Little Britain: 10 of the UK's best tiny attractions

Travel | The Guardian
Little Britain: 10 of the UK's best tiny attractions

From a museum in a phonebox to a theatre with just 55 seats, we pick 10 pint-size treats from Dixe Wills’s new book on the nation’s tiny treasures

Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset
Nothing says British seaside like a pier, and as an example of British understatement, Burnham-on-Sea’s, at just 37 metres long, has no equal. The minuscule structure looks even smaller against the vast expanse of sand and mudflats on which it sits. This coast experiences the second-highest tidal range in the world (after the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia) and at low tide the sea is a mile and a half away.

Continue reading...

UK weather: Flood warnings as thunderstorms mark start of summer

travel - Google News
UK weather: Flood warnings as thunderstorms mark start of summer

5 Top Reasons You Should Travel With Your Kids

travel - Google News
5 Top Reasons You Should Travel With Your Kids

UK weather: Torrential downpours bring flooding and travel disruption

Portugal’s best kept secret

A Luxury Travel Blog
Portugal’s best kept secret

What are the two most popular spots in Portugal for foreign travelers? If you guessed Porto and Lisbon, you’re right! Traveling between them along the sparkling Iberian coast is certainly a delightful journey. But for those who are bit more adventurous and who want to explore beyond the tourist crowds, it’s best to venture further […]

The post Portugal’s best kept secret appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

How To Get Paid To Travel The World

travel - Google News
How To Get Paid To Travel The World

Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs

A Luxury Travel Blog
Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs

Most of us have heard of Palm Springs. It is well known for its hot springs, stylish and unique hotels, golf courses and spas. It’s also noted for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture. Its shopping district, along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and some fabulous bars and restaurants. The surrounding […]

The post Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

The travel hack you need to know

travel - Google News
The travel hack you need to know

Watchdog: Secret Service overpaid 2016 campaigns $4 million for air travel

Sofia Travel Guide, Bulgaria

Travel and Leisure:City Guides and Information Articles from EzineArticles.com
Sofia Travel Guide, Bulgaria
Sofia is the first biggest city in the country of Bulgaria. The city has a population of one point four million citizens who live in the suburb of this city. Sofia, Bulgaria is composed of many churches since the people of this region are very religious. The place also has a lot of attractions to share with locals as well as foreign visitors who visit this country.

The Most Highly Compensated Online Travel CEOs of 2018

travel - Google News
The Most Highly Compensated Online Travel CEOs of 2018

Pondering the Ethics of Airbnb

Rick Steves' Travel Blog
Pondering the Ethics of Airbnb

Join me in this clip as I recall sleeping in a B&B in Salema, Portugal — back when life was “all sardines and sun,” and fishermen’s families doubled their income by renting rooms to travelers.

These days, websites like Airbnb have revolutionized the travel industry. Many love this service, but others believe it’s unethical. In some cities, the demand for rooms from tourists has driven up rents, forcing some of the original residents to move to less charming but more affordable neighborhoods — and changing the character of the community. You can see this in Rome (around Piazza Navona), in Amsterdam (the Jordaan district), in Barcelona (the Ramblas isn’t what it used to be) — and in many other once-vibrant and charming neighborhoods that now are just plain touristy. Many locals blame Airbnb. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Here’s a new sidebar on this issue that we’re considering adding to our Rick Steves guidebooks:

The Ethics of Airbnb

Airbnb.com is becoming a dominant provider of accommodations across Europe, allowing travelers to rent rooms and apartments directly from locals.

Fans of Airbnb appreciate the feeling of being part of a real neighborhood, getting into a daily routine as “temporary Europeans.” In this way, Airbnb can facilitate genuine cultural connection more effectively than sleeping in impersonal, crank-’em-out hotels. If you’re willing to forego big-hotel amenities like a reception desk and daily cleaning, you can get much more space for your money. And, depending on the host, Airbnb can provide an opportunity to get to know a local person, while keeping your accommodations money in the community.

Critics view Airbnb as a threat to “traditional Europe.” Some believe Airbnb creates unfair, unqualified competition for well-established B&B owners…forcing some out of business. And in many cities, the lucrative Airbnb market is driving up property values beyond the reach of first-time home buyers, costing downtown neighborhoods some of their local vitality. In some places, authorities are cracking down, requiring that rental properties be occupied by the property owners for at least part of the year – and sometimes even staging disruptive “inspections” that inconvenience guests.

As an advocate for travelers, I appreciate the value and cultural intimacy Airbnb provides. But as a lover of Europe, I share the worry of those who see longtime residents and local home buyers nudged aside by tourists. In the end, each traveler has to decide whether Airbnb is right for them.

(BTW, the clip at the end of the above video is from Portugal’s Heartland, a 2001 episode of our TV show…but it seems like it’s from a different age. Back then, tourists visiting Portuguese towns were ambushed by women offering cheap rooms — a practice that frustrated conventional hotels. Now, those women are gone, but hotels have something much more threatening to worry about: online room-sharing services.)

