and talk to students
Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

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First 24h in Hanoi – an introduction to the city by English-Students

“Are you busy?“, she asked us, and 6 more pairs of eyes were looking at us. We arrived in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. We just slowed down from our first wander around the old town of iconic Hanoi. We got a first glance of the city, and tested the waters for buying a motorbike in Hanoi. After all, this is the plan: getting two motorbikes and drive them from the North to the South of Vietnam. We just bought a soft drink, and sat down at the famous Hoàn Kiếm Lake, when these 7 young Vietnamese approached us. “Are you busy?“, she

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I found my favorite Café in Barcelona - thanks to a book!
Placa de Sant Pere, Barcelona

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I found my favorite Café in Barcelona – thanks to a book!

I dislike entering book shops. Every time I walk into a book shop, I will end up buying one. I entered an international bookshop in Eixample, Barcelona, while looking for some cool things to do in Barcelona. And as expected, a book named „The dead alleys of Barcelona“ got my attention, a crime novel. Long story shot: I bought it, went home, and started reading. In this book, the author Stefanie Kremser talks about a special part of El Born, downtown Barcelona. She describes this magical square, this narrow street the main character lived in. I didn’t know this exact street, and

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The monk who didn't want money but silence
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

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The monk who didn’t want money but silence

We were visiting Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, surrounded by hundreds of pilgrims all dressed in white. Suddenly we noticed a buddhist monk staying silently close to a Stupa: he was still, his eyes to the sacred monument in front of him, at his feet a handwritten sign: “Do not give me money, it’s no use for me. If you want you can take a picture, I don’t mind. But please do not speak to me“. We had the camera in our hands but decided to turn it off and respect this monk, his silence and his faith. His message made us think about the vacuity

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Meeting the nicest person in Lithuania

Meeting the nicest person in Lithuania

I arrived at Siarliai, a small Lithuanian town by bus to look at the „hill of crosses“. I had just missed the connecting bus that was supposed to take me there, so took a taxi, spending much more than I had planned. We drove through the fields, far away from the city. When we reached the hill the driver looked at me: „Wait? The bus is far away“ – „No, thanks, I can walk“ – „no, I’ll wait, you can’t stay here.“ – „No, thanks.“ I got out of the car and walked towards the hill, hoping I would find

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Get some energetic vibes in Bam - When an Earthquake hit Bam

Get some energetic vibes in Bam – When an Earthquake hit Bam

“Bam is still here!” said Mr. Panjalizadeh, owner of the Akbar Guest House in Bam, Iran. “We get energy from you people who visit us.” In 2003 a 6.6 earthquake hit Bam, devastating the city. Most of my Iranian friends thought I was crazy to drive all the way to Bam. “There’s nothing there,” they said. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, the place had been wrecked, but – after visiting the stunning citadel – I joined Mr. Panjalizadeh for tea in the garden of his guesthouse, seriously damaged by the earthquake and which still resembles a construction

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The value of being spontaneous – Christmas Serendipity in York

Visiting a medieval town over the holidays should be a magical and postcard-like experience. However, the mad rush to buy all those gifts before it starts raining again is what I found in a recent visit to York in the northern United Kingdom. The retail stores have lines, the streets look like swarms of something scary, the restaurants are all packed to the windows, folks are dressed up like Vikings, and you can barely find a place for a nice scone and a hot tea. But, on our way to get a cab home after dinner at Drake’s, a local

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Varanasi, a City to Die - Travel Story India
Varanasi, India

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Varanasi, India: a terror attack in the city to die

I cannot imagine myself in a more awful yet interesting place than Varanasi. It is one of the oldest cities in India and the holiest city of Hinduism. Varanasi is also considered as Shiva’s favorite city which he never leaves. Above Varanasi hovers a mixed mist of smoke and fumes, so that at night no stars can be seen. The narrow streets are littered with garbage and feces, and cows, pigs, dogs and monkeys are roaming around. Drug dealers and pimps are standing near the Ghats, the stairs leading to the Ganges, looking out for tourists to scam. Many religious

