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This summer. Channel Islands. After successfully managing to avoid spending the summer holidays on a Channel Island (although not intentionally), this might be it. This summer might be the summer I spend my holidays on a British island. The winner? Guernsey, of course! Summer is the best time to visit this island, just off the coast of France because everything is in bloom. St Peter Port is busy with other tourists and while I won’t be the owner of one of the yachts in the harbour, I do hope to get a chance to ride on one… or at least a dingy that floats. The really attraction to this place though are the pretty rugged cliffs, its quaint countryside cottages, beaches and the people, open and gentle.

Spend time at the beaches… and not always the same one

The island has some great beaches and I do plan to visit a lot of them, if not ALL! Vazon, Cobo, Chouet, Pembroke… there’s no doubt that the west and north coast are the best for beaches, all accessible via bus from St Peter Port. Another must, is enjoying a brew at sunset at one of the beach-side cafes.

Explore Herm & Sark

Both of these small islands can be reached by boat and they’re completely car-free. It’s quiet and they’re more small enough to explore on foot, at least Herm. Sandy beaches and a little restaurant and hotel. The boat ride takes about 45 minutes from the port. If you have, bring your bike since the only other form of transportation is horse and buggy (which sounds lovely).

Say, “I love you” at the Little Chapel

Quite possibly the smallest chapel in the world, Little Chapel at Les Vauxbelets ins absolutely adorable and there’s nothing like pronouncing your love at a place like this (ha!). It’s walls are decorated with tiny shells, broken glass, pebbles and old pieces of bone china.

Walk along the South Coast cliffs

Plan some hiking into your trip. The cliffs along Guernsey’s southern coast can be reached from many points but the view is always the same. Stunning. Most days you can see Herm, Sark, Jethou and Jersey clearly, even France if it’s especially good weather. The area is in danger of erosion and visitors are asked to stick to the paths and avoid trying to climb up or down the cliffs.

Rediscover your childhood self at the Rocquaine Regatta

I’m most excited about this event that takes place annually in July at Rocquaine Bay. It takes place on the last Saturday of the month and features a day long of sand castle building competitions, tug of war games and other treats… even prizes to be won! It’s like the county fair goes to the beach! All I need now though is a spade and a bucket, my sun hat and some good ideas for my castle

I’ve already secured by trip there, I found cheap flights to Guernsey with Flybe. I’m always really surprised at how good their deals are. Anyways, even in peak season you can fly there for less than £100… bonus! Where are you heading this summer? Any plans to visit the Channel Islands?

 

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There’s hardly any reason to cook for yourself while visiting Bangkok. This city’s a mecca for cheap eats on the streets and the flavours will leave you craving for more. Don’t worry, eating out while on holiday has never been cheaper than in Thailand. As far as Bangkok is concerned, there’s nothing you can’t find! Don’t believe me? Grab some flights to Bangkok and find out!

If you only eat at one marketplace in the entire city, let it be Or Tor Kor market near the Chatuchak Park metro stop. You’ll find stall upon stall of delicious treats, succulent soups, stir-fry, grilled sausages and fresh noodles. If you want to try some of the local delicacies, don’t miss sai grop (fermented port sausage) that is slowly cooked over a charcoal barbecue.

An essential part of every Thai day is tea time. Tea is drank with anything and everything, even with their daily cup of coffee. At most places when you request a glass of water, they’ll bring you a cup of tea. For breakfast, try a cup of coffee with deep-fried Chinese bread.

You’ll quickly realise the more you walk through Bangkok that the locals love to eat and everything else that happens during the day is just time spend while waiting to eat again. Even the streets look more like food-lined hallways instead of pedestrian walkways. There are more food carts than people sometimes! It just goes to show though that if you want to eat, the easiest place to do it is on the street. If you’re a market newbie, don’t let the rude and rather abrupt style of the markets scare you. Stand tall and get in there!

images: oksidor, lookslikeamy / flicrk cc.

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I’ve been on a museum-binge lately, checking out some new exhibitions and finally getting to the permanent collections I’ve been meaning to see for a long time. It’s no sense living in a place like London and not appreciating what’s right in your own backyard. When is the last time you went to the Tower of London, visited the British Museum (which is free by the way!) or purposely rode your bike past Buckingham Palace? While many Londoners wouldn’t waste their time with such “trivial touristy things” I had a lot of fun doing it. It got me thinking (to make a long story short) about some of the best museums I’ve been to and ones I’d like to go to as well.

