It can be tough planning a holiday, trying to make sure you’ve got enough activities to keep you entertained. However, this is not an issue you will have in Prague. This charming and eclectic city has everything you could want, a huge art and culture scene, historical sights and bars and restaurants lining every street. Whether you’re booking a full-blown holiday, a stop on your inter-railing tour or simply a Prague city break here are some picks of five things to keep you busy while you’re in Prague.

Finding Time
Photo Credit: Howard Ignatius

The Astronomical clock

It might be a cliché, but the Orloj Astronomical clock is still a sight worth seeing in Prague. Not only a unique and impressive structure it has a fascinating history surrounded by legend. It is said that the clockmaker Hanus had his eyes burned out with hot pokers so he could not replicate his masterpiece elsewhere. As revenge, legend has it that Hanus then destroyed his creation which no one was able to repair for more than 400 years. A fascinating tale of beauty, betrayal and above all determination and triumph the Orloj should still be at the top of any tourist's list.
The Pub
Photo Credit: sikeri

The Pub

Despite its very uninspiring name The Pub provides drinkers with a completely new experience. A self-service bar, tables have their very own beer taps attached to them with a touchscreen interface allows them to track their intake against their friends and even compete with customers The Pub’s other establishments. Not only do the touchscreen’s allow you to play the ultimate drinking game they also allow you to call waitresses or order food directly. Not something you’re likely to find in the pubs back home.

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Photo Credit: Polly Allen

AghaRTA

Step back in time with AghaRTA, an old school underground jazz bar has an authentic feel. The small venue, while providing outstanding acoustics retains an intimate feel, packed with small tables, and much more reasonable drinks prices than you’d imagine from the middle of Prague’s old town. Fallen in love with the artists playing? AghaRTA even has a small store to allow you to purchase CD’s by the performers.

Tanz der Schiffe auf der Moldau
Photo Credit: helst1

Letna Park

A favourite amongst locals, Letna Park has been largely undiscovered by tourists there is no better place to sit in the sun and watch the world go by, or track down one of the beer gardens dotted around and have a cold refreshing beer. Visiting at sunset will provide you with the most spectacular panoramic views across Prague. The perfect way to immortalise your trip without wasting money on souvenirs.
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Photo Credit: eta 4ever

Prague Zoo

Finally, zoos can sometimes be a controversial sight to recommend, however, no one that visits Prague Zoo could claim that the animals aren’t given the utmost care. With a large selection of animals ranging from polar bears and penguins to tigers and giraffes, Prague Zoo has it all. Entry costs are also very reasonable, set aside a whole day to see the zoo, though, it is very spread out and you wouldn’t want to miss anything!

So that's our top five sights to see on your next visit to Prague. No matter what your interests are, add these to your list and you will not be disappointed!

Joanne Travis left her job in the financial sector to go adventuring and volunteering across the world. Her favorite country so far has been Thailand.

All images used under the Creative Commons License
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We have a lot of respect and admiration for one of our newest Sole Sisters, Emma of Active Travlr. The only thing that can match this adventure-seeker’s guts is her heart: at the moment Emma is in Nepal putting in full effort to rebuild remote villages affected by the earthquake under her self-started independent project The Travelling Movement (TTM). She talks to us about taking personal responsibility for the disaster, as well as her extreme moments as a high-adrenaline wanderer. 

We often hear crazy travel stories from our many contributors, but at the back of our minds say “yeah I could probably hack that if push came to shove…” But with Emma we can honestly say “I don’t know if I would have made it out of that alive!”

Before becoming a “professional traveller”, how did you originally envision your future? What did you want to be when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a surgeon. Being brought up in Canada with Filipino parents, I was always influenced to take the medical route in my studies, but I had an interest in fashion during high school and dreamed of going to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City. I got accepted amongst thousands of applicants but I had to choose to either work hard all summer to save up for school in New York or save up for my first trip outside Canada. I chose to travel, which was the best decision of my life. I also decided to chose business school over fashion school because I knew it would open more doors. After graduating Uni and obtaining a commerce degree majoring in Marketing, I was still interested in fashion and wanted to pursue becoming a professional fashion buyer, work as a PR in a firm, or in the creative department in Marketing.

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You got bitten by the travel bug on a trip with your sister(s). Were they bitten too? Or did they choose a different lifestyle?

My older sister was the one who inspired me to travel. She was always independent and had gone on many trips on her own. Though she is an accountant back home and a yoga instructor on the side, she isn’t pursuing a lifestyle of constant travel. She finds comfort in being settled somewhere and taking shorter trips to satisfy her wanderlust.

