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The Best Treks in India

Looking for something adventurous? Or maybe you want to give your monotonous life a break. Hey. I think I know what you need to do then? TREKKING is the only best way where you can explore the natural beauty of your country and is the best source of spiritual guidance. You don’t just get a chance to walk through the icy deserts and tropical rainforests, experience the height and beauty of Indian Himalayas, a deep insight into enchanting flora and fauna and much more.

When you spend days with just the basics, more time with the locals, fight against your gut-wrenching struggles like vertigo or paranoia, aches, and pain you’re going to learn these two things for sure. How you are without your fanciest meals and luxuries, and it’s not always about earning money and be first in the rat race.

I and my routeprints team visited all this places and here we come with all our experiences. So, if you’re planning to give this adventure a shot, here’s your list of best 6 treks in India. 

Chadar Trek

Want to go on an offbeat trek route?  I would suggest Chadar Trek in Zanskar region of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and be in the lap of snowy mountains and peaks. The trek is undoubtedly worth spending your time and money and will provide you with a whole new experience of frozen rivers, waterfalls, the panorama, unusual campsites, sledges, and most importantly the ever-changing Chadar. And once you spend overnight in the camps, I am sure you’re not going to leave the place soon.

Chadar is one of the magnificent treks and can be challenging at the same time. The best time to pay a visit to the trek is in between January and February and the temperature can even fall to -30 to -35 degrees. This trek is 105 km long and if you’re an average trekker, it will take about 7 days to complete the trek. All in all, the trek is something that one should pay a visit to at least once in their life.

Brahamtal Trek

I always had this hidden love for Uttarakhand, so it became quite obvious adding Brahamtal Trek in the list. Brahamtal in Chamoli district in Gharwal Himalayas is something that offers the best panoramic view of mind-blowing peaks such as Trishul, Mrugathani, and Nandaghunti. The best part about the trek is that it passes through an eye-catching landscape of rhododendron, snow-capped meadows, and oak forest.

You’ll also get a chance to visit the very famous Roopkund Lake and also don’t miss out the adventurous spots such as snow-covered forests, captivating mountain views, glacier frozen lake, and thrilling climb. Are you going on a trek for the first time? Well, this one can be a good start because the trek is moderately challenging. So, if you want to make the best of your vacations just go for it. Oh! Did I mention that the trek is considered heaven for nature and photography lovers?

Pin Parvati Pass Trek

Here comes one of the tough treks where you need to walk over the glaciers in the Kullu’s Parvati Valley and Spiti’s Pin Valley.  As this is a dangerous trek, we trapped in some place. So I advise you to take some basic essentials like hiking knife( things you should know before purchasing a hiking knife ), rope, first Aid etc. The trek starts from Manikaran and passes through various villages, spectacular mountains, wonderful lakes, and amazing meadows.

As soon as you trek upstream of Parvati River, you’ll come across the glaciers and before you reach the Spiti valley, you need to travel through the Pin Parvati Pass that is the highest point of the trek. If you’re planning to explore the Spiti Valley and its monasteries, the best time to visit the trek is mid-June to mid-October and it is going to take a really long time i.e. 18 days.

Kedarkantha Trek

Yet another trek that is in my favorite state Uttarakhand. The winter trek starts at Sankri Village, which is about 200 km from Dehradun and passes through the outlying forests covered with pine, rhododendron, and maple trees. And its outstanding landscape and snow-covered surroundings makes it your best choice for winter trekking.

The best time to visit this terrific trek is from December to April because of its prettiest campsites and amazingly wide clearings in the forest. I would love to suggest this 5-day trek to all those adventurers who love high mountains and snow, and beginners are welcome with open arms. The trek is 23 km long and 12,500 ft high and you’ll be getting a chance to see some impressive peaks like Bandarpoonch, Black Peak, and Swargarohini.

Markha Valley Trek

If it is about peace, tranquility, and the ancient culture that attracts you the most then Markha Valley, Ladakh is the place for you. The trek will let you experience the incredible scenery of surreal rock formations, snowy mountains, timeless villages, and most amazing Buddhist gompass.

This “Tea House Trek” has most interesting parachute tents accommodations at most of the villages that en route to the highest peak of the trek Kang Yatze Peak (21,000 ft) with the fascinating views of Karakorum and K2. The route allows you to pass through the Hennis National Park, Ganda La, and Kongmaru that are considered the most promising attractions one get to see while the Markha Valley Trek. This one is the most alluring region in Ladakh with the support of pure greenery and streams will add to your most captivating experiences of the trek.

Kanchenjunga Trek

Kanchenjunga lies on the far beautiful east side of Nepal near the border of Sikkim. It is a tiny state in the tremendously large bed of Himalayan in the north eastern part of India. Its elevation is of 8586 meters which ranks 3rd highest mountain in the world.

If love to live a life full of adventures then Kanchenjunga trek can be the most unforgettable adventure into the heart of Himalayas. Trekking does not get any better than this. There is an immense view at the north wall of Kanchenjunga which is known as pangpema with elevation up to 5040 meters which is also known as the treasured site of Nepal. All the way on your trek you will be meeting local Tibetan refugees and their hospitality and gracious welcome will make you even more relaxed and happy as you walk through rippled farmlands, meadows and forests of pink barked rhododendrons.

Kanchenjunga is classed as a most demanding trek due to its remoteness and altitude. Believe me, you’re going to get ultimate relief from daily hectic lives in the beautiful arms of Himalayan.

You just need to take out your trekking bag, a good pair of shoes, great fitness (especially for the tough treks), and positive spirit. And it is done. You’re ready to experience the best part of your life.

Cover photo attribution: By Narender9 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60531120

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Why New York City’s “Other” 4 Boroughs are a Must-Visit!  


Why New York City’s “Other” 4 Boroughs are a Must-Visit! is written by Elisa Valentino. Elisa is co-founder of Travelin’ Cousins travel blog along with her cousin “Travelin’ Tanya.” She lives on Long Island, New York with her two daughters and her dog Punkin. An entrepreneur whose professional career has included a variety of businesses in the toy, licensing and direct marketing industries, she is now a blogger and freelance writer.

When making travel plans to visit New York City, most visitors have one place and one place only on their radar.  That destination is Manhattan, the best known borough of The Big Apple.  Visiting such iconic sites of Manhattan as The Empire State Building, The Freedom Tower, Times Square and Rockefeller Center should no doubt be on every first-time visitor’s bucket list, I cannot stress enough how a visit to the “other” four New York City boroughs will expand the New York City experience!

Outside of the “city” (as the locals refer to Manhattan), the outer boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island can truly enrich one’s depth of understanding and appreciation for the people, culture, language, history and culinary vibe of New York City as a whole.

The Bronx

The only New York City borough connected to the mainland United States, the Bronx is the third most populated borough (after Manhattan and Brooklyn), rich in history, culture, ethnic diversity, and home to millions of working class residents.

The place where Hip-Hop was born is also full of National Historic Sites and Landmarks. The exquisite New York Botanical Gardens, features a multitude of floral and plant exhibits throughout its grounds and indoor spaces as well as shows and events throughout the year, including the iconic Holiday Train Show.

A guided tour through Poe Cottage, the former home of esteemed American poet, Edgar Allan Poe is chock full of Bronx and New York City history, as is a fanciful stroll inside and around the grounds of the celebrated Pell-Bartow Mansion where visitors can take a step back in time to experience what estate living was like in the Bronx before it became a bustling metropolis.

Tours are readily available from Manhattan to such Bronx sites as Woodland Cemetery, the 400-acre non-sectarian cemetery, which dates back to 1863, with more than 100,000 visitors annually to behold the monuments and mausoleums designed by the nation’s most accomplished architects, landscape designers and sculptors.

