InspiringTravellers.com https://inspiringtravellers.com ...ideas from the road Fri, 29 Mar 2019 17:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 https://inspiringtravellers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/cropped-android-chrome-512x512-130x130.png InspiringTravellers.com https://inspiringtravellers.com 32 32 5 Incredible Travel Experiences for Older Couples https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-incredible-travel-experiences-for-older-couples/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-incredible-travel-experiences-for-older-couples/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2019 14:52:28 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12505 Gone are the days of lugging backpacks around everywhere, sore feet and packed communes. Now is the time to start travelling in style and luxury with your significant other. Get back to romance, while you explore some of the world’s greatest travel destinations. Here are 5 incredible travel experiences to help you relax, unwind and explore with your partner whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, just in need of a getaway or need to spend some quality time together. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway Blue Ridge Parkway is “America’s Favourite Drive”, you’re forgiven if you thought that was Route 66. This […]

The post 5 Incredible Travel Experiences for Older Couples appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Gone are the days of lugging backpacks around everywhere, sore feet and packed communes. Now is the time to start travelling in style and luxury with your significant other. Get back to romance, while you explore some of the world’s greatest travel destinations. Here are 5 incredible travel experiences to help you relax, unwind and explore with your partner whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, just in need of a getaway or need to spend some quality time together.

Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway is “America’s Favourite Drive”, you’re forgiven if you thought that was Route 66. This is the ultimate road trip to take with you partner. The 469 mile drive joins Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina. Get out your camera for some magnificent views at roadside pullover areas. For more active couples there are over 80 trails to hike along the journey. Accommodation is available throughout the route so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs and relax.

Go on a European River Cruise

Lose yourself on a European river cruise. This is the perfect way to experience much of Europe in total luxury. You’ll glide past impressive medieval castles, beautiful vineyards set on the lush riverbanks and incredible ancient wonders throughout your trip. You’ll stop and discover where many of Europe’s most celebrated cities were born whether you choose to sail from Bucharest to Budapest, The Cote D’Azur to Paris or Amsterdam to Mainz. With all onboard meals and entertainment covered and your choice of daily sightseeing, this is truly one of the best ways to explore Europe.

Dive in the Maldives

The perfect romantic getaway for couples. Find yourself in a secluded resort surrounded by lush vegetation or isolated above a lagoon. Sit back with a wine on your cozy veranda as you overlook panoramic views of the lagoon lapping the pristine white sandy beach. Beginners can learn how to snorkel in resort dive centres and instructors will advise on the best spots. For more experienced divers, there are numerous diving options available, refresher courses and escorted dives to reefs or wrecks are available.

Get Back to Romance in Paris

Of course, a list of travel destinations for couples is never complete without Paris. A trip to Paris is always an unforgettable experience whether you’ve been before or it’s your first time together. While it’d be a crime not to go up the Eiffel Tower there are other romantic activities that shouldn’t be missed in Paris. Spend the evening in Duc Des Lombards, Paris’s top jazz café, you’ll have to book in advance. A trip to Paris also isn’t complete without visiting the Palais Garnier Opera House. The décor is a spectacle on its own but you’ll discover a real treat as you admire some of the most intricate ballet choreography the world has to offer.

Photo credit: John Benwell

Go bush in the Australian Outback

For the more adventurous couples go and explore the Australian outback in the Kimberley in Western Australia. The Kimberley is one of the most sparsely populated areas on earth and as such is the kind of travel destination romantics dream of. From rare and remote rock formations that are 2 billion years old to luxury outback retreats you’ll have time to explore and get back to nature as well as relax and get back to romance. Explore the tropical forest-topped islands, towering ochre cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls and rock art galleries that scientists believe may be the oldest in the world.

The post 5 Incredible Travel Experiences for Older Couples appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-incredible-travel-experiences-for-older-couples/feed/ 1
Best places to eat in Aruba, my local dining experiences https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-places-to-eat-in-aruba/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-places-to-eat-in-aruba/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2018 14:50:48 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12403 Aruba restaurants Aruba restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and there's a perfect place to eat for everyone. You can go barefoot and have dinner with your feet in the sand somewhere on the beach one night and dress up and go for a more fine dining experience at an authentic Aruban Cunucu House the next. Food in Aruba is like its population: a melting pot of different nationalities. Aruba’s culinary offering highlights its Amerindian, Dutch and Spanish heritage, as well as more recent influences, as other nationalities have called the Caribbean island home. Foodies will love the variety on offer, […]

The post Best places to eat in Aruba, my local dining experiences appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Aruba restaurants

Aruba restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and there's a perfect place to eat for everyone. You can go barefoot and have dinner with your feet in the sand somewhere on the beach one night and dress up and go for a more fine dining experience at an authentic Aruban Cunucu House the next.

Food in Aruba is like its population: a melting pot of different nationalities.
Aruba’s culinary offering highlights its Amerindian, Dutch and Spanish heritage, as well as more recent influences, as other nationalities have called the Caribbean island home.

Foodies will love the variety on offer, from the freshest seafood and traditional fish creole to Aruban polenta, known as funchi and served with rich stews.

I was lucky enough to have a local take me to several Aruba restaurants, so scroll down this page to get an idea of the best places to eat in Aruba or just choose a style below:

LOCAL PLACES TO EAT

Zeerover Aruba

Savaneta 270, Savaneta, Aruba

One of my favorite things to do when I'm abroad is to try local food, preferably where the locals eat and Zeerovers fit this bill completely! A bit of a hike from The high rise hotels but well worth the trip, this is one of the best know Aruba seafood restaurants.

This local restaurant serves seafood right out of the ocean. The catch of the day might include wahoo, snapper, barracuda or kingfish, and when available, big shrimps. All of these can be accompanied by fries, plantains, onions in vinegar (pika), and pan bati (Aruban cornbread).

The way it works is, you go stand in line to order the amount of fish (catch of the day), shrimps and sides that you want, and then you are assigned a number. You then find a place at the tables near the water and wait until your number is up.

 

This place is also very popular with the locals, so you might need to wait a while!
But that's all worth it to enjoy great seafood and a spectacular sunset at this restaurant.

Hostaria Da’ Vittorio Ristorante Italiano

L.G. Smith Boulevard 380 | Palm Beach, Oranjestad Aruba
hostariavittorio.com

If you are looking for a great Italian restaurant I would recommend to give Hostaria Da’ Vittorio a try.

It's conveniently located in the High Rise Hotels area across from the Hyatt Regency.

They say it's the only authentic Italian Restaurant In Aruba, and I believe them 😉

Master Chef Vittorio Muscariello uses authentic Italian products, and the Linguine Dello Scoglio (linguine prepared with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, fresh cherry tomatoes, clams, mussels, squid, baby octopus and shrimps) was "Delizioso"!

Charlie's Bar and Restaurant

Bernard van de Veen Zeppenfeldstraat 56 San Nicolas, Aruba

While I haven't eaten here, we just had some beers, I still wanted to mention it here since this place is off the beaten path, away from all of the touristy areas, and a “must visit” when you come to Aruba.

If not for the beer or for the food, then certainly for the eclectic decor!

Huchada Aruba

Santa Cruz 328Santa Cruz, Aruba

This is more of a local bakery, where you can go for breakfast or a quick lunch, than a proper restaurant. They offer a great variety of really good pastries and snacks. It's THE place to try the local pastechi's, a deep-fried half-moon pastry that is filled with your choice of cheese, beef, chicken, lobster, keri-keri and more.

Gostoso

Gostoso serves a blend of both Portuguese and Aruban Cuisine, which is designed to delight even the most discriminating Palate.
I tried an Aruban Stoba (stew) and it was delicious!


ARUBA RESTAURANTS ON THE BEACH

Barefoot restaurant Aruba

L.G. Smith Boulevard 1, Oranjestad, Aruba
www.barefootaruba.com

As the name suggests, this restaurant is perfect for barefoot dining in Aruba. With sounds of the ocean caressing the beach in the background, the tropical breeze through your hair and your feet in the white sand, while enjoying great food, marvelous wines and friendly, yet professional service. Barefoot is certainly one of the places to eat at during your stay in Aruba!

MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant Aruba

JE Irausquin Boulevard 230, Palm Beach/Eagle Beach, Aruba

We stopped by Moomba Bar for lunch after our morning Kayak tour with Aruba Kayak Adventures. MooMba is right on the beach at the side of the Marriott Surf Club (Vacation Club) and so it didn't feel very 'local' to me but more like a tourist bar in a resort. The food is ok, but if you want to go for a more romantic dinner on the beach I would recommend Barefoot restaurant instead or The West Deck for a more "local" feel.

The West Deck

L.G. Smith Blvd. | At the Governors Bay Linear Park, Oranjestad, Aruba
thewestdeck.com

It’s located along the Linear Park right at the oceanfront, where you can observe the Pelicans fishing for their meals, on a large wooden deck that overlooks the water and great for both a casual lunch or dinner.

I really liked the very casual atmosphere and the food was amazing!


FINE DINING

Papiamento restaurant Aruba

Washington 61 Noord, Aruba
papiamentoaruba.com

Dinner at Papiamento Restaurant is an experience no one will ever forget. Surrounded by a lush garden, around a turquoise, sparkling pool with twinkling lights in the tree branches, the setting is magical. A beautiful place offering fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Their combined worldwide experience gives their dishes an original flavor with a touch of Caribbean in it.

Screaming Eagle Restaurant-Lounge Aruba

J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 228 | Eagle Beach, Aruba, Palm - Eagle Beach, Aruba
screaming-eagle.net

By far the best place to eat in Aruba has been Screaming Eagle! It's a trendy restaurant/lounge in South Beach:

You can eat à la carte, but we went for one of Chef Erwin Hüsken’s Seasonal Specials:

  • Carpaccio of scallops on garlic-lime mayonnaise served with tobiko, grapefruit, rucola, lemon peel and creme fraiche with caviar of Dutch herring
  • Pan fried maple leaf duck breast served with garlic mashed potato, green asparagus, and red wine-star anis sauce
  • Café glacé: 3 layers of coffee syrup, mocha mousse, whipped cream with crumble and vanilla ice cream

Delicious!

Besides the good food and the excellent wine, the interior is also pretty special. One of the reasons that people come to the screaming eagle is to fine dine in one of their lounge beds.

It's like you are a Roman emperor and get served in bed by your slaves, haha 😉

My TOP 10 Restaurants in Aruba

So what were my favorite places to eat during my stay? Here is my top 10:

  1. Screaming Eagle Restaurant-Lounge
  2. Zeerover
  3. Barefoot restaurant Aruba
  4. The West Deck
  5. Hostaria Da’ Vittorio Ristorante Italiano
  6. Papiamento restaurant Aruba
  7. Charlie's Bar and Restaurant
  8. Gostoso
  9. Huchada Aruba
  10. MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant Aruba

How can you find these restaurants in Aruba?

If you are a user of Trover (It's a really handy app which I normally use to find local photo spots, but they recently added a food filter to their search as well)  you can find all these places to eat in my "Aruba Places to Eat" list, together with other great food finds in Aruba.

Just follow the list and use the app while you are in Aruba, and you can just select the location and view it on a map!

Aruba Places To Eat - a photo list by Inspiring Travellers

And also follow my other Trover list for cool places to photograph in Aruba:

Aruba Shootspots - a photo list by Inspiring Travellers

I really hope this list inspired you to find some great places to eat around Aruba?

... ENJOY!

Feel free to pin these to Pinterest:

Aruba restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and there's a perfect place to eat for everyone. You can go barefoot and have dinner with your feet in the sand somewhere on the beach one night and dress up and go for a more fine dining experience at an authentic Aruban Cunucu House the next.
Aruba restaurants come in all shapes and sizes. I was lucky enough to have a local take me to several Aruba restaurants, so follow this link to get an idea of the best places to eat in Aruba!

The post Best places to eat in Aruba, my local dining experiences appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-places-to-eat-in-aruba/feed/ 4
5 Upcoming festivals in Italian small towns, a day-trip from Rome https://inspiringtravellers.com/festivals-in-italy/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/festivals-in-italy/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2018 16:41:26 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12391 Summer is the season when many small towns between Rome and Viterbo come alive and offer occasions to get together and celebrate the generosity of the weather and of the land. Most of the festivals coincide with what once were the days of the bacchanalia, feasts in honor of Bacchus, god of wine and of the senses and physical pleasures. The hinterland, which looked empty, tedious and silent during the winter and started waking up during spring,  is now bursting with activities, particularly before and during the festivals. The classic promise of a summer town festival in Italy entails merry […]

The post 5 Upcoming festivals in Italian small towns, a day-trip from Rome appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Summer is the season when many small towns between Rome and Viterbo come alive and offer occasions to get together and celebrate the generosity of the weather and of the land. Most of the festivals coincide with what once were the days of the bacchanalia, feasts in honor of Bacchus, god of wine and of the senses and physical pleasures. The hinterland, which looked empty, tedious and silent during the winter and started waking up during spring,  is now bursting with activities, particularly before and during the festivals. The classic promise of a summer town festival in Italy entails merry people, music, traditional foods and local products at discount prices, and of course wine, together with raffles and shows. Summer festivals in a small town away from the more popular touristic spots are the occasions where you’ll see authentic Italian traditions and the most joyful expressions of the true Italian spirit.

Would you like to learn more about the upcoming summer festivals that could become the cultural highlights of your summer trip to Rome? I’ve chosen a few of these in towns of historical and natural interest so that you’ll be able to spend an amazing day of authentic Italian revelry.

Wine Festival - Festa del Vino

Where:Vignanello

When: August 10-15

The town of Vignanello hosts a summer festival which, in spite of its name, has to do with much more than just wine. Five days of live music for all tastes on multiple stages, local food and wine (starting at 50 cents a glass) and handicraft stands. You’ll feel inspired to find out what’s happening at every stand and table, and the evening will fly by. The town of Vignanello hosts Ruspoli Castle, Castello Ruspoli, built in the XVI century by the Farnese family under the Papal States’ concession. The Farnese were extremely influential in the area between Rome and Viterbo during the Renaissance period. While exploring Vignanello during the day, visit the castle and its neighboring gardens, and if you love a walk in nature, go to Corchiano, another picturesque village roughly 10 km from the center of Vignanello. Corchiano offers the chance to hike mysterious paths called tagliata (“cuts” in Italian), excavated in the rocks by hand through enormous labor by the Falisci population which flourished as part of the Etruscan League before Rome took power in Latium over 2000 years ago.

