Northern England

Alex Frederick is a senior who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Spring 2015. He spent his junior spring semester in Manchester, England through Eastern Connecticut State University’s affiliate, Global Links. While abroad, Alex was able to travel all over the United Kingdom, and take advantage of his spring break by backpacking through mainland Europe.

Hello All! Below is a picture I took while hiking in Kesick, England with the University of Manchester’s hiking society. This location was one of my favorite stops during my six months abroad, not only because the hiking was insanely great, but because Kesick is a charming little village characterized by an authentic old English feel. After climbing the snow capped mountains surrounding the village, I wandered around the lakes that make England’s lake district (the national park surrounding Kesick) famous, and headed into town to grab a bite and a pint at a pub. Kesick is full of bed and breakfast accomodations, and streets lined with craft shops make it a worthwile destination for souvenirs. My favorite part of England’s lake district, is the national law requiring all farms within national parks to let hikers and visitors wander their property. This allows travelers to get as close to animals such as dairy cows, goats, and sheep as they feel comfortable doing so, and opens up new opportunities for picturesque walks!

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My Study Abroad: Alli in Costa Rica

Alli Lavigne is a senior who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish in just a few short weeks.  Her junior semester abroad in Costa Rica through one of Eastern Connecticut State University’s 3rd Party Providers, CISabroad, admittedly led her to where she is now; an individual with a serious case of wanderlust, and a well-informed student working in the ECSU Study Abroad office.  Here is a glimpse into Alli’s former life as a traveller in San Jose:

First it’s probably prudent to explain my living and friend arrangement–

Nine students from all around the United States used CISabroad for their trip to Costa Rica. So right off the bat, it always comes down to the 9 of us at the end of the day. I live in a house with an adorable old Spanish woman and Jordan, my roommate from Colorado (we have separate bedrooms WITH TVs), and mama Tica’s two dogs, Luna and Gypsy.

They really like to come chill on my bed with me all the time, Luna especially. She always manages to sit in between me and my computer, which then makes Gyspy jealous. She starts to whine, so I constantly need to be giving them both attention, or neither of them attention. It’s a tough life.

So in any event, the 9 of us and a couple other random people took a mighty expensive excursion to Manuel Antonio for the first weekend. We all squeezed into a teeny tiny bus with no AC for four hours until we got off at the hotel, which was par. The town itself mainly consisted of two half blocks that had three bars, two restaurants, a supermarket, a couple hotels, and a national park; seriously that’s it. The national park is just a path through the jungle that ultimately leads to a beach and usually there are lots of animals, but not so much for us. We spent the day walking through the jungle and playing on the beach and we all zonked out by the end of the night.

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That last night originally seemed like it was going to be really boring. A bunch of the group disappeared and it was just me and two other girls. We walked down to the beach for a bit and then ran into the rest of our group. After a while, the girls went to bed so and everyone else and I hung out for a bit. We played music and some card games, all chatting and laughing. It was definitely a good night full of good people, good conversation, and good fun.

On the way home we stopped to stretch our legs. The driver stopped on the side of the road and brought us all over to the bridge. We looked down and there was a whole bunch of CROCODILES. They wanted to eat us all but it didn’t happen, so that’s good…

ECSU’s Study Abroad office is passionate about all of the benefits going abroad offers.  Please stop by to discuss the endless amount of options that are out there waiting for you!  Where do you want to explore?

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Top 10 Things to do in Scandanavia

These are the top 10 things to do in Scandinavia according to about.com/travel

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1) Watch the Northern Lights in Norway

The Northern Lights are definitely one of Scandinavia’s best attractions. Tromso in Norway is the best place in Scandinavia to watch the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. This display of light in the sky can be seen only in polar regions. The effect is caused by particles from the solar wind getting trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The lights “turn on” when particles crash with the atmosphere, which results in a showing of colored flames.

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2) Find Denmark’s Greatest Castles

Finding the best castles in Denmark can be hard for first-time visitors, but this guide will quickly lead you to the biggest and greatest. Explore the castles and learn more about Scandinavian kings and queens in Royalty in Scandinavia

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3) Relax in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Scandinavia’s top attractions also includes the geysers, especially the Blue Lagoon near Iceland‘s capital Reykjavik. Visit one of the many hot thermal pools which are always pleasantly warm, whatever the weather. Reykjaviks thermal pools are open from early morning until late in the evening. If you like this experience, you simply have to visit the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, so take a look at The Blue Lagoon in Iceland!

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4) Take a unique guided tour in Stockholm

Sweden’s capital Stockholm is one of Scandinavia’s top attractions by itself. This city offers so many interesting sights and history that travelers often find the best way to explore this city is a guided tour, with many photo opportunities. Stockholm offers all kinds of guided tours, but the most interesting and wonderfully unique can be found in Top Guided Tours in Stockholm!

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5) Visit the Danish Royal Gardens near Copenhagen (Denmark)

These wonderful gardens in Denmark offer peace and quiet for everyone and let you get away from the busy city life for a while. During the Baroque period, French design had a strong influence on Danish castle gardens and gives them their special flair. These quiet retreats should definitely be a part of your trip if you are planning to visit the Copenhagen area.

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6) Go Skiing in Norway

Winter attractions in Scandinavia? Yes, right here. For your winter vacation, this is a must. Famous from the 1994 Winter Olympics, Norway’s Lillehammer area is known for the spectacular local ski terrain and the many local winter sports activities. Find out about the 6 major ski resorts in Norway. Learn more about Norway’s top ski resorts or, go cross-country skiing in Scandinavia!

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7) Explore Sandy Beaches in Scandinavia

If you’re visiting in the summer, explore the beautiful sandy beaches in Scandinavia! With the weather in Scandinavia, the best time for a summer visit to Scandinavian beaches is late June through late August. Here’s how you can find a great beach area near your destination.

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8) Go Whale Watching in Norway & Iceland

In Scandinavia, whale watching is very popular among tourists, and many travelers choose to go whale watching on a whale safari during their vacation in Norway or Iceland. Adventurous travelers can even sign up for special whale safaris offering to let you swim with the whales – find out more about Whale Watching in Scandinavia!