Home of the Bronx Bombers, better known as the New York Yankees, the Bronx’ Yankee Stadium alone is worth the trip to the Bronx. Tours of this iconic ball field are available.

Lastly, no trip to the Bronx is complete without a visit to Little Italy, one of the best kept secrets of New York.

Located in the Belmont section of the borough, Arthur Avenue and the surrounding blocks offer some of the finest Italian-American foods, dining, and shopping. According to the Arthur Avenue website, a recent ranking confirmed by a Zagat Survey whose readers have repeatedly given “Best Buy” status to more Arthur Avenue shops than any other neighborhood in New York City! 2018 marked the 100th Anniversary of Arthur Avenue!

Brooklyn

With a population of more than 2.3 million people, Brooklyn has some of the most breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, offering attractions for every type of traveler in its diverse neighborhoods.

The iconic Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883, connects the borough to Manhattan, and provides locals and visitors a chance to walk across it or simply take a stroll along the scenic Brooklyn Heights promenade. Within the area lies the high-end DUMBO (which stands for “Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass”), a once-industrial neighborhood turned popular, artsy hotspot.

For live music, vintage shops and an eclectic foodie scene, The Williamsburg section has it all.  It is also home to Domino Park, the exquisitely designed 6-acre public park which stretches for a quarter mile along the Williamsburg waterfront with picture postcard views of the Williamsburg Bridge and New York City.  The Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn is perfect for sports fans to take in a pro hockey or basketball game.

Queens

These days, Queens is home to one of the largest Asian communities in the United States, with some of the best Chinese food around.  Very residential in parts, it is also home to more than 25 museums including the Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair and the famous Unisphere, a 12-story globe sculpture.  The museum is best known for the “Panorama,” a building-for-building model of New York City.

This area is also the place to be for sports with nearby Citi Field, stadium of professional baseball team, the Mets as well as The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Other museums of interest include The Louis Armstrong Museum, housed in the Queens home shared by the jazz legend and his wife from 1943 til his death in 1971 filled with memorabilia and items owned by “Satchmo.” For film lovers, The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens has on display a collection of movie-related artifacts and more than 400 screenings annually.

Staten Island

The southernmost New York City borough is Staten Island, also known as Richmond County.  Accessible from Lower Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, which runs across New York Harbor,  or from Brooklyn, over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States.  Often referred to as the “forgotten borough,” it is perhaps the borough with the most green space as well as numerous points of interest.

Once a home for retired sailors, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center is now one the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in the United States. The 83-acre park includes 23 historical buildings, nine botanical gardens which feature flower beds and 10 acres of wetlands.  Because of its Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate and Victorian styled buildings, the center is considered the “crown jewel” of the borough. Its grounds also include the Staten Island Children’s Museum for a fun family day.

Richmond County Bank Ballpark is home to the Staten Island Yankees, the minor league baseball team, nicknamed the “Baby Bombers,” an affiliate of the New York Yankees. For baseball lovers desiring a ball game on a smaller, more affordable scale, this is just right.

The Staten Island Zoo on “The Island” as the locals call it,  is home to kangaroos, birds of prey and snakes for added enjoyment.

For those art lovers, Staten Island boasts one of the largest collection of Himalayan artifacts, which can be viewed at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.  Located on residential Lighthouse Hill in the Egbertville neighborhood, museum goers can experience the art and culture of Tibet. The building resembles a Tibetan mountain monastery and was the first Himalayan style architecture built in the United States and in 2009, the site was added to the New York State Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

www.travelincousins.com

Founded in 2014, Travelin’ Cousins is an award-winning blog, named #7 in Brand Ballot’s Top 10 Mom Blogs, for those who love all things travel, local and afar as well as cultural experiences, events and the local foodie scenes – vegan and non-vegan – around the world.

Cousins Elisa and Tanya share their daily adventures near and far, together and separately with the goal of inspiring people to embrace their inner traveler. 

 

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5 Must Try Desserts While Traveling in Switzerland

There’s lots of things to do in Switzerland. You can go skiing in the Alps, kayaking in the lakes, take in the epic mountain scenery and oh, so much more. But for a true foodie, there’s really only one proper way to experience a new country – by tasting the best traditional dishes.

Lucky for you (unlucky if you’re on a diet), Switzerland is well known for all things sweet and chocolaty. So, without further ado, here is a list of the 5 desserts you must try while you are travelling in Switzerland!

1. Nusstorte

The Nusstorte (also called Bündner Nusstorte) is often associated with the canton of Graubünden, which covers a huge part of eastern Switzerland. You might even know itäs most famous town – Davos?

Although he climate of the region doesn’t actually support the growth of nut trees, the recipe for the modern version of the Nusstorte was created in Engadine, the Southern part of Graubunden.

There are actually several different theories on how this dish was created, but the most interesting one is that a French chef moved to the area, and was able to bring walnut trees with him and plant them in his garden. How he managed to travel to Switzerland with trees in his suitcase is a mystery in itself!

The “modern version” actually dates to the 1920s. The original, 19th century Nusstorte recipe had nuts mixed into the dough, but there was no filling in the pastry. The modern recipe, on the other hand, has cream and nut filling which is very rich in flavor.

This dessert is usually made by independent local bakers in Engadine. And, because there is a lot of different bakeries that sell the Nusstorte, you will find lots of different versions of all over the region. Some confectioners add honey to the filling, while others substitute heavy cream for milk – not drastic differences.

Bakers export this to other regions in Switzerland, so, you should be able to find the Nusstorte anywhere in the country. Even if Graubunden is not on your itinerary.

2. Zuger Kirschtorte

Way back in the early 1900s, pastry chef Heinrich Höhn invented a delicious dessert in the city of Zug. It was the Zuger Kirschtorte – a cake made from nut-meringue (almonds and hazelnuts), sponge cake, buttercream and fruit brandy.

Even though it is called cherry cake (that is the direct translation), it doesn’t actually contain raw cherries. The flavor is obtained by adding kirschwasser – fruit brandy made primarily from morello cherries. So naturally, you can taste the alcohol in the cake, as well as a little bit of cherry, if you have a good palate. It’s not too strong, but you should wait a little before you get behind the wheel after eating this cake. Breathalyzers don’t really know the difference between cake and pure brandy, so be careful if you overindulge.

If you want to try the original recipe, go to the Treichler pastry shop in Zug. Heinrich Höhn actually worked with Jacques Treichler in the 1900s, and eventually he sold him his little bakery. Today, this pastry shop is world-famous, mostly because they still make the Kirschtorte according to Höhn’s original recipe, which took him years to perfect. 

You can find variations of the Kirschtorte throughout the country. In Zurich, the best alternative is the Honold-Kirschtorte – not quite the authentic recipe, but pretty close. But if you really want to try the real deal, make sure to include Zug in your Switzerland travel itinerary.

3. Meringue

Alisa Anton alisaanton [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s Italian meringue, French meringue, and then there’s Swiss meringue. So what exactly is the difference, and why should you try the Swiss one, if you’ve already tasted the others?

One difference is preparation – Swiss meringue is prepared by beating the egg whites and sugar over a pan of boiling water until the sugar melts completely, which is not the case with the French and Italian types. Because of this, Swiss meringue differs in texture from the others too – it is smoother and silkier than any other meringue.

Swiss meringue appropriately originates from Meiringen – a small town near the Interlaken area, somewhere you may be visiting. This town swears that they were the first to ever create meringue, although the French claim that they wrote about it first. But, even though there isn’t tangible evidence of Meiringen being the source of all things meringue, that still doesn’t stop them from bragging about this and the local waterfalls where Sherlock Holmes died!. 

So, that’s where you should head, if you want to try out the most authentic version of this dessert. More specifically, go to the Tea Room Fructal in the center of the town, close to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This cozy cafe actually achieved a world record in 1985  by creating the largest meringue in the world, which weighed 62 kilos and measuring 2.4 meters long!