Live music at Vignanello Wine Festival, 2017

Live music at Vignanello Wine Festival, 2017

Night of the Candles - Notte delle Candele  

Where: Vallerano

When: August 25

Beginning as the closing night of the  “Piccole Serenate Notturne, Little Nighttime Serenades Festival (featuring live music or movies from the 21st to the 23rd of August, 9:30 pm, free of charge), the Night of the Candles has become the most popular event in the town of Vallerano. On the night of August 25th, the town’s historical center will be lit by 100,000 candles and host various fairy-tale shows and exhibitions. Vallerano’s citizens arrange all the candles by themselves following the outline of the old houses´ windowsills, arches and stairs. This year’s theme is “The Deep Sea Realm”. Let the magic carry you away till midnight when the rhythm of popular music in the style of Puglia region’s pizzicata will bring you back to reality. The ticket for this night´s festival costs €5.

Vallerano was inhabited by the Etruscans and later by the Roman conquerors after a siege that took place around 300 BC. The countryside nearby is sprinkled with caves dating back to the IX-VIII centuries BC, the most impressive being the one which the locals call “Cave with Small Squares and Big Windows”, Grotta dei Quadratini e dei Finestroni.

Light effects in the old town of Vallerano, 2017

Light effects in the old town of Vallerano, 2017

Bigonzo Race - Corsa del Bigonzo

Where: Canale Monterano

When: August 25

Each summer in Canale Monterano, the Palio of Contradas, locally known also as Corsa del Bigonzo, features a historic parade with 200 participants from the 6 contradas (town districts) in medieval outfits: color guards are followed by drummers and soldiers on horseback, more musicians and eccentric characters. The climax is reached when the “bigonzo” race starts. Groups of 4 young men from each of the the 6 contradas test their coordination by running along the 135 meters of the town’s main street, carrying together the bucket (bigonzo) traditionally used to transport grapes at harvest time. The fastest team wins the race, and their contrada will be honored during the following year. When evening falls, the kitchen arranged near the main square is very busy and long tables are everywhere. Get your wine, bruschette and fettuccine, and sit and enjoy live music, tune in to the folk vibes and be grateful for being a part of this unique occasion.

If you arrive early in the day or in the afternoon, hike down from the main road of the village and explore the spectacular ruins of the ancient town of Monterano. You need 2-3 hours to walk the entire path. The ancient town was built on tuff stone (volcanic ash) by Etruscans or even more ancient civilizations, and subsequently inhabited by Romans and Lombards. It was rebuilt during the Middle Ages, when it fell under the control of different families connected to the pontifical power. Pope Clement X worked together with Gian Lorenzo Bernini to construct the church and monastery of San Bonaventura and the facade of the ducal palace with the impressive lion fountain, which you’ll be able to visit for free. The landscape as viewed from the ruins is beautiful, and perfect for a picnic.

Traditional dress parade in Canale Monterano, 2017

Traditional dress parade in Canale Monterano, 2017

Teverina Buskers International Street Art Festival

Where: Celleno (Old Town)

When:  September 14-16

As announced in its mission statement, the Teverina Buskers International Street Art Festival “promotes street arts in their various forms with the aim of transforming the quiet little town of Celleno into an out-of-the-ordinary stage where incredible performances are presented”. Taking part in this festival is a precious gift you can give to yourself and your little ones. If you’re nearby and decide to visit Celleno, the most secluded among the places I’ve collected in this post, make sure to have some money ready to put in the hats of these amazing, independent performers. The name “Celleno” has very ancient origins related to Greek mythology. The city was fortified in the Middle Ages, and you can walk around what remains of the defenses. In the evening, undisturbed by normal city noises, get some ice-cream in the tiny central square and hike up to a lookout point to gaze at the panorama at sunset.

South of Celleno, the river erosion has created a breathtaking landscape commonly known as Infernaccio, with gorges, cliffs, waterfalls and ponds of a reddish-blue color.

Performers at the International Street Art Festival in Celleno

Performers at the International Street Art Festival in Celleno, 2016

Chestnut Festival - Sagra delle Castagne

Where: Soriano nel Cimino

When: October 5-7 and 11-13

Located on the slopes of Mount Cimino (1053 meters), which gives birth to all the main rivers in the area, Soriano nel Cimino is the most populated town in the district of Viterbo. Its center offers panoramic views of the valley, which extend even further if you climb the towers in the Orsini Castle (XIII century). Mount Cimino is covered with chestnut trees, but its very top holds a forest of ancient beech trees, which is a delightful place to hike during the summer.

The Chestnut Festival happens the 1st and 2nd weekends of October, and the official signs of its opening are the medieval emblems representing the four contradas displayed on the windows of each house in town. The program is intense: the actors and performers involved start rehearsals months in advance, usually in May. Expect shows with falcons, fire, flags, historical games, markets, and of course, community banquets.

Sunset view of Soriano nel Cimino

Sunset view of Soriano nel Cimino

BIO: Annalisa grew up in a suburb of Rome, Italy. As time went by, she started seeing the place she was born in as temporary. she began travelling when she was 24. The pull towards distant places has been with her forever, sometimes in the background, but sometimes it was overflowing. Living abroad freed her mind of useless, invisible baggage and introduced her to other ways of thinking and living wiser than the ones she was accustomed to. Annalisa works as a freelance translator, a teacher of Italian language and a travel planner while blogging about destinations and communities is her passion together with meditation, hiking, and her two cats.
Her blog: http://picapicasdiary.net/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/travelingwithmagpies/

 

The post 5 Upcoming festivals in Italian small towns, a day-trip from Rome appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/festivals-in-italy/feed/ 2
Paradera Park Apartments, Aruba https://inspiringtravellers.com/paradera-park-apartments-aruba/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/paradera-park-apartments-aruba/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:22:29 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12336 REVIEW: Paradera Park Aruba On my recent visit to Aruba, I had the pleasure to stay at Paradera Park, an exclusive tropical escape set in the heart of Aruba offering tropic apartments for rent. The owners of Paradera Park apartments, Debbie and Henk, have created a quiet oasis that's perfectly located in the middle of the island , perfect to explore the rest of the island. My studio apartment, a one bedroom suite, was located on the ground floor and consisted of a bedroom with two separate beds, a living room/seating area with a coffee table and flat screen TV, open […]

The post Paradera Park Apartments, Aruba appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
REVIEW: Paradera Park Aruba

On my recent visit to Aruba, I had the pleasure to stay at Paradera Park, an exclusive tropical escape set in the heart of Aruba offering tropic apartments for rent.

The owners of Paradera Park apartments, Debbie and Henk, have created a quiet oasis that's perfectly located in the middle of the island , perfect to explore the rest of the island.

My studio apartment, a one bedroom suite, was located on the ground floor and consisted of a bedroom with two separate beds, a living room/seating area with a coffee table and flat screen TV, open kitchen, bathroom and a porch.

The room was nothing too fancy, it was simple but very functional and extremely clean.

Paradera Park offers complimentary pool towels, beach chairs and a cooler which is available throughout your stay and snorkeling gear is available for rent at the Reception.

To make your stay even more relaxing and carefree, Paradera Park provides a daily housekeeping service like you would get in a hotel, which I really appreciated! They even provided me with fruit, sandwiches, and refreshing juices for breakfast!

You can watch the video below to get a better idea of the apartments:

The bedroom

Both the Living room and the bedroom have an airconditioning unit and this is certainly useful with temperatures in Aruba being so high at times. While the airconditioning in the living room was quite loud, I'm glad that the one in the bedroom had a quiet setting and didn't bother me while I slept.

The living area

Bathroom

The bathroom is small but functional. Everything I needed, like towels and amenities, was provided.

All in all, a modern bathroom with a walk-in shower (no bath!)

Outdoor swimming pool

One of the highlights of the Paradera Park experience is the palm-edged freshwater pool, surrounded by a garden with small private corners where you can sit and enjoy a beer in the evening or relax in a hammock.

Paradera park swimming pool

The swimming pool at night

relay outside at paradera park

Paradera Park has a lot of these little spaces to relax in privacy

WIFI

Paradera Park offers a complimentary WiFi hotspot in the pool area as well as free In-Room LAN or Wi-Fi.
Except on one evening (but that was more of an issue on the entire island) the WIFI speed was good and worked perfectly.

Location

Paradera Park Apartments is located in the center of the island of Aruba. And while this could be a negative if you like to go clubbing every evening at the big resorts in town, most people that stay at Paradera Park see being away from the hustle and bustle as an advantage.

It's recommended that you only stay here when you are renting a car for the duration of your stay (The owners can help you with renting one).

There is a grocery store nearby within walking distance, and everything else is a 15-30 minute drive from the apartments.

Final Conclusion

If you like to go for hikes in Aruba or want to do more then just stay on the beach, Paradera Park Aruba is an ideal base to start your exploration of the island from.

I highly recommend Paradera Park if you want to stay off the beaten path, it provides a tropical Carribean atmosphere in a quiet and private setting where you can unwind and relax. Quality apartments in Aruba for a quiet family vacation or relaxing getaway.

Check the  latest prices for Paradera Park via www.paraderapark-aruba.com.

 

sponsored hotel stay banner

 

The post Paradera Park Apartments, Aruba appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/paradera-park-apartments-aruba/feed/ 0
Hiking in Aruba https://inspiringtravellers.com/hiking-in-aruba/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/hiking-in-aruba/#comments Tue, 06 Feb 2018 15:56:24 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12297 Hiking probably isn't the first thing you would think about if someone mentions Aruba, but hiking in Aruba is certainly one of the best ways to discover more of the hidden secrets of this beautiful island in the Carribean. One of the best options to explore the beautiful island of Aruba is going for a hike or a jog along the rugged coastline or by visiting the Arikok National park. So let me take you along some of the hikes I did when I visited Aruba last October. Hiking in Arikok National Park The best and most beautiful area to […]

The post Hiking in Aruba appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Hiking probably isn't the first thing you would think about if someone mentions Aruba, but hiking in Aruba is certainly one of the best ways to discover more of the hidden secrets of this beautiful island in the Carribean.

Hiking north coast Aruba

One of the best options to explore the beautiful island of Aruba is going for a hike or a jog along the rugged coastline or by visiting the Arikok National park. So let me take you along some of the hikes I did when I visited Aruba last October.

Hiking in Arikok National Park

The best and most beautiful area to go hiking in Aruba is inside the National Park Arikok. At Arikok National Park, a natural preserve that covers one-fifth of the island, there are 29 rugged miles of rocky trails for hiking in Aruba with three different hiking levels.

Maps with clearly marked hiking trails inside the park are available at the Visitor Center at the main entrance of the Arikok National Park in San Fuego (St Cruz).

Arikok National Park trail map

Hiking tours under guidance of a park ranger are highly recommended. You can go for a five-hour hike through jagged, rocky terrain, passing through desert brush and cacti, and unique and fascinating wildlife or opt for a one-hour educational loop.

For a unique island experience, a full moon hike with a naturalist can be arranged.

If you want to know more about the local flora and fauna you can check this fact sheet of Aruba, or do like I did and ask Stan, a local ranger, to take you on a tour around the park. This guy is a walking encyclopedia! You can see him at work in the video below:

Dos Playa

Dos Playa beach

One of the trails in Arikok National park ends in Dos Playa.

One of the highlights during my stay in Aruba was definitely the moment when I arrived at Dos Playa and I was the only one there. While most tourist probably gathered near the natural pool (see later), Dos playa was totally deserted and well worth the visit!

Dos Playa is the most important sea turtle nesting site on the island, but I guess nobody visits it when it's not the nesting season? Besides a nesting ground, it's also a beautiful cove where you can relax on the white-sandy beach and enjoy the natural beauty of the sea pounding against the rocks.

Hike to Conchi (The Natural Pool)

One of the more popular spots within the Arikok National park is the Natural Pool. Comprised of ancient lava stone, it's a natural swimming pool amidst rough seas.

Most people will probably visit the natural pool via an organized Aruba natural pool tour or ATV tour, but it's also possible to hike there.

For most parts of the national park you really need a 4x4 vehicle, but if you only want to hike to the natural pool you should be fine with a non-4x4 rental if you drive to the Shete entrance, a short drive north from the main Arikik National park visitor center on Route 7 (San Fuego entrance), where you need to buy your entrance passes (US$11,- per person.)

You can park your car at the Shete entrance and start the 30-40 minute hike to the pool from there.

Mount Jamanota hike

With 188 meters (617 Ft.), Jamanota hill is the highest point of the island of Aruba. It offers spectacular views of Aruba, and there is a drivable road to the sub-top The top is only accessible by foot and gives a panoramic view over the southern part of Aruba.

Depending on the adventure you prefer, be it a visit on a tour bus or via a jeep tour, a visit to the Arikok National park during your Aruba vacation is highly recommended!

Hiking up Hooiberg Mountain

Hooiberg Aruba

The best know "hike" in Aruba is probably the walk up the iconic Hooiberg Mountain, located near the center of Aruba. The Hooiberg - which translates to Haystack - is the 3rd highest peak on the island at 168m and from the parking lot, it's 562 steps up a concrete staircase to the top of the mountain.

While it's certainly not the most scenic hike ever (some might actually call it ugly with a bunch of cell towers at the top) but you do get to see the entire island from north to south, including the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts at the same time.

Sunrise hike along the North Coast of Aruba

The best time of day for hiking in Aruba is early morning, at sunrise!

On the North side of Aruba, it's possible to walk for hours along the rugged coastline. It's the perfect location for a morning stroll and one of my favorite hiking locations besides Arikok National Park.

The easiest way to start your hike is to park your car at the Arashi parking at Arashi beach (or take a bus there).

Arashi beach at sunrise

Arashi beach at sunrise

If you follow the beach up North, you'll eventually end up on the trail that runs all the way to the most Northern point of Aruba between the rugged sea and the white California Sand Dunes just to the north of the well known California Lighthouse.

One last thing: Be Prepared!

Before you head off to go hiking in Aruba, make sure you get there, well prepared!

