Acadia National Park

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Maine

The breathtaking treasure of the north Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park is located in the state of Maine. Maine is the northeastern most U.S state, and is a part of the “New England” region. The state of Maine, is boarded by the state of New Hampshire to the west, the dramatic Atlantic ocean to the southeast and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest. From its natural beauty, stunning views and friendly and welcoming locals, a trip to Maine is well worth it. And the magical Acadia National Park is the true gem of this charming state.

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Acadia National Park

Acadia National park is one of the oldest U.S National Parks, east of the Mississippi river! It was first established as a National Monument in July 1916, and was then changed to a National Park in 1919. The majority of the 49,052 acres of the park is located on Mount Desert Island, which is the largest Island of the coast of Maine, and is also the 6th largest island in contiguous U.S.

Acadia is the highest rocky headlands along of the Atlantic coastline of the U.S, and has a large abundance of biodiversity. Here you can explore a range of landscapes, from the rocky coastlines, to forests, ponds, marshlands, fields and mountains! A true nature lovers playground.

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Highlights and must sees

Bass Harbor head lighthouse

Visit the charming lighthouse, with views of the rocky coastline, and stay to watch a breathtaking sunset. There are also hiking options from here.

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Sand beach

A gorgeous beach that is nestled between granite mountains and rocky shores.

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Ocean trail

Walk from sand beach to otter cliff. An easy walk, with the most breathing views of the Atlantic ocean.

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Thunder hole

A natural rock inlet where you can see and hear the waves crash with a thunderous boom and high flying foam.

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Park loop road

27 miles long, this route connects the parks lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores with many observation points along the way. A great introduction to seeing the beauty of Acadia.

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Cadillac mountain

Drive or hike the impressive Cadillac mountain. This gorgeous mountain sits at 1,5350 ft above sea level and provides stunning views of Acadia. The perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Bar harbor

A charming sea side town on Mount desert island, and is known as the gateway to Acadia. With charming boutiques and restaurants this is a popular town to visit when exploring Acadia.

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Acadia National park is a truly magnificent place. There is so much natural beauty and diversity to explore.  It is one of my favorite U.S national parks and a highlight from our travels in the United States. A true gem of the east coast.

 

Rome

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Roma

Vibrant in art and culture, and showcasing a creative imagery into the past, Rome is an intriguing and breathtaking city to explore.

Rome is located in the central Italian peninsula on the Tiber river, 24km inland from the Tyrrhenian sea. Rome is the capital city of Italy, and also the capital of the Lazio region. Rome is also the most populated comune in Italy. With twenty eight centuries of history, and as one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe, Rome showcases a rich history in amongst the now cosmopolitan and happening city. Rome is truly, a magnificent city to explore and to absorb the dreamy atmosphere.

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The city of love

This was my second visit to this charming city, and I would come back again! As we were based in Dundee   Scotland, we found cheap flights from Edinburgh (around $20 USD)! Only a three hour flight. So took the opportunity to travel to Italy and explore.

We found a cheap(ish) backpackers hostel to stay in, which was located in the city center. An ideal location so we could just walk around and explore. We were here for six days and five nights before flying to Venice.

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The eternal city

Walking through Rome provides a glimpse into ancient times. I was truly in awe walking around and visiting the ancient ruins. Rome is a very special place where you can feel and view history. Here is a list of the best ancient landmarks to visit when in Rome!

  • Pantheon: An ancient pagan temple, that has since been converted into a church. This is one of Rome’s best preserved monuments.
  • Janiculum walk: A beautiful walk through the hills, and when you reach the top an impressive view overlooking the Roman skyline.
  • Circus Maximus: An open field with ruins. This was once, one of the largest sporting arenas in the world!
  • Roman forum: A true glimpse into ancient rome. With ancient ruins linked to the former emperors. These ruins illustrate 900 years of history!
  • Piazza Navona: A breathtaking piazza containing three gorgeous fountains.

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Roman Colosseum

In addition to the ancient landmarks highlighted above, a trip to Rome would not be complete without a visit to the impressive Colosseum! A well preserved piece of history, and a major tourist attraction in Rome.

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian amphitheater, is a huge stone amphitheater built between AD 70-72 by the Vespasian emperor. The Colosseum was used for four centuries! As the site of gladiator combats between men and other animals. The largest amphitheater in the Roman world, the colosseum could seat more than 50,000 spectators! The preservation of this ancient site began in the 19th century. kinsideold

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Highlights and must sees

In addition to the ancient sites must sees, here are recommendations of other points of interest that we enjoyed.

  • Trevi fountain: A well know landmark. A gorgeous 18th century sculpted fountain.
  • Spanish steps: 135 steps which are located between the Piazza di Spagna (at the bottom) and the Pizza Trinita dei Monti at the top.
  • Capitoline museums: A complex of art and archeological museums.
  • Pincian hill: Wander around the pretty gardens.
  • Visit the Vatican city:  The headquarters of the Holy Roman church and one of the world’s smallest sovereign states. The Vatican city became independent from Rome in 1929. Inside you can visit St.Peters Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
  • Get lost. Just rome around Rome and explore your surroundings.
  • Indulge in Italian food, coffee and wine!

