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  • Adam 22:13 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , travel   

    Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York 

    Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York

    Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York

    Admit it, New York City can be a little overwhelming to visit with kids. But despite the Big Apple’s tendency to be crowded, loud, and expensive, there are hidden gems throughout the city. The Guardian compiled all the best things to do in New York with your kids , which include checking out the Statue of Liberty through a Staten Island Ferry ride, walking along the High Line, or enjoying fun and games at Bryant Park. Don’t worry about where you’re going to stay. Here are some of the best kid-friendly accommodation options you can book in New York City:

    Novotel New York
    ($109 – $329 a night for a double room, plus a facilities fee of $16 per day)

    This particular hotel has all the standard amenities you and your family will need, but the best thing about this location is that kids ages 16 and below can stay free in their parent’s room. They also eat for free, too, at the hotel’s Cafe Nicole. Pets are allowed here, which means you don’t need to leave the dog at home.

    Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York

    The Leon Hotel
    ($110 – $239 a night for a double room)

    If you’re looking for massive rooms, friendly staff, and a kid-friendly neighborhood, The Leon is perfect for you. It’s located in Chinatown, which is great if you want to give your kids a different New York experience. The rooms have high ceilings, well-designed bathrooms, and cushioned window seats.

    Le Parker Meridien
    ($193 – $552 a night for a double room, plus a daily facilities fee of $15 per day)

    Your kids will love Le Parker right from the moment they step foot in it. Frommers lists it as one of the best family-friendly hotels in New York. The property has a burger place right in the lobby, they play cartoons in the elevators, and they have spacious rooms and suites with feather-top mattresses. The hotel also features a 17,000-square-foot fitness center that has basketball and racquetball courts, a spa, and a rooftop pool.

    The Lowell
    ($620 – $700 a night for a double room)

    For moms and dads who feel like indulging a bit, The Lowell will give you everything you’re looking for in a luxurious hotel—some of their rooms even have a fireplace! Although it’s a luxe hotel, it has the homey feel of a residential dwelling. Most units have either a kitchenette or a full kitchen.

    Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York

    City Sonnet
    ($125-$145 double in Brooklyn, $150-$175 double in Manhattan. Unhosted apartments: $175-$300 for doubles and triples, $350-$700 for rentals that can sleep up to eight.)

    If you want to save money without sleeping in a hotel room the size of a closet, you can opt to stay in a NY apartment instead. A lot of families thinking of visiting New York find it difficult to look for an affordable kid-friendly place to stay. Don’t limit yourself to hotels, as vacation apartments combine a good location and a wide array of amenities. Apartments sound a bit pricier than hotels, but with a bit of research, you can actually save more money.

    You can choose between hosted or unhosted locations, and companies like City Sonnet will place you in the most exclusive and sought-after areas in the city. They have 2-bedroom vacation apartments that can accommodate you and your kids comfortably, without being too expensive. Just don’t let your kids get too used to living in a fancy New York apartment. Purchasing one is really expensive, as Yoreevo reports that the average price of a New York apartment was $1,120,572 in 2017. Apartments are great for families because you will have more room than most hotels. You won’t, however, get room service or an onsite spa for that valued parent time.

    Whichever kind of accommodation you choose for your NY vacation, it all boils down to your budget, where you’re going, and who you’re bringing with you. One thing is for sure though, we know that you will have a good time.

    The post Top Places for a Family to Stay in New York appeared first on Easy Planet Travel.

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  • Adam 22:09 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    Helpful Road Tripping Tips For Newbies 

    Helpful Road Tripping Tips For Newbies - (Image: Palm Trees lining road).

    Going on a road trip is a flexible holiday option because all need is your car, and it is a type holiday which is always fun to try if you haven’t ever explored your own country
    If you are looking to try a new type of holiday this year and you don’t want to head off abroad… a road trip could be the perfect option for you.

    ​Here are some of our quick road trip tips for you this year.

    1. Clean your car

    When we are living our daily lives, we can often take our car for granted and this can lead to a large pile up of boxes, bottles and other things which we never bother to clean out of the car. If you are planning a road trip though you will have to make sure that you clean your car inside and out to make it as comfortable as possible for your family. You’ll be in the vehicle for a long time so it is important to make sure the car is comfortable and hygienic.

    2. Check your vehicle

    In the week coming up to leaving for your road trip it is incredibly important that you take some time to check your vehicle and make sure that it is in tip top shape. This will include simple checks such as screenwash, oil, tyre pressure and other regular things. Also think about making your car more efficient for your road trip by bringing in a roof rack and box from DIY Roof Racks to store all of your luggage.

    3. Make a ‘sort of’ plan ​

    When you are planning a road trip one thing which is important for you NOT to do is make a detailed itinerary of where you want to go and what you plan to do. Although a plan is a good idea in general, you want your road trip to be flexible in a way and if you see somewhere you fancy visiting you will want to freedom to do this without worrying about your schedule. Make a general list of places you want to go, and beyond that just be open and flexible with your plans, you won’t regret it! ​
    Helpful Road Tripping Tips For Newbies - (Image: Aerial view of a Snow Covered Road and Forest).

    4. Avoid highways

    The whole point of going on a road trip is to make the most of the trip as well as the destination. Sure, you want to get from A to B in good time, but there is nothing wrong with enjoying the views along the way and stopping off at small villages as you pass them. Avoid the big roads because you’ll miss out on all of the hidden gems if you stick to them for the whole trip. ​

    5. Plan for trouble ​

    Road works, events, parades… all of these things can cause diversions which cause you to change the route you are taking on the road. Make sure that you take a minute to research the places you plan to go and check if there are road works and events on in the timeframe you plan to visit. This will either help you avoid these places or plan a better time of day to travel there. ​
     
  • Adam 20:04 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    Driving in Singapore 4k 

     
  • Adam 16:59 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    10 Photo Spots That Prove Rotterdam is the Coolest City in Europe for Photography 

    No doubt Rotterdam in The Netherlands is one of the coolest cities in Europe for photography. Check out these amazing photo spots in Rotterdam we visited.

    Let’s face it, Europe is overflowing with beauty, both conventional and unique. The sheer diversity of locations, architecture, and history makes Europe the world’s best continent for photography. However, few cities in the entire world can hold a candle to what Rotterdam has to offer in terms of photography. If you like to snap cool shots while traveling in an amazing destination, these photo spots in Rotterdam will light up your wanderlust.

    Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port city, and one of the largest in the world, and it’s been a confluence point for culture from all around the globe. It served as an important hub for centuries, and that’s evident in every corner of the city. From its magnificent skyline and the unique little shops, to every nook and cranny you can find.

    Although exploration is a key point when it comes to finding the right photo opportunity, in Rotterdam you don’t need to walk much. Just by wandering around you’re gonna find a plethora of photo spots in Rotterdam, from architectural photography to local life snaps and street art shots. Some of Rotterdam’s photo locations are open to the public, others are hidden between buildings or inside shops and cafes adding an extra challenge to find that perfect place, angle, and composition.

    Whatever you choose to do, you’re bound to have a photo adventure. The idea is to go out and about exploring the amazing things to do in Rotterdam and freeze unique moments with stunning backgrounds. If you are planning your trip to Rotterdam check out our 10 favorite spots for urban photography, visit them during day and night as the city changes when the sun goes down. Pack your cameras, lenses, phone, tripods and extra batteries, your Rotterdam photo journey starts now.

     

    The coolest photo spots in Rotterdam

    The Cube Houses are one of the most famous photo locations in Rotterdam, use your creativity to find different angles.

    1 – Cube Houses, one of the most famous photo spots in Rotterdam

    The Netherlands, and Rotterdam by extension, have always had a unique approach towards art. Rotterdam is a very artistic city, and architecture is one of its most important focal points. The first versions of the houses were built in the 1970s by Piet Blom with the idea of maximizing urban space use efficiency. The houses are built atop hexagonal pylons with cubes placed on top on a 45º angle, and their design greatly resembles trees.

    Photo Idea: since these houses were built with a perspective shift in mind, taking a photo from unique angles is a must. Either from outside or inside, you can play around with perspective. Add a human element to your photo to show the dimension of the cubes using the lines to create depth in the photo.

     

    Erasmus Bridge is one of the coolest photo spots in Rotterdam. From the top, from the rivers banks or from a boat, there are endless possibilities to get that perfect shot.

    2 – Erasmus Bridge, a bridge with hundreds of photo opportunities

    Erasmus Bridge is one of Holland’s most important and well-known bridges. It’s a historic landmark even though it’s relatively new, nowadays it’s an iconic part of the city’s skyline. Due to its design, it’s been lovingly referred to as The Swan because of its asymmetrical pylon. The tallest point of the bridge is almost 150 meters high, so it often dwarfs most of the nearby buildings.

    Photo Idea: using the bridge as a focal point of a photo is a fan favorite of many photographers. It can also be used as a way to dwarf the surrounding buildings, especially if you place the bridge to one side of your picture. From the top, you can capture the bridge and the busy river Nieuwe Mass. Don’t forget to visit the Erasmus Bridge during night time as well, it’s one of the best photo spots in Rotterdam for long exposure photography.

     

    Looking for a unique and romantic photo opportunity? Go to Delfshaven, this Rotterdam photo spot will leave you speechless.

    3 – Delfshaven, a romantic photo spot in Rotterdam

    Rotterdam has had a long and turbulent history. It was one of the cities that endured a lot of bombing during World War II, and because of that, a large portion of the city had to be rebuilt after the war. Thankfully though, Delfshaven is one of the few neighborhoods that was mostly not hit by the bombs. Because of this, the old-world charm still resides in the city. You will be able to admire houses facing the canals, discover old breweries, incredible churches, and even a replica of an 18th-century warship.

    Photo Idea: merely walking through the neighborhood’s numerous alleys provides incredible photo opportunities. With friendly locals and stunning architecture, what more could you ask for? And don’t forget the reflections, the canals can play a big role in your photos over there.

     

    The Central Station is a Rotterdam photo spot that will require wide lenses to fit in the perfect photo.

    4 – Central Station, capture Rotterdam’s busy life

    This wonderful and unique transport station is one of the modern pillars of Rotterdam. It’s the central hub from which over a hundred thousand people enter or leave Rotterdam on a daily basis. That’s where you can catch every bus, tram, and train in the city. The Central Station has received a total makeover in recent years, and the new design is spectacular. Its angled rooftop now points towards the center of the city, and the new facade and outdoor area are amazing. The clock, a few sculptures, and the lettering that spells its name remain intact though, adding up to its impeccable charm.

    Photo Idea: this is the perfect place to capture the city’s buzz. There’s a sense of scale around the building so it’s always great to capture the moment where a new visitor meets with Rotterdam for the first time. The roof is impressive, so bring your wide angle lenses to snap it. When the sun is out, you can play with flares and reflections. Another cool idea is to stay at the Rotterdam Marriott Hotel and have a bird’s eye view of the station. If you are serious about your photography book a room facing the station and you will be in one of the coolest photo locations in Rotterdam, perfect for sunrise and sunset timelapse.

     

    Another famous photo location in Rotterdam, the Market Hall is perfect for urban, architectural and food photography.

    5 – Market Hall, Rotterdam photo spot that combines architecture, food, and art

    Rotterdam is definitely a grand and majestic city. It has a unique charm and it often feels as if it’s grander than most cities in the world due to its impressive buildings. The Market Hall is no exception, an enormous building that combines food stalls, markets, restaurants, and apartments. It’s an innovative building on its shape, purpose and impressive ceiling that is also a work of art.

