Mostar and Kravica waterfalls as a daytrip from Dubrovnik

After a very successful daytrip to Kotor, we were keen to check out another Yugoslavian country: Bosnia and Herzegovina. We left early to try to avoid long lines at the border, and we definitely succeeded, though maybe because the car navigator sent us through some mountain roads where the border wasn’t even manned. The drive was quite scenic, so we didn’t complain, and we made it to Mostar in less than 2 and a half hours.

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Kotor as a daytrip from Dubrovnik

Looking for things to do around Dubrovnik, I realized we could easily pop over to nearby Montenegro, and even better, to what might be its most famous site, Kotor. We ended up leaving pretty late, because we realized we might need a COVID tests not to cross into Montenegro, but to get back into Croatia. Then we go stuck for well over an hour at the border crossing, so even though it was supposed to be a 2-hour drive, we didn’t make it to Kotor until around 2pm.

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Dubrovnik, a fairytale town

The popularity of Dubrovnik has exploded in recent years, “thanks” to Game of Thrones. But before and beyond that craze, Dubrovnik must be one of the most magical cities in the world. It is a very manageable place, easily visited on foot in a day, though we thought the four nights we spent there were perfect to enjoy it at leisurely pace, plus take some daytrips to neighboring Montenegro and Bosnia.

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Top things to do in Hvar

Despite the tough competition, Hvar might very well be the best island to visit in Croatia. Admittedly, our own choice might not have been based on extensive research, but rather based on the fact that we had a rental car, and therefore our ferry options were more limited. But we loved the couple of days we spent on this island, it packs such an incredible range of experiences.

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The best place to stay in Split

After an epic day in Plitvice Lakes, we drove to Split, our first stop on the Dalmatian coast. Split is a strange city. On the one hand side, it’s the second largest of Croatia, a transportation hub, and the first thing you see when driving in are shabby high-rises. On the other hand side, it’s a historical jewel, a much-deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the old town is the Diocletian Palace, and incredibly well-preserved complex from 305 AD. The whole area is pedestrian-only, and packed with charming cafes and shops, directly on top of 2000-year old marble streets and plazas.

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Walking around Cartagena, the colonial jewel

Cartagena de Indias is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and regularly tops the list of most beautiful colonial cities around the world. This reputation is well deserved. Cartagena can easily be visited on foot in a couple of days, but it’s also the kind of place where you won’t regret having extra time.

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All the spots you must see in Tokyo

Last week, I had a chance to visit Tokyo on the back of a business trip… and it was an incredible experience! Despite it being such a large city, it is very easy to move around on foot and using the metro (once I figured out how to get a Suica or Pasmo card), and I was able to check out all these top spots in about two days. Here they are, in a very non-scientific order of preference:

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Destination guide – Jordan

MUST DO:

  • Hiking all of Petra… and marveling at the Treasury at night

NICE TO HAVE:

  • Bedouin camp in the Wadi Rum desert
  • Floating in the Dead Sea

PENDING:

  • The Roman ruins of Jerash
  • The Crusader Kerak Castle

MIN TIME:

  • 5 days

GETTING AROUND:

  • Ferry from Sharm el Sheikk (Egypt)
  • Buses / public shuttles if you can make the schedule work…
  • … Otherwise private drivers / taxi for Aqaba – Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum – Wadi Musa (Petra), Wadi Musa – Dead Sea, Dead Sea – Amman (airport)
  • Organized tour in Wadi Rum
  • Hiking on your own in Petra

DIARIES:

  1. Freezing in Wadi Rum
  2. Exploring the hidden city of Petra

COMBINED WITH:

Exploring the hidden city of Petra

Just 10 days earlier I had marveled at the pyramids of Giza, one of those rare sights that live up to their tremendous expectations. The pink city of Petra, immortalized in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, stands to the same test. And our first impression of it, on a dark, starry night and lit up by hundreds of candles, was magical. I definitely recommend planning your trip to make sure that you can enjoy Petra by Night, which runs only certain days. Make sure to get there early (they let people in way before the official 8:30pm start time), and don’t let the high price (17 JD, ~S25), the hordes of tourists, the organizational chaos (if too many people come they just sit them in front of the first row, blocking the view), and the tacky show ruin it for you.

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Cruising the Nile from Luxor to Aswan

A cruise on the river Nile between Luxor and Aswan, stopping in several ancient sites, is a classic in any Egypt itinerary.  We arrived in Luxor on a fairly comfortable overnight train from Cairo, and embarked on a 4-day cruise southbound. The word cruise is a bit of a misnomer, since these it’s rather floating hotels; all the boats do the same itinerary, and travelers from different groups get on them for sleep, food and the limited transit that actually occurs on the river, and are picked up by their respective guides at each stop. We got a pretty good deal through Imperial Egypt ($360 all inclusive); our guide was fantastic and private (absolutely recommended to really immerse yourself in the culture and history), while the boat we were put on, the Liberty, and the food on board were quite crappy. Below a quick recount of the places we visited.

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