Yearly Archives: 2015

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Wales is often overlooked when planning a trip to the United Kingdom, but it shouldn’t be! It’s an amazing gem, with delicious food, fantastic people and ridiculously long place names. It may surprise you to learn that Wales is officially bilingual with the majority of people speaking Welsh along with English. Despite being boarded by England to the East,  when visiting Wales you’ll experience a unique cultural identity all its own. We’ve made a list of awesome things to do this November and onwards to make your trip worthwhile!

The Real Ale Wobble: Mid-November

visiting wales

The Real Ale Wobble takes place at the start of a 10-day long beer festival in Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales. Split into two separate courses, this alcohol-fueled bike ride will weave you through some stunning views of mountains and forests in Mid Wales, while giving you a taste of some genuine local brews and some new folks to ride with. There is one course for more avid bikers, and one for eager amateurs, and it’s non competitive; because really, when you’re drinking handcrafted Welsh ale, everyone wins.

There are two checkpoints along the way along with a final checkpoint at the end and at each checkpoint, tokens can be exchanged for delicious ales — all which have been brewed locally (they also have other drinks available, but why would you want that?) and the main station will also have a BBQ and a “Coffee Pod,” and spots where you can buy food and more drinks. When you factor in the beautiful scenery, the amazing ales, and the added bonus of live entertainment and nighttime festivities, there’s absolutely every reason to grab your bike and get drinking!

Abertoir in Aberystwyth and Cardiff: Mid-November

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This festival has gained so much popularity that it’s begun to take over Cardiff (the country’s capital) as well! Every year, the festival showcases some of the best in new and classic horror films, along with a short film competition that allows you to explore some really good (and some very student-based) new horror as well. In addition to the films on show, you can attend scary story readings, panel discussions, and this year a Vincent Price themed dinner. If you’re into horror movies, or if you just didn’t quite get your fill of spooky stuff this Hallowe’en, then the Abertoir festival is for you!.

Hay-On-Wye Winter Food Festival: Late November

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Held in a place of the same name (Hay-On-Wye), this one day food festival comes a few weeks after the end of the main Hay Festival. As far as food vendors go, it’s actually quite limited with no more than 50 vendors allowed to partake in the festival, which allows for a bit of competition and an assurance that the food and the experience will be a good one. There’s an arts and crafts fair that takes place the same day at the Butter Market, and once you’ve filled your belly you’ll be able to listen to some traditional music, including male choir performances.

The Hay festival itself, which is held at Hay Castle is a solid meeting of minds for discussions of literature, film and political agendas which proves to be good fun for those whole like a good debate and enjoy being entertained.

Are you planning on visiting Wales in November?

Following airlines on social media pays off sometimes. Like when a major airline has a giant sale on round-trip tickets and you spontaneously purchase a ticket to explore a new city. Thanks, Southwest! Last weekend the boyfriend and I jump aboard a 90-minute flight to St. Louis and hung out in the city for three wonderful days. Here’s some St. Louis attractions we found to fill our 72 hours.

Schlafly Brewery Tour

st. louis attractions

Flickr photo via clio1789

Every Saturday and Sunday Schlafly hosts free guided tours from 12 to 5 p.m. at the Schlafly Tap Room. Reservations for tours aren’t required and are booked on a first-come basis. Best part – besides the hilarious brewery guides – each tour goer gets a free brew afterwards.

Rabeang Pasak treehouse resort

Haven’t you always wanted to sleep in a treehouse? There is a place in a small town in the northern part of Thailand where your childhood dreams can come true. A treehouse resort called Rabeang Pasak has multiple different treehouses where you can spend some quality time with your family, friends, or even by yourself.

Rabeang Pasak is a family-run place that started in 2010. The houses were designed by former Architect Mr. Bullsiri Suwannachin, better known as Lee. When he retired, Lee decided to put his creative juices into designing a treehouse to live in, later expanding to a small collection of treehouses. Each house is a different design and has a unique name such as “Moon House” or “Bamboo House.” There are eight houses in total, six regular and two that are set aside for families.

Rabeang Pasak treehouse resort

When you think of a treehouse, you may imagine a haphazard pile of planks nailed together with a rickety latter. However, these treehouses are unlike anything you’ve ever seen or imagined. Lee transferred his passion as an architect into creating these magical houses within the trees of Thailand complete with stairs, showers, and windows.

Rabeang Pasak is located in Doi Saket, right outside of the popular city of Chiang Mai. When traveling to Thailand, stop in Chaing Mai, a city that has been around since the 1200’s to soak in some history and culture before driving to Doi Saket to enjoy the rural market village and experience beautiful nature of Thailand. The Treehouse resort is built in the Teakwood forest where you can hike around, wander within the trees, explore caves and more.

