Posts Tagged ‘travel’

February 26, 2014 8:45 am

Best bike riding destinations in the USA

Bike riding is among one of the best outdoor activities in the world, whether you’re biking as an individual or in a group of friends. It can be a thrilling experience, and picking the perfect destination makes for an unforgettable biking experience. It can ignite the passion of bike lovers.

Here is a carefully compiled list of the best biking destinations in the USA for any passionate rider wishing to experience the ultimate journey in bike riding.

Boulder, Colorado

Biking is great in Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is a haven for bikers. It has dedicated bike-ways, routes, and underpasses that will ensure you experience uninterrupted biking. I guarantee you’ll enjoy riding through this picturesque state, with its mountains, beautiful green summer landscape, and winter beauty.

Brevard, North Carolina

Biking in Brevard, North Carolina
Brevard is the best destination for the biker looking for a challenging trail, especially through the Pisgah National Forest. In the Brevard area, you can also take time to enjoy mouth-watering Southern food and a number of local breweries.

Portland, Oregon

This famous US destination has long been considered the king of cycling. The biker will enjoy both city riding and also the fantastic mountain trails. At Portland, you’ll love the coffee too.

Chicago, Illinois

On your next trip to Chicago, take a bike ride

The city of Chicago has a great biking environment and notable bicycling infrastructure. It boasts more than 200 miles of protected bike lanes and good bike parking areas. You can also visit the famous Lakefront Trail, running about 18.5 miles.

Washington, DC

Take a bike ride in Washington, DC

Biking is the best way to experience the famous monuments and memorials. You’ll enjoy great sight-seeing by visiting the C&O Canal, a 185-mile-long channel following the Potomac River. Bike rentals are readily available.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis bikers will not fall short of company. There’s a great biking culture here, and riders will enjoy the 120 miles of dedicated bikeways and bridges. Because the city is flat, it’s great for beginners.

Austin, Texas

Enjoy biking in this spectacular ranch land, home to the Austin Bike Zoo. The state of Texas is also home to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a 6-mile-long channel that runs through the capital. Outside, you can bike through the Texas Hill Country, famed for its beautiful ranches – you’ll enjoy the country life.

 

About the Author
Sophie Morgan is a passionate blogger and traveler who loves to share her experience with bike rides. Presently, she is working on behalf of UK driving test, which helps to get driving licenses in quick and easy steps to make your drive hassle free.


January 18, 2014 9:00 am

Best Hotels in Hua Hin and Things to Do

Mentioning Thailand in any crowd or conversation and chances are most will be ready to respond with stories of their adventurous holidays on the country’s island shores, hiking in rain forests, scuba diving off colourful reefs, late nights in Bangkok and, maybe even have a tattoo to prove it. Those who cannot talk along will immediately confirm their intent to go there very soon. Thailand certainly is a fascinating place to visit with ancient cities revealing the country’s age-old history, it has many islands to explore and temples, palaces and statues dot the capital Bangkok.

Hua Hin

For most people who visit Thailand, Bangkok is usually their first stop for a few days shopping in the famous markets before they start their journey either by flying or traveling over-land by bus and then by boat to the most popular and well known locations such as Phuket, Koh Samui or Phi Phi islands.

But a mere 190 kilometers south of Bangkok, so close you can take a taxi and be there in less than 2 hours is a place which is fast becoming one of the most popular locations and best places in Thailand to spend a holiday. Yet, many of the country’s 22 000 000 annual visitors still need to discover and experience Thailand’s royal Town, Hua Hin .

Why you should visit Hua Hin

Hua Hin (pronounced Wa Heen) has been the holiday destination of choice for royalty and affluent Thais as far back as the early 20th century. Apart from enjoying its own micro climate which makes it a nice location weather-wise even during the monsoon season when hotel accommodation is cheaper and, being conveniently close to a major centre like Bangkok, the area also possess many of the attractions of other locations all rolled into one cool package by perfectly combining vibrant urban living with the charms of a small Oriental seaside village.

