Europe, Wanderlusting & Musings

Secret Hideaways in the World You Must Visit Before You Turn 40

Photo Credit: lastmammoth via Compfight cc

When people turn 40 years old, many things come across their mind, one of which is mid-life crisis. They often feel they need to try something new or regain their youthful side by doing extraordinary activities, including travelling and exploring new locations.

A study featured by Independent mentioned that adults at their 40s, in fact, have a higher happiness level than their ‘angst-ridden teens and 20s,’ as the latter still has plenty of uncertainty in their lives while the former “have worked that out and are quite satisfied.” The news portal added that one of the best ways to beat the stressful mid-life crisis is by travelling and not allowing the small things get you down.

The best way to beat any stress is by exploring at least one of the world’s best kept secrets. Just like in the movie “The Beach, there are many places around the world where you can easily be the only tourist around. These magical spots allow travellers to unwind, relax, and be themselves without having to keep up with the busy and noisy life in the city.

If you are ready to backpack and explore some of the best secret hideaways in the world that you must visit before you turn 40, then this post is exactly for you. Read on to find out more.

Appi, Japan
For those in search of the best skiing destinations in Asia, they’ll always come across Niseko, Hakuba, and Nagano in Japan that many Aussies have visited by now. But, little did they know that in the far north of the country lies a secret skiing spot that many locals love to visit – Appi in the main island of Honshu. It has only 21 trails and a few mod-cons you see in a fancy ski resort, but it provides you an authentic Japanese experience as barely anyone speaks English (so, brush up your Japanese before leaving). Nevertheless, the snow in Appi is ridiculously good with less foreign crowd to think about.

Hinatuan River, Philippines
A deep spring river on the island of Mindanao (Surigao del Sur) has many local but few foreign visitors, despite its gorgeous natural beauty. Dubbed as the ‘Enchanted River,’ the Hinatuan River is surrounded by well-preserved flora and fauna while attracting local tourists of its clear blue saltwater that seems to appear out of nowhere. The river has a  deep chasm which is believed to be at least 80 feet deep. It’s the most ideal destination for beginning to even professional snorkelers and divers as huge fishes of different species freely swim here. In a featured travel post by Rappler, a local mentioned that the bluish waters of Hinatuan river have not changed since he was a kid, despite typhoons.

Lost City, Colombia
In Latin America, Machu Picchu has been one of the sought-after destinations by many tourists for its natural beauty and historical value. But, given its popularity, it’s not an ideal place to visit for those who want peace and alone time with themselves. Well, the Lost City in Colombia offers the same value less the number of tourists. Built by the Tayrona people in the 11th century, its beauty up the hills gives you a bird’s eye view of Ciudad Perdida and its luscious green trees. It was only discovered in the 1970s deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, which is why it was largely undiscovered by the tourist hordes. The only way to get there is by hiking, but rest assured it’s a journey you will never forget.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, China

Far from the busy life of Beijing, China has its own natural beauty kept in a remote region of northern Sichuan. The Jiuzhaigou Valley presents tourists with more than 180,000 acres of nature, clear blue water, and green tall trees covering the mountains. It houses Tibetan villages and the best multi-level waterfalls with clear lakes that lets you see things from the bottom. This is exactly where you can find some 140 bird species, as well as a number of endangered plant and animals, such as the giant panda and the Sichuan takin, said UNESCO in its page about the valley.

There are plenty of secret travel destinations that will no doubt fit your travelling personality. Take note that 40 is just the start of your life to explore more of the beauties of the world, and we hoped this list has given you some ideas as to where to go next.

Do you have other secret travelling hideaways to include in this list? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings, Worldly Treats & Eats

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

When traveling to new destinations, statistics show that more people are trying to come up with unique itineraries to fulfill their need for more meaningful, authentic experiences. And when they encounter something that bridges a new culture with their own, they develop a deeper connection with the city that travelers have found themselves in.

There are some practices and aspects of countries that are universally present across all cultures, which is amazing in itself, but while we’re out exploring new places, we often aim to fit in with what the locals are doing. For the Brits, one of the things that quintessentially defines their culture is drinking tea, and reports say about one third of UK’s population drink five or more cups of tea per day. So what better way to get acclimated with the London lifestyle by having some high tea in the best tea spots in town?

