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The Way Less Travelled

Route Less Travelled – Ferry to France rather than Flying

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When you decide to take a holiday, transportation is one of the biggest considerations based on the amount of time you have and money – there are so many options out there it’s tough to know which one to choose. Taking a trip between England and France though is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, as one compliments the other beautifully, but how do you get there? I’m here, as a lover of the alternative, to recommend taking a ferry across the English Channel ahead of flying not just because it’s different but because it is the hands down winner for cost and convenience. Here’s why:

White Cliffs 2012The Ferry is More Affordable

If you’re anything like me, you want to be able to save as much money as possible when traveling and transportation is one of the biggest expenses of a trip. A lot can be said for the discount airlines as there are some amazing deals to be had if you plan everything just right, but if you don’t, be prepared to pay – and that doesn’t even take into account the expense of taking a shuttle or paying for parking to get there. Taking a ferry on the other hand is laughably cheap – for a family of five, you can get from Dover to Calais for 25 GBP. I don’t care how cheap your flights are, they can’t beat that price.

Many Options for Departures

You would think there would be a traffic jam out there in the open water if there were too many boats, but surprisingly there are dozens of departures a day for France and, bad weather aside, there are no hitches for making it across on time. Contrast that with flying and the delays and relatively limited number of departures and you would be forgiven if you avoided the airport altogether.

More Scenic Route

This is a major selling point for me, as airports tend to be the most uninspiring settings in the traveling world. It’s not their fault – we need space for the places to operate, be stored and emergencies. Ferries though operate out of ports along the water, which allow for great sightseeing on the sea and the coast as you leave or depart, which can be beautifully rugged and windswept.

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Less of a Headache

Travel is filled with enough of the unexpected and frustrating, so when I have the opportunity to cut some of it out, I take advantage of it. Getting to a ferry port is far less obtrusive than an airport and the whole check in process is almost non existent in comparison. You don’t have to worry about packing too much (particularly if you’re bringing your car) and the overall atmosphere is just more relaxed than an airport. Say what you want about your preferred method of travel, I’ll take a ferry every time.

Places to Go

Why I Want to Visit Majorca

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I have a confession to make – I didn’t know Majorca existed until rather recently. Yes, it’s embarrassing and I hope you’ll forgive me.

11860500-picturesque-town-of-valldemossa-in-majorca-spainIt wasn’t until I was studying overseas in New Zealand and my roommate happened to be from Majorca that I realized my ignorance. He was a great guy and we remain friends to this day through the magic of the internet. With this in mind, it was a solid two months before I really figured out where it was because his accent was strong and I was too embarrassed to ask him to tell me where he was from again after pretending like I knew all this time. Not my proudest moment, I’ll admit.

I found out that Majorca is a pretty popular travel destination for travellers all over the world, particularly for Europeans. It’s relatively close proximity to most major cities and favourable climate means it’s rare for Majorca not to be a great place for a vacation. Take a look at the reasons below as to why I will be booking a holiday in Majorca in 2014 (and why I should’ve done it sooner!):

The Weather

It’s pretty reasonable to say that the weather makes a holiday, particularly one of relaxation. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the small island of Majorca enjoys all the year ‘round privileges of being surrounded by this warm body of water. While it is a much sought after destination for holiday seekers in the winter, summertime obviously offers the best of the best for this island paradise.

20103104010The Beaches

What would a holiday destination be without great beaches? Majorca features some truly fabulous beaches, from the snorkelling haven of Cala Mondrago to Port d’Alcudia and its gentle currents. The beauty of being on an island is you’re never at a loss for access to the water, but everyone has their favourite place to take a dip. Whether it’s some place isolated or right in the heart of the action, you’ll love the beach lifestyle of Majorca.

The People

Laid back and welcoming, Majorca is a fabulous holiday spot for its hospitality. It doesn’t matter if you’re intending to chum it up with the locals or chill out with fellow travellers, Majorca attracts people of all walks of life looking to kick back and have a good time. I’ve had a few friend over the years travel here and confirm this, saying that my roommate was pretty much typical of the rest of the population – which is an excellent sign and makes me want to visit even more.

The Way Less Travelled

Cheese cities of the world

There is nothing like sitting back after a filling meal, pouring the dregs of your wine down your throat and feeling utterly sated. For many of us, our annual summer holiday is the perfect time to loosen the old belt buckle and really get stuck in to a new type of cuisine.

But have you considered taking it one step further and planning your entire trip around your favourite food? It is not a preposterous idea – after all, France, Australia and Chile all offer tours of their most famous wine-growing regions, and plenty of people book holidays to Italy in a bid to learn how to prepare pasta and pizza in the traditional way.

So this year, think about building your getaway around the best foodstuff there is: cheese. Read on to find out where you as a budding turophile can head to in order to sample this most heavenly of substances.

Switzerland

Most famous for its holey cheese emmental made from whole cows’ milk, Switzerland has a rich history of other types of dairy produce too. La Maison du Gruyere is where the king of cheese is produced; situated just a short drive from Geneva airport and nestled at the foot of the Château de Gruyères is where this working cheese dairy takes in milk from local herds and turns it into the finished product.

There, visitors can watch as the farmers deposit their rich alpine milk twice a day at the fromagerie and see how the process of making Gruyere works. The master cheesemakers and their teams create up to 48 wheels of cheese a day while sticking to the strict appellation d’origine controlee regulations.