In Aruba, the climate is tropical, hot all year round and you can compare it with a savanna climate: daytime temperatures hover around 29/31 degrees Celsius (84/88 °F) throughout the year, the air is muggy, but the wind tempers the heat.

Given the sun and heat on the island, make sure to protect yourself during your hike. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses and bring plenty of water with you.

The best time of day for hiking in Aruba is early morning, at sunrise. Especially beach walks or hikes alongside the North Coast are also spectacular during sunset.

 

Hiking is an excellent way to explore Aruba's wonderful nature and rugged landscape and hopefully, these hikes have inspired you to discover more of the hidden gems of Aruba, and look beyond its beautiful beaches.

 

The post Hiking in Aruba appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/hiking-in-aruba/feed/ 15
Brussels Christmas Market 2017 https://inspiringtravellers.com/christmas-market-brussels/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/christmas-market-brussels/#comments Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:13:25 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12291 From 25 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, Brussels City Centre is the place to be with the annual Brussels Christmas Market, a magical and unmissable event! If a visit to the Brussels Christmas market doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will! Every year, Brussels organises one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe. It’s probably the event that draws the most visitors to Brussels. The market gains in size every year and this year, winter villages will pop up in four areas of Brussels: Quartier des Squares, Haren, Neder-Over-Heembeek and Laeken. For one weekend in turn, four locations […]

The post Brussels Christmas Market 2017 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
From 25 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, Brussels City Centre is the place to be with the annual Brussels Christmas Market, a magical and unmissable event!

If a visit to the Brussels Christmas market doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will!

Brussels Christmas Market

Brussels Christmas Market

Every year, Brussels organises one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe. It’s probably the event that draws the most visitors to Brussels.
The market gains in size every year and this year, winter villages will pop up in four areas of Brussels: Quartier des Squares, Haren, Neder-Over-Heembeek and Laeken.

For one weekend in turn, four locations will host WINTER POP, a small but mighty popup village capturing Winter Wonders’ light-hearted atmosphere. Trailers will get the party started with numerous activities for young and old: storytelling, music, circus acts, cultural exchanges with local groups, snacks…

The City of Brussels is aiming to bring seasonal cheer to these four areas and so share the magic of Christmas with as many people as possible.

 

From 24 November to 31 December, the heart of Brussels will beat to the pace of the Winter Wonders !

From 24 November to 31 December, the heart of Brussels will beat to the pace of the Winter Wonders !

Winter Wonders, that's how the Christmas Market is officially called ( or "Winterpret" in Dutch), provides the perfect opportunity to discover Brussels from the angle of conviviality and magic. Let me take you for a magical tour around Brussels' Christmas market!

The Grand-Place

Starting point of my visit to the Brussels Christmas market was the Grand Place. Besides the impressive spruce tree in the middle of the market, the main attraction is the Seasons Sound & light show! The historical façades of the Grand-Place, which is included on the UNESCO heritage list, are lit up with LED spotlights, creating a magical light show triggered by a rhythmic soundtrack.

The Grande Place in Brussels

The Grande Place in Brussels

The historical façades of the Grand-Place

The historical façades of the Grand-Place

This definitely was one of the highlights of the Christmas Market which I tried to capture on video (I also streamed it live via Periscope) as best as I could and you can see the results in the video below.

The Bourse: Christmas Lights Video mapping Show

Most people visit the Brussels Christmas market for the great atmosphere, the lights, the chalets full of Christmas presents and, of course, the genever and gluhwein! Not a lot of people now there are also indoor shows, one of them located inside the Bourse Palace.

brussel christmas market de bourse

The Bourse: Christmas Lights

Positioned at the heart of the Winter Wonders, the Bourse is one of the main points of attraction. In collaboration with the Winter Wonders, the Tour des Site Organisation staged a magical video mapping in three languages (FR, NL, EN) evoking the history of the Bourse Palace at the heart of the
European capital. I included some fragments of the show in the video below!

While I enjoyed the 3D light show, the €10 price is perhaps a bit steep. I think a lot more people would enjoy this if they would make this part of the whole Winter Wonders experience and make it a free entrance.

The Magic Factory

Next in line was the light show on the renovated façade of the Sainte Catherine Church (the Periscope stream is included at the back of the video below). While I think this could have been a fantastic show with awesome graphics, I didn't enjoy it as mutch as the one at the Grand-Place, simply because the surrounding lights of the market square were too bright for the light show to really pop and the soundtrack was playing too soft and got overpowered by the belltower.

The Fish Market

Officially this market place is known as Place Sainte-Catherine, but most people refer to the area as it has always been used, simply as the fish market.

The Fish Market is the place to be to get an after work drink with the colleagues or shop around the hundreds of stalls for an original Christmas gift.

A drink with the colleagues

A drink with the colleagues

After some good food and and some drinks, it's time to go for a ride on the ferris wheel or if you have children they can take a ride on Andréa's merry-go-rounds, their famous hand-made characters will enchant children during a few magical moments in the atypical universe of Jules Verne.

christmas market brussels carousel

The beautiful Carousels at the Brussels Christmas Market

The Christmas Parade

And on Saturday, there was the great Christmas Parade!

The Christmas Parade

The Christmas Parade (photo credit: visitbrussels.be)

With this Christmas market, Brussels has put the recent Terror Threat on a back burner and brought back the real Christmas Spirit where people from around the world can enjoy each others company in a festive world of magic and tolerance.

Happy Christmas everyone!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends or leave a comment!

brussels christmas market grand-place
brussels christmas market ferris wheel

 

The post Brussels Christmas Market 2017 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/christmas-market-brussels/feed/ 24
My search for the best mobile wifi hotspot https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-mobile-wifi-hotspot-international-travel/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-mobile-wifi-hotspot-international-travel/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 14:45:16 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12166 A short travel story If you have traveled a lot, like me, I'm sure you can recognize yourself in the following situation: After traveling for over 24 hours, you finally arrive at the airport of your destination, 2 hours late, after your plane was delayed for several hours. You are really tired and just want to get to your hotel room and go to sleep.  However you failed to write down the name and address of the hotel you were staying at and because of the delay it's now after 1 AM in the morning, all the shops in the airport are closed […]

The post My search for the best mobile wifi hotspot appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Tep Wireless

A short travel story

If you have traveled a lot, like me, I'm sure you can recognize yourself in the following situation:

After traveling for over 24 hours, you finally arrive at the airport of your destination, 2 hours late, after your plane was delayed for several hours. You are really tired and just want to get to your hotel room and go to sleep.  However you failed to write down the name and address of the hotel you were staying at and because of the delay it's now after 1 AM in the morning, all the shops in the airport are closed and you can't get that local SIM card you were planning on buying directly after you landed!

To make matters worse, the free WIFI in the airport is non-existing and so you're stuck trying to find someone with a data connection on their phone, willing to share their connection so you can access that email with the name and address of your hotel.

One hour later, you finally arrive at your hotel and crash on the bed!

In the morning you are back up, bright and early because you still haven't got any mobile internet, so you need to find a store somewhere to get that SIM card you so desperately need! So you find a local coffee shop, not to get a coffee but so you can use their WI-FI to find a store that can help you out with that SIM card.

Before you know it, you lost half a day chasing that data connection and tell yourself: Never Again!

This is exactly what happened to me last year when I visited Iceland for the first time.

I there and then decided to be more prepared next time and make sure I had my own private hotspot that would work anytime, anywhere!

And so my search began for the most portable WiFi in Europe!

Going the MiFi Route ...

At first, I was thinking of getting my own MiFi router so I would have my own portable WIFI hotspot, separate from my phone.

MiFi is a brand name used to describe a wireless router that acts as a mobile Wi-Fi connected to a cellular network via a local SIM card that you put in the device. I actually used a MiFi device before when I was on a blogger trip in Spain and I remembered how handy it was to be connected to WIFI all the time.

However, when I was looking at all the different brands of MiFi devices, it suddenly hit me! Keeping in mind my Iceland experience, a MiFi router wouldn't be a solution since I would still lose a lot of time chasing down a SIM card evertime I would arrive in a new country!

Also, while roaming rules in Europe have changed lately, making it easier and cheaper to use your local SIM card abroad, there are still the countries outside of the European Union (like Norway and Switzerland) that still charge you exorbitantly for roaming! (As my friend found out recently after he used roaming on the ferry ride to Norway and ended up paying €120 for that privilege 😮 )

The whole process of using separate SIM cards for each country I visit just seems so ancient and above all A BIG HASSLE!

So I went looking for a better solution...

portable WiFi in Europe

using WIFI connection in the forest, Awesome!

Teppy to the rescue!

This is where my new Teppy comes in!

Teppy is a pocket-sized personal WiFi hotspot from TEP Wireless, that keeps you connected while on the road.

However, unlike most MiFi routers and modems, who require a separate SIM-card everytime you get to a new country,  the Teppy uses patented virtual SIM technology to allow seamless connectivity all over the world without the need of a separate SIM!

When you power Teppy on, it will automatically figure out what country it’s in, and choose the best network operator for you, via a bank of SIM cards it can access in the cloud.

Even better, you can simply rent the device for a fixed period and then return it as soon as you arrive back home.

Or you can just get your own, like I did!

This means you can travel the world with your smartphone, laptop, tablet etc., knowing that you can securely and reliably connect all of your devices to the internet, whenever you want.

portable WiFi in Europe

Using Teppy for Instagram Stories

Putting the Teppy to the test for the first time ...

Teppy Speedtest results

I must admit, I wasn't very impressed after my first hands-on experience with the Teppy!

After I charged the batteries I took it out with me on a walk around the provincial park "Het Vinne", close to where I live and while I could easily connect to the mobile hotspot, the connection I got was really awful! 🙁

After that bad first impression, however, I rebooted the device and after doing that everything went way smoother!

I actually got a better data connection (12 Mbps) than via my 4G-connection on my iPhone!

However it still is "only" 4G, so don't expect broadband connection speeds!

The value of convenience

The advantages of having a mobile WIFI hotspot in your pocket.

While at first, it might seem like a lot to pay for mobile data ( if you buy a Teppy it will cost you €95 for the device itself + 7€ for a day of data use) it's actually not that bad. If you need to buy a coffee at Starbucks just to use the internet for a couple of hours, you are better off with a Teppy you can use anytime, anywhere!

Also, one of the advantages of using a separate mobile hotspot is that you can share the data connection between multiple people and devices, lowering the cost per person!

But the BIG advantage of using a device like the Teppy is no more hassle of trying to find a local store that sells SIM cards! You just turn on the device ... Et voila! You're connected!

So while I'll still be using regular WIFI connections whenever possible ... with the Teppy by my side as a backup, I'm sure that I'll have an internet connection!

The post My search for the best mobile wifi hotspot appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/best-mobile-wifi-hotspot-international-travel/feed/ 0
REVIEW: CabinZero Military 44l travel backpack https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-cabinzero-military-44l-travel-backpack/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-cabinzero-military-44l-travel-backpack/#comments Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:41:17 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12168 The best Lightweight Travel Backpack? One of the more well-known brands of travel backpacks in the travel blogger community is certainly CabinZero. Most travel bloggers try to travel as lightweight as possible and a lot of them promote traveling with carryon size luggage since it saves you a lot of time at the airport and it's just more pleasant to carry a lightweight backpack compared to dragging around a large and heavy suitcase all the time. So when Cabinzero asked if I wanted to test out one of their carry-on sized travel backpacks, I jumped on the chance to find […]

The post REVIEW: CabinZero Military 44l travel backpack appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
The best Lightweight Travel Backpack?

One of the more well-known brands of travel backpacks in the travel blogger community is certainly CabinZero.

Most travel bloggers try to travel as lightweight as possible and a lot of them promote traveling with carryon size luggage since it saves you a lot of time at the airport and it's just more pleasant to carry a lightweight backpack compared to dragging around a large and heavy suitcase all the time.

So when Cabinzero asked if I wanted to test out one of their carry-on sized travel backpacks, I jumped on the chance to find out for myself if this could be my ideal travel bag!

While CabinZero's classic bags come in a lot of vibrant colors, I was instantly drawn to their military style bag in army green.

I guess it's the prepper in me that always wanted a bag like that, haha 😉

CABINZERO MILITARY 44L CABIN SIZED BAG

One of the first things that stood out to me when the bag arrived ... It's really lightweight! 

Why is this so important?!

Not only the size is important!

Not only the size is important!

Because I live in Europe, I travel a lot with low-cost airlines like RyanAir to fly between different European cities.

One thing that all of these airlines have in common is their restriction on the number of bags you can carry on and an even bigger restriction on the weight of those bags.

Ryanair, for example, limits your cabin baggage to one small bag e.g. handbag, laptop bag etc. not exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm and one cabin bag, not exceeding 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size and 10kg in weight.

While a lot of travel backpacks or trollies, including this bag from CabinZero, do fit these size restrictions, I mostly struggle with the weight factor!Most of the time I can`t even fill my bag because I'm over the weight limit of 10kg, and that's why it's so important to have a lightweight

Most of the time I can`t even fill my bag because I'm over the weight limit of 10kg, and that's why it's so important to have a lightweight bag to begin with!

With a weight of only 2lbs (950 grams), this CabinZero Military bag is certainly one of the lightest travel bags I own!

And their classic bag is even lighter! It ways only 760 grams!

Features

The 'Military' Cabin and Travel bag in Military Green features a huge 44-liter capacity, side compression straps, top grab handle, air mesh padded back and straps, front zipped pocket, inside zipped and mesh pockets, sternum and waist straps.

You could say it covers all the basic needs for a travel bag. However, if you are planning to take a laptop or a tablet, it would be useful to put that in a separate padded sleeve, since the backpack itself doesn't provide any padded storage pockets.

Because the bag is so lightweight, it doesn't have a built in frame and so I would recommend using packing cubes to create a more stable pack.

Military webbing for accessories

Military webbing for accessories

I really like this military style backpack because it has the military accessory webbing which is really handy to attach things, like a tripod or water bottle for example, to the bag.

Additional standard features include:

  • Built in Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban (see below)
  • Lockable Zippers on main compartment (lock not included)
  • 25 years warranty (If you 'like' CabinZero on Facebook 😉 )
  • Thick padded AirMesh shoulder straps
  • Partially Lined

Security

The bag comes with heavy-duty YKK zippers that have lock loops so you can keep your backpack secure. However, the TSA approved cable lock that I normally use didn't fit thru the holes of the zippers!

