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Travelers on the Go

Exploring Quito, Ecuador with Róndine Alcalá

Greeting from La Mitad del Mundo.

Where was your vacation or trip?  Quito, Ecuador for three days.

I went to Quito in 2005, but I was for there for work so I had no recollection of actually getting to know the city. So it felt like the first time and I was truly inspired by its beauty. My friend and I arrived without plans other than seeing the wonderful and talented Pablo Alboran in concert. Little did we know that Quito had many surprises.

Pablo Alboran Concert in Quito, Ecuador.

Basilica Del Voto Nacional with my friend Alejandra Garcia

Centro Histórico

For two days, we walked more than 7 miles and visited the iconic Centro Histórico, ate local food (loved the Locro Soup) and also visited La Mitad del Mundo town, which was gilled with interesting museums, folkloric dances, delicious cacao milkshakes and lots of history. 

Sunset from el Centro Histórico

Basílica Del Voto Nacional

Favorite food. 

Locro Soup was so delicious. The coffee was off the charts, and please don’t laugh, but we tried this Spanish Tortilla de patatas that was so good, we had it more than once.

 

Locro de Papas

Ecuadorian Coffee ?

Where did you stay? Dann Carlton Hotel 

¿Would you go back? Yes, it was beautiful, the staff super kind, it was clean and very confortable. Great location and in the lobby they have a little coffee shop, Europa Cafe, that I highly recommend. 

Infused water at Europa Cafe in Dann Carlton Hotel. 

Tips and recommendations for someone traveling for the first time:

  • Pack confortable shoes. You will be walking a lot, your feet will talk you. Trust me.
  • Regardless how many days you visit, you have to go to La Mitad del Mundo, El Centro Historico and visit as many churches as possible.
  • Special visas or vaccines: NO

La Mitad del Mundo

La Mitad Del Mundo

Iglesia de San Agustín en el Centro Histórico

Inside la Basílica del Voto Nacional

El Palacio de Carondelet, where the Presidente lives.

Iglesia de Compañia Centro Histórico

Iglesia San Francisco en el Centro Histórico

Los Colores del Centro Histórico son para no olvidarse.

¿Next trip? ¿Where and when? Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit my parents.

¿How can we keep up with your travels?  @RondenePR 

 

 

Travelers on the Go

One Week in Roatán with #TravelerOntheGO Nicole Kestenbaum

Where was your vacation or trip? My amazing trip was to the Caribbean island of Roatán in Honduras and I was there for a whole, glorious week.

Turquoise waters in Pigeon Key. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

A brief description of your experience…I was in Roatán to be a bilingual emcee for the biggest fashion show of the island, The Roatán Fashion Show. I was also there to support my good friend who has a coffee shop and was participating in the runway show as a designer with her jewelry collection.

I Love Roatán beach sign. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Your favorite thing to do and eat there…My favorite thing to do while I was there was definitely spending time at the sandy white beach and turquoise waters. You can find me with a coconut in hand and tanning (with great sun protection of course!).

Roatán has great seafood restaurants. The food is fresh and the beachfront views are spectacular. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Besides a fresh coconut, some of my favorite dishes include, “pollo al carbon,” real corn tortillas and a Barena Beer. Nothing in the world tastes like “pollo al carbon” which literally translates to “charcoal chicken” but it’s basically chicken roasted in an open fire and the method of roasting makes for a juicy chicken with the most delicious smoky flavor.

One of my favorite dishes is this awesome Seafood Soup served at the Paradise Hotel. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Where did you stay? (If a hotel, name, and location) We stayed at The Mayan Princess Hotel, which has a beautiful beach and great accommodations. Our villa had a balcony perfect for breakfast, a kitchen, and two huge rooms, perfect for traveling with a group of friends or family.

Mayan Princess Hotel. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Would you go back? Why? I can’t wait to go back to Roatán! The beach, the food, the people, the weather; I miss everything about this hidden gem in the Caribbean.

 

Swimming with Dolphins ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Expectations- Visit the island between April and May when it’s the sunniest. The rest of the year is still warm but you might encounter some rain.

Hotel recommendations-The Honduran Mayan Princess or Paradise Hotel.

Awesome views from the helicopter on our way to Pigeon Key. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Restaurants, Excursions, Sightseeing Trails, etc.- You have to visit Little French Key and take a helicopter to a private island like Pigeon Key. These tiny keys and islands are magical and pristine. Bring a bottle of wine and some snacks for a picnic at Pigeon Key or a yoga mat for some serious private island exercise.

