The Scottish capital, where the author of the Harry Potter saga still lives, is the real home of the little wizard. Even if Rowling says he imagined him on a late train between Manchester and London, Edinburgh is full of places that inspired him from near and far. She has never confirmed direct links between real and fictional locations, but she has always said that she drew her inspiration from her surroundings.
Getting lost in the closes of the Royal Mile and seeing Rowling’s handprints
In the courtyard of Edinburgh City Hall on the Royal Mile, opposite St. Giles Cathedral, take a look at a walled garden and see where it leads. Whether it’s a quiet little square, a busy street, or an endless staircase, it’s the element of surprise that gives Edinburgh’s Old Town that supernatural air. On the sides of the City Hall courtyard, look at the pavements and look for the handprints of J. K. Rowling, honored by the City of Edinburgh in 2008, alongside those of Ian Rankin, another famous Edinburgh writer.
Writing the first pages of the saga in a cafe
Perhaps the place most readily associated with the beginnings of the Harry Potter adventure is The Elephant House Café on George IV Bridge. With a sign indicating that this is the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’, no wonder the establishment is so popular. It’s easy to see why a young author might make it her home to write: the pastries and tea are excellent and cheap, and the view of George Heriot’s School is breathtaking. The architecture looks familiar? This very chic private school, which in the 17th century housed orphaned students, may indeed remind one of Hogwarts. The students are divided into four houses, just like in Harry Potter.
Not far away, on Nicolson Street, Rowling used to go to another café: it’s now a restaurant called Spoon, but you can always go upstairs for a cup of tea.
Going to Voldemort’s Tomb
Many stories, each one more chilling than the last, come from the Greyfriars cemetery. It is also on the graves of this cemetery that we can find familiar names of fans of the Potter universe, such as McGonagall, Scrymgeour, and above all, a certain Thomas Riddell… who echoes the name of the Dark Lord himself, Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Savor the glory and success
To end your walk, head towards Princes Street, the main shopping street in the city center, and, more specifically, the Balmoral. With its clock tower, it is not only one of the most striking features of the skyline, but also one of the most beautiful hotels in Scotland. It was in room 552, now called the J. K. Rowling Suite, that the author put the finishing touches to the seven volumes of the Deathly Hallows saga. Here you can spend a night and admire the marble bust of Hermes that she signed before leaving for the modest sum of £1,500.
Would you like to spend your next holiday in China?
You may have no idea about the most prestigious cities in China. To help you, we offer you a circuit that goes straight to the point. Here is a selection of five of the most popular destinations in China. Discover them by reading this article!
It is the largest city in China and probably the most economical. The beauty of Shanghai lies in its atmosphere that combines a colonial past with ultra-modernity. A visit to Shanghai allows you to discover some of the attractions. You can visit Porte Pan, the Museum of Sexual Culture in Ancient China.
During your stay, you can visit Beijing, the historic capital of China. It is a city steeped in history and rich in many remains. Visiting this city will be fascinating for you as it has some famous tourist sites. There is, for example, the mythical Great Wall, not to mention attractions such as the Temple of Heaven and many others. Beijing is at the top of the list of cities not to be missed.
A small stopover in Guilin
Guilin is one of the most beautiful places in China. It shelters a river bordered by beautiful mountains covered with lush vegetation. The city is considered to be one of the most magical on earth. It is a tourist city developed with top-of-the-range hotels. Guilin is easily accessible and has many attractions, such as the Elephant Trunk Hill. There is also the Reed Flute Cave, a cave superbly colored by Mother Nature, as well as Moon Hill.
A visit to Xi’an
For a complete trip to China, visit Xi’an! This city has a large number of relics of the past and exceptional sites of interest. You will have the opportunity to discover the Terracotta Army, the most famous tourist attraction in the region. Xi’an is a popular tourist destination for travelers. In addition to the Terracotta Army, you can discover the Ramparts of the old town and the Museum of the Stele Forest.
Visit Hong Kong City
During your stay in China, you must travel through Hong Kong. It is a fantastic place that is unlike any other on earth. It is one of the most important economic and financial centers in Asia. The city is a vibrant and dynamic metropolis that benefits from all the advantages of large cities. Hong Kong offers a variety of activities. If you are a shopper, in Hong Kong you will find what you are looking for. It has many shopping centers. In addition, it offers attractions such as Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Village, Repulse Bay. Visiting this city will be charming to you.
