In honor of the final episodes of Game of Thrones, we headed to Northern Ireland for a four-day trip, with plans to hike and to visit many of the filming locations of the show. We started with an evening flight from Luxembourg to Dublin, where we picked up our tiny Euro compact rental car from a super friendly team at Sixt, and then we headed about an hour north near the border with Northern Ireland, and slept at a local inn with shockingly huge rooms and super comfortable beds.
We headed to Ibiza for a quick spring break trip, hoping to explore the northern part of the island and escape the infamous night club and hen party scene that gives the island its reputation as an international up-all-night capital. Since this would be a quick weekend getaway, we sought out the healthy side of Ibiza, including cold water immersion, vegan food and an animal movement class.
We headed out of the Mt. Fuji area with lots of 7-11 snacks and embarked on a bus ride followed by a bullet train, arriving in Kyoto in the early afternoon. We checked into Kiyomizu Samurai Machiya, a private traditional home in a quiet neighborhood in Kyoto, which featured 3 Japanese futons and 2 western beds, along with a full size Samurai warrior costume on display like a museum piece. After doing a bit of bed rearranging, we headed out to start exploring.
We ventured out from our hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo with a few too many bags and headed to the train station for a high-speed train to Otsuki, where we changed to the Mt. Fuji railway for a scenic ride towards Kawaguchiko, a serene lake-side down in the foothills of Mt. Fuji.
Though we've visited Tokyo a few times before, we've never been in Japan for cherry blossom season or with family, so for this quick three-day Tokyo trip, we dedicated our time to sakura hanami (enjoying the transient beauty of the cherry blossoms) and immersing ourselves in the art, history and pop culture that is so unique to Tokyo.
We joined Erin's sister Aubrey, an American expat and Seoul expert for a week of working, shopping, eating and exploring South Korea's capital. Since Aubrey knows Seoul best, we left the planning to her and in a complete change of pace, we didn't make an itinerary.
After traveling through Sri Lanka for 2 weeks, we arrived at noon to the modern, luxury-casino-like airport in Oman and breezed through customs at the strangely empty airport. Everything felt new, like the place was built for millions of visitors who had yet to arrive. We got lost on our way to the rental car area, which sat atop a nearby parking garage, and were confused when all the employees seemed to be on their first day on the job, running around searching for rental cars amidst the sea of desert-worthy white SUVs.
Michelle Ovits is a seasoned expat, having travelled to 60 countries, and set up home-bases in the UK, Korea, Israel and Germany. She's also a good friend to the blog, sharing her adventures to Moscow's caves and cathedrals, as well as summiting one of the highest mountains in South Korea.
Michelle recently went to South Africa and had an incredible experience, so much so that she decided to write her master's thesis on backpacking experiences in Cape Town.
If you have traveled around Cape Town in the last 5 years, please take a moment to complete Michelle's survey about your experiences. The information is completely anonymous and your contribution would be incredibly helpful.
After our cultural exploration in Kandy, mountain hiking and waterfall swimming in Ella, and safari experience near Udawalawe, we were ready for the second phase of our Sri Lanka trip - a week-long exploration of the beaches of Sri Lanka's southern coast. Throughout the week, we explored both famous and hidden spots, snorkeled, scuba-dove, practiced yoga, ate roti, sushi and vegan food, and explored palm tree groves and walked along the top of an oceanside colonial fortress.
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