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What to do in Orlando Besides the Theme Parks

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Site Seeing | 0 comments

Being the theme park capital of the world, it can be hard to imagine a visit to Orlando that doesn’t revolve around its multitude of parks. However, there is so much more to experience in this sunny city and we have a list of the top experiences you shouldn’t miss. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling solo, as a couple, with a group, on or your own: there are many fun activities for any type of traveler. Check out our list below of the top five activities to do in Orlando besides visiting the theme parks.

Kayaking Eco-Tour

Since Orlando is so close to the water, there are many choices for aquatic activities. Our number-one choice would be a more authentic trip through the Shingles Creek. Make sure you bring your waterproof camera with you as you might see alligators, bald eagles and more.

Alternatively, if you’re not looking to work up a sweat powering your own boat, Boggy Creek has air-boat rides that will zoom you past the same types of animals and plant life. Hold on to your hat though!

Catch a Game

Orlando is home to a few different professional and semi-professional sporting teams. With the nice weather this Sunshine State city gets almost all year round, a sporting event is a great way to interact with the locals and have fun at the same time. If you catch a game at Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic, you’ll be right in downtown where all the best hotels in Orlando are.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Calling all future astronauts and space explorers! If you want to see where history has been made head to the Kennedy Space Center. The Shuttle Launch Experience is a great learning experience for kids who want to know what it feels like to be in a shuttle leaving Earth’s orbit. Space science fans can walk among recreations of many modules of the International Space Station. Don’t be surprised if you are left guessing what planet you’re on after experiencing all the Kennedy Space Center has to offer.

Harry P. Leu Gardens

If relaxing surrounded by beautiful gardens is what you’re looking for during your Orlando vacation, head on over to the Harry P. Leu Gardens. This tropical botanical garden is overlooked by many tourists to Orlando which means less crowds for your viewing pleasure. Historians will find the Leu House Museum, built-in the 19th century, filled with preserved furnishings of well to do Florida families. Don’t blame us if you don’t want to go home after visiting this garden oasis. If you have time, sign up for one of the many horticulture, landscaping, or fine arts classes.

K1 Speed Orlando

This high speed kart racing experience is a must for adrenaline junkies of all ages. With speeds up to 50 miles per hour, it is the closest experience to race car driving most adults can have. Don’t blame us if you, or your kids, want to change their career aspirations after an experience at K1 Speed Orlando.

Title: Calgary Adventures: What to Do

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in Travel Lifestyle | 0 comments

Planning what to do in any new city is hard but when you’re talking about Calgary, it can be overwhelming. The Gateway to the Rockies is filled with many adventures for every type of traveler. From world-class ski resorts to boutique shopping centers, you could spend weeks in Calgary and not see it all. We have compiled a list of the best activities in and around the city, no matter what the weather is like.

Heritage Park Historical Village

You will truly step back in time when you walk through this historical village. Actors will guide you through various scenes that are set in the early settlement day of Canada. Children, and brave adults, can make artwork in the Gasoline Alley Museum. Travelers wanting to take a piece of history home can head to the mercantile and pick up some homemade food and other trinkets. Only 10-15 minutes from the hotels in downtown Calgary, this is an ideal adventure for any traveler looking to learn about history or just have a bit of fun.

Calgary’s Pathways

For travelers that want to get a holistic view of the city, you should venture out to explore the multitude of Calgary’s pathways. With over 125 km of pathways, you could walk for hours and still not see them all. The truly active can rent bicycles and speed through the Bow River part of the path. This section features almost 50 km of beautiful bridges and views of the cities, while winding by the scenic river.

For those travelers wanting to explore the city’s parks, a variety of choices are at your disposal. Family friendly parks are available within walking distance of downtown. With all the amenities in Calgary, don’t be surprised if you are tempted to call this place home.