Not surprisingly, the capital has dozens of places that serve afternoon tea, ranging from affordable to glamorous, from traditional to ceremonious, and here we’ve rounded up some of the best places for you to sample British high tea:

Bake-a-boo
With all the specialized diets that people have to be on these days, finding an afternoon tea spot with a guilt free menu can be quite a challenge. Those that are both health and budget conscious will be delighted to hear that this kitschy tea room on Mill Lane has got gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free baked goods to munch on as you sip on your hot beverage, all for the price of £15 per head. A minimum of two people are required for reservations at Bake-a-boo as well as a 50% deposit along with a day’s notice. Also, afternoon tea is only available from Friday to Sunday, and if you fancy some morning tea instead, you’ll have to book for a Saturday morning.

(image credit: bake-a-boo.com)

 

The Ritz
Relish in London’s tea heritage with an afternoon at The Ritz, which opened back in 1906 and still maintains the sophistication and flair associated with high tea. After successfully booking a spot in this extremely popular establishment, be sure to dress up for the occasion as the dress code is quite strict here, with men expected to wear a jacket and tie. Also be prepared to pay for the extravagance, as it costs £50 or £60 if you opt for the champagne afternoon tea.

(image credit: theritzlondon.com)

The Magazine
Take cue from Condé Nast Traveller and choose a more contemporary setting at The Magazine, a garden cafe overshadowed by Hyde Park’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The modern aura is characterized by the glass architecture and interior design with triangular tables to show that this little place is anything but conventional. Replacing the traditional tiers of treats are wooden blocks with an international spread of canapés with delights like the spicy sobrasada, though they do serve a couple classic high tea items like scones with cream and jam. For £25, you’ll get this trendy afternoon tea setup along with a cocktail.

(image credit: cntraveller.com)

————

Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Where to in 2016?

Often my biggest dilemma is “what in the world will I eat today” (either prepared by me or the likes of some fine dining establishment) but the other question is usually “where to next”….

where to next words

Honestly, I never really know above and beyond – EVERYWHERE!  Of course my friends and family love to joke and say I’ve been everywhere but in travelworld I haven’t even scratched the surface.  5 of 7 continents isn’t too shabby but considering there’s just under 200 countries, depending on the source, I still have plenty of countries to explore.

worldpoliticallarge

Given that we’ve just welcomed in the month of February and I’ve already checked off 2 countries on my ever-changing list is perhaps a good indicator as to how the rest of my travel year will go (see my European Birthday).  Kicking off the year in the likes of the French Riviera leaves my mind to wandering and planning and plotting and daydreaming about which economy I want to donate a few coins to.

Since my peeps are always asking, I figured I’d take a moment to ponder for myself my 2016 travel list based on what’s been a constant thought.  So far what’s been popping up are the following:

  • Cuba –  Havana, Cojimar, Las Terrazas, Varadero, Cardenas (for obvious reasons)
  • Phuket
  • Australia – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
  • Marrakech
  • Costa Rica – San José, Tortuguero, Arenal & Monteverde
  • Ecuador – Quito, Cotopaxi, Amazon
  • Cairo and Jordan
  • Boracay, Phillipines
  • Nairobi
  • Turkey – Istanbul and Cappadocia
  • Beijing and Shanghai
  • Mykonos
  • Bali (again….I went in 2014)
  • Mauritius
  • Amalfi Coast

I could go on but we ARE just talking about before the year is out *sigh*!!  So as you can see, EVERYWHERE is pretty much on my list and one by one I throw everything I have to make my list a reality!

Where will you go in 2016 and/or where would you like your journey to take you?

~Godivaworld Travels

 

Adventures, Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Solo Travel….I’m here for that!

The world has seemingly become smaller and smaller as the internet has become the tool and source to research, plan, and even take virtual tours of distant and not-so distant exotic locales around the world.  In recent times, only those of a certain economic class were afforded the opportunity or luxury to traipse off to the likes of the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and other exotic lands.  As the world has opened up to mainstream America, so too has the curiosity and desire for greater, worldlier experiences.  Amidst this new era of exploration, a new breed of traveler has emerged – welcome “The Solo Traveler”!

What separates a solo traveler from your average run of the mill traveler is a mindset; a daring, open, adventurous, brave, and most importantly uninhibited desire to explore the world.  In the mind of a “solo traveler” it is the destination and experience versus the companionship that matters most.  There is no destination too distant or off-limits as each experience begins with a purpose.  Be it a search for solitude; a quest to meet new people often in a land where YOU are the one with the accent; or just the desire to be free to indulge and move to and fro without consulting with an accompanying travel companion.

It is often freeing and most certainly liberating at best but requiring an independent spirit or desire to embark on something new and different.  Solo travel however, is most certainly not for those challenged by solitude or scared of dining alone (a phobia known as solomangarephobia or the fear of eating alone in public).  Who knew?

