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About That Baby…

Twenty-Something Travel via rss - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 17:56

She’s here!

Actually she’s been here, for 7 weeks now. I knew that babies were time consuming but I never realized they eat up every LAST second of your day and leave zero space for pretty much anything else. It’s kind of insane- I spent 8 hours yesterday just trying to put away laundry.

But that’s OK because LOOK at her. Guys, please meet Marcella Josephine, born August 12th, weighing just 5 pounds 12 ounces. Itty bitty but LOUD as hell.

Labor was a whirlwind. I won’t write out the story here because that’s not what this blog is about but let me just say she came SO FAST there was not even time for painkillers (yes, I had a natural birth basically against my will). Seriously, I’m lucky we even made it to the hospital- she was born less than twenty minutes after we got into the delivery room. This is a lady who doesn’t waste time at ALL.

Why Marcella? Mike and I wanted an Italian name (she is, after all, going to be an Italian citizen) that was pretty and unique while still being very much an actual name. I’m not sure who suggested Marcella but we fell in love with it. Josephine is after my grandmother who was a social dynamo, a fantastic Italian cook and a world traveler herself.

She just started smiling!

Motherhood so far has been exhausting, thrilling and basically a massive non-stop learning experience. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on things she totally changes. The only real constant is we just LOVE her to pieces.

I’m still on maternity leave until early December but I wanted to share our joy and gush just a little bit. Parenthood promises to be an adventure like non-other and I really can not WAIT to start showing Marcella the world.

About That Baby… is a post from Twenty-Something Travel

Tourism in Greece - An Ideal Destination for Activity-Filled Holidays

Travel Tips and Destinations - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 07:54
The tourism industry of Greece has become one of the key elements of economic activity within the country. As a leading tourist destination of Europe, Greece attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year.

Hiking and road tripping in Bosnia: How to avoid land mines

Twenty-Something Travel via rss - Thu, 09/29/2016 - 07:01

When I first told people I was going to Bosnia for a month, there were a lot of raised eyebrows. “Bosnia? Why Bosnia?”, “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Wasn’t there a war there?” and “I hear there are land mines.” I got that a lot.

Reading articles about people accidentally triggering land mines, land mines washing up in suburbs during the 2014 floods, or even this World Nomads travel warning had me thinking, ‘Holy crap, is this safe?’

Friends who had visited Bosnia reassured me I had nothing to worry about, but even my Dad joked that if I was driving on a highway in Bosnia and stopped to pee, I shouldn’t leave the car.

Sorry, Dad. I left the car! (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

It turns out, there is a lot more paranoia than fact surrounding the discussion of land mines in Bosnia and what they mean for travellers. While land mines are definitely a real thing, they shouldn’t stop you from exploring. Let me tell you why.

I went to Bosnia to work with Photographers Without Borders. While doing photo documentary work for them, I had time to go hiking and exploring in the Bosnian countryside. (Photo thanks to Jeffrey Garriock)

Bosnia is a wonderful place for travellers. Not only is the currency exchange extremely favourable and the people warm and friendly, but the climates and landscape are diverse. Mediterranean beaches and coastline turn into the Dinaric Alps mountain range, which then gives way to deciduous forests of spruce, oak, beech and silver fir. For hikers, it’s a real treat.

Those are some pretty nice forests. This is on Trebević mountain outside Sarajevo. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

That sounds pretty nice. So, what’s up with these land mines?

Land mines are a legacy of the Bosnian War. Between 1992­-1995 there was a huge, ugly, ethnic war fought in Bosnia during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Over 100,000 people died and millions were displaced. During the war, both sides buried land mines.

After the war, around 2 million land mines and explosives were left scattered across the country. Most affected are former front lines, like Sarajevo. Since the war, NGOs have been demining the country. Bosnia had set a goal to finish demining by 2019, but in May the Bosnia Herzegovina Mine Action Centre said that lack of funds meant it would probably take until 2025.

Stopping to stretch our legs on a road that runs through the Bjelašnica mountain. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

Is it safe for travelers?

Yes. Yes. Emphatically, yes. Here’s the thing: land mines in Bosnia pose no threat to tourists who are hiking on marked, official trails or driving on marked roads. Those areas have all been cleared or never had land mines in the first place.

Peering over the edge in Lukomir. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

To back me up, I want to introduce you to Maggie Cormack. I met Maggie over beers at Galerija Boris Smoje in Sarajevo. She’s an American who’s lived in Sarajevo for a year and a half.

Maggie works for Terra Dinarica, an NGO that focuses on sustainable tourism development and local economic growth. Their big project has been working on the Via Dinarica ­ a mega hiking trail that passes through seven Balkan countries.

Maggie! She came to Sarajevo after completing a degree in International Development from McGill University in Canada and has lots of experience hiking and traveling around Bosnia. Sorry the photo’s a bit dark. I took it in a bar. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

When Maggie arrived in Bosnia, she headed for the hills, “I’m the kind of person who’s already outdoorsy and always hiking, plus I have a Labrador Retriever so I wanted to take her on hikes.” says Maggie, “My first real hike was this epic 14­mile hike to Lukomir village.”

Lukomir is the most remote and highest altitude village in Bosnia. I saw it too, only I did it as a road trip. The only thing we had to worry about was our Google Maps failing.

“After that I just got more and more interested in the nature of Bosnia. My friends and I always say Lord of the Rings should have been filmed here. It looks like Middle Earth,” says Maggie.

Bosnia, or Middle Earth? You decide. Just outside Lukomir. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

Maggie did mandatory mine awareness training at the American embassy when she arrived for an internship in 2015. “It’s definitely important to teach people about this, but I think — especially for internationals, they try to make you paranoid. Probably just to avoid trouble, of course… As I stayed here longer, I made more Bosnian friends and started going on hikes and realized that the areas that still have land mines are really well­marked. The only times there’s trouble is when people decide to go off­trail, or have lived here too long and don’t really worry about it. The actual hiking trails are totally safe, especially Via Dinarica. It makes large skirts around the areas that have potential land mines.”

Areas that are dangerous are marked with a red sign with a skull and crossbones on it. They can also be marked by a red ribbon, or a stick painted red or with a red rope tied on to it. Pay attention to signs, stick to marked trails and roads, trust local advice and never go anywhere you’re uncomfortable with.

