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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 in ‘Travel Tips’

Prague: City Guide

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Prague: the capital city of the proud and friendly Czech people, a starling city that blends Old World and contemporary culture, the birthplace of the Bohemian lifestyle, and home to some of the most unique foods, drinks, and architectural spectacles in Europe. The question is often “Why not visit Prague” rather than the trivial “Why visit” because whether you are visiting the city for a day or seven, you are probably headed to your soon-to-be favorite city in the region (if not continent).

Maybe you have a visit to Prague planned or are currently deciding where to spend your next few days off. Well, let our experiences help you see what needs to be seen and make your decision a bit easier! Here are the five absolutely essential places you need to visit and things you need to try.

Old Town

Tyn Church Prague

If you’ve seen a picture of Prague, chances are it was taken in Old Town Square. With notable sights around the square like Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church and St. Nicholas Church, this historical center of Prague has a lot to offer to visitors. The square is also filled with restaurants, pubs, and people at any time of the day, with smaller roads extending out into some other sights and smaller shops. The Astronomical Clock, though known for its unspectacular clock show involving wooden saints emerging from the tour at the top of each hour, has numerous other beauties in its build and design, as do all of the structures that border Old Town square.

Beer & Cuisine

beef goulash Prague

The Czechs regard their locally produced beers as a national treasure. The most popular beer in Prague is Gambrinus, but other very popular bears include Kozel’s Medium, a pale lager, and Pilsner Urquell, a favorite with the locals. Because of this focus on and love of beer and its craft, Prague is home to a number of bars that specialize in beer, offering a huge variety or a carefully chosen selection of top-notch brews. The same passion exhibited by the Czech people can be said the same for how they feel towards their native dishes. While the foods in Prague are unlike any other food in other regions of the world, the Czech people show excellence in the food that they consider local. Foods like beef goulash with dumplings (Hovezi gulas s knedlikem) and rolled up pastries called Trdelnik will have visitors discovering delicious meals they couldn’t even imagine.

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square Prague

The contemporary version of the Old Town square is the Wenceslas square, which is only a short 5 minute walk away from Old Town. This very popular and modern part of Prague is lined with world-famous clothing brand stores, numerous restaurants, and other smaller shops. At the end of the square is the marvelous National Museum of Prague, which won’t be open to the public for another few years. Wenceslas Square is the perfect place for any traveler wanting the feel of a big city while also wanting to see the architecture that Eastern Europe is known for. Grab a coffee, sit in one of the many seating areas around the square, and enjoy your day surrounded by a lively crowd of locals and travelers alike!

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge Prague

If you appreciate the pure beauty of rivers or the unchanging expressions of statues, then Charles Bridge is another must-see location. Crossing the Vltava River, the bridge supports thousands of people each day crossing over from both sides of Prague. The bridge itself has numerous statues with either religious or historical significance, and between those statues are many street vendors selling anything from souvenirs to caricature drawings. The bridge leads out on both sides to popular areas filled with shops and little eateries. If you enjoy the music of the iconic British rock band, The Beatles, the famed John Lennon Wall in Prague is located near the entrance of the bridge.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

The final must-see location in Prague is one that you actually can see virtually from anywhere in Prague, that is, the Prague Castle. Though somewhat of a walk from the other popular Prague locations listed, the castle is by far the most spectacular. At the center of the royal compound sits St. Vitus’s Cathedral with towers that scrape the sky and architecture that takes your breath away. Also in the compound are the royal Paradise Gardens and Palace where you can take in more regal marvels. The castle sits atop a hill that overlooks Prague, which is both the reasons why it can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and why it provides visitors with the most spectacular view of the city. You cannot visit Prague without taking a stroll through the castle grounds!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Italy This Summer

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Summers might be a perfect time to sit and plan that vacation which is long overdue. While you are still thinking about where to head for that perfect holiday, why not give Italy a try? After all, there are few countries in the world that offer the kind of variety and diversity that Italy does, with its ancient history, majestic mountains, sumptuous cuisine and glittering coastlines.
Still undecided?  Let us help and give you 5 reasons on why Italy will be your best pick this summer.