    Photo Idea: the Market Hall is one of the most diverse photo locations in Rotterdam. You can snap urban shots outside showcasing the architecture and the busy life at Blaak Square. Inside, the colors of the ceiling is the highlight, but don’t forget the food stalls, a true heaven for those who like yummy food photography.

     

    The Church of St. Lawrence is the only medieval photo spot in Rotterdam, have fun photographing it!

    6 – Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, a medieval photo location in Rotterdam

    Also known as the Church of St. Lawrence, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks of the city. It’s a medieval Gothic church from the late 15th century and it is also the only remaining Gothic building in the city. Following the bombings in Rotterdam during WWII, the surviving church and its immediate reconstruction signaled that the people and their city were entering a new and hopeful era. The church stands as a bold testament of the city’s heritage, especially when put in contrast with the modern architecture around it.

    Photo Idea: as a symbol of renewal try capturing how the church stands out amidst the modernity of its surroundings. Once it regularly has mass celebrations, the crowd of people might serve as a great focus on how Rotterdam’s spirit never wanes. If you are looking for unique photo spots in Rotterdam, book a tour to St. Lawrence Tower and get to see the city from a different and stunning perspective. From the top you can see the iconic Market Hall, the Cube Houses, and many more impressive buildings to photograph.

     

    The White House of Rotterdam is an amazing photo spot, it works perfectly with the surroundings for a rich composition.

    7 – Witte Huis, Art Nouveau and great composition in a single photo spot

    Known as The White House of Rotterdam, this iconic building dates from 1898 when it was the tallest building in Rotterdam [43 meters tall] and the first skyscraper in Europe. It’s one of the very few central buildings that survived the bombings during WWII, and it’s a national landmark nowadays. Its beautiful facade is something that should definitely be on your pictures, as well as its Art Nouveau mosaics and sculptures. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon in Rotterdam.

    Photo Idea: if you intend on capturing Rotterdam’s artistic heritage, there is no finer point in the city. From one side you can frame the Witte Huis with the surrounding canals, boats and Willemsbrug bridge. On the other side, you can work on different angles and snap the contrasting architecture of the White House and the Cube Houses.

     

    Willemsbrug bridge is a top photo spot in Rotterdam that is not packed with tourists either photographers.

    8 – Willemsbrug, a cool photo spot in Rotterdam that is often neglected

    Willemsbrug is one of the city’s most historic bridges. Today’s version is actually the second one, which was built in 1981. The original Willemsbrug was a late 19th-century bridge which was a key defensive point during WWII. Because the defensive forces were able to repel the Germans on this bridge, the Germans decided on bombing the bridge instead. The new Willemsbrug has a very unique design that works majestically for photos. The best part is that most of the tourist and photographers focus on Erasmus bridge leaving Willemsbrug bridge aside, which can be perfect for your photo.

    Photo Idea: this photo spot in Rotterdam will dare your imagination and photography skills. It’s hard to capture the real size of the bridge so you might need to cross it a couple of times to find the perfect location. Add a human element or cars to your picture to show the grandiosity of Willemsbrug bridge. Think about the composition and colors, the red from the bridge stands out well, even on a cloudy day.

     

    Luchtsingel is the most symmetrical and colorful photo location in Rotterdam. Use your imagination to snap cool photos there.

    9 – Luchtsingel, another amazing and symmetric photo spot in Rotterdam

    In 2015 the Luchtsingel was officially unveiled, a unique pedestrian bridge which connects the city center and the north part of Rotterdam. But it’s far from being only a pedestrian bridge, this yellow wooden construction becomes one of the symbols of Rotterdam spirit, mixing art, urban architecture and local entrepreneurship. Learn about Luchtsingel project here and get ready to snap some cool shots at this yellow and symmetric photo spot in Rotterdam.

    Photo Idea: once the bridge connects large portions of Rotterdam, you can use that information to craft a photo that showcases connectivity. Change your angle to play with the symmetric lines of this place. Think about contrast, movement, and composition. This is one of the coolest photo locations in Rotterdam, even a selfie works well there.

     

    Rotterdam architecture is an invitation to photography. Everywhere you look you see a building, a house or a wall that's perfect for the shot. Go around and discover your own favorite photo spots in Rotterdam.

    10 – Rotterdam’s Modern Architecture will add WOW factor to your shots

    Rotterdam is one of the world’s leading architectural cities. It’s one of the main reasons why it hosts the International Architecture Biennale. Everywhere you look you’re treated to some of the world’s most fascinating buildings, it’s hard to tell which one of them is more unique. Buildings like Maastoren, De Rotterdam, Luxor Theatre, Millenium Tower, Euromast and De Brug are some great examples of modern architecture that can beautifully make the perfect background for your photos.

    We can’t forget to mention the old buildings that received a remake a few years ago, becoming some of the coolest spots for photography in Rotterdam. Add the splendid Van Nelle Factory, Timmerhuis, Museumpark, and the Hofplein railway viaduct to your photo itinerary, and that’s just to mention a few.

    Photo Idea: our advice is to look up, down and to all sides. Change your angles and play with different lenses. From the ground or from the top you can take amazing shots of Rotterdam’s iconic buildings. The modern architecture is an invitation to let your imagination flow, working with reflection, lights or using the architecture as a cool background for portraits. In Rotterdam, you are free to create your own photos and memories.

    The beauty of Rotterdam is basically unmatched. There are photo opportunities at every turn, and each photo can easily signify something great and amazing. Rotterdam is truly Europe’s coolest city for photography, we have been there twice and can’t wait to return. There are incredible places for photography in Rotterdam that we haven’t visited yet, so to plan our next trip and to inspire you to travel there, we’ve compiled some of the best photo spots in Rotterdam using Trover. Check them out!

     

    View photos near Rotterdam on Trover

     

    Traveling to The Netherlands soon? Check out our guide to 3 days in Amsterdam and keep an eye on our blog because there are more posts about Rotterdam coming up soon!

    Love our Rotterdam photo tips? Save on Pinterest for later!!

    Get your camera ready for the best photo spots in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From Urban shots to architectural photography and portraits, ideas and photo locations in Rotterdam that will inspire to explore the city. If you like to snap cool shots while traveling in an amazing destination, these Rotterdam photo spots will light up your wanderlust. #Rotterdamphotography #RotterdamPhotoSpots #RotterdamPhotoLocation #RotterdamTravel

     

    Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Trover. ThanksRotterdam Partners for helping us make this trip happen.

    The post 10 Photo Spots That Prove Rotterdam is the Coolest City in Europe for Photographyappeared first on Love & Road.

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    1 day ago

    5 Cool Gifts For Traveling Couples

    It's time to share our expertise and help you buy the coolest gifts for traveling couples.

    Photo by @mckinsey.jordan

    Traveling as a couple is one of our expertise. It has been over 4 years roaming around the globe, collecting incredible experiences and unforgettable memories. And just like us, there are millions of traveling couples out there and you probably have a friend or two that can fit perfectly in this wanderlust category. We also know that finding the best gifts for traveling couples is not an easy task, it seems that they have done, seen and bought it all. That’s why we are here, it’s time to share our tips and help you buy the coolest gifts for couples who love to travel. I’m sure this guide will make your life easier and the couple’s next trip more enjoyable.

    So if you know a couple that loves nothing more than being on the road together, seeking out new places to inspire their friends, here’s a list of the perfect gifts for traveling couples that will help them blaze a trail.

     

    5 Best gifts for traveling couples

    Tinggly Gift Box is one of our favorite gifts for traveling couples, you can give it as a wedding gift our to help them plan their next holiday.

    • Tinggly Gift Box

    There’s oodles of scientific research backing up the idea that experiences make us happier than material possessions. So why not give to your favorite travel couple a unique travel experience? If this idea sounds like the coolest travel couple gift ever check out Tinggly.  What makes Tinggly so special is they’ve collected 100s of the best experiences all over the world, perfect for travelers and couples. All you need to do is select the type of gift voucher you want to buy according to your budget, and the couple can be sent a stylish gift box, or an e-voucher, which is useful if they’re already traveling. Then they can choose whatever they want to do, whenever and wherever they are. Tinggly even has gift vouchers for couples so they can share their passions. An extra tip here, travel experiences are a great wedding gift for traveling couples, they can even use them on their honeymoon!

     

    • Travel Pillows

    Nothing says romance like a set of matching travel pillows, right? So what about buying a matching travel pillow? Seriously, when you’re on a long flight or train journey, a comfortable travel pillow is about the biggest luxury you could hope for. A lot of people do have them already, but if your couple does, then who’s to say you can’t upgrade them? You can even get travel pillows that can be personalized with a unique design!

     

    • Solar Charger

    Most traveling couples will have a number of devices stowed away when they hit the road. Maybe you already got them a drone! But for sure they’ll have their phones, perhaps a GPS, a tablet, a Kindle or a GoPro camera. How to keep them all charged, especially if they’re in a remote place without a reliable source of electricity? A solar charger is the answer. All you need is a patch of sunlight and you can continue making calls, taking photos or listening to music. This is also one of the perfect gifts for traveling couples that are conscious about the environment and want to make their trips as green as possible.

     

    If you want to make a good impact choose a drone as the perfect gift for couples who love traveling.

    • Drone

    The standard selfie in front of an iconic landmark doesn’t cut it anymore. Today’s traveling couple needs to go above and beyond – literally. Capturing scenes with a drone allows for incredible overhead panoramas, and the latest technology means that these cool devices are more compact and robust than ever before – easily fit into a backpack. Sure, this is one for those of you with a higher budget to spend, but if you really want to see some impressive holiday pics when they get back, you need to get them one of these. Side note here, this is Rob’s favorite travel couple gift idea.

     

    • Airline Coupons

    Your traveling couple probably needs very little encouragement to hop on a flight whenever the mood takes them, but you can give their plans a boost by buying them airline coupons. This allows them to get amazing discounted rates on all kinds of flights around the world, perhaps even an upgrade.

    Need some inspiration to find the most romantic destinations to send your traveling couple? What about classy and romantic Paris? Or maybe a mix of culture and romance in Bangkok, Thailand? For couples who like adventure and nature, Langkawi in Malaysia can be a unique idea. And don’t forget The Philippines, one of our fave beach destinations.

    Airline coupons or tickets are also a great idea if the couple is on the road for a long time and you’re hoping they might make it back for a special occasion – a hint that you’d be happy to see them again and by the way, I already got your plane tickets covered so now you have no excuse! No doubt this is the best gift idea for couples who travel and are complaining they can’t go back home for holiday season.

    This gift list could go on and on, and we might update it as soon as we discovered other cool gifts for traveling couples that goes beyond the traditional travel journal or power adapter. Not that those items are not good enough, actually they are essential to any traveler. What we want is to find gifts, experiences or products that will make your couple travel gift the coolest of the party, so maybe on the next trip, your travel couple brings to you an extra special souvenir.

     

    Love this post? Pin it or later!

    It’s time to share our tips and help you buy the best gifts for traveling couples. Travel experiences, personalized products, and gadgets that will make your couple travel gift the coolest of the party. Unique gift ideas that will make the couple's next trip more enjoyable and memorable. #couplegift #travelcouple #travelcouplegiftidea #travelgiftidea

    Photo by @mckinsey.jordan

     

    The post 5 Cool Gifts For Traveling Couples appeared first on Love & Road.

