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.

 

Stroll Through History on a Walking Tour of Vieux-Montréal

Montreal is one of North America’s oldest cities, with architecture going all the way back to the 1600s. It’s also the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. Vieux-Montréal, the oldest part of the city, remains much the same as it did in the city’s earliest days. A walking tour of Old Montreal will show you some of the city’s charming European culture and quaint cobblestone streets. If you’re visiting Montreal, you could check here to find the best deals on hotels near this neighborhood.

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Begin Your Tour at Pointe-à-Callière

Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History, is located on the very site where Montreal was founded almost 400 years ago. The Pointe-à-Callière is named after Louis Hector de Callière, the third governor of Montreal who built his house on this spot in 1688. The Pointe-à-Callière is the largest archeological museum in Canada. Decades of excavations have revealed more than a millennium of human habitation here.

Continuing Your Tour

Your next stop will be the Centre d’Histoire de Montreal, the Montreal Historical Center. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know about Montreal’s history. The structure was built as a fire station in 1904 and was reopened as a museum in 1983 after being decommissioned in 1972.

Next, you’ll visit the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art where you can take interactive tours, participate in creative workshops or enjoy one of the museum’s regular events. The museum is open to anyone who wants to learn about contemporary art, with free interactive tours available.

The nearby Centaur Theatre showcases some of the best English-language theater in Quebec. See award-winning shows put on by some of the world’s best actors of the stage and screen. After the show, walk down Rue Saint-François-Xavier and take a right on Rue Saint-Jacques to visit the Bank of Montreal Museum. This museum honoring Canada’s first bank, which opened in 1817, contains old banknotes and 19th-century banking documents, mechanical moneyboxes and other banking objects of historical significance.

Montreal Science Centre and the Old Port

You’ll have to cross Rue de la Commune to get to the Montreal Science Centre on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, but it’s worth it for the museum’s exciting and interactive exhibits. You can learn about the technology we use to protect the environment and practice more sustainable living, monitor maritime cargo shipping, make hockey sticks stronger and keep bridges standing.

When you leave the Science Centre, check out the Old Port of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, which offers a range of activities for everyone in the family all year long. Enjoy a walk on the riverfront or rent a paddle boat. In the winter, the Old Port is home to the city’s largest natural outdoor ice-skating rink.

Marché Bonsecours

If you’re interested in ceramics, the Bonsecours Ceramic Centre on Rue Saint Gabriel showcases pieces by emerging artists as well as internationally recognized names. Students come from all over Quebec to train at the Ceramic Centre, but you can see stunning examples of the best in ceramics art as well.

Perhaps the bigger nearby draw is the Marché Bonsecours, or Bonsecours Market. The building itself is more than 100 years old, and is the city’s oldest and biggest public market. The two-story, domed neoclassical structure once held banquets, exhibits and festivals, and was where grocers and other merchants sold their wares. Now, it’s home to some of the city’s finest upscale boutiques.

Ending Your Tour

Perhaps one of the more picturesque parts of your tour of Vieux-Montréal, the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is also home to the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum at Rue Saint Paul. The chapel was built in 1771 on the ruins of a previous chapel that burned down in 1754.

Marguerite Bourgeoys was the remarkable woman and teacher who inspired the Montrealers to build this first chapel in 1675. She traveled to France in 1672 to bring the wooden statue of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours back, which stands in the reliquary in the left side-altar.

Near the end of your tour, visit Chateau Ramezay, the first structure classified as a historic monument in Quebec. The castle, built by Montreal governor Claude de Ramezay in 1705, opened as a museum in 1895. It encompasses more than 500 years of local history. Its collections include almost 30,000 artifacts including paintings, printed materials and furniture.

Finish your tour with the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site, Montreal’s only Victorian home museum. See what life was like for members of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, and learn about this important Canadian historical figure.

Old Montreal is one of the most exciting parts of this historic city. You can retrace your footsteps through the district at night to see the historic streets and architecture at their loveliest!

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel photo credit: Marcio Cabral de Moura / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

About the Author: Louise Vinciguerra is a native of Brooklyn. She loves gardening and traveling almost as much as she loves content.

