Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Ideology of Travel

Why travel? If we stop to question why it is that we travel, we find that the answer isn't as easy to arrive at as an airport. The common idea behind travel is that we are getting closer to something. Visiting a distant land so that we can be in it's presence and experience it in person.

With this burning desire to arrive at a destination, the travelling part of travel is often eliminated. Air travel makes it so easy to hop the distances and arrive at a new location. It eliminates the hardships that often have to be over come when travelling. Yes, I know, airports are no picnic but it really isn't the same as mentally gearing up to cross the expanse of the globe that it would take for me to go from San Francisco to Rome, for example. Travel has become, in a sense boring. The traveler doesn't have the opportunity to experience the "travel". Trips have become all about arriving. 

I distinctly recall a trip to Egypt where my family and I boarded a small jet plane in attempts to reach a corner of the country not accessible any other way. It was horrific. There was turbulence and noises that convinced me we were going down any moment, but those were the memories in the making. That fear, adrenalin and finally the arrival that made that a memorable trip. It is in the travel that memories are also made. So remember, once you get off the plane, make sure you really travel. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Travel Reads: Make the Most of Your Time on Earth

I picked up The Rough Guides: Make the Most of Your time on Earth other day at Barnes and Nobel. This book was extremely enticing with it's glossy pages and colorful pictures! This book showcases the 1000 ultimate travel experiences and moments after cracking it open, I was desperate to get on the road again and start planning another trip! 

This giant book holds some really adventurous and off-beat adventures in every part of the world. The book is neatly organized into different regions of the world with some amazing suggestions for pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and truly experiencing something unique. 

This book is a monster and needs days, even months to be spent pouring over the pages outlining which activities speak to you as the reader. This book offers the reader a different way to look at adventures while travelling. Though I could have thought of thousands more to be added to various regions, I love this book. Armed with post-its and a sharpie I find myself loosing a good chunk of my Saturday's picking out which of these 1000 Ultimate Travel Experience I want to experience for myself. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Breathtaking Week in Liguria, Italy

This guest post comes from Vanessa who is an avid fan of Liguria due to its beautiful coastline and mouthwatering food. She shares with us how to spend one breathtaking week in Liguria, Italy. 

Cinque Terre in Liguria, Italy
If you are looking for a new destination for your holiday, why not give Liguria in Italy a try? The region boasts 300 days of sunshine annually, not to mention beautiful beaches and marvelous mountains. There is something for everybody, whether you are looking for a private couple getaway or a big group trip, and renting a holiday apartment in Liguria for one week may not even be enough to cover a region with so much to offer!

Relax on the Gorgeous Sandy Beaches
It goes without saying that whilst on the coast you should make the most of the gorgeous sea in front of you. The most appealing option would be relaxing and tanning on one of the many beaches on offer- a few sandy beaches worth visiting are Diano Marina, Sanremo, Finale Ligure and Lerici. Those feeling a bit more brave could try their hand at some watersports like surfing, wind surfing, kite surfing  at Spiaggia d’Oro, Fornaci or Ventimiglia. You can even venture under the water for some diving at the several diving clubs in Sestri Levante. Other more unusual excursions include night cruises and even whale-watching!

Cinque Terre; Catch a glimpse of the real Italia
One of most well-known sights in Liguria is the Cinque Terre, 5 neighbouring villages spanning 18km along the coast which are so renowned for their beauty that they have received UNESCO World Heritage Status. One might ask, why are these villages popular? They offer stunning views along their connecting paths as well as picturesque and colourful buildings which make you feel like you are in the real Italia.

Be a Dare Devil in the Alps and the Apennines
It’s not all about the beach in Liguria. Despite its size, Liguria offers both the Alps and the Apennines. You can go mountain biking or spend the day hiking, but if you are little more of a dare devil, there’s even the possibility to try some climbing. The jagged countryside of The Arroscia valley is a perfect obstacle course for the adventurous types.

Explore Genoa: The Capital Region
Culture vultures ought to check out Genoa, the capital of the region. If you are looking for history, architecture, art and good food, this is the place to visit. In 2006 the old town became a UNESCO World Heritage site due to wanting to preserve the splendor of the buildings and churches of the area. The city also boasts a newly restored habour and a popular aquarium.

