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Diary Traveler

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Here at Diary Traveler, we want to help you to get away from it all. We aim to bring every globetrotter relevant information, tips and news to make your travels safe, easy, and most importantly, fun!

Iceland is a breathtakingly beautiful country. It seems like every time you turn a corner in Iceland, you’re greet with something beautiful. Whether it be a person, the sunset or the ocean. If you haven’t been to yet, we strongly recommend you do so, and when you go, checkout these attractions in Iceland that will surely change you’re life.

Kirkjufell Mountain

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Flickr photo via Modes Rodríguez

You can see the Northern Lights from many places in the world, but seeing them over Kirkjufell Mountain is a truly incredible experience. Even if you miss the Northern Lights, the mountain and waterfalls will be enough.

Ah, Paris. The city of love. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Amazing culture looms around every corner, delicious food can be found on nearly every street and romance seems to be in the air all the time. What’s not to do be enamored with?

If you’re thinking of booking a trip somewhere soon, might we suggest this gorgeous city? If you need a little bit more convincing why you should head there ASAP, take a look at these stunning photos of Paris. We bet they will give you just the push you need!

The Eiffel Tower
photos of paris

Flickr photo via Moyan Brenn

There’s just something about this weather that makes us wish we were laying on an exotic island, listening to the cool waves wash ashore while the sun just beams down on us. Unfortunately, we can’t just pick up and jet set to one right now. Luckily, we do have the internet, where we can gawk at incredible photos of these islands while daydreaming.

If you are lucky enough to be able to plan a trip this year, we suggest you take a look at our list of 15 exotic islands we definitely think you need to visit before you die. We bet there are some on this list you’ve never heard of!

Bora Bora

exotic islands

This South Pacific island has something for everyone: romance, adventure and relaxation.

Flickr photo via Benoit Mahe

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Hearts everywhere are breaking after hearing news that hundreds of thousands of “love locks” have been removed from Paris’s famous Pont des Arts.

According to the BBC, the weight of the locks, which were placed by lovers trying to commemorate their relationship, caused part of the bridge to collapse last year. City council has said that it was necessary to remove the locks for safety and preservation reasons.

Of course, couples across the world are devastated by the news. “From a distance, you don’t know that they are locks. Close up, they may be visually ugly, but they tell stories,” tourist Anthony Boccanfuso told The New York Times.  “It’s like carving your names on a tree or putting your names in wet concrete.”

pont de arts

 

Flickr photo via Loïc Lagarde

Another noted that the “bridge of love” is an iconic, bucket-list item many tourists look forward to seeing when they visit Paris. Bruno Julliard, Paris’s deputy mayor, said the city will try to come up with new ways to have people express their love in, what some would consider, the most romantic place in the world.

But for now, Pont des Arts will be lockless, and the metal grilles will be replaced by paintings from artist before transparent panels are placed.

Pont des Arts was completed in 1804, but it wasn’t until 2008 that tourists started attaching padlocks to the bridge in order to symbolize their love….

Did you have a lock on the Pont des Arts?

If you’re in search for the best beach in America, you’re going to want to head to Hawaii.

According to the Associated Press, Professor Stephen Leatherman AKA Dr. Beach, has named Hawaii’s Waimanalo Bay Beach the best in the United States.

Leatherman, who is a professor at Florida International University, compiles a list every year after looking at criteria such as water quality, sand and amenities. It’s important to note that Leatherman only ranks public beaches and prefers non-smoking ones. He is also a big fan of safety. “There are a lot of beaches in Hawaii that are absolutely gorgeous but not very safe,” he said.

waimanalo bay beach

Flickr photo via Bytemarks

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of Waimanalo Bay Beach, it’s because it’s a bit of a secret. Located on the island of Oahu, the 3-mile long beach is covered in white sand. Many ironwood trees can be seen, providing visitors with some shade to cool off. The beach is known for bodyboarding, for all you adventure seekers! 

If you’ve already been to Waimanalo Bay Beach and are seeking something new, you can check out the other beaches that made the top 10 list including: Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs, Florida, St. George Island State Park on the Florida Panhandle, Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and  East Beach in Santa Barbara, California.
Head over to the Associated Press to read more about this amazing beach and Dr. Beach’s discoveries!

