Category Archives: Blog

Singapore – The cleanest city on Earth

Welcome to Singapore,

Aaahhhhh Singapore! one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever been in. So clean in fact that it is not illegal to chew gum but illegal to import it and or sell it. Therefore making the chewing of gum fairly impossible. Singapore is very westernized and is also one of the safest cities on the planet with consistently one of the world’s lowest crime rates.

Clean and safe? What is the downside you might ask? Well I’ll tell you what the downside of Singapore is, it’s the price! Singapore is extremely expensive due to it being a major banking city and Transportation/trading Port of Asia.

I had researched many hotels and all of them were really expensive until I came upon the YMCA orchid. At a reasonable $70 a night it also had bowling, indoor pool tennis courts, soccer fields, a restaurant a bar and many other entertainment activities to offer. It was also in a very convenient location with in walking distance to all the major attractions.
I ordered two beer from the bar to take back to my room and they were $7ea. I was thinking well that’s not too bad but then I realized while at my first restaurant that a single pint of draft was $25 and my meal came to $70 for just myself. There are definitely cheap options for eating available but it’ll be your general noodle houses or fast foods.

My first night in Singapore I bought tickets to in Avenged Sevenfold concert and went to check that out at Universal Studios. I didn’t even know if Singaporean’s would know who avenged sevenfold was. But let me tell you they take their Avenged Sevenfold very seriously. I spent the whole night rocking out with Singaporean’s and It was a great a way to become acclimated in with their vibe!

On the next morning, I woke up and had to go check out the worlds most expensive hotel. That is, the construction of the hotel cost the most at a cool $8billion USD and can hold up to 45,000 people at a time. Built on three large sections it was made to resemble a cruise ship and has an infinity pool on the roof top. If you are not a guest of the hotel you can pay $30 and go up to the viewing area around the infinity pool. However if you’d like to swim in the pool it cost extra. The views from on top of this hotel or spectacular and I highly recommend if you are in Singapore you go up there and check it out for yourself.

The gardens by the Bay is also another must-see site in Singapore. Boasting huge metal structures with vines growing all over them, they will be the tallest Greenery on the planet. Spanning over 250 Acres it contains the largest flower glass dome Greenhouse in the world. You can spend an entire day walking around Bay East, Bay South, and Bay Central Gardens, taking in all their beauty.

In the evening before the sun sets, walk through the downtown core. It’s an impressive sight to see how clean the streets are and all the skyscraper bank buildings in pristine condition with the sun reflecting off of the mirrored glass walls. Position yourself across the water from a Marina Bay Sands for 8 p.m. Sharp and watch the spectacular laser light show put on from the hotel, Illuminating spectacular arrays of lights into the sky and onto the water.

Overall I highly recommend visiting Singapore even if it’s just for one day. It’s an amazing City and Country with very friendly people within it. The only downside is it’s pretty pricey.

Singapore

Price $$$$$

Alcohol price $$$$

Landscape 6/10

Cityscape 8/10

Food 7/10

Locals- extremely friendly and I’ll speak English

Bali, an island of mixed emotions!

Welcome to Bali,

Bali is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Located east of Javaand west of Lombok.

It is a popular weekend getaway for Australians since it is a short flight over to the island from their larger Island with cheap booze, cigarettes and accommodations in comparison. Kuta being the biggest town on Bali, is where you’ll find the largest mix of bars, clubs and expats living a laid back surfer’s life with surprisingly small rolling waves, heaping with plastic and garbage within them.

I was seriously surprised to learn upon arrival and spending a few days on this supposed gorgeously pristine Island that it is actually a 50/50 mix of paradise and the other half a garbage Wasteland. Considering it is advertised and made out to be a popular honeymoon getaway!

Indonesia has a zero-tolerance policy against any form of drugs including marijuana. Your first offense of being caught with any sort of a drug could be an automatic death sentence for you. So I was very shocked while walking around Kuta at night around the bar scene, having so many Indonesian men offering drugs to all the passerby’s. The police are very corrupt on the island of Bali and most of the time they work with the gang members in order to entrap tourists into sticky situations where they will have to bribe the police officers in order to stay out of jail. My advice to you if you were a partygoer an occasional recreational drug user, is to get out of that mindset while on the island of Bali and just drink and have a good time. Also when ordering a drink at the bar or a club make sure to watch your drink very carefully as Bali is known to be a date rape capital. If you order a beer make sure you watch them open it, if you order a drink make sure you watch them make it. My advice to you is to stick with canned or bottled drinks and ask the bar staff to open it yourself. It is seriously no joke in the town of Kuta as a lot of the time even the security staff in the bar is in on the scam.