Each year, a lot of tourists chose Madagascar as their destination for a summer holiday. If you are one of them, you are probably wondering the following things:
Did I make the right choice?
It is a question that can torment many people. I am talking about a trip, and not just any trip, a trip to Madagascar. Yes, let’s leave aside the high-profile destinations and focus a little on the essentials of travel, in other words, discovery.
Madagascar is more than just a country to discover
Indeed, Madagascar is a country that I consider to be special. A lot of people only know about it from the film. Don’t worry; there is none of this in this beautiful country of the Indian Ocean. Only fossas and lemurs exist, but there is no hippopotamus, no giraffe, and even less lion. Speaking of fauna and flora, Madagascar has a real treasure in this field.
If I only talk about baobabs and reptiles, 75% of the latter are only visible on the island. And it’s just a sample. Unfortunately, I could not mention all the Malagasy treasures here, but you have to come to see it. The real problem with a trip to Madagascar is the impracticability of the roads. Imagine 10 hours in a minibus, dying of heat with the turkeys and chickens under your seat, and that to travel a distance of less than 500 km. I can see very clearly that you expect me to reveal the secret to avoid that.
Some may expect me to provide them with advice to make their trip to Madagascar perfect. I’m sorry to say I’m not a miracle worker. I can only share my experience on the destination. It is important to know that in most cases, flights to Madagascar land in the capital, Antananarivo. A rather dull city, in my opinion, I wouldn’t dwell on it too much if I were you.
The streets become quite dangerous when the night begins to fall. I’m not paranoid, but I’m just telling the truth. It is where you must now make your choice unless you have well planned your trip. For my part, I was satisfied with my valuable guide and backpack and on the way to the adventure. Three choices are then available:
Head south and cross the RN7, a mythical national road with its so-called “dahalos” – highway bandits – that I consider to be myths to frighten the population. You should just be wary of night travel, that’s all I recommend. Landscapes that have nothing to envy from the American westerns parade along the road, passing through the Isalo Park, which is a must visit. Choose to head west towards Majunga, the city of flowers, the most famous seaside city on the island, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Otherwise, this city is especially exciting because of its climate: hot and dry with a minimum humidity level. In my opinion, it’ s only a tourist catch, but it only involves me.
The last option is to take the eastern route, my favorite. Okay, I’m not advertising, but it’s just to say what I think. The landscape on National Road 2 is such that I can’t find the right words to describe it. Tamatave, Madagascar’s first port, is the culmination of this road. Continuing north along the coast, this is my favorite part of the big island. National road 5 is more of a track than a road. Sometimes you have to cross water fords, river mouths to continue on the road. But all this in a setting that is just beautiful.
In July I returned to a little-known region of Spain, the Sierra de Guara National Park. I had stopped there for two days during our road trip in a van from Arcachon to the Sierra de Guara, and I loved it. I promised myself that I would come back to explore the region a little more.
The park is considered as the “near Pyrenees” composed mainly of gorges and canyons in dry and Mediterranean vegetation. This region is very famous for canyoning in Spain, with no less than 60 canyons, and climbing (among other things). The walls of the gorges make it a spectacular playground.
A day Canyoning in the Sierra de Guara
For this experience, I chose the Petit Mascun course; this canyon is an excellent choice for beginners. The path is quite accessible; jumps are not mandatory, there is no abseiling or too vertiginous stuff. But it remains fun, sporty and amicable.
A short hike in the Gorges
I start the day in Rodellar, a cute little hamlet. After taking possession of the equipment, I dive into the river fully dressed to stay cool for an hour’s hike to reach the start of the canyon.
During this walk, I discovered other villages made of stone. Here it is the headquarters of climbers, everywhere the athletes who indulge their passion.
I picked up on the edge of a small beach before putting on our suits and putting our stuff in waterproof cans in our backpack. Then it’s off! Now I can’t march anymore. I trust our guide who is very reassuring and attentive, no pressure. The spectacular landscapes that I can only see in canyoning revealed itself before our eyes. I don’t know what to expect; the route takes river paths that I would never have dared to cross without our instructor. What an excitement!
