Travel

Getting Off The Beaten Path on New Zealand’s South Island

After seeing Milford Sound, we decided to head south, instead of heading northwest to see more glaciers (like most tourists do).

With the help of the app CamperMate, we found some great spots to camp. On the way to Invercargill, we stopped at Colac Bay and found a secluded free camping spot with a sea view. It’s a pretty spot, but beware that the weather is unstable due to the closeness of the ocean. It can get windy and rainy, but if you are looking for a private spot with a view, Colac Bay is perfect.

On the way to the Otago Peninsula, we stayed at Bluff Camping Ground, a good site with clean amenities and unlimited internet (rare in NZ). The price is around $14 per person per night. It was a quick, pleasant stop before arriving at Kaka Point. There we stayed at Kaka Point Camping Ground. The price is around $12 per person with amenities (kitchen, showers, and toilets). The place was decent, but not super clean. Nugget Point, a viewpoint overlooking the ocean, is the natural attraction in the area. There's a lighthouse at the top of the hill, along with spectacular rock formations and thriving vegetation, with many different species of birds and sea lions.

 

The gem of this off the beaten path area in the south is the Otago Peninsula, for its unique access to wildlife.

In Dunedin, we stayed at the Dunedin Holiday Park, a good campsite with amenities and unlimited internet. The price is around $14 per person per night.

In the Otago Peninsula, you can join guided tours to see penguins, but we didn’t want to pay for a touristy experience. We wanted to see them in the wild. We did some research and read that you could spot them at sunrise or sunset at Sandfly Bay. They make their way to rest on the beach after several hours in the ocean fishing. We took our chances, woke up at 5 AM and made our way to the beach. After parking, there's a 15 minute hike to reach the beach.

Sandfly Bay is mesmerizing and it became one of my favorite places in the world.

It’s a long wild beach surrounded by sand dunes. Sunrise is magical. There is no one around, and the only sound is of the crashing waves and tweeting birds. We waited patiently for the penguins to show up, and they did. We watched them come out of the water and were fascinated by the sort of dialogue going on between the three of them on the shore.

They noticed our presence and quickly went back into the water. Please remember to keep your distance because if they see you they won’t come out of the water. We were far from them but they are smart creatures and will look around carefully before moving on. We also saw sea lions sleeping on the rocks.

The time spent at Sandfly Bay was special and one of the most vivid memories of our trip.

 

Okia Reserve is another cool hike in the area. It’s one hour and 30 minutes return (or two hours and 30 minutes loop). You will reach a long secluded beach where you can spot sea lions and wild birds.

Honestly, after seeing Sandfly, it’s hard to fall in love with other beaches. We loved it so much that we decided to wake up again at 5 AM to see the penguins again the day after. Back to Sandfly, we waited for sunrise, but our friends weren’t there to wait for us. The day before we had a perfect moment but this time everything was different.

We didn’t see the penguins, but we were happy to learn more about their habits looking at their footprints.

 

We made our way back to Christchurch (where we had to drop off our van) via Lake Tekapo because the sky was blue without clouds and we wanted to see the stars. The area is called International Sky Preserve because its deep dark sky makes it the perfect destination for stargazers. There were no clouds that night, but there was a full moon. It’s hard to find the perfect conditions, but the view of the starry sky was beautiful nonetheless. The day after we stopped for lunch at Motuariki Island view by Lake Tekapo. This viewpoint is further away from the touristy ones and we were the only ones there.

I highly recommend adding the Otago Peninsula to your Kiwi trip.

It’s the wild part of New Zealand, facing Antarctica. You can easily spot penguins, sea lions and unique species of birds.

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5 Reasons Why Croatia Makes for an Awesome Vacation

Not undiscovered but still a gem. “Croatia” – the name conjures something far away and exotic. 

My first trip to East Europe. A visit to Diocletian palace and King’s landing! 

The immigration officer at the Delhi international airport, however, shrugged when we told him our final port of destination, and added, “But why is everyone going to Croatia these days?” 

Umm, perhaps not that exotic!

 

There are several reasons why Croatia has become such a hot destination

Mediterranean climate, 2000 kilometers of coastline, an array of beautiful islands, stunning medieval towns of Split and Dubrovnik, the picturesque Plitvice National Park, a chance to jump across the border for a dash to Slovenia. What’s not to like!

The country met my high expectations and then some. It is a small country (I am from India, so it felt small, in comparison). Yet, we had to skip the Istrian peninsula during our two-week holiday. There is so much to see and experience. The warmth and genuine hospitality of Croatians make it decidedly suitable and enjoyable for families. We faced no issues in communication. Most people in the bigger cities speak passable English.

1. 2000 km of coastline and an array of beautiful islands

Croatia offers a stunning array of islands, each with its unique attractions. It becomes quite difficult to choose which islands to go to. The good news is that whichever one you choose would not disappoint you. Hvar, Brac, Korcula, Mljet, Rab are popular islands to explore.

We chose Hvar and Vis as part of our 2-week family holiday in the summer.

 

Hvar island

Hvar island enjoys a large number of hours of sunshine (more than 2500 hours per year), which gives it its nickname of Sunny Hvar. Its relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle, cultural heritage, delicious local cuisine and fine wines all make it a winner for a vacation of a lifetime.

And despite its reputation as a party town, I found that it offers a lot more. Rent a car in Hvar town to explore the island, look at old olive tree plantations and lavender fields. Stroll through small towns of Jelsa and Vrboska. Go into Hvar town for a sundowner.

