Travel Away

As everyone wants to experience the best things to see, places to stay, and things to eat while traveling. My blog is just a hint of some of the cool things to make your adventure that much more memorable. Now, let’s travel around the globe!

Sahara Desert Luxury Tour

Luxury 3 days 2 nights.

There are plenty of companies that plan day trips for where you want to go in Morocco. We went with Authentic Morocco, and this is the experience we had.

Day 1.

Private driver will pick you up from your riad about 9am and you will start your 9 hour drive into the desert. They have a few stops for some cool sites on the way. They day ends about 6pm. The hotel is included in the price of the tour. So lounge by the pool while they serve you some authentic Moroccan cuisine.untitled-70

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Day 2.

The day starts at 8am. The same goes for the second day, the driver will stop a few times for food, and sight-seeing. You will arrive around 6pm in the dunes where your camels will be waiting for your arrival. You will take about an hour and a half camel ride through the desert to watch the sunset. After sunset you ride your camels back to the luxury camp site where they greet you with cold rosewater towels. As we all know the desert dunes are full of sand, so they kindly provide a walking path of rugs to guide you to your tents. These tents have a king bed, sitting area, and private bathrooms. Outside you have a sitting area to enjoy a glass of wine while they prepare your dinner. Your dinner will be served in a large tent, with 4 appetizers, four large entrees, and desert! So I hope you come hungry! After dinner you can enjoy the view of 1000 stars.

Day 3. Outside your tents they prepare you with a large breakfast, and coffee while you enjoy the sun rise. After breakfast a Toyota 4 runner picks you up and takes you to meet your driver at the front of the camp. You then begin the journey to Fez. It is about a 10 hour day as well, you stop at some sites along the way and around an hour for lunch. The driver drops you off at your riad around sunset, so you are able to walk the city for a little bit and grab some dinner.

Traveling to Pisa

 

Pisa is a small town about an hour outside of Florence. A day trip is all the time I would recommend spending in Pisa.

Driving:
If you are renting a car, it is basically a straight shot from Florence on one of the major interstates. Google maps is the best way to go when you don’t want to use your data and don’t have wifi on the roads.

Train:

There is a popular train route that takes you to Pisa from Florence. You can purchase tickets online, they leave several times per day.

What to do there:
The tower of Pisa. Yes, the Italians have a structure that appears to be “leaning” due to apparent foundation problems.
At the tower, you are able to walk up the top and see panoramic views, for a small price.

Food:
Gelato! At every corner, its Italy, Gelato can not be passed.
Donor kebab. Shaved meat from a rotisserie, they make into a popular sandwich.

 

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Florence on a budget.

Exploring Florence on a budget is a bit hard, especially when they have some luxurious spots of accommodation, dining and drinking.

Accommodation:
Airbnb is the best way to go when booking on a budget. They have some cool places to rent out for the week, not far from the city center. Also cooking at home, and packing sandwiches for day trips is an easy way to save money. The food in Florence can be pricy, as this is a popular tourist spot.

Dining:
The airbnbs are normally equipped with cooking utensils and basic cooking ingredients, so my advice would be to find a local grocery store and cook at home. Florence is beautiful at night so grab a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo where you will see panoramic views of the city.

Things to see:

untitled-4.jpgThe David: Michelangelo’s masterpiece ‘the David’ is in Galleria dell’Accademia. I recommend buying your tickets a few day in advance online, it is a few dollars more, but you get a faster entrance to the museum, than buying your tickets at the door, which can be over an hour wait.

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Santa Croce: The tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo.

Michelangelo’s apartment: If you decide to take the free walking tour, they will guide you down a narrow alley, where you will see the first floor apartment where he use to live.

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untitled-20The cathedral di Santa Maria del fiore: This cathedral is the largest brick dome ever constructed, and built in beautiful gothic architecture. For 10 euro you can climb to the top to get panoramic views of the city. Inside the church is free of charge.

 

The central market: Most of the locals go here to get authentic Italian dishes at reasonable prices.

Activities:
Free walking tour is always a good way to get information when exploring a city for the first time. It gives you an inside of the city’s history from a locals point of view, which is the best way to see a city. This tour is free but it is appreciated to tip at the end. I think around $10 a person is acceptable.

Day Trips:
Day trip to Tuscany: Check with trip advisor if you do not have a car, they have day trips that provide you with a shuttle service and wine tours all included in one price.
If you have a car I would check out some wineries that have a bed and breakfast and stay up in Tuscany for a night, the countryside is beautiful. We went for a wine tasteing and tour at Viticcio, they also have accommodations that we wished we would have known about.

Traveling in Greece

Tours:  Walking some of the most historic cities is be incredibly captivating for tourists and locals. Starting your trip in Athens with a Free Walking Tour helps you gain an understanding of the rich history. These tours are normally led by locals who are very passionate about sharing their city’s story. Their genuine enthusiasm and knowledge of the city is translated wonderfully. The typical tour lasts about three hours and you can expect to walk away with a true understanding of Athens and it’s culture over the years. It is also a great way to find areas and places the locals hang out as well as some cheap authentic greek cuisine.