I had chosen to stay at a resort in the small town of Seminyak just north of Kuta. A slightly more upscale laid-back area of Bali without the hustle and bustle of the Kuta party scene. I had chosen the Samaya Resort right on the beach front of the Indian Ocean. The Samaya is a 5-star upscale Resort that was absolutely beautifully pristine. They had their Beach cleaned and raked right up, but on either side of the property line, of the Resort beach, was littered with plastic and garbage everywhere as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately there was no way for them to clean up the water so there would be no swimming. However there was a gigantic pool out front overlooking the ocean and also every suite at this Resort had its own private pool as well as a hot tub. The rooms were magnificently huge it was basically a private Villa. The food and drink at the resort we’re absolutely excellent. Actually the resort had many people show up to it the restaurant from all different parts of the island especially for the fine dining. They literally had a team of 20 people that came to clean your room 3 times per day. They were surprisingly sneaky about it too until one day I had caught them! I had came back to my room early just to grab something quickly and there were 20 people inside, all with their very own tasks to accomplish as quickly as possible. They seemed very shocked that I entered my room and I looked at them all and said “busted”! They all laughed and quickly vacated the room.

A place I definitely recommend to go chill out for a day and have a few drinks on the beach is Sunday’s Beach Club on the very south of the island. They have a magnificent infinity pool at the edge of a cliff face overlooking the ocean and they have a self-service elevator down the Cliffside to the beach club. It’s a chill out Beach spot with fire pits and bean bag chairs and cheap Bintang beers for you to enjoy. The water down there is also much cleaner to enjoy a dip in.

When on Bali you must try the Kopi Luwak Coffee also known as cat poop coffee! The world’s most expensive Brew, readily available in most grocery stores around the world but all originates from Southeast Asia, it is a Coffee Bean that has been eaten by the Kopi Luwak animal which is a small weasel-like creature. The Animal eats only the freshest and most ripe beans whole and as the bean passes through its digestive system it removes all the acidity from the bean. The animal then poops out the Bean completely intact and is later collected, washed and boiled making the perfect acidity free coffee. You should also enjoy a traditional Balinese cigarette containing tobacco with many different spices including blueberry or vanilla if you so desire!

Another attraction of Bali is the many temples and monasteries scattered about the island. A surprising detail about these temples is the signs posted every where’s in which state that women on their menstrual cycle are forbidden from entering. In Balinese tradition it is believed that the spiritual world is divided into equal but very different areas consisting of lower, middle and upper realms. Lower is the wild, chaos, sexuality, birth, blood, Middle is the realm of ancestors and community and the upper is the sky realm belonging to the Goddesses and Gods. That fertility and menstruation was not ‘unclean’ but rather a different energy to that of the temple and sky realm and that these energy’s should not be disturbed.

On Bali you can rent a van with a driver for a low cost of $50 per day that will give you a personal tour of the island or take you wherever you please. There are also many scooters readily available to rent. There are many great sites to see around Bali including the various rice fields on different levels and Terraces, Cliff face hikes, zoos, beaches, temples and there is even surfing and Diving. There are no shortage of attractions and things to do on this island but beware that it is not all it’s cracked up to be. There are many really nice 5 star resorts which are beautiful to stay at, but they certainly come with a cost. In my opinion Bali is very overhyped and not worth it.

Bali

Price $$$$

Alcohol price $

Landscape- 7/10

Food – 5/10

Locals- 50/50 mix. If the ones that work i the tourist industry are very nice and friendly however their is rampid gang acactivity and you should be very cautios of locals on the streets in the evenings.

Split, Croatia and the time I almost got stranded in Bosnia!

Welcome to split

Located on the Eastern side of the Adriatic Sea in Europe, Split Croatia has a population of 350000 people. A gorgeous little Coastal fishing City, with beautiful beach front walkways and many shops and restaurants that could fulfill your any desire. A seafood lovers Paradise from it’s Crystal Clear Blue Waters and green Rolling Hills in the Croatian Countryside Split is absolutely beautiful.

When I was in Split back in 2013 it had just become a part of the European Union three weeks prior. All the locals that I had talked to thought that the election was rigged. Because them and all of their friends had voted against joining the European Union due to strict fishing laws associated with becoming a part of the Union. Before this they were free to fish as much and as many fish is they wanted to. But now there were limits, restrictions and taxes for the fisherman which greatly disadvantaged their livelihoods.

A must do while in Split is take a walk through old split. With its narrow Cobblestone alleyways filled with many shops, restaurants and little bars it is extremely beautiful. But be careful, it is quite a large area and you can easily get lost in the maze of corridors and little gateways.

My friend was currently living in split and I went there to meet him. He worked on a pub crawl as a bartender. Essentially I went on that two nights in a row and it was definitely worthwhile. About fifty to a hundred tourist Travelers would attend the pub crawl each and every night. A great way to meet new international friends and hear their stories about their lives growing up in foreign lands.

Upon waking up from the pub girl you’ll need a day of relaxation on the beach. Bacvice beach is the main beach in Split filled with young expats and tourists and even locals having a great time catching some rays and fun in the sun. There is also Firule and Ovcice beach’s which are great to.

Some day tours worth while from Split are Krka waterfalls and national park and also Plitvice lakes, both gorgeous locations. But of course there are many other fantastic attractions to see.

