4 Reasons Ecuador Should Be Next On Your Bucket List

galapagos-2451090_1280.jpgGalapagos Islands, Ecuador (Source

I think the hardest thing about traveling is figuring out where to go. We’re blessed with so many incredible travel destinations, yet some places often slip under the radar. For me, Ecuador is one of the most under-appreciated countries in South America – and the whole world. It’s such an exciting and beautiful place to visit, and everyone should add it to their bucket list. 

Not convinced? You will be after seeing these reasons to visit Ecuador:

The Galapagos Islands

Ecuador is home to one of the most incredible places on earth; the Galapagos Islands. Here, you will see some unique wildlife enjoying an untouched natural habitat. There are giant turtles, iguanas, seals, and even sharks. If you travel alone, it’s a joyous place to trek around as you take in all the beauty of your surroundings. For groups, there are Galapagos vacations for families that allow you to see all the amazing animals while being led around by a tour guide. You can’t really compare the Galapagos Islands to anything else because it’s utterly unique. It offers an experience like no other; it’s something you should see at least once before you die. 


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Banos

Banos is a little town that’s full of wondrous things for tourists to do. It’s not your typical travel destination; you get a real authentic taste of Ecuadorian culture here as it’s not overly commercialized. The beauty of this place is that it provides natural thrills for you to enjoy. There are mountains to climb, flowing waterfalls to jump from, white water rafting, long rope bridges, and even a swing that sends you out over the edge of a mountain. So, if you’re a bit of an adventure traveler that’s looking to get an adrenaline spike on your next holiday, then Banos is the perfect place for you. 

Excellent Food

The food in Ecuador is similar to most other areas of South America. As a result, it’s pretty damn delicious! You’ve got a host of sweet and savory treats to try, and plenty of small street food stalls or restaurants that serve the most authentic stuff. If you like fish, then try the ceviche in Ecuador as it’s really incredible. It’s also well worth trying cornbread as this is kind of a specialty in South America due to the diversity – you can have it with fillings for lunch, breakfast, or dinner. 

Incredible Weather

Finally, the weather in Ecuador is a good enough reason to pack your bags and head out there. The country is unique in that it sits on the equator. As such, you tend to get a pretty consistent climate all year round. It’s permanently hot and sunny, and you can take advantage of this by heading to some of the stunning beaches dotted around the coast. Speaking of which, you have hundreds of miles of coast to enjoy, and plenty of beautiful places to go swimming, sunbathe or have a little snorkel underwater. 

You see, Ecuador throw up lots of intriguing delights that make it a must-visit country. As a bonus, if you live in North America, then you’ll benefit from Ecuador using US dollars as its currency. So, there’s no need to worry about conversion rates when you set off!

5 Fun Things To Do In New Jersey

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Thinking of visiting New Jersey? Here are a few fun things to do when exploring this state.

Hit the beaches of Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore’s beaches are renowned worldwide as being the ultimate sunbathing spot. They’re less humid than Florida’s beaches whilst still offering plenty of sunshine to catch a tan. Even if you don’t fancy lazing on a beach, the shore offers plenty of other activities. You can snack out at Dunkin’ Donuts in Ocean City and go shopping along the boardwalk. Meanwhile, those looking to explore some history can head to Cape May, where there is plenty of Victorian architecture to marvel at and a range of museums. And of course, there’s Atlantic City, where you’ll find casinos and world-class spas.  

Go tubing on the Delaware river

Many people head to the Delaware river in the summer to paddle in its crystal clear waters. Whilst thrill-seekers can try kayaking or white water rafting, a more leisurely way to explore the river could be to go tubing. You can hire a tube from companies such as Twin Rivers Tubing and drift down the river whilst catching a tan.

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Be dazzled by Sterling Hill Mine

This former iron and zinc mine is a must-visit attraction whilst in the state of New Jersey. The mine’s most famous feature is its multi-coloured fluorescent rocks which make for a magical experience. This is the result of the mine’s lighting which causes the zinc to glow. Visitors at Sterling Hill Mine can also learn about the mine’s past and various mining techniques.

Walk around the Grounds for Sculpture

There are plenty of parks and gardens in The Garden State, but for those looking for an attraction that slightly more unusual The Grounds For Sculpture are well worth a visit. There are over 240 sculptures in this 42-acre park, on top of an array of trees and flowers. It’s the perfect park for nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike.