Accommodations. I highly recommend staying at airbnbs while traveling in Greece. I’ve never had a more memorable trip than when staying in Greece. Make sure to read the reviews, anything over 10 reviews is legit, if you see an Airbnb with 2 reviews and sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Staying in airbnbs the hosts make you feel as if you were a long lost family member they just met. All The while staying in greece I’ve had the host greet me with coffee, drove me around town, invited me to a dinner party at their home where they prepared traditional homemade Greek food, gifted me with a bottle of wine made at a local winery, and shared history of growing up there. While the tours are able to offer history of Athens, the hosts are able to offer firsthand experiences about growing up in this picturesque city that they are able to call home, it really is a great way to see the difference of cultures, and the way they live. I’ve never experienced greater hospitality than I have here in Greece.

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The Islands.
Santorini; The best way to get around the islands is a scooter or four wheeler, whichever you prefer. The roads are windy and narrow, so this way of transportation is the way to go. Its also easier to hop off and see some goregous scenery on the backroads. Check out tripadvisor for some private boat tours normally includes drinks, and food while taking you to some of the unique places around the island like the beaches, or even the crater! The Sunset is mesmerizing in Santorini. If you are looking for a romantic dinner on the water, head to Oia. The place to go here is called ‘Sunset’, call ahead and reserve a table on the water, the view is unbeatable.

Zakynthos; yes you guessed it, the island with the famous shipwreck beach. This island has grown popular with tourists over the years now that there is an international airport on the island, so it can get pretty crowed with people trying to take advantage of you. Once again staying at an Airbnb is the way to go, the host drove us to get a rental car and told us all about the places to go and not to go. Also, the island is much bigger than Santorini so I would not recommend getting a 4wheeler, rental car is strongly recomended. As you head north of the island towards the shipwreck beach there are a lot of people are on the roads trying to get you on the boats of their company, which a lot of tourists fall for, I would not suggest going with these companies, most of the time they only allow a few moments to swim in the caves and can be a bit pricy for what they have to offer. We drove all the way to the furthest point of the island, be careful the roads are narrow and windy, we went with a company called Potamitis Brothers. It was pretty secluded and not over crowded. The rates are 15 euro per person and its an hour and a half boat ride to the blue caves, and an hour and a half for the shipwreck. Getting to the beach is about 15 mins, they drop you off on the beach for an hour, which is just enough time, and then they come pick you up. If you go to the blue caves around 12, when the sun is right above you the caves turn your whole body blue, and it is a magical experience. This is worth the 15 euro and a bit longer drive up the hill.

Have a great time in Greece! Email me or leave a comment for any questions!

 

The city of lights.

Ooh la la. Paris, a summer abroad. Whether you’re painting your masterpiece, becoming the next Pablo Picasso on left bank, or strolling along Rue montorgueil, and sampling sugary snacks along the right bank, Paris will keep your summer abroad fulfilling. Now let’s do as the Parisians; wake up, grab your chapeau and begin the day.

Across endless roads of cobblestone, and restless nights at Le Baron, Paris has become a muse to us all but nothing is more wonderful than seeing this city lit up at night. Of course, the first thing everyone wants to cross off their list when they come to paris, is seeing the one of a kind iron structure located on champ de mars that keeps everyone coming back for more. The effile tower sparkles for the whole city to see every hour on the hour, and when it does the city, and tourists are mesmerized.DSC_7012

Moving on, the arc de triumph. Another one of paris most famous monuments, which napoleon I had built to honor his army. A tomb of an unknown solider lies here, and a candle is lit every night in remembrance. This 164 foot tall monument has a 284 step stairwell inside and the view from the top is worth every step.

The Louvre; The worlds largest museum. This place first started out as a fortress to protect the city from viking attacks, and then went on to house Louis XIV before he moved his home to Versilles. The museum expanded a great deal over time and then of course in the 21st century the Pyramids were built. This grand museum holds some of the work of the most famous artists since the beginning of time. Yes, this museum is where the mona lisa sits, alone on a free standing wall in the middle of the room. Lines can be extremely long waiting to get into this place, by purchasing the paris pass you are able to skip the line and walk right in, worth every penny. This pass can also get you into a lot more attractions in Paris so don’t forget to check it out before your trip abroad.DSC_6769

 

The palace of versilles. Outside the city lights, in what then was a quiet country side, is where king louisXIV built his palace. This is where the chandelier room sits,also know as the hall of mirrors, with hundreds of visitors each day. Get there early this place fills up fast and the lines can get extremely long, but its worth the wait. You can walk through the palace and see the history through all the rooms, or you can wander around the property, where they have gardens, a few cafes, and The estate of Trianon which was the home of Queen Marie Antoinette.DSC_7346

Notre Dame, “Our lady of Paris.” A cathedral catholic church that sits along side of the seine. Climb upstairs to enjoy wonderful views of the city while rubbing the shoulders of a gargoyle. The architecture will leave you breathless.

 

NYC weekend getaway. 

Welcome to New York. Some places can be off the map, and very hard to find in NYC, unless you are a local. Dont forget to check out these places on your weekend in the city.