The first jump
That’s it, and I’m finally getting there. The first jump on the course is 2 meters, a good start to build confidence. After a few hesitations, I jumped into the water! And it’s too good! This jump moved our friend who had never done anything like this before. It feels good to let go and push your limits a little bit. I’ll ask for more.
Second jump 3 meters
As I said at the beginning, jumps are not mandatory, and there is always a way around them. But I like to do a little violence to myself, so it happened all by itself. My friends and I made a block on this one, and we had to go down a little on the rock to jump, get on your buttocks, get up all of a sudden and go. She was afraid to slip because she didn’t trust her shoes. So make sure you take good sneakers with you.
Last jump of 6 meters
The end of the canyon and another river joined, the walls here are steeper and allow higher jumps than I can do several times. And I had a great time with Laure. I admit that once I was upstairs, I was less smart, it was necessary to be motivated to jump. But I loved that feeling so much. I lost confidence in myself during the last few months, especially when hiking, the fear of falling, slipping and dizziness disabled me a lot during our walks in Reunion Island. And this day gave me back my confidence.
The end of the year is always an opportunity to think about the following year. Including for your trips ;-)
At the end of 2017, I have decided to share with you some ideas for destinations for 2017. The only logic of this list is to try to orient oneself towards less visited destinations and to go to unknown regions of tourist countries.
My year 2017 has been rich in travel and some of these destination ideas for 2018 come from my travels this year. But not just that!
South Korea, A Forgotten Destination
Last revelation of 2016 and destination that I highly recommend to you, South Korea. It’s a country to discover. Korea has points in common with China and Japan but is different from these two countries.
South Korea is little known in France and is full of places to discover. Between the small traditional villages, the bustle of Seoul or the tea plantations of the south of the country, it is a destination where activities can be numerous and varied.
Okinawa, Another Japan
Japan is an increasingly popular destination for Europeans. Nevertheless, the vast majority of tourists visit the same places in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, and their respective surroundings.
Japan has many other places worth visiting. I will soon tell you about my last trip to Japan in unknown places in Japan, notably in the prefectures of Tottori and Hyogo.
The Okinawa Archipelago is another place to discover in Japan. Isolated from the rest of Japan, the archipelago is famous for its cuisine, its art of living but also for karate, native to this archipelago.
After three trips to Japan, I can’t wait to go back and why not to Okinawa this time? If you have already been to Japan, it is most certainly for a trip to discover the great classics. This is quite normal and very often the case for a first trip. If you plan to go back, why not try Okinawa?
A Paradise Journey To The Philippines?
If you dream of a trip to paradise islands to enjoy the fine sand and turquoise sea, head for the Philippines!
My trip to the Philippines was one of my favorites of this year 2016. Beyond the dream islands, a trip to the Philippines also allows you to discover culture and grandiose landscapes.
The Philippines attracts fewer travelers than other Southeast Asian countries, and yet, the country of 7000 islands is magical! I invite you to read or reread my travel diary in the Philippines.
Iran, A Country To Discover!
I have never been to Iran before, and this country has attracted me for a long time… This idea of destination can concern you but also concerns me. This is one of my objectives for 2017, to discover Iran. Iran has been on my list of travel desires for far too long.
Tourism in Iran is developing following the gradual lifting of the (scandalous) US embargo.
A resolutely cultural destination, Iran is a fascinating country full of historical sites. The hospitality of the Iranians is no longer to prove and rare are those who return from Iran being disappointed…
Another little-known yet magnificent country, the Sultanate of Oman. The cost of living in Oman must certainly be a factor. Traveling to Oman is not necessarily cheap.
But this country is beautiful. From superb beaches to the desert through magnificent mountains and valleys, the Sultanate of Oman is a delight for lovers of nature and wide open spaces.
This country lends itself perfectly to the road trip, and it is according to me the mode of travel to retain to discover Oman. So if you want to embark on a road trip in 2017, think of the Sultanate of Oman and its wide open spaces just for you:) And there are plenty of places of interest in Oman…
Nestled in East Africa, between Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, Djibouti is still a popular destination for tourists promising to delight nature lovers.