There you can try pretty much any type of meringue you would like – vanilla meringue, chocolate meringue, Bailey’s coffee meringue and lots of other versions. You can also get a not-so-little Sherlock Holmes meringue, and they even have options  that are suitable for diabetics!

4. Chocolate

Chocolate bars. Truffles. Pralines. Chocolate fondue. Literal fountains of chocolate. None of those are new to you – you’ve probably tried everything on that list at least once by now. But have you ever tried it in a country world famous for chocolate?

Chocolate is one of the four things that Switzerland is widely famous for (watches, cheese and the Alps being the other three). Brands like Lindt, Godiva, Läderach, Toblerone and Nestle are internationally popular. So why not head to the source of it all?

One of the best ways to properly experience the chocolatier life in Switzerland is to attempt to be one for a day. Throughout the country you can find numerous chocolate tours. Some of them include taking on you on a tour of a chocolate factory, while others require you to get your hands dirty and make chocolates of your own. And whatever you make, you get to keep and take home – perfect little gifts for the loved ones at home!

But there’s something all of them have in common – you get to taste delicious chocolates prepared by some of the best chocolatiers in the world. And also try your hand at making these tasty desserts.

If you don’t actually like participating in these activities, don’t worry – there are also lots of tours that don’t require you to do anything, apart from just tasting the chocolates. You just need to bring your appetite – after two or three shops, you might start to feel full. So, it’s best to go on an empty stomach.

5. Birnbrot

By AlexanderKlink – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12112996

If you have a taste for sweets with dried fruits, you will love this dessert. Birnbrot is just one of the names for this yummy dessert, which directly translates to – pear bread. That’s because dried pears are the signature ingredient of this dish, but often times it also includes other dried fruit like figs or apples. Walnuts and raisins are usually a crucial ingredient in this pastry as well.

The preparation and the exact name of this Swiss dessert depends on the region you’re in.  In Graubünden it is called Bündener Birnbrot, and the preparation there includes soaking the dried pears overnight in rose water or liquor.

Birnbrot is the version that is popular in the Ostschweiz, near the Alps. What’s characteristic about this variant of dessert is that the filling is prepared first, and it is mixed with part of the dough. The filling is then shaped in the form of a log, while the rest of the dough is spread is thinly as possible. The thin dough is rolled around the filing, and it gives it a thin, crispy crust.

And then there’s also Birnweggen, which is most popular in Zentralschweiz.

The main difference in preparation is that, with this version, dough is not mixed in with the filling. Instead, the dough is rolled out thinly, and the filling is spread over it. The dough is then rolled jelly-roll (or rolade) style, and the finished product is softer and moister than Birnbrot.

Both versions are delicious, so it comes down to which texture you prefer. If it’s crispy and chewy, try to find some Birnbrot. But if you prefer moist sweets that melt in your mouth, Birnweggen is what you should try.

Which Dessert Should You Try?

In the end, when it comes to sweets, it really depends on what is available and what you prefer. I can’t tell you which is the best, but whole-heartedly suggest you give them all a try.

After all, you might only come to Switzerland once!

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25 Historic & Fun Facts About the Bronx


25 Historic & Fun Facts About the Bronx” is written by Elisa Valentino. Elisa is co-founder of Travelin’ Cousins travel blog along with her cousin “Travelin’ Tanya.” She lives on Long Island, New York with her two daughters and her dog Punkin. An entrepreneur whose professional career has included a variety of businesses in the toy, licensing and direct marketing industries, she is now a blogger and freelance writer.

How much do you really know about the Bronx? Whether you are a native, a current resident or a visiting tourist, here are 25 Facts about this beloved New York City borough, some of which, may surprise you!

  1. The Bronx is the third most densely populated county in the United States, after Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  2. Originally part of Westchester County, The West Bronx as annexed to New York City in 1874 and in 1895, the areas east of the Bronx River were annexed. In 1914, the borough was separated from New York County.
  3. The Motto of the Bronx is “Yield Not to Evil.”
  4. The name Bronx originated from Jonas Bronck, who is the first recorded European to have established the first settlement of the New Netherland colony, in 1639, in the area that is now known as the Bronx. Bronck built a farm named “Emmanus” which was in the area that is today, the corner of Willis Avenue and 132nd street in Mott Haven.
  5. Prior to European settlement, the area of the Bronx had several Native American names, including Rananchqua by the Lenape, as well as Keskeskeck by other native Americans.
  6. The Bronx River was originally called The Aquahung River by Native Americans, and was later named for Jonas Bronck.
  7. Flowing south from Westchester County running a total of 24 miles, The Bronx River is the only entirely freshwater river in New York City.
  8. Jerome Avenue is the continuation of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
  9. The Bronx is the only section of New York City that is located on the mainland of North America.
  10. Mott Haven was established by Jordan Lawrence Mott, an American inventor and industrialist. The area was established to house the workers of his company, the J. L. Mott Iron Works in New York City.
  11. In 1918, The Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries was a World’s fair held in the Bronx, which was held at 177th Street and DeVoe Avenue. In this same year, Starlight Park originally opened as The Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries.
  12. The Bronx borough flag was adopted in 1912. It reflects the Dutch colonial flag (the Prinsenvlag of orange, white, and blue horizontal stripes), with the addition of the Bronck family arms encircled by a laurel wreath denoting honor and fame.
  13. The Bronx was a rural area, filled with farms until the late 19th Century when a boom in industry resulted in a population growth from roughly 200,000 in 1900 to 1.3 million in 1930.
  14. The center of piano manufacturing in the early 1900’s was the South Bronx, home to sixty-three piano factories employing greater than 5,000 workers.
  15. Home to two of the three largest parks in New York City – Pelham Bay Park, the largest park in New York City, within which is Orchard Beach; and Van Cortlandt Park, which is the third-largest in the city of New York.
  16. The Bronx neighborhood of Co-op City is the largest cooperative housing development in the world.
  17. The Piccirilli brothers, Italian-born sculptors, carved the marble statue of our nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, right here in the Bronx. These famous brothers also created the world-famous Patience and Fortitude lion statues at the New York Public Library’s main branch on 42nd Street in Manhattan.
  18. Van Cortlandt Golf course is the nation’s oldest public golf course. (In 1995 the golf course turned 100 years old . This piece was produced for BronxNet by thisistheBronX publisher Gary Axelbank)
  19. The Hall of Fame of Great Americans at Bronx Community College was America’s first-ever “Hall of Fame.” A New York landmark institution, it was founded in 1900 to honor prominent Americans who had a significant impact on this nation’s history. The 98 bronze busts that line the Colonnade are original works by distinguished American sculptors representing authors, educators, architects, inventors, military leaders, judges, theologians, philanthropists, humanitarians, scientists, statesmen, artists, musicians, actors, and explorers.
  20. Did you know that more bridges connect the Bronx to Manhattan than any other borough. The High Bridge, in the Bronx, over the Harlem River, is the oldest standing bridge in New York City, dating back to 1843.
  21. Between the years 1855 and 1866, the U.S. Capitol Dome was constructed out of cast iron and painted to look like stone and the iron for the dome was cast by the foundry of Janes, Fowler, Kirtland & Company, owned by Adrian Janes in the Bronx.
  22. Several small islands in the East River and Long Island Sound are also part of the Bronx. Among these are City Island and Hart Island as well as Rikers Island in the East River, home to the large jail complex for the entire city.
  23. The Bronx, while still part of Westchester County, was home to two American thoroughbred horse racing facilities: Jerome Park Racetrack, built on the old Bathgate estate, owned by financier Leonard W. Jerome and August Belmont, Sr., operated from 1866 until 1894 and was the home of the Belmont Stakes from 1867 until 1889.
  24. Jerome Park Racetrack was moved to Morris Park Racecourse, in the area that would become the Morris Park area of the Bronx, operated from 1889 until 1904 and was the site of the Belmont Stakes from 1890 through 1904 as well as the Preakness Stakes in 1890.
  25. Jerome Park Reservoir was built in the 1890s on the site of the former Jerome Park Racetrack.​

www.travelincousins.com

Founded in 2014, Travelin’ Cousins is an award-winning blog, named #7 in Brand Ballot’s Top 10 Mom Blogs, for those who love all things travel, local and afar as well as cultural experiences, events and the local foodie scenes – vegan and non-vegan – around the world.

