Travels with Talek https://travelswithtalek.com It's all about the experience Mon, 18 May 2020 03:21:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 115219145 I WILL TRAVEL AFTER COVID…BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE https://travelswithtalek.com/i-will-travel-post-covid-but-with-a-difference/ https://travelswithtalek.com/i-will-travel-post-covid-but-with-a-difference/#comments Mon, 18 May 2020 12:00:35 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=26120 The virus has upended people’s lives in so many respects. It definitely put a crimp in our travel style. Personally I’ve been self-isolating in New York City for months now. I will travel as soon as this is over but [...]

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The virus has upended people’s lives in so many respects. It definitely put a crimp in our travel style. Personally I’ve been self-isolating in New York City for months now. I will travel as soon as this is over but it will have to be a different travel style than BC (before Covid).

We’ve asked frequent travelers (or at least they were before the virus) to give us their impressions of how the virus will change our relationship with travel, nature and the traveling public in general. Some ideas are pretty innovative, others are inevitable but one thing is sure, people are saying “I will travel” when this is over.

The pre-trip planning will change

Travel costs are likely to increase so airlines, railways and other transportations modes can cover costs of higher safety standards.  This will inevitably reduce the number of people that travel, induce them to limit the distance and/or the frequency of travel or convince them that car travel is the best transportation option. Initially leisure travel will be closer to home and to more open-air places like National Parks or beaches rather than cities.  As a result of this big, bustling cities may be avoided at least until people feel more comfortable traveling there.

The pre-trip process will have to be better thought out. For example, what safety precautions will we take?  Any trip will require masks, sanitizing wipes  and bottles of hand sanitizer.   People will wipe down every inch of their airplane seat before settling in.

Some of the coming changes will last for the foreseeable future the way security checks changed after 911. Others may be fleeting. Hopefully changes that encourage sustainability are here to stay.

Viaduct a dusk

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I will travel to spend more time with family

Social isolation is the new norm currently except for immediate family members. One finds themselves spending more time with their families than they do with colleagues, friends, or other acquaintances pre-social distancing. Spending time together at home will help some families become closer together.

The family partakes more activities at home, and everyone comes up with creative solutions on what one can do at home to avoid boredom.

Time with extended family will be more treasured especially if they live in a different state, country, or even city than the immediate family members.

One will make more time instead of giving reasons why one can’t visit for a special occasion. Travel sentiment may change from a vacation to spending time with extended family when certain guidelines have been lifted.

Ruby blogs at Ajourneywelove 

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Coronavirus will impact people’s relationships for a long time to come. We have all been separated from the people we love in a way most of us never have before. Most of us have also been worried about those we love. Not knowing if our family members will get sick, and not knowing if we could even be there for them if they did will make us appreciate them more than before. People will make more of an effort to spend time with their loved ones. We now know that time is precious, and we know what it feels like not to have that opportunity.

People will tell their families more often that they love them and care for them and give more hugs. People will be more conscious of how they spend their time. They will make sure to make time for people over things like social media and tv-shows. Hopefully, people will remember this feeling of wanting to spend time with their families. Remember the feeling of not being able to give hugs and kisses. Hopefully, we will remember all of these feelings for a long time and not just forget as soon as this crisis has passed.

Maria blogs at both-paths.com

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I will travel more sustainably 

More environmental protection 

Research on the origin of COVID-19 suggests that the disease is closely similar to viruses in bats and pangolins. Nothing is clear yet as to how exactly the animal to human transmission happened. However, the fact remains that we already had history of never before known human diseases in the past which similarly points to animal origin.

The scale of the impacts of COVID-19 has highlighted more than ever the unsustainable side of human interaction with animals. Wild animals are a popular part of many travel experiences like trying out exotic food and visiting live animal markets. Tours involving animals held in captivity and activities allowing tourists to closely interact with wild animals are also not exempted on this topic.

Hopefully, COVID-19 will make more travelers rethink about supporting activities that push the demand for wild animal consumption and illegal wildlife trade. The pandemic could also be an opportunity for conservationists to trigger a more compelling campaign for ethical animal tourism.

For travelers, today is the best time to reassess our attitude towards animal welfare and environmental protection. After the pandemic, we will be forced to make critical choices in the way we travel. Hopefully, making environmentally-responsible choices will be one of them.

Bugs in China market. I will travel but more sustainably

Jing Calonge blogs at Finding Jing

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Addressing your bucket list…NOW!

After COVID-19, I expect to see many more people travelling to bucket-list destinations such as the Maldives and the Galapagos Islands. So many of us have the tendency to wait for the ‘right time’ to take once in a lifetime type trips, however, it is so rarely the right time… Finances, relationships, work and personal commitments just never seem to align. Coronavirus has shown us that you can’t afford to wait for the right time as the future is never guaranteed.

The forced lockdown has certainly made me feel much more appreciative of travel and has also hammered home the message that life is short. Who knows how long each of us will have to fulfil our travel dreams? Life after the virus will be as precious as life before it. Many of us will feel the essence of this far deeper than we ever have before.

Whilst some bucket-list destinations that suffer from over-tourism might take longer to reopen their doors to the public, I believe that there will be just as many, if not more visitors, all on a mission to turn their ‘someday’ into ‘today.’

seal in Galapagos. I will travel to check off my bucket list

Sheree blogs at wingingtheworld.

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Changing food supply chains

One of the changes that we’ve seen so far during the Covid-19 pandemic is how the food chain is being used.

Factories are rearranging their production lines to produce smaller bags of flour designed for home use compared to large bags for restaurant and commercial premises. Local farm shops are organizing click and collect purchases, or even deliveries. There is a massive move towards localizing the food supply business, and it’s through necessity, but it’s so much more sustainable. We can see local farmers pivoting to supply the local community rather than restaurants. Butchers and fishermen are doing the same.

Long may it continue. For us certainly, we’ve seen the carbon footprint of the food that we buy has dropped significantly. I think it has been a massive learning experience, and I know so much more about the food chain now than I did 6 weeks ago. Now I have no desire to stand in a line at the supermarket, but a real desire to join a shorter line at the local farm shop. I also love that I can walk down the road to the even more local honesty box for a dozen eggs off our neighbour’s farm. I definitely still crave some of the more exotic foods that I’ve eaten over the years, but perhaps I’ll just eat much more in-season than before.

Sarah blogs at Letsgrowcook

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I will travel to appreciate nature

The number of positive nature stories that have emerged during this period of confinement has been so encouraging. Our hope for the future is that this will be a wake-up call to humanity to take more care of the environment, while we are traveling or at home.

Being stuck at home, our relationship with nature has changed. We have come to value the peace and serenity that comes with being in nature. The daily walks are a welcome break from home living. We’ve all noticed how cleaner the air is, how animals are coming back to our cities, how green spaces are flourishing.

Our hope is that as people start to deconfine and start spending more time outdoors, they will be more sensitive to the nature around them. More efforts will be put into taking care of our green spaces. More pride will be taken into cleaning up public spaces. More people will get involved in their communities to help and make these spaces cleaner and better than before.

Whether you are traveling or not, our footprint on the environment has never been clearer. By realizing how great our impact has been so far, our hope is that we will now come together to make the planet better.

landscape on lake. I will travel to appreciate nature more

Carine and Derek blog at We did it our way

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Go Local

It’s strange how travel suddenly feels more dangerous than almost anything else. Heck, J.R.R. Tolkien got it right “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door…”

The very act of exploring, meeting new people or visiting new places seems unfathomable right now. We travel Europe in a motorhome and those are three of the things we LOVE most about travelling.

I will travel again… eventually. I believe the fear of being outside or near others will slowly fade. And I think it will start with us travelling more in our home countries.

Which is not a bad thing.

We’ve spent 3 years exploring Europe, yet there are plenty of places in the UK we’d love to get to know a little better. As soon as the restrictions lift, I will travel,  take our motorhome (the perfect self-isolating machine!) and go exploring down the road.

I hope, when this is over, that many of us use local travel to boost the economy, help local businesses get back on their feet and slowly start recovering from the fear which has affected us all. And I’m looking forward to getting outside and going on adventures again. After all “there’s no knowing where we might be swept off to.”

Kat blogs at WanderingBird

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Change our relationship to animals

I think we will see a shift towards more sustainable forms of travel. For example, people will favor small group tours over large bus tours and cruises, now that cruise ships have been shown to be an ideal petri dish environment for spreading the virus. This will have positive knock-on effects, since cruises can be harmful to the environment and also to the local communities in cruise ports. Normally, cruises bring huge groups of people who disrupt life for the locals as they breeze through on a whirlwind tour. Hopefully, in the future we will instead see more responsible tour operators emerge, leading small groups of tourists in activities that provide financial support to the locals and create an opportunity for authentic cultural exchange.

I also foresee that more people will be interested in finding healthy eating options when traveling, and specifically more vegetarian and vegan options. Since most infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they jump from animals to humans, one of the most effective things we can do to prevent future outbreaks is to limit or eliminate our consumption of animals and other forms of exploitation that bring us into close contact with them. For example, there may be a declining interest in zoos and other attractions that keep animals in captivity.

Wendy blogs at The Nomadic Vegan

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Embracing nature

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things for the world over the past few months, and while many of these changes have been negative, there have been positive changes as well. From less pollution to more wildlife sightings to increased awareness of outdoor recreation, nature hasn’t thrived this much in ages.

One positive change involving nature is the shift from indoor to outdoor activities and hobbies. Even once the risk is over and everyone goes back to (almost) normal, one thing that will continue is a newfound urge to get out into nature.

Instead of heading to a movie or an indoor playground, families will venture to their nearest park or walking trail to pass the time. In place of watching Netflix on a beautiful Saturday, people may be more inclined to hit a hiking trail nearby. Friends may decide to pack a picnic or host a BBQ in their backyard instead of going out to a restaurant or bar to socialize.

