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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from April, 2009

Weird Foods: More Than Just A Photo Op.

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I can’t say it enough, (and I do, often) food is one of the best and most informative ways to experience a new culture. However, after hearing about a friend’s recent (strange/gross/wild) cultural eating experience in Peru (exactly what that was, we’ll come back to in a moment) I’m starting to think that it’s not just the variety of authentic cuisines that helps to define a new place, but often the experience of stepping completely outside of your (culinary and otherwise) comfort-zone in the process.

Deep, I know. But think about it for a minute, if someone offered you fish eyeballs, pig hoofs or alligator at your local diner, would you even think twice about saying no? Probably not.

So what is it that gets us crazy travellers to embark on weird and wild culinary adventures? Perhaps it’s the desire to become a part of a new place, a new culture, a new experience. Because, as any traveller knows, food isn’t just about filling your belly with calories it’s about embarking on a cultural experience.

Here comes dinner? - Shazari

Here comes dinner? - Shazari

Take my friend’s trip to Peru for example. She’s southern California born and bred, vegetarian, and an organic food junkie. What could have possibly made a girl who diligently washes each grape before digging into the bunch try (gulp) guinea pig at the local Peruvian market? continue reading

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Swine Flu: Not you (Hopefully)!

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve heard the swine flu alerts. Every day there’s been a new article, a new email (usually from my concerned mother) , a new tweet about the swine flu. I’m starting to think that maybe missing that spring break trip to Cancun wasn’t so disastrous after all. With 159 reported deaths so far, what’s most important is that the outbreak is receiving the serious attention it deserves. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to avoid Mexican food and run to their nearest GP, however, as cases have begun cropping up everywhere from California to Spain, it does mean that it’s important to be aware and informed about current travel precautions. Though it seems like something new crops up every year, a mad-cow epidemic here, a tomato or peanut butter recall there, avian flu, and now swine flu, even the most adventurous traveller should exercise caution. (And, hey, if excitement is what you’re looking for, why not try something like river rafting instead?) continue reading

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Going to San Francisco: Flowers in Your Hair Not Necessary!

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“So, do you…see celebrities everywhere then?” It’s the first question anyone thinks to ask when I tell them I’m from, gasp, California. Along with, “So it’s sunny all of the time then?” and, I kid you not, “Do you surf to class?” …Well, er, no, actually, I don’t. In fact, I’m from Northern California, more famous for its Golden Gate Bridge and the Napa Valley wine region than it is for glamorous and paparazzi-filled nights on the town. The only stars I see out at night are the ones in the sky, and, frankly, I’d like to keep it that way.

Golden Gate Bridge - Dan Cuellar

Golden Gate Bridge - Dan Cuellar

So, in honor of that Northern-Californian (or Nor-Cal, as we say) pride, I’d like to present a series of “amazing, beautiful, and entirely devoid of any surfboards or celebrity sightings” things to do in California. continue reading

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There Might Even Be Funnel Cakes: Checking Out the UK’s Seaside Scene

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It’s raining outside, and we’re missing the California beaches! Spurred by a long discussion about deep-fried snickers and hot dogs at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I’ve decided to investigate the UK’s beach scene (hey, we’re surrounded by miles and miles of coastline here too!). And, luckily, the UK turns out to have quite the selection of coastal spots for us sun-hungry Californians to choose from as the weather heats up this summer.

Blackpool's Pleasure Beach - Jon's Pics

Blackpool's Pleasure Beach - Jon's Pics

It may not be Coney Island or the Boardwalk, but it looks pretty close! The Pleasure Beach Amusement Park in Blackpool, England features over 125 rides and attractions with some beautiful coastline views. And for you thrill seekers, twelve roller coasters, (woohoo!) including the one of the last “Wild Mouse” rides in operation, a neck-bending series of bunny hops and flat turns. Accessible via the Blackpool Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour, I can’t wait for an afternoon of sun and fun here (I just hope they have funnel cakes!) continue reading

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Scariest Places in London: Warwick Castle

