The Magic of San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the biggest players in terms of must see American cities and funnily enough – it’s one of the smallest at only 49 square miles. Within that small space, lays an absolutely magnificent city that offers a vast amount to see and do and better yet – it’s all very easy. Compact, easily to commute around and no time constraints – San Francisco is hiving.

It would be very easy to stay in San Francisco and spend weeks covering very little of what the city has to offer. To help make this easier for you if you are planning a trip to ‘The City by The Bay’.

Things to do in San Francisco

 

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

Upon visiting San Francisco – you are not only expected to see the Golden Gate Bridge, you are obliged. One of the most famous bridges in the world – it’s a sight to behold and will amaze even the most experienced travellers. It’s a huge – 1.7 miles long and it’s estimated that 120,000 vehicles drive across it every day. You can also cross the bridge on foot via the pedestrian walkway and for the keen cyclist – bikes are allowed on the western side. And if you don’t fancy travelling across, you should go and see it anyway as it is said to be one of the most photographed attractions on Earth.
San Francisco, CA, USA
Image Source: Rant Lifestyle

2. Alcatraz

Although a bit of a strange tourist sight – this notorious former prison is a popular choice for the historian and curious traveller among you. Located on an Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, this prison was formally home to some of the United States’ most notorious criminals. The prison was closed in the 1960’s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary and a visit to Alcatraz is truly captivating.  Recorded cell-house tours are available, allowing you to experience the entire history from an educational point.  To reach the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 43.

Alcatraz IslandImage Source: Protails

3. Sample the Culture

San Francisco is a cultural hub and a visit to San Fran would not be complete without experiencing all this wonderful city has to offer.  Home to internationally recognized symphony, opera and ballet companies – you’ll never be short of a thing or do to do and see.  Museum’s come in abundance – The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum and the Palace of the Legion of Honor. The city is dedicated to the finest of classical and contemporary arts and of course is home to California Academy of Sciences which homes an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

 

4. Take a cable ride

One of the best ways to explore the city of San Francisco is by cable car and the city’s cable car system is the world’s last manually operated cable car system.  These cable cars can take you from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, two of the most popular areas of the city.  They are mainly used by tourists and are an iconic site of the city as they travel along the many famous streets and lanes – many of which have appeared in Hollywood movies down the years.

A-cable-car-San-FranImage Source: Fun Cheap SF

5. Sample the cuisine at Fisherman’s Wharf

The last thing to do when in San Francisco is to make the most of the quality local produce and fine cuisine on offer across the city, none more so than in the many restaurants and cafes of the popular Fisherman’s Wharf.  Pier 39 is another popular area for food lovers among you, but if you want to sample some of the best seafood dishes in the world, then take a walk around Fisherman’s Wharf – you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Fishermans-WharfImage Source: Wikipedia

 

 

The Dingle Peninsula – one of Ireland’s most beautiful destinations

Once described as the most beautiful place on earth by National Geographic, The Dingle Peninsula is amongst the most stunning, written about, photographed and talked about places in the whole of Ireland. If the dramatic scenery isn’t enough to tempt you into visiting, then there are a few other fine reasons why you should visit Dingle this year.

5 Reasons to consider a trip to Dingle, Ireland this year

1. History & Language

If you want to experience a true piece of Ireland, there is no such better way than visiting Dingle. As one of Ireland’s Government-protected Irish (Gaelic)-speaking areas, called “Gaeltachts,” you’ll be amazed by the beautiful sounds of the Irish language that surround you here. Dingle is also historically rich; there is no other landscape in Western Europe with the density and variety of archaeological monuments as the Dingle Peninsula. Due to the peninsula’s remote location, and lack of specialised agriculture, there is an extraordinary preservation of over 2,000 monuments. Visit Dingle for a chance to see and experience a history that is very much alive.

