Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores

I never imagined I’d be visiting a volcanic island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean…

…In fact, I didn’t even know such a place existed until a few months ago when a friend and I began toying around with the idea of a little Portugal vacation.

Basically, the whole thing started when my friend Lindsey posted an instagram story saying something along the lines of “Portugal in April? Anyone want to meet me there?” To which I of course said, “Abso-freakin-lutley. Don’t tempt me with a good time.”

She sent me a photo of a hike in the Azores - One photo... Anddd that was all it took to turn my “Abso-freakin-lutely” into a “Take my money, Skyscanner.”

Plans were made, our group grew from 2 people to 5, and, in early April, we all travelled from our current homes (Malmo, Abu Dhabi, and Bangkok) to São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands in the Azores Archipelago.

It was the start of a what was an epic Portugal vacation.

If you browse photos of São Miguel Island online, you may find yourself seriously questioning the saturation levels of each shot… because there’s NO WAY a place could possibly be that green, right? Wrong. São Miguel is hands down THE GREENEST, most beautiful place I have ever been - (yes, even over Ireland).

I started to edit some of my photos from the trip, and then thought to myself… “This is pretty pointless. These photos don’t need editing at all.”

In honor of today being Earth Day, (and me proving to you just how naturally beautiful (and insanely green) this island really is), I wanted to share some of my favorite, unedited, straight off the camera shots with you.

If you’re anything like me, go ahead and get SkyScanner, Kiwi, or whatever flight search engine you use ready. It only took one picture to convince me to visit the Azores, and these 45 photos are definitely about to have you planning a trip there, too.

Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorldPhoto Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

ANNDDD #45

…(as if you need any more convincing after all the hiking, biking, waterfalls, cows, lakes, beaches, tea fields, and green, green, green landscapes in the previous 44 photos)…

Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

No, your eyes do not deceive you! Those are in fact bottles of wine… for less. than. 2. Euros.

So, go ahead then - Book that flight… Cash in those airline miles.

Go get a big dose of nature therapy (and your fill of cheap wine). You know you want to ;)


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Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Interested in learning more about getting around São Miguel, where we stayed, what we did, or hearing the local take on the rise of tourism in the Azores?

Subscribe for updates below and I’ll send the latest posts straight to your inbox!

In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island

Sometimes, I love a relaxing stay in a luxe hotel or meeting other travellers in buzzing hostels. Other times, it’s nice to unwind in a cozy, home away from home.

After scouring the internet for the perfect AirBnb on São Miguel Island, I found the Mirante Loft, the most unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Now I know Airbnb’s can get a bad rep sometimes, and, yes… there are a few shady properties and property owners out there. Sometimes, however, you hit the AirBnb jackpot - and that’s exactly what a stay at the Mirante Loft was for us.

After a long travel day (and by long I mean a bus from home to Malmo Central Station, a train from there to Copenhagen airport, then one flight to Lisbon and a second the Azores), we finallyyyy arrived in Ponta Delgada. A short taxi ride later, and we were checking in to the beautiful Mirante Loft.

With its nearly panoramic windows, this quiet oasis in the middle of the Atlantic offers guests beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, sea, and the pineapple farm next door. The landscape views are tastefully complemented by crisp and simplistic decorations in the interior.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

The property boasts several other amenities like a sparkling white, fully equipped kitchen (a must for travellers who love cooking on the road), a washer (nice for people with laundry), a living room, dining area, TV (with netflix), a balcony, andddd (BIG plus) a shower with a view.

Thoughtful little in-house touches like a deck of cards and tea light candles put this loft at the top of my list of favorite AirBnb’s. The host Joana was also extremely kind and accommodating when we needed to check out a bit later on our final day.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

As far as amenities go, we had everything we needed here and more… except for the best weather conditions, but, from what we’ve heard, this is pretty typical on the island.

We did have nice enough weather to walk to the beach, down to the marina, and around the city for a bit, but, other than that, we spent a lot of our time just enjoying this amazing property and the incredible view from our little glass loft.

We sat on the balcony drinking 3 Euro bottles of wine, listening to music, and watching the weather change from one minute to the next. I’ve never seen such insanely temperamental and unpredictable weather patterns.

One minute, the clouds rolled in and the rain was pouring, and the next we’d put on our shades and soak up the blazing sun. It was a great spot to write, actually… and once my pen hit the paper, I poured more words and thoughts from my soul to my journal than I have in ages.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

ANYWAY, back to the property.

As much as I’ve been raving about the interior of this place… the exterior isn’t half bad either… and by that I mean it’s pretty freakin’ fantastic. The grounds are calm, quiet, and FILLED with greenery.

The loft itself is also covered in bright green, viney plants.

If you know me, you know I’m a hugeeeee plant lover - so, yes… these green walls mighttt have played a major role in my booking decision. (They did… they definitely played a major role).

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Now though the Mirante Loft DID cost a bit more per night than I typically would spend, it was totally worth it. I’m happy to report that splurging on a stay here did not disappoint.

The restaurants in Ponta Delgada are a bit far away (unless you rent a car), so we stocked up on food and drinks at the local market, and cooked our own meals (something I’d highly recommend doing anytime you have access to a kitchen so as to maximize your travel funds).

We spent money on one meal out throughout our whole stay, and the rest of the time, we saved by preparing meals in this swoon worthy (future house GOALS) kitchen.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

There is so much to see and explore on São Miguel Island, but a couple of nights in Ponta Delgada at the Mirante Loft was a great starting point for us. After such a long travel day, it was nice to have a short commute from the airport to our final destination. We were able to unwind and have some quiet time before diving in to all the island has to offer.

If you’re planning to spend some time in Ponta Delgada while visiting São Miguel, I can’t recommend this AirBnb enough. Joana is an amazing host and the beautiful Mirante loft was the perfect place to stay.


BOOKING

Click here to check current rates or to book the Mirante Loft on AirBnb.

New to AirBnb? Click here to sign up and get $40 in travel credit!


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Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Weekend Staycation at Clarion Hotel Malmö Live

At the start of March, Andrew and I both had an actual day off work. This, in itself, is a pretty rare occurrence… but what’s even more rare is that we were both off on the same day. I can literally count on one hand the number of times it has happened so far this year.

In celebration, we went full R&R mode and had a little two day Malmö staycation at Clarion Hotel Malmö Live.

Watch (for all of you visual people): Video Recap

Typically, when I have time off work (especially consecutive days), I’m the first one to hop on a bus, a train, or a plane and head off to another city. On this particular day, we had considered going across the bridge to Copenhagen for the day, but, in hindsight, it felt super nice to stay put here in Malmö.

We didn’t have the hassle of travel or the stress of packing that typically accompanies a holiday. Plus, we got to spend some quality time together out and about in Malmö - something we haven’t done nearly enough since I moved here.

Now, if you’ve never treated to yourself to a staycation (or if it’s been awhile), stop what you’re doing right now - Yes, you! Pick up your calendar and find an open date! Can’t find one?? Clear one!! Now… find yourself a nice, cozy room at one of your city’s best hotels and BOOK IT.

Done??? Perfect! - Now, here’s a little more about our staycation, and why, whether you’re a local or just visiting, I would 100% recommend checking in at the Clarion Hotel Malmö Live for yourself.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Clarion Hotel Malmö Live

Our staycation, (which started out as one day… and turned in to two), was the best start to our month. We got some much needed R&R, and, as you can see in the video, had a pretty great time. We could “go out” and “stay in” all at the same place, which was a pretty big win for us homebodies.

Even if you don’t stay the night at the hotel, you should absolutely still go by for a drink or a meal or a show… or just to lounge around in the Living Room… yes! Living Room! This place has a lot going for it, and there is always - and I mean ALWAYS - something going on.


Sleek decor + Epic Views

A couple of the many things this place has got going on are it's minimalistic, modern design and incredible city views. Basically the entire building consists of floor to ceiling windows, (which makes for some epic sunrises and even better sunsets over the Öresund Bridge).

You can’t really go wrong with any of the rooms here, but the corner rooms are phenomenal. We were in room 2000 and, aside from the couple of necessary walls, had a nearly panoramic view around the side of the building facing Central Station and the Turning Torso.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

In House Dining + Bars

I was dying to go to the in-house Mexican restaurant, Eatery Social Taqueria, before staying here had even crossed my mind. I finally did… and now we can’t stay away. But that’s just one of the dining options you’ll find here.

For a more upscale dining experience, head up to the 25th floor to Kitchen and Table + SkyBar.

Both restaurants offer weekend brunches as well!

Read more: Eatery Social Taqueria

Read more: Kitchen and Table + SkyBar

Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

And last, but certainly not least, the Living Room Bar… my personal favorite.

For casual drinks, check out this cozy bar, located just past the lobby. The comfy couches and decor will literally make you feel right at home.

These shots were taken in the morning, so it’s empty… but I promise that’s not what it usually looks like. After work and on the weekends, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a free seat!

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Concerts + Exhibitions + Special Events

When we stayed here, we lucked out by being here on the same night as the premiere of Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Live’s free afterwork event.

This event is a great place to let off some after work, ready for the weekend steam. There were DJs and confetti and sparklers, and it was all very 0-60, out of the office and straight to the club vibes… so prepare yourself accordingly.

Cirque du Aw is set to take place monthly, but the hotel doesn’t just host party events. They frequently have ballets, orchestras, and other performances here as well. As we waited in line for Cirque Du Aw, a very… let us say… more mature crowd, was heading to a performance upstairs. See! - Something for everyone!

Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Convenience

Not only do all of the in house dining options, events, and property perks make this a super convenient place to say… the property itself is also really well located.

It’s about a 5 minute walk from Central Station, a 30 minute commute to Copenhagen airport, and is near many of Malmö’s most beautiful scenes and attractions.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Affordablity + Amenities

Though a stay here may not fall within a backpacking budget, in my opinion, all things considered, it is well worth the money… especially if you’re planning to visit Denmark too.

Hotels in Malmö tend to be significantly cheaper than they are across the bridge in Copenhagen, and the Clarion Malmö Live is no exception. When you stay here, you can explore two cities and two countries in one go, (and save yourself a bit of money).

