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Beautiful Burma

We get asked a lot, “What is your favorite place you’ve traveled?” My standard answer for the past 10 years has always been Turkey, and a shout out for my love Paris.  If I had a dollar for every time I said that, I would be headed back to the Istanbul all-expenses paid.  That all changed last year. Luci and I went to Burma.  Burma changed my favorite place answer and more importantly, it changed me.

Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, is located in between India and Thailand.  Burma has a rich history, one of beauty and conflict.  If you can get beyond the challenges and meet the people and storied history, you are in for a powerful journey.

Our trip to the region took us to two strikingly different areas within the country: Bagan and Mt. Popa. Both are not to be missed, and candidly, they are the tip of the iceberg of Burmese beauty and mystery.

Before You Go

Be aware that the Myanmar government limits where foreigners are able to travel.  It is critical that you understand in advance where you are allowed to travel.  Going to and from Bagan, Myanmar, will not take you anywhere near prohibited areas. No need to worry.  Myanmar has made giant leaps forward in welcoming tourists.  Don’t forget to arrange your visa: https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/.  It is helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Burmese. English is not widely spoken beyond the tourist areas. 

Getting There

There are two major international airports in the country: Yangon, the capital, and Mandalay.  If your focus is Bagan, Mandalay is the best choice.  We elected to connect via Bangkok, Thailand.  Connection options include many of the major hubs in Asia. 

Currency

The currency of Myanmar is the Myanmar Kyat.  While we did find ATMs in Bagan, they were not plentiful.  We would recommend not going thin on cash, as credit cards are not widely accepted.  The exchange rate is favorable to Westerners, making Burma perfect for the budget focused traveler. We often joke that Myanmar makes Thailand look expensive. We found the food, accommodation, and transportation to be very affordable. Luci got a two-hour massage for $12.

We landed at the Mandalay Airport and we had arranged in advance a car service to take us the four-hour drive to Bagan.  If you arrive after 4 p.m., we might recommend that you overnight in Mandalay and then take the drive into Bagan.  Half of the drive will be on a modern freeway.  The remainder of the drive will be winding through small Burmese towns and fields. There are few road signs and the roads can be rough. We loved the drive and were glad we didn’t elect to rent a car.

Beautiful Bagan

Bagan is steeped in spiritual and political history.  It once was the capital city of the Pagan Kingdom.  It was a thriving center of commerce and religious practice from the 9th to the 13th centuries. At its height, it was home to over 10,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries.  Later, a number of Hindu temples were added to the mix. Today, you can visit over 2,000 different structures that dot the valley.  It truly rivals Angkor Wat.  Most, if not all, of the temples are open to visitors.  A number of earthquakes have rocked the area over the centuries.  Some of the temples are in disrepair and some of the larger temples are under reconstruction.  In August 2016 a major earthquake hit the area and over 400 temples were destroyed.  For obvious reasons, do not delay your visit to the area.

Getting Around

We highly recommend renting an electric scooter.  They are simple to drive and very affordable.  We paid $3 (US currency) a day!  They brought them right to our B and B.  The temples are spread out and the valley is vast.  There is no way to do it on foot.  We recommend the first day of your visit to hire a guide that can give you an introduction and overview of the history and religious importance of the temples. 

Rent a scooter!

Sunrise and Sunset

The Bagan Valley is one of the most photogenic locations we have ever visited.  This is especially true during the “golden hour” at dawn and dusk.  During the right season, you can board a hot air balloon. We unfortunately, we didn’t time our visit to allow this. Bummer. The views from the balloons must be amazing! Next trip!

Visiting Temples

Know that most temples are still active religious centers. You will be expected to show reverence and respect.   This begins with the attire.  It is important to be modest in your clothing choices.  You will be asked to remove you shoes in most temples.  This can be very hot on the feet and a nightmare for germaphobes (Luci). In the major temples, you will be asked to keep your voices low.

Accommodations

Good news, bad news.  Major hotel chains have not landed in Bagan.  This is great news.  Bad news is the good places fill up quickly.  Most have a mom and pop B and B feel.  Make your bookings early.  We recommend the Tripadvisor.com to get the latest intel on the best places to rest your head.  We stayed at the Bluebird.  It was beyond our expectations. The service rivaled a five star hotel and the food was excellent.

Bagan Temple

The Food

There are a number of restaurants along the Irrawaddy River.  Dinner at sunset overlooking the river is magical.  While there a host of different options for every taste, western options are limited.  Most of the fruits and veggies are locally sourced.  The local specialty is actually peanuts.  They are sooo good!  Bring us back some?

A view of the Buddhist compound from Mt. Popa

Mt. Popa

A wonderful side trip from Bagan is going to Mt. Popa.  The Mt. Popa National Park is densely forested former volcano.  It is nothing short of beautiful.  There are a number of resorts overlooking the famous Buddhist monastery that is perched on a volcanic outcropping.   Words cannot describe just how beautiful it is.

Getting There

Getting to Mt. Popa is simple.  Just hire a car and take the 1 hour 30 drive.  There is are interesting little town right at the base of the volcano that has an incredible selection of fruit.  The exotic fresh fruit is yummy!

Needless to say, Bagan is one of the special places on the planet.  In time, we worry that it will become over commercialized as Angkor has.  Visit soon to see it in its pristine beauty. 

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Destination: Antartica

Why?

I want to bring you on a journey with me.  It has been 20 plus years in the making.   While I was attending Rigby High School in rural Idaho, I set a goal to travel to all 7 continents.  Growing up in a single-wide trailer and a son of a single mother, this was a very audacious goal.  In 10 short months I will take the last step in tackling this ambitious goal.  Cue the stirring music.

I am sharing my experience, not to boast, or draw attention to myself (This is Mike by the way…).  This series of posts are for three different types of people:

1) If you have ever dreamed a dream, set a goal, wished for something big and special in your life, this series of posts are for you.  If you need a little reassurance that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, this is for you.  There is a light.  It can and will happen for you.  But…..it is really, really hard.  Never, Never, NEVER give up on your goals!

2) If Antarctica is on your bucket list, and you just want the details on how to make it happen on a budget.  These posts are for you– if you can get beyond a little sappiness, along the way.

3) For my friends and family that are wondering “what in the world” is Mike doing this time.  This is for you as well.  (Please skip the “danger” section below.) Enjoy.

Antarctica

Antarctica

Perhaps one of the most inhospitable places on earth, Antarctica is not a “fun” place to visit.   According to Wikipedia:  “Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.”  So, it’s got that going for it.  Obviously, it attracts scientists, global warming anti-deniers, and penguin watchers galore.   It also speaks to another breed, the 45to 55 year-old bucket-lister-crosser-offer-ers. Guilty as charged.

The Fighting Solo

I am going it alone on this one. This trip includes everything that Luci hates: 

1) cold

2) rough seas

3) Mike

4) small cabin

5) more rough seas

6) sea-sickness and

7) cold water. 

