Planning a trip to Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania is fast becoming a more popular retreat amongst holidaymakers in the US. Here are just some of the activities worth pursuing on your trip to The Keystone State.

Seeing the sights

PA has a lot of history for those looking for a cultural getaway. Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell and is also the location where George Washington signed the Declaration of Independence (you can still see the chair that he sat in). Gettysburg is also well worth a visit. There are many cemeteries and memorials in the area dedicated to those that died in the civil war battle there, and you can take a tour of the battlefield. The final landmark worth visiting meanwhile is Harrisburg’s mighty Pennsylvania State Capitol. Built in 1906, you’d be forgiven for thinking from a photo that this was a European palace from the 1700s.

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Absorbing the art

Fans of art should visit Pennsylvania’s multiple galleries. These include the Andy Warhol Museum, which contains some of the Pop artist’s most famous pieces, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the iconic staircase was used in the Rocky movies and attracts many visitors simply for this reason!).

Staying active outdoors

A large part of PA’s appeal is its outdoor activities. If you’re on a family holiday and are looking for a fun group activity, this state has all kinds of options from zipwiring to archery. Those that enjoy hiking can journey to the Appalachian mountains and take on the celebrated Appalachian trail. There are also many rivers in the region where you can go kayaking and white water rafting.

Go to jail

Eastern State Penitentiary has housed many iconic criminals of the past including Willie Sutton and Al Capone. It remains derelict today, closed in 1971. The prison attracts many visitors and is popular amongst photographers looking to capture a few eerie snaps. Many stories and legends surround the historic prison which you can learn by taking a tour of the inside.

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Have fun at Hershey Park

You may know the town of Hershey as the home a certain chocolate company. It’s now home to Hershey Park, an amusement park that was built in 1906 as a recreational zone for workers at the chocolate factory. It’s since become open to the public and has expanded to house a multitude of rides for all ages. You can also visit the Chocolate World attraction and get to see how Hershey’s chocolate is made – just try not to eat too many sweets before going on the rides!

Try the Amish Experience

The Amish people are known worldwide for their traditional Christian values and frugal way of living. You can visit many Amish towns in the region using a shuttle bus service known as The Amish Experience. There are Amish shops and guided tours and buggy rides. Another popular attraction in Amish county is the Strasburg Railroad for those wanting an authentic steam train ride.

Posted in 2017, tourism, travel, travel ideas, travel tips, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

24 Hours In Canada’s Capital

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When you’re planning a trip, you want to make sure you squeeze every last drop of experience out of it, which can be a challenge. After all, unless you are visiting somewhere like Burnham Market in Norfolk, England, most places pose the challenge of being jam packed full of things you want to see. This is definitely the case with Canada’s capital city. It just has so much to offer, which is exactly why planning what you want to do and see – the must-do and must-see thing – is the only way to go about it.

The thing is, we all have eyes bigger than our bellies when it comes to seeing a place, which is why we have got into the habit of entitling our lists, 24 Hours In So And So. Sometimes we even go as far as, literally, breaking it down hour by hour. It just helps us prioritize.

So, with just one day In Ottawa, what does one make sure they do?

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Parliament Hill

There is a reason why this is the most visited attraction in Ottawa, it is staggering, not just as a building, but as a living and breathing thing. The reason why we put this at the top of our list is because it needs to be seen first thing in the morning when they have the changing of the guard ceremony. Amazing. Although, the sound and light show in the evenings is equally amazing.

The Two Cultural Places To See

There are tons of cultural places to explore in Ottawa, but the two you absolutely must fit into your stay are the absolutely breathtaking National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum. These are world class exhibitions, no doubt about it.

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Day or Night Hit The Market

If you are to ask any local about the one place you should see (other than parliament Hill) they are going to say, ByWard Market. It’s one of the most historical farmer’s markets and shopping districts, but only by day. By night it is THE place to go.

Relax For An Hour

Okay, with a busy morning rushing about all over the place, you deserve to relax for an hour. You know, grab some food, check out some spas in Ottawa in the city, grab a drink. In our opinion, hit up the Back Lane Cafe. It ‘s just so relaxed, and they prepare most of the food on wood-fired hearths.

