If I Could Stay Anywhere in Las Vegas… Monday, Jul 15 2013 

I’ve been to Vegas lots of times, as you’ve seen on here. And I’ve 

Encore

The Wynn is THE staple for modern luxury in Las Vegas. But when I was there, I much preferred their sister property, the Encore. While both the Wynn and the Encore were filled with opulent yet simple luxury, I preferred the Encore because it was filled with colors.

My favorite thing at Encore is XS Nightclub — home to pool parties at night during the summer. I went on the second weekend they were open and hung out with Ice-T and Coco!

The Palms

And the Palms may be where I want to stay most of all. This is a property that has always treated its celebrity guests very well — and I wouldn’t mind rubbing shoulders with the rest of them.

If I ever hit the lottery, I’ll book a jet charter Las Vegas before taking up residence in one of their suites. The Playboy-themed one with its own bowling alley and rooftop pool? What about the giant hot pink one with tons of pillows?

At either rate, you’ll find me enjoying Rain Nightclub and its great balls of fire.

Bellagio

As someone who has watched Ocean’s Eleven about 30 times, I would love the chance to go to the Bellagio and see it for myself. It has a really nice faux-Italian ambiance, with its beautiful artwork, and I’d love a chance to see more of it up close. Especially in a fountain-view room!

The Bellagio is home to Bank, where I had one of my more “meh” Vegas nightlife experiences, but the pool is pretty fabulous.

Which Las Vegas hotel would YOU like to stay in?

The Immortal Allure of Mount Benacantil Monday, May 27 2013 

Today’s guest post takes us to sunny Alicante, Spain.

Although many tourists may immediately associate the region of Alicante in Spain with bespoke boutiques lining the tranquil city streets and sun-beached facades, the unique and even turbulent history of this unforgettable region cannot be ignored.  As many visitors will utilise a car hire service after arriving at the nearby airport, they will find themselves in the enviable position to witness the emerging grandeur of Mount Benacantil as they approach the city limits.  One is immediately taken aback by the impression of both longevity and even a sense of humility.  Indeed, this mountain boasts much more than geologic history.

 

Natural History

One of the most striking features of this 500-foot tall monolithic giant is the unique geologic structure on its southwestern slope.  Millions of years of weathering have carved out what appears to be a face on the slope; this feature is known as la cara del moro which can be roughly translated as the Moor’s Head.  It only makes sense, for this profile seems to be a silent sentient incessantly peering out to the horizon; the stunning panoramic vistas offering an undeniable attraction for the intrepid hiker.  

While on the leeward side of this mountain many pine trees and other small shrubbery can be found, the windward side to the south is sparsely vegetated due to the constant salt-water breezes.  Still, numerous birds have made their homes within this windswept mountain.

 

Human Habitation

Most humans choose to locate their communities on high location for protection, and Mount Benacantil proves to be no different.  Although it is thought that this area has been inhabited for millennia, it was first mentioned in text during the 12th century by Arabic historian Al-Idrisi.  During the Moorish occupation, many towns and villages were perched at the foot of this hill.  The modern-day cities of Santa Cruz and San Anton are actually known to have been constructed upon ancient ruins dating back for centuries.  These locations are now well known for their relaxing coffee shops and local Spanish pubs, but the main attraction for many visitors and locals alike is the 9th century castle of Santa Barbara.

 

Santa Barbara Castle

Known in Spanish as El Castillo de Santa Barbara, many artifacts from Roman and Bronze Age eras have been found nearby.  The castle itself was built nearly 1100 years ago as a Muslim fortification designed to reinforce control of the budding town of Alicante and nearby regions.  Although the castle remained in Moorish hands for centuries, in 1248 the Castillian army under the command of Alfonso of Castille finally defeated the retreating Muslim owners and renamed the castle after the patron saint of the day when the fortification fell; Santa Barbara.

 

Although the castle remained in Castillian hands, it was nonetheless involved in numerous conflicts in the years that followed.  During the years of French expansion this location played a pivotal strategic role and thus the castle found itself under siege by French warships in 1691 and English soldiers occupied this location for a period of no less than three years during the War of Spanish Succession.  The 18th and 19th centuries saw El Castillo de Santa Barbara wane in importance; mainly due to advances in artillery and stronger fortifications that offered better protection.  Like many ancient relics, the structure fell into disrepair and it was not until 1963 when it was finally opened to the public after years of renovations.

