, a small town in Germany with an interesting history.  It used to be the capital of Saxony before getting completely destroyed by bombers during WWII.  Most of the historic center has been reconstructed over the years to bring it back to its former glory.  

One of my favorite places is the Zwinger palace, the most beautiful structure you’ll see in Dresden or perhaps even Germany. The buildings are connected by a series of walkways that are lined with an interesting mix of Rococo sculptures and statues.  This particular path passes right over the Crown Gate, the well-known entrance into the interior courtyard.  

Every Monday of each week, I’ll share a photo with you from my adventures around the world and at home.  Most of my photos have little or no post processing.  If you would like to see more, please click the ‘Follow’ button.

AirBnB Review

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AirBnB is not new, in fact it’s been around since 2008.  We know people who have used the service and had glowing reviews; and others who did not fare as well (there are some horror stories).  In the past, we’ve always opted to stay at a Starwood hotel because our status gave us upgrades and other perks.  This year, however, that status has expired which was the perfect opportunity for us to venture out of our bubble and try something new. Continue reading

Sintra: At the Edge of the World

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In the modern age, technology and innovation has made it easy for the casual traveler to easily explore the four corners of the world.  It also means that there are very few places left undiscovered.  Even though it’s the status quo now, it was not always the case a few hundred years ago.  It’s hard for people to imagine a world other than the one they were born into.  Before the Age of Discovery, people would look out from the cliffs into the boundless ocean and believe that it was the end of the world.  The famous Portuguese  explorers changed that preconception, venturing out to Asia and Africa, leading the way for discoveries of a whole different world. 

Continue reading

Photo of the Week: Cistern

Istanbul (853)Istanbul, Turkey

Recently, Turkey has been dominating the news cycle for all the wrong reasons.  People  have started to associate the country with turmoil and military coups, but the Turkey I fell in love with all those years ago was a country rich in culture and history.  It’s Euro-Asian location offers unique blend of Eastern and Western influences that makes Istanbul one-of-a-kind.  One of the most interesting things I learned is that there are hundreds of ancient cisterns hidden beneath the city, used to store and supply water to the residents.  Pictured above is the Basilica Cistern, the largest of its kind, located right in the heart of the city.  At first glance, the tall striking columns and the somber lighting make the space look more like a sacred temple than a water reservoir.

Every Monday of each week, I’ll share a photo with you from my adventures around the world and at home.  Most of my photos have little or no post processing.  If you would like to see more, please click the ‘Follow’ button.

Sintra: Fairytale Castles

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Growing up watching Disney movies, I’ve always dreamt of walking through a fairy tale landscape. Sintra, a small picturesque Portuguese town set amidst pine covered hills, is a fairytale come true, complete with turreted palaces.  It is an extraordinary place with a rich history, ornate palaces, and ancient ruins – all of which are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  After visiting in 1809, the famous British poet and traveler Lord Byron declared that the town is “perhaps in every respect the most delightful in Europe,” and calling it a “glorious Eden” in his epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Continue reading

10 things to do in Lisbon

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Europe’s westernmost capital has blossomed in recent years, attracting visitors to its world class restaurants as well as its culture and history. Despite the old-world feel with its network of antiquated trams, Lisbon definitely has a modern edge. 

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Portugal’s hilly capital, is a coastal city known for many things – from the blue-and-white azulejo architecture, to the spectacular views that can be seen from anywhere on top of the seven hills to the imposing São Jorge Castle. The rambling alleyway are lined with pastel colored houses covered in pretty flower boxes.  The sweet citrus smells drift over the walls, hiding a fruit-laden lemon tree in the courtyard.  Even though the streets are confusing, it’s definitely walk-able, just make sure you bring your running shoes along.  Here are a few places to explore in Lisbon’s labyrinthine streets: Continue reading

Photo of the Week: Towers

IMG_2368Cologne, Germany

From the the other side of the Rhine River, you can clearly see the towers of Cologne Cathedral.  They are visible from every point in the city center, dominating the skyline. Not only is this magnificent structure the pride of Cologne, it is also Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting tens of thousands of people every day.  

Every week, I’ll share a photo with you from my adventures around the world and at home.  Most of my photos have little or no post processing.  If you would like to see more, please click the Follow button.

Eating in Lisbon

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To me, eating is the best way to appreciate and explore a new country and culture.  It is always the favorite part of my trips – and the most memorable.  A good dish is something that I will remember for the rest of my life when memories of the city long fade into the cobwebs of my mind.  Portugal has fast become my favorite European country for food.  As you know, I had a really positive experience eating in Porto and couldn’t wait to try the cuisine in Lisbon.  Continue reading