After not getting a response from my Twitter invite to Gal Gadot (It’s not too late if you are reading this), I have paired up with a good friend to join me. Traveling solo to Antarctica nearly doubles the price, a non-starter for me.

Antarctica Fun Fact:  The Continent was the last one to be “discovered.” In 1820, the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev sighted the Fimbul Ice Shelf.  It was not until much later that a group of Norwegians made the first landing.

Weddell seal pups on the ice of the Antarctic Peninsula

When to Start

Cruises fill up a year or more in advance.  While I have read of bloggers going down to the port and booking a spot the day of, I just can’t roll that way.  If you are like me, you have a tight window to make everything work with time off and family, booking exact days is a must.

Nothing is Easy or Cheap

A word of warning.  Regardless of the many “fluffy” blog posts out there on the white continent, visiting Antarctica is difficult, extremely expensive, and a tiny bit dangerous.   Luci and I have made a habit of finding the shortcuts to make travel cheap.  We maximize points, travel on shoulder seasons, and a several other tricks of the trade to make global travel affordable.  None of those ingenious tactics work on Antarctica.  There is a three-month window when you can go, there are limited boats, and there are only two ports you can go out of in South America.  Antarctica is the soup Nazi of travel.  No cheap trip for you!

The “Drake Shake”

Budget

I began saving for Antarctica four years ago. Both Luci and I are disciples of Dave Ramesy, so we are very conservative on how we spend our money.   Each year we allot a certain amount of our budget for “blow money” (we know, it sounds terrible.).  This is money that we can spend on anything we want.  I hoarded mine like a crazy man, I skipped birthday and Christmas presents in order to save the money for this trip.

Ok, let’s talk numbers.  You can spend $75k on an Antarctica trip without blinking an eye. (https://www.swoop-antarctica.com/cruises/south-georgia/in-depth). Since we don’t have a trust fund, this is not an option for us.  (It would be soooo cool though!)

Here are the basics for our trip:

$1,800 flight from Boise, Idaho, USA (BOI) to Buenos Aires (EZE).

$500 flight from Buenos Aires (AEP) to Ushuaia (USH)

$8,900 pp double Occupancy cruise

$750 excursions (kayaking, camping, etc.)

$250 Lodging and transport Ushuaia

$500 “melt” layover in Buenos Aires

$500 Medical/evacuation insurance

$13,200

Jumping Gentoo Penguins

Travel Insurance

Without a doubt, you need travel insurance for any trip to Antarctic.  There are three major components to travel insurance: medical, evacuation and cancellation.  Medical insurance provides coverage for major injuries and sickness that may occur during your trip.  Please pay close attention to how “previous conditions” are covered.  Evacuation coverage could be used in tandem with the medical, it is to get you to the nearest medical facility and eventually home should your treatment be needed.  This is critical with the remoteness of the region.   Lastly, most of the cruise tickets to Antarctica are non-refundable.  Should you have a covered incident, like losing a job etc., there is coverage for the amount of the ticket that is not refundable. The rest of the add in coverages are nice, but not mission critical.

Danger

Ok…you bought the insurance right?  Lets talk danger.  There is a small but real exposure.  This is still a difficult trip.  Type in MS Explorer 2007 into google and you will read of the last tourist ship sinking after hitting an iceberg.  All survived due to extremely good weather at the time.   The boat ended up at the bottom of the ocean.  Moving right along….

Getting There

With all the boring details taken care of, let’s go!  Let’s start with the end in mind.  There are two ports in South America that ships to Antarctica sail out of:  Punta Arenas, Chile; and Ushuaia, Argentina. Getting to one of those two can be done by a couple small carriers out of major South American cities including Rio, Buenos Aires, and Santiago.  We elected the Buenos Aires to Ushuaia route on Aerolineas Argentinas.  It is roughly a four-hour flight.  Don’t book the final flight of the day, leave yourself at least one more flight option.  You don’t want to miss the boat.

Seal in front of ship, boat, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Choose your Cruise

The lion share of your budget is going to be spent on which cruise.  Your experience will be completely defined by the craft you choose.  Ultimately, you are trying to maximize your value.  There are roughly 50 boats that make trips to the Antarctic every year.  Only smaller boats are allowed to stop and let passengers visit the mainland.  If your boat has 500+ passengers, you will simply float past the continent. 

In order of luxury of small ships to Antartica:

Abercrombie & Kent

Hurtigruten

National Geographic

Ponant

Oceanwide

Quark

G Adventures

The key will be finding dates and trips that will fit your schedule and fare that won’t destroy you budget.  Keep in mind the cruise season in Antarctica is December to February. 

We elected to go with Oceanwide, sailing on their brand new luxury boat the Hondius.  Below is a video of its launch in Croatia.  Our decision was made on timing, activities, and reputation of Oceanwide.

This is the first of many posts as we prepare for the grand adventure.  Stay tuned for more details in this series on packing, plans and preparations.

Do you have questions?  Let us know.  Would you like a postcard from the end of the world?  Leave us a comment.

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A Visit to the Holy Land: Israel and Beyond

There are a lot of destinations that call themselves holy.  With that said, few places can claim that three of the world’s major faiths call the place sacred.  The land we speak of is Israel.  We recently returned from a two week visit and want to give you the ultimate guide to seeing the sacred sites.  This will be a two part post, with the first highlighting the religious sites of Israel, and the second will be about a side trip into Jordan.  Both are must dos, and compliment each other well.

Beautiful Jerusalem

Safety

Ok. First off, let’s take on the biggest reservation we hear about visiting the region.  “Is it safe?”  The answer is yes and no.  Will an AK-47 armed terrorist kidnap you and hold you for ransom?  No.  Will you run over a roadside bomb driving your rented Toyota down the freeway? No. Could you be pick pocketed in a busy street loaded with tourists? Yes.  Could a valuable in your parked car be taken? Yes. If you wander into the wrong area late at night, might you meet some baddies? Perhaps.

Our advice to staying safe is simple.  Be aware.  Be careful.  And be kind.  With these three simple guiding principles, you are extremely unlikely to have any issues.   

To Tour or Not to Tour

Ok, with that big one out of the way.  Let’s take on the second big one.  Do I need to go with a tour?  To this we offer a resounding NO!  Somehow, you found our blog.  This leads us to believe that you are the type of person that can do a basic internet search.  If you can do that, you can navigate Israel on your own.  That simple.  If you can read and speak basic English, you will have no challenges there.

Perspective

A word of disclosure.  This was Mike’s second visit to Israel. The first time he traveled with the American Jewish Committee as a part of a leadership exchange.  This offered a uniquely Judeo-view of both the history and the spiritual perspectives.  We are practicing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and we traveled this time with another couple who are devout Roman Catholics.  We will try out best to offer insights on all three of these perspectives.  Regardless of your level of religiosity, you will find the history of the region compelling.

