13 January 2014

Our 10 Most Popular Posts

Here's the travel blogging catch-22.  Most people are looking for information about places they plan to visit.  So, millions of people search for things about Tuscany, Paris or Amsterdam's canals.  The most amazing place on earth won't receive much traffic if nobody knows about it.  The problem is, the more popular a place is, the more bloggers there are writing about it.  The chance that someone reads your post about the Acropolis? Slim.

Predicting which of our 700 (plus) posts would get read was almost impossible.  Some of the best things we wrote didn't even get read by our own parents.  Some of our silliest or worst-written bits have became enormously (and embarrassingly) popular.

Our 10 most popular posts (based on Google analytics data and Blogger.com traffic reports) are a mixed bag.  Some are good (number one, thankfully), some began their online life as throwaways (see number nine), some are just weird (number five).  Only one of these posts was specifically designed to attract traffic (number two).
Sometimes we just hit upon something. Cihangir is a hip, young Istanbul neighborhood.  It reminded us of a Turkish Williamsburg and confirmed our belief that renting an apartment is the best way to see a city.  The best neighborhoods are often the best because they don't have any hotels.  Don't get us wrong, the center of Istanbul is as gobsmacking is you'd expect and we never tired of tooling around in search of balik ekmek or The Mussel Man (who we wind up finding in Cihangir anyway).  But the best cities are great because of their ever-changing qualities, their momentum and the neighborhoods defined by the young people there at a given time. 
As bloggers, we found ourselves in a jam.  Here we were in Vatican City, two whole weeks of posting about a very, very small microstate and the pièce de résistance was off limits.  No photos in the Sistine Chapel.  Seriously?  If this were a rule decreed by the pope, the security guards would probably have worked a little harder - or at all - to enforce it.  As it turns out, a Japanese TV company owns the exclusive rights to some of the art world's most famous images because they funded its restoration. (This is after NBC turned down the deal.  Probably because they were too busy fine-tuning  Joey, the Friends spin-off).  Anyway, the whole thing was ridiculous, made only more so by the fact that everyone. was. taking. pictures.  So, we decided to half break the rules and snap some shots, too.  Just not of the ceiling.  We're sure this gets traffic because people are searching to see if photos are allowed in the Sistine Chapel.  Not that finding out is going to stop them.  
8. Georgian Food
We can vouch for the fact that it is very difficult to search for anything about Georgia, in English, without being directed to the state instead of the country.  Using the word "Georgian" helps matters a lot.  This one makes us happy because Georgian food really did feel like a revelation.  The textures and flavors were consistently surprising and delicious.  Pomegranate seeds, crushed walnuts, cilantro,  the best bread of our lives.  And then there were khinkali, the soup dumpling like concoctions pictured above.  In the tiny town of Mestia, at the time the most remote place we'd been, the only restaurant in town basically only served khinkali   We discovered, quickly, that they are so delicious you don't need anything more.
Amazingly, this is only our second most-popular Albanian post (see below!)  
Sometimes we know exactly why people are reading a specific post.  After a TED Blog writer used our photos of Tirana's painted buildings we got a sudden surge of visitors.
The story of Edi Rama (painter turned Minister of Culture turned mayor) and his brilliant idea to transform ugly communist-era cement blocks into bold, bright works of art is a great one.  It's no wonder it's garnered some attention.  We're just happy that our own piece focuses more on the story of the city today and of Malvin, a young man who served us dinner one night and was showing us around the next.  Maybe he'll stumble upon the post himself and shoot us an email.  We wonder if he ever made it to that bioengineering school in Canada.
6. Castle Hunting: Trakai Castle
Island castles are a little bit of a trend (see number 4).
We remember this castle most for the speeding ticket we got nearby.  Lithuanian police take road safety very seriously.  For the record, if you should ever find yourself stopped by an officer in Lithuania, be prepared to pay your fine in cash on the spot.  If you don't have the money, he/she will drive you to the nearest bank to withdraw the amount.  Don't be scared.  This is absolutely normal.  Well, you can still be scared.  As we were.
5. Sleeping In Soviet Style
This little Belarusian piece has always baffled us.  For almost a year it was our number two most-viewed post, second only to this, about Belarusian tractors (which now ranks about 12th).  It would make sense if people were only landing here while looking for lodging in Belarus - which is hard to find - but that didn't seem to be the case.  Inexplicably, thousands of people showed up after searching for "armenian elevator buttons."  The internet is a weird, weird place.
(Thanks to one visitor, we learned that what we thought was a very cool smoke detector was actually an even cooler single-channel radio from the Soviet age).
We were never even supposed to be there in Kizkalesi, but we were finding it a little difficult to catch a boat to northern Cyprus, and we needed a place to stay.  For a Turkish seaside town, it's a little drab.  People visit for the "floating" castle (and visit our blog for pictures of it).  We stayed in an empty hotel, run by a very nice Kurdish man who took us to the nearby Caves of Heaven and Hell and invited us to watch a televised NBA game with him in the evening. 
3. Lithuanian Food
For a long time, Lithuanian Food was the most viewed post on the blog.  It features grainy, unappealing photos of cepelinai, blyneliai and various other cheesy, gloppy dishes.  This is a poorly-lit shot of kiaulės audis, which is smoked pig's ear.  We had no idea - as we crunched cartilage on that dark night in the Žemaitija National Park - that so many people would find this stuff interesting.  Then, again, we may not have ordered the smoked pig's ear if we didn't at least hope they would.
2. Montenegro's Best Beaches
Some day soon, this will be the most read merlinandrebecca.com post.  It's been popular since day one, and it does really well around every vacation time.  Montenegro is newly independent and popular, so there isn't as much written about it as, say, Croatia.  We think that's why readers end up on our site.  This one feels a little bittersweet, though, because we created it while thinking "this will get so much traffic!"  But, hey, the hope is that then you stumble upon something like this.  The other hope is that more people will look beyond the big resorts that are threatening to destroy the coastline and find those little places that remain untouched… for now.
While it's not too surprising that 3 of our 10 most popular posts are about food, Albania sneaking in for the win is a bit of a shock.  Here's our theory:  there's simply not much information available online about Albanian food.  So, unlike a search for "Italian food," you're more likely to stumble upon us.  In fact, googling those two words right now, we're right there behind wikipedia, food.com, ask.com and pinterest (which may or may not have even existed when we published this post).  If the title had been "Frogs Legs and Lamb's Head" - as I'm sure at least one of us wanted it to be - there's no way this would be our number one.  But… hey… we learned a few traffic tips along the way.  Now, add the fact that Albania was named Lonely Planet's Top Destination for 2011 and you've got yourself a winner!