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The Canal

It doesn’t matter if it is winter or summer you are visiting, you have to see the Rideau Canal. It’s a historic waterway that is either filled with boats or frozen over to make the world’s largest natural skating rink.

Adventure Is Out There

If there is one thing Ottawa has it is an adventure. It is one for life enthusiasts. White water rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, cycling, whatever you fancy. You have to. It’s right on the doorstep.

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Anything You May Have Missed

We are all for city tours when we see a place, but we like doing them early evening, before dinner, when the place we are is bustling and the sky turns color. This suits Ottawa perfectly. In terms of tours, we suggest Lady Dive, because it takes you on both land and water, and what better way to see a place is there than that.

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The best worldwide music festivals

A big part of travel that we seem to lose in between long haul flights, layovers and language barriers is fun. There’s no point in travel if it isn’t fun! While sightseeing, clubbing, eating and other things are fun – it’s coming up to festival season across the globe. That means that some of the world’s best musicians will be traveling the world, just like you to perform for huge crowds worldwide.

Of course, festivals require a bit of planning – mainly in terms of travel and supplies. You’re going to need food, drink and shelter. You’re also going to need to camp and that means tents. If it is just you, grab a two berth tent, but If there’s a group of you something like a Coleman 10 person tent will have enough room to fit everyone with your gear! Get your equipment and head out.

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If you want to head to hipster central, look no further than the Coachella Valley this summer. In between the mansions and vineyards – a festival takes place over two weekends – arguably the best music festival in the world. Coachella takes place early in the year in America and is a true smorgasbord of indie music and creativity. This year’s edition features post-rock icons Radiohead, and pop legend Lady Gaga as well as Kendrick Lamar and it’s tent friendly!

If you want a bit more excitement than the tame Coachella can offer – you need to head to Serbia and Exit Festival. Exit festival is truly unique and was founded as the cornerstone of a protest movement. What’s more, it’s held within a medieval castle. With extreme sports zones, chill out areas and plenty of music, Exit is a great experience. This year has headliners such as the Killers, Faithless and Liam Gallagher if you want a taste for the music on show, but Exit also dips its toes into electronica and punk.

England plays host to some of the world’s most legendary music festivals – namely Glastonbury. While that’s a great festival, it shares the same roots as Coachella. If you’re looking for something else – look no further than Download festival, the new name for the legendary ‘Monsters Of Rock’. With previous headliners including Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Metallica – if you like your rock, head nowhere else. This year has bands such as Mastodon, A Day To Remember, System Of A Down and Biffy Clyro. If you want your rock to be a bit more raucous, head down the road to Bloodstock to see Ghost, Macabre, Megadeath and Amon Amarth.

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Asia has plenty to offer for festivals, from the mountaintop Fuji Rock where you can see QOTSA, Gorillaz and Aphex Twin in Japan. There is also Pentaport in Korea which focuses on guitar based music and friendship in the rain. India is also the home of the rave in South Asia – you can enjoy electronic music on the outskirts of Jai Pur city in a palace. If you’re up for the travel, there might be no better destination for dance.

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Planning an unforgettable outdoor adventure in the US

If you dream of scaling peaks, hitting the open roads on your bike or negotiating river rapids, you won’t be disappointed by a vacation in the US. The USA boasts 58 national parks, all offering the chance to enjoy a unique adventure in the great outdoors. If you’re keen to breathe in the fresh air, put your mental and physical strength to the test, and see some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, this is the place to be. Here are some top travel tips to help you plan your trip.

Where to go

With so many incredible places out there, it’s tough to know where to go. How do you even start narrowing down the options? The first thing you may find useful is to think about the kinds of activities you want to try, and what kind of vacation you want to take. Are you a keen cyclist looking for the most challenging paths or are you looking for a perfect road trip destination? Are you a fan of kayaking or are you looking for somewhere where you can camp out under the stars? Once you know what you want to do, you can start trimming down the list.