One day I had nothing to do and was walking around Split all by myself checking out the sights and a hunger grew. So I popped into a nice oceanfront restaurant and had a look at the menu. A server came to help me and said “there’s no need to look at that menu sir, come right in and I will show you the fresh fish we have caught for the day”. He took me to a large ice box with many different varieties of fish on display, freshly-caught from the ocean that very morning. He explained to me a couple of the types of fish and I eventually pointed at a large red snapper and said I would like that one please. He sat me down at a table and asked me what I wanted to drink and I said “red wine please”. He brought me a whole bottle of wine which I didn’t expect. I thought he would just bring me one glass, but I thought to myself, hey I have nothing better to do today, I might as well sit on this ocean front patio, take in The View and drink some wine. About 20 minutes later the server returns with the entire whole fish in which I had pointed to, on a plate grilled for me. I thought to myself oh my God I did not realize I ordered the entire fish! I thought they would just bring me a filet of it or something. But then I figured hey while in Croatia! Why not! So I took my sweet time and ate the entire red snapper and drank an entire bottle of red wine. I was now set for the day!

I had stayed at a lovely little villa called Villa Toni. I was only in Split for 4 days and my next destination was going to be Budva, Montenegro. I started researching how I was going to transport myself to Budva and I couldn’t really find a train schedule or a bus schedule. So I asked the nice gentleman at the front desk which happened to be the owner of Villa Toni as well. “What is the best way to get to Budva from here”, I asked. He quickly proclaimed “I’ll drive you”. I questioned “oh yeah?” with a laugh and asked “how much?” He quickly exclaimed €100. I stuck out my hand and said “deal”, since this was going to be a 6 hour drive one way and then he would have to drive the 6 hours return by himself.

The morning came to check out of the Villa and he was sitting there waiting for me with his brand new black Mercedes E350 parked out front. I exclaimed “holy shit, you have a Mercedes!”. He’s like “yeah!”. I’m like “all right let’s go”. So off we went into the Croatian Countryside. Now the Croatian Countryside is extremely beautiful. If you are ever in Croatia I highly recommend that you either rent a car or find some way to drive out to it. it is absolutely magnificent with its Rolling Green Hills and Crystal Clear Blue Waters. we drove through Dubrovnik and he told me about the history of that City and about the Croatian / Serbian War back in the 90s which would have been a crazy time to have lived through like he did.

If you look at a map, in order to get to Montenegro from Croatia you have to go from Croatia into Bosnia back in to Croatia and then into Montenegro. So we go into Bosnia no problem and then upon coming back into Croatia the Border guards took our passports and quickly gave mine back and told him that he had a problem had to go inside with them and sort it out. To make a long story short I sat on the Bosnian curb for 6 hours thinking, “oh man, how the hell am I going to get out of Bosnia now!” Asking every border gaurd that passed by, “is my friend going to be much longer? Is he coming back?” As they just shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Every tour bus that passed, I wondered how much it would cost to bribe my way onto one of these things! He finally came out and said “I am so sorry, there was a problem with the paperwork for my car”, as he had purchased the car from Germany and had not yet registered it in Croatia. Anyway he turned a 12-hour day for himself into an 18-hour day, but he got me safely to my destination and I had made a new international friend with a great story attached.

Croatia

Price $$$

Alcohol price $$

Landscape 10/10

Cityscape 7/10

Food 9/10

Locals- fairly friendly, but be aware of local youth crimes against tourists.

Hong Kong, A Hikers Paradise

Welcome to Hong Kong

Hong Kong is technically a city of and in China but is free to operate under a Democratic Society because of a deal struck by the British in 1984. Therefore westerners are free to come and go as we please. They didn’t even stamp my passport upon arrival which actually ticks me off! Because I love getting that stamp of memories to look back upon.

Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive city with the most unaffordable housing market. However there is absolutely no shortage of entertainment to be found. I cant possibly cover everything there is to do in this amazingly beautiful city so I will focus on hiking and drinking!

It is an extremely safe and westernized city which is rich in culture and history. The people that inhabit this city consist of an amazing mix of ethnicities that all speak English. Although it is a very much so hustle and bustle city vibe, the locals are extremely friendly and will help you with directions on the street with a smile.

You wouldn’t think so but hong kong is a hiker’s paradise in an urban environment. The city has a population of 7.3 million people and is surrounded by gorgeous mountains and lovely water views. There are a cornucopia of different mountain tops and Cliff faces to hike just on the outskirts of the city that off for Simply Stunning views.

Upon arriving to Hong Kong I suggest your first viewpoint to be Victoria Peak . you can take a taxi up there and it has a mountain top bar that offers ridiculous views of the city. And hey you can enjoy a $ 15 beer while enjoying the scenery.

Besides Victoria Peak The city has many great hikes to offer that you cannot take a taxi to get to. one of the most famous and in my opinion the best, that I did was Kowloon Peak. Better known as Suicide Cliff. There are a couple different routes to get up to it, and of course I chose the shortest distance but steepest inclined. You may have to ask a local to find the start of this path because it is not well advertised. However once you find it, you’ll have to be prepared for very Steep inclines and it’ll take you approximately an hour and a half to get to the top and that’s at a good pace. But once you’re up there the views are stunning and well worthwhile.