 Venice Gondola Rides

Venice Hero Image
A Gondola ride is a must when in Venice. Take in the views and transcend to another era as you lie back on cushions and feel the rhythm and movement of intricate waterways. With a partner, nothing can be as romantic as cuddling up in the boat as it passes through the old Venetian towns. If you go solo, then all you would need is a nice, romantic novel.

Florence
If the heat is too overbearing, get indoors. With Brunelleschi’s masterpiece at the centre, a number of museums and monuments dominate the city. For art lovers, no European city can come close to Florence. Admire the vast art collection of Uffizi gallery or plan a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia, renowned for being the home of the famous statue of David by Michelangelo.

Florence, Accademia Galary

You can also simply stand at the centre of the churches of San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito and the Cappella dei Pazzi, and feast your eyes by looking at the intricate frescoes painted by the Renaissance artists.
You will surely feel the chill in the heat, when you gaze at the vivid works of art.

For people who like to explore under the sun, head to the Cinque Terre, the five small ancient coastal villages, and see some of Italy’s finest scenery.

Pompeii

Pompeii Day
The recent movie Pompeii featuring Kit Harrington and Kiefer Sutherland brought the wrath of Mount Vesuvius live on screen. It took just one day – 24 August, 79 AD, for it to get buried for the next seventeen centuries, under the volcanic ashes of the fierce Mount Vesuvius. Visit the ruins and get a glimpse of the life led by the people of Pompeii before they were swallowed by the lava of Mount Vesuvius.

So, pick your sunglasses, an umbrella and explore the lost city. It is indeed a fulfilling summer retreat.

Rome

rome colosseum
One can be in loss of words while talking about this great city. Italy’s capital city is so vibrant that even if you spend months here, you will get the feeling that there is a nook or corner of the city which still remains unexplored. Its existence since time immemorial makes it unique and offers a diverse culture, a mélange of culinary wonders and a range of historical edifices like the mighty Colosseum, Vatican structures, Romanesque churches et al.

Tuscany

Tuscany
Leave the bustle of the city and escape to the glorious Tuscan countryside. Its quaint hill towns and lush vineyards, make it a popular summer destination. Also, it is in this season that you could be lucky enough to witness a series of local festivals, which are being celebrated through the ages.

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Getting to Disneyland Paris by Train

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One thing we often hear from our customers is that they would love to spend a day at Disneyland during their time in Paris, but have concerns about how to get there.  While at first glance the Parisian transport network may seem overwhelming, it really is super-simple and with these basics you will easily plan your journey to the Parks.

If you have not bought your tickets yet, check out our great price for the Disneyland Paris 1 Day Hopper Ticket.  Or if you would rather go for a transport-inclusive package we also have this day trip with transport.

family

What train do I take and where do I board?

Disneyland Paris is easily connected to central Paris using the RER A.  This suburban railway service runs every 10-30 minutes depending on the time of day and will get you to Disneyland Paris in just 30-40 minutes.

You can get a direct train from the following Paris Stations:

Charles de Gaulle Etoile:  Located at the top of the Champs-Élysées, there are several entrances which surround the Arc de Triomphe.  Anyone staying west of the city centre should use this station. 

Auber:  Located on Rue Auber, close to the Opera Garnier and the department stores of Boulevard Haussman.

Chatlet Les Halles:  One of Paris’ major interchanges is convenient for those staying near the Louvre, Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter.

Gare de Lyon: Convenient for those with hotels in the south east of Paris, near Gare d’Austerlitz or Bercy.

For Disneyland Paris you need to get off at Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy.  The park gates are less than 5 minutes’ walk from here.

What tickets do I need?

When using the ticket window, you can simply explain you need a ticket for Disneyland (Billet pour Disneyland). You will find that most ticket office staff will be able to help you in buying the correct ticket.

Alternatively, you can use one of the self-service machines, all of which have the option to be used in English. One of the first questions you are asked is if you want tickets to “Paris” or “Ile de France” – choose Ile de France and from here the machines are very easy to use.