The best security feature is perhaps the integration of the Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban!

Each bag has a unique code which can be registered online. If your bag is lost or stolen, this system dramatically improves your chances of getting it back and returned to you.

Design & Comfort

The suspension system of this bag is pretty standard.

The shoulder straps have a good amount of padding and they are curved to help fit your body better.

The shoulder strap also has an additional clip that lets you adjust the angle of your bag at the shoulders. This helps to redistribute the weight to different parts of your back so you can carry it for a longer time.


Packing your CabinZero Military Travel Backpack

Check out the video below to see how you can pack this backpack for your next adventure:

Conclusion

The CabinZero travel backpack is the ideal lightweight bag to take on short citytrips or on longer overseas trips if you like to travel light with only one carry-on bag.

THE GOOD / The CabinZero Military bag looks different than those standard boring black travel backpacks and is well designed and made with high quality materials for a competitive price.

THE BAD / Zipper lock loops aren't big enough for my cable lock

THE BOTTOM LINE / The best lightweight travel backpack I've used so far.

Check out CabinZero's website for more information and prices!

 

 

The post REVIEW: CabinZero Military 44l travel backpack appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-cabinzero-military-44l-travel-backpack/feed/ 2
5 reasons why Norfolk is the new Netherlands https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-reasons-norfolk-new-netherlands/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-reasons-norfolk-new-netherlands/#comments Tue, 08 Aug 2017 20:59:03 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12145 For those on a tour of Europe, it’s easy to be drawn to explore the typical hotspots, particularly in the UK. The appeal of mega-metropolis London can detract from the glory of the English countryside and all that it has to offer, and whilst there’s plenty to do in the capital, there’s far more to the UK than London. Take Norfolk for example; this picturesque county on England’s east coast boasts so much diversity in such a small space, and yet it can so often be overlooked by the intrepid traveller, and why? There are many comparisons to be made […]

The post 5 reasons why Norfolk is the new Netherlands appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
For those on a tour of Europe, it’s easy to be drawn to explore the typical hotspots, particularly in the UK. The appeal of mega-metropolis London can detract from the glory of the English countryside and all that it has to offer, and whilst there’s plenty to do in the capital, there’s far more to the UK than London.

Take Norfolk for example; this picturesque county on England’s east coast boasts so much diversity in such a small space, and yet it can so often be overlooked by the intrepid traveller, and why?

There are many comparisons to be made between this stunning area and the ever-popular Netherlands, yet the latter remains a common destination for many a wanderlusting individual, whilst a gem in the UK’s tourist destination crown remains largely disregarded. There is much to be said of the similarities between the two – and in some respects, Norfolk even beats its canal cousin.

1.     Life’s better on the Broads

Both locations have magnificent canal systems, and that is an undeniable fact. There’s nothing more relaxing than laying back on a narrowboat with tranquillity and breath-taking scenery all around, and whether that’s in Holland or England is generally irrelevant as both countries have their own plus points. But is there really anything better than the British countryside?

Norfolk offers you the chance to see some of the best of Britain from the water, bearing witness to the glory of a sunset or sunrise across the awe-inspiring landscape. Forget using pedal power on your bike, or the hassle of sitting in traffic with broken air conditioning in the height of summer; instead, select your floating vessel, hop on board, and explore the beauty of the county with the blossoming flora of the season surrounding you. You can even find traditional country pubs scattered along the waterways – perfect for stopping off for a pint!

2.     Hunstanton vs The Hague

A traditional seaside resort is the staple of any UK summer holiday, and whilst Hunstanton may not be topping any glamorous destination lists, it’s packed with almost everything that could ever be classed as ‘quintessentially British’.

The incredible sands of The Hague are certainly awe-inspiring, whilst the innovative architecture both as the backdrop and the foreground of your beach trip, with its stunning pier stretching out to sea, are spectacular. Sometimes though, there’s nothing better than basking in tradition, which is exactly what Hunstanton offers.

Take a boat tour on ‘The Wash Monster’, enjoy an ice cream on the promenade after spending too much time in the arcades, or simply lay on the sand with the ever-familiar sounds of the fair echoing along the shores; however you choose to spend your time, you can rest assured that you’re living out a truly typical trip to the British seaside.

3.     When it’s spring again I’ll bring again tulips from… Norfolk

A carpet of colour adorns the fields across both Norfolk and the Netherlands from March to May every year, offering a spectrum of vibrancy to dazzle the eyes. In Holland, you can barely turn a corner without a torrent of tulips swaying in the breeze, and Amsterdam’s Tulip Festival is one of the largest flower displays in the world.

Amsterdam, Dam Square

Amsterdam, Dam Square

With many travellers crowning the Netherlands as the home of the spring flower, Norfolk is the place to head for a more peaceful and soothing experience to see the blooming beauties. A floral rainbow envelops every inch of soil in the dedicated tulip fields to the east, with all the tones and tints of colour you could imagine embellishing the landscape as far as the eye can see. With less visitors than their Dutch relatives, these fields display one of the finest examples of blossoming British horticulture without having to battle the crowds.

4.     Idyllic towns and villages trump city living

Norfolk’s only city is Norwich; its breath-taking cathedral and picturesque streets offer a beautiful setting with lots of facilities within seconds of each other, but as metropolitan centres go, it’s certainly not a city as you would come to expect. On the other hand, Amsterdam and Rotterdam are spectacular examples of urban utopias that grow more culturally diverse and architecturally outstanding with each passing year, with a phenomenal combination of contemporary chic and preserved tradition that blend seamlessly.

While these cityscapes are undoubtedly beautiful, it’s tough to equate the sublime setting of an English village to that of a cosmopolitan capital. Although it will entirely depend on the style of stop-over you’re searching for, immersing yourself in the quirky cultures and customs of a Norfolk town or village will give you the chance to fully appreciate just how sublime the English county is.

Wroxham’s ‘Capital of the Broads’ title is well-deserved and entirely understandable once you’ve visited the blissful town, whilst Thetford not only offers a serene forest to explore, but also a charming plethora of history to discover. Don’t miss Cley-next-the-Sea, which has the striking addition of a historic windmill, and check out the thatched cottages of Mundesley for a truly enchanting taste of Britain.

Horsey - windmill

Horsey - windmill

5.     British cuisine is king

Stroopwafel, cheese and liquorice are all staple foods of a Dutch diet, not to mention there being a shop selling patat (French fries doused in mayonnaise) on every corner. Herring and mini Dutch pancakes also feature highly, as well as the delicacy of hagelslag, a chocolate sprinkle-filled sandwich. The diet is nothing if not varied!

But if some of that sounds a little too eccentric for your taste buds, the British cuisine is here to serve. Fish is famed in these parts, with Norfolk’s coast supplying many a fine restaurant and seaside chip shop with an array of freshly-caught goods ranging from the Cromer crab to Brancaster mussels and Stiffkey cockles. If you’d rather something from the land, samphire is a delicious addition to any dish that thrives in Norfolk more than most other counties, whilst Norfolk turkey is revered around many tables come Christmas.

Besides all of that, you just can’t beat a traditional Sunday roast in a traditional English pub surrounded by traditional British countryside!

So, there are the options and the choice is yours – what will it be, Norfolk or the Netherlands?

 

Bio: Kirsty Fensome is a Devon-based food lover with a passion for discovering the diverse cultures of the world and how they differ from those in the UK.

 

The post 5 reasons why Norfolk is the new Netherlands appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/5-reasons-norfolk-new-netherlands/feed/ 2
REVIEW: Standard Luggage Co's Carry-on Backpack v2.0 https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-standard-carry-on-travel-backpack/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-standard-carry-on-travel-backpack/#comments Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:09:36 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11681 The Ultimate travel backpack? Finding the perfect travel bag can be a struggle. Large backpacks are too big when you go for a shorter trip and a lot of the "carry-on" size backpacks are mostly made to carry on international flights but are never small enough to fit the carry-on regulations for European low-cost airlines like Ryanair for example. I started using smaller wheeled bags, like the American Tourister bags but these aren't handy when you're visiting an old medieval town like Bruges that has a lot of cobblestones. So when I  noticed the Kickstarter campaign for the ultimate travel backpack from Standard […]

The post REVIEW: Standard Luggage Co's Carry-on Backpack v2.0 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
The Ultimate travel backpack?

Finding the perfect travel bag can be a struggle.

Large backpacks are too big when you go for a shorter trip and a lot of the "carry-on" size backpacks are mostly made to carry on international flights but are never small enough to fit the carry-on regulations for European low-cost airlines like Ryanair for example.

I started using smaller wheeled bags, like the American Tourister bags but these aren't handy when you're visiting an old medieval town like Bruges that has a lot of cobblestones.

So when I  noticed the Kickstarter campaign for the ultimate travel backpack from Standard Luggage I asked if they could send me one to review.

And they did!

I decided to test it out on my trip to Berlin:

Me carrying the Standard Luggage Carry-on Backpack at the Berlin Tourist-Information

The backpack is a 3-in-1 travel backpack, suitcase, and shoulder bag. Designed with concealable backpack straps, compartment dividers, and easy-to-carry handles.

One of the first things I noticed was the nice quality of the outer shell. The ballistic nylon feels sturdy and looks luxurious. This is important since you don't want to feel like a hobo when you enter a nice hotel with only a backpack 😉

The exterior fabric is also water resistant which helps since a rain shower is never far away when you travel through Europe.

Watch the video below for a full demo:

Standard's Carry-on Travel Backpack v.2.0

Features

What makes a good travel pack? I guess everyone has a different opinion about this! And it's also the reason why there are so many different styles of travel backpacks out there. These are the features that I like (or don't like) about the Standard's Carry-on Travel Backpack that make it ideally suited for traveling around Europe:

  • Bag dimensions: 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 in (54,6 x 34 x 16 cm) when zipped and 21.5 x 13.5 x 9.5 when expanded
  • Volume/Capacity: 35L zipped and 45L when expanded
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds (1,6 Kg)
  • Carry-on size: When traveling thru Europe I want a bag that I can carry on smaller Airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet, and this bag is perfect for that. And an expandable zipper adds 10L capacity instantly whenever you need it.
  • Hideaway straps: If you do want to check the bag, you certainly can. The straps tuck away so they can’t get snagged or damaged, which is also useful for stuffing them into overhead bins or under a seat. I would have liked however that the backpack straps would also be removable! When I want to use the backpack as a messenger bag, for example, I would like to be able to take off the backpack straps to save on weight.
  • Multiple carrying options: You’ll notice the pack has two handles, one on the top, and one on the side. This allows you to carry it like a briefcase, or pull it out of an overhead bin. Plus, the aforementioned backpack straps and included messenger bag straps let you carry the bag however you feel like it.
  • Laptop compartment: I always take my Chromebook with me when I travel for more then a few days. So this is a must!Version 2.0 of the travel backpack has a sliding & removable laptop sleeve for easy access and while I love the idea to be able to slide out your computer at airport security, most of the airport security lines make use of baskets these days, and then it's not so convenient to slide that compartment out while keeping it attached, so I just remove it and use my own laptop cover.

  • Locking zippers: Locking zippers are easy and hugely helpful and while the zippers of the travel backpack can be locked, the hole to put your lock thru is too small! (for my cable lock anyway). This could easily be fixed by using zippers with larger locking holes.
  • Flat packing: The Standard Luggage Carryon has a large main compartment that zips open like a suitcase. This not only maximizes packing space, but it allows you to easily access the contents of your bag without having to pull everything out of it. I prefer this system to the traditional “top loading” bags that you find on traditional hiking backpacks because it is much more practical for urban travel.
  • Internal compression straps: You pack the bag while it’s flat, then turn it upright. The compression straps keep everything stuck the way you packed it.
    One thing that I would change is the length of built-in compression straps inside the bag! When I tried to strap down the clothes and packing cubes after I had packed everything, I found the straps to be a bit short to cover everything

Design & Comfort

The Standard's Carry-on Backpack is well made and has a luxury finish to it that I really like.

The design of this backpack actually allows you to pack much more efficiently than with traditional luggage because it does away with the weight of wheels and a hard shell while still being sturdy enough to use for urban travel.

A complete travel system

Next to the carry-on backpack, Standard Luggage also sells complementary items that make this a complete packing system

Standard’s Packing Cubes

One of the essential items for easy packing are packing cubes, and the packing cubes from standard luggage are designed so that they fit perfectly in their carry-on backpack, they are exactly half the size of the backpack.

Their design allows for coupling and attaching and together the cubes can form a hanging dresser that can be placed on a door hook or stashed on a closet hanger while the mesh windows allow you to see the contents inside:

One thing I wish they would add is some kind of compression system like an extra zipper in the middle that would compress the packing cubes even tighter when you close the zipper. That way the packing cubes would help to save even more space!

Backpack Packing Cube

Another addon is Standard’s Backpack Packing Cube, a packable backpack:

I always travel with a small backpack that I can pack in my suitcase to use as a day pack when I arrive.

While I love the idea of using a packing cube as a backpack, I didn't fall in love with this backpack Packing Cube. While it's perfect to use as a small daypack when you're on a city trip, it's a bit small for me to really use as a daypack when you go for a hike in the country somewhere.

Perhaps it would be a great idea to actually make it twice as big and in a more lightweight fabric, that way you could actually fit 2 normal packing cubes inside it (like a shell around it) and it would still fit the complete system!

Conclusion

Overal I really liked version two of the Standard's Carry-on Travel Backpack! I think I have found my new urban travel backpack that I can use for shorter trips around Europe.

THE GOOD / I really like this type of travel backpack for shorter city trips. The Standard's Carry-on Travel Backpack is well designed and made with high quallity materials.

THE BAD / Except for the zippers (see remarks above) I don't have any real faults except perhaps the straps inside that need to be a bit longer to be useful.

THE BOTTOM LINE / Version 2 of the Standard's Carry-on Backpack is a versatile travel backpack, ideal for the urban explorer!

Check out Standards website for more information and prices!