My younger sister has travelled around with me the most. She however wanted to begin creating a path for her career and is focused on working at the moment. She does still have dreams of travelling and will pursue them once her career has stabilized.

Sole Sister Emma of the-travelling-movement

Let’s talk about your biggest project at the moment. We hear you’re currently in Nepal rebuilding remote villages for “The Travelling Movement” (which by the way we cannot commend you enough for personally taking action and responsibility!) Can you tell us what it’s all about? 

The Travelling Movement is an independent project that I created in support of the earthquake in Nepal. It’s aim is to raise money to help rebuild the remote villages that were affected by the disaster. The goal was to raise $10,000 CAD to buy building materials for the remote villages. The plan was to raise the money and bring it to Nepal (I would fly to Nepal under my personal expense). I first conceptualized this project after hearing about the tragic incident that left many homeless. Nepal had my heart ever since my last trip, and to see it go through such a tragedy made me feel the need to do something to help.

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Can you shed a little light on the timeline of the project? The what’s and when’s leading up to finally raising over $12,000 CAD for Nepal?

The goal for the project was to raise $10,000 in 30 days. The first couple weeks, I focused on creating awareness for my campaign. The first two weeks I managed to raise half of that goal with the help of my friend who contributed a large sum of money. I however was getting a little worried about the slow pace it was going. The third week, I started actively asking for donations through Facebook. Still, it was going slow and I was getting discouraged. I pushed hard by posting loads of social media content, in order to constantly show my presence. Finally, on the fourth week, I personally messaged almost everyone on my list of contacts on Facebook. With the help of my boyfriend, much persistence and the little time left, the donations started coming in. I was raising almost $1,000 per day and ended up surpassing my goal by 18%. I extended the campaign by a couple days in order to give people a bit more time to send in their last minute donations. On the last day of the campaign I finally raised a total of $11,754 CAD. Another $300 CAD came from donations that I collected at a fundraising event in Melbourne, making it a total of over $12,000 CAD for Nepal.

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Why did you decide to embark on an independent project rather than teaming up with other NGOs/charities/aid groups? What sets “The Travelling Movement” apart?

When I decided I wanted to become involved in helping Nepal, I noticed that there were hundreds of organizations, big and small, as well as independent charities running that I didn’t know who to support. I also didn’t want to just make a personal contribution, I wanted to reach my family and peers and raise money on a bigger scale. I knew that if not even I knew which charity to support, there was no way others like me would either.

That’s when I decided to just launch my own project and it kind of snowballed from there. I conceptualized a project name that people could associate with, launched a crowdfunding site in which the funds would come in, created a Facebook page and other social media accounts. The next thing you know, I was coming up with a marketing plan and contacting people who could help support my project.

What sets The Travelling Movement apart is the fact that it is an independent project. I wanted to make sure that supporters knew exactly where the money was going and had to gain their trust by making sure that the money was going directly to the villagers affected by the quake. I also emphasized on the fact that I would personally fly there under my own expense, which brought more validity to the cause.

When the final number of donations raised of $11,754 came up, I cried tears of joy.

What were the biggest challenges you faced thus far carrying out “The Travelling Movement”?

The biggest challenge was definitely the part where I had to approach people to donate. I felt bad asking people for money, even if it was for a good cause. I realized that people will not give anything if they are not asked to, so I had to figure out an approach that would get people to donate.

What about your greatest moments? What did you feel when you broke past the original $10,000 CAD target?

The moment I reached my $10,000 target, I was extremely tired, overworked, but so touched by how much people cared about my cause. I really could not believe it. I knew that I could reach a target of $5,000 and that was why I decided to aim high, but halfway through my campaign I was losing a bit of hope and pretty much accepted the fact that I might not reach my goal. I raised over $5,000 in the last week of my campaign, and the day I reached my target I knew I would surpass it. It was the greatest feeling in the world, knowing that that much money would be helping the people of Nepal. I couldn’t believe that my goal and dream had come true, and felt that all of my hard work was so worth it. When the final number of donations raised of $11,754 came up, I cried tears of joy.

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Now that you’re in Nepal, how has the progress been so far? How long are you planning to stay there? And what do you aim to get done before you leave?

The progress here has been amazing! The first week, we worked in a remote village called Ghusel in the Lalitpur district. We’ve been building semi-permanent bamboo shelters that will last 3-5 years. In 5 days’ time we managed to build 11 houses total and plan to go back again to continue on with the project. At the moment, due to governmental restrictions, we are working with a small, reliable non-profit organization called CASD-Nepal whose project falls perfectly in line with our goal for The Travelling Movement.

