IMG_9555

This summer we are criss-crossing around Sweden for little more than a week, the plan was to visit relatives and friends and try and see some of our home country. We packed our car and hit the road, we were heading north, to the small village of Gävunda in Dalarna, but decided to cut the trip with a stop in Vadstena, a city full of history and cultural heritage. It would be a little of a detour, but a chance to see some interesting sights.

IMG_9562

Our idea was to take it easy and do leisure stops along the way, we decided to stop in the city of Gränna, situated by the lake Vättern, that is renowned for the making of the red and white “polkagris” candy-canes, that happens to be one of Johans favorite candies. However, after a stop to refill our car with oil and another stop to tank our gas-tank, we realized we were running a bit short on time. Well in Gränna we had only time to eat a quick lunch meal and spend 10 minutes in a polkagris shop to buy some candy.

IMG_9564

We tried to hurry to Vadstena, since we had a guided tour of the palace booked, but it seemed that when driving legally, it would not be possible to make it in time, still, the scenery along the way was fantastic and the weather was at its best.

IMG_9590

IMG_9601

IMG_9585

We missed our guided tour, but we were rescheduled for the next day, so we went for a small walk in the town, where there are several medieval buildings and interesting historic sights. The 15th century town hall, is one, for example, the oldest town hall in all of Sweden.  There is also a park along the coast where we took a pleasant walk. There were lots of families sunbathing and swimming in the lake or having a picnic on the grass.

IMG_9614

We had booked the so called “Cultural package” at the Vadstena Klosterhotell, that is a hotel situated in the buildings that once were the Vadstena Monastery, the first monastery of the Bridgettine Order,  founded in 1350, by Saint Bridget of Sweden, who seemed to be a very intelligent and hard working woman. The monastery became quite powerful and rich, almost like a large business, owning quite a lot of land both around Vadstena and in other places in Sweden. The monastery housed at the most 60 nuns and around 10 monks.

We started our cultural package with a drink in the wine and beer cellar and a three course meal at their restaurant. It was the same cellar that the nuns and monks used. Due to the low quality of the water around Vadstena, the monastery produced beer and each nun was given around 2,5 liters of beer a day.

IMG_9579

The next day we took the guided tour of the Vadstena Castle, included in our hotel package. The Vadstena Castle, that was a former Royal Castle, was originally built as a fortress to protect Sweden from enemies, such as the Danish in the south but especially from enemies within the country.

IMG_9624

IMG_9627

IMG_9625

It was quite an interesting guided tour, where we were shown into the Queens chambers and told about the daily life at the Castle, including the rules of etiquette surrounding the court. The interiors have not been altered to look as they once did when they were first built, but preserved as they might have looked in the 19th century, with the original colors bleached by the sun. I found the rough and simple atmosphere of these interiors to be quite beautiful.

IMG_9635

IMG_9636

IMG_9639

The other guided tour included in our ticket, was of the Vadstena Monastery museum, at which we were told the interesting story of the monastery. The main building, in red brick, had once been a Royal Castle where King Magnus IV of Sweden and his Queen Blanche of Namur had quite a lot of parties. They donated the castle to Birgitta Birgersdotter, Saint Bridget of Sweden, and quite a bit of land, so she could found the monastery. Birgitta Birgersdotter was a close friend of the Royal couple since she had been Queen Blanches teacher when she first came to Sweden from Belgium. Birgitta was a devote catholic and had disliked the Royal couple’s constant partying, but the donation became a way for the couple to “pay for their sins” and make it to heaven more quickly, if I’m allowed to simplify the story a bit. The monastery was active from 1346 until 1595 and with the reformation of Sweden into a protestant country, the monastery lost more and more power and the last 5 nuns were literally dragged out of the monastery and given the chance to either convert or leave Sweden. They chose to leave for Poland were they stayed until their death.

IMG_9643

Our last stop before we left Vadstena, was the Vadstena Abbey Church, that is a magnificent building and now works as congregational church after being only opened to the nuns, monks and pilgrims of Vadstena. During our stay in Vadstena there were lots of priests in town, it seems that it was during the so called “priest week” when a lot of priests came to Vadstena to visit. Still today, Vadstena seems to be an important place for the catholics of Sweden and the world, and today there is a new Bridgettines monastery in Vadstena, just a few steps from the old monastery.

