Komodo Islands & Labuanbajo

One word: Amazing
I’ve always been interested in Komodo dragons so when we decided to spend the Xmas holidays in Indonesia, it was clear that we would go visit these islands.The days spent in Flores and the Komodo islands were really great. These islands have a hidden natural beauty that for now is unspoilt and hasn’t been invaded by a lot of tourists..yet.
Arrival in Labunabajo
We flew to Flores (Labuanbajo) the day before Christmas Eve after being delayed for 4 hours. It wasn’t fun waiting in the airport in Bali. We had already been 2 hours early so we spent from 12-6pm in the airport ;-(. Anyway, we got over that and arrived to Labuanbajo after about 1 hour on the plane (small plane, bit scary). The airport is super small with one conveyor belt. It reminded me of the old Cork airport! It was around 8 in the evening when we arrived and our hotel, Green Prundi had arranged our pick up. We only spent about 5 minutes in the car..the hotel is very close to the airport. At first I thought..oh no, we are outside the centre but it worked out well. The hotel provided transport to the centre and back to the hotel (which was only 10 minutes away) and it was nice being in a quiet place. The hotel was basic, no hot water, breakfast was included and transport. The staff were super helpful and friendly. Once checked in we dropped our bags and went to the centre where we had arranged to meet an old colleague of mine from Shanghai, Amit and his wife Lena. We met and ate in a place called Warung mama, spicy. We discussed about visiting the tradional village Wae Rebo together but realised it was a 7 hour drive away. We didn’t fancy that and it didn’t work out time wise for them. It’s a good reason to return! So, we went to some agencies to check out going to the Komodo islands. We went to one agency to ask about the trip to Komodo, but the guy basically said no trip for tomorrow (I think because he wanted to celebrate Christmas -Flores is the only island in Indonesia that follows Catholic religion!
Cunca Rami Waterfall
We spent Christmas Eve on the back of motorbikes and hiking through a jungle in the rain to get to see a wonderful waterfall! It was worth it. We met with Amit and Lena early morning and decided that we would try and see the cunca rami waterfall. We organised motorbikes for myself and Edgar and off we went (365,000 for both of us). We spent 2 hours on the motorbike. My driver was always in the front and flying. The road got a bit crazy towards the end, potholes everywhere. A bit difficult if you had a crappy bike.  Our drivers had never been to the waterfall so when we were getting close to the starting point for the hike they had to ask some locals. We managed to find it and off we went on the hike. About 10 minutes into the hike, it started to lash rain and it didn’t stop for the entire time! About an hour later, we arrived at the beautiful Cunca Rami waterfall. The drivers even seemed delighted to have made it. They made sure to take a lot of photos of us there with them. We hung out at the waterfall for a bit and soon headed back. The journey on the bike was rough. I was frozen and it started to rain again. As soon as we were approaching Labuanbajo, I could feel the heat again. It was a great day out. We got soaked but it was fun. We ended up spending the evening in a restaurant called Mediterranea and had the best pizza.
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Nice and dry before we got soaked on our way to the waterfall!

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Cunca Rami waterfall

That evening we booked our Komodo trip with Dominik Komodo Travel for the day after Christmas Day. We decided to go on the 2 day 1 night trip. It seemed they had enough people to go on the boat for that day so all was good. We also talked about going on a snorkeling trip for the next day.
Waecicu beach and sunset point
Christmas day in Labuanbajo. We did think we were going snorkelling but when we arrived to Dominik’s agency it was closed. Instead we decided we would check out the coast and started walking to whats called Waecicu beach. We passed many churches along the way, full! After about an hour walking we arrived to the beach. Amazing! It’s a very small beach. There were only a few people there and we stayed there most of day relaxing, swimming across to another island and spent time with Lena and Amit. That evening we walked a bit further down the road and ended up at a place called Sylvia resort, it was just next door. Very fancy place. We ate and checked out the beach there. Later that evening we wanted to see the sunset and it just so happened we were very close to the sunset point. It’s pretty much opposite the Sylvia resort. There are a few green hills that you can climb and see the sunset. So, that’s what we did. We climbed up a little mountain to find lots of locals on the top who made sure to take a lot of photos of us. Edgar was quite popular. Just as we had finished taking some photos the rain came out of nowhere. I never got down a mountain so quick and wearing flip flops! We were completely soaked, so we just started walking back to the centre. Luckily, we managed to get a lift from a family, in the back of a trailor! What an evening! Dinner was normal, we ate fish at the port. You chose your fish and they cook right there and for very cheap.
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Sunset point

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Edgar was popular with the locals!