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    Into the Midnight Sun Viking Ocean Cruises Review: Luxury and Wilderness

    The Into the Midnight Sun Cruise is an experience like no other, discover the beauty and luxury of this journey in our Viking Ocean Cruises review.

    Looking for a Viking Ocean Cruise in 2019? Look no further, Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise has probably the best cruise itinerary out there. A 14-day journey across Norway, Scotland, and England, packed with stunning landscapes, impeccable service and, of course, the Midnight Sun. Traveling on board a luxury ocean cruise ship is an experience like no other, but doing it through the coasts of Norway and the UK makes this trip an experience of a lifetime.

    Imagine yourself surrounded by stunning fjords, colorful and picturesque fishermen villages, pristine lakes, and a lot of wildlife. After cruising the Arctic Circle it’s time to see the gorgeous Midnight Sun and sail to the North Cape before setting route to UK’s most wild islands, known for their impressive cliffs, furry poneys, and cute puffins. If this Viking Ocean Cruise itinerary sounds like the perfect trip for you, keep reading, you will be surprised about how unique, well organized and luxurious Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise is.

    Our Viking Ocean Cruise review will cover the ship itinerary, restaurants, bars, onboard facilities, staterooms, shore excursions and much more.

    Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise Itinerary

    Our Into the Midnight Sun cruise itinerary started in Bergen, Norway and ended in London, UK, passing by Geiranger, Molde, Tromsø,Honningsvåg, and Lofoten in Norway, and Lerwick, Kirkwall, and Edinburgh in Scotland. A total of 14 days sailing through fjords, crossing the Arctic Circle, visiting historical cities, getting to know the local culture, people and, of course, the local cuisine. It’s a true immersion into the Viking culture. And the best part is, you can visit all these places without worrying about packing and unpacking, organizing tours, booking drivers or restaurants.

    Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise also sails the opposite direction, from London to Bergen. And as we are talking about the cruise itinerary, let me share a bit of the onshore excursions and activities we did before getting into the proper Viking Ocean Cruise review. Apart from the outstanding ship and service, no doubt the Viking Cruise shore excursions were the highlight of the trip.

    The Midnight Sun is only one of the many natural spectacles you can witness during this Viking Ocean Cruise through Norway and UK.

    Viking Ocean Cruise Shore Excursions

    There are tours at all port of calls, which are included in the Viking Ocean Cruise price, but there are also optional excursions for which you will need to pay extra. Over 75 different excursions were available on our itinerary, they carefully selected tours to attend travelers looking for cultural, historical, nature, and/or adventure experiences. It’s important to mention that you need to book your tours in advance, the earlier the better as some of them have limited capacity.

    Here are the destinations and some of the shore excursions offered during Into the Midnight Sun Viking Ocean Cruise:

     

    • Bergen, Norway

    Time on shore: Approx. 26 hours.

    In our Viking Ocean Cruise review, we gonna talk about all the ports we visited and the activities we did. Our Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise started in Bergen, Norway.

    Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, an important port and for centuries it was the capital of the country. You have plenty of time to explore the city as the ship stays in Bergen for a whole day. The port is close to the city and you can easily walk to attractions like the Fish Market and to the historical buildings of Bryggen wharf. Watching the sunset from the top of Floyen mountain is a must.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Fjord Fishing and Flightseeing over Fjords & Glacier

     

    • Geiranger, Norway

    Time on shore: Approx. 10 hours.

    The second stop of our Viking Ocean Cruise was the Norwegian Fjords and Geiranger.

    The quote “the journey is the destination” fits perfectly here. To reach Geiranger our ship cruised through monumental fjords and countless waterfalls. It was one of my favorite parts of the journey, sipping cognac at the Explorers Lounge while admiring the Norwegian fjords. In Geiranger the ship was anchored so we needed to take a 10-15 minute tender ride to/from the shore. The town is small, there are several souvenir shops and restaurants, and it’s home to the Norwegian Fjord Museum. The famous viewpoints, Eagles Bend and Flydalsjuvet are accessible by taxi or with the shore excursions.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Geiranger Eagle’s Bend Overlook & Fjord Center and Kayaking Geirangerfjord.

     

    • Molde, Norway

    Time on shore: Approx. 10 hours.

    Molde in Norway was another amazing on shore excursion included on our Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise Price.

    Molde is famous for the Molde Panorama, an impressive range of 222 mountain peaks, picturesque villages, and the Atlantic Road. We stopped at Håholmen, a tiny fishing village that dates back to 1700. It was an important fishing port for years, the colorful fishermen’s houses are now hotel rooms and restaurants. Another highlight of this Viking Cruise shore excursion was the driving through the curvy bridges of the Atlantic Road, impressive.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Håholmen, a Viking experience.

     

    Håholmen village is such a unique place to visit in Norway, we went there during our Viking Ocean Cruise shore excursion.

     

    • Tromsø, Norway

    Time on shore: Approx. 6 hours.

    Our Viking Ocean Cruise Itinerary also passed by Tromso, Norway.

    Tromsø historical center is a short walk from the harbor and it’s packed with stunning architecture. The city also houses the Arctic Cathedral and a cable car that will take you to the top of Storsteinen, 421 meters above sea level.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Svensby home visit and Husky trek through arctic hills.

     

    • Honningsvåg, Norway

    Time on shore: 6 hours.

    Visit the North Cape was an extraordinary experience, even more magical when we saw the midnight sun from our Viking Ocean Cruise.

    Honningsvåg is the northernmost city in Norway and it’s also the departure point to Nordkapp. Our tour to the North Cape was great fun even with harsh weather conditions.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: drive to the North Cape and visit Honningsvåg & Surroundings by ATV.

     

    • Leknes (Lofoten), Norway

    Time on shore: Approx. 6 hours.

    Among all the destinations we visit on our Viking Ocean Cruise itinerary, Lofoten in Norway was one of my favorite places.

    The Lofoten Islands are blessed by nature, its mountains, lakes, and fjords are absolutely stunning. This is definitely a place I will return to stay longer. Our 4 hours hike was just a glimpse of how appealing the nature on the Lofoten Islands is.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Tjorndalen Scenic Hike and Sea Eagle Safari by RIB

     

    • Lerwick (Shetland Islands), Scotland

    Time on shore: Approx. 10 hours.

    Shetland Island was the first stop of our Into the Midnight Sun Viking Ocean Cruise in Scotland.

    The best word to describe the Shetland Islands is wild. The cliffs, the rough seas, the chilly wind, and the ponies. This archipelago is beautiful, it’s got stunning nature and over 1,500 ponies living there freely. While exploring the island we saw sheeps, ponies, puffin birds, flowers, lighthouses and houses that seem to have come from a child’s storybook.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Shetland Panorama & Ponies and Walking the Nature Trails of Mousa Island.

     

    • Kirkwall, Scotland

    Time on shore: Approx. 8 hours.

    One shore excursion per destination in included on the Viking Ocean Cruise Price, but you must book advance as some of them are only for small groups.

    The St. Magnus Cathedral and the Earl’s and Bishops Palace are examples of Kirkwall’s splendid architecture. Its UNESCO Neolithic sites are among the best preserved in the world.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Highlights of historic Orkney.

     

    • Rosyth (Edinburgh), Scotland

    Time on shore: Approx. 10 hours.

    Edinburgh was one of the highlights of our Into the Midnight Sun Viking Ocean Cruise Itinerary.

    Visiting Scotland’s capital is like a trip to the past. The narrow alleys and passages are a maze around the extraordinary Edinburgh Castle. The Scottish bagpipers performing along the Royal Mile add a fine touch to this medieval city. Bear in mind that the pier is located about 40 minutes from Edinburgh city center by car.

    Recommended Shore Excursions: Edinburgh Highlights.

     

    • Greenwich (London), England

    Time on shore: Approx. 22 hours.

    London is the final destination of the Into the Midnight Sun Viking Cruise and the shore excursions in the city are amazing.

    London is one of the most important and diverse cities in the world, thanks to the extensive reach of the British Empire. Buckingham Palace, London Eye, the Parliament, the Shard, its museums, parks, and galleries are just a small sample of what to do in London.

    For more inspiration check out our guide to what to do in London in one day.

     

    The arrival in London was amazing, cruising through the River Thames, passing by the Thames

     
  • Adam 16:53 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    7 Things You’ll Love at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach: Family Review 

    I could feel tension drain from my shoulders as I looked at the crystal clear, aquamarine ocean. I was already imagining floating in that beautiful water, basking in the sun, and wiggling my toes in the white sand.

    10 seconds ago, I was tired from a long flight, worn down by my endless to do list, and I just wanted to collapse in a pile.

    This is exactly what I need.

    The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is perched on what’s likely the best location in Cancun. Beachfront, with stunning views and easy access to the water, it’s also in the heart of the Hotel Zone, with easy walking access to great restaurants, attractions, and more.

    Despite the close location to some of the most happening places in Cancun (including Coco Bongo’s, Senor Frog’s, the Hard Rock Cafe and Carlos’n Charlies), the resort is remarkably quiet and contained.

    Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun Review

    There are 602 ocean view suites at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, each with a private terrace, and all of them facing the turquoise water of the Caribbean.

    Here’s a little peek of the view from our fifth floor room. Heaven!

    Grand Fiesta Americana view of ocean

    The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun has a few plans to choose from: all-inclusive, a hotel only plan, plus a Grand Club access plan.

    For this trip we wanted to sample some of the nearby restaurants so we opted for the hotel only plan.

    THE BEACH AT GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA CANCUN

    We think that the beach at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach is one of the best in Cancun. Due to the resort’s north facing position in the Hotel Zone, the beach is well protected. Especially compared to the majority of the east facing hotels that adorn the rest of the hotel zone.

    As a result, the waves are generally much smaller and, even when the red flags were out for the rest of the hotels, we could still swim in front of our hotel without problems. We also saw plenty of small children playing in the sand, which is rare on Cancun’s beaches that see bigger waves.

    There are tropical palapas along the sand, and we found there was plenty of chair lounge access on the beach. There’s also a large floating dock not too far off from shore and, for those without kids, there’s even an adults only beach section.

    Such nice white sand!
    Looking along the beach to the east
    Pier on the western end of the beach.

    THE POOLS AT GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA CANCUN

    We love hanging out poolside, and the ocean side pools at the resort were a huge part of the reason we decided to visit.

    We weren’t disappointed! There are three expansive swimming pools onsite at the Grand Fiesta American Coral Beach Cancun, all with gorgeous ocean views.

    We spent most of our time in the main pool, which has the benefit of the most sun exposure (we visited in December, so we wanted a lot of sun), and also houses the poolside snack bar. There’s also a few fountains and water massage jets in the main pool that the kids loved playing with as well as a giant waterfall leading down to the other two pools.

    The main swimming pool is also a multi-level pool, with different water depths. There’s a lovely shallow section that runs around most of the edge that’s perfect for kids or just to relax on, a deeper section that’s a bit quieter, and a pretty bubbly Jacuzzi opposite the snack bar. Like almost all Jacuzzis in Mexico, it isn’t heated, but the shallow water and bubbles are a lot of fun anyway.

    One thing I really loved about the pools here is that we had absolutely no trouble finding poolside loungers for the four of us at any time of the day.

    There are two other swimming pools onsite, both of which were a little quieter and cooler, and got a little more shade during the day than the main pool. I think these would be fantastic in slightly warmer months, where you’d want a break from the sun and heat. The other big pool also features another swim up bar but was quieter while we were there.

    THE GEM SPA AT GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA

    With a 40,000 square foot spa on site, complete with a custom 10 step hydrotherapy ritual, how could we resist sampling the waters?

