24 hours in Brussels

 
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Belgium is an underrated country and I unfortunately only got to explore the city of Brussels for a day. Early in the morning, we ventured the city without any expectations. Brussels also known as the city of comics, had a quiet yet playful ambiance. The first half of the day started with a hot fresh Belgium waffle with a simple spread of Nutella and strawberries. Nothing can beat a chewy and flavorful waffle for breakfast and it wasn’t long until we devoured 2 more. In less than 24 hours, we were able to hit a few key spots without any trouble.

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Grand Place

The Grand Place is a market bloomed with restaurants and chocolate stores. It is a must see when you visit because once you enter the square, you are surrounded by architecture that is ornately decorated in gold. A true work of art. Not only that, in the evening, there would be a light show celebrating the holiday festivities.

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The Comic Book Museum

On a whim, we decided to check out the comic book museum and soon discovered that Brussels was the hometown of Tintin and the Smurfs! Granted, a majority of the comic strips were in Dutch or French but it was fascinating to see the evolution of the childhood comics we grew up with

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Sample the Chocolate

There's a reason why we know the word “Belgian Chocolate”. Brussels does not disappoint when it comes to these sweet desserts. My suggestion is to check out the many stores in the streets and sample the chocolate. They range in flavors, style, and prices which give you a lot of options for gifts.

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Mussel and Frites

Through some research, I learned that a common specialty was eating mussel and fries. We felt like it was appropriate after so much chocolate.

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The Royal Palace is almost a must-visit when you visit any European city. We were not able to go inside but it was a beautiful sight to see. A thin layer of snow dusted the sidewalks and the streets never felt more homey. I loved visiting Brussels despite the limited time I had, My future plans would be to explore more of the outskirts to the old towns or countryside.  Check out our one day vlog below! 

 

15 hours in Madrid

 

What I loved most about Madrid is how culturally authentic the city is. The city had a peaceful ambiance. Perhaps it was because we didn't have any expectations, but I found myself loving it more than I expected. Compared to Barcelona, Madrid had more locals who could not speak English. Personally, I found it refreshing to walk down the streets where our conversations couldn't be understood by others. The language barrier acting as a layer of privacy. 

We arrived at dawn when the early-morning joggers had just begun to tie their shoes for a run. All I had was my backpack and Google maps to take us to Park Retiro for the sunrise. Unfortunately for the both of us, we lacked a sense of direction and had taken a "sunrise shot on the wrong side of the horizon. Fortunately, we realized this before it was too late.

There are two main parts that you need to visit: The Crystal Palace and the Lake; where you will get a glimpse of the sun peeking from the Earth's horizon. 

Its time to see all its magic, and to remind ourselves of it when we have forgotten

It was not long before the sun rose and lit the city for a new day. We roamed the wide and clean streets toward Plaza Mayor and the Central Palace. Churros and bread stalls populated the Winter markets. 

We stumbled on a cultural dance in front of the Central Palace. The elderly sang and played their unique instruments while the youth danced with their little red dresses. Nothing could have beat the humble feeling of comfort and cultural pride I felt for them. One of the main reasons why I love traveling during the winter season in Europe is because of the warm festivities. The happiness and spirit would brighten the cold weather, bringing a special and beautiful comfort. 

We sadly only had one day in this beautiful city but we took every minute exploring parks, churches, and of course, food. I had my first oysters in Madrid! Interestingly enough, we found a botanical garden (which had few blooms) and also waited in line for the Museo del Prado. This museum is a MUST see. Inside has masterpieces such as Velazquez's Las Meninas, Boche's Garden of Earthly Delights, Goya's Saturn, and many more. I fully regret not going earlier. The museum was such a beauty architecturally both exterior and interior. 

If I had the chance, I would take an extra week to live in Madrid. The city vibes are so tranquil and for anyone who loves to live in solitude, Madrid has that space and spirit. Until next time! 

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Marrakesh: Moments to remember

 

Marrakesh was one of the most unique places I traveled to. First off, everything you see is very distinctive so it’s not difficult to tell that you're in Morocco. The red clay colored walls engulfs you as you navigate through the city. Rugs, silver lamps, and pashmina populate the streets which adds even more color to Morocco's palette. 