Komodo Islands trip
Day 1: Kanawa island, Manta point, Padar island
Day 11 of our Indonesia trip and first day of our Komodo island trip. The price for this trip was: 750,000Rp per person (which included the boat, snorkels, food and bed) plus 280,000Rp each entrance fees for the islands of Rinca and Komodo. We started the day early meeting at Dominiks agency around 7.45. We met another guy who would be joining us from Slovenia. Once we got our snorkels (a bit rough looking) and paid in full off we went to the boat. We were the last to arrive to the boat. There was already 10 people on there, mainly Australians and a few Europeans. 3 agencies had combined together to do this trip as numbers were low. First stop was Kanawa island. A fee of 10,000Rp had to be paid to enter. We spent about an hour on the island snorkelling. Plenty of fish to be seen there along with a lot of star fish (similar to an island off  Honda bay in the Phillipines. Next, we stopped at a place called Manta point, an area where there are usually a lot of mantas to be seen. In the beginning I wasn’t seeing anything but then all of a sudden there were three of them. Massive. One swam right under me. I was kind of freaking out inside. I managed to get a little video of it too. Really cool.
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Hanging out on the boat

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Kanawa Island



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Manta ray

After the manta ray point we headed to an island called Padar island- absolutely stunning views from the top. We spent some time there hanging out, taking pictures and enjoying the views. We docked somewhere after that, ate dinner and slept. Sleeping conditions were basic but fine. We slept what kind of looked like an attic-super tiny head space and we had a mattress. Slept good. Below are some pictures from Padar island!

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The views from Padar island

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More pics of Padar, this time with us!

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My obligatory jump!

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From where our boat was docked

Day 2: Komodo island, Pink Beach, Rinca Island
Everyone on the boat was pretty excited as we were going to see Komodo dragons today! We arrived early morning on the island and paid the fee for the ranger. There are different walking tours that you can do of the island. Our ranger decided or us. We would walk the medium tour. It was a little disappointing to be honest, as we thought we would see more komodos. We saw only one on this island and it looked like it was going to die any moment. We were still impressed and got our photo taken but expected to see a bit more. Next stop, on to pink beach for some snorkelling. This was great, loved it. Plenty of different kinds of fish.



Some fishes

2 hrs later we landed on Rinca island- hopefully to see more than one komodo. Apparently there are 1,500 on the island. We had to pay a fee once more which wasn’t part of the deal but we all did in the end just to keep moving. Again, we did a medium walk. Plenty of deer, water buffalo and monkeys around. We did see more komodos on this island, mainly around the area where humans were-like near the restaurant.  It seemed all a bit staged really. The komodos that we saw were all under the restaurant or nearby. It was still impressive to see them. They were much more alive and energetic compared to the one we had seen on Komodo island. Once we had finished on the island, we headed back to the boat for the long way back to Luanbajo. We arrived around 5.30pm, said our goodbyes and headed straight for food in the Mediterraneo.
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Looks like he may not have long left

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The komodo dragon!

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Nice claws!

Day 13. Walked to airport (which is very close to Green Prundi- but not close enough to hear planes-we heard none!) to book our flight to Bali. We booked it for 4pm that evening. The rest of the day we spent at a place called Molas cafe, in the centre. This place was brilliant. There is a free pool and the food is fresh and healthy. We were the only ones there which was also really nice. After a relaxing day there we were ready to fly back to Bali.