Of the many changes that have resulted from COVID-19, a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation in nature is one of the most positive and potentially long-lasting, benefiting not only the Earth but anyone who makes such a change.

pathway in a field

Jordan blogs at thesololife

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Support local economies

I don’t think that people will change the way they like to travel but perhaps they will reconsider the destination.

Possibly, crowded cities will be less attractive while smaller places close to nature will become more interesting. For example, “Paris is always a good idea” but perhaps not right after lockdown. In a country like France with so many wonderful things to see and do, I expect that other destinations like Auvergne or some places in Brittany will become more requested this summer.

Perhaps road trips driving our own cars and being in nature with little or no crowds rather than train travel or international flights will be the trend for the coming months. A week in a place around the corner may not sound very sexy but at least there’s no need to share the transportation with unknown people or to be confined on an 8-hour overseas flight.

Plus everybody knows how much local tourism businesses have suffered during these last months so staying in the same state or province and booking through these businesses is also a way to contribute to the local /national economy.

I hope to be wrong and that people will travel just like before but I think that after the pandemic it will take us some time to get back to normal.

Elisa blogs at World in Paris

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Reconsider shared accommodations

Whenever I travel, I look at all the accommodation options; hotels, hostels and homestays. I am not really a stickler and have stayed with a lot of strangers, either via Airbnb or Couchsurfing. I have also stayed extensively in hostels. Apart from hotels, all these 3 options have shared spaces. Obviously, hotels also have shared spaces like the reception or restaurant. But in an Airbnb of a Couchsurfing accommodation, the common areas are frequented more often by the guests. For example, our Airbnb in Bangkok was a 2 room apartment with a common living room. I was in one room with my friends and the other room had a couple. Obviously the living room was an area where all of us used to hang out. Actually, these shared accommodations are also preferred because you get to meet strangers and can hang out with them, right?

Well, after the Covid situation, travelers might be wary of staying in shared accommodations due to multiple reasons. You can have less limitation of space in hotels and lesser common areas. Imagine sharing a room with someone whose travel history is completely unknown to you. I’m sure you’d rather stay in your own room.

Another reason people might choose hotels over shared space is that the cleanliness is much better. Well if it’s not, you can always call service and get it cleaned. But this might not be the case in an Airbnb, Couchsurfing or Hostels.

The current covid situation and the way it has spread is scary and will definitely leave people more cautious about their surroundings. This will surely lead to people not rejecting shared accommodation, at-least for a year or two.

Umang blogs at Travelmax

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I will travel to discover new, less frequented destinations

Almost a couple of months ago, we were all happy travelers- some hopping destinations, some coming home, some taking off and some of us were already planning our next trip- booking tickets, planning our itineraries. Not in our wildest dreams had we ever imagined such a day when airports all around the world would be shut, and you and I would be confined within the limits of our home, barely stepping out in our vicinity for groceries. But that’s the uncertainty of nature, right!

This unprecedented pandemic is here to change the norms, to change our normal. Avoiding travel, avoiding crowds, social distancing, isolation, taking extra care of our personal hygiene, and the hygiene around us, this could probably just be the beginning. But what could happen after, especially for travelers?

From where I see, this new definition of normal that has been forced upon us is likely to bring a shift in the way we travel. Especially, our choice of destination.
We may find a vaccine sooner and even eradicate COVID-19 from the face of this planet, but those who have lived through this terror, locked at home, watching some of the mightiest cities turning into graves, losing colleagues and loved ones, living in fear are likely to live with the mental impact of it longer.

Social distancing will become the new normal as more and more people would want to pick destinations that are less likely to be crowded. This could result in a major impact on the tourism of some of the biggest cities in the world.

On the bright side, more and more people will head to lesser-known destinations, rural areas, craving for experiences of life while avoiding the tiniest possibility of any relapse or infection. Come to think of it from a wider perspective, it’s probably for the better. Possibly solving the problem of over-tourism, helping people travel, and explore better. Hoping for a better world and better times!

Parampara blogs at awaradiaries

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Despite the virus, people are still saying “I will travel.” They have been bitten by the travel bug and are not likely to relinquish this activity.

What do you think will be some of the major changes the virus will bring to the travel sector? Let us know in the comments.

 

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GIFTS FOR PEOPLE TO ENJOY INDOORS UNTIL THEY CAN TRAVEL AGAIN https://travelswithtalek.com/gifts-for-people-to-enjoy-indoors/ https://travelswithtalek.com/gifts-for-people-to-enjoy-indoors/#respond Mon, 04 May 2020 12:00:39 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=26053 There are plenty of gifts for people to enjoy indoors.  Here is a handy list of gift ideas for people to engage with while at home.  Consult this gift guide when you’re looking for the ideal gift to make someone’s [...]

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There are plenty of gifts for people to enjoy indoors.  Here is a handy list of gift ideas for people to engage with while at home.  Consult this gift guide when you’re looking for the ideal gift to make someone’s day.  Some gifts are funny, some are useful, some are educational but all can be enjoyed without ever leaving home.  If someone you care about is looking for fun things to do indoors, these are the perfect gifts.

Brighten up space with indoor gardening gifts

These plant gifts for people to enjoy indoors are especially appreciated by people who live in apartments in cities like New York or London with less access to green areas.

Clean Air-O2 For Your Live House Plant Collection

clean air house plants

These plants not only look great, but they are easy to care for and have the added bonus of cleaning the air in your house.

Succulent Plants

succulents

If you want plants that are even more low maintenance than the ones above, you may want to get some succulents instead. They survive in the desert on very little water, so they are perfect for people who may forget to water their plants. And besides, they are adorable!

house plants are great gifts for people who are self isolating

AeroGarden Hydroponic Herb Garden

Love fresh herbs and leafy greens? Why not try this hydroponic system. It tells you when you need to add water, and the grow light provides ample light, even if your home doesn’t receive much sunlight.  Makes a great gift for people who spend a lot of time indoors.

New foods and recipe gifts for people to sample

CraveBox Healthy Snacks Care Package

Have you already run out of snacks? Then try this gift box full of healthy snack food to satisfy any craving.

Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast Cookbook

Learning to bake bread is a great way to pass the time and make the ultimate in comfort food!

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist

Have you run out of ideas for cocktails? Why not make one that’s inspired by literary classics?  And here are the real literary classics.

culinary accessories make great gifts for people who are self isolating

Mercer Cutlery Rules™ Stainless Steel Culinary Ruler

If you’re learning how to cook or bake, having a handy reference for measurements is a must. This set of rulers has it all. A great and thoughtful gift for people that would rather not go out to eat in restaurants but love to eat.

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

If you’re interested in a more healthy diet, Mediterranean cuisine is a great choice. You get comfort food that’s good for your waistline and your heart for a win-win.

Play games and solve puzzles at home

Round World Products Hemispheres World Map Jigsaw Puzzle

world map jigzaw puzzle

If you love all things travel and want to travel vicariously, this jigsaw puzzle will provide hours of entertainment for people with a case of wanderlust. Puzzles are one of the ideal gifts for people to enjoy indoors.

Dreamy Positano 1000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Why not put together a puzzle that has an amazing view? Visit southern Italy through this entertaining puzzle.

Conversation starter icebreaker deck by BestSelf

Icebreaker deck of cards

OK, so here’s what is so great about this party game.  It is a deck of 150 conversation starters designed to draw out thoughtful and meaningful answers from the players.  It’s not just silly questions like “what’s your favorite color” it’s more like “what were the two most important turning points in your life.”  This prompts the kind of conversations that go on till the wee hours.

Othello 

Othello is the go-to classic game.  A great gift for anyone, young and old alike, but especially for people that spend a lot of time indoors.  It is a game of strategy that really makes you think and forces you to anticipate future moves. No wonder it’s a classic.

For even more games and options, check out this list of 35 things to do while you’re stuck at home that are so much fun you won’t want to go out.

Create the ultimate home spa experience without leaving the house

Spa Luxetique Lavender Spa Gift Basket for Women 10 Piece Set

Enjoy the relaxing scent of lavender with this 10 piece spa set. You’ll feel so much better after a nice, long bath with lavender scented bubble bath, lotion, and more.

Korean Sheet Mask Set

Sheet masks are increasingly popular for a reason.  This 8-pack set has a little bit of everything for all your skincare needs. They cleanse, detoxify, moisturize and brighten your skin for a luxurious, spa-like experience in your home. Contains a blend of collagen and hydronic acid to reduce pores and brighten skin. One of the great gifts for people to enjoy indoors.

Bath Bombs by Natural Spa

This set of organic bath bombs will make you want to hide out in your bathroom for a nice, long soak in the tub.

Catch up on reading, movies, TV shows and more

Amazon Gift Card

There’s very little you can’t find on Amazon. Here’s an Amazon gift card you can send without ever leaving your house.

Amazon Prime Membership

Enjoy a free month of Prime! It’s more than just 2-day shipping. You also get access to thousands of hours of TV shows, movies, and music when you join Prime.

Kindle Fire 8 Tablet

You’ll love a Kindle Fire 8 tablet. You’ll get easy access to all things Amazon, entertainment, and have Alexa at your fingertips. This is the ultimate gift for people who like to stay indoors.

Kindle E-Reader

Want an e-reader without all of the bells and whistles? Try the Kindle E-Reader. With its high resolution display, it’s as close to reading a paperback book as you can get. Easy on the eyes, convenient, brightness control for reading before sleep. A great companion for people who love to read and are stuck in the house.

Echo Show

Stay in touch with your family and control your smart home appliances and lights with the Echo Show. “This will soon be the must-have gadget.”