  1. Hello, what's the best way to contact you regarding publishing your images in a magazine article? There's no contact form or details on this site.

    1. Life indeed is GRACE, I'am Daan Sophia currently in California USA. I would like to share my experience with you guys on how I got a loan of $185,000.00 USD to clear my bank draft and start up a new business. It all started when i lost my home and belongings due to the bank draft I took to offset some bills and some personal needs. I became so desperate and began to seek for funds at all means. Luckily for me I heard a colleague of mine talking about this company, I got interested although i was scared of being scammed, I was compelled by my situation and had no choice than to seek advise from my friend regarding this very company and was given their contact number, getting intouch with them really made me skeptical due to my past experience with online lenders, little did i know this very Company "PROGRESSIVE LOAN INC. was a godsent to me and my family and the entire Internet World, this company has been of great help to me and some of my colleague and today am a proud owner of well organized business and responsibilities are well handled all thanks to Josef Lewis of (progressiveloan@gmail.com).. So if really you are genuinely in need of a loan either to expand or start up your own business or in any form of financial difficulty, i advise you give Mr Josef Lewis of Progressive loan the opportunity of financial upliftment in your life Email: progressiveloan@gmail.com OR WhatsApp/Text +13254005559 and not fall victim of online scam in the name of getting a loan. thanks

  2. Hi Laura, thanks for your interest. You can go ahead and email us at merlinandrebecca@gmail.com. Look forwarding to speaking with you!

  3. P.S. We've gone ahead and added a contact form to the blog. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I really enjoy reading your blog. I have found it while searching for some info on Malta but I really love reading about your experience from all around the Europe.
    One thing though, in Lithuania paying the fine in cash to the policemen is not required. I hope at least they gave you a cheque (or something indicating the sum of money they had received from you), otherwise it would have been more of a bribe than a fine (they just pocketed the money and that was it). Of course, if you are a tourist, it's always the best to just get over with it and pay the fine (and forget about it) but actually you can always pay the fine in the bank. I'd rather do so and know that the money were wired to the state than to the pocket of one policeman. Well, I hope it wasn't a big amount of money you had to pay.
    Good luck with your future trips!


      The internet today is full of SCAM ADS, mostly in comments of various sites and blogs. A large number of individuals have been victims of scam and lost a lot of money to SCAMMERS. Most of the common scam you can see are -:

      But here is a good news to everyone who has been a victim of INTERNET SCAM❗️
      You can get your money back from the scammer, and can even get more than what you lost, No Authorities will not been involve just the genius of our skill.