Green Prundi: 4 nights cost: 1200000 (around 80eur) including breakfast and pick up collect from anywhere around labuanbajo.
Flight from Labuanbajo to Bali 789,000 (57eur each) with Lion air.
Komodo island trip: 750,000Rp per person (which included the boat, snorkels, food and bed) plus 280,000Rp each entrance fees for the islands of Rinca and Komodo.
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We took a little break from a cold Shanghai to go visit sunny Sanya for Edgar’s birthday in November! Sanya is a city on Hainan island, known to the Chinese as  ‘China’s Florida’. We flew with Spring airlines – costing 2880rmb for both return from Hongqiiao T1 arriving at Phoenix airport in Sanya. We left Shanghai pretty early on the Saturday morning,  arriving to Sanya around 9.30am. Across from the airport there is a bus station which if you take bus no.8 (5 yuan each) brings you along the coast road called Sanyawan and into the centre. We spent about 30 minutes on the bus and our place was across the street from the bus stop. We stayed in a hotel called: Canacoast on Sanyawan street. The cost for one night was 169 yuan. Once checked in, we changed and headed to the beach across the road. It was so nice to sit and relax on the beach. We stayed there most of the day, going for swims and eating the fresh pineapple (3 rmb) and coconut (6 rmb). The beach was super clean. We didn’t venture far around Sanya, just along the beach and ate in the local Muslim restaurants, bit more expensive than Shanghai. In the evening along the beach, the place comes alive with locals singing and dancing. One thing we found interesting was the number of retirees. There seemed to be many elderly people hanging out on the promenade and others it seemed getting a day out from hospital. There wasn’t many other tourists in Sanya, the ones we met were Russians. It’s a popular destination for them and handy as almost all information, menus and bus stops are in Russian. Sanya was a quick get away to the beach for us, but seems to be a lot of interesting activities that could be done there if going for a longer time. We enjoyed the escape from a cold Shanghai! Here are some pics of our weekend!
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We spent a weekend in Liverpool recently to meet up with my sister and her partner, Jay before we head off to Shanghai. We booked our flights with Easyjet and accommodation with AirBnB.
We arrived on Friday in the afternoon to rainy weather, a big change from the heat of Barcelona but we kind of expected that! We took the A500 bus from the airport to the centre, getting off around the John Lewis centre. The ticket cost £2.60 each and took around 30 mins. Once we had eaten, we set off to the the Albert docks which has plenty of amusements, many museums including the Beatles museum. We spent some time in the Tate gallery area which was free and pretty interesting. To avoid the rain outside we stayed in the Tate coffee place where we would meet my sister. Once we had met we walked around the other side of the docks and into the centre. Plenty of shops going on in Liverpool. However, we passed these and went to Matthew street, one of the main entertainment streets. We entered the Cavern Bar, which was were the Beatles got signed. There is a cover charge of £2.50 to enter but it’s well worth it. There was live music and a great atmosphere. We stayed there some time and moved to the other sister bar of the Cavern, where a band were playing. The music was great in both places.

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With the Beatles in Albert Docks

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Matthew Street

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Having the chat with John Lennon

We ate dinner in a place called Shiraz Palace near to Matthew street. Great food at good price. Got the bus 432 across the river Mersey to our place. The bus we used for the weekend was called Arriva and we usually bought a single ticket to the centre for £3.30. The great thing about the bus was that they all have wifi.

The next day Anfield was on the cards. Jay booked a time for us online to go visit the stadium so we all met there in the morning. Cost of the tour: £17. The tour was great and included a museum tour as well. We didn’t get to go on the pitch as they are in the process  of extending the  stadium, but we did get our photo taken with the cup!

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In the dressing rooms of Anfield

Once we had seen everything regarding Anfield stadium we took a taxi into the centre, arriving to the bombed church (bombed during World War 2) and later walked to see the entrance to Chinatown which looked impressive. We did some shopping also. Edgar got kitted out with the help of my sister, his personal shopper!

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Chinatown entrance

The rest of the evening was spent in the pub where we met some of Jay’s relations. We ate in a place called Byron Burger which was very nice.

Last day, started with rain but didn’t last long.  It turned out to be a hot day. We had breakfast in Shiraz cafe and walked around Church street. Once we met with my sister we walked by St.Johns Garden and around that area. The time went fast and it wasn’t long before we said our goodbyes. Myself and Edgar had a few hours until our flight so we went back to the docks and hung out there. If you don’t want to carry your heavy bag around like us, you can enter the Tate gallery which is free and put your bag in one of the lockers there for £1. The docks looked so much better when the sun was out compared to Friday when it was raining!

To get to the airport we took the same bus again, the A500 across from the docks near the Hilton hotel.

We had a great weekend in Liverpool. It was great to see my sister and Jay and hang out with them. We really enjoyed it. Till next time Liverpool. You were boss, la 😉
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Congost de Mont Rebei

I had seen pictures of Congost de Mont Rebei (a spectacular gorge along the river Noguera Ribagorzana) before and always wanted to go. So, when the opportunity came on the Meetup (Barcelona Hiking and Outdoors Group) we signed up straight away. It was an action packed weekend with an adventurous group of people. We left early on a Saturday morning stopping off a long the way for some breakfast and arrived around 10.30am to where we would start kayaking. Myself and Edgar chose a double kayak. Once everybody was ready, helmets, life jackets, electronics in waterproof bags, off we went around 20 of us kayaking down the river. It was super hot and the water was crystal blue. We kayaked for around 4 hours and arrived at a little cove. Here we left the kayaks and ate some lunch, some swam others relaxed. Around 3pm we started the walk to the Refugio de Montfalco. It was a good walk, tough in the heat and took around 2 hours. Once we arrived at the refugio we all had a well deserved cool drink, got our rooms and showered. In the evening before dinner we took a walk up to a little church with amazing views.

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Where we dropped off the kayaks

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On top of the world!