A Free Trial of Audible with 2 free audiobooks

No time to read? Then maybe you should try audio books. Get two audio books from Audible for free along with your trial membership! Listen to book when you can’t read them like when you’re cooking, driving, exercising or just walking.

Work from Home and Get Organized

Start Your Own Blog

add for blog

Now’s a great time to start a blog about, well, whatever strikes your fancy. Learn from one of the most successful travel bloggers and be on your way to earning an income by writing about things you love or just write for yourself, family and friends as a hobby.

Standing Desk Converter

Sitting all day is almost as bad for your health as smoking. Rather than sit all day while you work at home, here’s a way to convert your desk to a standing desk and then go back to sitting with ease. One more way to stay in shape anytime.

Panda Planner

The Panda Planner is one of the best planners around. It’s way more than an appointment keeper! It will help you plan goals and achieve them.

Artinova Elephant Wooden Pen Cup Pencil Holder and Cell Phone Stand

Add a little flair to your desk with this wooden elephant pen and pencil holder that also serves as a cell phone stand.

Stay healthy and focused without leaving the house

Gaiam Yoga Mat

Yoga is a great way to keep in shape when you can’t leave your home. This mat provides cushioning and traction for even the most challenging poses. An ideal gift for people that want to stay in shape while practicing yoga indoors.

Yoga instruction is the perfect gift for people who are self isolating

Gaiam Balance Ball and Chair

Get a workout while you sit! This exercise ball and base combo will help strengthen your core, just by sitting and balancing.

Meditation Pillow

Meditation and learning to be mindful is of vital importance to mental health. Just take a moment to breathe while sitting on this comfy cushion.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Need help relaxing? Just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, breathe in, and enjoy.

Lighten things up while you’re stuck at home

Knock Knock Tell It Like It is Sticky Note Packet

Getting tired of being around your family? Try leaving them notes, but don’t be surprised if they steal these and use them as well.

I Can’t Adult Today Socks

Let’s face it. Some days, getting out of bed deserves a medal. Adulting is hard!

Socially Distant Before It Was Cool T-Shirt

This t-shirt is perfect for the introverts in your life.

I Survived the Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020

Who knew toilet paper would become more valuable than gold? Commemorate the Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020 with this coffee mug.

Dog Lion Mane

Granted, these pet costumes are silly.  I must admit dressing up pets and taking pictures of them is one of my guilty pleasures. How about you?

I mean, this picture says it all.
pet costumes are good gifts for people who are self isolating
For all we know Fluffy is thrilled with all the extra attention.  Choose from dozens of funny costumes. A unique, and certainly different gift. Guaranteed to provide much needed laughs.
For the ultimate stay at home gifts, learn about the amazing array of virtual reality visits or give the gift of travel books to fuel your wanderlust until you can
travel again.

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

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Wht do YOU think make good gifts for people to enjoy indoors?

BTW, if you are thinking about a trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Check out Travels with Talek’s new Amazon shop for travel accessories and books to fuel your wanderlust.
  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $55 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

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WHAT PEOPLE LONG TO DO WHEN SELF ISOLATING IS OVER AND THEY CAN GO OUT AGAIN https://travelswithtalek.com/what-i-long-to-do-when-self-isolating-is-over-and-i-can-go-out-again/ https://travelswithtalek.com/what-i-long-to-do-when-self-isolating-is-over-and-i-can-go-out-again/#respond Mon, 27 Apr 2020 12:00:01 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25893 When this self isolating is over and I can walk out into the streets of my beautiful New York City, I will explore and appreciate the City like never before.  You never realize what you have until it is suddenly, [...]

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When this self isolating is over and I can walk out into the streets of my beautiful New York City, I will explore and appreciate the City like never before.  You never realize what you have until it is suddenly, so suddenly, no longer available to you.

We asked other frequent travelers what they really longed to do after self isolating for weeks on end. What wonderful answers we received!

Experience my hometown – New York City

I want to explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Manhattan and linger in Harlem jazz clubs, Greenwich Village cafés and Upper East side museums.

I want to sample the dizzying ethnic variety of the City’s restaurants and catch some obscure performance in one of the tiny theaters down side streets off Broadway, and explore off-the-beaten-track NYC attractions.

I want to head to Times Square that, for all its blatant commercialization and in-your-face-over-the-top tackiness still packs a neon-infused volt of energy unlike anyplace else on earth.

Its been a tough quarantine.  Its painful to listen to the news.  The anxiety and uncertainty is exhausting. One way to deal with it is to imagine where we will be and what we will be doing when this self isolation is over.

It helps to mentally transport ourselves to a more pleasant circumstance where we can eat in a restaurant, shake hands, hug or dance like normal human beings.

We’ve asked frequent travelers, now grounded, what they long to do when self isolating is over. Some choose traveling to exotic locations and adventurous activities, others prefer simple family time, all fantasize what they will do when self isolating is over.

I hope these imaginings help you too to escape to your own fantasy land if only for a little while.

Night view of New York City

Talek blogs at Travels with Talek

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Go on an epic family trip

Once the covid19 crisis and self isolating is over, I am most excited to go on a huge, multi-generation trip with my entire family!

I was in charge of planning it for this summer but I’m afraid our plans will have to wait. It’s intended to be a celebration of my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and all 3 of us kids and our families are excited to get together in one of our national parks.

Being separated from family is hard and I so look forward to exploring Olympic National Park’s rainforest, tide pools, hot springs, and mountain views with all of us together once we can safely do so without endangering ourselves or the folks working there!

I think getting outside is a great way to connect and have room to talk and be amazed at natural beauty together; we’re hoping it will make some really special memories for everyone involved. Read more about how to plan family trips here!

Olymic National Park when self isolating is over

Stephanie blogs at Exploremorecleanless.com

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Tick off my son’s #1 bucket list destination – Denmark

Our big trip this year was supposed to be to Denmark after visiting Malaysia. Now that we have had to cancel, it is definitely the place we most want to go when self isolating is over.

This is because going to this country is my 8 year old son’s #1 bucket list item. He is fascinated with Vikings and we are looking forward to visiting some great Viking attractions and museums. He is also a huge Lego fan and is very excited to visit the home of Lego in Billund where he can learn more about the history of Lego before enjoying the huge theme park and accommodation grounds. We had booked a Lego Ninjago cabin which is his idea of heaven.

My husband and I are excited by the prospect of exploring Copenhagen and relaxing in its cafes and restaurants while trying the local food. It looks very different to modern Australia where we live and we love the history which will surround us in this city.

Visit Copenhagen when self isolating is over

Sharon blogs at DiveintoMalaysia

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Attend a polyglot conference in Mexico

October 2020 is the annual Lang Fest and Polyglot Conference, this time in lovely Cholula, Mexico. The conference is an amazing gathering of language enthusiasts from around the world.

My plan was to stay in Mexico until the beginning of November to experience Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This incredible celebration features beautiful, moving traditions and displays of folk art.

This is the first time this polyglot event is to take place in Latin America. It provides a unique opportunity for many locals to attend their first language conference. Intensive courses are available for Spanish and Nahuatl, an indigenous Mexican language. Attendees from around the world will break bread with new friends and old in the language of their choice.

Currently it is unknown whether the conference will take place as scheduled. If it is postponed, once the crisis and self isolating is over, my top travel priority is this inspiring event that unites language lovers from all over the world.

Day of teh Dead altar in Mexico

Ingrid blogs at Secondhalftravels  

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Return to Kenya with my kids

When this self isolating is over I want to go back to Kenya. Kenya is somewhere I have been going to for 20 years. From the very first visit, the country, people and wildlife just stole my heart. Since then, I have returned to Kenya as often I can.

These trips stopped for a few years whilst I had children and I always said I wanted to show my girls this magnificent country before they started school. I took them this year for the first time at 4 and 1. Many people said we were mad but we had the most amazing time. We spent a couple of days in the city visiting the rescue centres and orphanages including the Sheldrake Elephant Orphanage where they met their adopted elephant.

Later we headed to Massai Mara which is a total dream destination. We spent 7 days on safari and the girls were in their element, they loved every moment of being in the bush and seeing wild animals up close. From there we headed to the coast and spent 5 days relaxing on the beach – such a great combination for a holiday.

On our return home, the first thing they said was, ‘we don’t want to leave, we want to go back’. As soon as I can book a flight, I will be taking the girls back!

Masai in Kenya

Anna blogs at www.twinsandtravels.com

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Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary

This time has forced us to rethink what is profoundly important in life. We started our family gap year January 25th and were suddenly stopped in our tracks by March 15th.

Since we have been in lockdown, we have changed the goal of our family gap year. We have decided to not only be tourist, but to make a difference.
Our first stop when we can travel will be to an elephant sanctuary outside of Bangkok. We will be escaping to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, to volunteer and work with animals. This is an amazing organization that specializes in caring for previously domesticated or abused elephants and other wildlife donated  there.

Sadly, the illegal animal trade takes beautiful creatures out of their natural habitat for humans to use as domestic pets. Many of the smugglers cannot take care of the animals long term, so the foundations accepts and cares for any animal left outside of their gates.

If you are looking to help the foundation the day trips are phenomenal. You can interact with elephants ethically, and see the other animals that they care for. If you want to spend more time with the elephants there is an eco-friendly resort inside of the elephant enclosure. The city also has other fun things to do such as a water park, cooking lessons, temples, bat caves and beaches. If you plan to stop in Bangkok you will not regret stopping here.

Elephants at WFFT in Bangkok1

Corritta blogs at Itzafamilything

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Visiting Petra

My dad was always an explorer. As a younger man he visited places many tourists wouldn’t go, like communist Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union. It’s this adventuring spirit that inspired me to tackle the World Heritage Journey, visiting every UNESCO World Heritage Site. But one of the places he wanted to visit more than anywhere else was the magnificent site of Petra in Jordan.