 

The 21st Century Castle

Visitors are now privy to gain a first-hand appreciation of the important role that this castle has played in regional history.  The Museum of Alicante is located within the structure’s walls and visitors can enter through lifts that were actually carved directly into the underlying mountain itself.  There are numerous guided tours that offer unique glimpses into the culture and lifestyle of ancient times and on a characteristically hot summer day, refreshing sea breezes can be enjoyed by relaxing at Park Ereta which is located only a stone’s throw from the castle walls.  In fact, a local beach known as El Postiguet can also be frequented, as it lies directly at the foot of the mountain.

 

Mount Benacantil and the Castle of Santa Barbara are two of the most undeniably powerful attractions of Alicante.  The synergy of unique history, an agreeable climate and a truly unforgettable landscape continue to draw countless travellers to this location each and every year.

Life in London So Far Wednesday, Dec 5 2012 

Imperial War Museum

Two months ago, I made the sudden decision to uproot my life and move to London.  It was spontaneous, it was passionate, and I’m still convinced that I made the absolute correct decision.

People.  Yes, many of my friends live in London, which is amazing.  One of my best friends in London lives just down the road from me in Shepherd’s Bush.  I love having so many travel bloggers living around here as well because there’s always something going on, from a birthday party to a night out with drinks.

Lots of interesting day trips and places to visit.  Living in northwest England felt like a bit of a black hole at times — but here in London, it seems like there are so many exciting places within a few hours’ drive!  In the next few months, I hope to enjoy the beaches of Brighton, the architecture of Oxford, and hopefully the landscapes of Cornwall and Devon as well.  I’d also like to return to Bath and get a second crack at the Roman baths.

Visitors are more likely to come.  When people are passing through the UK, where do they pass through?  Nearly all of them pass through London, of course!  And with so many cheap hotels in London, there’s something suitable for every budget.

Ethnic food.  I had no idea how starved I was for ethnic food living in a small town in England’s northwest.  Up there, Italian counts as ethnic food.  With respect, I disagree.  Ever since I’ve moved to London, I’ve been indulging in cuisines from all over the world, especially my two favorite Asian comfort foods: Korean and Vietnamese.  You have no idea how good it is to eat a bibimbap or a big bowl of pho after going without for so long.

Travel blogging events.  There is a huge travel blogging community here in London, and there are always events taking place that make it easy to network with PR companies, destination marketing organizations, and other travel-related companies and businesses.  As I’ve learned again and again, there’s nothing more valuable than networking.

It’s easy to go anywhere else.  I love that there are so many cheap last minute holidays departing from London.  Because it’s the main transportation hub, deals are often cheapest from London.  They’re certainly the cheapest ones from the UK.

So whether I want to fly to Italy and eat everything in sight or fly to Greece and relax on a beautiful beach, or even just go explore a new Eastern European city, anything is possible.  And when you’re as flexible as I am on dates or destinations, you can find some truly unbelievable holiday deals.

Living in London has been wonderful so far…and I know it will only get better!

Exploring Montmartre in Paris Tuesday, Aug 7 2012 

When I first visited Paris, I was sixteen years old and on a school trip.  I fell in love quickly and easily, and Paris remains one of my favorite cities to this day.

My favorite neighborhood of that first visit?  Montmartre, the artsy settlement on a hill, filled with winding streets, artists, astounding views, Amelie, and the Moulin Rouge.

Before arriving in Paris, your Paris travel info will tell you that Montmartre has always been a neighborhood of artists and bohemians.  (If you’ve seen Moulin Rouge, however, you know this already!)

You can see today’s artists and bohemians at the top of the hill, just behind the Sacre-Coeur.

Getting your portrait drawn can be dirt cheap — or mind-numbingly expensive.  My advice?  You get what you pay for.  Quality artists won’t compromise on price; the ones who grab your arm and just start drawing before negotiating wildly will give you a much worse product.

What else?  There are views!

