Heaven on Earth – Munduk Moding PlantationKollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

You’ve probably seen Munduk Moding Plantation’s award-winning infinity pool many times on social media, but there’s more to this resort than just its pool. Three days at MMP was the perfect end to our Bali adventures- except we wish we allocated more time here because there’s still so much we haven’t done!

ABOUT MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION

Escape the crowds of South Bali and enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of North Bali. With Lovina Beach in the north and Menjangan in the northwest, Munduk Moding Plantation is surrounded by jungles, rice fields, and hidden waterfalls. It’s just a short drive to the Twin Lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan. Bedugul, where Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is located, is also close by.

MMP is not just a luxury resort- it’s an organic coffee plantation too. It is the only place in Bali offering luwak coffee harvested from the wild, unlike other plantations that inhumanely cage these animals. 

Apart from ethical farming practices, MMP gives back to the community by offering job opportunities to the local population. Most of their staff are recruited from the Gobleg and Munduk villages. In addition, MMP works with schools to get children involved in traditional dance, music, and crafts.

THE MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION EXPERIENCE

A chrysanthemum wreath, cold towel, and welcome drink await you in the lobby as you make your way through the garden path. After a swift check-in, you’re whisked away to your suite or villa in a golf cart. Make yourself at home and munch on fresh fruits while flipping through the MMP activity book.

Note: Every unit has a mobile phone for guests to call the front desk and to take on their adventures.

DAILY ACTIVITIES

Every evening, you’ll find a box of chocolates and a scroll in your villa. It contains a Balinese folklore (kind of like a bed time story!) along with a schedule of activities for the upcoming three days. These include yoga, bird watching, coffee roasting and cupping, kite making and flying, bamboo straw making, traditional Balinese dance performance, and traditional Balinese martial arts. You can even learn how to make towel animals and how to wear Balinese attire!

There’s an activity room on top of MiMPi Restaurant with a small gym, table tennis, and pool table. Still looking for more things to do? You can go riding around the plantation on one of four handsome horses.

SPA

We tried both the hot bamboo and hot stone Balinese massage. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to write home about in terms of the actual treatments- they felt a bit rushed. Nevertheless, it was still nice unwinding after a long day.

COMPLIMENTARY SHUTTLE

Munduk Moding Plantation offers free shuttle services to Munduk Waterfall and the Twin Lakes every morning at 9:30am. Shuttles to Bedugul leave at 12:30pm.

You can also request a driver for the day. Pricing is quite fair; it depends on the duration of your trip. For instance, a day tour (8hrs) costs 79USD.

Tip: Do not miss Banyumala Twin Falls!

DINING

A strong believer in sustainable agriculture, MMP grows their own fruits and veggies. MiMPi Restaurant serves Indonesian and fusion dishes, using organic, homegrown produce whenever possible.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant or in your own villa. Choose from Indonesian, Balinese, American, or Continental. Swing by at 4pm for afternoon tea- you can smell the freshly baked cookies from miles away!

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POOL

And finally, the incredibly IG-worthy 18m award-winning infinity pool. We were graced by the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets every day. If you’ve seen ‘Passengers’, remember that gorgeous scene where JLaw was swimming towards stars in that gravity-defying pool? Go for a swim at dawn- it’ll feel reminiscent of that scene as you glide towards the moon.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Sunset at MMP’s infinity pool

VILLAS AND SUITES

With only a handful of villas and suites (Garden Suite, 1-Bedroom Villa, 1-Bedroom Pool Villa, 2-Bedroom Coffee Villa, and 2-Bedroom Pool Villa) on 5 acres of land, guests have absolute peace and privacy. The only time when we saw other guests was at the pool and MiMPi Restaurant.

Note: There aren’t many rooms so book in advance!

Our beautiful 1-Bedroom Villa had huge glass panel doors on all sides, letting in lots of natural light. The warm interior is finished with hardwood floors and furniture, as well as marble floors in the bathroom. We could see rolling hills of lush vegetation from our king-size poster bed. On a clear day, the views extend out to the Java and Bali seas.