Great view of Roatán from the airplane. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Overall heads up- Travel light, packs your favorite swimwear and take insect repellent.

Any upcoming trips planned for this year? Where and when? This year we might be taking our baby boy on his first trip to Madrid to visit his grandparents and the rest of the family in Spain.

Beautiful Caribbean sunset in Roatán. ©2018 Nicole Lipstick and Brunch

Were can we keep up with your adventures? You can follow me on Instagram @lipstickandbrunch and on my website by clicking here.

 

Want to share your traveling experiences with others. Tag us using #TravelersontheGo or send us an email to contact@maityonthego.com

Tips & Recommendations

The best places and advantages of traveling alone

“People do not make trips — trips make people.” -John Steinbeck, American writer

Every day, more people dare to take flight, take off their wings and explore this beautiful world in which we live. Fortunately, I have been able to be one of these people and on several occasions, I have traveled alone, and I am completely grateful for each of these opportunities.

There are risks of traveling alone – of course there are. Is it better to travel with a group of friends? Undoubtedly! But traveling alone is the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, engage in conversation with other people, be the absolute owner of your time and eat everything you want.

The first time I visited Barcelona, I went for a walk in the Guell Park. Recommended.

So for all those who in this 2018 are already planning in their #MaityconmiGOPlanner to give themselves the opportunity to travel, here the advantages and some tips to enjoy to the fullest.

✈️ It has been discovered that traveling alone helps reduce stress levels and improves the connection with oneself. You have the opportunity to do what YOU want to do, control your schedule and you can visit all the places you like.

✈️ Traveling alone offers the lone traveler to reflect, relax and rest. Although you can get more expensive accommodation, rest better and recover sleep.

✈️Traveling alone can be an advantage when buying tickets. Many times it is easier to find a ticket or ticket office that two or three and almost always, are in a better location.

✈️ Traveling alone forces you to leave your comfort zone, meet new friends and talk with new people, try new food and participate in new activities, traditions and foreign customs. Be very careful about revealing personal information. I confess that more than once I have said a little white lie as my friends arrive in a few hours, or they are waiting for me in another place, when I do not feel comfortable saying that I am alone.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Do not be afraid to ask someone to take your picture, or practice your selfies technique.

✈️ You can travel and move easily. If you are late to the train station or the airport, it is easier to run alone than to be waiting for a group. Also, if you have to change your reservation or ask for a seat or change of seat, you are more likely to do so for one person than for a group.

✈️ Always note the address where you are staying. Even if you know the way, it never hurts to have this information. And although the idea of traveling alone is often disconnected from the world, at least tell a person you trust your plans and location.

✈️ Leave your valuables at home (do not travel with them) or in the safe in the room.

Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid, España.

✈️ Plan your route and study your map before going out into the street. You do not want to attract attention with a map in the middle of the street.

✈️ Take photos but wait to be back in the hotel or room to share them on social networks. So you make sure you are enjoying the moment and also avoid revealing to strangers your exact location. Making a #latergram always works and has many “likes”.

✈️ Download the translator to your mobile phone or learn the basic words to be able to communicate with locals.

Touring the streets of Copenhagen, the cleanest and safest cities. It is said that this is where the happiest people live.

 “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. ” -Oscar Wilde

Believe me that when you travel alone, you will never feel alone. Like you, there are many people who are pursuing their dreams of exploring and knowing. One ends up meeting people who travel alone with the sole purpose of discovering, learning and enjoying their time in that country.

Dining alone in front of the Roman Colosseum.

Here is a list of safe and easy to travel cities only:

? Barcelona, España

? Seattle, Washington EEUU

? Austin Texas, EEUU

? Salzburg, Austria

? Copenhagen, Denmark

? Melbourne, Australia

? London, Reino Unido

Destinations

Five Destinations to Visit During the Holiday Season

Christmas time, as the song says, “is the most wonderful time of the year,” or at least for many of us, including myself. During this time of the year, a festive atmosphere is generated around the city. There is not one café, store, or business that you can go to which is not playing a Christmas song or has some type of decoration making reference to winter or Christmas time. Some of the things that I like about the holidays are the smell of pine when I get home, the ornaments and decorations, and of course, the yummy food that I get to indulge in. Besides being able to spend time with my family, my favorite part of the holiday season is that some of us often have time to travel and experience the different ways in which Christmas is celebrated in other parts of the world. For this reason, I thought I’d share a list of five destinations that you might want to visit during this season.