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The view of the gorge from the church near the hostel

We had an early start on Sunday and we hiked for most of the time. We took a break along the way and people went for a swim. The walk back was really amazing. There is a spectacular staircase system built against the rock face which was a bit scary but really impressive. The rest of the path runs along the river Noguera Ribagorzana overlooking where we had kayaked the day before. The path is carved out of the cliff face so looks great. We passed through suspension bridges also. Overall, it’s one of the most scenic and impressive places we have been in Catalunya. I’d definitely recommend going there.

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Cost of this trip with the Meetup was:
Hoste (including dinner and breakfast): 32,80€
Kayak rental: 25€
Parking of car: 8€/coche
Petrol of car: 100€/coche (we were 5 people in the car)


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13 days in Incredible Iran

We have wanted to travel to Iran for a few years now but we were always turned off by the hard work involved in getting the tourist visa. This all changed when Iran announced that the visa could now be got on arrival at the airport. This made it so much easier for us so next step was to book the flights. We booked our flight with Qatar Airways from Barcelona via Doha to Tehran and the same on the way back. The cost for the return flight was 350e each. We didn’t have a clear plan of what we would see and do while in Iran. We just knew that we would move south. We booked our first night accommodation in Tehran with the new hostel: See you in Iran. Here is the website: http://seeyouiniran.org/. This is also the name of the facebook group that was created by them and is very useful. https://www.facebook.com/SeeYouinIran/.

Day 1. Arrival in Tehran – Getting Insurrance and Visa

We had an early start from Barcelona. All was fine except we had to run to make the connecting flight from Doha to Tehran. Luckily we made it. Once ready to land in Tehran, I could see other women starting to put on their head scarves. It felt a bit strange doing this in the beginning but by the end of the trip I didn’t mind at all. We arrived to a cold Tehran, 2 degrees outside. Once at the arrivals, we went about getting our insurance. Foreigners are supposed to have insurance. You can arrange it before you arrive or like we did buy it there. We paid 30eur for both. Euros were accepted. The next step was filling out a form for the visa and paying 75eur each. We then waited around 30 minutes and all was ready. We had our visa’s for Iran! We went to pick up our bags and then to change money. There is a money exchange in the airport on the second floor. Once we had some Iranian rials we were ready to get to our hostel. Make sure you take time out to understand the difference between rials and tomans. Even though the Iranian rial is the official currency, alot of Iranians use the term ‘tomans’. An easy way to remember is that 10 rial is equal to 1 toman.

We took a taxi from the airport to get to our hostel. It turned out there was a crazy fog and it was impossible for the driver to see anything. The fog along with getting petrol, stopping at a garage to fix something wrong with the car and not knowing the address in farsi of where our hostel was, meant the journey lasted around 2 hours. Finally, at midnight we arrived at the hostel. Navid, the owner was there to meet us and show us our room. Price for See you in Iran hostel (Private room): 27eur per night

Day 2.  Exploring Tehran – Golestan Palace – Baazar – Azadi Tower

We woke up pretty early, helped by the bright light coming in through the window. Other than that the room was very nice with a super big heater. However, there was no water, as there was a problem with the pipes, so no shower. We had breakfast in the hostel, consisting of tomatoes, cream cheese and cucumber with some bread and tea. We hung out at the hostel for a bit meeting local people who were all helping out at the hostel getting it ready. We didn’t really have a plan so one of Navid’s friends suggested we go with him to a café. Before we left we went for a walk near the hostel. The former US embassy was within walking distance so we walked by there checking out the park, (Honarmandan Park) and some murals on the wall.


One of the many murals on the wall outside the former US Embassy


Probably the most photographed mural there!

Once we returned to the hostel we went with some friends of Navid to the area where the national museum of Iran is located. We walked around there, there seemed to be a lot going on, dancers, musicians playing and a lot of stalls selling drinks etc. We didn’t go inside the National Museum, instead we walked to the famous Golestan palace, a UNESCO World Hertitage Site. It’s one of the oldest historic monuments in the city of Tehran full of gardens and palaces. There is an entrance fee but somehow we avoided this without really realizing. We walked around there checking out the different buildings.


Checking out Golestan palace


Plenty of music on the streets

Just a short walk away from Golestan Palace is the Grand Baazar. It’s found in the Arg square and is not open on Fridays. So, we couldn’t explore the baazar but there were some shops open around it. We ate inside one of the local places.