A couple of attractions near the treehouses include the Mae Ngat Dam and Reservoir and the Maetaman Elephant Camp. The Reservoir and Dam are great for picnics and for fishing and swimming. There is also a waterfall near the area that you ca hike to. The Elephant camp is a little bit more of a trek and might be worth renting a car for. The camp has mixed reviews. While some people truly love seeing such majestic creatures in real life, others worry about their treatment.

The Rabeang Pasak resort is truly a magical experience. Sleep and live in the trees just like you imagined as a kid on your next trip to Thailand.

Would you stay at the treehouse resort in Thailand?

Would you brave Bolivia’s Death Road, one of South America’s ultimate challenges? In a land of adventure and wilderness, going down this windy, unbarriered mountain road 56 km northeast of La Paz remains one of the continent’s biggest adrenaline experiences. While riding the 58 km down the Death Road may seem like a crazy endeavor, the activity is offered by well-established, licensed tour providers with many years of experience helping tourists tackle it.

The Death Road (or Ruta de la Muerte in the original), is the ominous nickname given to the north section of the old Yungas Road linking Coroicos and La Paz. It was voted the “world’s most dangerous road” by the Inter-American Development Bank in 1995, and a 2006 estimate suggested that 200-300 travelers were killed along the road each year. Besides the facts that sections of it can get wet and visibility can be significantly impaired on foggy days, what makes the Road so dangerous is its very narrow size.

Despite this chilling reality, the Road has become a popular attraction on the South American travel trail. Today, the traffic and number of casualties have been culled by the construction of a safer alternative, and the old Yungas Road is the perfect terrain for thrill-seeking mountain bikers. While the Road is barely large enough to let one car through and needs to be navigated very carefully by motored vehicles, it is much more manageable on a smaller bike… and rewards you with epic vistas from its 4,650 m-high starting-point to the end!

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Flickr photo via wanderlasss

Perhaps surprisingly, you don’t need to be an accomplished mountain biker or cyclist to enjoy those views: the descent of the Death Road is not particularly physical or technical, and is open to almost anyone who can pedal! Your experience will start with a 20 km ride down a more securitized road in order to familiarize yourself with your bike and to master the turning and braking techniques. Once you’re comfortable with your gear and have found your cruising pace, a short minivan drive will take you up to La Cumbre Pass, the start of the actual North Yungas Road. Then it’ll be time to whizz down the remaining 38 km – with many stops for photographs along the way!

You’ll have a chance to relax and calm your nerves after the effort with a drink in a mountainside bar and a late lunch at a wild animal shelter. There is also the opportunity to sign up for optional activities, including zip lining, swimming, and tours of the shelter’s monkey area. Finally, you will set off for perhaps the scariest part of all: your minivan drive up the Death Road and back to La Paz.

After reaching the capital city in one piece, you’ll have earned major boasting rights: After all, you’ll be an official survivor of the world’s most dangerous road!

* Tips for a successful (near-)Death Road experience: This is not an activity you want to skimp on! There are tens of providers offering Death Road tours from La Paz – make sure that you do your research and choose a reputable company providing modern bikes with good suspension and appropriate riding gear. Although the Death Road is mainly downhill, it contains small flat and uphill sections towards the end. You will need minimum levels of fitness and confidence on two wheels to enjoy the ride.

So, will you brave Bolivia’s Death Road?

Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Welcome to the City by the Bay, a peninsula of steep and rolling hills. San Francisco is no stranger to open space and waterfront activities, which is why picnicking is a popular pastime. Choose from countless parks, fields, and beaches. Each provides a unique ambiance – with a view! Below are the best Bay Area spots to unroll a blanket, unpack a basket and dine outdoors.

Mission Dolores Park

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Flickr photo via Mik Scheper

It’s so much more than a grassy hill. This park has one of the best views of the San Francisco skyline. Set up camp under a palm tree and enjoy. As one of the city’s favorite parks, Mission Dolores fills up quick with nothing but good vibes.

halloween night ideas

I love Halloween. I blame my mom for this obsession. Each year our house would get decked out in everything Halloween starting in September. I’d fall into bed with a skeleton lying next to me. Dressed-up potato heads lined our banisters. Old school horror movies would be playing on repeat on the TV in the basement. You name it, and we probably had it – even candles that melted blood.

That probably explains my intense fear of fire and walking alone in the dark. But I digress.

If you’re anything like me, and already have your costume picked out, then you’ll definitely be planning your Halloween night out now – or if you haven’t,  I’ve rounded up a few ideas to help you get started.

Village Halloween Parade

New York’s annual Village Halloween Parade is a street pageant presented in Greenwich Village. This mile long celebration draws over two million spectators and over 60,000 costumed participants. Originally started in 1974 by Ralph Lee, this spectacle of live bands, floats and musical acts has been around ever since. Make sure to look for the signature feature – giant rod puppets articulated by teams of puppeteers.