We aim to help complete the construction of 40 more bamboo shelters, through our labor work, as well as with funding. We would also like to contribute some funds to help rebuild two schools in that village, both affected by the earthquake as well.

Have you thought about “what’s next” after Nepal?

After Nepal, I plan to visit Montreal, Canada, where I am originally from. I plan to travel around the province of Quebec and rock climb in America as well. It’s crazy to say that I have been on the road for 2 years now. I haven’t been home since, so it will be really nice to see my family again for a little bit, and catch up with my blog! After that, I plan to move to New Zealand for a while and get lost in the mountains for as long as I can. I am also planning a side trip early next year for Nepal to continue with some volunteer work and get a good dose of trekking and ice climbing!

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Do you still keep a home base? If yes, why did you choose this place?

My home base for the past 2 years has been Melbourne, Australia because of its high wages. Though the cost of living is relative to how much you earn over there, Melbourne has been my home away from home because there is just so much to do. There’s a reason why it’s considered the most livable city in the world! They have amazing coffee, great food, an interesting laid-back artistic vibe and friendly people. There is also loads of climbing to do around the city.

Sole Sister Emma with lourie

As a female traveler, what was the most challenging country you've been to?

Among the countries I’ve travelled to, I have always generally felt safe. The only time I didn’t feel safe as a female traveller was when my sister and I decided to do a solo trek in the remote area of Langtang, Nepal. 

Little did we know, (we found this out after finishing the trek) there were several cases of disappearances in that region, mostly of females that have not been found since. 

There was something about that area I felt uneasy about at the time. I wasn’t sure what it was but one thing was certain, I did not want to give off any sign of vulnerability while we were trekking. My sister and I were determined to complete the hike successfully, even summiting the peaks that revealed one of the most beautiful mountain ranges I’ve ever seen. After quickly coming out of that trek well and alive, we were extremely grateful that the Universe was on our side.

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You mentioned getting lost in a rain forest thrice (!) while chasing sun down. That sounds dangerous! How did you find your way out of that?

My sister and I were trekking in the remote area of Langtang in Nepal. Not many trekkers go there but we heard that the mountain ranges were spectacular. We decided to do this trek without a guide (though not always recommended), but purchased a map we believed was enough to guide us in the right direction.

The trek began at Syabrubesi, 120km from Kathmandu, which you reach by bus. People recommend to take the bus in the morning and stay the night at Syabrubesi before commencing the trek. We arrived at around 4pm that day but wanted to complete the trek as fast as we can so we decided to trek straight away that afternoon and reach the 3rd nearest village.

At the beginning of the trek we came across an army guard who seemed a bit dodgy with all of the questions he was asking. He wanted to know if we were with a guide, and was surprised we were trekking the mountains by ourselves. He was intrigued that we both looked Nepali as well, and tried to make conversation. I was feeling a bit uneasy so I hurriedly told my sister that we should keep going.

Sole Sister Emma langtang-summit

There was a certain point where the trail led to a faint path veering off on the left. We didn’t think it was the right way so we proceeded to the trail ahead of us instead: a steep uphill walk that took over an hour. As time was precious for us at this point, we asked a local to confirm that we were heading in the right direction. I was reluctant to ask for help because it would prove as a sign of weakness and uncertainty. Despite this, we asked if we were in the right direction, and it turns out that we weren’t. The local told us to follow a very small path into the rain forest, a shortcut he claimed would bring us back on the right track. We walked through the forest (though this way pointed in no apparent direction) as we were surrounded by tall grass, broken branches and thick layers of leaves. My sister was in doubt of the direction we were going, so we needed to make a decision to either bail and head back to where we left off or continue going deeper into the forest.

With the sun setting ahead of us, we needed to think fast and start walking. We decided to take the route we were sure about and started retracing our steps. We were back at the beginning of the shortcut and decided to walk back and find the point at which we took a wrong turn. The sun had already set at this point so we rushed to the first village we could find.

We ran through the forest and scrambled on rocky steep paths in order to make it before complete darkness. Out of all 3 times of getting lost in the forest, that time was the most dangerous because we feared that we would somehow have to find our way in the dark. But we were thankful that the Universe put us in the right place at the right time, and were grateful to have successfully completed the trek after much determination.

Sole Sister Emma bangladesh-family

What did you learn from living with a family in Bangladesh and experiencing their traditions?