Cousins Elisa and Tanya share their daily adventures near and far, together and separately with the goal of inspiring people to embrace their inner traveler. 

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How to Spend a Day Trip In Monaco


Monaco, the 2nd smallest country in the world only to Vatican City, is 2 km² of pure bliss on the French Riviera. To say it’s beautiful fails to capture the truth, that Monaco is without question one of the most stunning port cities in Europe, and a place you must go.

Monaco isn’t often a travel end-destination, however, and is often visited on a day trip from nearby cities along the French Riviera, such as Nice or Cannes. With that in mind, it’s often that there’s a possibility that you’ll be spending one day in Monaco, if that is indeed your plan. However, if you only have a one day trip in Monaco, you can see plenty that this beautiful, small country has to offer!

Here are a handful of things that, if you have only one day in Monaco, you simply must see!

How to Get There

Monaco is located on the eastern edge of the French Riviera, only about 15km from Ponte San Ludovico at the French-Italian border. It’s a set-away location – somewhat French but uniquely its own both in terms of history, culture, and even royalty.

Getting to Monaco on a day trip from neighboring cities such as Nice and Cannes along the French Riviera is fairly simple, with Nice being only a 20 minutes train ride away, and Cannes being only slightly longer (just over a half-hour). The tickets are cheap, and you can be in Monaco from one of these locations before you can even settle in on the train!

It’s the same path from the opposite direction if you’re coming to Monaco from the east – in the direction of the French city Menton, or Ventimiglia in Italy. Some opt for car rental to enjoy the view along the Ligurian Sea – and it is indeed beautiful – however the drive is also quite harrowing and dangerous, not to mention much slower.

If you opt for train travel, you’ll arrive at Gare de Monaco, located at the crown of the city’s hill. Looking down as you exit the station, Monaco’s beauty is apparent. Ports, boats, crystal blue water and utterly adorable shops, restaurants, and cafes are seemingly everywhere. You immediately fall in love!

As the map shows, as you work your way into the Monaco capital of Monte Carlo, you’re in the middle of it all. Now all you have to do is figure out what you want to see and do!

Casino Monte Carlo

Whether or not you’re someone that really wants to gamble, the Casino Monte Carlo is something you should absolutely see. Opened since 1863, it’s not only a casino, but also a place of musical and theatrical entertainment (Opera de Monte Carlo) and the offices of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo – the ballet organization of Monte Carlo. 

It presents an incredibly beautiful setting – mixed of 19th century architecture with elements of early deco, and should absolutely be seen if you only have one day to spend in Monaco.

Port Hercules

Just strolling along Port Hercules in Monaco, the primary port where million-dollar yachts and sailboats breeze in year-round, is a vacation-maker. It’s among one of the most stunning places in Europe, with sky-blue waters, gilded structures abound, and peaks reaching high behind from Mont Agel.

Port Hercules is a playground for the rich, and you can feel like a celebrity walking the docks.

Prince’s Palace

The Prince’s Palace is in fact a complex perched high above Port Hercules, and is perhaps the one must-see excursion if you have only one day – or even a few hours – in Monaco.

Aside from the primary palace – Grimaldi Fortress, which dates back to the 13th century, there are numerous important structures at the Prince’s Palace. Also present is St. Nicholas Cathedral, where Monaco royalty over the centuries are interred – including American film legend Grace Kelly, the former Princess of Monaco who married Prince Ranier III in 1956. As film buffs who deeply respect classic American films of the 1940s and 1950s, it was special for us to see the former home of Princess Grace – someone who Tracy has especially admired for her humanitarianism, class, and intelligence.

It’s a beautiful complex, lined internally with small alleys, quaint restaurants, and idyllic scenery. From the edge of the complex, you can view Port Hercules and the vista high above stunning Port Fontvieille, and enjoy a feeling of true bliss.

Port Fontvieille

This is why you come to Monaco, if even for a day. The beauty of Port Fontvieille is incredible, especially when viewed from the backside of the castle complex. While less famous than its counterpart along the French Riviera in Monaco, Port Hercules, Port Fontvieille is a little more secluded in terms of geography, and is an area that takes on fewer tourists, as it’s a smaller port than Hercules.

However, if you take the time to wind down the narrow alleys to the hotels and residential condos that line the Port, you’ll note that it’s incredibly serene, peaceful, and the “tucked-away” nature of its location only adds to its allure.

Stroll the City of Monte Carlo

While the seaside views of Monte Carlo are impressive, the city, itself, is as charming of a modern city as you’ll find perhaps anywhere.

Sidewalk cafes, boutique stores, wineries, and small pubs are everywhere – calling you to relax and watch the day go by. You’ll enjoy a unique cuisine, French that’s heavily influenced by the nearby Italian border. Boeuf Bourguignon in a thick wine reduction with penne? Yes, please!

In total, you really can’t go wrong in Monaco. It’s stunningly gorgeous, and aimlessly meandering the streets and ports are enough for anyone to enjoy.

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Calle Ocho: The Best Food in Little Havana

Little Havana is one of the most purely enjoyable districts in Miami - a city which is, itself, subdivided into smaller areas that have a teeming life of their own. This area lives off the pumping artery which is Calle Ocho (or, 8th Street in Spanish), off of which are some of the best Cuban restaurants and bars in South Florida.

Little Havana is a cultural treasure - an authentic taste of Cuban life on American soil for those that don't have the liberty of being able to travel to Havana for the real thing. The area grew in the mid 20th-century in response to Cuban nationals finding refuge from the authoritative thumb of Castro - many leaving behind all wealth, all possessions, and any former belongings for a new start. As counter-revolutionary activity swelled, many left their homes thinking that the journey to Miami would be only temporary.

Today, Little Havana stands as one of the most charming and thriving areas in all of Miami - and one of our personal favorites. The vibrance, the energy, food, nightlife, and life that Little Havana possesses is addictive, and it's a must-visit location in Miami. When in Little Havana, of course, you would find yourself wise to enjoy a taste of true Cuban cuisine.

With great drinks and food all around you in Little Havana, here are a few dishes you simply have to have while in Miami!

The Original Cuban Frita

So - what is a "frita", you're asking? Simply put, it's an authentic Cuban dish consisting of a seasoned ground beef and pork patty (sometimes mixed with chorizo) on Cuban bread that is piled high with shoestring potatoes, onions, and ketchup.

All I can tell you is this - if there is one dish you get in Little Havana, you have to get an Original Cuban Frita. Oh, and there's only one place you should get it.

Enter El Rey del las Fritas.

This diner-style restaurant located on the western end of Calle Ocho in Little Havana, El Rey de las Fritas (or, The King of the Fritas - and trust me, they really are), El Rey de las Fritas is a place filled with locals who know their Cuban food around the clock!

There are variations around the Original Frita, but we suggest trying the original. I mean, could you possibly find a better meal for less than 4 bucks?

Make sure to head to El Rey de las Fritas - it's a Little Havana cornerstone of culinary excellence in a place that is quaint, familiar, and cheaply priced. You won't find a better meal anywhere!

Medianoche

Confession - the Medianoche is our favorite sandwich. It doesn't matter where, and it doesn't matter when. I don't know what could possibly be better, despite its simplicity, than sweet Cuban break caressing sliced ham, pulled mojo pork, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles.