If you need some help packing, not forget the Fighting Couple Packing Guide.

Getting there/Tel Aviv

The major gateway in and out of the country is Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.  Tel Aviv is the secular capital of Israel; Jerusalem is of course the spiritual one.  Many of the world’s leading airlines have regular flights there.    The airport sits roughly 10 miles west of Tel Aviv.  There are many shuttles back and forth.  We highly recommend that you rent a car.  All of the major rental car companies have representation there.

Landed!

Once you arrive, depending on the timing, you may wish to overnight in Tel Aviv.  Early arrivals will give you the leg up on getting to Jerusalem.  The City of David is roughly an hour drive from Tel Aviv.  It is all freeway, and could not be easier.  If you are accustomed to driving on US or European freeways, you will be very comfortable.

We recommend doing a large circle route: starting in Tel Aviv and driving to Jerusalem.  Use Jerusalem as a base to see the sights of the town and then take a day trip to the Dead sea and to Bethlehem.  From there drive north to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.  We then recommend driving out to the coastal town of Acre and following the freeway south along the Mediterranean back to Tel Aviv. 

We took a total of 12 days in see Israel on the route listed above, and saw Wadi Rum and Petra, Jordan.

Jerusalem

The first thing you need to know about Jerusalem: there is the city, and then there is the old city, which is a city within a city.  Most of the historic religious sites lie within the walls of the old city.  Park your car for the time you are in Jerusalem.  All sites can be seen by walking and public transport.

The Old City

One of the seven gates into the old city

The old city is divided into four sections: the Jewish Quarter, Muslim, Armenia and the Christian quarter.  Armenia is represented, and has a long connection with the city, as they were the first country that officially named Christianity as the state religion.  The entire old city is surrounded by a massive wall built in the early 16th Century by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.  There are seven gates into the city…ok we lied, there are really eight, but one is no longer in use…and there is an interesting story about that. (https://new.goisrael.com/article/252).

A great way to really get a feel for highpoints of the Christen sites is to follow the Via Dolorosa.  This follows the path of Christ’s last moments.  To those of the Catholic faith, each of these stops will ring very familiar.  https://www.dolr.org/stations-of-the-cross/jerusalem

The walk begins where Christ was condemned to die, walking to where he sees his mother and where Simon takes up the cross for the Savior, and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.   The path is mostly cobblestones and pavement.  You will definitely want good walking shoes.  There are plenty of places to stop along the path for water or refreshment.

Church of the Holy Sepulchure

The Church of the Holy Sepulchure

The last four stations of the Via Dolorosa are contained in the church.  It is massive.  Here you will see the slab of rock that Christ was placed after his crucifixion.  Many other sites were identified by St. Helena.  Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 312AD.  Shortly thereafter, he dispatched his mother, Helena to the region to begin the process of identifying where the stories of the Bible took place.  By inspiration, advice, and some other more interesting methods, she was able to key in on were everything happened.  On her direction, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was constructed on the site of an old pagan temple.  It has expanded and changed over the centuries since.  A mixture of crusades, Muslim protection, earthquakes, and internal architectural disputes have led this building to be one of the most interesting and disputed structures ever built.  One of more intriguing stories is the “immoveable ladder.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immovable_Ladder

Today it is the home of six Christian orders with each sect battling an internal turf war within the building for control and real estate.  Often these disputes turn to fisticuffs.  Make sure and read the Wikipedia profile of the Church.  Very helpful:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre   If you wish, a number of parishioners call be “locked” into the church overnight.

To those of the LDS faith and others, visiting this site can be a bit overwhelming.  While held in reverence by so many sects, the crowded, smoke filled church is constantly loud, contentious, gaudy and combined with forceful docents, we found it difficult to make a strong spiritual connection to Christ while inside the church. Luci got yelled at while trying to go inside the tomb by a demanding priest who wanted people to hurry and our friends got kicked out of mass even though they are Catholic. However, we should note that we were befriended by an Armenian priest, who blessed us with holy oil and that was the highlight of the visit to the church.

One of the biggest challenges for us as Latter-day Saints and others is the desire to stand, or be near the exact spot “where it happened.” Few places exist today were one can say with sureness that “this is the place,” where the Savior stood.  Yes, you are within hundreds of feet of where these events took place, but exactness is hard to come by. In addition, the real stones the Savior would have walked are typically 80 to 100 feet below you as the city has been conquered and rebuilt. In the end, we learned that it’s ok to be “ok” with this.  As the “Fighting Couple” always says… “make sure you are fighting for the right things.”

The Garden of Gethsemane

Across the valley from the old city is the Garden of Gethsemane.  The word Gethsemane translated means “oil press.” It is here that tradition holds that Christ prayed, as his disciples slept the night, before his crucifixion.   Today the Church of All Nations is on the site.  The ceiling is a stunning blue and décor is incredible.

We felt a strong connection to Christ in this area.  It was less crowded, and being among the 2000+ year old olive trees really lends to quiet refection on the Atonement. We also bought small bottles of olive oil here.

The Garden Tomb

One of the most peaceful places we have found in Jerusalem is the Garden Tomb.  Many Protestant groups claim this as the tomb of Christ.  It is located just outside the Damascus Gate.  Those of the LDS faith will immediately recognize this setting.  Pictures of the Garden tomb appear in many versions of the standard works.  It was unearthed in the mid 1850s.  It is surrounded by a peaceful garden and is an ideal setting to contemplate. 

The Garden Tomb

Many claim John’s comment, “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.” KJV (John 19:41) to be evidence of the correct location.  Again, it is nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact location of the Tomb. 

While a number of LDS leaders have had a strong affinity for this being the Tomb of Christ, no definitive declaration has been made that we are aware of.  Mormon scholar Dr. John Tvedtnes shares some interesting research on the topic:  (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/04/the-garden-tomb?lang=eng&query=garden+tomb)

The Western Wall

Perhaps the most sacred spot for Jews is the remnant of the temple wall.  Jews come from all around the world to pray, and worship at the foot of what would have been the temple.  Especially at the close of Shabbat, or sabbath the place is filled with songs, prayers and rejoicing.   The Western Wall is separated into a men’s and women’s side.  Jew and Gentile must cover their heads as they approach the wall. You can also write prayers and stuff them into one of the cracks in the wall.

The Dome of the Rock

The most recognizable structure in all of Israel is the beautiful Dome of the Rock. It is one of the most sacred houses of worship for Muslims. Its beautiful blue octagon walls and golden dome rival any temple we have seen. The location is believed by Jews to be the place were Adam was created. It is also believed to be the location where the Old Testament prophet Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Issac. This is also believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. While you cannot enter the mosque as a non-believer, you can enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of this site.

