Chocolate animals at a fair in Modena, Italy

A Glimpse of Modena

What is the fastest car you have ever driven?

Modena is the place where many of the Italian fast cars come from. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati are a few of the most well known. In fact, there is even a Ferrari Museum in this town for all the car enthusiasts. Modena also has much more with its beautiful parks, cathedrals, museums, and a palace. It also has live musicians playing in the streets and local festivals throughout the year. We stumbled on the Chocolate Festival, which we could not refuse.

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A Glimpse of Cordero al Palo

What traditional foods have you fallen in love with during your travels?

Throughout our travels in Patagonia, we came across many restaurants with this common sight: entire lamb carcasses splayed in triplicate over slow-burning coals. This is called cordero al palo, and it is a very specific type of barbecue favored in the southern regions of both Chile and Argentina.

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A Glimpse of Irish Pubs

Where is the coolest place you’ve had a drink?

We couldn’t go to Dublin without stopping into a traditional Irish pub. Wonderful, boisterous atmosphere, Guinness by the pint, classic fish ‘n’ chips, and of course, live Irish music.

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A Taste of Shoreditch

Where have you found the best street art?

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Shoreditch was one of our favorite neighborhoods in the city of London. We spent an entire morning exploring its many streets and admiring the vast array of street art.

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A Taste of Ghent’s Graffiti Alley

Do you have any interesting street art near you?

We stumbled upon this colorful alley simply by happenstance while walking through the quaint city of Ghent. A haven for street artists, this short stretch is constantly changing as new paint is added day after day. This is an open canvas in a “graffiti-friendly” city.

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Traveling with Servas International

A big happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers (and even if you aren’t :))!  We are very fortunate to be sharing this day of gratitude with a local Couchsurfer, and it has us reflecting on our other generous hosts.

Throughout our travels, we have employed many ways to find low-cost lodging. Some of these are less interactive like house-sitting, where we watch someone’s pets while they are traveling. Other lodging types are more of a cultural exchange like Couchsurfing, and Servas is another option. It is much more focused on the fostering of world peace and values more sustainable travel practices and humanity. When we have the opportunity, this program is a perfect way to gain a better understanding of cultures around the world by living with hosts for a couple of days.

Small Canal in Netherlands

Have you ever heard of Servas? Most people have not as it is relatively small as compared with other similar sites. In this post, we’ll talk about what Servas is and how it started. We’ll also share some of our experiences over the past five months of travel that have made us well-versed in the program. Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started! Continue reading “Traveling with Servas International”

5 Tips for Mastering Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing.com is a website platform for connecting a global community of travelers, facilitating stays with locals or opening your home to visitors. Sometimes hosts can offer a private room and bathroom; sometimes it’s literally nothing more than a couch upon which to crash for a night. It is also a place to organize events in cities around the world.

We have used this platform to host eight amazing travelers, and we have also been hosted once abroad in Norway. All of the people we met through this platform were incredible. They all came from different walks of life, and they shared their own travel stories and cultural experiences with us (like teaching us how to drink like a Russian!).

We are the type of hosts who like to treat our guests to local Portland activities, hikes, and even trips to the coast. We enjoy meeting new people, and every experience is completely unlike the last. There are many reasons to love this platform.

Over our many hostings and stays, we’ve learned a lot.  Here are five tips for mastering Couchsurfing.

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Essentials for enjoying an evening drinking with a Russian

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We Learned How to Drink Like a Russian

Life is full of all sorts of fun experiences, most of which, you never plan for.  In fact, it is the unexpected moments that make the best memories – the ones that stick with you throughout the years and make you smile when everything else dissolves into nostalgia.

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We had one such evening, quite by happenstance.  We had the pleasant fortune to learn what it really means to drink like a Russian.

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The 12 Countries of Christmas

Christmas means a lot to me and my family.  It’s the one time of year when we all come together to exchange gifts, eat far too much food, and socialize and laugh over games and drinks.  In America, it’s a family holiday, and offices across the country are closed for multiple days for the celebration.  We decorate trees in our living rooms, and we hang lights all throughout the cities.  It’s a time of giving and joy and coming together.

I love Christmas.

Spending a year abroad, there’s every chance we’ll spend the holiday in a foreign country.  And we know that not everyone celebrates it the same as we do.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Photo by Brianna Shade, used with permission

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Considering… Croatia

Croatia is a Mediterranean landscape paradise. From ancient walled cities and Roman ruins, to the many islands lining the coast, Croatia has it all. There are many well preserved Medieval towns and old forts that are worthy of Game of Thrones, just like in Ireland. Let’s check it out!

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