New York City

In addition to being known as The City that Never Sleeps, New York is popular for the dazzling Christmas decorations found throughout Manhattan. There is not a city in the U.S. that knows how to do Christmas  better than New York, at least, in my opinion.

Christmas Tree Rockefeller Center 2016. (Photo Credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

 The week after the Thanksgiving holiday, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting is the event that officially marks the beginning of Christmas for all New Yorkers. This year the gigantic 12-ton Christmas tree came from the state of Pennsylvania.

Saks Fifth Ave Holiday Light Show and fireworks (Photo Credit: Applesteve2017/Youtube)

The magic of New York Christmas can also be experienced just across the street from Rockefeller Center, at Saks Fifth Avenue, since the store produces a pretty spectacular light show in its storefronts. You can catch a glimpse of this stunning light show every day after 4:30 p.m. all throughout the Christmas season.

Furthermore, if you visit New York and do not get to do a little Christmas shopping yourself, it is probably because you got distracted by the amazing window displays around the city. Macy’s and mostly all the stores throughout 5th Avenue have the best displays in Manhattan.

One of the window displays at Bloomingdale’s New York City. (Photo Credit: Photoframd)

One of the window displays at Macy’s New York City. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Last, but not least, a must-do while visiting New York City during Christmas time is ice skating at Bryant ParkCentral Park, or most importantly at the Rockefeller Center.

Ice Skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza.  (Photo Credit: Traveling Europe)

 

Rovaniemi, Finland

If you want to experience Christmas like you have never done it before, we invite you to visit the city of Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland.

Santa Park in Rovaniemi. (Photo Credit: visitrovaniemi.com)

Rovaniemi is known as “The City of Santa Claus,” because it is located in the Arctic Circle, between magical forests covered in snow and sparkling frozen rivers.

Kids crossing the Arctic Circle. (Photo Credit: visitrovaniemi.com)

Some of the most popular activities to do in this city are, cross the Arctic Circle, observe the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis and visit Santa Claus’ village.

The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi. (Photo Credit: visitrovaniemi.com)

 A curious fact about this city is that during the summer you can experience the natural phenomenon called “Midnight Sun.” During this event, the sun remains above the horizon for a period of 24 hours, due to the summer solstice, which happens on July 21. However, this phenomenon can be experienced from June 6 to July 7 every year.

Midnight sun at Rovaniemi. (Photo Credit: visitrovaniemi.com)

 

Zermatt, Switzerland

For the ski enthusiasts and adrenaline lovers, we recommend Zermatt, Switzerland, as skiing in the Alps should be on the bucket list of every traveler who loves this sport.

Matterhorn mountain above the small city of Zermatt. (Photo Credit: myswitzerland.com)

Zermatt is a mountain resort renowned for skiing, hiking, and climbing. This town lies below Matterhorn, also known as the most photogenic mountain in the world. 

Matterhorn, the favorite place for many ski aficionados. (Photo: dailymail.co.uk)

 The Zermatt Matterhorn resort’s top-notch lifting systems, excellent restaurants, and the maximum elevation of 3,820 meters (12,532 feet) make it the crème de la crème of European ski resorts. Although the stays at this mountain resort make the list of the most expensive in all of Switzerland, you can find AirBnbs at reasonable prices if you prepare well in advance.

Prague, Czech Republic

If there is one magical city in all of Europe, there is no doubt that it is Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. With breathtaking landscapes, unique historical monuments, and streets that seem to be taken out of a fairytale, this city will amaze you. For this reason, Prague made the list of our favorite holiday destinations.

Old Town Square, Prague, during Christmas time.

In Europe, nothing says Christmas, like the Christmas markets, and in Prague, you can visit some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The most popular ones in the city are: the Old Town Square Market and the Wenceslas Square Market.

Market stand with artisanal handicrafts and Christmas decorations. (Photo Credit: newsfour.ie)

In these markets, you can find from small souvenirs for your family and friends to typical Czech dishes such as barbecued pork, their famous sausages, or the delicious Trdelník.