Hua Hin’s primary sandy white beach stretches for countless kilometers from north to east. In addition you can take a car and go discover more pristine beaches and small coves where you can spend hours in total seclusion all within a 45 minute drive from the town centre and, if your holiday plans included kicking back on an idyllic island you can have that too.

A short 40 minute drive outside Hua Hin is Prachuabkirikhan where you can hop on a boat and be on Koh Talu Island within 20 minutes. Koh Talu is surrounded by water clear as glass in which to snorkel and view colourful coral and its beaches are the purest white. Also very close by are places like Dolphin Beach which is largely free of mass tourism which has seen the area retain is natural beauty and tropical charms. There are a few resorts here if you want to stay just outside Hua Hin to enjoy some seclusion. You can even walk from the beach and follow a hiking trail in the national Park called Sam Roi Yot or go explore small islands by kayak a stone’s throw from the beach.

In down-town Hua Hin narrow winding streets along the shorefront offers a quaint nightlife where you will find great restaurants, beer bars and vendors vying for your business. The town has an assortment of markets, at one of which you can have your lobster and other seafood grilled on a BBQ while you watch before setting off to test your negotiating skills at the many stalls selling all kinds of items from clothes to handcraft.

This is also undisputedly one of the best family friendly places to visit in Thailand where the attractions and exciting things to do will see to the thrills and spills of any adventure seeker. On the beach, right in front of some of the best beach hotels in Hua Hin children can enjoy pony rides or banana boat rides in the shallow water and with conditions being absolutely perfect there are also several kite surfing schools, not to mention some world class golf courses.

The Best Hotels in Hua Hin

You will find the assortment of 5 star hotels in Hua Hin rival the very best anywhere in Thailand and in fact in the world. Most of these are located directly on the beach and so central you can walk almost anywhere you want to be while some are on quieter beaches where you can enjoy lots of personal space and tranquility.

The luxury Centara Grand Beach Resort is listed as one of the leading hotels of the world. It is located directly on the main beach and surrounded by all the town has to offer.  It is also one of the best family friendly hotels in Hua Hin which has a kids club to amuse children and its facilities include beachfront pools, tennis courts, a pampering spa and even putting greens to name only a few.

Right next door is Centara’s neighbor, the 5 star Hilton Hotel which, due to it towering 20 floors high, offers amazing views of the Gulf of Siam. Elegant rooms are simply enormous and the hotel’s facilities world class.

Putahracsa Beach Resort is just outside the town’s bustle on a tranquil part of the beach and one of the best pool villas resorts in Hua Hin where you can have your own private pool right on the beach.

A little further north from Putahracsa and 5 minutes’ drive outside the town centre is The Sheraton Beach Resort and Spa located in quieter surroundings on a long flat beach. It has what must be one of the biggest, if not the biggest seaside pool in Thailand meandering through the resort premises. Like Centara Grand Beach Resort, this is also one of the best places to stay in Hua Hin for families since it offers a kids club with an entertainment program for children, a kid’s pool and often have special deals for families with children enjoying free lunch or dinner.

Approximately 7 kilometers to the south where Hua Hin Beach merges with Takiab Beach the setting of the Hyatt Regency Beach Resort is incredibly exotic with its manicured tropical gardens dotted with palm trees, pools and water features which spill onto the white sand. A little further down the restful Takiab Beach is Amari Beach Resort. The resort is particularly popular for families with children since it offers a two bedroom suite.

Things to see and do

Apart from the famous beaches the entire area has a wealth of recreational opportunities and things to see to keep your days occupied. The Black Mountain Water Park is a great outing for families featuring pools, water slides, artificial beach and even cable wake boarding.

Hua Hin

A leisurely drive along the coast brings you to Sam Roi Yot national park where you can explore caves, kayak and hike in the forest. Also make sure you visit Pala-U waterfall. Getting there is part of the fun since the winding road through Hua Hin’s signature hills is very scenic nd you can stop at some really cool little restaurants along the way.

If you like a little history, visit Klai Kangwon Palace which was the residence of King Rama VI and “Plearnwan” which is sort of a museum depicting the town as it was more than 100 years ago.

