31 July 2016

Are You Ready For The Rio Olympics?

If you're one of the many people who have been eager to visit Rio de Janeiro, not only because it is a great place to visit but because you are rooting for your team in the Olympic then I am sure you have already arranged for your travel plans many moons ago and is just waiting for the time to pack your bags and go. However, if you're still stuck in making plans, don't lose hope. It's not yet too late. You can still book yourself a nice and decent accommodation and airfare and still cheer for your team.

Don't be late in planning your Rio Olympics travel though. Every minute counts as we near the opening of the Rio Olympics in August.

Here are some tips to help you get by with your travel plans:

Photo credit: australia.etbtravelnews.com


Accommodation

It's not too late. A lot of hotels and other accommodations are still providing future Olympic spectators rooms in their properties for a good rate. You can still snag good deals online, whether it's in Airbnb, Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com, Agoda.com and many more.


Airfare

Just like the accommodations, there are many options to enter Brazil for the Rio Olympics this August. If you're one of those nationalities allowed to enter the country without any visas, then you're all set, just book the flight, pay and go. However, if you belong to those who need visa, then ensure this is covered before you get your flights done.

You can check cheap airfares and make comparisons and also their availabilities by checking these sites: cheapflights.com, kayak.com, expedia.com, and the respective airline's online site.

If you've made your plans, secured your visas (for those who require) and accommodations, then you can get the non-refundable rate which is usually cheaper than the flexible dates fare. The lesser the restrictions on airfares, the slightly expensive they get.


Visas

Visa is a form of a legal pass to be able enter in a particular country People who need visa to enter a country must apply before travelling.

Most citizens of developing countries require visa to enter Brazil. You can visit their travel and immigration site to know more about their visa requirement - http://brazilimmigration.com.


Money

Travelling involves spending and you should have enough to support your day-to-day in Rio whilst enjoying the Olympics and possibly adding a tour on the side on your free days.  Brazil is not a very expensive country; however, prices may vary during the Olympic period as many people all over the world will be in Rio. Many business may capitalise on that but still, comparing to Europe, Brazil is fairly an affordable country to visit.

Photo: taken from yahoo, this is today's conversion



Safety

Brazil is a very big country. And as most countries, there are petty crimes here and there, and with the Olympics on, there are other people from other parts of the world who will also be in Brazil to enjoy the Olympics. Practise caution and common sense as you would in a regular basis. Do not wear fancy stuff that may attract attention. Avoid going home alone to your accommodation and stay clear from rowdy crowds. Avoid going alone on unfamiliar territories and venturing to the "favelas" (slum areas). Do not carry too many cash and do not use very expensive bags. Conceal your mobile phones and high-end cameras. Also, try to be back to your accommodation by night fall.


You still have time to get all your travel plans sorted before the big sporting event. Once you are done, pack your bag, take the flight, reach your destination, relax, and enjoy the whole show!





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29 July 2016

Your Ultimate Guide to Under Ground Paris

For all the beauties that Paris has to offer, the city conceals just as much as it gives, and there are many hidden gems under the cobblestones. For the adventurers out there, the catacombs, for once, can provide you with just as many frissons as you are yearning for. But for those of you who are looking for a more symbolic sort of underground, Paris also has a lot to offer. From bars to nightclubs to art squats, there is definitely more to the capital city of France than the Eiffel tower and the Champs Elysées.


Without further ado; here are a list of the underground Paris.

The catacombs



When public cemeteries and burial pits started overflowing after a series of revolutions, the State decided to transfer the bones of six million people to the ancient mines of Paris, a 300 km long (186-mile) tunnel network. Now known as the catacombs, this underground labyrinth has become somewhat of a myth, and one that, lucky you, you get to visit.

The entry to the catacombs is located right outside the metro station Denfert-Rochereau. You have to keep in mind that the line is one of the longest in Paris, so you should try to get there as early as possible. Once you get your ticket, you will go down a nineteen-meter long spiral stone staircase and dive in the depths of Paris. After going through a series of galleries where the silence is just as thick as the walls, visitors will find themselves in front of the ossuary entry, right by a hidden aqueduct. The inscription there is terse: "Stop! This is the Empire of the Dead". Among the bones of Marat and Robespierre, you will find skeletal works of art, such as a heart made of skulls and tibias. Along the way you will also find gloomy quotes from various poets and writers. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes but you will see, through these two kilometers of gallery, that many portions of it are closed to the public. For the bravest ones among you, those who love urban exploration and such, there are some secret entrances to the catacombs, notably in La petite ceinture, the abandoned railroad that circles around Paris (look up secret entryways online).