Search online for travel guides, and read tips and reviews from fellow travellers and adventurers. If you’re keen to hit the water, look into Delaware Water Gap canoeing holidays or visit the Grand Canyon National Park and brave the rapids. If you’re a cyclist, who wants to test their mettle, head for Acadia National Park or Montana’s Glacier National Park. If you’re a fan of winter sports like skiing, make for Grand Teton National Park.

How to get there and where to stay

The distance you’re travelling will often dictate the mode of transport you choose. If you’re travelling a long way, it may be best to catch a plane unless you’re taking an extended break and you want to stop off at destinations along the way. If you’re not travelling far, hiring a car or an RV is often the best option. If you plan to rent an RV, this will take care of both your transport and accommodation. If you don’t have lodgings sorted, you could camp, book a hotel nearby or look at options like treehouses or log cabins. It’s usually worth searching online, as you can often save money by doing this.

What to take

When you’re exploring national parks, it’s important to take the right kit with you. You’ll need warm clothing, waterproofs, and a rucksack to hold your essentials. If you’re hiking, cycling, or climbing, wear comfortable, sturdy shoes that will give you grip. For camping holidays, you’ll also need a tent, a sleeping bag and a pillow, basic cooking equipment, and a first aid kit. It’s also wise to pack some books and games to keep your entertained when the sun goes down.

If you’re keen to experience an unforgettable adventure in the US, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a destination and choosing how to spend your time. If you plan ahead, you can enjoy a stress-free trip, and ensure that you make the most of your time away.

Posted in 2017, outdoors, tourism, travel, travel ideas, travel tips, USA | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Daydreaming of a magical yoga retreat in Morocco

In 2004 I spent a year working and living in England and the top of the African continent was within reach. I eagerly started planning a trip to Morocco only to realise that I had to be home in South Africa to apply for a travel visa. Talk about a buzz kill. Since then, Morocco has been pushed to the back of my mind until I discovered this amazing 6 day retreat on BookYogaRetreats.com and BookYogaTeacherTraining.com.

As I scrolled through the 6 Days Magical Yoga Retreat in Essaouira, Morocco description, my senses started to salivate. My two favourite things in life – travelling to a new, exiting destination and yoga. Instantly, I set my intention as ‘gratitude’ for a few of the daily yoga classes and began mentally art directing a headstand or jumping photo among camels in the Moroccan desert.

The opportunity to be able to learn from a new yoga instructor, namely Shari Hochberg from Italy, further my yoga journey and meet like-minded yogi travelers while experiencing a new culture and country would rejuvenate and inspire me.

BookYogaRetreats.com’s ’10/10 excellent’ review makes me even more excited at the prospect of enjoying this yoga retreat. In fact, I’ve been daydreaming about the itinerary over the past week or two: Ashtanga yoga classes twice a day with activities in between such as exploring nearby markets, a cooking lesson, and an unforgettable camel ride along the glorious nearby beach. The TLC 30-minute hammam treatment at the hotel sounds heavenly too and I would drift off into dream land each night in a lovely Moroccan riad. Pure bliss!

“The further I travel, the closer I am to myself.” – Andrew McCarthy

Life is so busy that we get carried away with our careers, fueled by stress, anxiety and adrenaline. I’m in need of a long awaited break where I can get back to myself – on my yoga mat. The opportunity to unplug from busy corporate life where you are constantly always-on and travel to majestic Essaouira is the perfect recipe for balance and reconnecting the body, mind and spirit.

So this is me putting it out there to the universe…

Time and money is not always on my side but perhaps the power of positive manifestation will enable me to make this adventure happen. I’m holding thumbs.

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Beach yoga bliss on Clifton 2nd Beach, Cape Town.

Namaste.

Posted in 2017, Africa, tourism, travel, travel ideas, travel tips, yoga | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Getting away together: How to get the most out of your family vacation

Getting away with the family can often seem like a chore. You have to keep everyone satisfied, and that can often seem utterly impossible. But don’t give up before you’ve even begun. It can be achieved if you’re willing to take the right steps to get the most of your next family vacation. Allow some of the tips and ideas below help you and guide you as you attempt this.