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Other hikes you can research would be;

The Dragon’s Back
Sunset Peak
High junk Peak
Lion head Peak
Sharp Peak
and quite frankly there are many others. Like I said Hong Kong is a hiker’s paradise!

A night out in Hong Kong is very expensive with drinks ranging anywhere from 20 to $30 per drink Canadian. My first night out i headed down to Lan Kwai Fong district, located on Hong Kong Island. Lan Kwai Fong is famous for being the best nightlife area of Hong Kong, boasting over 90 bars and great street performers, vendors and of course all the variety of great cultural late night drunken food you could ask for. My first evening of nightlife in Hong Kong ended up costing me about $600CA because I stuck to drinking inside of bars for the most part. After quickly realizing my financial situation wouldn’t support those type of shenanigans for too much longer, but at the same time, I was gonna party, I remembered that I was in an asian country where you’re allowed to drink openly on the streets! And there are many street partys available to attend! So my suggestion to you is just go to the 7-Eleven and buy $7 beers and drink them on the street and make your friends there! Realistically Lan Kwai Fong is just a long strip of small little bars with not too much going on inside of them really. So you’re much better off being on the street where the mass of hundreds of happy go lucky people from around the world are anyways.

Soho is the next main district for nightlife which isnt too far away from Lan Kwai Fong. A quick subway ride and you’ll be in the heart of the expat capital of Hong Kong. Soho is also located on Hong Kong Island. Vibrant Soho is home to the worlds longest outdoor escalator and has amazing nightlife, shops and every type of restaurant you could possibly imagine as well.

While in Hong Kong if you have a day to spare I would suggest taking a quick boat day trip over to Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia. There are many boat charters available that you can book last minute once you have arrived.

I had stayed at the emperor hotel for a cool $70 night. It was the cheaper option I could find for a nice 4-star hotel. It was a very nice upscale hotel with a great 3rd floor furnished terrace you could take your own bottle of wine to and sit and drink, play cards and enjoy the views and city noises! When I got there I realized why it was cheaper than the others. It was about a 15-minute walk to get to the nearest metro station. But I didn’t mind since I’m young and fit and capable.

In closing there is definitely no shortage of sights to see, things to do and you wont have any problem at all emptying your bank account in this magnificent city. I highly recommend you go and spend at least a few days here and see it for your self. It may not be long before it comes back under Chinese rule.

Hong Kong

Price $$$$$

Alcohol price $$$$

Landscape 9/10

Cityscape 9/10

Locals- extremely friendly, all spoke english and are very willing to help you.

Argentina, getting certified in Tango while drinking the world’s best wines

Welcome to Buenos AiresIf you are thinking of heading to Buenos Aires, stop thinking about it and just do it already. A wine and beef lovers paradise. With mind blowing Malbec’s and world-renowned beef. Sure Alberta Canada, Japanese Kobe and lesser known Orlando, USA and Prince Edward Island, Canada’s beef is great, but until you’ve had Argentina’s beef, your opinion is to this point, invalid. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

First let’s talk about which area of the city you will want to search for a hotel. My suggestion to you is to stay in the Palermo area. It is very central with a lot of great gardens, shopping, cafes and bars within walking distance. And of course, you will find a wide variety of lodging available in this area as well.Secondly, one thing you must be informed of before travelling to Argentina is the kiss on the cheek for greetings or also known as a beso. In Argentinian culture, it is the norm when greeting somebody, even a stranger, to give a kiss on the right cheek. Yes, even for two guys. However, Argentinians don’t make the kiss noise, but rather just a quick lean in and a slight and quick cheek graze instead of a formal North American Handshake. So, remember when leaning in, go left. Therefor grazing right side cheeks. If you go the wrong way that will lead to a very awkward situation for you for sure!

Now let’s talk Taxi’s and driving in the city. Your first time stepping into an Argentinian taxi, you will have no idea, unless you have read my blog, that at some point during your taxi ride, you will fear for your life! No, not because the taxi drivers are thugs. But because in general, driving in Buenos Aires is a Ludacris adventure. A real-life thrill ride where, yes, your life may be in danger, due to stop signs and even red traffic lights, mean absolutely nothing to every driver on the road. A circus show of cars weaving in and out of each other at four way stops, while every vehicle on the road is honking their horn in anger at the others. You will, want to wear your seat belt and keep all extremity’s inside the vehicle, at all times. I don’t want to scare you away from going but it is part of the adventure and just understand that these people have been driving this way their entire lives. It is completely normal to them and they are good at it. A coordinated mess of high-speed excitement.

The entire city of Buenos Aires will shut down from 2pm-4pm. This is their afternoon siesta time. I’m dead serious, you will even have a hard time finding a gas station open between these times. Its their culture and in my opinion, the fact that we don’t do this is a prime example of everything that is wrong with North America. Down in South America, they really have it figured out, with construction workers all sleeping in their trucks, stores locked up with people napping behind the counters, banks closed. I mean everything is closed.