Underneath, a community of cataphiles like to explore different areas, restore old passageways, and add new alleys to the already existing maps. "Tourists", as they call it, are rarely welcome and you will probably need a guide if you want to explore a bit of the secret parts of it. There are three golden rules one should always follow in the “underworld”: "what comes down must go up", which means that cataphiles will not allow littering, « never speak of the above », as many cataphiles use secret identities and do not talk about their "regular lives" among themselves. Last but not least, the motto "never trust anyone" is supposed to remind you that the catacombs are first and foremost an adventure, one during which you will have to be careful since the police are on the lookout. If you get caught though, you do not risk more than a ticket. The main danger is getting trapped underneath. You will need to arm yourself with a map, a torch light, and some food and water.

La petite ceinture



Built 150 years ago, la petite ceinture (“the little belt”) used to be a 32 km-long railroad circling around Paris and is now one of Paris’s coolest illicit pedestrian areas. Except for three small stretches in the 12th, 15th and 16th arrondissements that are now open to the public, most of it is closed down, although fairly easy to access (search through travel blogs for unofficial entry points, most of which aren’t policed). You will need a torch for the darker sections of it (tunnels and such) and might not want to wander out there at night by yourself. However, it is a really nice walk during the day, one that will make you feel as though you were not in Paris, save for a few sections that do overlook the city. These few points that one cannot really see from within the city offer beautiful views that cannot be matched elsewhere. The thick undergrowth and the multiple graffiti offer a one-of-a-kind environment, one in which you can have a gloomy picnic with your friends.

Sewer system of Paris



If you are not afraid of rats, water, and smells, you might want to visit the sewer system of Paris, thanks to the museum dedicated to it. After going down a huge staircase, you will go through a long gallery that runs right next to the Seine. You will be surrounded by pipes and basins before arriving in the main room. There you will be explained how the whole system functions and behold the impressive work put in place for it. Fascinating exhibits also give a sense of how the sewer-maintenance equipment has changed from what it was before to what it is now, like the huge wooden balls used to clean tunnels beneath the Seine. This museum also enables you to understand some of the design of Paris as a city. The museum is open daily except on Thursday and on Friday. From May through September, hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Père Lachaise cemetery


If you want to pay yourself a spooky visit in the old historic Paris, you should definitely visit one of Paris' cemeteries, the Pere Lachaise being the most renowned one. Most graves and chapels date all the way back to the 19th century and look like tiny gothic houses. All are unique and beautifully crafted, and make up a peaceful maze. I believe that getting lost in the many paths offered and among the many trees that grow in between two sepulchers is the best way to enjoy the peculiar tranquility of the place. Despite the place's fame, you will rarely see any crowd there.

There still are, however, a few spots that are not to be missed. You'll find in the Pere Lachaise the tombs of many famous people, among which the Allan Kardec tomb, the father of spiritism, and that of Oscar Wilde smeared with red kisses. Jim Morrison's grave is also located in the cemetery, right behind a big chapel, and is protected by barriers so fans can't tarnish or violate the place. Many people have gone and go there to pay tribute to one of their favorite artists.

Many legends run around the place. It is said for example that touching the well polished part of the Victor Noir tomb will help you be more fertile. A gift from the realm of the dead to the living.


Bars

Au chat noir


Whether you are a budding poet who wants to get his words out on stage or just a slam connoisseur, Au chat noir is the place to go. Located at 76 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud in the 11th arrondissement, it offers a haven of Anglo-Saxon culture in the heart of Paris since most speakers here are Anglophones, even though the public is very diverse and any language is accepted. Despite the café’s popularity among Parisian hipsters, this underground bar has not made it out into the mainstream yet. Lucky you, you get to go and enjoy this unique atmosphere while it lasts!


Le point Ephémère


If you are looking for something more urban than cozy and would rather walk on concrete than sit in velvet sofas, you should definitely check out Le Point Ephémère. This former hardware and building supply store is located right by the canal saint martin and was turned into a 15000 feat square artistic squat in 2004. Willfully haphazard and aesthetically disordered, it is a real incubator for new talents. You can come here to look at the multiple graffitis and works of art on display, as well as to check out one of the many street art exhibits that they have. In the summer, they also offer “apero mix” from 6:30 to 9:30, which means that you get to sit on their terrace and sip a drink with your friends while also listening to a cool concert. The music played there goes from independent pop to hip-hop to techno or rock. You can have dinner there as well. The prices are usually pretty good, especially during happy hours. No need to head to Berlin for street art anymore, you can just stay in Paris!