The bathroom is complete with a hand finished terrazzo bathtub and shower stall. A separate outdoor rainshower is steps away in a private garden. We even had his and hers sinks!

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Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $170USD+ for Garden Suites, $200USD+ for 1-Bedroom Villas, $290USD+ for 1-Bedroom Pool Villas, and $480USD+ for 2-Bedroom Pool Villas.
  • There’s also one 4-Bedroom Pool Villa for large groups or families.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • Because of the high altitude it can get chilly at night- bring layers!
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation Disclaimer: Many thanks to Munduk Moding Plantation for hosting our incredible stay. As always, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Perfect base to explore Nusa Penida and Nusa LembonganKollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Just a short ferry ride from Sanur are the Nusa Islands. We missed out on this part of Bali last year so we were eager to cross it off our list this time! Deciding on where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Penida was easy- a quick search using any hotel booking engine will show you Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa sitting pretty at #1. It became clear to us that this ranking is no joke from the moment we landed in Denpasar.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

4:30pm. Our driver, , had waited over an hour for us but we were still in the immigrations line. Worried we weren’t going to make our 5:30pm boat ride from Sanur we called Luca, the bar manager, who got in touch with Putu and Rocky Fast Boat. By the time we hopped on the car it was already 5pm. It was a bad day for traffic at DPS- it took us an hour just to get out of the airport!

6pm. Putu had spent the last hour driving as fast as he could through that crazy Bali traffic and begging the boat to wait for us. We were still on the road when the last boat sailed. Our hearts sank. The general manager called and said we’d have to stay in Sanur for the night before catching the earliest boat over to Lembongan the following day.

Then a miracle happened. “Lembongan! Lembongan!” Bursting with joy, Putu put the pedal to the metal and told us to get ready to run- a boat was waiting for us at Sanur! It was 6:11pm and we were the only 2 passengers on the way to Nusa Lembongan. By 7pm we were sipping on our welcome drinks at Batu Karang!

Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida

Location & Space

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa is footsteps away from the speedboat harbour, where Rocky and Scoot dock. The famous yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan lies on the other side of the resort, just a short ride away. You can reach Nusa Penida within 15 minutes by speedboat from the yellow bridge. This makes Batu Karang the perfect home base for exploring the Nusa Islands.

Because the property sits on a slope, all villas and common grounds have a breathtaking view of crystal clear turquoise waters. Golf carts are available to transport guests who have rooms up the hill and those requiring mobility assistance.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Villas at Batu Karang

Facilities & Amenities

Get pampered at the Lulur Spa after a long day of exploring the Nusa Islands, or chill by the pool. Two is better than one, but what about 3 pools, including one with a swim-up bar? Those looking to stay in shape on vacation can take advantage of the gym and steam room. A day lounge is also available to facilitate early arrivals and late departures. There’s even a mini movie theatre!

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Villas & Suites

Whether it’s a double room or a 3-bedroom villa, all 6 different room categories capture the essence of being home away from home. The villas and suites are luxurious and spacious; designs reflect traditional Balinese architecture with a modern flair.

We stayed in the air-conditioned 1 bedroom villa, furnished with a comfy king size bed with mosquito net, personal safe, workstation, and plush robes. The large balcony was perfect for yoga morning sessions and relaxation on the daybed. On top of a fully stocked mini bar and coffee/tea-maker, complimentary bottles of drinking water are replenished daily. Our favourite part was the private outdoor shower and beautifully hand carved bathtub.

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Drink & Eat

Muntigs Bar & Restaurant, The Deck Cafe & Bar, The Howff, The Balcony- all of Batu Karang’s on-site bars and restaurants offer a stunning view of the beach and Mount Agung in the distance. Grab a seat and enjoy a beautiful sunset over delicious food and drinks. Luca and his staff will take care of your dining experience; Wiran and Ray really stood out as fantastic servers.

