Tag Archives: country

Our Etna Experience

Each holiday has at least one big highlight, and while we were in Sicily, one of the highlights was visiting Etna. I admit, it was long overdue – in fact, visiting Sicily was long overdue! I bet not many Maltese people can say that they have not been to Sicily by the age of thirty. The thing is, that I am fascinated with the UK, and I mostly ignored all other countries for a big chunk of my life. It was in 2016 that I started exploring properly and I have not looked back ever since.

We left Etna for our very last day, it being so close to Catania airport. We arrived at around 9:30AM after a two hours drive from where we were staying. The Etna car park, by the cable cars was almost full. It happened to be May the 1st, which is a bank holiday in most countries, so there were a lot of tourists there.

Steffi enjoying Etna, Sicily!

We bought our tickets and made our way to the queue for the cable cars. Once we were at a reasonable height, we queued again for 4×4-style buses. Most of the tourists were laughing hard while we made our way on what we could only describe as a bumpy ride!  It took us to almost to the top of the volcano in no time. It was rather astonishing seeing people walking all the way up from ground level, seeing that Etna is 3,500 meters high up. I bet it takes most of the day going up and then down. We thought it was money well spent as this way we could enjoy walking around and inside the craters for a longer time.

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As you set foot out of the bus, you realise that the temperature changed drastically. From almost 20 degrees to around 2 degrees! Once you get accustomed to the change of weather, you start to embrace the surroundings. The view is breathtaking, the colour of the gravel varies from black to red to yellow. I have never seen so many colours on such a huge stretch of mountain-like land. It was simply amazing being there. No words were enough to describe what we saw, what we felt being so high up, on such a clear day. You could see steam coming out, touching the floor underneath your feet feels warm. You could tell you are walking on top of an active volcano. A bit scary and risky, but it’s an experience I will never forget.

We spent roughly two hours walking and exploring, and around three hours in total including the transport. The souvenir shop comes highly recommended. While we were there we tried several liquors and the famous mandorla wine. We ended up buying some, as well as lava made statues and decor, adding onto the issue we already had since we traveled with just a hand-luggage for a five day long holiday! On the way down to the car-park, there is a restaurant which in our opinion had the best arancini in Sicily. Do give them a try if you feel peckish!

5 Simple Ways to Wow Your Wedding Guests

You’d like to think that simply looking your stunning best will be enough to make your wedding guests say ‘wow,’ and it will! But it’s also true that every bride looks amazing on their special day. If you want to make yours stand out from the crowd, then you’ll want to go the extra mile to make it memorable. Below, we take a look at five ways you can make your guests feel the love – and have a day they’ll always remember.

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Pick a Unique Venue

You could pick a venue that’s close to where you live, but where’s the fun in that? There are a million and one unique, beautiful venues across Europe, and with inexpensive flights available to and from many countries, it’s not that much of a hassle to ask your friends and family to travel overseas. If you’re not of an overly traditional bent, then you might want to consider getting married away from the church. A beautiful ceremony set among lush woodlands, with fairy lights making the space look extra magical, for example, is guaranteed to impress your guests.

Make a Strong First Impression

Of course, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to wow your wedding guests before they reach the ceremony. You can make a strong first impression by investing in beautiful wedding invitations, and by asking your guests to RSVP with added details – such as a song they’d like to hear at the wedding party. You may even ‘wow’ your guests by simply asking that they don’t bring anything other than themselves – that means no gifts – to the wedding, which is a touching detail if the ceremony is taking place overseas. Get creative with your invites, and you’ll have people keenly anticipating the fun days to come!

Riding in Style

The ceremony and the party rarely take place at the same place, so how are your guests going to get from one place to the other? Normally, this will involve a series of taxis, but there’s not going to be anything normal about your wedding! Instead, put on some funky transport, such as a themed party coach, or limos, or – if it’s not too far – a series of horse carriages for everyone. It’ll be much more exciting than having everyone patiently queuing for the next series of taxis to turn up.

Extra Touches

You’re going to have people from all walks of life attending your wedding; relatives, old friends, work colleagues, and so on, and they’re not all going to know one another. So why not help them up by adding a “who’s who” to the seating plan? You can show everyone how they know each other through six degrees of separation. It’s a great way to move past small talk and onto the fun times!

And Relax

You’ve got a dance-floor; how about a place to relax? Some people don’t want to dance all night but do want to be involved. Create a space that allows them to be involved and also unwind. They’ll love you for it.

Travel Plans, But Empty Pockets? Explore The World on a Budget!