You may be more inconvenienced by local cattle and sheep than land mines. Travel slow on rural roads and keep an eye out. Animals will usually move as your drive towards them. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

 

It’s also good to have a cell phone with a Bosnian SIM card and the number of the local mountaineering association or club in the area. Here’s the Sarajevo Mountain Rescue Service.

If you get in any sort of trouble, they’re the best ones to call.

Okay, so where should I go?

I recommend the road trip to Lukomir, walking through the Trebević mountains, or driving to Mostar via Jablanica while following the Neretva river. Some of Maggie’s favourites are the highway to Montenegro via the Sutjeska National Park, or hiking directly from Sarajevo to a guest house called Vukov Konak in the surrounding mountains.

The best part about leaving the city is that you meet totally different people than those living in

cities.

Meeting this pair of shepherds on Bjelašnica mountain near Lukomir was one of the highlights of my trip. This looked ancient but were super youthful, chasing their sheep and cracking each other up while trying to communicate with us. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

Sevda invited us to her house for coffee as soon as we pulled into Lukomir. There’s not much industry in the remote village, but she makes a living selling coffee and knitted socks to travellers. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

If I still haven’t convinced you that hiking and road tripping in Bosnia is safe and worth it, maybe these photos of the most amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen can. 100% worth it and no land mines in sight.

Sunrise over Trebević mountain. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

 

Thanks so much to Steph Yoder and Twenty­-Something Travel for letting me write this guest post. If you want to follow more of my adventures, check out: Mel Had Tea or visit my Instagram for daily stories. I’m a tea and travel blogger from Canada’s east coast and in October I’ll be exploring the Philippines!

Hiking and road tripping in Bosnia: How to avoid land mines is a post from Twenty-Something Travel

Sign up for these airline newsletters to find cheap flights to Europe

EuroCheapo via rss - Tue, 09/27/2016 - 11:22

Are you planning a trip to Europe? Finding a flight that won’t break the bank is one of the biggest challenges facing budget travelers. While airfare to Europe from the US might not be cheap, there are actually more deals than ever if you know where to look.

There are a number of websites that will flag interesting flight sales for you (including our flights blog!), but sometimes going straight to the source is the most effective way to score a great round-trip fare, especially when airlines announce flash sales. After all, being the first to book is almost always the key to scoring flash sale fares.

Related: Search right now for fares to Europe

Below, we’ve listed 18 airlines that fly from the US to Europe, with links to their newsletters. Signing up for all of them might be a little overwhelming (although it’s not too much for serious budget travelers to handle!). We’d recommend at least signing up for some of the airlines that serve the destinations you routinely visit.

Good luck scoring some cheapo flights!

Airline newsletter signup pages

Here are the top airline newsletters serving Europe from the United States.

Aer Lingus

Best for: Flying to Ireland and Britain

Sometimes “the luck of the Irish” can help you score a good deal. If you love traveling to Ireland or Britain, Aer Lingus should be near the top of your list when looking for deals. This Irish airline recently had a $499 RT fare to Dublin that would have put you in the middle of the action on St. Patrick’s Day. You can choose your departure airport when you sign up to customize the deals you receive.

Sign up for the Aer Lingus newsletter here.

Air Berlin

Best for: Flying to Berlin and Dusseldorf

Air Berlin offers frequent deals for round-trip flights from around $599 to Europe that they announce via email. The fares go fast for the most popular dates, so it’s helpful to be on the newsletter list to jump on the deals right away. Right now they are also offering a $40 discount when you subscribe to their newsletter, so what are your waiting for!

Sign up for the Air Berlin newsletter.

Air France

Best for: Flying to Paris, Air France frequent flyers

Although it seems harder to find a great deal on Air France these days than it used to, it’s still worth subscribing to keep on top of their deals. They occasionally offer cheapo-friendly fares and often blast out frequent flyer specials (even as low as 12,500 miles one-way from US to Paris).

Sign up for Air France newsletter.

Alitalia

Best for: Flying to Italy

Is your idea of the perfect vacation include sipping an espresso in Rome or drifting along the canals of Venice? Learn about the latest services and promotions when you sign up for the Alitalia newsletter.

Sign up for the Alitalia newsletter.

American

Best for: AAdvantage members

In order to hear about American’s deals to Europe, you must signup for their AAdvantage program, which is free to join.

Sign up for AAdvantage.

British Airways

Best for: Flying to London

Are you looking for deals to London and the UK? You should sign up for British Airways’ Executive Club to help save a few pounds on your next visit. If the name sounds too fancy, don’t fret. Anyone can register, and they’ll send frequent deals even to Cheapos like us!

Sign up for British Airways newsletter.

Delta

Best for: Europe-wide discounts, SkyMiles members

Sign up for their SkyMiles frequent flyer program to learn about their latest Europe-wide deals by email. Along with keeping track of your miles and Delta flights, you can also be the first to learn about vacation specials and promotions.

Sign up for the Delta newsletter.

Emirates

Best for: European flash sales and top-rated service

For one of the world’s highest-rated airlines, Emirates offers a surprising number of flash sales throughout the year. (Our favorite recent Emirates sale was $899 for two tickets to Italy from New York JFK. That’s a deal.) Remember that an Emirates flight, even in economy, includes fancy perks, like four-course meals (with wine), free Wi-Fi, and over 2,500 channels on the in-flight entertainment system.

Sign up for the Emirates newsletter.

Iberia

Best for: Flights to Spain

Be the first to know about flight deals to Madrid and beyond when you sign up for deals from Iberia.

Sign up for the Iberia newsletter.

Icelandair

Best for: Stop-over visits to Iceland

Well known for their fabulous stop-over policy that allows you to visit Reykjavik for no additional cost on your way to major European hubs, Icelandair often offers enticing deals and last-minute ticket sales. Be the first to find out about these deals when you sign up for the Net Club.

Sign up for Icelandair newsletter.

KLM

Best for: Flights to Amsterdam, connections throughout Europe

Be among the first to know about special offers from this airline based out of the Netherlands. With Amsterdam as their hub, you can find some excellent prices for connecting flights across Europe.

