The Five Best Day Trips from Madrid

Day trips from Madrid: Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain

Madrid as a destination far exceeded our expectations. After spending three weeks in Spain’s booming capital, we were completely hooked on one of Europe’s most enjoyable cities. Not only are there millions of things to do in Madrid itself, the city offers easy access to all kinds of attractions in the surrounding countryside. If you love walled towns, medieval castles, and Roman ruins all with an accent of Castile, Madrid is the perfect hub to kick back and do some day-tripping.

While most of the more popular destinations can be reached by public transportation, renting a car in Madrid will give you a lot more flexibility and comfort. From our experience, car rentals in Spain are particularly easy and affordable. During our time in Madrid, we did five different day trips to nearby towns, all recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So without further ado, here’s our list of the five best day trips from Madrid, including our personal favorites. Continue…

Krampus at the Christmas Market in Munich

Ah, it’s December and the Christmas markets in Bavaria are in full swing. The Alps are shrouded in cool mist and half-timbered houses are decked out in twinkly lights and boughs of mistletoe. Locals are huddled ’round their fires drinking hot glühwein as holiday tunes float through the air.

Suddenly, the sound of synchronized cracking whips break the silence. Groups of Krampus and Perchten, Christmas devils and fur-clad Alpine monsters armed with bundles of twigs, rush into the crowded streets. The fiendish Christmas beasts dance through the crowds chasing rotten children and whipping them with stinging bundles of twigs. Adults laugh and stuff themselves with gingerbread as children run screaming in all directions. Yeah, Christmas in Germany has a bit of an edge. Continue…

Top Things to Do and Places to Visit in Jodhpur

Places to visit in Jodhpur: View of Mehrangarh Fort from Jaswant Thada

Situated on the edge of the Thar Desert, the walled city of Jodhpur definitely lives up to our definition of a desert dream. Known throughout Rajasthan as the Blue City, Jodhpur is an atmospheric tangle of blue-washed medieval lanes leading everywhere and nowhere. Hidden treasures abound from ancient havelis to spice-scented bazaars to exotic smoke-filled temples.

Once you enter the blue labyrinth of Rajasthan’s second largest city – one of our favorite places in the country – it is easy to lose track of time and space. But never fear. To help you make the most of your stay, we have compiled a list of our favorite things to do and best places to visit in Jodhpur. Continue…

Timeshare – The Pros and Cons of Buying or Renting

Cancun Beach

What Is a Timeshare?

A timeshare, aka “vacation ownership” is a variation on the vacation home concept. In this case, a property is divided in ownership among several people who are able to stay there for a given period of time. One week is fairly common. In general, there are four different types of timeshares.

Different Types of Timeshares

Fixed Week Timeshare – In a fixed week timeshare, you are able to stay at the property for one week per year. The week never varies, but you can rent or give away that week to another person if you can’t make it. Continue…

Kyoto Autumn Leaves: Japan’s Most Colorful Season

Kyoto autumn leaves at the Eikando Temple

I’ll admit that our trip to Japan was a bit last minute, but that doesn’t mean our timing was totally random. For years, we’ve been wanting to experience one of the country’s most stunning natural spectacles, the Technicolor fall foliage season. Autumn leaves? Don’t you mean cherry blossoms?

No, while most Westerners associate the country with the world famous spring cherry blossoms, many Asian tourists are equally drawn to Japan’s gorgeous fall colors, which for religious and cultural reasons have become something quite unlike anything else on the planet. Continue…

Roman Food Guide: Eat Like a Local in Rome

Roman food guide: Shopping at Volpetti

I don’t think it’s a secret that Tony and I love to eat. As bloggers, we cover all aspects of travel, but food is definitely one of our favorite topics. Needless to say, Rome was an obvious place for a little food-venture and for coming up with a Roman food guide. Our research on local specialties had us drooling all over our keyboards. Stuffed zucchini flowers, truffled pecorino, and Roman Jewish-style artichokes were just a few treats we wanted to try. We couldn’t wait to start eating.

As it turns out, navigating Rome’s labyrinth of restaurants and food markets was a lot more challenging than you might expect. The city is gigantic, very touristy, and much of the center is plagued by mediocre, overpriced tourist fare. So where could we find authentic Roman food including specialty cheeses, a home-cooked meal, or the best gelato? Obviously, we didn’t want to spend our good money on bad food. So we did what any sensible blogger would do: we sought professional help. Continue…

Things to Do in Rome: Classic Rome Attractions

Things to do in Rome: The Pantheon

They say that all roads lead to Rome. Well, we finally made it to the Eternal City, so it must be true. In our case, we traveled the long way around through Asia and South America literally taking every road known to man to get here. And to celebrate our victory, we spent one glorious month exploring Rome’s amazing architectural and artistic treasures as well as delving into the city’s exciting culinary world.

We quickly realized that Rome is positively overwhelming. The number of churches, Roman temples, gelaterias, street markets, fountains, villas, galleries, museums, and piazzas made our heads spin. There were so many amazing things to do in Rome, we could have spent years here exploring and never seen it all. For that reason, it’s even more crucial to plan your itinerary beforehand to get the most out of your visit. If you are still wondering what things to do in Rome, we will be highlighting some of our favorite Rome attractions both on and off the well-trodden Roman path. To begin, let’s start with the classic Rome attractions! Continue…

What to Do in Rome off the Beaten Path

Rome off the beaten path: Giant foot in the Capitoline Museums

With over 10 million tourists a year, Rome is the third most visited city in Europe after London and Paris. And for good reason. It is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, history and art. Unfortunately, Rome is also one of those cities with a disproportionate focus on a handful of obvious sights such as the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica. But what makes Rome so fantastic is not just the classics, it’s the sum of everything that lies in between.

Finding the not-so-obvious, however, can be quite daunting. Many Rome off the beaten path attractions are literally underground. If you wonder what to do in Rome beyond the well-trodden trail, you’ll be surprised that there’s a lot to discover. After first introducing our top things to do in Rome in a previous post, here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path attractions in and around Rome to get you started. Continue…

Extraordinary Nazca – Much More Than Lines

Extraordinary Nazca Lines: Nazca Hummingbird

The Nazca Lines have been associated with everything from aliens to Atlantis; they are certainly one of the world’s most mysterious creations. All that fame, intrigue and media attention means that the name Nazca has now become synonymous with the lines. But many people don’t realize that Nazca refers to a town, a region, and even an ancient culture. That culture left behind much more than lines.

Bucketlisters and speedy travelers shooting through Peru often spend half a day in Nazca, do a quick flight over the Nazca Lines, and hightail it on to Arequipa, Cuzco or Lima. GIGANTIC MISTAKE. Nazca is a fascinating region which deserves far more attention. Thomas and I spent six days here, and this is just a bit of what we discovered Continue…

Kayaking in Antarctica

Kayaking in Antarctica around Cuverville Island

Gliding through the waters off Petermann Island, I cautiously dipped the paddle into the subzero Antarctic ocean to steer the kayak around a small flow of brash ice. Startled by my change of direction, four Adélie penguins leapt from the water and porpoised alongside me. Up ahead, the One Ocean Expeditions kayaking guide Michelle rounded the tip of the island backed by a couple of sculpted icebergs.

The second guide Mark paddled off to my right. A humpback suddenly surfaced in the distance behind him, a monstrous tail lifted into the air and then slipped below the surface. I reflexively glanced down into the water suddenly remembering that YouTube video of the whale that almost swallowed a scuba diver. Nothing below. We Continue…