Montmartre sits on top of a hill overlooking all of Paris.  (The Eiffel Tower is to the right of this image — you can only see if you climb to the top of the church!)  This is where you will find absolutely spectacular views of the city.  It never gets boring looking over a city this beautiful.

Another thing I love about Montmartre?  The cafes.

Paris is famous for its cafe culture, and Montmartre has a lot of interesting, colorful ones.  When the cafes look this good, it’s easy to stay all day with your latte!  Most of the time, I end up going for crepes — first, a savory gallette, and later, a sweet crepe for dessert.

But of all the pleasures of Montmartre, my favorite is just walking around the city streets.

Once you get away from the touristy areas with the touts trying to rip you off, it starts feeling like another city — the Paris of years, possibly even centuries, ago.  People water the flowers on their balconies, and go shopping for food, and walk their dogs.  This is where people live, not where tourists come to gawk.

It sounds so usual and expected, but trust me, Paris is magical.  And there’s no better place to see that than Montmartre.

Traveling Alone in Australia: How to Meet Others! Tuesday, Apr 17 2012 

Travelling alone can be daunting in a big country like Australia. Even if you’ve always dreamed of visiting Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef or Sydney Harbour, you might be delaying the trip of a lifetime because you don’t have a companion. So here are some easy ways of meeting people for the solo traveller.

Image Source

Excursions

Packages that roll transport, food and accommodation in with sightseeing and organised tours can take a lot of hassle out of travelling alone. With everything from daytrips to several weeks of touring available, from bush to city to coast – you’ll find something to fit your budget, time constraints and personality. And of course, you won’t be doing it on your own!

Volunteering

There are many networks that help travellers link up with organisations requiring volunteers in Australia. You could be working with native animals in a rainforest or in the outback. If you’re more an indoors type, you might prefer to take on an internship or work for a charity.

If you have a green thumb or an eye for ethics, WWOOFing – “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” – is a distinctive way of experiencing a country and a great way of meeting fellow travellers. This worldwide network of organic farmers host guests who work on their farms in exchange for board and an immersive experience in their lifestyle.

Dating sites

Many choose Australia for an extended holiday. You might stay a few months, even a year. Considering the breadth of the continent, it makes sense to spend plenty of time becoming immersed in the natural environment and culture. You might fall in love with the place – or with a person. And who knows, maybe you’ll even settle down there.

But without networks of friends or work colleagues, it can be difficult to meet people suited to you. With online dating Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth are all cities you will discover to be bursting with singles. If you visit eHarmony Australia and its potential partners will suddenly seem a whole lot more accessible.

Image Source

Choice of accommodation

If you’re travelling alone, one of the best ways to meet people is to stay in a youth or backpackers hostel, since they are designed with the solo adventurer in mind. And it’s not all 20-bed dorms and questionable communal bathrooms. Many boast affordable private rooms, and there’s a growing number of “flashpacker” hostels – so called for their stylish décor and well-kept rooms for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

Caravaning, campervaning or camping is also a great way to meet people, especially in summer. In Australia, you can turn up at most caravan sites and stay a night or two in a caravan or cabin for a bargain.

For those who are very keen to meet the locals in their native habitat, Couchsurfing is a website with a growing network of people all over the world. You can sign up and be hosted in people’s spare rooms or on sofa-beds for free.

So if you were hesitating about solo travel in Oz, pause no more! The locals and other lone adventurers are waiting for you.

Vivenne Egan is a journalist and editor born and raised in Sydney, now based in the UK.

Bali Memories Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

Almost a year ago, I arrived in Bali for what was to be a month of wonders.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way. My time in Bali ended up being restricted to the Kuta area and the Ubud area, and a disaster in Nusa Tenggara left me a mess, not wanting to move from my room, much less travel.

I know that I need to go back to Bali and do what I should have done the first time.

While all Bali flights arrive in Kuta, I don’t plan on spending time in that city this time around. Here is where I will be visiting instead:

Medewei Beach: I learned to surf in Bali and honed my skill in Mexico. This time around, I want to live in a surfing hangout where the others live and breathe surfing every moment of the day. Could I fit in with them? I doubt it, but I could try.