Although I dislike the phrase “trip of a lifetime”, particularly for well-travelled people, dad and his partner had booked just that – a three week luxury cruise from Mauritius to Venice, stopping at several places including dad’s life-long dream Petra. Sadly, their cruise was cancelled due to health fears just days before departure. They stayed home in Australia, and a week later dad passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in his sleep.

Social distancing is difficult at the best of times, but when you can’t even hold a proper funeral or comfort grieving relatives, it’s even tougher.
But at least I know what our next trip is going to be when this self isolating is over. We’re going to visit Petra, and I know my dad will be with us in spirit.

Visit Petra when self isolating is over

Joel blogs at World Heritage Journey

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Complete an artist residency at the edge of the Sahara Desert

I’d been planning a trip to Morocco for a milestone birthday since last fall. I was accepted into a four-week artist residency at the edge of the Sahara Desert, and my husband and I were going to rent a car and travel together first for 2.5 weeks. Aware of the growing health threat, I told the residency director that if things started to look bad, I would cancel the residency and go back home with my husband.

After only four days in Marrakech, we were shocked to learn how quickly the worldwide situation had deteriorated. Morocco was shutting all borders and we had 24 hours to find a way out to the USA, who had in the meantime closed its borders to flights from every layover city. Frantically searching online, we miraculously found a direct flight to USA for the next morning.

As soon as it’s safe, I hope to fly back and pick up our itinerary where we left off. I already had all the accommodations chosen, and had to cancel them. So it will be easy to simply call them all back up and rebook. The route is already planned, and we have airline credit from our canceled flights. I may not be able to do the residency, but I was greatly looking forward to the other sights on our route. We had a wonderful time in Marrakech, and can’t wait to strike out for the ksars (Moroccan fortresses), mountain passes, flowered valleys and the star-canopied desert.

palace_Otherpeeps in Morocco

Shara blogs at SKJ Travel

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Reconnect with an old friend in Canada

Unlike many travellers, I got lucky. Timing was in my favour, and I managed to avoid having plans disrupted by the current crisis. I’d just got back from two stressful and exhausting work trips to Mexico either side of a month-long holiday to South Georgia and Antarctica, so my travel funds and my energy were both completely depleted. My plans were simply to stay home, finish my current work contract, save money, and then reward myself in June with a trip to Canada to see one of my closest friends.

Leah moved back home to Ottawa 18 months ago after four years in London. Since then, we have kept in touch regularly via WhatsApp and video calls, but of course it’s not the same. She even got married last year, and I was unable to attend the wedding. At Christmas she came back to visit family, but I was in Antarctica. So we’d decided that in June I would travel to Canada, where we’d have joyful reunion in British Colombia and explore the beauty of the Rocky Mountains together.

Of course all those plans are now on hold, but I’m still hopeful. As soon as we are given the all clear, I’ll be straight onto the internet to book my flight. I can’t wait to enjoy the natural wonder of Canada’s great outdoors, and more than that, to give my best friend a huge hug!

Visit the CanadianRockies when this self isolating is over

Bella blogs at Passport and Pixels

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High altitude trek in the Himalayas

In India, the entire Himalayan range has a lot of destinations to visit for travel enthusiasts. The mountainous range is home to umpteen number of travel experiences just waiting to be explored. Be it staying in a quaint homestay to looking at star studded sky while camping. The experiences are endless given how vast it is. One of the best ways to experience the Himalayan range is via trekking.

There is a plethora of treks available throughout the Himalayan mountain range. But, the kind of treks that I love are above 12,000 feet and takes 7-8 days to complete. The reason of my preference is they really let you indulge nature and take you through so many terrains that you can get a handful of fantastic experiences to cherish for life. If the trek is shorter, then I feel unsatisfied. If longer, I stop falling in love everyday with the experience. Yes, the fundamentals of marginal utility concept apply here as well.

I have done a few high altitude treks in past. The highest being 21,000 feet+; Stok Kangri Trek. The most beautiful Trek was Rupin Pass Trek. It’s been a while since I ventured out for a similar trek. I had it all figured out for this year. I was going to opt for The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. But suddenly, my plans were ruined. Well, hope things settle soon and people become safe. Once we’re back to normal, I will gleefully jaunt towards starting a starting point of a High Altitude Trek.

Trek the Himalayas when self isolating is over

Umang blogs at Travelmax

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Camp in the Omani desert

It’s been a few months since my last trip and it might be a few more until the next one. These past weeks have been worrisome, to say the least. Nonetheless, as with everyone else, I hope that the light isn’t too far ahead.

Once I’m able to travel again, I’d love to head back to Oman and camp in the desert. After spending a month in the country, I fell in love with its rocky mountains, gorgeous coastline, and vast desert. Having spent two weeks isolating at home, I long for the freedom of immersing myself in nature again.

There are many reasons to visit Oman. For one, I could find goats and donkeys wherever I went. Camels were especially common around the country. Whether you’d be walking along the beach or exploring one of the small Omani villages, it’s quite routine to spot a camel or two lazily strolling the streets.

Frankly speaking, the idea of heading back to the desert and befriending some laid-back, beautiful animals has me wanting to book a flight soon! But for now, I shall binge on travel documentaries and books to curb my craving 🙂

Camels in Oman

Daisy blogs at Oman Travel Guides

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Tour Brazil with my family

Once all travel restrictions are lifted, I’ll finally visit my family in São Paulo, Brazil; I haven’t been there since 2018.

I had plans to visit them in spring, but given the current crisis, I canceled the vacation to Brazil, along with all other trips before and after that.

It hurts my heart deeply because I miss them so much, but it’s better to be patient now. So as soon as we can all travel again, my mom, sis, and I are going on a real vacation through Brazil’s coast, starting in Rio de Janeiro.

We want to visit Rio not only because of the breathtaking landscapes but also to support locals. Rio depends heavenly on tourism, so this is a tough moment for the city’s residents.

So when this is all over, we are going to spend some quality time sipping drinks at the beach. After all, we deserve some time together, outdoors, and enjoying life- can’t wait for it!

Visit Rio when self isolating is over

Bruna blogs at I Heart Brazil

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Luxuriate in Greek culture

Whenever it will be possible to travel, I really long for a trip to Greece and do some boat hopping between the islands. The Greek islands offer a relaxing experience with a mix of quaint villages and some of the best hospitality in the world.

I also long to go for e lengthy walk along the beach. That is something that will be possible to do in Greece as well as many of the islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

I miss the Greek food, and even though there are Greek restaurants you can order from around the world, it’s not the same as enjoying authentic Greek cuisine in a local tavern in a small village on an island in Greece. I’m very much looking forward to the day when it’s possible to embark on a flight to Athens and from there take the bus to Piraeus harbor and explore the Greek islands once again.

Visit Santorini when this self isolating is over

Christine blogs at Christine Abroad

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Celebrate a family milestone in South Africa

The year 2020 marks 200 years since our ancestor, Jeremiah Goldswain, arrived in South Africa in the first wave of the 1820 British settlers. It was meant to be the year we held a big family reunion in South Africa to celebrate this.

Jeremiah’s story started when he left Marlow in England in 1820. He wrote detailed chronicles of his life which have been passed down the family and have more recently been translated into modern English. They detail his experiences dealing with inhospitable terrain and hostile encounters with local Xhosa tribes and lion attacks.

He settled near Bathurst in the Eastern Cape and set up his building trade. One of the buildings he built is the Pig and Whistle in Bathurst. It is the oldest pub in South Africa and well worth visiting if you’re in the area.

We love to take our kids on safari and it’s a happy coincidence that he once owned the land that is now owned by Kariega Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth.

South Africa will be the first place we visit when the travel restrictions are lifted. Although we will be celebrating 201 years instead of 200 years, we’ll be celebrating with family which is what matters most. In the words of South African Tourism, we can #meetsouthafricalater.

Pig and Whistle in Bathurst built by Jeremiah Goldswainabc

 

Jacquie blogs at FlashpackingFamily

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Explore my own backyard, New Zealand

I’m a Kiwi, but I left NZ back in 2017 to move to London, and then left London mid-2019 to travel full-time around the globe. I’d always planned to move back home down the line, but I had travel plans for elsewhere until at least the end of 2021. Unfortunately, our plans had to be put on hold.

April was meant to take me to Sri Lanka and Japan, however I’m currently sitting in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house hoping that the sunny weather will stick around after our national lockdown has lifted, so I can use this time to explore my own backyard.

New Zealand is at the top of bucket lists all over the globe, but despite spending my first 25 years here, I’ve met many travellers who have seen more of my own country than I have. Our tourism industry is incredibly reliant on international visitors, so it’s going to be a struggle for the foreseeable future.

As soon as it’s safe, responsible to do so and this self isolating is over, I’m going to plan an epic NZ campervan road trip. It’ll take me across both islands, spending my money with small businesses and visiting destinations that I normally would’ve forgone for somewhere more ~exotic~ like a tropical island, a cultured city or a historical hot spot. I’ll search for the country’s best small-town bakeries, epic beaches, most thrilling outdoor activities and hidden natural gems.

I’ve never had the urgency to spend my money here, because it’s always an option later in life and because my money doesn’t go as far, but now I’m absolutely going to make the most of the situation and do my bit to help get our tourism industry back on track.

Visit New Zealand whenthi self isolating is over

Alex blogs at FindingAlex

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Housesitting in Finland

What I really want to do as soon as self isolating is over, is to come back to Finland for a few weeks while doing house sitting there.