The Trdelník is a pastry made with rolled dough, topped with sugar and walnut mix and filled with Nutella, ice cream, or your filling of choice. (Photo Credit: Pop Sugar)

Also in the Old Town Square, you can enjoy live shows of traditional Christmas Carols, while standing next to one of the biggest Christmas trees in all the Czech Republic.

Christmas tree in the Old Town Square, Prague. (Photo Credit: Utracks)

For a complete guide to the places you cannot miss, click here to read all about Maity’s adventures in Prague.

Maity enjoying the view from the Lesser Town Bridge Tower in Prague.

 

Quebec City, Canada

Another destination to visit during the holiday season is Quebec City, one of the oldest towns in North America. The festive atmosphere of the Petit Champlain District, make of  Quebec a unique place to spend this season. 

Petit Champlain during Christmas. (Photo Credits: Huffington Post Canada)

The snow-covered streets with small boutiques and bistros are brightened by Christmas trees and decorations that embellish each and every storefront.

Antique streets at Old Town Quebec. (Photo Credits: Justin Goes Places)

Due to its French and European roots, Quebec also has German-style Christmas markets where you can shop, enjoy live music, or drink some tasty mulled wine, to fight the cold weather. 

An activity that you cannot miss while visiting Quebec is going on the traditional toboggan run at Château Frontenac. The toboggan run is one of the oldest attractions of the city and will give you the best views of Quebec, though be ready to reach a speed of 45 mph. 

Whether you are a child or an adult, the toboggan run is a must in Quebec City. (Photo Credits: Pan-American World)

One of my favorite things about traveling is not only that I get to know different cultures and different places, but I also get to try the culinary delights of each of these cities. For this reason, on your next trip to Quebec, make sure to try the Poutine, which is a Canadian dish made with french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.

It is said that the Poutine originated in Quebec and according to locals, Le Chic Shack is one of the best places in town to try this tasty dish. (Photo Credit: Phanny S./ Trip Advisor)

Don’t forget to share your traveling adventures with all of us by using #TravelersOntheGO on your Facebook and Instagram pages. Happy Holidays!



 

 

 

 

Travelers on the Go

UTILA: My little piece of heaven on earth! Juan Miguel Diban

Where was your vacation? Utila, my little piece of heaven on earth, also the smallest of the three major Bay Islands, located off Honduras’ north coast in the Caribbean Sea. I´ve been visiting the island almost every year since the first time I went in 2005, it was love at first sight. Last time I stayed for 6 days, and trust me, it’s never enough!

Little Key beach.

I love Utila; its beaches, its good vibes, the beautiful keys, and its laid-back atmosphere definitely make it my favorite spot in Honduras. The main activity and biggest attraction on the island is scuba diving; its considered one the best and cheapest destinations on earth to get your PADI license. 

Atardecer desde el muelle municipal.

During the day, you can rent a bike and stroll down through its narrow streets, which are full of dive centers, coffee shops, resto-bars and funky places. Nightlife is also one of its highlights, offering fun nights of “anything goes” spirit, full of people from all around the world, cheap drinks and good music.

Vista desde Mango Tango Cafe.

How to get there? You can get to La Ceiba by land, and then take a ferry to Utila. Or you can fly from Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula or La Ceiba, with a local airline like Aerolíneas Sosa.

Sunrise and La Ceiba photobombing, seen from the Utila Dream Ferry, around 6:00 a.m.

Your favorite thing to do and eat there. My absolute favorite thing to do once in Utila is visit the stunning keys around the island. Their white sandy beaches invite you to enjoy the landscape, swim in its turquoise water and snorkel. I also enjoy riding a bike to discover new places and to work out a little. To move around the island you can rent bikes, scooters, golf karts or four wheelers.

Another favorite spot on the island is Neptunes at Coral Beach Village, a beautiful beach club and resort located a 15 minutes boat ride away from the main town; the ride is totally worth it. Its location is amazing and the food is really good.

My favorite season to visit the island is for New Year´s Eve, not that empty, not that full, with great parties and the weather during this time is perfect.

Chepe’s Beach

There are also two nice beaches on the island: Bando Beachand Chepe’s Beach.Bando Beach and Chepe´s Beach. Bando is kind of a private beach club, with a volleyball court, water sports and a bar. The place is clean and has huts and beach chairs for you to enjoy the view. The salty water is cool, but not cold. Cover is around $4. Chepe´s the public beach, at the other end of the main road in town. In high season, it gets crowded and it’s the place to be and party early at noon.