The Bengali are extremely hospitable and family oriented. They take good care of their guests and feed them enough for a family of five! When my sister and I arrived at my friend’s family home, they had stayed up until 2 in the morning for us to arrive, making sure we were fed properly before bed. I had been vegetarian for 8 months until then, though when the father offered me chicked that they had killed that day in event of our arrival, I could not refuse the piece of meat. I told myself that my vegetarian streak was over when that was served on my plate.

Besides their strong appreciation for food, the Bengali enjoy spending time with their family. They would gather up in a room, on one of the daughter’s beds and just talk, have tea and desserts and laugh together. There is no rush for anything else there.

The family took myself and my sister in like we were a part of theirs, buying us traditional outfits called “saris” and continuously spoiling us with food and desserts. We felt like queens. They always made sure we were safe, no matter where we travelled to around the country. They also were very appreciative of the fact that we even considered visiting their country. They were extremely grateful of our presence, as we quickly formed a bond that i will never forget to this day.

Sole Sister Emma railay-beach-climbing

If you could do anything over again from the last few years of travelling, what would it be and why?

If I could do anything over again, it would be to go back to Railay Beach in Thailand and spend a month or two just climbing. Railay beach is climbers central. It’s a great place to develop your climbing skills, meet travellers that are alike and just soak up the sun, the waves and the infinite possibilities of limestone.

What would you advise people NOT to do while travelling?


I would advise people to not follow others in fear of being alone. 

It’s very easy to find yourself stuck in the plans of someone else just because you don’t want to travel alone. Oftentimes, it doesn’t work out because you are not doing what you want to do. Follow your heart and go to places that you want to go rather than following others’ footsteps.

Sole Sister Emma  solo-travelling

What kind of skills or know how would you consider necessary for someone who is thinking of long term travel?

I think to be able to stay on the road you must not only have a passion for travelling but you must be persistent. Long term travel means moving around constantly, finding jobs and quitting them, making ends meet with only $15 to survive a day, meeting people and saying goodbye within a month, a week or even a day’s time, and being comfortable with your own company in a foreign country. It would be easy for anyone to give in and go home to their place of comfort but it takes a strong will to want to keep living the lifestyle of travelling long-term.

Sole Sister Emma of The Active Travlr is an adventure traveller from Canada, backpacking around the world. With the love for nature, an obsession for rock climbing, and a passion for travelling, she packed her bags and decided to explore the world, with no return date. The travel bug bit, and her year-long travel plan fell through. Two years later, she’s still on the road for the unknown, to a destination off the beaten path. She also just recently raised 11,754 CAD to help rebuild remote villages affected by the quake in Nepal through her independent project The Travelling Movement. She is currently in Nepal.

Want to read more about women empowering women to travel? Check out more at Sole Sister Spotlight. Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters.weare@gmail.com. We look forward to your suggestions!

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I've been to some parts of the world that I've found so magnificent and jaw dropping- but I would never want to live there. I've also been to places where I have considered staying forever, only to pack up and leave again.

But most recently, I've found the haven where I could actually relax and feel safe. Somewhere close to the sea so we could surf and swim every day if we wanted. We've searched everywhere. From Baler, Siargao, Penang, Chiang Mai, Manila, Versailles. And now, we're finally in a little village in northern Portugal.

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1 You'll love Portugal for the waves.

There's just so many waves. If you look at Portugal on the map, you will see it's just one huge chunk of coastline.  It is one of the best countries for surfers, in fact the largest waves ever surfed in the world were in Portugal! But it's not just for the pros. There's plenty of waves to be enjoyed anywhere.  Waves you can learn on and waves that can smash you. The goal is to find something in between.

From experience, the waves are usually big and punchy. But there are also days when it gets small enough for beginners and long boarders. But it's not just about the waves. It's the uncrowded beaches for most of the year except for about 2 months in summer. It's the freedom of not having to line up just to catch a couple of waves. It's the contentment of knowing that you don't need to rush or be greedy, there's more waves tomorrow.

And the best part? It's the only place where I have ever surfed alone on a good day. You have no idea how that feels! It's like your birthday and Christmas rolled into one. It's ride all you can!

Check out the Best Surf Spots in Portugal

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2 You'll love Portugal for the food.

Feijoada of red or white beans, beef, pork and sausages. It will make you come back for seconds (or thirds). A feast of Cozido a Portuguesa with beef, pork, chicken, blood sausages and smoked pork parts. There's also potatoes, cabbage and carrots thrown in the mix, but it's certainly for the meat lovers. Grilled bacalhau (cod), sardines or octopus. Portuguese rice with onions and olive oil that will make you realize why the Portuguese call plain white rice as something from the hospital. Queijo fresco, a creamy, soft, white cheese that pairs perfectly with traditional bread fresh from the padaria. Wash it down with vinho verde (white wine usually from the Minho region) or a bottle of ice-cold Superbock or Sagres, and you're good for a siesta.