5 Tips to Have A Successful Camping Trip

I read a great article, here, with lots of camping tips, but I wanted to make one of my own. I hope it’s useful to you. Camping season is here, inspiring many city dwellers to pack up and head out into the wild to try and get some peace, some quiet, and some fresh air during their days off.  That being said, a camping trip will only be peaceful and fun if you properly plan ahead and make sure that you’re prepared for your trek out into the wild.  Here are our 5 top tips that will help you have the camping trip of a life time:

 

Hike to Your Destination

If you plan on driving right on in to your camp site, then get ready for crowds and a noisy campground – you’ve been warned!  Any time that you can drive directly to a site means that you’ll have 5 to 10 times or even more people being around you at any given time.  So if you’re going for “peace” and “quiet”, choose to hike to your site. Tours such as Kakadu tours in the Australian outback will offer endless peace for people chasing some serenity.

Even if you have to only hike a couple of kilometres/miles down the road to get to your camping destination, you’ll be cutting down the amount of people around you and giving yourself the promise of a far more relaxing camping experience.

 

Eat Well

Why is it that when people think “camping” they immediately think “hot dogs”? Even if you’re camping for only two days or so, you’ll undoubtedly tire of hot dogs by lunch time on the second day.  Add some variety to your menu and throw in some of your favourite treats from home.  Haul along that watertight cooler and throw it in the lake if you want to have some cool bevies to enjoy as you lounge in the lake under that hot afternoon sun (though don’t forget to tie the cooler down!) and bring:

  • A camping stove
  • At least one frying pan
  • A plate, bowl, and set of utensils for everyone coming along on the trek.

 

Comfortable Accommodation

This depends on how tough you are and how lightly you sleep. If you are a slave to comforts and can’t stand the idea of being away from your bed, then make sure you bring an inflatable mattress and a pillow. In for a penny, in for a pound; if you love comfort, you could always glamp and get a big fancy bell tent from one of the higher-end tent stores like Boutique Camping in the UK, or make sure you have a look on Glamping Hub if you’re living in America. But, if comfort isn’t that important to you, and you don’t want to carry something so heavy, then the smallest, light weight tent you can get hold of will probably do. After all, you’ll probably spend most of the time outside and only use the tent for sleep.

 

Bring the Essentials

This means bringing along a real first aid kit (not just band aids and some antibacterial cream), a compass, rain gear, matches, a map, and water.  It’ll only take you a few minutes to put these things together, but it’ll be well worth it should you need to use them on your trip.  Some other essentials include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Rope
  • Bear spray
  • Propane

 

Be Friendly With Campers and Park Staff

To get the inside scoop on where the best trails are or what the history of the area you’re camping on is, then you need to make friends with the experienced campers in the area as well as the park staff.  Get friendly with the ranger and the camp host.  Even saying “hi” to them every morning while you cook over your Bunsen burner stove will go a long way in helping you get the information on the area.

 

Less Is More

When it comes to camping, you don’t want to go all out and bring every single thing that you think that you may need.  Stick to the “less is more” principal and bring along only the basics.  Don’t bother spending a ton of cash on you camping gear and just stick with what you know you’ll definitely need.

 

 

Best Fine Dining in Perth

With such an abundance of restaurants and cafes in Perth, it can be hard to choose where to go. Here are five of the best fine dining restaurants this city has to offer. Let the gastronomic marathon commence.

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Restaurant Amuse

Run by husband and wife team, Hadleigh and Carolynne Troy, Restaurant Amuse is a multiple-award winning (17 at last count) restaurant featuring modern Australian cuisine. The restaurant is known for its 9-course dégustation menu, which takes seasonal, local ingredients and culinary creativity to produce cultural fusion masterpieces. Oh, and it’s paired with lots of rare wines. They cater to specific dietary needs by offering vegetarian and pescatarian dégustations as well as gluten free options. The chefs push the boundaries of both dish and presentation in order to keep the tastebuds ‘amused.’

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Bistro Guillaume

This French restaurant brings the bistros of Paris to Perth. The dining room is sumptuous and inviting, with contemporary fixtures and bright green accents. It’s all about food with friends here, making it perfect for those who like to spend a leisurely evening with good food and conversation. Acclaimed French chef Guillaume Brahimi is serving a menu filled with provincial French dishes including gratin dauphinois and a mind-blowing Passionfruit Soufflé.