Bordered by the gulfs of Aden and Tadjoura, this small African country is known for its black lava fields and steam-spitting chimneys, created by the tectonic plates that animate the soil. These landscapes with the appearance of Martian or lunar decorations attract geology fans particularly, admiring in front of the extinct volcanoes, the limestone columns, the jerky plains and the deserts of dark stones. It is the ideal place for the curious wishing to lose the thread of time in front of a view that exists nowhere else, except perhaps on Lanzarote, the island of the Canary archipelago, or in the region of Myvatn in the North East of Iceland. Salt lakes, like Assal, with their millions of small white crystals, fascinate all visitors to the country.
Between volcanoes and heavenly beaches
Lazy lovers will also enjoy Djibouti on the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Aden. These clear waters also allow snorkeling fans to admire the incredible marine flora and even dive with whale sharks. In this French-speaking country, you will also discover a fantastic mix of cultures between Arab and African traditions, without forgetting French influences. Leaving Djibouti City, the capital where the majority of tourist resorts are located, you will be able to make numerous expeditions in a great diversity of landscapes which will mark your spirits. To be accompanied by a guide will allow you not to miss anything of the essentials and will avoid you losing yourself too long in the middle of the plains of rocks.
Today, Djibouti welcomes about 50,000 tourists per year, a figure that is continuously growing. You wish to enjoy this nature still in its wild state? It’s time to go!
Leaving a tip can be confusing because the rules vary from one country to another. While it is impolite to leave a tip in some of them, it is very wrong to leave them in others.
Here’s what you need to know.
Always have money in local currency.
Being an organized traveler means having enough local money on your hands to cover any planned or unexpected expenses. It is essential to be able to pay tips in local currency because changing foreign currencies costs service providers a lot of money and it is very likely that they are not even allowed to do so. It is also often impossible to add a tip when paying with a credit card.
Know when not to tip
In some countries (such as Japan, China, South Korea or French Polynesia), staff may be offended to be offered a tip because service excellence is an integral part of the culture there.
If you tip Japanese Ryokan staff, a taxi driver or a tour guide, for example, be sure to place the tickets in a card or envelope and hand them over with both hands and bow your head.
In French Polynesia, tips are almost perceived as rudeness because they indicate that the person receiving them occupies a lower status. Even if you’ve received excellent service, the tip is not welcome. If in doubt, please refrain.
Leave a tip only for a service received
In India, for example, make sure you have received a service in exchange for a tip. Some beggars ask for alms, but giving them money sends a wrong message. As it is an impoverished country, try to buy them something or hire them to do a small job, if you feel compelled to give them money.
Check your bill before you leave a tip.
In the United Kingdom, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Portugal, France and many other countries, restaurants, hotels and other establishments already add service charges for most of their services.
And check if the bill includes a “service charge,” as opposed to a “tax” on service before you think you have been billed for the tip. A service “fee” does not go to servers. A small clarification concerning Brazil:”Although tips are not necessary, they are nevertheless desirable because of the very modest salaries,” notes Dan Boland. In general, people who work in tourist destinations have become accustomed to Canadians leaving some money behind.
When can you leave more?
In Iceland, as in many European countries, a tip is not required in most cases. Restaurants will often include a 10% service charge on the bill, which means you don’t have to leave a tip, but you can leave 15% if you’ve received exceptional service. Taxi drivers, hairdressers and tour guides add an amount to their bills to cover service charges.
Although many European countries do not have a tipping culture, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and a few other countries are the exception. In Greece, when dining out at a restaurant or taking a taxi, a tip of 5 to 10% depending on the service is highly appreciated. It is also well worth giving a few euros to your maid at the hotel and your tour guide.
Some marijuana tours are luxury style with limo drivers and med-stops before going to the 5-star restaurant downtown. Then there’s those that go on nature trails and hikes.
When California legalised marijuana for medical use in 1996. It historically, caused a small boom in the industry with various businesses, one being the travel tourism business. Historically, California was the most tolerated of the states which were the first one to decriminalise marijuana in 1975.
On November 8th, 2016, Proposition 64 was passed. In other words, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act states marijuana is legit. Legalisation of the cannabis is for recreational use and those over the age 21. With much efforts and support, it eventually became legal, and many marijuana dispensaries surfaced.
Because of this, the marijuana tourism grew as well. And naturally, it boomed again with recreational usage as the focal point. It became legal in various California cities and towns. Some of the most notable ones are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Fresno, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Tahoe, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Riverside, …and many others.
Adults have an option to legally be allowed to utilise the green alternative within the medicine bureaucracy.