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The little Asian Spot in Orsigna, Italy - Tiziano Terzani
Orsigna, Italy

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The little Asian Spot in Orsigna, Italy – Tiziano Terzani

Tiziano Terzani was a famous Italian journalist and writer. He traveled across Asia and he witnessed important historical events like the Vietnam War and the coup d’etat organized in Cambodia by Pol Pot. Old and ill, Terzani decided to spend the last years of his life back in Italy, in the ancient town of Orsigna. Here, in the woods, he found a big tree, decided to attach two small eyes on it and called it “the Tree with the eyes“, in order to teach his son that the trees are alive and they have a spirit. Nowadays people come here

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The very last moment changed my Impression of Saigon
Saigon, Vietnam

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The very last moment changed my Impression of Saigon

The city of Saigon, Vietnam was tiring to all five senses and I was looking forward to an escape. With a few hours to kill before our overnight bus, I and my friend wandered the streets in search of food. It wasn’t long before we were approached by two young, fresh-faces students who wanted to practise their English. Suddenly enthusiastic Vietnamese surrounded us and the next two hours flew by so fast that we almost missed our bus. Our exchange may have been brief but I walked away with a brand new outlook on the city – I hope they

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Rishikesh, India - meat, eggs and alcohol are forbidden
Rishikesh, India

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Rishikesh, India – meat, eggs and alcohol are forbidden

Located at the foot of the Himalayas, crossed by the river of Ganges, Rishikesh is an important pilgrimage city. From here the Ganges heads to the Himalayas, and from here pilgrims start their voyage to the holy places in Garhwal Mountains – like we did on our trip “On foot to India“ (originally in German: Zu Fuß nach Indien). Like in many sacred places in India meat, eggs and alcohol are forbidden in Rishikesh – an absolute dream destination for vegetarians and vegans. Lakshmana, this lion among men, one of three brothers of Rama, whose deeds are written down in

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When a Movie turns into Reality - this old Hotel in Japan

We visited the old witch bath house – Miyazaki’s Animated Film

We were walking in the narrow streets of Shibu Onsen, a Japanese village in the mountains near Nagano. A lot of people going around after having thermal baths. We stopped in front of a big old hotel, with a few people taking pictures. We looked at the hotel, illuminated in the incoming night, and it was that bath house from Spirited Away anime (a famous 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film)! Actually, in Japan it is recognized as the inspiration for Miyazaki, the director, to create the old witch bath house of the anime and you must visit it if you

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Chickens, Goats, and Abba - the bizarre bus through Ethiopia
Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

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Chickens, Goats, and Abba – the bizarre bus through Ethiopia

I always use public transport; I believe it is the best way of getting to know a country. On route from Lake Wenchi to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia I had not only the bumpiest journey of my life but also the most bizarre. Chickens casually strolling around nibbling on my toes, two goats strapped on the roof, people sitting on my lap meanwhile the driver also acted as a DJ playing only ABBA tunes for 3 hours. Loved it.

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Ramallah, Palestine

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I had the Worst Coffee of my life in Ramallah, Palestine

I love to think back and getting reminded about my travels in Palestine. It was highly interesting to experience both Israel and Palestine by my own, to talk to people, and see the daily life outside the news. We left Jerusalem in the morning, and when we arrived in Ramallah, I felt like a coffee. So we looked around, and walked into an old café: heart-warming people, Arabic music, and the worst coffee of my life! The coffee had caraway in it which is a great spice but not within a mix for coffee. However, as a caffeine-lover I drunk

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Our morning traffic was a herd of goats - Rural Petrich in Bulgaria
Petrich, Bulgaria

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Our morning traffic was a herd of goats – Rural Petrich in Bulgaria

Having spent 6 weeks in the small village in Petrich, Bulgaria, I must say that it was the biggest cultural shock I have had to date. We went there (11 other students and I) as part of our university course, with the aim to create a geological map for our dissertations. We were staying with a bulgarian family, who didn’t know any English. Hence, the past few weeks before our departure was spent learning the Bulgarian language. The Bulgarian community in Petrich were lovely and we were warmly welcomed upon arrival. One lady came up to us and hugged us all, which was

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Flattering Disasters in Paris - Kissing in France?