Paris – Au revoir

Posted: May 29, 2013 by minimal in Europe, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jardin des Tuileries

After a very tiering day at Versailles we decided to take it easy, sleep in, eat a slow breakfast and make our way to Jardin des Tuileries to enjoy the heat coming in to Paris. We sat in the sun for a while and then visited the very nice Musée de l’Orangerie, that houses a set of Monet paintings specially created for their oval rooms.

Lunch

In a back-alley we found a cozy little restaurant in the sun.

Jardin des Tuileries

Flowers

Although there was a lot of people in the park, tourists, vendors and school classes filling out quizes about the numerous statues in the park, it was quite relaxing to stroll around it.

Arc de triomphe du Carrousel

Louvre

We did not venture into the Louvre, since we felt one had to come early to beat the crowds and to get a chance to really explore it. Instead we admired it pompous exterior and found that it more or less looked as big as Versailles.

Palais Royal

Jardin de Palais Royal

We headed north to another, much smaller garden, at the Palais Royal, and caught an artist painting one of the sculptures.

Gallerie Vivienne

At the classy Gallerie Vivianne, small, expensive fashion shops and second hand book shops fought for our attention. We found some old postcards at one little shop but only managed to buy one before the staff broke out in a fight about the man bringing young women to their flat while the lady worked at the shop.

Sainte Estauche

By the metro station on our way home we walked in to the Sainte Estauche church, another magnificent Gothic church with beautiful ceiling.

Hotel Coffee

Our trip to Paris was meant as a present for Monoton who just had his birthday and after a small break at our hotel we headed out for a fantastic 6 course dinner at a very nice Thai restaurant just around the corner from our hotel.

Musée d’Orsay

Renoir

For our last day in Paris we had big plans to visit several museums and sights. We had bought a combination ticket the day before for the Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay, so we headed to Musée d’Orsay which is a fantastic building in itself. Our tickets enabled us to go straight in, instead of waiting in the huge lines, but the museum took us almost the whole day to explore and the crowds took their toll on us.

Last Supper

Instead we headed back to the hotel and then to a restaurant close by, we tried the Tartar Original which was very tasty.

Tour Eiffel

…and managed to walk back to our hotel just when the Tour Eiffel had its light display on. That concludes our last days in Paris.

Paris – Versailles

Posted: May 28, 2013 by monoton in Europe, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

Having heard about the huge crowds at Versailles, we set out early to be there when it opens at 9. Unfortunately we found that our train line had been closed for maintenance and we had to go across Paris to take another line instead.

Gate

When we arrived an hour later than planned, we were greeted not only by gilded gates but also a long queue in front of the palace. However, we had read on their homepage that they recommend visiting the garden during the morning and saving the palace tour for the last hours before closing.

Palace

Facade

The garden was refreshingly empty in the rather cold morning weather and provided some picturesque views of the building, if you only managed to avoid the large modern art sculptures someone thought a good idea to place there.

Garden

Garden

The areas closest to the palace were open and contained grass lawns in geometric forms and fountains, everywhere you’d find beautiful marble statues and neatly trimmed bushes. The second photo is from later in the day, when more people had arrived.

Open Space

Garden

To the sides of the main park there were square gardens, each with paths and open spaces in different, often symmetrical, maze-like configurations. If one were to hold an enormous garden party here, there would be plenty of places to sneak off to when you wanted some privacy.

Fountain

Reemerging on the Royal Avenue, the Apollo on his chariot fountain had been turned on. At this point the garden continues as an artificial lake where you can rent a small boat, but we turned off to the side and walked towards Petit Trianon.

Petit Trianon

 

Room

The Petit Trianon is by French monarch standards a very modest building, where Marie Antoinette could take a break from the strict rules of etiquette that reined everywhere else.

Grand Trianon

Yellow Room

Nearby is also the Grand Trianon, which among other things had rooms in different color schemes.

Courtyard

When we decided to have a look at the interiors of Versailles we discovered that we had been misled, the admission line was now twice as long compared to when we arrived. Some 45 minutes later we were past the gates and at the inner courtyard.

Chapel

Room

With so many intricate details everywhere from floor to ceiling, a fisheye lens was very useful.

King's BedQueen's Bed

The king’s and queen’s beds. Elegant, but still separate bedrooms. I wonder if they took turns visiting eachother during the nights.

Tapestry

Ceiling

Mirror Hall

The grand and spacious Hall of Mirrors felt vaguely familiar, probably from having seen it in historical movies.

Red Bedroom

Empty Corridor

After trying to admire so many extravagant rooms while being pushed around by hordes of other tourists just looking down a closed off and empty corridor felt like a relaxing change of pace.