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As the saying goes, nobody has ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ According to research, one of the things people do regret not doing more of is travelling- and so if every year you vow to travel more but never do now is the time to make a change. You don’t need loads of money to see new places, so if you have the opportunity to take some time out and broaden your horizons with travel you should definitely go for it. Here are some of the ways you can go about it if you don’t have a whole lot of money in the bank.

Earn As a Freelancer

When you work as a freelancer, you can take your job with you when you travel. All you need is a laptop and you can continue earning money while you’re away. It could be blogging, Youtube, freelance writing- once you have regular work coming in you know that you have a way of earning additional money while you’re away. You can get free wifi in lots of places, from hotels to coffee shops and restaurants unless you’re going somewhere very remote. If you have plans to travel in future and are a huge fan of all things travel, starting a Youtube channel or blog in the year or so before is a smart move- then when you go away yourself you could track your trip.

Work in Another Country

Moving to another country for work is another option. Not only could you improve your career prospects in some cases, but you also get the opportunity to live in a new place. It’s different from being a tourist since a lot of your time will be dedicated to working, however you really get to know a place when you live there. You will learn about their customs and cultures, their food, meet lots of new people in a different way than perhaps you would as a tourist. You could search for jobs in Singapore to jobs in Australia, America- wherever has interested you as a country why not go for it. You could move out for six months, a year, five year, permanently- whatever suits you. But you’ll get to explore and understand a new part of the world and support yourself while you’re there. Voluntary work is another option, you won’t get paid but you get to spend time in another country and help out, in return for accommodation and food.

Go on a Road Trip

Road trips are something that most of us have on our travel bucket list. And with incredible routes in different places in the world, it gives you the chance to see lots of different places while stopping at whatever landmarks and attractions interest you. If you hire an RV or campervan you have the benefit of accommodation and transport in one, it’s easy to eat cheaply too as you will either have a fridge in your vehicle or you could buy a cool box. Fill up with food and snacks from the grocery store and you save on expensive restaurants. Many campsites offer hookups for RVs including electricity and water and don’t cost much, but you can park up and sleep anywhere providing you’re in a safe and legal space. You could always have the odd night at a motel if you’re going to be travelling for a while- it won’t cost much and you can have a shower and sleep in a proper bed. RV and campervan hire is relatively cheap, check out companies in the destination you will be visiting and be sure to shop around. Once that’s paid, you only really have your fuel and food to pay for, and any attractions that you plan on seeing.

Go Backpacking

Backpacking is an incredible experience. While humble you see your destination in a different way, it’s not about the five star restaurants or fancy hotels. Instead you’re in the midst of the action, chatting to locals, meandering through markets tasting the street food, finding interesting places that are off the beaten path. It’s a cheap way to travel as most of the time you’re on foot or on public transport, fill your pack with the essentials and some staple food items and you’re good to go. Keep an eye on flights to see if you can snag some cheap ones, and if you sign up to a chain of hostels you can stay in any of them in the world meaning it’s easy to find a place to lay your head.

Explore The Country You Live In

When most of us think about seeing new places, we think of exotic destinations far from home. However there’s a place right under your feet, and chances are you’ve not explored the half of it. It’s much cheaper to visit the country you live in because there are no flights needed. Think of all of the different cities, countryside, beaches, lakes, rivers, tourist attractions there are to see where you live. Put it on your bucket list to visit them all, whether it’s with family, friends, a partner or just by yourself. Don’t rule it out just because you haven’t travelled thousands of miles to see it. Other tourists have, so take advantage of what you have where you live!

Seeing new places and travelling really broadens your horizons. You can meet new people and will probably develop a new outlook on life. Plus it’s fun too, and sometimes doing things just for the fun of it is exactly what the doctor ordered. If you work hard all year, a few weeks or a month of to indulge in culture, history and spectacular sights will give you a new lease of life for when you return.

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Will you be travelling this year? If someone was on the fence about seeing a new place in the world this year, what would you say to them?

The Places You Likely Haven’t Thought Of Sleeping During Your Vacation

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What is the bedrock of a positive vacation experience? Is it the place you visit? The people you meet? The food you eat? The places you’d stay? Which one of these, if lost, would render the experience unenjoyable? We’d argue the accommodation. Good quality accommodation where you can rest your head well and recharge your batteries for a full additional day of exploration is part and parcel in enjoying a holiday space you can truly call your own.