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3 You'll love Portugal for the wine.

Portugal is known all over the world for Port wine, which is typically red and sweet and often served as a dessert wine. Legend has it that to protect the wine during the long sea voyage it was ‘fortified’ prior to shipment with the addition of a small amount of grape spirit, or brandy, which increased its strength, prevented it from spoiling and gave it that sweet taste.

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But that's not all that Portugal has to offer in the wine department. You will be surprised by the inexpensive vinho verde which is served even in small restaurants or tascas. They can be fresh, vibrant and fruity. If you prefer your wine to be robust and full-bodied you might want to try a bottle of Douro from steep, terraced vineyards along the Douro River

Learn more about Portuguese wine.
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4 You'll love Portugal for its weather.

Coming from the Philippines, I have to admit that I love sunny, warm weather. After moving to Europe and experiencing a harsh winter in France, I knew that Portugal has the perfect balance of sunshine, dry air and oceanic weather. We enjoy one of the longest summers in Europe, and the most number of sunny days in a year.

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5 You'll love Portugal for its landscape.

Mountains, rivers, beaches, rocky cliffs, islands, I have to say we have it all- and I'm just talking about our little region in northern Portugal. And it's not just the landscape- it's what you can do in all that wide open space. Kayaking, surfing, whitewater rafting, birdwatching, canyoning, fishing, rock climbing, biking, hiking, paragliding, the possibilities are limitless! It's definitely paradise for people like us who love the great outdoors.

Enjoy more Outdoor Activities in Portugal

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6 You'll love Portugal for all the cool things they did. 

For such a small country, the Portuguese have made their mark on the world. Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco Da Gama, to name a few. They used to own half of the world! They were the first colonial power to abolish slavery.  

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Portugal took the principal role during most of the fifteenth century in searching for a route to Asia by sailing south around Africa. In the process, the Portuguese accumulated a wealth of knowledge about navigation and the geography of the Atlantic Ocean. Pretty impressive, isn't it?



7 You'll love Portugal for the azulejos.

Azulejos are painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework which were traditionally in white and blue (hence the name from the word azul which means blue in Portuguese). I see them everywhere, but I can't get enough of them! I especially love the old ones which are often painstakingly hand painted.

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Azulejos can be found in many places in Portugal, but usually on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, houses, schools, and even in restaurants or bars. And that's why I consider most of Portugal to be a living, breathing, gigantic Art Gallery!

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8 You'll love Portugal because it's less expensive than most European countries.

The cost of a prato de dia (plate of the day) in Portugal at a normal restaurant is around 5-10 Euros. That usually comes with an appetizer of olives, bread and some pieces of bacalhau. A main dish with meat or fish and rice or potatoes. Plus a dessert and a glass of house wine. You may even get a small cup of coffee if you're lucky. In France, you could only get a sandwich and coffee for that price! You may also find that the cost of accommodations, car rentals, tours and experiences in this country are considerably lower. Portugal is definitely the most inexpensive places I have visited in Europe!

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9 You'll love Portugal for Fado.

I've heard traditional music from all over the world. But I have never heard anything as haunting as Fado. Fado literally means fate or destiny and is the soul music of Portugal. It's often about love or loss, and has a melancholy theme accompanied by mandolins or guitars. I love listening to Fado played in small villages during festa time. Although I can't understand all the words, I can feel the emotions echoed in Fado music.

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10 You'll love Portugal for the Portuguese.

The quick to smile, easy to love, warm, friendly Portuguese. The fishermen with their old fashioned hats. The grandmas dressed in black with their soft faces and culinary secrets. The industrious people working in their farms and gardens but take a moment to pause and return your wave. The beer drinking surfers who let you use their cellphone to call a cab. The shopkeepers who actually mean it when they say Obrigada and refuse your tip. The Portuguese who are often trying to teach you something new whether it's a Portuguese word or one of their hundreds of recipes to cook bacalhau. The ones who are often proud that they can speak to you in English or French and will go out of their way to give you directions or help you find what you need.

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BONUS: You will love Portugal for reasons only you will know.

It was love that brought me here. I would not have pointed out Portugal on a map, marked it X and called it  home. It was my husband, who is half Portuguese, who thought that it would be the best place for us to take root as a family. And he was absolutely right!

I've only been here for less than 6 months and have only explored a few towns in the north and the city of Porto. But it has become so endearing to me that in my heart I am already beginning to call it home. I love Portugal as it stands out from most European countries because of its "roughness".