BYU Israel

BYU JerusalemLocated on the Mount of Olives is the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.  The center is a satellite campus of Brigham Young University, one of the largest religious universities in the world.   A few hundred students reside at the center for a semester.  The center is open for tours and often offers free concerts from their concert hall overlooking the old city.  It is a view not to be missed. The LDS Church leases the property, thus it is difficult to know how long the center will remain in its current location.

Dead Sea and Masada National Park

One of the side trips we highly recommend is a three hour drive south east to the Dead Sea.  Swimming in the Dead Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  There is nothing like it.  You will float no matter how hard you try not too! The water feels slick like a truck load of essential oils were dumped in it. To get the most of the experience, cover yourself in mud, let it bake, and swim in the sea to dissolve it. Your skin will feel like you just left a five star spa. There are a number of public beaches that have changing facilities and you can buy mud at local stores.

Looking down on the Dead Sea is the might fortress of Masada.  Once a last refuge from the Romans, Masada is a collection of ruins atop a lofty plateau that can be accessed by a strenuous hike or a comfortable tram.  This is an important and moving place for Jews.  It symbolized the rebellion against Roman invaders and a last desperate act against domination. It is both a spiritual and patriotic place for Jews. For Americans it would be like combining Valley Forge and the National Cathedral. The views of the area are worth the price of admission.  A couple hours is really adequate in our eyes to see the area. Check out the museum which has the actual rocks or lots where the men of Masada wrote their names as too who would be killed next.

Bethlehem

The birthplace of Christ is a must see during your visit.  Bethlehem is located 5 miles south of Jerusalem.  The city is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.  It has a very different vibe than what you have been experiencing in Jerusalem.  The Church of the Nativity is being remodeled at the time of this writing.  In the grotto you can visit what is believed to the be manager where Christ was born. Take a public bus to get there from outside the Old City. We suggest bus #21. It’s safe and easy. It will drop you off a ten minute walk to the Church of the Nativity. Taxi cabs in Jerusalem will try to swindle you by charging $200 to $500 to take you to the Church.

The Jordan River

Jordan River

While there is not a definitive spot where tradition holds the Savior was baptized, the Jordan River holds a special place in the Christian tradition.  Just south of the Sea of Galilee, in a wide spot in river, is a commercial baptism center.  Here patrons can be baptized. It felt a bit like the baptism scene in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” There is a changing station if you want to pay to get baptized and a sizable gift shop. You can put your feet in the water without paying, but swimming is discouraged.

Capernaum and the Mt. of Beatitudes

On the north shore of the Sea of Galilee are the ruins of the City of Capernaum.  During Christ’s ministry, he spent a great deal of time here.  It is here that he met Peter and a number of his other apostles including Andrew, James, and John.  He taught, lived, and worshiped here.  We learn of many healings that took place in the city:

Mark 2:1-5 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

Today you can walk around the ruins of the city and there are a number of alcoves and areas you can stop for reflection.  In the center is the octagonal church.  It is here were Catholic tradition holds that an invalid was lowed through the roof and was healed by Christ.  One of the highlights for us is as you walk in through the front gates, there is a statue of Christ on a park bench.  It almost looks like it is a vagrant taking a nap.  It is only after you see the nail prints in his hands and feet to you realize who the person is.  It is very impressive.

Just above Capernaum is where tradition holds that the Savior would have given the Sermon on the Mount.  With its lofty view of the Sea of Galilee, it is perhaps one of the best views in the Holy Land.  A peaceful and reflective spot!

Church of Annunciation

 

Nazareth

Nazareth is the town that Jesus was raised.   Here you will find the Basilica of the Annunciation.  This is by far, one of our favorite churches in the Holy Land.  It was built to feel like it was made of wood.  There are many stunning stained glass windows throughout.  The theme of this church is the figure of Mary.   There are many colorful pieces of artwork, done by artists around the globe that surround the outer courtyard and the inner basilica. 

According to Catholic tradition, this is the spot where Mary’s childhood home would have stood.  The current church there was built in 1969, on the top of an earlier Crusader era church.  It has been classified as a minor basilica.  Mass is celebrated there in multiple languages. 

On the way back

You have hit the major religious sites if you have followed our plan above.  Now how about some sun, sand and surf?  Head east till you need a boat.  The Mediterranean Sea is a beautiful and warm reward for tired bodies.  We spent some time in the Medieval city of Acre.  Very interesting history and architecture.  We highly recommend spending a day or two unwinding before you head back to busy Tel Aviv.

To see more pictures for this amazing place please visit our Facebook and instagram pages:

https://www.instagram.com/fightingcouple/

https://www.facebook.com/1000fights
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This Friendship Day Make Your Spouse Your Best Friend

Friendship Day is Aug. 6th!  What could be better than having your spouse as your best friend in the world? Your friend is someone you share secrets with, practice your favorite hobbies with, and have the perfect night out with. So, why should your best friend also be your mate? Some traditionalists say you can’t be friends with your husband the way you would with a female friend, but this couldn’t be the truth. Being best friends with your spouse isn’t a process that happens overnight, but it is always worth doing. Here are 9 tips on making your spouse your best friend.

Have Fun Together

This seems like a bit of a ‘duh!’ suggestion, but to make your spouse your best friend, you need to learn how to have fun together.

Put away the cares of the day and shelve talks about babies, bookkeeping, and bills and look forward to quality time spent doing something you both love. This could mean sitting down with snacks and a movie, going to the beach, horse riding, fishing or doing yoga, drinking at a pub, doing bad karaoke or sharing your favorite activities together. Whatever makes you laugh and fulfills your soul, make sure you do it together!

Love Despite Imperfections

Nobody’s perfect. This is a phrase that becomes truer the longer you are in a relationship together! Things aren’t always going to be rainbows and sunshine, but that doesn’t mean you should show any less love. Show your partner your care for them by always giving a kind word, being a shoulder to cry on, loving them for their weaknesses and showing praise for their positive qualities.

Keep things Private

A good friend wouldn’t talk about their friends behind their backs, so neither should you with your spouse! This means not complaining to friends and family about your mate’s shortcomings or expressing the ways in which you wish they were different. Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. This also means not sharing private details of your relationship or telling secrets about your partner to anyone else.

 

Get Excited about Things

One thing both sexes respond to from their partner is excitement. When you get excited for something your mate enjoys, such as his favorite sport or her favorite band, it makes them feel closer to you. So when she starts talking about a social justice issue, a new movie releasing that she wants to see, or her latest Pinterest board don’t just nod and smile politely. Get excited! Even if these things don’t particularly excite you, showing her that you’re excited for her will let her know you care.

Be Supportive and Uplifting

Good friends lift one another up. When your spouse is feeling down and out, strive to cheer them up with commendation that is genuine and refreshing. Don’t be a nag. Be quick to remind your partner of their good qualities and tell them the reasons that you love them. Giving praise and showing kindness to one another is exactly what best friends do when their BFF is feeling low.