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Halo

It’s all about the views. Halo is in a prime location at Barrack Street Jetty with a scenic outlook of the esplanade and the Swan River. Maybe you’ll even spot a dolphin as you dine. Halo restaurant serves up contemporary Australian cuisine with affordable prices and impeccable service. Being so close to the water, this restaurant specializes in fresh, local seafood although it still caters to meat lovers with succulent chicken, venison, lamb, and steak dishes.

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Balthazar

Balthazar is sophisticated, yet relaxed. Men in suits talk business and the wails of an accordion pierce the air (sometimes). This charming modern Australian bistro has a cellar feel as hundreds of wine bottles are scattered around the restaurant, giving a nod to the awesome wine list forthcoming. The wine list is carefully arranged and extensive, with over 400 options to choose from. The food is complex and lovely all around, with options such as roasted figs in honey fromage frais with rocket and mouth-watering pork shank.

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The Loose Box

The chef and owner of The Loose Box is Alain Fabrègues, who has received both France’s highest culinary award, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France and a French knighthood Chevalier Dans L’Ordre National du Merite, for his contributions to French cuisine. Reservations are essential and there is only a 7-course dégustation menu. Needless to say, this is serious cuisine. Fabrègues combines fresh Australian produce with classical French culinary principles to produce masterful dishes such as Daube de Boeuf Aux Chataignes. The restaurant is nestled in the suburbs in a cozy house setting.

5 Tips for Dealing with Culture Shock

Culture shock 1Dealing with culture shock can be a surprisingly difficult challenge for some people that are either traveling abroad for the first time, or delving into a much more foreign culture than what they’ve experienced in the past. It’s tough to prepare for the first steps out of the modern, air-conditioned Delhi airport, when the noise and smell and sights hit you, the autowallahs surround you, and the beggars surround you. When you arrive at a homestay in a Masaai village in Tanzania, you can’t do much to get in the mindset of little girls being stronger than you, sharing a bed with a goat, or giving up on identifying what it is that you’re eating. Culture shock can be overwhelming, and make travel that much more difficult. Here are some tips for combating it:

 

Culture shock 21. Know what you’re going into

If you take some time researching the place that you’re going, understanding a little bit of the local customs, and knowing at least a little bit what to expect, your transition will be infinitely easier. Get information from guidebooks, travel blogs, national websites, novels about the country, or whatever else you find easiest to acclimate with. You will find many moments where you instantly recognize a custom that would otherwise be totally baffling to you had you not read about it beforehand.

 

2. Learn a few words

You’re always going to feel like a little bit of an idiot saying the same three Thai phrases over and over again, but they really do help. Being able to say simple pleasantries, ask how much something costs and understand the answer, and a few emergency phrases will help a lot. As you become more comfortable with the culture, you can expand your vocabulary, but it’s good to have at least a tiny bit before you arrive.

 

3. Find patterns

Diving into a place that is totally foreign from everything you’ve ever experienced is great, but don’t overstretch yourself. Many backpackers arrive in a city, see the top recommended sites, and move on within two days. This isn’t recommended, especially when you’re first starting out. Find a comfortable guesthouse, get to know the owners, ask them lots of questions. Learn your way around the neighborhood, go to the same noodle lady on the corner every day until she knows what you want better than you do, and otherwise ease into things. Then you can move on with a much better basis.

 

Culture shock 34. Band together

Other foreigners will be going through the same experience as you, and can be an excellent resource in information and retaining sanity (not to mention talking you out of making bad choices). This is especially true if you’re traveling alone. Find comfort and familiarity in people with similar backgrounds to your own, and use their advice and company to get a better foothold wherever you are. That’s not to say that you should be dependent, or only have an “expat experience.” The more you adapt over time, the less you’ll need other foreigners to help you out.

 

5. Reminders from home

Sure, traveling with your stuffed bear you’ve had for 20 years might like funny to the locals, but who cares? If it gives you a sense of security, it’s worth it. Skype home. Have your parents send you something special that you can’t find where you are (cheddar cheese, maple syrup, good coffee, tampons, whatever). You will be a happy person.