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9) Do the Walking Tour: Stockholm’s Djurgarden

Djurgarden is one of Scandinavia’s top attractions for many travelers. Take a stroll across Djurgarden, which is Stockholms popular island with parks, events, and activities. Djurgarden is the number one recreational area in Stockholm, especially for travelers, and has over 10 million visitors each year! This walking tour offers great views and sights of Stockholm.

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10) Visit Legoland in Billund, Denmark

The famous Danish theme park Legoland in Billund is great fun! 340 billion pieces of Lego and many rides can provide entertainment for days! Every building, boat, train and car is constructed from millions of Lego blocks in amazing detail. Outdoor and indoor activities!

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Top 20 Things to do in South America (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Cusco, & Lima)

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

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1) Teatro Colon

The Teatro Colon, in the City of Buenos Aires, is considered one of the best theaters in the world. Acknowledged for its acoustics and the artistic value of its construction, it turned 100 years in 2008. It underwent a major renovation that took three years and $100-million to complete, and it reopened in May of 2010

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2) We Are Tango

They combine dance lessons and a show into one, and it requires booking because they only allow 16 guests at a time making the evening more intimate

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3) Paseo de Rosedal

A great place to take in the scenery, take some pictures, eat ice cream, watch the ducks, and you can even rent a paddle boat and float by the greek style bridge over the lake

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4) Recoleta

This fashionable, upscale neighborhood is lined with cafes, boutiques and galleries and morphs into a street fair on weekends

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5) Puerto Madero

By day, this riverfront area is a booming business and shopping district and by night, a hip neighborhood with pricey restaurants and fashionable clubs

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

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1) Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)

Board the cable car that ascends this 390-foot granite mountain, which offers superb views of the city. Go at dusk to witness a glorious sunset

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2) Cristo Redentor (Statue of Christ the Redeemer)

The view is undoubtedly fabulous but as views go, sunset at Sugar Loaf surpasses this city panorama

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3) Teatro Municipal

Whether to attend a show or take a tour, it’s worth seeing this lavish 1909 theater, filled with gilded mirrors, statues, murals, stained-glass windows and sparkling chandeliers

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4) Ipanema Beach

Popularized by the song “The Girl from Ipanema,” this world-famous beach gives foreign visitors a sense of life in Rio, displaying a cross-section of different lifestyles, chic boutiques and eateries and luxurious apartment buildings

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5) Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)

The serene landscape is a respite from the rest of the city.  The layout of the gardens is in a formal European style that is at times overwhelmed by the vigour of the tropical plants, trees and shrubs.  For the visitor the jardim offers a quiet interlude in bustling Rio.  Even on the hottest days the visitor can walk the garden shaded from the sun by the tall palms, trees and bamboo stands.  Here and there you will find benches to sit and take a rest while looking out for the creatures that make it home; monkeys, toucans and other fascinating creatures that flit, fly and leap thru the canopy overhead. 

CUSCO, PERU

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1) Sacred Valley of the Incas

You will see amazing views of the Andes Mountains, the valley, and small Peruvian cities. Make sure you take plenty of cash to negotiate for gifts at the market

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2) Hiram Bingham train

The Hiram Bingham is a luxury and exclusive service of Orient Express operated by PeruRail. It´s a journey in which the traveller will have a full day of unforgettable experiences between the mystical Andean mountains and the most exclusive luxury that a train can offer. The two dining cars, its bar car with observatory, its kitchen car; the welcoming with sparkling wine and its traditional dancing show are only few of the reasons that converted it in everything that it means today

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3) Cusco Historic Center

Red buildings, towers of churches and the famous Incas walls create the unique and beautiful place. You can walk the streets for hours and discover new things

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4) Inca Trail

The Inca Trail winds through the Andes Mountains, the classic route being a 4-5 day trek from Cuzco to Macchu Pichu. Concerns for overuse and erosion have resulted in regulation of the number of hikers that can start the trail each day (about 500). Only a limited number of guides are allowed to take travelers on the trail and it is closed in February for cleaning, as well

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5) Cusco Cathedral

Dominating the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, this magnificent renaissance-style, 16th-century building is in the shape of a Latin cross and contains nearly 400 colonial paintings including the Last Supper by Marcos Zapata

LIMA, PERU

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1) Museo Larco

The Museo Larco is housed in an exquisite 18th century vice-royal mansion, built over a 7th century pre-Columbian pyramid and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The museum’s galleries exhibit the finest and most magnificent gold and jewelry treasures from Ancient Peru and the renowned erotic collection, one of Peru’s most celebrated attractions. Founded in 1926 and located in Lima, the Museo Larco holds the largest and most important archaeological collection of Ancient Peru in the world.

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2) Magic Water Circuit

The Magic Water Circuit, recently inaugurated in the Reserve Park, has become one of the newest and most visited attraction in Lima. Honored with a Guinness Record and unique in America, this circuit offers thirteen impressive fountains that combine movement, lights, sounds and images. An amazing show to enjoy with all the family

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3) Miraflores

Miraflores is one of the top tourist districts of Lima. The main hotels in this beautiful city are located by the Pacific ocean.  Within the past few years, there have been a lot of new developments that offer several amenities such as fine cuisine, fast food, cyber cafes (internet for less than a dollar per hour), casinos, dancing, handcrafts, antiques flea markets, original paintings, cinemas, and much more. The traditional Miraflores beach is frequented by surfers and the riffs attracts paragliders.

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4) Plaza de Armas

Once considered the heart of old Lima, this grand plaza features many important architectural monuments and buildings including a magnificent bronze fountain dating from 1650, the Archbishop’s Palace with its elegant balconies and the Government Palace dating from 1924

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5) Barranco

Barranco district was founded on October 26th, 1874. It’s the smallest district of Lima and was always an attractive summer resort for middle and upper class residents of Lima and foreigners. Its known by its bohemian character and the home of various Peruvian writers (like Mario Vargas Llosa) and artists (like Victor Delfin). Today it has an artistic character and hosts rock, latin and creole music concerts at its many bars and pubs.