Caves St-Sabin



These caves are known as one of the hippest Parisian clubs, coveted by many for all its secret corners and beautiful alcoves. The setting is very gothic, thanks to the multiple candles and paintings. The music helps create the ambiance as well, even though it changes pending which organization is in charge of the night. It usually ranges from classical punk gothic batcave to newer songs. There are some Taverne Médievale nights as well, set up every now and then, and during which you will be able to see knives in armor. The caves are located at 50 rue Saint Sabin in the 11th arrondissement.


Théatre de Nesle



The members of the "Crépuscule des Damnés" (the dusk of the damned) decided to create this theater/concert venue in a former private mansion located right in the heart of Paris, at 8 rue de Nestle in the 6th arrondissement. The music there is rockier than at st Sab, and you will also get to enjoy artistic performances. Look up the program!


Edemonium


This cabinet of (gloomy) curiosities is located near Hotel de Ville and is really worth a visit. Despite its small size, the shop has a lot of unique-and peculiar- things on display, from weird skulls to cthulhu's statues. Another good place to meet with like-minded people and find flyers for cool parties in bars.





About the Author


Nicolas is a city guide for Discover Walks Paris and occasionally collaborates with RebelsMarket, He’s also a student at Sciences Po and at the Sorbonne, where he is double majoring in political science and literature. He lives in the north of Paris and enjoys urban exploration and finding out about new places.

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23 July 2016

Why Budapest Should Be In Your Next European Destination List

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Europe is a great destination to visit especially for people who loves culture, rich in history and very admirable art. Aside from art, it is also full of scenic places which are perfect for great photo op for tourists like us.

Going to Europe has given a misconception to new travellers. They think Europe is expensive but honestly, some parts of Europe are really expensive while there are other countries that you can visit in a budget and one of that is Hungary.

Hungary is a country located in Central Europe and is bordered by several countries like Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Serbia. It also a part of the Schengen states so if you are planning to visit any Schengen states and have been issued a multiple entry, or you do not even need a visa in most European countries, then you may want to consider Budapest as your next destination.


Their Affordable accommodations


Point in case, I checked 3 nights stay in a very decent but low star hotel accommodation in Rome near the Termini and compared the same rate of the 3 nights' stay in one of the Accor properties in Budapest, near a metro station and within walking distance to most places of interest. Both properties are in city centre, near a train station and in walking distance to major touristic spots but the hotel in Budapest is still cheaper considering it is a 3-star property and the one in Rome wasn't.

There are plenty of types of accommodations to choose from like apartments for families or group of travellers, a hotel, hostel or B&Bs.  And you can also book yourself to one of the many luxurious properties in the heart of Budapest and yet, the price you will pay will still be very good compared to other European countries.


Their Thermal Baths


Hungary can be very cold during winter time but their thermal bath is frequented regardless of season. Budapest is teeming with baths, including medicinal baths. The Hungarian city has plenty of natural springs and and wells that has plenty of beneficial minerals which they use for the medicinal and thermal baths. There are plenty of resorts and spa-type accommodations where you can relax and enjoy yearlong.

You may want to check out the Gellért, Széchenyi and Lukács Baths in Budapest when you visit the beautiful city.

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org



Their Affordable currency


Even if Hungary is part of Europe and a member Schengen state, it still uses its own currency - the Hungarian Forint. Forint is not a strong currency compared to the Euro. Although Euro is widely accepted, the Forint is still the currency used in Hungary.


Their Places of Interest are within reach


Budapest is a small city and most attractions can be reached on foot if you're up to it. You'll be surprised to know that there will be tourists attractions in both Buda and the Pest side. So no matter where you want to go for your accommodation, there will still be enough places to go around.


Their Night Life


Budapest is not only arts, history and culture. It is also a good place for night life. Parties abound in Budapest and you can be sure to enjoy the pub and bars around the city for a sample of their beers and night life.


Their Castle and Fortress


Photo credit: travelico.com


Budapest is like a romantic town plucked from the pages of a fairy tale book because of its splendid architecture including a castle and fortress in the heart of the city. The Buda Castle, Citadel in Gellert Hill and the Fishermen's Bastion are some of the iconic structures to visit while in Budapest. You will be in awe with their beauty and structural formation's mixture of bastions, turrets and imposing walls.



Their Caves


Yes, Budapest has intricate caves under its beautiful city. You can visit the following if you feel like walking inside one of the caves in the city, make sure you bring warm clothing and wear your hiking boots.