      WHO ARE WE⁉️
      We are PYTHONAX ! A group of skilled Hackers who have dedicated our time to helping individuals to get back thier money from INTERNET SCAMMERS. A research was carried out and an approximation of more than $3billion USD annually was said to be lost to INTERNET SCAM. This is so wrong and that’s why we have decided to help individuals get thier money.

      We use a RAT(Remote Access Trojan) to take over the SCAMMER(s) device(Phone or Computer) and take back your money by accessing their Bitcoin wallets or Bank Account. Most of this scammers use their Bitcoin to save money they get from SCAM activities. This is because Bitcoin keeps the money hidden from FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS BOARD from getting to see the money they can’t give account for.

      If you have been a Victim of INTERNET SCAM, then you should contact us via the Email below
      Email-: pythonaxservices@gmail.com

      2020 © All Right Reserved.

  5. Spot On With This Write-up, I Truly Assume This Web Site Needs Much More Consideration. I?ll Probably Be Again To Read Far More, Thanks For That Info. agen judi terpercaya

  6. Wow! This Could Be One Particular Of The Most Beneficial Blogs We Have Ever Arrive Across On This Subject. Actually Wonderful. I'm Also A Specialist In This Topic So I Can Understand Your Effort. agenify

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I really enjoy reading your blog. I have found it while searching for some info on Malta but I really love reading about your experience from all around the Europe.

    vacation trip planner


    Professional trading signals sent to your cell phone daily.

    Start following our signals NOW and make up to 270% per day.

  10. Water Hack Burns 2lb of Fat OVERNIGHT

    Well over 160 thousand women and men are hacking their diet with a easy and SECRET "liquids hack" to lose 2 lbs each night as they sleep.

    It's proven and works every time.

    You can do it yourself by following these easy steps:

    1) Take a glass and fill it half full

    2) Proceed to follow this strange hack

    you'll be 2 lbs skinnier the very next day!

  11. My name is Mrs Aisha Mohamed, am a Citizen Of Qatar.Have you been looking for a loan?Do you need an urgent personal loan or business loan?contact Dr James Eric Finance Home he help me with a loan of $42,000 some days ago after been scammed of $2,800 from a woman claiming to been a loan lender but i thank God today that i got my loan worth $42,000.Feel free to contact the company for a genuine financial service. Email:(financialserviceoffer876@gmail.com) call/whats-App Contact Number +918929509036

  12. Treks Himalaya an indoor trekking and outdoor tours operative company takes you that further way to guarantee you has a memorable trip that you have been dream is part of your choice for Trekking in Nepal with Treks Himalaya. We have 3 days to 30 days Nepal Trekking to choose but it depending of your timetable for Nepal Tour. We always respect our duty to constantly your Nepal Holiday. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway of Hiking in Nepal a memorable outing with a family or an exciting nature Trek in Nepal. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused Annapurna Base Camp Trekking where you can see spectacular view in 360 degree angle with sunrise and sunset in Annapurna Trekking region is significant to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers Annapurna Panorama Trekking that there is also a psychosomatic assurance in walking in mountains and modified as per your requirements of Nepal Travel. We have others most attractive trip region Langtang Trekking is most rewarding way to skill Nepal natural stunning view of Phaplu Everest Base Camp Trek it is significant to memorize of Tour in Nepal, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance in walking in mountains. We attempt to encourage Travel in Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come. We specialize in organize Nepal travel activities excursion such as:- Trekking, Helicopter Tour, Peak Climbing, Mountain Flight, Honeymoon Tour, Sightseeing, Rafting, Jungle Safari, Pilgrim’s Tour, Hotel Reservation, Air Ticket, Tibet and Bhutan Tour many more your vacation desire.

  13. Are you looking for a loan company capable of meeting your financial needs? We offer user friendly services that meet your business and private needs. With just an interest rate of 2% we give you access to different categories of loans, from business loans($50,000 - $100,000) to tuition loans to car loans to mortgage loans($2,000 - $20,000) even up to vacation loans.We provide you with loans when the bank fail,low/ bad credit score can apply. Contact us now and get your loan decision within five minutes and loan approval and disbursal of funds within 24 hours to any country. Email us at: smallscaleloans@gmail.com or contact us on whatsapp @ +447451229283
    stay safe, wash your hands regularly, practice social distance in public
    We care @ rutherdam coperate group

  14. https://www.uttarakhandescort.com/
    Uttarakhand Escort Service | Uttarakhand Call Girls
    Get Escort Service in Uttarakhand at low price by Miss Kajal 000000000. Our escorts agency offers luxurious and beautiful Uttarakhand female model escorts
    Uttarakhand call girls, call girls in Uttarakhand, young girls, call girl Uttarakhand, escorts in Dehradun, escort service in dehradun, dehradun call girls, dehradun escort, escort in dehradun, dehradun escort service, hariyana escorts service, dehradun independent Escorts , dehradun escorts, escort service in dehradun, dehradun escorts agency.