 

 

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Top 10 Things to Do in Africa

Here are the top 10 things you must do in Africa according to about.com/travel

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1) Go on a Safari

“Safari” means “to journey” in Swahili, and indeed going on a wildlife safari is one of the main reasons people travel to Africa. East and Southern Africa are the most popular safari destinations. In East Africa you can see the “Big Five“, witness the great annual migration of millions of wildebeest in a hot-air balloon, and also track gorillas. In Southern Africa you have the opportunity to see the “Big Five” and much more, on foot and from the water. The top 10 places in Africa to go on a safari are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Gabon.

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2) Relax on a Beach

North Africa‘s beach resorts have attracted European sun seekers to their shores for decades. But if you want to escape the crowds, head further south. Africa’s East coast offers the beach lover everything from budget huts on the idyllic Indian ocean in Zanzibar, to ultra-luxurious private islands in the Seychelles. Africa’s west coast is lined with thousands of miles of palm-fringed beaches. The currents make swimming a little challenging at times, but the surfing is fantastic. In South Africa you can even bump into penguins on the beach and dive with sharks. Africa’s many lakes are also fringed with golden sands, check out Lake Malawi, a paradise for beach lovers.

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3) Hike a Mountain

Africa offers wonderful hiking and trekking opportunities, the obvious targets for mountain lovers are Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Atlas Mountains. But South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains are an absolute delight for a half day hike, or a 5 day trek. Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains and Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains are lesser known, but offer up several of Africa’s highest peaks. If you don’t feel the urge to conquer a mountain top but love to walk, excellent hikes include Zambia’s famous walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park, and a multi-day hike along South Africa’s breathtaking Wild Coast.

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4) Explore on Two Wheels

Cycling vacations in Africa are becoming very popular. Of course its eco-friendly, and a great way to immerse yourself in rural Africa. Riding a bike does not put up the same economic and social barriers as driving around in a car. Biking also lets you see, hear, and experience Africa at its own pace. Whether you want the thrill of a cross-continent cycling adventure, or you just want to spend half a day exploring Cape Town, there’s an African bike tour that’s perfect for you. More About: Cycling tours in Africa

Motorcycle Tours — Whether you’re interested in riding through the Sahara Desert, a motorcycle safari in Tanzania, or enjoying South African coastline on a Triumph — it’s all possible. More About: Motorcycle Tours in Africa.

 

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5) Volunteer and Make a Difference

Volunteering in Africa lets you scratch below the surface and gain an appreciation of a culture very different from your own. Spending time teaching, working and living alongside a community also leads to a deeper understanding about yourself, what you take for granted and what you should appreciate back home. It’s a great way to experience Africa at a level beyond a consumer or voyeur. There are lots of options to volunteer for a few days, a week, or 6 months in Africa, that can all be added on to your vacation. Africa does not lack labor, and unemployment is extremely high, so expect to pay a program fee for your experience.

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6) Get Historical

The evolution of man starts in Africa and Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge in Tanzania is a great destination for anyone interested in our bi-pedal ancestors. A few million years later, the San in southern Africa were adorning caves with magnificent paintings. The Egyptians were already terribly civilized 5,000 years ago, and busy building monuments and tombs which still stand today. During medieval times, the great cities of Fez, Marrakech and Timbuktu were in their prime, and can still be enjoyed today. The slave-trade left its mark on the coast of both East and West Africa, while Coptic Christians were carving churches out of mountains in Ethiopia. Africa has a fascinating history.

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7) Be Wildly Adventurous

You could argue that any trip to Africa is an adventure, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Victoria Falls prides itself on being the extreme adventure capital of Africa. Where else can you bungee off a bridge, swim up to the edge of the world’s largest waterfall, micro-light over the Falls, white-water raft down some of the wildest rapids on earth, and then call it a day by having a beer and lifting your glass to a pod of hippos and crocs living in the Zambezi river? Elsewhere, the Sahara desert offers fabulous motorcycle adventures, as well as sand-boarding. Surfing is legendary along South Africa’s many bays, just watch out for those diving with Great Whites below you.

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8) Shop in Local Markets and Bazaars

Visiting markets and bazaars in Africa, is a wonderful way to see local artisans at work and get a good insight into a country’s culture, food, smells and sounds. Markets and bazaars also provide fantastic photo opportunities. Get your bargaining skills on and you’ll discover how much fun it is to buy your tourist trinkets. By shopping in markets and stores around town you also help the local economy. Whether you’re immersing yourself in the medina of Fes in Morocco, checking out the latest high-life CD’s in Accra‘s Makola market, or getting sandals made at a Maasai cattle auction in Tanzania, you’ll love the experience.

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9) Take a Culinary Tour

Culinary tours to Africa offer up a tasty combination of culture and history. In Africa most culinary tours concentrate on Morocco and South Africa. Unfortunately I can’t find any offers of a culinary tours to Ethiopia, or I would be there right now.  Culinary tours usually involve some hands on cooking, dining at fine restaurants, wine tasting and shopping for ingredients at local markets. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Whatever country you are visiting in Africa do try the local food. Even street food is safe as long as you stick to the cooked items, just avoid the salad! In rural areas, ask if you can help pound and prepare for a basic meal, it will be a great experience.

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10) Attend a Festival

With thousands of ethnic groups in Africa, each celebrating their own rites of passage, religious festivals, and local harvests there’s generally music and food being shared on any given night of any given week. But as a tourist (and outsider), it’s not always easy to gain access, or even know about what’s happening where. Luckily, there are several large festivals and cultural events that happen annually, where you can enjoy film, poetry, drama, and of course music, in an organized setting. If sports is more your “thing”, then definitely try to watch a local soccer match.

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Editor’s Top 10 Picks

Here are my personal top 10 places I would like to see and revisit all over the world:

 

1) Tuscany, Italy

Something about this place draws me in. I can picture myself eating exquisite Italian food alfresco and drinking a glass of wine from the vineyards. Hands down, this is my most favorite place I would like to visit.