So, where do you get this delicious sandwich? Our favorite is at El Pub, next to the Visitor's Center in the middle of Calle Ocho in Little Havana. El Pub is a small restaurant with regular live music, dozens of famous Cuban classics that also include some of the best mixed drinks (yes, including Mojitos) in Little Havana!

Empanadas

Empanadas are a cuban staple, and you can't find a bad one in Little Havana. While admittedly the only ones we have had have been at El Exquisito and El Pub (if you can't tell, we really, really like El Pub), we would imagine that anywhere in Little Havana is going to do it right.

However, doing what we did isn't such a bad idea - sit down on the outdoor patio on a warm Miami day, order empanadas, medianoche, and a mojito, and top it off with a couple of Hatuey beers!

Churrasco with Chimichurri

While "churrasco" can really refer to any type of grilled meat across Latin America, Cuban Churrasco typically identifies as a thin cut of delicious outside skirt steak with chimichurri. Typical sides? Black beans, dirty rice, and all the Hatuey beers you can stomach!

Our favorite place for a big meal like this is El Cristo Restaurant, located right across the street from El Pub. It is one of the best steaks we've had in South Florida - and it's reasonably priced!

Mojito

Is it food? No - but it pairs with it really nicely, and if you're in Little Havana you must have one! Mojitos can be found anywhere along Calle Ocho, but there's one place we found that we love that is modern, while still retaining that unique Cuban vibe.

Ball & Chain.

This bar and restaurant, located about halfway down Calle Ocho, gets busy early and stays busy! It's a gorgeous mixology bar that makes legit Cuban food, as well as providing you with some of the best Mojitos in Miami! It has a 50s and 60s vibe, with a huge back area that is uncovered, providing a semi-auditorium type of feel to the restaurant.

It's truly a great place on Calle Ocho!

Cubano

It's the obvious answer, but can you really go to Little Havana without having a traditional Cuban Sandwich?

A great place to get an authentic Cubano, which is similar to the Medianoche aside from the flavor of the bread, is La Carretta, located on the eastern end of Calle Ocho. It's a simple and delicious sandwich, and an absolute cornerstone of quick and tasty Cuban eats!

While you're in Little Havana, you'll find numerous other dishes and meals that you'll be blown away with. From Ropa Vieja to Vaca Frita, Little Havana has numerous restaurants all along Calle Ocho that will guarantee you a great meal, even better scenery, and of course the type of vibrant experience that only Miami can offer!

Useful Travel Resources for Miami

South Florida Map – Plan your trip around South Florida with this handy map
RentalCars.com – Great site for comparing rental car prices
Skyscanner.net – Our favorite place to book cheap airline flights
Expedia.com – Book affordable accommodation or bundle flights and hotels in South Florida.
Recommended Guidebook: Fodor's South Florida: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and The Keys
Suggested Reading: The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami

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5 Common Mistakes Travel Bloggers Make

One of the problems new travel bloggers face is the obvious - they normally don't know what they're doing until they make a mistake. It's happened to us literally hundreds of times. From site design, to social media and website content, to the basic management of our schedules, it was only through frustration and failure that we typically reverse engineered our failures into successes.

In fact, it still happens. Daily.

However, there are a few things that almost all travel bloggers make without exception, and they're the type of mistakes that normally take a long time to figure out. Figuring this out later in the game normally leads to an increased frustration, and leads some bloggers to just throw in the towel.

So, what are they? You'll find that these mistakes typically stem from the old saying that "you don't know what you don't know", and can easily be mitigated by just being conscious about the possible existence of such a problem. By being on the lookout, you can side-step these pitfalls and make sure you continue to build a great blog that finds success without stepping on the landmines so many other bloggers find!

Identity Crisis

This was a major issue for us until halfway through our second year. As you can see, it took far too long for us to realize that 18 months into running a nice-looking blog with good information, that we didn't really know who we were within that blog, and who our reader was.

This is so, so common, and there are several reasons for it. The main one? Getting lost by your influences.

As bloggers, we all read other blogs. Pages like Nomadic Matt got us started travel blogging, and non-travel based websites like Breaking the One Perfect got us thinking about going to the next level in terms of monetizing our blog. However, for every "aha!" moment there were 1,000 moments that made us second guess our path because we say someone doing something successful we weren't.

A few examples include:

  • The roughly one million times we've been on Instagram and tried to match content for content with people totally out of our niche - only because they were popular and we felt like "we can do what they are doing, and get the traffic they are getting!" If you think this, you're probably wrong.
  • The thousands of SEO experts who claim to know how Google thinks, how to explode your website traffic, and how to master obtaining traffic. The truth about SEO is a lot simpler than reading thousands of articles from myriad different websites who all seemingly contradict each other.
  • Writing content that reflected what we thought was hot, instead of writing content we knew we could do well.

Do you see a common problem with all of this?

We were trying to emulate other people instead of finding our own voice.

Don't get me wrong - Nomadic Matt has an amazing website. Guess what? We aren't him. We have different personalities, have different opinions, and write differently. There are hundreds of quality SEO experts out there who bring a lot of information to the table - but, you can't get lost in your influences.

Rule #1 when you start your blog - commit to your voice.

Whoever you are, find what you like best about yourself and bring that to people. You have to be yourself. If you're a smart-ass, be a smart-ass. If you're funny, be funny. If you love history, don't feel like you have to disinclude "smart stuff" from your blog.

There are other people out there like you, and while not everyone will like your blog, the people that share your values will love your blog. Once you find those people (or rather, they find you), the game will change.

Too Self-Centered

This is somewhat related to the first point, and somewhat the complete opposite of it - if you don't provide value to the reader, they won't care.

How do we define value? They have to get something that matters to them. You have to entertain them, educate them, answer a question, help them, or be a guide to them in some way. The good news? You can do that in about a million ways, and you can only screw it up in one.

What is that one way? Making everything about you.

If you have a beautiful website, a pretty face, writing chops, and drive, it doesn't matter unless the reader feels like they've come away with something. At the end of every piece of content you write, place yourself in the seat of the reader who just finished it, and ask yourself the question "so, what?"

What does the article mean? What were you trying to express? What related to your audience? What do you think that audience looks like?

And furthermore - why should they care?

You had a great time in Prague. Great! Why should anyone care? You wrote a great article about yourself? They won't care 100 words into it. You took awesome pictures? Good for Instagram, but your blog audience is just going to scan down and exit.

What if they're going to Prague, too? Did you give them advice? Did you paint the city to them? Did you give them some fresh ideas about traveling there? Did you give them something to be excited about?

Ultimately, you should be creating content with the idea in mind that your reader is sitting right in front of you, asking questions. What's your duty - your job?

Answer them.

Guess what those questions will be about? Sadly, not you. It'll be about the destination, and furthermore how they can make it happen and have an awesome time doing it.

Narration is great, and frankly we wrote entirely too much of it in the first six months of our blog, but your content can't be endless narration of "I went here, then did this and it was awesome..."

Answer questions for people. Don't make it all about you.

Create Your Blog in WordPress

Wordpress Blog

We started in Wix, and it was a terrible decision. Why? Websites created on Wix, GoDaddy, and similar sites are coded in a very clunky way. What does this mean? The code isn't simplified and easy to read for Google, and you will find it very hard to generate authentic search traffic.

Additionally, WordPress themes and the WordPress engine is far, far better in terms of what you can create. Maps, visuals, great designs, themes, lean back-end speed - all these things are what WordPress is built on.

If you're a hobbyist? Those websites are fine. If you want to make money on your blog, ever, go with WordPress. It isn't nearly as hard as what most people think, and there are endless tutorials online, on Youtube, and created by other bloggers to help you learn along the way.

