Don’t Visit Florida Without Doing These

If you are thinking of going traveling to Florida, you will probably already have some keen ideas in mind as to what to do. But the truth is that there are probably one or two things which you have not even considered, and yet which you could find yourself enjoy hugely if you do visit this state. Florida has so much to offer that it is hard to know where to begin, but there many sides to traveling there which are little-known wonders, and it is these which are worth looking into. Let’s have a look at some of these now, to get you inspired for your own trip.

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Rent A Boat

One great way to get around Florida, as with many similar destinations, is to rent a boat. There are many reasons you might want to do this, not least that it is a quick and easy way to add some instant style, luxury and comfort to your trip. Boat rental is one of those simple things that can add so much glamor to a holiday that you can hardly believe it. You probably won’t appreciate it until you try it yourself, so just give it a go when you are due to be traveling to Florida. You will be amazed at how much this simple act can add to your overall journey, and you won’t have to spend a great deal of money to do it either.

Cast A Spell

This next one is great for family traveling with kids, or even for any adults who enjoy a little sprinkle of magic in their holidays. Florida is home to the great Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a sprawling amusement park in the design of the famous Hogwarts castle. As you can imagine, this is something like a more modern Disney World, and yet much more enjoyable for people of all ages. If you are in Florida as a family and stuck for ideas as to what to do, you could do much worse than to go to the set of Hogwarts. The attraction routinely receives five-star reviews, and it is not too pricey to enter, so it’s well worth a look if you’re in the area.

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Hit & Swing

Are you a big golf fan? As it happens, Florida is one of the very top destinations not just in the US, but in the world, for ardent golfers. With some two hundred plus golf courses to choose between, there is hardly any surprise in that, so if you are a keen golfer you might not want to leave Florida before having a swing at one of those courses. If you have always wanted to play golf in one of the most beautiful settings on earth, then you need look no further than Florida itself – and it could be the ideal way to wrap up your holiday too.

These suggestions are a great way to get started in Florida, but bear in mind that there is much more besides. Take a look around and see what hidden gems you can discover too.

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Chinchero, Maras Salineras, and Moray in Peru

CHINCHERO, MARAS SALINERAS, and MORAY: This was our first day-trip in Peru after spending a night in Lima and landing in Cusco the following morning. These small villages are not so touristy but has magnificent Incan sites. While the highlight of Chinchero is its colorful outdoor market, Maras Salineras is an awe-struck site of thousands of years of salt fields, and Moray Terrace displays the innovative and scientific minds of the Incans.

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

Moray Terrace surrounded by Andes, in Peru

The cab drive/tour guide was reserved before we reached Cusco airport. It was relaxing but once we were near Moray and Maras, I felt the altitude sickness little bit with dizziness and light-headed feeling. My girls and I fell asleep during our drive from Maras Salineras to Moray because we were feeling really dizzy.

Also, if you are going to be in Peru for few days and are planning to visit multiple Inca sites, it’s cheaper to buy the Boleto Turistico pass for 130 Sols for adult and 70 Sols for kids, which gives you free access to many ancient sites for 10 days.

Scenic drive to Ollantaytambo at the end of the day

TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Peru end of August, 2017. It was winter there and very pleasant for us. We did carry sweaters for all of us since it can get a bit windy in the mountains and chilly at night.

OUR HOTEL: We really didn’t stay in any of these places, since it was just a day-trip on our way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Please check my upcoming post on Ollantaytambo to see our hotel. Tourists don’t usually stay in these places and I’m sure there aren’t many options here either. Ollantaytambo is within an hour drive and has lots of choices for lodging.

EATING and SHOPPING: We had lunch in the open market of Chinchero before visiting Santa Cataline Monastery on the hill. The food in Chinchero market were all street foods and women were cooking right there…openly. Food was very cheap with a nice big portion. We had fried trout with rice and potatoes. I also ordered a stuffed bell pepper with vegetables (deep fried). Don’t expect nice sitting arrangements and cleanliness, but it’s an experience we loved. We were just happy to actually get a table with 4 plastic chairs and sat down with few other locals and tourists.