Flattering Disasters in Paris – Kissing in France?

Before exploring the city of love, I wandered into a nearby park to enjoy some long-awaited down time. Unbeknownst to me, my blissful repose would be cut short by a disheveled meandering charmer. He made his way over, sat down, and began his flirtations, selectively oblivious to the fact that I was deep in that whole writing alone thing.  No matter, within minutes he somehow managed to kiss my hand, write his number in my journal, and propose that “all French and Americans kiss on the lips.”  With swift persistence, I joked my way on out of there oddly curious about

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We smiled and laughed with Children in Zimbabwe

We smiled and laughed with Children in Zimbabwe

Walking 1 mile down a straight dirt road in the blistering 40 degree heat would usually cause most people to grunt, especially when it had to me trudged twice a day. But not here; not in Zimbabwe. Instead of a monotonous route where you’d expect to walk head down, hands in pockets, primary school children brought colour to the picture. Sure they were cheeky asking for sweets and stroking my freckled skin, but all they wanted was interaction. Each day we’d bring something new to entertain and by far the simple game of passing a rugby ball between them was

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Waiting for Kumari, a goddess in Kathmandu

Waiting for Kumari, a goddess in Kathmandu

We were in Kathmandu waiting for Kumari to come out of the palace. She is a goddess and a very young girl, chosen among a large number of Newari female candidates according to strict body figures and after frightful trials. She cannot lay her feet on the ground, so servants carry her on a sedan out of the palace. She’s not looking to anything in particular with her composed gaze, almost ignoring everyone. It’s a bittersweet condition: her destiny is already written, she soon will be a woman and will lose her goddess status, as another Kumari shall be appointed.

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100.000 Crosses at The Hill Of Crosses

100.000 Crosses at The Hill Of Crosses

Breathtaking. That’s the only word that came to my mind when standing on the hill of crosses in the middle of the Lithuanian nowhere. Wherever I looked, there were crosses tucked in the ground, on top of each other, with rosaries dangling from them in all colours. Not being religious, this place still overwhelmed me simply by the number of crosses people have brought there one by one. Tiny ones stacked on top of each other and huge ones, several meters over my head. No one really knows who started it and why it’s there but it keeps growing and

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The Cathedral of Notre Dame for Two
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Parvis Notre Dame - Place Jean-Paul II, Paris, Frankreich

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The Cathedral of Notre Dame for Two – My Paris Experience

My daughter and I spent a week in Paris together with my cousin and a work friend. We splurged on an evening boat ride on the Seine to celebrate my cousin’s birthday, we shopped, we walked, we ate croissants, and I took photo after photo of the City of Light. On our last day, my daughter and I woke up just before dawn so I could photograph the sunrise at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It is absolutely my favorite spot in Paris. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. just as a janitor stepped outside the massive front door to smoke

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In a Mosque we discovered the Silence of Cairo

When I first visited Cairo with an old friend of mine, I immediately fell in love with its noise, food smells, and sense of identity. But it was almost too hectic at times, and in the afternoons when we were tired from having merchants constantly calling to us and children tugging at us, my friend and I would duck into one of the many mosques in the “City of Minarets”. Our regular haunt was the massive al-Azhar Mosque in the center of the city. We stayed out of the way, often just sitting in the shade, journaling quietly, people-watching, or

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What's not to like about Texas? I laughed