Put your Mate First

Best friends make time for one another at the drop of a hat. If she needs you, you’re there! If he’s in a bind, he knows who to call. So it should be with your spouse too. Put your mate first. This means never cancelling plans with your mate just because another offer came along. Show interest in their interests, make time to be together, display trust and loyalty, and keeping the doors of communication open about any subject under the sun from the funniest dream you ever had to the stresses of your new job.

Show Forgiveness

Best friends know when to let it go and so should you. Strengthen your friendship and romantic relationship by learning to let go. As stated, nobody is perfect and there are going to be times where one of you hurts the other one. You may forget an anniversary or say something out of line.

Practice learning to forgive and let go. Not only does this mean learning to forgive one another’s shortcomings, it means learning to move on from the small things. If your wife forgot to charge her phone and you couldn’t get a hold of her, do you really need to lecture her about it? Or if the husband wants to spend some time with his brother instead of you after a long day at work, is it worth starting a fight over? The next time you are about to get upset with your mate ask yourself: Is this still going to be important to me tomorrow? If the answer is no, leave it.

Show your Spouse You Care

Have you ever had that moment when you’re feeling pretty ‘blah’ and then your best friend comes around and does something that reminds you how special you are to them? It felt like they showed up at just the right time. This is what your spouse should think of you. Showing your spouse you care about them couldn’t be easier. Something as small as a surprise gift, a special breakfast, a hug out of nowhere, or a sweet midday text can make your spouse feel amazing.

Show Respect

Relationships flourish when there is mutual respect. Give your spouse the same respect you would give your best friend. This means letting them speak, really listening when they talk, not being judgmental about their thoughts and decisions, never speaking badly about them, and never using a condescending tone. Be helpful to your mate, say please and thank you, congratulate them when they’ve done well, and always live up to your word.

Friendship day is a great time to make your spouse your best friend and learn to enjoy one another as friends and as lovers. Taking the time to forge this bond will deepen your connection and give you the best friend you always wanted to have.

 

Author Bio:- Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.

 

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Seeing Norway’s Fjords by Car

The fjords of Norway are one of nature’s wonders: gigantic and rugged mountains teeming with waterfalls that churn into deep inlets that empty to the sea.  Most people think that the only way to see Norway’s fjords is via an expensive cruise. Not true. We recently partnered with our friends at Auto Europe to explore the fjords via automobile. If you haven’t already, we recommend reading part one of this feature :”The Perfect Norway Roadtrip“. It highlights our recommendations for the wonderful capital city of Norway: Oslo.  Here is a map of our trip:

Before we give you a detailed plan of what to see in Norway, we think we need to put the debate to rest about the whole fjord cruising thing. Yes, being on the water is incredible. But the problem with the cruise ship is twofold: you have to go where the ship goes or swim really well.  The worst thing about cruising: where the boat goes a whole lotta people go as well. No fun. Having the flexibility of driving a car enables you to see what you want to see. It allows you to spend as much time as you want staring at a magnificent waterfall. It also allows you to be alone with your lover at the base of a majestic lake all by yourself. We did both of these and felt sorry for the hordes of cruisers who never experienced Norway the way we did.

Part one of our series focused on Oslo to Lillehammer. Now it’s time to head north towards Andalsnes.

Gjerdset Turistsenter

Gjerdset Turistsenter

Gjerdset Turistsenter

Located just 18 km from Andalsnes is a beautiful collection of cabins overlooking a lush forest and deep blue lake. You can rent cabins large or small depending on number of your party. It is perfect for traveling with families.  What we love most about this location is the ability to take little row boats out onto the lake. It is truly a surreal setting. You are completely surrounded by the majestic Romsdal Mountains.  Of all of the areas of Norway, this spot mimicked the views from the Disney cartoon, Frozen.  This is a great base to explore the fjords and the deep lakes that are in the surrounding area. As we mentioned in our previous post, Norway is extremely expensive. One of the advantages of renting a small cabin is the ability to do your own cooking thus saving you money.

alesund

Alesund

Once you have your fill of alpine living, it’s time to head for the water. Drive northwest for another hundred miles and you will come to the charming seaside city of Alesund. The old city is filled with Norwegian charm. Architecture and colors combine to create a beautiful tapestry that is pure Norway. The city is known for its art-deco architecture. Hotels here don’t come cheap. This is a great place to use your points. There is a very nice Radisson blu right on the water. They have big rooms and a massive breakfast.

The must do’s in Alesund include climbing or driving to the lookout perch above the city. We would highly advise you to head up there anytime the weather looks clear, which is not very often for this part Norway. Taking a good picture up there is a challenge. The location is quite popular, so try the early morning if you get clear skies. The hike up to the top is quite rigorous, but the steps make it very doable.  As you can see above, this is the best we could do.

The second must do is shopping. There are so many little eclectic stores that have Norwegian folk items, Maritime trinkets, and your standard tourist souvenirs. We found some good deals on some clothing including hats, gloves, and coats all handmade with bright Norwegian colors.

Norway Waterfall

Norway Waterfall

For our tour of the fjords, this is as far north as we’re going to go. From here drive south toward the hamlet of Hornindal. It is approximately two hours drive south. You will follow some of the worlds most stunning scenery. Cascading waterfalls are in view at just about every turn. Yes, we stopped a lot!

Once you arrive in Hornindal, we highly recommend the First Hotel Raftenvold. It is perched on the banks of Hornindalsvatnet Lake.  Try saying that name three times fast! At a depth of 514 metres (1,686 ft) it is the deepest lake in all of Europe! The hotel is located right on the edge of the water. You can even take a swim if you wish!

They’re not a whole lot of places in this area to eat. We do recommend eating in the hotel restaurant.  A word of warning: do be careful because the hours are a little bit confining. Mike took his sweet time getting ready for dinner and they were ready not to serve him because he was five minutes late. Be on time!

Aurland

The next morning we continued our quest.  We drove to the charming town located on a stunning fjord called Aurland. We stayed at the Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri. It has great little cabins right on the fjords, affording you a wonderful view to wave at the cruise ships as they pass by. The hotel has a rich history, it was once home to the Norwegian Sea captain Juell circa 1770.

The city of Aurland is located on Europe’s deepest Fjord, the Sognefjord. It is 1,308 m deep and 204km long! It is known as the king of the Fjords. Here you will have easy access to Geriangerfjord, the Briksdal glacier and Vestkapp Mountian. This area is considered by many to be the most beautiful place on the planet.

Stegastein

Stegastein

Just outside of town, and up a zig zagging road is the fjord viewpoint called Stegastein. Sounds like some kind of dinosaur?   The viewpoint includes a laminated wood and steel viewing platform that is visually stunning. It is has won numerous international design awards. It juts 30 meters out into the air and affords some incredible selfies with the fjord in the background.

A little Odda

Our road trip now takes us further south to the little fishing village of Odda. Odda turned out to be one of our favorite places during our stay in Norway. It has a number of little restaurants, beautiful water, and some amazing waterfalls. Prices can be a bit steep in town, we elected to rent a cabin at Seljestad Cottages just 20 minutes outside the city.