We then decided to check out the Azadi Tower, one of the symbols of Tehran which marks the west entrance into the city. While waiting for the metro a man started to talk with us. He was very helpful and decided to join us on the metro to Azadi Tower. Once there he showed us where the bus station was as we told him that we would go to Isfahan next. Little things like joining us on the metro and helping us out I think would never really happen in Europe. We would probably think the person wanted money or something. Here, everyone seems to want to help and is interested in your background and what you think of Iran. After about a 10 minute walk, the Azadi Tower was in front of us. It was late in the evening so it was all lit up and looked impressive. There seemed to be some construction happening and it was late in the evening so I am not sure if the museum which is found under the tower was open. We took some pictures and made our way back to the hostel.

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Azadi Tower

On the way back home, we stopped inside Honarmandan Park. There is a restaurant inside called the Iranians Artists Forum. This is a vegetarian place and we enjoyed it. Back at hostel there was live music happening. Water was working once more so we had a shower and to bed early.

Day 3. Exploring Tehran and Arriving to Isfahan

Our plan today was to meet one of Edgars contacts who is from Iran and living in Tehran, go to Darband and take a bus to Isfahan. We got up later around 10, ate breakfast and left. There was nobody at the hostel so we left our bags there. We had seen the previous day in the garden in front of the former US embassy that there would be an exhibition of various propaganda posters on display. We checked out these posters and then had a tour of the museum where the former US embassy used to be. This was free also. We had a local guide explain and show us around the former embassy. On display was some of the equipment that the Americans had and tried to destroy after the seizure of the embassy in November 1979. There was coding rooms, massive paper shredders, a place where fake passports were made. It seemed all very hi-tech considering it was in the 1970s. The doors to the coding rooms were super thick with eye detectors. There were many computers as well. Similar to what the movie Argo portrays some student followers of the Imam published documents seized in the embassy (reconstructing tiny shredded pieces of paper!) in a series of books called ´Documents from the US Espionage Den´. The outside walls also have some anti-American murals which are interesting.


The book that was reconstructed from tiny pieces of shredded paper

We then took the metro to meet Edgars friend, passing by the defence museum. Interesting to see tanks outside on display. We found the place where Edgar was to meet his friend, the social cafe. I stayed and ate breakfast while Edgar went to change money and buy a sim card (500,000 rial- Iran cell). By the time Edgar returned his friend had arrived. We spent some hours there and later returned to the hostel by metro. We paid Navid for our stay (54 euro) and booked a taxi to go to the bus terminal at plaça Argentina (125,000rial), using the app called snapp. No time for Darband, but next time for sure along with Tochal mountain!

Once at the terminal we booked tour bus tickets to go to Isfahan with the company Seiro Safar. For both of us it was 660,000 rials to Isfahan. We left at 6pm and 7 hrs later arrived. It was a pleasant journey including drink and food given by the bus company. Once off the bus it was a bit crazy. We were surrounded by taxi men. One said Amir Kabir, the name of the place we were staying, so we chose him (10,000 toman). He didn’t want to take it in the beginning, our first Taarof experience. We quickly went to bed, and it was freezing.

Day 4: Exploring Isfahan

Sunday, Xmas day in Isfahan, although it felt just like any other day. We ate breakfast in the hostel, changed our room as the other one was freezing and walked to Imam square. There are many entrances, we entered through Qeysarie Gate. The baazar is huge, full of anything and everything. The square outside called Naqsh -e Jahan square is really pretty. We made our way to the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque. Really impressive architecture and the blue colour is amazing. We didn’t go inside to this mosque but to another closeby called Imam mosque (Price: 2,000 rial). Inside was massive with hardly any people. The whole area is very beautiful. There are horses, and the mosques are really impressive. We had lunch nearby, which consisted of rice and beans for me and a kebab for Edgar and walked down by river, to the bridge Si I seh Pol. We passed many other bridges along the way, but the bridge of Si i seh pol is most impressive. One of the streets we walked seemed to be dedicated to martyrs lost in the war with pictures and their names on display in the centre of the road. Below are some pictures of Isfahan. Click on the pic to see the caption.

Day 5: Arrival in Yazd

We checked out of our hostel in Isfahan (1 million rial per night, Around 23 EUR) and went to buy fruit for the journey. Wasn’t so easy so of course a man helped us, actually walked us to a fruit shop and back. People are not in a rush and genuinely want to help. Amazing. We booked our bus to Yazd through our hostel. (VIP, Cost 560,000 rial). To get to Kevir terminal we took bus 91, costing 1000 toman each (10,000 rial). The bus was pretty fancy having reclining seats and we were given some chocolate bars. We chatted with guy most of the way. It was interesting as he explained a lot of different things about Iran like women, jewlerry, perfume, nose jobs, tattoo eyebrows..etc. and how the man has to have land and a house for woman. The man also has to serve 2 years in the military service. Once that is done, they can travel or if they don’t want to join the military they can get a low payed salary instead of joining the army. He explained that Yazd is a rich city, full of business men. Table cloths are famous there along with sweets. Door knobs circle for woman, and have a long shape for the for man. The sound from each one is different so it lets the person know if its a male or female a the door. We arrived around 5pm to Yazd and didn’t experience much hassle at the terminal. We arranged a taxi for 11,000 tomans and took the taxi mans recommended hotel.  It was actually an old mud house called dalan e bahesht. We really liked Yazd from first moment. We ate in an Iranian cafe and walked to Jame mosque and to other one called Amir Chakmagh.