    We left the kids happily playing video games in the room one evening while we headed downstairs to enjoy a couples massage. What a fantastic decision!

    Our 45 minute relaxation massages were fantastic and, truth be told, some of the best we’ve had.

    The entire spa at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach in Cancun is beautifully designed and spacious.

    Since we both love water, we took an hour (or two) to enjoy the Gem Spa’s
    10-step hydrotherapy ritual. The hydrotherapy treatment takes you through ten treatments, ranging from hot, bubbling hot tubs, to steam rooms, to ice cold plunges. (Note: We didn’t take photos in the main hydrotherapy area to preserve the privacy of other guests).

    The unique hydrotherapy experience ends in the main pool, where there are waterfall plunges (you can see them in the center), and bubbling loungers.

    As you’d expect, there are light snacks, tea, and fruit infused water throughout the Gem Spa for the customers to enjoy.

    THE KIDS CLUB AT CORAL BEACH CANCUN

    Like everything else here, the Coral KidZ Club is top notch. It’s open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, with lots of activities to amuse the kids, including beachfront sand castle building, sea shell hunts, crafts and other fun games.

    Our kids deemed they were “too big” for the kids club, but we took a tour (during their closed hours) to check it out. It’s bright, and looks like a lot of fun (so much so that the kids were a little sad they didn’t check it out for themselves).

    Just check out all the gaming stations (great for keeping kids occupied on rainy days) as you walk into the Kids Club.

    There’s also an outdoor play area (check out that awesome dinosaur theme), plus an indoor stage.

    There’s also a fun play area inside for the little ones.

    OUR ROOM AT THE GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA CANCUN

    Our room was on the fifth floor, making for an amazing view over the ocean.

    The two queen beds were fantastic for the four of us (mom, dad, and two kids), with a large sectional couch for relaxing and enjoying that view, and a little sitting area.

    One of the nice perks was the mini bar, which was loaded with pop, juice, and beer, and a nice selection of snacks, as well as some mini bottles of hard alcohol. Since we had a room only plan, no snacks or meals were included. The mini bar prices were about in line with what you’d expect for a nice resort in Mexico, for example, pop was a couple of dollars a can.

    Since the hotel’s in the middle of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, there are plenty of Oxxo convenience stores a five or ten minute walk away. Just grab some snacks and drinks from there to save on mini bar charges.

    There were a lot of lovely touches in the room, including fresh cut flowers in the bathroom.

    Housecleaning was fantastic. The room was spotless when we arrived, and they kept it that way. They respected our do not disturb signs, and came in and whisked away our mess when we were downstairs enjoying the pools and beach in the afternoon.

    One small downside was that our air conditioning was a bit loud. When the a/c fan blew through the ducts, there was a bit of rattling above the bathroom ducts. We solved that pretty easily by closing the bathroom door though.

    EXERCISE ROOM AT GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA

    The exercise room here is spacious and clean, with plenty of equipment ranging from free weights to good quality exercise machines to spots for yoga and stretching. (They also had some amazing views overlooking the beach and pools.)

    There’s even a snack bar, which is enough motivation to get me to the gym.

    FOOD AND DRINK AT CORAL BEACH CANCUN

    Since our rate included our room only, we mostly ate out at restaurants in the Hotel Zone. There’s a huge selection of nearby restaurants that’s all easily walkable!

    Since one of our very favorite things at a resort is room service, we decided to check it out on our first night there. Exhausted from our late flight into Cancun, and really not wanting to deal with a restaurant with two tired and hungry kids, it was a nice perk for a travel fatigued family.

    I was pretty happy to see that the room service prices were almost identical to the restaurant prices downstairs, plus a small service fee. There was a large menu and we even ordered in English with no trouble. To top it off, the food was really good (we tried a vegetarian pizza, cheese quesadilla, and a sandwich with fries), and it all came with a free mini dessert, and plenty of condiments, cutlery and real silverware and cloth napkins. Lovely!

    The hotel has several in house restaurants, including an upper end Five Diamond Le Basilic restaurant, the fresh seafood restaurant Isla Contoy, and the cafe style La Joya. There’s also a poolside snack bar, with some very tasty choices, and a lovely hotel lobby bar with snacks.

    The main floor of the hotel is given over to the restaurants, as well as a wide walkway filled with beautiful flowers, and plenty of art.

    MORE AMENITIES AND ACTIVITIES

    There’s a lot to see and do at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach resort hotel in Cancun. Our kids enjoyed themselves on the ocean view swings on the outside playground and the small children’s wading pool in front of it would be a great place for families with small children to hang out.

    There’s also a daily teens & adults activities program, with lots of fun things to do if you want to try out a few new things.

    Amenities at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach include beach loungers, a large health club and fitness center, yoga classes, free internet in your room, local phone calls, in room coffee and bottled water, concierge service and more.

    Like a lot of major hotels in Cancun, the hotel also caters to weddings and celebrations. We watched for hours from the comfort of our loungers as they set up a huge dancing and party area off to the side of the complex in preparations for a wedding later that afternoon. It looked awesome and the people seemed really happy!

    On the east side of the resort, there’s a beach side palapa that offers free kayaks plus free stand up paddle boards to the guests at Coral Beach, as well as Sea-Doos for a fee. We found it’s usually best to go in the early mornings if you want to take the kayaks or paddle boards out since the water gets rougher in the afternoon.

    Right next to the water activities desk is a PADI certified dive shack with free pool lessons and paid daily dives to the local reefs including around nearby Isla Mujeres as well as trips out to the underwater museum.

    We didn’t grab a Sea-Doo ourselves, but they sure looked like a blast!

    PRICES AT THE CORAL BEACH RESORT

    When we stayed at the beginning of high season, the rate was around $310 USD for a room only rate with two queen beds and ocean view.

    There are a few different plans available at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. We had the room only option.

    There’s also a Grand Club access, where you’ll get a room on one of the resort’s highest two floors, Grand Club access to all amenities, a dedicated lounge and personal concierge, a VIP Penthouse lounge, beach side sundeck, and more luxury amenities.

    Like most resorts in Cancun, there’s a resort fee here of $25 USD per accommodation, per night. There’s also a small sanitation tax of 1.8 US dollars per night.

    See prices and more on the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach website.

    WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THE GRAND FIESTA AMERICANA CANCUN

    There’s really not much to dislike here. Since we were at the hotel mostly for the beach and pools, and the hotel has some of the best in the Cancun Hotel Zone, we were pretty happy. Like most of the hotels in the area we wish the pools were a little warmer but they were fine for December which is typically one of the coolest months in Cancun anyway.

    We didn’t try out all the restaurants on site so can’t comment too much on their quality however we did enjoy their room service, and both the snacks around the pool and the desserts at the La Joya cafe.

    This is a small thing, but I would have loved if the beach and poolside canopy beds were free to all guests. There was a fee of around $50 USD, if I remember correctly, for a private canopy lounge bed which I thought was a little high for what the services you get with it. Beach and poolside lounger chairs are free and plentiful, though, which was a great perk all in all.

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  • Adam 16:50 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , travel,   

    The Best Things to do in Dubai with Kids 

    Wondering what to do in Dubai with kids? We have some great ideas to get you started.

    We’ve travelled the world with our kiddos, and it’s always wonderful to find a city like Dubai that’s so accommodating for kids.

    Dubai is a fantastic destination for kids, with attractions, theme parks, and pretty much almost anything you can imagine.

    There are so many unique things to do in Dubai you’ll never be bored.

    Dubai’s the kind of place where you can go hiking in the dessert before dawn and indoor snow skiing before lunch. Since it’s likely hot out, not much beats spending the afternoon at a water park and after a world class supper, you can visit one of the many gardens in the early evening with the kids.

    The Best Things to do in Dubai with Kids

    If you’re thinking of heading to Dubai with kids, definitely check these top things to do in Dubai as a family.

    You can also opt to take a tour in Dubai to make things even easier. WithLocals has some cool experiences, including a street food tour of Dubai, a scenic tour on a private yacht, or even a private desert safari tour!

    DUBAI MIRACLE GARDEN

    If you think a trip to a garden is boring, then you haven’t visited Dubai Miracle Garden. There are over 50 million blooming flowers here, all showcased in elaborate sculptures and designs.

    Like the rest of Dubai, the Miracle Garden is over the top, colorful, and fun. Kids pretty much universally love it. You can find the Miracle Garden in the district of Dubailand. Tickets run around $11 USD for adults, and $8 USD for kids.

    SKI DUBAI

    Have you ever wanted to ski in the desert? Well, Dubai has you covered.

    Ski Dubai is a 22,500 square meter indoor ski resort. It runs year round, and it’s part of the Mall of the Emirates.

    Tickets to the snow park, which includes the snow plough playground, ice caves, tubing run, bobsled, and climbing wall, run around $50 USD for adults and $45 USD for kids.

    If you want to hit the slopes themselves, a 2 hour skiing pass is about $55 USD for adults and $50 for kids.

    Want to hang with the Gentoo and King Penguins? That’ll set you back a cool $62 USD however know that kids under 14 aren’t allowed.

    Check out what Will Smith has to say about Ski Dubai in the video below.

    Adventure Zone in Dubai

    Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ is a blast for kids. It’s an indoor adventure facility with a skate park, boulder wall, cable climb, zip line, and trampoline park.

    It’s not cheap at $38 USD for a 90 minute session, but you can save with all day passes or group packages.

    There are several locations around Dubai.

    Dubai Fountains

    The Dubai Fountain is a spectacular choreographed music, light, and water fountain show. If you’ve ever seen the fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas, well, this is a lot bigger.

    The Fountain is set on the 30-acre man made Burj Khalifa Lake in downtown Dubai.

    Tickets are about $18 USD per person.

    Burj Khalifa

    Burj Khalifa is a mind-bending 160 story tall skyscraper. It cost a whopping 1.5 billion USD to build.

    There’s a spectacular water fountain show, a lot of shopping, and a must-see 360 degree view from the top.

    The normal tourist tour only goes to the 124th and 125th floors, and it can be quite crowded. A more expensive option is to go all the way to the top.

    Be prepared that lines to get in or out of the tower can be long at peak times.

    Tickets for the 124th and 125th floors are $55 USD for adults, and $27 USD for kids. Kids under 4 are free. Prices are higher in peak hours.

    Access to level 148 (plus the 124th and 125th floors) is an eye watering $100 USD for adults and kids alike. Prices are higher in peak hours.

    IMG Worlds of Adventure

    IMG Worlds of Adventure is an indoor amusement park. There are all the rides, eateries and shows you could ever want, with Marvel and Cartoon Network themes in abundance.

    The facility is 28 football fields large and the attractions include rides with your kid’s favorite characters, such as the Powerpuff Girls and friends from Marvel’s unique universe.

    This place is huge, so wear comfy shoes, and be prepared to walk.

    Adult admission is about $78 USD, and kids (under 1.2m in height) are about $70 USD.

    Creative Fun at OliOli

    Designed for kids between the age of 2 and 11, OliOli’s divided into eight separate areas, each featuring a different theme. These include a hanging play area, an area where cannon balls are launched and a Creative Lab area where kids can do all sorts of fun things.

    Tickets cost $32 USD for the first two hours, and $8 USD for every hour after.

    Aquaventure Waterpark

    The Dubai Aquaventure water park has something for everyone in the family. The bravest can try thrilling rides, such as the tube that takes riders through a shark lagoon, while the younger ones or those who prefer a milder sort of entertainment can splash around in the children’s play area.