Sign up for the KLM newsletter.

Lufthansa

Best for: Flights to Germany

This German airline flies all over Europe, and they announce major sales to top destinations 4-5 times a year. Sign up to receive their general newsletter or their country-specific newsletters.

Sign up for the Lufthansa newsletter.

Norwegian

Best for: Low-cost budget flights (with minimal perks) to Europe

Norwegian has rolled out several cheap flights since it launched their trans-Atlantic service in 2013. This year, they featured $175 flights to Paris on their newsletter, as well as other deals to Stockholm, London, and beyond. Their most recent non-stop route is to Barcelona that they launched in September 2016.

Sign up for the Norwegian newsletter here.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)

Best for: Flights to (and through) Scandinavia

Receive offers straight to your inbox to discover discounted SAS flights to Stockholm, Copenhagen, and all over the continent.

Sign up for the SAS newsletter here.

Tap Portugal

Best for: Flights to Portugal

Fancy a holiday in beautiful Lisbon or Porto? Subscribe to TAP’s newsletter to stay informed about deals, including direct flights to Portugal from the US.

Sign up for the TAP newsletter here.

United Airlines

Best for: Mileage Plus members

Like American and Delta, you must join United’s frequent flyer program (Mileage Plus) in order to hear about flight sales. Anyone can join for free.

Join Mileage Plus.

Virgin Atlantic

Best for: Flights to London

Based in London and Manchester, this British airline is well-known for its famous founder Richard Branson and cheeky service. Join the Flying Club to receive exclusive offers and last-minute promotions.

Sign up for the Virgin Atlantic newsletter here.

Wow Air

Best for: Super-cheapo flights to Europe (through Reykjavik)

Wow is one of the newest entries into the world of budget airlines flying from the US to Europe, and it opened several new routes in 2015. We’ve highlighted the ins and outs of flying Wow, and we can’t help but love their frequent deals like $99 one-way flights across the pond. Joining the Wow Air Club lets you stay up to date on their latest offers.

Sign up for the Wow Air newsletter.

Other airlines?

Do you have any favorite airline email deals that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post Sign up for these airline newsletters to find cheap flights to Europe appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Are You Planning a Trip to a US National Park?

Travel Tips and Destinations - Tue, 09/27/2016 - 07:45
If you are planning a trip to a U.S. National park, this article helps you to find some basic queries which might be very helpful for a better expedition.

How Not to Get Murdered Abroad

Twenty-Something Travel via rss - Tue, 09/27/2016 - 04:08

Those closest to me joke that I’m “unmurderable” because I travel by myself to “scary” places and, like Blanche DuBois, I always rely on the kindness of strangers. I have found myself in some dicey situations. I’ve been kidnapped and held for ransom in Arusha, drugged and blacked out in Nassau, and had my passport stolen at the airport in Sydney, delaying my flight home by a few days. I made it out of all of these situations and avoided several more by remembering a few travel and life rules to keep you safely enjoying your time on the road.

Safety seems to be the top concern when traveling solo, especially as a female. Like it or not, women in our culture are conditioned to be victims. We are taught very early on to keep a look out for the threats constantly surrounding our tiny weak bodies. This can be confusing on the road when you find yourself in new situations, where you’re forced to trust relative strangers. Forget everything your mom taught you about stranger danger! I’m not suggesting that safety isn’t important, I’m just suggesting that we stop treating everyone like they’re out to rape and murder us.

Most people don’t want to harm you.

Come to terms with this concept and your world will be a lot less terrifying. The more I travel, the more I realize that we are all basically the same, and we are all basically good. Yes, there are bad people everywhere; some set out to murder hitchhikers and some are just opportunistic enough to snatch your wallet when you’re not paying attention. These people are the exception and not the rule. Keep your wits about you and always know where your wallet is, but don’t let fear color your interactions with people. Have you thought about getting that stranger across the bar alone and stabbing him? No? Then odds are he hasn’t either.

Trust your gut.

This is my biggest rule for safety on the road, or at home for that matter. At the risk of sounding a bit metaphysical, we all have intuition. It goes by many different names, “intuition”, “a hunch”, “a gut feeling”, “instinct”, however you want to identify it, the most important thing is that you listen to it. We are animals and we have evolved instincts that have helped us survive for thousands of years. In the modern world we are conditioned to ignore it or explain it away, but don’t! If something is telling you not to walk down that road, or go to that bar, or be alone with that person, heed it. Sometimes your body knows something’s not right even if your brain doesn’t yet.

Don’t be a victim.

This one may seem glib, but hear me out. Obviously no one wants to be a victim, but some people are. I have a cousin with a bad case of what I call “victim face”, she walks around a new city wide eyed like a lost puppy. I would never suggest that she travel solo because I can already see the milk carton. To reiterate, the vast vast majority of people are good and have no intentions of harming anyone, but some people do. Those that do usually pick the easy targets; the tourist walking around lost, the drunk girl by herself at the bar, the guy counting an unfamiliar currency in a sticker from an earlier bus tour. The easiest way to not be targeted is to not stand out. Don’t seem like a victim. This includes the person I discussed earlier, that lives life as though everyone is out to rape and murder them. Not only are they missing out on some amazing interactions with fellow humans, they could be inviting exactly what they fear. Call it the law of attraction, or a self fulfilling prophecy, but walking around scared of everyone and everything makes you look weak, and looking weak makes you easy prey. I’m not victim blaming or jumping on the “they brought it on themselves” bandwagon, there is no excuse for violent actions, but why not take every step possible to prevent it in the first place?

Make light of the situation.

Make jokes about rape/murder/robbery. Sounds awful I know, but this has been a tactic of mine for years and I haven’t been murdered yet, so you could call that a 100% success rate. Once someone has passed the initial “trust your gut” test and you find yourself alone with them, start crackin’ wise. You can be as direct or elaborate as you want. Here are some of my go­tos; “You’re not going to rape and/or murder me are you?”

“I’m going to be really mad if I wake up and you’ve made off with my wallet.”
“Don’t bother stealing my identity, you’ll just get a lot of collections calls.”
“I almost never wear sunscreen, my skin would make a terrible lampshade.”
“I just want you to know that I drink so much that my organs are worthless on the black market.” “Just remember, people get really mad when blonde American girls go missing.”

