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Recent Posts

13 December, 2014

EBC Trek Day 10: Lobuche to Gorakshep via Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Nepal
The 10th day of our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek brought us from Lobuche to Gorakshep via Everest Base Camp. This day had a long and tiring hike for us in store but would also turn out to be a very rewarding day, a day full of achievement ... the day we would finally reach Everest Base Camp ...
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10 December, 2014

Exquisite Luxury in Kapari Resort

Pool at Kapari Natural Resort Santorini
When you are looking for a luxurious and romantic hotel experience on a picture-perfect Greek island, the family owned luxury boutique hotel Kapari Natural Resort is the place to be! This unique Santorini hotel is located in the cliff-perched village of Imerovigli featuring astounding views, exquisite food, beautiful luxury cave rooms ...
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30 November, 2014

EBC Trek Day 9: Dingboche to Lobuche

Enjoying the views on day 9 of the EBC Trek

On day 8 of my Everest Base Camp Trek, I was not sure whether I would be able to continue, as I felt really sick. I was already mentally preparing myself to return but against all odds, I felt great when I woke up on day 9. This day turned out to be one of my favorite days on the trek and brought us from Dingboche to Lobuche.
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22 November, 2014

EBC Trek Day 8: Dingboche Acclimatization Day

EBC Trek Day 8: Acclimatization Hike from Dingboche to Chukkung
We had our second obligatory acclimatization day on Day 8 of our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. As mentioned before, this is not the same as a rest day ... we did an acclimatization hike to Chhukung and back. Up till day 8, we both felt really good and did not encounter any issues. This day however ended in despair and tears ...
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14 November, 2014

10 Awesome Things to do in Santorini

Holiday Nomad visiting beautiful Santorini
Santorini is the southernmost island of the Cyclades. It is part of an enormous caldera created after a huge volcanic eruption. Some people believe that Santorini is the site of the Lost City of Atlantis. Not sure about that one; but it is without any doubt "the destination" for anyone looking for a relaxing and romantic vacation. Here are my favorite things to do in Santorini ... 
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03 November, 2014

The Quintessential Guide to Bangkok

Buddhist Temple on the Chao Phraya River Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok - Krung Thep to locals - literally translated means "City of Angels". Everything in Thailand's capital contradicts itself: traditional buildings and temples alternated with modern erected high-rises, spiritual sanctuaries find their opponents in vibrant nightlife, floating markets in sharp contrast to huge malls ... Isn't it all a little confusing? Not when your mindset is governed by the "Mai Pen Rai" (never mind) attitude and an all accepting smile that invariably goes with it. Bangkok is home to many magnificent temples, a lively China Town, the klongs, the famous floating markets and a lively nightlife. Welcome to Bangkok!
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26 October, 2014

Ultimate Romance in Astarte Suites

Stunning view over the Aegean Sea from Akrotiri Santorini Greece
When you are looking for a unique and intimate hotel experience, the luxury boutique hotel Astarte Suites is the place to be! This family-owned hotel is built in Akrotiri's Caldera on the southwest coast of romantic Santorini featuring luxury suites, personalized service, views to die for ...
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19 October, 2014

Unique Luxury Getaways in Santorini

Holiday Nomad visiting Romantic Santorini
Santorini - with its beautiful cliff-perched white villages, characteristic little blue domed churches, friendly locals, famous sunsets and breathtaking views - is probably one of the most romantic islands worldwide. You can't help but fall in love with this postcard perfect Greek island ...                         
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28 September, 2014

EBC Trek Day 7: Pangboche to Dingboche

View on Mount Everest EBC Trek
I realized today that I'm way behind in writing about my travels of the last 16 months including the day-to-day descriptions of my Everest Base Camp Trek. So many stories to be told ... so little time. Anyhow here's day 7 of our Everest Base Camp Trek ... 
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23 September, 2014