What’s not to like about Texas? I laughed

I stared out the window as the bus crossed the state that had the most pride. I tried to like Texas. I wanted to see why Texans were so proud of Texas. But I saw nothing but empty, parched land. I headed to the Backpacker Hostel in Irving. I saw an overweight girl with Texas stars dangling from her ears, wearing a Texas T-shirt that clung to her spare tires. At the hostel, I talked about it with my new friend Gabrielle, from Holland. She pointed to signs on the walls of the kitchen: “American by birth, Texan by the

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You are not a man if you haven't been on the Great Wall
Mutianyu, China

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You are not a man if you haven’t been on the Great Wall

As they say in China, you’re not a man if you haven’t been on the Great Wall. In November 2011, during my honeymoon, I visited the Mutianyu site, which is 90 km from Bejing. Mutianyu is one of the best choices to see the Great Wall because it is beyond the tourist circuits but good for everyone that would like to see the famous bastions and 22 control towers. The part of the Great Wall in Mutianyu is 2 km long. Even if it seems to be short, it could be very difficult to climb it at all because there

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1 1/2 Month of Travel and Work in France

I was studying abroad in Strasbourg, France and wanted to do the travel around Europe and find myself deal. While I was planning, a friend in the programme introduced me to HelpX, a network that lets you work internationally for room and board. You typically work 4 days out of the week and travel for the rest. After some searching, I decided to go for it! For a month and a half, I worked at an organic hotel and restaurant in the tiny village of Tichville, France. Population: 10 people and hoards of ducks, chickens and cows. I worked as

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In The Footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and Napoleon

In The Footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and Napoleon

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When you walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the journey begins with a day-long hike through the Pyrenees, starting in France, ending hours later in Spain. Most pilgrims continue to Santiago de Compostela, another 790km away. My son and I wanted to be like most pilgrims, even though our plan was just to walk for another two days, ending in Pamplona. We climbed high into the mountains and came down through a thick forest, arriving late afternoon. But my feet were covered in blisters and

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Sharing Rum with New Friends in Cuba

Sharing Rum with New Friends in Cuba

I tell time by looking at the sun’s position. Spanish, Italian, French, German are my mother tongues for a beautiful moment. An island of poetry in every wave that crashes on the Melecon. Humble and proud, humid and alive. Pilgrimage of Hemingway, home of heroes, this is Cuba. Don’t hesitate to share the shade of a palm, don’t hesitate to pass around the rum with strangers – now friends. Get on the bus heading anywhere and stop where it pleases you, you will be welcomed. I came filled with stories of precaution, and left, left my heart in Cuba.

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Getting Lost on Purpose in Tokyo - Discover Hidden Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan

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Getting Lost on Purpose in Tokyo – Discover Hidden Tokyo

When we headed over to Japan we wanted to totally immerse ourselves in this wonderful country we had traveled half the world to experience. With awe and wonder we decided instead of being intimidated by the complexity and challenges of this new land, that we would embrace its exhilaration. We set off to wander, no particular destination in mind other than exploration. To see the details, to come across the unexpected and to embrace the idea of being totally lost and the thrill of expectation. Getting lost is part of the adventure, it is where the city to takes you

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Warned about the children of Cambodia

Warned about the Children in Cambodia

Be careful and judge each situation for yourself! We were warned about the children of Cambodia asking for hugs and stealing your watch yet we saw none of this. The children we’ve met so far are blind to prejudice, race, gender, religion… They simply wanted attention and we spent afternoons in Sihanoukville, Cambodia throwing them around the ocean, chasing them up and down the beaches, we taught them card games and they smiled proudly as they practiced their English. They had little but were content, it was beautiful to see. I don’t know what’s next but I’m so happy living

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Surprise! Falling in Love with Paris

Falling in Love with Paris, these moments are forever

One evening my husband announced that we were going away the next morning. At the departure gate people gathered for two flights: Birmingham and Paris. And then of course I knew. We arrived in Montmartre and started exploring its cobbled streets. I looked over the Parisienne roofs, thinking about Lautrec and other artists who walked the same paths. Around sunset I spotted the Eiffel Tower on the horizon. The skies were cloudy and reflected the sun in shades of the palest peach and pink. I looked at the view for a long time wanting to memorize it forever. – –