Leave Your Self-Interest at Home

First of all, you need to focus on yourself a little less. And this is something that applies to every single person in your group. If you are too wrapped up in what you want to do, you will forget that this is a trip that’s meant to be enjoyable for the whole family. You need to learn to compromise and give up some of the things that you want to do so that other people can do the things that they want to do. It’s all about give and take. And everyone will enjoy themselves if the balance is right on the trip. You won’t enjoy yourself if other people are constantly complaining.

Do Activities That Require You to Communicate and Work Together

There are lots of great activities that can be done that require you and your family to work together as a team. They force you to communicate and have fun together. If you ask me, this is what a family vacation should be all about. These days, many children and teenages spend half their time looking at their phones. In fact, adults often do the same. So, you should try to take your eyes of the screen for a little while and have fun together. You could all ride camels in Egypt of go white water rafting in a river. It’s entirely up to you.

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Split Your Time Up and Don’t Focus on One Thing for Too Long

Focusing on one thing for too long will lead to people getting bored. You should plan out what you are going to do together ahead of time. When you do this, you won’t make mistakes when you’re on your trip. If you want to head to Florida, you can build your own Orlando Vacation using online services. Or you could use the good old-fashioned pen and paper option. Sometimes, just writing down a plan is all you need, as long as bookings and things aren’t required. Be prepared to split your time up into small chunks. That way, you’ll make the most of the time you have.

Be Prepared to Change Your Plans During the Trip

Even though I said that you should plan things out in advance, you should also be prepared to change things up at short notice too. When you’re on a trip with the whole family, people’s opinions and the things they want to do might change. And if you want to make sure that everyone in the family has the best time possible, this is something that you will have to be prepared to do.

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Make sure your family have the best time on the slopes in NY

Going on your first ski vacation as a family can be a ridiculously exciting time. However, you need to make sure you’re properly prepared. Even if you’ve been on your own before, going with your family can be a very different experience. This guide will help you to have the best time imaginable:  

Have Lessons First

If you’ve never had a ski lesson in your life, don’t expect to turn up to your chalet and be a pro skier, or even an amateur skier. You’ll likely feel out of your depth, and regret not getting any practice in before you got there. Book some lessons before you go so you at least feel confident on the baby slopes. Make sure the whole family gets a little practice in first to make the most of this trip.

Find The Perfect Accommodation

Make sure you have the right accommodation for your family. You could stay on a ski resort, or a place just a short while away from one for a little more privacy. There are a few Windham rentals that could be what you’re looking for, but make sure you consider what your family need in a rental first.

Make Sure Your Kids Know What To Expect

As a ski vacation is usually very different to any other kind of vacation, make sure your kids know what to expect before they arrive too. You can read books with them, or watch TV shows that can give them a good idea of what they’re going to be doing.

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Take The Right Supplies

Make sure you take the right supplies with you. Make sure you’ve packed proper protection from the elements, like SPF and sunglasses. However, you don’t need to take everything. It’s a good idea to simply rent equipment before you arrive so you don’t have to buy it and spend too much money. It only makes sense to buy your own equipment if you’re avid skiers.

Go At The Right Time Of Year

Different times of year may suit you as a family. If you don’t mind peak season, going around Christmas/New Year time could be a good idea. However, if you want it to be nice and quiet, going in January is usually best. It all depends on what kind of atmosphere you’d like while you ski!

Book Childcare In Advance

If you want a day with just you and your partner, either so you can do the difficult slopes or go for a romantic meal, you could book childcare in advance. If you don’t, then make sure you want to have your kids with you all the time. Don’t count on being able to secure childcare once you arrive, or you may end up disappointed.

Consider Transportation

How are you going to get from A to B? You’ll need to consider transportation before you do anything else too. There may be buses, trains and trams depending on where you go. If you want luxury transportation, you could even book a limousine for your family!

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Limit Your Kid’s Time On The Snow

It’s a good idea to limit your kid’s time on the snow. It’s easy for them to get exhausted without realizing it, especially if they’re having a great time. Make sure they get plenty of rest and nourishment.

Hopefully these tips will help you to have the best family ski vacation you could ever hope for. If you have tips of your own, leave them below.

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