 

Immersing yourself in a new culture doesn’t have to be intimidating. While some degree of shock is inevitable, it’s easy to manage by following a few simple tips. Above all, don’t be scared of trying new things!

 

 

5 Tips for Traveling with a Partner

Traveling with a partner 1Solo long-term travel can be a very lonely business. While some people may find this to be a preferable, it is generally more common on the backpacker trail to see groups of friends and couples. Traveling with someone with whom you are in a relationship can be an endlessly rewarding experience, but it also carries with it some potential pitfalls. Here are five tips for making the most out of your trip and your relationship:

1. Get some time apart
Living together, eating together, seeing sites together, taking the bus together…you may easily find yourself doing absolutely nothing without your partner. For a short trip, there’s generally nothing wrong with this. But after a certain point, you need to allow at least a little bit of distance. Constant contact with a person drives both people crazy, especially in situations that are at times stressful (like navigating the logistical, financial, and emotional pitfalls of extended time on the road). It’s also good to establish your own impressions and relationships with a place. In other words, every memory that you have of this trip afterwards should not be dominated by your partner’s presence in it.

2. Make collective decisions
Many partnerships are dominated on some level by a personality that is more assertive. While this person may not rule every aspect of the relationship, the extensive planning and logistical work inherent in long-term travel may all fall to them even if neither of you realize it. Make sure that you are making decisions together, so that both of you get to do what you want and no one feels overworked or under-appreciated.

Traveling with a partner 23. Meet other people
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your comfort zone. This prevents many couples from expanding their social experience by meeting other travelers or locals. If you are traveling with a partner, it is important to make an extra effort to be social with other people. If a group of people is going from your hostel to get dinner, join them. If there are other foreigners on the local bus, talk with them. It’s especially easy to link up with other couples and find good travel partnerships in that way.

4. Keep a blog or email list
Between the two of you, there are likely a million people back home that are interested in what you’re up to. Coordinate together to send an email update to everyone at once, or better yet, keep a travel blog. Review the best hosting accounts available so you can host your own blog to track your journey. This will allow you to keep everyone at home abreast, but also act as a journal and place that you can put photos to words for your own future memory-keeping. It’s much easier to keep up a travel blog if you alternate posts rather than one person writing everything.

Traveling with a partner 35. Communicate your feelings
This is relationship advice that applies under any circumstances, but it can be especially important when traveling because of the extra stress, proximity at all times, and distractions. Make sure that you are on the same page, and if you aren’t, make sure your partner knows. Be honest, even if it leads to conflict, and then focus on solving any disturbances.

Traveling with a romantic partner can be an immensely strengthening experience, but it has risks. Follow these tips, and hopefully you can avoid any potential pitfalls along your path.

5 Common Health Problems for Backpackers

If you’re on the road for any amount of time, you’re likely to run into a myriad of minor health issues. None of these are generally worth ending your trip for, but it does pay to know what your poor body and mind are likely to undergo as you traipse around the globe. Here are five of the most common:

 

5 common health problems 11. Traveler’s Diarrhea

Nothing is guaranteed in this life but death and the inevitability of contracting Delhi Belly/Mummy’s Tummy/Montezuma’s Revenge. Yup, you’re going to get the runs. You can put it off by drinking bottled water and avoiding ice and uncooked fruits and veggies, but sooner or later your luck will run out. Fortunately, this affliction generally hurts nothing but your pride (so long as you lay off the spicy food), and passes within a few days. Stay hydrated, eat plain rice and toast, take OTC medications, and antibiotics only if it becomes too severe. If you venture out of your room, bring lots of TP—the next bathroom you rush into may not be equipped.

 

2. Dehydration

It’s hot, you’re carrying 20 kilos of stuff you were sure you would need when you were packing two months ago, and this damn restaurant charges too much for bottled water. Without your mom reminding you to drink lots of water, you’ve forgotten to do so, and now you’re in for it. Extreme dehydration can be quite dangerous and result in an unpleasant trip to the local clinic for IV fluids and possibly overnight monitoring. Drink your fluids. Booze doesn’t count.