Real Life Escape Game The Longest Hour

Team Holiday Nomad playing The Longest Hour, a real life escape game
Did you every play a real life escape game? I never did ... I never even played an escape game online till a few weeks ago when we played the one and only real life escape game in Belgium; The Longest Hour in Ypres. We had so much fun! It was close but we did manage to escape within the hour ...
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05 September, 2014

In Flanders Fields where the Poppies Blow

Poppies on the Tyne Cot Cemetery
The name Flanders Fields comes from the famous poem "In Flanders Fields" indicating the Great War's battlefields in Flanders; an area that draws thousands of memorial tourists each year. Currently it's also the heart of the commemorative events organized on the occasion of the World War I centenary ... we will remember them ...
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29 August, 2014

Enjoying the Great Outdoors in Style

Beautiful outdoors scenery
When people talk about a vacation in the great outdoors, it's inevitable that an image of a small tent, an uncomfortable night of sleep on the ground ... pops into many people's heads. Although there are people who love roughing it on their travels, there's an increasing group that prefers to enjoy the outdoors with a touch of luxury. I'm definitely part of the latter group ...  
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24 August, 2014

Begonia Flower Carpet in Brussels

Flower Carpet at Grand-Place Brussels
Last weekend we visited the 19th edition of the Flower Carpet at the Grand-Place in Brussels. This edition was dedicated to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Turkish immigration in Belgium. More than 750,000 Belgian Begonias were used to create this 1,800 square meter carpet inspired by patterns of Turkey's famous kilims ...
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15 August, 2014

EBC Trek Day 6: Tengboche to Pangboche

Everest Base Camp trek Day 6
The trek from Tengboche to Pangboche was one of my favorite parts of the Everest Base Camp Trek. All considering, it was quite a lazy day as the hiking distance as well as the altitude difference for the day were quite small. The first part of the trail ran through a beautiful rhododendron forest ... 
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10 August, 2014

Climbing to the Roof of the World with Wim Smets

Holiday Nomad Interview with Wim Smets
About a month before I started my Everest Base Camp Trek, I met up for a drink with one of my fellow citizens Wim Smets. Wim stood on the Roof of the World as the 13th Belgian ever and not only that ... he climbed to the top of the "seven summits", the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. An interview with this inspiring person ...
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09 August, 2014

10 Most Stunning Disney Sand Sculptures

Brave Disney Sand Sculpture
Sand Sculpture Festival Ostend in Belgium is the biggest Sand Sculpture Festival in the world. You can admire the 150 Sand Sculptures created by 30 artists of 12 different nationalities till the end of August on Ostend beach. Together with a visit to fairytale Bruges, this makes a great weekend trip! Here are the photos of my 10 favorite Disney Sand Sculptures ... 
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03 August, 2014

EBC Trek Day 5: Namche to Tengboche

Everest Base Camp Trek Day 5 Namche to Tengboche
The 5th day of our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek has started and will bring us from Namche to Tengboche. Tengboche is famous for its Buddhist Monastery but also for its location. From Tengboche, we will have our first clear view of Mount Everest and of many more of the world's highest mountains.                                           
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29 July, 2014

Top 5 things to do in the Algarve

Algarve Portugal
A couple years ago, my daughter and I went on a "mother and daughter" break in the Algarve. As this was our first visit, we were not sure what to expect from Portugal's southernmost area. We soon discovered that this beautiful area is not only about sunbathing on the beach or playing golf; there are many more amazing things to do. Here's our top 5 ...
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25 July, 2014

EBC Trek Day 4: Namche Acclimatization Day

Holiday Nomad's Everest Base Camp Trek Day 4
On the 4th day of our Everest Base Camp Trek, we woke up early and went straight to the Everest viewpoint. We admired the Everest and its neighboring peaks till about 7 am, unaware of the tragedy that was taking place on the Everest at that very same moment; a huge avalanche made this day the single most deadly day on the Everest ...
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20 July, 2014

EBC Trek Day 3: Monjo to Namche Bazaar

EBC Trek Day 3 from Monjo to Namche Bazaar
The 3rd day of our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek has started and will bring us from Monjo to Namche Bazaar; the Sherpa capital in the Khumbu region and the gateway to the Mount Everest. The day had a tiring long climb for us in store ... but also one of the many highlights during this trek "our first glimpse of Mount Everest".
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16 July, 2014