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As I plan my trip to Warwick Castle I realize I will never get  British pronunciation correct. I’m quickly told that I’m not going to Warwick, I’m going to “Wor’ick”. With only three days of sightseeing left I want to pick a great spot for my last hurrah. Warwick Castle Dungeons will be opening just before I leave for home and I want to try and squeeze it in if I can get my hands on some Warwick Castle Tickets. My friends and I are all able to agree on this trip because there’s just so much to do there!

continue reading

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Cappadocia, a Natural Gem of Turkey

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8051_2_cavusin A beautiful region that is defined in both ancient Christianity and modern tourism as a site of natural wonders, the people of Cappadocia have made the most of their surroundings. It is home to the people who Biblically heard the gospel in their own tongue during the Pentecost and later resisted the rule of Alexander the Great. Current draws to the region are “fairy chimneys”, dovecotes, rock carvings and underground cities.

continue reading

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London among the winners at Enjoy England awards

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London was among the cities recognised at this year’s Enjoy England Awards for Excellence, which were handed out at a ceremony in York last night (April 23rd).

The biggest success was enjoyed by London Walks for its provision of what the awards judges described as a “fun, green, entertaining and value for money experience all year round”.

Some 400 different walking tours of London are provided by the company, with some led by renowned actors.

Silver awards were given to a number of other institutions based in the capital, including the Science Museum, which was recognised in the section covering attractions with more than 100,000 visitors, and the National Theatre.

Sally Chatterjee, interim chief executive of Visit London, said: “We are delighted that such a diverse range of London attractions were successful in this year’s awards.

“London prides itself on offering a sheer range and depth of attractions, events and history in our city for both business and leisure visitors.”

The awards ceremony recognised a number of other attractions and experiences in southern England that may be of interest to travellers, including Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Brighton’s SailnetUK.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138896-ADNFCR

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Spinal Tap to turn it up to 11 at Wembley

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Spinal Tap, the spoof glam rock band that featured in the mock documentary This is Spinal Tap, will reunite for a gig in London this year.

Rock and roll fans planning London tours should book tickets for the show at Wembley Arena on June 30th to see Nigel Tufnel, David St Hubbins and Derek Smalls doing what they do best live on stage.

Tufnel, St Hubbins and Smalls – also known as the actors Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer – will perform the “one night only world tour” show with support from the Folksmen.

Commenting ahead of the gig, Tufnel said: “If we’re going to do a world tour on only one night, at least it’s this world.”

St Hubbins added: “This show will be dedicated to all of our drummers who have passed on, either to their reward or to middle management at Sainsbury’s.”

The gig will celebrate the 25th anniversary of This is Spinal Tap, which was directed by Rob Reiner and followed the group as they set off on what would prove to be a fateful world tour.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138429-ADNFCR

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Weak pound ‘did not discourage Brits over Easter’

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British travellers continued to take tours in Venice, New York and other destinations in Europe and the United States over Easter despite the low value of the pound, new figures suggest.

International Currency Exchange (Ice) revealed that the euro was the most popular currency among its customers ahead of the Easter holiday, accounting for 39 per cent of sales, followed closely by the US dollar with 38 per cent.

The Thai baht was in a distant third place with seven per cent of the currency firm’s orders, followed by the Australian dollar (four per cent) and the Mexican peso (three per cent).

Andrew Hamilton, Ice head of marketing, said: "We are in a recession but families want holidays that are low on stress and high in convenience and that means short journeys by train, car, sea or plane into Europe or guaranteed sunshine and family friendly holidays in the US.

"That said, Thailand is proving to be a popular destination after Europe and the US."

The exchange firm released figures last month which indicated that the Canadian dollar, the Czech koruna and the Polish zloty are also among the ten most popular currencies for Brits.

Venice – Fall in love all over again on a Gondola ride on the Grand Canal and lose yourself in the grand St Mark’s Square.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19138316-ADNFCR

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Scariest Places in London: Thorpe Park

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tpOk, so Thorpe Park isn’t technically in London but it is worth the schlep to Surrey. After all, it’s the proud home of SAW: The Ride. The first ever roller coaster based on a horror movie. The promise of bearing down at a 100 degree angle from 100 ft above got my adrenaline rushing way before stepping into the park. Friends who have been on it already are keeping hush hush about the rumoured genius scares in store as the ride leads up to the drop. Hopefully the ride won’t make me as nauseous as the movies.

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