 

Dingle-Kerry

 

2. Swim with Fungi; Dingle’s own Dolphin

Not many places in the world can claim to host a dolphin the natural way, offering visitors the chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal in their natural habitat, but Dingle does! Fungi is a male bottle nose dolphin who has taken up residence in Dingle Harbour, for reasons unknown, but many suspect he too was lured by the harbours beauty. In 1984, Paddy Ferriter, the Dingle Harbour lighthouse keeper, first began watching the lone wild dolphin escort the town’s fishing boats to and from port. He has remained here since, during which time he has become something of a local celebrity. Boat trips run from Dingle to see Fungi, which are fee refundable if he doesn’t show up. Wet suits are also for hire, so it is possible to swim with Fungi.

3. Explore Dingle

With so much beauty and scenery, it’s only right to fully explore the area and there are a few very wonderful ways of doing so. Mount Brandon is the largest mountain in the area and the 9th largest mountain in Ireland and so climbing up here will give you an excellent view point, as well as the chance to appreciate some of Ireland’s finest greenery and unusual flora and fauna.  The town of Dingle is also a must see for all those stopping by, filled with tradition, friendly faces and great nightlife – you’ll be in awe of your surroundings.

Traditional-Shop-Kerry

4) Visit the Dingle Brewery

You don’t have to go all the way to Dublin to experience firsthand brewery craft. Dingle opened its brewery doors in 2011, on an historic site which was formally a creamery. You’ll get the chance to experience this beautiful old building, situated just outside Dingle and enjoy all the brewery has to offer. Fine beer is a strong tradition in Ireland and the Dingle Brewery lives up to that tradition.

5) Visit the Great Blasket Island

A trip to the Dingle Peninsula means you have access to so much more around you. A fine example of this is the Great Blasket Island, another beautiful island close to Dingle. Now uninhabited, this scenic island was once home to some of the finest writers Ireland produced, who told great tales in their own Gaelic language.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Ireland this year, be sure to consider Dingle in Kerry along the way. You won’t be disappointed by the warm and hospitable people and the scenery that draws both Irish people and visitors from around the world year after year.

Majorca: The Facts

Majorca is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, millions of people flock there each year to enjoy everything that is on offer. It is one of the best places that I have been fortunate enough to visit, the great weather, friendly locals and fabulous food all come together to make sure that you have a truly memorable experience. There are many great places to stay in Majorca which is perfect, one of my favourites are the family villa holidays in Majorca. So I know you don’t need many reasons to head off it to the sun and I am sure that you will visit Majorca very soon. Here are some great facts about the place that will help you prepare for your holiday.

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The Language

A lot of people think that they need to speak fluent Spanish when they head to Majorca, but however there is no problem if you do not speak Spanish. English is commonly used here because so many tourists visit each year, nearly every bar, restaurant and shop that you go in to you will be able to speak in English. I do however recommend that you try to speak at least a little Spanish. This is a tip for wherever you go in the world, always try to speak a little bit of the local lingo and you will be amazed by how far it goes. wherever I have been in the world I always try to at least say hello and thank you, local people respond so well when you make an effort. So when you are in majorca, please make the effort it will be worth it!

Money

The official Spanish currency is the Euro. You will be able to change money easily whilst in Majorca and there are plenty of ATMS. Make sure that you do your research before you change any money that you have, you may find that your are better off waiting to change your money until you are in Majorca, or you could find that changing it home is much netter value.

Taxis

There are always taxis on hand when you are in Majorca, the best thing is is that they are not overly expensive. They are probably the best and most reliable way to travel around the island, it’s really nice to be able to travel around in taxis without paying a small fortune – you can’t do that back home!