Hvar does have some good beaches around the island - Dubovica, Lucisca, Saint Nedilja and Jerolim being the more famous ones. For the culturally inclined, a visit to the Fortica is a must. Even if you are uninterested in its history, the views looking down over Hvar and Pakleni islands are stunning.

 

Vis island

Home to about 3000 people, Vis is amongst the furthest inhabited islands and is not on the direct ferry route from either Split or Dubrovnik. That said, it has an interesting history. From 1950 until 1989, it served as the Yugoslav National Army’s base, out of bounds to foreign visitors. It still has the air of an unspoiled paradise.

Take the Military Tour in Vis - an experience unique to this island. Imagine going into a nuclear bunker! We visited a bunker dug 920 feet deep into a mountain, to protect Tito and the country’s ruling class from nuclear attacks. Other stops in this 4-hour tour included a submarine dock, cut deep into a mountainside, a house once occupied by Marshall Tito, Mount Hum for the best views on the island.

 

2. The stunning medieval towns of Split and Dubrovnik

Games of Thrones has been filmed all over the world, and in several other places in Croatia, but the outer walls of Dubrovnik look as if they were built for this TV series. With many GoT locations, a visit could leave you underwhelmed, yet the spots in Dubrovnik and the old town walls itself are very recognizable.

My top experiences in Dubrovnik included walking the walls in the old town, the sunset kayaking tour, a visit to the Franciscan monastery, taking a cable car and going up the Srd hill and soaking in the atmosphere in the lively bars and cafes of Dubrovnik. I would recommend staying in the old town itself.

We loved our brief stay in the old town of Split as well. It is quite an experience to live in the Diocletian Palace. This is a living city, its narrow streets, packed with people, cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique stores. Built as a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town, the palace measures 215m from north to south and 180m east to west, altogether covering 38,700 sq meters. There are 220 buildings within the palace boundaries, home to about 3000 people.

There is a remarkable ancient Roman courtyard, in the heart of the Diocletian Palace. Sitting on the steps in the Peristil, sipping a lemon beer or a glass of wine and enjoying the summer buzz would be my top experience in the old town of Split.

 

3. The picturesque national parks

The most popular parks are Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krk National Park. We visited Plitvice Lakes, and with some planning, luck and good tips from our B & B manager got to be away from the summer crowds for the most part.

Considered one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe, Plitvice Lakes National Park plays host to more than 1 million visitors each year. Most people visit the park as a day trip from Zagreb or Split.

It is famous for its lakes arranged in cascades, that are all interconnected and follow the water flow. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. 18km of wooden footbridges and pathways snake around the lakes’ edges and across the rumbling water.

There are 8 different hiking routes – A, B, C, K1, E, F, H, K2 – that cover the entire park. Your route choice would depend on the distance you want to cover, easy vs moderate hiking options, whether you want to be closer to the lakes/waterfalls, your desire to be away from the crowds.

 

4. Good food

We didn’t try the traditional Croatian cuisine; it is too meat heavy for our tastes. But with a great deal of time spent in sea-side cities and islands, we did have a lot of fresh, grilled seafood.

Italian cuisine is quite pervasive in Croatia, and that hardly comes as a surprise, given that Croatia and Italy are separated only by the Adriatic Sea. This was helpful with feeding our 6-year old when she got bored of grilled fish.

We had a lot of wine, and I mean, a LOT. Mostly crisp whites. And also the delightful lemon beer.

 

5. Adventure activities

Croatia is a great destination for an active holiday. There are several fun activities like cycling, kayaking, diving and hiking to do.

With its long coastline and clear water, kayaking is a must-do in Croatia. And there are hordes of companies that can organize the kayaking experience for you, from most cities (Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik) and most large islands (Hvar, Vis, Brac, Korcula etc). Our sunset kayaking experience in Dubrovnik - a great way to feel up, close and personal with the Adriatic Sea, see the old town walls from outside, see some of the spots around the old town including the Lokrum island - was one of our best experiences.

With its dramatic landscapes and quiet back roads, Croatia is a lovely cycling destination. My husband had a fun time cycling solo in Hvar and Vis.

The Adriatic sea has really clear water, but don’t go expecting the variety of marine life that you get to see in the tropics. There are several diving centers, both in the coastal cities and the big islands. 

 

Hope you are planning your trip to Croatia now!

 

Travel tip shared by ZestInATote
zestinatote.com

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8 Tips To Overcome Your Fear of Flying

Flying can bring on extreme anxiety for many of us.

In fact, it used to be one of my least favorite activities until I overcame my fear of flying. The good news is that there are ways to overcome those scary feelings. You don’t have to simply accept flying anxiety as a way of life.

There are proven ways to cope with your fear of flying, and even eliminate it altogether. In this article, I’ll show you some quick and effective tips to help you get started on beating your fear of flying.

 

8 Tips For Dealing with Flight Anxiety

Choose the Best Seat on the Plane

Where you sit on the plane can have an effect on your level of anxiety. But there is no single right answer here. To know what seat works best for you, you have to look at what triggers your fear.

If turbulence is one of the things that sets off anxiety for you then you want to sit in the middle of the airplane. The part of the plane that is right over the wings is the area that gets the least affected by turbulence. The reason is that the seats in the middle of the plane are the closest to the plane’s center of mass. That is not to say you won’t experience any bumpiness at all if you sit in the middle of the plane, it will just be much less than the seats at the front or the back.

If the sounds in the plane trigger your anxiety, however, you’ll want to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. The front of the plane is the quietest area as it’s the furthest away from the engine(s).