Now of course you’ve heard in my other blogs, that one of my favorite things to do upon arriving in a new city is hit up the best pub-crawl that they have to offer. Thus, insuring making new and great international friends and even to get ideas of other things the city has to offer that you hadn’t discovered through your own research. I have found that more often than not, that I will change my plans drastically because some other foreign travelers new about something amazing that I didn’t, and I will quickly research it and determine that it is probably better than my previous plans. Buenos Aires has an amazing pub crawl, not surprisingly called the Buenos Aires Pub-crawl! It starts and I cant guarantee you that it stays in the Palermo area because the night will absolutely get hazy. So add your new found friends to social media sooner than later.I highly recommend you go get yourself certified in Tango dance while you are in Buenos Aires! Yes you read that right! And no, it won’t take any longer than about 3 hours. And yes, you are definitely allowed to drink and its actually encouraged. Just look up and pick one of many Tango Cabaret Dinner theater shows and make sure it has the before part where you and your partner learn to dance Tango style from an actual instructor. At the end of this lesson you will be awarded with an actual certification in the Art of Tango Dance! And you can be like me and list it at the top of your resume. So in short, you learn to dance a few basic and one slightly more exotic steps for about an hour with an open bar, and then leads into a social drinking atmosphere where you’ll be awarded with your certificates and then you’ll be sat at tables for a stunning tango dinner theater performance. Well worth every penny.Next, if you do not go to at least one wine tasting event while you are in Argentina, then honestly, why did you even go there? Argentina has, hands down the best wines on the planet. In my semi expert opinion. They keep all the good ones for themselves and export very little from the small authentic family vineyards which sometimes only bottle about 2000 bottles per batch of very specific Malbec’s. And once those 2000 bottles are gone, you will never have that particular wine again. There are many tastings available with in the city from Sommeliers who personally live their lives sipping and tasting wines from the region and bringing the best bottles to you. A wide varietal array of velvety, leathery, smoky, berry, smooth, full bodied, dry, whatever your pallet desires, you shall find. Your host will take you through the proper way of tasting and ask you to describe what you taste. A perfect test because in this case there are no wrong answers. You’ll find everyone is pretty quite at first until about 3 glasses in. I had never experienced a contradictory wine before an Argentinian Malbec from a small family vineyard before. That is, a wine that smells of rich cherry and apricot to the nose but then on the taste buds thick cigar smoke and leather and left a velvety finish on the tongue. Most of these places will ship any bottle you’d like back home for you, and you can even be put on a list for 6 different bottles per month, personally picked by a professional sommelier that definitely knows what they are talking about. But unfortunately for Canadians our liquor law prohibits citizens from being able to import liquor. So, we must just live with taking home the standard 1 liter of alcohol duty free every trip home.

Argentina is world renowned for their beef. It is a fact not well known to North Americans. But spread the word, because I can personally vouch for it. There are many extraordinary Spanish BBQ restaurants about the city. All with only Spanish menus, and most of the time I was there I didn’t even know what I was ordering but I new Carne de Vaca was Spanish for Beef so id just point at this word and they would bring me whatever. On one occasion I ordered an entire roast which was served raw and sliced into one-inch pieces. They brought hot coals in a metal tray with a grilling grate on top and plopped it down on the table in front of me. I said wonderful and ordered an entire bottle of Malbec. I was in my glory, cooking and drinking and having great convo with friends.

Be aware that there are two types of restaurants in Argentina service wise. On the one hand, will be more so of your lunch places and pubs. In those restaurants, the server will only come to your table once. That is it. It seems a strange concept for us North Americans to accept, but when your server comes, have your drink order and also your food order ready to go. Because they are not coming back. And if you track them down and ask for something else, they will consider that to be rude on your part. Since tipping is not customary in Argentina and at some places considered rude, this is just the way it is. They sell extra big beers, even up to 2 liters in size. So, if you plan on sticking around for a while in one restaurant, order the biggest beer they have, and they will bring it in a bucket of ice for you to keep it cool and you will just poor it yourself.

The next type of restaurant is what you will find at a fancy place for supper. Or simply a more touristy place or somewhere your hotel recommended to you to go eat, where they are used to serving foreigners like us. These will be normal for us where the servers will come around very often to check on you.

One more suggestion for Buenos Aires, is to take a day trip out of the city to Iguazu Falls. On the border between Argentina and Brazil, they make up the largest waterfall system on the planet. A truly impressive sight.Argentina

Food 10/10
Price $$$
Alcohol price $$
Landscape 7/10
Cityscape 6/10
Locals- Are friendly for the most part. They can be a little stand offish to foreigners if you don’t speak Spanish. Everyone in the tourist industry is fantastic though. Overall, they are great.