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See the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park sits across from New York and offers impressive views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You can even catch a ferry from here and get to see both attractions up close. Of course, there’s also the option of taking a day trip to the Big Apple (New York’s not in New Jersey, but it’s practically on the border and worth experiencing if you’ve never been before). Liberty State Park is also home to the Empty Sky Memorial and Liberty Science Centre.

How To Plan Your First Visit To Perth

Perth is a great city that captures everything that’s great about Australia but it isn’t always top of people’s bucket list when they’re visiting the country. People tend to go for Sydney or Melbourne, which is a real shame because Perth is a vibrant city that has seen a lot of growth in the last few decades and more and more locals are moving there from the bigger cities on the east coast. While it might not be as big as those cities, the west coast area and Perth, in particular, still have lots of great things to see and do so it’s definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been before. If you’re planning a trip to Perth, here are some great tips to help you make the most of your visit to this incredible city.

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Where To Stay

Perth is an expensive city so if you’re trying to plan a budget trip, you’ll need to look around a bit to find somewhere to stay. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find a cheap place to stay but you’ll have to avoid the hotels, especially those near the city center. If you want somewhere affordable to stay, hostels are your best bet. If you don’t mind staying in basic accommodation, you can get a fairly reasonable hostel and you’ll save yourself quite a bit of money if you look further outside of the city center, however, a private room is still going to cost you around $60 a night.

Airbnb is another option that is going to be cheaper than the hotels. Shared rooms are only around $26 or you can get your own apartment from about $85, which isn’t too expensive if you’re splitting the cost between a few people.

You’ll save money by staying further out of the city but if you’re doing that, it’s a good idea to hire a car so you can get around easily. You can book your Perth airport car hire today and get a good price, which means you don’t have to worry about an airport transfer and you’ll have a car while you’re there. It also gives you a bit more freedom to explore the surrounding area.

What To Eat

Food is expensive as well and you can easily pay $15 a meal at a normal restaurant, the fancy ones will be even pricier. Fast food places aren’t that cheap either and can sometimes be as expensive as the normal restaurants. However, you can get some great quality food at a reasonable price if you avoid the local cuisine and eat at the ethnic restaurants instead.

What To Do

There are plenty of things to suit every taste while you’re in Perth. If you’re looking for culture, you should head over to the cultural center where you’ll find lots of art galleries and museums or visit the Art Gallery of Western Australia, which is completely free to get into.

In the evenings, you’ll find plenty of great nightlife in the Northbridge area which is packed full of great restaurants and bars.

If you want to experience the beautiful landscapes, you can hike along the Bibbulmun track. You could do a single day or even a week if you feel like it and there are cabins along the way to stay in.

These are just a few of the amazing things that you’ll find in Perth. If you follow these simple tips, your first trip to the city will be a success.

Five Offbeat Ways to Have a Memorable Holiday

Holidays should be a time of celebration, fun and excitement. They should be filled with wonderful moments, they should uplift our spirits and they need to create unforgettable memories that stick with us forever. Sadly, remembering a holiday can be quite difficult unless you have an absolutely amazing time that is worth talking about for weeks once you return home.

Fortunately, there are also a couple of rather offbeat ways to have a memorable holiday. Of course, you could always do something elaborate and record yourself or take hundreds of pictures, but we’ve decided to list a couple of unique ways that you can have a memorable holiday. So if you’re ready for a little surprise during your next vacation trip, here are a few unique ideas.

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  1. Do something you’d do at home

Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Funnily enough, doing something that you would do at home, but on holiday, makes it a lot more memorable and potentially even enjoyable. For instance, if you’d normally like to relax in bed and read a book on a Saturday morning, then why not do the same thing but up on a mountain in the Himalayas or while lounging in a hammock in Bali?

Here are a couple of other interesting activities you could try:

  • Pick a spot to have a picnic in a unique location
  • Walk around your accommodation area and try to fit in with the locals
  • Get a bit of work done if you have the ability to
  • If you have a kitchen, go out to buy some groceries and cook a local meal
  1. Hire a travel photographer

Taking holiday pictures is usually something we can do ourselves, but a dedicated holiday photographer does come with many advantages. For instance, they’ll know the layout of the city you’re in, they’ll know the best places to go for romantic shots with your partner, and they might even be able to introduce you to some spectacular sightseeing opportunities that you can revisit later after your photo session.

