Category Archives: International Travel

Do you want to see the greater world? Do you dream of going to beautiful places you see on TV and in movies or read in books? International travel is taking your travel life to whole new level. It costs more money and time and it involves prior planning, visa, deciding whether you want to go solo or with friends or family. There is a lot and rightfully, the payoff is also many times more. More fun, more exposure, experiencing new cultures and seeing a whole different landscape, people and much more.

Safe Traveling: 5 Tips On How To Travel Abroad Safely

Safe Traveling gives you a sense of security. We love going places, meeting new people, seeing beautiful sunsets. That is what travel is about. But in the excitement of it all, we should not forget about staying safe.

Don’t be so immersed in walking down a bustling tourist street that you get pick-pocketed. There are some basic tips you need to follow for safety.

It is not just theft that you are up against, you never know when you face a natural disaster, or God forbid an illness during your trip. In that case, you ought to be prepared for the worse. Below are the safety rules for wise travelers.

Carry a door lock with you

No matter what kind of destination you go and no matter how high end the hotel you stay in, you always need to have your privacy.

That is the key to safe traveling. A door lock helps you keep unwanted visitors at bay and is particularly useful for women who travel solo.

Read Next: Be Bold For Solo Travel: International Women’s Day

Along with a door lock pack a smoke detector with you too. Not all the rooms have smoke detectors.

So it is better to have one with you in the case of an emergency it can be a lifesaver. Many buildings do not have smoke detectors, so to be on the safe side take one with you.

Memorize the Emergency Digits

For safe traveling, You need to be well aware of the emergency numbers before you travel to a new country.

For example, the emergency number for an ambulance in America is 911 but in Cuba, it is 104. Google the emergency numbers of your destination before you head out for being safe. It will be beneficial if you find yourself in any trouble.

Translate Important Documents

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You might snort and say that “English is Global, Why translate it?”. But just a bit of illness abroad and you will know how important the local language is.

Countries such as China, Japan, South Korea are very serious about their mother tongue. If you give them your health documents in English, they can’t understand it because they don’t know it.

In such cases, download the health app if you haven’t already. And then input the information into it. You can use a translation app to translate all the information, So the translation would not be a biggie.

Prepare all these documents before you head out for your trip, And keep apps like to translate Microsoft Translator, Translator and Google Translator in your phone. They come in handy while traveling.

Sign up with the State Department

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program provides US Nationals with many benefits. But above all in any case of emergency, the US Embassies can help you out in a much faster and swifter way.

It is a free service, so all the US citizens but takes advantage of it. The department also sends travel alerts regarding the country you are about to travel to.

Choose to Stay on Lower Floors

By lower floors, we do not mean the ground floor. You know in case of a break in the ground floor is the most vulnerable floor. But in the event of a fire emergency, the top floor is also going to give you trouble.

The comfy of all floors are the second and the third floor. In the case of break-ins, you are relatively safer, and in the event of a fire emergency, the ladder can reach you.

These are just a few practical tips for those travelers who love their safety. And yes it is also for those paranoid travelers who keep checking their door locks.

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Top 5 Must Visit Waterfront Cities

For many of our readers, thinking about travel brings to mind beautiful, charming cities with magnificent waterfronts. After all, why not visit a place where you can spend your time in the arms of nature? Who doesn’t want that?

The sound of rushing water touches us deeply. Our minds work to capture the beautiful locations as a sense of peace flows over us. These moments stir the desire in us to return to this heaven.

So for the planning of your next vacation, we present you with some of the most beautiful waterfront cities around the world.

AMSTERDAM

The famous capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is in Northern Holland. The river Amstel is a key geographical feature of the city, as it runs through the center of the city.

Amsterdam has around 90 islands, 100 kilometers of canals and 1500 bridges. The canals have cafes along with them which fill to capacity with visitors on sunny days.

If you are a camera fiend, you must visit the city’s most beautiful street, Brouwersgracht. Or stop by the Canal Ring or Grachtengordel to enjoy a leisurely romantic time with your partner by the waterside.

Amsterdam is also a city for fashion lovers, and shopaholics, due to the colossal variety of items and brands! For all the bicycle lovers there is good news.

The best way to discover Amsterdam’s canals and streets is aboard a bike. This cultural city has several famous museums like the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

SYDNEY

Sydney is on the east coast of Australia. It attracts numerous tourists every year from all over the world due to its world renown sunny beaches and natural beauty. Also, this city has the finest harbor in the world.

Sydney has a broad range of modern and old architecture. If you visit, then you must stop by the most architecturally significant building, the Sydney Opera House. You should either catch a live performance or go backstage if you can.

Enjoying the blue water from 200 steps above the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a once in a lifetime experience.

If you are a wildlife lover, Sydney has a great biodiversity of native flora and fauna. However, the birds should be the first to get attention. You can visit the Royal National Park or the Taronga Zoo to get started.

Related: How to Combat JetLag Naturally

VENICE

Venice, Italy is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a world heritage site. Interestingly, the streets of Venice are integrated with the water. Small bridges, high buildings and a lot of boats create an environment without any traffic stress or pollution.

The antique palaces and sparkling canals are not the only reason to visit this aging city. Magical islands, beautiful cathedrals and of course, local wineries, are a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage.

If you are on the hunt for boutiques do not miss the Piazza San Marco. Furthermore, every visitor should make time to see the Basilica di San Marco, which is a Byzantine monument.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco, California is a city filled with sun and a warm glow. Plus, for all the science lovers out there, you can enjoy the Exploratorium. This ‘public learning laboratory’ has a glass bay observatory along with a museum displaying experiential exhibits.

You can also visit one of the city’s maritime epicenters, the Hyde Street Pier, to watch shipbuilders assemble boats. The historic ferry building offers many panoramic views of the bay.

In addition, the Golden Gate Park has oceanfront trails that you cannot miss! Animal lovers watch out for the migratory blue whales!

RIO DE JANEIRO

Rio (in Brazil) is the city of carnivals. It is a marvelous city, known for its charming, colorful views and lively culture. There is a ridiculous number of beaches across the city which lie opposite to the giant mountains.

You can cruise along the long sidewalks running parallel to the beaches. Or you can ride cable cars to Pão de Açúcar or go down to the city’s famous nightclubs like Circo Voador to enjoy samba music.

Hello, foodies! Wander down the Rua Dias Ferreira to find the city’s best restaurants. Top it all of by exploring the streets of Urca to discover the colonial architecture.

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6 Most Impressive Roadways in Europe

Driving, windows down, music playing, nothing but the open road ahead; what else will you feel besides freedom? Traveling by car can be a wonderful and insightful experience.

Whether is it high rises or a natural vista, this method of transportation allows you to savor the scenery. People from all over the world take to the roads in search of a unique and liberating experience.

Read Next: 250 Greatest Travel Quotes to Inspire Your Wanderlust

Impressive Roadways in Europe

Today, we will discuss the 6 most impressive roadways in entire Europe. Each one of them makes for an epic road trip!

GROSSGLOCKNER, AUSTRIA

This roadway begins in Oberes Nassfeld and ends in Kaiser Franz Josefs Hohe. There is nothing you will miss while on this road trip. You will go from dark tunnels to sunny meadows. Plus, the winding road will take you through the mighty mountainside. Finally, you will reach the winter landscape.

The Grossglockner, the namesake of this route, is the highest peak in the Austrian Alps. The name befits the roadway since this trip will have you weaving in and out of the looming mountains. Furthermore, there are lovely stops along the way.

You can visit the Nature’s museum. This museum specializes in all substances of modern ecology. Lastly, the breathtaking view of Pasterze Glacier at the end of your trip will be magnificent.

Related: Roadtrips Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

ATLANTERHAVSVEIEN, NORWAY

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This road route connects two municipalities, Eide and Averoy. The roadway is eight kilometers long and passes through an archipelago including several small islands. The road has eight bridges that connect the islands.

The primary feature that attracts ‘roadies’ is the highest bridge, Storseisundet. When the wind is wild, you will love driving across this bridge. The turns in the bridge are breathtaking and exhilarating.

Furthermore, the stunning view of the mountains emerging from the sea will leave you in awe. In addition, the Atlantic road is toll-free!

LA ROUTE DES GRANDES ALPS, FRANCE

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This was one of the earliest roads built by road enthusiasts. Just as the car was starting to rise in prominence, this road was being built. The Touring Club at the time decided to make a route that would connect all the Alpine passes.

Consequently, you will find sixteen passes while you drive along this road. Along the way, you can stop and visit Ecrins, Queyras, Mercantour, and Vanoise national parks. The scenic beauty of Geneva Lake is worth the detour.

Also, you can satisfy your hunger with delicious food found while on the road.

TRANSFAGARASAN, ROMANIA

Dracula’s country attracts all kinds of tourists. The mystery and myths surrounding Romania make it an ideal location for a road trip. Discovering the legends of Romania will be an exotic journey.

The trip will lead you to Poienari Fortress. The intimidating fortress is the inspiration behind many myths. Specifically, many Vampire legends originated in this area.

Furthermore, the Transfagarasan tears its way through the Fagaras Mountains, which are the highest mountain in the country and the Carpathian Mountain Range. The Carpathian scenery has a raw beauty. Plus, adventure lovers can ride mountain bikes throughout the range.

RING OF KERRY, IRELAND

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This 200-kilometer long route has all you could ever want. It will take you on a ride along the Iveragh Peninsula. Consequently, you will see the deep valleys and high mountains along the coastline.

The slopes give in to sharp cliffs that look over the coastlines, which. Plus, you can stop at the white sand beaches along the way to relax.

Sneem is a small village near the roadway. Cute renovated thatch-roofed houses characterize this charming village. Plus, this village would be a great place to stop and rest on your journey. In addition, there are many other attractive spots along the roadway.

For example, Blue Pool Nature Reserve, Rossbeigh Beach, and Torc Waterfall are natural beauties you cannot miss. Lastly, Ross Castle and the Stone Circles are architectural wonders to behold.

ROMANTIC ROAD, GERMANY

The Romantic Road is named so because it is an embodiment of romance. The roadway was built around 1950, since then it has inspired many young couples in love. If you are traveling with your partner, this trip is perfect for you.

The trip will take you through medieval villages and across magnificent fairy-tail castles. Plus, the road will lead you to Schwerin Castle, which resides on an island.

The Romantic Road will surely bring out the romantic in you. Rustic landscape and baroque castles make for an incredible journey.

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How to Overcome Travel Visa Hassles as an Indian

If you are someone who holds an Indian passport and wants to travel the world – backpacking, cruising, or simply wanting to fly and explore a new country, you likely already know the frustrating drill.

As an Indian passport holder, you rank 67th in the world and it is true that the situations for Indians are improving. For example, India used to be ranked #77 just five years ago (in 2015).

With significant improvements made on the diplomatic front with several foreign countries, as of 2019, as an Indian citizen, you get to travel visa-free to 25 countries and get visa on arrival to an additional 39 countries.

Must Read: List of Countries Indians Can Travel Visa-Free on a US H1/F1 Visa

This is all great and all Indians should celebrate! But, like me, someone with an Indian passport, you still need a pre-approved travel visa to a whopping 134 countries.

This makes travel expensive, time-consuming, stressful, and overall less fun!

Fun Fact: The UAE passport is currently ranked number 1, which allows a UAE citizen visa-free travel to 167 countries. Other countries in the top 5 are Canada, United States, Germany, FranceDenmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, Finland, Italy, Singapore, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, and South Korea.

Overcome Travel Visa Hassles as an Indian

The Taj Mahal, India

Whatever! This all said one should not feel discouraged. As the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. Moreover, there are hundreds of Indians (if not thousands) who have managed to travel all over the world on a budget and average passport power.

As Indians, your biggest advantage is your language skills. If you are reading this blog in English, you will have no problem exploring this planet from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle.

Must Read: The Ultimate India Travel Guide

Here are my few recommendations for Indian backpackers and world travelers:

Start at Home

Travel and explore everything in the country you reside and India. If you live in India, then make sure you have traveled to all 29 Indian States.