In fact, residents of the cities are allowed to possess 1 oz. of marijuana at a time and cultivate six plants yet, out of the public’s viewing or eyesight.
Here are the basic policies in the marijuana law:
– Individuals seeking a medical marijuana I.D. = Proof of age (18+)
– California residents
– Qualified patients possess up to 8 oz. or 1/2 lb. of marijuana at a time.
Depending on your needs, smoking on these tours vary. There are places where smoking is prohibited in certain spots. It is for the privacy of those around the smokers.
Although it may be legal, at the discretion of the owner and his/her property on certain tours, respecting their space is important. Therefore, enjoying the experience while vacationing at the hotels, bed and breakfasts are recommended. They accommodate smokers. Tours manage the itinerary accordingly, and they do a great job doing it.
Food based tours.
Some of the tours available in California are food based. It means that guests will go through the dispensary’s site tour, have the option to purchase medication, then eat a three-course meal!
Whereas there are tours that have their guests go for the appetiser at one restaurant, then go for the main course at another restaurant, making the experience more quality driven.
After eating a delicious meal at a fantastic restaurant, the option to medicate once more before going for desert is given.
There’s a fine tour for you!
California is not only accepting to specific tour packages and respect the need for outdoor marijuana users since it’s inception. Although, it’s said that those who smoke should also respect the natural surroundings as well.
Encouraging the discretion of marijuana smoking in California is always enforced by many dispensaries and tour guides. They recommend Vape pens which are popular in the state but, also, it’s the best way to consume it if you are in a public place. Also, don’t drive while high is truly enforced. Plus, you can be convicted of a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana in California.
Street Art Tours
If you are passionate about art them, you’ll love this type of tour.
Street art and the appreciation for it can come with a price. The price is enjoying the atmosphere as you immerse yourself in a tour of fun that’s cannabis involved. While doing so, there are tour packages which nurture the historical significance of contemporary public art.
In Venice Beach, for instance, there’s a guided Pedicab tour that travels through the entire beach town.
While travelling, the guide presents to tour guests the various locations and hot spots for public art created by locals; some people there for years.
Not only is the cannabis legal here, but in Venice beach so is the graffiti art which is a hot commodity in the California beach town.
Visitors from all over the world.
The activities on these tours vary, therefore, the prices will too. For instance, if a customer pays at a higher pay scale, naturally they’ll be able to get the 5-star luxury activities. For an average pay rate, then the mediocre tour; but, it’s all great because you and your friends are in Cali. And this is what your mission is to relax and vacation on these tours.
Visitors come from all over the world, plus, visitors regularly consume from all over the world. Celebrating significant events and milestones is the best way to go through these tours.
Most tours have a welcome presentation from the guide including the schedule of the day. The majority of the time, there’s certain spots that the group will stop at one at a time, as the day progresses. And all the engaging with the marijuana are spent in unique ways.
They’ll learn and be more educated with the herbals from the expert guide.
You will get to also stop by the most famous grow shop of California and buy souvenirs and equipment such as vaporisateur pour herbe and other bongs as well as various accessories!
Finally, when as the day ends, visitors or guests will not go empty handed. There’s always a package or gift given or souvenirs to take home to. They are normally cannabis infused ingredients in the food given or creative crafts that were made with clay and resin…etc.
All in all, the cannabis tour in California will be an unforgettable experience for you and your guests, especially if you have to head back home where it may be illegal. Although, you may have to consume it if you have leftovers and you live in a state where it’s illegal.
After a rad winter spent in Colorado, hiking and skiing, I wanted to share my take on hiking gear for all you adventurers out there!
There are several things you need to consider before deciding on the hiking gear you will need. Is this a simple hike of short duration, a hike that will require sleeping and eat on the trail, or is it an organised hike where amenities are supplied.
The hiking gear you need will depend in large part on this information, and, if it is not a planned hike, you will consider how willing you are you to rough it.
The first step when determining what hiking gear you should take is to get together with your hiking partner. If you are hiking any distance and plan to eat and sleep on the trail, you do have some choices to make! When you plan carefully so that each person has the responsibility to bring certain items, it can lighten the load considerably, and it is important to remember that these are items you will be carrying on your hike.
The first thing to consider is the pack itself.
Some stores specialise in hiking gear, and even military surplus stores, where you can find used hiking gear inexpensively.