    The Aquaventure Waterpark is part of the Atlantis resorts, however you can luckily buy a day pass. However, if you stay at the all-inclusive Atlantis resorts your ticket should be included.

    Day passes are about 78 USD if you’re over 1.2 metres tall, and $64 if you’re under 1.2 metres tall. Kids age 0 to 2 are free.

    A Desert Adventure

    Dubai has everything that humans can make, but it also has a very special, natural feature that cannot be left unexplored: the desert.

    The activities that you and your family can enjoy on the arid landscape include shorter or longer rides on camel back, henna-painting and sand-boarding. Longer trips can include a night spent under the star-studded desert sky, falcon shows, dune rides and much more.

    Dubai white sand beaches and skyscrapers in the distance

    Visit the Dubai Safari Park

    IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.

    When the Dubai Zoo closed in 2017, the animals were shifted to the Dubai Safari.

    Today, the Dubai Safari occupies 100 hectares of diverse landscape.

    There are pedestrian walkways lined with lush vegetation, driving tracks and desert plains, and they all make for an unforgettable experience. The park is home to over 3,000 individual animals, belonging to 250 species .

    A visit to the park offers great opportunities to spot giraffes, hippos and zebras and the kids can play with the smaller, friendlier creatures in the petting zoo.

    Tickets are about $14 USD for adults, and $6 USD for kids.

    IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.

    Explorations of Virtual Reality

    Dubai is a world-renowned center for entertainment technology as well. So, if your kids are in for hi-tech adventures, a day at the VR Park in Dubai’s Mall is a must see and if you have the time, a must try.

    VR Park Dubai is the world’s largest VR park.

    It’s on level 2 of The Dubai Mall.

    It costs $24 USD for one of seven of the VR experiences.

    Dubai Mall

    Looking for more Dubai help? Check out the best time to visit Dubai.

    Visiting KL with kids, too

    It’s hard to talk about Dubai without bringing up great memories of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for me. They’re both incredible cities, with so much to offer.

    We still haven’t had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur with kids, though it was our hub on our first year-long adventure together as a couple.

    On our next visit to KL, we’re definitely going to visit with children.

    We may even relax a little from our usual standard of independent travel and take a tour in Kuala Lumpur to get a better feel for the local culture and food. There are some fun options, including a family-specific kick-start tour (which sounds like a perfect option for us!), a tasting tour of KL, and even a layover tour if we’re short on time!

    Have you visited Dubai with kids? Do you have anything to add to our list of kids activities in Dubai that you shouldn’t miss?

     
  • Adam 16:32 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , travel   

    Exploring Australia – As an Aussie! 

    Exploring Australia - As an Aussie! // Bronte Beach Baths, Bronte, Australia.

    Bronte Beach Baths, Bronte, Australia.
    ​When most of us think about travel, we picture getting on a plane and jetting off to another country. However there’s plenty to see and do in the place that you live, and as Australians we are particularly lucky in this respect. We live in an incredibly beautiful and fascinating place in the world that most people dream of visiting. Are you taking advantage of our own ‘land down under’ that’s right underneath your feet?!

    See Stunning Natural Sights

    The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest living structure on Earth, it’s so large it can even be seen from space. It might not be right on your doorstep so to speak, but if you’re from Australia then it’s never more than a few hours plane ride away- in many cases it will be far less! You can scuba diving or snorkeling, you could even hire a yacht and go boating. You have the chance to see all kinds of amazing looking birds, fish, marine mammals and so much more. Our national parks are another opportunity to see stunning natural sights, presenting you with some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet. There’s loads to do, from camping, fishing, bird watching, orienteering, bike riding and more. You have the bigger parks that are popular with tourists, but there are plenty of others that are mainly used by the locals. As an Aussie, it should be your mission to visit them all!
    Exploring Australia - As an Aussie! // Coral Reef, Australia.

    Visit the Vibrant Cities

    The majority of Australian residents live in and around the major cities, so chances are this is where you’re from. But how many others have you been to? From Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra on the east coast to Perth right the way over in Western Australia. There are also countless smaller cities and towns that will all have their points of interest. You could enjoy some retail therapy, check out the attractions and enjoy some delicious food. Australia is a melting pot of a unique mix of immigrants from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa so the food scene is incredible. From popular Thai places (Wokon is now p’nut) to Mornington Peninsula, an impressive foodie scene drawing in people from all over the world there’s no shortage of restaurants, eateries, festivals and more all celebrating delicious grub.
    Exploring Australia - As an Aussie! // Sydney Harbour, Australia.

    Explore The Outback

    If you want to do something really challenging then why not go and explore the outback? It’s so far removed from busy daily life that many people even report having a spiritual experience by being out there in a place that’s so remote. You could book a tour or go on a camel trek. You can see beautiful wildlife, take in views of mountains, waterfalls, gorges and much more. Most of our country is covered by this incredible yet unforgiving terrain, it’s worth going out to explore it at least once in your life. Just bear safety in mind, and go with an experienced tour or group if you’re new to this kind of thing.
    Exploring Australia - As an Aussie! // Outback Australia.
     
  • Adam 16:31 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel,   

    All You Need to Know About Road tripping in the U.S. as a Foreigner 

    All You Need to Know About Road Tripping in the U.S. as a Foreigner // Route 66

    If you’re planning on driving in the States, here are a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind
    Author: Sam Casteris
    ​The time has come. You’re finally taking that Great American Road Trip you’ve been waiting to take for years. That’s great! But as a foreign national, taking a road trip in the States isn’t as easy as hopping in your rental car and going on your merry way.

    Make sure you know how to drive in the USA

    This one is pretty basic, but can cause a surprising amount of difficulty for people who haven’t done their research.

    • Ask yourself if you’re comfortable driving an automatic car. We have stick shift cars in the states, but they’re not as readily available. If you feel more comfortable driving shift, make sure you make a special request for one with your rental car company.
    • Remember that we drive on the right side of the road. This is another one that sounds easy, but can cause some issues if you’re used to driving on the left-hand side of the road.
    • Familiarize yourself with our traffic laws and driving rules. Rules of the road aren’t universal. If you’re from a country with particularly lax (or strict!) traffic laws, make sure you thoroughly do your research. This isn’t a place where you’re going to want to encounter any surprises.
    All You Need to Know About Road Tripping in the U.S. as a Foreigner // Red Rocks Road Trip

    Choose your rental car company carefully

    ​Rental car companies all have different rules and guidelines that they abide by. When renting a car, make sure they rent to non-citizens. Some rental car companies have special rules about crossing city, county, state, or even country lines, so ensure that your road trip falls under their rules. A handful of rental car companies allow it, but charge a significant fee to return your rental car in another city or state. Other companies may need additional types of insurance or may charge an additional fee. Every company will be different, so do your homework on this one to avoid incurring surcharges.

    Get your paperwork in order

    People driving in the States must have a valid driver’s license. Some states will require an International Driving Permit (IDP), in addition to a valid license from your own country. Depending on where you rent your car from, your rental company may also require one, even if the state you’re in (or are going to) doesn’t require one. Make sure to double check with your rental car company, and to call the Department of Motor Vehicles in each state you’re visiting.

    • Get your IDP before coming to the States. You can only get one in your home country.
    • Beware of IDP scams. Make sure to go straight to your home country’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

    ​Insurance

    ​Insurance is a requirement to drive in the United States. Your rental car company can help you with this one, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re not duplicating coverage. Check with your credit card, any motor club affiliations you may have, or your insurance back at home. Some  plans offer travel coverage! Don’t double pay if you don’t have to.

    Be prepared for any bumps along the way

    Accidents happen, literally! Whether this means getting pulled over, getting a ticket, a fender bender, or worse, you’re going to want to make sure you’re totally prepared. Always have your passport, IDP, home driver’s license, vehicle registration, rental car papers, and any insurance documents handy. If you get into an accident, not leaving your information with the other person is considered a crime. As a foreign national, this can be a huge infraction… and it’s not something you want to take a risk on. Here’s the information that you’re required by law to exchange with the person or peoples you get into an accident with, should that happen:

    • Name, telephone number, and license ID number
    • License plate number, model, and year of the car
    • Registration number and expiration date
    • Name of the insurance company and policy number

    Make sure you get the right phone plan

    On a road trip, the last thing you’ll want to rely on is free WiFi. Anything can happen on the road, from GPS snafus to more dangerous situations. You will want reliable access to a Maps app or GPS, as well as a phone to call people in case of an emergency. If it’s too expensive to get an international plan with your home provider, get a pay-per-use phone in the United States. You won’t regret this one.
    All You Need to Know About Road Tripping in the U.S. as a Foreigner // USA map and car

    Be aware of local biases

    Not every city, town, or even state has the same culture in the States. What you experience in the Midwest will be different from what you experience in the Deep South. Even more granularly, what you experience in say, Canarsie or East New York will be different from what you experience in Williamsburg (and all three locations are in Brooklyn, NY).  Be conscious of your surroundings at all times, even if areas that seem friendly or safe on the surface. Make sure you’re aware of the crime rate, and the types of crimes committed. Don’t be afraid to refer to forums, either.

    When looking for a place to stay, check the Bed Bug Registry first

    Bed bugs are one American souvenir you’re not going to want to bring home.
     
  • Adam 16:28 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: travel   

    Top Ways of dealing with anxiety whilst travelling abroad in 2019 

    Top Ways of Dealing With Anxiety Whilst Travelling Abroad in 2019. - Woman/ Girl happy and stress free.

    In the past few decades, there has been an exponential increase in the number of people who are diagnosed with anxiety, as well as those who have started to experience its symptoms. Stress is one of such issues that can take over someone’s life unless appropriately managed. One of the ways in which this anxiety can manifest itself is in the form of travel anxiety, especially travel anxiety that occurs during the actual trip, as opposed to before it.
    Researchers at Click Pharmacy believe that anxiety management techniques, especially those that are tailor-made for travel anxiety, should be researched and prepared for, and maybe even practiced beforehand. This makes travel a lot easier. Here are some of the travel anxiety management techniques they recommend:

    1. Be prepared

    Travel anxiety can make an entire trip go downhill, which is why it is imperative to do one main thing before travelling: analyse and assess symptoms so the person experiencing anxiety can understand what sort of management techniques will work for them. This can be done by looking out for specific triggers, such as certain smells, tastes, noises, weathers, or even lighting conditions. Knowing this can help them plan their trip in a way that best avoids these triggers, and also helps them plan out the management techniques that they will need to be mindful of while travelling.

    Some of these management techniques include learning basic meditation, breathing exercises that work to calm them down, and other relaxation and self-help techniques.

    2. Distractions

    Distractions are one of the best ways that can help someone deal with and manage travel anxiety. These distractions can vary from the people around them to books and movies. Distractions help by flooding the mind with other images and thoughts which can flush out images and feelings that are triggering. A good distraction is using verbal affirmations such as ‘It is just a thought’, or ‘The thought will pass’. These can help reiterate the fact that the anxiety is just temporary, and that there is no need to worry about it not passing.

    The good idea is to bring a good book or a device with movies downloaded on it so that it can make the trip a little less boring during travel, and also ensure that the traveller’s attention is fixated on the book/movie.

    3. Plans and itineraries

    An excellent way to keep the focus away from the anxiety is to focus on the plans that are decided for the trip. This, in particular, is best accomplished with a solid itinerary of bookings and activities over the course of the journey. With a schedule in mind that can be followed, it is easier to let go of anxious thoughts and focus on the trip.

