Greatest driving roads in Europe

For those individuals for whom driving is not just a means of getting from A to B, Europe offers some of the most interesting roads in the world. In Europe, drivers can motor through stunning landscapes, stop off at historic sights and enjoy the chance to get a little fresh air, well away from the city.

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Some of the best roads

One of the most famous roads in Europe, the Col de la Bonnette, is also the highest, laid out at an altitude of 2807 meters. This road passes through the Alps, so there is an abundance of contrasting scenery, with lush greenery at the base of the pass and really barren landscapes at the top. The route can be testing with some narrow passes and tricky corners, and once the summit has been reached, the drive down seems almost like a racetrack, with 5km of the road ahead in view all at once.

Made famous by its appearance in the Bond film, Goldfinger, the Furka Pass is part of the ‘Big 3’ passes that are interconnected and run close to Andermatt. The Pass takes a driver to the Rhone Glacier, the source of the Rhone River, and here it is possible to stop the car and walk to the glacier. The Furka Pass’s road surfaces are perfect and present great forward visibility, so a driver can put his or her foot down and really enjoy the route. Another challenging road, the way down the Pass is narrow and steep in some places. At the bottom of the Pass, the road becomes dead straight for up to 6km, and runs parallel to the railway line.

The Black Forest in Germany offers drivers many trails, some better than others, but is generally held to be a driver’s dream route. One of the best routes is on the northern stretch, which has stunning views of the forest below, and a superb switchback that runs through the forest to Baden Baden. The roads in the Black Forest are wide and open, fantastic to drive. There are also plenty of places to stop and park up, stretch the legs and take some photos.  A very popular drive, the Black Forest routes can get extremely busy.

Why take a driving vacation?

Freedom is the simple answer. Drivers have the freedom to choose their own routes, select their own speed, stop where they want and explore as many places and sites as they wish. It can also be great fun, even at the planning stage, using a map to work out routes.

Talking of planning, this starts with the trip to the airport, getting passports and visas ready, and the need to hire a car at the other end. It is best to book a car rental before arriving at the destination, and careful thought needs to be put into the best type of vehicle for the trip.

It is always best to be prepared for the worst on a driving trip. This means packing a toolkit, and even some spare parts, in case roadside repairs need to be carried out. Just as important is safety equipment, such as warning signage and high visibility jackets.

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend in Stockholm

Are you looking for a relaxing fall getaway? Stockholm is the perfect place for an autumn retreat. The air is starting to turn crisp and the days are getting shorter, but the winter hasn’t gotten into full swing yet. Let’s take a closer look at what the gorgeous Swedish capital has to offer.

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Sites and Attractions

Stockholm is known for its cosmopolitan mix of old and new, with the 12th century buildings and cobbled streets of the Old Town set against 21st century architecture and cutting edge environmental protection initiatives. In fact, Stockholm just after Berlin and Copenhagen for having the best air quality in Europe.

To see some of this environmental protection in action, you can visit one of the many parks and green spaces that make up 30% of the city. One great example is Djurgarden, a peaceful wooded island park protected from the city’s hubbub.

If you’re in the mood for museums, then the National Museum offers a rotating schedule of exhibits featuring contemporary Swedish art. The Nobel Museum features information about the famous prize and all of its recipients throughout history. And if you’re interested in learning more about contemporary art and design, then the Nationalmuseet is definitely a must-see.

Cuisine

Sweden is home to the wonderful pastime known as fika, the act of taking a seat, enjoying a delicious cup of coffee, and having a pastry or cinnamon bun. Some great places for fika include Wayne’s Coffee, Robert’s Coffee and Espresso House, which replace the regular chains like Starbucks.

For dining out options, Sweden has some of the best venues in the world, offering creative takes on traditional Swedish fare and international influences. One well-known Stockholm restaurant is Ekstedt, where locally-produced food is cooked over a wood fire. Or, if you want to try the Scandanavian traditional breakfast, Djurgardsbrunn, near Gardet park, offers one of the best in town.

Nightlife

Stockholm is also becoming a popular nightlife destination. For those looking for a bit of after-hours fun, you’ll find most of the trendy bars on Gotgatan and Bondegatan, while the best dance clubs can be found in the district of Stureplan.

Extra Excursions

If you’re looking to get out of the city, the Stockholm archipelago offers beautiful seascapes and island views. Consisting of over 24,000 islands, the archipelago spans about 80 kilometers from the center of the city, and makes a perfect short tour by boat.

Make it Happen

The only downside is that Stockholm is known for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. While it’s not that far away, things like food, lodging and entertainment (particularly alcohol, due to the the taxes) can set you back a pretty penny. However, there are plenty of ways you can earn the extra cash beforehand. For some ideas, click here.