Breakfast is complimentary at Muntigs or The Deck- the Islander Bowl was so good that I had it every morning! Muntigs also offers fine dining in a gorgeous setting. The seafood laksa and beef rendang set the standards high for the rest of our trip.

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Muntigs Restaurant at Batu Karang

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Our personal favourite were the drinks and tapas at The Howff Whisky, Gin, & Wine Bar, a romantic speakeasy tucked away from the island bustle.

For a more laidback meal head to The Deck; their burgers are finger-lickin’ good! Happy Hour is from 5 – 6:30pm every day with 25% off selected cocktails and beers. There’s also live music with DJ’s spinning from 5-8pm at Sunday Sunset Sessions.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $260CAD+ for Twin Rooms, $290CAD+ for Double Rooms, and $325CAD+ for 1 Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • WiFi signal is strong throughout the whole resort!
  • Rocky Fast Boat is the recommended boat service from Sanur; 500,000IDR for a round-trip transfer. The resort can arrange this for you.
  • Pickup/drop-off in mainland Bali is available for a fee.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa for hosting us. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan

Hurricane Hagupit swept across the Philippines days before our flight to El Nido in 2014. We shrugged off the sunk costs and tried our luck again in 2016. When we arrived at Mactan-Cebu Airport to check in for our flight, we were told our flight was canceled. Dammit, what does it freaking take to visit this place?! We eventually made it there the following day and realized it was all worth it! Here are 20 photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan, Philippines.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the Philippines

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Island hopping is a must!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Town proper from the sea

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Marvel at the countless islands and rock formations

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The ocean has never been so inviting!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Have breakfast with views overlooking the Corong Corong Bay

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Indulge in views like this from the Taraw Peak

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

And this

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Sun tan on this soft white sand beach

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

…as long as you bring sunscreen!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go island hopping on your own private banca and avoid crowds

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Explore this natural aquarium

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Enjoy sunsets while swinging in a hammock on your balcony

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Dive into crystal clear turquoise waters

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The snorkeling conditions here are pristine!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Live among trees in a cottage with an infinity pool

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Motorbike to the famous twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The Twin Beaches of El Nido: Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go kayaking in the Big and Small Lagoons

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Get your hair fried and skin burnt…. worth it!

Still not convinced? Check out our Youtube video:

Stay tuned for our guide to visiting El Nido comfortably and efficiently without breaking your bank!

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Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The Ultimate Guide to Tikal National Park in GuatemalaKollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Once a powerful empire with 120,000+ inhabitants at its peak, Tikal remains one of the largest and most iconic Maya ruins in Central America. Whether you’re a history junkie or Star Wars fan (or just an average Jane/Joe), I think it’s safe to say that nobody travels to Guatemala or mainland Belize without visiting Tikal.

Located in the Peten Region of Guatemala, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is very close to Belize. It made sense for Tikal to be our final stop in Guatemala before crossing the border.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

on top of Temple 4, which is the filming location for Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope

What to bring when you’re visiting Tikal

  • Water
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes
  • Flashlight
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET
  • Clothes with breathable fabric
  • Binoculars for wildlife

We visited our local travel clinic to consult a doctor regarding Zika risks and precautions.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

our 6am Avianca flight from GUA to FRS

Getting here; visiting Tikal from Guatemala City or mainland Belize

From Guatemala City

BY LAND: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a chicken bus (and pray that you’ll arrive in one piece after a rough 15hr+ ride). Otherwise, take the comfortable, air-conditioned buses operated by Linea Dorada. This journey will take you around 10 hours for $30USD+.

Tip: Take the ‘luxury’ overnight bus to save on a night’s accommodation.

BY AIR: We chose to fly instead because of my sciatica. Avianca and TAG offer daily hour-long flights from Guatemala City to Flores ($120USD+, one way). The airport is another hour, by car, to Tikal.