Lovina: I hear mixed reviews of Lovina — some love it; some say it’s good for nothing but sunsets. But the beaches look very beautiful, as do the cliffs heading straight down into the ocean. And it’s very sleepy — nothing remotely like Kuta.

Gunung Batur: How about something completely different? Batur is an active volcano! The Balinese friend I made on the flight to Bali told me that I had to climb Gunung Batur — it was like nowhere else in Bali, and a huge cultural experience (unlike Ubud, where the culture is largely anesthetized for tourists).

Amed: I’ll never forget the Balinese guy working in Kuta who invited me to join him and a group of his friends on a road trip to Amed. Believe me, it’s not as skeezy as it sounds — that’s just the kind of people the Balinese are. When you meet them, you become a friend. It’s instant. And anyway, Amed is supposed to have lots of amazing beaches, and diving (not my thing, though).

One thing is for sure: when I return to Bali, I’d like to explore by motorbike. I love traveling on two wheels, and it seems like a great way to explore the island and the places off the beaten path.

I hope I get back there soon.

Bali Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

Bali

Dreaming of Australia Thursday, Sep 15 2011 

Am I ever going to make it to Australia?  Absolutely.  Has it been a priority?  Well, not so much.

As amazing as Australia is, and as high as it ranks on my bucket list, it’s pricey and far — so I couldn’t plan a last-minute adventure on the fly; I would have to save up and plan ahead.

Then again…winter is right around the corner, and what better season to visit Australia?

Here are a few places I’d like to visit in Australia:

(Image: Rob Michalski)

Melbourne

The Sydney vs. Melbourne debate continues to rage, and I have friends living (temporarily or permanently) in both cities.  But today, I’m going to side with Melbourne.

Melbourne has so much cultural diversity — and with cultural diversity comes ETHNIC FOOD!  It’s on the beach, the weather is temperamental (sounds like home!), and it’s close to the highlights of Victoria, like the Great Ocean Road.

Image: Michael Dawes

 

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is a sand island off the coast of Queensland.  A lot of people put groups together and take a 4WD vehicle around the island, setting up camp at night (though I’ve since learned that there are also resorts there).  There are beaches, warm lakes, and plenty of dingoes!

Covering Fraser Island would definitely be an adventure, and it’s no wonder a trip of the island is included in so many Queensland holiday packages.  To be honest, I’d rather go here than dive the Great Barrier Reef (my fear of scuba rises again!).

Image: Evamaria N

Western Australia

I have had such a fascination with Western Australia for a long time, and meeting an Italian friend in Senggigi, Indonesia, who spent a year working in Western Australia (“It’s the BEST part,” he told me), made me want to visit it even more.

The city of Perth looks like it has a lot to offer.  But I’d love to see the countryside even more — the vineyards of Margaret River, the dolphins at Monkey Mia, and especially the beach town of Broome, pictured above.  I love how wild it is — it’s like it’s the edge of the end of the world.

When will I get to Australia?

We’ll have to wait and see.  But you know I’d never turn down a trip there!  :-)

Cheap and Nonstop Flights from Boston Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

It’s not easy for a jet-setter to live in Boston — we don’t have a lot of nonstop flights.  One reason for that is that our airport can’t accommodate certain kinds of large planes.

The big news in town is that starting next year, there will be nonstop flights from Boston to Tokyo, thanks to the introduction of 787s.  I think this will be fantastic for Boston and great for frequent travelers like me!

So where can we fly nonstop from Boston these days?  I thought I’d take a look.

Reykjavik, Iceland

I am dying to visit Iceland.  It looks like it has so much natural beauty, with mountains, geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes and hot springs!

I cross the Atlantic fairly often, and I’ve booked cheap international flights to Europe through Iceland a few times.  This route has saved me a lot of money.  But one of these days, I will actually stop in Iceland and see the country!

Dublin, Ireland

Boston is easily the most Irish city in America, and Massachusetts the most Irish state.  While most of our ancestors immigrated during the mid- and post-Famine years of the mid-19th century, plenty of Irish immigrants come over to Boston.

So whether you’re looking for your family roots or just going for the green hills, whiskey and friendliest people in Europe, you can get there with a nonstop flight from Boston to Dublin.