Day 6: Maybod, Chak Chak and Kharanagh and desert

We booked a trip with Iranian tour and travel agency, beside the Jameh mosque. The trip was to go and visit nearby places: Maybod, Chak Chak and Kharanagh. First stop was Meybod, pigeon house (meybod kaboutar khaneh tower).We had to pay a small entrance fee to get in. This tower includes more than 4000 nests for attracting and keeping birds. Birds poop is collected and used as fertiliser for grape trees. On outside there’s a white layer on top to stop snakes getting in. We also visited a caravanasarai. Here Edgar tried to make some carpet. A lot of hard work goes into making a rug.

Nearby is an ice building. We paid to go in also. It is called: Meybod yakhchal and is an enormous mud and brick Icehouse. Ice used to be made during the cold winter months, stored and used during hot seasons. You can see how big and deep it is from the picture above.

Next stop was Chak Chak (meaning drip, drop). We drove through amazing landscape along the way stopping off to have tea and cake on the side of the road. Chak Chak is a really important place for Zoroastrians, the most sacred of the mountain shrines. It is a pilgrimage point for all Zoroastrians around the world, most of which are now found in India. The drip, drop are supposed to be the tears of grief that the mountain sheds in remembrance of Nikbanou (daugher of Persian ruler). There is a payment to access the temple at the top (5000).

Last stop Kharanagh…Mud brick 1000 years old. Amazing views.

We arrived back to Yazd in the evening and Iman, our driver recommended a local place to eat called: khane-dohad traditional restaurant. It was the best we had on the entire trip. Edgar had some traditional dish. Then we met the Catalans Judith and David, who picked us up in taxi and we all went to the Zoroastrian tower of silence (dakhmeh), built in 1487. It cost 80,000 rial to enter. We walked up to the top where you can see the well where the remains of bodies used to be thrown after it had been eaten by vultures. This procedure is not practiced anymore inIran, only in some parts of India. We then continued onto the Zoroastrian fire temple. The flame has been burning since AD740. (80,000 rial to enter) also. Not sure if I would recommend the fire temple.

Back at the main square near to Amir Chakmagh, I asked woman where we could find Zoorkhaneh. She pointed us in the right direction and we found it. The Zoorkhaneh that we visited was called the Saheb Azzaman, near to the Amir Chakmagh complex. Visiting the Zoorkhaneh was amazing. It is a gymnasium in which a traditional Iranian sport is practised. It’s like a combination of martial arts and strength building with a man playing music and singing in a special room higher up than the athletes. He’s the one that leads them by banging drums and singing.  Its open to the public and there is a small fee to pay to enter (50,000 rial each). Shoes need to be taken off aswell. Overall, an entertaining experience.


Day 7: Dune Bashing in Yazd

Last day in Yazd. We got up early as we had an interview with a school in China. Edgar got hair cut, we walked to Yazd art house, had some cold drinks. We had no plans so we decided to take a trip to the desert for 3pm. We ate lunch in silk road hostel. I had shuli soup. ..not too bad. The desert that we visited was pretty close to Yazd, called Banar. It was super windy there but interesting  as there were little lakes.. but apparently the water was from industry. We did some dune bashing there, hadn’t done that since Qatar, watched the sun set and returned back to the hostel. The dune bashing cost 1 million rial. Next task was to get to Kerman for the next day so we went to buy bus tickets for Kerman, which cost 210,000 rial each. Later we went back to have dinner in the place we had lunch day before called khane-dohad traditional restaurant. Edgar had the dizli dish and me eggplant. Returned to hostel, trying to organize trip to Kalouts.

Day 8: Kerman to Kalouts

Caught the bus going to Kerman at 8.45. We had arranged to meet the driver Ali at 1.30pm. but when we got on the bus ..it wasn’t VIP, it was a normal one, so the driver returned some money but it took forever and we didn’t arrive until 2.30. We wanted to see the sunset in Kalouts but now we wouldn’t make it. Ali picked us up and we drove straight to Kalouts. The drive was amazing, big mountain range in front. We stopped in a nearby desert to see the sunset and he showed us a plant called Gus, which locals use to collect sugar. Later we went straight to Kalouts into the desert where we had tea and a campfire. Some friends of Ali sang. Met Shiva also, another guide for Kalouts. We then drove to the village where we would eat and sleep. Room was local room mattress on floor. Bed early.