If all that isn’t enough to convince you to book a stay, here are a few more of my favorite photos from around the property. Peep that fitness center (and SAUNA)… and the lobby ping pong table… and the all you can eat buffet breakfast. Need I say more?

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

This little coastal city I’ve been calling home is so unique, and, in my opinion, a pretty underrated destination among travellers. So many people visit Copenhagen each year, but few cross the bridge over into Malmö.

Read more: Life Update + 8 Things I Love About Life in Malmö

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to relax and unwind for a bit, and found that it was nice to get out and about and be a bit of a tourist in my own town.

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in the past few years, but can honestly say that few compare to the Clarion Malmö Live. From the cozy lobby Living Room Bar to the roof top SkyBar and restaurant, the entire property is always buzzing… and not just with tourists.

With their special events and affordable restaurants, the Clarion Malmö Live is so much more than just a hotel. They cater to guests and locals of all ages, and have an authenticity that is undeniable.

Don’t believe me?

Come by and see for yourself.


Booking

To check current rates, or to book your room at Clarion Malmö Live, use the search bar below or head to their website.

Booking.com

Planning a visit to Malmö?

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Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Dinner, Drinks, and the Best View of Malmö - Date Night at Kitchen and Table + SkyBar

Andrew and I aren’t really “fancy restaurant people”

…and there are a couple of reasons for that.

If you know the Valentine’s Day wine bottle story, then you know that the fancy restaurant gods are not in our favor.

Thankfully (for our bank accounts sake), Andrew NOW knows I’m not the kind of girl who is impressed by fancy shmancy dining experiences - or absurdly priced bottles of wine.

After a long work week, you’re more likely to find us eating takeout sushi on the couch with a box of red wine than going out for dinner… except a couple weekends ago when we finally went to a restaurant we’d been talking about trying for ages - Kitchen and Table + SkyBar at the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel.

Though the rooftop location might give you the impression that there’d be an uppity vibe, I actually found the atmosphere to be really laid back. The staff was friendly and welcoming, the food was good, and the views were even better.

If you’re looking for a good date night restaurant…or just a cool place to grab a drink and take in an epic city view, Kitchen and Table + Malmö Skybar is the perfect spot.


Malmö SkyBar

Located on the 25th floor of the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel, the SkyBar has hands down the greatest view you’ll find of the city.

The cocktails are as delicious as they are beautifully presented, and the views of the Turning Torso and Oresund Bridge are unbeatable.

I’d recommend arriving early to grab a few pre-dinner drinks at golden hour.

If you like gin and want a light, refreshing drink, try a classic French 75 (complete with an adorably dainty elder flower flourish)… or my not so classic favorite, Any Last Words - made with gin, apricot, green chartreuse, lime, pineapple, sugar, basil. So yum.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Kitchen and Table

After kicking things off with drinks at the SkyBar, walk on over to Kitchen and Table, one of the hotel’s two restaurants by Ethiopian Swedish chef, Marcus Samuelsson.

Read more: About Marcus Samuelsson

We came for dinner, but they also have a cocktail brunch every Saturday from 11:30-2.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Cosy, cosy, cosy DECOR

The laid back atmosphere at Kitchen and Table is due in part to the awesome staff, but also the rustic and cosy decor. After the sun went down, the candles were lit, and their flickering made the space feel even more warm and welcoming… no pun intended.

The restaurant has an open kitchen layout (complete with a wrap around bar), and a community style high-top table in the center of the room which I really liked.

Some of my family members are planning to visit Malmö in the summer, and, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I could totally picture us all sitting down for a beautiful (and rare) meal together here.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

snacks & STARTERS

Given that we aren’t really fancy food people, some of the terms on the menu were a bit over my head. Thankfully our waitress Daniella was awesome (and a total foodie). She explained everything in detail and gave us some great recommendations.

To start we had Kissed by the Sun (crispy Jerusalem artichokes and a delicious, creamy parmesan mayonnaise) and the Cuttle Me (grilled octopus, spiced cream, black radish, apple, and olive oil). You can’t go wrong with either one, but, I personally preferred the contrasting flavors of the octopus and green apple in the Cuttle Me.

We also had a surprise /TAI(R)´TAI(R)/ (sans ox heart), which we both LOVED. The flavors complimented each other well and it was beautifully presented. This was another dish that had Andrew saying, “Oh my gosh… so good” every other bite - For reference, the same thing happened at the hotel’s restaurant downstairs, Eatery Social Taqueria. I’m tellin ya, this Marcus Samuelsson guy is on the something.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Mains

I honestly could have made a meal out of just starters and sides here, but we went with Daniella’s recommendations and tried some different things instead.

His: Potato Rhapsody with Beef Sirloin - Crispy potato, roasted potato broth, pickled potato, Leicestershire Red cheese, and a grilled sirloin (not pictured because Andrew eats too fast).

Hers: What What to the Halibut - hilariously named, and so delicious. Baked halibut, salsify, miso beurre blanc, potato puree, and dried porcini mushroom. To be honest, I don’t know what half of those words mean… but I can tell ya it was good.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

The sweet stuff

For dessert, after much deliberation (aka arguing over who got the Pulp Fiction), we decided to get that and the Eton Mess.

His: The majority of the Pulp Fiction. The sherbert icecream and carrot cake combination was pretty good… but we both agreed I made the better choice.

Hers: The Eton Mess - a delicious meringue, tonka bean, cream, and seasonal berry treat that literally melted in my mouth. The berry of the day was blueberry… and, again, they knocked this one out of the park - so yum.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld.jpg

Overall, I really enjoyed our dining experience at Kitchen and Table, (and also the fact that there were no pricey wine bottle mishaps). Thanks again to Daniella for teaching us more about each dish and recommending such delicious combinations!

Whether you’re having a date night or just looking for a cool spot for after work cocktails, the food, drinks, and views at SkyBar + Kitchen and Table will not disappoint. I can’t wait to go back to try their Saturday cocktail brunch, (& also to bring my family here this summer - lookin at you, mum. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT ALREADY)!


Hours + Location

Lunch
Monday-Friday: 11.30-14:00

Dinner
Monday-Sunday: 17.00-22:00

Cocktail Brunch
Saturdays: 11.30 – 14.00

Sky Bar
Monday-Thursday: 11:30-14:00 & 17.00-01.00
Friday: 11:30-14:00 & 16:00-01:00
Saturday: 11:30-01.00
Sunday: 17.00-00:00


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Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Checking in to London’s Greenest Boutique Hotel - Qbic Hotel

Last November, Andrew and I set off on a four week, seven country adventure to visit and capture Europe’s Christmas markets with Urban Adventures. London was our last stop, and, for a couple of reasons, it was the destination I was most excited about.

My mom is from England, so, I’ve visited London a couple of times before with family, but, on both occasions, I was barely a teenager. I was old enough to like the city… but I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it.

This time around, things were really different. I was excited about revisiting London, but was also looking forward to visiting my family there. It was the first time in my life I’d be visiting them by myself, and also the first time I’d be entering the UK on a British passport!

I was also pumped for our London trip because we were going to be staying a couple of nights in one of the coolest areas… at the city’s most eco-friendly (and cutest) boutique hotel - Qbic Hotel London.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

About QBIC Hotel London

The Vibe + mission

In one word, Qbic Hotel is super cozy. Picture your typical, stuffy, corporate chain hotel… and then think the exact opposite. I was a big fan of their trendy decor, art filled walls, and the staff’s laid back and welcoming attitude.

Qbic says, “We use local, innovative designers to create refreshingly different interior design that is authentically unique and holds an inspiring story.”

They are dedicated to reducing their environmental impact and support eco-friendly charities in the local community. One of these is Cafe Art, London based initiative that aims to reconnect people affected by homelessness with society through Art. Qbic showcases some of the artists work in their hotel and has even given Cafe Art a space to run the charity in the hotel’s basement.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

From the solar panels on the roof to their use of chemical free cleaning products, at Qbic Hotel, being “green” is more than just empty words or a marketing slogan.

They provide guests with organic toiletries and natural, organic beds made from sustainable and renewable resources. They also offer free bike rental and encourage guests staying two or more nights to conserve water and energy, by skipping room cleaning (in exchange for a free drink at the bar). Qbic Hotel believes this incentive will encourage guests to make greener decisions.

Though their aren’t in-room coffee makers, each floor is equipped with a free coffee and tea area. You won’t find any plastic water bottles here. Instead, guests are provided with free filtered water in their room’s refillable glass bottle. Qbic hotel also uses sustainable, re-usable metal straws instead of single-use plastic straws.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

The rooms

Compared to other hotels in, our room at Qbic smaller. We didn’t have all of the bells and whistles you might find in other hotel rooms, but, we found that we did have everything we needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sleek, modern, clutter free design of the room, and impressed by the rooms defining wall art and highly efficient reusable pod that stood center-stage.

The “Qbi pods” in each room are sustainably built, aluminium pods that contain everything you need in a fully functioning hotel room… and I mean everything from the bed, tv, lights, outlets, and USB ports to the toilet, sink, and waterfall shower. It’s such a genius and innovative concept.

Guests have the choice of a smart room, cosy room, or a fun room. So, what’s the difference?

If you’re looking for a crashpad where you can get a solid nights sleep, go for a window-less smart room. If you want a bit of daylight, go for a cosy room like we did. If you’re travelling with two or three people and want a bit more space, go for one of their larger fun rooms (complete with a couch).

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Motley Bar + Restaurant

Motley, Qbic’s in house restaurant and bar, is popular amongst travellers and locals alike.

They offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout that week and several delicious options for sharing (…or keeping to yourself). Their menu has lots of healthy, vegetarian friendly dishes made from seasonal, sustainable, and locally sourced produce.

The restaurant and bar was always pretty quiet during lunch (and at 5am when I took the photos below), but it got really busy after working hours. We stayed here during the week, so it was a great spot to grab a bite to eat and get some work done, but it’s probably much busier for brunches on the weekend!

Hours

BREAKFAST: Mon-Fri 7:00-10:30 Sat-Sun 8:00-11:00

BRUNCH: Sat-Sun 11:30-15:00

LUNCH & DINNER: Mon-Fri 12:00-22:30 Sat-Sun 15:30 - 22:30

BAR: Sun-Wed 16:00 - 00:00 Thu-Sat 16:00-2:00

Click here to view Motley’s various menus.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Rates + Booking

To check current rates or to book your room at Qbic Hotel London, use the search bar below!