Once you get the funds together, get ready for a relaxing autumn retreat in Sweden’s enchanting capital.

Backpacking: The Best Way To Travel In Thailand

Backpacking is arguably the best way to travel in Thailand. And because of so many affordable transportation options, getting to this country is easy. With cheap flights to Thailand, anyone can visit it without breaking the bank. When you get there, you can walk around with just your backpack and enjoy the culture as well as the beautiful sights of this rich Southeast Asian nation.

backpack thailand

Those who have been out of the country and have visited Asia know that going to this part of the world is one the best things that can be done by those who want to enjoy their vacation getaway.

The feeling of excitement that you will feel when you step out of the airport is just unexplainable! You will instantly realize that you are not in that particular place that you used to be! The place looks exceptional, the food smells good, and the people are more polite! Well, the feeling that developed during your arrival, is just hard to explain and there are no words for it!

When you go backpacking, it would be a lot easier to meet new people and enjoy the Thai culture! This is most true when you meet other backpackers along the way!

Some of the best places to meet new people are transient houses and diners. You can easily make friends with other travellers and even tag along on their journey. Simply put, once you get out of your shell, meeting new people can be a walk in the park.

Another notable benefit of backpacking is the fact that you will not be bound by time. You do not have to wake up at certain time and hurriedly get out of bed every morning. This is because you do not have to be at certain place at a set time. Simply put, you have all the time in the world when you go backpacking!

To sum up, backpacking in Thailand can be really addicting, especially if you are the adventurous kind! You can be fully exposed to the unique culture, partake in exotic yet tasty street food, and experience cheap accommodation, among others! True enough, backpacking in Thailand is the way to go!

Muay Martial Arts- Sweat in Phuket

The national sport of Thailand is an ancient martial art called Muay. As international interest in the sport increases more and more tourists are flocking to Phuket to train, attend regattas, and take part in marathons and Ironman events. The health and fitness craze marries well with a tropical vacation.

Muay Martial Arts- Sweat in Phuket

Muay Martial Arts- Sweat in Phuket

The location independent sport of Muay is considered a mixed martial art that is fought in a cage making it a natural draw for both stadium and television audiences in addition to becoming a top individual fitness choice.

Anyone who is serious about becoming a mixed martial arts contender much add Muay to their training in order to develop their striking technique to its most powerful potential.  A small road in Chalong is the main spot for Muay training, though there are up to 25 camps in Thailand dedicated to teaching the sport. Not only are there gyms catering to training along Chalong but local business has grown to serve the tourists who until now had no real reason to visit the area.

One camp is presided over by American director Will Elliot who came to train and ended up staying to run the palace for American founder of Club tiger, Will McNamara, There is a small core group of elite athletes that train there regularly Tiger also welcomes between 200 and 300 guests each month for fitness training. Because once the discipline is learned it is location independent the fitness training is taking off as a part of CrossFit which can be added to Brazillian jiu-jitsu training, kick boxing, and even yoga. All of this is being marketed together at Tiger along with nutrition to brand itself as a conditioning program desirable around the world.

Making it an excellent way to visit Phuket, and even Thailand for the first time visitors to Tiger have everything taken care of for them. They have accommodations set up, a car or motorbike is rented on their behalf, and Tiger will even handle visa issues and provide tours of the area. The staff is hospitable and sets up a social schedule that allows everyone to feel at home. Guests are frequently muscle heavy men with plenty of tattoos but there is a “no judgment” policy in place.

Some locals worry that the fight club feel is bringing the type of tourist they don’t want to the area. This isn’t proving to be true, local business owners are happy for the increase in traffic to their area and say they’ve had more problems from British educators than from those studying the discipline of Muay Thai Marial Arts.

Living in Phuket for a vacation, spending your time seeing the sites, learning the local culture and eating the delicacies but while you are there take a chance at changing your life with a new location independent workout for you, though it is ancient to the world. You may just work off some holiday pounds, or you may find a new way to keep fit forever.

Top Ways to Travel Around New Zealand

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here are some tips to help you find the right transportation for your vacation! This is a country chock full of incredible natural beauty and amazing sights everywhere you go. I would recommend you start by the center of New Zealand, find a place to stay in Nelson and organize your adventure from there. Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay and has incredible landscape which will give you a teaser of what to expect for the rest of your trip. And of course, the best way to make the most of it is to pick good transportation methods and see the country at your own pace. To start planning this adventurous sort of holiday, have a look at some of the best transportation options to get you around New Zealand:

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Caravan

Want to travel around this gorgeous country at your own pace and enjoy the scenic outdoors? New Zealand caravan rentals are a popular option for those who want an adventurous holiday right in the middle of the rugged New Zealand nature. Forget about packaged holiday tours that rush you around on a pre-planned itinerary. With a caravan, you don’t have a schedule and can be completely spontaneous with your journey. Caravans are particularly great for traveling around this country because there’s often no accommodation nearby in nature. With a caravan, you can sleep anywhere, getting the chance to escape the city and feel peaceful immersed in the natural surroundings.