With almost all the air travel booking websites or agencies, you can pre-select the seat when booking your ticket. But don’t worry if you didn’t do this when you booked your ticket. Even after booking your flight you can contact the airline and select your seat, or do so when checking in for your flight.

And most importantly - don’t panic if you can’t get a seat where you want on the plane. Turbulence and airplane noises may trigger anxiety, but they are just a standard part of any flight!

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Bring Entertainment

When we fly there can be hours when we’re not doing anything. It’s during these times that we may find ourselves focusing on all the frightening sounds and sensations of the plane ride. By being unoccupied, our mind can run wild as we obsess about all the possible disastrous scenarios that could happen on our flight. Keeping your mind busy can really help to reduce your flight anxiety.

Here are some ways to keep your mind busy when flying:

  • Audiobooks

  • Listen to a meditation CD

  • Write in a journal

  • Computer games / Game apps on your phone

  • Podcast

  • Magazine

  • Adult coloring book (these can be quite therapeutic, and take a long time to complete)

  • Watch TV shows/ Movies

  • Book / Kindle

  • Calming music

  • Do a Project

​Staying productive on your flight is another way to keep your mind distracted by anxious thoughts. Use any activity that will keep your mind active, the bottom line is to get creative! Just make sure it’s an activity that doesn’t trigger more anxiety.

Here are examples of “work” you could do on your next flight:

  • Learn a new language

  • Office work that you are behind on

  • Write in a journal

  • Read about interesting attractions and activities at your upcoming destination

  • Write a letter or a postcard to someone

  • Create “to do lists” or set your upcoming yearly goals

  • Write a short story

  • Update/improve your resume and cover letter

  • Crossword puzzles

  • Paperwork (applications, filling in forms, etc.)

  • Solve Sudoku

  • Organize your photos

 

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant — and that can be bad news for someone with flight anxiety. The jittery effects that caffeine has on your body resemble those of a frightening event. Studies have shown that caffeine can make anxiety worse and can even trigger a panic attack.

If you suffer from flight anxiety,  you should eliminate or at least limit caffeine products such as coffee, energy drinks, 72 hours before you fly.  And of course, try to avoid caffeine entirely on the actual flight itself. If you’re tempted to have a coffee, opt for decaf coffee or non-caffeinated herbal tea instead.

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Get the Facts on Air Travel

Even though our intuition can tell us that flying is dangerous, commercial flying is one of the safest activities you can do.

Getting the statistics on how safe flying is, will go a long way to reassure you that you are not in danger. Do a quick search on the web on commercial flight statistics and you will come across plenty of websites that will give you all you need to know regarding how safe commercial flying really is.

There are also online tools that show you all the planes that are in the sky at any given time. This information can help you understand how ordinary commercial flying really is.

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Use a Mindfulness Exercise

When we start to panic on a flight our mind can spiral into a state of frenzy. Our scary thoughts begin to take on a life of their own as we imagine all the things that could go wrong with our flight. When this happens using mindfulness exercises can help you stay calm and relaxed.

Use the following mindfulness exercise to calm your racing mind, by shifting attention away from scary thoughts to non-threatening things in your environment:

To do this exercise sit or recline comfortably, and take a moment to bring your full attention to each one of your senses:

  1. Seeing: Scan your environment and bring your attention to 5 things that you can see. Try to notice things that you don’t normally pay attention to like the details of the seat in front of you.

  2. Feeling: Focus on 4 sensations that you are currently feeling like the texture of your shirt, the temperature in the air or the pressure on your feet from the floor.

  3. Hearing: Listen to your environment and note 3 sounds that you can hear such as the hum of the air conditioner, or the distant chatter.

  4. Smelling: Notice 2 things that you can smell right now that you usually filter out. These scents can be subtle like the lingering smell of cleaning products or the plastic aroma of the seat cushions.

  5. Tasting: Focus on 1 thing that you can taste right now. If you have water or a drink with you, take a sip, or just notice the taste in your mouth.

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Exercise

Another way to combat your flying anxiety is to stay active and exercise regularly. This may sound obvious but it can really make a difference.

Exercise releases endorphins that work as an antidepressant and can release anxiety and make you feel good. Additionally, exercise can take your mind off of your anxious thoughts allowing you to shift your mindset away from negative thinking cycles.

Intense physical activity is not necessary either. You can gain the positive effects just by doing lighter forms of activity such as walking.

Here are some ways you can get exercise before and during your flight to help you stay relaxed:

  • Take a brisk walk around the airport terminal

  • Stretch at your seat on the plane, or stand up and stretch in the aisle

  • Walk to the toilet or galley area to increase your circulation

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Don’t Conceal your Fear

A big mistake that a lot of fearful flyers tend to do is not tell anyone that they are afraid. But flying anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about, and concealing your fear of flying only makes it worse.  Remember, around 25% of the population suffers from some level of flight anxiety so there’s no need to suffer in silence.

When you get to the boarding gate, tell the agent at the check-in counter that you’re a nervous flyer. Once you board the plane tell the flight attendants as well. Ask if they would be able to “drop by” your seat every once in awhile to let you know that everything’s going as planned and the flight is carrying on normally. Don’t feel bad about asking them either, flight attendants are happy to help fearful flyers.

Also, don’t forget to let your seatmates know that you’re a nervous passenger. Speaking about your fear helps release bottled up tension - Remember, what you need is support!

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Talk to a Doctor

If you find that you’re struggling with your anxiety constantly then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor. Seeing a qualified professional in the mental health field can help you narrow down on the underlying causes of your anxiety and work through them using a variety of effective techniques.