2) Accra Beach Hotel, Christ Church Parish, Barbados

I have been to Barbados before and I stayed at the Accra Beach Hotel, and personally, that was the best vacation of my life. It brings back so many memories, of walking along the boardwalk, relaxing in the pink and white grain sand, friendly locals, being able to swim up to the bar and have a drink, and singing quite off-pitch at the karaoke bar at the hotel.

3) Andes Mountains, Peru

The views here are spectacular. I am very adventurous so I was thrilled when I was able to ride a horse up the mountain on a very narrow path, one foot to your left were cactus’ and one foot to your right was over a 200 foot cliff, and the picture above is the lake we had to cross with our horses to go up the mountain

4) Cape Cod: Provincetown, Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard 

I go to Cape Cod every summer and Provincetown, Hyannis, and Martha’s Vineyard are my favorite places to visit. My family and I spend a majority of our time in Hyannis mostly because of the town with the cute shops and a variety of restaurants, and we also go parasailing there. Provincetown is one of my new favorites because of its lively atmosphere and town. There we usually go whale watching and explore around the town. Martha’s Vineyard we save for the last couple of days where we just relax and enjoy the beach and the gingerbread-like houses in Oak Bluffs. And we usually like to rent a moped for the day and ride around Edgartown and stop off at Gay Head Cliffs (Aquinnah) for breathtaking views of the ocean.

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5) Santorini, Greece

My favorite thing about Greece are the white houses and the blue accents and how it looks so clean and fresh. I can picture myself walking around exploring the food markets and gazing at the sunset.

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6) Mont St. Michel, France

After talking about this in one of the blogs, I fell in love with this place. It reminds me of that castle in the movie “Tangled” (a Disney movie). The architecture looks very romantic and gothic at the same time, it is enchanting to look at.

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7) Phuket, Thailand

There is something mystical about Phuket, Thailand. It reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean, and the rock formations are captivating!

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8) Ta Phrom Temple, Cambodia

I was fascinated by the ancient temple in Cambodia ever since it was featured on the Travel Channel. It is so mysterious yet captivating.

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9) Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora seems like the place where you can relax and get rid of all your stress and troubles. With the white sandy beaches, picturesque landscape, and interesting architecture, this is the best Caribbean vacation.

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10) Leavenworth, Washington

In the spirit of Christmas, Leavenworth is a town that I have always wanted to visit since I was little, with the entire town decked out in Christmas lights, horse-drawn sleigh rides through the snow, and the weekends there are like a Dr. Seuss tale, with the townsfolk joining hands at 4:30 around the gazebo for the lighting of the tree and some good old-fashioned caroling.

 

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Best Places To Hunt For Buried Treasure

If you are the type of person that likes to stay away from tourist traps, then this article is for you! This is a list of the best places to hunt for buried treasure according to lonelyplanet.com

1) Opal mining, Coober Pedy, Australia

Outback adventure and the chance to strike it rich: can you dig it? The good folk of Cooper Pedy can… and have done, ever since opal was first discovered there in 1915. Named from the local aboriginal term ‘kupa-piti’ (meaning ‘whitefella in a hole’), this far-flung town is known as the opal capital of the world; it’s also famous for its underground homes, excavated to escape the desert sizzle. While hardcore miners need a government permit, anyone is allowed to fossick – in local parlance, ‘noodle’ – through the town’s many mine dumps. Don’t let the whimsical verb fool you: many a noodler has hit paydirt.

Before going it alone, try a sanctioned noodle at Tom’s Working Opal Mine (www.tomsworkingopalmine.com.au) or Old Timers’ Mine (www.oldtimersmine.com).

2) Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Home to a huge, mysterious hole nicknamed the Money Pit, this otherwise unremarkable island is the destination for those answering the call of booty. First discovered in 1795, the cryptic Pit is the site of the world’s longest-running treasure hunt… although just which treasure is being hunted remains the cause of frenzied debate. Rumoured riches hidden within the hole (which supposedly runs at least 60m deep) include Captain Kidd’s stash, the lost jewels of Marie Antoinette, documents proving the ‘real’ identity of Shakespeare (Francis Bacon, FYI) and the holy grail of treasure seekers, the, erm, Holy Grail. Beware the booby traps!

Oak Island is privately owned, and permission is required before setting off to solve the mystery of the Pit. Start here for legends and links: www.oakislandtreasure.co.uk.

3) Geocaching, Las Vegas, USA

Cache-ING! Looking for loot in Las Vegas? Forget fruit machines and bank breaking: these days, thousands of Sin City visitors are forgoing gambling for geocaching. A real-life treasure hunt that relies on GPS and cryptic clues, geocaching is more likely to yield a Kinder Egg than that of the nest variety, but that hasn’t stopped five million enthusiasts worldwide. Vegas has become a must-do for the high-tech hobbyists, with more than 2400 stashes hidden in and around the city, including scores on the Strip, in the surrounding desert and in spooky spots for ‘haunted’ night caching.

Head to www.nevadageocaching.com and www.geocaching.com for the lowdown on what lies beneath.

4) Gold Detecting, Papau New Guinea

There’s gold in them thar hills… and on them thar islands… and under that thar sea. Papua New Guinea is absolutely awash with the shiny stuff, and while much of it falls into the hands of multinational mining companies, there’s no reason the budding prospector can’t have a pick or a pan as well. Gold fever peaked in the 20th century, with nuggets the ‘size of goose eggs’ attracting feverish prospectors, including a certain Mr Errol Flynn. These days, PNG’s rough-and-tumble landscape (social and geographic) make joining an organised tour a better idea than striking out on your own. They’re not cheap, but with a potential ‘Eureka!’ moment lurking beneath every step, who cares?

PNG Gold Tours offer fully escorted, two-week gold-hunting trips to Misma Island, an area renowned for rich alluvial deposits. Visit www.pnggoldtours.com.