Trying to Be Insta-famous

I blame Instagram a lot for what snags bloggers and would-be influencers, and if your goal is to be popular on Instagram, by all means go for it. This post probably isn't for you. This post is for people trying to create a blog that becomes a business.

Social media and your social presence is a compliment to your blog - not the other way around. If you build your blog the right way, your social media presence will grow but I highly advise against being focused too heavily on social media if you want a great blog.

We spun our tires far, far too much on trying to grow platforms on social media where our audience didn't exist. We aren't 20, and we aren't back-packers who travel 100% of the time. We like having a home-base, and cats, and an apartment where we have our stuff. It took us a long time to focus on our blog rather than trying to grow platforms where responsibility-free Xennials go to connect with friends.

Our audience works jobs. A lot of them have children, and families, and own homes. They aren't hiking for three month stretches in Southeast Asia. They like to use their discretionary traffic on travel, and our blog changed when we stopped focusing on having X amount of social media followers, and focused instead on answering questions for the people that read our blog.

Make your blog about your audience, and let social media happen on its own. When you do start to grow your social presence, make sure it's something that drives traffic to content on your blog that will answer questions your readers have, and you'll be on your way.

No Man is an Island

One of the ways you're going to grow your blog is through back-links, or rather, links on other websites that link to pages on your blog or your blog's homepage. You can obtain these through guest posting on other sites, participating in interviews, participating in collaborations, and myriad other ways.

To do this, you need to connect with other bloggers.

We didn't realize this really until well into our 2nd year, but it changed a lot of things for us. Be willing to help other people. Use your time on social media to join Facebook groups on blogging and travel blogging, where invaluable information is shared and given. Be prepared to participate, and the relationships you make will lead to awesome opportunities.

If you spend your time and invest in relationships with people that know more than you, you will learn much faster, and your blog will ultimately grow infinitely quicker.

If you can focus on these five areas as a new travel blogger, or even someone who is struggling and looking to retool their approach, there's no way you won't find more success than you can imagine.

Useful Travel Resources for Any Trip!

Google Maps – Plan your trip anywhere with Google Maps. Also great for directions on the go!
RentalCars.com – Great site for comparing rental car prices
Skyscanner.net – Our favorite place to book cheap airline flights
Expedia.com – Book affordable accommodation or bundle flights and hotels
What's the one travel accessory we never travel without? RFID Protected Travel Money Belt
Suggested Reading: Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips

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Where to Stay in the Algarve

A guest post by Algarve Fun writer Vicente Lourenço. Having spent most of his life in the Algarve, Vicente knows most of its secrets and loves to share it with newcomers. He likes travelling, outdoor sports and exotic food.

Have you always wondered what it would be like going on vacation to the Algarve, but you never quite know where to stay? Well, we can honestly say that we understand you. The Algarve is such a big region and there is so much information on the internet about its different towns that it can be hard to figure out which one most suits your preferences. That is why we have created this article!

Check out our suggestion for the best towns to stay in the Algarve. With each town we a brief description of what you can find there, so that you are more informed to decide whether it’s perfect for you and your family or friends.

Tavira

Arguably the most beautiful town in this list (and of the Algarve), the picturesque Tavira was founded by the Phoenicians between the 8th and 6th centuries b.c. and witnessed numerous disputes over its territory during the following centuries. Because of that the town conserves most of its historic roots, with plenty of monuments spread out around Tavira.

The most impressive thing, however, is the total number of churches that exist in this small town: 37! But Tavira isn’t only famous because of its historical attractions. Its ravishing beaches, like Praia do Barril or Praia da Ilha de Tavira, have been charming both tourists and the local Portuguese for a long long time.

Besides its beaches of white virgin sand and a warm blue sea, Tavira is also a very popular destination for campers, as there is a well-know camp site right on Tavira island.

Best Hotels in Tavira:

Pousada Convento de Tavira - A beautiful, centrally located hotel that enjoys a charming setting against the lovely courtyard of a 16th-century convent. Perfectly located, just minutes from Tavira's most popular tourist spots.

Maria Nova Lounge - Maria Nova Lounge Hotel is only a 30-minute drive of Faro Airport and offers a sauna, amazing scenery, and an outdoor pool. It is conveniently positioned for guests looking to sightsee and enjoy the Algarve's uniquely beautiful outdoor climate. It also features a sun deck with city and mountain views.

Hotel Vila Gale Tavira - A 4-star property, Hotel Villa Gale Tavira Portugal provides easy access to Ria Formosa and Tavira Island - two of the most popular locations in the area. It is within a 20-minute walk of Tavira Train Station, which allows easy access in and around Tavira.

Faro

The Algarve’s capital is a charming little city that perfectly blends its Moorish walls with an exciting and fresh lifestyle. Like many towns in the Algarve, Faro was founded by the Phoenicians and it was then fought over by Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, Moors and eventually the Portuguese.

It became a particularly important city during the Discoveries, due to its safe harbour. Some of its biggest attractions are the stunning Faro’s Cathedral, Igreja Matriz São Pedro and Igreja do Carmo where you can find the famous Bone Chapel of Faro. Faro’s downtown is also quite popular, with its narrow cobbled streets and traditionally with-washed houses, and during summer it is always full of people late in the night.

As well as holding a pivotal role in the Algarve’s history, Faro has managed to reinvent itself, adapting to a younger crowd, who demand bars and fun activities such as surfing, sailing, kayaking, kitesurfing and many others. In fact, at Faro’s island there is a the Nautical Centre, where you can practice almost all water sports.

Just five minutes away from Faro Airport, the city is the perfect place for you stay as it has hotels, apartments for rent, and hostels.

Best Hotels in Faro:

Hotel Faro & Beach Club - Strategically located in the middle of the city, this 4-star hotel makes for an ideal base in Faro. It also offers an outdoor pool and a rooftop terrace - perfect for enjoying the lovely weather in Faro.

Hotel Eva - This modern hotel is conveniently positioned in the heart of Faro and features a Jacuzzi, a rooftop pool and a sauna. It also offers a Turkish steam bath and a rooftop terrace, and provides an incredible stay.

Casa d'Alagoa - Located a short walk from Faro Train Station, Eva Algarve offers a tour desk with information on where to go in Faro. It's quaint and pretty, and one of the best values in Faro.

Vilamoura

Different to many towns in the Algarve, Vilamoura has little historical importance. That is because Vilamoura was an unknown town (although Romans did settle in the area, which is why there is the historical site of Cerro da Vila constituting of Roman ruins) until the 20th century, when it became a luxury resort.

With the construction of Vilamoura Marina (the first Marina in Portugal), the town developed around it, giving rise to one of the most popular and largest tourist complexes in Europe. Nowadays, Vilamoura is a paradise for golf enthusiasts, having six different Golf Courses, including the Old Course where the Portugal Masters is held.

It is also home to a Lawn Bowling Club, a Tennis Centre, a Sports Club, a Shooting Club, 4 and 5 star hotels, tourist apartments, self-catering villas, night clubs, an international casino and plenty of other leisure facilities.

Vilamoura also has another great advantage: it is almost right in the centre of the Algarve, which allows you to easily visit any other part of the region. Vilamoura is definitely the place for you if you are looking to have a care-free vacation where all your needs are taken care of. The resort is also a great place for parties, as lots of young adults head there to enjoy the magnificent Portuguese weather.

Best Hotels in Vilamoura:

Tivoli Marina Vilamoura - Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is perfectly located in a beautiful village setting, a short drive from Quarteira and Loule. It has a championship golf course, an outdoor pool, a sauna and a Jacuzzi - in addition to a wonderful natural setting.

Dom Pedro Vilamoura Resort - Situated in the idyllic countryside, this hotel is under a short 10-minute drive of the village of Quarteira. Popular amenities, such as a sauna and an outdoor pool, make for an enjoyable stay in Vilamoura.