No fret, as there are tons of resources for solo travelers including apps, dedicated sites, travel agents, travel groups and clubs all geared to the ever-growing population of solo travelers.  So even if you’re not quite ready to take the leap on a solo journey, you can start by going alone but in a group of other solo travelers so you’re not totally out on your own.  Just google solo travel to get a taste of what that ‘world’ looks like from the perspective of those who live by it and do it on a regular basis.

I, myself have gone on adventures with others whom I did not know prior to the trip (I’ve been to Cancun, Puerto Rico and Brazil for example and had a ball) and although we traveled together we were able to move and explore on our own, by our own individual rules.  This, I can tell you is a great way to slowly move into the solo travel space while still providing you a ‘parachute’ or safety net of others to fall back on.  Here are some sites to consider when researching your own solo journeys:

  • Friendly Planet Travel – they have a wide range of destinations and types of travel (independent, groups, etc).  I peruse them quite often and am thinking of trying them out this year for my next adventure.
  • Solo Travel with Abercrombie & Kent – Best known as a luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent accepts solo travelers on all of its trips — to all seven continents. They also offer Solo Savings escorted group tours, where single travelers enjoy their own private accommodations during every stop of the trip, but don’t have to pay the usual single supplements. A&K either completely waives the supplement, or reduces it by up to 75%.
  • Lonely Planet – I peruse this site just because…there’s a little bit of everything on it
  • Wanderlust and Lipstick – a new site I stumbled upon but definitely a good place to start for those new to or considering solo travel
  • Contiki is geared towards younger travelers, specifically those aged 18-35. The company uses forums and social media to connect vacationers with each other before they embark on their journey. Since most of their pricing is for doubles, Contiki’s goal is to match travelers up with someone of the same sex and then book a double room for them. So if you’re looking to make friends on your trip, this is the company for you.
  • Ideal for budget travelers, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) takes single travelers to exotic destinations such as Botswana and Patagonia. They have both land adventures, which are tours on land with groups of 10-16 other travelers, or small ship adventures, which are boat tours with anywhere from 16 to 25 other travelers.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – On three of its ships — the Epic, Breakaway, and Pride of America — has cabins made exclusively for solo travelers that cost about 30% less than a double stateroom. They offers cruises all over including Alaska, Florida and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and Panama just to name a few.

There are plenty others as well as numerous blogs, articles, and books on solo travels so it’s really personal preference as to your source for researching, planning, and ultimately making your solo travel dreams a reality.

Imagine a destination you’ve always dreamt of however you socialize it with your spouse, partner, friend, family, etc. only to discover those who would accompany you have limitations (for various and sundries of reasons); or want to provide input on the destination, travel time, even the accommodations.  Can you say downer!  Oftentimes the trip sunsets before it even gets finalized becoming more of a headache in the planning stages than the exciting dream destination you originally envisioned.  As a Solo Traveler, you think it, you plan it, it happens.  No consulting necessary as the only one to please is YOU!  It may begin with researching sites, groups, tours, etc. designated for solo travelers or destinations best suited for the solo traveler but it ends with an experience based on your expectations.

Research is key as is understanding how daring you are as in, are you courageous enough to travel alone or prefer a group of other solo travelers.  Much like Julia Roberts’ character in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” who went on a voyage to find herself after a painful divorce – solo travelers often discover much more about themselves as they are left to their own defenses, thoughts, and preferences totally unfiltered or encumbered by another.  Traveling in this fashion enables one to fully embrace ones’ surroundings to the point of self-indulgence, unfiltered, undisturbed if so desired.

Safety and precautions of course are a greater risk as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to scam artists and criminals targeting unsuspecting tourists in a party of one.  However, as with traveling in any capacity precautions must be made to ensure one’s safety.  With the right amount of preparation, planning, and research you will at best be armed with information on what to avoid and known safety concerns to name a few.  Travel sites often socialize key safety concerns, known dangers, and safety precautions for travelers so always do thorough research on any destination as part of your planning. However, when in doubt always trust your instincts!

Imagine doing what you want when you want in your destination of choice.  If you choose to lounge in your hotel room or by the pool all day no one will object when you travel alone. It may appear to be a lonely experience and to some, perhaps, but traveling solo opens the door to new interactions simply because you are a party of one.  Many are more inclined to approach you as a solo traveler from the wait-staff to the concierge as well as the locals.  You have the power to engage in conversations or be eyeball high in your Kindle, the choice is yours.  I have traveled abroad without knowing a soul however, by the end of the trip I made so many new connections it truly felt like I traveled with a companion or two.  The beauty of the solo travel experience is that the journey is just as you envision it to be with as little or as much interactions, excitement, and/or quiet time as you desire.

