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Ephesus, Turkey


We checked out of our hotel in Kusadasi, the one with the beautiful view of the harbor that Will shared with you in our last post, on August 16th. Our stay in Kusadasi was quick and really only intended to provide us a comfortable nights rest before exploring the ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus. In the morning we were picked up at our hotel and joined a full day tour of Ephesus that would drop us off at the bus station that evening to catch our overnight ride back to Istanbul.

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Pamukkale, Turkey

After a couple days and only one night in Cappadocia, it was time to get on our second overnight bus in Turkey and head for Pamukkale. Pamukkale, which means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, is in the South-West of Turkey near the city of Denizli. The ancient city of Hierapolis was built atop the hills which make up Pamukkale.

What is now famous about the area is the reason for the name of Pamukkale which are the white hills that make up the region. The reason the hills are white is that the 17 hot springs which sit atop Pamukkale contains a high concentration of Calcium Carbonate which is deposited on the hills and forms terraced pools of water. The effect often makes it look like ice glaciers in some pictures as you will see.

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Cappadocia, Turkey


We boarded an overnight bus early on the evening of August 12th in Istanbul bound for Cappadocia. Cappadocia is a region is central Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and hotels and houses carved into the rocks. In addition, it is widely known as being one of the top places in the world to ascend into the sky on a hot air balloon. Before leaving Istanbul, Will and I booked ourselves on a two-day tour of all of the major sites in Cappadocia and we also deviated slightly from our budget and reserved a spot in the clouds on the first hot air balloon trip of our lives.

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Istanbul, Turkey

After re-connecting in Budapest, Brad and I were back together to tackle Turkey. For myself, I conjured up images similar to what we had seen in Jordan, Israel and Cairo as to what it would look like, but I would soon find out I was quite wrong.

We arrived in the early afternoon, made our way via subway and tram to our hostel and then headed out to explore while there was still a couple hours of daylight. As we were coming from Budapest where I had been wearing a jacket we were immediately shocked by the heat – not the hottest we have felt but very hot and extremely humid. Over the next several days we heard from several locals that this was the hottest temperatures they had seen in over a hundred years – yikes.

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Rome, Italy


While Will was off touring Budapest and Vienna, I made a stop in Rome to visit some old friends and to explore one of the most magnificent cities in the world. I split with Will at the airport in Barcelona before boarding a couple of quick flights to get me into Rome. Unfortunately the time I could spend in Rome was limited, but I thought that I would be ok because I was in good hands with my friends who after living in Rome for some time now have become expert tour guides of the city.

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Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria

After a whirl-wind tour of Barcelona Brad and I would make our second split of the trip. He would be taking on Rome and I would be checking out Budapest and Vienna. I had been to Rome before and wanted to see something new, but it was certainly a must for Brad to see Rome. I flew directly from Barcelona to Budapest with no worries.

Upon arriving at the tiny airport in Budapest, I moved terminals so that I could wait for my friend and colleague from Accenture Grace. Grace has done an extraordinary amount of travel herself and this time was partially for leisure and partially for volunteer work. She was there to meet with her mom and a group of 20 Junior High kids from Taiwan who would be doing a cultural exchange for about 2 weeks in Hungary.

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Barcelona, Spain


Our last stop in Spain was personally the one I was looking forward to the most while traveling through the country. Will had been to Barcelona previously on a summer Euro-trip with some college buddies and he found it to be one of the best cities in the world. He had me excited to see the packed beaches, the beautiful parks, the intricate Gaudi architecture, Sagrada Familia and of course more of the excellent Spanish food that certainly had lived up to expectations so far on our journey through Spain.

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Granada, Spain

After a less than 24 hour stint in Cordoba, it was off to Granada. The bus was short and quite pleasant through the rolling hills of southern Spain which were covered with sun flowers and olive trees. Our major reason for heading to Granada was to check out Alhambra – a palace and fortress complex constructed during the mid 14th century by the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus.

We found our hostel and checked into what turned out to be one of the best hostels we have stayed in on our entire trip – White Nest Hostel. Hungry from skipping out on breakfast and our 3 hour journey, we asked for a recommendation and were sent after some Paella at a restaurant called Salina.