Boarding the train

No matter which of the stations listed above you board at, look out for the signs for RER A towards Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy or Boissy Saint-Leger. For Disneyland Paris you need the train towards Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy, be sure to board the right train as from the same platform trains also go to Boissy Saint-Leger. 

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London’s Hidden Gems

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Anyone who knows anything about London is well aware of the city’s top tourist attractions: the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London. London, it turns out, is a pretty touristy place. You can’t go anywhere without running into someone carrying a giant camera around their neck, holding up a crumpled city map, and standing on a street corner looking unbearably confused. I know you all know what I’m talking about. Because we’ve all been there. This is the tourist’s right of passage. You can’t visit London – or any major city – without experiencing this at least once. It will make for great stories one day. But, in the event that you want to escape the madness, avoid tourist traps, and explore some of London’s lesser-traveled roads, here are my picks for London’s hidden gems and some of my favorite places outside the city centre.

In no particular order:

1.  Primrose Hill

watermarkprimrose

If you’ve ever wondered what London looks like to a bird, Primrose Hill is probably the closest you will get. Primrose Hill is, as the name suggests, a big hill on the edge of Regent’s Park. Now, I know that most people these days are likely to avoid hills at all costs (is there an escalator anywhere?), but you absolutely must climb this one! The view is absolutely stunning and totally unparalleled. I promise you, the climb is completely worth it (like that Miley Cyrus song from way back when). Once you make it to the top, a view of the entire city down below awaits you. You can see everything from the London Eye to Big Ben to the Shard. It’s all there. Don’t forget your camera! It makes for excellent panoramic shots. If you want to make the trip extra special, go just before sunset and bring along a bottle of wine. Who says happiness doesn’t come cheap?

2.  Brick Lane

dankunzbrick

Brick Lane is most famous for its delectable Indian food (and with good reason), but don’t leave after you eat. The East London area is the cultural hub of the city. If artsy and alternative is your thing, East London is the place for you! After indulging on the delicious food, take a walk around the Brick Lane area (just don’t get up too quickly. You might split your pants). Here, you can find markets selling even more food and any other number of things from jewelry to paintings to clothing to trinkets. Brick Lane is also famous for the murals of graffiti and street art. This isn’t the kind of graffiti you see on under overpasses and in tunnels and at train stations. It’s art. And it’s really cool. Go!

3.  Hampstead Heath

watermarkhampstead

Hampstead Heath is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in all of London. Just 25 minutes outside of the bustling city centre, Hampstead Heath is the perfect getaway for  nature lovers. You’ll know you’ve made it when all you can hear is silence, and the sound of birds chirping has replaced the sound of honking horns. You can practically feel all of the tension escape from your body and your muscles unknot as you breathe in the fresh clean smell of nature. Everyone needs a break every once and a while.

Hampstead Heath is really just a big park with sprawling green fields and ponds and forests of big tall trees and all of that naturey goodness you’ve been missing in the city. It is the perfect place for frolicking. If you go to Hampstead Heath you absolutely must frolic. It makes the experience 100 times better (that’s a proven fact). At this point in the blog, you’re probably looking at your computer screen like I’m crazy. I know what you’re thinking. Frolic, you say? Do I look like a pony? A deer? Well, I am almost 100 percent certain that you are neither. But frolic you must! When you visit Hampstead Heath, you will instantly understand this and thank me for giving you this wonderful suggestion. You are out in nature, so frolic it up! Hop, skip, jump, roll, tumble. Do whatever your heart desires. That’s what parks are for, after all! 

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1st Day of the New Year in Stockholm’s Old Town

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As New Year's Eve rapidly approached and I was faced with spending it in my pesky home town in grey, boring Finland, a friend and I decided that we needed to get away. The trip to Stockholm from Finland is easy and traversed often by Finns via a cruise liner. This is one of the most convenient ways for Finns to take a small break: a cruise to Stockholm is easy and quick – enjoying the tax free shops on board comes as an added bonus. Our ship docked at 10.30am on the 1st of January and the vessel was eerily, yet understandably quiet. After a night of boogeing on the party boat we were starving and headed out early.

