Malacca, Malaysia – Bring On The Street Food!

Our first stop in Malaysia was Malacca.  Conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, the town was one of the first sultanates and had already been a center of trade for hundreds of years.  After the Portuguese the city had many other rulers including the Dutch, British, and the Japanese during  WWII .  The city is full of different architecture styles melting together the different cultures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.


The city was quiet during the day but Friday-Sunday nights everything went out for the Jonker Walk Night Market.  Everyone piled into the street for amazing food and lots of random stuff to buy.  We tasted so many things and enjoyed ourselves a lot at the market.

We made it to Malaysia!!!
Jonker Street, Malacca
Jonker Street Night Market – Malacca, Malaysia
Of course there’s karaoke!
Malacca, Malaysia
Anyone need a ride? We’re suckers for bright lights.
Malacca, Malaysia
Laksa – It’s the best!  Noddles with a fishy, coconut, lemongrass, and red pepper broth.  Usually there are some fried fish pieces and a hard boiled egg!

Malacca also had a nice river where you could take boat cruises.  It was either too hot or raining whenever we wanted to do it but we can’t do everything.

Malacca river, Malaysia
Malacca River

There were temples and churches and mosques all on the same streets, everyone living together in harmony.  I know some other people in the world who could learn a think or two from that.

Malacca, Malaysia templesMalacca, Malaysia templesMalacca, Malaysia temples

Malacca, Malaysia temples
There are always tigers and dragons guarding the temple doors.

Malacca, Malaysia

Here is a giant statue dedicated to Mr Malaysia, the pride of Malaysian bodybuilding.

Malacca, Mr Malaysia
Mr Malaysia

We really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of this city.  It felt like a small town really.  The food was fantastic and made us super excited to explore more of the country!  Stay tuned for our trip to the big city, Kuala Lumpur!!!!

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To the top of the dome!

Climbing Il Duomo di Firenze on top of Santa Maria del Fiore is a must-do in Italy!  We stuck it out through a three-hour-long line to get our chance.  The good thing about waiting in line with a group is that you can do shifts.  A couple of us would hold the place in line while a couple of us would wander off to explore the Piazza del Duomo, drink cappuccino, go to the bathroom, etc.  It was still a looooooong and slow-moving line!

The humongous and intricate Gothic cathedral was begun in 1296, and the dome was engineered by Brunelleschi.  The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You can climb the dome, climb the belltower, or visit the baptistry.  The views from the top of the dome over Florence are amazing!

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Fresco of “The Last Judgement”

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Florence is beautiful!  I can’t wait to go back someday and see more of Tuscany!

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Porto, Oporto. You’re old but still awesome.

Upon seeing Oporto (Porto in English), Portugal for the first time, we felt a little lost in time.  The streets were narrow and cobblestone and a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel looked down upon us.  The old boats once ferried barrels of wine up the Douro River from the Douro Valley to be stored in the cooler cellars of the city.  Now they existed to taxi tourists up the river to view the city and six bridges.  The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great place to get lost.

Puente Maria Pia, Designed by Gusave Eiffel.

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We walked up the river then across the top of the bridge where the view was amazing.  It was hot and sunny which was a nice change after a lot of rain in northwestern Spain (Galacia – The Tower of Hercules in A Coruña, another UNESCO site).  We loved the colorful buildings and streets, too small for most cars.  The people were extremely friendly, helping us out with our poor Portuguese.  Our method was to mix the few words we knew with Spanish and change the pronunciation.  It worked pretty well after some practice but people would still use English before we even opened our mouths.

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After getting lost for awhile in the old city, we made our way back to the river and did a tour and tasting at Sandeman Cellars, one of the more famous port producers in the world.  It’s hard to sample a lot of port because of the high alcohol content but they still give you very large pours!

A terrible picture but that’s vintage port from 1904!

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We loved Oporto and would like to return someday.  Unfortunately it rained our second day there so we were forced to take a much needed resting day.  Stay tuned for details of our adventures in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.

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The Bordeaux Adventures

After wandering through Paris for three days, we caught another Blablacar rideshare to Bordeaux, capital of one of France’s most famous wine regions!  The small city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fun university town, and a great place to depart for a wine tour to the surrounding countryside.  It also has the longest pedestrian-only street in Europe!  The surrounding streets also prohibit cars, so it’s a great place to walk around freely, stopping at any of the myriad shops and bars.

Ancient architecture with modern train
Ancient architecture with a modern train system


Basilica de Ste. Michel
Basilica de Ste. Michel

We didn’t end up forking over the cash for an official tour because we had heard there were many opportunities to taste the local offerings at the many wine bars in town.  That was true; although we couldn’t find anywhere that actually did small 1-2oz tastings, there were always many local glasses on the menus.  The first night in Bordeaux we did a blind tasting of two different reds from nearby and I guessed mine correctly- Cab Sav!  It was massive and tannic.  Zach’s merlot was also great.  The highlight though, was the best cheese board I’ve ever had in my life!  We got cream cheese, goat cheese, brie, and camembert.  “Oh la la,” indeed!  I never truly understood cheese until I went to France.  My waistline, however, is not appreciating this newfound understanding.  Oh well, Europe is not the place for diets, I keep telling myself.

Very happy Zach
Best cheese in the world
Best cheese in the world
Cheesy paradise
Cheesy paradise

On our second day in Bordeaux we wandered around a bit more, tasted some more wine, had a wine and cheese picnic, walked through a huge and beautiful park, and made some friends at Grizzly Bar, a Quebecois bar with a delicious hefeweizen on special–Edelweiss from Germany.  All in all, the town was very nice and mellow, while still having enough entertainment for two days.  Next time I’m sure we’ll explore the surrounding villages more, as we definitely got our palates excited about Bordeaux varietals!

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