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I love it for its raw beauty that does not need any superlatives or praise.

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I love it for the sharp, salty smell of the bacalhau as I enter the grocery. It reminds me bulad or dried fish that we often see in many fishing villages in the Philippines.

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I love it for its sleepy old towns that turn into Disneyland one weekend a year during festa time.

I love the old ladies who work hard in their gardens and work even harder in the kitchen making feasts for the entire family to enjoy.

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I love the quiet irony of lavish, impressive buildings next to ancient, dilapidated, abandoned houses.

I love how easily Portuguese words roll off your tongue.

I love how I can actually own parts of this place in my memory- in ways that I will never be able to claim Paris or New York.

I love hearing people scream and shout as if there's a fight breaking out in the streets, only to realize that they're just watching a football match.

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I love Portugal because it has swallowed me whole. I embrace this country, promise to get to know it better and keep its secrets. There's always that internal conflict when you find your paradise. Part of you that wants to bring the whole world to your playground. And there's that other part that wants to keep it all for yourself.

Discover 10 Places You Just Can't Miss in Portugal.

And that's why I invite you to come love Portugal. Discover it. Find pieces of it you can call your own. Make it your playground. Find your own reasons to love this country.

But I won't reveal exactly where we live in Portugal.

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Euro-exploring,
Sole Sister Lois

Have you been to Portugal before? Why do you love it? Please share in the comments.

Lois has traveled extensively and have lived in Asia, the United States, and Europe. She is currently based in Portugal with her husband and baby girl. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of We Are Sole Sisters and has written the ebook "Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia?" based on her travels in the region for 6 months on less than 2,500 USD.
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Having spent a brief period of time living in New York City, and spoken to a lot of friends who have passed through for a visit, I've always been bothered by the common opinion that there's something ugly about the Big Apple. Generally, it seems as if a lot of travelers approach the city with wide-eyed wonder, as it's undeniably stunning from a distance. However, the general clutter, the scaffolding that covers so many sidewalks and building faces, and the fact that not every structure is a gleaming, mirror-like skyscraper seem to make the city visually disappointing when people get up close—at least, some people.

I'm here to set the record straight! I can totally understand why some tourists end up with a so-so impression of New York's beauty. There are certainly streets and entire areas that could use some work. There are stretches of buildings in dire need of makeovers, and yet those actively receiving makeovers are hidden by ugly construction. I get it.

But New York is also overflowing with beauty. It's not the culture or atmosphere, but the physical structures, monuments, and areas that can quite literally take your breath away. Here are some I wanted to point out after my own experiences in the city.

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Rockefeller Plaza (At Christmas)

I have to start with what in my opinion might be the single prettiest sight in New York: the Rockefeller Plaza area during the holidays. A guide on what to do in New York describes the Christmas tree lighting in particular by saying it "doesn't get much more picture-postcard NYC Christmas" than what you'll see in this area. While the massive tree and its lighting ceremony get most of the attention, the whole surrounding area is stunning: twinkling lights everywhere, an artificial ice rink, people smiling, decorations out... It's like a fairy tale.

Governors Island

I've always been confused as to why this place isn't mentioned more frequently among New York tourist destinations. I have to admit, I was skeptical the first time I boarded a ferry on a Saturday afternoon to see what it was all about. As it turns out, it's pretty much a park in the form of an island, and it's beautiful. Art exhibitions are very popular here, but the real appeal is being outdoors in a pleasant area in view of downtown Manhattan that, at least from the water, is probably the best-looking part of the city (especially with the new World Trade Center in place!).

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Frick House

It's not the most attractive name, but it might be the most underrated museum in the city. I love the Frick House because at a glance it blends in with some of the other mansions and stunning old buildings you'll see along Central Park East. But inside, it's a mind-blowing collection of paintings and sculptures. Not many destinations have this kind of beauty both inside and out. Also, there's supposed to be a secret bowling alley in the basement, but I've never managed to sneak down!

Times Square

You might have seen our previous blurb on Times Square elsewhere on this site, but I have to reiterate: as "touristy" as it is, and as overwhelming as the crowds can be, nothing will shock you into appreciating New York like your first glimpse of Times Square—particularly at night. There's just nowhere else like it.

Central Park South

Another way to term this selection would be to name it W. 59th Street, which for my money is one of the coolest spots in the city. On the west end of the park, you get Columbus Circle, a mega-roundabout surrounded by sculptures, monuments, and shining skyscrapers. Along the street at the southern edge of the park, you get a peek of shady groves and duck ponds while enjoying the sight of horse-drawn carriages parked along the sidewalk. And on the eastern end of the park, you're at one of the busiest parts of famous 5th Avenue, where a giant glass cube marks an underground Apple Store and The Plaza hotel towers over the street. I could walk back and forth on this route for a whole afternoon and not get bored (in fact, I have).