Latefossen Falls

Latefossen Falls

Latefossen Falls

Ten minutes outside of Odda on our way to our cabin, are Latefossen Falls. Latefossen must mean car wash in Norwegian. You actually drive your car through the waterfall! We struggled to keep our camera dry as we braved the torrent of mist to take photos. Definitely stop and take some pictures!

Trolltunga

The most famous attraction near Odda is Trolltunga (translated, the Troll’s Tongue). Type it into Google and you will see some stunning pictures of the rock outcropping that will make anyone scared of heights go into freak out mode. We elected not to take on the 15-mile hike. It was a bit much for our hiking abilities.  But, good news for you, our friends at www.norwaytonowhere.com did. Here is their report.

Norway is perfect for driving. The roads are in good condition. Petrol in the county is cheap and plentiful, and the rental rates from our friends at @autoeurope are affordable. Skip the cruise and take a drive that will envelop you in some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.

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The Perfect Norway Road Trip

So often we hear that the best way to see Norway is by taking a cruise. We could not disagree more! The best way to see Norway is by taking a road trip! Norway’s stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and captivating history make it a great place for traveling couples. The fjords of Norway are unlike any place we have ever visited and we can’t wait to share with you a few of our tips and tricks for making your road trip successful.

Oslo Airports

Most international flights bring you to Norway via one of three “Oslo” airports. None of the airports are near the city.   The (OSL) Oslo Airport Gardermoen it Is located 47 km north-east of Oslo. The Rygge Airport (RYG) is located at 66 kilometers south-east of Oslo and finally the Torp Airport TRF is located 110 km south-west of Oslo. Do not fret about which airport you arrive at as there is easy access to rental cars at each. There are actually many pros to staying your first night outside of Oslo proper. We elected to stay in the small hamlet of Fredrikstad and had a great experience.

Picking the Right Rental

We’ve written a recent post will help you select the right rental car. Please keep in mind that there are a lot of mountains, climbs, and weather in Norway. Don’t go cheap on the rental car. We used and highly recommend our friends at Auto Europe for rentals in Norway and the rest of Europe.

Oslo

The bustling capital of Norway is truly beautiful. Perched on the edge of the sea. Cruise ships park right in the center of downtown. Norwegians have long been a seafaring people. Sailboats, motorboats and rafts line the harbors and almost outnumber the cars. Your road trip we’ll start with a couple days in Oslo. Holding off on renting your car until the time you’re ready to leave Oslo is also an option. The public transportation is actually very good. As we will address later Norway is very expensive. Oslo is extremely expensive. We stayed at the Radisson Blu on points. It is a beautiful hotel. If you have hotel points Oslo is the place to use them as hotel chains are rare as you head north.

Key things to see in Oslo:

Nobel Peace Prize Museum: we put this one first because it was by far our favorite. Few museums leave you wanting more museum. The Nobel Peace Prize Museum is one of those select few. It is a two-story museum located along the harbor. There is a nominal fee for entry, and then you proceed upstairs to view different exhibits about the winners of the award. It is extremely moving.

The Scream!

The Scream!

 

National Museum of Art: the second must-see in Oslo is the National Museum of Art. It houses the best-known artists from Norway. King of the Norwegian artists is of course much. You must find the scream. The crowds tend to block the view, but be patient and the opportunity to snap a good picture we’ll certainly come. Munch is an interesting character. You really should do some reading on him prior to your visit. An entire museum dedicated to him is in construction as we speak.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera House One of the most stunning pieces of architecture in the world is the Oslo Opera House. Its shape and placement reflect the shape of an iceberg. The inside is even more stunning than the outside. We highly recommend taking the full tour of the Opera House. They take you backstage, which is it technological paradise. You also visit the ballerina dressing rooms, musicians preparation areas, and a number of other workshops for production of the sets. Really cool! The tours are led by pensioners who have retired from their work with the opera house. They know the place inside and out. Our guide had great stories about some of the performances and performers. One of the best souvenirs we purchased was a used shoe. In the gift shop of the opera house you can purchase used ballet shoes used in actual performances.

Inside of the Oslo Opera House. Each pattern on every chair is unique.

Inside of the Oslo Opera House. Each pattern on every chair is unique.

 

The Crying Baby

The Crying Baby

Vigeland-Land– The famed Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland has a complete museum and even an entire park dedicated to displaying his work. One of his famous pieces is the crying baby. People come from the four corners of the earth to see this baby throwing a tantrum. The park is stunning. It is a great place to take a picnic or there are small cafés located throughout the park are great places to grab some ice cream or a cake. When word of warning about visiting the museum. It is definitely rated PG 13. There are a number of works that depict human sexuality in less than a discrete manner.  The park is fine but the museum may not be appropriate for families.

Want more pictures of Norway?  Just give us a follow on instagram.

Oslo Food Scene

The best food on our trip was found in Oslo. You can get just about any type of cuisine in the city. Our favorite spot is an Indian place called Mister India (http://www.mister-india.no/). Located on one of the side streets in downtown, the food is incredible. There are red & green Curry that is to die for. You maybe wondering why we elected to go to an Indian ethnic place. We figured we’d get plenty of Norwegian traditional food on the road trip up north. This definitely proved to be the case. It’s okay to check out couple ethnic restaurants in Oslo and still call yourself an authentic explorer.

There are number of really good Fish houses along the harbor.

Lillehammer Olympics

Lillehammer

Once you have conquered all of Oslo it’s time to head north. Our first stop is at city whose name is very familiar to sports fans. Willie Hammer was the home of the Olympics in 1994. There are a number of museum displays that celebrate the Winter Olympics. There is a huge hockey stadium that has a bobsled you can check out. Lillehammer also has a World War II museum that is very interesting.

End of Part One of the Norway Road Trip! Stay tuned for the second half!

We worked worked with our friends at @autoeurope to present this post.

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The Perfect Maine Roadtrip

This is a guest post from our friends Chris and Laura of Trailsunblazed.com.

 

Laura and Chris’ Maine Roadtrip

The fact that we now have a blog dedicated to our trips and adventures is evidence that traveling has become a big part of our lives together. Every couple has their thing. Jay-Z and Beyonce have music, Hill and Bill have politics, Tom Brady and Gisele have human perfection. For us it’s traveling and getting outside and taking advantage of the great outdoors. So let’s take it back to where it all began: Maine. Before we even knew each other, we had spent our entire lives traveling with our families to South America, Africa, Europe, and every corner of the US. Since we’re from Massachusetts, a road trip to our northern neighbor may seem like the least exotic destination imaginable, but this is one of the most memorable trips for us since it was the first time we hit the road together.