If you live in the United States, make sure you have traveled to all 50 US States. The same applies for whether you work and live in the Middle East or Canada or the UK or Australia for that matter.

Visit the Neighbors

The Himalayas in Nepal

As per the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan treaty, Indians enjoy no questions asked, visa-free travel to both Nepal and Bhutan. You can even work there or teach English or do some volunteering work and take your time while you explore these beautiful Himalayan countries.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan

Travel to Visa Free Countries

Once you have covered your home and residence country, start with the countries that welcome you.  It’s time to return the favor through our travel and the money that we spend in a foreign country.

Tourism is the bread and butter of many countries and many of these countries depend on our tourism revenue. For example, Maldives, Madagascar, and Mauritius, to name a few.

Here is the list of countries that allows Indians to arrive visa-free:

Widi Islands Lagoon, Indonesia

Explore Visa on Arrival Countries

Wild Sri Lanka

Apply for Schengen Visa for Europe

If you want to travel to Europe (and you should), the best way to go about it is to apply for a multi-year, multiple entry Schengen Visa. Currently, the Schengen Area consists of 26 member European countries.

Northern Lights in Vik, Iceland

This allows you to travel to all of these countries which are all located in Europe.

Well, if you travel to all the countries listed above, you would easily become one of the most traveled people in the world.

You see, the challenge is not the lack of information or the Indian passport, but of proper planning.

WW2 Brandenburg Gate in Germany

 

Read Next: List of Countries Indians Can Travel Visa-Free on a US H1/F1 Visa

If you have enough motivation, you will make it happen! Go travel the world and explore everything under the sun.

If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments below.

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5 Things To Know Before Going to America

Going to America! The United States exhibits characteristics that make it a unique country. Travelers from around the globe come to discover every nook and corner of this Great Nation.

We encourage every traveler to visit the United States. However, you must know a few important things before you hop on your flight to M’erica.

THE UNITED STATES IS MASSIVE

“ Size is not a grandeur, and territory does not make a nation.” – Thomas Huxley

Territory may not make a nation, and size may not matter. However, the United States is large in every regard, not just land mass.

If you do not already know, the United States has 50 individual states. Traveling through each and every state, which collectively cover 3.8 Million square miles, is a mammoth task. You need to plan carefully, that you do not miss anything during your trip.

However, it will be hard regardless to visit every state during your first voyage. It is advisable to narrow down your journey to a particular region or destination so that you are not overwhelmed.

Check Out: United States Travel Guide

Fun Fact: Different states have radically different cultures. Thus, if you ask for a sandwich, you might get a Hoagie handed to you in Philadelphia or a Po’boy in the South. 

A Hoagie

A Shrimp Po-Boys / Photo by Mark Souther CCBYSA2.0

A regular sandwich

NO METRIC SYSTEM

“I have been struck time and time again by how important measurement is to improve the human condition.” – Bill Gates

America is one of the few countries in the entire world which does not use the metric system. They still live in the age before the invention of the metric system, and thus they use the Imperial System.

You will find it unusual when you ask how high the Grand Canyon is, and you will get the answer 8,000 feet rather than 2,438 meters. The units of measurement for distance are miles and yards rather than kilometers and meters.

No matter how strange it is for you if you are coming from another country you have to be familiar with the units of measurement in order to navigate.

THE TIPPING CULTURE

“I wish we had a system where you are given a bill including service and that people were paid properly so that they didn’t have to rely on tips.” – Murray Walker

You are expected to tip when you are going to dine at any restaurant, or even if you are at a café. There is no official rule that you have to tip. However, it is an unspoken rule of the culture out here.

Because the wages are low, workers depend on tips. From your waiter to the doorman, it is customary to leave tips for those in the ‘service industry.’ You are expected to tip 15%- 20% of your bill. So, stuff your pocket with dollars bills.

A note on Sales Tax: When you are shopping, you need to pay sales tax in most US State. The sales tax varies from state to state and even from county to county. 

TIGHT AIRPORT SECURITY

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” – Jodi Rell

 

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Terror bombings in planes have become an increasing threat to America. Consequently, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), introduced the use of full body scanners.

You will need to wait in the queue and get scanned before you are allowed to board the plane. The scanned image is private and it is almost like a cartoon.

However, if you think it is an invasion of privacy or you suffer from health problems, you can ask for a pat-down scan. Every passenger boarding a domestic or international flight has to go through this process.

17 Proven Tips On How To Combat Jet Lag Naturally

Sometimes when you arrived back home from a long journey, you feel like death. You become extremely exhausted, feel unmotivated, and pick up weird eating habits and sleep patterns.

Well, it is what people call as “jet lag”.

Almost all of us have experienced jet lag. Its symptoms include drowsiness, muscle ache, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Your circadian rhythm has a tendency to run slightly longer than 24 hours. Studies suggest that we can push back our body’s clock about two hours per day.

Fun Fact: It is always worse going east than going west.

Photo: Wake up coffee / The Art of Travel Partners

Flying west over two time zones extends your day by two hours which we can adjust. Within the same day journey east has us waking up two hours earlier and going to bed two hours earlier which does not necessarily mean sleeping.

We can advance our sleep/wake cycle somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes per day. So it takes as much as two days to adjust to get your body to log back on track. So here’s the natural way to cure jetlag.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is actually a disruption with our internal clock that helps us to anticipate dusk and dawn. These biological clocks help control blood pressure, stress, appetite and more. So if you mess with the clock, you mess with your life.

17 Proven Tips to Combat Jet Lag Naturally

Here are some tips that can help you come out of your jetlag faster so you can enjoy your trip as soon as possible.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

1. Exposure To New Light

You can ease yourself into a new time zone by consciously manipulating exposure to light that is green.

Photo: The Art of Travel Partners

Your body can feel extra exhausted when it is forced to completely adapt to a new light schedule so if you are traveling East; your body will feel like it is getting darker earlier and a way you can prepare for this is by leaving the light outside earlier in your day.

Indoors, get away from light so your body is trying to synchronize up with a light schedule of where you will end up if you are doing the opposite and traveling to the West then you want to stay up later and expose yourself to outdoor light as long as possible.

2. Spend The Day Outside In Sun

Sunlight helps us regulate circadian rhythm for eastbound flights. Try to get an early sleep. It will help you wake up for westward travel. Get Sun in the late afternoon and evening.

3. Re-Timer Glasses

Use light therapy to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Use 450 minutes in the morning for eastbound travel or night for westbound travel. If someone asks tell them you are a cyborg.

4. Earplugs & Sleep Mask

Block out distractions with earplugs and a sleep mask. Complete darkness is ideal for melatonin (hormone that enables your body to know, when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up) production. Melatonin helps regulate our circadian rhythm.

5. Cold Shower at Night

Cold shower in the evening before bed can also help increase melatonin production throughout the night.

6. The 20 Minutes Nap

If sleep does not come easy at night, try 20 minutes nap throughout the day to make up for lost sleep but try to get at least four hours when it is dark out.

7. Stay Active

Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon but just not too close to bedtime. It can keep you up.

8. Drink Tea

 

Go for a tea; a natural brew of Yebra mate, a Ginkgo Biloba or Ginseng can recharge your body and mind in the morning and even in the evening.

Try Chamomile lavender and Valerian to help you not off. You can shop them online. Keep looking for their discount coupons and vouchers, promotional deals and promo codes and enjoy the rest.

9. Avoid Alcohol & Coffee

Avoid alcohol and coffee at least three hours before bed. Both act as stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep.

10. Choose Overnight Flights


The thing with overnight flights is you will get your sleep after dinner as you would at home. And when you sleep it off you reach your destination at morning or afternoon (in another timezone), Which is as close as you can get to your regular schedule.

In this way, you can cheat your body to think that it is replicating its daily schedule, so it gets easier for your body to adjust its biological clock.

11. Upside Down Your Internal Clock

It is a very hard thing to do, but it is effective. Just 4-5 days before your flight, change your schedule.

Make a schedule that coincides with your destination. Shift your sleeping and eating times with that of your destination, and when your body reaches the destination, you will feel like you are still at home.

12. Double Down on Hydration

In the flight, your body gets dehydrated faster, and to keep it healthy you need to compensate for the water loss.

Dehydration leads to weakness, so we advise that- to avoid weakness you do all necessary things. Drink enough water every hour ( at least 8 ounces ).

Use hydrating spray, moisturizing lotion, and lip balm to add water content to your skin as well. If you wear contact lenses, then use Eye drops. But remove them before you take a nap.

13. Sleep A Lot


To fight the exhaustion of Jet Lag, you need one silent weapon – Sleep. If you are on a long flight and traveling from Asia to the United States, then your body needs as much as sleep to adjust to the time zone change.

A business or a first class ticket is must for long flights because you want that reclining seat to sleep well. And if that is beyond your budget then do bring neck pillows and noise-canceling headphones with you- for a good sleep.

14. Can’t Sleep On A Flight? Try Sleeping Pills

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For some of us, sleep comes naturally. But for the rest, it takes hours of changing positions and a sacrifice to Gods to let the sleep coming. So, if going to sleep takes you a lot of time then take sleeping pills on the flight.

Check out the time duration of the effect of sleeping pills at home before you use them on the flight. Short Duration pills are better as they won’t make you feel groggy when you reach your destination.

15. Take Melatonin

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We are not talking about Melanin here but melatonin. It decides when our body goes to sleep and when it wakes up, or in other words, it controls our sleep schedule.

Doctors have tested that 3 milligrams of Melatonin every day after reaching your destination help your body to reset its sleep clock better. Try this non-prescription drug, and check if it works on you.

16. When Not To Sleep


If you reach your destination in Morning, then avoid sleeping. It is not a time for your body to take rest, so sleeping makes you more tired.

But, if you reach your destination at around bedtime then it is okay to go to sleep. A short nap of 20 minutes is okay if you are used to taking naps. But a longer sleep will result in you staying awake whole night.

Now, you wouldn’t want that, would you?

17. Do Nothing

If you are there for only a day or two, try doing nothing. I mean you are just going to have to go back to your home time zone; you might as well stay on that schedule. Do not even set your watch.

I hope these natural ways will help you to combat jet lag as much as possible.

Jet Lag Is Common

They say Jet Lag is for amateurs. But it takes a lot of skill and practice to beat the Jetlag.

Your body needs time to adjust to the change in timezone and also the exhaustion of the long International Flight. It is better if you catalyze your body’s recovery to the JetLag.

Author Bio

Abigail Kent is an enthusiastic blogger, who loves to write on Trending topics related to lifestyle, traveling, and money saving tips. She’s currently associated with Discount Codez, an online coupon code directory offering latest and updated deals, promos, and vouchers. Follow her at Twitter.

Lessons Learned from Traveling the World & Living Abroad

Saying that travel helps you grow sounds like such a cliché. However, it happens to be the truth. Before re-settling in Canada with my family, I have spent over a decade living abroad.

During that period, I learned a lot of things about life that cannot be learned in a classroom. Lessons about appreciating others, being grateful for what you have, living in the moment, enjoying your own company, and getting to know yourself can only be learned by being out there and experiencing the world.

Traveling the World & Living Abroad

Depending on who you are and what you have experienced, the lessons learned from traveling can be very different. During every new trip, you will either learn something new or reinforce lessons learned from previous travels.

Each trip will have its own impact and will continue to shape your personality. Here are six valuable life lessons you can learn from traveling the world or living in a foreign country.

Related: 30 Best Inspirational Travel Quotes

1. How to Be Curious

As adults that worry about their career and reputation, we must stick to routines and cannot afford to make a mistake. Mistakes cost time and money, and we always have to stick to what we know works.

As adults, we often forget that it is important to aim for self-growth and always be open for learning and experiencing new things. Traveling remind us of the importance of curiosity, because being a tourist is like being a curious child.

When you visit a country you have never visited before, you are looking only at a corner of the world that you know nothing about. This gives you an amazing opportunity to be innocent, poke and explore.