RESTAURANTS & BARS
Munchies: One of the oldest in the island, recently renovated, serving delicious breakfast, healthy bowls, american snacks, paninis, great coffee and pastries.

Fruit bowl at  Munchies


Mario’s Place: Mario is  a really nice guy, who likes to surprise you with the best seafood dishes on the island, Honduran style.

Ceviche and traditional honduran fried fish with plantain chips and salad, at Mario´s Place.

Che Pancho:  A small place runned by an Argentinian family, offering you many Argentinian casual dishes, like the famous choripanes, milanesas, sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

Mango Tango Café: Salads and pasta are their specialty, with a beautiful view of the bay. Don´t forget to ask for their Lion fish carpaccio, it´s delicious!

Mango Tango Café

Neptunes:   I’ve tried many dishes and they are all really good, specially the tuna tartare, quesadillas, fish fingers, and of course their cocktails and signature drinks.

The famous tuna tartare at Neptunes

La Piccola: Delicious Italian food, prepared with fresh and local products. Best of all, they bake their own bread!

Tranquila Bar: You’ll pass it several times a day you’ll be lured for a drink, or four. It’s the main place to party on the island with drink specials every day, like its famous ¨Tequila Tuesday¨.

Bar Skid Row: Ask for the Guiffity Challenge and come back home with a funny tank top.

Where did you stay? I usually stay in a cozy apartment up the hill near the airport. But the island has really good places to stay like: Mango Inn, Utila Lodge, Trudy´s, Coral Beach Village, Utopia Village, Laguna Beach, among others. It all depends on the location, the distance and your favorite activities. Don´t forget to check out Air BnB.


On duty for Abordo Magazine at Jade Seahorse. This hotel is one of the coolest places on the island, made out of recycled materials.

I’ve also have stayed a couple of nights in Little Key, one of the beautiful keys of Utila. It has a spacious house with room for 18 people, two docks, and an amazing crystal-clear beach. You can also request for a private chef for your stay (Chef Mario, from Mario´s Place!). It´s located 20 minutes boat ride away from the main town, so make sure to take everything you need. Once there, the view is incredible and makes it the perfect place to relax away from home. For more info go to  www.utilacaysrentals.com

Arriving at Little Key, a beautiful private key.

Would you go back? Of course, I could live there, it´s my happy place!

Neptunes en Coral Beach Village

Tips for someone planning to visit that place for the first time.

  • Expectations: if you are really laid back and easy going, but also like to party, this is the place for you. Don´t expect luxurious places.
  • High seasons: Easter week, July (Utila´s Carnaval), first week in October, and New Year´s Eve.
  • Hotel recommendations: Utila Lodge, Trudy´s, Coral Beach Village, Utopía Village. You can also find great places and good deals on Air BnB.
  • Excursions, tours and activities: day trips to the keys, scuba diving and snorkel, swimming with whale sharks (yes, big whale sharks!), and biking.
  • Dive centers: Underwater Vision, Utila Dive Center, Parrots Dive Center, and Alton´s Dive Center.

Snorkeling at the keys.

  • Overall heads up: Don’t forget to take plenty of insect repellent; mosquitos and sand flies are insane. Also, enough cash (US$ dollars or Lempiras (Honduran currency), because not all places take credit or debit cards.

    Sunset at Neptunes.

Were can we keep up with your adventures? You can follow my trips and adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as @juanmigueldiban. Don´t hesitate to ask for tips and travel advice. Thanks for reading!

Tips & Recommendations

10 tips to travel for the Holidays

Many people take advantage of the Holidays to travel, to visit family, celebrate with friends, or simply escape from the daily routine. Wednesday before Thanksgiving begins the most congested time in airports and roads and that’s why I decided to share with you these tips that will help you to have a more pleasant experience, zero stress and above all, save some money during this holiday season.

Here are my 10 recommendations for a trip … on the GO!

1. If you already have fixed dates to travel make sure you buy your travel ticket in advance. Since the beginning of the year you know that Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November, that Christmas is December 25 and New Year on January 1 so plan and buy the ticket ahead of time. This way you can save money since airline tickets are usually cheaper and you can have better options of schedules and seats.

2. To avoid airport chaos and going bankrupt during the Holidays, the best days to travel during this time are Thursday of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, December 25th. Usually the rates are much cheaper and less popular since many people do not like to wake up at 3 A.M. and take a night flight better known as the “red eye”.

