Monthly Archives: September 2014

Experiencing the Galapagos in style

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Out of all the natural environments on Earth, none quite has the fame that the Galapagos Islands possesses. Back in the 19th century, a naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin visited these isles as part of a global journey aboard the HMS Beagle, and it was here he witnessed the vastly different creatures which led to him positing his now famous theories of natural selection and evolution.

Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Darwin, nobody can deny the beauty of its geography and its flora and fauna, and it is this fact that brings countless travelers to the shores of the Galapagos every year. Located more than 1,000 kilometres from the South American mainland, the shocking differences in animal and plant life here will fascinate you at every turn, making your decision to come here well worth the money you will spend on a trip here.

Here’s how you can experience the Galapagos in style…

A room with a grand view

While many visitors here are content to slum it in budget hotels and hostels, you have no desire to rough it on a tropical island without glorious A/C, a plush mattress that feels like a cloud, and a property that feels like an immaculately kept castle.

The Royal Palm Hotel definitely satisfies all of the following criteria, as well as many others. Your home away from home for your week in the Galapagos is located up in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, and with a fine dining restaurant, a refined bar, and a relaxing pool/jacuzzi on site, you won’t ever want to leave.

Observe one of the world’s most fascinating habitats

One of the absolute must-do activities that one should undertake while on holidays in the Galapagos is a tour through some of the most unique natural habitats found in this island chain. It is recommended that you should take a tour on a smaller yacht than on the bigger ships, as not only is the experience far more intimate, they are much more environmentally friendly and are easier to dock at some of the tighter coves in the national park (whereas the big boats cannot).

On these tours, you will see rare birds, lizards and tortoises enjoying life in their unique habitat, one that cannot be found elsewhere on Earth.

Savour the island’s best cuisine

While you could have dinner at your resort every night, on some nights you will want to have a night out on the town instead. On Santa Cruz, that town is Puerto Ayora, and it is here you can find places like Angermeyer Point Restaurant if you wish to sample the bounty of the sea, La Garrapata if you wish to sample a taste of Ecuadorian cuisine, and if you wish to choose from the cuisine of the world, Il Giardino is highly regarded by both tourists and locals alike!

Living Like A Local In Barcelona

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Barcelona is an amazing city to see as a tourist, but there is much more appeal if you dig in and commit to living in this place like a local. The standard sights can be exhausted in a matter of days, but the hidden gems found within Barcelona’s numerous barrios will keep you walking, eating, and discovering for weeks on end.

In order to take advantage of this, it is vital that you spend time living like a local in Barcelona. The following guide will help you uncover the hidden spots that would otherwise not be found by those in town for a fleeting visit, so if you want to pack your bags and head to one of the most stylish cities in Spain afterward … good! You’ll be much better off for it.

Let’s get started!

Find an awesome neighborhood

There are many uber cool places where one can base themselves during their extended stay in Barcelona, of which the most desired is Gracia. The feel of this portion of these seething metropolis is more like a town than a city, which isn’t hard to understand once you realize that it was a town when it was swallowed by the rapidly expanding city on its doorstep.

Trendy youth love the style of this area, as well as El Born, which boasts no shortage of stylish boutiques, restaurants and high fashion shops. The beach is within walking distance from this well-located sector of the city, making it all the more desirable.

Dine where Barcelonans dine

Don’t light your money on fire at the overpriced restos in the tourist districts, as there are plenty of amazing dining options in other portions of Barcelona where value for money is much better. Can Eusebio is an excellent place on Vila i Vila where the tapas are much more generous and delicious than in the tourism areas, as the crowds on Fridays attest.

Don’t want to venture far from the beach, but still want to nosh like a local? Just five minutes away on Carrer Doctor Trueta is Savigovi, a canteen-style eatery that serves amazing lunch meals for under ten Euros!

Do what the locals do

As mentioned earlier, the main sights in Barcelona will last you for maybe a week at the most. After that, the local wonders of this eclectic city are yours to discover. Start by having a picnic in Parc de la Ciutadella, with your lunch items being procured from an earlier visit to Mercat de la Barceloneta, where an abundance can be found.

After a slow and satisfying meal, take cover from the intense afternoon sun to see the Museo del Modernismo Catalan, a new museum dedicated to the bleeding edge of the visual arts in Catalonia.

Top Leaf Peeping Destinations in North America

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While summer may be drawing to a close, the fall has plenty of attractions that make it a well-loved season in its own right. The oppressive heat and humidity that plagues us all will be departing, leaving behind cool and crisp mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons, the chill of the night will begin to kill off those pesky mosquitoes, and soon, farmer’s markets will be overflowing with healthy produce as the time to harvest the crops rapidly approaches.

The best part of all though, comes when the leaves on the trees begin to transform into a kaleidoscope of hot colors, breaking out in various shades of yellow, orange and red. With each succeeding weekend getting chillier than the next, high season for leaf-peeping in North America will soon be upon us.

Why not take to the roads and take in the splendor of this breathtaking time of year before the season’s first big storm blows this natural masterpiece away? The following three routes represent the top leaf peeping destinations in North America, so whether you decide to book an overnight or do it all in one big day trip, you’ll be taking in one of the aspects that make fall the great season that it is!

1) Agawa Canyon, Ontario, Canada

Our pick for Central Canada’s top leaf peeping destination of 2014 isn’t actually a highway like our other two selections, but a railway that runs within a river canyon that has carved out a spectacular route through the study bedrock of the Canadian Shield near Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.

This train trundles alongside the Agawa River, and boasts incredible views of maple tree studded bluffs on either side, causing these steep slopes to catch fire with shades of crimson red.

2) Route 100, Vermont, USA

As a whole, New England has a world famous reputation for fall colors, but the best mix of leaves and rugged topography can be found in the charming rural state of Vermont. Route 100 takes you across this small but beautiful state, combining brilliant oranges and reds with bucolic farmland and the subtle but gorgeous Green Mountains (which by October, it will be anything but!).

3) Florence-Eugene Highway, Oregon, USA

Many people write off the western part of North America as a whole, due to the fact that maple trees aren’t native to this portion of the continent. However, the flora that can be found central portions of Oregon challenge the notion that leaf peeping can’t be done in the west.

Dogwoods take up the slack on the red portion of the color scale along the Florence – Eugene highway, which is a route that takes you from the farmland of the interior, to the misty and moody environs of the Oregon Pacific Coast.