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Rome

Rome is a very special city. Rich in history and culture. A beautiful city to explore and a great highlight of a trip to Europe.

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Brunei

Brunei Darussalam

Brunei is a tiny country located on the northern shore of the Island of Borneo. This small nation is surrounded by Malaysia’s Sarawak state and the south China sea. Brunei is one of the smallest nations on earth! It is also one of the richest, due to the countries natural gas and petroleum resources.

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24 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan

We had two months off from University. We made a rough plan to visit Bangkok and then to travel from the North to the South of Vietnam, first arriving in Hanoi. There were four of us going on this backpacking adventure in South East Asia. Next step, we needed flights. Trying to find a good deal with stumbled upon Royal Brunei airways – who were offering a great deal from Melbourne to Bangkok! Perfect. This flight deal came with the option of a stop over in Brunei….I had never heard of this country until this moment. We quickly looked it up and saw that we could also visit other parts of the magical island of Borneo, so we decided to book with this airline, and add Borneo to our travel plans.

We departed Melbourne and flew about six hours to arrive in Brunei. Flying with Royal Brunei airlines was a great experience overall. When we fist arrived, we took a connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu located in the Malaysian part of Borneo. We spent four days in Kota Kinabalu, before heading to Bandar Seri Begawan. We had 24 hours to explore the capital of Brunei before flying to Bangkok.

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We spent the day wandering around the capital of Brunei. We found the Royal Regalia Museum and looked around the museum for a good portion of the morning. A nice relief from the heat. The museum is a tribute to the Sultan, it was an interesting museum to explore.

The afternoon was spent exploring the markets and the pretty water front. The Tamu Kianggeh market was a highlight, so vibrant and filled with energy.  Strolling the promenade was nice,  I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Late afternoon, we were all quite hot and bothered…due to carrying our luggage around all day, and from being hangover. So we tried to find accommodation for the night. Being so late in the afternoon and having no internet access. This didn’t work out so well. In the end we decided to have dinner and then visit the impressive Sultan Abdul Samad building. This is a must see and looks so spectacular during the night with the city lights. After this we heading to the airport and spent the night there before flying to Bangkok early the next morning.

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Kota Kinabalu

Gateway to Borneo

Kota Kinabalu also referred to as KK is located on the northwest coast of Borneo, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu, which was once formally known as Jesselton is the state capital of Sabah. The location is an ideal base to explore the northern region of Borneo.

Borneo

Borneo is the third largest (non continental) island in the world. Located in South East Asia, and surrounded by the south China sea to the north and northwest. The Island is divided by three separate countries. Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei has the smallest portion of the Island. The Malaysian part of the Borneo is split between two different states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Indonesian state of Kalimantan controls the largest portion of Borneo.

Borneo is a nature lovers playground. The majority of the island is covered by dense rainforest, with a great richness of species diversity. This rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests in the world! Estimated to be 140 million years old. Home to a range of unique fauna and flora, and the center of evolution and distribution of many species. It is understandable that a lot of ecological research is conducted here. With this, Borneo is also home to a number of sustainable, conservation and responsible travel projects. The Island of Borneo is a really unique and magical place.

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Four days in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu was our first introduction to this amazingly unique island. Spending four days in this city was truly wonderful, the only negative was that it was not enough time! We stayed at a backpackers hostel, close to the center of the city. As we arrived in the afternoon, our first day was spent walking around and taking in the atmosphere of the city. Our first evening was spent at the night market, then on to an all you can eat buffet – and buckets of beers, the price was ridiculously cheap. The next morning, we woke up and started to explore more of the city. In addition to visiting the  sights and attractions of KK, the majority of our stay was spent island hopping, which included snorkeling and hiking adventures.

City highlights and attractions

KK water font and times square

With crystal clear waters and sunny skies the waterfront is gorgeous to walk along. Times square represents the commercial downtown area of Kota Kinabalu.

Sabah state mosque

Located close to the city center, the mosque is worth a viewing. The architectural design is very impressive.

Signal hill observatory tower

Provides gorgeous views of the city at the highest point.

Atkinson clock tower

This is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. The towers sits on a hill overlooking the city.

Central market

A vibrant and busy market located on the waterfront. A great place to explore and take in the atmosphere of the city.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman Park

The Tunku Abdul Rahman park is a marine park with a cluster of five islands (Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik) located off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. These islands are easily accessible. The distance ranges from three to eight kilometers off the coast, and you can take a 15-20 minute speedboat ride from the Jesselton point ferry terminal.  Plus, all of the islands are a short boat ride from each other. Island hopping was the highlight of our time in Kota Kinabalu.  We were able to visit many stunning beaches, go snorkeling, hike through jungle trails and see some pretty impressive animal and plant species.

Kota Kinabalu, with its tropical islands and stunning landscape is a nature lovers playground, and is rapidly becoming a more popular tourist destination, due to the city being a cultural hub with natural beauty. Kota Kinabalu was the perfect introduction to the island of Borneo. I am so eager to return and explore even more of the Island. I would love to experience a wilderness trip, absorbing the true remoteness and adventure that Borneo can offer.

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