Most people give up curiosity in adulthood, and that is something we mustn’t forget because we need in our life because it makes our mind active, opens up new worlds and possibilities, and brings excitement into your life.

2. How to Appreciate People

If you keep spending your time with the same people, always sticking to the same spots, you will forget how to appreciate others. You will see your friends and family as “them again,” and you’ll forget the things that make them so beautiful and great.

Traveling together will help you remember why you are so close, and traveling alone will help you remember how much you care about them.

Traveling is always an excellent opportunity to make new contacts, and meet new friends. It doesn’t matter if you don’t form a lifelong relationship with someone you met. The value in talking with strangers is allowing you to see them at their best.

You will see how different people are and most of them will gladly help you with something if you are a complete stranger. Traveling will undoubtedly strengthen your faith in humanity, and remind you how good people can be.

3. How to Enjoy the Moment

When you’re always trying to meet deadlines, you often forget about enjoying the moment and just cherishing the present. Traveling remind you that you should sometimes take things slow.

A great meal takes hours to cook. A good book can take a whole day to read. And who even knows how much time you need to stand in front of a painting in a museum before you realize its true beauty?

When you are in a foreign country, and everything is new, you will observe carefully and cherish every moment. At that moment you will realize that are a lot of amazing things around us (even at home) just if you see them the right way.

Although you sometimes don’t see things the right way, the moment you do will help you realize it was worth the wait.

4. How to be Responsible

At home, you feel secure, and you often don’t have to make the hard decisions alone. As a traveler, you will put yourself in uncomfortable situations – you might get lost, struggle with a foreign language, and say “I don’t know”, and apologize more often than you’re used to.

You will make mistakes and wrong turns, but you will learn how to rely on yourself and be responsible for your acts.

Read: 9 Smart Tips to Travel on a Student’s Budget

5. How to Better Know Yourself

As a traveler, you open yourself up to a whole new world. Instead of sticking to your same old routine, you can ignore impositions and expectations, and start listening to your own thoughts and feelings.

Changing your environment will help learn how to understand yourself and discover what really matters to you.

6. How to Be Grateful

At home, you often take things for granted. When you stay long enough in a foreign country, you will start to miss things. You will yearn for your bed, the food you can buy just around the corner, or some music you can hear on every street.

You will suddenly start appreciating your home more and realize that you have been living a pretty good life.

Traveling the world opens your eyes, gives you a valuable frame of reference and provides you a way to see things from a different perspective. Eventually, you will discover that it’s really the small things that give us joy in life.

Author Bio

Brandon Miller is a registered immigration consultant and a Canadian who re-settled in Canada with his family after traveling the world and living abroad for over a decade. His traveling experience has given him a deeper understanding of the world and himself.

10 Things Everyone Must Do In Tokyo

Tokyo is simply one of the world’s most fascinating cities of the world. Not only does it offer some of the most modern and advanced technological innovations but it also shows you a completely different side of it full of shrines and little snippets of how Japan used to be in the past.

Must Do In Tokyo

Japan’s capital is truly one of the most crowded cities in the world and it just introduces you to a place where you can always find something interesting to do.

From its amazing food to the world-famous sites and attractions, Tokyo is truly a city worth visiting. Here are some of the top 10 things you should do while visiting.

1. Meiji Shrine

If you want to see something different from the crazy everyday rhythms of the life in the city, the Meiji Shrine will truly help you find a serene and quite place to visit on your journey.

Built and dedicated to the late 19th-centure Emperor Meiji who opened Japan to the West, this shrine is just a beautiful spiritual place that is not that big or a tourist trap.

Before entering the old temple to pray, you are able to wash your face and mouth at the cleansing station’s communal water tank and you will also be able to write little wishes on a small piece of paper which you can tie on the prayer wall of the shrine, just like the locals do.

If you’re lucky, you might even come across a traditional wedding through the courtyard which will just allow you a peak into Japan’s traditions and beautiful traditional dresses. You might also want to keep in mind though that during New Years, this beautiful shrine can gather a crowd or a million if not more people who wish to celebrate together.

2. Tokyo Tower

Did you know that Japan has created something similar to the Eiffel Tower of Paris? Indeed, this incredibly tall structure actually stands 13 meters taller that the actual Eiffel Tower and it remains one of the most amazing things to witness in Japan.

You can actually even go to the observatory which has been built on the tower, where you will be able to be 150 meters above the ground and observe the beauty of Tokyo for high above. Sadly, the 250m special observatory is not available to the public due to renovations, but you will still be able to see a lot from that big of a height.

The Tokyo Tower truly is the most amazing attraction you will be able to spot from all the rest of the observatories in Tokyo and it is truly glorious to look at even during the night.

3. Sumo practice

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If you have ever been intrigued by Japan’s favorite sport and wanted to know more about it, this is the best chance for you to do so. You truly won’t be able to understand the character and intensity of this sport until you get to witness it in person.

You can watch Sumo wrestling practice at the Hakkaku Sumo Stable in Tokyo but you will have to know that this is not a fun game. This is a serious tradition and the fights are legitimate so you will have to be respectful to the people and serious about the situation in order to truly enjoy this incredible sport.

4. Walk across Shibuya Crossing

This is probably one of the most common things you have seen in movies and videos about Tokyo. The Shibuya Crossing is one of those things that are always on every visitor’s “to-do-list” and so it should be on yours too.

Not only is this perfectly organized but chaotic crossing fun to watch but it also shows a lot about how in order everything in Japan is. After you cross this awesome crossing yourself, you can easily take a break at the Starbucks nearby and get a better look at it from their 2nd-story window.

5. Sing Karaoke

One of the things that are very popular about Tokyo’s nightlife definitely has to be its Karaoke places. Karaoke plays a very important role in the Japanese culture and it’s something that you can often see presented as a fun activity in many animes.

Tokyo is truly full of all different kinds of Karaoke places where you will be able to even rent a room for you and your friends to have fun, eat, drink and sing to your heart’s content.

6. Try a Kimono fitting

Kimonos are some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing in the Japanese culture, Traditionally worn by all women on special occasions, they each have unique colors and patterns in order to fit the person’s likings and can truly be an awesome thing to try while visiting Japan.

There are actually a couple places where you will be able to try on a Kimono in Tokyo and you can ask a tour guide to help you even find a tour where you will be able to for example walk the streets of Asakusa in a Kimono for a truly unique Japanese experience.

7. Visit a Cat Café

Whether you are a cat lover on not, this is definitely a thing that you have to try and which can possibly help change your attitude regarding these furry creatures. Cat cafes are actually a very common thing in Tokyo.

They are essentially exactly what you are imagining; a café where you can have a nice cup of coffee and at the same time play with a couple cute kitties. If you give it a go, you might even come across a dog café and even a cute café where there are also hedgehogs!

8. Have Ramen at the Ramen Museum

Located just a little bit out of town, the Ramen Museum is pretty much an accurate representation of how Tokyo used to look in the 60s. Not only will you be able to go through the various narrow streets of “old Tokyo” but you will also be able to have a selection of amazing ramen restaurants at your fingertips.

There are quite a few things you can see and learn while visiting this place, but most importantly you will be able to taste and enjoy some traditionally cooked ramen.

RelatedTop 6 Mouth-Watering Culinary Destinations In Japan

9. Try using a vending machine

Japan is surely known for its crazy technological innovations and one of the most fascinating ones has to be the vending machines. No matter where you come from, you have definitely come across the original vending machines which serve snacks and sometimes even warm and cold drinks.

Japan has simply taken this to a whole new level and even offers restaurants which solely work with vending machines serving anything from ramen, to milkshakes to even grilled sandwiches and you should definitely not leave Japan without visiting one.

10. Stay in a Capsule Hotel

Another thing that you should definitely give a try is spending a night in a capsule hotel. This is something that you should definitely avoid though if you are afraid of small spaces as this is essentially and small-sized pod which allows you to get a night’s rest without having to worry about spending too much on accommodation.

One of the most popular capsule hotels in Tokyo is Capsule Net Omotenashi, so you should definitely give this awesome invention a try and see if this might be a great way for you to travel on a tighter budget.

Tokyo is full of wonders

There are truly so many things to see and do while staying in Tokyo that no matter how long you stay you will wish you had a few days more. These 10 things will definitely make your trip to Tokyo a memorable one and have you wanting to come back for more!

Which one are you the most excited to try while being in Tokyo?

Author’s Bio

Preston Felix is a graphic designer, traveler and freelance writer for Rewarded Essays. He is passionate about covering topics on blogging, traveling, business writing and self-improvement.

12 Tips On How To Plan A Perfect Vacation

Everyone loves a perfect vacation. But, planning for a holiday trip may sound like a daunting task with lots of responsibilities and work. Isn’t it true?

Planning a vacation requires work. The goal is to make the travel planning fun and not an anxiety-inducing exercise. If you have the right tools and apps, and you know where to look for information, then travel planning can be pretty simple and surprising as well.

How To Plan A Perfect Vacation

Whether you’re flying to a tropical paradise or heading to a party destination, a well-planned trip will leave everyone happy and with good memories!

In today’s world, we are quite fortunate that we have faster and cheaper flights, cruises, better roads and high-speed rail. We live in an era, where traveling is both cheaper and accessible.

Related: How To Deal With Periods While Traveling

Tips for Perfect Vacation

It is true that some travel challenges are obvious (no matter where you travel to), such as affordability, a limited number of holidays, airport security hassles, tourist crowds, and safety. But, in this digital age, you are your own travel agent, and you decide the budget and control your trip itinerary.

Read Next: How Technology Improves Travel

It may be initially overwhelming to process all the information. That said, with our step-by-step guide, you’ll get the travel planning and preparation done in half the time and no stress.

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1. Decide Where You Want To Go

Various choices are lying in front of you while you are in a state of deciding the best holiday destination. Isn’t it true guys? Giving a chance to your dreams is what life is all about. You should think about those places, which you haven’t been to but always think about.

Related: The Ultimate Travel Bucket List

A lot of people will talk about their preferences for traveling and gives their ideas to you. They never say where they are exactly going, but will share their experience with you.

Choosing a destination is vital and helps in setting your goals. To make the process easy, browse through various options, select the place as per your affordability and range, and finally, gives a full stop to your thinking.

Why Pre-planning?

Most of the people don’t know how much trouble they are going to face when they didn’t have a perfect plan for them. Just getting an idea and pursing on that is not enough, rather you need to think out of the box to have a memorable trip ever. Here are some steps to follow and to fulfill the dreams.

2. Decide on Length of the Trip

The cost of the trip depends on the duration of the trip. Initially, you may not have the idea on how much your trip will cost in total, but if you selected your destination and how many days, you’ll begin to get an idea on how much money your trip may cost you.

Also, knowing the length of your trip helps you plan and schedule activities in advance which is what you ideally want to do.

3. Search for Better Rates

When you are planning a trip, there are lots of things to consider. Oftentimes people don’t search enough and don’t do some basic homework, like reading the reviews, comparing prices, etc. Most of us book everything in the first attempt. Call it laziness or short on time. Point is, please don’t be that person.

You don’t want to pay more for things, at every step, right? Especially, when you may have the option of getting discounts or just better rates! Don’t book the first result that pops up or you will regret your decisions later.

If you are done with step 1 and 2, next, start searching for flights, car rentals, accommodation, tours and travel activities, and compare the options presented. Take your time. Do not rush. Try to go through at least four or five options before booking anything.

You want to do this, because sometimes you may find a discount code, or simply a better alternative for same or lesser price.

4. Create Lists

Let’s all agree that human memory is unreliable. Having a list helps us plan and prepare well. Make list for everything, such as, what to pack, your trip itinerary (which places on which day, and in which order), what to carry, and heck, even which photo poses to do. 

Make your lists precise. A good list is detailed and complete. Lists are effective if you have made and tested them before. If this is your first time making a list, start with the most important things. Then add to it as you remember new things to add.

Lastly, make sure to print your list or else it will just quietly sit in your notebook or in your laptop.