 

The best places to visit in Greece

Greece is known by everyone as being the place where you can go discover ancient civilisation. If you’re not a history buff then there’s no need to worry because there are plenty of other things that will tickle your fancy; quaint villages, sweeping sandy beaches, amazing food and a great friendly atmosphere. It’s only a short flight from the UK so you should take your holiday as soon as possible and fly out to Greece. Without doubt the place has the best food that I have ever tried, the Mediterranean food is so tasty that you won’t want to go back home and when you do you will find the food nowhere near as good! One thing I should mention is that for the health conscious amongst you please forget any idea of diet that you have, you have to eat as much as possible when you are n Greece. There is no way that you can fly all the way there and indulge in every bit of Greek cuisine that you lay your eyes on, if you though Greek food was good back home then wait until you try the real thing! So now you’re going to be eating lots it’s time to tell you about the best places to visit where you can stroll around and burn off those tasty meals. Here are my favourite places to visit on holidays to Greece.

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Rhodes

This is an easy choice for me, it is one of the most popular places in the country. it is so popular because it is not only steeped in history but it also has some amazing beaches as well. What could be better than exploring historical sites in the morning when the temperature is cool and then lounging on the beach for the rest of the day? This is a must see place.

Mykonos

This place is great if you enjoy heading out for a party at night. It’s such a friendly city and is one of the best islands that Greece has to offer. The city is beautiful, it is filled with white washed buildings and sits on the Aegean Sea. This modern city city is fantastic for anyone that is looking for relaxation mixed with a great night life.

Meteora

If heights are not your thing then it’s probably best to mentally prepare yourself before heading here. The breath taking cliffs are stunning, and on top of them you will find a number of monasteries. I personally don’t like heights, but I am so glad I battle my fear and visited Meteora. If you want to take some of the best photos you will will ever take then you have to head to Meteora.

 

Experience traditional China: Kunming

China is an extraordinary place, and I think a major part of its appeal among tourists is the fact that there are just so many experiences you can have here. If it’s traditional China you’re keen to discover, the city of Kunming should definitely be high on your to-do list.

All about Kunming

Kunming is the capital of the Yunnan province, which is in south-west China. One of the things I like most about it is that, despite having all the features you’d expect of a modern city (skyscrapers, massive shopping centres and such), it’s also got heaps of more traditional attractions. So, in my opinion there are few places to get a better experience of China’s past and present.

Another thing I like about it is that it somehow feels quite a bit more laid-back than many Chinese cities – something to do with the mild climate, perhaps, or its beautiful green parks.

What to see and do

Of course, no doubt what you’re most interested in is finding out what you can see and do while you’re here. Below, I’ve highlighted three of my favourite attractions, each of which I think has something quite different (and special) to offer. It’s worth bearing these in mind when organising your holiday to China to make sure you get an itinerary that works for you.

Visit the Bamboo Temple

Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, the Bamboo Temple was rebuilt in the 15th century following a fire. It is later restoration work, carried out in the 19th century, that has really helped to put this place on the map though.

You see, back in the 1800s, Chinese sculptor Li Guangxiu helped out with the temple’s restoration, and when he did he created 500 amazing life-size – and incredibly lifelike – figures, including a series of surfing Buddhas riding on things like unicorns and crabs. It’s rumoured he modelled these creations on people he knew, almost like a caricature – and that these people were none too happy about it!

I should probably warn you that tourists aren’t actually allowed into the room with the statues these days – but you can still catch a glimpse of them as you meander around.

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is one of the best places to go if you want to relax a little. As well as being a lovely place for walks, it’s also a great place for nature-spotting – especially if you’re planning to travel in November, since this is when the red-beaked seagulls are around.

If birdwatching isn’t your thing, though, people-watching is a popular pastime here too. Alternatively, the roads along the park have a lot to offer too if you fancy something a little more lively, with plenty of shops and cafes located here.

Yunnan Provincial Museum

My final suggestion is Yunnan Provincial Museum, which is a great place to learn more about local early cultures. There are around 50,000 artefacts to peruse, including 7,000 bronze items and 4,000 handicrafts.

While all these are very impressive, I think the highlight for most people is the fossilised humanoid teeth, which are around 1.7 million years old!