  15. https://pinkcityescort.com/
    We Offer the Mainly Demanding Independent Jaipur Escorts Services to High Profile - Jaipur Escorts Service 9990765904 Call Girls in Jaipur
    Hello welcome to my site, I am a Jaipur Escorts City, a High Class Jaipur Escorts meticulous date. Whether or not you require some person to run with you on any industrial enterprise treks, ends of the week away, dinner, theater, quiet night in, or no of  hours amusing and go to, I can be that one in every of a type individual, basically call me your concise sweetheart. And each considered one of my photos is of ME and 101 % assessment, no progressions. I’m 20 Years antique; degree 11 blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. I’m a  36-24-36 with wonderfully sensitive clean, tanned and molded pores and pores and skin. And I keep myself fit and can be determined in my network practice focus continuously. Also I am spotlessly ideal and take impossible idea to make certain I stay thusly, as I discover this primary even as assembly my date.
    you are feeling tired by means of way of your paintings load then you certainly have the choice to come back lower back to the Escorts in Jaipur. And Superb diploma is it definitely is one the various foremost mentioned spots for buying a charge out of pleasuring administrations. Pink city Jaipur Call Girls are continuously famous on the equal time as you are purchasing a decent cute and beautiful escort woman then Jaipur is that the tremendous vicinity anyplace you can see call Samar ladies. Or if you are a go to Jaipur or remaining in Jaipur, you just must advantage escort advantage whilst you desire to beautify your lifestyles. The escort advantage workplace or impartial escort have their profile online, in this manner you simply have to be confined to searching for and get with the right escort benefit employer. Pink City Escort are committed to furnishing you with the nice guide and moreover they regularly try to inform their client’s goals. Can clearly get baffled once you utilize VIP Escorts in Jaipur benefits similar to the best to provide you most excessive pride
    jaipur call girls,call girls in jaipur,young girls in jaipur,call girls in jaipur,escorts in jaipur,call girls in jaipur,jaipur call girl, jaipur escort service, escort in jaipur, jaipur escort service, jaipur escorts service, jaipur independent Escort, escort service provider in jaipur, escort service provider in jaipur
    Pink City Call Girls,Pink City Escort Service,Pink City Escort Service,Jaipur Escort Service,Jaipur Escort,Jodhpur Escort,Pink City Escort,Escort Service Jaipur,Call Girl In Jaipur,Jaipur Call Girl,Escort Services in Jaipur,Jaipur Call Girl,Escort in Jaipur,

  16. Check out our latest Celebrity escort service at you city. we are the only agency who gives the escort service at very cheap prices. If you also want to make your night romantic and want to enjoy with our call girls then call us now. 9636445500

  17. Hot Service Provide Lucknow Escorts Full Night Enjoy With Ruby Sexana Just Click Now
    Lucknow Escorts
    Escorts in Lucknow

  18. Pune Escorts Nina Oberoi real meeting for Relationship
    Pune Escorts
    Escorts in Pune

  19. Hi, I am Julia Rai virgin callgirl in Pune for your real entertainment. I am a 19-year-old virgin and have never had a relationship and offering to sell my virginity in the highest price.
    Pune Escorts
    Escorts in Pune

  20. FOR RECOVERY OF STOLEN BITCOIN AND RECOVERY OF LOST FUNDS FROM SCAMMER. I truly testify about Wizard Charles that indeed they are honest and truly the best to be contacted for any cyber fraud solution mostly when it comes to funds recovering cause I made a huge mistake that almost ruined my life and that of my families whereby both my credit score and funds amounted to $346,000.00 Dollars were gone simply because I wanted to invest with a broker who made me believe I can become a multimillionaire within 6 months not knowing it was just only a way out to fraud me but all thanks to. Wizard Charles You can as well hire him Hackers. Email: ( wizardcharles1@gmail.com )  WhatsApp: +971 55 274 0754

    Visit website to read more about them :  https://wizardcharlesgrouphackers.com/.n/

  21. Hey Thanks for sharing informative and useful blog over here.
    Call Girls in Jaipur

  22. Hey Thanks for sharing informative and useful blog over here.
    Call Girls in Jaipur

  23. Through www.amazon.com/mytv - how you can connect your mobile phone to Amazon Prime. Through amazon.com/mytv, you can watch your favorite TV shows, series movies. You can watch prime videos anywhere on your device. Users need to create an Amazon account if they don’t have an Amazon account and enter the Amazon my TV activation code to watch Amazon prime videos on your device.

    amazon.com/mytv | www.amazon.com/mytv