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Car Hire

Renting a car is another good option for those looking to get around New Zealand at their own speed. It’s cheaper than a caravan, and comes with plenty of options. Just a few travelers might want something small and compact, or a larger vehicle might be better for the whole family. Whatever you need, car hire in Auckland can help you pick the right vehicle for your travel needs. Traveling by car allows you complete independence and the ability to escape the crowds. It’s a great way to explore places off the beaten path, and enjoy the untouched parts of nature.

Bus

Traveling by bus around New Zealand is well-organized and designed to give you peace of mind on your journey. It’s great if you’re not into driving on your holiday and would rather sit back and enjoy the ride! Though you won’t be able to take the bus to the far reaches of nature like you could in a caravan, the bus coverage is quite good throughout the country. It can be a bit expensive and time-consuming, but is a good option for most travelers. Try renting holiday accommodation in one desirable spot and taking bus day trips from there.

Is It Possible To Play Online Casinos While Travelling?

With the recent surge in online casinos, it’s becoming more and more popular for people to want to be able to play these games from where ever they are.

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Online gambling regulations and laws differ greatly from one country to the next. The best advice that you could get is to to do your research, and find out whether you’re allowed to play on theses sites in the countries that you plan on travelling to.

If you are not sure what the situation is, and you’re only going away for a week or two, then you can rest assured – as you should have no problems connecting up to your favourite online casino, placing a few bets and  having some gentle fun.

Initially when you try and log in, you might stumble across a few measures that will try and stop you from playing. This is easily overcome by allowing pop-ups. Some countries try their best to prevent people from playing on such sites, and they’re very anti-online gambling. However, these countries have little or no way of completely clamping down on these sites or even the individuals that play on them.

Lets take Thailand as an example. You can fire up your laptop, log into an online poker site and play for real money. It’s illegal though in the eyes of the Thai government, but there’s nothing they can do about it at the end of the day.

Trying to play on such sites from your tablet or smartphone may prevent some problems though. This is due to the fact that the technology in these devices will recognize that you’re not in your original country and will make it difficult for you to log on. This is regardless of the country you’re visiting allowing you to gamble online or not.

Another issue you may need to be aware of, is trying to sign up for a new account on a new site. Where the problem occurs is when inputting your local address. The online casino may not actually accept the country where you are trying to create a new account from. This issue is known as player location restriction.

In general, it should be fine for you to log onto your favourite online casino while travelling, so long as you don’t have to create a new account. One little tip that could also help you out, is to buy a VPN(Virtual Private Network) – this will help mask your I.P address just in case you encounter any problems.

 

 

How to Spend 24 Hours in Berlin

Berlin, the capital of Germany and a lively city buzzing with energy you would expect from a major city in Europe. To soak up the vibe, base your adventures from the Jewish quarter in the central Mitte district where you can find various budget hotels such as the Circus Hotel or more expensive hotels with modern comforts such as Casa Camper.

Morning

Start your day with breakfast at either your hotel, or head over to Oliv in the Mitte area, where you can get yourself some energising coffee and egg dishes with the on the go professionals. Once you have finished your breakfast, you should be ready to start exploring. The UNESCO recognised cluster of museums known as Museumsinsel is your first destination.

The five museums that make up this area is filled with artefacts and treasures 6000 years old from around the world. As the doors open at 10 am, you will be arriving at the perfect time to avoid the long queues and hordes of screaming children on day trips.

Once you have had your fill of the museums, head over to the docking station for the Spree River cruises, which will take you along the river so you can admire historic Berlin. The docking point is just outside of the DDR museum and the boat will gently cruise past splendid old buildings, beach bars, the government quarter and the impressive train station.

Afternoon

Take a taxi over to Fischers Fritz where you’ll be treated to Michelin Star chef Christian Lohse cooking up some fantastic fish and seafood dishes. Three course lunch meals are 47 Euros which is great value for such good food or, alternatively, get two courses for 35 Euros and visit the nearby chocolatier Fassbender & Rausch which is famous for making chocolate models of Berlin’s landmarks.