To the solo traveler in you!!!

Europe, La vida Loca, Wanderlusting & Musings

A Cote d’Azur Birthday

Greetings from Monaco on this January 9th at 10 something in the a.m…..which is also the best day of all 366 days this year (leap year this year) because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY 🎉🎁👯💃🏿🎶!!

I don’t think the weather Gods got the memo because it’s a lil overcast with a taste of drizzle here in Monaco!

Birthday morning
I can’t begin to tell you how at peace I am as I enter this new year of 42 of my life (my birthday AND 2016)!  It’s truly an internal peace that comes from knowing I control my own destiny; I don’t require the approval of anyone else for my choices and decisions; I am perfectly fine in the skin I’m in; the opinions of others of me is none of my business and therefore I focus on LIVING fully every single day for myself in order to ensure I have lived my BEST life.

This “Journey to my birthday” has been all about self, unabashedly selfish, solely about my needs, wants, and desires mentally, visually and spiritually. 

I visualized this journey a few months ago but without specifics and as the power of mind goes that which we think and truly visualize will materialize (good, bad, and otherwise).


As much as I enjoy traveling with and creating moments/memories with others I needed to do this with no disruptions nor interferences.  So it was designed as my solo getaway to reset, detox, and be all about self.   
There was little communication and not a single invitation extended (although a dear friend of mine invited themselves lol but totally understood and respected my vision…more on that in a later post).  I’m glad I made the decision to be one with myself on this voyage to 42!

As I wrap up this journey here in the French Riviera I will leave with a continued sense of gratitude for all things, moments and experiences; with a continued zest to explore every nook and cranny of this great big world; with a passion to continue to be the best me I can possibly be while hopefully inspiring others to do the same!

For you I say get out of your own way and go for what you want, live your best life and strive to do something that scares you even a little bit for it will be the catalyst to enable you to experience things you’ve only dreamed!

 

Steps of Cannes Film Festival
Hellllloooooo 42 and Happy 2016 to all of you!

~ Godivaworldtravels

cote d'azur

 

 

 

Travel Inspirations, Worldly Treats & Eats

10 Tips for Dining Overseas and Eating Like a Local

 

TripAdvisor Headshot By Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor travel advocate

One of the big reasons many of us travel is for the food. We want to try those specialties that don’t taste the same at home, not to mention those foods we can’t even get at home — think mangosteens in Southeast Asia, or a pint of Guinness in Ireland — and, of course, we want to dine in local hangouts rather than tourist traps. With that in mind, here are ten easy steps to eating where and what the locals eat:

1. Avoid restaurants with English-language menus.

More often than not, these are tourist magnets. If somebody is stopping passers-by near the entrance of a restaurant and telling them that it’s home to the city’s best risotto or rijsttafel, that too is a red flag.

2. Follow locals to the best eats.

Check out the local newspaper’s list of best-value restaurants. You can also pick up great intel on a foodie walking and tasting tour. Hotel concierges can be helpful, but only if you ask them where they themselves would go on their night off. Once you’ve found a local hangout you love, ask your server — or whoever else you befriend at that restaurant — where else in town you should eat. And, of course, look at the restaurant ratings and reviews posted on TripAdvisor.

3. Make a beeline for food markets and farmers’ markets.
From La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain, to the Adelaide Central Market in Adelaide, Australia, these are the colorful can’t-miss places where the locals shop for fresh delicious food, where you can pick up picnic provisions, and where you can usually sit down to a meal too.

4. In Asia, think night markets and even shopping malls.

Asia is filled with exotic night markets and hawker centers (collections of inexpensive stalls selling hot food). If you’re not that adventurous, you can still find all manner of intriguing dishes and exotic flavors in the food courts in shopping malls. It’s easy to figure out what you want to eat: Just make the rounds of the food court, smelling all the steaming specialties on offer, and place your order by pointing to whatever looks most appetizing.

5. Seek out university neighborhoods.
You’ll find inexpensive cafés and interesting ethnic restaurants, not to mention students who are eager to practice their English on you and offer up offbeat sightseeing tips.

6. Order with your hands.
When a menu isn’t in English, just walk around the restaurant and spot which dishes look most appealing, then point to those dishes. Ask what the specialty of the house is, and order that too. If you really need to read the menu, there’s the Google Translate app.