View From a Window

Library

 

 

Tour Eiffel

After about ten years, I returned to Paris, where I had once spent 6 months studying French after I graduated from high school. As many people before me, I had romanticized about Paris since I first started dancing ballet when I was a kid. When I arrived in the bustling metropolis as a naive 19 year old, my view of Paris became, not crushed, but somewhat tarnished. It was expensive, bureaucratic, dirty and I had one or another negative encounter with a Parisian.  Now, 10 years later, things not only seem, but feel, a world apart. This time I am here with my husband, it is spring and we can afford to stay in a central location and eat and drink as we please. Suddenly, I’m really liking this place.

Palais des Invalides

French Garden

After strolling from our hotel through the Tour Eiffel we made our way to the Hôtel des Invalides, once a retirement home for war veterans, now it consists of several monuments and museums about the military history of France. Although we didn’t go inside we strolled around and got our first taste of the strict and symmetrical French gardens.

Sacre Coer

Sacre Coer

From one tourist trap to another, since the weather was nice and the sky clear we decided to take the metro to Montmartre and visit the Sácre Coeur basilica, to see if we could get a nice view of the city. It is certainly an eye-striking building with it’s white travertine stone walls.

Lunch

We made our way to Place du Tertre, that I remembered as a picturesque square where local artists sold their works, now it was remade to house a large eating area for an adjacent restaurant. The streets of Montmartre are crowded with tourists and vendors, not leisurely quiet as portrayed in the movie Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, still we managed to find a nice restaurant away from the main tourist streets, and had some lunch.

Ste Chapelle

Ste Chapelle

After lunch, we made our way south to the city island, to visit the beautiful medieval Gothic chapel, Sainte Chapelle. Being surrounded by the huge stained glass windows on all sides certainly instilled an awe-inspiring feeling. Monoton had bought a fish-eye lens for the trip, that came to good use capturing the chapel’s architecture.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

While on Île de la Cité we walked past another Gothic church, Notre Dame de Paris, that is currently celebrating 850 years. The lines to enter the church were quite long, so we were satisfied by walking along the gardens surrounding the church.

Institut du Monde Arabe

Past Île de la Cité on the south bank of La Seine, we walked to the Institut du Monde Arabe, with it’s interesting modern architecture. It was established in 1980 to promote cooperation and exchange between France and the 18 Arab nations that founded it.

Notre Dame

We went up to the panoramic café that promised, and delivered, great views of the city. After a good cup of coffee and some delicious pastries we headed down to the bookshop for some shopping.

Tour Eiffel

 

Tired but happy after a day in town, it seemed like the old days of a struggling student in the hard city of Paris were gone, all that remained were the new impressions of a beautiful, diverse and culturally strong metropolis.

New York – Escaping Sandy

Posted: October 30, 2012 by minimal in North America, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

First of all I want to take the opportunity to say that I’m back in Sweden safe and sound and I’m really sad to see on the news what is happening in New York and on the east coast. I wish all the best to the people there, stay safe!

On my last days in New York City I made sure the visit the museums that I had planned to see. That included the popular Museum of Modern Art, that had been pretty crowded last time I passed, so I had decided to skip it that day. On Friday afternoon the museum is free to enter, but knowing that I like to take my time, I was decided to be safe rather than sorry and went in the morning, and I’m glad I did, since the line to enter the museum was huge when I left. It was at the MoMA that I sadly found out that one of my favorite contemporary artists had passed away, two years ago, Louise Burgeois, known for her big spider sculptures that we saw in South Korea and Japan.

I was happy to see works by several artists that I like, for example two small works by Frida Kahlo and the notorious Punch and Judy by Bruce Nauman. While I was at the museum I started to feel very tired and cold, by the time I got back to my hotel I was sure I was getting a cold, so I decided to stay in and rest so I wouldn’t get worse.

On my last day in town, I went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I had read in my guide book that it featured a “cutting-edge feminist arts center”, something I found very intriguing and right down my alley.

When I studied art history, I read about this work by Judy Chicago called The Dinner Party, and although I found it interesting it wasn’t something that had very much caught my attention. However, seeing it in real life, makes the whole difference, and I feel like my pictures truly don’t make it justice. This large installation features place settings for 39 famous women and was created by Judy Chicago together with a large group of volunteers. The goal was to “end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record.” Each place setting consists of an runner embroidered with the persons name and a plate, both containing symbols relating to her accomplishments. It’s a fantastic work to see and I was happy to see the names of several people that I myself admire, like the poet Sappho, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi and the mathematician Hypatia.