Discover the geological wonders of Iceland

When it comes to natural beauty, it’s fair to say Iceland takes some beating. After all, this magical land is largely unspoilt by human civilization, with visitors able to dive into volcanic pools, explore lunar-esque landscapes and spot a massive range of fascinating wildlife. And, as if that’s not enough, Iceland’s towns and cities are also fully deserving of their reputation as progressive cultural hubs, with tourists able to join locals in enjoying some of the best contemporary music or vibrant nightlife after a long day getting back to nature.

blue lagoon Iceland
Booking a cruise from Liverpool is a good way to see the country’s most spectacular sights. Here are just a few of the natural wonders it has to offer:

Godafoss Waterfall: Located just off the main highland road, which runs to the north of the country from bustling Reykjavik, Godafoss is a true force of nature. Here the river Skjalfandafljot falls from a height of around 12 m across a width of more than 30 m. Not only does this make for a spectacular sight, especially since the waterfall is surrounded by the natural beauty of the start of the Icelandic highlands, but the noise is also something few visitors are ever likely to forget. The fact that the falls loom large in the mythical history of the Icelandic people, with the first Christians alleged to have thrown their statues of the Norse Gods into the waters following their conversion, only adds to the sense of wonder.

The Blue Lagoon: One of Iceland’s biggest geothermal spas, the Blue Lagoon is also one of its most popular, both among visitors and locals. And it’s not hard to see why. The naturally warm waters are rich in a range of minerals, and as such are said to be highly beneficial to the health, and especially to the skin. Even if you’re fit and healthy, a bathe in the lagoon is still the ideal way to spend a lazy afternoon, with a waterside bar and café meaning you can make a whole day of it.

The Blue Lagoon is just a 40-minute trip from downtown Reykjavik, making it a popular destination among tourists stopping off in Iceland on cruises from Liverpool, plus, in a country where tourists may be shocked by the price of things, an afternoon in the therapeutic waters also represents excellent value for money.

Geysir: Easily one of Iceland’s most breathtaking sights, The Great Geysir, from where we get the English word geyser, is capable of hurling boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. Eruptions are by no means guaranteed (in fact, they have been known to stop altogether for weeks, if not months at a time) but nature-lovers needn’t worry, as the geyser at nearby Strokkur is much more reliable, putting on a spectacular show every few minutes. Additionally, there are dozens more smaller geysers dotted across the Haukadalur Valley, just a short drive from the Icelandic capital.

Skaftafell: Now part of a larger national park, Skaftafell has been inspiring awe in locals and travellers alike for centuries. Here you are able to get close to Europe’s largest glacier and, if you’re into ice-climbing, you can even try your hand at scaling its frozen walls. If, however, you prefer to take it easy, the meadowland surrounding the glacier itself is perfect for walking through some of Iceland’s most beautiful scenery, with dozens of small waterfalls to stumble upon and plenty of native wildlife to spot. Skaftafell is also famed for its mild climate, with the weather warm and sunny in the spring and summer.

 

Reasons why living in London is great!

Year after year people from all over the world choose to move to London. The capital city of England certainly has a great draw that attracts so many people, there are a number of benefits to living in London. Of course not everyone will enjoy living in London, city life is not always for everyone, but here is our list of why so many people choose to head there every year.

Palace-of-Westminster-and-Big-Ben-London1

Fantastic job opportunities

Regardless of what salary you are looking for then London will have it, there are jobs of all types in all industries in the capital city. Like most capital cities it is the hub for all business, tourism and arts. So if you’re looking to be a star in the West End theatre seen you will always be able to find a job in the catering industry to keep you going. London is the center of finance so there are always lots of high end jobs for people to take up.

Travel the world

When you are in London you are in the main European transport hub. There are various airports for you to fly from, fantastic train stations and also great bus services. Wherever you want to go whether it is in the United Kingdom, Europe or anywhere else in the world you will be able to get there from London.