EBC Trek Day 2: Phakding to Monjo

Enjoying the view on the trail between Phakding and Monjo
The sound of chirping birds and the Dudh Koshi river's tumbling water woke us up after a good night's sleep. The second day of our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek has started and will bring us from Phakding to Monjo. We decided against hiking all the way up in one day from Phakding to Namche as I was a bit worried about my fitness level after doing very little preparation for this trek and of course ascending slowly also helps to avoid altitude sickness.
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13 July, 2014

EBC Trek Day 1: Lukla to Phakding

Lukla Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
Last April, I decided to accomplish another bucket list item, the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek (also known as the EBC trek). As I mentioned before, I'm not sure why I'm so in challenges lately, but I just need to get that feeling of achievement ... I just need to feel alive. Feeling the same? Then I can definitely recommend the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. Besides an incredible feeling of accomplishment, this trek offers stunning Himalaya views ... a close view at the world's highest peaks ... 
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24 May, 2014

10 Amazing Active Vacation Destinations

Austria hiking paradise
Although I love to relax with a cocktail on an exotic beach or an exquisite pool for a day or two, I prefer most of the time a bit more action while on vacation. My perfect holiday destination is a place that combines beautiful scenery with lots of hiking opportunities. Austria for example offers amazing landscapes, wild water rafting, thermal pools and endless hiking opportunities. It's as well my dog's favorite vacation destination :) Here's a list of 10 other amazing holiday destinations for anyone craving action, excitement and stunning landscapes. 
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07 May, 2014

Luxury Mount Everest Base Camp Trek

Luxury Everest Base Camp Trek Nepal

After my Inca Trail Trek last year, the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek appeared to be a logical next step. Obviously I knew that this trek is one among the most beautiful ones in the world; however at the same time also one among the most challenging. This didn't scare me off but what did worry me a bit is that I read in many on-line Everest Base Camp journals that for most people the basic accommodation, the cold nights, not being able to wash yourself properly for at least 2 weeks, the monotonous food ... were the hardest to endure ...
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23 March, 2014

Interview with Mountaineer Wim Smets

Climbing Mount Everest

Next month I will do the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek and will go till the top of Kala Patthar located at an altitude of 18,193 ft (5,545 m). Climbing to the Roof of the World - the top of the Mount Everest - is an incredible achievement; one that definitely fascinates me. I will probably never make it to the top myself but one of my fellow citizens - Wim Smets - did. This adventurous spirit climbed the highest mountains in the world, did a North Pole expedition, ran the Sahara marathon ... When we met for a drink in our hometown Antwerp-Belgium, I had the chance to interview this inspiring person for my new blog. You can read the complete interview here.

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10 March, 2014

Iceland's Popular Golden Circle Route

Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park,
Before our visit to the fairytale South Coast of Iceland where we also went ice climbing, we took the popular Golden Circle route including Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, the famous Gullfoss Waterfall, the geysers Geysir and Strokkur, the Kerio volcano crater and endless magnificent landscapes. Upon our arrival in Iceland, we rented a 4x4 drive and drove this famous route ourselves instead of taking a tour.
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03 March, 2014

Appalachian Trail Record Holder Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis, overall Appalachian Trail record holder

Jennifer Pharr Davis is the Appalachian Trail overall Record holder. she hiked this nearly 2,200 miles (3,500 km) long trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. For 46 straight days, Jennifer hiked about 17 hours - averaging 47 miles (75 km) - a day. What an amazing achievement! 

Interview with Jennifer Pharr Davis

The Appalachian Trail is a nearly 2,200 miles (3,500 km) long marked trail running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine. The trail is famous for its many hikers, most of them being section hikers, hiking a section of the trail at the time.

There are however also hundreds of determined thru-hikers every year attempting to complete the trail in one trek. The majority of the thru-hikers that succeed take 4 to 6 months to complete the trail.