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Fried trout with rice, boiled potato, and veges in Chinchero market, Peru

Chinchero is a good place for buying small trinkets and hand craft items. You can find jewelries, home decors, wall hangings, shawls and sweaters, potteries, stuffed llamas, and lots of local goodies here. But do bargain, especially if you are buying multiple items from one vendor. When you are in Maras Salineras, buy few packages of natural salt from the mine at the entrance.

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

Vendors at Chinchero open market with their crafts

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: As I mentioned before, we were picked up from the Cusco airport in the morning by a previously appointed tour guide and went off to explore ancient and present Peru with all the luggage and backups. We reached our hotel in Ollantaytambo in the evening after visiting the below sites. It was not packed or tiring at all. We took it slow and enjoyed every bit of these country-sides and majestic Peruvian Andes.

Just one thing to remember is that, some people may get mild to severe altitude sickness in these areas. So, it’s better to drink some chlorophyll or coca tea right from the beginning of your trip. We got ours from the Vitamin World and coca leaves can be found in all the hotels or departmental stores near Cusco. I even saw free coca leaves in the airport also. It’ll help a lot, better to be feeling good than drowsy in your trip.

  1. CUSCO TEXTILE: It’s called Figueroa Alpaca Textile. As we entered the complex, we were greeted by llamas, baby alpaca, and guinea pigs. There was a small shaded area with all the materials to demonstrate how alpaca wool get processed into making different items. A lady in traditional Peruvian clothes walked in and introduced herself with her broken English. As she started to demonstrate the process, another lady walked in with 4 cups of mint tea in beautiful blue and white clay-made tea cups (which inspired me to buy those tea cup from Chinchero market). One thing that was really remarkable is that they use all natural product starting from cleaning the alpaca wool (juice from a plant) to dying them in different colors (all natural colors), to weaving them into different products.
A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

A weaver working with alpaca wool at Figueroa Alpaca Textile in Peru

After the demo, we were taken to a lady who was knitting a shawl from the alpaca wool. I was just eager to get to their store and explore some goodies. We ended up buying ponchos, shawls, sweaters, table clothes, and few small things for really good price. Items made with baby alpaca are very soft (softer than lamb wool) but can be expensive depending on location and complexity of the design.

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

An alpaca in Figueroa Alpaca Textile, Peru

  1. CHINCHERO: Chinchero is situated on higher ground than Cusco at almost 12,500 feet elevation. The Inca ruins here consist of nested terraces rising up to a plateau which can be viewed from the Santa Cataline Monastery. This is a church that was built in the early 1600s. We didn’t go inside and not sure if it’s even an active church or a museum. The site is included in Boleto Turistico pass.
Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Santa Cataline Monastery in Chinchero, Peru

Before climbing the hilly path to the monastery, we stopped at the open market area which is a heaven for souvenir hunters. Prices are not necessarily cheap here, but most of these items are hand crafted by the surrounding villagers. You can find potteries, shawls, table clothes, and other decors. I bought two traditional tea cups (without handles) for 20 USD both…not that cheap.

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

A lady in Chinchero market selling street food

  1. MARAS SALINERAS: About an hour drive from narrow mountainous roads of Chinchero was the Salineras. This is a natural terraced salt mine in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We could see the salt terraces from far as we were passing thru the mountains. Once you are at the gate, you have to walk for few minutes to get to the site, which I couldn’t do because my exhausted girls fell asleep in the car. You have to see the nestled salt pans in the canyon to understand how the salt from water at the Salineras spring has been transformed into salt crystals for thousands of years.
Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Driving to thru Andes towards MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

Salineras can be done in less than an hour.  Enjoy the high mountains and the drive to get here, it looks dangerous being so high up on the mountains and driving by the edge. But breathe in and trust your cab driver/tour guide and enjoy the peaks, cliffs, valleys, and fresh air.