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon is a walking spectacle of an amazing cast, hilarity and a little bit of spooks. The Dungeon is a 360 view of 1,000 years of history portrayed in a black comedy atmosphere. For 90 minutes viewers walk through London’s murky past, guided by professional actors. On Halloween, the Dungeon gets heated up a few notches by putting on a special play to really scare the pants of people. Tickets sell out fast, so make sure to grab a pair early!  

The Queen Mary Dark Harbor

Make sure your balance is on-board before boarding the Queen Mary on halloween. Docked off Long Beach, California, the Queen Mary is the place to be on Halloween. Visitors venture through six mazes populated by 200 monsters and ghosts. The festive experience runs through the month of October and includes food, beverages and frightening entertainment.

Terror Behind the Walls

Set in the old Eastern State Penitentiary, this Halloween attraction actually inhabits an authentic prison complex. Built in 1829, the ESP grew a reputation of being a pretty nightmarish place. The prison housed, and employed, some messed up individuals. Dogs, children, you name it – they were locked away there. Heavy amounts of paranormal activity have also been reported there, which is why, every Halloween, the long-closed ESP opens its doors for the public to enjoy. The Terror Behind the Walls is a “low gore” walk though that features gory historical facts, insane ghost stories and masked actors.

Hocus Pocus

Being scared is great right? Nightmares, spontaneous shivers and losing your voice for a few days are just a few of the things that make Halloween great. But, if you’re in the mood for something a little less, daring, then dress-up but stay in and grab a copy of the ever popular (and my favorite) classic: Hocus Pocus. You can also tune into ABC Family – I hear they run everyday from October 19 – 31.

What are some of your favorite spooks during Halloween?

Rocks are part of our everyday lives. They form the brick for buildings we work in, asphalt for roads we drive on, and are laying around in parks and nature everywhere. We often overlook them or tend to view them as dirty and dull. However, the Rock of Guatapé in Antioquia, Colombia is a rock not only worth noticing, but traveling to see.
The Rock of Guatapé is also known as “La Piedra” (rock in Spanish) or “El Peñón de Guatapé.” It is a huge 10 million-ton smooth rock that stands 200 meters tall, overlooking the countryside surrounding it. This giant rock was once worshipped by natives that inhabited the area called the Tahamies. It was a giant spiritual force in their region.
el Peñón de Guatapé
Flickr photo via Edgar Jiménez
The smooth 10-million-ton rock has one giant crack that runs from the bottom to the top of one side.  Even though The Rock of Guatapé was first scaled in 1954 by three brave men using only sticks Pedro Nel Ramírez, Ramón Díaz and Luis Villegas, there were eventually stairs built to help others reach the top. There are 649 steps built into the giant crack that runs up the rock for people to climb. From far away, the stairs look like stitches or some sort of mend to repair for the crack in the rock.
On the face that looks north, there are two large painted letters that look like a “G” and an “I”, which is just the first part of what was meant to be a “U.” The Rock of Guatapé was long fought over by the people of El Peñol and the people of Guatapé. Each region claimed ownership of the beautiful natural masterpiece. The residents of Guatapé attempted to claim ownership once and for all by scaling the rock and painting it with their town’s name. However, this was not a very stealth operation, and the people of El Peñol noticed and put a stop to the painting. Even still, the big white “G” and beginnings of a “U” exist on the rock today.
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Flickr photo via Tim Regan
Unfortunately, because the rock is so majestic, it has become a popular tourist spot. It is also located only 2 hours from a popular destination town of Medellin, and therefor many tourists drive to the rock to climb it. At the top, there is a small fenced in space with places to look out and buy refreshments and souvenirs. The view is breathtaking (literally, after climbing so many stairs) with the site of gorgeous andes, Guatapé lake and a 360 panorama of Colombia that will make you never want to leave. The best time to climb the Rock of Guatapé is in the morning right after breakfast before others arrive. Even though it has become somewhat of an attraction, there is nothing in the world quite like the Rock of Guatapé and it is still worth visiting.

Have you visited el Peñón de Guatapé?

 

Get your candy cravings ready and start thinking about what costume to wear because Halloween is just around the corner. Halloween is such a fun holiday filled with creative decorations, spooky parades and delicious treats. One of the best places to celebrate Halloween this year is a trip to New York City! Manhattan has incredible activities ranging from dog parades to halloween balls—there is never a dull moment. Check out just a few of the reasons New York City is the place to visit this Halloween

The infamous village parade:

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Flickr photo via Gene Han

Every year there is a giant parade that begins in the Village and progresses through the city. This year, there are going to be over 50 different bands performing along the way. The village parade is famous for the strange people and costumes it draws… you must wear costume to participate. Get ready to get weird.