From Belize

BY LAND:  The easiest way is to ask tour operators in San Ignacio if you can catch a ride with their day tour groups to Tikal. We did the reverse; border crossing was easy peasy and the whole trip took 4 hours from our hotel in Tikal to San Ignacio town center. If you’re coming from Belize City, take the local bus to San Ignacio first.

Tip: There are tons of tour operators in San Ignacio and they’ll quote you anywhere from $25-45USD per person, one way. Shop around and haggle. We had a very pleasant experience with Sergio from Explore Inland Tours who bent backwards for us at the very last minute. 

BY AIR: You can fly to Flores from Belize City via Tropic Air ($190USD+, one way). This flight is 45 minutes and again, you’ll have to arrange a ride to Tikal once you land. Ask your guide to include this in your tour.

READ MORE: Eating like a local in Belize – cheap eats and where to find them

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Where to stay when visiting Tikal

Stay in the Park

To get the most out of your Tikal experience, stay in one of three ‘hotels’ located in the park: Jungle Lodge, Tikal Inn, and Jaguar Inn. Rates start at $40USD for something very basic and $120USD+ for nicer rooms. Chances are, you’ll hear howler monkeys and see coatimundi roaming around. You’ll also be the first ones to enter the park and the last to leave. Little to no crowds is always a bonus!

We stayed in one of the newly renovated rooms at Hotel Jungle Lodge. It was clean and spacious but service was nonexistent and the overpriced food sucked. My fettuccine alfredo was more like a noodle soup and AS’s steak was so rare that we could still smell the hay the cow fed on.

Tip: Food is slightly better at Jaguar Inn.

Electricity is only available from 7-10am and 5-9:30pm, but an emergency generator keeps the ceiling fan running through the night. Even though we were there in the dry season, it was hella humid and the sheets felt damp. Multiply this discomfort by over 9000 if you’re visiting Tikal outside of the December to February period.

Stay in Flores

If you want to save some money (who doesn’t!), there are lots of affordable options in Flores. Shared dorm rooms at hostels start at $10USD (80GTQ) per person and basic private rooms range between $30-70USD. A major setback is the travel time; it takes more than an hour by car to reach Tikal which complicates things if you’re interested in the sunrise tour.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Visiting Tikal for the sunset vs sunrise

It’s rare to actually witness the sunrise. Because of the high humidity, a thick layer of fog usually covers the forest canopy. That said, the sunrise tour is still magical as you listen to the jungle wake up to the first light of day.

We opted for the sunset tour instead. We entered the park at around 1pm, visited all the temples and complexes, and ended our day at the Grand Plaza with a quiet, beautiful sunset. Dusk rolled in quickly and soon it became pitch black. There couldn’t have been more than 4 others with us at the time. It was a phenomenal experience!

READ MORE: Chasing sunrise at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Choosing a tour guide

Because anybody with a highschool diploma can become a National Tour Guide in Guatemala, you’ll find that many tour guides lack proper knowledge and/or are only in it for the money (see below: the ugly side of Tikal).

Two names stood out when we scoured the net for reputable guides: Roxy Ortiz and Marlon Diaz. The former was unresponsive but communication with Marlon was excellent. Having done this for 18 years now, he is very well educated and extremely passionate about Tikal. His English is near perfect and we were able to appreciate not only Tikal, but also Guatemala and Maya history that much more because of his wealth of knowledge.

Marlon’s the real MVP- he’s pretty much a walking encyclopedia. We tip our hats to this dude for recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism and striving for the preservation of these ruins. He’s the owner of EM Guatemala Travel and we highly recommend his service!

The ugly side of Tikal National Park

Bribery and corruption. Some tour guides collude with guards to let big groups into the park without paying the proper amount and taking a cut. Others bribe park rangers to enter restricted areas (i.e. the Great Pyramid).