3. Identify which airline is best for you to travel and subscribe to their “newsletter” or weekly email. Also monitor the website of the airline since it often has “flash sales.” These last minute deals that are usually offered during an entire day. Usually, companies make these offers around the same time each year. So choose your favorite airlines, find out when was the last “flash sale” they had and take advantage of the deals!

4. Before buying airline tickets invest a little time finding out how much it would cost you to buy one way tickets. Many times buying portions of the flights separately can be cheaper.. Personally, I like to use Google flights to compare tickets on different airlines.

5. Minimize stress and waiting time at airports by registering to the “TSA PreCheck” program. This helps speed up the pre-screening process, reduces waiting time, eliminates the inconvenience of removing shoes, liquids, computers, etc. “TSA PreCheck” requires you to fill out an application, an in person appointment which is usually at the airport. The program costs  $ 85 for 5 years. In case you have any questions, watch the video going through security with  TSA PreCheck. If you travel outside of the United States, I recommend the Global Entry program that facilitates and ensures less time in line for immigration.

6. If you are traveling to visit family and friends, consider sending gifts by mail. Nowadays, many of us buy “online” so make sure you send your purchases or gifts to the final destination. That way you save space and money for excess baggage and make sure everything arrives on time. If you decide to take gifts in your luggage, avoid wrapping or packing them as TSA has the right to open any packaging if deemed necessary or suspicious.

7. Regardless of the means of transport, pack snacks. The food on the airplanes is not the best and it is not the cheapest, so if you can, get to the airport well eaten.  In road trips you do not want to waste time stopping to eat at all times so plan and take snacks for the road. Very soon we will have a list of the meals you should pack for those long trips.

9. For those traveling by road, these are the best trips if everything goes well … and you plan ahead. If you are traveling by car, make sure that your vehicle has all the updated maintenance, incorporate fun activities during the trip, plan to stop at different places and enjoy the food and local areas. You can also download the GasBuddy application that informs you of gas stations that have the best bathrooms and best gas prices.

10. Be patient and watch your surroundings. It is impossible to predict a natural disaster, illness, terrorist attack, or any situation that may affect your vacation, but you can be prepared for any eventuality. Many people who travel internationally buy insurance for their trips using   World Nomads. This covers you in case you have to cancel the trip at the last moment and any emergency. There is also the free program, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which lets you know which embassies and consular offices are closest to you.

Don’t forget to share your tips and aventures tagging  @MaityontheGO and using #TravelersontheGO

Happy Holidays!

Travelers on the Go, Uncategorized

Six days in Beijing by #TravelersontheGO Giancarlos Merced

Where was your vacation/trip and how long did you visit that place?  Well, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly a vacation. I am currently studying abroad in Hong Kong until December but have had the opportunity to travel several times. To answer the question, I did some traveling for two weeks. I visited Beijing, Malaysia, and Singapore, respectively. Out of all the locations I visited I loved Beijing the most.

My classmates and I spent six days in Beijing. We visited historical landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, The Great Wall, Confucius’ Temple, Temple of Heaven, famous hutongs (alleyways) like Nanluoguxiang, the Great Wall…Shall I keep going? Haha.

Your favorite thing to do and eat there…I am a big lover of international foods. But I went very traditional in Beijing. Most of my meals were steamed dumplings, baozi, and the famous Peking duck.

Where did you stay? (If a hotel, name, and location) I stayed at the Otani Chang Fu Gong Hotel. It was a beautiful hotel with great breakfast, staff and located around 10 minutes from Tiananmen Square. Although I would recommend walking towards the nearby metro station of Jianguomen because traffic around this area can get hectic.

Would you go back? Why? I did go back! Haha. This was the second time visiting Beijing; the first time was when I studied abroad there for four months. So, you can say I love China.

 

Any tips for someone planning to visit  for the first time? I am sure a lot of people are not very familiar with Beijing or China in general. I wasn’t my first time visiting/living there. What I can recommend is to go with an open mind and no expectations. Stuff there is really cheap if you have US dollar, Euros, or Pounds.

For moving around, I recommend getting a metro card. Trips usually cost around 4 RMB, which is less than 1 US dollar.

What about visas? Well, the visa application is an easy one to fill out. Make sure to follow all the instructions as specified or risk getting rejected. The cost of the visa – if you apply at a Chinese consulate – will set you back around $140 US dollars but the benefit is, you could get multiple entries, meaning you can exit and come back to China how many times you want, and your visa has a lifespan of 10 years. How great is that?!