Albufeira

Albufeira is simultaneously a town for young adults and for families. Young adults traditionally travel to Albufeira because of its famous Falésia Beach, arguably the most known beach in the Algarve with a vast amount of sand filled with people from all over the world, and because of “the Strip”, a street composed of bars and clubs where people party until dawn.

At the same time, the Old Town conserves a family friendly vibe which attracts thousands of families with young kinds. Ice-cream parlours, cafes, restaurants, safe beaches with smooth currents and small waves make this a perfect destination for families looking to enjoy their vacations together.

Besides that, the town offers fun family activities such as horse-riding, boat tours along the beautiful Algarve’s coast, paintball, water parks and Portugal’s most popular theme park Zoomarine.

Best Hotels in Albufeira:

Sao Rafael Atlantico - Situated in Albufeira, this 5-star property is modern and contemporary. It also offers a Jacuzzi, a sauna and an outdoor pool - the location simply can't be beaten, nor the amenities.

Lona Solaqua - Those staying at Solaqua Apartments can sit down to a unique dining experience at the in-house restaurant, conveniently based for those who want to stay close by when looking to sit down to a meal. There is great dining and nightlife in the area, and it's one of the best values in Albufeira.

Lagos

Lagos sits on the west part of the Algarve’s south coast and is one of the most beautiful towns in this list. Lagos mixes the calmness of the off-season with the vibrant energy brought by tourists who come crawling in during summer.

Blessed with a unique and marvellous nature, Lagos presents gorgeous beaches of rocky formations with a turquoise sea and multi-coloured steep cliffs. Lagos also played a vital role during the Discoveries period, as it was strategically close to Sagres, where the famous nautical school of Infante Dom Henrique was located, and by also an important commercial post for the Portuguese ships.

To this day, Lagos conserves its 15th century Slave Market as a tribute to the many victims that were brought there to then be scattered around Europe. Lagos has plenty of hotels, hostels and rooms and apartments for rent. Lagos is also a favourite destination for surfers, as it is only half an hour away from Sagres, a mecca for surfing.

Best Hotels in Lagos:

AguaLuz Suite Hotel - Aqualuz is conveniently located for sightseeing in Lagos with Praia Dona Ana within a 10-minute walk. Guests are able to explore the region with the property's hire bikes - which are a major attraction to staying on the property.

Carvi Beach Hotel - Situated in Lagos, Carvi Beach Hotel provides charming 3-star accommodation, as well as a rooftop terrace and a rooftop pool. It's in a lovely setting, allowing you to enjoy beautiful Lagos! In fact, Luz Beach is only a short drive away.

Featured image attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/portugal-algarve-sea-rocks-coast-2046351/

 

Useful Travel Resources for The Algarve

The Algarve Map – Plan your trip around The Algarve with this handy map

RentalCars.com – Great site for comparing rental car prices

Skyscanner.net – Our favorite place to book cheap airline flights

Expedia.com – Book affordable accommodation or bundle flights and hotels in The Algarve.

Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Algarve

Suggested Reading: Top 10: Algarve

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Best Food In Lima Peru

Peru has a proud culinary culture that dates back centuries, but it’s only recently that Peruvian food has begun to gain the recognition it deserves internationally. When visiting the country, there’s no better place to sample the national cuisine than in its thriving capital city, Lima.

Lima is a captivating place in many ways. It’s South America’s second-largest city by population, and was once the capital of the Spanish Empire that shaped so much of the region’s culture. It is home to much poetry, music and colonial architecture. But as foodies, one of the highlights of Lima is without doubt its status as the heart of the Peruvian food scene.

Read on to discover five examples of the best food to eat in Lima, and where you can eat it.

Causa

Causa is a versatile Peruvian dish that blends cookery with art. I say this because the presentation of causa is well and truly an art form. You will see it fashioned into many shapes and sizes, and decorated with all manner of colourful toppings.

The dish itself consists of a potato-based paste, flavoured with lemon juice and pepper, which forms the basis of a sculpted, layered sandwich. It can be filled and topped with almost anything. Chicken and tuna are among the most common, but you will find it with many different meat, seafood and vegetable variations.

Causa is one of many examples of potato-based cuisine in Peru. The starchy vegetable originates in the country, and there are over 3,000 potato varieties grown in Peru today. Papa a la Huancaina is another popular dish to try; a simple concoction of sliced potatoes in a creamy sauce.

Where to eat Causa

Causa is served in any pretty much respectable Peruvian restaurant, of which Lima has many. Punto Azul in the Miraflores is up there with the best of them, and it won’t break the bank to eat there. The restaurant has a selection of causas at very reasonable prices for the quality.

Ceviche

Ceviche is Lima’s national dish, and an absolute must-try for anyone who loves fish. As a bonus, it comes with many nutritional benefits; you’d have to travel very far to find another national dish as healthy as ceviche.

The classic recipe is raw chunks of fresh white fish marinated in citrus, coriander, red onion, chilli and seasoning. It is served traditionally with pieces of boiled choclo corn and cooled sweet potato.

Ceviche has spread elsewhere in Latin America, with Mexico and Chile both counting it among their traditional cuisine. But Peru is where it was born, some 2,000 years ago, and for many it remains the only place you can experience the real deal.

Where to eat Ceviche

Just as with causa, you can’t go wrong with Punto Azul for your ceviche experience. An alternative is El Rincón de Bigote, a restaurant with branches in both Miraflores and Barranco. They also do a fantastic tiradito, another great raw-fish-based Peruvian dish that comes with a spicy sauce rather than a marinade. Try the red (rocoto) or yellow (aji amarillo) versions.

Chifa

Dtarazona [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s a beautiful thing for food-lovers when the fusion of different cultures births new culinary traditions. One example of this is chifa: a blend of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines.

Chifa essentially incorporates a predominantly Cantonese cooking style and utilises traditional Peruvian ingredients. Its origins date back to the turn of the 20th century, when Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru en masse to work in infrastructure and sugar industries. Over the years the chifa style has spread throughout Peru and beyond into the neighbouring countries.

Classic chifa dishes include arroz chaufa, a fried rice; tallarin saltado, a variation of chow mein; and sopa de wonton, a Peruvian-influenced take on wonton soup.

Where to eat Chifa

You will find chifa restaurants all over Lima, and indeed in any Peruvian city. One of our favourites, and a great option for travellers on a budget, was Chifa Tau Tau in Miraflores. It offers a menu of the day option that includes a starter, main and a soft drink.

Lomo Saltado

HugoMon [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Lomo saltado has its roots in the chifa style, but it warrants an outright inclusion as it has become a staple Peruvian dish in its own right.

The dish is a flavoursome stir fry of marinated beef pieces and various vegetables, usually onion, tomato and amarillo chilli peppers. The seasoning for lomo saltado incorporates a mixture of Cantonese and Peruvian creole spices. It is most commonly served with rice and – less conventionally for a stir fry – fries.

This is one of the most colourful dishes in the Peruvian repertoire, and indeed one of the most popular. You will see lomo saltado everywhere from backstreet cafés to chifa restaurants to fine dining establishments.

Where to eat Lomo Saltado

The José Antonio restaurant in San Isidro has nurtured a reputation for making the best lomo saltado in Peru. If you’re looking to keep costs down, an alternative is to visit one of Lima’s many ‘menú’ restaurants. Lomo saltado is often a main dish of choice, and you get a multi-course meal for a startlingly cheap price.

Sweet Street Food

It’s not just the classic main dishes that constitute Peruvian cuisine in Lima. The capital city also has some excellent street food if you know where to find it.

While there’s plenty of savoury stuff to be had – there’s no shortage of meat-on-a-stick – it’s the pastry-based sweet snacks that really give personality to Lima street food. Look out for carts on wheels selling churros, a sweet, fried-dough pastry doused in sugar.

