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Category Archives: Travel

Top Honeymoon Destinations

Thailand

The best time to visit Thailand is November through April, which is perfect for all those winter-wedding couples still looking for a beach escape. Stay in Phuket and enjoy romantic sunset dinners, as well as the opportunity to celebrate your new marriage with monks at a simple, private Thai ceremony.  The secluded island of Koh Mook — also known as Pearl Island — offers an authentic cultural experience and the chance to witness Thailand’s natural wonder, Morakot Cave.

Carmel, CA

If you’re a bed and breakfast type of person, you’ll love Carmel. This small coastal town in central California has breezy beaches to relax at during the day, and state of the art cuisine and wine that will satisfy any foodie or wine connoisseur. Staying in this quaint location might be a bit more expensive than cheaper international locations, but staying within the country means cheaper flights!

St. Maarten

Sint Maarten is a Havana look-alike and sits well below the price point of other Caribbean islands. You can zipline, scuba (without needing to be licensed!), take in the tropical wildlife, and hike to Pic Paradis — the most stunning view on the island. Oh, and it’s known for its mega-yachts so treat yourself and spend a day on the water in luxury.

Cook Islands

The island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands has an enjoyable climate of high 70˚/low 80˚ temperatures year round! Spend your time on land at the numerous local shops, museums, and quaint cafés around town, and even more time under water, snorkeling the underwater caves, canyons, and sunken shipwrecks.

Jamaica

With white sand beaches and cascading waterfalls, Negril — a large town in west Jamaica — is the definition of a picture-perfect honeymoon. Explore Mayfield Falls with a guide, or float down the Negril River by bamboo raft. For the more adventurous couple, cliff jumping and live music at Rick’s Cafe may be the perfect end to a day at the beach!

Florida Keys

If you’re short on time but still want a beach getaway, the Florida Keys are easily accessible and perhaps the most budget-friendly beach destination in the south. Here you’ll have a more intimate, comfortable stay in comparison to crowded resorts or high-rise hotels. Take a trip on a glass-bottomed boat, explore Molasses Reef, or even glide through the Everglades on an airboat. If you’re up for a thrill, you can even go hunt for crocodiles!

How to Stay Stylish While Traveling

Dresses

While most of my clothes are solid colors while traveling, I do have one or two colorful dresses and pairs of shoes to brighten up my outfits. For instance, this dress goes with me almost everywhere.

Shoes

Another way to spice up an outfit is by packing a colorful pair of shoes to go with solid colors. These are my favorite travel shoes and I get compliments every single time I wear them — even from men! They go with jeans, shorts, dresses — basically any  solid-colored outfit — and they have an extremely cushioned insole with amazing arch support. I found them at a surf shop in San Diego, but they sell them cheaper on Amazon!

Boots are another great item to liven up an outfit. Not all boots pack well, but I found a cute pair of knee-high boots that don’t take up too much space in my luggage. I normally end up wearing them on the plane, anyway, because they are so comfortable.

Scarves

I’m slightly addicted to buying cute scarves and have a drawer full of them at home. It can be tough to pick just one scarf to bring on a trip, so if I’m traveling somewhere cold, I might sneak two or three into my bag.

Work with Layers

Layering is the key to dressing your outfits up or down. A little black dress for that night on the town, for example, becomes a lot more appropriate for day wear when it’s topped with a shrug or sweater and worn over dark stockings. Similarly, dark jeans with a plain blouse can quickly become dressed up with a well-fitted colorful jacket or long scarf used as a shawl.

Dress Up Your Outfits with Accessories

Like with your clothing, keeping your accessories fairly simple means they will fit more easily with any outfit. Small gold or silver studs, a nice pendant, and your favorite charm bracelet or watch should cover most of your needs, whether you’re going dressy or casual. You would be surprised how easy it is to do a lot with just a few accessories!

I have a few cuff bracelets that always stay packed in my toiletries bag — so I never forget them when packing for a trip. Turquoise and silver bracelets go great with solid-colored clothing.

