A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: TheNomadWay.com

Busan, South Korea

overcast 27 °C
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After a fantastic time in Seoul, Byeongsu and I took the fast train south east of the country to the second biggest city - Busan. It's a 325 kilometre trip but only takes 2-2.5 hours if you take the KTX train. Busan has a more laid back feel to it compared with Seoul however it's still a big city with over 3.6 million people spread over a huge area due to the various mountains that are dotted around. It's known for nice beaches, hot springs, nature reserves and seasonal events.


We stayed at Blue Backpackers Hostel in the centre of Busan which was clean, had good facilities and was only 25,000 won (~AUD$27). From there we spent the weekend exploring the city, local attractions & eating good food!

Sights in Busan
Haeundae Beach - A nationally renowned beach, that Korean's flock to in the warmer months.
Haedong Yonggungsa - An impressive buddhist temple in Gijang-gun built in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty, right by the seaside.
Gwangalli Beach - At 1.4km stretch of beach flanked by great cafes, restaurants and views of Gwangandaegyo or Diamond Bridge.
Jalgachi Market - A fantastic market full of all kinds of fresh seafood. A must see.
Taejongdae - A scenic natural park with rugged cliffs facing the open sea on the southernmost tip of the island - Yeongdo-gu.

Late Sunday evening Byeongsu caught the train back to Seoul to go to work whilst I went to the bus station and caught the 50 minute bus to the next destination - Gyeongju.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 16:00 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul, South Korea

overcast 28 °C
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South Korea has been on the bucket list for number of years thanks to stories from other travellers, what I've read and interest in the North and South Korean situation. I flew from Taipei into Seoul pretty late and was immediately impressed with the airport and subway system which took me right into the city centre. Seoul, the countries capital is huge and it's difficult to comprehend the sheer size of this place. There are 10 million people yet the efficiency of the subway system and the fact that there a multiple business districts means connecting Seoul over such a large area means you don't notice it as much as say Hong Kong. It's a fascinating and buzzing metropolis with modern skyscrapers, pop culture, along with historic Buddhist temples, palaces and traditional street markets.

It was great to catch up with a good mate Byeongsu, a Seoul local that we lived with in Canada and who visited us in Australia only a month or so before. He took me too some cool parts of Seoul including Gwangjang Market, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Cheonggyecheon, a light show at the Han River and more. We ate raw beef, had a traditional Korean BBQ and generally a fantastic time in such a bustling city.

Like anywhere in the world that you travel to, you can either go on your own or as part of a tour but nothing beats being able to really understand a place through chatting to a local. Having someone to ask loads of questions to and finding out all you can about a place in terms of what they do and the way they live allows you to really understand more about their culture.


Sights in Seoul

Cheonggyecheon - a 10+km long stream and recreation space in downtown Seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace & Museum - Impressive palace built in 1395
Myeong-dong - Seoul's shopping capital with cathedrals and markets.
N Seoul Tower - The best way to get a grasp of the sheer size of Seoul.
Changdeokgung - World Heritage listed palace and one of the 5 grand palaces build during the Joseon dynasty.
Deoksugung Palace - with a regular Royal Guard ceremony.
Jogyesa - Impressive Buddhist temple & grand main hall.
Heunginjimun - One of the 8 historic gates of the original Fortress Wall.
Changgyeonggung - Another one of the 15th century royal palaces.
National Folk Museum of Korea - Interesting museum for Korean customs & culture
Namdaemun Market - Good for shopping.
Banpo Bridge - A two-level bridge over the Han river with a rainbow water show.
Kukkiwon - The Taekwondo World Headquarters, great place to check out a demonstration.
Bukchon Hanok Village - A traditional Korean village.

South of the river 'Gangnam' was also well worth checking out. It's where the wealthy live, so modern buildings, fancy cars and exclusive shopping is everywhere.

Similar to Taipei, I stayed in two different parts of the city. First in a hostel in the shopping area of Myeong-dong and then in Bukchon, a traditional Hanok Village. The Airbnb guest house in Bukchon was fantastic thanks to the nice couple I stayed with. They cooked up some delicious dinner, breakfast and took me on a walking tour around the local area.