Have you been to Waimanalo Bay Beach
AKA the Best Beach in America?

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Trying to find the best restaurants in America is no easy fete, but when you’re a group of sophisticated and experienced gourmets, it’s a piece of cake.

The experts at Opinionated About Dining, a website/survey dedicated to reviewing restaurants, have complied a list of the 100 best restaurants in America. Coming in at number one (for the second year in a row) is Saison in San Francisco.

Saison, which means “season” in French, can credit Chef Joshua Skenes for its incredible food, great reviews, oh, and its two Michelin stars (yes, two!). The pop-up restaurant located in San Francisco’s SoMa district serves extremely seasonal dishes such as duck that has been dry-age for 70 days (so says OAD).Coming in second place is Willows Inn, located on Lummi Island in Washington. Headed by Blain Wetzel, reviews of Willows Inn are enough to make us want to cross the country to try his hot-smoked salmon! 

saison san francisco

Photo via Saison’s Facebook

Next is Japanese restaurant Urasawa in San Franisco, followed by Manresa in Los Gatos, California, and then, é by josé andrés in Las Vegas, minibar in Washington, D.C., Alinea in Chicago, Masa in New York, The French Laundry in Yountville, California and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.

To make this list is impressive to say the least. According to OAD, over 160,000 reviews were submitted by more than 4,500 people!

Head over to Opinionated About Dining to see the full list!

Have you eaten at Saison in San Francisco

If you’re of traveling to Brazil this year, be sure to check out the Poco Azul cavern in Chapada Diamantina National Park to see some surreal beauty.

Located in the underground cave, also known as the Blue Well or Blue Pit, is a lake with water so clear it’s completely transparent, allowing visitors to see right to the bottom. It also has an incredible deep blue hue that surrounds stunning rocks, which will make any traveler do a double take.

poco azul brazil

Flickr photo via Turismo Bahia

According to the Daily Mail, the location is very controlled, but visitors can snorkel, float and just explore the cave’s natural beauty. It’s temperature reportedly stays as a soothing 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year. “A kind of place like this is not easily found, there are other lookalikes, but Poço Azul, with it crystal clear water and the deep blue color, is something to enjoy and contemplate,” said photographer Marcio Duranc.

Of course there is plenty else to see at the Chapada Diamantina National Park, which is located Bahia, including an orchid garden, the Cachoeira de Fumaca (one of the world’s highest waterfalls), and incredible land. “I was recently in the Chapada, and was truly amazing… I do recommend for ever one go to explore this beautiful land! The Poço Azul is the most beautiful experience ever.  But everything in the Chapa is great! Just a good time to be with the nature and to walk to beautiful rivers and land. Love it,” one person wrote on TripAdvisor.

Okay, okay, okay…. we’re packing our bags!

Have you visited the Poço Azul in the Chapada Diamantina National Park?

 

When me and my best friend decided to visit Barcelona, it was kind of spur of the moment, believe it or not. At first we thought we would be traveling to Greece for the summer of 2014, but once we realized that was a little out of our price range, we settled on another country with equal opportunity for fun, sun and culture.

hotel silken diagonal

Once we decided on Barcelona, the next (and most important) step was finding the right hotel. We actually used Expedia to help us, but even with the reviews it took roughly four hours before we found our dream hotel: Hotel Silken Diagonal.

From the online photos and descriptions, we knew that the Silken Diagonal had a rooftop pool and bar, extremely modern decor and what looked like a very nice restaurant. Not bad, huh? We didn’t think so either, and once we actually saw the space and our room in person, we were thrilled.

Upon arrival, the hotel staff greeted us warmly and took our luggage. We arrived way before check-in time, but we were able to lounge by the rooftop pool, which was small, but received so much sun it was perfect. We actually ended up napping on the roof — not a soul bothered us!

Once we got to our room we were pleasantly surprised with the cleanliness and how chic it was. I do have to warn you however, the bathrooms aren’t very private (our shower was surrounded by clear glass), but if you’re comfortable with the person you’re traveling with (as you should be!), there will be no problem.

hotel silken diagonal

After another nap — jet lag got the best of us, we ventured out to get some food, we learned from the staff that anything we wanted was just a cab, tram or metro ride away.