 

The post REVIEW: Standard Luggage Co's Carry-on Backpack v2.0 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/review-standard-carry-on-travel-backpack/feed/ 2
The Top Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-places-to-visit-in-rio-de-janeiro/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-places-to-visit-in-rio-de-janeiro/#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 11:20:10 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12079 A city defined by its dense forests and golden beaches, bustling with a complex urban life and influenced by the beat of samba, Rio de Janeiro is a travel destination unlike any other. Thanks to its abundance of iconic landmarks - the Christ the Redeemer, the Sugarloaf and Copacabana beach to name a few - there is plenty of amazing things to do in Rio. The issue is simply finding time to do it all! Here are some of the highlights of places to visit in Rio de Janeiro that will truly make your trip a memorable one.   The […]

The post The Top Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
A city defined by its dense forests and golden beaches, bustling with a complex urban life and influenced by the beat of samba, Rio de Janeiro is a travel destination unlike any other. Thanks to its abundance of iconic landmarks - the Christ the Redeemer, the Sugarloaf and Copacabana beach to name a few - there is plenty of amazing things to do in Rio. The issue is simply finding time to do it all! Here are some of the highlights of places to visit in Rio de Janeiro that will truly make your trip a memorable one.  

The Christ the Redeemer

As one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, the mighty Christ the Redeemer is an iconic symbol of Brazil and draws thousands of tourists each year. To avoid the crowds, the best time to go is during the week or first thing in the morning. While the statue itself is impressive, it’s the views there that will really take your breath away. There are three ways to the top:

  • Take the train. The train station is at Cosme Velho and follows a winding railway track through the forest up Corcovado mountain to the top where the Christ the Redeemer stands. You can either get tickets at any of the Riotur kiosks across the city or at the station itself. The tickets include the entrance to the Christ.
  • Take the van. The official van takes you straight to the top and the price of the ticket includes the entrance to the Christ.
  • Hike. This is one of the most interesting ways to get to the Christ as the forest trail goes up Corcovado, yielding to dense vegetation, skittish monkeys, and trickling waterfalls. You can pay for the entrance to the Christ at the top but be aware that you can only pay in cash!

By Artyominc (Template:Artyom Sharbatyan) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio’s most iconic natural landmarks, the Sugarloaf Mountain offers spellbinding panoramic views of the sparkling blue ocean, fluffy forests, and tall peaks of multi-floored buildings. The most rewarding time to go is in the evening to watch an unforgettable sunset.

To get there, you can take a cable car from the station next to Praia Vermelha in Urca to the top of Morro da Urca. From there, you take another cable car over the ocean to the summit of the Sugarloaf. Tickets can be bought at the station at the bottom.

Escadaria Selaron

One of the city’s most beloved places to visit in Rio de Janeiro, the Escadaria Selaron is a 125-metre staircase leading from Lapa to Santa Teresa. Its most defining feature is the thousands of vibrantly colored tiles that form a striking mosaic that neatly covers every inch of the stairway. The stairs take their name from the Chilean-born artist, Jorge Selaron, who dedicated his life to decorating the stairs in honor of his love for Brazil and its people. You may remember the Escadaria Selaron for featuring in the music video Beautiful by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams.

By Marshallhenrie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pedra do Sal

There is no music that better defines Rio de Janeiro than samba. For a truly local experience, head to Pedra do Sal on a Monday evening, when the square in the city center fills up with local samba bands who come together for a spontaneous jamming session. Locals and visitors head there to sip on strong caipirinhas or chilled beers in Rio’s balmy evenings whilst mingling and enjoying the music. One of the reasons this one of the best places to visit in Rio de Janeiro is because the atmosphere is really laid back so feel comfortable to keep the dress code casual and breezy.

An interesting fact about Pedra do Sal is that the area was once the main point for slave trading in the 16th century and the region is now a Cultural Heritage area.

Mirante Dona Marta

This incredible viewpoint lets you see several of Rio’s most famous landmarks all in one sweeping panoramic view, including Guanabara Bay, the Christ the Redeemer, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Mirante Dona Marta is next to Tijuca Forest and is abuzz with birds, large lizards, and curious monkeys. The best way to get there is to take a taxi to the top. Just make sure you arrange a taxi back down again as they don’t pass by spontaneously.

By Donatas Dabravolskas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ilha de Paqueta

A tiny island just off the bay of Rio’s city center is an idyllic spot for a city retreat whilst just being a 30-minute boat trip from the bustling metropolis. Ilha de Paqueta has several enchanting features such as its clean beaches, family-owned bars, and a strict no-motor zone which means getting around is dependent on bikes, walking, or horseback.

Interesting Tip: Ilha Paqueta is also known for having vibrant street parties during Carnival. The atmosphere is friendly, safe and a lot of fun.

By VinyNeto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Beaches

The most popular places to visit in Rio de Janeiro are its famous beaches. Rio de Janeiro is known for its golden coastline combined with a hot, sunny climate. The most popular tourist beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema, each having its own charming and distinct characteristics. Copacabana is a whirlwind of activity with families basking in the sun, sport-lovers playing football or volleyball, and beach vendors relentlessly walking the beach selling a variety of products. Ipanema, on the other hand, is lined with tropical palm trees and is the local hangout for the young and beautiful of Rio who goes there to top up their tans.

To get an off-the-beaten track experience though, head to Prainha or Joatinga to the west of Rio de Janeiro. The two beaches offer a secluded retreat for those willing to travel a bit further from the tourist hotspots and offer great surfing opportunities, gorgeous beaches, and an exotic forest backdrop.

Photo credit: Christian Haugen

Vidigal

One of the most fascinating aspects of Rio de Janeiro is that it is one of the only places in Brazil where you can safely visit a favela. A great way of getting to know them is through a favela tour, which is actually a very eye-opening and insightful experience to see the reality of life there. Many people are surprised to see that favelas have a fully-functioning community there with supermarkets, banks, schools, and doctors, and are not the faces of poverty and miserable as sometimes they are made out to be. Rocinha and Vidigal are the two safest favelas to visit. Vidigal is known for great weekend parties at the top of the community that starts late and goes on until the early hours of the next morning - it's one of those unforgettable places to visit in Rio de Janeiro. 

By Chensiyuan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Lapa

The nightlife center of Rio de Janeiro is in Lapa, an edgy part of town known for its bar and club-lined streets. The main street is Avenida Mem de Sá where all the lively bars and clubs are located, bringing samba-fuelled nights to the hundreds of people that flock there every weekend. If you want to have a more low-key night, then go to the Arcos de Lapa for the all-night street parties where drinks are sold at makeshift stands and music is provided by spontaneous bands.

By Leoaraujo3 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Institute For The Memorial And Research Of The New Blacks

This museum doesn’t make it to the traditional guidebook list of places to visit as often as Rio’s impressive art galleries and informative museums, yet The Institute For The Memorial And Research Of The New Blacks is both fascinating and heart-breaking at the same time and has great cultural significance. The museum takes visitors on a walk through the history of slavery in Rio and is located in at the port where more than 2 million slaves arrived between 1500 and 1856. It is also the final resting ground of about 30,000 enslaved Africans who didn’t make the journey over to Rio. It gives an informative and historical look into a past that deeply influences the culture of Rio today.

By Halley Pacheco de Oliveira (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

____

Bio: A Guest Post by Sarah Brown from Now in Rio. Now in Rio is a travel and culture website that provides comprehensive information about Rio de Janeiro for both tourists and anyone interested in travel and/or Brazil. It seeks to change perspectives, shatter stereotypes and introduce you to the real Rio de Janeiro - its vibrant communities, delicious local cuisine, thriving underground culture and unbelievable scenery. To follow their adventures, visit their websiteFacebook and/or Instagram page.

 

The post The Top Places to Visit in Rio de Janeiro appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-places-to-visit-in-rio-de-janeiro/feed/ 3
Tierra del Fuego Could Be the New Europe https://inspiringtravellers.com/tierra-del-fuego-the-new-europe/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/tierra-del-fuego-the-new-europe/#respond Fri, 07 Jul 2017 17:02:16 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12083 This is a guest post by Jerry Nelson   Where did your parents go when they wanted to travel and see the world? If they were twenty-somethings in the 1980s or 90s, odds are they went to Europe. Cheap, readily available flights and relatively safe countries, Europe was the destination of choice — then. Now, it's somewhere else. College grads as well as those taking a ‘gap year' are looking — and finding — more adventurous places to go. Locations they haven't see a million times when their parents pulled out the photographs and reflected on the “time of their lives.” […]

The post Tierra del Fuego Could Be the New Europe appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
This is a guest post by Jerry Nelson

 

Where did your parents go when they wanted to travel and see the world? If they were twenty-somethings in the 1980s or 90s, odds are they went to Europe.

Cheap, readily available flights and relatively safe countries, Europe was the destination of choice — then.

Now, it's somewhere else. College grads as well as those taking a ‘gap year' are looking — and finding — more adventurous places to go. Locations they haven't see a million times when their parents pulled out the photographs and reflected on the “time of their lives.”

That place is Tierra del Fuego. Hiking, camping, backpacking, boating, horseback riding. It's all there.

What is Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego sits just off the southernmost tip of South America. The main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and s splattering of smaller islands which include Cape Horn and Diego Ramirez Islands. Shared by Chile and Argentina, the archipelago's first human residents was around 8000 BC.

European descendants ‘discovered' the islands in 1520. A short, fat guy named Ferdinand Magellan saw the bonfires lit by the natives and named it Tierra del Fuego, Spanish for ‘land of fire.'

It wasn't until the last half of the 19th century that Europeans started arriving in force. Before long there was a boom in sheep farming and a local gold rush.

Today, oil drilling dominates economic activity in the northern sector and tourism, manufacturing and support for Antarctic logistics are vital to the southern economy.

What to Do There?

Most of the tourism is based on the multiple claims of "southernmost" things. Ushuaia and Puerto Williams each lay claim as being the ‘southernmost city in the world.'

Museo Maritimo

Situated in Ushuaia’s  old prison, Museo Maritimo is a self-sustaining museum and does not get state assistance. The museum earns its way from the tourist trade — roughly 50% of whom are foreigners. Lonely Planet calls the collection of vessels "perhaps the best accumulation of model ships in the world."

Estancia Haberton

Open just during the summer, Estancia Haberton is the oldest estancia, or farm, in the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego. Established in the late 1800s, the farm is 60km east of downtown Ushuaia.

Glacier Martial

Wear comfortable shoes and have patience. The hike up Glacier Martial rewards the persevering with a lovely view of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. A solitary ski slope is open during the winter and can be reached by taxi from Ushuaia.

Catamaran Trips

Explore the Beagle channel for some lens-worthy views of the mountains, sea lions, penguins, and cormorants. HINT: Pay the 200 Piso and choose a small catamaran. In the off-season, you may be joined by only about seven people — making it your almost private tour.

Beagle Channel Kayaking

Rent a kayak near the airport in Ushuaia and spend the night roaming the Beagle Channel

Fin del Mundo Train

A 19 3/4 gauge steam railway making regular trips between the national park and Ushuaia. Initially built to serve the prison in Ushuaia, it is now a heritage railway into the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Both Chile and Argentina agree it is the southernmost functioning train on the planet.

Hiking

Several well-laid out trails around glacial Lakes Escondido and Fagnano, which is also called Lake Cami. Be sure to take warm and waterproof gear.

How to Get There

Arguably the most popular way to get there is to fly on Aerolineas Argentinas from Buenos Aires. AA lands in Ushuaia and Rio Rande, but flights can be found to major settlements such as Punta Arenas in Chile.

The double-decker, long distance buses, deliver thousands of travelers each year and arrive in Ushuaia from all over Argentina. Visitors going to Ushuaia from Rio Gallegos pass through Chile which means two border crossings.

Surface roads are rough and potholed in Tierra del Fuego and other than the tourist train, there aren't any railways. Tours and transportation can be booked through the Tourist Office on San Martin or through Say Hueque, the largest tour company serving the region.

Insider Tips

You'll have a full day to look around before a cruise, and travelers often wish they had more time in Ushuaia. The National Park hike and canoe tour are excellent, but the boat portion can seem more like whitewater rafting in spots.

The weather is freakish and often changes as much as three times in three-hours. Freezing rain morphs into the scorching sun which turns into freezing snow and a blustery wind. Make sure you dress for each of the conditions.

 

Bio: Jerry Nelson is an American freelance photojournalist who covers social justice issues globally. Busy on assignment in South America, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Contact him today at jandrewnelson2@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @journey_america.

 

The post Tierra del Fuego Could Be the New Europe appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/tierra-del-fuego-the-new-europe/feed/ 0
Top 5 Places to See in Vietnam https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-5-places-to-see-in-vietnam/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-5-places-to-see-in-vietnam/#comments Thu, 25 May 2017 13:24:37 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12029 Welcome to one of the most fascinating Asian countries that I have ever been to in my life, Vietnam!!  This country is rich in culture, filled to the brim with spectacular destinations and is full of sensational culinary delicacies!!   Just thinking about Vietnam, my mind wonders back; smile returns to my face and my stomach craves all the yummy Asian food that I enjoyed there. These are the top places to visit on your adventure through Vietnam!!   Is your notepad ready??  Then let’s go! Hanoi Old Quarter To me, Hanoi is the heart of beautiful madness, narrow streets, million scooters, tiny […]

The post Top 5 Places to See in Vietnam appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Welcome to one of the most fascinating Asian countries that I have ever been to in my life, Vietnam!!  This country is rich in culture, filled to the brim with spectacular destinations and is full of sensational culinary delicacies!!   Just thinking about Vietnam, my mind wonders back; smile returns to my face and my stomach craves all the yummy Asian food that I enjoyed there. These are the top places to visit on your adventure through Vietnam!!   Is your notepad ready??  Then let’s go!

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi Vietnam

To me, Hanoi is the heart of beautiful madness, narrow streets, million scooters, tiny plastic chairs, egg coffees and the place where my love for Vietnamese food started!   Ahh… I love Hanoi!!

When you arrive in Hanoi, I strongly recommend that you stay right in the middle of it all, in the Old Quarter.  There is a multitude of hotels around and the majority of them have a very affordable price tag.  (We stayed in a 3 Star Hotel for only $46 p/n, not bad!)   The streets of the Old Quarter are narrow and filled with an insane number of tourists, locals and passing scooters, and it’s awesome!!  Colourful trinkets and souvenirs dangle from displays of every window.  Local vendors sell their yummy fresh fruits, vegetables, handmade specialties and so much more!!  The streets of Hanoi beam with life!  Street food stalls and restaurants alike invite you with delicious smells to eat more and more!!   I said it before and will say it again…  I fell in love with Vietnam from the first bite!