Consider Your Destination

Obviously if you’re going to Yakutsk, Russia, you don’t want to pack shorts and a swimsuit. Similarly, a trip to Mauritius is not the place for heavy winter coats and turtlenecks. I always joke that it’s easy for me to pack for a tropical destination — I just throw in a few sundresses and five bikinis.

Tips on How to Save For Travel

How to Save Money for Travel

1.) Create a Budget: First and foremost, create a spreadsheet in Excel — or another program — and start tracking every single purchase or payment. Do this for about a month or two to get an idea of where your money gets spent. This is a huge eye opener for some people and from here you can consciously decide how you need to change your spending habits.

2.) Selling Items: Go through your closet, garage, and boxes to find items you are no longer using. Then you can either have a garage sale or sell them online at Amazon, Ebay or Craigslist. Selling your unwanted things can boost your savings dramatically.

3.) Stop Buying: It sounds simple, but it takes a great deal of restraint; especially if you are accustomed to buying the newest gadgets or clothes. The next time you want to buy something, ask yourself if you really need it. Most likely the answer is no. When you do need to buy items, try to buy them used, and when something breaks try fixing it first.

4.) Limit Entertainment: Invite friends over instead of going out, go to places on days they are offering free admission, and look for other free things to do for entertainment. There are definitely plenty of things to do that don’t cost much money.

5.) Get the Best Interest Rate: Do some research to find a good interest bearing savings account. Also, you should never have to pay monthly fees to have an account since many banks offer free checking and savings.

6.) Automatic Transfer to Savings: Once you figure out your budget and the realistic amount that you are able to save, have your bank automatically transfer that amount to your savings every month or every two weeks and do not touch it.

7.) Save on Utilities: If you have cable, get rid of it. This can be beneficial in a couple of ways. You won’t be subjected to guilt-inducing ads and you won’t have to pay the outrageous cable bill. One thing I cannot live without is internet and there are plenty of sites to watch movies and television shows online if you have the urge.

5 best beaches in Portugal

1. Praia de Tavira, Ilha de Tavira (The Algarve)

Linked to the mainland by ferry, the superb Praia de Tavira, is located on the Ilha de Tavira, a sandbar island that stretches southwest from Tavira almost as far as Fuseta.

Strung along this are miles of soft, dune-baked sand, without a hotel in sight. The main part of the beach is dotted with umbrellas and pedalos for rent, and scattered with a handful of bar-restaurants.

In high summer this part of the beach can get very busy, but you only have to wander fifteen minutes or so to escape the crowds. Come here out of season and you’ll probably have the place to yourself.

2. Praia da Marinha and Benagil (The Algarve)

The stretch of coast between Armação de Pêra and Centianes is strung with a series of delightful cove beaches that have mostly escaped large-scale development. Of them two stand out: Praia da Marinha and Benagil. A classic cliff-backed warren of coves, the only trace of development on Praia da Marinha is the seasonal beach restaurant.

Follow the clifftop path on from here as it winds round to the next bay at Benagil, a pint-sized village with its fine beach sitting beneath high cliffs. Fishing boats can take you out to an amazing sea cave, as large as a cathedral, with a hole in its roof.

3. Nazaré (Estremadura)

Now a busy seaside resort – with all the hustle and trimmings that you’d expect with that title – the former fishing village of Nazaré has a great town beach. The main stretch is an expanse of clean sand, packed with multicoloured sunshades in summer, while further beaches spread north beyond the headland.

The water might look inviting on calm, hot days, but it’s worth bearing in mind that swimming off these exposed Atlantic beaches can be dangerous. Nazaré has a worldwide reputation among surfers seeking serious waves – this is where the world’s largest-ever wave was surfed. 

4. Foz de Minho (The Minho)

Just 2km southwest from the charming, sleepy town of Caminha, Foz de Minho – Portugal’s northernmost beach – is a hidden gem.

Located on an idyllic wooded peninsula where the broad estuary of the Rio Minho flows into the Atlantic, here a wooden boardwalk hugs the water’s edge, leading to a sheltered river beach. Wander slightly further on for five minutes through the pines, and you’ll reach a great Atlantic beach, with a little fortified islet just offshore and Spain visible opposite.