These are the 3 caves in Budapest: Pál-völgyi Cave, Szemlő-hegyi Cave, and the Castle Cave in Buda Castle.

Photo credit: taken from yahoo.com/credit to the owner



Their Local Food


Budapest is teeming with restaurants and food outlets. You can find areas in Budapest that are specialising in cafe and restaurant business. Sample their staples and enjoy the local cuisine.


Why Budapest? I say, why not?

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20 July 2016

The Cheapest Ways To Go Travelling



If you ask people what they wish they could do more of, a lot would say to travel more and visit more places. There's always an excuse not, but mostly it comes down to costs. But, travelling doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are a few tips and ways of travelling the world for a lot less money than you think so that those wanderlust dreams may become a reality!

Travel in Low Season and Shop Around
When booking a long or short haul flight, always be aware of the season you are travelling in. European flights are going to be much more expensive in July and August as these are their peak months. Visiting them in Spring or Autumn will still give you the warm weather, but cheaper flights and less tourists.
Check on a few comparison sites before booking as well. Even if you find a good deal straight away, it doesn't hurt to keep looking just to be sure. Some companies are cheaper if you book directly with them, but many comparison sites also offer pretty impressive deals.

Try a Home Exchange
If you own your home, a home exchange can be a great way of enjoying a virtually cost-free vacation. There are many programmes you can sign up to, where you contact the owner of a home you'd like to stay in and discuss a swap. If you're concerned about having strangers in your home, you can meet before the swap. But remember, you will be staying in their home as well, so the majority will treat your home as they would like theirs to be treated.

Work While Travelling
If you really want to explore an area and get a taste of authenticity, think about volunteering and working while you travel. Sign up to a volunteer programme and you will be able to choose from a variety of jobs. While most aren't paid, they usually provide you with accommodation and lodgings. Mixing with the locals and other travellers can be a great way of socialising and interacting with people you wouldn't normally have met.

Live in an RV
Travelling long term can often rack up costs in accommodation, but a popular way of keeping these down is by buying an RV. It works out much cheaper than paying rent and hotel bills, and gives you the flexibility to travel around wherever and whenever you want. There is maintenance and upkeep that will need to be kept on top of, such as servicing and rv roof repair, but it will still work out much more cost-effective.

Live Frugally
Above all, be careful with your money when travelling. It is possible to travel the world for as little as you want, you just need a certain level of self-control. Try not to eat out too often and avoid souvenir shops. Purchase your food and drinks from local shops, and try the own brands rather than familiar goods imported in from home.

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19 July 2016

Not Your Usual Australian Vacation

If you have wunderlust like me, you probably like to see the more unusual side of the places you visit. If you are thinking of going to Australia anytime soon, make sure you get to see the many weird and wonderful things that this amazing country has to offer with my guide below.


Don't forget Tasmania


Poor old Tasmania, it often gets left off of tourist merchandise because it's not part of the Australian mainland! But is is an Island state of Australia and just a short trip from the southern coast. Tasmania's is worth visiting for a number of reasons. Firstly you should check out Sheffield. It's used to be a town on the verge of extinction, but the locals got creative by creating their own tourist attraction to reinvigorate the place. What they did was to paint lots of murals on the size of the houses, making the town a living artwork.  Then there is Hobart, Tasmania's capital city. It is the oldest city in Australia apart from Sydney itself, and its a great mix of history and beach. Check out Battery Point, where you can get a ‘back in time’ experience surrounded by all the Victorian architecture.


Cattle Stations


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Another unusual thing to do while you are in Australia is to visit the cattle stations on the Kimberley, in the North Western Territories. Some of them are so large that they use helicopters to drive the cattle! You can stay on a ranch and get an authentic taste of what life is like out there, as well as explore the amazing scenery and wilderness. Whether you fancy camping out under the stars or a luxury lodge is more your style, you can find some more information about station stays Australia on the internet.


Broome


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Another place to check out while you are in North Western Australia is Broome. A town with a fascinating history of pearl farming, there are a few thing that you don't want to miss here. Visit the traditional Japanese Cemetery, a leftover of the early pearl trade. Or check out the Staircase to the Moon, an interesting natural phenomenon. It's where the tide goes out under a full moon, and there seem to be steps in the sea leading up to it. The residents of Broome have realized that this is a pull for tourists and now run and craft and food market on staircase nights.