There was a temporary exhibition with works by Mickalene Thomas that I really liked, her works are often large collages where she re-stages themes and symbolism taken from traditional Western art. In this work she makes a reference to the famous 1866 painting L’Origine du Monde, an infamous erotic painting by the French artist Gustave Courbet.

 

In this work, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: les trois femmes noires, she refers to the 1863 painting by Édouard Manet Déjeuner sur l’herbe, one that I remember clearly from my art history class, since I found the contrast between the nude women and the well-dressed men a bit disturbing.

On my last evening, Halloween, Gabriele from couchsurfing and I went out for a small pub crawl, our first stop was this famous bar called Old King Cole where they supposedly make great Bloody Marys. Of course, I persuaded him that we should order one each, then I remembered that last time I had had a Bloody Mary (about 10 years ago) I was wasted and at the first sip of my drink, I remembered that I don’t like Bloody Marys. I only had about 1/3 of my drink while Gabriele did drink all of his pizza-tasting-drink, as he put it.

After a fantastic 10 days in New York, I woke up on Sunday to the news that a storm was coming to the city. I, who had my flight home at 19:30, was a bit worried that I would not be able to leave before Sandy arrived. In the hotel they assured me that flights would be leaving that day, so I headed to the airport and it was chaos. I managed to get on my plane, one of the last ones leaving New York City, since they closed the airport at 22:00.

I’m going to break it to you, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to the arts, and, I generally don’t like musicals. I’ve seen quite a few of them. Growing up, I used to go to the theater together with my mother and sisters, we got to each choose one thing we would see together, and when it wasn’t my turn to choose, we usually saw musicals. Still, being that I’m staying less than a block from Broadway, I thought I should give it a try, if not Broadway is more famous than the Gothenburg Opera. So I got together with another couchsurfer, Gabriele from Italy, and we went to see Mamma Mia! Although I did laugh and had a good time, I must say, from an artistic perspective I wasn’t impressed. The singers had good voices, sure, but there was this “fast food”-feel to it, you get in, they sing, quickly and without much ceremony and then we barely had time to clap before we were out again.

One of the great things about traveling to big cities like New York, is that there is a lot of art and architecture to take part of. I went to the Guggenheim Museum which is one of the buildings I’ve been wanting to see since I first saw a picture of it about 15 years ago. I’m sure I’m not the only one that likes Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the museum, and I could easily say that he is my favorite architect. There was a pretty nice exhibition with works of Pablo Picasso called “Black and White”.

In the evening, I had made plans together with some other couchsurfers to meet up to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and then go for food or a drink. Since we are all tourists, there was some confusion about where we were going to meet. Several of us walked around the area for more than half an hour. I wasn’t feeling like just going back to the hotel, so I decided to wait by the bridge and hoped to eventually meet someone that looked like a couchsurfer (how one can figure that out just by looking at someone beats me). Luckily, 3 of us managed to find each other! I guess by looking as confused as possible :)

On Wednesday I took on the task of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Again, I had made plans to meet some couchsurfers, but I overslept so I was on my own. I think it was for the best, one of the perks about traveling alone is that you get to do things your own way and at your own pace and since I’m very interested in art and know exactly what I want to see , it can be more of a bother to go with someone else. I ended up spending the whole day at the Met, and when they closed, I still hadn’t seen everything I wanted to see.

After paying the recommended fee of 25 dollars I went to get an audio-guide, which costs another 7 dollars. I wasn’t very happy about that and felt a bit stupid that I had payed the full amount if they were going to charge me extra for the audio guide, so I decided to skip it. Lucky for me though, just when I was going in to the museum a woman asked me if I wanted to have her guide since she was already leaving.

The great thing about visiting the Met is that they have a great collection of paintings, including many that I’ve read about while studying art history. Although they didn’t have my favorite paintings by the Italian baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, like her self-portraits or her Judith and Holofernes series, I was happy to see one of her paintings, Esther before Ahasuerus, which is again an unusual depiction of a strong woman, which I very much appreciate.

The day was not long enough for me to get to see everything I wanted to see, and this post is not long enough to display all the pictures of the fantastic art I got to see. I guess you will all have to come to New York and see it for yourselves :)

The next day I went for a run in Cenral Park. I decided to just run north for a half an hour and then turn and just run south. Instead I got lost, but had a pretty nice run and managed to find my way out again, after a while.

I met up with Gabriele for lunch at the Grand Central Terminal, which was, well, pretty grand.