How to get to Hanoi:  This city has an international airport, so you can choose to fly there directly.

Sapa Valley

Bac Ha Markets Sapa

Bac Ha Markets Sapa

Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime?  Sapa valley is a magical place.  Hoang Lien Son Mountains tower on each side of the valley with its highest Phang Xi Pang peak reaching 3,142 meters tall.

If you are up for it, you can hire a local guide for an informative guided hike from the township of Sapa and down to the little town of Tavan.  It is a 4-hour walk and will cover about 12 km.  This way you can truly absorb the beauty of your surroundings and discover how the Hmong, Tay and Dao hill tribes still live.  Not only will you check out the most spectacular scenery of cascading-down-the-mountain terraces of rice fields, but so much more!  If you want you can even taste some rocket-fuel-like local rice or corn wine.  Yum!

How to get to Sapa:  You can take a bus (about 5 hours) or an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.  Bus option will be faster and usually bit more comfortable.

Halong Bay

Pearl Farm, Halong Bay

Pearl Farm, Halong Bay

When you feel like snorkeling and kayaking near the caves or purely are in need of relaxation and bliss, then Halong Bay is your choice!  The best way to explore this beautiful part of Vietnam is on board one of the luxurious junk boats.  Air-conditioned cabins, 5-star food and cocktails on the top deck checking out the beautiful emerald waters of the bay.  Sounds good?  I know it does.

There are thousands of tower-like limestone islands scattered in the Halong Bay.   Although you might not be able to check out everything, the key places of interest for your list should include: Titov Island, Fishing Village, Pearl Farm and the Surprise Cave.  Apart from those, all you got to do is have a wonderful time and soaking up some sun!  Little tip: make sure to reserve yourself a top deck daybed for cocktail hour for spectacular sunsets!

How to get to Halong Bay:  Bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay port will take around 3.5 hours.

Mekong Delta

Welcome to the floating adventures on the mighty Mekong!  This majestic river is a thriving main artery of the Southern Vietnam!  It makes its way from the Capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh.  This is where all the main tours begin.

You can choose from a multitude of adventures here.  From a sunset cruise across the Mekong (admire the views of the capital) to the inland jungle-like cruises in the heart of this amazing river.

Here you can lose yourself in the maze of rivers scattering out like arteries from the giant Mekong.  Along the way, you can learn a lot about the area.  You will be able to check out the hustle and bustle of the floating markets, witness farming and water buffalo in the paddies, Khmer pagodas, Buddhist temples and much more!!  The mighty Mekong has it all and it is all about the real Vietnam!

Hoi An

The Ancient Town of Hoi An, Vietnam

The Ancient Town of Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An…  This place has a soft spot in my heart.  I know I can only speculate, but I believe that Hoi An and the surrounding areas will make a similar impact on you as well.

When you stay in Hoi An, I recommend you rent a villa or a room at one of the beachside resorts!  It is a perfect spot to soak up the sun, go snorkeling or simply relax by the pool resort style!

This is of course not all that you can do in Hoi An.  No, no!!  Make your way to the amazing ancient town of Hoi An!  Beautiful rustic coloured buildings surround you everywhere.  Markets beam with vendors selling some of the authentic delicacies, if you are game to try!  There are 18th-century Japanese style houses still intact and well preserved for the tourist to admire.  And what attracted us the most to this place was the night time.  This is when the streets light up with millions of lanterns, illuminating the ancient town in magical, fairy-tale-like glow.  It is best to book a table for dinner at one of many restaurants.  Our favourite was “Morning Glory” (table on the balcony, overlooking the pretty street).  Ps: Bakery across the road has amazing Crème Brule.

Tip: Best way to explore this area is by scooter.  You can rent one for a few dollars a day and usually can be organized by the place you are staying at.  That way you can zoom around as you please.

How to get to Hoi An:  Just under 1.5-hour flight from Hanoi to Danang Airport and about 30 minutes’ drive to Hoi An.

Vietnam, just saying this name makes me want to go back, again and again!  The country where I found tastes I had never experienced before.  The country filled with happy people, spectacular scenery, and extraordinary Asian culture magic!  I love Vietnam and I know that you will too!

 

Bio: Jolene and Andrzej are living their dream. The duo is behind Wanderlust Storytellers, their widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe. The couple says that they have found their purpose in life: “the question and the never-ending search for what we are here for or what we are meant to do with our lives was answered when we created our family travel blog.” You can also follow their adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

 

The post Top 5 Places to See in Vietnam appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/top-5-places-to-see-in-vietnam/feed/ 9
Barcelona: Salvador Dali Theatre and Museum Day Trip https://inspiringtravellers.com/barcelona-salvador-dali-theatre-and-museum-day-trip/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/barcelona-salvador-dali-theatre-and-museum-day-trip/#respond Tue, 09 May 2017 15:04:12 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=12000 Barcelona is an ideal travel location for lovers of many things, including food, architecture, a finely-made drink and especially art. Art is everywhere in Barcelona. However, what many don’t know is that perhaps the mecca of art in Spain lies not in Barcelona, but a few hours up the coast in the small towns of Figueres and Cadaques. From Barcelona, there are day trips available for a live-changing excursion for any lover of surrealistic art – to visit the home and museum of Salvador Dali. Given our love of art, and especially Tracy’s background as an art student and admirer […]

The post Barcelona: Salvador Dali Theatre and Museum Day Trip appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Barcelona is an ideal travel location for lovers of many things, including food, architecture, a finely-made drink and especially art. Art is everywhere in Barcelona. However, what many don’t know is that perhaps the mecca of art in Spain lies not in Barcelona, but a few hours up the coast in the small towns of Figueres and Cadaques.

From Barcelona, there are day trips available for a live-changing excursion for any lover of surrealistic art – to visit the home and museum of Salvador Dali. Given our love of art, and especially Tracy’s background as an art student and admirer of Dali, this was simply a trip we had to take. You and a group of perhaps 12 or 14 will roll through the beautifully cascading hills, climbing higher into the countryside while witnessing beautiful countryside villages. The drive alone is worth the price of admission, but what awaits you is far greater.

Figueres, Salvador Dali Theater-Museum

First, you will arrive at the Salvador Dali Theater-Museum in Figueres, about two-and-a-half hours away from Barcelona, and very near the French border. This small town is adorned with small coffee shops and restaurants, all quaint and beautiful in a town squarely formed around what was Dali’s hometown.

As you approach the museum, you’ll be met with dark pink walls covered with one of Dali’s favorite subjects: loaves of bread! Look upward and view another theme with which he was always enamored, large eggs, which lining the top of the structures’ walls.

The entrance is simply stunning and screams at you the whimsy of Dali’s personality. We were immediately greeted with one of the most unique Cadillacs in existence – one that rains from the inside! This central piece was the Cadillac that Gala, Dali’s wife of nearly fifty years, used to drive as well as the same car that the couple drove across the country during their stay in the United States. The rest of the theater’s walls set the mood for the piece, quaintly lined with ivy and statues set within the brick window frames.

Once passing the entry that houses the Cadillac, you come into a vast lobby stretches nearly three stories high, complete with numerous works that were hand-picked by Dali during the museum’s construction. One of the most famous is “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea”. This painting is not just an ode to his wife and muse, Gala, but an optical illusion as well. Take a look; do you see her… or Abraham Lincoln?

Main Lobby

The museum is packed full of masterpieces. One of the world-famous installations located here is the Mae West Room, which combines myriad multi-media pieces which, when viewed from the elevated platform at the rear, transform a couch (made of his vision of her lips), a nose-shaped double fireplace, and picture frames into her face. Visitors step upon a platform to the viewing piece to witness the full grandeur of the construction, further a testament to Dali’s creative genius!

Room after room, one priceless work after the next greets you and presents the question of how any one person could be so consistently stunning in his brilliance. One of Dali’s most impressive works is found on the ceiling of a large banquet hall within the museum: The Central Panel of the Wind Palace. Dali’s panoramic, visually striking take on the passages of life. Featured in the center of the piece again is Gala, whose likeness you’ll see in a vast many of his most intricate works.

Once you’ve filled your senses with the wonders of the museum, you will be whisked next door to the jewelry exhibit, where Dali’s works are reimagined as beautiful, intricate pieces made with gold and precious gems. This smaller exhibit makes use of its windowless space, and as you wind through the pieces are illuminated individually to fully display their brilliance amidst a backdrop of pure black.

Cadaques, Salvador Dali’s Portlligat Home

While time could be spent for days studying the mastery of Dali’s work, another treasure awaits in Cadaques – Salvador Dali’s Portlligat home.

Winding quickly around sharp turns, you come into a small fishing village bejeweled with small homes, hotels, restaurants, and cafes – many of which bearing names which beckon to their former resident. In the center of the town is a large statue capturing Dali’s brilliance, standing guard against the inlet.

Where the theater-museum drops off, Portlligat continues with an increase concentration of Dali’s wild creativity upon entry. You’ll be immediately greeted with a large stuffed bear, holding a lamp to illuminate the initial living area, where you’ll also find taxidermied swans, an homage to their lives as Dali’s personal pets. Though many areas are roped off to the public, the house is intimate and each room relatively small and easy to view. Despite the tight, winding halls and minimal size of the rooms themselves, there is no shortage of excitement, color, and imagination in every corner!

One of our favorite areas of the home is a small room that would be easy to miss without the aid of a tour guide. This egg-shaped sitting area is uniquely designed so that the acoustics center upon one spot in the center. Standing there and speaking, you’ll be able to have the feeling of being in a vocal booth, with your own voice flush against your ears!

The most moving area of the house is Dali’s actual art studio, where you can view his last unfinished work, a large piece on a track built into the wall that was designed to lift and fall into the floor as he painted different sections of the canvas.

Directly behind the studio is a near-surreal vision - Dali’s art supply chamber. Here, you can see the actual tools used by the master himself to create pieces that have become legendary.

Exiting the home, the famous pool area is another beautiful and whimsical area. Dali’s interest in Mae West remains, with a couch designed like Mae West’s lips and a back-sitting area full of large, colorful cushions prevalent along the back wall. The area presents a different side to Dali, where he enjoyed contemplation and relaxation with friends, who he and Gala often entertained.

Dali Mae West Display

After the house tour, take a few minutes to walk around the lakeshore and experience the view as Dali saw it so many years ago. He was known to paint outside in this area, inspired by the light and the passing ships.

There may be no more unique and fascinating artist than Salvador Dali, and once you experience his genius up close, you’ll see why! Take the small day-trip from Barcelona and find out why Dali’s works, and personality, are ever-enduring.

Bio: Justin and Tracy Uselton are the writers of A Couple for the Road, a couples travel blog that focuses on food, drink and culture written from a personal and artistic perspective for the avid traveler. Find them on Facebook and Instagram

The post Barcelona: Salvador Dali Theatre and Museum Day Trip appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/barcelona-salvador-dali-theatre-and-museum-day-trip/feed/ 0
Leuven Beer Month 2017/04/21 - 2017/06/05 https://inspiringtravellers.com/leuven-beer-month/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/leuven-beer-month/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 14:03:45 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11982 "The Place to BEER" If you want to experience great beer culture, there's no better place for it than Belgium.  The local brewers give you a look behind the scenes and give you a taste of their century-old tradition. Belgium beer culture was rightly proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage this year and there's no better time to experience the local beer scene, than during the yearly beer month! While you can enjoy different beer activities all around Belgium, the Beer month is mostly focused on the province of Flemish Brabant. Flemish Brabant has a wide range of different beers and breweries, […]

The post Leuven Beer Month 2017/04/21 - 2017/06/05 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
"The Place to BEER"

If you want to experience great beer culture, there's no better place for it than Belgium.  The local brewers give you a look behind the scenes and give you a taste of their century-old tradition. Belgium beer culture was rightly proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage this year and there's no better time to experience the local beer scene, than during the yearly beer month!

Kickoff of the Leuven Beer Month

While you can enjoy different beer activities all around Belgium, the Beer month is mostly focused on the province of Flemish Brabant. Flemish Brabant has a wide range of different beers and breweries, which reflects its rich brewing tradition.

During Beer month in Flemish Brabant, you can enjoy walks with beer stories, sample beers among the copper beer kettles, and bike from brewery to brewery. The B&Bs and hotels have plenty of beer packages on tap and the cafés, pubs and trendy bars have some original beer proposals for you.

 

From 21st April to 5th June, all beer taps will be opened in Leuven. The city is more than ever "The Place to BEER" with its beer routes, tasting sessions and brewery visits. You can taste, experience and discover beer in all its forms!

More info & Tickets: http://www.visitleuven.be/en/beermonth

The post Leuven Beer Month 2017/04/21 - 2017/06/05 appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/leuven-beer-month/feed/ 0
What to visit: Bocas del Toro or Playa Las Lajas? https://inspiringtravellers.com/panama-bocas-del-toro-vs-playa-las-lajas/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/panama-bocas-del-toro-vs-playa-las-lajas/#comments Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:55:50 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11938 The two sides of Panama What we enjoy when we travel is a matter of personal taste, of state of mind, and of having the right company (including being solo). I spent a month in Panama and I still can’t make up my mind whether I really liked it or not. There were a lot of things to do in Panama, and truth be told, I found some places amazing, while I thought that others were a bit overrated. It was almost as I actually visited two different countries. Each was beautiful in its own way, but for a number […]

The post What to visit: Bocas del Toro or Playa Las Lajas? appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
The two sides of Panama

What we enjoy when we travel is a matter of personal taste, of state of mind, and of having the right company (including being solo). I spent a month in Panama and I still can’t make up my mind whether I really liked it or not. There were a lot of things to do in Panama, and truth be told, I found some places amazing, while I thought that others were a bit overrated. It was almost as I actually visited two different countries. Each was beautiful in its own way, but for a number of reasons I liked one more than the other.

I think that there are two sides to Panama. I don’t just mean geographically – that is quite obvious: one side faces the Caribbean Sea, and the other the Pacific Ocean. I actually refer to the overall vibe that I got on one side as opposed to the other. The two sides could not be more different: both beautiful, one is packed with tourists, vibrant, lively; while the other is a lifetime away from the all the buzz.