W7

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Ranked #3 on TripAdvisor for things to do in Stockholm, we headed for Stockholm’s Gamla Stan i.e. Old Town. The walk to the area from the port takes about 15 minutes and although there was nothing much of interest to look at along the way, at least we found evidence of a night of heavy partying. 

Celebrations

Gamla Stan is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and here you can see the Royal Palace with its 600 rooms, Sweden’s national cathedral Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. The Christmas wreaths and decorations were still in place and created a cosy atmosphere even post-Christmas.

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The area isn’t huge and perfect for a leisurely wander along the cobbled streets, peering into crowded passageways and gazing up on the medieval buildings, the surfaces of which look powdery and ancient. There are so many little details on the buildings you'll be snap happy throughout your stroll. Gamla Stan is unsurprisingly very touristy with the appropriate offering of souvenir shops, sweet shops and bric a brac – none of which tickled our fancy. However, we did stop over for a tasty lunch in one of the little cafes that dot the streets.

Gamla Stan is definitely worth checking out when in Stockholm, but head over early morning to avoid the crowds!
Keen on a bit of Stockholm sightseeing beyond the Old Town? Take a bus tour of the city and get your bearings from day one!

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In search of Père Noël – Christmas in Paris

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parishero (500 x 324)

During the coldest, darkest winter months it’s often the wonderful thought and anticipation of Christmas that encourages most of us to bravely battle the nasty breeze, sleet and sub-zero temperatures. When Christmas lights and displays pop up across the cities of Europe, one can’t help but feel the build-up of festive cheer and excitement. And during this dark time of year the best place to be is of course the City of Light, where you can soak up the glow of seasonal activities. Paris is chock-full of yuletide activities and makes for a wonderful destination even if you're not too into busy Christmas markets and carol singers. Take a look below at the best things to do if you're spending Christmas in Paris.

Christmas Lights and Displays

NicholasJonesgalerie

Image by Nicholas Jones

A 2km stretch of the iconic Champs-Élysées is lit up with dozens of lights leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. The 200 trees that are drenched in light will stay lit until 2:00am each day, and all night on December 31st in celebration of the new year.

The many boutiques and shops that line Champs-Élysées are decorated with festive displays, lights and trees. Stop by at the traditional Christmas market for a cup of mulled wine and a bit of shopping. Don’t miss the stupendous Galeries Lafayette department store: from the outside you can marvel at the ever-changing light show the wonderfully magical window displays, dedicated this year to the theme of The Beauty and the Beast. Be sure to check out the Printemps store as well.

Other noteworthy spots with twinkling lights are Place Vendôme and Place de la Concorde, where you will also find the Paris Big Wheel.

Ice Skating

OlivierBruchezskate

Image by Olivier Bruchez

Donning a pair of skates and heading to the rink is a winter favourite, especially among kids.
Patinoire de L’Hôtel de Ville is situated right in front of the city hall and is the most popular (and busiest) rink in the city. If your skating skills are a bit rusty, fear not, the huge rink includes a smaller area for beginners and children – and there are even instructors at hand to help you perfect your technique.

Patinoire des Cinq Continents at Champs-Élysées, right in the middle of the liveliest Christmas shenanignas. This year the rink takes its inspiration from the five continents of the world by featuring over 300 animated pandas, deer, wolves, polar bears and other critters in its ice garden.

If you want to skate under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower, you can do so at the Trocadero Square rink where you will also find a Christmas village and a snow garden.

Cultural Events

There are many things to do in Paris besides the obvious Christmas activities, from shows to art exhibitions.

For scenes straight out of a storybook, catch the legendary Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au bois dormant) ballet at the Opéra Bastille, or the Beauty and the Beast musical at Théâtre Mogador.