Maine one

First Stop: Acadia National Park

After we sat in endless summer traffic on I-95 and made the requisite Chipotle stop along the way, we finally arrived at our first destination. Acadia is probably #1 on everyone’s list of places to visit in Maine, and for good reason. Although, we only spent two days in Acadia, we took advantage of most of what we hoped to see and do while we were on Mt. Desert Island.

  • Camp at Seawall Campground
  • Climb Mt. Champlain via the Precipice Trail (below)
  • Watch the sunset from Cadillac Mountain (below)
  • See a bunch of seals at seal cove
  • Eat dinner in Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor

We easily could have spent a full week in Acadia, and lucky for us we live close enough that we probably will in the near future.

maine two

Second Stop: Bold Coast

After leaving the most popular destination in Vacationland, we continued the journey north to a place that most people even in New England have never heard of: Cutler, Maine. Cutler is about as remote a coastal town as you will encounter on the east coast. It is located just across the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia and looks out across some New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. Our phones actually thought that we were in Canada so we immediately turned them to airplane mode to avoid getting destroyed by Sprint and Verizon. The reason for venturing to this faraway, unknown coastal town was to hike along the Bold Coast in the Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land, which ended up quickly becoming one of our favorite hikes in the US. The trail, meandering along the rugged cliffs overlooking the ocean, is unlike any other hike we have done in New England. Not to mention, since it is so remote, and “unblazed” if you will, we only ran into a couple other hikers throughout the entire day.

One important tidbit worth noting about this trail is that there are only three official campsites along the way. With so few fellow hikers on the trail, we expected that snagging a tent site would be easy…we were mistaken. It didn’t end up being an issue, however, because with so many comfortable-looking rocks on which to pitch our tent, we had myriad options. I try to give credit where credit is due, and camping on the edge of a cliff over the ocean was 1,000% Laura’s idea. Other than the rocky surface and swarming mosquitos that forced us into our tent prematurely, camping on the cliff ended up being a far more memorable option than camping in the woods at a boring campsite. Seals swam below us, we watched the sunset from the tent, we woke up to the sun rising over Canada, and successfully survived the night without getting blown into the sea.

maine three

Third Stop: Mt. Katahdin

From Cutler, we drove inland to Baxter State Park to look for Moose and hike Mt. Katahdin. We spotted two moose down the road from our campground on our first night. It’s difficult to spend any time around Baxter State Park without seeing at least once moose.

maine five moose

The hike up Katahdin is no joke. This is one of the most challenging day hikes in New England and by the time we finished scrambling up boulders to reach the summit, we were exhausted. We were fortunate enough to have climbed on an extremely clear day, so the breathtaking views were a well-earned reward.

The descent down Katahdin is equally spectacular, at least for the first stretch along the Knife Edge (below). Neither of us fell off the edge of the knife; however, Laura did fall and then proceed to roll down the mountain shortly after we made it safely off the ridge. She had some bumps and bruises but managed to save the camera like a champ. By the time we made it back down to the car, we were completely kaput and made a b-line for the only restaurant we could find. Being in the wilderness of Maine, we had limited options and our tired, hungry minds clouded our judgement to the point where we ended up buying at least three pounds of Chinese food which tasted about as good as you might expect Chinese food from northern Maine to taste.

Maine six new harbor

Fourth Stop: New Harbor

After the challenge of Mt. Katahdin, our fourth and final stop was much more relaxing. We drove back down the coast and took a puffin cruise out of New Harbor. Unbeknownst to us at the time, most of the Maine puffins have already migrated out to see by mid-August, and the naturalist onboard announced that it was very unlikely that we would even see a single puffin. Of course they announced this after the boat had already left the harbor. However, in what can only be described as a miracle, we spotted 11 puffins, two bald eagles, and won a free ticket to go on another puffin cruise. A fitting end to an amazing trip.

Maine seven harbor pic

Although Maine is a long shot from being on par with places like Patagonia, Kenya, or Macchu Picchu, this trip will always be one of our favorites.

maine map

 

A huge thanks to Chris and Laura for sharing this amazing post.  We cant wait to follow this path!  Give them at follow at www.trailsunblazed.com

 

8

Bali for Couples

As we travel the globe searching for the best couple destinations for you, we have discovered one place you must add to your list, Bali. The delightful island is located on the southern end of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. Getting there is simple. There are a number of direct flights right into Denpassar, Bali, or as we did, connect via Singapore or Bangkok. Balinese hospitality matches the weather: warm and inviting. English is widely spoken, and getting around is straight forward and affordable. Here are our 7 hints for driving in Bail.  Bali offers you a perfect setting to reconnect with your lover.

Beautiful Bali

Beautiful Bali

Bali Beaches

Where to start? The beach of course! The warm blue waters with their white sandy beaches offer couples an ideal setting to relax or if inclined, engage in snorkeling and other world-class water sports. We elected to make Kuta, on the southern tip of the island as our base. There are so many different options for hotels in Bali.   Of course if your pocketbook can handle it, a resort right on the water is highly recommended.   Here are a few beach ideas. The great thing about Bali, is you can wander and find your own Best Beach!

Bali Beaches!

Bali Beaches!

Kuta beach-Perhaps the most popular on the island. Can be crowded, but undeniably one of the best on the island.

Pemuteran– This dog-bone shaped by offers some of the best snorkeling and diving. The sea life and fauna have no rival.

Balian beach-If surfing is you thing, Balian is you place. With its ruckus waves, it is a grandstand to some of the best surfing on the planet. If riding waves is not your thing, there is no charge to enjoy the show as a spectator.

Ubud-An Artisan Paradise

One of our favorite places in the world is a little town in central Bali, an enclave of craftsmen and shops called Ubud.  Ubud is the craftsman capital of the island. To the north of town is a street line with handicraft artisan shops. You can purchase glass works, ceramics, and some the best woodworking we’ve come crossed. There’re items for every budget. Perhaps the most tempting is the intricate jewelry that the island’s craftsmen create. Each creation is a work of art.

Bali Cuisine

After playing all day in and the sun and sand you would likely have worked up an appetite. It’s time to take in some of the world-class Bali cuisine. The wonderful thing about Bali, is that it’s perched on the crossroads of the Asian Pacific area. There number of Thai and Vietnamese influenced restaurants. Fresh fruit and seafood are almost always on the menu. We highly recommend taking in the street food that is available on almost every corner of the island. We also unexpectedly had some of our best curry there as well.

Hiking

If hiking and exploring are your thing, Bali will not disappoint! There is a long list of trails and hikes for beginners to the more adventurous at heart. Every inch of Bali was made for Instagram. The lush green jungles and rain forests beg to be explored. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water as the islands tropical heat can certainly melt any advanced trekker.   Here are a few ideas for day hikes:

Mount Agung– This mountain is one of the most sacred sites for the Balinese. The trails are a bit rough and on the confusing side, but so worth it. If you have the cash for a guide, it would be a good idea. The views from the top are stunning!