Day 9: Kalouts and arriving to Shiraz

Left around 5.15am in a 4 x 4 with driver Majid and guide Ali to go into Kalouts to see the sun rise. Amazing.  After that we drove a bit more inside and ate breakfast, typical tomato, cucumber, cream cheese, bread and tea. Majid drove us more into Kalouts. Landscape was incredible. We walked up a few sand formations which had great views. After that we drove to whats known as ‘camel hills’ as the the formations looked like camels back. Once out of Kalouts we stopped at house, had tea and off we went with Ali who brought us to water reservoir, to a caravanserai also, stopped and explained how wells were made and finally Cyprus tree. Once we had seen the main sights we continued the drive to Kerman. Ali brought us to bus station to buy our tickets. Bus 410,00 each rial to go to Shiraz night bus at 10.30pm and left us at a restaurant. He picked us up later on and brought us to his brothers photo exhibition about water. Then brought us to a teahouse. What a great guy Ali. The teahouse was amazing, live music. We were like celebrities there as many wanted photos with us.  Around 9pm we left, got a taxi to the bus terminal. Said goodbye to Judith and David. Cost of Kalouts trip was 70e each.

Day 10: Shiraz and Persepolis

We arrived to Shiraz very early morning. Took a taxi for 8000 to the centre to a hotel which he knew called Shiraz Talar hotel, on Ferdosi st. Hamid driver had no real English but got us a good room in nice hotel. We decided that we would go to Persepolis with him that afternoon. So at 1, we arranged to meet at our hotel. 65,000 toman he charged and he waited until 3.30. It cost 20,000 toman to enter Persepolis. Hamid dropped us off at a kebab place and later collected us and brought us back to the hotel. Even though it was hard to communicate, we arranged to have dinner the next day with him at 8. In the evening we walked to Karim Khan citadel.

Day 11: Shiraz

Sunday, Jan 1st. 2017.Up early to see Nasir-al-Molk Mosque (pink mosque)150,000 rial to enter. Important to go early to avoid the crowd and to see the morning light come through the stained glass lighting up the room. Once we had seen this we returned to the hotel area and found a travel agent so that we could book a flight to Tehran. We decided to go on Tuesday with Iran air. (2million rial for both). We then visited Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine. Amazing. Free entry with guide and they give you a chador. Its massive inside, has a mosque, library, etc. We then checked out the baazars Vakil Baazar. Bought some magnets and bracelets. Had lunch on the way. Talked to some locals. They know Bobby sands and even have a street in Tehran named after him. Had tea in a strange place, looked inside Vakil Bath and had coffee in that square, expensive. Didn’t go inside the Vakil Mosque, instead we walked to go see Tomb of Hafez tomb but the road was blocked. In the evening we got picked up by the driver Hamid and his friend Meru Sa, a cyclist. Turns out he knows the other cyclist I know from Iran. He was the translator for the night. We had dinner and chatted. We left around 12. Planned to meet next day at 10 to go somewhere.

Day 12: Shiraz

Decided to walk to Eram Garden. Didn’t go in. Tried to go into university couldn’t get in. So, we got taxi to Tomb of Hafez. 200,000 rial to enter to the tomb of hafez. hmm. .nice place to hang out and relax, not sure if its worth the money really. We stayed a while and walked to the centre and had lunch.

Day 13: Fly to Tehran
Last day in Shiraz. Went go to Ghelat, nearby country place around 10.30. Walked around up there and had a tea. Hamid brought us but then wanted to charge double when the Catalans came with us. In the end, all sorted and we got a taxi to airport. End of our journey in Iran. 😦

Day 14: Fly to Barcelona via Doha.

Iran was amazing, full of interesting sights and friendly people. Will go back and explore a different part next time.


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Spent 1 day in Amsterdam flying out from Barcelona early morning and back at night. This is the first time that we have flown to a city for a day but it was enough to see the main sights of Amsterdam. There was lots of walking involved. Here are some pics of the city and a list of some places to check out..

Amsterdam makes me think of : Canals, bikes, flowers, museums, parks, markets, and coffeehouses ..


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Grey Area Coffeeshop

Some places to visit in Amsterdam if going for a day are:

Rijksmuseum (with the IAmsterdam sculpture outside it)

Jordann area. Lots of cool cafes, stalls around here. Cloud gallery is a nice place.