Some elements weren’t so grand though.

There is something with carousels here in USA, or maybe it’s New York, but I haven’t been to a park without one. This one features the Headless hunter, Halloween is here :)

Since we were passing by, we decided to check out the New York Library. There is something very exaggerated and exuberant about these buildings, that fascinates me.

The library is just amazing indoors, and inspiring, I can’t imagine how it must feel to sit there and study. Maybe I should come to New York and take a course or something, only so I can sit here and study for my exams.

After dinner, we went to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, at the Lincoln Center, for some jazz and a great view of the city. The atmosphere was great, the drinks good, and the music fantastic.

After the main band, people took turns to play all the different instruments and sing. A large amount of jazz players passed the stage, this guy had an fantastic dreamy voice.

Moscow – Meanwhile in Москва

Posted: October 27, 2012 by monoton in Europe, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

While my wife is enjoying her vacation in New York, I went on a business trip to Moscow. Getting a Russian visa and cat-sitter on short notice is quite stressful, but eventually I got here.
Crazy horse

Found the Yandex office, despite them spelling their name with Cyrillic letters. For the very same reason I had a bit difficulties finding my taxi at the airport. Luckily Russians are friendly and several people tried to help me.

My first taste of Russian cuisine in the Yandex canteen, with two of our hosts on the left and my coworker on the right.

We tried to squeeze in a little tourism in our work schedule (which was 12 to 20-ish) and took a morning walk to see the nearby Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Rain mixed with a bit of snow was hard on our hands and made photography difficult. The cathedral is only 15 years old so it’s hardly a historical building but the sheer size is quite impressive.

Behind the cathedral there was a very short parade; it started where the rightmost group currently is standing and they went about the same distance to the other side of the statue before turning around. Couldn’t figure out if they were from the military or the police.

Churches topped with shiny domes were everywhere, here is one we spotted through a narrow gap between two houses while hurrying back to the warmth of the hotel.

The rumours of Russians’ love of vodka seemed exaggerated, at least among software developers, but when our Yandex hosts took us to a Russian wilderness-themed restaurant we got to try some.

The side dishes included thin sliced frozen raw deer meat (center) and fish (eaten) that you would dip in salt or soy sauce. It was delicious and went very well with the vodka.

Since the restaurant was close to the Red Square my coworker and I decided to to walk there and admire the picturesque St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Also on the square, in front of the Kremlin’s wall, is Lenin’s tomb which is dwarfed by the extravagant buildings on all sides.

It wasn’t that far to our hotel from here so we started walking in a direction that felt somewhat right, and after about an hour we arrived there freezing. Now having finished the working part of our trip we were looking forward to a Saturday of intense sightseeing before flying home, if only we would have some luck with the weather…

It’s been over a year since we got back home from our around-the-world trip and to be honest, we haven’t been very interested in traveling, for a while. But now, I’m back on the road. I’m not sure if I’ve forgotten how to do it, or if I was just stressed, but on this trip I forgot to bring several essentials that we had good use for in the around-the-world trip. Like duck tape to tape the blinking lights in my hotel room that don’t let me sleep at night, or my sleep mask that would have solved the problem just as well. Maybe it’s just that one gets more relaxed when packing for 10 days rather than 258.

So I arrived in New York City on a humid and hot evening and fell asleep directly when I arrived at the hotel. The next day, jet lagged and hungry I hit the town, and since I’m staying in Midtown, it wasn’t very far. It rained the whole day, and I got soaked even walking around with an umbrella. So I decided to hide at the International Center of Photography that was having a very interesting exhibition called The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. The day got cut short when I decided to head back to the hotel to change clothes, and fell asleep without dinner.

To say the least, I was very hungry the next morning, but I still didn’t manage to eat everything on my plate. Although the portions are smaller than I remember them from when I was in USA 15 years ago. While I was looking forward to eating a lot of unhealthy food, like bacon, eggs, pancakes, donuts, bagels and all the other things I’ve missed, now that I’m here I just don’t seem to manage to eat all that fat and sweets.

The weather was great, and since I got up very early I decided to take a long walk. I considered standing in line at Tkts to buy discounted Broadway tickets, but all the tourists everywhere made me think again.

I walked to Chelsea to see what was being shown at the galleries in the area, amongst others I got to see work by Linda Stojak and Beth Cavener Stichter that I really liked. I must admit, that I haven’t planned my trip as much as I usually do, but sometimes you just bump into things that are very interesting. I saw a lot of people heading up some metal stairs in the are and that is how I found the High Line, which is very nice for a stroll.