Booking.com

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London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería

I’m a huge sucker for Mexican food…

…and I mean HUGE. I’d eat guacamole everyday if I could, but, unfortunately, avocados are pretty freakin’ expensive.

When visiting Malmo for the first time last September, I was excited to quickly find a place where I could get my Mexican food fix - Eatery Social Taquería at the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel.

Despite coming across the place at the end of last summer, it wasn’t until recently that Andrew and I actually went to try it… and now we kind of can’t stay away.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


“Mucho Mas Que Una Taquería”

Eatery Social Taquería is, as their slogan suggests, “Much More Than a Taco Restaurant.”

They serve up some seriously tasty tacos, yes… but they also offer guests an awesome atmosphere. Eatery Social is the perfect spot for any occasion - whether you are grabbing a quick bite and after work drinks or celebrating something special.

Created by Marcus Samuelsson, the restaurant’s dishes are influenced and inspired by the food and cultures of Mexico, Manhattan, Peru, and Scandanavia.

Samuelsson, an Ethiopian Swedish chef has been cooking his whole life. On his personal website, he says, “My mission with each project – whether it be a new restaurant, book, or TV show – is to celebrate the food, the culture, and hopefully inspire others to be adventurous, learn something new, and get cooking!”

Read more: About Marcus Samuelsson

At Malmo’s Eatery Social Taquería, Latin American flavors are combined with a local twist to make unique and delicious foods. It’s also pretty freakin’ cute.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


Food + Drinks

For starters, we always get the nachos. They are served with salsa and guacamole, which for me is a no brainer because avocados… duh.

You might find your main course decision to be a bit more tricky because they have SO much to choose from.

If you’re hungry, go for a sharing platter. On our last visit, we got the chicken fajitas and, I kid you not, Andrew said “OMG THIS IS SO GOOD,” every other bite. It was WAY too much for the two of us - so unless you’ve got a big appetite, I’d suggest bringing a friend (or two).

If you’re in the mood for something smaller, try the tacos. It is a taqueria afterall!

The tacos are served in pairs and are quite filling (but not TOO filling). You should be left with just enough room for some guac and dessert. They have five different styles to choose from, but my favorites so far are the Pineapple Pork Tacos - (full disclosure… they’re also the only ones I’ve tried… When you find something THIS delicious, it’s hard to switch it up).

It wouldn’t be a trip to a Mexican Restaurant without a good ole’ adult beverage. Grab a Cerveza or one of their delicious cocktails. We got the Mexican Bulldog because it was Friday… and, if I were you, I’d maybe save this one for the weekend. Go for a regular margarita if you don’t want a pounding headache. Turns out, we can’t throw em back like we used to.

We somehow managed to save some room for dessert, and decided to try the Chocolate Y Jengibre and the Coco Pannacotta, but we both preferred the first - hands down. The sweetness of the white chocolate and sour flavors of the lime jelly complimented each other really well... But don’t take my word for it… go try it for yourself!

Check out their full menu here.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


Brunch

Yes, you read that right… They also have brunch (but only on Sundays)!

BOTTOMLESS brunch - complete with Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Which is basically a combination of all my favorite B words… Breakfast Beverages and Bottomless Brunch.

I have yet to try it for myself, but, if it’s anything like their dinner, it must be pretty dang good. The next time I have a Sunday off, you know where to find me… Or maybe you don’t know where exactly to find me… which is why I conveniently listed the location and hours below!

Location + Hours

Eatery Social Taqueria is located at the Clarion Malmö Live hotel.

Their address is Dag Hammarskjölds torg 2, 211 18 Malmö

Dinner Monday–Saturday 17:00-23:00

Bar Monday–Thursday 17.00 – 23.00
Friday-Saturday 17.00 – 00.00

Bottomless Brunch at Live Every Sunday 12:00-16:00

Reserve a Table

Given that I’ve yet to see this place on a slow night, it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s generally always packed. The restaurant is really popular among hotel guests and locals alike. If you don’t reserve a table ahead of time, chances are you’ll either end up waiting for hours, or you may not get a table at all.

Avoid the uncertainty and reserve your spot… especially if you plan on going for their bottomless Sunday brunch!

Have you been to Eatery Social? What’d you think?

Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld

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The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld

A Night Behind Bars in Ljubljana - Checking in to Hostel Celica: Slovenia's Prison Turned Hostel

I never imagined I’d be spending the night in a Slovenian jail cell

I also never thought I’d be doing so willingly… that is, until I started planning our trip to Ljubljana and discovered that the city is home to Hostel Celica - an ex prison turned hostel. Then I was all like, “A night behind bars!? SIGN ME UP!!”

For a unique accommodation experience during your visit to Slovenia’s capital, you have to stay a night or two at Ljubljana’s former prison - Hostel Celica.

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History + Transformation

In the 1880’s, “Hostel Celica” was a prison…

…and it remained a prison for over 100 years.

In 1991, the building was abandoned, and local artists began trying to formally obtain the empty premises. They wanted to preserve the building, and, in doing so, to preserve a piece of Ljubljana’s history. These artists were strongly opposed by the local government who answered their attempts by trying to have the building demolished in 1993.

Nearly 10 years later, the city finally approved creative plans to transform the building into a youth hostel in 2001. For the next two years, more than 80 local and international artists collaborated to transform Hostel Celica into the beautiful, eclectic work of art that it is today.

In 2003, they welcomed their first guests, and, today, it is the most awarded hostel in Slovenia.

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Not Your Average Hostel

Yes, Hostel Celica does have your standard hostel common areas like a bar/cafe, and various lounges… but it also has an on site Art Gallery featuring monthly exhibits by local and international artists, a unique, spiritual room called the Point of Peace, and, in the basement, you’ll find the Museum of Confinement.

POINT OF PEACE

The Point of Peace is the only jail cell in Celica which has had the bars removed from windows and doors. This symbolizes openness and acceptance, a point that is further illustrated by what is actually in this spiritual room.

On their website, Celica says:

The Point of Peace represents the meeting point of all travelers who want to get in touch with their spiritual side or just give themselves a moment of peace and quiet. There are 6 niches where each represents a world religion – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The sixth one is left empty and opened for any other religion, your own belief.

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MUSUEM OF CONFINEMENT

If you’re bold enough to wander downstairs to the Museum of Confinement, you’ll see the prison’s old solitary confinement cells and can learn more about Celica’s dark history. The location of this museum in relation to the point of Peace and third floor common room also has an interesting, symbolic meaning:

The solitary confinement cells, which are part of the museum, are located right under the Point of Peace, which rises up into the lightest point of the building, the common room. The vertical symbolizes how the old prison building opens itself from its darkest corner into its lightest point.

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Be sure to check out all of these spaces to learn more about the property’s history and evolution over time.

Read more now: Hostel Celica - More Than a Hostel

Room (aka cell) Options

Sold on a stay at Hostel Celica? GREAT!

…Now you’ve got a pretty wide variety of room options to choose from. Stay solo in a private room, or bunk up with a few cell mates in one of Celica’s dorms.

For the full experience, I recommend spending a night behind bars in one of their 20 cells.

These cells were transformed by artists during the prison’s transformation, and each one has its own unique story and concept.

We stayed in Cell 116, “The Eye”… which was pretty cool, but there’s one catch… you can’t choose your specific cell - and theres a meaning behind that too.

Guests are assigned the cells at the moment of booking and cannot choose them according their tastes or wishes… The same way the prisoners could not choose theirs back at the time - A nice element of surprise, completely free of charge.

Read more about Cell 116’s concept and check out the other cells here.

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Property Perks

Hostel Celica offers several property perks…

…in addition to all of the unique aspects mentioned previously.

Their check in desk is open 24-hours a day and the ground floor has a common space, cafe, and bar where you can pay small, reasonable prices for meals, drinks, and their buffet breakfast. Upstairs, you’ll find another lounge, a shared kitchen, and laundry area.

Hostel Celica also offers bike rental, city maps, and a variety of trips and tours.

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What’s in the Neighborhood?

To put it in short… a WHOLE lot of art.

The hostel is located right in the middle of Metelkova Mesto, an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana. Think Copenhagen’s Christiania Freetown… except smaller.

Before the renovation and transformation of Hostel Celica began, the abandoned barracks and prison were occupied by artists trying to preserve the area. Today it is arguably the most successful Urban Squat in Europe.

The entire area is filled with murals, quirky art installations, and museums. It’s pretty deserted in the day time… but once the sun goes down, Metelkova Mesto comes to life.

Read more about Metelkova here or visit their website to stay up to date on upcoming exhibitions and events.

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Booking

To check current rates or book your cell at Hostel Celica, use the search box below.

Booking.com

What’s the most unique hostel you’ve ever stayed at? Let me know in the comments below!

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Quick Guide to Kraków: What to See + Do + Eat

Last December I travelled to Kraków, Poland for the first time, and though my trip was initially to visit the city’s Christmas market, I was pleasantly surprised by everything else Kraków had to offer... good food, rich history, and awesome street art to name a few.

If you’re into any of that, here are some attractions, eats, and neighborhoods that you won’t want to miss.


What To Do

explore the Old Town

A trip to Kraków isn’t a trip to Kraków without visiting the Old Town. It was on the first UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978... and for good reason. The Old Town is home to many of the city’s icons like St. Mary’s Basilica, the historic Town Hall Tower, Wawel Castle, and the largest market square in Europe.

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Wander the grounds of Wawel Castle

Though it’s definitely one of Old Town’s most touristy landmarks, Wawel Castle, & the iconic fire breathing dragon at the foot of the hill, are both worth a visit.

Local tip: a friend from Kraków told us the castle is best enjoyed from the grounds, so we decided against paying the admission to get inside. Whether you decide to go in or not, you should get there early to avoid crowds.

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Hunt for street art in Kazimierz

The Old Town is beautiful, but if that’s the only area you visit you’ll seriously miss out. Be sure to spend some time wandering around the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz - this was one of my favorite spots in the city.

The area has an entirely different look and feel than the Old Town... which probably has to do with the fact that it used to be an entirely separate city.