    In the itinerary, try to include everything from tourist attractions to the different restaurants that can be tried. Any appointments can be added, and even things such as relaxing massages and shopping trips can be scheduled. All of this helps to ensure that the journey is enjoyed thoroughly and that whoever has anxiety also has something to look forward to each day.
    Top Ways of Dealing With Anxiety Whilst Travelling Abroad in 2019 - Stress free. Gates in Bali Indonesia

    Stress free in Bali, Indonesia.

    4. Don’t fight it off

    Distraction and meditation are great ways to help out with anxiety, but sometimes they don’t work. This is because of people with anxiety, especially those that experience severe symptoms, cannot control their anxiety at times. This anxiety can manifest itself in the form of panic attacks and hyperventilation.

    As odd as it may seem, it is okay to let the anxiety turn into a panic attack; at least in these cases. This helps the body take out real anxiety and regain control. It is always best to find a safe environment where there are no sharp objects or other dangerous things. It is good to remember that it is only a panic attack and will pass very soon. This helps bring the body back in its control and also frees the mind to focus on other thoughts apart from the anxiety.

    If possible, try to have someone nearby that is trusted and is aware of the condition and how to handle it. Travelling with a friend or a family member who is aware of how anxiety works and how to deal with it can make travel a lot safer for the person who suffers from anxiety.

    5. Consult a doctor

    Before leaving the country, especially a country where one does not know the language and chances of having anxiety increase manifold, it is best to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist. Depending on the kind of anxiety, the doctor can either recommend medication or help with planning the trip in a way that won’t make the anxiety worse. This can also help the doctor determine what sort of triggers might be responsible for the stress and whether or not any other stimuli are responsible for the anxiety symptoms. It is possible that doctors may prescribe medication for panic attacks. In such a case, the medication should always be taken with the traveller on the trip.

    It may seem odd, but anxiety is just like any other illness and can be managed very well if the person suffering from it plans accordingly. Travelling with stress, especially to a foreign country where the flight will be long and the area will be new, can be incredibly daunting; even for people who travel abroad regularly. Experts believe that these conditions that can make travelling more difficult, which is why they believe that anxiety management techniques such as those mentioned above should be practised and planned for by the traveller well beforehand.
     
  • Adam 16:21 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Iceland, travel   

    The Best 27 Tips for an Epic #VanLife Trip in Iceland with Kids 

    Is the van life trend appealing to you? It can look wonderful when you see photos on Instagram, but how is it in real life?

    We usually see photos of the #vanlife trend in tropical locations… Have you considered trying it in a Nordic country? How about Iceland?

    Everyone I know that has been to Iceland completely fell in love with this country. The land of ice and fire is without a doubt fascinating and of extreme beauty. It is a place where you can safely and peacefully visit on your own term, with a van. Iceland being one of the safest countries on Earth, you will feel safe and secure everywhere.

    We visited Iceland on a 10-day itinerary, last October, driving the Ring Road with our Happy Campers “Happy 2” van (the green one). Happy Campers is one of the most popular van rental company in Iceland, and renting with them has been a real pleasure!

    Iceland with kids #vanlife

    Not all vans will do, though! Believe me, I’ve tried it! I even made some mistakes that I don’t want you to do, so please keep reading to know all my tips and tricks!

    If you would like to discover stunning Iceland, driving the Ring Road and sleeping in a van, here are my top 27 tips for an epic #vanlife trip in Iceland with your kids!

    1. Pick the right Happy Campers van size: sleeping

    Living the #vanlife in Iceland is quite different than living it in California.

    The unpredictable and ever-changing Icelandic weather, especially in Fall, Winter and Spring, means that you will spend a lot more time INSIDE the van than out. So you will want a roomy van.

    Traveling with our 5-year old daughter, Emma-Kate, we thought we could rent the Happy 2 van, and even though it only sleeps 2 persons, we would find a spot where Emma-Kate could sleep. We even brought a thin travel mattress so she could sleep on the floor of the van. BIG MISTAKE! Iceland can be cold, and the floor of the van gets even colder at night. She would have not been able to sleep well!

    We were lucky that she fitted on the bed with us, but if she would have been 2 inches longer, the 3 of us wouldn’t have fit in. The front seat doesn’t recline either, so you cannot use it as a bed for the night. Unless you like to sleep seated!

    So pick the van that has enough room to sleep all your family.

     

    2. Pick the right Happy Campers van size: standing!

    Another thing to consider: the van has everything you need to sleep, cook and eat. It’s like an all-inclusive van! It also means that you’ll execute most of your activities in the van. I am 5’5”, and Clinton is 5’8”, and even though we aren’t very tall, we couldn’t stand tall in the van. For a little while it isn’t a big deal, but for a 10-day trip, and even more, if you already have back problems, you should pick the Happy 3 model that has a higher rooftop.

    3. Where to camp

    You can’t camp everywhere you want in Iceland: you have to camp at campgrounds. If you are traveling during Fall, Winter or Spring, there are still open campgrounds, but a lot less than in Summer. If a campground is closed, but the gate isn’t, then you can camp there for the night, you won’t have to pay any fee, but won’t get access to the showers, restrooms and kitchen facilities. Traveling in October, we had no problem finding an open campground. It costs around $30 USD for our Happy Campers van for 1 night, and we even found free campgrounds.

    4. Showers and restrooms

    By the way, the showers and restrooms at campgrounds are great, very clean and pleasant. Their hot showers are amazing, especially after a day of rainy weather. Sometimes you’ll have to pay extra for the showers.

    5. Camping safety

    The campgrounds were always quiet at night, and also very safe (Iceland is one of the safest places on Earth!). But please don’t take chances: lock your doors and don’t leave valuables out there in the open. The Blonde Abroad (another great blogger) got her camera stolen because she left it on the counter of a restroom. We were careful and nothing happened!

    6. Winter Tires

    Traveling in Iceland in Fall, Winter or Spring: the Happy Campers vans have winter tires. You’ll definitely need winter tires, especially if you visit Northern Iceland.

    7. Wifi

    When you will stumble upon the breathtaking Goðafoss Waterfall, you’ll want to share your selfie with the world! And driving the Ring Road means long stretches before the next stop. That’s why having Wifi included with your Happy van is a must! You’ll have time to prepare your Insta post, share a few stories and load your IGTV with new fun videos!

    Goðafoss Watefall, Iceland

    8. GPS

    If you want to unplug and experience Iceland without the internet, then a GPS will come handy: it’s always useful to know how long before the next gas station!

    9. Heating

    When you’ll rent your Happy van, take all the blankets and sleeping bags you can get your hands on! The first night of our trip to Iceland, it was at the beginning of October, the temperature went down to 16ºF (or -9ºC). I want to reassure you here: there is a Webasto heating system that you use to heat the van for 3 hours when you go to bed. Unfortunately, for the rest of the night, there is no more heating in the van, so you need all the covers you can get to stay warm.

    10. Comfort at night

    That first night, we woke up because it was too cold. We put our coats on, hats and scarf, and then we were okay. Only the first night was this cold, so the next nights we were alright. Nonetheless, here’s how we could sleep comfortably without getting chilly during the night: we would go to sleep with multiple layers (2 pairs of socks, 2 sweaters, Emma-Kate and I wore thighs under our pajama pants, and also our hats and scarf), and covering our heads inside our sleeping bag made sure we would stay hot all night.

    Iceland with kids #vanlife

    11. Seating

    It took a while for us to figure it out, but the passenger front seat turns around, so you can have an extra seat for your family time at meals and at nights.

    The backseat has safety belts: put them on. The biggest risk isn’t getting in an accident with another driver, but icy roads and sheep crossing the streets can make you lose control of your van.

    12. The wind

    The wind can be so strong it can tear apart the door of your van. So if you are getting in and out of your van on a windy day, use the sliding side door.

    13. Cooking

    Your Happy Campers van comes with everything you need to cook your own food: a cooler / refrigerator, a sink with running water, pots, pans, cookware, dishes, and cutlery. Cooking your own food is a great way to save money because meals at Icelandic restaurants are very pricey. You can either buy local food at grocery stores in Iceland, or you can bring your own from home.

    You have the option to cook at your camping’s kitchen since most of them offer these free facilities.

    14. Food

    We chose to bring our own food from home. The plus side is that you can bring and eat the food you love (great for picky eaters), and it comes cheap. We packed a suitcase full of dry food like oatmeal, jerk, pasta, and it was very easy to cook in our van. Whenever we were hungry, we stopped alongside the road and could eat anytime. The downside is that you have to cook! Being the one who cooks at home, it is nice to have a vacation from cooking. Also, you don’t get to taste the local cuisine.

    I suggest you cook most of your meals and also eat out to taste Icelandic meals and meet locals too. Because otherwise, you could be traveling around Iceland without meeting almost anyone! You want to be independent and do your own things, but not be too isolated.

    Iceland with kids #vanlife

    15. Maximizing your time

    One thing I did is bring a great thermos from home. So at night, I would boil water for the meal and for tea, and I would keep some for next morning’s oatmeal and coffee. That’s a way to make breakfast and morning routine easier and faster. The light of the day is going by quite fast in Iceland, so if you want to make the most of your day, try not to lose too much time.

    16. Water

    Potable water is everywhere in Iceland, and it is free at all campgrounds too, so you can very easily fill up your Happy Campers water tank.

    17. Stay sane!

    Living in a closed environment with your loving family doesn’t mean you won’t step on each other’s toes! A little sense of humor goes a long way!

    18. Putting things away

    You will probably have a lot of luggage (warm clothes take so much more room than bikinis, hello!!). Moreover, when you are driving, things that are not secured will move around in the van.

    The solution: try to decide on designated areas for everything, so you won’t look everywhere when you’ll need your chapstick at night.

    What I did is that I moved around the pots and dishes in the same drawers, and used the other ones to store our food, toiletries, and water bottles.

    19. Keep things clean

    I brought garbage bags from home to keep things tidy (3 kitchen-size garbage bags for a 10-day trip). Also, bring dish clothes to give you extras from the ones Happy Campers freely provide.

    I also had baby wipes to clean the counter and the floor of the Happy Campers van, because you will bring back from your hikes mud in the van. It was even more useful when we came back from our easy walk at the very stinky Hverir. I would even suggest that you bring disposable shoe covers if you are planning to visit this site.

    Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, Iceland

    20. Quietness

    I never sleep without my earplugs, but unless someone snores in your family, I don’t even think you’ll need them since the campgrounds are quiet at night.

    21. Keeping clothes dry

    I also brought a rope to hang clothes to dry and very easily installed it across our van’s ceiling. This is quite useful because Iceland weather can get very wet, very fast.

    22. Keeping the van smelling fresh

    Fabric softener sheets are nice to have to keep things smelling fresh in your van. I sparingly put a sheet everywhere.

    23. Have family fun!

    Music and games to play as a family will make things pleasant for long drives. Yes, the drives can be long!

    Iceland

    24. Decorating

    If you are interested in getting your van to look cuter, here is another suggestion.

    I put up mini LED string lights around the back doors of the van, to create a cozy nest for evenings. Think about bringing painter’s tape to fix the lights without leaving residue on the van.

    25. Family activities

    There are a LOT of stunning sights to see in Iceland: waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, beaches. So hiking and trekking will definitely be on your to-do list!