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Freezing Christmas Sea Swim and I survived
Clacton beach, Essex, United Kingdom

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Freezing Christmas Sea Swim and I survived

The annual Christmas sea swim has been taking place for almost 60 years on Clacton beach, Essex, United Kingdom. The low mumble of excited folk, showing off their Santa hats whilst sipping mulled wine, increase the tension as everybody stands, half naked and raring to go. Without much warning, hilarity sets in and the crowd go storming towards the calm sea’s chill – the low-risen sunshine flickering on the tide, screaming his invitation to jump right on in. Arms flail and cameras click; toes hit the water and it is now or never, keep running or quit? Within what feels

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Walking a Waterfall and Meeting Up with Local Students
Dehang, China

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Walking a Waterfall and Meeting Up with Local Students

One of the best moments of our trip to China was in Dehang, a traditional Miao Village in Hunan. There we met a Chinese couple who led us along a trail to the tallest waterfall of China and we walked behind it: so exciting! Back to the village, we were looking for something to eat but nobody could speak English. Seeing us in troubles a class of students dragged us in a traditional restaurant with them: they ordered tons of food we never could have been able to, they were so friendly and they offered us some local rice wine

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Traveling to Jamaica To Record our 1st Reggae Song

Traveling Jamaica to record our 1st Reggae Song – Travel Story

Our adventure in Jamaica started with a wonderful mistake. My boyfriend and I had booked a hotel two hours away. Instead of paying $50US to sit with tourists on a charter, we paid $2US and traveled with the locals. Four days later, we stood on the side of the road to catch another $2US public bus to Ocho Rios. Bumping into a local couple we befriended, they set us up with some of their friends that were going to pick us up and drive us around to find a new hotel.  Rule #1 Always trust your gut. Our new friends

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Drinking Shots with Vietnamese War Veterans
Hoian, Vietnam

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Drinking Shots with Vietnamese War Veterans

It’s true that it’s the people who make the difference! I’m lucky to be traveling with my best friend Hannah but don’t worry about doing it alone either because we have met the most incredible people…. Like stopping for a bike break in Hoian and ending up doing shots of rice wine at the insistence of Vietnamese War Veterans, some of which were missing limbs but still had the biggest smiles and funniest stories.

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Camino de Santiago And The Priest Cannot Find The Stamp!
Los Arcos, Spain

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Camino de Santiago And The Priest Cannot Find The Stamp!

My daughter and I were pilgrims recently on the Camino de Santiago. Typically, pilgrims have a pilgrim’s passport that is stamped at each stop to prove that you did indeed walk to Santiago de Compostela, the object of the pilgrimage. My daughter and I went to a pilgrims’ Mass in Los Arcos, one of the tiny villages. At the end of the Mass, I asked her to see if the priest would stamp our passport. And the priest was funny! He told her that when there are more pilgrims coming through, say, in June and July, he kept the stamp

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Coffee Experience With A Cute Sense Of Humor
Krabi, Thailand

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Coffee Experience With A Cute Sense Of Humor

My days must be started with a cup of coffee. Otherwise, it might be a total mistake and I would feel very depresso for the whole day. As a coffee addict, wherever I go and travel I would love to taste local coffee and it has become one of my obsessions, to taste different coffee from around the world, enjoying the aroma, acidity, flavor and the packaging. Yes, I mean I love the way they serve the coffee. Some places have a uniqueness and brilliant way on their coffee culture. One day in Krabi, Thailand,- while waiting for the rain

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Moroccan Street seller in Granada
Granada, Spain

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Moroccan Street seller in Granada

“Which photo do you like? I have the most beautiful posters from all over Spain, at the very least!“ “I love this one with Felicidad (Happiness). How much is one photo though?“ “Sorry, here are the prices. The police just passed and I had to put everything away.“

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