A hiking pack should be approximately four thousand cubic inches unless you plan on carrying a lot of extras such as photography equipment, or things such as hunting and fishing paraphernalia. When shopping for hiking gear, try to keep in mind that it needs to be functional and efficient as well as light weight.
If you plan to be on the trail during the night, you should decide if you plan to sleep in the elements, or if you will need to include a tent in your hiking gear.
Again, it is never wise to hike alone, and you will need two one man tents or one two man tent. Trail shelters are available that weigh from three to four pounds. If it rains or gets chilly, you will be glad you brought a tent on your hike. You will need sleeping bags as well if you plan on sleeping on the trail. Depending on the weather and terrain, you might choose a very light weight sleeping bag or even one much colder resistant and even a sleeping bag liner.
There are sleeping bags available that provide protection from the cold down to thirty degrees. These sleeping bags weight as little as one pound and two ounces, and pack down to about the size of a softball. You could choose MRE (meal ready to eat) such as those the army uses, which can be heated with a small can of Sterno. Should you want to hunt, fish, forage, and cook on the trail include cooking essentials made to be lightweight and compact, specifically for hiking gear.
Clothing to include in your hiking gear depends on the season, climate, and duration of the walk. In summer, you need basics like plenty of socks (wet ones tend to cause blisters) comfortable outerwear, boots, and any climbing accessories you might need.
However, if you are hiking in cold weather, or climbing in high altitudes, you’ll need long underwear, light nylon shorts, a mid-weight fleece jacket, a light rainproof layer, gloves, hat, and accessories to suit the weather and your needs. Extra hiking gear includes a headlamp, tool/knife, first-aid kit, compass, sunglasses, and sunscreen, and you’re good to go!
Here is an interesting video with a solid checklist for you :
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the favourite place to vacation for travellers worldwide. Rated #1 by Trip Advisor in 2014 as the top beach destination, this year-round getaway has something for everyone. There are over 60 miles of white sugar sand beaches that stretch from just over the border in nearby NC to historic Georgetown in South Carolina.
Whether you like to golf (there are over 104 courses in the area) shop (hundreds of name brand discount outlets) or eat out (1700 restaurants to choose from)-Myrtle Beach has what you need. With over 500,000 tourists each year, the vacation city must be doing something right. Maybe it is the small town feel of cosy beach houses, or the big city taste of the Grand Strand-Myrtle Beach is full of southern charm.
Things to do:
If you like to stay active on vacations, you will find a wide assortment of things to try. There are rentals for scuba diving, deep sea fishing or banana boat rides. You can visit Ripley’s Haunted Adventure or the magnificent aquarium. There is a giant sky wheel for daredevils and a zip line to try at Outdoor Adventures. Barefoot Landing boasts a wildlife exhibit, complete with tigers, unending curiosity shops and a one of a kind theatre.
If musicals and live music are more your taste, the Carolina Opera House and Alabama Theater have shown for every night of the week. There are also magic shows, haunted ghost tours and race car adventures to explore.
Amazing Vacation Pictures
If you would like to take once in a lifetime photos and videos of your vacation, a drone is the way to go. Pictures of about 150 feet give you a perspective of beaches and other sights that haven’t been experienced before. Careful planning about strategic photo flights and knowledge of the restrictions in your area will ensure you have a positive experience with drone vacation pictures. Your friends will be amazed at the Myrtle Beach you capture on your drone. Visit this Facebook page to know more.
Little Known Fun Facts About Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach continues to amaze visitors and keep travellers returning with its wide variety of offerings. Even for you experienced Myrtle Beach enthusiasts, here are some fun facts you may not know:
• The local Sweet Myrtle Beach gave the city its name.
• Vanna White, from Wheel of Fortune, was born in Myrtle Beach
• Real estate in Myrtle Beach went for $25 back in 1902.
• Sports Illustrated has been in Myrtle Beach since it started in 1953
Of course, the main attraction of Myrtle Beach is the beautiful beaches. Families travel from around the world to try the surf at Garden City Beach, Surf City, Sunset or Cherry Grove-these have all been named some of the best beaches in the United States
To say that Myrtle Beach is an ideal summer destination is an understatement. It caters to families, teenagers, honeymooners, seniors and motorcyclists. You can hear fun going on, at any time of the day. You won’t soon forget your vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
I had been looking to do something a little out of the ordinary for my next trip.