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Summary

Fear of flying is a common, yet unnecessary phobia that you don’t have to live with. In this article, I’ve shared some effective tips that can greatly reduce your anxiety.

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10 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travellers

Solo travelling is a symbol of freedom that leads to a fascinating experience.

You can follow your own schedule, choose your favourite destination and shorten or prolong the trip according to your desire. There is no need to consult anybody! But it’s widely considered that female travelling alone face dangers and risky situations.

Maybe it is true because women are the delicate creation of God Almighty and not daring enough to confront the hazards. But it doesn’t conclude that women should not travel alone and stay deprived of solo travelling fun. This world is full of peaceful places offering extreme serenity and enchanting beauty.

Here is the list of top 10 beautiful places which are the safest destinations for solo female travellers.

 

10 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travellers 

  1. Iceland

Did you know that Iceland was ranked as number one peaceful country by Global Peace Index? Well, now you know! This state has a higher rate of gender equality that means our solo female travellers will be totally secured in this land. But this is not the only reason to visit Iceland alone. The city of Reykjavik is the biggest attraction for tourists for being the central point of Icelandic culture. Moreover, the Blue Lagoon Spa is one persuasive reason for a female to visit Iceland!

 

  1. Italy

Italy is a model of glorious Roman Empire. This country of ancient culture offers marvellous sightseeing such as the Coliseum and Roman Forum. The solo female travellers can explore this country while eating delicious pizzas and drinking filtered water from artistic fountains. The Italian people are also quite friendly and helpful.

 

  1. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small welcoming country full of warm-hearted people. It is a perfect place for adventurous solo female travellers. From diverse wildlife to beaches and rainforests, this place offers a wide area to explore nature. Whether you want you to spend a quiet vacation or attempt thrilling activities such as surfing, Costa Rica is just perfect for solo female travellers.

 

  1. Bali

Bali is a gorgeous island in Indonesia and a top most priority of tourists. This calm place has serene beaches, inexpensive accommodation, food and old temples exhibiting the pure Balinese culture. This place is quite safe for solo female travellers as it’s an epicentre of Indonesian tourism and government takes effective precautions to keep it clean of violence.

 

  1. Seychelles

Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands and situated in the Indian Ocean. Although it’s a perfect honeymoon spot, solo female travellers can also visit this country to witness the glittery sand of beaches and beautiful species of turtles and tortoises. 

 

  1. Scandinavia

The countries of Scandinavia are full of beautiful spots and attractive architecture. Denmark and Norway have been listed as the top two happiest countries in the world. Moreover, Denmark was ranked as the first peaceful country. Solo female travellers can plan trips to one of the Scandinavian countries in order to enjoy the safest journey.

 

  1. New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. From crystal glaciers to sunny beaches, this state offers irresistible sightseeing opportunities. Adventurous women can come to this place and get engaged in exciting skydiving and hiking. Moreover, the local language is English, therefore solo female travellers can communicate with friendly people easily and feel like home.

 

  1. Amsterdam

Let’s go to the Venice of the north! Amsterdam is a welcoming city of attractive architecture, cultural museums and beautiful canals. It’s the best place for solo female travellers who are looking for music and parties. This friendly city will indulge the women travelling alone in its Dutch culture and history.

 

  1. Switzerland

Switzerland is heaven on Earth! It’s a seductive place offering an opportunity of sublime travelling experiences. The Lake Geneva and Aletsch Glacier are the top peaceful places solo female travellers must visit to enjoy the heights of relaxation. Moreover, Switzerland is the fifth top peaceful country according to the ranking done by Global Peace Index.

 

  1. Melbourne

From melodious music to delicious food and aesthetic culture, this dazzling city of Melbourne offers an unforgettable travelling experience. Besides sightseeing, shopping and catchy architecture, this city also provides safety to residents as well as tourists. In the glittery lights of Melbourne solo, female travellers can even walk alone at night with no threats. Moreover, the local language is English, therefore, women can get a quick help by communicating easily.

 

Well, now you have the list of safest destinations so what are you waiting for? Begin your solo journey today and visit each one of these places to experience an endless pleasure!

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10 Not-So-Famous but Fabulous Streets Of The World

There are cities across the globe that are alive and happening.

There are hardly any corners left that people have not flocked to and bragged about in their travel stories. So if you wish to visit a street that many of your friends might not be aware of, it can be quite a task. But why bother when we are around?

We give you a list of ten not-so-famous streets and places of the world where you can be the first of your pals to click that rare selfie. Read on to make your plans.

 

10 Fabulous Streets of the World:

Calle Flassaders: Barcelona

When going through the busy streets of this city one may not realise there are pockets in town that still can make for a nice peaceful walk accompanied with some shopping. This is a picturesque meandering alley that’s ideal to take a break from the rush.

 

Xuetang Lu: Beijing

The most important city of the most populated nation surprisingly has this corner that is so beautiful and calm. During the time of fall the beautiful trees around carpet the area with spade shaped yellow leaves making the place flaunt its true charm.

 

William J. Day Boulevard: Boston

Take a little rest if you are running too much and come here to chat with your buddy or walk solo in introspection. Your walk by the beaches will take you straight to Fort Independence for a pretty sight.

 

North Alta Vista Terrace: Chicago

The busy city of Chicago can at times make you sweat in spite of being the breezy city. So if you plan to take time out and catch the breeze, then come take a walk amidst this first ever historic district of the region.

 

Marylebone Lane:  London

Maybe you have gotten tired of the modern feel of the city of London as you travel. We can advise you to take a detour to this lane for an appealing time amid unique shops and a bohemian feel.