Next is time to take in some of the attractions of Berlin. Head over to Gendarmenmarkt which is a graceful square sandwiched between German and French cathedrals and the brilliant Konzerthaus, Berin’s main concert hall.

Detouring from here, head over to Checkpoint Charlie and the infamous Brandenburg Gate, both important Cold War sites for their respective reasons. Nearby to the gate is a Holocaust Memorial site consisting of 2711 sarcophagi like columns that rise up in sobering silence.

Getting Around

Berlin is famed for its efficient traffic system, with jams rarely becoming a problem. This means that one of the best ways to explore the city in such a short space of time is to rent your own car. There are various online car rental services available for Europe, many of whom have dedicated pages for specific countries, like http://www.autoeurope,com/go/car-rental/germany/. So keep an eye out for those.

Evening

Make your way back over to the Jewish quarter where you can explore the winding lanes and check out some of the stores selling the local fashions. After you have indulged in some retail therapy, you can move on to get some dinner. Pork and beer are on the menu at Schwarzwaldstuben or you can go oriental with some Vietnamese pho (noodle soup) at Chi Sing.

Once you have eaten, head out into some of the bars for some evening drinks and get a feel for the nightlife of the city.

New Zealand: The Ultimate Road Trip

If you’re thinking about taking a road trip this summer, then look no further than the spectacular country of New Zealand. With its golden coastline, stunning landscapes and wealth of national parks and world heritage sites, there’s so much to see and do that you won’t know where to start your adventure. Whether you’re travelling with friends, family or on your own, New Zealand is home to some amazing stretches of road, and it’s the way to get to know the down to earth kiwis, as well as other backpackers and holidaymakers. Let’s take a look at some of the best road trips you can undertake in New Zealand this summer.

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Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass

This route will take you past the Southern Alps, an engaging and truly wonderful site ranging out of the New Zealand landscape. In terms of getting out to Christchurch, online comparison sites are often the best place to book your trip to NZ in terms of getting the best picture of which months offer the lowest airfare prices. Generally speaking, prices around this time of year average at around $290 (Aus). Spanning over 250km, you’ll start your journey from the city of Christchurch, and make your way across the vast Canterbury Plains. You’ll be able to stop off at places like the Original Sheffield Pie Shop, and other attraction along the way to get to grips with your surroundings.

As the road slowly winds up the foothills, you’ll come to Arthur’s Pass, a village which marks the halfway point on your journey to the west coast. Hidden away in National Park HQ, Arthur’s Pass offers some amazing mountain bike and hiking trails, so there’s plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs. You can even camp here if you want to take time out of your road trip to explore the stunning surroundings.

Once you leave Arthur’s Pass, its then onto Greymouth, and you’ll be treated to panoramic sweeps of the Otira Viaduct, one of the biggest structures in the New Zealand countryside. Continuing your journey along the west coast, and as you get nearer to Greymouth, you’ll come across a wealth of wildlife, and also laid back communities of kiwis. Stop off for a few hours, take in the scenery, and then continue on to your final destination.

 

Queenstown to Dunedin via Central Otago

The road trip from Queenstown to Dunedin is over 250 kilometers, however it is one of the most exciting journeys you can make in New Zealand. Starting off in Queenstown, you’ll make your way toward the high mountain peaks of Cromwell, past shimmering lakes and inspirational landscapes. This part of the drive is extremely relaxing, so feel free to stop off and take a dip if you want to cool off!

Once you get to Cromwell, make sure you follow the Clutha and Kawarau rivers, and soon enough you’ll be surrounded by the vineyards of Bannockburn and Cromwell. There are a number of small bars and pubs located here where you’ll be able to try out the local wines, and some great ales too. Just before you get to Dunedin, you’ll make your way through Alexandra, an excellent place to cliff jump into the refreshing lakes.

How to Successfully Budget in Marrakech

Marrakech is a favoured destination for travellers given its rich cultural history, If you’re looking for an exotic destination for your next holiday but don’t have the cash to travel a long way, consider visiting Morocco and in particular Marrakech. This is a wonderful city to explore if you’re on a restricted budget.

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Free and Cheap Sightseeing Opportunities

Marrakech is a wonderful place for sightseeing, as many of its top landmarks and monuments are free to visit. Among the main attractions is the beautiful architecture of buildings like the Koutoubia Mosque and the Ben Youssef medersa, a Koranic school that has been teaching students for hundreds of years. Both of these buildings are centuries old and boast intricate design features that are truly breath taking. While non-Muslims are unable to step inside the Koutoubia Mosque, it is possible for tourists to explore some of the small chambers that the students at the medersa would have used.