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Yankee Stadium

New York has a lot of famous stadiums, but this one stands above the rest, at least for beauty and atmospheric appeal. In a section on things to do in New York, Yankee Stadium is brought up as an opportunity to "visit Babe Ruth's home," which is kind of a crazy distinction for any sports fan. In fact, Babe Ruth's real home was torn down a few years ago, and the current Yankee Stadium is a replacement opened in 2009. It may lack history, but it more than makes up for it in beauty. Surrounded by a giant wall adorned with golden lettering, the stadium is a monument in and of itself.

Greenacre Park

There are a few little pockets of beauty and hidden parks throughout Manhattan that make you feel like you're not actually in the city at all, and Greenacre is my favorite of them all. Located on E. 51st just off of 3rd Avenue, it's basically a little courtyard. Oh, and it has a waterfall!

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Central Park Boathouse

The Central Park Boathouse looks like something right out of Gatsby, and more than once I've found myself staring at it in a trance, as if it's telling its own story. It's not just a relic though! You can actually rent boats there, and there's also a restaurant where diners can enjoy their food right on top of the water.

Visit some of these spots, and you'll have a new perspective on New York's beauty!

Amy Richards is an avid traveler who loves writing about her experiences. Though she spends most of her time exploring local cultures, she occasionally sneaks away for a piña colada on the beach.
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We get up close and personal with one of our newest Sole Sisters, Sarah from the UK. Welcome to the sisterhood!

Last month we announced the three newest additions to the Sole Sisterhood after a two-week search covering more than 50 applications from all around the world. We thought it was about time to shine the spotlight on our three newest sisters to get to know them better, starting with self-proclaimed global gypsy Sarah Richard from the UK.

“I had two choices – to either give up or to go out and live my life like it could also end tomorrow.”

Sarah is a Scuba Diving fanatic who at one point of her life decided to make a career out of her marine passion. She has been on the road for four years since quitting her job at 22, most recently relocating herself to Hong Kong with a working holiday visa. Her love for the open road and thirst for adventure is evident in her narrative, and we get a little taste of that in our interview:

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Four years ago you decided to begin a lifestyle of travel. What inspired you to take that big leap?

Unfortunately, it was my Mum’s passing away suddenly that changed it all for me. I had two choices – to either give up or to go out and live my life like it could also end tomorrow. Four years later I still live every day as a blessing. It is awful that it had to be those circumstances that gave me the motivation to see the world, but I am so grateful for the opportunity it gave me. I now know not to wait around to do the things I really want, I do them straight away.

What did you need to kickstart the adventure?

Belief, hope and an extra measure of courage. There aren't really any material possessions that can kickstart the adventure. It has to start with you believing in yourself.

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Do you ever find solo travelling scary/dangerous/lonely?

By far that is the most popular question I get. Nearly on a daily basis I get emails from like-minded budding travelers wanting to embark on a solo journey, but find themselves naturally wondering if it’s the right thing to do.

It’s easy for me to answer this question with a straight forward NO - it is not dangerous or scary and I hardly ever get lonely. But then I put myself back into that position and can totally relate to the worry. Anything you are worrying about in your head is always amplified. Fear is what keeps us moving: it is a natural feeling. Without fear we would never progress and never know how it feels to be truly happy. And the feeling you get once you have overcome the fear makes it all worthwhile.

I believe being out of your comfort zone is one of the best feelings - but only after. After you realize what an achievement it was, you are so much more confident to continue doing what it is YOU really want.

I say let yourself be scared, let yourself be lonely. Understand these feelings, and then you will understand what it is you really want.

And finally: NO, it really isn't scary, dangerous or lonely. It's thrilling, exciting and amazing. You make friends before you even realize you are alone, and if you keep your wits about you, you are in no more danger than you are in your everyday normal life.

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You’re now based in Hong Kong. Why Hong Kong and how are you liking it so far?

I never had any intent on coming to Hong Kong. In fact, it was always up there in one of the places I was never too bothered about seeing. Maybe that's why I love it so much; it completely surprised me. It is hands down the most exciting and vibrant place I have ever visited. It honestly gives me goosebumps every day. It's hard to explain why I love it so much, but I definitely think it is a personal reaction. I don’t expect every single person to come here and fall for it like I did. But for me it is everything I am looking for right now - fast paced, full of opportunity and accessible to the rest of the world to keep travelling.