5 common health problems 23. Motorbike accidents

Sure, renting a scooter for a few dollars and riding around with your lady on the back can be the best part of a trip to a rural area in a foreign country. It seems easy enough, and there isn’t much traffic to worry about, until you hit that speedbump. There’s always a speedbump that has no purpose other than to maim foreigners. Wear a helmet, drive slowly, don’t listen to music, and be as vigilant as humanly possible. It sucks to carry your pack while wearing a cast.

 

4. Stress and headaches

Adapting to the insanity of life in developing countries can be overwhelming. Noise, heat, pollution, and annoyance with these %$&#&@%$ tuk tuk drivers can get to your head easily and cause psychological and physical pain. Add to that the strain of being constantly on the move, and you have a recipe for a pretty bad day. Take time to relax, get a massage, and check into a hotel that costs more than $5 once in a while just to keep hold of your sanity.

 

5 common health problems 3

5. Alcohol and drug overdose

Sure, you’re not that kind of person, but we know about that happy shake you had on Koh Phanang, and that wild night in Goa. Add cheap liquor and good times to the mix, and there’s potential for some serious damage. Moderate your intake of any mind-altering substances that you choose to imbibe, be as sure as possible that what you’re taking is safe, and stick with your friends. Don’t mix substances, and have relevant emergency contact numbers readily available. Every year, young people die very tragically while having the time of their lives. Don’t be one of them.

 

With a few basic precautions, you can avoid having your trip affected or even ruined by these common problems. Take care of yourself, and keep adventuring.

 

 

5 Rainy Holiday Websites

It happens to everyone at some point: the trip of a lifetime, meticulously plans, comes to a shuddering halt due to an unexpectedly early onset of the monsoon season, which quickly takes on Biblical proportions and threatens to sweep away anyone not hiding under the bed in their a guesthouse. Rainy days trapped in the hotel certainly put a damper n your trip, but they don’t have to ruin it. Here are five websites to keep you busy while you wait out the weather:

5 Rainy Holiday Websites 11. Pinterest
Humor, inspiration, DIY projects, photography, recipes, advice—no matter what you’re interested in, you can find it here. Pinterest operates on a system of publically bookmarking captioned photos into categories that you create. Browsing through the pins of friends and strangers is sure to result in fun discoveries and an endless amount of time consumption. While individuals of any gender will have fun exploring, the site’s demographics and communal interests ensure that if you have either weddings or babies on your mind, you’ll never leave.

2. StumbleUpon
True to the expression, this site allows you to come across unexpected gems from across the internet. It’s less organized and social than Pinterest, but more likely to result in bizarre and hilarious websites and videos that you’ll want to share with friends. It’s especially good for humor, but once again you can find endless links to quality pages on just about any topic.

5 Rainy Holiday Websites 23. Gambling websites
Make money without leaving your room! Sites like http://www.luckynuggetcasino.com offer blackjack, video poker, roulette, slots, and tons of other games to play. Start off trying out your favorites just for fun, and then you can start wagering real money when you’re more confident with your strategies and skill level. Lucky Nugget and other sites work well on mobile devices by all major companies, so you can still get just as much out of them if you’re not traveling with a netbook or laptop. If you can’t go outside and experience the place you’re in, at least put some extra cash in your account to enjoy it more once the rain clears up.

4. Project Free TV
We at The Wanderkind don’t condone breaking the law, but as long as the content is already hosted by someone else…we’re not going to tell you to not catch up on your favorite shows. Stream the latest seasons of that cliffhanger drama, or go back to the pilot of your all time favorite classics and start from the beginning. As long as you enjoy at least a decent wifi connection, you can find it all here. Queuing up multiple episodes and having a marathon is our recommended method.

5 Rainy Holiday Websites 35. Wikitravel
Get up-to-date recommendations from other travelers on the next place you plan to go. Far more productive than the other options listed here, and nowhere near as self-indulgent. Travel smart by building on the advice and experiences of others that have come before you.

You should never miss out on your holiday just to sit on your computer all day. But if the weather just won’t cooperate, we hope that these suggestions will help you stave off the boredom and leave you refreshed and excited when it’s time to get back out there. Enjoy!