I’m a huge sucker for hole in the wall bars, cafes, and street art... and Kazimierz has plenty of all of them.

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cross the Bernatek Footbridge

After exploring Kazimierz, head towards the Vistula River to the Bernatek Footbridge. This pedestrian + bike friendly bridge opened in 2010, but the love locks & gravity defying aerialists were added a bit later.

The bridge connects Kazimierz with Podgórze, another hot spot for good eats and drinks.

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What to Eat/Drink (and where)



If you visit Kraków in the winter, you’ll find lots of delicious foods to warm you up at the Christmas Market like pierogi or, the most traditional polish dish of all - soup.

You can get mulled wine served straight from the barrel, or switch it up with other hot drinks like beer and vodka. I was as skeptical at first, but, turns out, the hot ginger beer at @piwnicapodbaranami, a super cozy underground cabaret turned bar, is actually pretty delicious.

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Good food is everywhere in this city, but, if you’re balling on a budget like me, I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Main Square.

As a general rule, the further away you get, the cheaper meal prices will be.

Unless you’re grubbing on street food at the Christmas market, you’ll likely find delicious meals for much less in Kazimierz.

The pierogi pictured below is from Zielony Balonik (The Green Balloon). For a cheaper (delicious) alternative head to the Old Town Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s just a short walk away from the Old Town and is easily my favorite place we ate during our time in Poland. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos because… well, I was more focused on eating.

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Getting Around

The best way to get around Kraków is to WALK. Kraków is pedestrian friendly and most of the landmarks around Old Town are within walking distance.

Don’t feel like walking? You can also rent a bike or use the city’s public transit which operates 24 hours a day.

If you plan on taking buses or trams frequently, you may want to get a 2 or 3 day Krakow Tourist card (US$26 and $32 respectively). This card is good for airport transfer, unlimited public transport around the city, and will get you free admission to 40+ museums & attractions.

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Christmas Markets of Kraków



Have you been to Kraków? What is your favorite thing to do in the city?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Budapest’s Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel at St. Stephen's Basilica

On their website, Pal’s Hostel makes the bold claim that they are, “Not your average hostel.” After staying here myself, I can honestly say that this statement couldn’t be more accurate.

They say it’s because the hostel is actually a chain of dorms and apartments near St. Stephen’s Square… but I think their unique setup and prime location are just two of several defining characteristics that make Pal’s stand out from the rest.

If you’re travelling to Budapest (especially on a time limit), this is the best (and most budget friendly) place you could stay.

Here’s why.


Location

Voted 10th best large hostel worldwide in the 2018 Hoscar Awards, Pal’s is hands down the most conveniently located hostel I have ever stayed at… and I have crashed at my fair share hostels.

It is located so close to St. Stephen’s Basilica that you can literally see it from some of their properties. This is not an exaggeration.

This location puts the hostel a short walk away from Deák Ferenc tér - the metro station where Budapest’s three main lines intersect.

Staying in such a central location made it easy for us to make the most of our short time in Budapest and to see as much as we could.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld


privacy

In addition to its great location, Pal’s has a wide variety of room options ranging from mixed dorms and private rooms to ensuites and apartments. Thanks to their wide range of options, the hostel attracts a wide range of travellers. We saw families, older couples, backpackers, solo travellers and groups checking in and out.

Andrew and I opted for a private room in a shared apartment located in a building just across the street from the main reception building. Even though we were in the middle of the city (during the Christmas markets), our room was quiet and we had so much privacy.

It wasn’t just a place to sleep - I had a place to set up my classroom to teach online each morning, a kitchen to make our own meals, and, after a day of exploring, we could come back to chill and recharge, just the two of us.

There were a couple flights of stairs to get to the apartment - which isn’t exactly ideal for older, less mobile individuals (or for carrying our one shared suitcase - filled with lots of (my) winter clothes. Shout out to Andrew for carrying that sucker up).

The apartment had a living room, full kitchen, one other bedroom, and a shared bathroom. There were a couple of times that I had to pee or wanted to shower and had to wait because someone was in the bathroom… but this wasn’t a big issue.

It was a major upgrade from some hostel situations where the bathroom is either gross because it’s shared by too many people and not cleaned often enough, or you have to wait for ages. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to race for the shower while staying at a hostel. Not ideal. This was much better than that)


Social Atmosphere

Just because Pal’s offers guests more private room options doesn’t mean it isn’t a social hostel.

There are communal spaces located in the main building where you can get some work done or grab a free cup of coffee while mingling with your fellow travellers. They also host daily activities here like trivia nights, family dinners (featuring traditional Hungarian dishes), and even beer pong tournaments.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

It definitely isn’t the most social hostel I’ve ever been to, since it’s so spread out… but, in my opinion, it’s nicer to have the option of attending events than to be bombarded by a loud party crowd when you just want some privacy or peace and quiet.

It was just the right amount of social… in that socializing was optional and not unavoidable… (I’m kind of a recluse sometimes… sue me).



Friendly Staff

Speaking of the social atmosphere, the people at Pal’s are pretty great, too… but I guess when you work at a place called “Pal’s,” you kinda have to be.

The staff was comprised of a fun and friendly group of people from all over the world. Many of them had been in Budapest for awhile, so they were able to give great advice on the best places to see in the neighborhood, around the city, and how to get there.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

Fast Wifi

Since I work on the go, having a good wifi connection is crucial.

Some hostels are hit or miss when it comes to their high-speed internet, but in our apartment at Pal’s I had zero problems connecting and teaching my English classes online.



Clean and colorful

Some people may not care where they lay their head or what it looks like, but when I’m deciding on a hostel or hotel, I almost always make sure it meets these two bonus criteria.

Call me crazy, (extra, bougie, high-maintenance… whatever)… but there’s something special about staying in a place that’s visually appealing.

Pal’s is filled with colorful artwork and murals in its shared spaces… and when I say filled I mean these masterpieces literally cover the majority of the walls.

In my opinion, they could have done a little more with the interior decoration in the apartments… but they were clean, and that’s what matters most.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld



Affordability

As with anywhere, prices at Pal’s vary greatly depending on when you go, what type of room you choose, and how long you stay.

We visited at the start of December for the Christmas markets and found the costs to be significantly lower than comparable accommodations in the neighborhood.

Booking

Check current rates or book your room using the search box below.

Booking.com

Don’t forget to add your name to the wall!

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

What is the best hostel you’ve ever stayed at? Let me know in the comments below!

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Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

Teaching English Online with PalFish - What's Required + How to Get Started

Teaching English Online with PalFish - What's Required + How to Get Started

In the month of January, I made over $1.2k for about 50 hours of work.

I didn’t have to leave the house, wear real pants, put on makeup, or interact with anyone over the age of 12. I could travel without having to “take time off,” and, so far, have been able to work in over half a dozen different countries.

SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, RIGHT?

Well, it’s not! It’s completely legitimate and it’s made possible by an innovative online teaching company called PalFish.

I’ve received a lot of questions from family and friends about this company and how they can get started, so I figured a little blog guide was in order!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul

Ahhh, Seoul.

My home away from home, and a vastly underrated travel destination.

From endless underground shopping to incredible nightlife... a vibrant, well-preserved culture and amazing, modern architecture... this sprawling city seriously has it all. 

Turns out, it's also a photographers paradise…

In no particular order, Here are 10 urban photo spots you won’t want to miss.


Ewha Womans University

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

I was pumped when my friend Nick said he wanted to shoot here because, despite living in Seoul for years, I still hadn't been. We arrived so early on that Saturday morning that the, typically crowded, famous walkway on campus was practically empty... which made for some incredible shots.

According to google images, this is also an epic spot to shoot after the sun goes down and the buildings light up. I didn’t get a great shot of the buildings (because I only had my phone camera, and, when it comes to night photos, its shooting abilities are subpar at best). I did, however, get this cool photo of the empty cafe area.

Getting there

Head to Ehwa Womans University Station on the green (2) line. Take either exit two or three and walk straight for a few minutes. You'll run right in to the university grounds!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

CanonPlex

On the southside of the Han, in an unsuspecting camera shop, is one seriously swoon-worthy spiral staircase. There's really not much to see here other than that... (unless you're in the market for some new Canon stuff), but it makes for a pretty cool "Down the Rabbit Hole"-esque shot.

If you're in Apgujeong, pop in to the CanonPlex for your next insta-post!


Getting there

Head to Apgujeong Rodeo Station on the Bundang (yellow) line and walk straight out of exit 5. The CanonPlex will be just down the road on your right!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE... YES, YOU! If there is one place in Seoul you HAVE to go… it’s here. Seriously.

This was one of my favorite areas in the whole city since I first moved to Seoul in 2015. My friends made fun of me for loving it so much, but who could blame me!? - Look at those curves! (Side note: I also had a really adorable first date, first kiss on a butt-statue chair here, therefore, it will always hold a special place in my heart. The place, not the butt statue...).

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Aside from its sentimental value, the DDP's futuristic architecture and design never cease to amaze and inspire. Be sure to wander inside the spaceships as well. Scotty might not beam you up, but I guarantee you'll find an exhibit, stairwell, or spacey corridor that'll make you feel like you're on another planet.

Getting there

Head to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, (located on lines 2, 4, and 5), and walk out of Exit 1.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Blue Square

Blue Square is a culture complex with a bookstore, cafe, and even a performing arts theatre. The walls of its Book Park are lined with books from the floor to the ceiling, and the massive windows, giving this aesthetically pleasing location an even cozier feel.

There are several little nooks and lofts where you can literally sit amongst the bookshelves... so, that's exactly what I did. I got a cup of tea, pulled out my journal, and was happily stuck here waiting out a rainstorm for the rest of the afternoon.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Note: BYOB(ook). 

There are lots of books here, but, as I wasn't here book shopping, I'm honestly not sure if any of their books are actually in English. It isn’t uncommon to go in a book store in Korea and find fake English books on display.

Getting there

Blue Square is located at Hangangjin Station on the brown (9) line, and just outside of exit 2. Pair this with a visit to Leeum Art Museum (mentioned a bit later).


Sulwhasoo Flagship Store

This location is a spa, a boutique, lounge, and the home to what may be the most genius staircase concept I've ever seen. The metal grid alongside the outdoor stairwell seems to go on forever... and, though it actually stopped at the rooftop garden lounge, it was still awesome.

