Go Backpacking http://gobackpacking.com Around the World Travel Blog Sat, 23 May 2015 13:36:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Why A Gulet Cruise Should Be At the Top of Your Bucket List http://gobackpacking.com/gulet-cruise/ http://gobackpacking.com/gulet-cruise/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 17:22:02 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com/?p=27802 Find out everything you need to know about booking the best Gulet cruise with Goolets and why it should be at the top of your bucket list.

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Birdseye view

Have you ever heard of a Gulet Cruise?

Neither had I. Fortunately, it’s not the kind of word you forget, so when I began planning my holidays for the next year, I started to do a bit of digging.

I quickly came across all of these transporting words that pop from the page. Things like Mediterranean, wine and beer, bays and beaches.

If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of it’s a sunny beach. You too? I thought so.

Let me give you a fair warning: if you’re the kind of person who hates a good adventure, stop right here; everything you’re about to read isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you’re an explorer, open to new experiences, and ready to see a lot of beautiful places in a short amount of time, please take a seat. You’ve come to the right place, and I think we can be friends.

Gulet Cruise is More than Just a Fun Phrase

In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced like roulette but with a “g.”

These strong wooden yachts are equipped with more than a super cool name, though. It turns out that Gulet’s come in all different shapes and sizes.

Some are perfect for families, others are great for groups, and you can even book an entire yacht for your friends to sail across any of the many available destinations.

If that’s a little much for you, though, they’re also an excellent way to make friends. Typically, a Gulet is built to bunk about 12 people and the best part about them is that they’re meant to give you the experience you want.

I can’t tell you what a relief that is for me to hear, because finding a (mostly) fool-proof vacation that lets you relax is kind of hard.

There’s always a lot of running around, and researching, and exhausting fails that can be exciting for a little while, but get old quick. Gulet’s eliminate all the hassle. Wha-what? All we have to do is not drown.

Gulet’s eliminate all the hassle. Wha-what? All we have to do is not drown.

Shrimps on the grill

Shrimps on the grill

How Not to Drown on a Gulet Vacation

Have I mentioned that Gulet’s come with a crew? Oh, I forgot that part? Well, it’s true, and I think it’s what I’m most excited about.

My favorite thing about traveling anywhere, in any way, is getting to know people. The fact that it’s such a small group on a comfortably sized boat means a lot of opportunities to get to know your crew, your fellow sailor’s, and make a lot of great memories.

Plus, I love that it’s extra safe on board since you have professionals manning the sails. Otherwise, I might have to make every one of my new acquaintances sign a strict waiver (just in case, you know, I was to fall asleep on duty).

Finding Your Gulet Soulmate

The easiest way to find a trip that makes sense for you is by using a company like Goolets to help you through it.

They give you advice about the best type of cruise for your needs (believe it or not, you can even pick the age of the crew), tell you what activities are available in each area, and help you stick to your budget.

Goolets’ website features all the necessary information, from pricing to route options. It’s incredibly hassle-free, which is always a huge bonus. Check out what’s available in Croatia, Turkey, and Greece.

9 - Visit Hvar Town

You Can’t Go Wrong with the Mediterranean

You’d think so, am I right? Except that it’s happened to me before. There might not be a wrong way, but there’s a right way to see one of the most beautiful areas in the world, and that makes all the difference.

I spent a week eating seafood on the coast, shopping in small local galleries, and getting to know Mykonos, Greece from the shore. It was exciting and well worth the trip.

Seeing it from the other side, though? That’s a whole other experience. Returning fresh from a swim, dining on the stern of a boat, and looking out to sea for miles… that’s the way to experience Greece.

If you need any more convincing to come on a Gulet cruise with me, subscribe to Goolets’ virtual cruise page where you can take a look inside Gulet life from the comfort of your armchair.

Which country would you choose: Turkey, Greece, Croatia, or all of them?

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Finding the Best Hotels in the Land of Patriots, Red Sox and Baked Beans http://gobackpacking.com/best-hotels-boston/ http://gobackpacking.com/best-hotels-boston/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27785&preview_id=27785 Hipmunk (Hipmunk.com) has made it easier for travelers coming to Boston to navigate the offerings and available hotels in this formidably sized town.