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Tips for Travel Activities Planning

If you are making a list of points of interest, activities to do, etc., you may want to mark such points on a map. This way, you can see which places are nearby, and how many can be covered in a day.

Also, you may want to rank them as per your preferences and write down your favorite places within that vicinity. This will save time on your trip and you won’t miss a key attraction just because you didn’t know it was there or simply forgot.

You can print the map or it could be in the form of a list or could be even hand-drawn. The idea here is to be better organized.

5. Read the Reviews

In this technology-prone era, everything is possible to get at your fingertips. When you are new to a town, you probably don’t have much knowledge about the place. Before you sign-up for any trip, go to a bar or restaurant, buy tickets, check the reviews people are giving genuinely, and then decide whether you should continue or drop the idea.

Reviews also help in guiding you about the safety of places, and it also gives you additional details about the locality, culture, language, and much more.

6. Book Your Tickets Before Time

You need to plan your trip before time so that you will not face issues regarding tickets. Though it is possible to get the tickets within no time, there are certain chances that you may find difficulties.

And if you have children with you on the journey, then sudden booking should be avoided as there will be lots of risks and uncertainties. For example, you would want everyone in your group or family to have seatings together in a row.

7. Buy Foreign Currency

When you are traveling to a foreign country, make sure that you have their currencies with you. You can collect the currencies from your banks or at currency exchange stalls at various malls or at the destination airport.

8. Pack Light (Carry Less)

It is always a good idea to carry only what you’ll need for your travel. First, besides difficulties in handling a lot of luggage during the journey, there is always a chance that your luggage may get lost or delayed, and second, if you travel with just a carry-on, you don’t have to wait for the baggage claim.

Additional benefits of traveling light are that you’ll spend less money on your flight ticket, you’ll be able to walk faster, easily lift or haul your luggage, and overall feel less exerted. This saves time and headache.

Moreover, you don’t have to always call a taxi to just go to the next block. Smaller luggage makes you less confined. Plus, you don’t have to constantly watch your luggage for potential theft in a crowded city. 

Besides packing light, you should also make sure to check the size of the bags allowed on the flight, and read their restrictions as well.

Read More: How to Pack and Travel Light

9. Get No-Fee ATM Cards

Save some extra cash by using a no-fee ATM card from your bank or by getting it from a bank that issues such a card. This way, one, you don’t have to carry a lot of cash on you when you travel, and two, you don’t have to pay extra ATM fee every time you take cash out.

10. Book Your Accommodation

Once you are done with the flights and car rental booking, trip itinerary and activities schedule, now is the time to book your accommodations according to your travel plan. You would want to book something closer to the airport (or train station), but you also want to be in a safe area, and as well as closer to the local attractions.

Book everything at least a few weeks ago, if not a month or two ahead of your travel dates. Note, last minute booking will always cost you more.

11. Buy Travel Insurances

Travel insurances are important and something which you may need on the trip. You never know what unexpected things may happen before or during your trip. Oftentimes, there can be work or health-related issues may cause you to change your travel dates.

If you are traveling abroad, it is good to have medical insurance as well. Having insurance is mainly for the peace of mind and to cover for any unexpected scenarios which we all wish, may never happen to us. Knock on wood!

12. Enjoy your trip

Get the planning done, cross your checklists, head to the airport, and enjoy the time as much as you can. Vacations are meant to turn-off your everyday worries and enjoying your self. Leave office or school work at home and just carry your dreams and excitement!

Read Next: How to Protect and Maintain Your Skin When Traveling

 

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About the Author

Evelyn Clark is one of the reputed authors who love to write about his traveling experiences. Her views inspire many young souls as reality and fun are reading the blogs. She has been writing the blogs for years and aims to motivate people to have a trip with their loved ones. The author believes time will never come back, so you need to enjoy every single bit of it. She is currently working with Holiday Home Rentals Company in Dubai.

A Solo Trip to Turkey: A Transcontinental Journey

“I want to visit Turkey is the line I often hear when I speak to other travel loving folks, but not all could turn their wish into reality. There are many reasons why people couldn’t make it and one common reason which people give is “Turkey is beautiful but very expensive”.

Turkey: A Transcontinental Country

I must say this is the biggest myth, Turkey is expensive if you don’t plan your trip well and if you don’t know what is there to see in Turkey. I was fortunate to turn my wish into reality.

It was a wonderful solo trip for 11 days where I had one of my best travel experiences traveling across Turkey at a very reasonable cost. I thought of sharing my Turkish experience with everyone, and if this blog could motivate at least one person to travel, I would consider this blog as successful one.

Why Visit Turkey?

Turkey has such lucrative landscape and culture which attract millions of visitors from across the globe and I wanted to be in that one in the million for sure, but the distance from India to Turkey so far that I really had to make up my mind that I will visit it no matter what.

Also, after visiting quite a good number of countries in South East and East Asia, I was sure my next destination is going to be different from my past travel and Turkey fitted in very well in my requirement.

The mix of Europe and Asia in the beautiful city of Istanbul, fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, and Ephesus’ historical sites looked so exciting in the photos, videos, and the blogs I read that I couldn’t stop myself from visiting the same and experiencing it all on my own.

 

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The decision to visit Turkey is something which makes me feel satisfied as a traveler.

A Sample Itinerary & Travel Routes

I must say, to decide for a Turkey solo trip was a difficult choice but to decide what to see inside Turkey was even harder as there are so many things to see in Turkey that my 11 days vacation looked way too shorter. 

So based on the number of days I had and the season, I picked up the below itinerary for my trip.

Bangalore, India to Istanbul, Turkey

  • Leg 1: Kuwait Airways > Landed in Istanbul > Turkish Air (to Cappadocia)
  • Leg 2: Cappadocia > Pamukkale/Denzli (by Bus) > Selcuk (by Train)
  • Leg 3: Selcuk > Izmir (by Train) > Istanbul (by Flight)

Things to See in Turkey

Let me detail out things which I covered in each of my stopovers.

After landing in Istanbul at around 3:00 PM in afternoon, I had a same day connecting flight at 6:00 PM for Navshahar and a shuttle booked in Navshahar airport to take me to my hostel booked in Gorame, Cappadocia.

Cappadocia

Cappadocia is a wonder world and certainly a heart of Turkey that no one should miss. You can explore the city on your own or take a group tour based on time which you have in Cappadocia.

So I decided to combine both. On the first day, I took a green tour in a group covering the fairy chimney, underground city, monastery, etc. And the next two days, I spent exploring the city on my own by foot and by local transportation available.

Apart from the Fairy chimneys, Cappadocia is also a popular destination for people who love Hot Air Balloons. Since I had already done the hot air balloon in the past, I wasn’t interested to take it again but I did make sure to get up early in the morning to see hundreds of balloons taking off at one shot.

The view is just amazing and can’t be missed out.

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Pamukkale

After spending three days in Cappadocia, I took an overnight bus to Pamukkale. Bus tickets were easily available for comfortable overnight journey which dropped me in Pamukkale by 5:00 AM in the morning.

Since the main attraction of Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) opens only by 8 AM, so I had some time in hand and I sipped a cup of Turkish coffee and waited for the gate to open.

I must say I was the first one to enter that morning from that specific entrance. It made me happy.

I spent half a day in Pamukkale admiring the beauty of mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces, Hierapolis ancient theater, and other attractions in the vicinity.

Once I was done with it, I took a mini bus to Denzli from where I took about four hour train ride to Selcuk.

Selcuk

Selcuk is the town which people generally use it for stop over when they are visiting the UNESCO Heritage Site of Ephesus.

But I must say Selcuk is much more than just a stopover. This beautiful town is popular for its cafe culture and it’s wonderful to just walk around and enjoy the chilled vibe of Selcuk.

In my two days in Selcuk, I visited the famous ruins of Ephesus to experience the ancient Roman culture and architectures. Afterwards, I went to visit the Saint John’s Basilica, a beautiful historical place just in the city center and worth visiting any day.

During the evenings, I spent my time sipping famous Turkish tea with Seesha (also known as Hookah). The next day, I took a minibus to go to Sirince Wine Village about an hour drive from city.

This village is embraced in such a way that once reach here sure you don’t want to leave at all. I took my slow walk going around the village for the good part of that day.

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Izmir

Next early morning, I took a train from Selcuk to Izmir which took about an hour. Izmir is a laid back city in the west coast of Turkey. It is one of the biggest port city in the region and walking around the seafront (Kordon) is defiantly one of the best experience in Izmir.

Apart from waterfront and the clock tower in city center, the local market was a wonderful experience to visit. Overall, my days spent in Izmir was pretty tiring as I had just a day to explore the city but it was worth every moment.

Istanbul

After spending a day in Izmir, I took early morning flight to Istanbul to spend the rest of my three and half days remaining before returning back to India.

Istanbul took my heart even before the airplane landed. The view from the small plane window was so tempting that I couldn’t wait any longer to explore the city.

Istanbul have two side of it, a European side with much of the night life and an Asian side with all the historical sites. I took a shuttle bus to Kadikoy Ferry Terminal. I took the Ferry and Metro from there to go to Sultanahmet where my stay for the next two nights were booked.

Soon I realized that three days is not at all going to be sufficient to see Istanbul, so I need to pick what I really want to see in these three days.

So the plan I made was, one day I will spend in Prince Island, second day I will spend exploring the historical side of Istanbul, and on the final day I will spend exploring the modern side of Istanbul around the Taksim Square area.

Clock Tower in Izmir

Prince Island

Prince Island is the group of 9 small islands about two hours ferry ride from the mainland of Istanbul. Out of the 9 islands, only 4 islands are inhabitable and the rest remain unexplored.

Büyükada is one of biggest island and considered the most beautiful among all 9 islands. So I took an early morning ferry for this island and spent the rest of that day mesmerizing over this totally mystical and unique side of Turkey.

Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet is the area where major historical attraction of Istanbul is centered. The beautiful and well known blue mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazar are all here.

All these historical places are so beautiful that you can spend entire day just visiting one of them, since I had just a day time to explore I made sure that I could manage my time in such a way that I don’t miss any of these famous attractions.

Taksim Square

For the last two nights I had booked my hostel near the Taksim Square which is the ultra-modern side of Istanbul where all-night parties are common. My morning started with walking around the famous İstiklal Caddesi and visiting the Galata Tower and enjoying the Turkish delight and my evenings ended with a couple of beers in a local pub.

On the last day, I woke up with a sad face thinking my wonderful time is about to end now. I had my breakfast, took a walk of İstiklal Caddesi for the last time, and got into the metro for the airport to catch my flight back home.

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Cost of Travel

The myth about travelling is “it is an expensive thing” needs to be broken. In my view, traveling at times is cheaper than staying home. The longer you travel the cheaper it is.

In my Turkey trip I wanted to make sure that I spend on things which is needed and not things which good to have.

For any kind of travel, the major expenses can be categorized in three categories: Food, Accommodation, and Transportation. Let me put this little bit more in detail from Turkey travel perspective.

 

Turkish Cuisine

Turkish food is indeed a delight whether you are a vegetarian or non-vegetarian or continental or authentic country food lover. It has variety of options available and suitable for everyone.

An average meal in a decent mid-range restaurant cost anywhere between 12-20 TL ($5 USD). So in less than $20 USD, I was able to survive for a day in Turkey eating three meals which is way less than what normally people think. Not to be missed is their famous “Turkish delight” desserts, which is mouthwatering.

Accommodation in Turkey

In my entire trip to Turkey, I stayed in hostels where average cost was no more than $15 USD per night and in many cases it even included free breakfast. And trust me, it was without compromising the cleanliness and location in any manner.

Izmir View

Transportation in Turkey

Your international flight tickets consumes the major part of travel expense and it really differ from which city/country you are taking your flight. So I will not be able to give a correct estimation on that but what I can share is an average travel expense once you land in Turkey.

I took two domestic flights in turkey and one overnight bus and a train. Both of my flight tickets were less than $50 USD each, and the overnight bus ticket was about $25 USD and the four hour long train journies were not more then $10 USD each.