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Mezquita de Cordoba – Cordoba, Spain


Will and I had 9 full days to divide across the various places we wanted to see in Spain. Both Madrid and Barcelona were must visits and we first allocated 3 days to each. With our remaining 3 days in Spain we decided to take a quick swing to the southern cities of Cordoba and Granada to see the world renowned sites – Mezquita de Cordoba and Alhambra. Both of these sites are commonly ranked in the top 100 places in the world to visit, which we thought warranted our mini-trip south alone, but in addition we were excited to see what Spain looked like outside of its two major metropolitan cities.

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Madrid, Spain

Brad and I walked off our flight from Cairo to Madrid a bit dazed. The flight was a 5 hour ‘red-eye’, but had in-flight dinner service for the first 2 hours from 1 – 3AM local time – brilliant! We made it through immigrations and customs hardly noticing a process as they quickly glanced at our passports and waved us through. This was quite the opposite of what we had experienced in our last several border crossings.

We took the Metro into the city around 6AM and unfortunately got a bit lost finding our hostel. Madrid is far from being setup on a grid which actually adds to its charm, but can certainly make navigating a bit tricky. We finally arrived at the hostel and with a couple of hours to kill before the sights would be open we did some much needed laundry, catching up online and then headed out for the day.

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The Top 100 Places in the World
1 Great Wall of China
2 Pyramids of Egypt
3 Machu Picchu
4 Serengeti Migration
5 Galapagos Islands
6 Grand Canyon
7 Angkor Temples
8 Antarctica Cruise
9 Taj Mahal
10 Iguazu Falls
11 Amazon Rain Forest
12 Great Barrier Reef
13 Bora Bora
14 Victoria Falls
15 Bagan
16 Petra
17 Potala Palace
18 Karnak
19 Mt Everest
20 Cappadocia
21 St Peters Basilica
22 Fjords of Norway
23 Jerusalem Old City
24 Burj Khalifa
25 Borobudur
26 Forbidden City
27 Kashmir Valley
28 Li River Cruise
29 Ladakh
30 Alhambra
31 Louvre Museum
32 Perito Moreno Glac.
33 Banaue Terraces
34 Colosseum of Rome
35 Easter Island
36 Venice Canals/Alleys
37 Kathmandu Valley
38 Wat Phra Kaew
39 Yellowstone NP
40 Pompeii
41 Rio Panoramic View
42 Palace of Versailles
43 Dubrovnik
44 Golden Temple
45 St. Basils Cathedral
46 Vatican Museum
47 Florence Cityscape
48 Acropolis
49 Amalfi Coast Drive
50 Kremlin
51 Hong Kong View
52 TerraCotta Warriors
53 Mezquita Cordoba
54 Chichen Itza
55 Damascus Old City
56 Shwedagon Stupa
57 Sahara Desert
58 Mont St Michel
59 St. Marks Square
60 Egyptian Museum
61 Hagia Sophia
62 Angel Falls
63 Delphi
64 Teotihuacan
65 Baalbek
66 Banff NP
67 Santorini
68 Matterhorn
69 New York Skyline
70 Neuschwanstein
71 Chartres Cathedral
72 British Museum
73 Prague Old Town
74 Burj al Arab
75 Yangtze River Cruise
76 Yosemite NP
77 Hermitage Museum
78 Torres del Paine
79 Chambord Chateau
80 Lijiang
81 Portofino
82 Great Ocean Road
83 Tongariro Alpine
84 Las Vegas Strip
85 Tikal
86 Topkapi Palace
87 Sydney Opera House
88 Eiffel Tower
89 Luxor Temple
90 Kerala Backwaters
91 Golden Gate Bridge
92 Cinque Terre
93 Metropolitan Mus
94 Uffizi Gallery
95 Ayers Rock
96 Cliffs of Moher
97 Pacific Coast Hwy
98 Shanghai Skyline
99 Glacier Bay NP
100 Wulingyuan
Cappadocia  Cappadocia, Turkey
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