Calaway Park

Who said theme parks were just for kids? Obviously no one that has visited Calaway Park! Western Canada’s largest theme park is fun for all ages, whether you’re on a family trip, a girl’s weekend, or a solo vacation. Relive your teenage years and ride roller coasters and speed demon rides until you puke. Even adult couples can experience a good time, walking around and sampling food from the variety of food stands.

Banff National Park

Head up to Banff National Park for a variety of adventures. Wildlife lovers will see an abundance of creatures. Skiing buffs can head here during the winter to partake in some of the best snow in country. Hiking enthusiasts will be able to dominate a few peaks during the summer months in the Banff area. If you are looking for physical activity, Banff is the place the smart travelers head.

Restaurant Zone

Foodie travelers will have no problem finding a variety of restaurants to choose from in the downtown district in Calgary. The restaurant zone of downtown has enough options to satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

Travelers looking to spend the night dancing and consuming a few cocktails won’t be disappointed either. Calgary’s nightlife is well established and will entertain all types of visitors.

This article is part of the #hipmunklove project. I would never recommend a site I didn’t use myself. I recently booked a trip to India and after looking at several providers, they were actually the cheapest.

Bangkok: Outside the Party Zone

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in Travel Lifestyle | 0 comments

Bangkok is a city filled with culture, crazy drivers, fun people and partying. While the cheap drinks and all night galavanting may be tempting, there are many adventures that you can go on and still retain your memory of the trip. In a city that is over 600 square miles, there is something for everyone.

The Golden Buddha

Located inside Wat Traimit, The Golden Buddha is the largest golden Buddha statue in the world. Over 700 years old, The Golden Buddha was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1950’s after being covered in plaster for over 200 years. Visitors stand in awe when looking at this monument, especially when reminded that it is 250 million dollars’ worth of gold.

You can visit the Golden Buddha for an entry fee of 40 Bhat ($1.25). If you have extra time, the Chinatown Heritage Centre is in the same complex and tickets are 100 Bhat ($3).

Take a Tuk Tuk Tour

Tuk Tuk’s are a main form of transportation for visitors to Bangkok. One of these three-wheeled rickshaws, notoriously heavy traffic and a healthy appreciation for adrenaline equal a recipe for a great time if anyone is looking to get a motorized tour of the gigantic city. Flagging down a tuk-tuk is an art, in and of itself! Khaosan Road is a good place to find drivers that speak moderate English and know of many good sites to explore.

A word to the wise traveler, make sure you negotiate the price of the ride before you get into the tuk tuk. A general rule is to cut in half the drivers’ first offer and work up from there.

This article is written as part of the #hipmunklove project. All opinions are my own, and I would never recommend anything I didn’t believe in or use myself.

Try REAL Thai Food

Bangkok holds many culinary delights ranging from the traditional noodle dishes, meat kebab, and exotic fruits to the non-traditional Angry Bird fish balls, various roasted bugs and even grilled scorpion. The best way to sample the local fare is to walk down main roads and try different street food that you come across.

If you’re looking for an authentic meal with a great view, try taking one of the river dinner cruises that lazily floats along the Chao Phraya River.

Shopping. For Days!

Whether you want electronics, clothing, luggage, souvenirs or artwork, Bangkok has anything and everything you’re looking for. Those that are looking for typical ‘take home’ trinkets should wander to Khaosan Road. This street is not just filled with all the cheap hotels in Bangkok; it is also home to hundreds of street vendors ready to barter to the last Bhat for a fair price.

High-end shoppers can head to Central Pinklao, a mall that’s a few miles outside of central Bangkok.

Muay Thai Boxing Match

For those that are looking for some adrenaline, head to the local Muay Thai boxing rings. While some matches can be a bit gruesome, most are shear displays of human strength and agility. Ask a Tuk Tuk driver to take you to a local Muay Thai ring if you want a chance to interact with the local people. It is an authentic Thai experience.

This article is written as part of the #hipmunklove project. All opinions are my own and I would never recommend anything I didn’t believe in or use myself.