Laduree; One of frances luxurious bakeries filled with sweets. This is where the worlds known sellers of the macaron are sold everyday. They also have full menu of food, and take it from someone who’s dined at the most exquisite resturants in Paris, the food at laduree is authentic French food, bon appetit!
Serendipity 3. This place is very quaint and cozy. It is located in the upper east side of Manhattan. When you approach the resturant, you walk downstairs to enter the building, which I thought was odd, but don’t let that scare you off, serendipity is a place you’ll want to go back to every time you’re in New York!
Tavern on the Green. Located in Central Park, in a serene setting, with a outdoor patio and strands of lights overhead. Great for datenight.

230 on fifth. The best rooftop bar I’ve been to in NYC. This bar has panoramic views of the entire skyline. Great place to relax and sip some bubbly with a few friends.
Brunch at the Kimberly Hotel. Sit in some comfy seats and enjoy the view.

N-Y-C- you later!

One night in Bergen

This city maybe ‘off the map’ and people on vacations may not want to spend their time sitting inside, or walking under their umbrellas but in-between mountains and fjords this city lies with panoramic views that are breath taking.

  • The Hotel: Scandic Ornen. The location is great, makes walking from place to place easy, and just a few blocks away from the train station.
  • The restaurant: Bryggeloftet & Stuene. This is one of the best restaurants I have had the pleasure to dine in. Once you get inside, there is a smaller restaurant on the main level, but upstairs there sits a more formal dining area, and open late hours.  Don’t forget to try their mussels, they are exquisite.
  • The bar: No Stress. Do not be alarmed when you realize this bar is located in a narrow alley off a side street. (Bergen is one of the safest places in the world, with nothing to worry about.) This place resembles a ‘speakeasy’, with one of a kind crafted cocktails. Cheers!FullSizeRender
  • Night Walk: The sidewalks roll up at night around Bergen, but the quiet city gives you a peace of mind. The city is full of history, and a feel of living in a different era.
  • The train. It is said that the train ride from Bergen to Oslo is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and they are right. Best time to travel is when the sun is rising through the mountains. Also, sitting on the right side of the train is said to have better views. Don’t forget about the ‘Bar Cart’. In the middle of the train they sell alcohol and snacks, making the ride even more enjoyable. (Pack dramamine if you get motion sick)DCIM104GOPROGOPR3958.JPG

Sleeping in an Igloo.

I can understand that the idea of staying in an igloo may not sound very appealing, but if the igloo is made of glass and you’re lying under the northern lights, its a pretty big game changer. Sure, you’ll have to travel to a far arctic place to experience this wonder of the world, but that is what makes it all worth while. In northern finland at Kakslauttanen I was able to make this sort of experience a reality.

First things first; the easiest way to get to the resort is a shuttle that takes visitors from the airport directly to the hotel, but if I may encourage you to rent a car, it makes running back and forth to the grocery store and restaurants that are off the resort property much more easily accessible. Just watch out for reindeer, these fluffy guys like to hang out near the roads, but don’t worry all the rental cars are highly equipped for the weather. Getting your things to your igloo is also a bit of a hassle. This place is pretty big, but they only give you a sled to take all your luggage to your room, so if you don’t have a car, you’ll have a pretty intense snow hike added to your agenda. I suggest having reliable snow boots. (Try finding some Sorel winter boots,a lot of the locals were wearing them.)
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There are different varieties of igloos. Don’t be sticker shocked; you get what you pay for here. There are small and medium sized igloos. The only difference between the two is that the latter has an in-unit shower. If you opt for the smaller sized option, you will have to go to the reception center to use the public showers, as well as using the saunas. The large igloo is directly connected to cabin living space that includes a private in sauna, kitchen area, fireplace, and dining area. If you’re planning a group trip, the cabin is definitely worth springing for.

DCIM104GOPROGOPR3694.JPG This once in a lifetime experience also has some great activities you can do if you plan accordingly. All of the excursions are about 2-4 hours, some even 8 hours depending on weather. Broken up in the middle with a 30 minute break as warm beverages are served. They have snowmobiling, reindeer sled rides, and husky sled rides. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time, spots fill up fast and it will be less likely they will have any availability if you try to reserve the day of. Most of these excursions are hunting to find the auroras, don’t be disappointed, as they are only seen on a clear night. It is said that the auroras are best seen in the months October-march. However, some snow storms can hit, leaving you less likely to see anything through the thick snow clouds.

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After all, there is so much to do at this resort, and it gives you memories that will last a lifetime. Its not the type of place where you can just ‘wing it’, it requires a detailed plan of every hour of your day, they definitely have things going on that will keep you busy all day long. Also dont forget to try the ‘reindeer piss’ at the bar in the lobby, it might just keep you coming back for more.
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Delicious milkshakes-to-go at Universal Studios

Universal studios has opened up the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Restaurant. The deserts are obviously the best thing on the list, as you can see, these ‘one of a kind’ milkshakes they make individually from scratch. If you decide to get the full effect and order in house dining, these deserts can be 30 minutes to make. If you’re looking for an on the go option, there is a desert bar to the right of the hostess stand, and only takes about 10 mins. Voila! A one of a kind la dolce vita!
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