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Boston

Boston skyline (photo: Robert Lowe)

As the largest city in New England, Boston is replete with rich historical districts, highly revered sports teams and dazzling, picturesque backdrops, notably during the fall.

When it comes to vacationing in this all-American city, finding the best hotels can be something of a challenge due to the complexity of all the choices unless you have the right guide.

Competent sources such as Hipmunk (Hipmunk.com) have made it easier for travelers coming to Boston to navigate the offerings and available hotels in this formidably sized town, presenting rates across a myriad of budgets and tastes. You can go through Hipmunk’s guide to Boston.

In a place where it’s said that every individual neighborhood boasts its own distinctive personality, here’s an East Coast landmark teeming with residents who love their sports and the outdoors, yet remain fiercely proud of their history and culture.

Soaring, quasi-monstrous skyscrapers dot the skyline standing in stark contrast to charming Victorian brownstones, while an ever-present sense of deep-rooted American pride settles in like a warm blanket everywhere one goes in Boston.

With all the variety accessible to the tourist, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip to the heart of New England, but not necessarily too difficult.

Entry-Level Lodging in Boston

If your budget is limited and you think Boston is simply a city you will have to skip when touring the U.S., think again, the cheapest hotels are just outside the city center, including Econo Lodge in Malden and the charming Harrington House Bed & Breakfast just east of the city.

If you’re coming to Boston on business and are concerned with out-of-pocket expenses for a hotel, properties such as the Four Points by Sheraton are a sure bet courtesy of its reportedly outstanding client service.

With rooms starting at $189 and $124 respectively, affordable accommodations in the downtown area encompass the Chandler Inn boutique hotel and the hostel-style 40Berkeley.

Stepping Up: The More Luxurious Choices of Hotels in Boston

Visitors looking for a more personalized luxury experience in this patriotic city will relish the amenities of the Copley House in Back Bay, situated right in the heart of Boston.

If you’re looking for something more chic and distinguished, Boston isn’t lacking in that area what with properties such as the Boxer, a trendy and modern hotel just at the foot of Beacon Hill and within walking distance to Faneuil Hall.

Another luxurious boutique hotel standout is Boston’s Fifteen Beacon or XV centrally located and which draws politicians, celebrities and businesspeople looking for understated class like moths to the proverbial flame.

If this swanky 1903-era Beaux Arts property isn’t impressive enough, highly doubtful, you can head over to the ritzy Back Bay neighborhood where the Loews Boston Hotel awaits, replete with nearby upscale shops and restaurants and boasting rooms that are spacious enough for any demands.

Another Option in Boston: Airbnb

Staying in homes and apartments through Airbnb has become an increasingly popular way to experience Boston due to the diversity of options with regard to location and pricing.

For example, private rooms on Airbnb start at $70 for a stay in a 1800’s carriage house and go up to $95 per night for a room in a historical penthouse apartment near Quincy Market and the Boston Common.

Similarly, Red Sox fans will love the apartments that are available in the bustling, vibrant neighborhood near Fenway Park.

These examples are merely scratching the surface of what’s available in Boston when it comes to lodging. By utilizing resources such as Hipmunk’s Guide to Boston, even the most unseasoned of travelers will be able to get the most out of this historically rich town, whether in their hotel room or out.

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About the Author: This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a complete travel platform that allows you to do everything from comparing charter flights and train rides, to finding the best resort hotels and Airbnb rentals.

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TravelSox: Compression Socks for Travelers http://gobackpacking.com/travelsox-compression-socks/ http://gobackpacking.com/travelsox-compression-socks/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27773&preview_id=27773 I recently had the opportunity to test a pair of compression socks by TravelSox on a trans-Atlantic flight.

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Travelsox

Travelsox

Traveling by air always re-awakens a few of my anxieties, specifically that I’ll miss my flight or that I’ll develop Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a potentially deadly condition that can affect anyone without warning.

According to the Mayo Clinic “Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling, but may occur without any symptoms.”

The danger is the blood clot will break loose from your vein and travel to your lung, where it can cause a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Not fun!

Aside from doing leg exercises and standing up periodically during your flight, I thought there was little one could do to mitigate the risk. Then, earlier this year, I was invited to test a pair of TravelSox® graduated compression socks.

Compression socks are specially designed to increase circulation in the legs and reduce swelling.