 

Downtown Container Park: Las Vegas

When you think of this trip the whole concept is to check in to the cheapest hotel in Las Vegas and make your way to the casinos and evening fun. But the city is open to a lot more experiences. Just off downtown visit this interesting shopping arcade set up in shipping containers. You sure will love this one.

 

Chung King Road: Los Angeles

Inside the ever colourful China town is this interesting art district. Culture and art enthusiasts can take a stroll here to find some intrigue for themselves. In the evening time you can also take a guided tour around the area.

 

Stable Road - Maui

There are times when all you need to feel good about life is to listen to the continuous sound of splashing waves. This road in the city will make you absolutely do that in peace by the beach.

 

Macondry Lane: San Francisco

If you are in mood for a little hike head towards this place at once when you are in San Francisco. The walk uphill will definitely fill you with some positivity in mind. Surrounded by private residences it makes for a nice time killer.

 

Omoide Yokocho - Tokyo

This is one city in Japan that stands for everything futuristic. So if the steely glaze of tomorrow tires you out then head here to find an amazingly lively street. Full of small eateries and pubs with very few people to accommodate, this place still has a lot to offer.

 

So now you know where to go for that little slice of peace in your favourite big cities. Maybe next time you are there share a unique story of your experience with us.

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Belgian Cities to Visit

Brussels is the bilingual capital of the country of Belgium, famous for its medieval towns with Renaissance architecture. 

Most of the trips to Belgium start and end in this beautiful city, but the country has so much more to offer.

Despite the fact that the country is small, just 30,528 square kilometers, it is densely populated with 11 million people of two major linguistic groups. The Dutch-speaking Flemish live in the Flanders region in the north while the French-speaking resides in the southern region of Wallon.

Apart from eating Brussel sprouts and indulging in the tasty beer and chocolates, you should also spare some time to wander around the country centering around the canals and cobblestone streets, marching into museums and waltzing with the warm and friendly natives.

You can plan your visit selecting destinations and setting out at your own pace. 

 

Here are 5 Cities to Add to Your Belgian Itinerary:

Antwerp

The destination for diamonds in Belgium, the port city of Antwerp is 40 kilometers north of Brussels, standing on the River Scheldt in the Flanders region.

It is a major cultural and trade center with multi-cultural groups of 170 nationalities. So you are bound to find somebody from your own ethnic region there.

For art aficionados, it is the venerated workplace of Rubens and Van Dyke. The Antwerp Fashion Museum is necessary place to visit for fashionistas. You can think of buying a diamond and do not miss the city’s famous jenever (gin).

 

Bruges

The “Venice of the North” or Bruges will imbibe you with the Viking spirit.

It has a lovely cross-stitch of canals and magnificent medieval architecture, especially in and around The Grote Market Square. You cannot miss the neo-gothic Provincial Court, striking Belfry Tower and other places like the nine hundred years old Saint John’s Hospital and the gigantic Gruuthuse Mansion.

 

Liège

Down south in Wallonia is Liège, the birthplace of Emperor Charlemagne of the by-gone era and the modern crime writer Georges Simenon, the creator of Jules Maigret.

You should visit the Palace of the Prince-Bishops, the courtyards, and orchards of the Coteaux de la Citadelle, and the biggest and oldest La Batte Sunday Market. For car racing enthusiasts, a trip to Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 racetrack will be a pilgrimage.

 

Ardennes

The rugged hills of Ardennes are the paradise of hikers. The dense forests, caves, and cliffs are infested with wild boars (Obelix of Asterix would love them), lynx, deer and other animals.

The caves of Han-sur-Lesse, the castle of Bouillon and the Labyrinth of Barvaux would absorb you totally.

 

Charleroi

The shutterbugs should not miss Charleroi, the biggest city in Wallonia.

The old Carmelite monastery there hosts the largest Museum of Photography in Europe, covering the history of photography from its origin to current date. The Saint-Vierge-Marie Church, the 17th Century Cartier Chateau and the Glass Museum are other places of interest.

These are just some of the options. There are more if you have time and energy. The country may be small, but the vistas are aplenty and with a rental car, you will easily reach all the corners of the country and enjoy the trip.

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A Few Tips For Visiting Jordan

I really loved my recent trip to Jordan, hence I have compiled some travel tips for those who are interested in exploring the ancient ruins.

 

Planning for a Trip to Jordan

Key Places of Interest in Jordan

A smooth sailing trip requires some advance planning. Well in my experience Jordan is very safe and a great place to visit and I would recommend it for travelers i.e. single, groups, families and couples.

My keen interest in history gave me all the more reason to visit discover historic places such as Jerash and Petra and the natural wonders like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. As a whole I found Jordan very approachable and hospitable which is more important when a stranger plans to visit a new country.

 

Demographics of Jordan

Jordan is a small country located in the Middle East with a rich and varied culture. The capital city Amman has a population of over 4,007,526 people residing (as per 2016 records).

 

Planning a Trip to Jordan

To get the best out of your Jordan trip you should create a rough outline of the places you wish to visit based on your interest.

Since I was tight on budget I took a little more time to research and make the bookings. The foremost thing I was booking was the flight to Jordan.

Hence I was looking for flights to Amman one of the major gateways to enter Jordan. With some research I could manage to get a cheap air ticket to Amman.

One thing you should keep in mind is that you will not be able to cover the best of Jordan in a few days - you’d have to spend weeks to cover the entirety of Jordan.

 

Travel Essentials

Regardless of the time of the year you wish to visit Jordan there are few essentials you’ll need there.