I completely fell in love with Finland 7 years ago, when I did my study exchange in Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is a lovely city located at the arctic circle in the area called Lapland. It’s a perfect place for every nature lover. The place is filled with tranquility, reindeer are crossing the roads and if you are lucky, you can watch the amazing Northern Lights show right above your head during clear nights. And that’s not all! Wintertime is perfect for any kind of winter sports! Rovaniemi is a cross country skiing paradise, there are ice skating rings on every corner and the backcountry is great for snowshoeing. There is nothing better that finish the day full of activities in Finish sauna!

I really hope to find some house sitting there to save a lot of money because Lapland is quite an expensive area. We had the first experience with a house sitting in New Zealand and it was great! Looking after someone’s house, while they are away, is a perfect opportunity to get to know local life much better than just like a tourist. And usually, it’s not just a house to look after, but also some flurry darlings.

Girl with horse

Adriana blogs at Czech the World

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Walk the Camino de Santiago…again

In 2017, my husband and I established a tradition of walking a different branch of the Camino de Santiago every year. This medieval pilgrimage route across Spain has seen a resurgence in popularity recently. Most modern-day pilgrims walk the Camino Francés, which starts — as you would expect — in France, and this was also our introduction to the Camino. We were immediately hooked and were eager to try out some of the lesser-known paths as well. The next year we walked the original Camino Primitivo starting in Oviedo, and the year after that we tackled the Camino de Madrid — a little-known route passing through nearly abandoned towns with less than 200 people inhabitants living in them.

This year, our plan was to go off the beaten track again and walk the Camino Olvidado, whose name literally means the “Forgotten Route”. Passing through the mountains of Cantabria, this route was popular from the ninth to twelfth centuries, when pilgrims hoped the mountainous terrain would ward off attacks by the Moors. In addition to the beautiful landscapes, there are also some outstanding Romanesque churches on this Camino.

But really, I’d be thrilled to walk any Camino, regardless of the sights along the way.  The long days of walking help me to clear my head, and the camaraderie with fellow pilgrims reminds me of the inherent good in human beings. As exhausted as I am by the end of it, I always feel rejuvenated when I finally reach Santiago.

A sign for the Camino

Wendy blogs at The Nomadic Vegan

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Family return trip to Ireland

When travelling become possible, and self isolating is over, the top of my travel wish list is to return to Ireland for two reasons. Firstly, we are an Irish expat family now living in Portugal and it would give us a chance to see our family again, have some great meals and most importantly, get some much-needed hugs. Chatting via phone and technology just isn’t the same as being in a room with them, face-to-face, so some quality family time to celebrate getting through a difficult time will be in order.

Secondly, every year, when we holiday in Ireland, we always combine seeing family with exploring a new part of the country with our son. When you are living in the country you are from, you can take for granted that things are just ‘there’ and you can visit them whenever you want, but often people don’t go exploring.

Since our son came along, it has become very important to us to show him the country of his heritage while discovering new places ourselves.
So, a return to Ireland would serve two purposes which will be easily combine. A few days in Dublin with both sides of the family, followed by a road trip to the West of Ireland, which was next on our Ireland to-do list.

Bunratty Castle in Ireland

Cath blogs at Travel Around Ireland

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Take day trips from Capetown

When travel opens back up again and this self isolating is over, I’m returning to Cape Town. Cape Town is my favorite city in the entire world for a multitude of reasons. First of all, the landscapes are stunning. Second, the locals are friendly and they make you feel at home. Third, there are so many fun day trips that you can take from there.

My favorite road trip to take is from Cape Town to Simon’s Town. It’s one of South Africa’s oldest towns and it’s picturesque. My favorite thing to do here is to head to Boulder’s Beach and hang out with the penguins in their natural habitat. After Boulder’s Beach, I head to get some fresh seafood.

There are plenty of delicious seafood eateries around the area, but I pick the ones with views of the ocean.

On the way back to Cape Town, I drive through Muizenberg and stop at the beach there. This is the perfect day trip from Cape Town that’s filled with fun things to do and gorgeous scenery.

Capetown beach

Disha blogs at Disha Discovers

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Explore the Loire Valley by bicycle

One of the first trips I plan to do after this self isolating is over is explore the Loire Valley by bike. La Loire à Vélo – that’s its name in French – is an 800 km cycle route that follows the Loire River. This route is very well signposted, easy to ride – it is mostly flat – and along the way there are many beautiful attractions such as the Loire Castles but also typical towns, vine-covered slopes and unique atmosphere.

This cycle route is so popular that it has all the possible services like long term car parks, accommodation of all kinds, restaurants and also bike repair workshops.

Last year I did a first section on a long weekend, from Beaugency to Amboise, and I visited the villages of Beaugency, Blois, and Amboise plus the Château of Chambord. This year, I would like to continue from where I left off and go on exploring the wonders of this beautiful region.

The good thing about this trip is that we are most of the time alone on our bikes, in contact with nature and the villages in between are not crowded with tourists. Plus of course, there’s good wine everywhere!

Bikes in the Loire Valley

Elisa blogs at France Bucket List

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Commune with nature and wildlife

Being cooped up inside isn’t easy for an adventure junkie, I can’t stop dreaming about all the places I want to go! When this self isolating is over and it’s safe to travel again, I want to head somewhere full of nature and wildlife.

After visiting South Luangwa National Park in Zambia last November, I can’t stop dreaming of all the wildlife on this planet. Seeing lions, elephants, and rhinos roam free was an unforgettable experience that left me wanting to discover more of this planet’s wildlife.

As I daydream about future wildlife encounters, Indonesia seems to pop up again and again. From the legendary Komodo dragons, incredible underwater marine life, and rare tigers on Sumatra island, there are so many bucket-list wildlife experiences in Indonesia. Not to mention all of the waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes, and hiking trails. It has everything a nature lover could want and I can’t wait until this self isolation is over!

When it’s finally time to travel again, a trip Indonesia seems like the perfect destination to cure my adventure wanderlust.

Elephants in National Park

Lora blogs at Explore with Lora

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What will you do when self isolating is over? Where do you long to go?

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

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BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post WHAT PEOPLE LONG TO DO WHEN SELF ISOLATING IS OVER AND THEY CAN GO OUT AGAIN appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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35 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME THAT ARE SO MUCH FUN YOU WON’T WANT TO GO OUT https://travelswithtalek.com/35-things-to-do-when-youre-stuck-at-home-that-are-so-much-fun-you-wont-want-to-go-out/ https://travelswithtalek.com/35-things-to-do-when-youre-stuck-at-home-that-are-so-much-fun-you-wont-want-to-go-out/#respond Mon, 20 Apr 2020 12:00:24 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25799 Being stuck at home during can cause a mean case of cabin fever. Here are activities that can alleviate the boredom, upgrade a skill and possibly even ignite an interest in a totally unexpected topic. Activities to Keep You Entertained [...]

The post 35 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME THAT ARE SO MUCH FUN YOU WON’T WANT TO GO OUT appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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Being stuck at home during can cause a mean case of cabin fever. Here are activities that can alleviate the boredom, upgrade a skill and possibly even ignite an interest in a totally unexpected topic.

Activities to Keep You Entertained When You’re Stuck at Home

Catch up on all the movies you’ve always wanted to see.

Many of the streaming services, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime are adding more and movies.

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Discover a new category of movies.

Try the oldies but goodies like Casablanca. These are classics for a reason.  TCM is a great place to start.

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Sing virtual karaoke.

You can sing at home on either a Mac or a PC. It’s the next best thing to singing your heart out at the local bar. Here is one virtual karaoke program, of many that you can try. Stand in front of the mirror and sing like you’re on a game show competing for an all  expenses paid vacation. Cajole your spouse into joining you.

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Go on virtual tours. 

The world of virtual tours has exploded recently. Today you can choose from virtual museums, city tours, castles and palaces, zoos, famous landmarks and more. Explore, engage and experience the world, even if you’re stuck at home.

Virtually visit The Taj Mahal when you're stuck at home

Virtually visit the Taj Mahal

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Plan future trips.

The current self-isolation because of the coronavirus won’t last forever. Start planning your future trips now so you’ll have options and choices where you’re free to travel again. Start by learning how to find cheap flight deals every time.

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Create a date night.

Combine a special dinner with one of the movies you find on the streaming services, add candles and voila! you have the ideal date night.

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Enjoy a live virtual wine tasting experience

Who ever thought you could attend a wine tasting from home? Well, now you can! The presentation lasts about 40 minutes and you access it through Zoom video conferencing.  During that time you will see and visit various chateaux to learn about their history, vineyards and wine making process. Wine experts will chat about the various wines and participants are encouraged to ask questions online.

The various wine experts will teach you about wine parings, proper decanting, ideal temperatures,  serving advice and lots more.  Each week you can visit a different chateau and learn about various wines while you’re stuck at home.

Wines to be discussed in future presentaions can be sent to participants in advance so you can sample the wine the experts are showcasing in real time.  Or, you can order the showcased wines directly from the producers or your local wine shop.

There is a small fee for each wine tasting presentation.

Get yourself some fine cheese and wine – your local liquor store will probably deliver – and create your own wine and cheese night!

enjoy a virtual wine and cheese night

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Start an herb garden.

How many times have you prepared a recipe that required a bunch of cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, rosemary or other.  If you buy a bunch of any of these herbs, the recipes only requires use a little and you are stuck with the rest which you really don’t want to throw out because, face it, you don’t want to waste food.  So you either frantically find other recipes you can use these herbs with or you ultimately have to throw the herbs away.

The alternative is to just grow your own herbs.  It’s easy, you don’t need a lot of herbs for your recipes and its fun. Using  herb garden kits you can grow your own easily and quickly and just pick whatever herbs you want for your dishes like pastas (basil) potatoes (rosemary) cilantro (soups) or parsley (pretty much everything) without wasting any herbs.

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Play board games, cards, chess, checkers, etc.

These are fun, guys!  This is a great way to incorporate the family and recapture the fun of game night activities. Here are a couple of options.