The artist village is also worth a visit where you can try your hand at painting and pottery, support the local talent or just sit down for a beer and listen to some live tunes. There is also an elephant village and Hua Hin Hills is a quality wine producing estate where you can go pick your own grapes on elephant back before trying out their restaurant. And if you thought it was only Bangkok which can boat famous floating markets, think again. Hua Hin has two located right next to each other.

Author

This article has been contributed by George Conradie who has been calling Hua Hin his home for the past 4 years. He works as a hotel accommodation booking consultant for hotels across Thailand and enjoys sharing information about the country with anyone who plans to visit.


January 11, 2014 8:22 am

Travelling with Meds: What to Know

For many people, access to their prescription medications is not a matter of mere convenience – it is an issue of vital importance. You might feel that medical reliance on a drug will complicate prospective travel plans, or that certain travel destinations can cause unwanted complications to arise. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Prescription drugs do not have to interfere with your travel plans. By following these simple steps for travelling with meds, you can be free to travel wherever and whenever you like without the fear of finding yourself thousands of miles from home without a much-needed medication.

Talk With Your Doctor

Before leaving, consult with your doctor about any precautions you may need to take regarding the environmental factors of your destination. If, for example, you are headed for a warm, sunny climate and your medication might cause photosensitivity, your doctor could recommend a high-SPF sunblock. Or, if your medication may cause dizziness and you’re headed to the mountains, your doctor could have some additional instructions to help you keep your feet on the ground.

Bring Extra Medication

It is also a good idea to talk with your doctor about increasing your prescription temporarily. As the old saying goes, “expect the unexpected”. Even if you may have enough of your medication to last through the days you plan to be away, it is possible that unforeseen circumstances might arise. When they do, it would be good to have extra doses of vital medications on-hand.

Flights can be delayed and storms may roll in suddenly. The last thing you want when your trip takes an unplanned extension is to run out of medication.

It would also be wise to ask your doctor for copies of your prescriptions – this way if your luggage disappears for whatever reason you can simply replace any medications which are lost.

Keep Your Medications On Hand

If you are flying, be sure to keep all of your prescription drugs in the original containers and pack them in your carry-on as opposed to your checked luggage.

The TSA does not forbid passengers from bringing liquid, gel or aerosol medications on board planes. If a liquid medication happens to pass the 3-ounce limit or for whatever reason does not fit into a one-quart zip-top bag, you will need to have these items specially inspected by a security officer, though you can still bring them on board once they have passed inspection.

Check the Customs Rules of Your Destination

If you will be traveling to another country, investigate their customs regulations before booking your trip. Some nations might have limitations on certain types or quantities of medications which can be brought into the country.

For example, some countries restrict self-administered injections.  Even something seemingly simple like vitamin B12 injections to treat pernicious anemia might mean a trip to a local doctor’s office.  Even if you secure a prescription for B12 injections in your homeland, you might not be able to use them while overseas.

This information can be most easily found by contacting the embassy of your destination country and verifying that your medications are legal under that country’s laws.

In addition, the U.S. State Department recommends that overseas travelers bring along a doctor’s note which explains the medical conditions which necessitate your medications. This letter should also include a list of your prescribed medications and the generic versions of those drugs.

If you follow these simple steps, traveling with medications is simple. A vacation is an opportunity for you to relax and have fun, and medical necessities don’t have to hamper your good time.

 

Lindsey is a seasoned traveler who enjoys sharing tips from her personal experiences.  She experienced some medication drama on her last trip overseas!


November 28, 2013 12:00 am

Adventures in Southeast Asia

From bungee jumping into water to snorkeling among coral reefs, Southeast Asia has plenty to offer in the way of adventure.

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Visiting the Islands of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long is an incredible bay in northern Vietnam. The area is considered a natural wonder of the world and is made up of 1,969 individual islands. While some of the islands are inhabited by people others are free of human life. Tours between the various land masses of the archipelago are available in the area, allowing visitors to see this unique collection of islands on a boat cruise. Also available are cave visits and kayaking.