Pink Stuff


If you want to see some unusual, crazy stuff, then you just can't miss the Pink Lake.  Located in the South West, Lake Hillier is a pink lake. No one knows why the lake is pink for certain, but seen from the air, it's a crazy bold pink color. When you get up to the lake, of course, the water is transparent, but it's still pink! Not to be missed!


Then pop along to New South Wales to see the pink slugs! That right they have bright pink invertebrate there. Mount Kaputar is a 10x10 km square section of rainforest that is home to species found nowhere else in the world.






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15 July 2016

Winter Trip Suggestions for 2016 for Middle Easterners



It may be too soon to think of winter. With the sweltering heat here in the Middle East, it can't be helped but dream of vacationing to a far away land where there is snow and coldness. Well, the snow can be optional but the coldness is not.

The temperature here in the Middle East can be unrelenting and the best way to get your mind of it is either to go on a trip and stay out of the extreme summer heat or plan your upcoming winter travel so there is something to look forward to. Besides, planning early can provide savings as online travel providers and accommodations offer savings and deals for early bookers. So, take advantage of that.

Here are some best winter destinations that I think will be perfect for the budget savvy travellers. These countries have affordable accommodations and lots of winter activities to offer to their guests too. Check them out:

Southern California

Winter is not as harsh as the other counterpart states in the East in this sunny state of California. Los Angeles and San Diego will be best bet to visit this winter for people in the Middle East. Comparing the winter of the Middle East to that of Southern California, it can still be bearable.

Some major hotel chains and tour operators offer great savings for tourism during fall to winter as tourism is not at its peak during these time. 


Lebanon

There are numerous affordable ski resorts in Lebanon and you don't have to go far.  The ski resorts in Lebanon are moderately priced compared to their counterparts in Europe and in the US. So, if your adrenalin is pumping and you need a high, take an adventure to Lebanon's numerous ski resorts and traverse their snow-covered slopes. You have to know how to ski though for safety!


Germany

If you have extra to spare for your winter travel budget, then head on to Germany and visit many of their Christmas Markets in many cities all over the country. Visiting any of the Christmas markets around Germany is in one of my bucket list. I have yet to visit one though. So, if you plan to head on to a nice cold, wintry spiel for your travel experience, then Germany will be a good place to start with.

The Christmas markets open around November up to the first week of January.  Many famous cities in Germany is converted into a small winter wonderland that seem to come out straight from the fairy tale book. Enjoy the holiday spirit, local treats and the warm spirit around.


Budapest, Hungary

(photo credit: unsplash.com)


Want to soak in the local festivities around Budapest during winter time? How about ice skates around the ice rink in the town centre? Maybe fill up your gastronomic experience with tasty treats while visiting the markets.

Hotels and tours are a bit affordable in this beautiful, neoclassical country compared to the other countries in Europe. They still use their local currency which if the Hungarian Forint. They accept Euro and other currencies too which you can exchange upon arrival.


Lisbon, Portugal

Another great destination to visit in Europe during winter is Lisbon. It is cheaper in this place compared to its flashier counterparts.

The temperature during winter, compared to the other European countries, does not go very low. On average, it is around 8ºC (low) and a high of 15ºC.


Well, these are some of the winter destinations that may bid well for Middle Easterners who are not very fancy of the harsh, wintry snow. These destinations have moderate to cold winters and that depends on your preference if you feel like braving the snow and escaping the still hot winter months of the Middle East.

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Planning A Group Trip To Florida With All Your Nearest & Dearest

I am a big travel lover, my family and I love to travel. Whenever we can, we like to hop on a plane and jet off to somewhere new. Recently, a friend of mine mentioned how her, her partner and children, and all of their extended family were planning a big group trip. This got me thinking about how I would go about planning a big family trip and where I would opt to go.

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While I’m not planning a big trip right now, I thought I would share with you how I would go about doing so, with my location of choice being Florida. The reason for this being it’s warm, has lots to see and do, and most importantly, is family-friendly. So, what is the best way to go about planning a big family trip to Florida or another location of your choice?

Get an idea of numbers

The first step is to find out who would like to come along. The best way to do this is by sending out a group email with a proposed date and period that the trip would last for. Ask everyone to let you know what they think, as well as what their budget would be for the trip.

This will then allow you to start planning while ensuring that it’s affordable for everyone. Email everyone back with an amount that you think the trip will cost, ask them to confirm if that’s okay so that you can start getting organized.

Think about how you’ll get there

Once you know who is coming along, the next step is to think about how you’ll get there. As well as how you’ll get around once you’re there.