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Research old friends and acquaintances.

Find long lost people through the internet and contact them asking how they’re doing. Some can become current friends again.

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Color in an adult coloring book.

In the case “adult” means “not cartoons fit for children,” rather than anything X-rated. Regress even further into your childhood and have fun with these adult coloring books that have been growing in popularity.

Buy it here.

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Do a jigsaw puzzle.

Remember those from when you were a kid? They can be as small as a couple of pieces or as large and challenging as the 1000 piece puzzle depicting the Age of Exploration. Choose from among multiple designs to find one that is just right for you.

Buy it here.

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Join virtual meetups on line.

Zoom has emerged as the ideal virtual conferencing service provider. Join a meeting or host your own while you’re stuck at home. It’s easy, they have a tutorial and the first 40 minutes are free! Check them out here.

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Travel through food

Try cuisines from different parts of the world.

Did you know Japan has 7 different regional cuisines including those from Hokkaido, Chubu and Okinawa? Explore a different region every day through the region’s specialty dish.

Learn how to cook sushi when you're stuck at home

China has one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated cuisines. Who hasn’t heard of spicy Szechuan dishes, the subtle and delicate flavors of Cantonese seafood or one of China’s great contributions to the world, Peking duck? Grab yourself a wok set and a couple of chopsticks and explore the delicious world of Chinese cooking.

What’s the first thing you think of when you say Italy? If you’re like me it probably Italian food. Try pizza Napolitana , Sicilian arancini (deep fried stuffed rice balls)or Roman caccio e pepe (pepper and cheese pasta). From amazing street food to the most sophisticated dining, Italy’s got this!

Break free from the taco rut (although tacos are super delicious) and learn about Mexico and its many different regional dishes; papadzules (egg filled tortillas with sauce) from the Yucatan, pozole ( a flavorful chickpea stew) from the north Pacific coast, hand-ground chocolate from the south Pacific coast, a delicacy that has been around for centuries.

Every region of Spain has dozens of regional specialties. From the tasty paella of Valencia to the roast game of Segovia to the codfish dishes of the northern coasts. But there is one amazing Spanish treat that is found all over the country…tapas! tasty little dishes typically served with drinks at a bar. What a wonderful way to sample many dishes at the same sitting. Nobody does it like Spain.

For a little country, Cuba punches way above its weight when it comes to cuisine. Classic Cuban cuisine is underrated and underappreciated. Cuba’s traditional dishes like ropa viaja (shredded beef) and lechon asado (roast pork) rank up there with the best of them in terms of flavor and originality. Cuban cuisine has had a major resurgence lately. More and more people are discovering this amazing food with its subtle flavors and innovative creations. Here is your chance to discover it for yourself.

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 Indulge in a little self-love while you’re stuck at home

Take a yoga class online.

Or a Zumba class. Or a Pilates class. Or any exercise class you can think of.  Combine the classes and create your own exercise routine. They’re all online and many are free!

If you’re stuck in the house and unable to go to the gym or for long walks for several weeks, you will find yourself out of shape and unhealthy when this is over. Fight back and stay fit while in isolation.

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Indulge in a bubble bath. 

But I mean REALLY indulge. Go all out with bath salts and oils. Light candles around the tub and put on some soothing music. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel.

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Give yourself a facial.

Save yourself the $100 and give yourself a professional facial at home. Start with a facial cleanser for either dry or oily skin, follow up with a facial steamer, proceed with a deep-cleaning scrub and top it all off with a soothing relaying moisturizer.  See if you don’t feel like a million bucks!

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Give yourself a mani-pedi. 

Take your time and luxuriate in a hand and foot soak.

Try a new hair color.

See if you drugstore delivers so you don’t have to go out and get a hair coloring kit. This is your chance to experiment with that color you’ve been curious about. Since you’re stuck at home, no one will see the new color if you don’t like it. And if you do like it…you’ve got a new fresh look!

*****

Pursue Self-improvement

Learn a new language.

You can’t expect to become fluent in a new language while you’re stuck at home, but you can certainly pick pick up enough to be conversational during your next trip. Always wanted to go to Italy? Learn enough to get around and order in restaurants. Was France your next port of call before you ended up stuck at home? Take the time now to learn conversational French.

There are many language apps and courses to help you learn a new language. Many language learning services are offering free classes for a limited time so there is no excuse for not following your language dreams. There are also online interactive tutors to practice conversation with. Check out Babel, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo to get you started.

*****

Improve your cooking skills. 

Take a virtual cooking class and learn from some of the best cooking schools and chefs around. Experiment with classes that teach you all aspects of cooking from how to prepare a feast to simple meals to baking a cake. All from the comfort of your own kitchen.

spices in spoons representing a virtual cooking class for when you're stuck at home

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Discover new books.

And here is a good selection to chose from: Travel Books to Read When You Can’t Travel

*****

Try audible books.

Can you read even when it’s difficult to do so like when you’re driving, exercising, cooking or drifting off to sleep in the dark? Now you can with an audio book.  Audible.com is offering a limited-time promotion. Get two free audiobooks with a 30 trial membership. Use this Audible.com link to ensure you get the promotion.  Choose from hundreds of books, best sellers, first releases in all topics.  There is something for every passion.

*****

Start a blog.

Lots of people have started their own blog.  Many start one just for fun to record and share their travels, fashion tips, cooking recipes, parenting advice. Really, any topic you can think of has lots people that are interested in it; pets, finance, fitness, books, model building, your home state/city.  The list is endless.

Others  start blogs to monetize a particular hobby or skill they are passionate about. Having a blog can be fun as well as lucrative.

It’s not expensive or difficult to start a blog, nor do you have to be very tech savvy.  All you need is a passion and the ability to write about it.

The best place to start is with a course that teaches you how to create your own blog with easy step-by-step instructions.  Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging Course is the best course you can get to learn how to start your own blog.

*****

Take online learning classes.

Class Central offers almost 4,000 different online courses. You are sure to find one just for you.

*****

Learn new ways to stay connected.

Explore Zoom, the latest in video conferencing, Facebook, WhatsApp and SKYPE to stay connected with your family and friends.

Take a virtual course online

*****

Explore the Great Courses.

Get online access to over 11,000 courses and lectures with free trial.  Explore fascinating subjects like World History, Science, Personal Development and much more.  And for a limited time, get one month free .

*****

Tackle those DIY projects.

What’s your pleasure? What have you been wanting to start for some time? Write that book. Start that book club. Get that license. Learn that skill. Update that resume. Get it started and see where it goes from there.

*****

Declutter your life

Go through your make-up. 

Get rid of the old makeup and accessories you haven’t worn in years; dried powder cake, crumbling green eye powder, that eyeliner pencil with the missing top.   You will feel refreshed just throwing it out. When you’re ready to go out again treat yourself to some new makeup basics.

*****

Organize your closet.

You probably have more clothes than you think they’re just at the bottom of the pile or too hard to get to because they are all the way in the back of the closet. Take a section at a time, categorize by clothing type and install a couple of organizers to keep things nice and orderly.

If you want to go all out on organizing your entire home, check out organization guru, Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

*****

Organize your photos.

There are dozens of digital photo organizing services on line.  These are simple ways to digitally preserve your precious photos and gain extra space on you computer drive. Here are couple of services: Lifestorage, Gizmodo, BHG  

*****

Update your wardrobe.

As the old saying goes, if you haven’t worn it in a year you probably never will.  Select cloths you no longer wear and set them aside as a donation which is tax deductible. You’ll be amazed at how much extra room you suddenly have.

*****

Update your spice shelf.

Did you know spices have shelf lives? They don’t last forever. Herbs and spices should be kept in a cool, dark place. They should not be kept over the stove, over the sink or in sunlight as heat, humidity and light will reduce their potency.  If stored properly, spice shelf life is:

  • Whole spices and dried herbs, leaves and flowers will keep 1 – 2 years.
  • Seeds will keep 2 – 3 years and whole roots (i.e. ginger root or galangal root) will keep 3 years.
  • Ground spices and herb leaves keep 1 year.
  • Ground roots will keep for 2 years.

Even if beyond these dates, check the spice before throwing it out.  Shake the bottle with the top on, open and smell.  If the aroma is still potent, keep it.  If not, throw it out as it will not add anything to your dishes. It’s best to buy small quantities of little used species and buy more as you need it.

I know it’s hard to resist buying a spice for a recipe you’re determined to try and the only size is way more than you need.  That’s how I ended up with a ton of Korean Gochugaru. It’s not as if I eat this every day but I couldn’t resist buying it just to try the recipe. Oh, well.

*****

Declutter all cabinets.

Not just the kitchen cabinets. Tackle the cabinet under the sink where you keep your cleaning supplies. And how about the bathroom cabinets?   Ditch the potions and lotions you haven’t used in years, get yourself a couple of organizers and set things up nicely and within reach while you’re stuck at home.

What are your ideas for cool stuff to do while you’re stuck at home? Let us know in the comments.

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip, and check out our travel shop:

  • Check out our Amazon travel shop featuring travel accessories and travel books to fuel your wanderlust.
  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post 35 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME THAT ARE SO MUCH FUN YOU WON’T WANT TO GO OUT appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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VIRTUAL TOURS OF MUSEUMS, NATIONAL PARKS, LANDMARKS AND MORE, FOR WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME https://travelswithtalek.com/virtual-tours-of-museums-national-parks-landmarks-and-more-for-when-youre-stuck-at-home/ https://travelswithtalek.com/virtual-tours-of-museums-national-parks-landmarks-and-more-for-when-youre-stuck-at-home/#respond Mon, 13 Apr 2020 12:00:56 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25780 Virtual tours of museums, national parks, zoos, landmarks are a great way to see the world without leaving your house. Now that it looks like a large portion of the population will be stuck at home for the time being, [...]