In the past, I associated them more with those who were sedentary for medical reasons or due to old age, but they’re becoming an increasingly popular option for travelers who want to protect against DVT.

TSS6000 Travelsox Soft Padding OTC

TSS6000 Travelsox Soft Padding OTC

My Experience

I recently had the opportunity to test a pair of the TSS6000 TravelSox Soft Padding ($35) on a trans-Atlantic flight. The compression rating was 12-20 mmHg, which based on my reading about compression socks for flying, was just right.

It’s important to choose a pair that will fit you properly, as too tight a fit can increase the likelihood of circulation problems, not decrease it. I made sure to try them on before the flight to make sure they fit me well (and they did).

Aside from the fact that I’m not use to wearing socks up to my knees, they felt extremely soft and comfortable.

I always imagined compression socks to be ugly, but these come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, gray, khaki, navy and white.

In addition to wearing compression socks, it can also be a good idea to remove your shoes on a flight and give your feet and toes room to wiggle. The last thing you want to do when that happens is reveal less than pleasant smelling socks.

To avoid receiving any disapproving looks from your seatmates, TravelSox incorporates a quick-drying, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral material called Silver DryStat®.

Overall, I had a positive first experience with my pair of TravelSox.

Additional Products

For travelers who prefer not to have knee-high socks, TravelSox also offers a crew-length compression sock ($15) that offers similar benefits. Given how light I travel, this option would make more sense for me personally,

Given how light I travel, this option would make more sense for me personally, however, those at greater risk for DVT may want to stick with the full length version.

In addition to travel, Arcosox also produces compression socks for everyday use, industrial use, sports and medical purposes. All of the socks are 100 percent made in Italy.

Special Reader Discount

Save 20 percent off your purchase at TravelSox when you use coupon code TS15GB at checkout.

Offer expires August 12, 2015.

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5 Reasons Why Route 66 is Still the Roadtrip of a Lifetime http://gobackpacking.com/route-66-roadtrip/ http://gobackpacking.com/route-66-roadtrip/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27766&preview_id=27766 In collaboration with Hayes & Jarvis’ Roadtrip Recommender, here are 5 reasons why Route 66 is the journey of a lifetime.

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Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch (photo: David)

There are few roads in the world that resonate like Route 66 – filled with glamour, adventure and nostalgia; the route embodies everything that a roadtrip should be about.

In collaboration with Hayes & Jarvis’ Roadtrip Recommender, here are five reasons why Route 66 is the journey of a lifetime:

It offers an unparalleled view of the United States

Being exactly 2448 miles long, Route 66 takes you through eight states and no less than three time zones.

No other route offers views of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California; some of the most breath-taking and iconic states in the United Sates.

That said, Kansas only receives a slither of “the mother road”, enjoying only 13 miles of the total.

The route has some of the biggest eats in the U.S.

People say that everything is big in the U.S., and when it comes to Route 66, like the road itself, you can expect things to be just that little bit bigger.

For those who fancy stopping by Kansas City in Missouri, the Hickory Pit is probably one of the most famous restaurants in the U.S. Whether for its smoking steaks or handcrafted beers, the Hickory Pit offers a delicious stop off for travellers searching for that all-American taste.

Moving further west, if iconic eating is your kind of thing, Bagdad Café in Newberry Springs, California, is one of the most iconic cafes in the U.S., after being used for the setting of the 1987 film, Bagdad Café.

Located just off the route, the quirky café is a great place to sample gigantic cheese steaks and mouth-watering buffalo burgers.

It is home to Cadillac Ranch

To envision a car on Route 66 is to envision the Cadillac. Perhaps as iconic as the road itself, there’s no other vehicle (with the exception of perhaps the Harley Davidson (see Easy Rider)), which features on it more in television and in film.

Which is exactly why Cadillac Ranch is worth a bit of your time.

Created in 1974 as a unique sculpture park, guests are encouraged to add their own artwork to the cars, which are planted nose-first into the dirt.

If you think you’ve seen Cadillac Ranch somewhere before, there’s a chance you’ve been watching Pixar’s animated film, Cars.

You can re-enact some of Hollywood’s greatest films

There’s a reason Route 66 is so iconic, and besides influence from music and literature, Route 66 features in some of Hollywood’s greatest films.