If you all live in one area, a good option could be to charter a bus so that you can all travel together. While you could fly, renting a bus will be much cheaper. Plus, you can then use the bus to get around once you arrive in Florida, making transport easier while you’re there. If you like the idea of using a bus, you can rent one here.

However, if you all live in different states or areas, it might be best to all make your own way there. Perhaps for yourself and the others living near you, you could hire a minibus? Or maybe, flying would work out cheaper and easier?

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Be smart about accommodation

When it comes to where you stay, there are lots of options to consider. From hotels to budget guesthouses, it all depends on yours’ and your group’s budget. If there’s a lot of you, the cheapest option is probably to rent a house or villa for your trip. This won’t only be cheaper, but also easier, as you’ll all be staying in one place.

If you don’t plan on staying in the same place for the duration of your trip, make sure to book the amount of accommodation that you need. So that when you arrive in each place, your accommodation is already sorted.

Create an itinerary beforehand

To prevent arguments from occurring about what you’re doing each day, it’s best to put together an itinerary beforehand. Research all of Florida’s best sights and attractions, as well as where they are located. And then put together an itinerary based on what everyone wants to see and do. From theme parks and studio tours to beaches and sports activities, Florida has a lot to offer. It’s just a case of working out what you and your group will enjoy and can afford.

So there you have it, how to plan an amazing group trip to Florida.

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13 July 2016

Planning A Staycation? The Best Places To Pitch Your Tent In The US

When you live in a country as vast and diverse as the US, it’s a shame to jump on a plane every time the opportunity arises. Often, you’ll find the most incredible vacation spots right on your doorstep. If you’re planning a staycation this summer, camping is a fantastic idea. Here are some of the best places to enjoy an all-American outdoor adventure.


Grand Canyon National Park

It seems implausible to start anywhere else but the Grand Canyon. This stunning natural wonder attracts visitors from all corners of the world, and it’s no surprise. You’ll get great views whenever you visit, but camping on-site enables you to beat the crowds at sunrise. The North Rim is the best spot to pitch a tent or park your RV. Don’t forget your camera and some warm layers.



Crater Lake, Oregon

If you’re searching for peace and tranquility, head to Oregon’s famous Crater Lake. Spend your days taking in the views and watching the gentle rippling of the water. Go fishing, grab your walking boots and set off a hike, or climb aboard your bike. On a sunny day, you can appreciate the clarity of the bright blue water. The sunsets are also spectacular. If you’re staying for a few days, this is also a great base to explore Wizard Island.



Assateague Island

Do you fancy being marooned on the sandy shores of a peaceful island for a few days? If you’re looking to escape it all, Assateague Island in the place to be. You’ll have wild horses for company, and you can sleep beneath the stars and enjoy your own island adventure. If you’re braving the elements in a tent, make sure you’ve got the right kit. Check out Outdoor Gear Boss to stock up on essentials before you set off.




Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend is a vast national park surrounded by the domineering peaks of the Chisos Mountains. This is the site to choose if you’re interested in stargazing and astronomy. The clear, dark skies make this one of the US’ most noteworthy stargazing spots. By day, you can hike, cycle and climb. In the summer months, the mercury soars, so take plenty of water with you and shelter from the midday sun.




Zion, Utah

If geographical features are your bag, look no further than Zion. This stunning national park is straight out of a glossy coffee table book or a geography textbook. Think emerald lakes, crystal-clear waterfalls, and vivid red cliffs. There’s also a hanging garden and some incredibly impressive canyons. This is the place to hone your photography skills and capture moments that will stay with you forever.




When you’re planning vacations, you may automatically think about sun, sea, and sand. But there are so many different options when it comes to taking time out. Why not switch things up this year and organize a staycation? Explore, discover and enjoy new experiences. Take advantage of the breathtaking scenery on your doorstep, and enjoy the freedom of sleeping under starry skies. An unforgettable adventure awaits!



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11 July 2016

Back To Homebase...Back To Reality

And my vacation leave went so fast and it's over! Why does enjoyable, family time always end soon? I barely felt my vacation leave and here I am, back to the grind.

My daughter just had few hours here in Dubai to freshen up and we flew to Los Angeles last July 4. We arrived there with so much time to prepare to be able to watch the fireworks. We only watched from afar so I didn't get to see all the celebration in our relatives place in Upland, California. At least, a bucket list item has been ticked - to celebrate 4th of July in the US.