I had been to Mexico, Florida, Dominican Republic, New York City, and a handful of California cities. It was time to go North. After Thousands of searches on Expedia, Trip Adviser and google images I settled on Banff. The colourful mountain town in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The pictures promised snow-capped mountains, rugged hiking trails, white waters, a vibrant downtown, great restaurants and beautiful if slightly overpriced hotels. I decided to opt for a camping option and started looking for the best camping tent reviews I could find online. I ended up grabbing the MSR Hubba Hubba Tent which is great for backpacking!
I flew into Calgary on a Thursday evening just as the sun was setting over the Rocky Mountains, an hour’s drive towards the west. By the time, I went through customs and picked up my bags it was dark out. I picked up my rental and opted to stay at the closest Double Tree to the airport. I hadn’t been sure when I made my reservations, but now it was dark, was sleepy and wanted to enjoy the drive into the mountains in daylight so I could appreciate the scenery.
I set westward on the #1 TransCanada Highway while it was still dark. As a reward, I drove the 63 miles (110 km by Canadian signage) to Banff as the sun rose behind me filling the sky with pink hues. Despite the green highway sign saying that Banff was only another 27 km I detoured into the inviting-looking town of Canmore. The little town is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
I drove the streets lined with old brick bungalows and into the busy little downtown. Sitting on the patio of a Restaurant called The Summit Cafe I sipped coffee and orange juice as the rising sun warmed my face and I savoured the mountain views. I congratulated myself on my decision to wait out the night in Calgary and make this drive during the day. I left my car parked in front of the cafe and walked around the sunny little town. I crossed a bridge and walked along a river trail for a few moments before I remembered this area was abundant with bears. On my way back to my car I passed a lovely little art gallery called Fallen Leaves. Ironically I fell in love with a bear painting and it broke my heart to leave it and the One thousand dollar price tag behind.
I missed the first turn off for the town of Banff, but the highway has about five more and so it was not long before I was in the busy, bustling, lively town of Banff. Cars were bumper to bumper down Banff Avenue. The Avenue is lined with colourful restaurants and hotels.
The sidewalks were lined with people walking one way or another. A tour bus stopped in front of me and 80 Japanese tourists disembarked and immediately began snapping photographs of the town and the surrounding mountains. It took me approximately one hour, not counting breakfast, to drive from Calgary to Banff. It took another hour to drive the three miles from the highway turn-off to my hotel, The Fox Inn and Suites. I was about five hours too early to check-in but the receptionist assured me I could leave my car in the parking lot behind the building with no issue.
I left my bags in the car for the moment and was happy to set out on foot. I had a town to explore!
Found this amazing timelapse video of the area, hope it makes you want to visit the place!
I wanted to share something quite special that happened to me recently. Aside from being known as a “party” guy, I sometimes happen to work…
I had never been to one of those time-share things until the first time I went to Mexico. You know, those presentations where they hold you hostage for hours while demanding to know the dollar amount in your savings account. True story that is what happened to us! Landing in Puerto Vallarta at about 8 pm, we de-boarded the plane by a staircase and walked across the runway to the airport.
After clearing Mexican customs, we left the airport walking down a long ramp towards the front doors. All along the hallway were booths. These booths displayed taxi services, car rentals, horse back riding, cruises, fishing trips, the works. We did our best to avoid being stopped but eventually a charming Mexican boy, and a beautiful Mexican girl got our attention and held us in conversation. They promised us a free taxi ride to our hotel that evening and a cruise the next day if we went to their 90-minute time-share presentation. An all-day, all-you-can-drink-and-eat cruise, free, tomorrow, in exchange for the 90-minute presentation. We caved.
Of course, we had to pay for our taxi that night. It would be reimbursed on the cruise. The taxi driver promised he would pick up the next morning. The next morning we were waiting outside our hotel when an entirely different taxi driver insisted we went with him to the cruise. He drove us from the opposite direction of the port, out of town for half an hour on a narrow jungle winding highway.