We got some really cool, minimal shots here - in most of which, I was either sticking my tongue out (or taking photos of Nick taking photos of me)... but I was such a minimal midget, you'd never be able to tell... (which is why I LOVE THIS TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY - as there's zero pressure on the person in the frame).

The golden metal staircase at Sulwhasoo would undoubtedly be an amazing background for portraits as well... but, unfortunately, at this point in the day, my sniffly nose was wayyyy too red and runny for that

Getting there

The Sulwhasoo Flagship Store (not to be confused with the Sulwhasoo Spa in Jamsil) is also accessible from Apgujeong Rodeo station.

Take exit 5 and walk straight along Seolleung-ro (선릉로).

When you reach the first major intersection, past the CanonPlex & Sony store, turn right on to Dosan-daero (도산대로). Turn down the third road on your right. This spot will be down the road and on the right - can't miss it!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Anyang Art Park

This park deserves a post of its own… because it is quite literally the most elusive park I have ever been to. The installations are scattered throughout the woods… and the signage is all in Korean… so the first time I attempted to go, I didn’t find any of them.

The second time, I found a few installations but most of them were locked… so I tried a third time… (and, surprise surprise, still didn’t find all of the installations I was looking for).

Thankfully, Seoul photographer James Lucian let me snag a few of his photos for this article!

Each installation is so unique. I love the different compositions you can make of the textures and colors.

Getting there

Gwanak is the nearest Metro Station to the art park. Like I said, it’s super tough to sort out where everything is… I’ll go into more detail in a post just for this a bit later.

In the meantime, I’ve pinned it in the map below - Pay attention to the signage when you leave the station and be prepared to walk through the woods. May the odds be ever in your favor!

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

StarField Library

The beautiful StarField library is located in the COEX mall, Asia’s largest underground shopping center. It is well lit, aesthetically pleasing, and has the cutest little photo spot at the curve of the shelf.

Though it isn’t the quietest library in the world, it’s definitely a cool spot to check out while visiting the city.

In addition to the library, there are so many other things to see and do within this complex. There is an aquarium, clubs, hotels, restaurants, and, of course, lots of shops.

Right across the street from COEX, you’ll find the Bongeunsa Temple - one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the city.

Getting there

Take the metro to Samseong Station and take exit 5 or 6 to get to the mall!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO


Leeum Art Museum

On my second weekend in the country, I braved the metro and headed to Itaewon to visit the Leeum Art Museum and explore the area… making this museum one of the first places I visited on my own… not just in Korea, but probably ever. Prior to moving abroad by myself, I had a group mentality, and was honestly a bit scared/nervous to go places on my own. This would be the first of many times I ventured out solo.

Unfortunately, being by yourself sometimes means missing out on epic shots like these. Thankfully, Brittany of LifeOfBrit let me borrow this shot of her in one of the Museum’s most well known exhibits.

The Leeum Art Museum has many permanent and rotating exhibits of traditional and modern art. Museum 1 showcases traditional Korean art and Museum 2 features modern and contemporary pieces.

There is an admission fee of 10,000 won, but if you are a university student with school ID, under the age of 24, or over age 65, you can get a 50% discount.

Getting there

Head to Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6) and take exit 1. Walk straight for 100m then take a right down the first alley. Walk about 5 minutes up the hill to reach the museum.

Pair this with a trip to Blue Square (located at the same station) or a day of eating your way through Itaewon.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO


Seoul Botanic Park

This gorgeous Botanic Park opened in Western Seoul in October 2018… (which is a huge bummer for me because I had already left the country by then).

Like the famous Cloud Forest in Singapore, the Seoul Botanic Park has a skywalk through its upper canopy. There are currently about 3,100 kinds of plants, but their goal is to eventually have 8,000 plant species.

The architecture of the park looks gorgeous… especially in these golden hour shots by James Lucian… plus - I love plants. The best part… during their trial period, admission is free!

Getting there

Seoul Botanic Park is a short walk from exit 3 of Magongnaru Station on subway Line 9 and the Airport Express Line.  They are open from 9 am to 6 pm.

Visit their website for more information!

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN


Ttukseom Resort Station

Okay, so I know I said the DDP was my favorite spot in the city… but that’s not entirely true. This riverside station actually takes the cake for my number 1 favorite spot in Seoul.

There are plenty of parks by the Han, but, the first year and a half that I lived in Korea, I’d ride the train 40 minutes across the city just to get to this one. Thankfully, my last apartment in Korea was just a couple stations away!

The spaceship-esque building connected to the station is actually a small library and events center, so if it’s too cold to be outside, you can go inside and still get a great river view.

This is a great spot to chill and have river beers, go biking, or just do some people watching. On weekends when the weather is nice, the lawn areas are filled with tents and blankets as friends and families picnic together (one of my favorite Korean pastimes).

Getting There

Directions for this one are easy. Take the train to Ttukseom resort station… and then you’ll be at Ttukseom resort station!

Make sure to take exit 2 or 3 so you come out of the station on the river side.

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

BONUS PHOTO SPOT

While you’re in the area, I’d recommend walking or taking the train one stop to Konkuk University station area and heading to another super trendy photo spot in the area - Common Ground.

Common Ground is a shopping and restaurant area made from shipping containers where lots of festivals and special events are held.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

MAP

Need a little help finding your way in Seoul? Click around my custom map to discover the best urban photo locations in and around the city.


About the Contributors

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Nick Classen

Nick Claasen, a New Zealand born photographer based in Hong Kong, is absolutely incredible behind the camera.

During his visit to Seoul last year, we teamed up to create some minimal shots that show off just a handful of the city’s many futuristic, architectural masterpieces.

I can say without a doubt that he is one of the most creative people I've ever met and has what is easily one of my favorite urban photography accounts on Instagram


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Brittany Varano

Originally from the states, Brit quit her job to move abroad and  teach English in Daegu, South Korea for two years.

She has loved spending her weekends finding the most picturesque spots in Seoul and  
practicing her photography along the way.

Brit shares all of her Korea travel tips, guides and recommendations on her blog LifeofBrit.com.

Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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James Lucian

Originally from St. Louis, James is now lives and teaches English in South Korea. Though his interest in photography began in high school, and he majored in photography in university, James says living in Seoul really rejuvenated his desire to pick up the camera.

He bought an old camera at the Namdaemun Market and started taking pictures again.

James says that living in Seoul has given him a great canvas for photography. “The streets of Seoul are so different from home and I am constantly stimulated by them, even after three years of living here. It’s been such a pleasure to go photograph them!”

Check out his work on Instagram.


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Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - 25hours beim MuseumsQuartier

Last November, Andrew and I set off on a one month, eight country journey around some of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas Markets.

Our first stop was Vienna, where we had the pleasure of staying at the quirkiest, coziest, and most conveniently located hotel in the city - 25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld


ABOUT 25HOURS VIENNA

Located at the heart of Vienna’s 7th District, the 25 Hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier was a great home base for our three day stint in Austria. It also might be the most insta-worthy hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

From the lobby and guest rooms to the corridors and rooftop bar, you’ll find the entire hotel filled with colorful, circus themed wallpaper and vibrant vintage finds. The design team paid so much attention to detail when bringing this unique, dreamy hotel to life.

From what I could see, 25hours attracts a wide variety of guests ranging from young couples like Andrew and I to businesses travellers and families. Like their slogan suggests, we likely had one thing in common… We’re all mad here.

The property and design let off a cozy vibe, the staff was welcoming, the location was prime, and the food was delicious… All in all, I was a huge fan.

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WHAT’S IN THE BUILDING?

INSTA-FRIENDLY LOBBY

If you don’t take at least ONE photo of this lobby… why’d ya even come?

A Polaroid camera wall greets you in the entranceway, and, through the doors, the lobby is filled with a retro photobooth and loads of other vintage finds. As you can see in the photo below, we didn’t quite get the hang of the photobooth… but we did get three hilarious candids and one caught off guard butt shot out of it.

It’s almost worth coming here a bit before check in just so you have an excuse to chill in the cozy lobby for a bit. Unfortunately, we arrived so late that we were eager to drop our bags in our room and head straight for food.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

1500 Foodmakers

In our quest for food, we didn’t make it very far… because just through the lobby is an equally charming culinary hotspot.

When we walked in, we were greeted by a waiter who asked if we had a reservation - (yes, it’s that popular, and no…we didn’t). Thankfully they were able to squeeze us in, because we were absolutely famished.

With eyes bigger than our bellies we went for the Chefs special for two… a 4 course meal that is totally worth it if you’re willing to splurge a bit.

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See that three gelato dessert spread in the photo above? Well we each got one and it was phenomenal… especially the flavor in the middle.

I can’t remember exactly what it was - but it had hints of lime and mint and something else, and, in one word, it was HEAVENLY. So good, in fact, that Andrew attempted to steal mine, and then almost ordered a second.

1500 FoodMakers is also where 25Hours serves up its delicious buffet breakfast. We came here each morning during our stay to get our fill of coffee and grub before heading out to explore.

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Dachboden

If you’re looking for a good bar in Vienna, again, you won’t have to go far. Dachboden is 25Hour’s famous, in-house rooftop bar. Not pictured - the ridiculous amount of people here!

On the first night we tried to come here for a drink, it was full… on the second, it was booked for a company Christmas party… and on the third (and final) night, there, again, was nowhere to sit.

Though I unfortunately can’t personally speak about the quality of their cocktails, as I never got to try them myself… my friends who visited a couple of weeks later said they really enjoyed theirs. They must be doing something right to attract such a crowd.

I can only imagine how nice it is in the summer when the weather is warm and you can enjoy your cocktail on the terrace.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

Mermaid’s Cave

Downstairs in 25Hours you’ll find the mermaid’s cave - a cutesy lounge/gym area. It’s the perfect spot for a quick workout or to relax after a day of exploring the city… if you’ve got the time… which we unfortunately didn’t.

I didn’t get any photos in the gym (because there were always people on it and I didn’t want to be a creep) but there was loads of equipment where you can get your sweat on.

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GET A ROOM

The lobby, restaurant, and rooftop bar can be enjoyed by anyone… but if you’re only in Vienna for a short amount of time, I’d highly recommend checking in and staying awhile.