5. Praia da Figueira (The Algarve)

You’ll have to walk to get here, but it’s worth it to find this often deserted beach. The small village of Figueira, is the starting point for a rough track to Praia da Figueira, that lies below the ruins of an old fort. This is one of the least-visited beaches along this stretch of coastline, mainly due to the fact that it’s not reachable by car. The walk takes twenty to thirty minutes, with the path passing through some lovely countryside.

6 Tips to go China

1. Eat well

Outside of China, impressions of Chinese food are still often defined by the sweet, balanced flavours of Cantonese food. Dim sum and other Cantonese dishes are delicious of course, but there’s a whole world of regional cuisines to discover: the fiery spice ofSichuan and Hunan cuisine; the freshness and sour funkiness of food from Guizhou andYunnan.

Plus Hangzhou and Shanghai‘s light, refined dumplings and seafood, and the hearty quasi-Turkish kebabs and hand-pulled noodles from Xinjiang. You may want to travel for some of these dishes, but major cities will host restaurants from around the country.

2. Learn some Chinese

Chinese languages are undoubtedly intimidating, but attempting to learn a little bit of Mandarin (the most widely spoken, standardized language) will be useful. If you’re visiting for a while, consider taking a short language course.

Even quite basic Mandarin will help you get around, and people will be happy you’re making an effort. Writing down or printing out addresses in Chinese characters can make things easier.

3. Take the train

For many countries this suggestion would imply the romance of watching the countryside slide by your window. That factor still holds here, but China’s high speed rail network is notable mainly for its sheer convenience. With stations closer to city centres than airports, train journeys between major cities are a comfortable, cheaper alternative to domestic flights.

The five hours between Beijing and Shanghai compare favourably to the flight time, with considerably less stress. Furthermore, the bustling modern stations provide a glimpse of the direction the country is heading in.

4. Get away from the coast

For another side of China, travel away from the major cities near the coast. Cities and provinces further inland showcase distinct local cultures and cuisines, and often have closer ties to tradition.

In Yunnan province near the borders with Laos and Myanmar, China takes on a Southeast Asian flavour. Chengdu in Sichuan province boasts a relaxed pace of life and is a gateway to wilderness along the edge of the Himalayas. Not too far away, Chongqing is a surreal mega-city where skyscrapers hug hills on the banks of the Yangtze River.

5. Go to a show

Chinese contemporary art is firmly established internationally, so you should check out some exhibits at the source: prominent galleries include the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, the Power Station of Art in Shanghai, and OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Shenzhen.

6. Do some shopping

Sure, you can buy fake goods in China. But there’s so much more on offer. Why not pick up some quality oolong or pu’er tea? In the hutongs (alleys) around Guloudongdajie in Beijing, boutiques stock clothes from local designers and nostalgic socialist-chic homewares. Stores like Closing Ceremony in Shanghai offer an array of Chinese photo books and art magazines.

6 cool places to visit in Mexico

1. Bahía Concepción, Baja California Sur

Mexico is blessed with an abundance of gorgeous beaches but there’s something special about the otherworldly scenery of Bahía Concepción. A pristine bay off the Sea of Cortez, halfway down the Baja California peninsular, spell-binding white-sand beaches line its shores for almost 80km (50 miles), hemmed in by forests of cacti and desert-fringed mountains. As far as kayaking goes, few places in the world can match it.

2. Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí

Mexico’s most extraordinary “ghost town”, Real de Catorce is tucked away in a remote corner of the Bajío, a region once littered with booming silver mines. Since the mid-1990s, an influx of artists, artesanía vendors, wealthy Mexicans and a few foreigners have re-built the virtually abandoned colonial centre, with its narrow cobbled streets and elegantly faded mansions. Huichol pilgrims visit to harvest fresh peyote in the nearby desert.

3. The Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Known for its phenomenal railway, the isolated, beautiful region dubbed the Copper Canyon is best experienced on foot. The village of Creel high in the Sierra Tarahumara acts as a base for expeditions to remote valleys, waterfalls and Rarámuri villages, while the four-hour drive from Cerocahui to the bottom of the Barranca de Urique is mesmerizing. Here the town of Urique marks the start (or end) of the popular two-night, three-day trek to Batopilas, a sleepy village home to a ruined Jesuit mission.