Salt pans of MARAS SALINERAS in Peru

  1. MORAY TERRACE: Moray is very close to the town of Maras and sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level. This was more like an experimental site for different types of produces for the Incans. Other than this archeological site of Moray, enjoy the surrounding giant Andes Mountains and small farms.
MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

MORAY TERRACE in Peru, sits in the Sacred Valley of the Incas about 3500 meters above sea-level

We stayed in Moray Terrace about half an hour. We didn’t go down to the terraces, but there are stairs for that. The site is included in Boleto Turistico.

5 Fun Things to Do in Koh Samui Thailand on the Weekend

The second largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui, is filled with tropical fun, great food and fantastic ways to relax on the weekends. Surrounded by forested mountains and stunning beaches, you can do as much or as little as you like. Take in the picturesque scenery and scents of exotic flowers, coconut groves and salty air while you decide what you want to do this weekend. Here are 5 suggestions to get you started:

1) Staying in

Stay in and submerge yourself in opulence with your own villa complete with a private pool. You can enjoy a dip in the refreshing waters before dinner, at midnight under the stars, or anytime you want too. Walls enclosing the area allow for optimal privacy, you know – just in case you and your love want some ‘alone time’ in the pool. Afterwards, you can lounge around on the plush bedding or relax in living room area. Two satellite TV’s, an ipod docking station and wireless internet will keep you in touch while still allowing you to be away from it all.

2) Soak up salty air

Soak up salty air, balmy breezes and fruity drinks from your oceanfront cabana at the beach club. Or, choose to lounge beside the pools, under the umbrellas or even in the water. There are plenty of cushioned loungers, sofas and beds for you and your friends to gather. Lather up with the suntan lotion, grab your glasses and stretch out to work on that tan. When you get too hot, just dip into the pristine pools (or the ocean) and repeat.

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3) Eat!

With so many great restaurants, especially fresh seafood, you should never go hungry. Do not miss the best Thailand has to offer- the Sunday brunch in Koh Samui. The Ultimate Sunday Brunch Club runs from 11:30 until 3:30. Enjoy the DJ and some great music while you dine on the finest oysters, Iberico ham, prime roast beef, sea bass, lobster and so much more. Local fresh fruits and vegetables, canapes, and luscious creme brulee will round off your meal. Take this opportunity to enjoy old favorites or to venture out and try everything new and flavorful. This is truly the best brunch on the island.

4) Spa and massage

Allow your chi to flow freely again in the spa. Here, masterful hands employ Chinese reflexology, traditional Thai massage, Japanese Reiki and Indian Ayuravedi to bring you back into balance. Enjoy being pampered alone or with your significant other during a couples massage. Flower petal-filled water, warm herb compresses, and strong hands will ease away your stress and restore your sense of well-being.

5) Adventure and scenery

2 days in Koh Samui will only wet your appetite for the things of this island. When this island is full of adventure and scenery. Get out of your resort and see the 12m- tall Golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai Temple. Do some sea kayaking or snorkeling. Explore the night markets of Fisherman’s Village in Bophut. Here, the streets are blocked off and vendors sell everything from chicken satay and grilled meats to colorful elephants and silky wraps. Soak your feet in an aquarium filled with tiny fish waiting to exfoliate your feet by eating away the dead skin.

Thailand awaits with so many fun things to do in Koh Samui. Partake in the cultural delights, gorgeous mountain forests trails, warm sandy beaches, and culinary treats. You will never be bored. Come and explore Koh Samui soon.

 

Four Surefire Signs You Need to Go Camping

Perhaps you’ve thought about going camping for a long time, but you’ve never really gotten round to doing it. It could be as simple as you being way too busy. But maybe you’re waiting for some sort of sign that it’s the right time to go camping.

If that’s the case, then the signs may already be there – you might just be missing them! Here are five signs in your life that are telling you that you should probably embark on a camping trip at some point in the near future!

You’re sick of the urban life

Okay, so maybe you’re not so sick of the urban life that you want to move out of the country. But you’re certainly feeling some ‘urban fatigue’. You want to see more of nature. Whether you’re in a city or a suburb, it can often be difficult to get enough nature time into your life.