From Casablanca To The Sahara And Back: A Moroccan Road Trip

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Morocco | 0 comments

Many visitors to Morocco never venture outside the main tourist centres and they only get a fleeting glimpse of what this North African country is about. Make the most of your visit by travelling into the interior, to small Berber villages and vast, open landscapes. A Moroccan road trip is just the way to and get under the country’s skin.

Casablanca to Marrakech

 

One of the most popular points of entry into Morocco is bustling and vibrant Casablanca, the seaside city made famous in the eponymous movie classic and home to the stunning King Hassan II Mosque.

 

Marrakech is only about 240km away. It’s located in the High Atlas Mountains and has a much more ‘Moroccan’ atmosphere than cosmopolitan Casablanca. Explore the Medina with its souks, winding alleys, historic mosques and palaces and hammams.

 

Travellers often recommend that you take public transport from Casablanca to Marrakech to help you to prepare for the notoriously chaotic way of driving in the country. However, the highway is relatively quiet. In both cities you’ll find branches of major car hire companies such as Europcar, Avis and National Car Hire, so get a vehicle of your choice and then follow some simple driving tips.

 

Marrakech to Ouarzazate

 

From Marrakech, it’s a little over 200km to Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara. You’ll be travelling along mountain roads, so drive slowly and carefully. Enjoy the spectacular scenery from the Tizi n’Tichka Pass, which is about halfway between the two cities, and remember to bring some warm clothing if you visit in winter because snow is quite common here. About 30km before you reach Ouarzazate, turn off the highway and make a small side trip to Aït-Ben-Haddou. This beautiful mud-brick town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Quiet Ouarzazate makes for a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. Here you’ll also find both Atlas Studios and CLA Studios where several blockbusters were shot.

 

Ouarzazate to Erfoud

 

The next leg of the journey stretches over about 300km. You can cover the distance to Erfoud in about 4 hours but don’t rush it. Instead, stop and take in the views of the Dadès Gorge or take a closer look at some of the many kasbahs in the Dadès Valley. Near Tinghir with its palm trees, explore the dramatic Todra Gorge. At Errachidia, turn south to Erfoud, where Morocco’s only royal palace in the Sahara is located. Make this lovely town your base for exploring the Martian landscape, fossil deposits, little desert villages and the breath-taking Erg Chebbi Dunes. You’ll recognize the area from movies like The Mummy and Prince of Persia.

 

Erfoud back to Casablanca

 

To get back to Casablanca, you have several options. Take the sae route back or cut through the Middle Atlas region via more modern cities like Beni Mellal and Khouribga. If you have time, though, take the long way round via Fez and Rabat in the north for even more of Morocco’s treasures.

 

About David M

It's a big world and I want to sell all of it!

MARVELLOUS MOROCCO: HOLIDAYS TO SAVOUR IN EVERY CORNER

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Morocco | 0 comments

Morocco is a culturally explosive, geographically diverse and historically powerful destination. It is no wonder that it is such a popular tourist destination in Africa. At every turn there is something to see or experience that leaves you speechless. Being so close to Europe gives it an added convenience of short trips that put in you in a location that feels worlds away.

CITY BREAK IN MARRAKECH

Marrakech is a popular city destination; it is vibrant, full of history, culture and entertainment. A stroll through the city leads you to one of the busiest square in Africa Djemma El Fna; it is where all kinds of activities happen from dancing, eating, traditional tales and other performances that will leave you speechless. The souks will intrigue you with their variety and the mosques and medina will give you something diverse to write home about.

