Hostel Old Plovdiv has earned its reputation as Bulgaria's best hostel.
I fell in love with Hostel Old Plovdiv long before I ever went to Bulgaria. A glowing review from a friend piqued my curiosity and I couldn't read enough about this restored historic property with beautiful murals (some over 100 years old!) restored four-poster antique beds for the guests, and a common room that looks like an aristocrat's library. There was no contest - I could tell this was the place for me!
But once I arrived, I struggled with what I should write. It's so unique, it almost falls into the category of "you have to see it to believe it". But then I realized that what I loved best were the little touches, the things that any other hostel could do but rarely does. Phenomenal hostels are all one of a kind properties but they also all have a few things in common - things like this:
On a budget in Bulgaria? You'll love Sofia!
I didn't know what to expect in Bulgaria - and neither did my budget. I knew Eastern Europe was a relatively inexpensive destination, but cheap prices don't always indicate great value. I was also worried that, while some things would be inexpensive, other things would be grossly inflated.
But shortly after my arrival in Sofia, all my worries were put to rest. This was a city filled with great deals and fantastic travel value! In fact, I think Sofia offers some of the best value of any destination I've visited. You can live large for very little and your money goes much further here than in most other European cities. Here's why I love it so much.
Barbados is high on my foodie radar... If you're planning a trip to Barbados, these are the sweet, salty, and savoury treats you should try.
Barbados first really hit my radar at the beginning of the year, when I did a post about the best places to travel in 2015. Barbados got a glowing review! But funnily enough it was another warm weather destination that convinced me I had to ramp up my travel plans. Our March visit to Hawaii reminded me of how much I love to connect with the ocean, with the gardens, and - of course! - the food in tropical locations.
Our winter escape to Hawaii was so wonderful that I was immediately planning our next trip and I couldn't imagine a better spot than Barbados. Everything I've ever read about the country, the climate, the culture, and the cuisine has me convinced I've got to go and check out some Barbados vacation packages.
Since it never hurts to start planning a trip in advance, I thought it wise (purely in the name of research, you understand) to start compiling a list of the best food the country has to offer.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of Istanbul's Sultanahmet, there is an oasis of art.
Istanbul's Sultanhamet neighbourhood is no stranger to old buildings. It's home to the Hagia Sophia, which dates back to 537 AD, and Topkapi Palace, built in 1459. By comparison, Caferağa Medresesi is the new kid on the block. Built in 1559, it's a mere 456 years young!
But in its relatively short life, it's had many incarnations. The word medresseh refers to an educational institution and, since 1989, Caferağa Medresesi has been a centre of learning for traditional Turkish handicrafts, such as ceramics, mosaics, calligraphy - and ebru painting, which we were fortunate enough to try.
Our 200 meter challenge reveals a little known tribute... just footsteps next to one of the most famous memorials in the world.
In Lucy Maud Montgomery's final book in the "Anne" series, "Rilla of Ingleside", she describes the battle of Vimy Ridge in breathless, agonizing tones:
The moon sank lower into a black cloud in the west, the Glen went out in an eclipse of sudden shadow—and thousands of miles away the Canadian boys in khaki—the living and the dead—were in possession of Vimy Ridge.
Vimy Ridge is a name written in crimson and gold on the Canadian annals of the Great War. "The British couldn't take it and the French couldn't take it," said a German prisoner to his captors, "but you Canadians are such fools that you don't know when a place can't be taken!"
So the "fools" took it—and paid the price.
"Rilla of Ingleside" is a historian's dream. The only piece of fiction written by a Canadian woman about her contemporaries during World War I, "Rilla" captures domestic life during a time of war in rich, painstaking detail.
But Montgomery got one detail wrong. Vimy Ridge HAD been captured before. And you won't believe by who.
Here's what's making May a happy month for me.
On the road in Turkey
I'm writing this from my hotel room in Istanbul and it's shortly approaching midnight. I've been on the go since 7:00am and the day has included a palace, a market, climbing WAY up to get great views of the city (twice!), two huge meals, traditional painting, and a rather dramatic thunder and lightning storm. I'm due to get up at 4:00am to catch a flight to the city of Riza for another full day of travel. And it's awesome!
Kangaroos and Koalas? What Could Be Better?
You don't have to be an outdoorsy person to fall in love with baby rescued animals! Even the most nature averse person can't help but melt when confronted with a small and cuddly critter! Our recent visit to Australia provided us with the chance to meet some of the most unusual animals we'd ever seen and we were grateful for the opportunity to see a different side of the country after spending so much time in Sydney.
A bog in the heart of the city? Mer Bleue is Ottawa's best secret hike.
Plants from the Arctic tundra, a secret "sea" left over from the ice age, and one of the rarest micro-climates in Canada? You can find it all on the outskirts of Ottawa and - even better - it's completely free and accessible to visit! The Mer Bleue Bog is one of my favourite places in the city and I guarantee you won't find it listed in any guide book. Let me tell you what makes this place so special and why it should be on every visitor's bucket list.
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