So transportation of any mode is relatively very cheap compare to anywhere else in Europe. Specifically in Istanbul you can take the prepaid Istanbul card which acts as a ticket for all city transport system including ferry in very basic cost.

Additional Information on Expenses

  1. Museum pass is available that covers all major historical sites in Istanbul at the cost of 125 TL which will cover around 6 attractions in the city and if you buy ticket individually it will cost you about 40 TL each.
  2. Istanbul card is like a prepaid card which you can load it with cash at once and use it for all public transport in city in lesser price than paying in cash. So highly recommended to take this card.
  3. Apart from the places which I visited there are few other very good places which you can visit in Turkey based on time available. Few of my recommendation few are Konya, Antalya, Fethiye, etc.
  4. In my entire trip I had not used private Taxi anywhere, so if you are someone who would prefer exclusive taxi service then expense will go higher.

Finally all I can say is, Turkey is defiantly one of the best country I have visited so far and I would recommend all travelers to plan for it.

 

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Author Bio

Hi, I am Chandan Sharma. Working as a full-time job for a financial firm but still making a time to travel across different countries is my passion. This passion had taken me through 21 countries so far, mainly in Asia, Europe and just a glimpse of east Africa. The goal is to make it at least 50 countries before I turn 50.

Feel free to visit my Instagram page ‘Travel Freak Mr Sharma’ to a walkthrough of my travel journey. Do not hesitate to drop me a message in case if you need any further information on Turkey or any of the country which I visited.

11 Things I Learned from Traveling Alone in Africa

Namibia is one of the least populated and most peaceful countries in the world. Its beautiful landscape and laid-back culture lure tourists from all over Europe. As a white American woman officially in her mid-twenties, and never having been outside the United States, I took the international travel leap across the Atlantic to Heathrow, then another flight down Africa overland, and finally a 2-hour jump to Windhoek.

As a young woman traveling alone, without any international traveling wits and useless guidebook knowledge in my head, here are just some of my mishaps and learning experiences from Traveling Alone in Africa.

Left Side Driving in Namibia

The first thing I learned after touching ground on Namibian soil was how to drive. Sure, I had a driver’s license. But I had to relearn how to drive a stick-shift in a diesel Ford Ranger while driving on the left side of the road, sitting in the right side of the cab, in a strange African city after having been in and out of airports for a day and a half. My foot was so shaky on the clutch I killed the engine several times merging onto busy roads.

Do Not mess with Baboons

I learned that baboons are nothing to mess around with. Baboons loiter along the side of the road and swarm Waterberg. Smart as they are ugly, they have figured out how to knock on your door, and will try to break into your bungalow to look for food. One afternoon while hiking along the plateau, I found myself surrounded by these things. I thought they were going to attack, and I still don’t know why they didn’t at least try to take my small bag. In the end, I made it through them unharmed.

Kids are smart in Africa

Kids that grow up in mud huts are smarter and more tech savvy than I am. I’m not a true millennial; I still walk into the bank to deposit a check. But these kids out in the middle of nowhere know how to work phones and cameras, and a seventeen year old boy fixed the radio in my truck in five seconds. I felt pretty stupid.

Communicate Clearly

If you don’t speak clearly, the gas station attendant might put unleaded gasoline in your diesel engine. That’s what happened in Tsumeb, and I was stuck at the Shell for three hours while the local mechanic tinkered with the gas tank. Everything ended up okay, and I had plenty of friendly people to talk to. But I was sweaty, dehydrated, and more than nervous about making it home.

 

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Cultural Difference

People did not believe me when I said I don’t have a boyfriend. In their culture, a woman traveling by herself is entirely unheard-of. And some people couldn’t comprehend the choice to remain single as a lifestyle. Most people asked me where my husband and babies were, and some were quite shocked by my solitude. The only other lone travelers I met were old German men.  

Related: Solo Female Travel On Rise: A Report

The definition of Good can be different

I learned that the roads are good by African standards, but they are still African roads. They are rough and bumpy as all hell, and I sometimes drove for an hour or two without passing another vehicle. Most tourists I met had at least two tire blowouts.  

Keep some buffer time if you are traveling from USA

Its a I didn’t meet many Americans, I think mostly because it takes so long to get to Namibia from the States. It’s a long journey of domestic and international layovers. I took seven planes total round trip, which makes me wish I had gone for longer than just two weeks. At least I could be tired and grumpy and not get on anyone’s nerves. And vice versa.

People are kind

I got plenty of free souvenirs by making friends. Of course I wanted to buy everything that looked pretty and exotic, but my cash was disappearing. I ended up making friends with a part-time art dealer named Luigi. He tried to sell me some bracelets by telling me he’d been to Minnesota, not knowing that’s where I’m from. Turned out he visited my own hometown! The only Namibian I’d met who’d been outside of Africa, it was the master of all coincidences. And when I heard his story, I knew he wasn’t lying. He also gave me tons of free jewelry, baskets, and animal figurines.

Collect memories more than photographs

I wanted to stop at almost every turn to take pictures, but if I did that I’d never get anywhere. Sometimes you just have to drink in the view while you’re driving without stopping to document it. I drove hours through breathtaking landscape without taking any pictures because I wanted to get to my hotel before dark. The view will always be in my memory.

It’s okay to feel lonely sometimes

I was traveling alone, and it’s a remote desert so it would just be natural to feel lonely at times. Most nights the bar was a great place to chat up hotel staff and other travelers, and I met plenty of locals in Swakopmund. But once or twice I had to take a night off.

Related: How To Avoid Loneliness When Traveling Alone

Never in any real danger

I was scared at first, but I was never in any real danger. Namibia is one of the most peaceful countries you can find on the globe. I was safer over there than I ever would be at home in Minneapolis. And fellow travelers, guides and staff are more than willing to look out for young ladies gallivanting around the desert on their own

Related: 7 Safest Destinations for Solo Female Travelers

Author Bio:

Kelsey Jennen is a street-art photographer, lone traveler, and blogger on Badhazards. She works as a freelance writer and takes odd jobs with landscape companies. Lover of coffee and reading, she collects books, enjoys working outdoors, plays the drums, and has a cat named Pajamas.

 

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Alternative Adventure: Post-apocalyptic Vietnam

In central Vietnam lies a beautiful and ornate city named Hue. With its traditional Citadel comprised of beautiful architecture bathed in artistic craftsmanship, which is reflected in the Royal Tombs and Thien Mu Pagoda.

But, there are also the modern-age ruins which offer an alternative to those which are encompassed by the city dripping in historical value. Welcome to a sight that looks like Post-apocalyptic Vietnam.

Gargantuan concrete building carved in the shape of a Dragon

Post-apocalyptic Vietnam

I had heard rumors of a post-apocalyptic scene roughly 8 km outside of the city and after talking to my two traveling companions, decided it was worth the journey to see. We put the idea to several people sharing our dorm in the tourist area of central Hue, and six of us mounted our motorbikes to begin our ride to the entrance of the park.

Upon researching the water-park I discovered it had closed down in 2004 for reasons unknown to me, and that there were tales of the aquarium tanks – still full of water – that still housed crocodiles left behind!

Our Adventurous Journey

The ride took around 20 minutes and our satnav escorted us to the entrance successfully. As we pulled up to the derelict gateway, a sign read Ho T uy T en after the letters a, h, and I decided to abandon the place similar to the customers and staff. At the gateway also sat a man on a plastic chair beside a barrier, charging entrance to the park albeit a clear illegitimate scheme.

There is a way to gain entry to the park without the admission fee however. Keen to add a little extra excitement and exploration in to our adventure we decided to explore the surrounding roads to discover this somewhat secret passageway.

We discovered that there is indeed an entrance through a field on the east-side of the lake. Accessible by way of turning right at the fork in the road (where the official entrance is down the road to the left), and then taking the first left.

Maps say the road is a dead end, but in reality, the road gives way to a dirt track leading through field and into the park. There are no barriers, fences or signs to say you cannot do this (if you’re concerned).

Exit from the derelict amphitheater

 

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Descending a small hill onto the lakeside, we first discovered a small performance amphitheater with a pool inside – now green and dark with algae and vegetation. We spent some time here inspecting the rooms and seating areas. All the while being stared upon by the cows grazing outside the fenced arena.

The structure had various rooms displaying a tonne of graffiti – some artistic, some not – and you can definitely tell where the kitchen used to be as well as the toilets – not such a pleasant discovery.

The next structure which drew our attention was further around the lake, following the path on our bikes. We came across a small child’s area inclusive of a water-play-area along with slides, fountains (long since broken), and larger spiral slides which finished in a larger pool of dark green, stagnant water.

Scaling the larger slides from the bottom to the top was pretty fun. The view at the top certainly gives the impression of nature taking over what was once hers.

 The abandoned children’s pool

 Nature taking-over the creations of man

A short ride through the treeline then took us to the main attraction; a giant concrete building carved in the form of a dragon! Within the dragon sat a dark, damp aquarium littered with the shattered glass of the water tanks, used previously to house a variety of sea-life.

This eerily quiet and unnerving place is the rumored home of the crocodiles (ill leave you to discover the truth for yourself), and as at this point I was alone – the others had progressed without me as I had ridden my bike around the dragon a few times – I decided I best catch up with the others.

Exit from the over-grown aquarium

I found my friends at the top of a stairwell (designed to convey the inside of the dragons carkus) and looking out high above the lake as they stood within the mouth of the inanimate mythical beast. The view from here is spectacular and you can really spend some time taking it in.

Descending through the dark skeleton of the Dragon

We made it in to the mouth of the beast!

This little excursion for the day is definitely recommended as it gives a surreal feeling and a look into what the future our planet could look like. Providing great prompts for your imagination to run away with itself, as well as a sense of bewilderment and curiosity.

The current lack of a crowd also makes you feel as if you could be amongst the first people to wander into this mysterious place, often only known through word of mouth.

 

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Author Bio

Jack Graves is a keen, enthusiastic traveler who enjoys discovering places and experiences a little different than the norm. He aims to provide entertaining and inspiring stories as well as informative advice in order to encourage people to take-on their own adventures which always encompass the experiences-of-a-lifetime.

5 Tips For First-Time Visitors To India

India is a burning cauldron of culture. And people who want to visit India, are most attracted to its diversity and food. But it is all fun and games till someone mugs you and you are left with nothing but your clothes. Here are a few tips to guide you through your first visit to India.

Embrace Comfort Over Fashion

India is a proud mother of four seasons. No matter where you travel in India, you will find yourself unsure of what the weather will be next. For example, let me tell you my own stories from experience.

I once saw a girl dressed up in a summer dress, but wearing heels; heels on a beach! Yeah, you read that right. You have to take that pointy thing off your foot if you want to have a chance at feeling the sands between your toes.

I also once dressed up in three layers of clothing in a hill station, but as the noon came, I regretted my choice of clothes. In India, you will come across different weather in different regions. In summers, Delhi and nearly rest of the country are burning.

But the quiet Himalayan towns are a respite. Carry with you clothes that are modest and comfy. The public here is conservative, so forget showing arms and legs unless you are on a beach or a city like Delhi, Bangalore or Mumbai.

Protection from Strangers

This point may sound weird because travel is all about going places and making friends. But India is a risky place to travel to. You will be appalled at the rape cases that occur on a daily basis in the country. It is not just the safety of women travelers I am talking about but also the males.

I will share a personal story here too. It was the first time my uncle traveled to Delhi, and then he was drugged and mugged by his taxi driver. It was with the help of a few street kids that he made it to the hospital and still lives.  Just want to say that be smart and alert. India is a friendly place till you do not lose your common sense.

 

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Explore Offbeat Bypaths

Yasss! Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Udaipur, and Jaipur – the Golden triangle is all good. But if you want to really discover the essence of India then all you have to do is pack your bags and dare to tread somewhere less traveled. 

Everyone visiting Manali goes to the Hadimba Devi Temple but there are a few who travel to the smallest church in India, which is also located there.