They can be extremely specific too. For example, you can find Amalfi Coast photographers that know the local fishing villages and have access to wonderful villas where you can take beautiful photographs. It’s worth doing a bit of research and looking around for travel photographers that can fit your needs.

  1. Stay somewhere local

Instead of staying in a tall building that overlooks the city you’re staying in, get on the ground and look for local places such as a bed and breakfast, a hostel or even a capsule hotel location. There are several reasons to give this a try:

  • You’ll be more in-tune with the locals
  • You won’t be treated like a tourist all the time
  • You get to experience life as a local
  • You have more opportunities to meet people naturally and make friends
  • It’s much cheaper than booking a hotel

Staying somewhere local can seem daunting especially if you don’t understand the language. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to communicate if you’ve got a phrase book handy. This is an excellent opportunity to see your holiday destination from the eyes of a local and will help you appreciate the culture, language and even food.

 

  1. Make a friend

Even if you’re a particularly shy person, making a friend overseas when you’re on holiday is a fantastic way to create a memorable holiday. This is because you have the opportunity to stay in touch even after you leave, meaning you can always chat with them, ask how they’re doing and even arrange a follow-up trip to go see them.

Whenever you speak to the friends you make, you’ll start to remember the holiday you had, the places you visited and the sights and sounds that you got to experience.

  1. Pack less

 

Backpacking is one of the most popular ways to travel nowadays. It allows you to see more of the world, it forces you into situations that help you learn a new language and it’s a flexible type of holiday with no real direction. This means you can visit the country without any major expectations and just go with the flow, meeting new people, experiencing new things and trying out new foods.

In other words; the less you pack, the more immersed in the country you’ll be.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to really have a memorable holiday. You don’t need to go partying every night, you don’t need to visit every single tourist attraction and you don’t even need to spend much money. Hopefully, this advice has given you a few ideas on how you can have a memorable holiday in the near future!

Something For Everyone: Make The Most Of A North Carolina Adventure

Boasting everything from beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, to the breathtaking Appalacian Mountains; North Carolina really does have a varied landscape, and offers its visitors an array of things to do. The southeastern U.S state provides travelers with the bustle of city life, along with the tranquility of incredible terrain and attractive country views. With so much to do and see, it’s no wonder that many are popping the state onto their travel itinerary. And, if it’s somewhere you’re planning to take an adventure, you’ll not be disappointed, or stuck for something to satiate your senses.

With so much to do and see in North Carolina; you’ll want to ensure that you’ve ticked as much as you can off your list of plans. Therefore, you’ll need to put some thought and effort into your list itself, and preapre as much as possible before you arrive. Grab your notebook, and start looking into the various areas of the state, and what they have to offer, You can then narrow-down, and prioritize what you want to enjoy and experience. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and advice, for those about to embark on their first travel adventure in North Carolina.

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Great Smoky Mountains

The Smokies (as locals call them) are a beautiful mountain range, largely protected by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The clue’s in the name; however, you’ll find all the beautiful mountain terrain and nature, you could possibly want here. If you’re after plenty of fresh air, outdoor activities, and incredible photo opportunities; it’s worth heading to the mountain range when you arrive in North Carolina. It’s worth checking out some of the organized tours available so that you can make the msot of the rich forests and black bear habitats.

Asheville

For something totally different, Asheville can offer its visitors a plethora of museaums, galleries, and theaters. With a vibrant cultural and art scene, coupled with plenty of historical charm and architectecture, you can’t get much farther from the bears you’ll see in the Smokies. City-savvy travelers will already know about the new restaurants in Asheville, and those trendy bars that keep popping-up; book your tables and booths before you arrive so that you can fuel your cultural adventure.

Charlotte

Another major city, but with a commercial vibe, is Charlotte. Here you’ll discover museums that celebrate the states sporting and auto-racing history. You’ll also find places to learn about the Civil War, modern science, and there’s no shortage of interactive exhibitions to enjoy. For some respite and downtime, you can make the most of one of the many fashionable cafes in Charlotte, before heading to enjoy some of the modern art on display in the east of the vibrant city.

Outer Banks

When you feel like it’s time for some fresh, salty. ocean air, it’s worth heading to the beach; the Outer Banks are barrier islands that surround the coast of North Carolina. You’ll find open sea beaches and diving sites, making them ideal for either relaxation, or adventure, depending on how you’re feeling.