  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Hiking shoes
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Ginger chews to get rid of motion sickness

 

Jordan is Expensive

The economy of Jordan is low compared to other countries hence tourism is expensive here.

A normal lunch at a street side restaurant or café will be priced outrageously in Petra. The local restaurants are priced a bit high for what they are.

On the contrary I got a chance to grab amazing falafel, some fruits and bottle of water at a very nominal price. Hence no complains.

We had shuffled through a lot of itineraries before finalizing our’s, however, Amman & Petra were two of the major places we wanted to visit.

 

The Sights We Visited 

  1. Citadel – Amman
  2. Royal Automobile Museum – Amman
  3. Jordan Museum – Amman
  4. Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts – Amman
  5. Roman Theatre & Folklore Museum – Amman
  6. Obelisk Tomb and Bab Al-Siq Triclinium – Petra
  7. Rosy Treasury, Al-Khazneh – Petra
  8. Monastery, Al-Deir – Petra

With some advance planning Jordan is an easy country to visit.

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A Rewarding Fishing Experience in Miami

Miami is one among the most beautiful and diverse cities in the United States of America.

The city has a reputation for being the sport fishing capital of the country. For this reason, the experience of going on a deep-sea fishing trip, in a Miami Fishing Charter boat, off the Miami Coast will offer you a rewarding as well as an exciting fishing experience.

The combination of being able to stay near to the beach yet catch some big fish varieties, make the city the most sought-after place for deep-sea fishing.

 

Tips to Appreciate Miami as the Sport Fishing Capital of the USA:

Why a Deep-Sea Fishing Trip in Miami is Interesting?

When it comes to sport fishing, Miami is considered a paradise for those who want to be involved in deep-sea fishing activity. This is because the city offers the greatest inshore fishing for almost every Atlantic game fish variety.

Anglers from all parts of the continent travel to Miami to get an interesting fishing experience. They take pleasure in catching Swordfish, Sailfish, Mahi, and Wahoo in an exciting milieu.

Whether it is summer or spring, you can see a huge number of drifting pelagic fish varieties in Miami. It is regular during the hotter months to encounter gigantic schools of Mahi.

During the daytime, you can be involved in a kite fishing activity or in a swordfishing activity.

Most Miami fishing companies, including Fish Jumanji, offer the best and the most inexpensive fishing charter boats for deep-sea fishing. 

Whatever the size of your group, you will get a suitable deep-sea vessel in Miami to make your fishing experience comfortable, convenient, as well as exciting.

 

How Can You Find Affordable Fishing Charter Boats in Miami?

After the advent of the Internet, finding a Miami fishing charter boat that fits your budget has become simple. All you need is to find a reliable charter company that offers you an experienced as well as a professional crew at a good price.

Most reliable charter companies in Miami offer boats to allow people to carry out fishing throughout the year. The design of these boats will make them suitable to perform deep-sea fishing in all weather conditions. You can get an interesting as well as a thrilling offshore fishing experience, as well.

As Miami is famous for both onshore, as well as offshore fishing, you have to book your boats well in advance to avoid the last minute rush.

 

What Facilities Can You Expect in a Fishing Charter Boat?

Every fishing charter boat in Miami comes with a skilled captain as well as with the required fishing tools to make the fishing activity of visitors comfortable and safe.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, you will get an appropriate vessel to make your fishing experience a memorable one.

Each boat will come with an experienced fishing crew that specializes in fishing all fish species. This means that you can get guidance from the team to catch your favorite fish species, including tuna, sailfish, Wahoo, mahi-mahi, etc., effectively.

Every Miami charter company will try to ensure that your fishing experience is successful as well as fun with their professional crew.  You can find many affordable charter businesses, such as Fish Jumanji, in Miami to make your fishing activity an affordable one.

 

Whether you are longing for a deep-sea fishing venture or you are in are on a hot chase for big game rewards, such as marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and mahi, you will have an outstanding deep-sea fishing experience in Miami. 

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Popular Places to Visit in Jaipur

Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan state, the cultural capital of India.

Jaipur forms the Golden Triangle of India Tourism and it also serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Rajasthan such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur.

Jaipur has become one of the top tourist destinations in India for both national and international tourists. Let us uncover some of the best places to visit in Jaipur for a memorable journey.

 

Popular Places to Visit in Jaipur

Amer Fort

Amer Fort is one of the most impressive forts of Rajasthan and also one of the prime places to visit as part of a Jaipur trip. Built by Raja Man Singh I, the architecture of Amer Fort is influenced by both Hindu and Muslim styles. Overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake, the fort was built using red sandstone.

Known for its ornamented pillars and delicate mosaic work in Diwan-e-Khas, splendid ivory and sandalwood work in Sukh Niwas, elegant frescoes and fascinating latticed work in the Ganesh Pol or a spell binding glass work in the Sheesh Mahal, Amer Fort is incomparable as far as the artistic skills of the artisans and designers of the Rajput era

 

City Palace

City Palace is one of the most elegant and most popular tourist places in Jaipur. Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the City Palace reflects Rajput, Mughal and European architectural styles. Surrounded by huge walls, the most noticeable structures in the City Palace complex are the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Maharani's Palace, Sri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.

Most of the palace is the residence of the descendants of the former rulers of Jaipur, only the ground floor is open to visitors where the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum is located.

 

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal is an iconic landmark of Jaipur. Hawa Mahal is an architectural masterpiece with over 900 windows and jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. The main intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe day to day life in the street below without being seen. The most unique feature about the palace is the fact that at all times a light breeze passes through it.