First on CNN: US Secret Service overpaid presidential campaigns $4 million for plane travel

travel - Google News
First on CNN: US Secret Service overpaid presidential campaigns $4 million for plane travel

How our partner LivelyHoods is changing lives in Kenya

Urban Adventures
How our partner LivelyHoods is changing lives in Kenya

“I was not lucky enough to pursue my education dreams. My parents were poor and could not afford school fees for me. They also just never bothered with education since they themselves were never schooled, so they didn’t know the importance.”

This is the story of Ann Nyongesa, a sales agent with LivelyHoods, a non-profit operating in Kenya that supports women and youth by training them to be salespeople and entrepreneurs. LivelyHoods’ network of trained sales agents sell life-changing and eco-friendly products such as solar lamps, clean-burning cookstoves and other household applicances in slum communities. The products offer residents of the slum cost savings through reduced fuel usage and health benefits thanks to a reduction in smoke emissions.

“Our overall impact is far-reaching, first touching the growth, success and financial independence of the youth and women we train, and then the households that these youth and women reach, with life-improving products,” explains Claire Baker, Director of Development for LivelyHoods.

“The community grows economically, as 100% of the profits from the organisation are reinvested into creating more jobs for youth and women. We also see societal norms about gender roles shifting, and we see a generation of empowered youth and women providing for themselves and their families in a safe, sustainable way.”

LivelyHoods hosts our Street Smart in Nairobi Slums tour, part of our In Focus line-up of tours, which are run around the world in cooperation with local non-profits, NGOs and social enterprises, and introduce travellers to local issues and solutions.

“In Focus tours are an important way for us to showcase the work we do,” says Claire. “We can share it with people all over the world and invite them to get involved, and expose the young men and women we work with to people of all nationalities, and all walks of life.”

For Ann, joining LivelyHoods meant that she could pursue a career even though she didn’t have the education she had dreamed of.

“I had always wanted to be a nurse. Unfortunately, I lacked support and that’s how my dream died. In my family, I’m the second born of six siblings, and all of us went through the same — no one was able to finish studies, so [we could not] help one another. When I was told that LivelyHoods offers free training, I came for the interview. I struggled a lot in the training because I’m not sharp, but I decided to never give up. This was like a golden opportunity. I’m grateful that I was offered an opportunity to work here, and that I get some income at the end of the month. My basic needs are now taken care of from what I earn through my sales.”

workers in a Nairobi slum

Ann is just one of the success stories from LivelyHoods, but there are many more just like her. Here are the personal stories of some of the other women and youth impacted by the program, and whom you might just meet on a Nairboi In Focus tour:

“By interacting with people from non-Swahili speaking countries, it has helped me improve my English, and these interactions teach me how to deal with different customers more confidently. My English has improved so much, and given me a completely new opportunity I never expected.” – Kitindi

“Before I joined LivelyHoods I used to depend so much on my husband, who is a casual labourer. The nature of his work is that it’s not dependable. Sometimes we would sleep hungry as a result of him missing being clocked in. It was difficult, especially since I had a small child and was expecting another one. But since I started working, I have been able to provide significant support to my husband. I am now an independent woman who is more respected by my husband because I don’t have to depend on him for everything.” – Harriet

“Ever since I joined LivelyHoods, a lot has changed in my life. I am now part of the praise and worship team at my church. Recently my mother visited us from upcountry and we invited her to visit our church. It was a coincidence that that day I had been selected to lead the praise and worship. As I was leading the service, I did not notice that my mother had been awed by my presentation. During the testimony service I was surprised to see my mother go upfront… She said that she was proud of me. And she was grateful of what I had turned into. It’s the first time I had ever had such compliments from my mother and I have never been so proud.” – Emily

“I was struggling a lot after I lost my other job and it was hard to settle my bills and feed my family. But after joining LivelyHoods, this changed since I started earning a decent pay, which is sustainable for my family. I can even pay my children’s school fees.” – Malusi

“Through my interaction with new people, I have grown in three major skills, namely communication, time management and convincing power. Because of the support from the LivelyHoods team and particularly my branch manager, my monthly sales have been consistent. I have earned a living through sales, something that I could not manage before. My earnings now range from 15k to 30k. With such earnings, I have been able to plan my spending well to gather for my family. Budgeting is part of me now. LivelyHoods has also instilled a savings culture in me and I am happy with the amount I have saved so far. I feel confident I can start my own business because LivelyHoods has given me a classroom training and a practical training in the field of sales.” – Purity

“Before Joining LivelyHoods I was just from a broken marriage. I was confused because I was literally dependent on my husband for everything and anything. When my marriage broke, I was devastated. I moved to Nairobi without any plans to get a job and life was hard trying to get people to host you every now and then. I had just moved to Kabiria, rented my own house (single room) and the house was empty and I could barely get rent to pay for the house, let alone food. Since joining Livelyhoods I now never have to worry about what to eat or where to get money for rent. The best thing that happened is a few months after joining LivelyHoods I got money to claim my kids’ custody, which came through and am now able to care for them to and even pay their school fee and their upkeep.” – Rachel

In Focus: Street Smart in Nairobi’s Slums

LivelyHoods Kenya is a non-profit social enterprise that creates training and livelihoods opportunities for disadvantaged youth and women in urban slums. LivelyHoods trains youth and women in sales, marketing, and communication skills, and provides them with the products and support for them to thrive as sales agent of life-changing clean-energy products such as cookstoves.