French Foodie Experiences Which Will Satisfy More Than Just Your Tastebuds

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For many of us, food takes centre stage when we travel. Food is, after all, one of the fastest we can get to the heart of a place. Local cuisine can tell us everything, from the history of our destination to its underlying values. Variations between local delicacies can also show you a great deal about the politics in each area. In short; anyone who goes anywhere should spend a fair amount of time making the most of the food.

Of course, some countries offer better eating opportunities than others. France, for example, is a food lover’s haven. With winning bistros like Le Baratin on offer, that should come as no surprise. Far from just serving up those iconic snail dishes, French eateries offer a whole load of culinary delights. So much so that many people visit here for the food alone.

If French cuisine gets you excited, you’ll be pleased to hear that the foodie fun needn’t stop with eating. There are also some spectacular food and drink experiences which could take your culinary trip to a new level. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Very French vineyards

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It wouldn’t be a trip to France without a few vineyards, would it? There’s something quintessentially French about sprawling vineyards and wine tasting. And, lucky for you, there are plenty of experiences which could see you getting stuck right in. Options like the iconic Bordeaux Wine Tours offer the chance to get right to the heart of the best vineyards. Even better, you can take this is as far as you like. Most options offer a one-day tour of the grounds, complete with tasting sessions. Others, like the Silver Travel Bordeaux experience, could see you spending a whole three days on wine. It all depends on what tickles those taste buds.

All the olives

While we’re on the subject of French traditions, olives are also worth your attention. In the South of France especially, these are in abundance, and any grow in vineyards similar to wine. Again, there are plenty of tours for the largest olive orchards going. Any one of these could see you viewing a side of France you never knew. Or, you could get right into the heart of the trade by staying somewhere like A Compte Hotel. Here, you can stay in the aptly named ‘olive loft,’ where you have the chance to look out onto an olive grove every morning. Can it get any more idyllic than that?

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A full-blown food tour

If these specialist subjects don’t appeal, you could always go for a full-blown food tour. Options like the Gourmet Marais tour offer three-hour experiences which could see you tasting the best cuisine from Le Marais. Or, you may prefer the Montmartre food and wine tour. Lasting for up to 210 minutes, this trip will see you landing at up to ten gastronomy stops. All with a knowledgeable guide. What better way could there be to get stuck into the best of French eating?

Why Food Should be Centre Stage During Your Travels

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Traveling is the best way to learn about different cultures and experience all kinds of new things. But, whether you are toughing out a hike up an ice-capped mountain or relaxing on a tropical beach, the food and drink you choose makes all the difference to your trip.

Cultures grow up around the foods they eat and how they dine together. If you really want to get to know a new culture, you should always try the various foods at your disposal. For all that globalization has spread cuisines around the world, a pizza in Chicago is very different to a pizza in Naples.

Learning About Food

Every time you travel you should open yourself up to the opportunity to learn and exploring food is a great chance to discover new ways of cooking and preserving food. For wine lovers, this will come as no surprise since visiting vineyards is a holiday in itself. And when you could visit OakGlenn and go on a wine trail, it’s a difficult chance to pass up!

But wine isn’t the only learning opportunity. Italy is well known for its food and there are plenty of schools along the Amalfi coast that welcome tourists keen to learn about Italian cooking. Paris is another hot location for cookery lessons but don’t rule out the other cities and locations you visit. You would be surprised how many friendly restaurant and cafe owners are happy to share their secrets!  

Discover New Flavors

If you’re into food and drink, there are few things as great as tasting something for the first time. Every area you visit will have a local delicacy or a particular way of cooking something and you never know when you are going to try the best possible version of something. While there are some pretty weird foods you may not fancy around the world, it is definitely worth your while to give some new things a go. Your new favorite food could be right around the corner!

Part of the joy of discovering new flavors is that you can take these ideas home and experiment with your own cooking. Sharing food is a fundamental part of being human and experimenting with new flavors at dinner parties is always fun.

Visit New Places

When you travel, you probably go to the same places everyone else visits but when you go for the food, your whole world opens up. Though you might expect some incredible food from capital cities and metropolises like London, Paris, Beijing and New York, often the smaller cities are where the beating heart of food can be found.

Instagram has had a big effect on the places we choose to go and while being able to take an awesome picture is fine, you would be surprised by the things you can find when you follow your taste buds instead.

Though food may not be the only reason you choose to travel, it can take you to some amazing places. And what better memory of your travels can there be but a recipe you can try at home?