New Orleans, Louisiana

I still haven’t been to this rockin’ American city, and it seems like everyone I know wants me to visit there!  I know myself, and I know that I probably wouldn’t stop eating the whole time.  And it looks so beautiful, with great history and music.  Plus, there are no open container laws.  Drinks to go for everyone!

You can get cheap domestic flights to New Orleans from Boston without stopping in another city.  I need to take advantage of that already!

Cancun, Mexico

It’s not much further than Florida, but from Boston, you can get nonstop international flights to Cancun.  For us East Coasters, it’s definitely the #1 Mexico beach destination, especially since there’s easy access to Playa del Carmen and the Maya Riviera.

I’ve been to Cancun, and it’s a fun place — as big of a party scene as Las Vegas, but much more casual and beachy.  I particularly love Senor Frogs, one of the best bars in the world, as far as I’m concerned!

All of these destinations are great in their own right, but the fact that you can get nonstop flights there from Boston makes them all the more special.

Berlin Insider Tips Monday, May 23 2011 

This guest post was written by Yuli Linssen Kaminitz of EasyToBook.com.

Like any other European metropolis, Berlin is a destination full of landmarks to visit and things to do. Even though you probably won’t be able to see everything you initially planned, getting off track and visit some local places is not such a bad idea. The best thing about visiting a new location is to get some insider tips on where are the current hotspots. After all, no matter how many “Time Out” you will read or internet sites you will visit, a tip from a local person is the best. Luckily, we managed to “score” some great, (restaurants, clubs, food and public transport) tips about Berlin from nice natives that were more than happy to help. Check out what they had to say about the top places to see & do in this amazing city:

1.       How to save money on public transport:
Berlin’s public transport system is easy and relatively cheap however, if you want to explore the city like a real Berliner, it is better to either rent a bicycle or to take the 100 bus line:
Bus line 100- this bus will take you all over Berlin, in particularly through the main landmarks. The bus drives the same way the tourists bus does so you can be certain you will see everything you need to see only for a small fee!

Tour the city by bicycle- according to locals one of the nicest ways to explore Berlin is on wheels! In the past few years the city has created many bikes and bicycle paths all over town. When renting a bicycle not only you save a lot of money, but you also get the option to come cross small parks, hidden hot spots and unknown places. There are plenty of renting shops around the city, just ask around people or visit one of the tourist’s information points.

2.       Where to eat:
As you can imagine there are plenty of restaurants and eating places in such a big city like Berlin. However, our locals had some good tips about where they think are the best eating places in town and what kind of foods you should defiantly try:

Döner Kebab- Berlin has a huge Turkish community and not only that the Turkish people are very well settled in the city, the Turkish cuisine is even more popular than the German one! The famous Döner Kebab is basically a delicious dish made of lamb meat which is cooked on a vertical spit and then sliced off for serving. Add some extra garlic sauce on top and enjoy this delightful meal!

Sausages- as most of you probably know, Germany is famous for its tasty sausages. There are so many different kinds of sausages that it is impossible to try all of them in a short time period, let alone know which one is the best. Our helpful locals all answered together: Curry Wurst sausage is simply the best! This yummy sausage is made of pork meat, seasoned with curry ketchup and topped with a nice amount of curry power. You will be able to find this typical German dish on every street corner.

3.       Where are the good places to go out to?
Party hard with techno music- for those of you who like to party all night with smashing techno music and vibrant tempo, Berlin will be a pure heaven to you. It is not secret that in the last couple of years Berlin became the hub for the electronic and the techno scene. Tourists from all over Europe arrive there in order to party and go out to some very famous night clubs. “Tresor”, “Watergate”, “Bar25” and “Berghain” are just some of the legendary clubs you will be able to find there. Please note that Berlin’s nightlife starts rather late, so make sure to rest a little in advance!

Arena area- the Arena area in Berlin is full with fine restaurants, trendy clubs and some stylish cocktail bars. The Arena is good for people who prefer the more commercial and elegant side, rather than the rough and dark techno side. Here you will be able to have a nice dinner, watch the sunset with a huge cocktail and later on go out to some nice club that plays mainstream music.

