16 countries across 2 continents. We’ve lost track of the amount of miles, but it’s been plenty!
During that time we have seen, stayed, experienced and thoroughly chowed down on a lot of amazing things, and some not so good things…
As always, full time travel can be stressful as well as inspiring. But with a full 365 days traversing the globe in 2015, what should you be going to find for yourself next year, and what should be wholeheartedly avoided.
There is only one way to find out…
It our Food Fun Travel best of 2015!
Countries Visited in 2015:
- Czech republic
- France (briefly!)
- Hong Kong
So it’s been our busiest year so far… Which is weird as we’d made a pact to slow travel a lot more in 2015.
Below content applies to the above 16 countries only. So you don’t need to tell us in the comments that the best food is in Italy… we already know this, we just weren’t there. But, feel free to let us know in the comments some of your own “bests” for 2015.
Town / City
If you’ve been listening to our podcast, you might have heard us mention, pretty often, how much we loved Budapest. In fact, if it wasn’t for the schengen visa running out just after we arrived, we may never have left…
It’s a real party town. Epic fun. Crazy cheap food (Think less than 4 dollars for a 2 course lunch) and beer ($1-$2 for a beer at the bar, like $2 for a 3 litre beer in the supermarket and wine for under $3 a bottle too).
You can go out and enjoy every evening. The ruin bars are some of the most incredible bars we have visited anywhere in the world. The 7th district, where we stayed most of the time, is full of genuine old architecture that didn’t get bombed during the 2nd world war, along with modern street art and murals 50 meters high.
It has a friendly, yet party, yet hipster vibe surrounded by living history and art. It’s pretty much everything we could want.
More on Budapest:
Food Fun Adventure in the Jewish Quarter
It’s pretty hard to name a “worst” town. But when it comes to going somewhere simply to get a stamp on your passport, only to discover that the miserable woman at the tourist information office will not only charge you 3 euros for 3 seconds work of stamping that fake stamp, but also miss, so half the stamp goes on top of another visa stamp… Yeah, Lichtenstein.
Most of the people were really nice, but the whole place just felt so sterile, it was hard to get comfortable.
Every year it seems to become harder to choose a top food. Almost impossible in fact. As we focus more and more on food with this blog, we have been eating some incredible delights. So, we’ve had to split it into our many top foods
Starter / Snack
3 Cheese pita bread (Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria)
How did cheesy bread beat off pizza? This homemade pita with a special blend of mozzarella, yellow cheese and Bulgarian white cheese (a little like feta), deserves to beat pizza. The saltiness of the white cheese and melty creaminess of the other cheese, made for a perfect, and well loaded, pita that had us going back to the same restaurant 3 times in 5 days. Wow!
Eaten at Han Hadji Nikoli
Pan fried Octopus (Pulpo Fritto) in Seville
I’ve never tasted octopus like this. Even Megsy liked it. Instead of being chewy, it was soft on the inside yet crispy at the ends. The frying process had somehow turned this into the most succulent – not a word I’d normally use to describe octopus – of seafood dishes. Even the tomato based sauce just soaked in perfectly to elevate the flavour of the octopus.
Mercado Municipal de Triana, Unit 24/25
Calamari with baby tomatoes (Hong Kong)
The flesh was so soft and buttery, and the slightly acidic baby tomatoes just blended into the calamari as they counter-balanced each other perfectly. All of the French influenced cuisine at Alchemy in Hong Kong was very thoughtfully prepared – better than many restaurants we have visited in France itself.
Eaten at Alchemy Concept
Could this be the best burger we have every eaten? Just for comparison, it was better than the Michelin star burger we had at butcher’s block in Hong Kong in November. Home made bun, perfectly juicy beef patty, melty cheese and a choice of sauces. it just worked. It’s burger perfection.
Eaten at w35, Budapest
Salted Beef in polish Beigel (Shoreditch, London)
Even the word Beigel is spelled differently. This is nothing like the bagels you may have had elsewhere in the world. We ate this on a street corner in east London at a 24 hour Beigel store. The line is long, the weather was cold, and this perfect dough, that almost tasted like Yorkshire pudding, was rammed full of slow cooked salted beef, with mustard and pickle. Amazing.
Eaten during a tour with Walk Eat Talk Eat at Beigel Bake.