The people were extremely friendly. Although you need to watch out for those who try to find ways to ask for money, they still approach you in a friendly way. We were obviously tourists and I can't tell you how many times we were called Japanese. I noticed a lot of people would try to get to know you as a person before selling anything. They'd ask for your name and where you came from but always wished you safe travels in Morocco. 

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Palace Bahia

My favorite visit was Palace Bahia located in the heart of Marrakesh. It was a unique experience because its SO different from the city. The palace was so peaceful and every courtyard you enter, is completely different from each other. It is a detailed-obsessed photographer's haven. Entrance was only 5 Dirams so definitely worth every penny 

In Marrakesh, there are plenty of tourist excursions and I would highly recommend anyone who travel here to look into them. Mainly because there is only 'so-much' you can see in Marrakesh and so much MORE to see out of the city. We traveled to the Atlas Mountains and trekked up the mountains of snow. 

We sat down with a local Berber villager and her grand daughter after hiking through the mountains. The Berbers are indigenous to North Africa. Even with a language barrier, we shared peanuts, tea, and each other's comfort. There are moments when you can not think of a more raw and serene moment.

Along with the tour, we were able to ride on dromedaries (one-humped camels). Mine definitely had a slight temper and at one point, Kara's started to eat on my seat cover...

Our tight schedule forced us to do everything we could fit in two days. These two days will be remembered as the days where we climbed the atlas mountains, rode on one-humped camels, haggled like it was theatrical, and travled to Morocco.

Marrakesh is such a beautiful city and there is so much to see. Most who visit will spend 1-3 weeks here so make the time to stay longer if you have the chance.

Also, be sure to bring your bargaining game if you want to get a good steal of scarves or Berber ponchos! 

 

48 hours in London and I'm in Love

 
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Happy New Year everyone! 

Well, its also been 4 weeks into 2017. Are you guys still committed to your resolutions? Its okay, if life has gotten a bit busy but just keep trying. 

Anyway, this post is about my amazing and wonderful EUROPE trip! I can't fathom the fact that I WENT to Europe. My first stop was London. All in which was beyond my expectations. 

There is just something special and unique about traveling to Europe in the winter. I know from all the photos you see above, you can conclude that there is just life everywhere. From the Christmas light shows, to the bustling streets of Central London, all the way to the serene gardens speckled with over-nourished pigeons. 

I only had two days in London but I managed to see two highlights: 

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

Unfortunately I wasn't able to photograph the Sherlock Holmes museum, London Eye, and many other markets that I stopped by for food. Transporting myself through the Tube was a bit intimidating due to my horrid sense of direction. Luckily, Kara *master of the Tube now* navigated through the city like it was her home. 

From Borough Market which has the best kiosks with international food, to Kew Gardens who put on magnificent light shows every winter, I loved my short stay in London. Because I'll be back in a week, I wasn't too worried about seeing everything. Nothing really beats the rush of traveling. I dreamed of what the next few days in Europe will be for us. Be sure to check out our vlogs if you want to see a more views in London!

Love,

Anne

 

Best Natural Acoustics in the World

 

Hello lovelies! 

I'm in my last week of school now and its crazy how time passed so quickly. I see a reoccurring theme here: "where did all the time go?"

On a side tangent, I got to attend the Collateral Beauty pre-screening and it was really good. The concept was very well conveyed and everything was connected with the main and side characters. I would definitely recommend watching whether its by yourself or with family.

Now moving on to the real stuff. 

The Epidaurus theater was one of the best experiences I had when I went to Greece. We were fortunate to be the only group at the site so we had the entire theater to ourselves. This architectural phenomenon was not only breathtakingly huge but also faces the mountains.  

This theater was designed by Polykleitos and is known for it's amazing acoustics. It was designed at the center of the magnetic field so that it would prevent birds from flying over it. Because of it's design, even if you sat on the farthest seat, you could clearly hear a single clap from the center. I'm still baffled by how ingenious this is.  

Along with Epidarus, we got to see the Mycenaean Lion's Gate. It is a lot bigger than you would imagine and its very fascinating how the Mycenaean built this. Nearby, we were able to see the tomb of Agamemnon. The interior was dark, however if you went in the area of the tomb, you would see small dust-like specs flying quickly. My guess is that they are perceived as the spirits which gave an overall eerie feel.