We stayed in 25Hours M+ Room and were really impressed with the space, amenities, comfy ass bed, and incredible view of the Museums Quarter.

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld
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25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier - HallAroundtheWorld

Other room options include the M Room, L Room, XL Room, Suite, and Panoramic Suite (which has an outdoor terrace and bathtub feature that I’m dying to soak in next time around).

Each of these options is decorated in its own unique way. Check out the 25Hours website to see which you prefer!

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

ADVENTURES ON FILM

Watch: Christmas Markets of Vienna

BOOKING

The bed was comfy, the vibes were good, the food was delicious, and the staff was great!

They loaned us umbrellas to take around town and extended our checkout when I got a last minute class booking… which was KEY - (fun fact: hotel rooms can double as classrooms).

Sold yet? ‘Cause ya should be. I honestly cannot recommend this place enough.

To book your stay click here or use the search box below.

Booking.com

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Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld
Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld
Vienna's Most Instagramable Hotel - Hotel Highlights HallAroundtheWorld

The Most Delicious Meal in Hoi An... (under $2)

If there’s one thing that keeps me dreaming about Vietnam (aside from the beaches and the people and the general laid back way of life)… it’s the food.

Vietnamese food is fresh, flavorful… and, best of all, it’s cheap.

This summer, while visiting Hoi An, I ate my way through the city in an attempt to find the best places to grub. I was surprised to discover an up and coming Western style Brunch scene… and was unsurprised by the associated Western style prices.

Click here for: 7 Budget Friendly Brunch Spots in Hoi An

I’m a big fan of brunch… however, as tempting as it might be to eat those comfort foods, I stronglyyyyy suggest you try to eat locally whenever possible instead.

The BEST meal I had in Hoi An, in terms of taste, affordability and ambience (because, yes, that is a thing) was at a little family run tea house called Mot Hoi An.

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If you’re walking down Tran Phu Street, you might notice the Mot’s adorable shop front… or you might not… because during opening hours it’ll likely be blocked by a huge line of customers.

Mot’s attracts loads of drive by visitors each day with their delicious (and very photo-worthy) take-away herbal teas.

This signature tea is made from a blend of herbs which can be seen displayed in ceramic bowls at the store front - cinnamon, lemongrass, honeysuckle, and lime, with a lotus petal added as a decorative touch.

It is the perfect refreshment on a hot day, and will only cost you 10,000 VND, (roughly 43 cents). However, as delicious as it is, this tea does have one very obvious downside… its single use straw and the plastic cup that it’s served in.

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Though it might be tempting to grab one on the go, I suggest you go inside and grab a bite to eat, too… that is, if you can find a seat. There are only about half a dozen tables inside the cozy restaurant, but if you can get one, it’s so worth it. (Plus, maybe as Hoi An continues to get rid of single use plastics, Mots will provide reusable cups for its dine-in customers).

I decided to have the Cau Lao, a Hoi An specialty, a herbal tea - and the whole meal only cost me 45,000VND. That’s about US$1.50! As far as Old Town restaurants go, that is a steal… and it tasted ohhhh so good!

Mot’s has a wide variety of other options on their menu like curry noodles, wonton soup, and (of course) pho. For or all you vegan/vegetarian travellers, they also offer meat-free options. Overall, their prices are incredibly affordable, with the most expensive dish ringing in at just over US$1.

Mot’s offers great food at a Great price (in a great location). It’s a win, win really.

Do yourself a favor and skip the flashy waterfront restaurants of the Old Town. Head to Mots Tea House on Tran Phu Street instead! This family run joint is a cozy, delicious, and affordable spot that you' won’t want to miss.

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Have you been to Mots? What’d you think?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Top 9 Hoi An Photo Spots

From its beaches and lush rice fields to the lantern lined streets of the Old Town, all of Hoi An is just screaming to have its photo taken… And everyone knows it. To be honest, the selfie sticks and posing tourists are actually my least favorite part about Hoi An… but who can blame em - the town is flippin’ adorable.

Here are some of the top photo spots in Hoi An and a map to help get you there!


 
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COCONUT BEACH

Depending on when you go, you’ll likely find more bamboo boats than tourists on this quiet beach. This not only makes Coconut Beach a great spot for some very insta-worthy sunrise and sunset shots, but also my favorite spot for beach hangs in Hoi An… Easily! More on that here.

Once you get your shot, be sure to stick around! - Put your cameras away and enjoy.

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RICE FIELDS

Aside from lounging on the beach, another thing I loved to do in Hoi An was starting my day with a morning run, or taking the scenic route to town through the city’s lush, green, rice fields. Though it was my second time visiting Hoi An, the beautiful landscape still blew me away.

To the locals, I probably looked ridiculous stopping every few meters and snapping away - but I mean… come on… the rice fields green and beautiful and unlike any of the (many) fields we have in North Carolina.

Though there are plenty of rice fields to choose from around Hoi An, my favorite spot for photos was behind Hub Hoi An - (a co-working space that is also very insta-worthy and worth checking out if you’re looking for a cozy spot with good WiFi to get some work done).

I recommend getting up early and heading there for sunrise. At this time, the roads are (more or less) quiet and the lighting is still soft.

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OLD QUARTER

For the most part, all of Hoi An is photogenic, but, with its bright walls and lively streets, Old Town stands apart from the rest.

I loved capturing the buzz of the area, but if you want one of those quiet “wow I’m the only one here” shots for your insta feed, you’re gonna either have to get creative… or get up at the crack of dawn.

Here are a few of my favorite old town shots. The particularly colorful, (and oddly quiet) spot pictured below is located just around the corner from the Japanese Covered Bridge (by Rosie’s Cafe - one of my favorite spots in the city to grab a bite).

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Pro Tip: Hoi An is hot… if you’re out taking photos, at some point, you’re going to need to stop for a drink. As tempting as it may be to down yet another Vietnamese coffee, cooling down with a delicious herbal tea from Mots Tea House is a tasty alternative.

Mots is a cute little family run restaurant that also serves up local favorites like Cao Lau and Pho. Their signature herbal teas are as refreshing as they are cute… If only they’d get rid of the plastic cups and straws, then these teas would be perfect.

More on Mot’s famous herbal tea and their other affordable menu offerings here!

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TEMPLES

Just like rice fields, there is no shortage of temples to explore around Hoi An.

We really enjoyed Chùa Long Tuyền, a Buddhist temple located just around the corner from one of our Homestays. It’s a bit off the beaten track and away from the Old Town… which we didn’t mind at all - this meant it was totally empty.

It’s a great spot to stop and snag some photos, but make sure you’re dressed appropriately (which I unfortunately was not in some of these pictures).

When visiting temples, you should always make sure that your shoulders are always covered. Vietnam is HOT, and I, having not planned for a stop at the temple, made the rookie mistake of wearing a tank top. Learn from my mistakes and either go in a top with sleeves or bring a scarf with you to cover up!

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HOI AN CENTRAL MARKET

If you go to Hoi An and don’t go to the Central Market, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. If you do plan to go, prepare for sensory overload. This lively market is a great place for snapping photos, grabbing a bite to eat, or just people watching.

I recommend heading here early for a traditional Phở brekky. Early as in, before the cooking school tours roll through… not that there’s anything wrong with being a part of a cooking school tour! I’ve done a couple in Hoi An and really enjoyed them, however, I just suggest you explore the market on your own, too!

Pro tip: look out for bikes and scooters on the side streets surrounding the market.

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CAM THANH VILLAGE

Taking a bamboo boat ride through the water coconut palms forest is also a must while visiting Hoi An. It’s such a fun experience, not to mention an awesome photo opp.

Kill two birds with one stone and book a cooking class with Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. They begin the class with a tour of the Central market, a bamboo boat ride, and then an awesome cooking experience.

If you’re lucky, you might get to see how the pro bamboo boaters have fun on the water. (Hint - there’s lots of spinning involved).

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“Hoi An Vibes Only” Mural

Sunday in Hoi An is an adorable shop that sells everything from housewares and gifts to clothes and accessories. Their products are made from natural materials by artisans in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

It isn’t uncommon to come here and see a line of people waiting to take a photo with the mural, but my advice is to actually take a look around. If you’re anything like me, I guarantee you’ll want one of everything. So, in that case, maybe put your blinders on and don’t look around…

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I practiced self control and settled for two things - an adorable two piece jump suit and a wooden phone case. The were both a bit pricey by Vietnam standards, but both worthwhile purchases. I wore the jumpsuit for the rest of the trip, and the phone case saved my phone from getting destroyed when it fell out of my pocket while riding the scooter.

Pro Tip: There are actually two Sunday in Hoi An locations in the old town, but only one where you can get this shot of the mural. Be sure to head to the location on Trần Phú.

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MURAL VILLAGE

If you liked that last mural, you’re gonna love this photo hot spot - an entire mural village.

The Tam Thanh Mural Village was a joint project between the Vietnamese Peoples Committee of Quang Nam Province and the Korean Community Art Exchange Program. Over a dozen Vietnamese and Korean artists painted over 100 murals around the community.

The project aimed to create art for a better community and to bring more tourists to the area. So far, it has been a massive success and has even inspired other similar projects to spring up in the area… more on that soon.

Though it’s not technically in Hoi An, the Mural Village is just a short day trip away and well worth a visit if you’re a fan of street art. It lies alongside a beautiful beach which was totally deserted when we visited… making it a pretty surreal spot for photos as well.

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Pro Tip: Though the entrance to the mural village is just beside the market, the murals actually begin much further down the street.

If you’re coming here by car, I’d recommend getting dropped off a bit closer to save yourself a sweltering walk.


CHAM ISLAND

Cham Island, located about 9 miles off the shore of Hoi An, is another picturesque location for photos. However, not during peak tourist visiting hours… which is basically all day.

The best way to snap a decent shot (and to have a good island experience) is to stay overnight. By around 3 or 4pm, most tour groups leave for the day… and then Cham island is basically deserted.

We camped out on Cham Island and had the best time playing some footy with one of the local kids on the island, getting to know fellow travelers around a campfire, and sleeping in a tent by the sea.