The post How our partner LivelyHoods is changing lives in Kenya appeared first on Urban Adventures.

Just How Bad Is Business Travel for Your Health? Here's the Data.

travel - Google News
Just How Bad Is Business Travel for Your Health? Here's the Data.

Kerala Houseboat Cruise: Amazingly Wonderful Experience

Travel and Leisure:Luxury Cruising Articles from EzineArticles.com
Kerala Houseboat Cruise: Amazingly Wonderful Experience
Kerala is blessed with vast areas of backwaters and the state has utilized it to hold its prestige and economy in the world level. Thanks to tourism policy of the state and active participation from the private and semi-private business ventures, Kerala Houseboats have become the pride of the sate among the travelers and tourists across the world. It is an amazingly wonderful experience to cruise in a houseboat to explore the tranquil Kerala backwaters.

Three Days in Mexico City, Mexico

Travel Codex
Three Days in Mexico City, Mexico

Central Mexico has experienced a tourism renaissance in the past decade, with abating crime, temperate weather, inexpensive flights, and blooming cultural wonders to discover. Mexico City is one of the best places to start if you’re seeking to discover the inner soul of Mexico, which is beyond rich in heritage. While escapes to the coastal regions and popular tourist sites are always delightful, it is worth peeling back the onion and seeing what lies within the interior.

Flights

We flew Interjet from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Mexico City, which was an inexpensive and convenient airline. On the return, we flew American Airlines, which had excellent one-way award availability coming back, despite it being Memorial Day Weekend. While Mexico City airport is linked to the city’s metro system, but if you’re not arriving in the rush hour, taking Uber will not be a major hassle. It costs less than $10 to get from Benito Juarez international to Polanco, which is about a 20-minute ride outside of rush hour, 40-60 minutes during rush hour.

Hotels

We stayed at the InterContinental Presidente in Polanco and were super pleased with our stay. The property was located walking distance from Bosque de Chapultepec Park, and on a relatively quiet street adjacent to other hotel properties like Marriott, the W, and Hyatt. Polanco is definitely a “ritzier” neighborhood in Mexico City, but despite its posh location, the InterContinental Hotel was less than $150 per night over the course of a 3-day weekend.

Click to view slideshow.

The amenities were fantastic, and the staff was extremely helpful. We had breakfast included which treated us to delicious, hot meals that we enjoyed in the restaurant’s Chapulina restaurant, located on-site. There are other restaurants at the property, including a fantastic French Restaurant (didn’t try but was highly recommended) open 24 hours. The hotel also has a great gym and a spa on the property. The one lacking amenity was a pool, which would have been nice to have in the afternoons when we wanted to cool off. Thankfully, the temperatures in Mexico City are fairly placid year-round, although rainy season is common during the months of June, July, and August.

Breakfast view from Chapulina Breakfast at Chapulinas

Polanco is also nice because it is very safe and walkable, with plenty of fantastic restaurants, bars, and clubs located within minutes of the hotels, by foot. However, if Polanco is not your cup of tea and you prefer something more “bohemian,” then Condesa and Roma Norte are also highly recommended areas. These neighborhoods are also very safe, conveniently accessible via metro, and have a more hipster feel to them. AirBnB’s are also plentiful in Mexico City.

Getting Around

I traveled with my family, and as a group of four, it made more sense for us to use Uber rather than taxis or the metro. That being said, Uber is the best way to get around CDMX (this is the new “colloquial” name for Mexico City, after the name, “DF”, for “Distrito Federal,” was retired a few years ago). Ubers are plentiful and cheap, costing literally a few dollars to travel miles from site to site. And while Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world and is fairly spread out, the sites you’ll want to check out are located anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes from each other. As such, car transport comes in handy.

We were lucky that AT&T had provided our full coverage for this trip without roaming charges. This made it easy to receive phone calls from Uber drivers, or from restaurants, and for us to be able to connect at any given moment.

Taxies are also readily available in Mexico City, with pink-marked cabs that have a very distinguishable, “CDMX” sign on them. This way, you can be sure to take a designated cab around the city and not become a victim of scams or theft. However, expect to pay a premium for taxis, and it is a hassle to carry around cash and fumble around with it as you pay drivers.

Taxi in background Activities

There is so much to do in Mexico City and the surrounding areas, that you’ll have a tough time fitting it all in during a single visit. That is okay, though, because Chilangos, as the slang term for residents of CDMX, would love nothing more than to host return visitors in future excursions to their city. However, the place to start is to be sure that you take advantage of the foodie scene and make your way around from there.

Gastronomy

This is what will make you fall in love with Mexico City: everything from seafood to vegetables to tacos to mezcal will capture your heart. The best thing to do is ensure you make time to do a walking food tour of the city, which is offered by a variety of tour companies. While the price per ticket may seem steep (ranging from $50-100 per person) the tours are well worth it, because you’ll get more than just a full belly. You’ll actually learn about the history behind the gastronomic revolution in Mexico that has taken place over several centuries. Moreover, the influences from the pre-Hispanic, post-Conquista, and contemporary periods have shaped the study and art of culinary practice.