7. Dine at a smart hour.
Don’t presume you’ll want to eat at the same time you do at home. Remember that in some countries — Spain and Arab countries, for instance — locals don’t eat dinner till 10 or 11 pm. If you’re splurging on a restaurant with a spectacular view, be open to dining early (say, 5:30 or 6:00 pm) so you can enjoy the view in the daylight as well as at sunset, at twilight, and at night when the scene is all lit up.

8. Know the etiquette.
Before you make a faux pas such as sticking your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice in Japan, read up on local customs. TripAdvisor has “Tipping & Etiquette” pages for dozens of countries (just punch “TripAdvisor [country name] tipping etiquette” into your search engine. Here are more ways to learn local customs.

9. If you can’t get a reservation, just show up.
Walk in (nicely dressed) at the hour when the restaurant opens for dinner, or late in the evening. You’d be surprised how often there are no-shows. Here are more tricks for getting a table at a hot restaurant.

10. Visit the takeout aisle of a local supermarket.
Supermarkets are an interesting window into the local culture. Once you see what residents take home to eat, you just might be tempted too — and you can’t beat the price.

Godivaworld Travels, La vida Loca, Wanderlusting & Musings

GodivaWorldly Sights, Signs, and Structures!

As I was going through my pictures – a habit of mine from time to time when I’m daydreaming or planning, or organizing or reminiscing or really just because – I noticed something that I found quite interesting.  Now granted what’s interesting to me may NOT be interesting to others but I figured I’d share anyways!  R A N D O M  S I G N S!!!

20150323_131352

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have missed some pretty cool photo ops for a sundries of reasons to include trying to take in EVERYTHING around me – visually – and being slow with my camera button.  Nevertheless, I have managed to amass a rather random collection of signs from around the world.  What signs you ask?  Well everything from touristy shots to some “oh that’s interesting” photos (one with a clear mispelling in Taiwan).

Travel with me.

Each of those adventures above were some really good times but collectively???  If I never go anywhere else I will be happy resting on the memories from those journeys.

Barbados was a really cool experience for a number of reasons.  1.  It was a celebration for a dear friend celebrating a milestone birthday.  2.  It’s the location for my very first Ziplining Adventure.  3.  It was the first part of an amazing 7 part journey that started in Puerto Rico.

The SKY dive Georgia was such an amazing adventure.  I talked alot of trash but really I was a teeny tiny bit scared yet excited all rolled up in one.

Not all my sights and signs feature me so check out these random sights and signts.

By far one of the funniest things I’ve seen while traveling has to be this sign in the airport in Taiwan that totally left me in stitches.

“PLEACE” enjoy this final installment in my “Sights, Signs, and Structures” post LOL.

As for the Krispy Kreme in Tokyo…….with “Hot Sign” on…….*hearts afire*!!!  I was literally just wandering the streets of Tokyo and spotted the familiar glow of the “Hot Sign” and took off in a sprint.  I was OVERJOYED!!!

Not sure how many other travelers are as cheesy but hopefully I’ve inspired others to look at the randomness around them for inspiration and conversation pieces.  Who knew these random photo ops would bring such entertainment??!!

~Travel well

 

Travels Gone by, Wanderlusting & Musings

Monday Musings of Travels Past, Present, and Future

Been awhile since I posted last but as I sit here during a rather dreary and gloomy weather period in Atlanta my mind is on a constant tour of travels past.  I’d say “Calgon, take me away” but I know good and darn well I’d rather “Delta” take me away lol to somewhere resembling something like this…….

It’s been a busy few months full of new and exciting things but nothing involving my passport, a cocktail, and a 2-piece together.  In the words of one the lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “A change is gonna come…..” and soon and very soon.  For now though I can and WILL revel in the warm and fuzzies of my travels past.

Whilst some people dream of fame and fortune but I dream of new destinations to explore; new adventures to partake in.  Right now, at this moment, I have several in mind and if you know like I know then you know it’s just a a matter of time before I pop up somewhere…..as long as somewhere resembles this…….

Oh the beauty of this world.  I’ll never understand the mind that questions WHY anyone would want to travel to foreign lands,  notso distant worlds…..with all the beauty around us why NOT?

I’m not sure WHERE my next adventure will take me but wheresonever it may be it will be nothing if it doesn’t make me warm and fuzzy inside.

So until next time, next journey, next inspiration, I will let my mind wander to the far corners of the world until the rest of me follows.

Travel on!!