The post VIRTUAL TOURS OF MUSEUMS, NATIONAL PARKS, LANDMARKS AND MORE, FOR WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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Virtual tours of museums, national parks, zoos, landmarks are a great way to see the world without leaving your house. Now that it looks like a large portion of the population will be stuck at home for the time being, this is the perfect opportunity to explore them.  Armchair travel has become “a thing” since we’re self-isolating. Virtual visits to much of what the world offers is a great way to indulge in travel when you’re forced to stay home.

the Interior court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be visited virtually on a virtual museum tour

Join us – virtually, of course – on this tour of many of the virtual entertainment and learning opportunities available.

Virtual museum and culture tours.

Google arts and culture has a series of programs that allow you to visit museums virtually. The site has several categories, each designed to provide in-depth commentary and visual aides pertaining to different art and history topics.

Collections and exhibits

The most interesting categories – at least for me – are the collections and exhibits from over 2000 museums including  MOMA, The Met -with over 200,000 pieces- Museum of Natural History and The Frick Collection in New York, The National Gallery and British Museum in London, Washington DC’s National Gallery of Art and other Smithsonian institutions, The Palace of Versailles and so many more.

At the bottom of the pages of these collections is a 3D museum tour that allows you to move through the museum with your browser as well as transporting from one gallery to another with the click of your mouse. You can also take 360 degree videos and street views of the famous landmarks. How cool is THAT!

Granted these tours are not as satisfyingly as the real thing but there is an appeal:

  1. You can enjoy many virtual tours of museums without all the crowds.
  2. You’re stuck at home so what’s the down side?

the Palace of Versailles can be visited on a virtual museum tour

All the virtual museum collections and exhibits are worth visiting but those that stand out include:

Uffizi Gallery, Florence displays works from all centuries but its main claim to fame is the best collection of Italian Renaissance art. Virtually visit the 16th century palace that houses the collection and see works by Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci just to mention a few.

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the home of Rembrandt’s “Nightwatch” the most famous and important painting in the Netherlands.  See this and the talented artist’s other paintings as well as works from the Dutch Masters – Vermeer, Bosch, van Gogh – from the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.

The Frick Collection in New York City is displayed in the actual former home of Gilded Age industrialist, Henry Clay Frick. The collection is outstanding on its own – it houses the amazing painting Sir Thomas Moore by Hans Holbein The Younger. But what will really impress you is the home itself. Virtually walk the large rooms filled with masterpieces and period furniture. Stroll around the interior fountain – yes, the guy had a fountain in his house. Imagine this mansion, with Central Park as its front lawn,was built for just one family!

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam. Virtually visit the secret annex where the writer, Anne Frank lived for 2 years with her family.  Learn what the forced isolation was like for Anne and her family before they were discovered and shipped to a Nazi concentration camps to die.

Many of these organizations have their own virtual tours of museums and attractions independent of Google arts and culture. Check those out as well to get a different perspective.

Artists

The Artists category displays bios and examples of the artists’ work. Click on the various art works to magnify them and see incredible detail you would never be able to appreciate in person. If you thought some of these artists were magnificent before, this level of detail with amaze you.

Some artists with interesting back stories in their bios include El Greco, Titian, Rembrandt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Botero and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Anatomy class painting by da Vinci can be visited on a virtual museum tour

Art movements

Learn about the various art movements, Renaissance, Surrealism, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and more, each with hundreds of examples.  If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between Contemporary and Modern Art, this is your chance to find out.

There are even sections on less traditional movements like Street Art with thousands of examples from all over the world.  Virtual museum tours will enrich your knowledge base.

Historic Events

Each event, for example, World War II, The Holocaust, Spanish Civil War, 9/11, The Trojan War is presented in detail accompanied by photos and illustrations  many of which are rare and vintage.

If you are a history buff you will love this. This is also a great opportunity to discover a new fascination as you’re stuck at home.

Historic Figures

Fascinating biographies, portraits and photos of historic figures at your fingertips. Virtually visit with Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I of England, George Washington and others.

These virtual tours of museums, art movements and other cultural aspects will keep you interested for hours while you’re stuck at home in quarantine.

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Virtual visits to national parks.

Google arts and culture has also joined with several national parks in the United States to make these open nature reserves available to the public virtually.  These can be seen at this site  and include:

seals in Kenai National Park can be visited on a virtual museum tour

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska

Not as well known, but no less spectacular, than the spectacular Denali, Kenai is on the Kenai Peninsula near the town of Seward in central Alaska. The park is known for the many fjords and glaciers in the area, including the largest, Bear Glacier.

There is only one road into the park. Most visitors arrive via boat, plane or on foot.

The park is a wildlife photographer’s dream with an abundance of bears, moose, whales and seals.

Hawaii Volcanos National Park in Hawaii

Established on August 1, 1916, Hawaii Volcanos National Park is located on the island of Hawaii in the eponymous U.S. state. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

As the name would imply, the park has two active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

The park provides jaw-dropping volcanic landscapes as well as rare flora and fauna sightings.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a natural wilderness area in southern New Mexico.  People visit to enjoy the visually striking landscapes, but the main attraction is the natural cavern for which the park was named.

This enormous cave is famous for its unusual formations. A large limestone chamber – the fifth largest in North America is over 4,000 feet long and 255 feet high!

Carlsbad Caverns virtual visit

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park is located west of Key West at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the westernmost outpost of the Florida Keys, one of the least visited and most isolated national parks, but certainly one of the most breathtaking with the lest disturbed and pristine coral reefs.

This isolation is one of the reasons for the abundance of sea life and tropical birds. The park is only accessible by plane or boat. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1976.

In the center of the island, taking up most of the land, is the massive Fort Jefferson, the third largest fortress in the United States.

Virtual visit to Dry Tortugas

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Enjoy virtual opera, symphony and jazz.

NPR has a list of live virtual concerts and other live performances streaming during the coronavirus shut-down for music lovers stuck at home.

*****

Explore virtual zoos and aquariums with webcams.

You can explore zoos and aquariums through webcams installed in the enclosures.  See what the zoo keepers and aquarium attendants see.

*****

Take a virtual cooking class.

Learn to cook with a virtual cooking class or improve your own cooking skills.  These courses from some of the same folks that offer online recipes are just the thing to entertain yourself as well as educate during these stay-at-home-times.

spices in spoons representing a virtual cooking class

You can travel through a country’s cuisine. Virtually visit Japan and learn the art of making sushi.  Delve into China’s ancient and fascinating culture while learning the secrets of stir-fry. Virtually bar hop Barcelona’s famous tapas joints while you explore Spanish cooking.  Bake a German cake, sauté an Italian sauce or flambe a French desert.  It’s all here!

*****

Attend a virtual school and learn…ANYTHING!

Take a virtual course. Class Central offers over 3,800 courses in fields such as personal development, social sciences, art and design and more!

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Virtually visit a city. Start with London.

Frontal view of Buckingham Palace

Visit London virtually. Start with a birds eye view from the London Eye then fly off to your favorite London attraction. See the crown jewels at the Tower of London, watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or go on the ultimate pub crawl through the streets of London’s coolest neighborhoods.

*****

Go virtual castle and palace hopping.

From Windsor Castle to the Palace of Versailles, virtually visit a wide range of castles and palaces around the world.

*****

Want to learn more about these destinations? Check out these guides.

Virtual tours of museums, castles, national parks and other attractions broaden your mind and feed your soul.

Want more cool things to do while you’re housebound? Check out these 35 things to do at home that are so much fun you won’t want to leave. And here are great gift ideas for people to enjoy indoors.

What are YOUR favorite virtual tours of museums, cities and the world’s other wonderous destinations? Let us know in the comments.

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post VIRTUAL TOURS OF MUSEUMS, NATIONAL PARKS, LANDMARKS AND MORE, FOR WHEN YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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STRANGE AND FUNNY SIGNS FROM AROUND THE WORLD https://travelswithtalek.com/strange-and-funny-signs-from-around-the-world/ https://travelswithtalek.com/strange-and-funny-signs-from-around-the-world/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2020 12:00:08 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25715 I love funny signs from around the world.  It is yet another way to peek into a different culture and learn something about the local population.  Many of these signs reveal a biting sense of humor. Others attempt to provide [...]

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I love funny signs from around the world.  It is yet another way to peek into a different culture and learn something about the local population.  Many of these signs reveal a biting sense of humor. Others attempt to provide helpful information to foreigners in broken English often resulting in funny and awkward translations.

Some signs might surprise and instruct as well as amuse. For example, did you know toilets around the world came in all different designs?  Large portions of the world are unfamiliar with flush toilets and don’t now how to use them because they are accustomed to perfectly functional squat toilets. Therefore, someone encountering a flush toilet for the first time may require as much instruction as someone using a sophisticated Japanese toilet. Helpful signs offering toilet use instruction are not unusual around the world.

funny signs from around the world

Some of the best funny signs from around the world revolve around rest-rooms; sophomoric humor, yes, but still funny.   Others include odd menu translations, bizarre admonitions and confusing warnings.  Attempts at humor, especially by local authorities trying hard to get a point across are especially comical.

I’ve collected samples of funny signs from around the world donated by frequent travelers. From Cuba to Japan, Australia to New Zealand, These funny signs from around the world are guaranteed to make you smile.

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Seen in a Beijing street.  No fighting!  No kidding!

stange and funny sign in China

 

Japan is famous for its sophisticated toilets and funny bathroom signs.  The country is a treasure trove of funny signs.

strange signs in Japan

Is this really a thing in Japan that there are so many signs warning against toilet peeping?  This almost looks like a sign saying “If you WANT a guy peeping over your bathroom stall you should come here.”