For thrills and wondrous excitement, go to one of the latest circus shows: Cirque BouglioneCirque Pinder or Cirque National Alexis Gruss. For something out of this world, you can experience Kooza, the new show by Cirque du Soleil. Whatever your choice, prepare for an evening of fantastical characters, colours, sounds and mind-boggling feats and tricks.

Art lovers will appreciate the many exhibitions taking place, most of which run until the end of January. See the works of Frida Kahlo at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Goya at the Pinacotheque and Braque at the Grand Palais

Quirky

Christophe Alary Musee

Image by Christophe Alary

Enter the bizarre, mysterious world of carnivals of the bygone era at Musée des Arts Forains, also known as The Fun Fair Museum. The museum is located in Bercy, a disctrict once used by Parisian wine merchants, where you can see rows and rows of warehouses with rails running down the lanes for transportation of the barrels. The museum is usually only open with prior reservation, but opens to the general public during Christmas. The collection includes merry-go-rounds and carousels, Japanese billiards and much more dating all the way back to 1850.

Still unsure of what to do in Paris? Take a look at the tours we offer in this beautiful city!

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Brussels Nightlife Guide

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Brussels Nightlife Guide

brussels

Having lived in Brussels for 9 months and frequenting pubs and bars nearly every weekend (sometimes two nights in a row) I like to think myself a connoisseur of Brussels after dark. Some of the best places for a drink can be found conveniently located around the city centre and for some you might have go the extra mile, but it will be worth it. Whether you’re in the hunt for the best margarita or just a place to dance until your legs feel like jello, Brussels will deliver.

Le Corbeau

Good for: Dancing on tables

If you go to one place in Brussels, go to Le Corbeau. Get there before 10pm and you will see people casually enjoying their dinner with a few drinks in a charming old-Brussels setting. Stick around and you will be surprised. At approximately 11pm the bartender goes around removing lamps from tables, the volume goes up and suddenly you will see someone scrambling onto the table they just had their dinner on – soon the whole place is up on tables, grooving to the music and you have no choice but to try it yourself. I’ve never had a bad night here even though the fight for the best table spot can sometimes get a bit heated. Wearing heels is not recommended, you will need all the balance you have!

http://www.lecorbeau.be/

Mappa Mundo

Good for: Pre-drinks

Mappa Mundo is one of the many gems of the Saint Gery area. In the summer the cobbled St. Gery streets are filled with the sound of chatter and clinking glass as tables are spread outside and the bars open their windows wide to let some of the cool air in. Mappa Mundo has a wonderfully cosy, warm atmosphere. The lights are dim, the seats and setting comfortable and the music varied. Here you can have a quiet drink and catch up with friends or gear up for a night out in the livelier bars of the area.

http://www.mappamundo.com/?lang=en

Havana

Good for: Cocktails

This Cuban place is superb for cocktails; here is where I fell in love with margaritas. They make them super tangy and sweet, and during happy hour you get 2 for 1! If you’re into Latin music you can easily spend the whole night dancing here, but you can also catch the last bus into central Brussels at around 11pm if you’re looking to explore the city more.

http://www.havana-brussels.com/home_r.html

Delirium

Good for: Beer

This place is incredible. Even if you're not into beer you have to appreciate the fact that when you ask for the drinks menu, you will receive a book as heavy as The Lord of the Rings. As you leaf through the pages you will realise that the best option is to just close your eyes and poke your finger at the menu at random to choose your beer. They come in all tastes here, in over 2400 varieties from smoky to deliciously fruity. If you're finding the surplus of choice overbearing just ask the bar staff to recommend you something: they will give you a taste first before filling up the glass.

http://deliriumcafe.be/

Bonnefooi

Good for: Late, late hours

After all other bars in central Brussels close, there is always Bonnefooi. A favourite among nighthawks, this is where the party's at – even at 7 in the morning. The place gets a bit grubby in the early hours of the morning, but if you're hell-bent on not retiring to bed, Bonnefooi is there for you. Seen as it will probably be about 5 or 6 in the morning once you get here, have your wits about you and keep an eye on your belongings. I once had my bag stolen here right under my nose within the space of 5 minutes even after having carefully hidden it under a pile of jackets and keeping vigil right next to it.