4. Las Pozas de Edward James (Xilitla), San Luis Potosí

Having lived in the picturesque small town of Xilitla since 1947, English eccentric Edward James spent the 1960s and 1970s creating the jungle fantasy garden of Las Pozas, full of outlandish concrete statues and structures. James was a patron of the Surrealist movement (he was pals with Dalí and Magritte), and its influence is obvious here, with spiral staircases that curl up into the air, giant stone hands, a mosaic snake and “The House Destined To Be a Cinema”.

5. Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

With fresh seafood, gorgeous sandy beaches, the chance to swim with dolphins, a population of sea turtles and vibrant coral reefs (check out the sculptures in the Cancun Underwater Museum), the Isla Mujeres is the most enticing slice of Mexico’s “Maya Riveria”. Compared to the bigger resorts the island offers a refreshing dose of Caribbean languor, with its narrow streets lined with colourful wooden houses.

6. Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca

Oaxaca City remains one of Mexico’s most popular destinations, for good reason: it’s rich in folklore and culinary traditions, and features numerous fiestas, indigenous markets, fine local chocolate and a magnificent colonial centre. Oaxaca is also widely regarded as the artistic centre of Mexico, with several state-run and private galleries, craft and jewellery master classes and regular exhibitions.

7 famous sporting events to attend

1. The Olympic Games

Arguably the grandest of all sporting events, the Games have been held every four years (with a few notable exceptions) since 1896. Next scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, there will be a record 33 sports and 324 events. So whether you’re a die-hard fan of a particular discipline or you prefer to browse the sporting buffet, you’ll be in sports heaven. Be sure to include some time in your itinerary to discover what else Japan has to offer.

2. US Masters Tournament/British Open (Golf)

The Masters is the first of the four US Major golf tournaments to be held each year, and the only one to be held in the same location every year, namely Augusta National Golf Club in Florida. Even if you’re not a mad-keen golf fan, you’llbe wowed by the spectacularly pretty course. However, given the difficulty in actually getting your hands on a ticket to so much as a practice round, you might be better to try for the British Open, which is held at one of nine different links course in the UK each year. In 2017, the Open will be played at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, near the scenic seaside town of Southport. Given its proximity to Liverpool, you could even team it up with a visit to Anfield to see Liverpool FC in action.

3. The Championships, Wimbledon (Tennis)

This is the oldest and arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. It takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, and is the only tennis Major still to be played on outdoor grass courts. Wimbledon is more than just a tennis tournament: it’s a cultural phenomenon. Smart attire is de rigueur at Wimbledon, as is the consumption of strawberries and cream and glasses of Pimms, so get your Sunday finest on and get ready to play “spot-the-celebrity” on and off the court.

4. Monaco Grand Prix (Motor Racing)

Whether it’s the glamorous Cote d’Azur location, the long history of the event which was first held in 1929, or the sheer difficulty of the tight turns and rapid changes in elevation, this race is one of the most esteemed in the motor racing world. Because of its layout, there are plenty of vantage points around the course, especially near the harbour which is filled with the watercraft of the rich and famous. If you find yourself craving a little peace and quiet, hop on a local train to pretty Menton, just 20 minutes along the coast.

5. Royal Ascot (Horse Racing)

Located just six miles from Windsor Castle, Royal Ascot has long enjoyed a close association with the British Royal Family, making it a major event in the English social calendar. Over 300,000 people attend the racing carnival over the week each year and it’s another excuse to dress up, particularly if you manage to acquire tickets to the Royal Enclosure. Even if you’re not much of a gambler, you may like to join the fun and bet on the colour of the Queen’s hat on Ladies Day.

6. Hawaiian Triple Crown (Surfing)

Join the crowds leaving Waikiki behind and head for Oahu’s North Shore to watch the world’s best surfers take on the 50-foot+ winter swells that roll in from the North Pacific each year. The Triple Crown is actually comprised of three separate events, each for men and women, each one being held at a different, but equally legendary North Shore surf spot. For surfers it’s a chance to battle against not just the massive waves but also the best surfers in the world; for spectators, it’s a chance to sit in the sun on a beautiful Hawaiian beach and be thrilled by the bravado and skill of the surfers.