Even though the city is huge, it's scenic as it's set among mountains that surround it's core. Going up into Seoul Tower allows you to see just how beautiful this part of the world it is. However there is a mountain range that eclipses the beauty of the mountains surrounding Seoul and it's called Seoraksan. It's about 2 1/2 hours on the bus east of Seoul.


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Seoraksan National Park, South Korea

overcast 25 °C
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After getting some snacks in the local 7-Eleven, I jumped on the bus and got dropped off at Sokcho which is the nearest city to the Seoraksan National Park. Sokcho is located on South Korea's north east coast and following a quick look at the beach I got myself a couple of huge sushi rolls and took the local bus in towards Seoraksan National Park, just as the sun was setting. I stayed in a hotel called Norumok which was a budget hotel however it had everything I needed. There was a little kitchenette, ensuite, TV and the best part was that it was only about two kilometres from the National Parks entry. This meant I could walk there each day or catch a local bus, compared with the 35 to 40 minute bus ride you would need to take if you stayed in a hostel in Sokcho.

Similar to Taroko National Park in Taiwan, you can spend days exploring the Seoraksan, with load of trails and many multi-day hiking options. However due to time constraints I selected 3 of the trails I thought would be the best and most convenient.

It certainly didn't disappoint. The first trial I went on followed the river to Biseondae and then up Geumganggui Cave. I had no idea what to expect, but after two hours and a climb up the side of a cliff, it lead to a very cool cave which was literally a hold in the cliff. The cave contains a small temple and offers some spectacular mountainous views across the national park. The rain, low cloud and lack of any other hikers just added to the atmosphere. It was certainly a great place to eat lunch and soak up the scenery. I then walked further on towards Yangpok Shelter along crashing rivers and through lush greenery.


The next day I went to the top of Ulsanbawi, a one way hike that takes around 2.20 hrs one way. The distance is not that far but the climb is pretty steep. You do have railings and steps all the way so technically it's fine. The 360 degree views at the top are incredible it's a properly special place. After returning ,I jumped on the cable car and went up to Gwongeumseong, a different mountaintop that offers even more incredible views from a different perspective.

Seoraksan is a special place and I recommend going there mid week to avoid the crowds. It's one of those places and times that you just want to bottle. After returning to Norumok, I picked up my luggage, caught a local bus back to Sokcho and then caught one of the frequent buses back to Seoul.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 16:00 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Taipei, Taiwan

overcast 28 °C
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Taiwan was a bit of an unknown destination, I knew about Taipei and had read that there were some good national parks but other than that, I wasn't really sure what to expect. They are a manufacturing giant just off the coast of China with 23.5 million people with a relatively small land mass. One of the first interesting things to understand was the fact that they aren't officially classified as their own country (despite having their own government and military). It's a little confusing however it turns out that when China had a civil war last century, the communist party won and the opposing party sought retreat on the island of Taiwan, claiming to be the real 'China'. Over time this claim dissipated with the rest of the world, who now acknowledge mainland China with Taiwan being left in a peculiar situation.

I flew into Taipei and quickly realised there was loads to see and do. It's a bustling large city with a super efficient subway system. Neon signs, tall buildings, endless shopping areas combined with great street food and a traditional culture that seemed to be a fusion of Chinese, Japanese and other Asian influences.

For the first few days, I stayed at JV's Hostel right next to a night market on Tongua St, not far from Taipei 101 and returned to stay at 3SS not far from Taipei Main train station. Both were great - small rooms but had everything you'd need.


Sights in Taipei

There were some really great highlights including:

- Taipei 101 - Formerly the tallest building in the world (currently 4th), at 509m with 101 floors and pagoda design, it dwarfs every other building in Taipei.
- Elephant Mountain - A walk up Elephant Mountain is an ideal way to get a view back over the city and see it's scale.
- Memorial Hall / Liberty Square / the City Gate - Are architectural show pieces.
- Temples - Longshan Temple, Boan Temple & Xingtian temple are very popular with worshipers and look fantastic.
- Shopping Next to Ximen Station - Is bustling with neon signs, people shopping and eating into the night.
- Presidential Office - You wont be able to get too close but it's an impressive 100 year old baroque-style building.
- 1914 Creative Park - Home to all sorts of creative talents and buildings including an upside down house! The park is used to showcase the talents of theater groups, painters, wood sculptors, writers, movie producers and more.
- Shilin Night Market - Taipei's largest night market with a huge range of culinary options.
- National Palace Museum - Not far from Shilin Night Market, the palace has a huge collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks which is one of the largest collections of its type in the world.
- Maokong Gondola - South east of the city is a very scenic gondola that climbs up for 20 minutes into lush mountains where tea is grown, produced and tasted.