    If you are looking for something different to do with your kids, head to the public swimming pools. Most towns and cities in Iceland have public pools open year-round, and some even have water slides. Don’t worry, you won’t freeze, because these facilities offer hot water pools (different baths at a different temperature), and even the water slides are heated. This is where the locals are spending quality family time during the weekends.

    We had a lot of fun at the public swimming pools in Akureyri, and in Reykjavik too.

    Akureyri town pool with waterslides

    You might be surprised when you’ll enter the changing rooms because everyone showers naked (yes, even the ladies!), but no one is looking and everyone is very discreet. You’ll get used to it. You too will have to shower naked, it is mandatory because they don’t put a lot of chlorine in the pool’s water and it is a way of avoiding dirty things to thrive in these hot waters.

    Luckily for all of us, some public swimming pools are currently improving their changing rooms by adding some private showers.

    You might want to prepare your kids about this, to avoid the stares and comments about funny looking body parts! 😉

    26. Driving

    The one thing we liked the most of our trip to Iceland is to drive around the country in our Happy Campers van. We loved our #vanlife! Being together all the time, sleeping together and being in awe of the most dramatic and breathtaking landscapes, together, it was unforgettable. Seriously, every turn we took driving our cool van, we just couldn’t believe how beautiful the scenery is in Iceland: so peaceful, so vast, so wild.

    Iceland

    Be ready to stop very often, to take photos and take it all in. If you are traveling in the shoulder and off-season as we did, you can stop by the side of the road, and you’ll see no one for miles… we even danced in the middle of the road. We definitely had the best time of our lives!

    The vistas in Iceland are unique and stunning, that’s why I recommend driving only during daylight. It is not dangerous at all to drive at night time, but you’ll miss all the beautiful vistas!

    27. Should you visit Iceland?

    I never want to tell people they HAVE to visit a destination, because we all have different tastes and preferences. But seriously, you HAVE to visit Iceland. I don’t want to oversell it, so you have too high expectations, but I really don’t think you can be disappointed.

    I don’t like the cold weather and winter, but traveling in Iceland is amazing whatever. The three of us, we LOVED our trip there, and it is the first destination in the 36 countries that we have visited, that we absolutely want to go back. That says a lot!

    Just be ready for sudden changes in weather. You’ll encounter rain, wind, and a little bit of cold. If you are dressed well, you’ll have the best trip of your life. For what to pack for your Iceland trip, stay tuned: my recommendations are coming soon!

    Experiencing Iceland in a Happy Campers van was the best way to go and we have no regrets. It is the #1 family experience of a lifetime!

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    The post The Best 27 Tips for an Epic #VanLife Trip in Iceland with Kids appeared first on Easy Planet Travel.

     
  • Adam 13:26 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Azerbaijan, travel   

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    KHINALUG

    Azerbaijan an exotic travel destination is located in Caucasus region and is popularly known as “Land of Fire”.  It is located in Eastern Europe and western Asia and therefore you will find a cultural amalgamation of Asian and European cultures.  Located on the Caspian Sea, you will find subtropical sea resorts too, with many varieties of hillside towns in Caucasus mountains, ancient mosques and minarets, impressive modern architectures, flaming mountain, mud volcano and much more wonderful and interesting places. I have compiled a list of Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan for planning your trip with many tips, suggestions, hotel stays recommendations, itineraries from my fellow travel bloggers who have traveled all around the world.

    Recommendations for Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan by Experienced Travel Bloggers.

    BAKU by Megan Starr | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Baku, Azerbaijan is the capital city of the country in the Caucasus and its most economically important city.  Located right on the Caspian Sea, Baku is a mixture of Soviet modernism combined with a new flair.  It truly is one of the most unique cities in its region and more and more people are beginning to discover all it has to offer now that the Azerbaijan visa regime has simplified for several countries.

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    BAKU

    There are a plethora of things to do in Baku, including visiting the Old Town, hanging out around Fountain Square, walking the Caspian Sea promenade, or checking out the marvelous, modern buildings that dot the city’s skyline.  The city is relatively clean in the city center and delicious smells fill the air, satiating all senses.  There are several restaurants where you can find hearty Azerbaijani fare, including a couple of my favorites- Nargiz, Muzey Shirvanshah, and Nakhchivan.  The menus are extensive and offer an array of food that showcases Azerbaijan’s rich culinary scene.  Produce is also exceptional in Azerbaijan and you will have a chance to see this front and center in Baku.  Read more about the visit to Baku.

    Click here to book your Airport transfer to your hotel in Baku.  

    GOBUSTAN NATIONAL PARK by Vanessa Ball | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Baku, Azerbaijan’s largest city, has a unique and varied ambiance and style. Many travelers will visit here on a trip to the country to experience the vibrant and beautiful architecture. However, 65km away, a mere hour’s drive along the Caspian coast, lies Gobustan National Park with rock art and mud volcanoes, a day trip that just can’t be missed.

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Gobustan is astonishing. You will find there a vista of craters, slowly oozing mud, miniature volcanoes, and arid black earth which cracks before your eyes. Alighting from the bus is like stepping off a space-craft onto another planet.

    The Petroglyphs found at Gobustan and the brilliant museum which explain them are the main reason that travelers visit the site. These pictures and symbols carved into the rock with crude tools depict life as it was when they were created and show the development of human thinking over many thousands of years. Some petroglyphs are 40,000 years old and are arguably the most comprehensive examples of early human history in the world.

    How to get to Gobustan – Gobustan is an hour’s drive along the coast from Baku and has good transport links due to the local town. A taxi from Baku is an option but is expensive and organizing a return journey is difficult. Bus travel is probably the most cost-effective way of getting to Gobustan. There are many options available out of Baku and it’s a good idea to do a bit of research to make sure the guide is knowledgeable as this will make your day so much more enjoyable. Click here to book your Half day trip to Gobustan from Baku. 

    MARDAKAN  by Ellis Veen | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    MARDAKAN FORTRESS

    Azerbaijan was one of my favorite countries I visited last year. Even though Azerbaijan itself is an off the beaten path destination it is full of secret gems that very few people know about. One of them is the little city of Mardakan. It is one of the oldest villages in the Absheron peninsula with an old castle from the 13th century. The castle is a bit hard to find, but locals are glad to tell you where it is. They see few tourists coming their way, so people are extremely friendly and curious.

    Another reason to visit Mardakan is to visit the Mir Movsun Agha shrine and the Hassan pir shrine. At the Hassan pir shrine people come to have bottles smashed above their head to cure anxiety and the Mir Movsun Agha shrine is believed to cure any disease for those who are sincere in their wishes. Both are active places of worship that give an interesting look into Azerbaijani culture.

    Mardakan is easy to visit and makes a perfect half-day trip from Baku. There are frequent public buses to Mardakan taking 45 minutes. It is a nice place to wander a bit around for an hour or two. There are not many restaurants so it is best to bring some snacks with you. You can also combine this trip easily with a visit to the fire temple in Suratxani.   Read more about Mardakan and nearby areas.

    KHINALUG by Kamila | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    KHINALUG

    Khinalug, the ancient village located up in the Caucasus mountains, is the must when visiting Azerbaijan. With the elevation of 2350 meters above sea level, it is often considered the highest located village in Europe. Due to the altitude, the place is rather isolated and the local community of around 2 thousand people speaks their own language – Khinalug, they are also known for their unique customs and traditional way of living. The architecture of the village is rather distinctive too – the cobblestone houses are glued to the hills, looking like they are built one on top of another. But the main reason to visit Khinalug is the breathtaking scenery around. The journey to the village is already the adventure itself as the road is in a terrible condition (you can expect to remove big rocks from in front of the car), twisting and turning, going up and down but with amazing scenery all over the way. Unfortunately getting to Khinalug isn’t so easy. If you’re limited in time you can go for the organized tour from Baku – they take around 12 hours as it’s a long way to the mountains. The other option is to go to Quba first (a city located north from Baku, easily reachable by public transport) and there you shouldn’t have problems with finding 4WD that would take you to Khinalug. You can stay overnight in the village too and go for numerous hikes around in the Caucasus.

    SHEKI by Emily Lush | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Located in the country’s northwest, around 300 km from Baku towards the border with Georgia, Sheki (Şəki) is my favorite place in Azerbaijan. Once a stop on the famous Silk Road trading route that connected east and west, Sheki is a town of caravanserais, silk factories, ornate palaces, and pretty cobbled streets.

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    SHEKI

    Of all the things to do in Sheki, the Palace of the Sheki Khans tops the list. Built-in 1797 as a summer residence for the Caucasian khanate, it’s an incredible example of craftsmanship. Wall-to-ceiling miniatures, mirrored roofs, and shebeki—a special kind of stained glass found only in Sheki—have all been meticulously restored, earning the complex a coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination. Another must-do is the equally impressive but lesser-known Sheki Khans Winter Palace. Tucked away in a residential area, it was only recently re-discovered after years of abandonment.

    Sheki’s Silk Road legacy is a big part of the town’s charm. A few stone caravanserais (trader’s inns) remain. The Sheki Karvansaray Hotel is housed in a converted caravanserai, complete with original stone arches, cozy sleeping chambers, and a gorgeous internal courtyard. The Sheki Silk Factory still uses its original Soviet-era machinery and has a small gift boutique attached.

    Another highlight of Sheki is the cuisine. Piti, an aromatic meat stew eaten with bread, is a traditional Azeri dish that’s served at most restaurants in town. Piti House and Restaurant Gargarin both do an excellent rendition. Depending on your preference, cap off a meal with a cocktail at Buta Bar—an uber-trendy lounge located in the lobby of the Sheki Saray Hotel—or head to the local market to purchase a slab of Sheki halva (halvasi), a syrup-drenched sweet treat.

    To get to Sheki from Baku, take a marshrutka from the main bus station (4-5 hours’ travel time; approximately 7 AZN per person). Or book your private transfer to Sheki from Baku City center by clicking here. 

    GANJA by Stephanie Craig | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    GANJA

    Ganja is Azerbaijan’s second largest city, but it often gets skipped by people traveling Azerbaijan in favor of more touristy locations. However, this is a shame since it’s an awesome city with some of the country’s most important historic sites nearby. Just a four-hour bus ride from Baku, Ganja is a very different city from the capital.

    Highlights in the city include visits to Heydar Aliev Square, the Juma Mosque, and the folk art Bottle House. Great day trips include the Imamzadeh pilgrimage site and the mountainside Lake Goygol. One of my favorite hidden gems in Ganja is the Armenian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky. Just make sure to bring a headscarf, ladies, if you want to go inside. I didn’t realize I needed one, and I got kicked out after a few minutes.

    For a real bit of Soviet nostalgia, book a stay at the Ganja Hotel. This was the old Soviet hotel in Ganja when Azerbaijan was part of the USSR. Between the building’s Soviet classical architecture and the look of the lobby, it’s easy to tell the place is connected to the Soviet Union.

    You can easily get to and from Ganja from either Baku or Sheki, making this a great stop on any Azerbaijan itinerary. Or you can book your Private transfer to Ganja from Baku city center, by clicking here.

    Baku has many worthy places to stay, but if you’re on a budget, don’t look past Sahil Hostel near the promenade and city center.  It is an exceptionally clean place to crash for the night and the staff and owners are lovely.