At a brand new 5 Diamond time-share resort, we were offered mimosas. Then they separated my friend and I and we were each presented to our time-share real estate agent. She showed me condos I could never afford. They insisted I drink champagne and demanded to know why I wouldn’t sign up to buy a condo. Supervisors were sent over to ask what my the savings in my bank were. They made me fill out a work-book demonstrating how much more affordable it was to buy their time-share than any other type of travelling. After four painful hours, I was let go. I found my best friend waiting for me at the bus stop. There were no taxi rides back to the city, not for those of us who did not buy a time-share. Our taxi ride was redeemed, however, and the cruise turned out to be the real deal. I don’t like the way they tricked us into attending the time-share and held us, hostage. But he next day we spent eight hours on a boat eating ceviche, drinking “cervezas”, and trying to forget our first full day in Mexico.
Hey what’s up guys, today is the day you’ll get to learn about our epic trip in Mexico!
Packing my bags pre-flight
I was thirty minutes into Googling ‘Playa Del Carmen’ when my phone started playing “Exit Music” by Radiohead. To be honest, I was two hours into a rabbit hole that led me from my original search to scrolling through Facebook. I tapped the power button on the side of my phone and silenced the alarm. Procrastinating had yet again failed to serve me as I leaped from the couch and began throwing together a bag. Passport, check. I.D., check. Being a guy is easy, you can do anything last minute. Road joint, check. With a lit joint hanging from my lip, I headed out the door when I got a call from Eric.
Falling asleep on an airplane ride is the virtual equivalent of becoming an X-Man. My powers must be time traveling and teleportation. I woke up just in time to order a cocktail from the attractive flight attendant. Eric nudged me as she walked away. “That’s the kind of women that are going to be there, dude.” I grinned and closed my eyes again.
Eric and I had been planning this trip for months. Fly into Cancun International. Catch a bus/taxi into Playa del Carmen and wing it from there. I suppose it’s not so much of a plan when you think about it. I hailed a driver and Eric, and I climbed in. They guy clearly spoke little English, so we just gave him our destination and were on our way.
About twenty minutes into the ride, our driver pulls off the main road and decides he knows a faster way into town. Eric and I are confused since there is very light traffic on the highway. Paved road turned into gravel which turned into dirt. At this point, Eric and I are sacrificing the cost of data usage to check google maps. We show him our phones and try to explain that he is taking a detour. All we got back was “yeah, it’s no problem. Here is faster.”
Strangely enough, the guy was right. At this point, I consider my failure to learn some basic Spanish over the last few months. Once we arrive at a hotel, I decide to bust out the Spanish I do know:
“Queremos mota. Sabes donde esta la mota, señor?” The accent is flawless.
I’m Not the Man they Think I am at Home
Debauchery, here we come. Armed with a map of the city, a pocketful of sunshine, and enough pesos to bribe Zorro, Eric and I began walking the city. The obvious place to start was downtown, which is party central. Everything was modern and updated. Sanitized for American tourists. Eric and I dipped into an alleyway after eating dinner to light up a joint. This one’s for Che. Wrong country.
We could hear the reggaeton music blaring from Mamita’s Beach Club as we walked up. The nightlife of Playa del Carmen is something special. Latin music breathes into your soul after eight whiskey sours and a night of grinding on beautiful Mexican women. I won’t get into details. Besides, that’s not the only reason we went on this trip. Red, blue, and green ornamental lights that make up much of the city’s decorum inspired a weird sort of Christmas-like sentimentality. As we traveled around downtown, it became abundantly clear which bars were tourist spots and which ones were local favorites.
It’s Just My Job, Five Days a Week
I can’t speak to the beauty of Playa del Carmen and Cancun’s beaches during the day. It wouldn’t do it justice. Over the course of the next three days, Eric and I traveled around the entire Yucatan visiting ruins and scenic beaches. The inherent beauty of the countryside there is overwhelming when you’re not being ushered around by a tour guide. Its aesthetic nature vastly contrasts with the gritty allure of much of the state’s cities. Trips to a foreign country always excite me. I especially like to see the difference between the way a country portrays itself to foreigners and the way it operates behind the scenes. I don’t know; maybe that ‘s just the stoner in me.
It’s Gonna Be a Long, Long Time
I highly recommend going to Playa del Carmen to have some fun with a friend. Check out the sites. Explore the city. Explore the surrounding area and its beaches. I would also recommend, however, that you try to find an English speaking driver before leaving the airport. It just makes things so much easier. I would love to go back to Playa del Carmen one day, but first I have so many other places to check out. Remember life is short, carpe diem!