The good thing about booking a tour and camping out overnight is that most tours also include your choice of diving or snorkeling! Read more about our trip to Cham Island here.

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Map

Need a little help finding your way in Hoi An? Click around my custom map to discover the best photo locations in and around the city.

Have you been to Hoi An?

Where did you take your favorite shot? Let me know in the comments below!


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Holiday Gift Guide - The Best Gifts for the Travel Loving Ladies on Your List

Christmas may be over a month away… but, here in Sweden, Andrew and I have already been gifted our advent calendars (and are fighting the urge to begin opening them), we have set up our Christmas tree, and watched our first Christmas movie.

We even bought our first bottle of glögg, a mulled wine which, according to Swedishfood.com, is an essential part of the lead up to Christmas in Sweden… and I’m not one to argue.

…The one thing we haven’t started - Christmas shopping.

Maybe you’re against jumping from Halloween to Christmas. Maybe you think it’s too early for decorations or you’re just not feeling festive. I can’t say I can relate, however, I think we can all agree that it’s never a bad idea to get a head start on holiday shopping.

If you’re stuck for ideas and are wandering what to get the travel loving lady in your life this holiday season (other than plane tickets), look no further.

Being a travel (and christmas) loving lady myself, I’m kind of an expert on the subject, so I’ve compiled this list to help you out.

…it’s filled with things I have recently purchased, plan on purchasing, or hope Santa puts in my stocking. Tis the season for giving, so you’ll also find insider tips on upcoming holiday sales and discount codes!

 
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1. THE GIFT OF ORGANIZATION

…(or, in my case, slightly increased organization)

Every boss babe needs a planner, and with the new year right around the corner, most people will be needing a new one. You could gift an average planner, or you can go with one that is totally personalized.

When you give a gift card from Personal Planner, you allow the recipient to create a planner of their own. They can choose from one of Personal Planner’s designs or come up with something original. They can customize the layout of the pages, add personalized special dates, and even add inspirational messages.

I recently received mine (with stickers!) and absolutely love it! It’s so cool seeing an idea come to life, and I’m happy to finally have a planner to start mapping out 2019 adventures.

Personal planner also offers products like wall calendars, diaries, and notebooks.

For 15% off your Personal Planner order, use code HALLAROUND15. Valid until January 31, 2019.

To buy: personalplanner.com, $39

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2. THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL DRESS

Trying to pack for a trip can be a nightmare - especially when it’s a long-term adventure.

You want to pack practically, but you also want to have some cute options with you just in case. My packing problem has always been that many of these “cute options” either end up being too impractical, too wrinkley, or just totally ruined by the end of my trip.

Kosan created the Go Travel Dress to solve this problem… and it’s definitely at the top of my wish-list this year.

The creators of the Go Travel Dress couldn’t find the perfect travel dress… so they made it instead. They believe that, no matter where you are in the world, you deserve to look your best… without having to compromise on style, comfort or functionality.

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The Go Travel Dress, which is made of wrinkle resistant, anti odor (v important), performance fabric, has lots of other travel friendly features, too.

It has four pockets, two convertible skirt lengths, and currently comes in four different colors. The only downside to this dress is that it won’t be making it under any Christmas trees this year.

Kosan’s Go Travel Dress is still in the pre-order stages, but you can get 30% off the retail price by pledging on KickStarter now (and 20% after that)! By pledging now, you guarantee you’ll be one of the first to rock the Go Travel Dress when it ships next summer!

To buy: KickStarter.com, $85 - (Campaign ends Nov. 30).

3. WATCH + JEWELRY SET

Hey, Santa - I’m no expert… but I think this gift set from World Market would make a perfect stocking stuffer ;)

You can’t really go wrong with anything from World Market, in my opinion, but this in particular is the perfect little gift for the world travelling fashionista in your life.

It includes five dainty bracelets and a watch with a taupe faux leather band and a map on the face.

WorldMarket usually has BOGO deals on Black Friday, so be on the lookout for that.

To buy: WorldMarket.com, $29

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4. THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCES

I’m all for exploring cities on my own, but sometimes its nice to learn about a place from a local’s perspective. Though I have been on a few tours, they were never really my thing… that is, until I heard about Urban Adventures.

Urban Adventures is a global tour company offering locally led private and group tours in over 150 cities around the world. These tours are perfect for travellers wanting to escape the crowds, skip the big tourist attractions, and really connect with a city for a genuine, local experience.

I am a big fan of this company because they keep their tour groups small, employ local guides, and give back to the community. They also are big advocates of sustainability and responsible travel. According to Urban Adventures, “‘Responsible tourism’ isn’t just a marketing catch phrase or box we tick. It’s at the heart of everything we do, from how we design our tours, to who we employ, to where we grow our business.”

There’s a lot to be said about their mission and dedication to sustainability - I’d highly recommend heading here to read more about it.

Support a great company and give the traveller in your life the gift of a real life experience with an Urban Adventures gift certificate. Choose a dollar amount or a specific best day ever tour experience. Urban Adventures will email the gift certificate directly to your recipient!

To buy: UrbanAdventures.com, $10 minimum

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5. PIN-BOARD MAP

At the end of an adventure, we all eventually come home… and that’s where Conquest Maps comes in. With a Conquest Map, you can document all of your past, present, and future adventures.

This company offers several products the traveller in your life will love including pin-boards and poster maps of the world, the USA, and even individual states. Each map is crafted by hand and can even be personalized.

Conquest Maps make great gifts - but I don't blame you if you want to keep one for yourself! We ordered the modern slate pin-board map pictured below, and I cannot wait for it to arrive.

If you’re interested in ordering a Conquest Map for a loved one (or yourself) here’s the inside scoop on all of their upcoming holiday deals!

Shop their Fall Sale from November 22 to November 26 and save up to $100, or shop their Holiday Sale from November 27 to December 7 for BOGO 30% off on Pin-Board Maps or 10% off your entire order with code Holiday-10.

To buy: ConquestMaps.com, $99

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6. PACKING CUBES

I seriously underestimated the importance of packing cubes until they became absolutely essential for keeping my backpack organized.

When I was only going to be visiting a city for a few days, I’d keep different items and outfits in each of my packing cubes to avoid having to unpack my bag entirely.

I recommend purchasing a set with multiple sizes and colors to avoid getting them confused!

To buy: Amazon.com, $14.95

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7. PORTABLE POWER BANK

There are few things worse than a dead phone battery… especially when exploring a new city. I normally travel with multiple power bank so I can keep my phone charged for photo taking and navigating. The Anker PowerCore 10000 is an awesome long-lasting, and lightweight option. If you’re travelling with multiple friends (or multiple devices), consider the EasyAcc Portable Charger with 4 USB ports.

To Buy: (single port) Amazon.com, (multi-port) Amazon.com

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8. THE PERFECT TRAVEL CAMERA

When I started travelling a few years ago, I knew nothing about photography (still don’t), and was shooting all of my travel photos on my iPhone. If I wanted to be in a picture, I had to pull the awkward “ask a stranger and hope for the best” technique… and when none of those pictures ever turned out great, I kinda just stopped asking.

In my first year of travels, I can count on one hand the number of decent photos I had that I was actually in. I finally broke down and purchased an action camera (something I wish I had done a lot sooner).

My GoPro was a god send during my solo backpacking trip. I captured so many great photos (pictured below) by using its screen capture feature, and a ridiculous amount of video footage.

The best part… I never had to worry about breaking it.

Seriously ladies, if you plan on travelling and are trying to decide on a camera, I highly recommend gifting yourself a GoPro. It’s easy to pack, easy to use, and will capture all of your epic adventures (with you in the frame).

To buy: Amazon.com

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What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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Some links above are affiliate links. This means if you click the link, I may make a small commission if you purchase something from the website at no extra cost to you. When you are ready to make your purchase consider using one of the links above to help support HallAroundtheWorld.  I only recommend products and brands that I trust.

Life Update + 8 Things I Love About Living in Malmö, Sweden

As most of you may know, at the start of October, I moved to Sweden with my boyfriend Andrew. We tried the whole long distance thing a couple of times this summer, and let’s just say neither of us were a big fan.

The day after Rachel’s wedding, without much thought or preparation, I found myself on a one-way flight bound for Europe. Before long, we arrived in Malmö, a coastal university town in southern Sweden… conveniently located just a 30 minute train ride away from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Now, I know what this may look like… it probably looks a whole lot like me running around the world chasing the boy I love… and, yes, while that is part of it, there’s much more to the story.

When my initial residency application was denied (and put under what may potentially be a year long review process) we decided to say screw it and found an alternative… a very fortunate alternative - Getting my British passport.

 
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My mum is British, making me a British citizen by default, so the whole process of getting my passport was pretty straight forward. The most difficult part was making sure that all of the forms were filled out properly and the passport photos sized correctly, but after a stressful few days, it was submitted. A week later, my application had been received, processed, and I was sent my brand new, shiny, god send of a UK passport.

I say god send, because this passport is going to make things so much easier for me here in Sweden (until Brexit I guess… but that’s a problem for another day). I can travel freely between EU countries, I can legally work in Sweden, AND (here’s the best part) - I can go back to school for my masters - FOR FREE… (so you can bet money that I will be taking full advantage of that).

 
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All EU citizens can attend university in Sweden for free… and all Swedish citizens are actually given monthly stipends for attending school from the time they’re in high school.

Being from the states, this whole concept is completely foreign for me.

Most of my friends and I entered “the real world” with some serious college debt. We have been working since we could, and while this has given us lots of “experience” to put on our CV’s… (experience that doesn’t help much when it comes to landing a “real job” after graduating)… it also distracted us from the studies that should have had our full time and attention.

Sweden is getting the whole education thing VERY right. Once you’ve jumped through the governmental red tape, residents and citizens are actually offered a number of awesome benefits - universal health coverage, paid vacation, free Swedish classes, and maternity leave (maternal AND paternal).

…but those aren’t the only things they’re getting right here.

 
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I can’t speak much for the rest of Sweden, but, in no particular order, here are 8 of favorite things about living in Malmö after month one.


1. Fresh air

This is a biggie.

In Korea, the air quality in general is far from ideal, and it only got worse during yellow dust season. While living there, it seemed like I was constantly sick… due to the polluted air or perhaps my germ-infested classrooms.

