Two things jumped out at me as soon as I saw this puzzle.
Firstly, the mixed-case letter strings on the far right. Several of them look like
Secondly, the all-caps letter strings in the middle. Several of them start with what look like
Looking at it a little more closely, I noticed that
So let's fill in some of those letters and see where we get:
Following on from NudgeNudge who got halfway with
This can be shortened to
Adding where we initiated
Whats inbetween and the two lower rated
this combination leads straight to a street
we keep going southwards till we know we're beat
So the answer is
Part 1: The Solved Grid
The solved grid is below:
The logic for the left side portions was relatively straightforward. There were no particularly difficult steps - just searching for the next place progress can be made, like solving a jigsaw puzzle.
A few sections had extra information that seems important:
Part 2: The Messages
The country your sister most recently visited is:
The last step:
Some final notes:
Regarding the handwritten note:
A final easter egg:
I absolutely loved this puzzle! It hit the exact blend of "curse you" and "a-ha!" moments to make for a really enjoyable time. I sincerely admire the ...
I'm guessing he's really going to
The trick is that
For my first stop, I will be flying to Vienna. Hope to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and maybe see some kangaroos as well!
My second stop is Luang Prabang. Looking forward to an in-depth experience of an African megacity!
Next up, I'm flying to the exciting Andalusia. Looking to chill out at the ...
The missing clues are
After filling the rest of the clues (and figuring out better words for 5, 6, and 9 particularly), you get
If you now fill in the mystery clues, you get
Which finally fits the somewhat surprising tags by listing
Particularly, the ones listed are
I share a border with France
I'm bigger than Belgium
I have red in my flag
I'm smaller than Poland
I'm south of Denmark
I have no cross in my flag
I have direct access to the Atlantic ocean
I have a "R" in my name
I'm not Portugal
So the lie was:
The first part of the question has already been answered correctly by @Callidus, however the second has not. To answer the second part of the question:
What is the northernmost country that borders the contiguous US to the South?
...is everyone a young male?
...are there red sticks everywhere?
...is everybody actually from a completely unrelated Canadian province?
...does everybody know how long they've been moored?
...does the voltage never vary in their huge industrial laundromats?
...are all the small mountains lent out from other places?
...is every day the Fourth of July?
Complete answer -
Letters ordered by appearance in the anecdote:
Letters ordered alphabetically by blot letter:
So...still dunno the final answer. Terrible attempts below:
For real, though:
OK, it was actually @aynber! Thanks for nudging (then shoving) me along. =)
May you never catch
Capital city that matches [A-H]+,
Although almost every capital city has at least one of those letters, let's use a poetically liberal regexp engine that allows no other letters in the name at all. That gives us the starting point of
take out the first four and then add deux cents plus;
crossing the Danube, you make your way north;
stay on that route till ...
1) Canada or Peru (the flag colours are the same, but rotated)
(If you also want to keep the dimensions of the stripes, then only Peru is accepted.)
2) Sierra Leone (same colours, horizontally symmetrical)
3) Guinea (same colours, vertically symmetrical)