Adventures_ChiangMaiJungle

Bungee Jumping in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The city of Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, owes its historical significance to its location close to several major trade routes along the Ping river. Today, however, tourism is the region’s main business, with almost 2 million foreign holidaymakers a year visiting the area. One of the main attractions in Chiang Mai is the 50 metre high bungee jump. Surrounded by jungle, the vantage point from the jump offers visitors a very pleasant view, before they hurtle towards the ground from the purpose built platform. If the bungee jump alone is not exciting enough, a specially extended rope allows jumpers to plunge into the pond below.

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Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

One of the most popular activities in the tourist hot spot of Vang Vieng, Laos, is tubing. Rumours, however, abound that the activity is no longer available in the area. These reports surfaced after a government crackdown following safety concerns, which resulted in the removal of the many of the more dangerous courses, but the activity remains prevalent, although drinking alcohol while participating is no longer permitted. Tubing generally involves careening around the Nam Song river in a tractor tire inner tube. For those not too keen on taking on the rapids, diving and swings are also available.

Scooter Hire (across the region)

Such is the devil may care attitude across Southeast Asia, even everyday activities can turn into an adventure. This is true with scooter hire. Hotels and travel agencies often have the vehicles available for rent and charge around $5 for 24 hours riding, with a little extra for optional insurance. A passport is normally request as a deposit, so it is important to make sure the venue is reputable. Once the red tape is out of the way, customers are free to enjoy their scooters out on the open road, as well as those less open routes in the inner cities.

Snorkelling in Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, on the west coast of southern Thailand, is home to picturesque beaches with areas of coral reef, underwater cave formations and marine life including leopard sharks, turtles and dolphins. There are plenty of companies in the area that offer the chance to swim amongst these natural features, with snorkeling and scuba diving available. For those completely unfamiliar with either activity, there are diving schools located near to the coast.

Andreas Ambarchian is a freelance journalist from England. He writes about a variety of subjects including travel, wildlife and sport. He wrote this article on behalf of Tucan Travel, specialists in adventure tours all over Southeast Asia.


Halloween is nearly upon us, and that’s got us planning some spooky travels. The world is full of urban legends, ghost stories and dark corners that can make any trip just a little more exciting. Below, we put together a list of some of the world’s spookiest travel destinations. Take a look, but don’t visit after dark!

1. Salem, Massachusetts

Picturesque Salem is renowned for its history of witches

You can’t say Salem without thinking about witches! The name Salem is referenced a lot in pop culture, but it’s actually the real-life place where 26 people were put to death for being witches. Despite this sad history, the town has embraced its spookiness, especially during Halloween. If you visit during October you can experience things like haunted tours, trial re-enactments, witches’ circles, fireworks, and a parade.

2. Highgate Cemetery, London, England

Highgate Cemetery is a beautifully creepy place

Any visit to London is not complete without a stop at the infamous Highgate Cemetery. It’s an interesting stop for history buffs, as the home to such influential people as Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and more. The overgrown grounds of this Victorian Gothic Style park give it a creepy atmosphere, but also let you explore for hours (in the daytime, of course!). Rumors are after dark, some seriously spooky apparitions begin to appear. The most famous of these is the Highgate Vampire, a seven-foot tall man wearing a long black coat and top hat who vanishes into thin air…

3. Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle was the inspiration for Dracula

A lot of old castles are spooky, but this old Romanian castle is also known as Dracula’s Castle. That’s because it’s said to have been the home of Vlad the Impaler, the supposed inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

As a historical figure, Vlad the Impaler was pretty brutal (as his name suggests). It’s possible that a whole host of atrocities took place in this castle, including cruel torture and impalement of tens of thousands of his enemies. The castle is open to the public year-round, but Halloween is the time to go, because you can take a special Halloween tour.