I don’t know a ton about criminal psychology, except what I’ve seen on Netflix documentaries, but I imagine if you call a potential rapist/thief/murderer out for being a rapist/thief/murderer, it takes some of the wind out of their sails.

Check in with someone.

Even if you don’t have someone traveling with you to check in with, check in back home. My friends at home have grown accustomed to receiving facebook messages at all hours of the night with descriptions of who I am with and what I’m doing. I’m sure it’s annoying, but if anything happens there is a virtual paper trail. I also make sure to send a “not murdered” message at least daily. That way, if no one hears from me for a day or so, they can open their messages and see, “not sure this is a cab. Driver looks like Yul Brynner but Ethiopian. Check

on me in an hour.” Ethiopian Yul Brynner’s goose is cooked. “Check in” and “make light of the situation” work well together. If I’m going to someone’s house or I’m going to be alone with a stranger, I’ll get a full name and then say, “hold still. I’m sending your photo to my friend so she can identify you in case you murder me.” No one is going to try anything after that.

There are ways to live each day as if it were your last, while ensuring that it’s probably not. These rules may seem silly, but they’re a hell of a lot more fun than spending your entire trip clutching your bottle of pepper spray. So go out, meet new people, have fun, take chances, trust others, but most importantly trust yourself.

 

Maggie Garvin started Mags on the Move back in 2013 after years of guiding guest through exotic rivers and making jokes about plastic animals at the World Famous Jungle Cruise in Walt Disney World. Eager to see the world, she now guides her readers through even more exotic locales, this time with real animals and just as many bad jokes! Did you know that in the jungle bamboo can grow up to 6 stories high? Some people say 7, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

How Not to Get Murdered Abroad is a post from Twenty-Something Travel

Greek Island Sailing Holidays - Exploring the Legendary Islands on a Yacht Charter

Travel Tips and Destinations - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:38
Regardless of the economic crisis that prevails in Greece, the sun still shines there inviting the visitors to explore the tavernas, ancient sites, vineyards and beaches. Ever since the ancient times, sailing across the Greek islands hold deep-rooted affiliation, predominantly in the epics of Homer.

Top 5 Destinations to Visit During Your Family Trip to Greece

Travel Tips and Destinations - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:36
Are you planning a vacation with your kids? If yes, then Greece is surely one of the most entertaining countries of the world for your children. The pleasing weather, safe environment and shark-free beaches of the country make it a well-organized tourist destination for families.

Greece Family Vacation Packages - An Affordable Alternative Memorable Vacation

Travel Tips and Destinations - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:36
The very thought of Greece conjures up the images of azure seas, sparkling sunshine, golden beaches and white-washed villages that cascade down the hillsides. A stopover at this amazing country can turn out a lifetime memory for many.

Planning a Trip to Greece - Important Things to Ponder

Travel Tips and Destinations - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:36
Greece stands out as a much-preferred and world-recognized tourist destination with its golden sand beaches, rocky caves, vineyard landscapes and volcanic islands. Over a million holidaymakers plan their trips to Greece to unfold its gracious charm.

Top Ten Must Visit Greece Tourist Attractions

Travel Tips and Destinations - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:36
With its revered ancient sites, crystalline water and dazzling white beaches, Greece brings all the excitement for the tourists to explore. Despite of all the debt crisis and protest that come up in the highlight, Greece enjoys great popularity as a much-preferred travel destination.

Florence: 5 super cheap hotels with great locations

EuroCheapo via rss - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 09:25

Although it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Florence can be surprisingly affordable. Scattered around the city on narrow streets and down charming alleys, budget hotels still exist here, while they’ve disappeared from many other Italian cities (we’re looking at you, Venice). But can you really score a super cheap hotel in Florence in a central location?

You can find plenty of hotels with rooms for around $100, but if you’re a true Cheapo like us, you’re looking to go even lower. We checked around and found five hotels in Florence offering rooms for under $100 with a few even hovering as low as $50 per night.

But we’re not just focused on price, because we all know that sometimes you get what you pay for. At EuroCheapo, we take care to choose hotels that we would have no qualms about staying in ourselves. All of the hotels we picked from this list have earned high marks from recent guests and they all offer excellent locations not far from Florence’s main attractions.

 

A super cheap room with a view at Hotel Giappone.

Hotel Giappone

Doubles from $44

Conveniently situated between the Duomo and main train station, the one-star Hotel Giappone is all about value. Be prepared to walk up to this four-story hotel nestled in a historic building. Colorful rooms with sturdy furniture offer views of the surrounding rooftops. We found $67 double rooms with a private bathroom and $44 rooms if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom down the hall. There are only eight rooms, so make sure to book early, especially in the high season.
Read the full review.

A twin room at Hotel Sole.

Hotel Sole

Doubles from $52

You won’t find anything fancy here, but with rates as low as $52 for a double room, Hotel Sole gets the job done with clean accommodations just off of Piazza Santa Maria Novella. It’s a welcome break just outside the main tourist area, and scores bonus points for free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning in all the rooms.

Read the full review.

The classy courtyard at Hotel Bavaria.

Hotel Bavaria

Doubles from $53

Enjoy a slice of the Rennaisance at this fabulous one-star hotel. You would think that sleeping with 18th-century frescoes and intricately painted wooden ceilings in your room would break the bank. However, Hotel Bavaria offers double rooms for only $73 with a private bathroom and just $53 for a room with shared facilities.

Read the full review.

Canopy beds add a touch of luxury to this cozy B&B.

Johanna B&B

Doubles from $76

This beautiful bed and breakfast is proof that you don’t need to spend a fortune to splurge for a memorable hotel experience in Florence. Johanna B&B is filled with lovely touches like canopy beds, antique armoires, and 1950’s-style mini-fridges in every room. Even the neighborhood is chic — in a ritzy area just north of San Lorenzo. The price for this near-luxury experience? We found $76 double rooms when searching two months in advance.

Read the full review.

A flat-screen TV and terra cotta floors are just a few of the nice features at Tourist House Ghiberti.