So, here you have it, the top 15 museums in the Western World

  1. The Louvre – An easy first choice? I’ve been once to this mega-art hub in Paris and without a doubt it is the world’s most famous museum. You can even take an online tour of the place! If you’re lucky and the crowds aren’t that big when you visit you might even get up close to the Mona Lisa by the Leonardo da Vinci.
  2. The Met– The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is one of the best museums in North America. It’s collection is strong with American art from all genres as well as an impressive collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts. You need a whole day (and then some) to see even a part of this place.
  3. British Museum – It’s the big one in the UK and considered one of the best museums in the world for Ancient arts and antiquities from around the world. The collection’s time line starts around Ancient Egypt and goes right up to the Middle Ages.
  4. The Vatican Museum – While I’ve never been it is without a doubt impressive. The Sistine Chapel alone or Rafael’s The School of Athens is worth visiting Rome to see. While Catholic art isn’t my forte, it would be worth seeing.
  5. The Hermitage Museum – Russia’s gem, it holds the largest art collection in the world with more than three million pieces of art. If that alone isn’t impressive enough, this place is huge!
  6. Kunsthistorisches Museum – Vienna is certainly not left out of this equation. This Austrian museum is most famous for its collection of European paintings as well as its stunning collection of antiquities. I haven’t been past the lobby (a little embarrassed to mention this)!
  7. National Gallery in London – Paintings and more paintings! While the British Museum focuses on artefacts the National Gallery has the most complete collection of European paintings ranging from the thirteenth century to the nineteenth.
  8. MOMA – The Museum of Modern Art in New York is where you’ll find the best of the world’s contemporary art and modern art. Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon hangs here as does Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Just these two would be worth a trip to NYC to see, don’t you think?
  9. The Cairo Museum – Most appropriately the Cairo Museum has the most comprehensive collection of Egyptian art and artefacts. The most famous piece is of course Tutankhamun’s Tomb which was first discovered in 1922.
  10. Museo del Prado – As Madrid’ biggest museum, it’s also the best one in all of Spain. You’ll find the most complete representation of Spanish painting traditions in the world behind its doors. Most notable is Velazquez’s Las Meninas.I’ve been several times to this museum but there is always something new going on.
  11. Musee d’Orsay – Paris’ other famous museum is the home of impressionist and nineteenth century French painting. here you’ll find artworks from the likes of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh (although not French, he produced many paintings while he was living in Paris).
  12. Uffizi – Florence, some say, is where European art was born. Hundreds of “masters” came out of this northern Italian city. It’s hard to know why but every art-lover should make a stop at the Uffizi Museum to see Botticelli’s Venus and Giotto’s Ognisanti Madonna as well as pieces by Caravaggio (my favourite on display here is his circular shield with the face of Medusa on it).
  13. Tate Modern – Not trying to play London favourites here but we’ve just got a lot of cool museums! The Tate Modern is iconic for its modern and contemporary art. Not unlike the MOMA in NYC, the Tate Modern has a much more European collection than American. Get your fix of Bacon, Lichtenstein and Pollock and don’t overlook the temporary exhibitions, they’re curated by some of the best in the world.
  14. Art Institute of Chicago – Good art is easy to find outside of New York, head to Chicago’s Art Institute and you’ll find it! Seurat is well represented here. His Island of La Grande Jatte is on display alongside many other famous European and American artists.
  15. Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam has many good museums but this one is the king. Unfortunately I have yet to make it to the Dutch capital (shame on me) to see its collection of Dutch paintings (the most important in the world) [double shame]. Nightwatch by Rembrandt is the main star.

I try to visit a good number of museums when I travel, at least a combination of the major ones as well as some smaller independent art galleries. Which of these have you visited? Which would you like to visit? I’ve been to NYC but alas my trip was short (just a weekend) and I didn’t have any chances to see any museums. It’s really a shame. All the more reason to get out my Lonely Planet book for the USA and start to compare compare cheap flights from London to JFK. There are always sales on this route (good for me!).

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Who doesn’t like cake?

I’d like a show of hands.