4. The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Colorado's Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for a very scary story

It’s a beautiful hotel, located in a breathtaking Rocky Mountain landscape. It was also the inspiration for the seriously scary Stephen King novel The Shining. As if that weren’t spooky enough, it’s rumored to be haunted by at least three people, including the founder of the hotel, who is said to hang out in the billiard room with his wife in formal dress. Rather than shy away from this bad publicity, however, the hotel has embraced it. They offer ghost tours to guests.

5. Paris, France

Paris has some spooky spots

There are some seriously spooky spots in the City of Light that are definitely worth a visit. Pere Lachaise Cemetery is an obvious one, with its miles of tombstones and famous residents. Even darker, however, are the Paris Catacombs. During the 1700s, bodies were dug up from the city’s cemeteries and relocated to this maze of underground tunnels. It is now home to nearly 7 million bodies, and is open to the public for a very scary walking tour.

Have you visited any of these spooky spots?


August 18, 2013 3:36 pm

The World’s Most Impressive Castles

You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate an old, historic castle on your travels. These awe-inspiring buildings tell us something of the people who came before, and the fact that they’ve survived so much over the years is incredible. Take a look at our top picks for the world’s most impressive, most beautiful castles. To learn more about the world’s most popular tourist tourist destinations, check out QC Travel School’s online courses. Let us know in a comment if you’ve visited any of these man-made wonders!

Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany

This castle in Germany was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty

This is the fairytale castle. We’re not exaggerating– it was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. This style is what we all think of when we think about old castles, although it only dates back to 1869 and is an example of Romanesque Revival architecture. It’s arguably the most popular tourist castle in the world, drawing over 6000 visitors per day in the high season.

Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

Tibet's Potala Palace

Situated 400 feet up the Red Hill, Potala is the highest ancient palace in the world. This 17th century palace is still in use today for Buddhist prayer, and is the official residence of the Dalai Lama. The castle’s thirteen stories contain 200,000 statues. Its gold roofs are a landmark even from the sky.

Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

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This medieval structure sits on a rocky island off France’s northern coast, accessible only by a small causeway that disappears when the tide rushes in. Originally built as a monastery in the 8th century, it has had a history of use as a fortification due to its strategic location. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an extremely popular tourist destination.

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

Portugal's Pena Palace

Located just outside of Lisbon, Pena Palace is the oldest example of European Romanticism. This colorful marble and alabaster castle is situated on a hill, and can be seen on a clear day from much of the region. A visit to Pena is not complete without touring its massive gardens, home to exotic species of trees and plants, and mazelike paths encircling the palace.

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle

What we love most about Prague Castle is that, unlike the other castles on this list, this one is right in the heart of the city. It’s the largest ancient castle in the world, and dates back to the 9th century. Its composition of palaces, cathedrals, and basilicas represent nearly every architectural style of the last millennium. Today, visitors can take in a classical concert along with the inspiring culture and history of the place.


August 2, 2013 1:33 pm

The World’s Best Stargazing Spots

utah

Looking for an incredible travel destination? Maybe you should look up to get inspired and take a trip to some of the world’s best places for stargazing. There’ s nothing more awe-inspiring than seeing the universe unfold before your eyes. Unfortunately, it’s not something most of us have the opportunity to see every day. In cities, we’re lucky if we can see 500 stars at night. A park or other remote location – especially one that’s made dark skies a priority – can show up to 15,000 stars. Take a look at some of the very best below.

1. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Star-gazers don’t even need a telescope to see the Milky Way from this incredible site, seen above. The park is called Natural Bridges because of the strange and beautiful rock formations that were created by a centuries old river. They make for wonderful sights for daytime travelers, and frame the night time star show. This particular park has even made protecting its dark sky a priority so it can be enjoyed for centuries to come.

2. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Located on top of a 13,000+foot volcano, Mauna Kea’s night skies are virtually cloud free. That means that stargazers are almost guaranteed to enjoy incredible views. This makes it a hot spot for both professional astronomers and amateur enthusiasts alike.

3. Wiruna, New South Wales, Australia

This remote location is such a great place to watch the stars that each year, it hosts a “South Pacific Star Party” where hundreds of campers gather to watch the skies. This 100 acre plot is nearly as beautiful in the daytime, situated in the center of the eucalyptus woodlands.