Tourist House Ghiberti

Doubles from $77

With paintings by local artists on the walls and antique wood furniture dotting the rooms, Tourist House Ghiberti is one of the more stylish stays in our Florence guide. You would think it would be hard to find a room under $100, however, if you book in advance, you can find non-refundable rates for only $77. A complimentary breakfast is served each morning and each room comes with a computer and free Wi-Fi. Throw in a Jacuzzi, sauna, and sunny terrace, and you’ll be living the good life at a good price at this chic hotel.

Read the full review.

More Florence hotels

This is just a small sampling of the hotels that EuroCheapo has reviewed in Florence. Search over 50 hotels across the city.

The post Florence: 5 super cheap hotels with great locations appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Travel and Safety Week

Twenty-Something Travel via rss - Mon, 09/26/2016 - 04:34

I’m still away on maternity leave and the guest post parade continues. This week we are talking about a subject that matters to pretty much everyone: Safety and Travel.

I think that sometimes this is a difficult subject to discuss because feeling safe is such an subjective feeling. For example I never felt safer than I did in Mexico but I actually ran into trouble at my own local airport.  It can be hard to cut through the misconceptions and news reports and figure out what you feel comfortable with. You really have to evaluate for yourself, by being a discerning researcher and knowing your own limits.

I hope you enjoy the posts this week!

Travel and Safety Week is a post from Twenty-Something Travel

5 Things to Do on a Vacation in the UK

As We Travel via rss - Sat, 09/24/2016 - 07:24

5 Things to Do on a Vacation in the UK

Vacation in the UK has always been one of the most popular tourist destinations, not only in Europe, but in the whole world as well. London, for instance, attracts millions of tourists every year. Other parts of the country are also popular, although to a lesser extent. Thinking of visiting UK anytime soon? Keep on reading and learn more about some of the activities that will surely make your holiday fun-filled.

Vacation in the UK and Attend the Edinburgh Festival

This is one of the best ways to have an immersive cultural experience. Other than enjoying the line-up of the programmes, this is an excellent opportunity to meet other people, socialise, or simply observe the locals as they enjoy their way of life. It is a festival of art and culture, teeming with colour. For sure, you will fall in love with this festival as you witness various performances that showcase ingenious talents.

Vacation in the UK Edinburgh Festival

Go on a Food Trip in London

Without a doubt, London is the most popular among visitors of the UK. Here, you will have plenty of options for eating. From five-star restaurants that are run by celebrity chefs to authentic hole-in-the-wall eateries, the options are endless. This is a city that will easily captivate the heart of foodies. Whether you are looking for local dishes or international cuisine, you will have an endless selection when it comes to places to eat.

Visit Stonehenge

Known as one of the most iconic attractions in the UK, this is popular because of its ease of accessibility, especially if you are coming from London and Bath. This prehistoric monument will allow you to explore the ancient Neolithic life. One that you should definitely not miss would be the Stone Circle Access, which will provide you with an up close and personal experience of the attraction. Do not forget to drop by Stonehenge Brewery and taste their fresh beers. If you are planning a tour of England, visiting Stonehenge is definitely something to add to your itinerary.

Lie on a Beach in Cornwall

Cornwall is the perfect choice for anyone who is looking for a coastal destination in the UK. Whether you would like to swim, surf, or just go sunbathing, there are plenty of options when it comes to beaches that you can enjoy. The Watergate Bay is one of the most popular. Here, make sure to catch a filling meal at the Beach Hut Café. If you want to learn surfing, on the other hand, Gwithian Towans is the perfect destination for you. Gwenver Beach is a must-see for those who are looking for less crowded beaches.

Romantic Holidays Cornwall

Play Golf at St Andrews

Known as the Home of Golf, this is one of the most popular golf courses not only in the UK, but in the whole world. The most popular part is the Old Course, but players will surely be in for a treat as there are ten other courses that can be enjoyed as well. All of the courses are open to the public. One of its biggest selling point is perhaps the stunning views that you can enjoy during tee times.

If you are lucky enough to be able to vacation in the UK, make time to check out these top destinations.

The post 5 Things to Do on a Vacation in the UK appeared first on As We Travel, Traveling Tips, Destinations, Travel Videos - Traveling Tips, Destinations, Travel Videos

9 natural ways to cure jet lag

As We Travel via rss - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 13:58

9 natural ways to cure jet lag

Natural ways to cure jet lag if you love to travel. Flying is a particularly enticing variant on this, as the guilt you may associate with your increased carbon footprint can easily be offset by the excitement of going somewhere far away, in a giant metal ship in the sky. But the further your flight takes you, particularly if you’re travelling east rather than west, the more you’ll have to pay for it in fatigue, muscle ache and insomnia when you arrive.

This is the bugbear we call jet lag. The reason it is so much worse travelling eastwards is that jet lag is caused by disruption to our circadian rhythm – the body’s internal clock, which adjusts your system according to the regularity of the light around you. This ‘daily’ clock actually runs a cycle of a little over 24 hours, so when you travel westwards – creating an artificially longer day – you are at least working with that internal timer to some extent.

But when you travel east, the shorter day is a shock to the system. If you’ve ever seen how disoriented the birds get during an eclipse, you’ll recognize the phenomenon. And the thing is, even if you’re travelling west, it probably means you’re going to fly back eastwards again. There’s no avoiding jet lag if you want to fly across multiple time zones – but learning to manage your body’s relationship with these circadian rhythms is a superb way to minimize the damage upon landing.

Natural ways to cure jet lag

The natural remedies you can try won’t all feel very natural. When you see that fresh linen in your hotel room, even if it’s 10 in the morning your ‘natural’ instinct will probably be to get your head down for something not too far short of eternity. But your conscious intellect doesn’t always know what your primal operating system really needs.

You’re going to need a good combination of natural light and good nighttime sleep (at least four hours) that first day after landing, which means a daytime nap of no more than twenty minutes should be your limit. Whether you take it first thing on arrival or try to hold out a while is up to you, but as far as possible try to avoid self-medicating with coffee because this will also compromise the quality of that long-awaited good night’s sleep when it comes.