It’s nice to go outdoors without feeling like I need to wear a mask… to take a deep breath of air that isn’t slowly killing me. A bit dramatic?? Maybe… but I cannot emphasize enough how great it is to live in an environment that doesn’t make me cough incessantly for weeks on end.

 
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2. Everyone speaks English

Well, maybe not everyone… but the vast majority. Though there is a bit of a language barrier, it’s nothing like what I experienced in Korea.

Not only does just about everyone here speak English… just about everyone I’ve met is bi or tri-lingual. I fully intend to do my best to get on their level.

Even though I could totally get by on English alone, I have been trying to learn how to speak Swedish… starting with the essentials - foods. Jag älskar mat - (translation: I love food).


3. Sunsets by the water

When I attended uni in the little coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina, one of my favorite things to do for sunset was going for a run down to Wrightsville beach or alongside the Cape Fear River.

In Korea, I frequently enjoyed sunset runs and river beers by the Han.

I was happy to find that these were traditions I wouldn’t have to give up after moving to Sweden. From Västra Hamnen to Ribersborg, there are so many beautiful places to enjoy sundown by the water in Malmö.

 
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4. FIKA

Aaah, fika. A Swedish noun/verb with no direct English translation.

Basically, it means to have a coffee break… but fika is more about socializing than getting your caffeine fix.

Best paired with something sweet and good company, this daily break is a Swedish custom that I can definitely get behind… and thanks to fika, there is no shortage of cute cafes to choose from, (which I was happy to discover, since cafe hunting was one of my favorite weekend activities in Seoul).

With unlimited coffee (for about $3) and an attached plant shop, Atrium Kaffe Bar is definitely my favorite spot for fika so far.

 
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5. It’s easy to get around

In North Carolina, having a car is a necessity… but here in Malmö that’s not the case.

In it’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, the city says “Walking, cycling and public transport are the first choice for all who work, live or visit Malmö. These travel choices, together with efficient and environmentally friendly freight and car traffic, are the basis of the transport system in our dense and sustainable city - a transport system designed for the city, and for its people.”

While, yes, there are times when it would be nice to have a car… like when we bought our Christmas tree and then carried it all the way home… it definitely isn’t essential (making it one less expense residents need to worry about).

It’s affordable, easy, and safe to take advantage of the city’s public transportation and well kept bike paths. As a matter of fact, Malmö has been named one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. I guess I have all the cyclists to thank for the fresh air.

Pro tip: Look both ways before crossing the bike path.

 
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6. Diversity

Before moving here, Andrew told me that all of the girls in Sweden are tall, blonde, with huge boobs. Needless to say, I was happy to find this was not the case.

Though I have been in some areas where Andrew and I were the only two brown haired people there… this hasn’t been very frequent. It’s a nice change of pace… as, in Korea diversity was a bit… well… lacking.

A Diverse community means diverse foods.

…and you already know how much I love food.

People at home asked me, “What do Swedish people eat?” and other than meatballs, I honestly had no idea.

Turns out, Swedes have their own traditional foods and drinks like anyone else, but for the most part, I’ve found the food choices here to be really diverse.

Believe it or not, here in Malmö, I’ve found myself eating more falafel and kebabs than anything.


7. Being closer to family

…my family and Andrew’s family.

After years of being 7,000+ miles away, it’s nice to have people who treat me like a part of the family just a short train ride away. Family meals and gatherings are something you really miss after living on your own for awhile.

I’m also closer than I’ve ever been to my family in England and Ireland… a proximity which I plan to take full advantage of very soon.


8. International day-trips

Remember how I said Copenhagen was just a 30 minute train ride away? Well, this is something we’ve taken advantage on more than one occasion since I moved here.

From Malmö, it’s so simple to make a little day trip to Denmark… so simple, that this weekend, we even went over one evening just for a concert. It feels like a little vacation… but it actually takes less time to get there than it used to take for me to drive to work in the states.

 
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there’s a lot to love about living in Malmö.

So far, it’s been a bit of an adjustment process in a very unexpected place… (long-term, solo life in Asia will do that to you I guess) but in a positive way.

Though I hardly have life here all sorted out, I’m really enjoying this journey I’m on, and am loving that it brought me to Sweden.

Month two is shaping up to be a pretty exciting one… though a big chunk of it won’t even be spent in Sweden. I’m so excited for new opportunities and adventures, and to share them all with you as this chapter in my life unfolds.

What do you love about Malmö? Let me know in the comments below!


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The Most Hands-On Cooking Experience in Hoi An - Hoi An Eco Cooking Class

While visiting Hoi An, or Vietnam in general, it would be silly to miss out on taking a cooking class. With so many to choose from, you may be wondering where to begin.

During my first trip to Hoi An, I spent a day at Green Bamboo Cooking School. This time, I wanted to try something different, so Andrew and I decided to go to the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. It shared some similarities with Green Bamboo Cooking school, but overall I think it gives guests a more hands-on cooking experience.

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WHAT TO EXPECT

Visiting The Market

Like my previous cooking class experience, the Hoi An Eco Cooking class begins with a trip to the Central Market. Here you’ll see the colorful lively market where many locals buy and sell their produce and other goods. If you’re a first timer at the market, it’s nice to go with a guide who can teach you a bit about the market and products sold there.

(Tip: Once you’ve been given the inside scoop, be sure to head to the Central Market on your own, and do it early! - before the parade of tourists comes through. You’ll see what I mean).

Bamboo Boating

After visiting the market, we drove to the cooking school which was conveniently located right beside the water in Cam Thanh Coconut Village.

Before the cooking begins, you’ll take a ride in a traditional coracle, better known as a bamboo boat, through the beautiful water coconut palm forest.

The local fisherman guiding your boat will teach you how to catch fish and purple crabs. He also attempted, with no success, to teach me how to properly paddle the boat… let’s just say I’ve been skipping arm day at the gym for way too long.

Hands-on Cooking Experience

After exploring the channels, you’ll return to the cooking school for quick refreshments. Then you’ll get down to business. You’ll be given an apron, a number, a chef’s hat, and full responsibility for everything you cook from then on. Everything we were to eat we had to make totally on our own, so if your cooking sucks, your food will suck… the head instructor’s words… not mine. No pressure.

We learned how to make rice milk, which we then used to carefully make rice paper. The whole process was so delicate and precise. We used our rice paper to make fresh spring rolls, which we dipped in a delicious sweet and sour fish sauce.

We cooked some of Vietnam’s famous Pho Bo (beef noodles), Aubergine with soy sauce, and a delicious banana flower salad. Then things got hot as we played with fire to fry up some Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes).

As each dish was finished, we placed it on a tray with our number, and, once everything was complete, sat down to a delicious and rewarding feast.

To end the day, everyone watched an incredible food art demonstration! Sadly, I didn’t manage to turn tomatoes into roses and carrots into flowers on my own. We were given special cooking tools, a mini cook book, and serious food comas to take home with us!


WHAT I LOVED

Unlike the Green Bamboo Cooking School, where each guest chose and prepared a single dish (but got to try a bit of everything), at the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class you prepare everything you eat on your own. Though it was a bit more fast-paced, I really enjoyed getting to learn more about each food and how it is made.

(Note: Since you were only responsible for preparing one dish at the Green Bamboo Cooking School, there was more time to relax and chat with the other travellers. If you’re looking for a more laid back experience, this may be a better choice for you).

I for one felt proud when I successfully prepared all of the dishes on my own… and even more proud when they actually tasted good. I also really enjoyed the Bamboo Boat ride - This was something Andrew and I wanted to do anyway, so it was great to get that experience and a cooking class all in one!

This class is also great for those with dietary restrictions. Even the vegetarians in the group were able to cook veggie-friendly versions of each dish (which is something you definitely won’t get at every cooking school)!

If a fun, hands on experience is what you’re after, then the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class is the perfect choice for you.

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BOOKING

To request a spot at in the class, head to hoianecocookingclass.com.

Note: I was a guest of the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


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Beach Camping on Cham Island - When to Go & What to Expect

The big cities of Vietnam can be a bit overwhelming… and Hoi An is no exception.

I love its lantern lit streets, cozy cafes, and endless tailor shops… but if you plan on spending more than a week there, you may find that you need a little break from the incessant horn honking and selfie stick filled streets of the old town.

Thankfully, there’s an island escape a short boat ride away - Cham Island.

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what is cham island?

“Cham Island,” is actually a cluster of eight small islands just eight miles off Hoi An’s coast… but only one is inhabited. This island is said to be the perfect getaway for anyone wanting to get out of the city for a bit… and after a couple weeks in Hoi An that’s exactly what we needed.

We booked our trip to Cham Island with ALO Travel Asia, a company which offers a number of tours and excursions in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Our booking included roundtrip hotel and boat transfer to and from Cham Island, snorkeling, all meals, and an overnight stay in a little tent on Bai Chong beach.

What to expect

At 8am the day of our trip, we and a bus full of other travellers were picked up and driven to Cua Dia pier. From there we boarded a double decker boat with Cham Island Divers and began to make our way to the islands.

The boat stopped twice along the way for snorkeling, diving, and free time to swim and jump off the boat. This was the first time I had gone snorkeling since I was a kid… and I must say, I was pretty horrible at first. Andrew got a huge laugh as I kept going too far under with my snorkel on and ending up with a mouth full of water. It also didn’t help that my first pair of flippers were WAY too big. Anyway, once I got my mask/flippers/general technique sorted, we both had a really great time.

At around 1pm we arrived at Cham Island and had lunch on Bai Chong beach. The beach was already filled with other tourists at that point, so, after lunch, we grabbed a beer and a hammock under the palm trees.

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An hour or so later, the tourists boarded their boats back to Hoi An and the only foreigners left on the beach were six French girls, Andrew, and myself. It was then that we really got to enjoy this quiet island getaway.

We went swimming, relaxed on the beach, and Andrew had a mini game of football with a young local boy. Though he hardly spoke any English, he and Andrew got by with hand signs, smiles, and laughs. I’ve always known a smile to be universal, but now I’m fairly certain that football must be too.

After awhile, the boy proudly proclaimed, “My name Thuy. Who you!?” - and then laughed hysterically when he found out our names.

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