Just as I thought. Not a single hand was raised. Everyone loves cake. We pig out on it at least once a year when our birthday rolls around. Whether you are blowing out candles or taking your mum out for a treat (yes, my mum loves cake too) or cheering yourself up after a downer day, cake is the solution to many of life’s problems. I don’t mean this to be an ode to cake. Just an introduction to one city who knows cake, really really well: Amsterdam.

Who is the king of the cake castle?

The two gents behind De taart van m’n tante. Siemon and Noam don’t make just any kind of cakes, they make pieces of art. Their tasty creations have actually been on exhibition before at the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, Van Gogh Museum and Utrechts Museum. It’s serious business, cakes.The pair opened the café in 1990 and since then have exploded with success, locals aren’t the only ones apparently who love cake. It’s a special spot to visit if you’re in Amsterdam. I know at this point you’ve already searched for flights to Amsterdam

I already can’t wait to get my hands on a slice of their magic. What’s more, the cake shop is also a Bed & Breakfast. There are three rooms upstairs, each with its own theme. There is a communal kitchen, living room and wireless internet. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the smell of delicious cakes being baked just underneath? Mmmm…. sweet dreams indeed!

Where can you find them?

Ferdinand Bolstraat 10
1072 LJ Amsterdam
Open: 10:00-18:00 daily

In their own words, “A life full of cake – how magnificently delicious!”

In your opinion, which culture does the best dessert? Which sweet have you tried abroad that you just wish you could eat everyday at home?

For more info, check out their website.

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It’s almost inevitable that you will get sick (pretty much inevitable) while travelling in India. Lifestyle conditions, letting down your guard and other factors will guarantee it. India’s standards are a lot different than ours so when you’re planning your trip, it’s best to be prepared. How can you travel through India and avoid Delhi Belly? That’s an excellent question, one which I can definitely answer. (I’ve had my share of “Beaver Fever” and Mexican Maladies)

It’s not something a lot of people thing about before buying their flights to India, nore should it scare travellers away from doing so. You have to really get your body ready for the foreign microbes about to hit you a top-speed before your tip. While you’re there in India, make sure you follow some basic precautions and you won’t be one of the foreign travellers dropping like flies or taking up the toilet all day long.

1) Avoid the tap water by all costs.

Simple enough, right? Keep a bottle of water ever-ready for when thirst strikes and when brushing your teeth, don’t use the tap. When buying bottled water, make sure the cap is still sealed to avoid any Slumdog Millionaire-type mishaps. You know that ice in your drink? That’s likely made from tap water so request your cold beverages without it.

2) Go vegetarian, avoid meat.

India is a nation of vegetarians. If you’ve never tried going a whole day without some pork in your beans, start now. India food is flavourful, protein-ful and delicious. Contaminated meats are the main cause for gut rot, so avoid your curry with a side of lamb.

3) Fresh cheese is a no-no.

I know what you’re thinking…but! cheese is a humble host for microbes that will split you in two. Avoid cheese that hasn’t been cooked, for example parmesan over pasta. Pizza cheese should be fine, as is Paneer, a local Indian cheese used in curry.

4) Eat in upscale restaurants.

I know, pretty much the opposite of what I always preach on here… eat like a local, follow the local’s footsteps, bla, bla, bla… but really. This time I’m saying different. Eat at touristy restaurants because they usually have a good reputation, steady clientèle and are most importantly hygienic… or else they wouldn’t find themselves in the pages of Lonely Planet year after year. Street food is not for the weary… what the locals can handle may not be what you can handle.

5) Wash your hands and trust your gut.

Washing your hands regularly before eating is always a good place to start. If there is no soap/warm water available, use a disinfectant (something you should carry around with you). Since everyone’s system is different, in the end, the best advice is to trust how you feel. India is overwhelming, so just go with the flow. You might still get sick after following my advice to the tee, but you might not. Take it easy if you do, Gravol will be your best friend.

Do you have any of your own tips to share?

This photo is from jonrawlinson, Flickr Creative Commons.

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Isn’t it every traveller’s dream to take to the open road and make a huge road trip from coast to coast across the great North American continent? It’s certainly been mine for years now and it’s always been on the back-burner. Well that’s all going to change this year, all-American road trip here I come!

First thing is first though, how to plan one. Making a trip like this abroad needs time to plan, that’s for sure. From the research I’ve done so far, it’ll be no easy task so here are a couple pointers that I’ve picked up along with my planning.