 

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir is one of the most popular religious places to visit in Jaipur. The temple, built in white marble, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Also known as Lakshmi Narayan Temple, the exteriors of the temple are carved with beautiful sculptures based on mythological themes, while the interiors have a large marble panel portraying mythological events. Surrounded by lush green gardens, the temple looks stunning, when it is brightly lit in the night.

 

Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal is situated right in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake, flanked by the majestic Nahargarh Hills in Jaipur. Built in the 18th century by Sawai Madho Singh I, it was constructed for serving the purpose of a summer resort for his family and guests. The palace gives you ample opportunities to spot flamingos and various other species of migratory birds in winter.

 

The palace looks spellbinding in the evenings when the entire structure is immersed in flood lights. Tourists can book boat rides to visit the palace but only the terrace garden is allowed to be accessed by the visitors.

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How to Spend 5 Days in Sydney

Day 1: Sydney's Dodgy Past and a Ferry Ride

Start your stay in Sydney with a short but entertaining history lesson. It's best to go to The Rocks.

This historic old quarter is the place where the first convicts and their guards built the first houses. The ground was rocky, hence the name. Later, the dockers and day laborers lived here - it was a real slum! Luckily, these times are long gone.

Today, this area is very popular with tourists. There is always something going on! Walk along the cobblestone streets and do a little window shopping. Buy some souvenirs at the weekend market and enjoy delicious sweet and savory specialties in the restaurants and cafes. Enjoy the LIVE music, enjoy the relaxed holiday atmosphere.

If you want to learn more about the history of Sydney and this neighbourhood, take a quick look at the Rocks Discovery Museum (free entry) or join one of the many private Sydney tours. For a delicious lunch, try the Pony's Dining or visit one of the historic pubs - many claim to be the oldest pub in Australia.

You will then return to Circular Quay, where all passenger ferries, cruise liners and Sydney tour boats stop, and buy an opal ticket to drive to Manly on Wharf 3. Manly is a lovely little bathing resort on the other side of the harbor, which also has a fantastic Pacific beach. The ferry crossing takes 30 minutes and is as good as any tourist cruise on the harbor - just a lot, much cheaper. There are toilets, coffee and free Wi-Fi on board.

When you arrive in Manly, follow the corso straight to the Pacific beach. The Corso is a busy pedestrian street with shops and pubs. Enjoy the view of the open sea, let the salt water splash into your face, build a sandcastle with the kids! Maybe you also want to go swimming? Please look for the place between the red and yellow flags, so that the lifeguards have a good view, because the currents can pull you out quickly. If you do not want to swim, you might want to take another afternoon walk to Shelly Beach. Keep on the water, keep right. Maybe you also see a water dragon. These are the big lizards who like to sunbathe on the rocks.

In Manly you will find a wide variety of restaurants, with or without water views. We recommend you Papi Chulo at Wharf, La Chica Bonita near the Corso in a passage, or Daniel San on the Pacific beach.

 

Day 2: The Opera, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Aboriginal Art

Today can be the best day to join a private tour in Sydney. If you prefer exploring on your own, start the day with a walk in Circular Quay. Watch as the ferries arrive and depart again, listen to the Aboriginal street musicians and enjoy the indescribably beautiful views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. A super good vantage point on the action can be found on the motorway bridge over the train station, on the Cahill Express Way. To get there, take the glass elevators in the south-east corner of Circular Quay. From up here you have a great angle to take pictures of the bridge and the opera house.

Then you continue to the opera house. Have you already booked a tour? If so, then join the tour now. If not, just walk around the opera house. Is not the architecture gorgeous and wonderfully surprising? Really great to see such a world-famous building from other perspectives. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can even find a seal on the steps behind the opera house. But you have to be lucky!

Continue along the water and then through the gates into the Royal Botanic Gardens. This park is very often visited by Sydney private tour companies. Follow the boardwalk along the Farm Cove (so named because it was the colony's first farm) and enjoy the great view of Sydney's natural harbor, one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The further you walk along the headland towards Mrs Macquarie's Chair, the better the view of the bridge, the opera and the skyline. Perfect for a few typical Sydney photos for the loved ones at home. By the way, you'll find Mrs Macquarie's Chair at the top, a ledge on which the governor's wife likes to watch the ships coming and going.

We dare to say that the Sydney Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful free parks in the world. We Sydney insiders know that only too well. Here we like to take picnics, play ball with the kids, take our wedding photos and go jogging during our lunch break. But you can also find some very interesting trees and plants in this park. As you head south to the Art Gallery of NSW, keep your eyes open. Incidentally, there are two lovely cafes in the Botanical Garden, which are ideal for a light lunch in the countryside. Alternatively, you can also have lunch in the Art Gallery.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales offers the perfect crash course in Australian art history. Not only are the best Australian artists exhibited since the times of the colony. There is also a fantastic Aboriginal exhibit that should not be missed. But here comes the best: the entrance to the art gallery and the standard exhibitions is free.

The Art Gallery has a number of temporary exhibitions from Asia, Europe and America. In addition, every year there is the exhibition of the famous Archibald Prize, a portrait competition with mostly well-known personalities as a subject. Admission to these special exhibitions usually costs $ 20 per person.

For dinner you can either use the restaurant in the Art Gallery or continue to Woolloomooloo. Finger Wharf is home to the rich and famous (Russell Crowe once lived, for example), and there are a number of restaurants here. For example, Critini's is a popular pizza and noodle restaurant that's perfect for families. But our tip is the small snack stand not far from the Finger Wharf. Harry's Cafe de Wheels is simply legendary. We were first taken to Café de Wheels by our tour guide on our private Sydney tour.