Ignorance and disrespect. We saw people, tourists and incompetent guides included, feeding animals, climbing restricted areas, and being obnoxiously loud. These actions were even encouraged by so-called ‘licensed guides’!

Please don’t be like these idiots. Respect the ruins as well as the animals that live in the park.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

brontosaurus or coatimundi?

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

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Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

 

8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the PhilippinesKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Cebu - Sunset

Ahhh, the Philippines… Where the sun’s so hot that it hurts and the water’s so clear it looks like the pool. The first choice that comes to mind when people are picking a destination in the Philippines is usually Boracay or Palawan. While Cebu doesn’t have the white sandy beaches of Boracay nor the limestone cliffs and islands of Palawan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this amazing island. With so many things to do in Cebu, you’ll never want to leave once you get there.

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7 Must-Do’s in NYC for First TimersKollecting Koordinates - New York City

We’ve heard lots about New York City before going. The amazing food, the bright lights, and the majestic skyscrapers- we were so stoked until our friends told us not to get too excited. Friends who have gone had mostly negative things to say, like how dirty and smelly the streets and subways are, how unfriendly the people are, and how overpriced everything is. With this in mind, we prepared ourselves for the absolute worst.

After a delayed flight from Vancouver and a hectic connection in Toronto (ugh, I hate flying Air Canada), we finally landed in the Big Apple and made our way to our airbnb in Times Square. Food prices are steep, yes, but that’s standard in big metropolitan cities. We expected to be shoved around and yelled at but none of that happened. We were actually pleasantly surprised at how friendly people are! (Well, the ones we interacted with, anyway, hah)

Our friends were right about one thing- what they said about the filthy streets and subway is an absolute fact. We walked by heaps of leaking, overflowing garbage bags on different occasions and it staaaaank. But other than that, we loved everything else about New York!

Maybe it’s because we had such low expectations that we enjoyed NYC so much. Here are seven things we think all NYC first-timers should check off their list!

1. People-watch in Times Square

Times Square is a no brainer. You can’t really say you’ve been to New York City without seeing one of the most iconic crossroads of the world, right?

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2. Attend a show

This is the main reason why we were in New York: The Lord of the Rings in Concert. I’m a huuuuuuuuge fan of LOTR (nerd alert- our wedding was Middle Earth themed haha), so how could I miss the epic trilogy live in concert?! Experiencing the marriage of motion picture on a giant screen and film score performed by 250 musicians on stage was life-changing.

Because we spent a total of close to 10hrs at Lincoln Center (no joke lol), we didn’t have time for other shows. We’ve heard people rave about The Phantom of the Opera so we’ll be going to that next time. Whatever it is- a musical, concert, or Broadway show- do yourself a favour and get tickets to a show.

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3. Take a stroll in Central Park

We had some time to kill in between the second and third LOTR shows. There was no better way to spend this time than to visit Central Park since Lincoln Center is close by. I love skyscrapers and all but I was also relieved to escape the concrete jungle for a little while, especially with a hot cocoa in my hand on a cold day!

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4. Stuff your face at Smorgasburg

Located on the Williamsburg waterfront on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays, Smorgasburg is an outdoor foodie paradise. With over 80+ vendors to try, you’ll need to go on an empty stomach! Our personal favourite? These bomb garlic fries from Home Frite. They were sooooo damn good.

5. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Get yourself on the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade and make your way across the bridge. Allow yourself at least an hour to walk from one end to another, while soaking in the beautiful Manhattan skyline. Oh, and watch out for cyclists!

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6. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant

We usually travel on a tight budget but on the rare occasion we do like to treat ourselves to a fancy smancy meal. The only other times we’ve eaten at a Mchelin starred restaurant were in Paris and Las Vegas. Because we were blown away both times, how could we leave one of the world’s culinary capitals without splurging a little? After studying all the menus and reviews, we made lunch reservations at Bouley.