From the desperation of Grapes of Wrath (1940), to the wild and chaotic Thelma & Louise (1991) and adorable Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Route 66 offers a remarkable and immortal backdrop for some of the greatest stories of the 20th century.

To see just where some of these great films were shot on the route, take a look here.

You get the chance to stay in Roy’s Motel and Café

If you’ve watched a single roadtrip movie, there’s a fair chance that you’ve seen one of those great little motels that sit on the side of nearly every highway in America.

And if you’ve seen one of those, there’s a fair chance that you’ll want to stay in Roy’s Motel and Café, in California.

Wholly authentic, the motel was founded in 1938, and aside from one or two technological advances, not much has changed. If you fancy giving it a stab, it’s located just outside of the Amboy Ghost Town, which is a worthy venture all on its own.

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3 Gorgeous European City Break Ideas for Summer http://gobackpacking.com/european-city-break/ http://gobackpacking.com/european-city-break/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27728&preview_id=27728 Prague, Paris and Florence are three historic and fun cities that won’t disappoint if you’re looking for arts, culture and a unique European atmosphere.

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Charles Bridge in Prague

Charles Bridge in Prague (photo: Roman Boed)

Summer is one of the best times to travel to and explore European cities. The long daylight hours and sunny weather mean you can spend more time sightseeing, and in some cities you can actually find discounted accommodation.

Prague, Paris and Florence are three historic and fun cities that won’t disappoint if you’re looking for arts, culture and a unique European atmosphere.

1. Historic Prague

Prague is known as the “city of 100 spires” and it’s in the compact Old Town that you’ll find most of the historic sites including the iconic Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square and of course that crowd-pleasing astronomical clock.

The long summer months offer you plenty of daylight and sunshine to check out the city views from the Petrin Hill observation tower or explore the fascinating Jewish Quarter, some buildings in this area date back to the 13th century.

The nightlife is a mixture of authentic bars and cutting edge nightclubs, and your vacation funds will stretch a lot further as it’s one of the most inexpensive cities in Europe.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame (photo: Carlton Browne)

2. Bohemian Paris

Paris needs no introduction and attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Moulin Rouge are world-famous.

See the sights but make sure to soak up that Parisian atmosphere in local neighborhoods such as Oberkampf and Belleville, where you can mingle with the locals in the inexpensive bars and restaurants.

These historic areas both boast a more relaxed and bohemian atmosphere; Belleville was Edith Piaf’s stomping ground, while Oberkampf is home to legendary hangouts such as the original Café Charbon, which dates back to 1900.

Visit during the month of August when the Parisians take their vacation and you’ll find big discounts on your accommodation.

Dumo in Florence

Dumo in Florence (photo: eGuide Travel)

3. Florence’s Seductive Beauty

Is Florence one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world?

The Tuscan capital certainly always features in the top ten rankings in either category and with its terracotta rooftops, Renaissance architecture, and historic bridges spanning the River Arno; it’s a feast for the eyes.

The Duomo, which took six centuries to complete, is probably one of the city’s most famous attractions but the oldest bridge in the city, the Ponte Vecchio, which has been lined with shops since 1345, should be on your itinerary.

Florence trips during the summer will mean you can take in a few festivals including the Estate Fiesolana for jazz and classical music, throughout July and August.

If you’re looking to enjoy some artistic masterpieces then visit the Galleria degli Uffizi where you can view works by Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

City breaks to Florence, Paris or Prague make for a superb getaway at any time of the year, but there’s always something a little more relaxing about those summer months.

Visit all three, choose your favorite and then return as often as possible.

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Arigato: A Sushi Pioneer in Colombia http://gobackpacking.com/arigato-sushi/ http://gobackpacking.com/arigato-sushi/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 12:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com/?p=27531 Ryan finds Colombia's best sushi at Arigato, celebrating its 10-year anniversary and owned by a Japanese immigrant who moved to Bogotá almost 20 years ago.

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Arigato

The open kitchen at Arigato

He came from Yokohama almost 20 years ago, hoping to contribute a bit of the culture from his native Japan, something he felt was a growing trend worldwide.

Now he’s celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his own Japanese and sushi restaurant in Bogotá, and he just moved to a great new site, the spoils of his success.

Meet Kenji Tokai, the founder of Arigato, home to the best sushi I’ve had in Colombia. It’s actually so good, it reminds me of sushi I’ve had in New York, Los Angeles, Japan.