You can actually stimulate your body and mind to a better level of wakefulness by engaging in light exercise, so do some yoga or go for a walk to get that blood pumping and fill your lungs with oxygen – but don’t do it too close to bedtime, as again it can disrupt your sleep. A warm morning shower and a cold evening shower can also force-reset your body’s sleep timer to the new time zone, as the temperature changes can trigger the desired release of the melatonin hormone to get you back on track.

Natural ways to cure jet lag is to bath in sunlight

The most natural way to retrain your body, though, is to bathe it in sunlight. This is good news if you’ve travelled somewhere hot for a relaxing holiday, but not so good if your journey eastwards has deposited you back in your gloomy hometown with a day in the office ahead of you. Still, you can think about switching out those light bulbs for daylight LEDS, or – if this kind of travel is frequent for you – trick your body’s light receptors at source by investing in a pair of Re-Timer glasses whose soft green light has been academically proven to help regulate sleep patterns.

Once you’re actually in bed (after dark, of course) you can use traditional methods to try and get as close to that solid eight hours as possible – use an eye mask and earplugs to block out potential disturbances, and also consider packing an unwashed pillow case from home. Used on a hotel pillow, the scent of home can subconsciously influence your body’s defensive mechanisms into feeling safer, and thus achieving a deeper sleep.

These solutions can give you a good, balanced start in your fight back against the tyranny of jet lag. Of course, you can try to pump yourself up with pharmaceuticals and coffee, but it’s not going to be kind to your system in the long run. Researchers even discovered that hamsters who were administered with Viagra after long flights had their jet lag reduced, although with predictable side-effects (it is not noted whether the rodents took advantage of the improved circulation to their nether regions once they checked into the their tiny hamster hotels).

But while that may be an appealing remedy for randy pets, you can be a lot kinder to your system in the long run by aligning your behavior with the broader machinations of the natural world. For more ideas on how to do so, check out this elegant new infographic, and prepare to take control of those first critical hours after landing.

natural ways to cure jet lag

 

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The Beaches of Tuscany

Travel Tips and Destinations - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 13:54
uscany is an Italian region located in the northwest, in front of the Ligurian Sea in its northern part and by the Tyrrhenian Sea in the south. The capital is Florence. Tuscany is a very popular region from the tourist point of view. In summer, Tuscany is even more popular, thanks to its long coastline of beautiful beaches.

A budget travel guide to Dusseldorf, Germany

EuroCheapo via rss - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 10:18

Dusseldorf is a place of contrasts — a bustling, artistic and fashionable city of nearly 600,000 inhabitants in the western reaches of Germany along the Rhine River, it manages to feel like both a big city and a small town.

Its economy roars along, with local industries still chugging, while fashion boutiques and upscale department stores line its swanky Königsallee. Students train in art and design, while young professionals go to work each morning in the city’s Media Harbour, a riverside development project that has attracted media companies, architects, and designers. Trendy restaurants fill up at night as locals hit the opera — or grungy nightclubs.

And yet, along the cobblestone-lined blocks of the Altstadt, it’s easy to get lost in Dusseldorf’s small town charms. You saunter up to a window outside Et Kabüffke, a bar along Flinger Strasse, and a bartender pours out a glass of Killepitsch, a famously powerful herbal liquor. You head to the city’s Kunstpalast art museum and find that you have an entire gallery to yourself. You stroll the Rhine, taking in the sunset in silence before retiring with a local crowd for a pint (or three) of Altbier, the city’s signature dark brew.

Big city or intimate town — Dusseldorf offers visitors a wide variety of cultural, culinary and shopping activities. Surprisingly, given Dusseldorf’s rather ritzy reputation for fine arts and fashion, the city can be visited and enjoyed quite affordably, especially when following some of the tips listed below.

Dusseldorf’s tram system is sleek and always on time. Photo: robdammers

Getting around Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf’s efficient public transit system includes the subway, bus and street tram. Many of the city’s main tourists sights are conveniently located within the Altstadt or the nearby Media Harbour, and are easily reached by foot.

You have several options for public transit tickets (see all options):

• Single tickets for all public transit can be purchased for €2.60 in the center zone and are valid for up to 90 minutes of travel. This is a good option if you simply need one ride during the day, however if you’re expecting to make multiple journeys in a single day, consider a day ticket (below).

• Day tickets for public transit cost €6.70 for unlimited travel in the center, and get cheaper when you add more people to the ticket (two people €9.90; three €13.10, etc.). While these day tickets can easily be cheaper than buying single tickets, don’t forget to about the benefits of the DusseldorfCard, which also covers public transit (below).

• Bikes! Unsurprisingly, this German city is well equipped for cyclists. Rent bikes for €10 per day behind the main train stations at the Radstation (bike station), Willi-Becker-Allee 8a.

Can the DusseldorfCard help you save? Probably.

Saving with the DusseldorfCard

The DusseldorfCard is the city’s tourist-friendly pass, and covers free public transit and also offers discounts or free admission to museums and attractions throughout the city.

Dusseldorf Card prices (2016)

Individual Group/Family* 1 day €9 €18 2 days €14 €28 3 days €19 €38

(Note that a “Family” consists of 2 adults and 2 children (up to 14 years old), while a “Group” is 3 adults.)

Benrath Palace is a Baroque masterpiece — and included with the DusseldorfCard. (Photo: ©Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte)

Free and reduced entry with the Dusseldorf Card

In addition to free public transportation, the card offers free admission to 11 of the city’s museums, including:

Additionally, the card grants reduced entry to many other attractions throughout Dusseldorf, including:

Should you invest in a DusseldorfCard? Check out the entire list of benefits the card carries here, and run the numbers. If you plan to visit any of the attractions to which it grants free admission (including, obviously, the palace), it almost certainly makes sense.

The swanky lobby of Dusseldorf’s Max Brown Midtown Hotel.

Save on hotels in Dusseldorf

At EuroCheapo, we’re big fans of small, centrally located and independently-run hotels. You can search all hotels available for your trip here.