It’s actually pretty important that you do this every so often. This is why forest-bathing is popular among many people – the act of simply walking around inside a forest for a couple of hours. It’s not just great for our bodies, but also our minds. If you’ve not been out in nature for a while, then head out on a camping trip!

You’ve never done it before

Seriously? You’ve not been camping before? Well, perhaps it’s never really interested you. Camping isn’t always the most comfortable or fun thing for a lot of people, and that’s understandable. But even then, surely you should try it at least once?

Of course, if you’ve never been camping before, then you’re at somewhat of a disadvantage if you do want to go on a camping trip. You need to make sure you get the right equipment, which is something businesses like Tents and Camp Gear can help you out with. And you probably should go by yourself; head out there with people who know how to camp! It will be more fun and more safe. Speaking of other people…

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It’s been a while since you’ve seen your friends

As we get older, we tend to see less and less of the good friends we’ve made over the years. Even if we’re still in frequent touch with them over Facebook or WhatsApp, we tend to get a little too busy or far apart to see each other that often.

Camping is a fantastic group activity, and it can make an amazing excuse to have a reunion with some of your buddies that you haven’t seen in a while. Not only does it require a lot of teamwork, but it also forces you to engage with each other in a deeper sense; back home, you’ve all got several things distracting you, not least your smartphones. When you’re out in the wilderness, you can have longer, more concentrated talks. It can help strengthen bonds more than you might think.

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You need a cheap vacation

Because, come on, you do. Not having a break takes it toll in the long run, but vacations can be pretty expensive. Camping provides a very affordable break from reality. It may not be luxurious, but it might be just the vacation you need. Consider taking it a step further and camping abroad!

The Best Camping Sites in Europe – A Comprehensive Guide to Scenic Routes

Planning a camping trip in Europe is one of the best choices you can make this summer. It’s budget friendly, offers a lot of exciting cities and sights, as well as wonderful camping breaks in picturesque surroundings. There are too many advantages to it; not having to book a room for the night means that you save a lot of money, while your mode of transportation gives you the freedom to go where you like.

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To make it even easier on your wallet, we have looked up the most scenic camping sites you can choose in European countries, depending on which route you’d like to follow. It’s a great choice for your camping adventures as it only takes you a few hours between each country. Wander the streets of Ljubljana one day, and drive to Venice the next morning.

Tent, motorhome or caravan?

As a camper, you have probably decided on your favorite already. There are different benefits to each type of camping, and it depends on how comfortable you’d like to be. In a tent, you’re close to nature and not quite as sheltered as in a caravan or motorhome. You will need to choose the right type of tent, though, and keep the weight of it in mind if you’re backpacking. Make sure it’s big enough to fit your family if you’re traveling with children, and bring something heavy for setting the tent up in case the ground is particularly tough. Here is an excellent article if this is your first time camping abroad, by the way.

With a motorhome, you get the freedom of traveling in your home. It’s costly, though, and reserved for those who plan to use it every summer. The caravan offers the same convenience of traveling but might provide even more freedom in terms of exploring; it’s just not practical to drive around in a large motorhome when you want to explore the surroundings. Simply park your caravan where you plan to camp, and set off in your car instead.  

At the end of the day, if you have invested in a caravan or motorhome, it makes sense to ditch the tent altogether; rather that than leaving a costly vehicle behind in the carport for your caravan. Have a look at this article to prepare your vehicle for the big trip and make sure it runs smoothly.

Beginning: Budapest and Ljubljana

Your camping route can be laid out however you please; it can easily be turned around so that you end up in Central Europe at the end of your trip rather than the beginning. Budapest has a lot to offer, both for those seeking a city break and those looking for beautiful nature; Ave Natura Camping is situated in the idyllic forest of Buda Hill. You can relax in a motorhome, caravan or tent, in shady and sunny spots.

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It’s not too far from the city either if you feel like mixing it up a bit. When you fall in love with Budapest, it’s because it will never bore you – stay in the center to feel its life or head to the outskirts for a bit of serenity.