CULTURAL HOLIDAYS STAYING IN TRADITIONAL ACCOMMODATION

Morocco has a wide array of accommodations ranging from hotels and riads to auberges. For an exceptional cultural experience it is better to stay in riads or auberges. A riad is a traditional Moroccan residence with a courtyard which may contain flowers and a fountain right in the middle. Rooms are built facing the courtyards; they are decorated with rich traditional Moroccan designs and fabrics. You’ll find them in every Moroccan town or city and especially for holiday accommodation near Marrakech and in the city centre. On the other hand auberges are found in rural areas and are often made of mud in Kasbah style. You can also experience the nomadic lifestyle of the Berbers by camping in the Bedouin camps right in the middle of the desert. In this way you will get to experience the Moroccan culture in a more intimate way. The Moroccans are friendly people and you can therefore live among them without worries.

ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS IN THE MOUNTAINS

The High Atlas Range is the greatest mountain range in North Africa and is one of the most beautiful and intriguing parts of Morocco. It has retained remoteness and a certain degree of wilderness which is charming and captivating. Its rugged and towering terrains have made it a playground for thrill seekers and the perfect place for adventure holidays in morocco. Whether you want to engage in conquering the highest peak, trek through the quaint mountain villages or enjoy scenic walks with your family, the Atlas ranges do not shy away from any of your expectations. It is a place where you can combine adventure and cultural tours because it is also home to the Berbers.

SPORTING HOLIDAYS

Morocco gives you exhilarating holidays, holidays that inspire you by giving you an opportunity to indulge in your favorite sport. Morocco is an emerging golfing destination with numerous golf courses especially near the most touristic regions. If it is surfing in Morocco you are after, the crashing waves of the Atlantic coast will give you the experience of a lifetime. If you want to pursue both activities during your holiday, then the right place to head is Agadir. This area boasts of a number of great courses set in magnificent surroundings and the numbers seem to grow constantly.  The spectacular coastline of Agadir offers stunning beaches where water sports such as kite surfing, jet skiing and wind surfing are possible.

About David M

It's a big world and I want to sell all of it!

The Rich Experience of a Marrakech Holiday

Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Morocco | 0 comments

A Moroccan holiday can introduce you to the rich variety of North African life, its history and culture, its religion and cuisine. Everyone likes the sun, the chance to relax and really feel that they can forget the problems of everyday life back at home. Those who choose Morocco and more precisely Marrakech are guaranteed an unforgettable experience.

History and culture

There are museums to explore and you can delve into the history of the region by going down a few steps into the Koubba El–Badiyin which is a surviving example of Moorish history from the 12th century. It is thought to have been part of a mosque at that time. The most visited monument in the city is a walled garden with mosaic graves from the Saadian period.  There are three small pavilions holding graves, many were for the princes from the 18th century, but also others from before that time.

One of the pavilions holds the grave of Sultan Ahmed El-Mansour who ruled at the end of the 16th century. His palace is definitely worth a visit. It is now a fairly bare ruin but in its time it included walls and ceilings encrusted with gold brought all the way from Timbuktu. It took over 20 years to put together the pools, gardens and pavilions and was finished just before the Sultan died.

Marrakech Tours are designed to show you the essence of the city and you can take your pick of the things you wish to see. In museums such as Dar Si Said there are many exhibits of crafts and woodwork, kitchen implements, musical instruments and weapons.

Leather

Leather is definitely one of the things for which the city is famous. If you go to the tannery area you must be prepared for real pungent smells from the series of containers holding foul smelling liquids; little has changed since medieval days in terms of process with bird droppings still being an essential part of the tanning process. It’s an experience but whether you want to hang around long enough to shop is another question. Elsewhere there are plenty of shops selling excellent leather goods and not a hint of the smell that you experienced earlier.

Shopping

The Souks of Marrakech will certainly lighten your wallet because there is far more than leather on offer. There are plenty of textiles and Moroccan carpets are world renowned. You will have the chance to taste the spices of the country whenever you sit down in a restaurant and if you want to know more they will all be available for sale when your guide shows you the markets. There are indeed many handicrafts that you may like to buy so it is worth travelling light which you can do during the warm months to leave space in your case.

Image attributed to         Commons.wikimedia.org Donar Reiskoffer

About David M

It's a big world and I want to sell all of it!