4. Hotel Elqui Domos, Chile

This is no ordinary hotel. This astronomic hotel has been specifically designed for stargazing tourists. These domelike hotel rooms – which are much more luxurious than they look from the outside – all have a detachable roof above the bed, and massive patio for evening relaxation and stargazing. It’s perfect for the star enthusiast who doesn’t like to “rough it”. They even have night time horse rides! For rates, reservations, and more gorgeous photos of the astronomic hotel, visit airbnb.com.

 


ottawa picture

We love living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. With its mix of green space, culture, great restaurants, and amazing shops – there’s something for everyone and always plenty to do. That’s why, in this post, we’re going to tell you all about the things to do in Ottawa this summer 2013.

1. Bluesfest

Each year, thousands of people flock to Ottawa’s Bluesfest – one of the largest outdoor music festivals in North America. This year, the festival runs from July 4-14 and features acts including Jimmy Eat World, She & Him, and more. Day passes and festival passes are available, and fees vary depending on the day and which acts are playing. Once inside, you can move from stage to stage freely and enjoy plenty of food, drink, and fun. The festival goes on rain or shine, so be sure to pack an umbrella or rain poncho just in case!

2. Visit the Byward Market

The historic Byward Market is located North of Rideau Street and runs all the way up to the river. The main streets, filled with restaurants, bars and small shops are George Street, York Street, Clarence Street, and Murray Street. You’ll want ot be sure to walk along Dalhousie, too, as it’s home to plenty of unique stores including Victoire, Workshop Boutique, Young Janes, and more.

Looking to get your hair done while in Ottawa? The Byward Market boasts many award-winning salons including Texture, Rinaldo, and others. If you’re looking for somewhere tasty to stop for a bite, try Sidedoor Kitchen with its Asian fusion cuisine (order the fish tacos, you won’t regret it!) or swing by Melo’s on Dalhousie for an ever-changing dinner menu featuring some of Ottawa’s best chefs.

3. Enjoy Parliament Hill

If you’re up for a walk, stroll through Major Hill park and up to the Parliament buildings. You can go on a number of tours within the buildings, or just walk around and take in the sights. Since you’re over in the area, you should also visit Sparks Street and Elgin Street to check out some of Ottawa’s oldest buildings. In the summer, plenty of festivals and performers fill Sparks Street (Rib Fest, anyone?) so be sure to have your camera ready.

4. Shop along Sussex

If shopping’s your thing, be sure to visit the Rideau Center and then head North on Sussex. You’ll find boutiques like Trust Fund, Schad, Wolf & Zed, and others offering hand-selected items that are sure to build an enviable wardrobe. Feel free to stop at one of the many pubs along the way for some appetizers and a cool drink!

5. Visit the Many Museums

Ottawa-Gatineau is home to many museums! Whether you feel like taking in a little natural history at the Canadian Museum of Nature, or want to brush up on your history of civilization at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, there are options for you. Perhaps aviation is more your thing? If you head West on Wellington you’ll find the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. There are also plenty of art galleries sprinkled across the city and you can always enjoy a show at the National Arts Center on Laurier Ave, too.

6. Take a Tour

Want to see it all, but don’t know where to start? Take a bus or walking tour. We love the Haunted Walk of Ottawa, but recommend hopping aboard the Lady Dive if ghosts aren’t your favorite things. The Lady Dive is actually a bus boat that takes you along the streets and then into the Ottawa River! Enjoy bilingual tours all day long and get an experience of a lifetime.

7. Canada Day!

What better place to celebrate Canada’s birthday than in the nation’s capital? Roads shut down, you can ride public transit for free, and the entire downtown core turns into one big party. Enjoy fireworks over the water and walk the streets with thousands of people from all over the world. Just be sure to get downtown early if you want a table at a restaurant or bar… it’s the busiest day of the year by far!

 

We hope you like our guide to Ottawa! Which city would you like us to write about next?