It's a city that you certainly need at least 5-7 days for. The subway is great but like any city, it's always good to walk from place to place and dodge the endless stream of scooters!


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in Taiwan Comments (0)

Jiufen, Taiwan

rain 25 °C
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After a slow yet scenic train trip I arrived in Ruifang and then jumped on a local bus to go to the small town of Jiufen. It was a old gold mining town up until the 1950's and has since become a popular tourist town following the release of the movie 'City of Sadness'. The movie was a hit and since it came out in 1989, people from Taipei and abroad have been flocking to the city.

It's a small town with great views over mountains and the ocean with narrow winding streets and traditional building scattered on the mountain side. The 'old street' is full of local eateries where you can sample loads of Taiwanese food from a peanut ice cream wrap to stinky tofu (smells terrible, tastes a little better) and everything in between. It's a great place to wander and sample the food and admire the views.


I stayed at the Flip Flop hostel which is fantastic. The guy working there takes people on nightly walking tours, giving guests some pretty cool insights into the town including it's history and it's local artists. One day was enough but it would have been great to stay longer to just relax and soak up the culture.

The next day the owner of the guest house told me that typhoon Meranti was due to hit Taipei on Friday, the day I was due to fly out. Taiwan is used to typhoons however Meranti was classified as the worlds largest of the year and was almost guaranteeing the fact that I was not going to catch my flight out of Taiwan. Luckily the typhoon ended up going west towards China and not up towards Taipei however I still felt the edge of the typhoon which had incredibly ferocious winds.


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Hualien & Toroko National Park, Taiwan

overcast 30 °C
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I was really looking forward to the next part of the trip. After jumping on a train in Tapei's central station, I headed east and then south down Taiwan's east coast toward Taroko National Park. The nearest town to access the national park is Hualien. A small yet vibrant town with great food, weather and a really cool night market. I stayed at the very nice Sleeping Boot Backpacker Hostel which is right in the centre of town.

Taroko national park is big and you could send many days exploring the various trails from short hikes to multi-day treks. With limited time, there are basically 3 options: jump on a day tour from Hualien, utilise a hop-on hop-off bus service or rent a scooter and have full freedom flexibility.


Of course I rented the scooter (after checking my travel insurance). It cost 500 Taiwanese dollars and after signing a the written contract (all in Chinese) off I went for the day. The ride up to the park was around 30 minutes away and one great thing that I had was a map of Taiwan download to my phone with the app 'Here Maps'. With headphones in, it allowed me to have full offline voice navigation which directed me to Taroko National Park. Much easier than having to stop all the time to check a paper map and try to work out what the street signs said. I just enjoyed the ride.

I first went and checked out Quizing Beach which is about 7 kilometres north of Hualien and then went on to Chingshui Cliffs which is where the ocean meets 800 metre mountains. It's these cliffs that form the entry into Taroko National Park. Following a river into the national park, you're suddenly dwarfed by these huge sheer cliffs either side as the road winds through a gorge. Along the way there are trails, rivers, temples and another buildings to check out. It was fantastic. The further you go, the more the road climbs, up to 1,000 metres in altitude and well beyond that.

Some must see highlights of Taroko National Park include:
- Shakadang Trail
- Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine
- Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) Trail
- Jiuqudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns) Trail
- Cimu Bridge
- Lushui Trail
- Xiangde Temple Trail

After the last stop, I kept riding and as the road climbs, you have amazing views back towards the ocean. Daylight and rain was the only issue, so I quickly got back on the bike and rode back towards Hualien. I was back in time to go to see the night market again enjoy some more food before dropping the scooter back at around 9:30pm. It was one of those great days, where you find yourself enjoying every minute.