Some of the best hotel values we found located in the city center include:

A&O Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof

Corneliusstr. 9

This outpost of the popular A&O budget hotel and hostel chain is located a 10-minute walk toward the Altstadt from the train station. A&O offers everything from singles to quads (all with private bath), along with dorm beds (in a six-bedded room with private bath) for those looking for a serious cheap sleep. All rooms are equipped with TV and private bath. Wi-Fi is free in public spaces. Our searches turned up twin rooms for $62. (search dates)

Want to sleep super cheap? Consider sleeping under the stars at one of the city’s campgrounds. Check out www.unterbachersee.de and www.duesselcamp.de.

Hotel Batavia

Bahnstr. 61

The Batavia is a true deal, with very low rates for comfortable, three-star rooms just a five-minute walk from the train station. All rooms offer free Wi-Fi, private bath, and TV. Our searches turned up doubles for $65. (search dates)

Barcelona Bed & Breakfast

The intriguingly named Barcelona Bed & Breakfast offers 17 colorful rooms with private baths and TV in the heart of the Altstadt, very near the Kunsthalle art museum. Breakfast included. Our searches turned up doubles for $82. (search dates)

Altstadt Hotel St. Georg

Hunsrückenstr. 22

Located smack in the middle of the Old Town (a block from the city’s famous bar- and restaurant-lined Flinger Strasse), the 22-room Hotel St. Georg provides three-star rooms with a pleasing traditional decor. All rooms with TV, private bath, and breakfast included. Our searches turned up doubles for $85. (search dates)

Centro Hotel Design Apart

Mertensgasse 2

This three-star Altstadt hotel offers 18 apartments with a touch of modern design flair, each equipped with a TV, kitchenette (great for saving on meals), private bath and more. Our searches turned up doubles for under $95.

Max Brown Hotel Midtown

Kreuzstr. 19a

Part of the hip and ultra-designed Max Brown chain, this three-star hotel offers typically trendy rooms in Dusseldorf’s Japanese neighborhood, a quick walk west of the Altstadt (and very close to the shops of Konigsalle). Free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, “spa-quality” toiletries, etc. Our searches turned up doubles for about $105. (search dates)

Breidenbacher Hof (splurge!)

Königsallee 11

For readers looking to pamper themselves during a “special trip” to Dusseldorf (or those on an expense account), you can’t do better than the five-star Breidenbacher Hof, located along the celebrated Konigsallee shopping boulevard, and a short walk to the Altstadt. The Breidenbacher sets the standard for luxurious accommodation in Dusseldorf and has hosted a long list of celebrity guests and dignitaries. Spacious rooms and suites are decorated in impeccable classical decor, and the hotel’s well-equipped lounge and “living room” is open to all guests. Our searches turned up doubles from $296. (search dates)

Want to see more options? Click here to search all hotels in Dusseldorf.

Grab a fresh lunch at the daily market at Carlsplazt. (Photo: © Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte)

Shopping

Dusseldorf might be known for its fashion scene and upscale department stores, but cost-conscious shoppers can also find deals. Here are some tips:

Shop vintage. Why buy new? Check out Le Freak & Chic for an eclectic mix of second-hand fashions. Huttenstrasse 57. Want something newer, but second-hand? Swing by Anziehend for labels for less. Wissmannstrasse 2.

Stroll the flea market: The city’s most famous and oldest flea market is Radschlager Market, which offers everything from vintage housewares to lovely antiques. The market is held about twice a month. Check the official schedule for dates. Grossmarkt, Ulmenstrasse 275.

Flea market and jazz: The Trodel & Antik Markt is held every Saturday at Aachener Platz, from 6 am to 4 pm. The best part (aside from hunting down deals)? You can shop to the sounds of live jazz! Aachener Platz, Saturdays.

Sunset and people watching on the steps down to the Rhine. (Photo: © Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte)

More ways to save in Dusseldorf

But wait, there’s more! Additional ways to save on your trip to Dusseldorf include:

Hit the tourist information center: Swing by the tourist offices to pick up maps, discuss events and attractions, book tickets and buy a DusseldorfCard. Ask about free events taking place during your visit. Two locations, in Altstadt: Marktstraße 6d, and at the train station.

Save on parking: Instead of parking at an expensive garage in the city center, park for free at one of the city’s 12 Park & Ride Station, then take public transit into town. (Have you already booked your rental car? Be sure to do that in advance for the best deals. Search car rentals here.)

Lunch at the market: Feast on the freshest of ingredients at the city’s daily market at Carlsplatz. Sample mouth-watering treats, grab lunch, and then head a few blocks away to the riverfront promenade for an unforgettable picnic. Open daily from 8 am – 6 pm (Saturday closes at 4 pm, closed Sunday)

Altbier sampling: You cannot leave Dusseldorf without sampling the city’s Altbier, the famously dark local brew that’s on tap (sometimes exclusively!) in bars throughout town. Wander the old town, dropping in to sample the different Altbiers — each one is different. We’re partial to Zum Uerige (Bergerstrasse 1), which offers not just tasty beer (brewed in-house), but delicious and affordable meals, as well. But don’t just take our word for it, sip for yourself! Check out this roundup of the city’s best pubs.

Sunset and a free show: Enjoy the sunset and take in free street performances nightly in the Altstadt near the steps heading down to the Rhine at Burgplatz, just next to the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus). After the sun goes down, stroll the Rhine embankment promenade, alongside dozens of small bars, cafes and restaurants. Nightcap, anyone?

Going out? Follow the students. Dusseldorf has a long history of cutting edge live music clubs, bars and dance clubs. Fortunately for those on a budget, many of these are geared to the city’s huge university-aged population. Check these nightlife listings on Yelp.

Flying into Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf is located near the western border of Germany and is part of an industrial-rich cluster of cities that includes Dortmund (just north of Dusseldorf) and Cologne (just to its south).

Dusseldorf airport offers flights on 70 airlines to 200 destinations. It’s a slick and tidy affair, with efficient check-in counters and security. The airport has recently renovated large portions of the terminals and offers a tourist-friendly 60 shops and 40 places to eat and drink while waiting for takeoff.

Flying here: airberlin flies directly to Dusseldorf from several US destinations, including New York, Miami, Fort Myers, and Los Angeles. Flights from the US can be found for under $500 in Economy Class, and, for those looking for an affordable, yet luxurious arrival, from $2,500 in their newly updated Business Class (which includes private pods, three-course meals, and fully-reclining beds).