http://bonnefooi.be/index.php/

Celtica

Good for: Cheap drinks

If you’re out to find that laid-back Irish pub feel and your main goal of the evening is to get sufficiently intoxicated, Celtica is your place. The drinks are cheap and the dancefloor upstairs crowded and pumping out the latest tunes to grind to. The place will become packed so be prepared to stand around with your drink. Certain nights kick off with live music, and you will most definitely hear a drunken singalong rendition of Wonderwall. Celtica is nothing fancy but it does the trick with the added bonus that the doors stay open til very late.

http://www.celticpubs.com/celtica/celticabxl.html

Fuse

Good for: Clubbing

One of the (very) few clubs in Brussels, this is where you can come all dolled up to bust a move.

The set-up is spacious and the music loud, providing all the essentials of a club night. The place lacks the great atmosphere you will find in smaller Brussels bars, but if clubbing is your thing, this is where you need to be. Be sure to bring change: every time you want to use the loo, you will need to pay.

http://www.fuse.be/

 

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Native New Yorker: The Best Things to do in New York

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Here at Isango we love New York, a city that has so much going on it can feel dizzying at times trying to decide where to go and what to see. Lucky for us our new intern Christasia is from NYC and ready to share her insider tips with you!

 

Without further ado, here is the first post from our very own Native New Yorker.

 

 

“One day your life will flash right before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” This was one of the main reasons why I decided to leave the US and come to London. When in my life would I get the chance to just leave and go to another country for 15 weeks? Years from now I want to be able to look back at my undergraduate career and say: “Wow, I was brave enough to leave everyone and everything behind just to study abroad.” Fortunately, I’m sitting at this computer in London having the time of my life.

My name is Christasia Wilson and I’m a junior at Temple University. Currently I’m studying journalism, with the hopes to one day work for a fashion magazine. Coming to London wasn’t a hard transition because I went from one city to another. Originally I’m from New York but I attend school in Philadelphia.

Some of the main differences between New York and London is that pedestrians don’t have the right of way (something I learned the hard way), knowing that taking 100 pounds won’t be 100 American dollars, and I can go to clubs and pubs, which is a plus because in the United States I’m not old enough to do that.

From my time studying in London I’m hoping to come back to the States a changed person. I want to be able to step out of my box and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Actually, I’m already doing that by coming to London for 15 weeks. These next few weeks will contain life experiences that I will never forget, create friendships that will last a lifetime and most of all make me into a better person. It’s always insightful to see how other people from different cultures live – sometimes it makes you appreciate the culture you come from more, but also introduces new things from other cultures into your daily life.

Come along with me as I master the art of jaywalking, travel around the UK and Europe, but most of all as I try to track down the Royals. I’m just your average girl. A New Yorker by birth, Philadelphian because of school, and a Londoner by choice.

 

Native New Yorker:

The Best Things to do in New York

 

Whenever people tell me they’ve been to New York, most likely they’ve only been to Times Square, the Empire State Building and 34th Street. Not that these places aren’t wonderful in their own right, but there’s more to New York than the main tourist attractions. Take a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge or even a nice ferry ride to Governors Island. The best attitude to adopt when it comes to New York is accepting the fact that you’ll never see everything in New York. I have lived there all my life and it continues to amaze me. However, to make planning your trip to NYC a little bit easier, here are some of my favorite things to see and do in the City that Never Sleeps.

The High Line

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Originally a freight rail line, this park is built on the former New York railroad spur called the West Side Line. If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon take a walk on the High Line. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenue. No fear, if you get hungry that far up, there are multiple ways to ensure your lovely stroll won’t be cut short because of a grumbling stomach. From coffee to tacos and even peach gelato you can fill yourself up and then continue to walk. Keep your eyes open for graffiti on some of the nearby buildings.

