An Adventure in Angkor Wat

An Adventure in Angkor Wat

We stumbled down the outdoor staircase and passed reception where a man stood, a bit dazed in the early morning hours. The clock face on my watch flashed 5:00 a.m. We were directed to one of several waiting carts hooked to the back of a moped, called tuk-tuks, where a local wrapped in a light jean jacket greeted us. I crawled onto the tattered leather seats behind my lone companion on this escapade, a friend and fellow student, Mitali. It was mid-March in Cambodia and when the sun was at its highest, it seared through any resemblance of comfort. Thus we joined several tuk-tuks rattling through the dirt roads of Siem Reap in the almost cool morning air hoping to escape the inevitable afternoon swelter. Several upscale resorts whirred past us, a bit out of place in this desert landscape, as we made our way towards today’s adventure — Angkor Archeological Park, or perhaps better known as Angkor Wat. Joining the Masses The UNESCO World Heritage site stretches 400 square kilometers and boasts remains from the Khmer Empire dating as far back as the 9th century. Angkor Wat is just one of its temples, and arguably its most magnificent. Many people whose ancestors once occupied the site still live in villages scattered across the property, heralding guests with food and souvenirs. It’s riddled with history and religious significance, and on this morning, many tourists like ourselves. Our driver, who we’ve paid a mere $10 US to drive us between sites for the next eight hours, took us to the ticket center where a rather unalluring photo captured my disdain for...
Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

  It’s no secret that, given our travel lifestyle, we’ve stayed in countless hotels, hostels, resorts and apartments of all shapes, sizes and prices around the world. Throughout this time, we’ve learned that our favorite kind of accommodation is the small luxury hotel. The type of place that’s more like a friend’s guesthouse than a business—accommodation where you feel right at home (albeit more often than not at a much more stylish and luxurious home.) These small and personal hotels always go down as the most memorable, actually enhancing our travel experiences rather than just serving as a place to fall asleep at the end of a long day. Carmo’s Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, is exactly this kind of place (and more.) The family-run luxury hotel is not only uniquely gorgeous in every way, but it’s also conveniently located in one of our favorite spots in Portugal, the Minho region. If you’re looking for a memorable, off-the-beaten-track Portuguese experience, this is it. Here’s a closer look at why we love Carmo’s Boutique Hotel and the Minho region so much:   Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel Of The World   It doesn’t take long to realize why Carmo’s consistently wins awards for being one of the world’s best small luxury hotels. Located down a quiet country road surrounded by rolling hills, you might drive right past Carmo’s if you didn’t know to look for it. Once inside, the hotel grounds begin to unfold into a quiet oasis of gardens and vineyards.     Carmo’s Boutique Hotel has just fifteen suites and two ultra-glamorous tents. You’ll...
A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

    The Douro Valley makes a dramatic first impression. With its rolling green hills, a mighty river and lush vineyards and olive groves, it’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for sipping fine ports and table wines.     While the Douro Valley isn’t necessarily a secret, the destination doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as other famed wine regions such as Bordeaux or Napa. Drive just a few minutes outside of the main town of Pinhão, and you’ll encounter picturesque towns devoid of any tourists, seemingly pulled straight out of a storybook.     Even with its sleepy charm, you won’t have any trouble discovering spectacular vistas, delectable cuisine and memorable wines—if you know where to go.   Enter: Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours     It’s no secret that we love wine and food tours. From Hong Kong to Paris to Boston, we’ve had quite a few incredible foodie experiences. But of them all, our Wine and Olive Oil Tour with Jorge easily tops out as most memorable—for all the right reasons. The best wineries in the Douro Valley are spread out, and most require advanced reservations for a tasting. We wanted to discover top table wines, but we also wanted to do it in a way that would let us get to know the winemakers and ideally find undiscovered wines from small but passionate producers. Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours was the perfect solution. We set up a private, full-day tour, meeting from our apartment in Provezende, then set out on what would be the highlight of Portuguese adventure.   An Introduction To Winemaking In...
Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip

Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip

  We will never forget our honeymoon road trip across the USA, cruising around Costa Rica with the top down on our Jeep, winery hopping in Chianti region of France or gawking at the Fjords in Western Norway, having your own set of wheels adds a whole new sense of freedom while traveling. And Portugal was no exception.     While it is possible to reach some of the main cities by train, we much prefer the freedom of being able to go where you want, when you want, and there are plenty of spectacular destinations to explore throughout Portugal that would have been virtually impossible to get to without a car. We got fun little hatchback from economybookings.com which had more than enough umph to get us everywhere we needed to go. We’ll be diving into more depth about how to see and do the highlights in each of these locations yourself so stay tuned. Highlights From Our Spectacular Portugal Road Trip   Lisbon   Unfortunately, due to a mix up of our airline carrier, we arrived in Lisbon 36 hours later than we had planned. This gave us only about 3 hours to explore the country’s biggest city. So we headed straight for the best of the best, Belem, to see the Monument Of Discoveries, the enormous Monastery of Jeronimos and the Belem Tower. But not before a healthy serving of delicious Pasties de Belem.     Coimbra   Our next stop was for one purpose only, to eat at Ze Manel dos Ossos which turned out to be one of our favorite meals of the entire...
Phuket For Couples: The Novotel Phuket For Luxury & Romance

Phuket For Couples: The Novotel Phuket For Luxury & Romance

Phuket For Couples: How To Have The Most Romantic Trip Thailand has been one country that consistently surprises us in the best of ways. We recently shared about our experience in Surin Beach, Phuket, and how we found a quiet paradise on Thailand’s largest island. Now we’re taking it South and divulging the ins and outs from our time in Karon, Phuket.     What To Do: Phang Nga Bay       We had a difficult time deciding what excursions to take during our time in Phuket, with Phi Phi Island and James Bond Island stealing the limelight, and several other alluring, lesser known islands to choose from. In the end, we chose a Phang Nga Bay sunset tour and couldn’t be more pleased. We opted to head toward Hong Island and Phangha Island. The great thing about staying in Karon is that most of the tours will pick you up from your hotel at no additional cost.     Our first stop was Phangha Island, where the tide had receded just enough to walk through. We paused halfway to light coconut candles and placed them in the water to peacefully float onward. Then, venturing a bit further, we came to a hidden jungle cove, which is usually inaccessible because of the tide. Then, it was off to Hong Island, which was larger than Phangha and equally as beautiful.     We jumped back on the speed boat to head back to mainland Phuket and feasted on an array of scrumptious seafood while we watched the sun go down behind the limestone cliffs. Where To Stay    ...
Surin Beach Phuket: Experiencing Phuket’s Softer Side

Surin Beach Phuket: Experiencing Phuket’s Softer Side

    Last year, we traveled through Thailand experiencing its two major cities: Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and bouncing around among the islands of Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta and Koh Samui. We were enamored by this tropical paradise from the very beginning, yet everyone we told our travel adventures to had one objection: we didn’t go to Phuket. It seemed as though everyone we talked to was shocked we didn’t go to Phuket, as they ranted and raved about this bucket-list worthy destination. We knew better than to skip Phuket this time, so on our second trip to Thailand, we made Phuket our first stop. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and your experience here will largely depend on where you go. We headed to Surin Beach Phuket first and found a quiet beach paradise that exceeded all our expectations. Paradise Found: Surin Beach Phuket   Surin Beach Phuket is about a 30-minute drive from Phuket’s airport. We had no idea what to expect when we were first arrived and were admittedly hesitant about what we would find. We took a 5-minute stroll from our hotel, The Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort, and were immediately greeted by a jungle-enclosed beach.       The sand was soft white with crystal blue waters and a shield of strong green mountains to either side. Tall palm trees encapsulated the beach and a few local vendors sold coconut water & local Thai dishes from the shade. The left half of the beach was fairly dense with tourists, however, on the right side, where we entered, tourists were few and far between. Besides, the...
8 Things You Need To Know Before You Plan A Europe Road Trip

8 Things You Need To Know Before You Plan A Europe Road Trip

  We’re gearing up for our next adventure – a road trip through Portugal! We’ll be heading from Lisbon through the Douro Valley up to Ponte de Lima, and we couldn’t be more excited. This will be the start of our six weeks in Europe, so be sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates along the way. ;) Road trips are one of our favorite ways to explore a destination. While it’s undeniably easy to get around much of Europe with public transportation, having four wheels offers another level of freedom and flexibility, while also making off-the-beaten-track gems much more accessible. Portugal marks our fourth Europe road trip. While of course we’re not experts on what it’s like to drive through every country on the continent, we have picked up some essential tips and tricks from our various (mis)adventures on the road.     Don’t be like us and end up with an expensive ticket in Italy or a potential fine in Finland. Before you jump behind the wheel, here are a few handy tips you’ll want to keep in mind for your Europe road trip:   8 Tips For An Epic Europe Road Trip   1. Find The Right Car     Obviously, the first step to a Europe road trip is finding the right vehicle! When renting a car, keep in mind that most Europeans drive manual. If you’re not comfortable with a manual, be prepared to pay a bit more for an automatic. For our last two road trips, we partnered with Economy Bookings. They’ve got some of the most affordable rates...