5) Digging for Dinos, Australia

Thrilled by theropods? Is ‘muttaburrasaurus’ more than just an amusing tongue-twister to you? Then it’s a fair bet that joining a dinosaur dig is your idea of the ultimate treasure hunt. And where better to pander to your inner palaeontologist than outback Winton, home to Australia’s largest horde of dino bones? The not-for-profit organisation Australian Age of Dinosaurs holds tri-annual Dinosaur Discovery Weeks, giving enthusasauruses the chance to excavate, plaster and prep fossils buried for the last 95 million years. No experience is necessary, but only 13 spots per dig are available. Book quickly: they’ll be gone before you can say ‘Diamantinasaurus matildae’.

Digs run between July and September. Find out more and reserve your spot at australianageofdinosaurs.com/aa-dig-a-dino.php.

6) Roman Coins, English Countryside

Either togas suffered from a lack of pockets or departing Romans hadn’t time to stop at a currency exchange, because England is absolutely aglitter with ancient currency. And it’s yours for the picking. Amateur archaeologists and quaint folk with metal detectors have been responsible for massive finds across the island; in 2010, an NHS chef uncovered a pot filled with 52,000 coins dated between AD 253 and 293, the largest such hoard ever discovered. Coins have been unearthed as far north as Northumberland and west of Exeter. Study up, be sure to get landowners’ permission and you too could hold history in your hands!

Contact the National Council for Metal Detecting for information on detector hire, regional clubs and valuing your treasure: www.ncmd.co.uk.

7) Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Peg-legs, black spots, West County accents: if there was a map showing the home of every pirate cliché known to fancy-dressers, Norman Island would be marked with an X. Not shivering your timbers? Perhaps its fictional name, Treasure Island, will make you go ‘aaaaargh’. The inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of mutiny and booty, Norman Island today is a haven for snorkellers and nature lovers (no shoulder-parrots spotted… yet). But rumours of undiscovered doubloons hidden in The Caves – a series of aptly murky watery caverns – attract rum-hoisters convinced the island remains home to ‘plenty of prizes and plenty of duff!’.

Norman Island is a short boat trip from Tortola, the biggest and most populated of the BVIs. Tortola is reached via ferries or flights out of various Caribbean hubs. See www.normanisland.com.

8) Artic Amethysts, Kola Peninsula, Russia

Far above the Arctic Circle, all that glitters is not ice: western Russia’s extreme north sparkles with the purple slivers of the prized amethyst. The rugged Kola Peninsula – a mineralogist’s dream with its hundreds of rare rock and metal species – is home to the windswept, amethyst-rich Tersky Coast. Unlike gold, the amethyst is surprisingly easy to find if you know where to look (Tersky’s Korabl Cape – ‘Ship Cape’ – is a great place to start): simply look for the purple clumps. In addition to its beauty, amethyst has a legendary quality which may come in handy in these frozen, vodka-loving lands: it’s believed to protect its bearer from drunkenness.

While spotting amethysts is simple enough, getting around Kola Peninsula is not. Consider joining a mineralogical tour with the South Kola group (www.kolaklub.com/southkola/mne.htm) or Kola Travel (http://kolatravel.com/mineralogical_holidays.htm).

9) Fossil Gawking, Gobi Dessert, Mongolia

To the hurried eye, the vast Gobi Desert looks like 1.3 million square-kilometres of dusty nothing. But stop, stoop and focus: the Gobi is one of the world’s richest fossil depositories, with many ancient (as in,100-million-years-ancient) remains lying only centimetres from the surface. It was here the first dinosaur eggs were discovered; other major excavated finds include rare mid-evolutionary birds and some of the world’s best-preserved mammal fossils. Hunting hotspots include the Flaming Hills of Bayanzag and Altan Uul (‘Golden Mountain’). You’re not supposed to take your finds home with you – they’re rightfully considered national treasures – but here, especially, the thrill is in the chase.

Independent (not package) tours can be hard to stumble across, but not impossible. Many guesthouses in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar can help get your expedition underway.

10) Wreck Diving, Florida, USA

It may be known as the ‘Sunshine State’, but many of Florida’s richest attractions haven’t seen the light of day in centuries. Thought to be home to more sunken treasure than any other state in the USA, Florida’s blue waters may be hiding more than US$200 million worth of loot. Now home to Disneyworld and pampered retirees, the state was once a notorious pirate haven (even Blackbeard dropped anchor here), and its hurricanes sent countless Spanish galleons to Davy Jones’ locker. Check local legalities before you wriggle into your wettie, and never dive alone in Florida’s oft-treacherous waters: those wrecks are down there for a reason.

The website www.treasuresites.com/indexn.htm is a treasure trove itself, with super-detailed listings of potentially enriching (and legal) wreck-dive spots across Florida.

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Hawaii Revisted

Here are the top things to do in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai in Hawaii according to tripadvisor.com

Oahu

1) Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park

From Sea Life Park’s private Makapu’u Meadows and its breathtaking panoramic backdrop, experience a lu’au like none other with Chief Sielu and his tribe of dynamic Polynesian drummers, dancers and entertainers. Your evening culminates with World Champion Fire Knife Dancer Chief Sielu and his tribe filling the night sky with FIRE! Chief Sielu is widely regarded as the best & funniest Polynesian entertainer in the South Pacific.

2) USS Arizona Memorial/WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

The USS Arizona Memorial is the most recognized icon of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. Access is gained through the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Upon entering the visitor center, you head to the NPS Tickets & Information desk to obtain a free ticket for the timed USS Arizona Memorial program. Walk-in tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s smart your tickets in advance online to ensure you get tickets for the day and time you prefer. While waiting for their tours to begin, visitors may rent an audio tour headset to begin a fully narrated tour, explore the bookstore, exhibit galleries, wayside exhibits, or simply relax and enjoy the setting of Pearl Harbor.

3) Dolphin Excursions Snorkel Adventure

Get up close to bottle nose dolphins and even swim with them! You can see up to 80-100 dolphins during your adventure.