The Silken Diagnol is located just steps away from the incredible Agbar Tower, which makes finding your way back to the hotel VERY convenient. It’s just feet away from the Glòries metro station which can bring you to La Rambla. It’s also located across the street from the tram, which if you take to the last stop, will bring you to Barceloneta, where you can enjoy the beach. It’s also just a couple a blocks away (if that) from the Diagonal Mar shopping center — just in case you want some late-night Gelato or need a pair of dancing shoes!

hotel silken diagonal
Honestly, the location was so amazing for the price (the trip came to $1,617 for airfare and hotel for seven days). By the second day, we totally skipped taxis and traveled like real locals using the tram or metro.

I should also note that the hotel staff speaks English (as well as a few other languages!), and they were able to help us book amazing tours.

Visiting Barcelona was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I know a big part of why it went so well was because of this great hotel. Seriously, no complaints!

To learn more about the Silken Diagonal, head over to the hotel’s website.

Have you visited the Hotel Silken Diagonal?

 

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Grillmarkaðurinn In Iceland

Iceland is known for its beautiful scenery, friendly people and well, cold weather. But something that is way underrated is the food in Iceland. During our five-day stay in the Nordic island, we ate at many, many different places, but hands down, our best meal was at Grillmarkaðurinn.

Grillmarkaðurinn or The Grill Market as it’s called in English, is located in the northern part of Reykjavik. It’s prime location is just one of the many perks of Grillmarkaðurinn.

When we first got to the restaurant, we were overwhelmed by the gorgeous decor. Grillmarkaðurinn perfectly combines modern style with nature. Once you take in the stunning light fixture centered in the middle of the space, the real fun begins.

Grillmarkaðurinn In Iceland

The waitstaff was beyond nice, letting us know about specials, wine recommendations and food suggestions. While the menu is complete with delicious options such as grilled pork ribs, crisp vegetables, grilled lobster and dry aged rib eye, we were looking specifically for one thing: whale.

Now, say what you will about eating whale, but when you’re in a place like Iceland AKA a once in a lifetime travel adventure, you go all out. And that’s just what we did.

Four of us split the Minke Whale Steak, which was super tender and complimented with deep-fried mushrooms. If you’ve never had whale, you’ll be surprised to find it is incredibly delicious.

In Iceland, whale is typically served as an appetizer, so we also tried our hands at the dry age rib eye, corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and the meat gourmet, which offered a combination of beef, lamb and duck. Everything was served beautifully on wooden cutting boards, and everything was incredible.

It was hands down the best meal we had in Iceland, and one of the best meals we’ve ever had in our lives. This is largely due to the fact that Grillmarkaðurinn buys most of its produce directly from farmers.

Another great thing to mention are the prices. For the atmosphere, hospitality and quality of food, you couldn’t ask for a better deal than what this place has to offer.

Our last suggestion to you is to book early. If you know you’re going to Iceland, be sure to call ahead and make reservations — it’s a super popular place!

Have you been to Grillmarkaðurinn in Iceland?

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If you’re feeling a bit down, now would be the perfect time to visit Switzerland, which was just named the happiest country in the world according to the World Happiness Report.

The report looks at factors from the Gallup World Poll such as: social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, corruption, and household income.

It makes sense that Switzerland would come in number one. Not only does the country practice Armed neutrality (it hasn’t participated in a war since 1815), it also has incredible scenery, is amazingly diverse and, of course, it has chocolate!

happiest country in the world

 

Flickr photo by Yousef AlSudais

This is the first time Switzerland landed the top spot. It was followed by Iceland, Denmark (which lost it’s place at the top), Norway and Canada. In these countries, life evaluations average 7.4 out of 10. The report notes that all of these countries are “small or medium-sized western industrial countries.”

The United States came in at number 15, while Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda came in last for happiness. “The lowest countries are typically marked by low values on all of the six variables used here to explain international differences… and often subject in addition to violence and disease,” the report stated.

The report hopes to spread the importance of happiness to countries all over the world, encouraging governments to take their citizens’ happiness into consideration, and try greatly to improve happiness. “Happiness is increasingly considered a proper measure of social progress and a goal of public policy,” the report stated.

To read more, head over to the World Happiness Report.

Have you visited the happiest country in the world?

 

 

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