However, it’s likely that you haven’t particularly thought about this in the past aside from finding a place which looks clean and nice, is sizeable enough, and is cheap. For some people, the location is what matters, and having a safe place to rest their head is simply a nice addition. It’s for this reason that the backpacking and hotel trade is always popular and enjoyable. However, if you’re getting a little more mature in your tastes and the accommodation means as much to you like the place you inhabit, you should try the following ideas:

Ice Hotels

To stay in an ice hotel sounds like a difficult and challenging experience for many people, especially those who don’t like the cold. While they’re obviously not as warm as a room with central heating, they can be immensely beautiful to stay in and inhabit. These hotels are masterpieces of architecture and ice engineering and deserve to be visited. When visiting Lapland, a magical place in its own right, they could serve as a perfect and beautiful way to feel connected to your local and cold environment.

What’s more, is that the hotel is constructed each year, so you never see a new one twice. Over 1,000 tonnes of ice go into the construction, and as a result, the ‘building’ is sizeable and incredible to witness. Not only that, but the ICEHOTEL 365 has recently been released, the world’s first permanent ice hotel which takes advantage of central heating and is truly a sight to witness. If looking for an impressive entry into your vacation journal, this might be the ‘coolest’ set of pictures you take.

Tree Top Hotels

Tree Top hotels can be perfect if you’re looking for a view that can simply rival any other. Aside from camping, there is no better way to feel interconnected with the nature around you. These hideaway suits can truly give you that perspective over the environment that you need, and that can be especially conducive to a reflective and meditative vacation, perfect if you’re simply looking forward to getting away from it all.

Tree Top hotels often have a low carbon footprint too, meaning that an ethical holiday could simply be right around the corner. This could be perfect if you’re trying to become closer to nature and detoxify after years of city living.

Over time, the simple effort taken to experience new methods of resting up can lead to you acquiring new tastes, finding new more like minded people, or giving yourself that celebratory vacation you truly deserve.

 

Seven Incredible Places In Thailand You Just Have To Visit

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Thailand is such an incredibly rich, diverse, and beautiful country. If the food doesn’t make you fall in love with it, the people certainly will. And its history and culture have remained untouched, despite the fact it is one of Asia’s most frequented countries by visitors. If you’re considering a trip to Thailand, or you knew you wanted to visit East Asia, but you couldn’t decide where, let this be all the incentive you need to book your flights to Thailand and have the adventure of the lifetime. Here are seven things you just can’t miss.

  1. The sights of Bangkok

Understandably, the capital city of one of the most beautiful counties in the world is absolutely stunning. Even if you have no interest in a city break, and your holiday is purely for relaxing on a beach or exploring the jungles, don’t miss out on a couple of days in Bangkok. The sights such as the Grand Palace and marketplaces make this a truly unique city, worthy of a day or two of exploration.

  1. Visit the long neck hill tribe villages

The culture of Thailand has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, and this includes some of the tribes in the rainforests and mountains. The hill tribe villages are still known for their beautiful handmade clothes, traditional crafts, and their original look with long necks, elongated by brass bands wrapped around their necks.

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  1. Explore the Chiang Rai White Temple

The stunning temple was built to symbolise Buddha’s purity, but the style does not follow suit of other more traditional styles of Thai architecture. It’s a visually interesting piece of art and place of worship that is an absolute must for anyone staying in Chiang Rai.

  1. See the Bo Sang umbrella village

Near Chiang Mai, the umbrella village features handmade bamboo umbrellas and parasols, made in the traditional way. It is free to watch the women expertly craft these umbrellas, and visitors can buy them to take home as mementos if they wish, but it’s also just a beautiful place to visit and experiencethailand-3Image Credit

  1. Take a boat at the Damnoen Saduak floating market

East Asia is famous for its many styles of floating market, and Thailand is no different. In particularly watery areas of the country, their markets have been this way for hundreds of years, so there’s no plan to change them yet. They’re visually stunning, vibrant, and exciting places to visit, and the street food is exquisite.

  1. Visit Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai is perfect for a few days exploring, or even a while longer. It’s a popular place for people to volunteer in Thailand teaching English and computer skills, as it’s very traditional, but the locals are friendly and welcoming.

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  1. Explore the Ayutthaya National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site is full of the mystery of the Orient, with incredible archaeological sites from when it used to be the second capital of Siam. Explore the ruined temples, palaces, and Buddha statues, and the iconic overgrown Buddha head at Mahathat Temple. The whole park is awe-inspiring for people of any age.

Hopefully, you’ve got all the reasons you’ll ever need to visit Thailand, because when you’ve been once, you’ll want to return again and again.

 

Things a’changing

There are days, when I question things about my life, and my choices. Today has been one of these forsaken days. Actually, I have been at it since 3AM, but that is beyond my point.