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The lunch tasting menu includes five courses at 59USD. That ain’t bad at all! Everything was cooked to perfection and service was impeccable. And ohh man, the porcini flan was out of this world!

7. Catch the sunset at the Top of the Rock

Okay, paying 32USD just to go up an elevator sounds pretty silly, right? That’s what we thought, too, but that 360 degree view of New York is breathtaking! We were on the observatory deck during golden hour- we can only imagine how mesmerizing the view would be at sunset.

Kollecting Koordinates

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Kollecting Koordinates - New York

 

A Quick Guide to SantoriniKollecting Koordinates - Santorini

How can you miss Santorini when you’re in Greece?

Long have I dreamed about visiting this picture-perfect island in the Cyclades. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to walk along the caldera to see the whitewashed houses, to swim in the crystal clear blue waters of the Agean Sea, and to catch one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. My wishes finally came true when we spent three nights here on our honeymoon last year. Here’s a quick guide to visiting this timeless destination- Santorini!

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1. Travel in low/shoulder seasons

Do NOT go during the summer months. If you hate crowds like us you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Heck, we were there in early September and it was still extremely busy. We used the public bus to get around Fira-Imerovigli-Oia and passengers were packed like sardines every time. Unless you get on at the very first stop, chances are you’re gonna be standing in the aisle holding on for your dear life.

We went in early September and it was still very, very hot. Swimming in the ocean was heavenly but there was no shortage of sweat on land. Go either in early/mid June or mid/late September not only to avoid the crowds, but also for a more comfortable temperature.

2. Stay in Imerovigli

Because of its elevation and central location on the caldera, Imerovigli has my vote for having the best view in Santorini. Yes, we’d say it’s even better than the famous town of Oia.

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Our three nights at Vallais Villa was, without a doubt, one of our most memorable hotel stays. It was like waking up to paradise every morning! With a view of the Skaros Rock and caldera, a breakfast spread that is equally beautiful as delicious, and an outdoor Jacuzzi on our private balcony, this place is hard to fault.

 

3. Indulge in delicious food

Maybe it’s the lack of rice and noodles, maybe it’s the amazing seafood. Whatever it is, I LOVE Greek Food. Tzatziki, gyros, baked feta, hummus, calamari, moussaka, fresh octopus, … the list goes on! If you’re on a budget you can survive on gyros and souvlakis. Our go-to’s for cheap eats are Pitogyros in Oia and Lucky’s in Fira.

Our favourite is a little place that serves tapas and meze (Traditional Greek cuisine). We dined here multiple times and loved every dish we tried. Their portions are very generous and prices fairer than most restaurants in Oia. And of course, don’t forget to stop by Taverna Katina in Amoudi Bay for some fresh catch of the day!

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4. Get lost in the towns

This is an obvious one, but an absolute must! You can hike from Fira to Oia, or you can bus between towns to save time. Make sure your camera is fully charged because you’ll be greeted with a postcard moment every corner you turn.

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There are also many, many cats on the island… like this little guy who was very friendly! Most of them are pets of restaurant and shop owners but many are feral.

 

5. Go on a sunset cruise

We signed up with Santorini Sailing for an afternoon of sailing and swimming in the Agean Sea, visited the hot springs, and stopped by the Red and White Beaches. Oh and did I mention we were served unlimited drinks and food? Hell yeah!

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6. Catch the world famous sunset

There are a couple of places to watch the sun dip into the horizon and they all offer different perspectives of this beauty. We had a pretty good view from our balcony in Imerovigli with a long stretch of the caldera in the foreground, and we also had an unobstructed view from our boat. Another place is Santo Winery in Pyrgos. What better way to to enjoy the sunset than pairing it with some wine?

Then there’s Oia Castle, the obvious choice. You’ll have to camp out for a good spot but there’s a reason why everyone gathers here for the sun to go down. It was truly magical. 

Kollecting Koordinates

What took my breath away, though, is seeing the town light up against the multicoloured sky. I mean, just look at this! We couldn’t have asked for anything more romantic.

