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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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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Locked at a Hostels Bathroom And Rescued By a Thai Man
Phuket, Thailand

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Thailand: Locked at a Hostels Bathroom And Rescued By a Thai Man

The day started out like any other, perhaps lazier. We stayed at a hostel in Phuket, Thailand (all 5 Star Hostels in Thailand), and we had to check out at 12. At around 11am we decided to get showered.  I stripped off outside the wet room and closed the door behind me. Next thing I knew I was standing in the bathroom with a doorknob in my hand. Caroline heard the noise and asked what was happening. We laughed until she tried the handle on her side. Nothing. We utilized our cutlery like locksmiths hoping to crack it. I stood

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Welcome to Remedios, Cuba - a small Concert at a tiny Square
Remedios, Cuba

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Welcome to Remedios, Cuba – a small Concert at a tiny Square

We trudged through the streets of sleepy Remedios*, Cuba, our rucksacks feeling heavier under the midday sun. In search of a Casa Particular*, we stumbled onto the main plaza, where the town’s band was playing a slow march under the dappled shade of the band stand. The loud brass felt like a regal welcome, as though we were being rewarded for making it to this tiny place that tourists don’t bother with. The music was wonderful and I smiled at the thought that some experiences cannot be planned. They just happen and you have to simply enjoy the moment.  

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Lost in Translation? Not in Japan! The Short Travel Story from Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan

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Lost in Translation? Not in Japan!

We’ve all heard about the kindness of strangers, but you’ll never experience it in quite the same way anywhere in the world as you would in Japan. During my one week stay in Tokyo, my brother and I ended up in the over-crowded Shibuya district looking for a well recommended restaurant by our friends. Now anyone who has been to Shibuya will know that finding a specific restaurant is tougher than finding a needle in a haystack. Needless to say we were lost, and what’s more worrisome in Japan is that you are always worried that your request for directions

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Taxi driver need 3 things: good breaks, good horn, good luck!
New Delhi, India

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Taxi driver need 3 things: good breaks, good horn, good luck!

One of my all-time favorite countries to travel in is India. If you have ever been you know that this is one of the craziest countries in the world to drive in. The streets are crowded, the cars share the road with cows, camels, horses, dogs, bicycles, huge trailers, tuk-tuks, buses and pretty much everything that moves. The rules: there are no rules. They use their horn for pretty much everything and if you want to drive past someone you just honk your horn and drive around. When we took taxis in the northern parts of the country I saw

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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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Wellington, New Zealand

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Meeting a new friend while Hitchhiking in New Zealand

Our first attempt at hitch hiking was from the suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand, into the city. Almost immediately, a car pulled over to pick us up and as we climbed in, full of elation, we met our (Saint) Helen; who insisted on driving us ALL the way to our destination. We left the car, thinking our paths would never cross again. However, the very next day, on Christmas Eve, while enjoying our picnic of chips, guacamole and Pico de Gallo—along the Hutt River— when our Saint Helen strolled by! We eagerly invited her over join our picnic. While talking

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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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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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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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Stumbling across Live Piano Music in Matanzas, Cuba
Matanzas, Cuba

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Stumbling across Live Piano Music in Matanzas, Cuba

There is always noise in Cuba. In the countryside cockerels crow and dogs bark, in cities drivers honk their horns and reggaeton blasts from the bicitaxis. Strolling through the busy streets of Matanzas, I glimpsed the sparking of sun on the surface of water and I went to the bay hoping for quiet. The noise of the car engines seemed to die down as beautiful piano music drifted out of an open window. I laid on the wall, closed my eyes, basked in the afternoon sun to the wonderful sound, and said to myself again that I love this country.