I did plan to spend another day in Hualien but decided to go back to Taipei via a one night stopover in Jiufen, a place that had marked before the start of the trip but didn't think I'd have time to visit.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in Taiwan Comments (0)


sunny 32 °C
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Last time I travelled to Singapore was in 2008, right at Chinese New Year. What I now realise is that the city certainly has a different feel to it the rest of the year. I recall a lot of the areas such as Little India, downtown and even China Town being quite empty with many of the businesses closed. The waterfront on the other hand was teaming with people, festivities and all sorts of celebrations.

It was quite different this time around. Singapore is a true modern metropolis with 5.4 million people within the relatively small area of 719.1 km². With low taxes, this country is has the presence of many of the worlds largest companies. It's well run, modern, has great infrastructure and you get a real sense that a good portion of the people here are wealthy.

After an overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur, I arrived in Singapore and stayed at the very convenient 5footway.inn Project located at Boat Quay, right in the heart of the city. Small but comfortable, modern and affordable accommodation. China Town was this time bustling, as was downtown and after exploring the city on foot, I caught up with a good pal from home and we went and tried the local specialty - Singapore Chilli Crab. Pricey, but very tasty.


Another difference this time around was Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay. Almost unbelievably, this entire area did not exist in 2008. Marina Bay Sands is an architectural marvel, both inside and out. It's well worth going to the observation deck, however you can avoid the official S$23 ticket and request to go to up to the bar instead. The views are basically the same and it's free - although you should get yourself a drink and enjoy the view. Gardens by the bay is also a great place to walk around and explore if you have a few hours to spare.

The other area I explored was the famed Sentosa Island. It's an island resort accessible by foot, bus or cable car that attracts 20 million visitors per year! There's plenty to do and see including Universal Studios, golf courses, beaches, a bird park and more.


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The Overland Track - Tasmania, Australia

sunny 21 °C

We visited Cradle Mountain a few years ago and have always said we must go back and do the overland trail. The overland track is regarded as one of the best multi-day treks in Australia. It starts right at the base of Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania. It runs for 65 km to Lake St Clair or if you add the hike along Lake St Clair it brings the length to 82 km. Plus there's also a plethora of side trails that allow you to explore mountain peaks, lakes and waterfalls.

Around 8,000 walkers complete the track each year as it winds through changing terrain including sheer mountains, rivers, alpine plains and temperate rainforest. Oh and it's all part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

We set out to hike the trail over 6 days in early February and do as many side trails as we could. The weather can vary a lot, all year round so we made sure we took gear that would keep us warm and dry no matter what the conditions were. Luckily we were in for a treat, a forecast for no rain and 20-23 °C every day. Perfect!

Overland Track Day 1: Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley
Public transport to and from Cradle Mountain is quite limited, especially on a Sunday however McDermott's Bus company run a service out of Launceston at 8:00am which suited us. It terms of gear, we made sure we packed as light as we could whilst ensuring we were ready to face the elements and have enough food to keep us going. Our packs were approx 18 kg complete with tent, mat, sleeping gear, cooking equipment, and clothing for all conditions (it can get to below 0 °C with snow even in summer).

We arrived, signed in and were on the trail by about 11:00am. Day 1 is regarded as one of the toughest days as it includes a fair altitude gain of around 800 metres. Plus, on day 1 your pack is at its heaviest!

A large portion of the trail is raised boardwalk which makes the walking much easier as we gently climbed up to Crater Lake. The trail towards Marion Lookout is more challenging and involves chains for leverage. It's a great view and very popular for day walkers from Cradle Mountain. We ate lunch at Kitchens hut and then did the optional ascend to the top of Cradle Mountain (1,545m). It's quite a scramble to get there and takes 2-3 hours to do however the 360° views are well worth it.

We got into the Waterfall Valley camp at around 8:30pm and cooked up some rice and salmon before the sunset, right by the creek. What a beautiful setting.


Overland Track Day 2: Waterfall Valley to Lake Windermere
Day 2 is a pretty gentle day of 7.8 km of undulating terrain over buttongrass plains which winds passed some crystal clear lakes. A few friends told us we will encounter plenty of snakes and we saw our first of five on day 2! It was a tiger snake approximately 1.5m long, off the trail far enough away to be any concern.