Next, I headed towards Washington Square Park and got to enjoy live music…

live sports…

and a demonstration.

After that I headed to have some lunch where I found myself sitting next to a guy from San Francisco that was in town visiting some friends and we started talking. Now that I think about it, I’ve been talking to a lot of different people, I’m so impressed how easy it is for people to strike up a conversation with strangers. In general, I find people here to be very friendly, and really it was a long time ago that I felt that I blended in so well somewhere.

On Sunday I planned to head Uptown, my first stop was the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine which was quite impressive, I specially liked the “Poets Corner”, an homage to American poets like Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe. Well inside, the Sunday service was about to start, and being a curious atheist I decided to sit it out.

After the service, well, actually, I left after the sermon, I headed north, to Harlem. The streets were bustling with people and the weather was great. I stopped by the famous Apollo Theater, but well, it being lunch time and the theater being closed, I had to settle for some pictures of the signs with the stars names on them.

The absolute highlight of my day was visiting the Studio Museum which had a fantastic exhibition with artists such as Njideka Akunyili, Meleko Mokgosi and Xaviera Simmons. I was blown away by the art, the atmosphere and the great museum shop they have. Of course, you were not allowed to take any photographs so I don’t have much to show.

For dinner, I headed to the Red Rooster, a restaurant I had heard much about, and the place delivered, to say the least. The atmosphere was great and I got seated where I had a perfect view of the band that was playing. It wasn’t that I was home sick or anything, but since their specialty is Swedish food, I went for the meatballs, which were the best I’ve had, in a long time. Oh, and since I heard that when you are in New York you have to drink drinks, and not beer or wine, that is exactly what I did :)

The band was great, so I decided to stay and listen to them, and I must say that the camera captured my exact feeling after having two of those delicious drinks.

Day 244 – The End

Posted: August 1, 2011 by minimal in Travel

As it turns out we ran out of money, so we are going home. Instead of 258 days we only made it up to 244, but what a journey!

To everybody that we’ve met along the way, we want to thank you for making our travels so much more fun. We wish you all continued good journeys and we hope to see you again sometime, somewhere in the world.

To all our readers we want to thank you for following us, we have been so happy to read your comments and encouragements, we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as us.

If we don’t get stuck at Heathrow we should be back home soon :D

Previously our only first-hand knowledge about Asia was from travelling in Japan, little did we imagine how full of variation the continent is. After 3 months we still realize we’ve only seen but a portion of it and will sure return for more. For people coming from the Europe-centric part of the world, as ourselves, it was actually very refreshing to see places so detached from what we otherwise think is the center of the world.

08 – The Terracotta Army 

The immense detail and beauty of this amazing collection of statues surely make up for the hordes of tourists one has to fight to see them. A must when visiting Xi’an, China.

07 – Suwon’s Ancient Walls

There was something about these ancient walls of South Korea that made us romanticize about forlorn times of honor and greatness ;)

06 – Beijing And The Qing Dynasty’s Heritage

The capital of China has some real treats to offer, most of which can be attributed to the Qing dynasty. The Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven are all fantastic sights, all accessible from this bustling city..

05 – Thailand’s Beaches

It might sound like a cliché, but who can resist the charm of beautiful soft sand, turquoise water, colorful fishes, friendly people and good food? We chose a spot on Koh Phangan which didn’t disappoint us.

04 – Monkeys And Hot Springs

We’ve seen many monkeys and they remain one of our favourite animals. If there is a place that not only has wild monkeys but also hot springs, it will definitely be one of our tops picks of any trip. Believe it or not, it is not difficult to find a place like that in Japan, but Beppu sure was easy to like.

03 – Buddhist Temple Stay

Probably one of the most personally rewarding experiences from our travels, staying for 2 nights at Golgul-sa near Gyoengju, South Korea. It was fun, insightful, exhausting and painful.

02 – Chengdu’s Pandas

They are adorable, even more than one can ever imagine and as the animal lovers that we are, completely irresistible. Chengdu, China, is a nice enough place to be in anyhow, but the pandas are amazing.

01 – Tokyo And Sumo Wrestling Live

Probably our favourite city on the planet, we are big fans of Japan, and this was our 3rd visit to this versatile city. I mean, can anyone tell me of a place were you can get a cat café, robots, electronics, manga, delicious food, crazy fashion, ancient culture, friendly people and on top of that, this time we got to watch sumo wrestling live! We will surely be back.