Trains: From the airport, board the SkyTrain to reach the main airport train station, which is serviced by more than 350 trains a day. From here, you can board a variety of trains to the city center. A second, smaller S-Bahn station is located under Terminal C. Read more here.

Buses: Public buses arrive and depart just in front of the main arrivals hall. Bus 721 will take you to the main train station. Read more

Taxis: Taxis are the most expensive, and simplest, way to arrive. All take credit cards. Expect to pay about €28 for a trip to the city center. Read more

Arriving by train

Dusseldorf’s main train station, its “Hauptbahnhof”, is located about a 15-minute walk (or a 5-minute subway ride) east of the Altstadt. Train connections are plentiful, and timetables can be searched on the Bahn.de website.

Remember, there’s no need to book German rail tickets through a foreign ticketing agency or buy an expensive rail pass. Stick to the official German rail website and book your tickets like the locals do — and at local-friendly prices!

The post A budget travel guide to Dusseldorf, Germany appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Munich: 10 ways to save time & money at Oktoberfest

EuroCheapo via rss - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 09:51

Munich’s famous festival tradition, Oktoberfest, always begins the second-to-last weekend in September and ends the first weekend of October. We prefer going in September before the masses start arriving from all over Europe and the world. But no matter what day you go, prepare for an unforgettable time — if you can remember anything at all after so many gallons of beer.

Once you get to Munich, there are plenty of ways to shrink your wallet while expanding your beer belly. If you don’t follow a few simple tips, it’s easy for first-timers to waste a lot of cash and time. Here are some ways to save when hitting the happiest place in Bavaria.

1. Arrive “beer-ed” up and ready to go

The cost for a one-liter stein of beer has passed the €10 mark, so make a plan to pre-party elsewhere first. Smaller beer tents sell beer for a euro or two less, but outside the festival, there are dozens of beer gardens to hang out at for €6.50+ a pop.

The breakfast room at Meininger City Hostel & Hotel. Photo: Courtesy of Meininger

2. Hotel regulars: try hostels

Munich is a place with a huge selection of decent hostels around the city, many of them with private rooms. Hostelling Youth International is present, along with Germany’s well-received Meininger Hotel or try CVJM/YMCA Hostel for a really cheap sleep. Some hostels rival cleanliness and amenities with large city two-star hotels. Don’t let the experience of age get in the way of a good offer at a Munich hostel.

3. Hostel regulars: try camping

Campsites specific for Oktoberfesters include The Tent and Wies’n Camp that cost €8 to €25 per night depending on how much equipment you have. Camping gear is also available for rent, even ready-made tents, so you don’t have to bring much. For lower costs, remember that the larger your group, the cheaper the price. Other Munich camping sites include Campsite Nord-West and Campsite Obermenzing.

4. Stay local and cheap during Oktoberfest

The festival is not located in the old city center or anywhere near the Hofbrauhaus, so staying downtown is probably not ideal if you are only town to experience Oktoberfest. The festival is located at S-Bahn station Hackerbrucke, which is a few stops away from downtown. Look to book closer to the festival in neighborhoods like Laim or Hirschgarten (an area with amazing greenery, cute deer, and large beer gardens).

Related: Editor’s picks for cheap hotels in Munich

5. Metro trains are the best way

Forget taxis, the best part about traveling around Munich are the quick and efficient S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains. Since the festival ends every night at 11 pm, the metros are still running for an extra hour or more. It’s easy to get around, and a three-day travel ticket is only €16, while a one-way trip is €2.70. There’s even an online guide to using public transport during the festival too.

Classic and classy lederhosen is always in style at Oktoberfest. Photo: sharpals

6. Scoring deals on lederhosen and dirndls

It’s a great souvenir and beer-drinking outfit that lasts a lifetime but make sure to shop around for the best deals. If you’re not looking for uber-authentic, try larger department stores around Marienplatz than the real McCoy. A full dirndl outfit set can be as low as €60 if you shop smart.

7. Eat a big meal before you enter

The roasted chicken and warm potato salads are to die for, but the prices might just kill your wallet. It’s not an insane amount, but a pretzel, a beer, an apple strudel…it all adds up very quickly. Grab a big meal before heading into the festival to guarantee you’ll be eating just enough to get your beer belly through the night.

Those giant cookies may look tasty, but they make better souvenirs than desserts. Photo: Erik C.

8. Pass on the lebkuchen

Lebkuchen are those heart-shaped cookie cakes with adorable phrases written in icing look so delicious and sweet! But don’t be fooled. They’re not as fresh and moist as you think, and the shrink wrap around it doesn’t add a very nice flavor either. These cakes are not to eat, they’re to wear as a necklace. A cute gift, but don’t go for the XXL size.

9. Don’t buy a pointy hat

This is a personal pet peeve I have with first-timers at Oktoberfest. Maybe it’s because they’re the cheapest souvenir around, but these tacky, grey felt hats claim to be “original Bavarian” style. Trust me, there are much better and much more flattering Munich hats out there that don’t resemble a drunk college guy meets wimpy Halloween witch.

Most importantly, remember to have fun. Cheers to a happy time at Oktoberfest! Photo: Jason Paris

10. Save time by knowing when to go

Yes, it’s true people wake up at 6 am to score a seat in a tent, but it’s more out of anxiety than necessity. Tents are open from 11 am to 11 pm but waiting early for a tent to open is for beginners. Locals know that Oktoberfest weekends are for sunny beer garden afternoons and weekdays are for hassle-free walk-ins to any beer tent.

Timing is still important: try to get there before 4 pm for any decent seat. But the key to a fun Oktoberfest experience is flexibility, patience and going with the Oktoberfest beer flow.

Note: This article was updated in September 2016 to reflect price changes.

The post Munich: 10 ways to save time & money at Oktoberfest appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Let's Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown

Travel Tips and Destinations - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 08:58
Sometimes we just overlook that it's not as hard as we think, to act awkward and not to feel bad about it in your own city, we waste our whole life to be happy but we never initiate the effort of exploring something new which is nearby. We don't consider our city as the considerate option but appraise the same stuff in foreign countries.

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