Mount Batur– One of the “newest” attractions in Bali, it was formed by a volcanic eruption in 1917. The sunrise view from the summit is breathtaking. There is a caldera lake called Lake Batur in the crater. This is a great day hike… don’t forget to pack you lunch!

Side trips

The beauty of Bali is that it is centrally located and there are a number of wonderful side trips just a short flight away. One of our favorites is Borneo.

We elected take a short flight to Borneo. While we loved the ocean and culture of Bali… Borneo’s biodiversity is second to none. You can take in the orangutan park or if you’re little more adventurous head deep into the jungles of Borneo. There’re a number of resorts and camps you can go out on. We’ll like to go to the little lake in the center the island called Battang Ai. You have to take a boat across to an island in the middle of the lake. There are a number of different nature hikes and aboriginal village experiences. Our favorite was taking a waterfall adventure. The trek was pretty grueling but the reward was swimming under our own waterfall.  Check out our Borneo for Beginners post for all the details.

Beautiful Batang Ai

Beautiful Batang Ai

We given you a few ideas on how to make Bali your next couple vacation. There is so much to offer traveling couples, and with that the affordable costs it is a great selection for your next couple holiday.

Have you been to Bali? If so we’d love to hear some feedback on what your favorite parts. Just leave a comment below.

3

20 Places You Are Saying Wrong

1) Nice, France      WRONG: Nice    RIGHT: Niece.

Trust us, Nice is Nice!

 

2) Phuket, Thailand      WRONG: Fu-ket   RIGHT: Poo-get

Read our post on skipping Phuket and visiting Krabi.

Thailand and Cambodia 2012 -2 097

3) Thames River, UK      WRONG: Th-AIMS    RIGHT: TEMs

Don’t know about you, but I could listen to Benedict Cumberbatch say “Thames,” All…day…long!

 

4) Nevada, USA       WRONG: Nev-AH-duh    RIGHT: Ne-VAD-Duh

Don’t worry too much…Americans on the east side of the USA don’t know how to say it either.

 

5) Copenhagen, Denmark      WRONG: Co-pen-hay-gen    RIGHT: Co-pen-hog-gen

Hey you! There is not no “hay” in Copenhagen!

 

6) Beijing, China       WRONG: Pee-King    RIGHT: Bay-JING

This one harkens back to very poor translation spelling.

 

7) Reykjavik, Iceland       WRONG: Ray-ka-vick    RIGHT: Ray-kia-vick

Ok…we struggle with this one.  Think of the car brand?

 

8) Taipei, Taiwan       WRONG: Tai-PAY    RIGHT: Tai-BAY

Home of one of the tallest buildings in the world, Taipei 101.

Taipei 101.

A view from Taipei 101.

9) Ibizi, Spain       WRONG: eye-BEE-zuh    RIGHT: eye-BEE-thuh

It sounds a little too much like I beat her.

 

10) Moscow, Russia       WRONG: Moss-COW    RIGHT: Moss-CO

No mossy cows in Moscow.

 

11) New Orleans, USA       WRONG: New Or-Leans     RIGHT: New Or-Luns

The faster you say it, the better it sounds.

 

12) Qatar       WRONG: cut-TAR    RIGHT: Kuh-TER.

There is plenty of tar in Qatar, just not in the name of the country.

 

13) Bangkok, Thailand       WRONG: BANG-kock    RIGHT: Bang-Gowk

This is another common mistake we hear.   Anyway you say it, one of the best cities we have visited.

 

14) Budapest, Hungry       WRONG: Budda-PEST    RIGHT: Budda-Pescht

If you are headed there, drop us a line. We know the best goulash place. Mmmmm.

 

15) Iraq       WRONG: Eye-Rack     RIGHT: EYE-Rock

Watch the evening news, and at least half of the local reporters will get it wrong.

 

16) Versailles, France       WRONG: Ver-sillys     RIGHT: VER-Sigh

This is a great drinking game standing in line for tickets to the palace.

The Grand Palace

17) Dubai       WRONG: Do-Buy    RIGHT: Do-BAY

Please do buy the duvet, not the Dubai.

 

18) Newfoundland, Canada       WRONG: New-Found- Land    RIGHT: Nyoo-fn-Land

Ok…we cant say it right either. Here is a Canuck to help us:

 

19) Gstaad, Switzerland       WRONG: Gee-STAD    RIGHT: Sch-TOT

Theres no G in Gstaad.

 

20) Cannes, France       WRONG: CANS    RIGHT: CAN

Saying it right vs. saying it wrong will cost you a good seat at any good Cannes restaurant.

 

How many did you get wrong?  Leave a comment below.

4

Travel-the best V day gift!

Tis the season of Love!  Valentines day is just around the corner.  We are all facing the age old question, what to give our loved one?   Why give chocolates or flowers?  Give them the world!  We asked a few of our friends to submit “Selfies of Love.”  Hopefully this will inspire you to invest in your relationship and see the world together.  Even better, we are giving away $50 for the best couple travel selfie!  Below are the best of the best we have received to date.  Think you have a better one?  There is still time to enter!  Read below for all the details on entering.  Happy travels!

Don’t forget to vote for your FAVE “Selfie of Love” below!

 

Volcano in El Salvador

Beth and Ben on a hike up the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador. Check out their blog:  www.mytraveltools.com

 

Happy Baha couple!

Happy Baha couple!

 

A room with a view! Paris Opera House

A room with a view! Paris Opera House

 

Kennedy space center

Robbie and Carrie at Kennedy Space Center.

 

Hamlet Depot, Hamlet, North Carolina.

Hamlet Depot, Hamlet, North Carolina.

 

Love at the Louvre with Olly & Jo of @ollyandjo

Love at the Louvre with Olly & Jo of @ollyandjo

 

The couple behind @onlymypassport in Valencia, Spain.

The couple behind @onlymypassport in Valencia, Spain.

 

Charlotte and Cameron at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

Charlotte and Cameron at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

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Its not too late to enter!!!!   Just zing us a picture and tell us in less than 10 words where it was taken.  Send them to SelfieofLove@gmail.com

 

The fine print (sorry, we don’t look good in stripes):

1) Pictures must be travel themed and feature at least two people.  (No cat pictures allowed.)

2) Void where prohibited.  (Void is such a weird word…..Void.)

3)  All pics must be “tastefully” done.  (Ummm… no weird stuff, ok?)

4) Contest rules are subject to change.  (Unless Luci changes her mind….which NEVER happens.)

5)  Contest ends on February 10, 2016 at midnight MST.  (All good things must come to an end.)

5.5)  18 years old and above only to win.  (This is the most fun adults get to have…no kids allowed!)

6)  The expert judges at 1000 Fights will pick the winner!.  (There are no rules against crossing your fingers.)

7)  Submitting pictures to www.1000Fights.com means we can use them.  (We will use them in our post if you win.  Thats all.  We promise.)

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