What to See in Denmark

 hen Aarhus was named joint European Capital of Culture for 2017, even seasoned travellers had to reach for an atlas. Denmark’s second city has long lived in Copenhagen’s shadow, but its cultural coronation has put a spring in its step, and increasing numbers of visitors have started succumbing to its charms.

One of which is its size. A small, compact city, with a population of just 330,000, Aarhus’s attractions are easily explored on foot or bicycle. They include: ARoS, the contemporary art museum whose rainbow-coloured roof installation can be seen from all over town; the cutting-edge architecture of the revitalised harbour area; the gobsmacking redevelopment of Godsbanen, a goods station turned cultural centre; and the medieval streets of the Latin Quarter. A bike also comes in handy for making the most of the city’s location on the Jutland peninsula. On two wheels, you’re barely 15 minutes from a forest or beach.

Despite its size and provincial mien, Aarhus is a lively place. Students comprise more than 10{05fee30d88f09f95d131a60c2a3e9278426e033ee0bbac6add5583602bf95042} of the population, making it Denmark’s youngest city. And it’s getting younger. Graduates now stick around for work rather than heading straight for Copenhagen. Another sign of the times is the “buggy park” at the new public library, which rings a tubular bell every time a baby is born in Aarhus – a metaphor, perhaps, for the city’s renaissance. Visiting families will appreciate free entrance to city museums for under-18s.

Aarhus is buzzing with new bars, cafes and restaurants – many of which showcase New Nordic cuisine, including a trio of Michelin-starred restaurants. While for visitors on tighter budgets, there’s a new street-food market in town.

WHAT TO SEE

Travel through time and terrain

The Moesgaard Museum is an essential stop, thanks to its bucolic setting in the southern suburbs and its fascinating exploration of pre-history. The museum has a magnificent collection of archaeological and ethnographic treasures and presents them in an intelligent way. An “evolutionary stairway” chronicles the origins of mankind as it sweeps visitors towards the exhibits. The highlights are Grauballe Man, the world’s best-preserved Iron Age “bog body”, and the spectacular views from the museum’s sloping grass roof.

Walk round the rainbow

ARoS has a world-class permanent collection, including works by Carsten Höller, Bill Viola and Andy Warhol. Ron Mueck’s five-metre-tall sculpture of a crouching boy is unmissable, but even more memorable is Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s Your Rainbow Panorama – the 150-metre-long circular walkway that sits like a crown above the roof. Its rainbow-coloured glass panels reward visitors with an unrivalled panorama of the city.

Relive Danish history

Equally engaging is Den Gamle By, an open-air museum that explores how Danes lived in three decades – the 1860s, the 1920s and the 1970s. The reconstructed market town, built with 75 historical houses relocated from around Denmark, is peopled by characters in period dress, including maids baking cakes and cobblers hard at work making shoes.

Get back to nature

Just uphill from Den Gamle By is the city’s Botanical Garden. The highlights of this award-winning attraction are four climate-controlled greenhouses, each devoted to a different region – including deserts and mountains. With play areas and engaging exhibits, it’s especially good for families.

7 Fantastic Romantic Places

The Seychelles

With verdant rainforest stretching down to dazzling white-sand beaches and warm azure seas, it’s no surprise that the islands of the Seychelles are such an intoxicating destination. Home to a number of intimate (and often exclusive) resorts – not least on beautiful La Digue island – this is undoubtedly a honeymooner’s paradise.

Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Constructed afresh each winter, the IceHotel is just as much an art project as it is somewhere to spend the night. Situated in Swedish Lapland, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, this is more than just an unusual place to stay (and snuggle up); it’s also an amazing spot from which to see one of the most astounding natural phenomena – the Northern Lights.