We took the side trip to Lake Will, a 1 hour return trip to relax and laze on the sandy beaches whilst we ate lunch. Lunches generally consisted of a mix of mountain/flat bread, cheese, salami, carrot, celery, vegemite, vita-weats & peanut butter. For snacks, we made our own scroggin / trail mix (a sweet and a savoury version), some chocolate and lollies. Spending time in the wilderness really does make you appreciate food! It was a great setting especially beneath the backdrop of Barn Bluff.

From Lake Will the trail goes on to Lake Windermere high across the plateau with expansive views east and to the west of the alpine moors. Not too long after we arrived at Windermere Hut right at the edge of a myrtle forest. Tent platforms have been built in this camping area which help reduce environmental damage and help keep your tent drier. The nights got a lot cooler, perhaps 5 °C. If you are planning to go, make sure you have a sub zero rated sleeping bag.

We cooked up an Indian dish with a packet sause and pre-cooked rice for dinner, played some cards and chatted with other hikers before hitting the hay early.


Overland Track Day 3: Lake Windermere to Pelion
The third day is the longest at 16.8 km in length (if you don't count the side trails). However it is fairly flat and has a lot of raised boardwalks which helps. It starts out through the heathland and moorland to one of the highlights,the Forth Valley Lookout. It's a deep, dramatic valley which apparently would have been logged if it weren't for some passionate protesters in the 1980's.

We continued through a Pine Forest Moor across Pelion Creek and into a myrtle-beech rainforest on the eastern part of Mt Pelion West. We then decended to Frog Flats which is the lowest section of the Overland Track at 730m above sea level. Forth Creek was our lunch spot (for us and the many mosquitoes).

You really notice the change in flora throughout the day. By the end, we passed through an open eucalypt forest on the edge of Pelion Plains. After setting up camp at Pelion Hut we took in the spectacular dolerite spires of Mt Oakleigh and did some wildlife spotting, as the sun started to set. We were lucky enough to spot wallabies, a wombat, possums and Pademelons.

The evening dinner consisted of soupy mix of miso, tofu, noodles, broccoli and dehydrated mushrooms.


Overland Track Day 4: Pelion to Kia Ora
The length of day 4 is approx 8.6 km's however we decided to climb Mt Ossa which almost doubled that and meant we climbed a little more than we did on day 1. It's basically all the way up to Tasmania's highest mountain, Mt Ossa and then back down to the same altitude we started at. Pelion Hut and Kia Ora Hut both sit at 850m in elevation.

The trail initially goes along Douglas Creek and climbs up 300m through rainforest to Pelion Gap. Pelion Gap is an exposed alpine plateau between Mt Pelion East and Mt Ossa. As the weather was ideal, we summitted (Mt Ossa 1617 m) leaving our big packs at Pelion Gap. We took small/packable day packs which were handy to carry just the essentials - water, food and layers. We reached the top which was covered in cloud and within a few miniutes it lifted and exposed an increadible view of the whole area, allowing us to see where we had come from and where we were headed next.

The descent back down to our packs and then on to Kia Ora Hut was through beautiful Pinestone Valley with views of Cathedral Mountain. A big day and one of our favourites. We found ourselves a platform, setup camp and tucked into some pasta with veg for dinner followed by a chia/hot chocolate pudding (delish).


Overland Track Day 5: Kia Ora to Windy Ridge (Bert Nichols Hut)
A curious and hungry possum woke us up during the night as he tried to get into our bags for food. Luckily we weren't back in the USA when we had to be wary of bears! Day 5 was a great day, a lot of the trail is immersed in rainforest as we skirted around Castle Crag and by the Mersey River.

About an hour into the walk, we checked out Du Cane Hut which was built in 1910 by Paddy Hartnett, a bushman and miner. Further along we took the first side trip which went down to D’Alton and Fergusson falls (1 km return). Of the 2, Fergusson was most impressive and lead to us chilling out with a hot drink and some snacks as we laid in the sun.

The next side trip is to view Hartnett Falls (1.5 km return), which are the tallest waterfalls of the three. For all 3 falls, we left our pack at the track junctions. More relaxation here as we ate lunch on top of the falls, swam and hiked to the bottom of the falls for a view.

Back on the main track, we began the gradual climb to Du Cane Gap which is situated between the Traveller Range and the Du Cane Range. After reaching the top, there was a steep descent into a bowl-like area of the Du Cane Range. The whole region was sculpted by glaciers thousands of years ago. Soon after the canopy opens out we made it to the next camp: Windy Ridge and Bert Nichols Hut. This place was spectacular. It's almost totally surrounded by the stunning Du Cane Range.