The vacation was brief but fun. We went shopping, meeting friends, and I met with my Aunt who lives in Moreno Valley in Riverside. We didn't get to visit Disneyland because the hubby and daughter got sick. Besides, the temperature during noon time towards the afternoon were unrelenting and I didn't want my hubby and daughter to relapse. They needed rest, so we all took a break from walking and driving around the town.

Our last day was spent in Glendale with my hubby's cousin. We didn't go out much, just had dinner at Cheesecake Factory in The Americanas.  I liked the place. It's like a mini Europe in the middle of Glendale. It's very inviting and cozy to stroll around. But again, time was not our ally. We had to head home in few hours so a decent sleep was required.

So, we all had to go back to reality. My daughter is back in Manila for her classes and hubby and I are back to reality. Reality bites...It bites hard.


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08 July 2016

Essential Tips For Aurora Borealis Hunters

As you probably know, the Northen Lights are a beautiful natural light show in the sky that you can see in some locations in the world during the winter. It’s caused by solar flares hitting the Earth's magnetic field and getting energized. Then when they cool back down, they give off the light that you see in the sky.

But as the Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon seeing it is not guaranteed. Check out these top tips to make sure you know how to experience the aurora borealis
and maximize your chances of seeing the ‘dancing lights’.

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Regions

So the first thing you need to know if you are hunting the Aurora Borealis is that in you need to be in what they call the Auroral Oval. This is the position on the globe where the Earth's magnetic field is strongest, and so you are likely to see more of the Northern Lights. There are quite a few countries that are included in the Auroral Oval. But be aware that for many of them, you will only be able to see the Northern Lights in a particular part of the country. Usually, the furthermost Northern areas.

In Finland, Norway, Sweden you will need to be in the Arctic Lapland area to experience the Aurora Borealis. In Canada, the Arctic North is the place to see this phenomenon. Try locations like the Northwestern Territories and the Yukon.

If you choose to visit Greenland in the winter, you will be able to see the Northern Lights all over the country.

Remember that if you are travelling to these countries from Dubai, you will need a Schengen Visa. Check out my post for tips on how to apply.

Light

The next tip you need if you want to see the Northern Lights is that you will need to wait for it to be dark. You cannot see the Aurora Borealis in the sky while the sun is up. This isn't such a problem though as many of these countries get dark pretty early at around 4 pm in winter time. This gives you plenty of time to take an organized tour or just head outside to see if you can see the lights.

Many people get worried that a full moon will cause them problems in seeing the Aurora Borealis. But unless the Northen Lights are really weak, or the full moon is behind the lights, this really shouldn't be an issue.

Accommodation

A brilliant tip is to book accommodation that allows you to see the Aurora Borealis while staying warm and dry inside. You can book a glass igloo called the Aurora Dome or a see-through plastic bubble. Imagine lying in bed wrapped up warm and seeing the amazing lights dance across the sky. If you want to be outside but still like the idea of being warm, why not make sure that your accommodation has a hot tub?

Solar Maximum

Another tip that will help your chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis is to do a bit of research into the science of it. The Northern Lights are known to be most visible just before, during and just after a solar maximum.

A solar maximum is the time when the sun is most active, and more sunspots are produced, which causes more flares, which means more lights. However, new research is showing that the Northern Lights are particularly active as the solar maximum falls. This is good news for Aurora Borealis hunters as this is the current stage of the sun cycle we are in.


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02 July 2016

My Favorite Road Trip Playlist



Do you enjoy taking road trips with your family or friends? If you’re like me who loves to go on long road trips with family then perhaps you also make it a point to create your very own playlist to play while on the road. A long drive without good music to accompany it is just mere doldrums. Road trips are best enjoyed with music playing at the background to make the drive more lively and entertaining.

Creating a playlist is important when you want to enjoy a long road trip. A playlist is a group of songs that you add in a list so you can play them as a set or non-stop like a loop. Your playlist will be entirely dependent on your song choice, type of genre, and favourite singers or bands. Here is my own playlist. You’ll find it very eclectic because I follow a wide variety of genre. Most days, I compile a playlist as per genre and play them depending on my mood. However, on long road trips, I create playlist that is the embodiment of all my favourites regardless of genre. I try not to play sappy songs while driving though to prevent me from falling asleep behind the wheel. Most of my playlist collections include happy, perky, rock music to keep me awake and entertained, so are my passengers.