It is probably best to hire a car at Geneva airport so you’ve got enough room to stock up at the fromagerie’s brightly lit cheese shop, which also supplies other regional specialities. Stay around for lunch at the restaurant where you can taste the very cheese you’ve just watched being formed in action.

a_dscf9354Holland

The market town of Gouda is well known for its cheese of the same name. The distinctive yellow product is made from cows’ milk and comes in huge wheels for commercial sale. Visitors to the South Holland town can make a special trip to the Gouda cheese market, which is held every Thursday morning from the end of June until the end of August and brings together all the farmers and producers of the delicacy.

Instead of launching straight in, hold back and watch as the dealers and traders haggle over the price of their cheese. Once a batch has been sold, you can observe it being taken on a cheese stretcher to the Weighing House by some of the traditionally dressed Cheese Boys. Their female counterparts wearing their white peaked hats mill around the market handing out pieces of cheese to willing passersby – but make sure you get there as soon as it opens at 10am because the cheese quickly sells out.

As well as browsing for Gouda, the marketplace is home to craft stalls featuring earthenware, pipes, clogs, farm produce and treacle waffles, all made locally, so it is the perfect place to load up on souvenirs.

Places to Go

Touring Thailand and Loving Every Minute of It

I was thinking back the other day to some of my past travels and places that were truly unlike anything I had seen in my young life and few can compare to the wonder I felt stepping off the plane in Bangkok. Whether it was the sweltering heat, the layout of the city as I headed into it in a taxi or the general insanity of daily life as I toured around, Thailand continues to stand out to me as a place everyone must see.

Recently, one of my friends informed me she was going to be going to Thailand for a few months and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. Yes, I had my experience already and it was only reasonable that someone else get to as well, but… there’s nothing reasonable about travel envy – it can strike even the most even tempered individual! I would like to get back there as well, but for now, I will just content myself with reliving what I think are some of the best parts of spending your vacation in Thailand and using Bangkok as a base to see a bit of the country.

The Temples

Bangkok has no shortage of temples and shrines and for anyone who hasn’t been to an Asian building of faith before, they differ greatly from their European counterparts. Bright colours, burning incense and a great bustle of pilgrims and tourists make these places feel more alive than the ‘be quiet’ general attitude of cathedrals. Of particular note is the Reclining Buddha – you truly have to see it to understand how impressive it is!

The Food

Thai food is universally held as some of the greatest cuisine in existence, with its vibrant flavours and reverence for all things fresh. There are the standard fare you are already familiar with, like pad thai and spring rolls, but be sure to try delicacies like tom yun koon soup the various noodle dishes you’ll be scrambling to find back home.

286_601997710181_7684_n-300x225Floating Market

Located an hour or so outside of Bangkok, the floating market is less an actual market for tourists as it is a tourist trap – on boats! With this in mind, you can still buy awesome souvenirs and find those quintessential Thai products, but as most of these come from the city anyways, you’re paying a premium for the shipping!

Ayutthaya

The old burnt city, left in ruins by the Burmese, stands as one of the most hauntingly beautiful sites in the whole country. You can easily spend a whole day wandering around the structures, snapping pictures and basking in the history of Ayutthaya.

Kwai River

Famous for the movie about a Japanese POW camp where allies built a bridge across the river and then blew it up, the bridge taking its place is an incredible place to visit. Taking a boat trip down the river, the bridge appears on the horizon between the peaks of the Thai jungle and still serves as an active rail route. Don’t miss out on this great spot!

Places to Go

Mexico’s Hot Sun and Historic Sites

 

Mexico is a dream come true destination for travellers of all shades and its easy to see why as soon as you arrive. Regardless of if you’re coming from overseas on a cruise or heading through on an epic road trip from Central America or the United States, Mexico has sensational experiences waiting for you – just be sure to be cautious and smart to avoid any potential issues. The pace is a little slower, the food makes you feel good all over and the locals are fantastically hospitable – all these things and more make Mexico the perfect place to relax and unwind.

If you’re someone who typically spends a week or so a year at an all inclusive resort, consider checking out Mexico’s premier holiday destinations. Whether it’s the resort areas, the islands or just to check out the coastline on an epic road trip between ancient historical sites, Mexico is calling out to you – are you going to answer?

Here are a few suggestions of how to spend a great Mexican vacation:

Great for Parties

Partying is just to be expected when you’re in Mexico and you’d be foolish not to take part. If you find yourself on a resort, you can be assured that they will be safe places to hang out – just don’t drink the water. There are varying ranges of quality of resorts and you will in many cases get what you pay for, but on the whole, if you’re looking for great value to have a great time with family or friends, you really can’t go wrong with Mexico! Consider taking a cruise as well to locations like Cozumel, Mexico’s fun little party island just off the coast and find it has a lot to offer families and adults alike.

Soaking up the Sun

As a country in the tropics, Mexico experiences fabulous weather most of the year that is great to escape from the cold and misery of the winter elsewhere. You can do this onboard a cruise ship heading from the US to Mexico, on the beaches or a resort or at any point in between. Just be forewarned, if you are travelling from a more northern location, the intense Mexican sun may be a bit stronger than what you are used to, so be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated.

kukulcan-the-main-temple-at-chichen-itza-300x181Mesoamerican Sites

While many people will go to Mexico purely to relax and lay on a beach, many do in fact go to discover a bit of history in this great area. The Mayan and Aztec cultures once thrived in Mexico until the Spanish arrived but many sites related to these great civilizations still stand for you to discover. Of particular mention is the Chichen Itza, a Mayan temple located in the Mayan Riviera that draws countless visitors each year. When you consider these cultures were completely removed from the rest of the world, it is remarkable the level of technology they reached without the benefit of learning from others. Don’t miss out on seeing these incredible historical sites that are just as beautiful as they are fascinating.

 

Regardless of how you spend your holiday, or if it’s a combination of each, you will love your time in Mexico. Be sure to make it a stop on your itinerary sometime soon!