We took the Sabores Mexico Food Tour of the Centro Historico, which I have reviewed in an entirely separate post altogether. This was one of several tour types offered, and of course, many additional tours are offered by other agencies. It is worth planning ahead and you must definitely book in advance, as these tours tend to fill up.

Museums

There are few cities in the world that boast as many replete museums as Mexico City. One place to allow yourself to become floored by the level of detail is the National Anthropology Museum, which can be done over the course of several days. We spent an afternoon there and barely scratched the surface, but were able to cover at least the first floor. The Frida Kahlo museum is also worth a visit, although it is located in a separate neighborhood called Coyoacan, and indeed it is highly recommended to purchase your ticket well in advance, else suffer through waiting in line for hours.

Museum of Anthropology Nature

As I mentioned previously, Bosque de Chapultepec is the city’s version of Central Park, stretching for miles and unifying neighborhoods around the city. At all hours of the day, you’ll find joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers, ice cream vendors, and other sun-soakers inhabiting this beautiful green space. There are miniature ponds, islands, and sculptures that adorn the area. It’s a very peaceful and relaxing place to spend a warm, sunny day, or just to relax, picnic, and decompress.

Chapultapec Park

Day trips from Mexico City to Taxco, Teotihuacan, Puebla, and Cuernavaca are also worthwhile and plentiful. I’ve been to all but Puebla during prior visits to Mexico, and all are a must-do if your vacation time allows for it.

Sightseeing

In the Centro Historico, which is essentially the older neighborhood of the city where you can get a real local flavor, you’ll want to bring your walking shoes and explore the monuments. The zocalo in the center of the city is where crowds gather, similar to what you’ll find in Puerto del Sol or Plaza Mayor in Madrid, or the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Strolling through the streets and making stops at the Palacio de Bellas Artes along the way, you’ll notice the designs and motifs on the buildings give the city an extremely European flavor.

Click to view slideshow.

If you have the time, take the elevator up to the sky bar at Torre Latinoamerica, which is a tower next to the zocalo with a restaurant/bar at the top, offering breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Like other roof-top bars, this one will be a tourist trap if you just simply want to enjoy the views, meaning do not go to the observatory, as you’ll wait in line for a long time. Instead, just go straight up to the bar area and enjoy the same views over a cold drink.

Food and Drink

We were able to sample foods in multiple places that gave us a great, well-rounded dose of Mexican cuisine. We also got to check out the bar scene to see how libations flowed in the Mexican capital. Here are some of the places we tried out:

Restaurants Guizina Oaxaca, Polanco

We stumbled across this restaurant and decided to go-big or go-home with regards to trying out Oaxacan food. We sampled duck enchiladas with mole sauce, pork tacos, edible zucchini flowers, fresh ceviche, and of course, washed it down with a few glasses of mezcal. Our friendly wait staff discovered that we had just landed in Mexico from the U.S., and decided to give us a chance to try chapulines, or grasshoppers. When in Rome!

mezcal drinks, freshly-made salsa, and bread mole, edible flowers, and ceviche chapulinas La Unica, Polanco

We initially came here expecting to just have drinks prior to dinner but wound up having so much fun we decided to stay and order main courses here. We were shocked by how delicious the tacos were, sampling out pastor, tiburon (shark meat), fish, sea bass, and chicken tingas, while also sampling a sumptuous array of vegetables, like roasted cauliflower, and then having some fresh churros as a sinful way to end the meal. The servers also brought me some mezcal to try out, which was chased with an orange rind and tamarind candies.

Mezcal at La Unica Tacos at La Unica Tacos at La Unica Churros at La Unica El Lago, Chapultepec Park

We would never have known about this place had we not met up with some friends who were locals to Mexico City, and suggested we have brunch here when we got together. This place is located right on a lake in Chapultepec park and offers an eye-popping buffet where you can get everything from freshly-made omelets to quesadillas to skirt steak to pancakes, all made-to-order, along with fresh fruits, incredible Mexican sweet bread, delicious beans, cheeses, and confections to finish it all.

The interior of El Lago Lake View of El Lago Breakfast at El Lago Street Foods

We spent an afternoon in Coyoacan, which is a more modest neighborhood south of the city, and also the home to the Frida Kahlo museum. On virtually every corner, there are street vendors making fresh tortillas, selling elote (roasted corn with cheese, crema, and seasoning), fresh coconuts, and just about everything in between. It is worth doing a walking tour of this neighborhood and sampling various delicacies. Best thing? This is where all the locals hang, and you’ll blend right in as long as you love delicious food.

street food in Mexico City Bars

Gin Gin, Polanco

This venue specializes in serving hundreds of varieties of gin, in a swanky two-floor atmosphere with a semi-covered rooftop. It is dimly-lit and offers a “prohibition-era” speak-easy feel, with servers dressed up in fedora hats and suspenders. They have a huge wealth of knowledge on their cocktails and drink recommendations. Gin-o-phobes fear not! There are plenty of non-liquored drinks, mocktails, beers, and wines also available on selection.