 

As for the language barrier, most people speak English, although not perfect, but enough to get your message across. If you are a foreigner, be ready to be stared at by locals, mostly the elderly. This is perfectly normal. Sometimes, you will be asked to get a picture taken with groups and hold babies because apparently it is a sign of good luck. No one gave ME any babies..

Any upcoming trips planned for this year? Where and when?  Yes! I have a huge backpacking trip coming up this winter. I am still working the entire logistics of it and can provide more information later on. I want it to keep it a secret for now but all I can say is that it will be somewhere in Asia for a length of 25 days. Did I mention I’m doing it alone? Yeah, it will be a heck of an adventure.

You can follow me on Instagram: gianwanders or visit my blog (which I hope to be more active this and the upcoming months)

Destinations

Unforgettable outdoor experience at the Florida Everglades

Florida is so much more than Miami , Orlando, and the Keys. If you are up for an unforgettable experience, you must visit the Everglades in South Florida.

After almost ten years of living in Miami I finally got the chance to have a risky but fun adventure into the Everglades with Dragonfly Expeditions, Johnny Tiger Tail, and an amazing crew.

The “brave”crew that survived the Everglades adventure (and the mosquitos).

The adventure begins aboard an airboat. The only transportation allowed in the Everglades.

Johnny Tiger Tail introducing me to some of the wild animals.

Close encounter with the wild pigs.

Listening closely to Charlie and Johnny Tiger Tail.

Getting used to my new friend: baby gator.

This is a real alligator! Check out video on this blog to listed how MamaGator communicates with Johnny Tiger Tail.

Welcome to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park: One of the Everglades’ secret locations.

Paying close attention to Charlie from Dragonfly Expeditions.

Making sure Alex was “fine” from all the mosquito bites. Bug repellent is a must!

Girls that are always ready for an adventure! Wonderful experience with Gilcia and Sari.

Loved my Indiana Jones look!

Have you been at to the Everglades? What was your experience like? Love to read your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations. Don’t forget to tag @maityonthego and #travelersonthego in your next adventure.

For more information about Dragonfly Expeditions and their amazing tours, click here and make sure to mention you read about them in #MaityontheGo.

 

Destinations

What I found underneath Cappadocia, Turkey.

Cappadocia is more than its enchanting and unique moon-like surface.

In this remote region in Turkey not only can you fly up-high in an amazing hot air balloon but you can also explore the underground caves. Two years ago I lived this experience with two of my best traveling buddies. Here are my favorite pictures and some fun facts. Let’s dig in, shall we?

There are more than a hundred of underground settlements in the region but just a few are open to visitors. The underground cities, which are guessed to be used since the Bronze Age, used to be a settlement mostly in Byzantine period when residentes were forced to build underground cities for protection and religious purposes.

We visited Derinkuyu underground city which is located is located 40km from Goreme (30 minute drive). There are about 600 outside doors to the city, hidden in the courtyards of surface dwellings. The underground city is approximately 85m deep. It contains all the usual rooms found in an underground city (stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries, kitchen, classrooms etc.) Here you could find everything needed to survive several days without having to up into the mainland.

Derinkuyu is the widest of the underground cities. Here we are in one of the largest spaces with very little ventilation. Not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

Some of the tunnels are very very narrow and unlike many buildings now a days, there is no emergency exit in case you start feeling sick.

No windows, very little ventilation.

 

Interesting paints, drawings and scriptures in the wall of the main rooms in the underground city.

Although smiling, I have to confess that was short of breath at many points in the tour.

 

Besides being World Heritage Site, the rock sites of Cappadocia are described by UNESCO as “one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes” and for those music lovers, it is highly recommended to plan your visit during the week-long Cappadocia Music Festival which showcases choirs and orchestras.

From Istambul you can fly to Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport, located 25 km far from city center. Keep in mind its a small airport so book your flight ahead of time and arrange transportation to and from your hotel, especially if you are flying in at night. There are not that many cabs at night and no Uber anywhere near (at least two years ago when we went).

To have a full Cappadocia experience make sure to book your hot air balloon ride and spend at least one night at a cave hotel. Check here for  more about this experience.

Have you been to Cappadocia? What was your experience like? Make sure to share your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations.

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