Some of the best and scariest Haunted Houses:

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Flickr photo via DowntownTraveler.com

New York City is one of those cities that goes all out in everything it does, including haunted houses. Whether you visit Blood Manor to be chased by Zombies or Black Out where the theme is “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who enter Here.” Get ready to have your pants scared off of you.

Pumpkin Displays:

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Flickr photo via Andrew Dallos

Every year the New York Botanical Garden brings in some of the largest pumpkins in the world for display. Some of the pumpkins weigh over a thousand pounds! Walk around the beautiful garden and experience the majesty of these amazing pumpkin displays.

Halloween-themed restaurants:

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Flickr photo via Aaron Fellmeth Photography

Restaurants in the west village are always fun to attend because the parade stumbles through the area. However, if you are looking for an all out Halloween meal check out Jekyll and Hyde Club that serves yummy food such as Frankenstein’s Favorite Burger. Jekyll and Hyde’s plays halloween music and is decorated to the extreme: it is New York’s Halloween hot spot year round.

New York knows how to make Halloween fun whether you are with a family or looking to party hard. Check out some of these events as just a starting place when looking where to travel to celebrate the Halloween holiday!

Will you participate in any NYC Halloween events this year?

barcelona attractions

With its seaside location, surrounding hills, pedestrian Gothic center, and masterpieces of Modernist architecture, fun-loving Barcelona is an all-round photogenic city. Once you’ve explored the Catalan capital on ground level, why not seek a bit of elevation to admire it from above? Here are five Barcelona attractions that will afford you the best panoramic views of the city.

Montjuic swimming-pool

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Flickr photo via van Ort

If you’re old enough to remember the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, you’ll probably recall the stunning images of the swimming and diving competitions featuring the whole city as a backdrop. Today, this outdoor swimming-pool is open to everyone between the end of June and the beginning of September. If you’re in Barcelona out of season or don’t fancy a dip, there are plenty other opportunities to catch a bird’s eye view from the Montjuic Hill, including from the cable car on your way up or from one of the terraced cafes at the top.

Nobody needs a reason to visit New Orleans — the city has a soul unlike any other in the world and will always have something earthy and primal about it that pulls you in. With Halloween fast approaching, New Orleans takes a spooky and mystical light for those seeking to explore it. With a tonne of things to do year round, New Orleans also offers special Hallowe’en attractions that you can take advantage of this month — so if you’re looking for an excuse to take that trip, maybe these New Orleans attractions will set off that travel itch.

Do that Voodoo that you do so well…


It might seem a little cliché, but in New Orleans it becomes authentic. Voodoo has roots in this port city dating way back, so it’s not surprising that it plays an important tourism role.  The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience runs from October 30th – November 1st and is one helluva show. This year’s lineup includes Florence + the Machine, Third Eye Blind, Ozzy Osbourne, the Zac Brown Band and DeadMau5 amoung others- to call it eclectic wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Not simply showcasing bigger names, the festival represents local artists from varying musical genres and backgrounds so there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Not just a music festival, you can also check out some amazing local artwork and art installations; like an 18 foot tall Tarantula, or a giant, full operable skeleton bird. When your belly starts to rumble, you’re also in for a treat as the list of food stalls and vendors for this festival are almost too many to count, with goodies like fresh fish, Asian-Cajun fusion, slow roasted barbeque and more up for the offering, you will leave with a full stomach.

Swamp Thing!

new orleans attractions

Flickr photo via Judy Kiel

The nearby Manchac Swamp is creepy. It’ll give you the heebiejeebies any time of the year, but a torchlit tour near Hallowevooen? It’s goosebump inducing to say the least. Passing under long grown over Cyrus trees, you’ll be taken in by the homespun tales the guides will weave for you as your boat glides through the murky waters of the swamp around you. They call it the Haunted Swap because of the hundreds of people who died here in a tidal wave, and the stories you’ll hear about them will send a chill up your spine. Tours usually last around an hour and they are open for children, so if you want to give everyone in the family a scare – you can!

The Walking (Amongst the) Dead…

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Flickr photo via Lucid Nightmare

Within walking distance from the French Quarter, you’ll find New Orleans’ most famous cemetery: St. Louis Cemetery #1. You’ve seen it in countless movies and the ornate tombs that litter the cemetary may be one of the first things that come to mind when you think of New Orleans. Because of where the city rests on the water table, and with flooding occurring in some sense pretty much every year, any grave must be constructed above ground. This results in the beautifully decorative mausoleums and tombs you’ll see all over New Orleans. There are a number of tour options available if you’re interested in a guided walk through St. Louis Cemetary #1, though you are also free to wander around the crypts on your own. Amoung the eternal residence here you’ll find famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, who attracts quite a crowd of true believers and curious folk alike.

What are some of the coolest or creepiest New Orleans attractions you’ve seen?

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visiting wales

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Wales is often overlooked when planning a trip to the UK, but it shouldn’t be!