Gin Gin Bar Gin at Gin Gin the interior of Gin Gin Biergarten, Roma Norte

This is a beautiful space located in the up-and-coming Roma Norte district. We came here for a happy hour in-between museum visits (hey, we were thirsty!) and enjoyed the incredible indoor decor and the funky artwork on the walls. The bar is also located in a food mall that is worth exploring as well.

Biergarten in Roma Norte

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Three Days in Mexico City, Mexico.

Hop Scots: Scottish islands passport could lead to travel discounts

Travel | The Guardian
Hop Scots: Scottish islands passport could lead to travel discounts

Regional transport group Hitrans suggests passport scheme to boost tourism to Scotland’s 93 inhabited islands

From “munro bagging” to completing the West Highland Way, travellers to Scotland have always loved a challenge. Now, with plans being drawn up to for a Scottish islands passport, a new task for tourists could be on the horizon: visiting the country’s inhabited islands – 93 of them.

The Scottish islands passport scheme was proposed in a recent report by regional transport body the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans).

Continue reading...

Eastern European Tour Part 2 – A Winter Day in Vilnius Lithuania

Travel Codex
Eastern European Tour Part 2 – A Winter Day in Vilnius Lithuania

Like my day trip to Warsaw, I had another trip requiring a Saturday night stay, and this time I found another cheap ticket and relatively cheap destination to visit.  This time Vilnius, Lithuania. Another wintry day, but again I tried to make the most of my short visit.

As I was planning my time, I realized I would be arriving on a national holiday in Lithuania. In fact, it was the 100th anniversary of Lithuania gaining independence after the first world war.  I arrived late in the evening, and despite snowy cold weather, people seemed to be having a good time.  After arriving, I just went to have a beer and some snacks in a neat old subterranean restaurant down the street from my hotel before going to bed. Most of my time on Saturday morning would be walking around as a tourist.

Vilnius on National day in Lithuania

On Saturday morning, I think many of the locals were sleeping in after a day of celebration. I nearly had the town to myself as I walked around. The Radisson Vilnius Astorija is located in the old town, and a good location for a walking tour. The Old Town is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for There was a little snow on the ground, but didn’t cause too much difficulty in getting around. As the day wore on the snow started to accumulate again. I went back inside, for a quick lunch, and then headed back to the airport.  It was a short trip, made shorter by less than ideal flight times, but again I was glad to have the time I did.

Three Muses Sculpture outside the National Drama Theater in Vilnius

Strangely, it seems I took a lot of photos of churches. I guess these stood out more than some of the countless other buildings I encountered.

Vilnius Cathedral in Cathedral Square

 

Church of All Saints, a Baroque-style church in Vilnius

 

Besides the old city, I also happened across the Museum of Genocide Victims, housed in a building that has served as the home to the Gestapo and later the KGB. I didn’t have time to visit inside, but was moved by the monument outside:

Instagram Photo

More unique architecture at the Vilnius Airport
Vilnius Soviet-era terminal, now used for arrivals. Photo Credit: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The airport was perfectly modern on the inside, but even the newer areas seem dated on the exterior. The current arrival terminal is from the Soviet-era terminal and the newer terminal used for departures.

Vilnius Airport terminal

Another short stop in Eastern Europe, and another new country to my total. I enjoyed my trip to Vilnius, the people I encountered were friendly, I only wish it was a little warmer when I was there. I really enjoy visiting historic areas like I did here. Maybe because even the oldest buildings in the US are quite new compared to these historic areas in Europe.

 

 

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Eastern European Tour Part 2 – A Winter Day in Vilnius Lithuania.

Hong Kong – city walking guide: Victoria Peak to Admiralty

Travel | The Guardian
Hong Kong – city walking guide: Victoria Peak to Admiralty

Descend from Hong Kong’s highest point into lush greenery, before exploring grand buildings, urban parks … and perhaps even a swish hotel ­or two

Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak was once the home of the city’s colonial ruling classes, and these days its mansions still house Hong Kong’s richest. They chose well: topping out at 552 metres (1,800 ft) above the city, the highest point offers up views of a concrete and glass forest rising out of tropical wilderness. But there’s a better way to get a sense of Hong Kong’s mash-up of natural and manmade – a meander down the mountain.

Related: Hong Kong – city walking guide: exploring the Sham Shui Po district

Continue reading...

Five Best Practices For Travel Tourism Websites

travel - Google News
Five Best Practices For Travel Tourism Websites

Review: Sabores Mexico Food Tours, Mexico City

Travel Codex
Review: Sabores Mexico Food Tours, Mexico City

Sabores Mexico Food Tours offer an award-winning food tour of Mexico City’s street food, which is a must-do activity for first-timers to the Mexican capital. Tours last from 3 to 4.5 hours and are offered anywhere from noon to 7:30 P.M., all 7 days of the week. Each tour is guided by a local in groups no greater than ten individuals in order to ensure that each guest will get the optimal tasting of one of the foodie capitals of the world. Furthermore, there are tours in both Spanish and English that are available, so that both native and non-native speakers can pick and choose which suits them best.