Greece, Zakynthos & Santorini

Welcome to Zakynthos

Zakynthos is an Island off the south western peninsula of Greece in the Ionian cluster of islands. It is roughly 20km wide by 40 km long with a population of just over 40,000 of the friendliest island peoples you’ve ever met! The locals on the island are really used to having their island flooded with tourists in the summer and love having us. The owner of the corner store down the road from my accommodation that I frequented everyday for beer and snacks, chatted me up on my first stop in and was genuinely interested on where I came from and what I was doing. He even remembered my name from our very first chat and greeted me every time I popped in. My first impressions of Zakynthos and still my impression today of Zakynthos island is that it’s the closest resembling thing to Thailand that Europe has to offer. Full of travelling Aussies, British and all sorts, people flock to this island because of Greece’s very loose drinking age laws. There is no legal drinking age at all in private residences, but the official law on age limit for entering a bar or nightclub is 18, however this is not enforced whatsoever. So be careful dragging home a drunken stray from the clubs at night. Whether you are a guy or gal, it may be best to ask for ID!

If you have come to Zakynthos island to party, then I recommend you stay in the main town of Laganas. They have a long main strip of bars and clubs on a road called Laganas road. It is an awesome time.

Greece has excellent seafood and of course Greek dishes such as Moussaka, Grilled meats, fresh grilled whole fish, Courgette balls, Baklava, and of course Feta and cheese salads. Oh, and can’t forget to pick yourself up a Gyro on your stumble home from the bars in the evenings.

Zakynthos is home to the Instagram famous Navagio beach, better known as shipwreck cove, that boasts an amazing cliff top view of bright blue waters and a white sand cove inlet with a shipwrecked boat right up on the white sands. The tail of the shipwreck is, back in 1980 smugglers were weathering strong winds and rough seas with poor visibility to get their precious merchandise of booze, cigarettes and women to their destination when they shipwreck their cargo boat into this cove where it has stayed since.

There are a few ways to get to this beach from the main town of Laganas. One, you will have to take a tour bus which only runs two days of the week. Don’t do what I did and assume they run every day, because they don’t! Or two, rent a scooter for about 15 euros per day. It’s about a 50-minute drive from Laganos to Zante. A taxi will cost you 80 Euros one way. So that’s pricy. When I discovered I couldn’t jump on a tour bus for another 2 days, I decided to go rent a scooter. But upon arriving at the scooter rental place, they discovered that I did not possess an international driver license which they were very sticky on. They told me that the police regularly enforce this law and it is a must. So stupid of me not to have acquired one before I had went considering they only cost about 90 dollars CAD and are good for up to ten years. I highly recommend that you just go ahead and get one. The whole process was done online, I took my own picture and it came in the mail about 3 weeks later. Anyways so after this next roadblock it was onto plan #3! Walk down the main strip of Laganas and start chatting up locals. I ended up chatting with a guy named George from Bulgaria. He spent his summers on Zakynthos and winters in Bulgaria. We made friends and shared a coffee together and he offered to take me for a personal tour around the entire island and spend the entire day with me for 100 Euros. I excitedly accepted this offer. We hoped on his scooter and drove to his house where we picked up his S2000 convertible and off we went. He took me to places such as Alikanas and Agios Nikolaos, two quite little Beach towns, and then to Navagio look out point which was well worth the rough morning trying to figure everything out. You must just sit there and take in all the beauty for a while on this once in a lifetime experience.

There are two main things you need to know about going to shipwrecked cove. You cannot get from the beach to the look out point on top or vice versa. You must pick a day trip of one or the other. The cliff face is 656ft or 200 meters high with no staircase, rope ladder, elevator or any such transportation device. Well high enough to base jump off. And people have done it. There are videos online definitely worth checking out.

George then took me to one of his friend’s restaurants and we had a few beers and an excellent spread of seafood and shared great conversations about our upbringings and life in our countries. One of my countless reasons I encourage everyone to travel alone and chat up locals. It gives you the chance to really get to know people one on one in a way you never would if you had a group of travelling companions. George and I still talk on FB every now and then, we have formed an international friendship for life.

Welcome to Santorini

Santorini is a lover’s romantic paradise boasting white Cycladic houses along reddish brown cliffs down to an amazing view of the Mediterranean, Aegaeon sea on the west side. And on the East side slopes down to coarse grain sand beaches with a multitude of colors. Santorini is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago, which bears the same name as a remnant of a volcano caldera. It forms the southmost member of the Cyclades group of islands with an area approximately 73km squared and just over 15000 people.

There are quite a few main areas of the island all with a slightly different twist and feel. If you want the classic cliff side villas, which you should to get the classic Santorini experience, then stay in either Oia or Thira.

Thira or as its sometimes spelled Fira, is the main town on the west center of the island, with white cliff side houses and is, generally busy, packed and touristy. But that is okay, because the whole island is tourists. Accommodations are all packed in like sardines, but they do a surprisingly good job of positioning them all down the cliff front, therefor making it feel secluded once you are on your balcony. Accommodations in Thera are very expensive, probably the most expensive on the whole island due to the central location.