 


June 22, 2013 10:00 am

Climbing the Eiffel Tower

climbing the eiffel tower

When I was 17, I traveled to Europe with a bunch of kids from my high school for a senior trip. Of all the places we saw and things we did on that trip, visiting the Eiffel Tower was probably the most memorable. It was a somewhat rainy, overcast day and was a little too windy for my liking – but climbing the Eiffel Tower stairs is something I’ll never forget.

When I arrived at the Eiffel Tower, We climbed the first set of stairs to reach the “first floor”. On this floor, I was 57m from the ground. There’s food, washrooms, and anything else you could need. It’s a great point for taking pictures, though the second floor was where I snapped most of my photos from.

To reach the second floor (115m from the ground), we climbed more stairs. There are plenty of binoculars on this floor and it was by far the busiest of the areas I visited. While the rest of our group lined up for the lift that brings you up to the third and final floor (324m from the ground), a friend and I opted to grab a cappuccino and sit and enjoy the views instead. The line to take the lift to the third floor was long, and the lift can only take so many people up and back down at once. We simply weren’t interested in wasting our time in line like that when we could soak in Paris from the second floor. What a view!

When we were finished, we started our climb back down to the ground. I have to say, going down the stairs is much more frightening than going up because you can actually see the ground when you’re headed down! The stairs are made of steel and have holes all through them, so being able to see through them down to the ground coupled with the fact the wind was picking up made the experience a little scary. It was all worth it, however.

That’s my story of climbing the Eiffel Tower. Have you ever been? Let me know in a comment! I’d love to hear about it and swap travel stories.

 


Today We're Dreaming of...Japan!

There are so many reasons to make the trip to Japan. In what other place can you take in ancient culture and super-modern technologies at the same time? Throw in some exceptional food and breathtaking landscapes and you have everything you need for an incredible vacation. Here are just a few must-see landmarks when you go to Japan.

1. Fushimi-Inari Taisha

Image via www.japan-guide.com

This mysterious shrine goes all the way back to the 8th century. Located in southern Kyoto, it’s considered the most important shrine to the god of rice. Behind the main building are hiking trails under a tunnel of thousands of red gates. The 2-3 hour hike will take visitors up a mountain, the summit of which offers impressive views of the city, although if you’re not up for the full hike, there are plenty of lookout points along the way as well.

2. Tsukiji Central Fish Market

Image via www.globaltravelmate.com

If you’re an early riser (and don’t mind the smell of a lot of fish), the Central Fish Market in Tokyo is not to be missed. It’s the world’s largest fish market, where you’ll see acres of octopus, tuna, shellfish of all kinds, and even live exotic fish. If you arrive on the right day, you may be permitted entry to watch a tuna auction. You’ll have to get there early (like, 4:30am!), but it’s worth the spectacle. Make sure you don’t leave without trying the fresh sushi.

3. Iwatayama Monkey Park

Image via www.tripadvisor.com

If you’re traveling with children (actually, even if you’re not!) you have got to stop by Kyoto’s famous monkey park. It’s a bit of a hike up to this monkey hangout on Mount Arashiyama, but it’s so exciting to get to come in such close contact with the animals. The best part is that it’s the monkeys who get to roam free, while the people must feed and watch them from a cage.

4. The Hells

Image via infowahyudi.blogspot.ca

If you make your way down to the island of Kyushu, go over to Beppu to visit the incredible hot springs, also known as The Hells. These are not the kind of springs you relax in – they’re far too hot for that. However, visitors enjoy watching the wonder of these eight multicolored volcanic pits, which have all been given rather ominous names (Sea Hell, Oven Hell, etc).

5. Mount Fuji

Image via www.giantbomb.com

It is possible to glimpse the iconic mountain from Tokyo on a very clear day. However, for the best views, head over to the Fuji Five Lakes region (which in itself is worth the trip for its natural beauty) which lies at the base of the mountain. You can enjoy the view from their or, for the more adventurous, you can even climb the mountain and really create lasting memories.

What destination are you dreaming of? Let us know in a comment below and we’ll feature it in our next post!