15 Things to Eat (and Drink) in Scotland

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If you’re like me, whenever you hear of Scottish food, you probably think of Haggis.  But with the country’s changing eating habits, Scotland has evolved to be a culinary destination for food lovers with a strong emphasis on fresh and locally sourced produce. With the Atlantic ocean on its doorstep and plenty of rolling green hills means an abundance of fresh seafood, succulent beef, and wild game. You can eat extremely well from the big cities to the furthest isles. Fine bistros, cozy pubs, quirky cafés, and everything in between offer delicious fare. Here is a list of all the food (and drinks) you should try while visiting Scotland: Continue reading

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2015 – Year in review

2015 Year-in-Review

Now the the holiday season is over, and the New Year draws near, it’s that time again… Time to look back on 2015 and reflect on all the places we’ve been and things we’ve seen.

At this time last year when we were writing our 2014 post, I think we had said something along the lines of 2014 being a big year for our travel; and that we might take it easy in 2015… Fast-forward one year, and all I have to say is “ha!” We didn’t have a lot planned going into 2015, but we ended up covering a fair bit of ground. It started with a mistake fare to Rio, and ended up with an aspirational booking in first class to Hong Kong on one of the top airlines in the world. Continue reading

Photo Essay: Tarangire

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We are finally back after a whirlwind two and a half week trip around Myanmar, with stopovers in Hong Kong and Bangkok.  Now it’s back to the daily grind, and of course catching up with my blogging.  For the next few posts, I’ve decided to forgo the usual format and share our experience and pictures from Tanzania in a photo essay – because that’s the only way to do it justice. Continue reading

Catching Up

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I can’t believe it’s fall already, where did the summer go?  I have learned to love the fall season in New York, with the brisk air and colorful leaves.  But with the change of season, comes the colder weather – which I am definitely not a fan of.  This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, so I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on our year so far.  There are so many heartbreaking things going on in the world, and it makes me appreciate everything that I have and everyone in my life. Continue reading

A Day in Dresden

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On our way to Prague, we took a small detour and spent a few hours in Dresden. Stepping out of the train, we could see that it was going to be a dreary day and we were clearly not dressed warm enough since the sky was overcast and threatening to rain. I was sick like a dog, fighting a cold that I had since our first day in Europe and couldn’t seem to shake off, so our first stop was the pharmacia to see if we could get some good ole German medication. Through some stilted communication on my part, the pharmacist suggested some lozenges which were supposed to help me sing. I don’t know about singing, I’d settle for just talking.

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Dresden was the capital of old Saxony.  It was home to many Saxon princes and kings for hundreds of years, the most famous of them being August der Starke (Augustus the Strong), whose kingdom included Poland. But it is best known for the controversial blitz attack by Allied forces in 1945 when the entire city center was razed to the ground, killing over 25,000 people.  Dresden had weathered the war, and since then many of the destroyed buildings have been painstakingly reconstructed and restored to their former glory: the Zwinger was rebuilt in 1964, the Semper Opera house in 1985, and most famous landmark of Dresden, the Frauenkirche was completed in 2005. Today, the city has regained much of its original charm, and hosts over 10 million tourists a year.

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Day 4: On the Road in Rio

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It’s our last day in Rio and the sky is still overcast and ominous looking.  We were excited to go hang gliding on this trip, but due to unfavorable weather conditions, we had to reschedule 4 different times.  Today was our last chance, and after waiting around for 3 hours, we were finally given the all-clear to head up the mountain.  Unfortunately when we got there, the wind picked back up and it was too dangerous to take off.  This picture was as far as I got to becoming a bird.  It was not meant to be.

This trip had it’s fair share of bad luck for us, starting with the canceled flight to the crappy weather, to the hang gliding.  Ironically, this was the hottest winter in Brazil and it only rained 4 times throughout the whole season.  Lucky for us, it rained all 4 days we were here.  I am not complaining, we had a great time bad weather and all, and Rio can only get better from here.  Time to head back to New York. 

Day 3: On the Road in Rio

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Today we visited Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro built  on the side of a steep hill.  This small area of about one square kilometer holds over 80,000 people.  There are over 700 favelas of various sizes throughout Rio.  These shanty towns were made famous in the movie City of God, showing the rampant crime and drug activity festering in these close quarters.  Today, the government with the help of the military have attempted to overtake the area, drive down crime, and improve infrastructure.  Our visit was pretty safe, we walked through the alleyways while learning a bit about the history of favelas got a glimpse into the life of its inhabitants.

Year in Review – 2014

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It’s that time of year again. The end of December is when everyone looks back over their year and makes lists. So far be it for us to not follow the trend.

2014 was one hell of a year for us. In addition to starting this blog, we still found some time to travel around the world while working full time. We were on the road almost once a month in 11 separate trips. We finally got to cross off Australia and Peru from our bucket list, which were over 2 years in planning. We’ve even literally flown around the world – flying only eastward to Australia through Abu Dhabi and then eastward home through Los Angeles. We also visited our 6th continent – only one more to go! The more we see on our travels, the more we wanted to see.

Some of the more impressive stats include: over 91,000 miles flown, on 42 individual flight segments. 7 countries, 5 continents. We spent over 26 hours flying in first class, 70 hours in business, and countless hours in coach.  12 of those flights were over 8 hours long, and 5 of those 12 were more than 12 hours – thats a lot of long-haul flying.  Even with all that however, we fell short of of the re-qualification threshold for American Airlines Executive Platinum status – 100k miles. It looks like next year we’ll have to settle for being just Platinum. This means no more unlimited domestic upgrades, and no 8 SWUs for international flights, but we still get lounge access and priority seating/boarding, etc. We also have a stash of points built up this year we’ll work on using up in 2015.

Our trips in 2014 included:

This past year we specifically planned more travel than normal in order to maximize the benefits of our status. This resulted in a lot of busy weekends and running around packing, unpacking, and repacking. In fact, it felt like we spent most of 2014 living out of our suitcase. All this travel definitely took its toll on our bodies.  Between the long-haul flights, meals in airport lounges, time changes, jet lag, busy weekends, and packed schedules to fit as much in as possible on our trips we both feel a bit worn down.  Even though we loved every minute of of our whirlwind year, we’re also looking forward to some R&R time at home this winter. For 2015, we have a lot of ideas of where we want to go, but nothing concrete planned. We are excited to start planning our next adventure around the world (any suggestions?).  It’ll be hard to top 2014, but we can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. We wish everyone a safe and happy new year!

Photo of the Week: Symmetry

IMG_0533Casablanca, Morocco

I didn’t know what to expect when I visited Casablanca.  Based on the movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, I expected a vibrant city full of marketplaces and interesting things, but what I saw was a dilapidated city, way past it’s prime.  Streets and sidewalks were broken down and every corner was filled with piles of rubble and garbage.  However, just when I was about to write off the whole city, we went and visited Hassan II Mosque, one of the most beautiful places in Casablanca.

It is one of the largest mosques in Morocco as well as Africa and 7th largest in the world.  The white marble structure rises above the Atlantic Ocean in this forgotten city. Contrasting with the rest of the city, everything here was clean and shiny, the facade glowed under the morning light. Inside, people spoke in hushed tones in deference to the religious significance of the mosque. There was a sense of serenity and quietness that settled over the area.  

This picture captured the elaborate doorway facing out to the Atlantic ocean inside the prayer hall.  The sunlight filtered through the titanium wrought door and reflected on the marble floor creating an interesting symmetry. Even though this photo was taken in color, the light and shadow resulted in a black and white effect.

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.