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Showing posts from September, 2019

Shanghai

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Last week we returned to a country that my heart loves. A country that is as crazy and chaotic as it is beautiful. I haven't been to China since the end of 2011, and for this reason, I've been anxiously awaiting this portion of our trip. This land and this people hold a special place in my heart. One moment they make me smile and laugh, and the next moment, they frustrate me beyond words. It's almost like that line that you walk with close friends or family when you've spent way too much time together and you end up closer and crazier all at the same time.

When we arrived in Shanghai last week, I wondered what my reaction would be. I've only ever been to China as a non-profit volunteer, never as a full time tourist. And it is definitely a different perspective. When I've been here in the past, I've been surrounded by people that I know and love and who know and love me. This time, I've been a number in a mass of tourists that swarm the streets of China. …

Kyoto

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After spending 10 days in Tokyo last week, we hopped on a train and headed south to another amazing Japanese city: Kyoto.



While Tokyo is known for its skyscrapers, fast pace and bright city lights, Kyoto has a totally different vibe. Up until 1868, Kyoto was actually the capital city of Japan. For this reason, it is full of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. And when I say full, I mean FULL. Like over 2500. For this reason, our time in Kyoto was mostly spent exploring these sites and enjoying the views along the way. Kyoto is much smaller and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. We spent a lot of time hiking these mountains as many of the shrines start at the bottom and continue to the top. We loved it.

Overall, we probably saw between 15-20 different large temple and shrine sites along with their sub-temples and and smaller shrines within them.

Tokyo

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From its iconic skyscrapers and shrines to its streets filled with millions of people and the smell of delicious food, Tokyo is an amazing city. From the get-go of planning this trip, we have been looking forward to spending about a week and a half here.

Russia (Moscow and Saint Petersburg)

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After leaving Germany last week, we headed east to Russia.

I'm probably being a bit dramatic, but even as I type that, I'm still a little in disbelief that we just spent a little over a week in Russia. Visiting Russia was something that we (mostly me- Haley) have been so excited about and probably a little nervous about as well. With all of the political mess of the world, Russia comes with a stigma and tends to be a little shrouded in mystery. We didn't exactly know what to expect, but I think it's safe to say that it exceeded our expectations.

As we've traveled from country to country, we have found ourselves fascinated by the history and culture of each place that we've visited, and Russia was no exception. Its history of being a country ruled by one family of czars for over 300 years, becoming a communist country in the early 1900s and then a republic in 1991 is so interesting. It's a history that the Russians don't seem to shy away from, but instead …

Bavaria (Munich)

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It's hard to believe that our time in Europe (at this point in our trip) is nearing the end. When we were planning this trip, we felt like our time here would feel like forever, but it has definitely flown by!

We spent the last week based in Munich with several trips out of the city to explore other parts of Bavaria (the German state that Munich is in). It is a truly beautiful area with breathtaking views in the cities and countryside.

When you think of pretzels, Oktoberfest, beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and dirndl, this is the land of Bavaria. If you were to take some of those things (or wear them) to northern Germany, you would be completely out of place (and people might think you're crazy). Bavaria is a land full of proud traditions that date back centuries. But with these traditions come a dark past, a past where Nazi Germany arose in Munich and spread from there. It was the area where the first concentration camps were created and Hitler rose to power. The delicate line wit…