Isango Highline Park Walking Tour

Central Park

If you’re short on time and looking to see only the most important sights of the city, be sure to visit every New Yorkers backyard: Central Park. This happens to be one of my frequent places to go when I want to get away from everyone and everything. Endless opportunities of fun can be found here. Whether you’re looking for a place for a romantic date or an energetic family outing, Central Park never goes out of style. During the warm season have a picnic or play frisbee on the Great Lawn. In the winter treat yourself to a ride through the park on a horse & carriage or ice skating at Wollman Rink.

Tour Central Park with Isango

Top of the Rock: Rockefeller Building

Forget the lines at the Empire State Building and go to the Top of the Rock instead. Day or night the view of New York City is absolutely breath-taking. Enjoy the food, gift shops and the floor to ceiling windows, without all the hassle of long queues and large crowds. From experience the best time to go is early in the morning or at night when everyone from the afternoon rush has gone back to Times Square.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Building

For over 80 years the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has been one of the most celebrated events in New York. This is the kickstart to the Christmas holiday. No matter how many people are there, you’ll still get a nice photo with the 69 to 100 foot Norway spruce tree in the background. While basking in the joy of the holiday season, take a stroll down 5th Avenue; at night all the holiday lights are lit and there are countless stores to visit for every type of shopper. It does get very crowded so prepare to maneuver your way through throngs of people.

Sullivan Bistro

This cozy bistro is tucked away in the Sullivan MacDougal Historic District. Every foodies safe haven, Sullivan offers some of the best brunch options around and it will have your mouth watering for more. I’ve been going to Sullivan Bistro for 2 years now, after stumbling upon it walking around Houston Street. My personal favorites for brunch are the Classic Pancake Breakfast and Goat’s Cheese on Toasted Brioche. Whether you’re a veggie lover or meat crazy, Sullivan Bistro caters to every taste palate.

The Village

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One one of the most interesting neighborhoods in lower Manhattan, you will never get bored down in the Village. There’s Washington Square Park, boutiques, thrift & vintage stores, the Meatpacking District, and one of the best Italian pastry shops in town Veniero’s. These are just a few of the things to see in and around the Village.

Explore Greenwich Village with Isango

Harlem

Home of the Harlem Renaissance movement, there’s more than enough to explore in Harlem. Go enjoy a show at the Apollo Theater, a place where stars such as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin have performed. Explore the cultural legacy at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Do major shopping on 125th street and then finish the day off with a walk in Marcus Garvey Park or some food from one of the many restaurants in Harlem. If you want something quick and good find a Jimbo’s; breakfast is served all day and if you’re into burgers, you’ve come to the right place.  

Experience traditional gospel in Harlem

DUMBO

No, not the elephant, but the neighborhood in Brooklyn. DUMBO stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” This neighborhood is one of New York’s hidden gems. With a combination of art galleries, shops and restaurants it’s one place you’ll definitely fall in love with in Brooklyn. When in DUMBO you must go to one of the best coal brick oven pizzerias called Grimaldi’s. Stop by St. Ann’s Warehouse for a show or rent a bike to ride around Brooklyn.

Park Slope

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Still loving Brooklyn, we’ll continue on to Park Slope. From here you can see a basketball game or one of your favorite artists at Barclays Center. Go up Flatbush Avenue to one of my personal favorite sushi spots, Geido. If your appetite for Brooklyn is still not satisfied, head over to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) for films, theater, dance, music and much more. When the shopping bug hits you, check out some of the stores off of Atlantic Avenue. Two of my favorite stores are called Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange. After all this you’ll be dying to visit Brooklyn again.

Museums

When you want some peace and quiet or are just in the mood for history check out one of the dozen museums in New York. Here are some of my favorites just to name a few.

MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)

Museum of Natural History

Science Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum of the City of New York

Museum of Sex

El Museo del Barrio (NYC’s only Latin museum dedicated to Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art)

Last but not least the Guggenheim Museum

These are not the only museums to check out in New York. For some reason the museums listed happen to be museums that I’ve been going to all my life and each holds a special memory. On a good day there aren’t too many people around and I never get tired of the old exhibits.

Of course there is so much more to do in New York and the examples above are just a few of my favorite things. Next time you visit the Big Apple go off the beaten path and explore everything the city has to offer.