The funny thing about me is that I am hardly bothered to go off the beaten path. My idea is that if a place is considered to be a tourist attraction, it’s because it is “attractive.” And if it is thought to be attractive, I want to see it. I am not fussed by the heavy presence of tourists, really (well, unless it gets out of hand). I usually end up off the beaten path because I either get lost or I get frustrated with places that are meant to be beautiful but that for some reason don’t give me what I am looking for – either an image, a feeling or whatever makes traveling great.

Of all the places I visited in Panama, two are really worth mentioning as they do represent perfectly the dichotomy I talked about, the two sides of Panama that I saw. One of them is Bocas del Toro, and the other one is Playa las Lajas.

Getting to know Bocas del Toro

Most travelers that go to Panama make a beeline to Bocas del Toro as soon as they arrive in the country. I admit to being guilty of the same sin. Bocas del Toro is located on the Caribbean side of Panama, almost on the border with Costa Rica. It is a 12 hours journey from Panama City, by a combination of boat (to/from Almirante) and bus. I had read about Bocas del Toro, I saw documentaries showing a beautiful archipelago of tropical islands, and I was intrigued. It was my number one place to visit in the country. I was sure I’d love it.

Bocas del toro Panama

What I somehow didn’t register through my extensive reading (call this being selective about what information we deem important and what not) was that, being on the Caribbean coast, even though it was supposed to be the dry season, it may still rain a lot. And sure enough, it did.

Despite the rain, during my time in Bocas del Toro I managed to properly explore the archipelago: I visited the most famous white sandy beaches such as Red Frog Beach and enjoyed the clear waters of the Caribe; I hiked around through muddy paths; I invested some money in going snorkeling and seeing some interesting marine life and dolphins; I sipped cold beer by the waterfront at sunset; and I enjoyed a bit of the nightlife of Bocas Town – though to be fair it seemed mostly geared to a younger crowd of barefoot surfers.

Yet somehow, despite everything, I didn’t feel at ease. It may be the fact that I had to rely on buses, taxis or boats to get to the nearest beaches, when I have always been used to walking to the beach (I know, it’s my fault for being spoiled); it may be the fact that I could not look past the piles of garbage on the streets and on the beach (garbage disposal is an issue in the archipelago); it may be the fact that it was really crowded; it may be just a matter of my state of mind at the time.

So, after 5 nights in Bocas Town, I moved to Isla Bastimentos, where I stayed 5 more nights. This is much smaller and quieter – there aren’t cars on the island, and the main village only has one dirt road cutting through it. I found it more pleasant than Bocas Town. But I encountered pretty much the same issues I had in Bocas. The only area with affordable accommodation options was far away from any beach (it was either a hike through the muddy forest or a boat ride to get to the nearest one), and there were few dining options – making it very monotonous after 2 nights there. But at least it was quiet.

Admittedly, Bocas del Toro is really beautiful, bit for some reason it just didn’t do it for me. After 10 days of attempts of falling hopelessly in love with it and looking for the tropical paradise it was supposed to be, I decided to give up on it and move somewhere else. I went through my travel guide and picked Playa Las Lajas – which had gained just a short mention there. It was about half way between Bocas and Panama City and if I really didn’t like it, I could make my way to the capital.

Ending up in Playa Las Lajas

Playa Las Lajas is at about 7 to 8 hours from Bocas del Toro, or at about 6 and a half hours from Panama City, on the Pacific Coast of Panama: the bus only goes to the road intersection in Las Lajas, the nearest village at 10 km away, and then it is a quick taxi ride (or a hitch) to Playa Las Lajas. It is still Panama, but it feels on a wholly different planet.

Sunset at Playa Las Lajas

Sunset at Playa Las Lajas

I spent 5 blissful days there, kissed by the strong sun (no sign of rain or even clouds there: when the Pacific Coast says it is dry season, it actually means it), walking, biking and relaxing on an amazing beach that was literally at my doorstep (no bus, bike, or boat ride needed to get there), and swimming in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. I enjoyed the rhythm of the tides, observed crabs digging holes in the sand, and stood breathless in front of the sunsets that only the Pacific Coast can offer.

Playa Las Lajas is a 20 km long sandy beach, lined by palm trees, with no real village in sight. There isn’t much in terms of tourism infrastructure: a few upper scale hotels and resorts, one hostel, lots of simple and very cheap cabanas by the beach which can’t even be found on booking engines, and some mid-range hotels – each with an on-site restaurant or eatery

But for as bare bones as it was, I enjoyed it. There were a lot fewer people around – the occasional tourist walking along the beach, a few others enjoying the warm ocean water. Most people around where Panamanian tourists, and a few foreign ones – French, Americans, Spanish. The lack of crowds in Las Lajas also meant that the place was much cleaner than Bocas. That was in and of itself already a good reason to make me enjoy it more.

The pace of life at Playa Las Lajas was slow: someone climbed a palm tree to fetch fresh coconuts, while people below were staring, cheering and more importantly waiting for a fresh coconut. There were no shops, no artisans market, no surfers walking around barefoot, nobody pressing me to buy a tour, book a room, or any other service.

Yes, Bocas del Toro had the white beaches and the clear waters, the trendy bars and restaurants, the shops and the nightlife. Yet I fell for a place that had little to offer other than its pure natural beauty and that was completely no frills. I loved it because it was soothing and relaxing and that was just what I needed.

I found my tropical paradise in Playa Las Lajas.

Claudia Tavani

Bio: Claudia is a former human rights lawyer and academic who abandoned her career to follow her passions, which has brought her across 4 continents and has involved rafting down some mighty rivers, zip lining across canyons, and hiking to the craters of active volcanoes. Through her blog, she shares a lot of travel tips, a few travel stories and the occasional rant.

You can read more of her stories @ My Adventures Across the World

The post What to visit: Bocas del Toro or Playa Las Lajas? appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/panama-bocas-del-toro-vs-playa-las-lajas/feed/ 2
Unique Places to Visit in The Philippines https://inspiringtravellers.com/unique-places-visit-philippines/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/unique-places-visit-philippines/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2016 17:47:02 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11685 On the last day of the year, we have a guest post about the Philippines: Over the past decade or so, the Philippines has steadily grown its international appeal. Its yummy street foods, friendly people, and unique culture have grown on travelers across the globe, and it is no longer uncommon to see foreigners wandering its streets. I have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful little archipelago many times, and yet, I have not yet explored all of it. After all, 7000+ islands and isles take a lot of time to visit! Fortunately, however, my sense of adventure has […]

The post Unique Places to Visit in The Philippines appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
On the last day of the year, we have a guest post about the Philippines:

Over the past decade or so, the Philippines has steadily grown its international appeal. Its yummy street foods, friendly people, and unique culture have grown on travelers across the globe, and it is no longer uncommon to see foreigners wandering its streets.
I have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful little archipelago many times, and yet, I have not yet explored all of it. After all, 7000+ islands and isles take a lot of time to visit! Fortunately, however, my sense of adventure has brought me to many places that have taken my breath away, and I would love to be able to share them with you.
Some will be well known while others a little less so. In the end, each and every one is worth a trip on its own, each with its own unique experience! Let’s not waste any more time and find some places to visit in the Philippines!

For the climber:
Lake Holon (South Cotabato)

They say that good things never come easy and Lake Holon embodies this to a T. Nestled deep in T’Boli (Lumad) territory, this lake is tremendous. You may be thinking wait, why would a lake be good for a trekker/climber? Well, Lake Holon is a crater lake, meaning it is sat right at the mouth of a volcano.

Getting there is tough enough, with an hour and a half journey via habal-habal (motorcycle) or car through bumpy, unsealed terrain. Upon reaching, however, the climb is a whole other story. While not the tallest nor steepest mountain, Holon is unique in how you need to climb both up, THEN down to get to your destination.
If you do survive the trek, however, I promise you stunning views and true serenity. This is the perfect opportunity to live like the locals do and I urge you to take it.

For the shopper:
Roxas Night Market (Davao City proper)

Shopping malls are so overrated; every country has them! The Philippines is home to many gorgeous ones, including the Ayala Mall chain in Manila and Cebu’s Ayala Terraces. Top chains reside in these gorgeous malls and not only are you able to shop till you drop, the food available appeals both to the local and the international crowd.

Roxas Night Market, however, is a little different. It is not the first of its kind but is probably the most well-known. It has two sections, both usually teeming with people (even on weekday nights). The street food section is very popular with locals looking for a cheap, delicious feed while hanging out with friends.
Bargain-hunters, however, will head straight for the stalls selling all sorts, from imported clothing to little trinkets. You can grab some amazing deals here, so long as you have your haggling pants on!

For the thrill-seeker:
Danasan Eco-Adventure Park (Cebu)

via pinterest.com

Never has adventure seeking been this awesome! Danasan Eco-Adventure Park is quite a compact park that caters to the whole family. Whether you are an individual who is looking for the adrenaline rush or a couple who are just looking to rack up some excitement points, this is the place for you!
Ziplining, rock climbing, and rappelling are but some of the activities you can enjoy here. I have personally been there twice, the first time to try out the rides, and the second just to enjoy the scenery. The Philippines has recently been putting an importance in eco-tourism and Danasan is a shining example of this.
Its mountains and waterfalls gave me as much of an experience as ziplining across the canopy, creating the complete experience.

For the nature lover:
Honda Bay (Palawan)

These days, Palawan is packed full with luxury resorts, tourist attractions, and a sense of adventure. This, however, does not take away from the natural beauty that is Palawan, something that has drawn the eye for decades. Honda Bay is not the most well-known spot in Palawan, allowing it a certain charm and elegance.
Run from your resort’s entrance straight into crystal clear water and dive amongst some of the most biodiversity-rich waters in the world. Not only that, but Honda Bay is famous for having whale shark encounters! Obviously, this does not happen year-round and depends on their migratory route, but if you are in the area anywhere from April through to November, be sure to check this out!
Marine life has never been so exciting!

For the history buff:
Fort Santiago (the Closed City of Intramuros, Manila)

The fort is one of the most important sites in Filipino history, where a Spanish conqueror used it as a defense fortress. Today, however, the fort is used largely as a reminder of the country’s storied past, with a tribute to Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero. The man was responsible for starting the non-violent movement in the country and will always be remembered.
Within the walls of Fort Santiago, lie the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and many ruins, yet more relics of a time gone by. The entire city has been through a lot, from the first conquerors to World War II, and has stood the test of time.
Today, Fort Santiago stands strong, and while it no longer opposes the nation’s enemies, now welcomes people from all around the world to experience the Philippines like you have never seen before. If ever you are in Manila, do pay a visit, and pay your respects to the great man.


This is but a few places that help the Philippines stand out from the other countries. As similar as they are to their neighbours, segments of their history are different, and they have thus progressed quite differently.
Today, the Philippines stands as a tribute to the hard work of their forefathers and the vision of their children. The Philippines is amazing, and hopefully, this piece has been a little insight into the perks and quirks of thislittle archipelago.
So come on, join us! Head on over to these shores to explore and treat yourself to a uniquely Filipino experience. After all, it is more fun in the Philippines!

Author Bio:
James is the founder of Gotoawesomeplaces, where he shares some experiences about travel, destinations information, adventure,… He was born in New York City and has been traveling since he was 19. 

The post Unique Places to Visit in The Philippines appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/unique-places-visit-philippines/feed/ 8
8 things you need to see in Cape Town, South Africa https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-cape-town-south-africa/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-cape-town-south-africa/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2016 20:24:09 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11550 Guest Post by Courtneigh Humphriss Cape Town is such a diverse city. It has so many different plant species, people, animals and natural beauties. It is home to the 7th Natural Wonder of the world and boasts the widest variety of cultures packed into one city. Before I moved to London, Cape Town was my home. Cape Town has a thriving tourist ecosystem. There are plenty of people from all over the world who visit quite often. If you want to make the most of my home city. If you want to pack your visit with the best of they city. […]

The post 8 things you need to see in Cape Town, South Africa appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Guest Post by Courtneigh Humphriss

Cape Town is such a diverse city.

It has so many different plant species, people, animals and natural beauties. It is home to the 7th Natural Wonder of the world and boasts the widest variety of cultures packed into one city.

Before I moved to London, Cape Town was my home. Cape Town has a thriving tourist ecosystem. There are plenty of people from all over the world who visit quite often. If you want to make the most of my home city. If you want to pack your visit with the best of they city. If you are looking to enhance your trip with more of a local flavour, then these eight places are for you!

Table Mountain

Table Mountain was most recently chosen to be one of the seven wonders of the world. It is Cape Town's icon and the most photographed object in the city. This mountain is home to 2200 species of plantlife, 1470 floral species and plenty of wildlife to see. You can choose to use the cable car to the "Table of the Cape" top, or you can choose to use the hiking trails for a more active experience. It is admired by the locals as a natural monument of beauty.

The panoramic views from the top give you an opportunity to see most of the city from above all in one go! It is also the biggest landmark in Cape Town, so if you get lost then you only need to look towards the mountain to get your bearings! This is exactly what all locals do.

 

V&A Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is basically the hub of the city centre. It has so many features in it and is also the local shopping centre for anyone who lives in the surrounding areas. It is situated in Cape Town's oldest working harbour which was built in the 1860's.

From this harbour, you can get a boat trip to Robben Island. This island holds the infamous prison that Nelson Mandela spent time in before the fall of apartheid. Everyone in Cape Town has been to this island at least once and the trip is worth it for the view you get of Table Mountain!

V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

Although it has some tourist features, the V&A Waterfront also has local hangouts.

The Alba Lounge serves beautiful cocktails and has a very relaxed atmosphere.

You can also try out Quay Four which is a local favourite, a pub style seafood restaurant with perfect views of the harbour and live bands to get the crowd going! If you aren't looking for food and drink, but rather activities then you can go on a choice of sunset cruises, go on a guided bicycle tour or ride the Cape Wheel to watch the sunset. Hint: Capetonians love their sunsets!

The Two Oceans Aquarium

The aquarium is located in the V&A waterfront. In my opinion, you can't do one without the other! The aquarium is so named because it is located where the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean meet. This aquarium displays sea-life from both oceans. It is rewarding to learn the difference between life in the cold water and the warm water. You can book an opportunity to dive and feed fish should you have your PADI open water certificate. You can have a penguin experience, getting to know the Rockhopper penguins.