Dam Square. Cool square with different things going on.

Red light district. Comes alive at night. It was full of stag parties when we were there

Coffeeshops. The Grey Area above is where my brother used to hang out.

Vondelpark. Big park in the centre. Worth going to.



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Macedonia & Kosovo

Taking advantage of the long weekend we travelled to Macedonia flying into Skopje from Barcelona. We flew with Wizz Air, direct flight taking around 2.5 hrs arriving early Saturday morning. We located our Air BnB and went straight to bed.

Saturday: Skopje city and up to Millennium Cross

We spent Saturday by going up to the millennium cross and checking out the city of Skopje. Because of where we were staying, we decided first to go to the Millennium Cross, which is a 66-metre tall cross situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain. Apparently it was constructed to serve as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world! As we we staying close by we walked in that direction until we got to a notice board with a map of the trails. We started walking up the trail and made it to the middle part where there is a car park and a place where you can get a cable car up to the top. We decided to get the cable up to the top. It cost 120 denar for the round trip. Pretty cool cable as there is a place for bikes on the side. So many bikers take the cable up and cycle down.


Edgar on top of the mountain with the millennium cross

We got the cable down to where we started and took a bus into the centre of Skopje. The first thing that catches your eye in Skopje in the number of statues in the city. There seems to be one on every corner and they are big. The most striking one is in the centre of Alexander the Great on his horse. All of the gigantic monument construction started in 2011 as part of a government project. Having spoken to our Air BnB host who is from Skopje he explained the whole situation of all the statues, basically the current prime minister and his cousin seem to control everything in the country, from the constructors of the statues, the police, media etc…all very corrupt. The cost of the statues has been in the range from 90-565 million US dollars. Unaccounted money..disastrous for the local working community where there is 25% unemployment and the average monthly wage is around 300e euro. Unbelievable.


Warrior on a horse statue


Another statue


There are also plenty of pictures of Mother Theresa around the city as well. As she was born there, there’s a museum and you can see where her house used to be. There’s an interesting quote under one of the many statues, the Porta Macedonian Arch which has an interesting quote from her: “I think that abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace today.” Bit weird to have that on a gold plaque under the arch. Might have been better to put something different.

The old baazar of the city is very nice to walk around. It’s full of stalls ranging from Armenian and Turkish souvenirs and plenty of restaurants and cafes. We really enjoyed the food in Skopje.

Sunday: Matka Canyon

We decided to get out of the city and take a day trip to the nearby canyon called Matka canyon. It’s only 15 km away from the Skopje and definitely worth a visit. To get there we took bus no.60 from a nearby stop where we were staying. It leaves from the main bus station so its possible to get on there also. We ended up waiting for quite a long time for the bus and when we got on the driver gave us signal to go sit down. Nobody seemed to pay for the bus that day. (I think it costs 75 denar each way). About 30 minutes later we were at the canyon.

At the begining of the trail through the canyon there is a restaurant called: Restaurant Canyon Matka. It’ a really nice restaurant, prices being a lot more that normal places we would generally eat in, but good.


Entrance to the canyon

Before eating we decided to hike up the other side of the mountain to see the sights from the top. We had to take a boat across the canyon and then hike up around 20 minutes. There’s a monastery on top. St.Nikola. We got caught in the rain so we had to hang out up there for awhile. Once the weather was good again we made our way back down and ate in the restaurant.

There is a huge trail that follows the canyon so we walked a lot of that, all the way to a cave, in which there are boats taking tourists too. The water is crystal clear and views amazing. Once we returned we decided to rent a double kayak and have an adventure in the water. Matka canyon is really a beautiful place to spend a day away from the capital city. To return back to Skopje, we decided not to risk waiting forever or a bus and got a taxi which cost 10euro.


Walking along the canyon


Having fun kayaking


Amazing views!

Monday: Crossed into Kacanik in Kosovo

Our last day we decided to venture across the border into Kosovo. We didn’t plan on going to the capital Pristina, instead to a village in the mountains called Kacanik. We took a bus from the bus station in Skopje (minibus) to Kacanik stopping at border control along the way. Our passports were stamped and along we went. We were the only ones on the bus that got off in Kacanik. It’s a small place with not much going on but it was nice to visit. The main street is full of coffee bars full of men drinking on the terraces. Didn’t see many women that day. We had lunch there which was super cheap, 1 euro for a pizza. After walking around most streets we headed back to Skopje again. We waited on the road where we had got dropped off and bus came shortly.

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The locals in Kacanik

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The mosque

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Cheers from Kosovo!

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