The swargadwara of Puri is the famous beach but take a ride and go to the Chandrabhaga beach which is quiet and surreal, unlike the crowded ones.India, no doubt has popular places to offer but you can steal offbeat from it and still be happy.

Caution: Spice Alert

Those who are the health nuts are going to have a teeny weeny bit of trouble here. Wherever you go, you will find local street foods. And I will be lying if I said they are not good. Try the local food as much as you want but be ready to be hit with a tsunami of spices because Indians do not hold back on it.

Carry medicines with you though, so that you can treat yourself in case of emergency. Drink loads of water ( bottled ones), which will help with the food as well as the excess sweating.

Train Travel is the Best

Mostly all the cities in India are well connected with railways. Rather than taking flights from prominent cities and then using trains or buses. It is better to travel by Train. You can even login to the IRCTC app which offers various trips for tourists.

 

And you can easily book the tickets from one destination to other. Always make sure to book an A/C ticket because the general can be sweaty and cramped (that is if only you want comfort travel).

 

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9 Tips to Master the Art of Long Term Travel

For some, being a tourist simply will not cut it. For true-blue travelers, traveling means more than just sticking to the guidebook. Instead, it is seeking profound experiences by mixing with the locals, savoring their food, and taking part in their everyday life.

For long-term travelers, this is especially true since they spend an indefinite time at one place, not knowing when or where their next destination is.

The Art of Long Term Travel

If long-term travel is your ideal adventure, you must first understand the realities involved. It might look like it’s all sunshine and roses with endless Instagrammable snapshots and fantastic posts. That could be true, as well, but there are some concerns that you first need to face before embarking on this long-standing journey.

Everyone would love to travel for as long as they can but how to make it a reality?

Conquering the Challenges of Long-Term Travel

Here are a few of the most basic things that you should get a firm grip on when going on a long-term excursion:

Do Your Homework

This step will serve as a foundation for all your travel plans. Read up on the places you want to go. Get down to the more practical information like how to get around, local customs, rules, and regulations, and currency and exchange rates.

You can also try to learn the language or at least pick up some important words and phrases to help you get by in a new place.

Related: The Ultimate List of (all kinds of) Travel Hacks

Plan (But Not Too Much)

Going on a long-term journey requires some planning but not to the extent of jotting down every single activity in a spreadsheet. It’s good to be organized but having every second accounted for can take out the fun in your adventure.

Instead, plan the more major parts of the trip like long-haul flights or accommodations in places that are typically busy (especially if you’re sure that you’re going to that place).

You can usually get promo rates if you book ahead of time on airlines or get early-bird discounts in hotels. Leave some wiggle room for you so you can adjust your travel plans accordingly if in case you decide to stay longer in one place or need to skip one location for a more interesting one.

Related: The Ultimate Travel Resource (everything you’ll ever need)

Take Precautions

Travelling can be taxing. All the walking and lugging your (usually heavy) backpack can take a toll on your health.

Before you leave, see your doctor and undergo a complete physical exam. Ask what shots you need to protect yourself as well. Also, check if the country (or countries) you’re going to require you to be immunized.

If you have any health conditions that require special medication, request for a prescription. Better yet, bring a considerable amount of your pills as pharmacies in their countries do not always honor local prescriptions.

Don’t forget to pay your dentist a visit as well.

Related: Most Common Travel FAQ

Visas, Passport & Other Documents

Double check your passport and visa expiration dates and other entry or exit rules and regulations when planning your travels.

It is best to check what travel documents are needed for each country that you plan to go to, too. Although filling out forms and collating all official travel documents can be tiresome, they are absolutely necessary.

Related: Apply Travel Visa

 

Read Next: List of countries Americans can visit without needing a travel visa

Ready Your Finances

Unless you have hordes of cash or parents who can bankroll your travel, you better be ready with financing your trip.

Some travelers work their backs off for some time to save money then go country-skipping while others prefer to work while on their trip (there are Couchsurfing, volunteering, or online job opportunities for travelers).

Whatever the case, you have to make sure that you are ready with your credit cards, debit cards, and cash.

Inform your bank that you plan to travel for an indefinite time so your cards won’t get frozen in case they suspect fraudulent overseas transactions.

While on your trip, try to stay on budget if the sky is not the limit. Even if you exchange services like manning the reception for free lodgings (yes, this is possible in some countries), you still need to pay for food, transportation, and other basic essentials.

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Get Travel Insurance

It is a must to get yourself travel insurance. It is a reality that some unfortunate incidents can happen while you’re on your trip so it’s better to be on the safe side.

Lost luggage, health emergencies, and other untoward events sometimes occur and having yourself covered can minimize stress and cost.

 

Store Your Belongings

If you plan to be out of for quite some time, leaving personal belongings behind can be a cause for concern. It’s not much of a problem if you’re living with family as you can trust them to look after your stuff for you.

However, if you’re renting or sharing a flat, it would be wiser to simply store your belongings in a safe and secure warehouse facility.

Simply go through the motions of setting up an account and the corresponding payment terms, request a family or friend to check in on your things from time to time, and voila, you can leave with a much lighter heart.

Back Up Important Documents

You don’t need to be a pack rat and store every train ticket, museum pass, or leaflet as these may accumulate fast and add to your luggage weight. If you can’t part from these physical mementos, just take photos of them as souvenirs and just leave the actual documents behind.

 

Also, keep copies of important travel documents in your email or Google Drive so you can access them easily in case you need them.

It is also a good idea to print (and even laminate) copies of your passport and visas so you won’t have to take them out every time you have to which heightens the risk of you misplacing or dropping it.

Soak It Up & Enjoy

Finally, when you’re finally at your destination, open your mind and free your soul to get the most out of the experience. This doesn’t mean that you can throw your cares to the wind completely (although it is an option for some) but if you can still enjoy while retaining a semblance of order and safety.

Get to know the locals, try their food (or learn how to cook their dishes if you’re staying long), respect their customs and traditions, and experience how they live their lives on their side of the pond.

Mantoo, an Afghani traditional food

Walk, bike, take public transportation. Learn the language, make friends, and simply learn more.

Long-term journeys are not for everyone. It can be exhausting and things may not always happen as you’ve imagined.

If you have determined that your level of optimism to roam the world is commensurate with the understanding and accepting the realities of being away for so long, then, by all means, go where your heart leads you.

Author Bio

Chris Humphrey is the General Manager of Easytruck Moving & Storage. In 2013, the company combined their expertise in professional moving services & storage to create an entirely new approach to the business – and mobile storage was born! Easytruck now operates over 30,000sq ft of air-conditioned facilities in three convenient locations in Dubai and is the only Mobile Storage operator in the UAE.

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10 Best Summer Places To Visit In India

Summer is the hot weather usually comes after every spring in India. High temperature and sweating make the days and night tired and sluggish. So everybody is looking to visit some cool place to spend some time and beat the heat.

The destination like the Himalayas, southern beaches, the western and the eastern ghats (bay) are very much preferred locations to visit in India. So, if you are fed up with the hot weather, please consider including some of the recommended destinations from our list below.

There is a way you can still chill out during the hot Indian summer days.

Summer Places To Visit In India

Coorg (Kodagu)

 

Coorg is an awesome place for summer vacation in India. This beautiful piece of paradise is loaded with the hills and valleys of the Western Ghats. This is most desired and visited a hill station in Karnataka. Kodagu is also called the “Scotland of India” and “Kashmir of the south” because of greenery and clean weather conditions.

It is very special place in India which attracted most of the tourist to visit and spend time in natural beauty. This place is cuddled up at the altitude of 3500 ft above the sea. It is the home for Tibetan refugees and Kodava people. The majestic environment of this hill station is ideal for trekking, photography, and revival of the inner soul.

Places to visit in Coorg

  • Abbey Falls
  • Namdroling Monastery
  • Talakveri
  • Bramhagiri Hill

Read: 121 Fun Facts About India (Before You Travel)

Manali

 

Manali is one of the crown jewels of North India. Almost everyone in India is well aware of Manali and about its natural beauty. Manali is the hill station located in the state Himachal Pradesh attracts lot of tourist and visitors. It lies in between the Pir Panjal and Dauladhar range of Himalayas be a magnet for  water streams and mountain adventures.

Most of the adventurers visit Manali to have fun of playing sports like paragliding, water rafting, and trekking. It is one of the best hub to the newly wedded couple for honeymoon too.

Places to visit in Manali

  • Beas River
  • Hidimba Devi Temple
  • Manikaran Gurudwara
  • Salong Valley

 

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Read: 5 Things You Should Know About Indians Before Visiting India 

Andaman Islands

The many gorgeous islands of the Andaman in the Indian Ocean is full of beautiful beaches and opportunities for water adventures. If you want to beat the worst heat of the summer season then visit this seaside. This is the popular destination for summer vacations and honeymoon.

There is 52 small islands are located in Andaman out of which 36 are occupied by various tribes and local people. The historical existence of stone age culture also attracts the visitors to spend time here. This tropical area is enriched with the trees and wildlife.

Place to visit in Andaman island

  • Ross Island
  • Jolly Buoy Island
  • Radhanagar Beach

Kashmir

Kashmir is the place which do not need any introduction. In India, it is known as the “The Paradise on Earth”.  The awesome weather with snowy mountains is the perfect place to visit during summer. It is also called the Switzerland of India”.

Gulmarg, Srinagar, and Pahalgam in Kashmir is most visited and popular valley among visitors. The rides of famous Shikara and mugal garden is the most famous things to do in Srinagar and in Gulmarg the most loved gondola rides of khilanmarg are the thing that most of the visitors do.

Place to visit in Kashmir

  • Dal Lake
  • Shankaracharya Hill
  • Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden
  • Gulmarg
  • Betab Valley

Ladakh

Ladakh is the“little Tibet” in India. Known for its natural beauty and several spiritual places to visit, it is the ultimate place to visit during summer season. The large mountain range of Karakoram, snow-covered hills, small lakes, cold weather, and enchanted Buddhist crowd attracts a lot of tourists.

In summer most of the motorcyclist take adventures trip here. The Leh highway is the most famous road for thrill lovers. This is the best place to visit during summer when the fierce sun comes to burn you out with excessive heat.

 

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Place to visit in Ladakh

  • Pangong Lake
  • Shanti Stopa
  • Leh place
  • Khardung La Pass
  • Magnetic Hill

Ooty

Ooty is a hot spot for summer vacations. Toy trains are fun to ride here. It’s a mountainous region. So if you want to visit the place which is very good to curve the hot weather with some interesting beautiful toy train riding then go for this amazing place.

The beautiful cottages, gardens flooded with different varieties of flowers, fresh air, churches, botanical gardens, and peaceful weather charms this place very much.

Place to visit in Ooty

  • Doddabetta peak
  • Tiger Hill
  • Ooty Lake

Shimla

Shimla is the very attractive tourist site during summer. Known for its natural beauty, it was first developed into a vacation town by Scottish civil servant Charles Kennedy in 1822 as a summer home. Now, it has attracted a lot of visitors. It is the best place to spend honeymoon as well. The snow hills, chilled weather, waterfalls, and the Himalayas are the most visited sites there.

Places to visit in Shimla

  • Ridge
  • Mall road
  • Kufri
  • Toy Train
  • Theog
  • Christ Church

Darjeeling

The majestic place well known for tea gardens is the hub for summer vacations. The mountain range of Kanchendzonga is the most luxury and rejuvenating place for everybody. The fresh air, Toy trains, Greenery, and tea gardens look very beautiful and charming. Darjeeling is a place that radiates inner peace and joy.

Places to visit in Darjeeling

  • Kanchenjunga Mountain
  • Japanese Peace Pagonda
  • Tinchuley Valley
  • Mahakali temple

Read: Darjeeling Travel Diaries: Tales From The City of Hills (Part 1)

Read: Darjeeling Travel Diaries: Tales From The City of Hills (Part 2)

Read: Darjeeling Travel Diaries: Tales From The City of Hills (Part 3)

Shillong, Meghalaya

Shilong is the capital of Meghalaya is one of the famous tourist sites in India. The place is enriched with hills, pine trees, waterfalls, chilled weather, and fresh air. It is the most preferred site to visit during summer weather. For exciting offers check yatra coupons.