Another excellent site to explore during a trip to Marrakech is the El Badi Palace. Although the structure is now in ruins, you can still imagine how spectacular it must have been in its heyday. The palace was built by the Saadian princes whose nearby mausoleums are also worth a visit, but were destroyed in the 17th century by Moulay Ismail. He took many of the finest materials to construct his own palace in Meknes.

Head to the beach

Spending some time at the beach is an excellent way to make the most of the stunning Moroccan weather without burning any cash, which many backpackers take frequent advantage of as well as using flight comparison services like cheapflights.co.uk for their flexibility when planning long-haul travels and, obviously, finding low airfares. The city of Essaouira is one of the most popular options for those staying in Marrakech, as it’s not too far to drive – around three hours by coach, which is a cheap way to travel. The beach is a beautiful sweep of golden sand, although it can be quite windy, this has the bonus of making it the ideal place for kites and windsurfing. Essaouira also has a reputation for being laidback and friendly.

Best Hostels in Marrakech

Marrakech Rose

A charming little hostel right in the centre of town, with small dorms and friendly staff, the Marrakech Rose is a great place to meet other travellers and socialize.

Riad Amazigh

A former luxury riad that is now a beautiful hostel. The Amazigh has doubles, singles, and dorms which house up to 6 people, a roof top terrace with nice views. All rooms have full bathrooms and good appointments; the restaurant serves traditional Moroccan food. Open 24 hrs. You can also can book activities and excursions from here.

The Heart of the Medina Backpackers Hostel

First back packers hostel to be located in the Medina this hostel is just a one minute walk from Djemaa Place. Attractions/facilities include a rooftop terrace, hot showers, and comfortable surroundings. Breakfast included as are bed linens, towels, and free Wi-Fi. You can expect to pay €8 euro/person all year round per night if booked in advance via email or website. No lockouts, no curfews, and is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Experience Perth

If you’ve never visited Australia and consider yourself a seasoned traveler, you have really yet to deem yourself the title until you visit this wondrous country. Since there are so many beautiful places to choose from, Western Australia is always a great place to start. Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. The capital, Perth, alone has just over one million people. Almost all Australians and travelers of Australia have said it to be one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

WA is divided into five major regions; the Kimberley, the North West, South West, the Interior, and the Wheat Belt. With the amazing views of white sandy beaches and beautiful waters, the majority of the population of WA lives along the coast.

Perth City is nestled between the Darling Ranges and the Indian Ocean, and sweeps along the banks of the Swan River, which is only a few miles from the ocean. This river gets its name from the beautiful famous black swans, which can be found along the river at any given time. If you travel west of the city you’ll find Kings Park, which has over 988 acres of natural Australian greenery that overlooks the Swan River and the city center. This breathtaking view from King’s park is extremely unique and is a must for any traveler to Perth.

The celebration of food and drink is imperative to the way of Perth life in Australia! Many people enjoy eating outside due to the beautiful and sunny weather, which makes the iconic Australian barbequing another important way of life in Perth. There are many food halls and Perth bars to be checked out, especially if you’re on a tight budget, and plenty award winning restaurants with sophisticated and innovative dishes.

With Australia’s colonial past and widespread migration to the country since WWII, Modern Australian food and drink replicates these historical moments. Perth’s fresh produce is copious and plentiful, influencing the restaurant industry in the best way possible. Australia, in general, is a tremendously proficient pastoral nation growing various fruits, vegetables and grains. It is also notorious for its fresh seafood, meat, poultry and dairy products.

In modern Australian cuisine the current trend is for low-fat, healthy cooking! Since the majority of the population lived in the coastal areas, lean and protein rich foods like fish and seafood are very popular, as are fresh cooked seasonal vegetables. This political move towards a healthy diet portrays the long-term health initiatives set by the Australian government!

If you’re looking for the Perth bars, you will find many scattered throughout the city but will typically find that most of the bars are in the CBD, Northbridge, Subiaco, Leederville, Victoria Park, Mount Lawley & Fremantle regions. Bars, like most in all countries, generally become busy after 5 pm due to the after work crowd, but you will find that most locals go to bars on Friday and Saturday nights. Most bars open from around 11 AM and close midnight (10 PM on Sundays), with a few bars that have exceptional extended liquor trading hours to either 1, 2 or 3 AM!

Bonus advice:

While travelling in the western part of the country, you might want to drive or fly to Margaret River, The western wine region. You will be amazed by all the things to do like exploring the underground lakes and Mammoth caves, hiking in Scott National Park, hang out in the Hamelin Bay or go on a wine tour expedition. Finding the right accommodations in Margaret River for you and your family will be pretty easy and you won’t be disappointed with your visit.