“This is the dream; to earn enough money to fund my travels. I work extremely hard for it, there are no ‘work hours’ or days off.”
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Tell us more about your passion for scuba diving. How did you discover your love for it?

I have always been in love with the ocean, I was brought up in a seaside town and loved swimming. As soon as I got an opportunity to scuba dive at the age of 19 it was one of the first times I experienced a feeling of ‘I know I want to do this forever.’ It was a great emotion to have during that age of not having a clue where life would lead. Every time I dive I remember the first time I did it and how it made me feel and I can honestly say seven years on it is still the best feeling in the world. On par with travel, it is my number one passion.

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What kind of traveler are you? What kind of experiences do you look for?

I’m spontaneous, I don’t like to plan or have any expectations. I much prefer going somewhere blind and going with the flow. When it comes to experiences again I much prefer not to seek them. My first day somewhere I usually grab my camera and wander around, get a coffee and watch the way the country works. I talk to people, a lot of people, I ask locally for their recommendations. I am very relaxed about travel, I fall in love with countries very quickly because I really go in with no expectations.

Do you think you’ll ever want to settle down somewhere?


Sole Sister Sarah14

Wow, that's a really tough question. Honestly, I haven't even thought about it. I definitely concentrate on the moment. All I know is I want to make a full-time career from my blog and freelance writing and keep travelling the world. I want to make people realise how obtainable travel is; a big goal of mine is to change the perception that travelling is expensive. I truly believe I can do that.

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What’s next on your travel/bucket list?

I am really going to discover Asia now that I am based in Hong Kong. I am off to Bali in a few weeks and then I hope to explore Borneo (Diving in Sipadan is very high on my bucket list)!

“I have met some incredible people, some that if I wasn’t bitten by the travel bug, I would have loved to commit longer to.”
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What was the scariest/most challenging situation you’ve had during your travels?

Travel has definitely toughened me up. I feel like it makes you deal with situations a lot more rationally. Only last week I had my bag stolen with everything inside: phone, purse, all I.Ds, money, apartment keys, etc. I couldn't get into my apartment, call anyone or get a taxi anywhere. I think it was one of the scariest times as I realised I was totally vulnerable and all I could do was rely on the help of strangers. Survival traveller mode kicked in and I dealt with the situation one step at a time and eventually managed to get back into my apartment, grab my passport, and get a bit of money from the bank. I was emotionally all over the place as I knew how much money it would cost me to replace everything.

That night I went for dinner with my friends. I laughed and smiled and looked around and realised how lucky I was, even with nothing. The next day I got a call from the police saying my bag had been handed in with everything still inside. I was stunned and totally taken aback by the honesty and kindness of the stranger that went out of his/her way to hand it in. Travel truly is a continuing rollercoaster of lessons.

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Have you been heartbroken on the road? Have you met anyone that made you want to stay put?

I have met some incredible people, some that if I wasn’t bitten by the travel bug, I would have loved to commit longer to, but at this time in my life the desire to travel keeps me moving. However, I believe in the ‘right time’. If something is meant to be it will find its way at the right time. There is definitely someone I hope that time comes again with.

(Oooh, sounds juicy!)

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What do you do now to beef up your travel fund?

Before Hong Kong I worked as a Dive Master, I have also worked as an English teacher, worked in bars and hostels and quite a lot in between. I am not too proud to work a job someone thinks isn't a ‘proper job’.

Since coming to Hong Kong I have been fortunate enough to start the journey of becoming a full-time digital nomad through my travel blog and freelance writing. This is the dream; to earn enough money to fund my travels. I work extremely hard for it, there are no ‘work hours’ or days off. But I love it so much, I have never felt so fulfilled in a job as I have now being a writer.

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How has travelling changed you as a person?

Travelling is the essence of life, it’s what keeps my heart pumping so fast and a smile stuck permanently on my face. I know I wouldn’t be half as happy as I am now if I hadn’t seen this beautiful world we live in. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to travel. Rather than changing me I feel like it has given me the opportunity to be myself, to be who I want to be.

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Sarah of Coffee with A Slice of Life is a 26 year old professional world wanderer who has been travelling the globe for the last 4 years, one cup of coffee a time. She is in love with the open road, and writing about it, and will do almost anything to keep living her dream... Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Want to read more about women empowering women to travel? Check out more at Sole Sister Spotlight.

Do you know of travelers who conquer the world one country at a time? We would love to interview them for Sole Sister Spotlight. Please send us an email at solesisters.weare@gmail.com. We look forward to your suggestions!

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