There is so much to do and see

When you live in London you are never short of things to fill your time. There are lots of clubs and sports to join if you want to get fit and meet new people. If you love music then London is the place to be, there is everything from fantastic Jazz to rock and roll. Then there is the West End where you will be able to enjoy some of the best theatre that the world has to offer, there are a number of long running shows there. There are also a number of different things to do that are sometimes different to anything else you have done, a great example are some of the super fun treasure hunts you can go on you should check out Wildgoose if you want to have a great day out!

 

Explore the Maori Culture of New Zealand

While no longer the dominant culture of New Zealand, many people still take an avid interest in the Maori way of life and their fascinating way of life. With so many opportunities for you to experience this unique culture, you may be at a loss of where to start, so to help you along your way, here’s a guide on how to explore the Maori culture of New Zealand!

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Maori Kai Festival

The Maori Kai food festival is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike due to showcases of delicious natural and local foods from the Maori culture. Previously, the traditional foods that you can try in these festivals were reserved mainly for Maori functions and events!

With the increasingly popularity and the awareness it raises, the Maoris are more than happy to let everyone experience their way of life, providing the perfect opportunity to ease yourself into the cuisine side of the culture. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to appreciate the traditional clothes and jewellery that will be worn by the Maori locals.

Lonely Planet has described this festival as one of the highlights of the year for people in New Zealand, with it being held around the month of February. Different areas of the country give the festival a different twist, so even if you have done it before and find yourself in a different area, you will have a whole new experience!

Pasifika Festival

This annual festival is a celebration of everything in the Maori culture, from music to food, arts to dancing. It is without a doubt one of the most significant cultural festivals in the South Pacific and helps preserve many of the old practices of the Maori.

The festival generally lasts for around two days and on the first day you will be treated to a concert of Pacific songs, dances and stories. The following day sees the Auckland’s Western Springs Park transformed into 10 villages, one village from every Pacific Island. This is a great opportunity to sample so many different kinds of Maori culture in a couple of days and should not be missed.

Rotorua

The entire area of Rotorua is steeped in Maori culture and history, making it a great place to experience! Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, and Maori legend states that two fire demons searching for a lost tribe leader are the cause of the heat coming from the Earth. Here, you can explore the geysers, mud pools and steam vents while there are plenty of signs and information points explaining the importance of what you see in the Maori culture.

Te Puia

While many of the Maori cultural festivals give you a taste of the cuisine, none of them can give you cuisine cooked in one of the most ancient Maori methods, the Steambox. The Steambox uses a favourite Maori technique of cooking the food from the hot geysers that spray out from the Earth. You simply choose what you wish to eat for lunch and watch as the Maori chefs cook the food with the heat from the geyser!

Tenerife’s Top Free Attractions for Families Holiday On A Budget

With hours of sunshine all year round and some of Europe’s best beaches, Tenerife is an ideal destination for holidaymakers. There are also plenty of cheap flights available from all major UK airports, making it perfect for anyone travelling on a budget. They say the best things in life are free, so check out our guide to the best purse-friendly attractions Tenerife has to offer. The whole family will love it!

Beaches

It might sound obvious, but what better place to start than Tenerife’s famous beaches? The island certainly isn’t short of golden sands and clear waters where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a swim. After all, it’s completely free to relax, unwind and top up your tan!

Visit El Drago

Located in a park in the town of Icod de los Vinos, the multi-headed Drago Tree is certainly unusual and is said to be up to 1000 years old. You have to pay to get into the park where this huge knarled tree is, but if you head to the town plaza instead you can get a brilliant view of it completely gratis.

Teide National Park

Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to discover Tenerife, and some of island’s most fantastic views can be found at Teide National Park. Its surreal volcanic landscape really does have to be seen to be believed! Alternatively, enjoy a walk around one of the island’s many promenades and coastal paths where you can enjoy an ice cream, enjoy the breath-taking views and see some of the island’s fascinating flora and fauna.