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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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Unexpected Kindness from a Stranger in Bruges

Unexpected Kindness from a Stranger in Bruges

I arrived in Bruges late at night and I could not understand my map. I therefore couldn’t find my way to my hostel, so asked a woman for directions. She said she was going that way so would point me in the right direction, and she ended up walking me to the door. She told me she worked at the belfry, a medieval bell tower. She told me to come the next morning and she would let me in to this prime tourist attraction for free. I went, she welcomed me and she handed me a free ticket! I am

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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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Chasing Koalas on the Great Ocean Road

Chasing Koalas on the Great Ocean Road

We were quietly eating breakfast in the morning sunshine at a picnic table at our Great Ocean Road campsite. We’d hired a campervan for a few days, and it had been our first night on the road. All of a sudden a fluffy ash-coloured koala walked across the grass in front of us without a care in the world. It was our first sighting of a wild koala, so we left our brekkie and followed the cute creature across the woods, where it decided on a new tree to climb. He loved the attention!

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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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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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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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Free Henna Tattoos For 100 Dirham - Marrakesh

Free Henna Tattoos For 100 Dirham – Marrakesh Travel Tip

“Lovely lady, let me give you a present from me to you.” I’ll admit me and my friend were both skeptical as the two Moroccan women grabbed each of our hands and began painting. As I hesitated and attempted to pull away, she reassured me it was a gift. Within minutes, what was once plain, white skin had now been transformed with beautiful black swirls which supposedly resembled my name. It is not something I’d desired to get on my trip to Morocco, especially as I was starting a new job only one week later, but you can’t turn down

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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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This Self-Educated Highway Builder in China impressed me

This Self-Educated Highway Builder in China impressed me…

While taking a 20-hour train ride on the perimeter of the Taklimakan desert in northwestern China, I had the kind of humbling, education, and above all else, wonderful encounter with a local that all travelers crave. A young Han Chinese man approached me on the train. My new friend spoke virtually no English, so I gleefully relished this chance to practice my Chinese. Over several hours he would tell me about how he had attended a two-year professional school to quickly find a job building highways in order to help pay for his younger sister’s school fees. She was going

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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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How Istanbul put My Life in Order - Never give up

How Istanbul put My Life in Order – Never give up

I arrived in Istanbul with a negative bank balance and a dire need for employment. I was couchsurfing to tide me over and set out one day to explore the megapolis. Before I knew it I was on the Asian side – literally a different continent – in a giant bus hub with no English speakers in sight. Lost and overwhelmed with life in general, I asked for a sign that everything would work out OK. Then I looked up and saw my couchsurfing host – the only person I knew in a city of 20 million. We went back

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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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Blocked Road and The Tuk-Tuk Driver Saved Us
Luang Prabang, Laos

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Blocked Road and The Tuk-Tuk Driver Saved Us

On our bus-ride from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, Laos a truck blocked the entire road and no vehicles could go through. We were all stuck there in the highest mountaintop and the driver told all the passengers that we could be stranded there for days. People began to camp out, but we had a train to catch back to Thailand, so we walked down the mountain to the other side for hours until a kind tuk-tuk driver delivering groceries to small villages rescued us. Thanks to this experience we got to see the most majestic landscape of Laos!

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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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Shooting Stars in Wadi Rum (pun intended)

Shooting Stars in Wadi Rum (pun intended)

Jordan is a strange country. There are big cities, forgotten majestic mausoleums, mountains and depressions, but most of all there are deserts. My boyfriend and I traveled around Jordan in August (not so hot as people said) and we lived for more than ten days in a Bedouin tent camp in Wadi Rum desert, southern Jordan. We put ourselves in some awkward situation with our guest Kaled, who is quite a notable person in Bedouins village, especially struggling to eat with a single hand and annoying him with our Italian chitchat, but he was so kind not to kick our

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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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EXPELLIARMUS - Beach Soccer in Lagos, Portugal
Lagos, Portugal

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EXPELLIARMUS – Beach Soccer in Lagos, Portugal

“I was with 3 friends in Costa d’Oiro (Lagos, Portugal), and we were playing beach soccer with some students. We said the last goal decides the winner. We were running in a counter attack and my best friend was running all by himself towards our empty goal. As I would have never ever reached him, I just yelled from behind “EXPELLIARMUS“ – this Disarming Charm from Harry Potter. He was laughing so hard that he fell over and actually missed the goal. We lost in the end anyway, but this was by far the funniest moment.“

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