When you want a change, it won’t even take you five hours to drive to Ljubljana. It’s a wonderfully scenic route, too, so the drive there will be just as pleasant as the camping itself. The city is a personal favorite of many, myself included, as it still has that quiet charm of a city not yet discovered by the masses. Its beauty is stunning; more than half of the country is forested, so you can feel confident that your wildlife adventure will be wild enough.

Camping Bled is an hour away from Ljubljana, but the view makes it worth it. It’s also the cradle of golfing in Slovenia, in addition to being located right by Lake Bled. There is another camping site in Ljubljana if an hour away from the city seems to much – but its ratings are not even close to Bled’s.

Middle: Venice and Marseille

When you’re ready for your next city, you’ll be driving down to Venice in about two and a half hour. The drive is, in all honesty, almost too short – watch how the landscape changes and see Italy open up beneath you, with all its humidity and crooked little houses. Venice is the perfect city for a romantic getaway, and it’s quiet enough for you to enjoy the time with your family in peace and serenity.

Camping Al Boschetto is a great place for children and even located by a sandy beach; with a playground and a sports ground, you can relax and enjoy the city of love together, while the youngest is having far too much fun to bother you. It will take you an hour to get there from the center of Venice, so when you feel like walking by the canals instead of the sea, it won’t take you too long to get there.

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Although you certainly should see more of Italy and even stay there for as long as possible, you probably want to get moving eventually. Where you go from here depends on whether or not you travel by caravan or public transport; as you need to get on a ferry to go to Spain, it’s probably better to head straight for France and save yourself the extra expenses.

If you do travel by public transport and would like to visit Barcelona, you should take a ferry from Livorno  – it is as sandy and blue as paradise, and the best way to get there is to take a train from Venice to Florence. You’re welcome.

For the sake of order, we assume that you travel by caravan and would like to head straight to France. It’s massive, and since you’d like to save as much time as possible, the southern part should give you everything you need; proximity, the French Riviera, and all of those good summer vibes you have been dreaming of.

Make your way to Marseilles and prepare for a good 6 hour drive – it is, after all, a journey across Italy. You can always make the drive a bit easier by stopping in Genoa before driving on; it’s not the first city to come to mind when you think of Italy, but as one of it’s largest ports and with a stunning view wherever you look, you won’t regret spending a few hours here.

Camping Du Pylone is reopened after the tragic flood two years back and is still as popular as ever. You can use one of their mobile homes or just stay in your own caravan. There’s a lot to do for your kids too, with a swimming pool and offers different activities for the whole family.

End: Geneva and Enzklosterle

As the end or the beginning of your trip, a few nights of camping in Geneva is just what you need. Your caravan will take you there from Marseilles in about five and a half hours, so start early in the morning to get the most out of the day. As always, you won’t be bored while driving through shifting landscape, friendly towns, and get to enjoy the endless charm of Europe in the summer.

The view and nature are in a class of its own; you’ll be looking for long if you want something even more idyllic than what Geneva has to offer. Camping Rive-Bleu is situated by a small marina, as well as a large indoor swimming pool. The site is quiet and picturesque, with a small village ten minutes away, and you can choose to rent a tent from them if you’d like. It is camping in nature at its finest, but beware of the prices – they’re slightly higher here than in some of the other cities on the route.

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Make your final destination a forest camping in Germany. Camping Müllerwiese is a car-free camping in the middle of a small village, surrounded by the Black Forest, and with a small stream running through it. Since you need to leave your car behind, you simply load your things into the provided charts and pull it with you over a bridge and onto the site. It’s a German camping dream come true, and a perfect place for resting out after the drive. It will take you about five hours, by the way, and you’ll be pleased to know that visitors to the campsite have called it a hidden gem with a fantastic view over mountains and forest.

When you want to see as much of Europe’s nature as possible while traveling on a budget, you’re in for a great adventure. The proximity to the countries and opportunities for indulging in different architecture, history, and cuisine wherever you go will attract your camper’s instinct again and again. Luckily, you have so many exciting cities to choose from and can accommodate the route to fit your budget – stay a few days in an expensive country and balance it out by extending your stay in the less expensive ones.

 

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