With limited camping platforms, we slept in the huts after a feast of polenta, with dehydrated muchrooms, peas and gravy!


Overland Track Day 6: Windy Ridge to Narcissus
Day 6 was upon us and it all came too soon! The ferry at on Lake St Clair at Narcissus was pre-booked for 3:00pm so we had 9 km and plenty of time to get there.

After a tasty breakfast of oats, chia seeds and nuts we set off for the easiest day that slowly decends to Lake St Clair along the glacier’s path to Narcissus Hut. The scenery was different again with tall eucalypts and heath shrubs with loads of birds chirping. As we closed in towards Narcissus River, we took in the beautiful dolerite columns of Mount Olympus.

The Narcissus River crossing is on a suspension bridge which was fun and before we knew it, we arrived that Narcissus Hut right by the Narcissus River. It's in this hut that we radioed the info centre at Lake St Clair to confirm our ferry booking (which all hikers have to do).

We sprawled out in the sun after a swim by the jetty as we waited for the ferry to arrive and soaked up the last 40 minutes of this world class scenery. The ferry dropped us at Cynthia Bay and we signed out. What a journey. It was an experience of a lifetime with memories that will forever stay with us. If you are considering the hike yourself, do yourself a favour and book it in!


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Serbia - Belgrade

overcast 13 °C

Our stay in Belgrade was just not long enough. We arrived after dark in the evening and had to catch a morning flight out the next day. We made the most of it however, thanks to some helpful advice from our host at Hostel Revolution.

We walked most of the major areas within the city, first stopping at Skadarlija street which is full of very nice restaurants. We indulged and ate a delicious casserole at a restaurant called Tpu Wewupt. After checking out Knez Mihailova street, another pedestrian area, we ended up at the Belgrade Fortress! This place is open 24/7 and seems to be the place for young people to hangout.

We returned the next morning to get beautiful views over the Danube and Sava rivers. The other side of the river has actually never been developed, which is in stark contrast to most other cities of the world. People here must not have valued river views! It won't stay like this for long however as there is a $3 billion plan underway to redevelop the whole area.

A bus to the airport and the European leg of our adventure had come to an end! The time to return to Australia had arrived.


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Albania - Tirana

sunny 16 °C

Tirana is the capital of Albania, 2 hours south of Shkodër. It's a busy bustling metropolis and unfortunately for us we could only experience it for 1 night. We stayed at the very comfortable Tirana Backpacker hostel with a great outdoor area. Loads of oranges were also perfectly ripe on their orange tree, so we weren't lacking in vitamin C after our visit.

The Scanderbeg square is home to the National Historical Museum, National Theater of Opera and Dance, and the Ethem'Beu Mosque. It was busy with traffic and people mingling, in fact the whole city seemed to be. The International Centre of Culture pyramid was build by the Russians in 1988 and is now used as broadcasting center by Albanian TV channel Top Channel. At night it's a pretty eerie sight. The Blloku district was once home to the elite Albanian politburo during the communist era. The area was gated just for them and therefore it is full of impressive old architecture. It's now an up-market shoppng and restaurant district.

We had some very tasty Albanian style doner kebabs, which were delicious and got an early night before an early bus to the airport the following day.


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Albania - Shkodër

overcast 18 °C

After a 1.5 hour bus ride we landed in the heart of Shkodër, a city located in northern Albania. We stayed at the centrally located 'Mi Casa es Tu Casa' hostel, a quirky and very welcoming place to chill out for a few days.

We didn't have any expectations for the city as it was predominantly a stop-over to get to Tirana. Apart from Rozafa castle, there aren't too many major sights for a traveller however we really enjoyed unique Albanian culture. There are coffee houses everywhere and they are all full of guys drinking espresso. It seems coffee is the drink of choice and most often it's guys hanging out with guys - not sure where the girls were!

You do notice some economic differences with other European countries, since the Socialist Republic was dissolved in 1991 and the Republic of Albania was established. The last 24 years has seen political unrest including a financial collapse and also affects from the Kosovo War. There seems to be less wealth in general and an ageing infrastructure.