Jennifer Pharr Davis hiked the complete Appalachian Trail 3 times. She became an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker in 2005, set the Woman’s Appalachian Trail record in 2008 (57 days - 8 hours or about 38 miles/61 km a day) and set the overall Trail Record (46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes or about 47 miles/75 km a day) in 2011. She was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year after this impressive achievement.

For decades, men held the Appalachian Trail record and for the last 2 decades mainly male ultra runners held the record. So Jennifer Pharr Davis amazed the world with her 2011 overall Appalachian Trail record, as not only is she a woman but also a hiker instead of a runner. Since then, several people tried to break her record but no one has succeeded up till today. 

When did you start long-distance hiking?
When I was a kid, my parents took my brothers and me often on day hikes. I also did a few school backpacking trips but only became a real long-distance hiker after college when I decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. This was in 2005; I was 21 years old and ready for some adventure before settling down.

How did your first Appalachian Trail thru-hike change your life?
I hiked the trail by myself this first time in 2005, it were the hardest 5 months of my life. I did not know much about long-distance backpacking at that time and experienced for the first time in my life real hunger and thirst, real pain, and freezing nights. Despite all this, it made me feel more alive than I ever did. The longer I was on the trail the more I realized that I could do a lot more than I once thought was possible. I also got to really know myself during the trail; I started the trail as the naïve Jen but came back as the confident, experienced and self-reliant Odyssa, my trail name. 

What did you do after your first thru-hike?
I got a great job working in a museum and my boss allowed me to take off in the summers to hike. I also wrote a book about my 5 months on the trail, Becoming Odyssa.  I did the Kilimanjaro summit trek in 2006 and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2007. In 2008, it became very clear to me that my passion was hiking and that I wanted to do something with that full time, so I started my own company, Blue Ridge Hiking Company.  2008 was also the year I got married to my lovely husband Brew and the year I set the Woman’s Appalachian Trail record.

What made you want to try for the overall Appalachian Trail record in 2011?
Before starting a family with my husband, I wanted to express my love to this trail by trying this exciting and demanding challenge. I wanted to pour everything I had out on the trail and the only reason I could do it is cause my wonderful husband was willing to support me along the way.

In addition the Appalachian Mountains are home to me, there’s comfort when I’m hiking around in these mountains. I want to have a lifelong relationship with this trail, therefore I want to do it again one day with my kids and once again when Brew and I retire.

What was your lowest point on the trail?
There was a moment when I actually quit. I contracted horrible shin splits and had hypothermia. The pain was unbearable, I felt like this was it … no more. My fantastic husband talked me passed it and only a few miles further I already started to feel a bit better. I never thought about quitting again.

What were the highlights?
I love wildlife, so each time I encountered wildlife was a highlight for me.  In total I saw 36 black bears!

How did a typical day on the trail looked like?
I was every day – for 46 straight days – on the trail and hiked for 16 or 17 hours straight averaging 47 miles/75 km a day and forced myself to consume 6,000 calories a day. I slept on the trail for about 6 hours a night to save time. My husband Brew was always there to encourage and support me; I couldn’t have done it without him!

How did setting the overall Appalachian Trail record change your life?
Well, it didn’t really change my external environment. My friends, job, and back account are all about the same as they were before the hike. But the record definitely changed me. In short, it made me fall more in love with my husband, and the wilderness. It deepened my faith and made me even more grateful for the many wonderful people in my life. And hiking so quickly for so long, makes it much more fun to now hike slow with my 15-month old daughter.

What’s next?
Well, I have a new book, Called Again that is about the record hike. We are traveling and promoting the new book, and my husband and I are trying to hike in all 50 states with our daughter. We have already hiked in 36 states together. Hopefully, by the time our daughter, Charley, is two we will have hiked in every state in the United States.