 

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Touring Bangkok in a Tuk Tuk

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Bangkok Tuk-Tuk

Travelling in a tuk tuk through Bangkok at any time can be thrilling. Or it can turn out to be the nerve-wracking, white-knuckle experience of your life. Either way it won’t be dull. These three-wheeled motorised rickshaws, a World War II, throwback, is a fairly cheap way to get around the city. The drivers are somehow able to wriggle through Bangkok’s legendary stand-still traffic.

If you don’t have too much time to spend in Bangkok (a sacrilegious situation) then taking a half day (between 4 and 5 hours) tour of The Big Mango is the best way to get around and see the main sights and monuments. However, don’t try to randomly pick up one on the streets or at the tourist points or even worse let some friendly stranger (a tout in disguise) help you to hire one. The tuk tuk scams in Bangkok are legendary and can be quite distressing.

One of the best options is to walk into a large/brand name hotel and ask the concierge or the travel desk to hire one for you. The staff will get you a ‘reliable’ English speaking driver and the scam possibilities are reduced as they don’t want to get into trouble. The other option is to book the tour from your local travel agent before you leave home.

Anyway once you clamber aboard these iconic little Formula 1 wanna-be’s you will be in for an adventure. Weaving through traffic and the crowded lively back streets of Bangkok you will be taken to the Phra Sumeru Fortress, the Buddhist temple of Wat Po and the Golden Mount.  Along the way you have to spend a little time in colourful Little India, the Amulet Market and that of Woeng Nakom Kasem, the famous “thieves market.”

During any form of tour in Bangkok stopping at textile/cloth, gem and jewellery shops is like a rite of passage. There is no escaping this part of the sightseeing in the city – unless you walk around on your own. Even the itineraries of world-renowned tour companies will have an obligatory showroom/shop stop.

Sightseeing Bangkok in a tuk tuk is a different kettle of fish. There are innumerable scams that are aimed at getting you into gem stores, massage parlours or the like. If you are trapped by one of these sweet talking tuk tuk drivers you could wind up having a harrowing time at a store and bullied into buying some cheap stuff that you don’t really want.
 

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Exploring Philadelphia

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Philadelphia

Whether you are in the mood for food, culture, sports or history, the City of Brotherly Love has it all. Better known as Philadelphia, the large American city, which lies beneath the shadows of New York and Boston, is filled with fascinating events and activities.

 
1. If you are looking to experience the food in Philadelphia, then look no further than the Philadelphia South Street Walking Tour. Located in South Philly, the tour takes you through one of the cities unique and diverse neighborhoods. Starting at a Jewish deli and ending at a popular "cheese steak" shop, the tour includes food markets, street art, historic buildings and more. 
 
2. Need some romance in the City of Brotherly Love? Then take your sweetheart on the romantic Spirit of Philadelphia. A 3-hour cruise that offers a live show, buffet dinner, and a spectacular view of the Philadelphia skyline. With the option of lunch or dinner, spend the rest of your day visiting the Penn’s Landing area. 
 
3. Interested in sports? Philadelphia is one of the most unique sporting cities in America. With wild fans that are passionate about ice hockey, football, basketball and baseball, take the opportunity to go to a game. Make sure you arrive early enough for the parking lot tailgate! Food like hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers are very popular, and inside the event Chickie's & Pete's is a favoured Philadelphia restaurant. 
 
4. Looking for a little bit of education while on your trip, or do you just love history? Either way Philadelphia is one of America’s most historic cities and there is no better way to see it than through the Colonial City Walking Tour. From the Betsy Ross house to Independence Hall, the tour takes you back in time to where the city of Philadelphia began. 
 
5. Lastly, if history, food, or sports is not for you, give the King of Prussia Mall a try. Philadelphia is home to one of America’s largest shopping malls, located just outside the city, the King of Prussia Mall has over 400 stores to delight your shopping interest. Made up of a Court side and a Plaza side, the mall is easy to navigate and has a little bit of something for everyone. 

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