    NAKHCHIVAN by Allison Green | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    NAKHCHIVAN

    If you’re looking for an interesting and off the beaten path destination in Azerbaijan you should consider visiting the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan. This part of Azerbaijan is geographically distinct from the rest of the country as it is an exclave that doesn’t share any land borders with the rest of Azerbaijan. The only way to get there without leaving Azerbaijan is to fly from Baku, which is considered a domestic flight. Nakhchivan is separated from Azerbaijan by Armenia, with whom the border is closed, which is why you can only fly. That said, traveling Nakhchivan is definitely worth the effort

    The main sights in Nakhchivan are the Islamic funerary mausoleums in the country. Momina Khan is the most known but in my opinion, the Qarabaglar mausoleum is the most beautiful. It is also a burgeoning wellness destination. Mount Duzdag is made of salt and the salt sanatorium there is excellent for healing chronic respiratory problems. There is also the beautiful Lake Batabat located near the Armenian border. You can stay at the 4* hotel in town, Hotel Tebriz, or you can look for a budget homestay.

    To get around Nakhchivan, it is best to hire a driver for the day. Gas prices are low, and as a result, you can hire a taxi for the day for around for about $80-90 USD. I recommend trying the local soups like dushbara and dovgha which are delicious and full of flavor. The best meal I had in Nakhchivan was at Batabat Restaurant near Lake Batabat but the food at Hotel Tabriz is also quite nice.

    RECOMMENDED ITINERARY FOR INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT IN AZERBAIJAN | AZERBAIJAN ITINERARY

    DAY 1 – After landing at Baku’s International Airport – Heydar Aliyev International Airport, go for a Baku city tour.

    DAY 2 – BAKU OLD CITY TOUR AND MANY MORE ATTRACTIONS

    DAY 3 – Nearby attractions / Day trips from Baku to MUD VOLCANOES and MARDAKAN. Click here to book your trip to Mud Volcanoes.

    DAY 4 – LAHIJ ( 3 hours bus trip to this place from Baku). It is a very scenic road – route. OVERNIGHT STAY IN LAHIJ

    DAY 5 – SMALL CITY TOUR IN LAHIJ AND THEN PROCEED to KHINALUG OR QABALA (GABALA) –  beautiful small hillside town. All the attractions are very close so you can see all in one day.

    DAY 6 – PROCEED TO TO SHEKI through scenic Silk Road.  OVERNIGHT STAY IN SHEKI

    DAY 7 – VISIT TO GANJA – Azerbaijan’s second biggest city has a history dating back to 6th century.  OVERNIGHT STAY AT GANJA.

    DAY 8 – RETURN BACK TO BAKU. Check this official website of Azerbaijan – applying for an online visa as this country offers an online visa to many countries by clicking here.

    Interesting Places to Visit In Azerbaijan
    A snippet of the whole tour on Google Map

    DAY 8 ( FOR EXTENDED ITINERARY) – Take a flight to NAKHCHIVAN FROM BAKU and book Overnight stay there.

    DAY 9 – NAKHCHIVAN CITY TOUR AND RETURN BACK TO BAKU.

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    SHEKI

    HOTEL STAY RECOMMENDATIONS IN BAKU

    Apartments near Old Town in Baku. Click here to book them.

    Click here to book for JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel.

    Book for Hyatt Regency in Baku by clicking here.

    Book for apartments near the Caspian Sea by clicking here.

    Click to book for Holiday Inn Baku

    Book for Sapphire Hotel in Baku. 

    And check this Boutique Hotel in Baku

    Or you can book your stay by clicking the hotels on the below-given map –

    Booking.com

    SOME USEFUL TIPS FOR BAKU – AZERBAIJAN | INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT IN AZERBAIJAN 

    HOW TO GET AROUND IN BAKU – TAXIS – Local Taxis start from minimum AZN 3-5 or 2-4 USD for a ride.

    BUSES – Buses is also an effective method for local commuting in the city.  Your hotel staff will help you with planning on bus routes.

    METRO – Baku also has a Metro station and it links to old city and can take you to suburbans.

    WHAT TO EAT IN BAKU –  Food is an important part of Azerbaijan lifestyle and it is greatly influenced by Central Asia, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey. Main dishes are Govurma, Lyula Kebab, Plov (an Azeri styled rice Plov(dish), Saj Ichi, Levenghi and many more. After meals enjoy special Azeri Black Tea laced with cinnamon & cardamom with a small serving of Baklava or Halva.

    SHOPPING IN BAKU – Wander around Taza Bazaar and you can smell the fresh farm produce of fruits, vegetables, nuts & spices. Also, check for delicious pomegranates which are famous for Azerbaijan.  Shop for authentic tea and in the old city, go along the narrow streets for many local craft items.

    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    BAKU

    THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING AZERBAIJAN –

    • Best time to travel in April to June with clear blue skies and lush green meadows. Hottest months are July & August with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. October is the most beautiful month to see Baku. Ski season is from January to February.
    • Currency is Azerbaijani Manat
    • Azerbaijan is safe and with low crime rate with normal precautions to be taken while traveling.
    • Buses and minibusses (Marshrutkas) run between Baku at reasonable pricing.
    • This country is inexpensive and budget travelers or backpackers can do this trip for about 70USD per day approximately.
    • Local SIM cards providers are Azercell and Bakcell.
    • Check Visa formalities on their online Visa portal.
    • Many people club Azerbaijan and Georgia tours together and there are overnight trains connecting both the countries. Click here to book your 7 days trip to Caucasus mountain regions of Georgia from Azerbaijan. 
    Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan 
    NAKHCHIVAN

    So, until then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING……………………………………………………

    DISCLAIMER – The content of the blog is solely my views of a place or a thing. This is not to offend any class, religion, ethnicity or nation. This blog may contain some advertisements or links to commercial products and for that, this site is not responsible after you click those advertisements.  We are the independent owner of this site and views expressed in this are our own. There can be slight differences in distances, locations or some details for which I (owner) am not responsible.  This post may contain some affiliate links, means at no additional cost to you.  I will earn if you will click through affiliates and make a purchase.

     

    The post Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan  appeared first on Travel With Me 24 X 7.

     
  • Adam 13:24 on 16.02.2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: armenia, travel   

    Best Day Trips from Yerevan Armenia 

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    Armenia a Caucasus country which lies on the crossroads of Europe and Asia has a wonderful history dating back to 3000 years approximately. It is said to be one of the oldest Christian nation and houses world famous heritage sites, old monasteries, rich folklore traditions.  Not only Armeniais famous for heritage architectures but it boasts of stunning landscapes of hilltops, valleys, woods, lakes, and meadows. In the post, many of my friends will take you to Best day trips from Yerevan Armenia. So let’s check Beautiful Things to do in Armenia.

    BEST DAY TRIPS FROM YEREVAN ARMENIA | THINGS TO DO IN ARMENIA

     TATEV MONASTERY by Nikki & Michelle – Cheeky Passports

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    Tatev Monastery is easily one of the most iconic and recognizable monasteries in Armenia, being located on a hilltop with a spectacular view of the valley below. The monastery was constructed in the 9th century but gained its due importance in the 14th and 15th centuries when it was home to the University of Tatev, one of the most important medieval universities.

    One can reach Tatev Monastery via a winding narrow cliff road, however a more dramatic way in which to access it, is to use the Wings of Tatev, a cable car leaving from the village of Halidzor up to Tatev Monastery, which holds the record for longest non-stop double track cable car in the Guinness World Records. The ride across a deep canyon is a riveting experience, but not for those who fear heights!

    Tatev Monastery is about 3-4 hours away from Yerevan and can be reached via private/hired car or by joining a tour. You can also get a marshrutka from Yerevan to the town of Goris located close by, followed by a private taxi to Halidzor or Tatev.

    Goris town is a good base from where to explore Tatev Monastery and the surrounding area. The town, which is located in a valley, is home to some hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants, and is surrounded by mountains which can be hiked.

    We recommend stopping by Devil’s Bridge on the way to Tatev Monastery. From here you can hike down to and swim in some wonderfully refreshing pools of water, hidden in a deep gorge!

    Click here to book your Day tour to Tatev Monastery.

    GARNI TEMPLE By Louiela from Beyond Chasing Dreams.

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    Garni Temple is one of the top tourist destinations in Armenia. Garni is a symbol of paganism of pre-Christian era. It is also known as the temple of the Sun god, Mihr.  Located on a cliff, overlooking the Azat River and with a beautiful backdrop of Gegham Mountains, the Greco-Roman structure which built mainly by masonry makes Garni more interesting to visit.

    Garni Temple is already popular, however, there’s one more thing to see in this place. Just below the temple lies the incredible Symphony of Stones. For nature lovers and who love a short-trek, hiking down alongside the Azat River will lead to this beautiful artwork of nature. The Symphony of Stones is natural rock formation with regular hexagonal shapes.

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    Exploring Garni as DIY which is around 28 km from Yerevan is a bit difficult as we had a problem with communication. With the help of the receptionist from the hostel where we stayed, she wrote on a piece of paper the instructions and directions going to Garni. And with this, we were able to ask directions from the locals we met by showing what’s written on the paper. Knowing basic Russian words will also help with communication.

    We did some hitchhiking also while exploring nearby places from Yerevan. The easiest way is to join a guided day tour.

    Book your guided tour to Garni Temple by clicking here.

    BEST DAY TRIPS FROM YEREVAN ARMENIA  | LAKE SEVAN BY ELLIS VEEN            FROMBACKPACKADVENTURES 

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    Armenia’s monasteries have some of the most stunning locations. One of the most beautiful settings is the Sevan monastery at Lake Sevan. The lake itself is enough reason to visit this area of Armenia.  The deep blue waters are surrounded by the green hills of Armenia and offer plenty of hiking opportunities that offer magnificent views.

    Another reason to visit Sevan is the old monastery on a peninsula that stretches into Lake Sevan. In fact, it used to be an island, but under Stalin’s rule the lake was artificially drained and water levels dropped. Still, the monastery is the best place to watch the ever-changing colors of the lake. The monastery played a crucial role in the battle between the Arabs and the Armenians when local monks helped the Armenian forces gain victory.

    There are frequent minivans between Yerevan and the town Sevan. It is an easy day trip from Armenia’s capital, but the area is best appreciated with an overnight stay to see the sunset and rise above the lake. The town of Sevan has some hotels and restaurants and is also the place where you can organize boat trips on the lake or make the short hike up the hill to the monastery.

    Click here to Book your Day tour to Lake Sevan

    BEST DAY TRIPS FROM YEREVAN ARMENIA | KHOR VIRAP BY CAMPBELL AND ALYA FROM STINGYNOMADS

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

    The Khor Virap is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the Ararat valley and is the most visited pilgrimage site in Armenia. Khor Virap is Armenian for “deep dungeon” and held the man who would become Saint Gregory the Illuminator, captive in a pit for 13 years before he helped turn the country into the first Christian nation in the world. There have been many architectural changes to the monastery over a couple of centuries, but you can still visit the pit where Saint Gregory was incarcerated by climbing 200ft down a ladder into a clammy dungeon.  It is still an important holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church where weddings and baptisms are performed. This monastery is a great viewpoint for Mount Ararat where Noah is said to have stranded The Ark. The Khor Virap is located near the border with Turkey, to reach it from Yerevan catch a marshrutka at 11 AM from behind Yerevan’s main train station; it is about a 45min journey. The marshrutkas will leave when they are full and have no set times. To get back to Yerevan take a marshrutka or a taxi, hitchhiking is also quite common and safe.

    Click here to book your day tour to Khor Virap.

    Hope you enjoyed all these best day trips from Yerevan Armenia and would love to hear from you which day trip one is your favorite one.

    Best Day Trips from YEREVAN ARMENIA

     
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