Rabbit & Clams
At a no name restaurant, with no sign, painted yellow at the front, we ate one of the most unique yet satisfying dishes of the year. A southern Portuguese classic that we saw on many menus, was Pork and clams. At this little taverna, they’d substituted rabbit for pork. Stewed in a salty tomato broth, and served with cilantro. The seafood and the slightly sweet rabbit meat played exquisitely in the mouth.
Eatent at: Yellow building next door to Bakanas Bar, Largo da Madalena, Faro, Portugal
Mango Sticky Rice – Koh Samui
Mango sticky rice is a staple dessert in Thailand. It’s always tasty, but rarely mind blowing. Until now… This version nailed it for two reasons. The rice was both gooey and crunchy at the same time. How is that even possible? And the sweet coconut milk based sauce had perfect consistency without being too sweet.
Eaten at Galanga, Koh Samui
Chicken & Veg Tagine – Marrakech
I have to say, this dish may not really be the “worst” food. It wasn’t horrible. But it was certainly the most disappointing. Years of hype about the glorious spices of Moroccan cuisine led to a sad, oily piece of overcooked chicken with masses of potato around it. Not the Marrakech food experience we’d been expecting.
It turns out, if you want good Moroccan cuisine in morocco, don’t eat out. Do a cooking class or have a custom cooked dinner at your riad.
For the best accommodation of the whole year… we are going to actually choose 2 completely different experiences. Actually, I don’t think there could be bigger polar opposites, yet we loved both.
Panviman, Chiang Mai
The Panviman resort is traditional Thai luxury, with additional western bonuses. From a jacuzzi bath on our balcony, to a breathtaking multi level infinity pool with views all through the wooded valley. Panviman is certainly the place to escape reality and just relax.
For more information or to book this resort – CLICK HERE
Retox Party Hostel, Budapest
It’s a non stop party. 24 hour drinking seems to be expected, if not required. The whole place is a ruin bar turned hostel. Everything is held together with duct tape and spray paint. The charm of the falling to pieces decor along with the outstandingly friendly staff who are on hand at all times to encourage you to have a good time (often with shots), make this one of the most enjoyable stays we had in 2015.
For more information or to book this hostel – CLICK HERE
Having spent most of 2015 in Europe, we did not encounter many shit holes at all! It was all quite pleasant. Our worst accommodation is going to a no name place in Essaouira, Morocco. This was someone’s upstairs apartment in their house. It was dusty, and the shower dribbled yellow water at you. That’s what you get for following an old lady at the bus stop back to her house.
You don’t get through 16 countries in a year without taking some pretty incredible, or uncomfortable journeys…
The Glacier Express (DIY), Switzerland
Trains wind through the mountains of Switzerland. In May, the rapidly receding ice and snow sits on mountain tops all around you as the valley below is greener than even imagination could predict. Thousands of yellow flowers sprout from various corners of the expanse of green. The definition of “countryside” was describing Switzerland. The Glacier express route runs through the south of the country, and even along one of the only UNESCO protected rail routes in the world.
Equipped with a Eurail & Interrail pass, we “DIY’d” our way through Switzerland, avoiding the expensive tourist train, with its panoramic, but fixed windows. Instead, the local train had windows that opened, allowing for much better photographic opportunities as we rumbled over mountain passes and through verdant valleys.
2 days on the back of a camel – Merzouga, Morocco
Grumpy, farting, lumbering beasts. And they don’t come fitted with stirrups! 2 days riding through the Sahara took its toll on our respective asses. Every part of every muscle ached after even just a few hours perched on these disgusting animals. They don’t even taste good. Our revenge camel burger a few days later did not make up for the pain, and did not taste to great either!
That said, the Sahara has some other benefits, more on that later…
Listen to our full camel experience here
Two wines – Bulgaria & Bratislava
We are known to enjoy the odd wine now and then. Which makes it hard to choose a best drink of 2015. But two particular wines stood out. The Homemade Cabernet Sauvignon at Han Hadji Nikoli – yes the same restaurant that makes the 3 cheese bread mentioned above, also make their own wine and it was fruity delicious. Do not miss this restaurant if you head to Veliko Tarnovo.