There are three types of tours available, at different prices, including:

Colonia Roma Food Tour, which is ~$60.00 USD for adults, $50.00 for kids, and takes participants through the more “hipster” Roma Norte neighborhood. This is a mid-day tour Historic Center Food Tour, which costs ~$65.00 USD for adults, $50.00 for kids, and takes place in the historic centro of Mexico City, which is the oldest neighborhood, and provides a more, “birds-eye” sampling into the vast array of Mexican flavors and dishes across the country. This is a mid-day tour and was the one we selected. Tacos and Mezcal Tour, which is a bit pricier for ~$95.00 USD for adults, $75.00 for kids, and takes participants through different neighborhoods visiting various Taquerias. This is an evening/nightlife tour Sabores Mexico Food Tours – Options

Booking tickets are fairly easy and the website is both bilingual and easy to navigate. The tours tend to fill up quickly, so we purchased our tickets around 3-4 weeks in advance to ensure that we were covered.

Things to Note: Come Hungry, Leave Happy

No matter how large your appetite is, you will be fed a ton of food on this tour. Therefore, do not arrive on a full stomach. The portions that are served along each stop are decently-sized, even by American standards, so my recommendation is, if you are taking a mid-day tour that starts at 11:30 and are a big breakfast person, to wake up early, have a light morning meal of coffee/juice/etc. and a muffin to tide you over, then arrive on-site at the meeting spot ready to roll for the afternoon. The tour begins promptly at 11:30 and you will be served your first dish right away.

Carry Minimal Cash and No Flashy Jewelry

The historic center of Mexico City is a very safe neighborhood during the day, but it is obviously older and full of tourists and locals during any given afternoon. This, of course, leads to increased risk of petty theft because of crowds. I recommend carrying minimal cash (i.e. no more than 500 MXP, which is ~$22.5 USD), your ID, and debit card. Use money belts if you want to, and leave watches and jewelry at home. Again, the odds of getting frisked are low, but you will be walking a lot through neighborhoods where a clever ladron, or thief, could pickpocket you if you’re not careful.

Wear sunscreen, Shades, and Comfortable Shoes

The tour will provide a bottle of water for the day, but bring extra if you tend to consume a lot. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so flip-flops or high heels will be suboptimal. If it is sunny, wear sunscreen and (inexpensive) sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes.

Now, onto the fun stuff.

The Skinny: Mexican Gastronomy

Central Mexico has come a long way in recent years from being a place you want to avoid unless you’re a fan of dysentery, crime, and pollution. In the U.S., we associate Mexican food with Tex-Mex, which does a severe injustice to Mexico’s unique flavors and culinary innovations that have been in circulation for centuries. We may know what mole tastes like or that a tamarind margarita spices up the pedestrian tequila drink, but there is so much more that has been left untouched by the average traveler to this nation. Everything comes with layers of history, from how meats and seafood are prepared to how the vegetables and plants are raised to how the milk, cheeses, and sweets are curated. There is something for everyone, whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, or lactose intolerant. And to eat, in Mexican culture, is to live.

Furthermore, each Mexican state in the republic has taken on its own interpretation of a single recipe, like mole, for instance. In Oaxaca, for example, the locals see mole as a connection between themselves and the divinity. The state of Oaxaca has seven different varieties of mole, two of which are red, one yellow, one green, another which is a stew, varied based on ingredients used.

On our first stop, where we met our vivacious tour guide, Paloma, we tried black mole.

Stop 1: Oaxaca en Mexico

Located at Luis Moya 59, Centro, we began the journey at a traditional Oaxacan restaurant sampling enchiladas de mole negro, which was essentially a chicken enchilada bathed in black mole. Black mole is a recipe of more than 25 ingredients, ground by hand, including dark chocolate, nuts, prunes, tomatoes, cinnamon, raisins, multiple roasted chiles, and roasted peppers, to name a few, combined with chicken broth to form a paste. One of the roasted chiles is called chilhuate, which is only grown in Oaxaca. The black colors come from the ashes of dried blue tortilla that adds a smoky flavor to the paste.

Black Mole Enchilada

Compared to the U.S., this mole tasted smoky, but sweet, compared to the spicier mole that we have in the U.S. In Mexico, mole is always paired with rice, that has a small anise hint to it, to help neutralize the complex flavors.

I ask Paloma if Mexicans eat mole for breakfast.

“Whenever we are hungover, some of us do,” she responds with a chuckle.

In the older towns, mole is still ground by hand, versus the more “technically-advanced” method of using a blender. But, for those who prefer the legacy variation, it provides a perfect opportunity to celebrate. No weddings or quinceaneras are celebrated without mole.

The mole was so delicious, some of us were using our forks to scoop up the remaining sauce, even after we finished our enchiladas. With our palates fired up, we were ready to move on to the next adventure: San Juan market.

Stop 2: San Juan Market

This is a destination in-and-of-itself as a highlight of Mexico City. For picky eaters, this will be the least enticing stop of the trip, as this is the only market in the entire city that specializes in gourmet and exotic foods. As such, if the thought of eating rabbits and scorpions is daunting, this may be the time to bow out.