Stop and Smell the Roses in the 'Riveria of Flowers'
Nature lovers will be happy to know that Liguria sure lives up to its nickname as the ‘Riviera of Flowers’ where the flowers are in bloom all year round, but most notably in the spring. A visit to the Villa Hanbury Gardens near Ventimiglia is also a must, as it is considered one of the best botanical gardens in all of Europe.

Indulge in the Authentic Italian Cuisine
Eating out in Liguria is a real treat! Well known specialties of the area include pesto and focaccia- it will taste 10 times better than any from your own home country! Other traditional cuisines to sample include pansotti, their own version of ravioli, or farinata, a chickpea flour type of pancake.

Now that you know just a fraction of what is available for a holiday in Liguria, what are you waiting for? It’s time to book!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rolling around in Mud

Calistoga- famous for peace, serenity and wine also is known for its fantastic mineral pools and mud baths.  
I often find that a lot of spas offer the same selection of services, but at  Indian Springs Resort, Calistoga they offer the most unusual service-- a real Volcanic Ash Mud bath. This is a spa treatment in which you swelter for a 15 minutes in black volcanic mud heated by natural geyser steam and water, then refreshingly cool down in a mineral bath before sitting in steam to sweat out the toxins. 

Indian Springs Resort is just off the main part of town. It was first owned by the founder of Calistoga, Sam Brannan, and then by Leland Stanford. The resort’s giant old-fashioned mineral pool is heated to 102 degrees, and the bathing experience itself is like stepping back into the 1920's. I have not stayed here so I can not vouch for that, but if you bring some magazines and snacks this would be the perfect day. 

It had been on my bucket list for sometime now and when some of my girlfriends were planning a trip to Calistoga to indulge in the Mud Baths I knew I HAD to go. What surprised me the most was how REASONABLY priced this experience was. For $85 I was able to experience a real volcanic ash mud bath and had access to their mineral pools and grounds for the rest of the day. This was truly an unbelievable experience, one I am so glad I was able to indulge in! If you too are looking to escape and forget your problems, this 5 star resort is the place to go! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Armchair Travels: 10 Movies for Travel Inspiration

1. Eat, Pray, Love (2010)- ITALY, INDIA and BALI

Based on Elizabeth Gilbert's life and book, Julia Roberts plays Gilbert herself. A woman bound by the confines of life who takes off for a life changing trip that leads her to Italy, India and Bali on the quest for finding herself.

2. Mama Mia (2008)- GREECE

A carefree and enjoyable movie with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfreid, Peirce Brosnan and Colin Firth to name a few, is one that truly makes you fall in love with the beautiful landscape and culture of Greece.

3. The Fellowship of the Ring (2001 )- NEW ZEALAND

Of course the stunning shots in the Lord of the Ring Movies can't help but pull you off to visit New Zealand. It's absolutely breath taking.

4. Midnight in Paris (2011)- FRANCE

Woody Allen's movie with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams makes you long for a summer stroll down a Parisian street. Everything is just so carefree, relaxed and glamorous there!

5. One Day (2011)- SCOTLAND and ENGLAND

Anne Hathaway's One Day is a stellar love story, and a phenomenally written book by David Nicholls. The beautiful and fast paced life depicted in this movie wishes you could be whisked away to love in London or somewhere in Scotland.

6. March of the Penguins (2005)- ANTARCTICA  

Undoubtedly a cinematographic masterpiece. The work speaks volumes for itself. Outstanding.

7. Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008 )- SPAIN

Another Woody Allen romance comedy-drama staring Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz stunning shows the easy of life in different parts of Spain. It makes you want to spend this weekend there instead of here.

8. The Sound of Music (1965)- AUSTRIA

The hills are truly alive with the sound of music.

9. Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)- JAPAN 

Some of the beauty Japan has to offer is showcased in another fantastic book-turned-movie!