A positive aspect of this aquarium is that it is all for educational purposes. There are no shows and all of the animals are kept wild where possible. This makes it easier for them to be released into the wild if need be. Walking through the maze of exhibits has always been my favourite pastime and you will not be disappointed.

aqauarium-tank

Lion's Head

Lion's head forms part of the Table Mountain range. This trail is more rewarding if you go for sunrise or sunset. You can take it one step further and do a full moon hike which is a favourite for the locals. While hiking Table Mountain is quite a slow and steady climb, about three-quarters of the way up Lion's Head, involves heavy climbing with handholds and rope ladders. This is something to keep in mind if you are not the adventurous type. However, the view from the three-quarter way mark is still spectacular.

One thing to note: It is best to hike this mountain with a group of people or attach yourself to a group already hiking for safety reasons. The view is definitely worth it and best shared too!

Hout Bay/Bantry Bay/Camps Bay Drive

Camps Bay, Cape Town

Camps Bay (photo credit: Martine Viljoen)

This is by far my favourite thing to do in Cape Town. This drive will give you views you will not forget for a long time! You can start in Hout Bay and make your way around the mountain.

Hout Bay has a working harbour that has many fish and chip kiosks and cheeky seagulls that will try and steal your chips straight from your hand. From Hout Bay, you can drive through Bantry Bay next and on to Camps Bay. They are all on the same seafront road. The views of the ocean are spectacular. There are even picnic alcoves you can pull into to enjoy a longer view of the Atlantic Ocean if you wish. The Camps Bay "finish line" has a strip of bars, restaurants and ice cream parlours where you can sit and watch the sun go down. Or, if you would prefer, walk on to the beach to feel the sand in between your toes.

City Sightseeing buses have this drive on their blue and red routes so if you wanted to enjoy a tour of the whole of Cape Town, this little bit of heaven would be included. They even have a purple tour which takes you through the Constantia Wine Valley. This way you can sample the views and the wine that make the Cape so great! This bus is probably cheaper to do than taking taxis if you want to see all the Constantia Wine farms, and this is why you will find quite a few locals on the bus with you!

Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay is on the False Bay side of Cape Town with views of the Indian Ocean. You can use the scenic Boyes Drive to get there which really shows the sea off. There are coves to pull off the road should you spot a whale or want to linger longer. In my opinion, the best place for authentic fish and chips is at Kalky's.

It is in the working harbour so you can sit in and watch the boats come in with their catch or you can choose to take your food away with you. You can get an ice cream and walk along the promenade, walk along Kalk Bay Pier or sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery.

kalk-bay

If you would rather go for the nightlife, then another great feature of Kalk Bay is the local hang out "Danger" Beach. This is a tiny tucked away beach area which can be accessed by a subway beneath St James' Station. Although there are no amenities on this beach, it does offer you a quieter atmosphere and great waves for a bit of body surfing. There are signs that warn you of sharks, so it is best to keep aware of your surroundings when using this trendy hideaway beach. I must admit, I have never seen a shark there and I spent most of my teenage years on that beach.

If you would rather go for the nightlife, then Cape To Cuba will give you a perfect sundowner atmosphere, it is also facing the ocean so the view is something you will find hard to beat!

Muizenberg Beach

I grew up in Muizenberg, it is probably one of the most relaxed beaches you will find. Like Kalk Bay, Muizenberg is also on the False Bay side of Cape Town. The beach is lined with colourful "retro" beach huts. You can still rent these for the day should you want privacy to change into your swimsuit. The water is warmer than most beaches in Cape Town and the waves are a good size for those who are learning to surf. This makes it the perfect beach to visit if you really want to get a taste for the local beach scene.

Trendy restaurant and cocktail bar, Tiger's Milk, overlooks the Muizenberg beachfront. It is perfect for sundowners and a quick bite to eat. There are plenty of surf schools in the area if you are feeling adventurous. You can also just hire a board and wetsuit if you want to have a try at teaching yourself how to surf. This beach is always packed with people enjoying the sun because of its warm waters and mild surf!

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch gardens are hidden in the centre of Cape Town's Souther Suburbs. These gardens are a great place to go picnic, to hike a mountain trail or to watch an outdoor concert. In the summer, the lush gardens have locals sprawled on their picnic blankets. With a great family atmosphere, it is a great place to take kids and unwind. The hiking trails are fairly easy so good for beginners who want a bit of a view. These trails merge seamlessly into the mountain wildlife and also go on to neighbouring Table Mountain parks. The summer sunset concerts that are hosted on a Sunday give you a good sample of African talent from far and wide. There is also an amazing treetop canopy walk, nicknamed "the boomslang" which is an easy way to get fantastic views if you don't want to go for a hike!

So there you have it, 8 key spots to get you started on your Capetonian adventure. My advice? No matter where you go, choose the off beaten track. Choose the little eateries over the big busy restaurants, choose the quiet beaches rather than the popular ones. The beaches with the bluest water, are actually the coldest waters too! Although Cape Town has a lot of places that are considered tourist hubs, you will find a lot of local flavour in every place because Capetonians are so proud of their city and they never forget it!

 

Bio: Courtneigh is a South African from Cape Town who moved to London last year. Her blog awfullygoodbritlife.com is a narrative of her time since coming to London. She writes part time as a hobby, it's something she`s really passionate about. Photo's credits go to Martine Viljoen: @martineviljoen

 

The post 8 things you need to see in Cape Town, South Africa appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-cape-town-south-africa/feed/ 1
Visiting the Peak District National Park and Nottingham https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-peak-district-national-park-and-nottingham/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-peak-district-national-park-and-nottingham/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 15:06:38 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11578 Today I want to take you to the region of Derbyshire and it's neighboring city Nottingham. Together with 7 other Belgian travel bloggers, I was invited for a day trip to the Peak District National Park and for a meet-and-greet with the one and only Robin Hood! Getting there Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, located about 150 miles northwest of London. It's an area of inspiring landscapes and wide open spaces and easily reachable via the East Midlands airport in Leicestershire. We took a direct BMI Regional flight from Brussels Airport to East Midland. (click on the […]

The post Visiting the Peak District National Park and Nottingham appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Today I want to take you to the region of Derbyshire and it's neighboring city Nottingham.

Together with 7 other Belgian travel bloggers, I was invited for a day trip to the Peak District National Park and for a meet-and-greet with the one and only Robin Hood!

peak district and nottingham map

Getting there

Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, located about 150 miles northwest of London.

It's an area of inspiring landscapes and wide open spaces and easily reachable via the East Midlands airport in Leicestershire.

We took a direct BMI Regional flight from Brussels Airport to East Midland.

(click on the map on the right for a larger view of the map)
bmi-regional-east-midlands

Our flight with BMI Regional

The Peak District National Park

First on our itinerary was the Peak District National Park.

Located mainly in the Northern part of Derbyshire this beautiful and diverse National park is ideal for long hikes or cycling.

There are around 65 miles of traffic free trails crisscrossing the area along former railway routes that are ideal for relaxing strolls.

peak-district-headstone-viaduct

Headstone viaduct

old-bridge-chatsworth-house

The Old bridge near the Chatsworth House

Holy Trinity Parish Church Ashford in the Water

Holy Trinity Parish Church Ashford in the Water

Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to go for the planned bike ride because our flight into England was delayed and we didn't have enough time, so I  definitely want to come back again to explore the area a bit more and perhaps even do some climbing or caving.

You can find more info about the Peak District on VisitPeakDistrict.com.

After our flash visit to the Peak District, we headed to the Chesterfield train station to catch the East Midlands train to Nottingham!

The East Midlands train in Chesterfield station

The East Midlands train in Chesterfield station

Nottingham (Snottingham)

I was expecting Nottingham to be a small village near Nottingham Forest 😉 but it turns out it's a big modern and lively city with a fascinating industrial heritage!

We were greeted by the main attraction of Nottingham: the one and only Robin Hood, who took us for lunch at Iberico World Tapas before we headed off on a tour of the city to learn more about Nottingham's history, the truth about Robin Hood, where the saying "One for the road" comes from, and other useless but interesting facts 😉

Is there a real Robin Hood? Yes, and it’s this guy…

Is there a real Robin Hood? Yes, and it’s this guy…

While everybody knows Nottingham from the stories of Robin Hood, Nottingham actually started out as a primary settlement of the Snotingas, a Danish tribe who either took their name from a chieftain called "Snot" or "Snod", or from the word Snottenga, meaning "caves". Of course in English, snot had a different meaning and so Nottingham got to be known as Snottingham, home of the followers of Snot!

When the French invaded in 1066, they couldn't pronouns the 's' and so they dropped the letter 's' and so it became to be Nottingham.

During the Industrial Revolution, much of Nottingham's prosperity was founded on the textile industry. Nottingham was an internationally important center of lace manufacturing and a lot of the buildings in the "Creative Quarter" of Nottingham are a remnant of these glory days. Many of the buildings have been recently restored and are now the home of many creative and digital industries.

New-college-nottingham

New college of Nottingham

broadway-nottingham

Broadway

So, what about Robin Hood ?

The original Robin hood is a composite hero. Many stories about real outlaws in the medieval period were woven together over time by minstrels and storytellers and so Robin hood started out as a symbol of hope that was brought to life in ballads.

It was only at the end of the 16th century that Robin Hood was elevated to a displaced Saxon earl as a symbol of the gentry's dissatisfaction with the crown, which formed the basis for the modern tale of Robin hood aka Robin of Locksley who was first mentioned in the book "Ivanhoe" by Walter Scott.

The best watering holes of Nottingham

When Robin Hood asked us what we wanted to see during our tour around Nottingham, I asked him if he could show us some good places for enjoying some fine mead of course 😉

Turns out that Nottingham has maintained much of its tradition and has a rather large bar and music scene!

There is a watering hole for everybody!

From this Pitcher & Piano bar that's located in a former Unitarian Chapel ...

Pitcher & Piano, Nottingham

Pitcher & Piano, Nottingham

... to more traditional looking bars like the Malt Cross or the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

Both these bars have a long history and are worth a visit! (The Malt Cross has actual underground caves you can visit on request)

the-malt-cross-bar-nottingham

The Malt Cross

ye-olde-trip-to-jerusalem-nottingham

The Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

ye-olde-trip-to-jerusalem-nottingham-indoors

The Cave walls inside the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

I enjoyed this quick trip to the Derbyshire region of England and I can really recommend a visit to Nottingham and a tour with the one and only Robin Hood!

 

The post Visiting the Peak District National Park and Nottingham appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/visit-peak-district-national-park-and-nottingham/feed/ 9
New Orleans: A City for Romantics https://inspiringtravellers.com/new-orleans-city-romantics/ https://inspiringtravellers.com/new-orleans-city-romantics/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:04:32 +0000 https://inspiringtravellers.com/?p=11566 Bachelorette Party If you are thinking of having a wild bachelorette party filled with drinks, food, music, and more, New Orleans is one of the best cities to party in. New Orleans is packed with culture. Dressing up in costume on any old Saturday night is a regular occurrence. Where else will you see 20 men walking down the street dressed as Elvis? Where else could you walk around on the streets with open containers of alcohol. NOWHERE! Staying in the French Quarter is recommended because everything is in walking distance. Some of the best bars, like Pat O’Brien’s, and restaurants […]

The post New Orleans: A City for Romantics appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
Bachelorette Party

If you are thinking of having a wild bachelorette party filled with drinks, food, music, and more, New Orleans is one of the best cities to party in. New Orleans is packed with culture. Dressing up in costume on any old Saturday night is a regular occurrence. Where else will you see 20 men walking down the street dressed as Elvis? Where else could you walk around on the streets with open containers of alcohol.

NOWHERE!

Staying in the French Quarter is recommended because everything is in walking distance. Some of the best bars, like Pat O’Brien’s, and restaurants like Court of Two Sisters. Dance the night away at the Hi-Ho Lounge or at one of the many venues on Frenchman Street, the best street for bar crawling and hearing local New Orleans brass music. You will definitely be heading home as the sun is coming up.

naked-butlers-hen-party

Wedding

Having your wedding in New Orleans is incredible. There are some of the most beautiful churches too. One of the most famous cathedrals is St. Louis Cathedral located right next to Jackson Square. The Cathedral was built in 1794 and is officially the oldest cathedral in the entire United States, and that sings romantic. With the beautiful backdrop of Jackson Square, and surrounded by historic buildings, this Cathedral is a perfect wedding venue.

It honestly looks like a fairy tale. Some of the best wedding photo opportunities are just steps away from the cathedral too. Jackson Square, pictured below, with the cathedral in the background, is one of the oldest and most beautiful sights in the city.

Just a block or two away is Royal Street, a street once known for its mix of shops, bars and hotels, but is now mostly known for its art. Just on the other side of the park is the Mississippi river, which is so beautiful during the sunset. The French and Spanish architecture that lines the French Quarter provides an amazing backdrop for any photo. The centuries-old iron works, bright colors and balconies will make you feel like you are not in the United States.

st-louis-cathedral-new-orleans

Honeymoon

Taking that post-wedding vacation is essential, and New Orleans is filled with a magical romance that will bring any couple closer. From walking the French Quarter at night, hand in hand, looking into all of the small shops and boutiques, to taking a horse and carriage ride through the oldest neighborhoods, Nola is beyond romantic. It is enticing, seductive, and delicious all in one.

Chateau Le Moyne is a beautiful historic hotel in New Orleans French Quarter. The rooms are very private, and beautifully adorned. Sit out on one of the balconies in the morning and watch the French Quarter come to life. At night, try eating at one of the many outdoor dining spots around the city.

Cafe Amelie is a very romantic spot just a few blocks into the Quarter. Even Beyoncé and Jay Z have eaten at this 150 year old location. Or try the newer N7, located just 10 minutes outside the Quarter. This is a hidden French style restaurant that channels Europe with its natural wine selection and brief menu. Exploring in New Orleans is a must. Every nook and cranny is to be found.

chateau-lemoyne-room

Written by Max, a marketing assistant for Chateau LeMoyne, a French Quarter boutique hotel.

The post New Orleans: A City for Romantics appeared first on InspiringTravellers.com.

]]>
https://inspiringtravellers.com/new-orleans-city-romantics/feed/ 0