Surfing

If relaxing on the sand isn’t enough for you, dig out your board and take advantage of Tenerife’s excellent surfing conditions. Forget paying for pricy water parks and head to Playa Jardín in Puerto de la Cruz where you can brave the waves and enjoy all the thrills and spills of the water for free.

Sightseeing

Famous attractions like Siam Park don’t come cheap, so take advantage of Sundays on the island where entry to all of Tenerife’s publicly owned galleries and museums is free. Alternatively, if you’re not over there on a Sunday, try using a service like Cheapflights the online comparison website to save some money on flights for the sightseeing. It’s a great way to combine fun and learning for the whole family.

Fiesta!

Mainland Spain is renowned for its fiestas, and The Canary Islands are no exception! Canarians love a celebration and there are no less than 14 fiesta days celebrated throughout the year. Most shops close on fiesta days, but bars and cafes largely remain open and the main plaza is decorated with colourful bunting and a huge stage ahead of the celebrations. Once the sun goes down, local Canarian bands take to the stage to deliver performances of traditional music and singing, and the atmosphere is electric.

Food and drink flows freely and people descend on the plaza to join in with the fun. Canarians are also renowned for being welcoming and hospitable, so tourists are always heartily encouraged to join in too.

In focus: Mount Teide

mount teide

Located in the Teide National Park and stretching to 3,718 metres, Tenerife’s highest mountain is something not to be missed when holidaying on the island. The volcano last erupted in 1909, but there is still a lot of excitement to be found surrounding the peak, which has a plethora of activities on offer.

Here is a guide to some of the outdoor pursuits you may wish to undertake on or around the dormant volcano. It is an opportunity not to be missed if you’re taking a trip here.

Take a hike

While there is a cable car in situ on the mountain that can transport you to the top in just eight minutes, many visitors to Mount Teide prefer to make it to the summit under their own steam. For the majority, this means strapping on your walking boots and completing one of the trails up the mountainside.

It is up to you which route you take as there are three main options to choose from: The Rambleta; Pico Vieja; and La Fortaleza, with the final ascent of the volcanic cone called the Telesforo Bravo.

Going with an organised group or planning your route in advance is imperative to ensure you don’t get lost. If you are coming from the coast be aware that you will gain quite a lot of height during the climb and the air will become noticeably thinner. Be sure to carry enough water for your trek and sun cream to protect yourself in the heat of the Tenerife sunshine.

Explore underwater caves

During one of the volcano’s eruptions the lava cooled forming underwater caves and bizarre rock formations. This makes for the perfect place to enjoy a diving expedition with a difference. Don your scuba gear and explore this other-worldly landscape. There are the remnants of sunken ships, as well as stingrays and angel sharks to encounter.

Discover a network of lava tubes

As well as areas filled with water, previous eruptions have also left air pockets as the lava has cooled. These spaces make up one of the most extensive networks of lava tubes found anywhere in the world.

Take the opportunity to wander through this impressive natural phenomenon, which includes the Cueva del Viento, stretching for 17 kilometres. Guided tours are well worth undertaking as they are informative and help you to find your way.

Take to the air

There is nothing quite like the feeling of paragliding over a volcanic landscape with the amazing views stretching out in front of you. A tandem trip is easy to organise and relatively inexpensive. You will not pass over the peak of Mount Teide itself, but will be able to see it as you swoop around the national park.

Visit at night

Mount Teide really is the destination for all times of the day and night as you can sit and look at the stars once the sun has gone down. The Canary Islands are blessed with especially clear skies and the volcano’s position away from big cities means that it is free of light pollution.

It is a magical spot to enjoy some stargazing – a pursuit that many people only ever have the time to indulge in while they are on holiday. You can start the evening with a barbecue just as dusk is falling, as there are plenty of facilities for this throughout the national park, and make a real event of it.