Second, the Maria Theressa Coronation wine in Bratislava. This was actually given to us by Bratislava tourism – it was a promo bottle. But it was magnificent ripe and bold fruit.
A BIG Thank You to Bratislava a Tourism for giving us one of the tastiest wines we’ve had this trip. Maria Theresa knew how to choose a good drop of wine! #Bratislava #Slovakia #Europe A photo posted by Megsy & Tommo (@foodfun.travel) on
An honorary mention also goes out to the 10 year aged port at Casa do Avo near Albufeira. Not only is their 10 euro organic lunch buffet stacked with great local seafood, if you visit enough times, which we did, the owner may give you a free sample of his best port.
If you’ve been to Morocco you’ll probably know how much this sucks… Actually, it’s pretty tasty, if done right. That’s not why it sucks. It sucks because it’s not whisky! It’s a joke on foreigners. It’s actually mint tea! Talk about misleading marketing!
When we wrote up our shortlists of best stuff for 2015, we did so separately. Given how many attractions we saw in 2015, the fact that we had unanimously just written down one clear winner – the same clear winner – was a surprise. But, thinking about it, this lesser visited attraction deserves it top spot.
Peles Castle, Romania
You may have heard of Bran Castle – better known as Dracula’s castle. This isn’t that castle. Peles is much better.
The interior goes beyond all notions of decadence you’ve ever imagined before. I guess the word palatial was invented to describe this place, at least it should have been. Aside from being subject to technological advances ahead of it’s time, such as one of the first electric elevators in Europe, and a private movie theatre.
Aside from the modern conveniences, they palace is decked out with medieval stylings of suits of armour and weapons, to even an arabic room that feels like a hookah smoking room from 18th century Morocco.
The german style towers that make up the outside of the building continue the over the top attempt to make this palace every part of the world in one spot. But, it works. It’s both fascinating and overwhelming.
Swarovski Crystal World, Innsbruck
We actually really enjoyed our time in Innsbruck. The city and the mountains are a fantastic place to experience nature and a city party all in one day. A good beer scene, hearty food at a more affordable price than Vienna, and plenty of history too.
The newly opened Swarovski world however… It’s like a massive sales centre for shiny things. Bus loads of Indian tourists gladly pay 19 euros per person to be shown round this overcrowded showroom of trinkets.
This was perhaps the weirdest place we visited during our @eurail trip back in May. The newly opened Swarovski land. I wanted to go because it looked interesting – but it was the most trippy place ever. Like a strange surreal dream. Also surprisingly jammed packed with Indian tourists – but Indian ladies do looove their bling! #Austria #innsbruck #Europe #EuRail #bling #blingbling
I’m aware that most of the world loves shiny things. Harking back to some pre history, an innate need to have better bling than the tribe next door. But, Swarovski world was tacky. They’d gone too far. Maybe on a day without the flood of tourists, without being jostled side to side past quirky crystal train sets, it could have been interesting. On a crowded day, it’s our idea of hell.
Read More about the good aspects of Innsbruck – Article – Podcast.
Sunrise in the Sahara
Remember what I was saying about camels being horrid? Well, that most horrible form of transport also delivered us to one of the most breathtaking sunrises in our lives.
We NEVER get up for sunrise anymore. It’s never worth it. It’s always underwhelming. I’d rather stay in bed. But, we’d made it all the way to the Sahara, so we figured, what the hell…and this is what we were treat to!
Yes it’s certainly been an epic year – and we have had an absolute blast! We are looking forward to 2016 which so far is heading back home to Australia after almost 3 years abroad to visit friends and family, and meet a couple of nephews for the first time. Then we are hoping to visit the Philippines again – a country that we fell in love with back in 2013.
Thanks so much for all of your support this year guys we really appreciate it, and wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and New Year! Happy Travels ????
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So, Morocco saved by the Sahara!
Morocco was a very love and hate destination. Some of the most amazing and some of the worst. But, all in all, we liked it. But it’s not somewhere we would choose to live. We like pork, alcohol and cheese too much 🙂
Ahahah, I agree on pork and alcohol 😀
Wow, what an awesome year! The comments about the camels cracked us up. And we appreciate the helpful heads-up. Thanks guys! 🙂
Thanks Curtiss! Those camels were grumpy bastards 🙂