Dozens of photos prove that the stars simply love this snack. We recommend the Chilli Dog, but if you prefer it traditional, order Harry's Tiger, a beef pate with pea porridge, mashed potatoes and gravy. Delicious!

 

Day 3: Fun for the Mini Globetrotter

The best place for families in Sydney is undoubtedly Darling Harbor. Although much is currently being built, there is by far the best selection of museums and zoos. The nice thing is that all the attractions are very close to each other, which saves a lot of time. In addition, you can buy a combination ticket for many attractions, which is great for the holiday fund (tip: book online and save again).

Depending on your preferences, you can choose between different attractions (or make them all). If you haven’t booked a private Sydney tour yet, today can be the perfect time. Madame Tussauds is our Australian version of the great London waxworks. Here you will find mainly Australian and Asian personalities and celebrities, such as Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, and Wolverine. Here you can have a lot of fun with the dolls, because you can not only set in scene, but also touch them. Professional photographers like to shoot some funny pictures for a fee.

The Sydney SeaLife Aquarium next door has a mesmerizing shark tunnel, manatees, glowing jellyfish and a beautiful Great Barrier Reef Basin.

In the Wildlife World you can finally get a closer look at the Australian wildlife. Although it looks pretty small outside, you will find everything you would expect from Australia. Kangaroos big and small, snakes, koalas, spiders, butterflies, wombats and much more hide behind the simple façade. A great souvenir is a photo session with one of the koalas on the roof - but touching is not desirable out of consideration for the animal.

The area around Darling Harbor is great for families. The many restaurants have totally focused on families, and there is almost everywhere a children's menu, from which you can order smaller and child-friendly dishes. The Harborside Shopping Centre on the other side of the Pyrmont Bridge is perfect for cheaper alternatives as well as shopping. You can ask you tour guide in Sydney to take you to this shopping mall.

Or you can head south to neighbouring Chinatown. There are many Asian restaurants here that do not cost the world. Asia round trip included - Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian ... everything is great combined in a small neighbourhood. Paddy's Market Haymarket is also open Wednesday through Sunday. In the market halls, everything your heart desires, from cheap and cheap to cheesy and silly.

 

Day 4: Excursion to the Bush and the Surrounding Area

Of course, Sydney is great if you want to see an Australian metropolis. But if you want to experience the bush and the unique fauna of the continent, you have to leave the city behind. Either you go for the train (preferably on Sundays, because there is a favorable rate), or you book a private Blue Mountains tour to the neighboring Blue Mountains. You can book your tour to Blue Mountains thru Daily Sydney Tours. The mountains are only two hours away, but reveal a completely different, deserted and wild mountain. Incidentally, the Blue Mountains are so called because they emit a blue haze that hangs over the tops of the thousands of eucalyptus trees that cover the area like a carpet. The Blue Mountains is a national park that is naturally protected.

Find your way in one way or another to the famous Echo Point, a viewing platform in the small village of Katoomba. So in the fastest way you get a great first impression of the breathtaking mountains surrounding you here. From here you can also see the famous Three Sisters, a rock formation that plays an important role in the legends of the Aboriginal people. By the way, the first Sister can be visited relatively easily from here - a short hiking trail leads you there, which can be found from Echo Point. Echo Point is also the tourist office, where you can get lots of tips for walks and attractions in the area. Or you can book a private Blue Mountains tour here. In the villages of the Blue Mountains there is a tourist bus that drives you around (hop-on-hop-off), or you can take public buses. The neighboring Leura is also worth a visit because of its pretty little houses and small gardens.

If you want to try Bushwalking, take the bus to one of the signposted trails and visit waterfalls and viewing platforms. Please do not leave the predetermined trails, because there are already so many visitors lost in the dense bushland. If you cannot or do not want to walk a lot (for example, traveling with young children) then the trip to Echo Point is also a good destination for a day out in the Blue Mountains.

Katoomba has a good selection of restaurants and cafes.

 

Day 5: Sydney's Cool Surfing Culture

The biggest difference between Sydney and Melbourne is by far the great surfing culture we have in this city. It's best to take a close look at it when you're here. We recommend a hike along the Pacific Coast along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. Start at Sydney's most famous surfing beach, Bondi Beach. You can reach it easily with the bus of the line 333. Here live celebrities and backpackers, students, artists and of course surfers. Before you head south along the coastal path, make another quick fix in one of the inexpensive fast food restaurants in Bondi.

The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of the finest and best things you can do in Sydney. This six-kilometre trek runs along the wild Pacific coast, passing through beautiful beaches including Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. If you want, you can even continue to Maroubra, but this section is less well developed. If you do this walk when you are on your private Sydney tour then your tour guide can pick you up at the end of your walk. You can book a Sydney tour and their great tour guides can tailor your day according to your taste and needs.

The path from Bondi to Coogee is perfect for enjoying the sun while the stunning coastal scenery is perfect for beautiful photos. Of course you can also go swimming on the way, if you have your swimming clothes with you.

Should you visit Sydney in October, look forward to the wonderful Sculpture by the Sea open-air exhibition, which takes place every year between Bondi and Tamarama.

The trail is very popular, and it can get pretty crowded. Just take your time, take a lot of breaks, protect yourself from the sun and take some drinking water with you.

Highlights of the trail include a great view of Iceberg's Club right next to Bondi Beach and the Waverley Cemetery.

Once in Coogee, head to the family-friendly Coogee Pavilion for a beachfront dinner. If you have run the other way around and come out in Bondi, visit the Bucket List Bondi and enjoy a cold beer in the setting sun.

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