This restaurant was one of the recommendations of the Bogotá Foodie, a place he said I just had to go if I really like sushi, and as usual, he was right.

We started with the large tempura mixto, a big plate of battered seafood and vegetables for 28,000 pesos (about $11), a great way to start dinner.

Then came the sushi.

My very first portion was a piece of the kenshin maki, a roll topped with salmon with eel inside. The salmon was incredibly fresh, so fresh it felt like it was melting in my mouth, while the flavor of the eel — one of my favorite foods — created a crave-worthy combination.

I later learned that Kenji imports his salmon from Chile every week.

This roll was part of the matsuri combo (51,000 pesos, or about $20), which also included:

  • Kaisen maki (octopus and seaweed salad, two more favorites of mine)
  • Kenji maki (tuna, salmon and perch, with avocado)
  • Salada maki (crab, prawns, cucumber, lettuce and tartar sauce)

They were all great, although, as you can probably tell, the kenshin maki is my favorite of them all.

At the end of the night, we talked to Kenji and I found out that he opened the restaurant with a commitment to the kind of authenticity and quality he is used to in Japan.

When he got to Bogotá in 1999 he started working at Wok, a chain restaurant with a menu that offers a variety of Asian food, everything from Japanese to Vietnamese. He eventually realized he could have his own restaurant, a place where he could use his own recipes, recipes from home.

He and his wife Maki bring in fish daily from the Pacific Coast, a practice that ensures most of the fish they use has never been frozen. If another restaurant does this, I do not know of it.

This is why it can be a little pricey at Arigato, but I’ll pay more for that kind of quality. In fact, I went back the following week.

Arigato

Sushi rolls at Arigato

I was tempted to order the kenshin maki again, but I decided to try three different rolls, all half portions. I went with:

  • Daruma maki (crab, tuna, avocado, cucumber and hot sauce, which I believe was Sriracha, my favorite hot sauce)
  • Ishikari maki (salmon, salmon eggs and cucumber)
  • Takumi maki (crab, perch, avocado, cucumber, onion and plum)

Altogether I spent 51,000 pesos (about $20). That included the extra 6,000 pesos (about $2.38) I paid to have imported tuna from Spain with my daruma maki. It was hard to tell the difference from other tuna, but I think the Sriracha, such a rich sauce, had a lot to do with it.

That would be my last meal at Arigato’s original location, on Calle 76 in the Chapinero Alto, one of Bogotá’s most popular neighborhoods. Kenji and Maki are still in the same barrio, just in a better location: next to Plaza Atlantis and across the street from Parque 80.

It’s slightly bigger, although the interior layout is the same, with the dining tables to the left and right and an aisle through the middle, toward the back of the restaurant, where an open kitchen allows you to watch you’re sushi being made.

It’s a great way for Kenji, Maki and their employees to take pride in the preparation of your food, something they’ve done for 10 years now, and I hope at least 10 more.

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5 Must-Visit Long Distance Bike Trails http://gobackpacking.com/long-distance-bike-trails/ http://gobackpacking.com/long-distance-bike-trails/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27727&preview_id=27727 The world is a big playground, and there are many cycling trails that are suited for different types of bikers.

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Hiawatha Trail

Hiawatha Trail (photo: Robert Ashworth)

When you were a kid, chances are you experienced the thrill of riding a bicycle with your friends and exploring your neighborhood. If not, don’t worry because you can still enjoy the same and greater thrills as an adult.

The world is a big playground, and there are many cycling trails that are suited for different types of bikers. Aside from offering a breath of fresh air, these trails provide picturesque views that will make your trip worthwhile.

To help you get started, check out this short list of highly recommended trails that you can explore with your road racer.

1. Hiawatha Road, Idaho-Montana

This road was once a railroad in America. But now, it has become a bike trail that is popular because of its unique and vintage vibe.

The road spans across 24 kilometers, and it will take you through seven trestles and 10 tunnels. The longest tunnel stretches up to 2.7 kilometers.

The Hiawatha Road is located on the Bitterroot Mountains. Although it is quite difficult to find because of the surrounding evergreens, visiting that destination is totally worth it.

2. Ocean Road, Australia

This trail offers a dazzling view of Australia’s windy southeastern coast.