Imerovigli is just North of Thira. One of the most gorgeous 15-minute walks north you will ever take. Imerovigli is more relaxed and a bit more secluded. This is where I stayed due to reasonably priced accommodations. I had got an entire two-story private bungalow style apartment for $180/night CAD. Apone arriving I realized why it was such a better price than the others, because I was about a 10 minute walk from anything at all. But that was okay by me.

Oia is supposed to be the lovers slow paced retreat but is also similar to Thira. It is quite packed full of tourists and is located at the very North western tip of the island. Probably about an hour walk from Imerovigli. But same great feel as Thira just a little slower paced with a nice beach you can go down to.

The local public buses I found to be quite confusing to figure out. The bus stop signs are hard to find, and they are generally packed. But this is one of the only ways to get around unless you rent a scooter, or 4-wheeler. Taxis are also hard to come by unless you poses a Greek phone and are able to call them yourself. They are also a tad expensive. There will be plenty of taxis waiting at the airport to take you to your resort and vice versa you can have your resort call you a taxi in order to take you to the airport. But to just waive a taxi down while walking on the street, will be quite hard to do.

Id highly recommend renting a scooter or ATV and spend a full day driving around the island and checking out all the sights. But be careful on the roads, Greek drivers drive crazy fast around blind corners. Especially if walking there is quite often no walking shoulder and you must walk on the road around blind corners. Just take caution. I found it to be quite dangerous.

Other places to check out are Akrotiri with Black Beach hosting black volcanic sand, Red beach and also white beach all with in 10km of each other they have different colored and feeling sands. Then Agios and on to Kamari Beach. With a little town Emporio in the middle of all of those.

All the locals of Greece are so friendly and are more than happy to help you with whatever you need. But remember one thing while on and Greek Island, you are not supposed to flush any toilet paper down the toilet. Their septic systems are not set up for this and you WILL back up the toilet. Just use the trash cans provided and most resorts will clean your bathroom twice per day. So yes, it is strange for us Westerners but it is essential for them.

Greece

Landscape 10/10

Food 7/10

Price $$$$$

Alcohol Price $$$$

Locals- super friendly and all speak English.

Italy, Rich Culture and History Where the Wine Flows like Water

Welcome to Italy,

Venice

Venice is a gigantic floating playground for adults with its great wine, food and rich in culture & history. A short and unique history lesson of the creation of Venice is around 400 AD after the fall of the Roman empire, Barbarians from Northern Europe swept down in droves raping and pillaging everything they could of the fallen empire. So frightened people took refuge on the Venetian lagoon in the Adriatic and built small shanty’s on stilts above it such that the barbarians with their lack of knowledge of the sea and water could not get to them. And thus, Venice was born, officially coming into existence in 421AD.

Most hotels, hostels and accommodations are very old buildings which will require an actual key to gain access. There is no modern tech on the island besides credit card machines and ATMs. And since this is all on an island where the mass amounts of tourism garbage have to be taken out and picked up by hand, loaded onto boats and taken back to the main land. And vice versa, all commodities have to be loaded up and taken over by boat, Venice tends to be a fairly expensive place to visit. There are many man/women hours dedicated to making this a highly functional and effective tourist destination. Most Even the high end, what they call 5-star accommodation is still very old and dingy looking. But I think that is part of its appeal. You go there to transition back into the past a century or so.

Venice is surprisingly larger than it appears. If you decide to walk the entire island in one day like I did, you will quickly find out that it is an entire day excursion and you will get lost in the maze of small corridors and alleyways multiple times. But this is part of the excitement of it. Everything looks the same but along the way you stumble upon very cool things, monuments, statues, great little hidden cafes and restaurants with amazing views.

There are a multitude of taxi boat services available for a reasonable price strictly for transportation or for a scenic cruise down the Grand Canal. Be sure to visit the Rialto Bridge and grab a selfie with it.  A spectacular Stone Arch bridge originally built in the 12th century as a pontoon bridge then transformed into a wooden bridge in the 13th century but after a few collapses was then transformed into the stone bridge it is today in the 16th century.

Of course, you will have to take an iconic gondola ride while in Venice. There is no shortage of them, but buyer be ware this is going to cost you 80 Euros for only a half hour ride. A good idea if on a budget is find another couple and share a gondola as then will be 40 Euros each and you’ll have personal photographers aboard with you for that perfect romantic couples’ picture under and arced bridge in a narrow canal.

Pisa

I visited Pisa with the sole intention on getting the stupidly ironic picture pretending to hold up the leaning tower. I didn’t think much of the Leaning tower of Pisa before I had actually seen it with my own eyes. But when I rounded that corner and first gazed upon its leaning beauty, I was completely blown away. Its much bigger than it looks in pictures and yes, it has quit an impressive lean. I had to take a few moments and just stare at it and take it all in. I would definitely recommend visiting Pisa and seeing it with your own eyes.