4) Happy Trails Hawaii

Horseback riding on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawaiithrough the natural beauty of a tropical rainforest. Happy Trails horse rides are escorted by experienced and professional wranglers. As you ride our well-trained horses, you’ll pass through sun-filtered forests, fern filled valleys and organic tropical fruit orchards. Enjoy a “taste of Hawaii” by sampling our seasonal island grown varietals of bananas, guava, star and passion fruit.Capture panoramic ocean and mountain views at scenic vistas along your trail ride. Come, share in our spirit of Aloha and the pleasure of horseback riding with Happy Trails Hawaii.

5) Waimea Bay

Here you can snorkel with sea turtles, go wave crashing, or cliff jumping, which is one of the more famous things to do here at Waimea Bay.

The Big Island

1) Big Island Eco Adventures II Zipline Canopy Tour

The experience of a lifetime awaits you among some of the world’s most spectacular scenery – Zip with BIEA II through the unspoiled and breathtaking mountains and gulches of historic North Kohala… On your roughly three-hour guided adventure tour with Big Island Eco Adventures II, you’ll be soaring high above our lush North Kohala gulches on eight exhilarating runs crisscrossing tropical ravines. Summon your courage across our two-hundred foot suspension bridge hovering over a beautiful fern grotto. At our charming natural Mango Hut, enjoy locally made light snacks and beverages before zipping right off our Hut platform! Finish the tour with unparalleled views of the Waianaia Gulch and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll learn about Hawaii’s natural and cultural history throughout your voyage, enriching your experience every step of the way with BIEA II.

2) Kilauea Iki Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A moderate 4 mile hike into a an old volcanic crater.

3) Mauna Kea Summit

At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
 
 
4) Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
 
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a 501(c)(3) Scientific and Educational non-profit, whose mission is to serve as a nature preserve and sanctuary, a living seed bank, and a study center for trees and plants of the tropical world. The Garden is dedicated to the collection and display of the world’s tropical plants,and to the education of both children and adults about the plight of the world’s rainforests. At a time when rainforest plants are disappearing at an alarming rate, the Garden is working to preserve as many species as possible for the benefit of future generations
 
 
5) City of Refuge

Puuhonua O Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii is the most famous and best preserved of Hawaii’s ancient places of refuge. Designated a national historical park in 1961, this 182-acre site includes the puuhonua and a complex of archeological sites, including temple platforms, royal fish ponds, sledding tracks and some coastal village sites. Join more than 375,000 visitors each year and immerse yourself in the rich history of the area and discover intriguing facts about the early Hawaiians’ way of life.

 Maui
 
 
1) Maui Stables

Maui Stables offers one tour daily, originating at our new and spacious stable facility where morning refreshments are served up with an orientation and equipment familiarization.

All tours are accompanied by an “Alaka’i”, or trained tour leader, and a “Kako’o” (apprentice), who begin each tour with traditional “pule” prayer and “oli”, or call to our “aumakua” (ancestors).

2) Waimoku Falls Trail

A truly fantastic hike! The pipiwai trail hike is located in the Haleakala National Park at Oheo Gulch. It is a 4 mile round trip hike up a valley to a 400′ water fall with many great sites along the way. It is well marked and has board walks and steps to make this moderate trail easier.

3) Warren and Annabelle’s Magic

The dinner and magic show was great for the whole family. No foul language like most comedy shows. Plan ahead and make reservations at least a week in advance to make sure you get in!

4) Haleakala Crater

 Try to arrive early to avoid fighting the crowds, and give yourself time to enjoy the incredible landscape even after the sun has come up.  It can be very cold at the summit (approximately 10,000′ above sea level) compared to the rest of the island so dress appropriately.  In addition to the cooler temperatures, the elevation can be a problem for a lot of people.  Don’t over exert yourself, and if you feel faint take a long break before doing anything.  The drive can be long, the road somewhat treacherous, but the view at sunrise is unforgettable.

5) Maui Zipline Company

Maui Zipline Company operates within the Maui Tropical Plantation. The platforms and lines run across the plantation, so you get an aerial view while flying from one platform to the next.

Kauai

1) Na Pali Coast

There are three ways to see the coast by air, boat, or hogging it. If you can only do one, do the boat tour because looking up at the awesome cliffs and seeing the sea tunnels and beaches is a great experience.

2) Waimea Canyon

Great for hiking or just sight-seeing, it is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

3) Polihale State Park

Endless beach with hard packed sand perfect for walking or jogging, and best accessed with a four-wheel drive vehicle.

4) Kalalau Trail

Hiking the Kalalau Trail is one of life’s most spiritual adventures, full of wonder and awe at nature’s beauty, but also can be hazardous to your health if you are not prepared for it.

5) Princeville Ranch Adventures

There are nine ziplines progressing from 400 feet to 1,200 feet, over some spectacular valleys, and there is also a swimming hole to relax in.

 

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Hawaii for first-timers: How to choose an Island

Planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands but not sure where to start? Torn between picking a single island or doing some island hopping?

Wherever you travel around the Hawaiian Islands, fantastical beaches, friendly faces and ono grinds (good eats) are practically guaranteed, but every island has a unique flavor. Get swept up by the kinetic energy of the capital island, O’ahu. Hang loose on Maui, which offers a little something for everyone, but especially for beach bums. Gaze at the towering sea cliffs on ancient Kaua’i. Wonder at new land being birthed by volcanoes on the Big Island, Hawaii’s youngest isle. Escape to total resort luxury on Lana’i or learn to live life off the land on rural Moloka’i, where native Hawaiian traditions run strong. Whatever you’re seeking in paradise, the Aloha State has it – all you have to do is open your eyes.

Islands at a glance

1. O’ahu

Best for: Beaches, Food, Museums

Multicultural modernism – Explore O’ahu if you want to take the measure of multiracial Hawaii, which confounds the categories of census-takers. Here, East and West merge as ancient Hawaii greets the 21st century.

Big city, small island – Three-quarters of state residents call ‘The Gathering Place’ home, and everyone rubs elbows – on the beach and the bus, on city sidewalks and country lanes. Still sprawling, even empty beaches are just a short drive from downtown Honolulu’s art galleries, museums and monuments.