Fresh seafood – San Juan Market

The market has a fascinating history, which Paloma stopped to explain to us in great detail before proceeding inside. It was a pre-Hispanic open-air market dating back to Mexico City’s colonial days in the 16th century. After la conquista, it continued to serve as a market for the settlers to buy their meats, cheeses, and other luxury goods.

We went inside, with plans to visit four stops within the market itself.

Delicatessen La Jersey Gourmet

Paloma produced several cups of Spanish tempranillo wines for us to enjoy with our Mexican tapas dishes, which consisted of two open-faced sandwiches with Oaxacan cheese (an interpretation of mozzarella, made with cow milk to produce a stringy texture), and a jamon sandwich made from pork belly. Both tapas were seasoned with more than 25 herbs, olive oil, and a slice of ripe tomato.

Mexican Tapas

We were invited to top our sandwiches with various chilis, including a mango habanero one, and another with grasshoppers in the mix, known as chapulinas. Walking over one stall, we turned into true savages: eating ants, larvae, and grasshoppers, in this stall. These insects are only collected during certain times of the year, hatching in early May through late summer, and are cleaned, washed, and toasted with garlic, lime juice, and salt. These are packed with protein, so back in the day, it served as a cheap source of nutrition for more modest inhabitants of Mexico. Today, however, they’re considered a delicacy at $100 per kg.

Chapulinas – Grasshoppers! Even #MamaAnand worked up some liquid courage to try the insects! El Gran Cazador

This food stall specialized in pre-Hispanic foods and meats. Here, we tried mixiote, which is a traditional pit-barbequed meat dish in central Mexico, usually prepared in an oven. Today, we sampled wild boar, but it is common for the dish to use chicken, lamb, mutton, and rabbit. It is seasoned with pasilla and guajillo chili peppers and then sealed into small packages to preserve the flavor.

Rosse Gourmet

I never knew that a vegetable sandwich could taste this good. We were treated to a sampling of a family-owned vegetable stand. We met Claudia, one of the owners, who sourced all of her vegetables from within 100 miles of Mexico City. We sampled coriander, rosemary, beet, mint, and edible flowers. Claudia explained that one of the “gifts” from Mexico to the world was tomatoes, where regular tomatoes were farmed before the Spanish came, then took back to Europe. Claudia treated us to a delicious sandwich on a baguette with veggies, cheese, cracked pepper and olive oil, all fresh from her garden.

fresh vegetables – San Juan Market, Mexico City Claudia’s delicious sandwiches Stop 3: El Caguamo

It was now time to put the “street” back in street food. After exiting the market, Paloma took us to ayuntamiento street for a seafood sample. She gave us the three rules of street food: 1) never eat at a place that looks deserted, and 2). never eat at a place that doesn’t look clean in its surroundings.

El Caguamo street food – Mexico City

We stopped at a renown seafood stand that had started out as a simple Mom-and-Pop owned stall and then grown to several brick and mortar stores around the city. First, we sampled a shrimp broth, which Paloma said, “if you’re hungover, this is a great drink to have to make you feel like God loves you again.”

The shrimp broth was piping hot, although not too spicy, and tasted delicious. We were then treated to a delicious tostada next, which had a sumptuous ceviche mix of crab, octopus, lobster, and shrimp, with diced onions, lime juice, and avocado. I added a bit of Valentina hot sauce from the stand to give it just the right kick that it needed. Yum.

Ceviche Tostada and Shrimp Broth

It was time for us to move onward, as we had two more stops to go. But first, we would do some wandering around Historico Centro to stretch our legs, make room for more food, and learn additional facts about the zocalo in Mexico City.

As we made our way to the fourth stop, the bar was crowded with patrons watching Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, so we circled a bit more until some spots opened up.

Zocalo in Mexico City Stop 4: La Bipo Pasaguero

It was time for us to have more contemporary Mexican food at a Cantina. Paloma took our drink orders (beers or margaritas) and the server whisked us some delicious, refreshing lager while we awaited our final meal of the day before dessert. Here, we sampled finger foods, such as quesadilla de Jamaica and conchinita pibil. We were also treated to a delicious mint, cucumber, and lime drink.

Finger foods Stop 5: Dulceria de Celaya

This is one of Mexico City’s oldest candy stores, founded in 1874, and everything in the store has been kept intact since its opening day. We tried a fantastic guava sweet as well as a delicious one made of nuts.

Click to view slideshow.

Sadly, this was where the tour concluded, with the time nearing four o’clock and our bellies completely full. Paloma asked us what our favorite parts of the tour were, and to stay in touch as we said thank-yous and farewells.

Sabores Food Tours: Final Verdict

We were incredibly lucky to have been paired with Paloma as our guide. Not only is she a master foodie, having studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu, lived abroad in Spain to study gastronomy, as well as being a professor at a local college, but also she is passionate about the subject. A native to Mexico City, Paloma admitted that she herself has been astounded by the renaissance in culinary recognition that has overtaken her hometown by storm. It felt like we were touring with a friend, not just a guide.