Places to visit in Shillong

  • Elephant falls
  • Ward’s lake
  • Umiam Lake
  • Sweet falls
  • Bishop Falls

Mount Abu

Rajasthan is the place known for hot weather and desert. Mount Abu is the most amazing hill station of Rajasthan even it is the lone hill station of this state. It attracts enormous tourist to visit during summer days. Small lakes, hills, and beautiful greenery attracts the people to visit this place

Places to visit in Mount Abu

  • Nakki Lake
  • Dilwara Temples
  • Toad Rock

Conclusion

Chill out the summer weather by visiting these awesome and cool place. These are the most preferred and visited hill stations by the tourist during summer. These places are enriched with the beauty of nature like rolling hills, waterfalls, small lakes, and fresh air.

So, go ahead and beat the Indian summer by visiting these majestic places and enjoy the magic of mother nature.

 

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An Artistic Weekend Getaway To Brussels

Brussels abounds many paradoxes. Bureaucratic yet artistically rich, multicultural yet strongly attached to its Belgium roots, modern yet nostalgic, Brussels is a multi-identity city. Often forgotten on travelers’ list, Brussels remains nonetheless an important city to visit if you are interested in cinema, art, theatre or any form of artistic activity.

Because Brussels is so culturally rich, this weekend getaway guide will give just a glimpse of the city’s artistic identity. I hope you enjoy!

Friday night: Explore the Beer Culture of Brussels

With only three days in Brussels, you will want to dig directly into the Belgian culture after your arrival. Arguably the capital of beer, Brussels harbors hundreds of cafés and bars where beers are put on a pedestal. Here is are my top 3 café/bars of Brussels.

A La Mort Subite

Located in the old town, near the Grande-Place, A La Mort Subite is a very retro brasserie. When discovering the place, you will be submerged in nostalgia, because of its 1920s decoration and style.

La Porteuse d’Eau

Stunning stained-glass dome and windows, wooden floor that is creaky, beer-based cuisine, La Porteuse D’eau is a gorgeous brasserie that one must head to. The extensive Belgian beer selection, as well as the Art Nouveau decoration, will make you travel into the 1920s Belgium.

Poechenellekelder

With more than 150 beers on the menu from local artisanal specialties to more well-known beers, this brasserie is for the avid connoisseurs of beers. Its atmosphere is quite a special one too, with puppets, old objects and posters invading the walls and ceilings of the building, the Poechenellekelder will give you an out-of-reality feeling.

 

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Saturday: Visit the varied selection of Museums in Brussels

Before being a bureaucratic city, Brussels is first and foremost an artistic city. It has welcomed actors, comedians, singers, painters and cartoonists for centuries, and this is reflected in the cityscape in every way. This day should vary according to your tastes but here are four of my favorite museums in Brussels.

Discover Magritte with a Surrealist Trail in Brussels

René Magritte is one of the most famous artists in Belgium if not the most famous artist. He was known for his surrealist and thought-provoking paintings such as The Son of Man, which depicts a man with a green apple painted in front of his face or the famous This is not a Pipe Painting. He is a symbol in Brussels and this is reflected in the city’s many museums dedicated to the man.

L’Atomium would probably be my first choice if you would like to discover an interactive exhibition on Surrealism and Magritte. In addition, the building offers a great view of the city. The building is open from 10 am to 6 pm every day.

Atomium meets Surrealism from 21.09.17-10.09-18

The Magritte Musée (do not mix up with the Renée Magritte Museum outside of the city center) has also an extended collection of Magritte’s artworks. It is a must for all Surrealist lovers. It is open from 11 am to 6 pm on weekends.

Cartoon Museum

Tintin, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, many of the greatest comic books have been created by Belgian artists. If you are a comic book fan, head to the Musée de la BD in the city center of Brussels. Art Nouveau structure mixed with comic book-style decoration, this museum is quite something to visit.

It is closed on Sundays but remains open Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm.

 

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Belgian Chocolate Museum

To give you a little idea of what you can expect from this delicious museum, here’s a quote you can find on its website: “Nine people out of ten love chocolate. The tenth person lies.” J.G Tullius

In this museum, you will discover the history of chocolate, how it is made as well as taste some of the chocolates of course. Find this museum open from 10 am to 6 pm on weekends.

Saturday Evening: Music, Cinema, Theatre in Brussels

Saturday evening is the perfect occasion to head for a movie night. Brussels has amongst its cinemas the oldest projection rooms in Europe. With three projection rooms, Actor Studio Cinema invites you in their cozy and old-fashioned seats. The films are carefully selected so you can be sure to enjoy them.

Alternatively, if you would prefer a more jazzy night, you can have a look at the Archiduc, one of the best Jazz Clubs in Brussels. They usually have nights on Friday and Saturday evenings.

If none of these two appeals to you, maybe La Maison du Spectacle La Bellone could be luckier. It’s an artistic center from the 1980s that welcomes theatre spectacles, ballets, dance in a Renaissance styled- building.

Sunday: Architecture Tour

It can come to a surprise to find that the activities you wanted to do on Sundays are closed. Opening times differ greatly from country to country in Europe, and Brussels, together with Berlin and Paris, is one of the rare cities where all shops remain closed on Sundays.

So your shopping spree will have to be on a Saturday if that was something you wanted to do. However, I found that Brussels houses many architectural gems that are amongst the most amazing in Europe. Sundays would be a great occasion to visit these.

UNESCO World Heritage, Art Nouveau, Modernist, Neo-Classical, Belgian buildings will satisfy any preference. Here are my favorite places to head for this architecture tour.

The Major Town Houses by Victor Horta’s

Victor Horta (the architect that famously invented the Art Deco Metro Signs of Paris) built many different houses in Brussels, but as we only have three days in Brussels, the four UNESCO World Heritage houses will do a great first introduction. They are the Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde and the Maison and Atelier Horta.

The Maison Saint-Cyr by Gustave Strauven

Head to Victor Horta’s protégé Gustave Strauven’s flamboyant building: the Maison Saint-Cyr. Built in 1903, this house distances itself from the neighboring houses with its extravagant iron decorations. While you’re in the neighborhood, you can stroll around the Ambiorix square, with its nice park.

The City Hall

Gothic façade, grandiose towers from which you can view the whole of Brussels, as well as extended rows of statues, the Grand Place will sweep you off your feet.

I hope this weekend getaway guide has helped you discover Brussels in an artistic light! If you have recently traveled to Brussels, please share your experience with us in the comments below.

 

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Author bio:

 

 

 

 

Morgane Travers is an Art and travel lover. She is always avid to discover new places. Follow her adventures on https://www.instagram.com/morganetrvs/

 

 

Top 9 Spring Destinations You Must Visit

When the freezing temperatures give in to a subtle rise in warmth it means spring is at the doorsteps. Spring season is one of the best times to explore scenic places because of cheaper hotel rates and uncrowded destinations.

Top Spring Destinations

Below is our pick for the top 9 spring destinations from around the world, for you to enjoy the coming of spring.

Cape Town, South Africa

The second largest city in South Africa sees spring during October-November. The gap between the warm tourist season offers great deals on accommodation. But there are occasional showers, and the wind blows hard in these months.

When the wind subsides, the city offers splendid architectural walks; sandy bay walks, hiking in the Table Mountain, and wine tours in Constantia Valley.

Gulmarg, India

Tourists visiting India during February–March experience a pleasant temperature. Unlike the summer months which are really hot in India. Gulmarg is a city in Kashmir which sports snow even during the spring months.

It has the world’s highest gondola ride, and not just that, Gulmarg sports some of the World’s best trekking routes as well as skiing opportunities. Get ready to chill down on your next visit to exotic India.

US Virgin Islands

The archipelago of Virgin Islands belongs to the U.S. and enjoys a tropical climate most of the year. So Spring here is more like a short trailer for the upcoming long summer. February to April seems to welcome temperature drops as well as price drops.

The spring induced fun includes hot curried meats, brewery tours (Cruzan Rum Distillery), and historical landmarks like Blackbeard’s Castle, Christiansted.

Coorg, India

Who said India is too hot! Maybe it is. But if you want to avoid the summer heat, India has yet another world-class destination in the abode of holy hills that is home to quaint villages. Coorg sets a unique scenery and experience if you visit during the Spring months.

For a complete list of things to do here, please read Coorg Travel Guide.

The water in the famous Abbey Falls has a fair amount of volume and depth. During this time, the misty waterfalls do not get shrouded by an overdose of water. The Coffee plantations in Madikeri in Coorg is another must-visit destination. Coorg flourishes during Spring and gives all of the tourists yet another reason to visit India.

Twentynine Palms, California

A town with a tale of courage displayed in the Old School House Museum, Twentynine Palms is in the Californian Desert. The surrounding scenery of the city gets enhanced by the Joshua Tree National Park.

The desert landscape acts as a camping ground for hikers and rock- climbers. Twentynine Palms during the Spring season is an out of the world experience. It is the only time in the year when you can have a first-hand desert trip without turning to cinders in the heat.

Lisse, Holland

When Lisse comes alive in Spring, the tulip gardens bloom in their beautiful glory. From March to May the tulip flowers in Keukenhof, Lisse make it an attractive destination. This gorgeous village has a rich cultural history reflected in the renovated Keukenhof Castle.

The bright flowers and the castle together bring the best in nature. When spring knocks, have your share of flowery awesomeness at Lisse in Holland.

Kauai, Hawaii

Photo via Good Free Photos
An island that remained unconquered by any external forces (including the US) even after numerous attempts is the Island Of Kauai. Kauai was not part of Hawaii for a long time. This may be one of the reasons why it is more laid back and rural compared to the other Hawaiian Islands.

Those who are looking for a remote and secluded place for a spring getaway, Kauai is your paradise. Being oldest of the Hawaiian islands, it has sandier coastlines. It isn’t just the sand though, but the Garden Island lives up to its name.

There are plenty of National Parks and wildlife reserves that deserve a visit. The Na Pali Coast offers great peaks for hikers. And the Spring weather makes it all even better.

Alishan Scenic Area, Taiwan

This piece of paradise in Taiwan wraps around the Mount Ali. It is a 415 km long and hilly nature’s awesomeness that is hard to ignore. The gorgeous and wild scenery provides for many hiking trails as well.

In the springtime, the tea and coffee plantations become lush after the end of harsh winter months. Have a slice of traditional Taiwan this spring by visiting the wooden Buddhist temples and by interacting with the local Tsou tribe.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Those who love pedestrian-friendly cities are in for a treat in Buenos Aires, the capital and most populous city of Argentina. There are several walkable paths where you can gawk at the splendid greenery surrounding you. During Spring, the botanical gardens and the green open spaces become a refreshing attraction in a rather busy city.

For a relaxing day, embark on a nearby wine tasting tour. Buenos Aires has every trick up its sleeve, may it be medical tourism or luxurious golf courses, it caters to all of your senses, especially during the Spring (when the city has everything to offer at a discount.)

Let us know about your favorite Spring destinations in the comments below.

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Top 8 Medical Tourism Destinations

Medical tourism has become quite popular. Many patients can receive treatment at affordable prices compared to what they would pay in their home country.

An increase in the number of medical care professionals, patients, and technological improvements have catapulted the following nations to the list of top medical tourism destinations.

 

The following countries are chosen for the availability of data, accessibility, price and internal framework. Consequently, consumers from abroad are seeking treatment in these destinations:

Israel

From plastic surgery to neurological therapies, Israel supplies various clinical and healthcare solutions. Despite the recurring security issues, local professionals are committed to preserving the country’s medical tourism industry.

The country faces political crises, but the economic situation is flourishing. This economic upturn is reflected in the low price of treatments. Clinical specialists have more up-to-date methods and cures than their colleagues in other countries.