I was thinking about back in 2011, when I had my first Christmas alone, living far away from my family, friends, and on top of that, in another country – How courageous was I, to take such a big leap, leaving everything and everyone behind!

Before then, I have never lived alone, and I had no idea about the kind of responsibility and effort it entails to live and make ends meet at the end of the day, and month when all bills came crawling up. I have done a great job, and learned a lot from this experience.

When I have moved back to Malta, I was not willing to move back with the family, as I enjoyed my independent life too much to let go of it. So much so, that within a year of renting, I purchased my own property.

Although this made sense financially, this has indirectly tied me to this country without even realising at the time. Now that I have settled down in such a “grown up” lifestyle, it seems to me that I have become more self conscious when taking decisions. And I shall give you an example. This week, I was meant to travel, but my plans fell apart, and I have decided to give up the holiday based on two reasons:
1. I should not travel alone at night
2. Accommodation has risen up in price (it also being Christmas holidays, and included NYE), and a last minute purchase would have costed me my entire savings for my holiday.

If I did not have my house to worry about, and if I were not such a wuss, I would be in the UK right now, enjoying cold weather, possibly fog and snow, and beautiful beautiful scenery. How silly am I? Where has all my self confidence gone? What has tarnished my spirit in such a way?

And if you are wondering why I wrote this and why I am sharing this with my readers, it is because I want to be able to read this whenever I need to, so I do not repeat such thing ever again. And also, to try to keep reminding myself that not all my decisions in the past years have been as bad.

Now to try and live life guilt free… and keep moving forward… >>>

The Most Awesome Places to Eat in Kuala Lumpur

Holidays are an adventure. They’re about discovering new things, and one of the best ways to learn about a country’s culture is through their food. You can learn a lot about a country from the food and drink they serve, and Kuala Lumpur is one of the hottest destinations in Asia to experience a diverse fusion of cuisines.

Many of these places are local areas that are close to public transport, so make sure you book a room at budget hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in advance so you can be as close as possible to these delicious eateries.

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Naughty Nuri’s Life Centre

20, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
50250 Kuala Lumpur

Naughty Nuri’s is a popular BBQ restaurant and bar. It’s well known for its mouth-water BBQ pork ribs and cosy atmosphere. The staff are extremely well-mannered and provide a great service to the customers. It’s a popular spot for both lunch and dinner, so make sure you get here early. If you love Korean BBQ, you’ll love Naughty Nuri’s.

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Hutong Food Court

Lot 10 Shopping Centre, Food Court,
Lower Ground Floor, Jalan Bukit Bintang
50250 Kuala Lumpur

This is a diverse food court with many different styles of cuisine to indulge in. There’s also a fantastic selection of exotic fruits such as durian and mango. This is a predominantly Chinese area, which means you’ll find a lot of iconic dishes like Wan Tan Mee, Bak Kut Teh, and Hokkien Mee.

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Tg’s Nasi Kandar

3, Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur

Nasi Kandar is a Malaysian dish that consists of steamed rice and a variety of curries and side dishes. It’s very reasonably priced, but that doesn’t affect the amazing quality of food that Tg’s offers. This is a popular hangout destination for workers and students, so expect it to be packed with patrons throughout the day.

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Din Tai Fung

Pavilion, 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Din Tai Fung is a restaurant chain that originates from Taiwan, and they’re known for their mouth-watering soup dumplings or xiaolongbao as they’re called. This is an entertaining location because the only thing that separates you from the chefs is a glass window. You can watch the chefs skillfully put together your dumplings moments before they’re served to you.

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Heun Kee Claypot Chicken Rice

59, Jalan Yew, Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Heun Kee is a relatively hidden spot near the Pudu wet market. It is, without a doubt, one the most famous clay pot chicken rice spots in the whole of Kuala Lumpur. Their signature dish contains juicy chicken, delicious lap-cheong, and there’s optional salted fish as well. Huen Kee prepares their clay pot rice with a special method that speeds up the cooking process and evenly cooks the rice—something that other places just don’t get right.

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Nasi Lemak Famous

Bangsar Bangsar Selera Food Court, Jalan Telawi 1
59100 Kuala Lumpur

Nasi Lemak is a fragrant rice that’s cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf and is considered the national dish of Malaysia. This location is affordable, and the sambal (Malaysian hot sauce) is also delicious here.  One of the most popular dishes here is the “Ayam Goreng Rempah”, which is essentially a spicy crispy fried chicken that pairs well with the rice.