Thank you very much for this inspiring interview Jennifer

Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog

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22 February, 2014

The fairytale South Coast of Iceland

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland

Most people stay around Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle area while visiting Iceland during wintertime. However Iceland's fairytale South Coast is definitely worth a visit all year round and offers many stunning sightseeing opportunities. Besides Ice hiking and Ice climbing on the Sólheimajökull glacier close to Vik, we also visited the natural wonders along Iceland's South Coast and took a day trip to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon located in the south-east.
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Holiday Nomad USD 225 Giveaway Winners

Atlas Mountains Hiking

Ok folks, it is time to announce the winners of the USD 225 Giveaway on Holiday Nomad. Many of you participated and ... I will not keep you longer in suspense ... here are the winners!
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10 February, 2014

Letters to Juliet on Valentine's Day

Juliet's House
Juliet's House Verona Italy
With Valentine's Day coming up soon, many of you are probably looking forward to a romantic getaway or a candlelight dinner with the love of your life. I wouldn't say no to that any time of the year and do not need the commercialization of Valentine's Day for that but of course every excuse is good enough to have a nice getaway or dinner :)  Anyhow all this got me thinking about all the people that are still seeking for that special one or even worse found that special love and lost it again.

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02 February, 2014

10 most Beautiful Fountains in Rome

The beautiful Trevi Fountain in Rome
Trevi Fountain in Rome. 
Rome, a city where the St. Peter's Basilica and the Colosseum - two of the most celebrated buildings in history - are lying around like pieces of furniture, never stops to enchant its visitors with magnificent sights, memorizing landscapes, friendly locals and exquisite Italian food. Its vast history, diverse culture and beautiful sculptures also play their role in making Rome one of the most seductive and romantic cities of the planet. Rome might be popular for structures and monuments that redefined architecture in the bygone eras, but some of the most exquisite artwork and craftsmanship can be witnessed in the majestic fountains which are on display all over the city. Here's a list of fountains that you simply cannot afford to miss when in Rome. 
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27 January, 2014

The Quintessential Guide to New York

New York City Central Park
New York City
New York is one of the most exciting cities on the planet. Sometimes called "The Capital of the World", a quick jaunt through the streets of Manhattan will clue you in on how the city gained this reputation. You see, New York is more than towering skyscrapers and bright lights. There's an atmosphere in this city that is unmatched anywhere else on earth. Taking a bite of the Big Apple is not just a snack; it's a feast.
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20 January, 2014

USD 225 Giveaway on Holiday Nomad

Free photo e-book Holiday Nomad
I'm very excited to announce that my second Holiday Nomad photo eBook is out. At least once a year I create a new photo e-Book for all my e-mail subscribers containing my favorite travel photos of the moment. Inspired by the talented writer Mike and his adorable golden retriever Phoenix from Past My Curfew, I decided to celebrate my 2nd photo eBook with a USD 225 Giveaway.
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12 January, 2014

Top 5 things to do in Cusco Peru

Iglesia de la Compania de Jezus Plaza de Armas in Cusco
Iglesia de la Compania de Jezus - Plaza de Armas
Travelers from all over the world meet up in Cusco - the capital of the former Inca Empire - before finding their way to Machu Picchu or other fascinating archeological sites in the Sacred Valley like the famous Inca Pisac ruins or the fort in Ollantaytambo. Also those hiking the popular Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will usually meet up first in Cusco to acclimatize as preparation for the Inca Trail. Although the Spanish destroyed most of the Inca constructions, they used the original stones to build many of their churches thus giving this Colonial town a substantial amount of Inca flavor. The city - often referred to as America's historical capital - is located at an altitude of 3,300 meters, so make sure to start your visit by drinking lots of coca tea to avoid altitude sickness. Although quite touristic, this beautiful city with its well preserved historical centre is definitely worth a visit. Here are my top 5 favorite things to do in Cusco
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05 January, 2014

Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014

Visiting the Atlas Mountains in Morocco

It's this time of the year again "another year over, a new one just begun", so wishing you all a very happy 2014! Similar to last year where I looked back at 2012 and forward to 2013, it's time to reflect on 2013 and look forward to 2014. Did I accomplish all my travel goals in 2013 and what am I planning to do in 2014?
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