Our favourite sweet street food in Lima was a pastry cake with layered fillings of dulce de leche. This is a golden, milk-based caramel that is wildly popular all over South America. What’s not to love?

Where to Eat Street Food in Lima

Street food can actually be found all around the city. In the morning, vendors hang around outside big marketplaces like Mercado De Surquillo. During the daytime, head to the streets of downtown Centro Histórico and you won’t go far before tripping over a churro stall. At night, check out Parque Kennedy at the heart of Miraflores, where you’ll also be able to enjoy street musicians and dancers performing.

Written by Alex Trembath of Career Gappers

Useful Travel Resources for Lima

Lima Map – Plan your trip around Lima with this handy map
RentalCars.com – Great site for comparing rental car prices
Skyscanner.net – Our favorite place to book cheap airline flights
Expedia.com – Book affordable accommodation or bundle flights and hotels in Lima.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Peru
Suggested Reading: The Heights of Machu Picchu

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25 Delicious Irish Gins For Your Next Cocktail


It’s easy to think of gin being traditionally, and almost exclusively, a British product. While it’s true that the British really are the creative mind behind the first great gins – Irish gins have garnered a great reputation of their own. In fact, gin exports in Ireland continually are on the increase as gin-lovers and cocktail enthusiasts looking for a new spin on traditional gin cocktails are increasingly looking to Ireland’s growing list of great Irish gins for new inspiration.

Irish gins aren’t a new thing. In fact, the Irish have been making gin as long as the British, and their reputation might just be catching up with that of their brothers to the east. Don’t believe me? Check out some of these amazing Irish gin brands, and find a little inspiration for your bar shelf!

Dingle Original Gin

Dingle Original is a seriously deep flavored Irish gin that’s made in only small batches of about 500 liters. Rich in botanicals, including hawthorn, heather, and other rare combinations, the spirit is great with some ice, and maybe a touch of fruit of your choice.

Boatyard Double Gin

One of the newer entrants to the list, Boatyard Double Gin is the child of Boatyard Distillery – owned by Joe McGirr. It’s a great, classic gin with strong juniper right on the tip. Using a double contact method of production, in which the distillate product runs through a juniper filtration, the juniper jumps out at you like a true, original gin.

It’s strong and bold, and one of the most pronounced gin for true gin lovers on the list.

Shortcross Gin

Founded by husband and wife David and Fiona Boyd-Armstrong, Shortcross Gin is a gorgeous Northern Irish gin made at the Rademon Estate Distillery in County Down. The true inspiration for the gin comes from the natural setting in County Down, and is the first award winning craft distillery in Northern Ireland.

Blacks Irish Gin

If you love a deep and rich product, not unlike Blacks’ product of craft beers, you’ll love this Irish Gin that’s made with heather and a total of 13 botanicals. It’s a true gin for true gin lovers.

Boyle’s Gin

Made at Blackwater Distillery, Boyle’s Gin is named after Robert Boyle, who was born in Lismore Castle. An alchemist and father of modern chemistry, Boyle is most well-known for Boyle’s Law, which is creatively printed on each bottle!

It’s a great Irish gin that tastes great, mixes well in creative drinks or stands well on its own, and truly tastes like it was made by a brilliant chemist!

Gunpowder Gin

From the mind of P.J. Rigney, Gunpowder Gin is a great Irish gin that is derived from exotic oriental botanicals and teas, and is one of our favorite-tasting gins on the list. It’s strong on the front, but palatable and rich.

It’s made with a vast array of great botanicals, including juniper, caraway seed, chinese lemon, kaffir lime, and of course, gunpowder tea.

Silver Spear

It’s so diverse, with rich botanicals from virtually all across the world. This gin from Ballydarton House in County Carlow is a classic.

Ha’penny Dublin Dry Gin

Super bright and fruity, it’s inspired by the famous Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland. You’ll get strong blackberry, orange peel, and a touch of lavender. So good, so delicate… we love this gin!

Ornabrack

Delightful packaging and a great Irish gin – Ornabrack is crafted from 100% Irish malted barley and four-times distilled, giving it a super clean, super sharp taste that really brings out the botanicals. It’s so light, so fun, and can be enjoyed straight up or in a great, fruity cocktail.

Bertha’s Revenge

The story behind the Irish gin called Bertha’s Revenge is peculiar, and kind of funny. It’s named after the world’s oldest cow (Big Bertha), who lived nearly 49 years. The name is sensible also, as this is a milk gin that’s made from milk.

It’s a different, creative gin that’s soft and earthy, and really delightfully made in small batches.

St. Patrick’s

Of course there would be a “St. Patrick’s” on the list!

It’s classic – rich and distinctive, and finishes strong.

Glendalough Sloe Gin

Strong and earthy, this Irish gin is made deep in the Wicklow mountains, and has a lovely pink hue. It’s a strong gin, at 82 proof, which is especially impressive given the sloes used in the dilution of the spirit.

Blackwater Gin

Entirely made by hand, it’s a traditional and excellent Irish gin. There are 12 botanicals, with cinnamon certainly leading the way, that really isn’t unlike a Dutch jenever in complexity and taste.

Blackwater Distillery claims a unique history also, stating that their origins date back to the Victorian era, as a result of the White’s of Waterford and one of the largest oriental spice importers and traders in the kingdom. It’s deeply entrenched in Anglo-Irish history, and is one great gin!

Dublin City Gin

Dry and super silky, it’s a gin drinker’s gin that’s best straight. Rich in botanicals, the Dublin City Gin has a strong juniper and rhubarb start and finishes clean.

Von Hallers

© Erich Wagner (www.eventografie.de) /

An interesting Irish gin that is really a mixed Irish/German product, as it contains rich botanicals from Gottingen. Great with tonic and a squeeze of lime!

Míl Gin

Such a unique creation, Mil Gin is an Irish Gin that feels like something else – something eastern. There’s almond, orange, and even basil and olive that gives it almost a Greek feel.

James Joyce Gin

Less fruity and more herb-rich and refreshing, it’s named after the famous Irish writer – James Joyce. An excellent and interesting finish that’s fieldy and earthy.

Bonac 24

It’s rich in fruit and flowers, and made in Wicklow. Bonac 24 is named so because it was the 24th attempt at just the right recipe by father and son team Michael and Gavin Clifford. A great, home-grown Irish gin brand.

Galway Gin

It’s so unique, tasting of the Irish sea with hints of seaweed and lemon. It’s daring and non-conformist, and makes a great, simple gin and tonic.

The Exiles

Super floral, The Exiles even uses shamrock as proof of its Irish authenticity! Made in Cork, it’s perfect for any traditional gin cocktail.

Highbank Organic Crystal Irish Gin

Made in the beautiful town of Kilkenny, the Highbank Orchard produces apples for anything from cider to liqueur, and even apple-flavored vodka. What’s more? This delicious gin.

Be judicious about what you mix as a cocktail, as the fruit overtones are strong (but great). Highbank contains 12 botanicals that include cinnamon, lavender, coriander, and citrus.

Jawbox Classic Dry Gin

It’s strong, and another true gin-lover’s gin. Make it simple – ice and tonic, and you’ll love this delicious gin. It’s one of the most unique and individual gins on the list, and something that can be mixed with a host of different recipes.

No. 57 Irish Gin

The top-secret recipe of this Irish Gin from Dublin was actually made for the famed bar in Dublin – the Headline Bar. Very rare, even in Ireland, but worth the search for discerning drinkers!

Old Carrick Mill

A traditional Irish gin made in Monaghan. It’s a small batch that’s clean and classic. The old flour mill, where Old Carrick is set up, dates back to more than 200 years – the perfect place to set up a truly traditional Irish gin with a hint of modern creativity.

Shortcross Gin

Made by the Rademon Estate Distillery (another on the list!), it’s just a great all-around gin that’s perfect in virtually any gin recipe.