A single day may not be enough to explore this place because it stretches up to 243 kilometers. But if you can’t stay for more than a day, you can just explore the Torquay road which measures 60 kilometers.

In the Ocean Road, you can also explore a rural farmland, cliff tops, and a snake pass on the Lake Connewarre.

Cyclists

Cycling along the Danube Riber, near Vienna (photo: Brian Burger)

3. Danube Cycle Path, Europe

This biking trail follows the Danube River stretches for 2,897 kilometers across the heart of Europe.

Much of the road is flat and well-paved, making it an ideal destination for families who are new to this type of activity.

4. Udaipur City, India

Known as the Venice of India, the splendid city of Udaipur is best explored when you are riding a bike.

While cycling, you can usually pass by herdsmen who are busy tending to their goats or camels. The pavement can be quite narrow, but the city has a rustic and romantic vibe. The place is lined with forts, palaces, and temples.  

5. Route des Grand Crus, France

This biking hotspot in Burgundy, France is lined with rolling hills, forests, wooded roads, and vast vineyards.

Known as the “Road of the Great Wines,” it offers 800 kilometers for bikers to explore. Along the way, you can also indulge yourself in delicious wine and cheese tastings.

If you know other must-visit cycling destinations that were not part of this list, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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5 Fun Ideas for Your Next Caribbean Holiday http://gobackpacking.com/caribbean-holiday/ http://gobackpacking.com/caribbean-holiday/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 16:01:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27720&preview_id=27720 Whether it’s diving with dolphins, drinking coffee in Jamaica or flying through a rainforest on a zip-wire, here are five ways to have fun in the Caribbean.

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Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo: Sam Viladi)

With stunning beaches and laid back vibes, it’s very hard not to enjoy a break in the Caribbean.

However, experienced backpackers often look for something more than the average resort-style package.

Whether it’s diving with wild dolphins, drinking coffee in Jamaica or flying through a rainforest on a zip-wire, here are five ways to get the most out of your Caribbean adventure.

1. Dive with wild dolphins in the Bahamas

There are great places to dive across in the Caribbean, but one of the best has to be Bimini Island in the Bahamas.

It is one of only a handful of spots in the world where you are almost guaranteed to swim with wild dolphins. A once in a lifetime experience.

2. Immerse yourself in culture in San Juan

Puerto Rico is known as “the island of enchantment” and nowhere is the extraordinary blend of Spanish and American cultures so clear than in the region’s capital, San Juan.

The city’s old style colonial architecture is a testament to a rich historical past.

Explore the old town but do also take a trip to some of the diverse modern neighbourhoods, where you’ll find restaurants, galleries and plenty of nightlife.

The Two Pitons, St. Lucia

The Two Pitons, St. Lucia (photo: cjuneau)

3. See the jungle by zip-wire in St Lucia

Many visitors to the Caribbean stay on the beaches, but if you venture a little inland you will find amazing rainforest and mountainous terrain.

Not for the faint-hearted, the zip-wire in St. Lucia is a 500-foot long run that takes you 30 to 50 feet above the forest canopy.

This is possibly the best way to experience the island’s lush inner landscape, as long as you don’t have vertigo.

4. Have a fresh cup of coffee in Jamaica

Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee is world-renowned, and what better place to try a cup than right in the middle of the mountains where the coffee beans are harvested?

Lying just north of Kingston, the Blue Mountains take on average around two hours to conquer, with spectacular views from the top.

Visit one of the coffee farms on route for a fresh brew and a tour of the estate.

Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach (photo: Katie Thebeau)

5. Swing in a hammock on Seven Mile Beach

Ok, so the list wouldn’t be complete without throwing in a beach in the Caribbean, and this one is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Situated on Grand Cayman Island, Seven Miles is actually only five and a half miles long, but with sand this white and sea this clear, who’s counting?

With picture postcard scenery, breath-taking nature and vibrant culture, the Caribbean has plenty to offer. You just need to know where to look.

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This post was brought to you by Thomson.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Bogotá Foodie: Food Tours in Colombia’s Capital http://gobackpacking.com/bogota-foodie-tours/ http://gobackpacking.com/bogota-foodie-tours/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 12:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com/?p=27471 Ryan finds the best places to eat in one of Latin America's biggest cities by following the Bogotá Foodie, whose food tours cover the Colombian capital.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Bogotá Foodie

La Despensa, a restaurant offering great sandwiches and meat and cheese platters, recommended by the Bogotá Foodie

I’ve been to some big metropolitan areas.