Kollecting Koordinates

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9 Must-Do’s in Dubrovnik, CroatiaKollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

Coined the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik has easily topped the list as one of our favourite cities. The walls in the Old City are in such pristine condition that it’s hard to believe this place is real. After a long week of driving down Croatia from Zagreb through BiH, we were ready for some down time in King’s Landing. If you’re thinking of stopping by Dubrovnik on a cruise, don’t. This beautiful city deserves more than just a few hours’ stop!

Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

 

1. get lost in the Old City

Explore each corner, each alley, and each gate within the stone walls. Stop by Onofrio’s Fountains to refill your water bottle when you get thirsty. It’s clean- you can drink it right from the tap! Did I mention it’s also leg day everyday in Dubrovnik? Seriously, it was like we were constantly using the StairMaster. (which was great, because we didn’t need to work out!)

2. stay outside the city walls

It may be tempting to to stay in the centre of the action, but you’re actually much better off finding accommodation outside the gates. Not only are there more options, but you’ll also wake up with a beautiful view of the Old City from your bedroom window. We stayed at an Airbnb just a 5min walk from the Ploce Gate, Konzum (supermarket), and Banje Beach.

Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

Waking up to this every morning was such a blessing; we didn’t want to leave!

3. go on a Game of Thrones tour

GoT has brought in millions of dollars to Croatia’s tourism revenue. If you’re a not a fan of this HBO series, this half day of nerdgasm may not be for you. But if you’re a fan like us, don’t miss out! Having been one of the extras in GoT, our guide was extremely knowledgeable and kept the whole tour upbeat and fun. It was awesome seeing where all the different scenes were filmed!

4. walk the City Walls

This is a must do. The entrance fee is 100kn, but you get a discount if you keep your ticket stub from Fort Lovrijenac (we were there on our GoT tour). The view of the orange rooftops against the deep blue sea will take your breath away! Try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, otherwise you’ll be roasted. Make sure you stay hydrated and load up on sunscreen because there’s no shade up there. Allow at least 1-2hrs to complete the whole circuit; wear comfortable shoes!

Beautiful sights, yes, but I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and humidity! Prepare yourself if you’re doing this in the summer.

5. wine tasting at D’vino Wine Bar

For a great night out, check out D’vino Wine Bar. It’s a cozy little bar right in the heart of the Old City. They offer an impressive selection of wines, both domestic and imported, at a surprisingly affordable price! The place is quite small and it can get really busy. It’d be wise to make reservations in advance. We each ordered a wine tasting flight – one red and one white with 3 wines each – and shared a cheese platter. The couple who sat next to our table ordered 4 flights each! I gotta say, their charcuterie board looked pretty damn amazing.

Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

6. take the cable car

For 120kn (70kn one way), you can go on a 5min ride that will take you to the top of Mount Srdj for an extraordinary view of the coast. You can also hike up and down the plateau if you’re up for the challenge! There’s a lovely restaurant and cafe at the top where you can enjoy a drink or two.

Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

7. sunset dinner at Restaurant Panorama

Don’t just ride the cable car for the view- stay for dinner! We chose to splurge a little on our last night in Dubrovnik. To ensure we’d be seated at the best table in the house, I made reservations weeks in advance. The open-air concept offers a magnificent sight as the sun sets over the Adriatic Sea as you enjoy your meal. The prices are quite fair, too- it’s actually not any more expensive than the restaurants within the walls. If you’re looking for a romantic night out in Dubrovnik, this is it!

Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

8. Island of Lokrum

To escape from the crowds and blistering sun, take a short 15min ferry ride over to the Island of Lokrum. We didn’t have enough time for this but our GoT guide said it’s worth your while. The paths are shaded with clear signs showing you the different points of interests. Bring a swimsuit to swim in the sea- you might even see some peacocks! This is also where the iron throne replica is if you’re a fan.