  • Give yourself time, at least two weeks to do the trip so that you don’t feel rushed. Plan well in advance (working on this now) making sure you can get time off work and other responsibilities at home for that period. Once you book your flights to the USA, give yourself some days to adjust to the time difference before hitting the road.
  • Make your itinerary, but leave room to move. The spontaneous style of road trips is almost their entire charm. Select some major cities and sights to see and then leave the rest open for new discoveries.
  • Ditch the GPS and pick up state road maps instead. These electronic navigation systems are good but are nothing compared to maps which will tell you the name of that mountain you passed 30 miles back, where the next campground is, how long until the next junction, etc. For free maps, scour the visitor information centres.
  • When planning your route, try to avoid making the whole trip using the interstate. Take the scenic rural highways instead. It will take you longer but you’re more likely to find something interesting on the way.
  • Don’t drive too much in one day, this’ll tire you out. Make the trip with a fellow driver so you two can switch, travelling only for a couple hours each day to be able to enjoy what you see along the road.
  • One last tip, make sure you don’t forget to apply for an international driver’s permit. It’s very important if you plan to drive in the USA to have this paper.

Have you ever taken a real road trip? Any tips to share with us?

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Have you ever noticed how fascinated we are with lists? Especially “Top 10’s”? Sometimes I wonder how these things ever started… in any case these lists don’t just tell you what to read, listen to or eat but what you should see as well when you travel. We’re all familiar with the seven wonders of the world, and the seven natural wonders and the seven ancient wonders… so I’m just going to break it down for you and let’s take a look at Canada’s, just one country to keep it simple, seven wonders.

If you’ve never been to this huge country then you have only one obligation after reading this post: go and book some cheap flights to Canada! You won’t regret it. This place is not only stunning for its wilderness that goes on for thousands (literally) of kilometres, but it’s modern and cultural cities as well.

Can I get a holla from all the moose and beaver lovers out there?!

So let’s get started: Canada’s Seven Wonders

1. Niagara Falls

Until someone turns the tap off on the Niagar River, this baby is going to keep on flowing. Forever dividing the USA and Canada, the iconic falls are the second largest in the world. Take a ride on the Maid of the Mist to the foot of the falls (remember a raincoat because it’s mighty wet down there) and check out the other local attractions which include hiking along the gorge, going wine tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake and taking the cable car across the river.

2. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

The Sleeping Giant refers to the thin peninsula near Thunder Bay (northern Ontario) that protects it from the winds sweeping across Lake Superior. From a distance it looks like a person laying flat on their back with arms crossed on its chest. Local Ojibway folklore says that Nanna Bijou was turned to stone when one of his tribesmen was tricked into sharing the location of the silver mine. The park is famous for its hiking trails and wildlife.

3. Hopewell Rocks

During low tide in the Bay of Fundy on the east coast in New Brunswick, you can walk out and explore these sand pillars, formed naturally over time.

4. Jasper National Park

The Rockies on the west coast are perfect for camping, hiking, skiing in winter and spotting mountain goats. Surrounded by lakes with crystal blue waters, this place will definitely impress. Climb a glacier, hang out with the caribou or swim in the turquoise waters… Lake Louise is a favourite.

5. Badlands

Where T-Rex made it’s home… Alberta is home to thousands of dinosaur bones, especially in Drumheller. There is a dinosaur museum and you can even join a dig to check out bones that are begin excavated. The Hood Doos and the Royal Tyrrell Museum shouldn’t be missed either.

6. Confederation Bridge

One of Canada’s provinces lies out on its own in the Atlantic Ocean, Prince Edward Island. It’s connected to the mainland though by bridge, the longest in Canada, spanning 8 miles (13 km). It’s an incredible drive and an engineering feat.

7. Cabot Trail

If you think you can’t get much further east in Canada, you can’t. The Cabot Trail is the end of the line on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. It’s only 300km long but circles the island and is one of the most picturesque places to visit on the way. Stop for a whale watching cruise, try your hand at fishing from the docks, get lost in the lilacs growing all summer and watch the tide come and go. It’s a place that is mystical yet magical… one of the first places where European’s landed with strong Irish and Celtic roots.

Ever been to Canada? I would love to hear about your trip!

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