After our mountain adventures we made our way south to the beautiful Kyoto, a city full of temples and shrines thanks to its status as the nation’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868. A smaller city by Japanese standards, it has almost 1.5 million people squeezed into a valley between three mountains, and as a result no matter where you are you’re not too far away from bright city lights or some stunning natural scenery. We were staying in Kyoto for 7 nights which seems like a while, but with Osaka to visit while we were there along with a whole heap of sights, I knew it was going to fly by.
When we first decided to visit Japan earlier this year, trying to plan where we wanted to visit quickly became overwhelming. Three weeks, which initially seemed like a decent amount of time in a geographically small country, was quickly filled up when we realised just how much there was to do in the show-stoppers like Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka. While these must-visit cities held the allure of bright lights and non-stop action, I also really wanted to get out into the mountains to see the autumn leaves in all their red and gold blazing glory. After tossing up a few options in the Japanese Alps, we decided that a visit to the mountain city of Matsumoto and a hike along a Japanese feudal ‘highway’ would be a leisurely introduction to Japan.
I arrived in Arequipa at 5am, tired and bleary eyed after a long and cold bus journey from the sunny sand dunes of Huacachina. As with many overnight journeys that I’ve had on the trip, I wanted nothing more than a hot shower and a bed on arrival, but once again it wasn’t to be. Instead I asked for a blanket and resigned myself to snuggling up on the couch at my B & B until the sun rose and I could find somewhere that would serve me coffee and eggs. Continue reading
Before I knew it, my two days in cold and grey Lima were over and I was on my way down the coast in search of bluer skies. I had booked a bus ticket with a company called Peru Hop which would take me all the way through to Arequipa, with various stops and optional tours along the way. The first stop was Paracas, a small seaside town that was a short boat ride away from the Ballestas Islands, dubbed the poor mans Galapagos, which is home to sea lions, Humboldt penguins and a rather awkwardly named bird, the Peruvian booby. After that was Huacachina, a small backpackers haven nestled in the middle of the sand dunes just outside of the town of Ica. Continue reading
Flying over the Gulf of Mexico towards Cuba, I couldn’t help but marvel at how blue the water was. When there weren’t islands intermittently dotting the water it was difficult to tell just where on the horizon the earth ended and the sky began. I was excited to get out of the sky and down onto this tropical island I had been waiting so long to visit! My sister and I had booked an 8 day small group tour with a company called Cuban adventures which specialises in Cuban tours, and only uses local guides and casa particulares (home stays) on their tours. We were set to visit the capital Havana; the home of cigar production, Vinales; and the beachside town of Trinidad. Continue reading
While the South-West of Western Australia in the summer is undeniably amazing, with no shortage of white sandy beaches to stretch out on and trails to explore, there is also something attractive about jumping in the car and heading down south in the cooler months. Lush green landscapes, clear cool days and red wine by the fire make for a fine weekend away, and that’s exactly what Ollie and I jumped in the car to experience this winter. Our destination of choice was Denmark, a small town resplendent with natural beauty right in the middle of WA’s rainbow coast.
After a short stop in the Czech Republic, there we were jumping on a train to what would be our last country on our trip – Germany. We had a couple of weeks here though, and a number of exciting things planned out for our time including birthday celebrations, a football game in the famed Dortmund stadium and of course, the largest celebration of beer in the entire world – Oktoberfest! I had also heard a lot of good things about the Berlin food scene so I was looking forward to eating my way around the city. With so many events, so many people to see and so much good food expected in Germany, we arrived with our game faces on ready to knock the next couple of weeks right out of the park. Continue reading