Tokyo: almost 40 million. Sao Paulo: about 20 million. Buenos Aires: around 14 million. Deciding where to eat in these places, all so huge, can be tough.

In Bogotá, visitors are lucky. They have the Bogotá Foodie.

Loon Jin Lio, of Malaysian descent but raised in Brisbane, Australia, has traveled extensively, mainly to experience different cultures, especially different types of food.

He has a good sense for great restaurants, often ending up in the best ones just because he sensed something as he passed by.

Introduced through a mutual friend, he’s made my transition from Medellín to Bogotá easier, at least when it comes to dining out. Every one of his recommendations has been on the money.

A craving for pizza? Try Doce in the Zona G.

Maybe just a good filling sandwich? La Despensa in La Soledad will work.

Any ideas about authentic Indian food? Head to Dhaba in La Estrella.

The most impressive part?

None of the places listed above are part of his food tours. There’s just so much to show, he has decided to base his tours on only a few parts of the city while focusing on local food, an approach that will maximize efficiency and give visitors the best experience possible.

Market

One section of Paloquemao, part of a tour with the Bogotá Foodie

Perhaps the most famous tour offered is Paloquemao. It’s the huge farmer’s market in south Bogotá you might have seen on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. (I most remember Bourdain suffering from altitude sickness, something that made me laugh, a little. I know, I’m terrible.)

As I said, the market is huge, like four grocery stores joined together. A lot of the meat and produce from the countryside arrives here.

The Bogotá Foodie will spend three hours with you, covering every section of this market, sampling different Colombian goodies, and end the tour with a big lunch at one of the market’s eateries.

Even though you could go on your own, I recommend going with Loon. Paloquemao is in south Bogotá after all, not the safest of areas if you get lost.

It’s also the reason to follow him on his south Bogotá tour, which is as authentic as it gets if you really want a feel for the Colombian capital. He says it’s for hardcore foodies.

Like the Paloquemao tour, you’ll have a big Colombian lunch after trying local snacks and exotic fruits, while learning a lot about the history of the city, hence the reason the tour starts in historic downtown.

For those who like sweets, go for the Chapinero/La Macarena tour, which ends with traditional local desserts, but not before enjoying one of the city’s best restaurants and a traditional breakfast among the five-stop, four-hour tour.

Each tour ranges from 150,000 pesos to 180,000 pesos (about $60 to $70), food included, although prices can fluctuate outside those ranges if there are special requests, as the Bogotá Foodie is willing to tailor his tours to his clients preferences. If you’re a vegetarian, he’ll make sure you don’t have to eat meat.

I wish I could go into more detail but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you. You wouldn’t want me to tell you the end of a thrilling movie, would you?

So contact the Bogotá Foodie and take one of the tours. In fact, take them all. Then you can draw your own conclusions. I think you’ll feel as happy as I did.

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My food tour was provided compliments of Bogotá Foodie. 

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Win a Eurail Global Pass for Two with Rail Europe http://gobackpacking.com/rail-europe/ http://gobackpacking.com/rail-europe/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=27751&preview_id=27751 Fill out Rail Europe's online survey for a chance to win a 1st class Eurail Global Pass valid for 2 people (valid in 28 countries, a $1,305 value).

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Rail Europe

Spring has sprung in the northern hemisphere, and with Summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to begin planning a European vacation.

Rail Europe, the global leader in European rail distribution, wants to make this process a little easier.

Take a few minutes to fill out their online survey for a chance to win a 1st class Eurail Global Pass valid for two people. This pass offers unlimited travel in 28 countries and has a value of $1,305.

The deadline for entry is May 13, 2015 and the winner will be chosen at random.

About Rail Europe

Rail Europe is the #1 distributor of rail passes. Use their online planning tools to choose the pass that’s right for you. If you prefer to book individual train tickets to any of their 15,000 destinations in Europe, they offer that option too.

As an aside, I first promoted Rail Europe on Go Backpacking as far back as 1999. They’ve had an online presence since the start, along with a name you can trust.

Give yourself three minutes to fill out the survey right now for a chance to win!

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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