My eclectic road-trip playlist:

  1. Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers
  2. Shut Up and Drive by Rihanna
  3. Love Shack by The B-52s (Yes, I used to be a new waver!)
  4. Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car by Billy Ocean
  5. I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles by The Proclaimers
  6. Life Is  Highway by Tom Cochrane and the version too of Rascal Flatts
  7. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
  8. Pumped Up Kicks by Katy McAllister
  9. Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics
  10. Ho Hey by The Lumineers
  11. The Boys of Summer by Don Henley
  12. Happy by Pharrell Williams
  13. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
  14. Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns N' Roses
  15. Raise Your Glass by Pink
  16. Cake By The Ocean by DNCE 
  17. Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  18. White Walls by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  19. Good Life by One Republic
  20. Mercy by Duffy


Oh, the list goes on and on but so far, the songs above are my usual faves.


Whether it’s a car rental from companies like Turo (and who knows, your ride may come equipped with your fave tunes) or your very own, listening to your favourite tunes on a long drive is a nice way to de-stress and enjoy the task of long driving. So, what's in your playlist? Do share!
  

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01 July 2016

Travel Leave!

Yes! This travel blogger deserves a nice R & R with the family this coming 4th of July and Eid in the Middle East. The last foreign travel I did was with my daughter during our summer Euro vacation last June 2015. After that, it was just quick trips to Manila and the very eventful February 2016 trip back home that saw me crying over my mum's unexpected demise, few days after my daughter's 18th debutante dinner party for family and friends.

So yes, forgive me if I take this brief vacation very seriously because I need it badly. I need to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city life. I need to chill, unwind and see places  to recharge and hopefully, help me heal.

So, this travel blogger will be away from her fave lappy and will try her level best to avoid posting anything in-between (unless really, really necessary) from the 3rd until the 10th of July.

Tuh-tah for now! See you later fabulous people!

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How To Have Brilliant Vacations Without Having To Fly!

A lot of people have a fear of flying which is hard to overcome. You can try and beat it with therapy and by trying to make the journey comfortable as possible. But a lot of people can’t get past their fear so have to avoid getting on a flight. However, if you love traveling like me, you will want to see as much of the world as possible with your family. Here is how to have brilliant vacations, without having to get on an airplane.

Go on a road trip around the US

One way you can go traveling and have a brilliant vacation without having to fly is by going on a road trip. It’s an excellent way to see the world without having to get on a plane. You should plan a road trip in advance, so you know exactly where you will be going with your family. Book hotels to stay in so that you know where you will be stopping when you are on your travels. A road trip in the US is great as there is so much to see and do. You can find ideas for road trips around the US online that you can follow so that you get to see the most possible during your vacation. Remember to choose a car that you and your partner both don’t mind driving around in so that you can both take it in turns to do some of the driving. And remember to pack your passports and have plenty of cash just in case you go across the border.

Go on a cruise around the world

Another way you can have a brilliant vacation without having to fly is by going on a cruise around the world. Cruises are so fantastic for the whole family as there is so much you can do and see while on the ship. They have plenty of shops to look in, and the food options are great, as there are so many restaurants on board. You can all spend time by the pool while you are on the cruise ship, and there is plenty of entertainment in the evening. You also get to stop at so many different places around the world so you can still experience new things. Take a look online on sites such as Bolsover Cruise Club to find great deals on cruises for the whole family. Once you have been on one cruise, we bet you will want to go on one again.


Travel across the world by cargo ship

You can also have brilliant vacations without having to fly by traveling on a cargo ship. A lot of people would shake their head, but it’s actually nicer than you think. You have to book well in advance if you want to go as they have limited space. As this article reveals, global lines such as Canada Maritime and Bank Line allow passengers to travel on their lines for a nightly price. You will get your own guest cabins and can have access all around the ship. You often get food included in the price; it’s definitely a trip you wouldn’t forget if you do travel by cargo ship! Just remember that it will take a while to get to your destination so plan your trip well.

Go on trains across the world

Another way to have brilliant vacations is to consider traveling by rail around the world. It can be quite quick, and it’s an excellent way to see the world. Rail travel is particularly popular in Europe; a Eurorail pass is cheap and allow you to move around the whole of Europe. You can also get on trains across America and in Asia. Try and avoid commuting times so that it’s not that busy when you are on the train. If you are going to do an overnighter on a train, you should make sure to pay for the best class possible on the train, so it’s comfortable for you all. Remember to stop and explore different places on the way so you can get a break from the train. You could go with a tour group such as Great Rail Journeys. They will plan the whole trip for you across certain countries, so you get to see the most amazing sights. It’s often safer and easier than having to figure it all out yourself.

Remember that it’s not the end of the world if you can’t go on a plane on vacation. Camping and walking holidays are still just as fantastic, and will mean you get to experience new things as a family.

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