10. Leap Year (2010)- IRELAND

Last but not least is the American romantic comedy Leap Year that makes anyone wish they should travel around the countryside of Ireland!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Places You Shouldn't Miss While Visiting Baltimore

This guest post comes from Simon Clark. A content writer from the UK and passionate about writing on travel blogs, he shares with us the highlights of a trip to Baltimore. For more, Simon can be reached at @travelplex

Baltimore is a place where you can have more fun filled days to make your vacation one you will remember forever.  To have a memorable vacation in Baltimore you need to have good planning. All the international visitors who want to make their vacation exquisite at Baltimore require an ESTA US Visa. Here are a few places that you should not miss while visiting Baltimore.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Baltimore’s inner harbor is one of the famous tourist attractions. It is the best area for shopping, dining and entertainment. Visit the National aquarium where you can find more than 16000 creatures as naturalistic exhibits. You can also enjoy a walk through a rain forest and an exciting dolphin show. Along with the national aquarium there are many places like the Baltimore maritime museum, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Fort McHenry and Sea dog cruises that fascinate people of all ages.

Maryland Eastern Shore
Maryland Eastern Shore of Baltimore offers endless recreational opportunities which lure a substantial number of visitors.  It is a popular summer vacation destination. Tourists can explore historic towns and beaches. The activities like swimming, boating, bird watching, fishing, biking and golfing provide endless refreshment and fun.  Some other famous places in and around Maryland Eastern Shore that you can enjoy are Chesapeake city, Chestertown, Rock Hall, Kent Island and Cambridge.

Walters’s art museum, Baltimore
Baltimore’s Walters’s art museum has a breathtaking physical structure which in itself is an attraction. You can find a world-class collection of works ranging from Greek sculpture to roman sarcophagi. Also look out for old master paintings from art deco jewelry. And the best bit is you can view all these fabulous painting’s for free!

Six Flags America
Six Flags America is located 30 miles south west of Baltimore and offers a full day of fun with more than 100 thriller rides and shows. It is a best family entertainment area. It offers something for all the family. Penguins Blizzard River, The Traditional Tea Cups and the great race are some of the best family rides. Kids mostly enjoy Looney Tunes Movie Town where they can meet Bugs Bunny and other characters from their favorite cartoons.

Camden yards
Baltimore and the state of Maryland are home to many great athletes and teams. This means the city has gained a world- class museum to showcase its sporting Heroes. Camden Yards is one of the city’s tallest buildings with artifacts and exhibits about baseball, football and lacrosse histories.

Visit Baltimore and find all the famous places in and around it to make your vacation more delightful.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Travel Rituals a solemn ceremony consisting of a 

series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.

Why Have a Ritual? 
It's funny, every time I travel I follow an (almost) identical ritual every time. I love the lists and planning and so it only makes sense that I have specific travel rituals. Rituals seem to be an important part of a lot of people's travel experience. For me I find that it grounds me, allows me to decompress from my stresses and look forward to the trip ahead. Having a prescribed list of things to do before embarking on a trip may seem contrived, but it can be efficient and effective in smooth sailing. 

How to Create Effective Rituals?
When it comes to creating your own rituals it is important to keep them simple, effective and fun. These are the three basic principles for a fun vacation ritual. When developing your rituals follow the following guiding questions:
1. What are the things I have to get done before I leave?
2. What are the things that will prepare me for the trip ahead?
3. What are the things I can do to get into a relaxed/vacation mode?

Once you have answered these questions a natural list of general things to do. These need not all necessarily be rituals though. Order the random list of events from the most stressful to the least stressful tasks. The goal of this is to end with the most relaxing/vacation oriented activity after having put everything else in order. This sets you up for starting the trip off stress-free! 

My Travel Rituals
Maybe you're still a little unsure of what rituals should look like. Here are some of mine and hopefully this will help set you on a path for relaxing and exciting travel rituals.

The week before departure:
1. Look up location and make a rough itinerary
2. Double check that flights and hotels etc. are all confirmed
3. Make sure all my visas and travel documents are in order. 
4. Make sure my bunny will be cared for 
5. Pack my bags
6. Make sure my iPod is stocked
7. Charge my camera
8. Set an out of town notice for my email (if it's an extended trip)
9. Go for a quick jog
10. Take a relaxing bath

Hope this helps you all create fantastic travel rituals that gear you up for the fantastic vacation ahead!