9. Fort Lovrijenac

Just a few minutes from Pile Gate on foot, this is the ‘Red Keep’ from Game of Thrones- tons of scenes were filmed here. Hike up the lush green landscape to get a good view of the Old City. There isn’t that too much to see within the fort, but the view from the top is phenomenal! Make sure you experience this both in the day and at night.

It’s truly amazing how well-preserved this Medieval Town is. Have you been? What do you like most about Dubrovnik?

 

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Kollecting Koordinates - Dubrovnik

5 Things I love about Zadarsunset in Zadar

Have you ever visited a place with little to no expectations but you end up falling in love with it? That’s exactly how we feel about Zadar. Zadar wasn’t in our original plan; we only stopped there because we didn’t want to drive all the way from Plitvice Lakes National Parks to Split without a night’s rest in between. We’re so glad we did! Here are some reasons why you should visit Zadar too.

Kollecting Koordinates - visit Zadar

This quaint little town along the Adriatic coast was once occupied by the Venetians for several years. No wonder it reminded us of Venice- its architecture has a distinct Roman flair. Unlike Split and Dubrovnik, Zadar is quite underrated and not bombarded by tourists (not yet, at least!). We absolutely LOVED this place; here’s why:

read more: visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park

1. Visit Zadar for its vibe

Like Venice, the vibe here is super laid-back and chill. If you think Venice is always a good idea, you’ll want to visit Zadar too. The town itself is fairly small with tons of shops and eateries; it’s the perfect setting to get lost in. We took our time walking up and down the streets, sipping on grapefruit Ozujsko (Croatian lager) and munching on pastries, ice cream, and pizzas as we went. There were very few people during the day- it was almost as if we had the entire town to ourselves!

2. The Sun Salutation

One of the main attractions and why some people visit Zadar is the Sun Salutation. These colourful solar-powered panels flicker according to the rhythm of the waves! We had so much fun jumping and stomping on the ground-level light show. It made us feel like kids again.

Kollecting Koordinates - visit Zadar

read more: Top 9 things to do in Dubrovnik

3. Visit Zadar for its sunset

People say that Santorini has one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. I gotta say, the sunset in Zadar isn’t shabby either! In fact, I prefer the one in Zadar over Oia because it’s not packed with people. You don’t have to camp for a good spot hours in advance and there’s enough space for you to enjoy the scenery in peace and privacy.

Kollecting Koordinates - visit Zadar - Sea Organ

read more: why Split wasn’t for me

4. The Sea Organ

The soothing sound of the Sea Organ also adds a nice touch to the gorgeous sunset. The same architecture who created the Sun Salutation installed underwater tubes that play music as the waves roll in. Listening to the peaceful hums as the sky slowly changed colours was extremely mesmerizing. We could’ve sat there for hours if we didn’t have to pee!

Kollecting Koordinates - visit Zadar

5. Easy washroom access

It’s damn near impossible to find a free public washroom in an European city. Unless we’re dining at a restaurant, we always have the hardest time locating one. ALWAYS. We really had to go after downing so much wine and Ozujsko, but of course there were no washrooms in sight.

Just outside of the Catherral of St. Anastasia, I stumbled upon this cafe or bar lookalike with an open layout that sells beverages on the first floor and what appears to be a seating area on the second floor. There was no one manning the store front and my spidey senses were telling me that there were toilets inside. AS was afraid that we were trespassing but I had to go so badly that I didn’t care. I pretended to be looking for a friend and snuck upstairs. To my pleasant surprise, the washroom was right around the corner on the second floor! We kept going back throughout the day; it was such an awesome find.

Even though it’s under the radar and easily overlooked, Zadar’s one of those places that you’ll fall in love with in a heartbeat. It’s also on the way from Zagreb or Plitvice to Split, so make sure you stop by for a night or two when you’re driving down Croatia!

read more: other Croatian destinations

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Kollecting Koordinates - visit Zadar