An endless feast – If you do nothing else on O’ahu, eat. Japanese izakaya (gastropubs), island-style food trucks, high-wire fusion menus by Hawaii’s top chefs – it’s all here, waiting to be tasted.

2. Hawai’i – The Big Island

Best for: Hiking, Culture, Wildlife

Hiking – Kilauea, the most active volcano on Earth, conjures up a dreamscape for hikers: emerald amphitheater valleys and icy waterfall pools, lava flows both active and ancient crashing against rain forest and some of the loftiest summits your boots will ever struggle to top.

Hawaiian culture – On the Big Island, culture is participatory – absorbed, rather than simply observed. Here you’re invited to create a lei, dance a hula, beware the night marchers and watch as fish are caught the old Hawaiian way.

Wildlife – Spinner dolphins leap in the air, sea turtles glide up to a seaweed buffet, and endangered nene cross the road regularly here. In winter, humpback whales are the show-stoppers.

3. Maui

Best for: Beaches, Hiking, Food

Sun and surf – Justifiably famed for its glorious strands, Maui’s got a beach for every mood – wind-whipped kiteboarding meccas, calm snorkeling coves, hidden gems and some of the biggest surfable waves on the planet. Or just plop down on the sand and scan the horizon for wintering whales.

Trails galore – Maui’s trails go to the most amazing places: towering ridge-tops, cascading waterfalls, bamboo forests, and a cindery volcanic national park. Choose from easy strolls to hardy backcountry treks.

Locavore heaven – Grass-fed beef from Upcountry pastures, dayboat fish and bountiful organic gardens ensure Maui’s chef-driven restaurants have the raw ingredients to whip up their famed Hawai’ian regional creations.

4. Lana’i

Best for: Remoteness, History, Beaches

Isolation – Ignoring the great views of other islands, Lana’i feels like an isolated bit of subtropical pleasure far from the rest of the world (as opposed to the 25-minute plane ride from Honolulu). There aren’t many people, the landscape is stark and you can go on adventures exploring its unvisited corners.

Pineapples – Nearly the entire island supplied the world with pineapples for much of the 20th century. The crops are gone but the vintage plantation town of Lana’i City still beguiles.

Hulupo’e Beach – Lana’i’s one main beach is a beaut. A long crescent of sand on a bay good for snorkeling and backed by a tidy, uncrowded park.

5. Moloka’i

Best for: Culture, Adventure, History

Most Hawaiian – More than 50% of Moloka’i’s people have indigenous heritage. Locals consistently favor preservation of the land and culture over schemes that would promote tourism. Yet there is aloha spirit everywhere and visitors find a genuine rather than a paid-for welcome.

Saint Damien – A young priest who traveled to the island’s remote Kalaupapa Peninsula in 1873 to care for leprosy patients is America’s first saint. Today the spectacular peninsula is a national park and a visit is one of Hawaii’s top adventures.

Wild adventure – The world’s tallest sea cliffs, misty rain forests, hidden waterfalls and deserted beaches are just some of the features that beckon.

6. Kaua’i

Best for: Beaches, Hiking, Food

The Northern bubble

With the closest traffic light 20 miles away, the North Shore is home to many who came to check in and stayed to tune out. Surfing, hiking, and a contagious (if not invasive) laid-back vibe perpetuate the North Shore life.

Sunny Po’ipu – The most consistently sunny area on the island, Po’ipu is like a tropical version of sleep-away camp. Smiles abound on the South Shore as most days offer activities galore.

Canyons and cliffs – The rugged terrain on the Garden Island ranges from gaping chasms to sheer coastal cliffs, balanced out by copious verdant flora and topped by the wettest spot on Earth shrouded in cloud. As dramatic as any landscape on the planet, it is exemplary of Mother Earth’s highest potential for land creation.

Island hopping itineraries

Island hopping is a great way to get more of a taste of the islands, but make sure you budget enough time to relax between your flights. Here are two recommended multi-island itineraries:

1. Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i (2 weeks)

You’ve got time, you’ve got money and you want culture, outdoor adventure and peaceful relaxation in equal measure. Combine Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i – half the time, you won’t even need to drive. This trip is for lovers, culture vultures and anyone happy to spend a little more for plush lodgings and gourmet eats. But you’ve also got to be willing to rough it once in a while, when the rewards – hidden waterfalls, epic sea cliffs – make it worthwhile.

First, spend five to six days in Maui. Make it easy on yourself: get a hotel room or a condo for the duration at Ka’anapali or Kapalua. Immerse yourself in Lahaina’s whaling history and browse Kaʻanapali’s Whalers Village Museum, enjoy some old-school aloha at the Old Lahaina Luau, take a whale-watching cruise, and for a thrill, try ziplining. As for beach time, some of Hawaii’s most seductive strands await nearby, like Kapalua Beach or Honolua Bay. Take one full day to hike Haleakalā National Park’s summit moonscapes and another to lazily drive down the Road to Hana, stopping off for waterfall hikes and to buy fresh coconuts.

Next, hop over to Lana’i and take your pick of world-class resorts located in Lana’i City and at Manele Bay, staying three or four nights. Things have been a little hectic so far, so play a round of golf, snorkel at Hulopoʻe Beach or take in the vistas from the Munro Trail. To really get away from it all, rent a 4WD and head for the Garden of the Gods and Shipwreck Beach.

Finally, spend four or five days on Moloka’i. Stay in a condo or B&B near small-town Kaunakakai. Day one: explore East Moloka’i, checking out Halawa Valley and perhaps a waterfall or two. Day two: trek to the Kalaupapa Peninsula and munch macadamia nuts at Purdy’s farm. Day three: head out to the remote beaches of the island’s West End or penetrate the dense forests of the Kamakou Preserve.

2. O’ahu, Big Island and Kaua’i (3-4 weeks)

If you want to live in the scenery (not just admire it), consider combining O’ahu, the Big Island and Kaua’i, all of which together offer the hiking and backcountry adventures of a lifetime plus plenty of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian culture, not to mention tasty treats for your tummy. Don’t have 3-4 weeks? Consider doing just two of the islands.