The Lake District, England

With sixteen major lakes squeezed between England’s highest mountains – and set within a mere thirty-mile area – the Lake District deserves all its hype. This is the place for long walks, picturesque villages and breathtaking scenery – and fantastic pubs in which to cosy up at the end of a day exploring.

Heidelberg, Germany

This pristine town, nestled in a wooded gorge on the River Necker, has inspired everyone from Goethe to Disraeli with the loveliness of its setting. The epitome of a German fairytale, complete with a medieval castle set on the hill and “gingerbread” houses, it’s a great spot for a relaxed few days of fine food and people-watching.

Venice, Italy

Endlessly fascinating, Venice boasts an urban landscape so rich that even the sheer number of other tourists can’t detract from its overwhelming beauty. At its most alluring in winter, when mist descends over the canals, a leisurely wander through the quieter streets at any time of year will lead you to discover the true heart of the city.

Istanbul, Turkey

With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Istanbul has been irresistible to travellers for centuries. Boasting a staggering wealth of attractions – from Byzantine churches to the minarets of its Ottoman mosques – complemented by superb food and exciting nightlife, Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beguiling cities.

Rajasthan, India

For many, Rajasthan is India at its most exotic; from the labyrinthine old walled town of Jodhpur, to the magical desert city of Jaisalmer and the waterside palaces of Udaipur, it’s not hard to see why. Evoke an old-fashioned romance with a camel-back trip across the sands, then spend the evening relaxing in a luxury tented camp, under the wide, star-filled sky.

Volcano Trekking in Panama

THE LAST HURDLE

The rain is getting worse. I’m soaking wet and can’t see anyone around me. My water and food supplies are running low and I’m starting to shiver. I’m so exhausted I can’t feel my legs, but I know I need to keep moving. How the weather could go from hot and humid to wet and cold in a matter of hours still puzzles me. The campsite where I’ll sleep tonight can’t be far now. I’m sure I’m nearly there.

FOURS DAYS TO GO

Rewind four days and here am I, on a flight to Panama with all the trekking gear you could imagine. I’m very excited and anxious – a weird, stomach-churning feeling. I’m about to climb Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano in the western Chiriquí Province; Panama’s highest point and the highest volcano in southern Central America at 3,474m (11,397ft). I’ve never done anything like it, but my biggest concern is being the only unfit person on the trip. I used to do a lot of sport when I was younger but unfortunately, over the past few years, my desk-bound job has spared me little time to keep fit.

Nevertheless, I’m about to take part in the first ‘Boquete Barú Eco Fest’ joining hundreds of trekkers from all over the world, from curious tourists and experienced walkers to local guides. The trek should take between four and 10 hours over very challenging terrain. This doesn’t bode well but I’m up for the adventure.

THE CLIMB

The views going up are good as the sky is clear. Lush greenery (and plenty of mosquitoes) surrounds me. The heat is, of course, relentless. It doesn’t take much time for everyone to separate as we’ve all got different rhythms. I grab a bamboo stick to help me walk up the boulder-strewn path. Wooden signs informing me of my progress are dotted en route: “11km a la cima”, “9km a la cima”, etc – these are a boost at first, but soon they start to taunt me.

Two hours in, the path becomes much steeper and narrower. The weather also turns misty. I need to make sure I reach the campsite before the rain starts. The trek is increasingly challenging and my energy levels start to wane. I take regular short breaks to recuperate. I meet a lot of friendly hikers along the way. Some offer to carry my bag (do I look that tired?) but I don’t want to take the easy option so I politely decline. One Panamanian family become my companions; Dores, her son and husband tell me (in English) about their life and daughter. The son is about my age and surprisingly struggles as much as me, despite being a regular football player. If anything, the parents are faster than us!

OCEAN VIEWS

That night, the temperature plummets to about 5ºC (41ºF) so I don’t sleep much. By 5am, I’m ready to summit the last kilometre in time for sunrise. I’m glad I brought a head lamp. It’s pitch black. Climbing up at night is very exciting though. As I reach the top, the sun is almost appearing on the horizon. The presence of radio masts and graffiti-covered rocks is quite unsightly but it doesn’t take away from those magnificent views – a breathtaking panorama of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, soon obscured by clouds.