The area around the Dead Sea is popular for skin therapies. Visitors can use seawater to cure psoriasis and associated problems. Plus, the high atmospheric pressure in the area naturally helps patients with cystic fibrosis.

Thailand

Thailand is popular another nation known for cosmetic plastic surgery. For 20 years, Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital has been treating international clients. According to Patients Beyond Borders, approximately 1.2 million individuals visited the clinic in 2015 alone.

South Korea

South Korea brings in a steady flow of foreign travelers. Many of which visit South Korea to explore unrivaled Korean traditional medication, Otorhinolaryngology, infertility treatment, oral medicines, ophthalmology, spine treatment, joint/rheumatism care, organ & hair transplant, cancer cell treatment and extensive health and wellness trials.

Some of the most popular healthcare treatments amongst medical vacationers in South Korea include skin lightening, rhinoplasty, and eyelid surgical procedures.

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Turkey

Turkey attracts medical tourists from the Middle East, Eurasia, the United States, and Europe. Plus, the personal health treatment system strives to be one of the critical wellness service providers in the world.

The nation is also home to the highest number of Joint Commission, internationally accredited, clinical establishments around the world. Turkey is second only to the United States.

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Puerto Rico

Although Puerto Rico is new to many clinical and healthcare travelers, it gives travelers various benefits. This island is easily accessible and it has clinical knowledge and medical care frameworks that match those in Europe and the United States.

Most of the trained doctors comply with privileging and credentialing demands that resemble those in the United States healthcare facilities. The fees, however, are higher than in various other emerging medical tourism destinations.

India

India has a variety of perks for the medical tourist. Compliance with international specifications, accessibility to the most current clinical technology and reduced expense are just some of such advantages. The federal government is likewise taking steps to offer a framework that will attract even more clinical tourists.

Popular procedures include orthopedic surgery, eye surgery, heart bypass surgery, and bone transplants, among others. Currently, Chennai is the ultimate healthcare destination for medical tourists in India.

Malaysia

With more than half a million medical travelers coming to the nation yearly, Malaysia places as one of the most health and wellness care friendly spots for those looking to find help outside of their country. Even Americans come to the country’s large English-speaking populace and solid facilities.

In order to diversify its economic situation amidst the Asian financial crises, Malaysia invested in its medical tourism industry. Malaysian medical facilities are recognized as major players in vitro fertilizing at a cost that’s 20 percent less than many other western medical centers. Malaysia’s medical facilities are also known for their innovative treatment of burn victims.

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Brazil

People searching for an affordable alternative to plastic surgery should visit Brazil, which is one of the top locations in the world for these procedures.

According to Patients Beyond Borders, around 200,000 international tourists visited Brazil in 2013 for cosmetic treatments. Plus, the savings are extreme, with costs about 30-50 percent below what American physicians would charge for treatment.

Furthermore, medical tourism in Brazil has long been known for its Ivo Pitanguy Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, which performed more cosmetic surgery procedures than any other places in the world.

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10 Things To Know About Greece Before You Travel

Greece is the love at first sight. I’ve been there twice and definitely want to go again. There is so much to see and do! However, Greece is the country with its own features and habits, which you should keep in mind if you want to have a good trip. Here are ten of them:

Sea is Everywhere in Greece

The first thing I smelled, when I left the plane, was the smell of the sea. In Greece, the sea is literarily everywhere! You can choose a destination to your taste and budget. If you want to have a relaxed and quiet rest, don’t go to Santorini, the most popular destination in the country. Instead, choose one of the many small and quiet islands, which are numerous.

Greek Alphabet is Unique

The Greek alphabet is unique. It’s neither Cyrillic, nor Latin, and it is quite hard to read. Unless you are in a tourist area, you won’t find many English signs. Fortunately, Greece is a fast developing tourist hub, so it is almost entirely the tourist area.

I have never had any problems with people understanding English, but only those, who work in the tourist industry. Young people in Greece now speak English freely, which I can’t say about elderly, however. So, if you need to ask for directions or need some other help, look for youngsters.

Driving Habits are Indescribable

Although a rental car is still the best way to get around Greece, driving here is not easy. Most roads are mountainous and windy, with sharp turns, and not of the best quality. Nevertheless, Greek drivers tend to drive very fast and not very carefully. If you are about to ride in a car with a real Greek driver, you definitely need to remember a couple of prayers to use on the way. 🙂

You Can’t Avoid Trying Seafood

Greece is all about seafood. You can’t really feel the country if you don’t try freshly fished octopus, shrimps, fish, calamari, and mussels. Seafood in Greece is, in fact, so good, that I could even eat things, which at home I am allergic to.

Special sauces, served with these dishes, are just excellent. The seafood is eaten best with local white wine and freshly made bread. Also, mountain herbal tea and chestnut honey, with original deserts, would be great for the end of a dinner. By the way, in most Greek restaurants, the desert is free and is brought with a check. That’s very pleasant, isn’t it?

Read: FREE Online Greece Travel Guide, Things to Do, Places to Visit

Public Transportation Is Not Easy

Getting around Greece by public transport is not easy, especially on the islands. You will need to spend some time on the Internet, studying the timetables and planning the routes. Trains only ride on the continental part of the country. Airplanes are rather expensive. And ferries highly depend on the weather. Also, on islands, buses, which connect different towns with each other, often ride just several times a day.

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Hitchhiking in Greece is not the best idea, especially for women. Feedbacks on the Internet state that the Greeks do not really wish to pick up hitchhikers. Also, passionate Greek men may be rather intrusive, so beware.

Definitely, the best time to get around is by renting a car. However, don’t forget about the roads and driving habits, and be careful.

Hotel Service Varies Greatly

A four-star hotel in Thessaloniki and the same rate hotel in Uranopolis will vary greatly in both the general look and the services provided. In fact, tourist resorts are not known for the best hotel service. Yes, it is adequate. Yes, all the requirements for the 4-star rating are met. But it can still be much better. On the other hand, the small no-star family hotel in Kalambaka can be even more cozy and pleasant, with great big breakfast and the nicest owner! What do I recommend? Do a good search and read the feedbacks carefully, before booking accommodation, and you’ll be fine.

Prepare to Pay

Greece is not a very rich country, particularly due to the crisis, which has hit it in the recent decades. The country’s economy highly depends on the tourist industry. It means the Greek try to earn as much as possible from every visitor. Free compliments, discounts, or low-cost transport are not common here. Although people are very nice and hospitable, the fact remains.

However, it still depends on the place. For example, in the hotel in Uranopolis, when asking about additional services, such as Wi-Fi, room safe, or gym, all I heard was “it costs extra”. Also, the buffet was quite poor. While in Kalambaka, the breakfast was huge and tasty, the owner was nice, and he even gave us a teapot, to use in our room, for free. And many restaurants also provide their guests with free deserts at the end of the dinner. So, it’s not at all as bad, as it may sound.

You Have to Love Olives

If the Greek knew that I hate olives, they would’ve probably deported me 🙂 Here, you can buy so many different kinds of olives, your eyes will just run wide. I don’t even mention many kinds of olive oil (in souvenir packs as well), wooden items (made of olive trees), and all kinds of cosmetics with olive oil, bones, etc.

Stay Safe

Wasps are common in Greece. They don’t attack without reason. But still, you need to be cautious and take some anti-allergic medicine with you on a trip. Also, swimming in the sea may be dangerous, due to the presence of sea urchins. They don’t even seem dangerous until you step on one. But the results can be catastrophic and spoil the rest of your vacation completely. So, keep in mind to wear flip-flops, not to hurt your feet.

Come at the End of the Tourist Season

Greece is one of the Europe’s most popular tourist destinations nowadays. So, during the high season, tourist areas and resorts are really crowded. If you want to have a peaceful and relaxed vacation, come at the end of September or at the beginning of October. At this time, the weather is still good, the sea is quite warm, but tourist sites and hotels are not crowded already.

The only problem will be if you want to go on a group excursion somewhere. During the low season, tour agencies often don’t have enough people for a group. But that’s not a problem if you just want to relax, breathe some fresh air and have a great vacation in Greece!

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10 Unusual Things To Do In Paris

Paris is not just about the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Louvre Museum. It has much more to offer. You will have a great time visiting places, which are not crowded with tourists, and doing things, which you won’t get to do anywhere in the world.

Here are top 10 ideas you can use on your next trip to this lovely French city.

Go Dancing

From the beginning of June till the end of August, every evening, dance-lovers gather along the river bank near the Institut du Monde Arabe, in Jardin Tino Rossi, and give in to the passion of dance, such as salsa, tango, waltz, and swing.

Visit Museums

You think going to a museum in Paris is corny? Yes, it is. If you just go to Louvre. However, the capital of Paris offers lots of museums for every taste. For example, in Jardin des Plantes, you will find a botanical garden, a zoo and an array of natural history museums.

Anatomy and Paleontology provides an amazing look at the world of the 19th-century science, with rows of animal skeletons and lines of old wood and glass cabinets.

Other popular, but not as crowded as Louvre, places include the Musee de Quai Branly, Musee du Moyen Age, Musee Marmottan Monet, and Musee des Arts et Metiers. If you are into impressionism, don’t miss famous Musee d’Orsay. Although, it is rather popular and you might have to wait in line for a couple of hours.

Look for Roman Ruins

Paris is still dotted with numerous tracks of ancient Roman past: a coliseum, baths, and various remains of walls, pillars, and carved stones, which just wait to be discovered by curious tourists.
The Archeological Crypt near Notre Dame reveals the center of the old Roman city of Lutetia, while the Roman Baths at Cluny are probably the most impressive architectural remnant from the Roman era.

Enjoy Street Art

If you are really into graffiti art, head towards the Canal St. Martin in the 10th arrondissement, one of the most exciting and up-and-coming areas in the city.

Full of fascinating restaurants, artistic shops, and great street art, the area is a great place for leisurely strolling.

Explore the Covered Passages

The famous 19th-century covered passages of Paris are the remnants of the post-revolution rise of the middle-class in France. There are around 30 which still exist.

Some of the most impressive lie strung in a line, stretching from Passage Vivienne, behind the Palais Royal, and ending at rue Cadet, a charming little street. This type of activity is great for a rainy day in Paris.

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Picnic at the Canal St. Martin

Share a bottle of wine, some fruit, and baguette with a friend at the edge of the Canal St. Martin on a warm summer evening. It is a popular place among Parisians in-the-know, artists, and the Boho-Chic crowd. But still not so much among tourists.

Stroll along the Promenade Plantee

Some time ago, it was an elevated railway track. Now, it is a long narrow stretch of trees and flowers. Also known as La Coulee Verte, it stretches from Bastille, through the area around Gare de Lyon and Bercy, and all the way to the west entrance of the Bois de Vincennes.

After enjoying the gardens and the view of Paris from the height, go down to the street level and wander along the Viaduc des Arts, where you will find ateliers, workshops, cafes, and numerous galleries.

Go to the Flea Markets

Head towards Belleville area, filled with flea markets and produce stands, bustling shoppers, colorful products, and heckling merchants. Or get lost in the picturesque streets of Caulaincourt – a perfect destination for authentic French atmosphere seekers.

If you are into food, visit the charming Rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement, one of the best food markets in Paris, where you will find bakeries, cheese sellers, gourmet shops, cafes, and hot new restaurants.

Don’t Miss Culture Events

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When in Paris, you just can’t miss some typically Parisian events. For example, Nuit Blanche, held every autumn, is the only night in a year, when galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions are open and free of charge.

In June, the Fête de la Musique takes place, and the streets of the city get filled with dancers. Journées du Patrimoine, the celebration of heritage days, usually takes place in late summer and is a great opportunity to visit all government buildings in France, including the Elysée Palace, the French Mint, and the National Assembly building.

Learn Something New

If your trip to Paris is about to be long-term, sign up for some classes and obtain new skills. Whether it’s cooking, photography, calligraphy, writing, or language, it’s the best way to take something back home with you.

Taking a class in Paris will really be a unique experience, which not many visitors can boast of, so don’t miss your chance!

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