4.       Where to shop:
Bergmannkiez- this amazing district is perfectly suited for people who love vintage shops, second hand stores and one-of-a-kind treasures hunting. The nicest thing about this area is the fact that unlike other shopping districts, here you won’t see too many tourists and the offered shops are much more unique and totally not mainstream.  Aside from a cool shopping experience, there are also many small bars around so make sure to stop from time to time in order to refresh with some cold beer!

Galeries Lafayette- department stores are always fun for fashion lovers or people who love to have everything under one roof. Galeries Lafayette is a huge department store that originally started in France and thanks to its huge success it opened a branch in Berlin as well. The store offers everything from designer clothes, accessories, shoes, roof top restaurant, cafes and even a French library! The main reason this shop is so recommendable by locals is because the boutiques there are exclusive, unique and of course, they sell French goods.

We really hope that the insider tips above gave you some inspiration for your next holiday. Berliners are extremely nice people so whenever you visit their city, they will be helpful and willing to give you some more advices on the spot.
As this popular capital gets totally packed with tourists all year long, make sure to book your hotel in Berlin in advance.

Kitesurfing: On the Bucket List Monday, Mar 7 2011 

I’ve done some crazy sports before.  I’ve jumped off a few cliffs in Switzerland — first paragliding, then canyon jumping.

But water sports (hehehe) have never help much appeal to me — until I got to Mui Ne and saw kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing is done by surfing on a small board — kind of like what Marty McFly rode in Back to the Future, Part II — with a giant kite attached to your body.

I couldn’t stop watching the kitesurfers in Mui Ne all day!  The surfers would fly up into the air and do crazy turns….I want to do that so much!

Of course, I’d probably go so high, I’d land on the roofs of the beach resorts.  Or worse yet, in the street.  That would be my luck.

But to be honest, kitesurfing doesn’t look that difficult.  Maybe I was just watching a lot of talented people, but it appears to be fairly intuitive.

Sadly, this time around kitesurfing was a bit out of my price range.  But just because it didn’t happen this time, it doesn’t mean it will never happen.

Kitesurfing, you’ve earned yourself a spot on the bucket list.

This post was sponsored by TravelGrove. At TravelGrove, you’ll find an excellent resource for cheap flights. Whether searching for cheap flights to London for the Royal Wedding or cheap flights to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day, TravelGrove has you covered!

Dreaming of Turkey Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

I’ve been thinking about traveling to Turkey lately.  With all the explosions, both literal and figurative, it’s easy to overlook the Middle East as a whole.

But Turkey isn’t Egypt, it isn’t Libya, and it sure as hell isn’t Iraq.  In fact, Turkey has a history of being far safer for tourism than its neighbors, making it a bit undiscovered by the masses!

Here are three places I’m dying to visit in Turkey:

Istanbul


It may not be the capital, but Istanbul is definitely the most beguiling city in Turkey.  In Istanbul, you’ll find incredible shopping in the Grand Bazaar, beautiful buildings like the Blue Mosque, warm people, and delicious food.

Istanbul is the only city in the world to span two continents — Europe and Asia!

Patara


Many holidays in Turkey take place along the Mediterranean coast.  Why not head to the best beach of all?  Many consider that to be Patara.

Imagine lying on that gorgeous beach at sunset, watching the sun sink into the horizon.  And the fact that it’s exotic Turkey makes it all the better!

Cappadocia


Cappadocia has one of the most haunting, surreal landscapes in the world — making it no surprise that it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This was caused by volcanic activity.

One of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia?  Hire a hot air balloon and float above the volcanic peaks!

Oh, Turkey…I don’t know when I’ll get there, but it will be an amazing time!  Of that I am sure.

Win an Australia Road Trip from HostelBookers! Monday, Nov 22 2010 

On my bucket list?  An Australia road trip.  I’d love to drive down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, bum through the beach cities of Queensland, and, in a major challenge, cross the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide.

Sure, there are great cities in Oz – Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide come to mind – but Australia’s real treasure is the amazing countryside.  And there’s no better way to see it than a road trip.