I also didn’t do any research on Pisa whatso ever before I arrives. I was blown away about how friendly the locals were in this town. Compared to Venice, where the locals are just slaves to the tourism industry, the locals in Pisa where very friendly, genuinely interested in where you came from and wanted desperately to strike up conversation with you. The town of Pisa itself was incredibly beautiful with The Arno river dividing the town. The locals gather at night on the rivers edge to have drinks and socialize. Around 9pm, we had decided to grab a bottle of wine and a couple of cups, and just sit along the high stone wall above the river on that magically calm and peaceful night. People watching and socializing with the odd passer by, this was actually one of my fondest memories of Italy.

We decided on an Airbnb on the outside of town being that is was much cheaper than a hotel and much nicer, the town had adequate transportation and bus routes available.

Cinque Terre

Aahhh Cinque Terre! I don’t think you have to speak Italian to figure out that this translates to Five towns. Five little fishing villages along the Liguria Coast line, extremely rich in history, so much so you can, and people have written thesis papers on it. So, I will not go into that, but essentially now in the recent passed the area has exploded with tourism because of their shear quaintness and cliff side beauty of the towns. If you come to Italy, definitely go visit each and every one of the five towns consisting of, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. You don’t have to stay in every town, and it is possible to see all the towns in 2 days, but id recommend at least 3 days stay. Pick one town or if you like to be on the move then pick two towns to stay in. id recommend staying in Riomaggiore. It was my favorite with affordable pricing and being at the very south end, you can work your way up north.

Monterosso

Manarola

Corniglia

Vernazza

Riomaggiore

It is possible to walk from town to town, on a trail known as Sentiero Azzurro or Azure Trail. but be warned this feat will take up most of your day, and these are mountainous terrain, with very steep inclines and lots of stairs. You should be in peak physical condition to even think about attempting this. Also, the section from Riomaggiore to Manarola called the Via dell’Amore or the Love Walk is now closed. It is still possible to walk between these villages, but that trail is even steeper and much longer. There is a highly convenient train system in place between the towns, in which connects with the outside city’s as well on the North and South, with trains coming and going every 15 minutes for a very reasonable price. The train ride between towns is literally 2-5 minutes. The train ride offers brief spectacular views of the ocean side as well. So much better then hours upon hours of walking up steep inclines and stairs. Trust me, you’ll have enough stairs while exploring inside of each town anyhow.

The seafood in Cinque Terre is Phenomenal. As a matter of fact, all the food is fantastic here. Plenty of liquor stores and side stores to grab a bottle of wine and just sit on a bench up top of a cliff side and enjoy a glass of red at sunset and watch the sun go down over the ocean’s horizon. Cinque Terre is truly beautiful and encompasses the true heart and feeling of Italy.

Rome

Rome is a Huge City. Even the locals that grew up in Rome have a saying that “One can spend an entire lifetime in this city and never see all of it”. There is never ending history and art here. With the many different areas, districts and even an entire country with in the confines of the city called the Vatican, which in itself has one of the largest treasure troves of history and art with in its walls on the planet. Rome is truly one of the most magical places on Planet Earth.

I only spent a couple of days in this city so I can only speak for a couple of iconic and Instagram able places such as the Trevi fountain. If you expect to get that legendary selfie with no one else around, you’d better plan to show up around 6am just as the sun comes up. Otherwise it is overrun with tourists. With what id estimate as 100 pictures being taken per second in an average afternoon at this fountain, the fountain itself has a rich history. It is the largest fountain in the city and therefor the most famous.

If you are a Roman history buff or even if you are not, go visit the Roman forum and be blown away with the buildings and construction techniques of those ancient times. You can’t begin to understand the size of these buildings, columns and pillars they were erecting back then with purely man power until you gaze upon them with your own eyes. Learn the Roman ruler chain history timeline and be impressed with little fats such as the Romans didn’t have currency but only gold reserves. Therefor everything for the roman people was free with in the city back in those great times. They used slaves to do all the hard work and to serve them in any way imaginable.

Of course, you have to visit the Colosseum while in Rome as well. Dwarfing modern day Hockey arena’s, the Colosseum could hold from 50,000 – 80,000 people. Splurge and buy the private tour of the inside. It is totally worth the price to stand inside those walls where great mock battles took place and one on one real life combat happened where thousands of gladiators and animals lost their lives in shows of entertainment. Rulers/governments distracting the public from the political problems of the upper class with great spectacles of sport and theater was born in this era and still continues to be the main tool of government manipulation and distraction of the masses of people today.

If you want to hang out where the locals like to go to browse little shops along the waters edge of the Tiber River, head to Trastevere district. The prices in restaurants is cheap due to this being less of a touristy area and the food is delicious.

Rome is truly one of the most magnificent cities’ in the world and you should definitely check it out. The many little piles of old ancient roman ruins with in the city guarded by little fences is worth it alone. Like miniature world heritage sites.  It is very multicultural with many foody options and amazing shops everywhere to purchase trinkets and gifts for friends before you go home.

Italy

Landscape – 10/10

Food – 9/10

Price – $$$ (really fluctuates from town to town and also in different areas of each city comes different prices.)

Alcohol Price – $$