Start on the capital island of O’ahu, basing yourself in Waikiki or Kailua for a week. Among the major cultural sights around Honolulu, don’t miss the Bishop Museum, ‘Iolani Palace, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Pearl Harbor. Along with time spent on Waikiki’s beaches, snorkel at Hanauma Bay and hike to Manoa Falls after visiting the Lyon Arboretum. End each day exploring Honolulu’s cuisine scene and enjoying heavenly Hawaiian music and hula with sunset cocktails by the ocean. Drive up the Windward Coast to the North Shore for surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and windy walks out to Ka’ena Point.

Mosey over to the Big Island and book a B&B in South Kona for a few nights. For ocean adventures, hike to secluded Makalawena Beach, kayak and snorkel at Kealakekua Bay and snorkel or dive at night with manta rays around Kailua-Kona. In Ka’u, go caving at Kula Kai Caverns, hike to Green Sands Beach, and follow the rugged Road to the Sea. Next, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park offers spectacular hiking and, if you’re lucky, a chance to watch live lava flow into the sea. Afterward, bed down in a rainforest cottage in Volcano. Spend a night or two in Hilo, taking time to day-hike on Mauna Kea or to drive partway up the mountain for stargazing after dark. Last, explore Waipi’o Valley; if you’ve got the time, consider backpacking to Waimanu Valley.

With another week or more on Kaua’i, spend a couple of nights camping and hiking at Koke’e State Park and Waimea Canyon State Park, then boogie up to the North Shore, mixing some camping at ‘Anini Beach or Ha’ena Beach with lodgings in Hanalei. Swim, snorkel and surf, but don’t leave without tackling the Na Pali Coast’s amazing Kalalau Trail.

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Eat.Pray.Love.

Here are some of the sites visited in the movie Eat.Pray.Love. (Italy, India, Bali)

ITALY (EAT)

  • Roman Colosseum In the movie you’ll see a great shot of the Roman Colosseum, the most popular tourist site in Rome. If you plan to visit the Colosseum, be sure to read how to buy Colosseum tickets to avoid the ticket line which can be very long.

  • Piazza Novana- Piazza Navona is home to more of Rome’s famous fountains including Bernini’s Fontana Dei Fiumi. The large square still retains its oval shape from when it was built by the Romans for chariot races and athletic competitions. Today, in addition to several churches, it’s ringed by expensive restaurants and cafes. If you’re on a food quest in Rome, be sure to try the famous tartufo dessert.

  • Shopping in Rome- You’ll see a few shots of Rome’s fashionable shopping streets, including Via Condotti, in the movie.

  • Pantheon- The Pantheon, the best preserved building of ancient Rome, has a spectacular dome and free admission. In ancient Rome it was the temple of all the gods but it was turned into a church in the 7th century. For dinner try Armando al Pantheon, Salita de’ Crescenzi, 31. After dinner, splurge on a drink outside in the Pantheon’s lively Piazza di Rotonda, one of my favorite Rome squares at night.

  • Trevi Fountain- Everyone who visits Rome has to throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, one of Rome’s most famous tourist stops, to ensure a return to Rome. Other movies that feature a Trevi Fountain scene are Three Coins in the Fountain and La Dolce Vita. The ornate Baroque fountain was completed in 1762 at the end point of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

  • San Crispino Gelato- San Crispino has long been touted as the best gelateria in Rome and Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of tasting their gelato (in the book) will make you wish you were there. Here you’ll eat only gelato, no cones to interfere with the flavors. I’ve read that there are three San Crispino shops, this one is near the Trevi Fountain.

  • Borghese Gardens- The beautiful Borghese Gardens are a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. It’s hard to believe you are still in the city. Inside the gardens is the Villa Borghese, now an art museum.

INDIA (PRAY)

  • Varansi- Few places in India are as colorful, charismatic or spiritual as the bathing ghats (steps) lining the Ganges in Varanasi. Take a soothing dawn boat ride and feel the beating heart of the Hindu universe, a crossing place between the physical and spiritual worlds.
  • Taj Mahal- Many have tried to sum up its beauty. ‘A teardrop on the face of eternity,’ wrote Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. ‘The embodiment of all things pure,’ thought British writer Rudyard Kipling. This architectural masterpiece and monument to love will take your breath away.

  • Study in Jaipur- With its stunning hilltop forts and glorious palaces, Rajasthan’s gateway city just might be the place with a little something for everyone. From a ten-day meditation course to early-morning yoga instruction, opportunities for spiritual study surround you.

BALI (LOVE)

  • Wayan’s Traditional Balinese Medicine shop- Wayan’s shop is one of the easiest to find. You turn off the main road of Ubud onto Jalan Jembawan. You will walk past the post office and notice Wayan’s shop squeezed into the shops on the left side of the road. If you get to Radiantly Alive, you have JUST walked past it. Look for the sign that says “Traditional Balinese Medicine.”
     
  • Ubud Market- You really, truly can’t miss this one. There are rows of scooters and a few buses in front. It is on the left before you reach the Palace. That is where Julia and Javier were wandering the morning of her hangover when he offered to be her tour guide. It is a crowded place and everyone will want to sell you something. Dive in and get some pictures! The best time for picture taking at the Ubud Market is 5 a.m. The crowds are not there and the ladies are selling produce. The lighting is dim so be prepared with flash or tripod.

  • Monkey Forest- Then continue along to Monkey Forest. Go past the lady trying to sell you “official Monkey Forest bananas,” you truly don’t need those. The overpopulated forest is brimming with frolicking monkeys. It will take no effort on your part to get great pictures of them! Walk along the main path and turn right at the first path. You will walk down the steps, across the bridge and end up at the biggest banyan tree and temple.

  • Ceking Tegalalang Rice Terraces- One of my favorite locations, and a great break from the crowds of Ubud, is the drive out to the rice terraces. You really can’t take a bad picture here!

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