Sabores Mexico Food Tours are also extremely organized and efficient. They communicated regularly, sent tickets to our emails as well as to our mobile phones, and met at a location that was easy to find and safe. We felt at ease with Paloma at all times and left feeling like this was one of the highlights of our trip. Without her guidance and knowledge, we would not have been able to give the richness of Mexican food our fullest appreciation.

If you’re planning a visit to Mexico City, be sure to add Sabores Mexico Food Tours to your “to-do” list.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Review: Sabores Mexico Food Tours, Mexico City.

Everlane's Genius New Travel Bag Is Both a Backpack and a Duffel

travel - Google News
Everlane's Genius New Travel Bag Is Both a Backpack and a Duffel

Readers' travel photography competition: May – the winners

Travel | The Guardian
Readers' travel photography competition: May – the winners

Candid travel shots dominate this month’s selection. Scroll to see the winner – chosen by Mick Ryan of fotoVUE – who receives a £200 voucher for an i-escape holiday property. The overall 2018 prize is a West Greenland trip with Wild Photography Holidays

Enter our June competition

Continue reading...

5 reasons to be excited for the grand opening on Mykonos Island

A Luxury Travel Blog
5 reasons to be excited for the grand opening on Mykonos Island

The “island of the winds” has just opened its doors to greet its jet-setting guests once again. The newest and hottest places to be this Summer are welcoming their repeat guests with their well-known hospitality and are showing newcomers how to have the time of their lives! For over 50 years now, Mykonos has been […]

The post 5 reasons to be excited for the grand opening on Mykonos Island appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

FlixBus in Arizona: Score cheap bus travel around AZ, to California

travel - Google News
FlixBus in Arizona: Score cheap bus travel around AZ, to California

8 amazing retreats in Greece for all the yogis out there!

A Luxury Travel Blog
8 amazing retreats in Greece for all the yogis out there!

Greece has rightfully earned a spot on the world’s “yoga map”. This Mediterranean country has what it takes to exceed the already high expectations of the most demanding yogi. The serenity of the chosen locations proves to show that Greece is indeed the perfect destination for one to strike “asana” poses on a mat overlooking […]

The post 8 amazing retreats in Greece for all the yogis out there! appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

10 of the best rooftop bars in Europe: readers' travel tips

travel - Google News
10 of the best rooftop bars in Europe: readers' travel tips

Luxury boat trips in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

A Luxury Travel Blog
Luxury boat trips in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

The network of waterways in Southeast Asia chop and change as you follow the current. Between hives of activity with clusters of houses and hardworking fishermen, there are stretches of untouched countryside, mountains thick with jungle and towering limestone karsts. Not only do these waterways offer an insight into local life – a springboard to […]

The post Luxury boat trips in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

The best nature photos from the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

travel - Google News

10 of the best rooftop bars in Europe: readers’ travel tips

Travel | The Guardian
10 of the best rooftop bars in Europe: readers’ travel tips

From the tops of boutique hotels to car parks and old office blocks, our tipsters know where to enjoy booze with a view

I had a couple of hours to spend in Freiburg while my bike was being repaired, but no energy left to sightsee. The guy at the cycle shop suggested I visit Skajo rooftop bar, in the old centre of Freiburg. Skajo provided a cooling breeze, cold beer and a delicious charcuterie platter. All-round views saved my legs while giving me a snapshot of this lively city, from a close-up of the magnificent cathedral, right out to the surrounding green hills and the beginnings of the Black Forest. Scents from the flower market drifted up, mingling with the strains of buskers in cathedral square. Bliss!
fionachaillier

Continue reading...

Kilauea Volcano Eruption: Is It Safe To Travel To Hawaii?

travel - Google News
Kilauea Volcano Eruption: Is It Safe To Travel To Hawaii?

7 of the UK’s best sightseeing destinations

A Luxury Travel Blog
7 of the UK’s best sightseeing destinations

We’re edging ever closer to the Summer each day here in the UK. So, to make the most of the warmer weather and lighter nights, why not start exploring some of the UK’s top sights and attractions? From the natural beauty of the Scilly Isles to the magic of Loch Lomond, through to the fascinating […]

The post 7 of the UK’s best sightseeing destinations appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Video: Beautiful Memories — Sharing Travel with Children

Rick Steves' Travel Blog
Video: Beautiful Memories — Sharing Travel with Children

Allow me to share a private moment of reflection about the fun I once had with our family, here on this Algarve beach in Portugal. Sure, it’s great to be footloose and fancy-free in your travels. But, surrounded by young families and recalling family fun, I’m reminded how great it is to share those travels with kids.

Some places are more kid-friendly than others. The Algarve — before the heat and crowds of peak season — is ideal. What are some great destinations for family travel that you’ve discovered? Let me know in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

(By the way, next week my son, Andy Steves, will be assisting a seasoned Rick Steves guide on one of our Best of Europe tours. And my daughter, Jackie, is inspiring LA high school students — through literature rather than travel — in her English classes.)

Travel Experts Share the 57 Pieces of Luggage They Love Most

travel - Google News
Travel Experts Share the 57 Pieces of Luggage They Love Most