Perfect Perth

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Perth not only enjoys wonderful weather, beautiful beaches and a laid back demeanor but there is more to this captivating city than the myriad of bars, restaurants and activities. Perth’s pristine parkland, nearby bush, and river and ocean beaches allow its visitors to spread out and enjoy what’s on offer.

The transport system is fabulous but to truly take advantage of all that’s on offer you may wish to hire a car. Burswood Car Rentals offers free delivery to all city hotels allowing you to explore further afield and visit some of the less well known yet spectacular spots that cost next to nothing. (Please note that costs may apply for some activities)

Shoalwater Islands Marine Park is accessible from Rockingham which is less than an hour’s drive south of Perth. Swarming with marine life including sea stars and urchins as well as a number of fish species flitting through the shipwrecks and makes for excellent diving, snorkeling and wildlife watching. While in the water you’ll probably run into a pod of bottle-nose dolphins and can swim with these on the regularly operated tours.

Penguin Island, a breeding colony for an array of perth1incredible birds, has Little Penguins which breed in the burrows and you can watch them being fed at the interactive center.

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If you have a dive permit, The Saxon Ranger, a 400 tonne former fishing vessel takes residence at the Park. The boat is first purpose sunk dive wreck in the Perth metropolitan area.

Just 20 minutes east of Perth, sample the divine fruits of the vineyards of Western Australia’s oldest wine region at the Swan Valley and Darling Range.  Here you may indulge on award-winning local produce, discover the incredible local heritage or simply relax in the stunning bush-land of the Darling Range. The antithesis of the bustle of city life, it can be reached via road or aboard a Swan River Cruise from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

Sharing a glass of red with the vineyard owners, they are happy to recount stories of the generations of their families who owned the vineyards before them, some dating back to the early European settlers.

With over 70 eateries to choose from you are spoiled for choice or pack a lunch enjoying the breathtaking views of your surroundings.

You can also partake in many activities including horse riding, cycling and Indigenous culture.

perth2If you fancy getting even closer to some furry friends, head to Caversham Wildlife Park –  where close encounters with kangaroos and koalas is order of the day.

Alternatively you could choose to drive along the Great Eastern Highway to the blissful tranquillity of the Avon Valley heritage town in under an hour and a half. One of the few towns in WA to hold ‘Historic Town’ status, the proud residents of York have taken great care over restoring its many Victorian and Federation buildings. Due to retaining its heritage charms, it remains Perth’s favourite country escape.

No wonder this area is a top spot for romantic weekends or family fun.

So Many People Make These Mistakes With Their Trip To Canada: Don’t Be One Of Them!

Canada is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. After all, it’s one of the most picturesque places you can go with dozens of lakes and mountains. And the cities are fantastic to take a look at with so much to see and do. However, so many people make mistakes with their vacation to Canada. Here are some things you should avoid doing when you make a trip to the country!

They don’t travel around by bike

You will be surprised how many people have to pay out to rent a car while on their holiday. But it’s often an essential while in Canada as you want to get out exploring while you are on your vacation. However, you should consider hiring a bike instead. While you are biking, you get to view amazing sights around you. Biking instead of going in a car means you can get to more secluded areas where you can see beautiful surroundings. Also, having a bike is so much easier to get around the cities such as Vancouver. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of hiring a car when you can get around much easier with a bike!

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They think it’s the same as America

A lot of people group America and Canada together as the same place! But it’s not the same, and the rules differ. For example, you won’t be able to use your dollars in the country; they have their own unique currency (Canadian dollars). They also have different rules to the USA when it comes to drinking. A lot of places you can actually drink at 18, unlike our rule of 21. Also, not everyone speaks English in Canada. A proportion of the people in America speak French, so it’s best to learn some basic words for your trip. Also, just because you are American, it doesn’t mean you can legally get into the country with just your passport. You might need to apply for an Official Canada eTA so that you can make a trip to the country. You can look online to see if you are required to get one when traveling from your state. You don’t want to end up stuck at the airport as you don’t have the right documents!

They think everywhere is within close distance

Did you know that Canada is actually much bigger than America? It has fewer people living there, but there is a lot more land! In fact, it’s one of the largest countries in the world. However, a lot of people don’t realize that, so they head to Canada thinking that everything is within close distance. But you need to check exactly where you are staying and how far away things are located before you book. For example, Vancouver and Toronto are actually a five-hour flight away from each other! Therefore, choose wisely where you want to stay. If you want to enjoy Niagara Falls while on your trip, you should choose Toronto. That way, you can enjoy famous landmarks like the CN Tower, while only being an hour and a half away from the magnificent waterfall.

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And don’t just stay in the cities while you are in Canada. There is so much more on offer in the beautiful countryside.