Well, dream no longer – you could win a road trip through Australia from Oz Experience!  It’s simple to enter — tell a story about your favorite road trip in the comments on this page.  Seriously.  It’s that simple.

Entries must be under 100 words.  The deadline is 5:00 PM on Monday, December 20, 2010.  Check out the terms and conditions here.

The winner can choose between three trips:

  • Matey Pass, Sydney to Melbourne worth €397
  • Surf Pass, Sydney to Brisbane or Byron Bay* worth €325
  • Victa Pass, Melbourne to Adelaide* worth €385

Three runners-up will win a copy of Rough Guides Ultimate Adventures.

Once on the trip, travelers can choose between a vast range of Sydney backpackers or Melbourne backpackers. For more information about Oz Experience and how pass holders hop on and off buses along their chosen route, please visit www.ozexperience.com.

People, take it from me – this seems like quite an easy contest to enter.  So go for it!  I hope one of my readers wins!

This post was sponsored by HostelBookers and Oz Experience.

Win a £3,000 Plane Ticket from HostelBookers! Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 

Last year, 10,000 people entered to win a huge prize from HostelBookers in their annual travel survey.

One faithful fan won the grand prize — a RTW plane ticket.

This year, the stakes have risen.

The 2010 HostelBookers Travel Survey is filled with questions about your travel style — from travel planning to the types of destinations you prefer, as well as your number of travels per year and usual type of lodging.

And — yes, I’m getting there! — the prize, given to one of the respondents: a RTW plane ticket worth £3,000, plus £1,000 in spending money.

Seriously.

If I won, I would make sure I visit destinations that are both expensive to get to and expensive on the ground: Japan, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana.

But even more importantly, I’d party in hostels throughout Europe.  Many of the hostels London has include a fun bar, as you’ve read on this site before!  But nothing could top the parties in hostels Amsterdam is famous for.  I’ve never been to Spain, and I love sangria, so the youth hostels Barcelona is home to would definitely warrant a visit from me.  Either way, I know I’d get a great deal from HostelBookers, who kindly sponsored this post today.

What about you?

TAKE THE SURVEY! What do you have to lose?

And if you win, please let me hide in your suitcase!  I’m excellent at fitting into carry-on luggage…

Wanderlusting for the Canary Islands Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Image: marcp_dmoz

If you travel to the Canary Islands, good luck finding any Americans!  This paradise, just west of Africa, is most popular with European tourists.  But I bet that if more Americans knew how beautiful and exotic and relaxing the islands are, they would become fans as well.

As for Europeans, they’re well aware of the Canary Islands, and they’re one of Europe’s top holiday destinations.  Here are some of the most popular places in the Canary Islands:

Tenerife

Image: pasotraspaso

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, home to significant British and German expat populations. With affordable travel packages available across the board, Tenerife deals are easy to come by.  In fact, many Europeans find it cheaper to vacation in Tenerife than in their home country!

Tenerife is the most family-friendly of the Canaries, offering a wealth of activities like water parks, volcano tours and fishing exhibitions. The island’s biggest resort, Playa de las Americas, has been cleaned up since its days of unchecked excess and is now a thriving destination as well.

Gran Canaria

Image: aruitenberg

The most populous of the Canary Islands has much to offer, and you’ll find plenty of cheap holidays in Gran Canaria. Of course, the beach is the main attraction, so head to the beautiful three mile stretch of beach at the massive Playa del Ingles resort.  Surfers are fans of the waves, calling the island the Hawaii of the Atlantic.

The strangest attraction on Gran Canaria is unquestionably Sioux City, a mock Old West town built for a film in 1972.  Come on, would you miss the chance to witness a cowboy gunfight at high noon on an island off the coast of Africa?

Lanzarote

Image: Doblonaut

If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic and natural, Lanzarote holidays appeal to those prefer adventure, scenery and the great outdoors to the boozy, social scene of the other islands.  Lanzarote is home to the incredible Timanfaya National Park, a blasted landscape created by several volcanic eruptions on the island between 1730 and 1736.

Congratulations to the Canary Islands…they have officially earned a new place on my wanderlust list!

Image: marcp_dmoz

This post was sponsored by TravelSoon.

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