The people are friendly and vibrant, which was noticeable as we walked along the Bojana river, and as we ate some tasty Albanian food at a restaurant called Peja. This was just one of the many local restaurants, which cook up local specialties each day and offer a menu that is based on what food is freshly available. They keep the food warm in a bain marie and you just select what you feel like. No listed menu with prices was a good change! We had pasta, potatoes, a range of veg and some Albanian sausages.


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Montenegro - Ulcinj

overcast 23 °C

Our next stop was just one night in Ulcinj, southern Montenegro. We booked an apartment at 'Apartments Adriatic' which had great view over the town and ocean. After a tasty dinner at Pizze Bife we walked the bustling waterfront, followed by another walk in the morning throughout the old town. It was nice but also felt a little sketchy in the area between the town centre and the bus station.

It was a short stay, next up - Albania!


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Montenegro - Kotor

overcast 22 °C

From Dubrovnik, we headed south into Montenegro en-route to our fly out destination in Albania. Kotor had been recommended to us and we completely forward on that recommendation! It's a wonderfully preserved walled in town set on among mountains and the Adriatic sea. It dates back to the 7th century. The town wall climbs up the mountain side to the Castle Of San Giovanni which gives you a stunning view. Inside the old town you can get lost in the labyrinth of lane-ways which were purposely designed that way to confuse potential invaders.


We took a day trip to the nearby town of Perast. Perast is a small town with two unique islands, one of which is home to R.K.C. Gospa od Škrpjela cathedral, which you can take a small boat out to.

Our hostel called 'Old Town Hostel East Wing' was just about as good as it gets, set inside a 500 year old building with great amenities and a good group of travellers at the time we stayed. Great price too, only 12 euro's per per person with an en-suite. Our favourite place to eat was Mesara Tanjga, with loads of fresh salads and veg but also all kinds of raw meat. You just choose your type and cut, and they cook it up! All for about 4 euros.


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Croatia - Dubrovnik

We flew out of England with Monarch Arilines on one of the strangest flights we've been on - there were a total of 16 passengers. Let's just say, we could easily stretch out!

Dubrovnik is a popular tourist destination for all Europeans and it's clear to see why, the people are friendly, it's affordable and the old town completely stunning. It's located in southern Croatia right on the Adriatic sea with the old town dramatically clinging to the cliff edge.

We stayed at the 'Rock Palace Apartment Midnight Lady', via Airbnb and were given a great introduction of the area by our great host, Zlatan Muslic. The location was good and we had a full kitchen, bathroom and outdoor area to relax in. November was an ideal time to come, the weather was still good and the crowds were minimal (apart from when the large cruise ships came in for a few hours).


We made the most of our few days in Dubrovnik, there is plenty to see and do. The old town was a great place to explore, with endless winding laneways, impressive cathedrals and loads of restaurant options. The best way to grasp it all is walking around the old town wall, especially at sunset.

There are plenty of islands you can get a boat to, we went out to Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan which was a good day trip albeit quiet as the summer crowds are gone!

Fort Imperial is also well worth a look which documents the defense of Dubrovnik from the Serbian and Montenegrin armies in 1991. It also provides a great view of the city and beyond. In terms of food, Bistro & Wine Bar Gusti was tasty.


Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

England - Cotswolds

sunny 19 °C

Over Paul’s birthday we hired a car and spent a few days in the Cotswolds, a beautiful area of UK countryside with rolling green fields and streams dotted with historic villages built from Cotswold stone. Our time included exploring lots of picturesque villages, more afternoon teas and pub dinners in front of a roaring fire against the cold, dark evenings.


We were very lucky to find some great accommodation - a newly converted barn cottage fabulously done up with top notch finishings overlooking open fields. The main house was a large farmhouse and our host took us out to feed the sheep in the morning which was a bit of fun!

On Paul’s birthday the weather was damp and drizzly, so we spent the day at Blenheim Palace, in the village of Woodstock. Blenheim Palace is the home to the Duke of Marlborough, and also happens to be the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.


The Palace remains in original condition dating back to 18th Century Baroque architecture and houses traditional furniture, china, tapestry and paintings. At the end of the day we had fun racing each other through the impressive giant maze in the gardens!

Posted by TheNomadWay.com 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

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