Peeping sign in Japan

Found on the back of a bathroom door in front of the toilet in Yangoon, Myanmar.

funny sign from Myanmar

Leprechauns are REAL!  They can be seen all over Ireland.

funny signs from Ireland

Talek blogs at Travels with Talek 

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These are some of the funny signs you see in Taipei, Taiwan

This sign has no existential angst. Where else would you be?

strange sign in Taiwan about where you are

 

Please reserve toilet for non-dumping activities.

Stange and funny sign in Taiwan about bathrooms

This is a tough one. You don’t know if its sexist… or what?

funny sign in Taipei

Beware the English interfacing gangsters!

strange sign in Taiwan about gangsters

Nick blogs at Spiritual Travels

*****

Here is one sign which really surprised us in Tokyo metro. It states, that explosives like ammunition and dynamite are allowed on board.  In other words, you cannot have MULTIPLE sticks of dynamite or LOTS of poisons and weapons in the metro, but a few of these…well…OK.

Funny signs from the Czech Rep about explosives

Matej blogs at Czech the World

*****

Sometimes you can get a good deal on a combo pack in China; a beer and a local chick.

Funny sign in Chinese restaurant

Self explanatory in Sri Lanka. There were many missionaries in the country during its colonial times.

Funny sign from Sri Lanka about directions

Jacqui blogs at Flashpackingfamily

This was taken in the deserts of Namibia where most of the the area is sand.  …Duh…

funny sand from Namibia

Jacque blogs at Safariafricana

*****

All of these places on the directional signs really exist. Imagine giving your address as “The Garden of Eden.”

Sign saying Paradise in Tasmania

Angie blogs at Where Angie Wanders

*****

Now here is a photo that, when taken just at the right moment, made a silly statement. Auckland, New Zealand.

Funny sign from New Zealand about Faculty Arts

Carole blogs at Travels with Carole

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This sign is at Rainbow Village on the outskirts of Taichung, Taiwan and is drawn in the same style as the rest of the art in the village. It’s right under a mango tree, which I guess often catches people unaware with its falling mangoes!

OMG! The mangoes are coming, the mangoes are coming.  Watch out!

Funny falling Mangos sign from Taichung, Taiwan about hazardous mangoes

Wendy blogs at The Nomadic Vegan

*****

We had waited until late afternoon to visit the very popular Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea. As we were strolling around and admiring the pretty architecture we saw this sign outside a drink shop which was now closed. I do wonder what peach lice tea would have tasted like!?

Funny sign from Korea about menu choices

Anna blogs at My Travel Scrapbook

*****

In Mexico, the repercussions of ignoring city directives against urinating in public are a bit extreme.

Funny sign in Mexico about urinating in publilc

Sean blogs at Living Out Lau

*****

Some signs in China are very polite

Funny sign from Xi'an China about video surveilance

Stephanie blogs at Explore More Clean Less

*****

This photo was taken in Singapore.

In Singapore, you will find that there are a lot of rules and that durian is a popular fruit (despite the smell)!

Funny sign from Singapore about fines

Francesca blogs at Homeroom Travel

*****

Here is a sign in my local park in New Farm, Brisbane, Australia. It is quite near the city’s most popular theater and entertainment complex, The Powerhouse ( a converted power station) so there a few theatrical type signs in the area.

I’ve walked past it thousands of times and it still makes me smile.

Notice sign in Brisbane, Australia about noticing signs

Sandy blogs at Greece Travel Secrets

*****

These are some of many examples of bad spelling in English and weird translating in Korean.

The ‘it’s my sack’ sign was from a train station in Seoul selling various snacks.
strange sign from Korea
“Narcotic hotdogs” are popular in Korea and this was a sign outside Damyang Bamboo Forest in Korea. They’re addictive, like a narcotic.
Funny hotdog sign in Korea about hotdogs
The elephant sign was inside a men’s bathroom in Korea on Jeju Island. I’m sure you can guess what it means…
Funny bathroom sign in Korea about bathroom behavior

Joel blogs at Joel’s Travel Tips

*****

Outside a bar in Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe, this restaurant requires a strict dress code.

Funny signs from Guadeloupe about dress code

Sarah blogs at A Social Nomad

*****

Taken in a bar in Havana, Cuba. They often have supply issues and you rarely get what you order, but at least this bar is honest about it!
I think the legs with spiked heels are weirder than the menu. Like, what’s the connection?
Funny restaurant sign from Cuba abut confusing menu selections
Jo blogs at  Lost Wanders
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This photo was taken in May 2015 outside the toilet beside Lake Bled in Slovenia. I had to laugh because the sentiment seems to be a world wide one.
Funny sign in Slovenia about men and women
Jan blogs at Budget Travel Talk
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Photo was taken in Shanghai, China.
The sign encourages bathroom users to save toilet paper. Translation: “I don’t want to be skinny for no reason. Please don’t use more than necessary and protect the environment.”
Toilet paper in China
Jess blogs at I’m Jess Traveling
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This picture was taken inside a women’s bathroom stall at an office in Luxembourg.

The office where the picture was taken is multi-national and not all nationalities know to brush the toilet bowl after a poo if marks are left.

Funny sign from Luxemburg

Jennie blogs at Where Jennie Goes
*****
The photo was taken in Iceland during one of the hikes we did. How close are you to nature?
funny sign from Iceland
Darek blogs at Darek and Gosia
*****
Seen in subway in Istanbul, Turkey
sign in Istanbul, Turkey
 Photo credit: Denise Bartel
*****
On a bus from Saigon to Siem Reap. Subtle instructions to not defecate.
Sing on bus in Vietnam
Photo credit: David Bishop
*****
I wouldn’t know how to knock the bell. Seen in Austria
Sign in Austria
Credit: Janet Jaffee
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How slow is mall slow? “Go Mall” means “slow” in Gaelic.
Sign in Ireland
Credit: Katrina Rowe
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Apparently there was an issue with parents allowing their children to defecate behind this theater prompting this sign.
Sign in China
Credit: Vivian Young
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Seen in Bali, Indonesia
Sign with misspelling from Bali
Photo credit: Lori Bousfield
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Confusing health instructions.
Confusing health sign
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Can’t get enough of these funny signs from around the world?  Here are loads of hysterical signs in these amusing books.

Do you have examples of funny signs from around the world?  Let us know in the comments.

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post STRANGE AND FUNNY SIGNS FROM AROUND THE WORLD appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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ONE NEW YORKER’S TAKE ON CORONAVIRUS https://travelswithtalek.com/0ne-new-yorkers-take-on-coronavirus/ https://travelswithtalek.com/0ne-new-yorkers-take-on-coronavirus/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2020 13:46:14 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25692 This New Yorker’s take on the coronavirus involves the movie industry.  The film industry loves to create disaster movies that destroy New York City. As I’m now under a city mandate to stay in my NYC apartment due to the [...]

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This New Yorker’s take on the coronavirus involves the movie industry.  The film industry loves to create disaster movies that destroy New York City. As I’m now under a city mandate to stay in my NYC apartment due to the coronavirus, I’ve had the luxury of time to count how many movies show NYC in various stages of destruction. Seventy so far, that I know of. Probably more, starting with 1933’s King Kong.

Among the most recognizable NYC destruction movies are Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, I Am Legend, the sci-fi classic, When Worlds Collide, Planet of the Apes and so many more. Even animated movies like to destroy NYC.

Why is that? Why New York City? Is there something in the world’s consciousness that says, “once New York City is gone all bets are off…game over.”  Is the destruction of New York City a projection of humanity’s worst fears?

Empty Central Park during coronavirus

An empty Central Park during the coronavirus

We are now in a real-life disaster. Perhaps the worse in my city’s history.

I was just a kid when I experienced my first NYC emergency, the blackout of 1965. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could sense the tension from the adults.

Nineteen seventy-seven brought us the great summer blackout. There were riots in the streets. My sister and I stood in front of our mother’s store with baseball bats to discourage marauders. Fortunately for everyone, especially us, no one approached us.

In April of 1980 we had the transit strike. I was working at my first job on the 17th floor of north tower at the World Trade Center which, 21 years into the future, would be reduced to rubble. I rode my bike from East 75th street all the way downtown – about 9 miles- to show up to work on time.

On February 26, 1993 a group of terrorists tried to bomb the World Trade Center. I remember thinking “do they REALLY think they could ever destroy the twin towers?” Seven years later, on September 11, 2001 they did just that.

New York City skyline

So here we are again. New York City is once again front and center in the news. And not in a good way. This time we are ground zero (there’s that reference again) for the coronavirus pandemic in North America and the world.

This time we can’t direct our outrage at any person, group or organization. We must, once again, do the best we can to soldier through, help each other and emerge stronger.

To that end, I thought I’d share a couple of websites that may help all of us, not just New Yorkers, to get through this trying situation.

So here we go guys:

How to sanitize packages from Amazon

How to safely shop for groceries

How to prepare your household for the virus

How to make your own hand sanitizer at home

How to avoid coronavirus when you leave the house

How to reduce anxiety over the virus

What to stock up on so you’re prepared

One Work Trade Center in New York City

NYC streets should be packed with people. They are empty.

If you are stuck and home self-isolating here are a couple of tips to keep you busy.

100 things to do while stuck inside during the virus

Virtual museum tours (this one is really good)

There is actually lots of good news and inspirational stories about people helping each other on the internet.

I’m looking out the window of my typically small NYC apartment. It is a crisp, sunny, cool and beautiful spring day. I see a guy walking his dog. A young biker transports home food delivery. A woman carries groceries. Everything seems so normal except everyone is wearing masks.

I wonder what things will be like in the future.

What are your thoughts on this New York’s take on the coronavirus? Tell us about your experiences with staying home and self-isolating?

*****

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa?  Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post ONE NEW YORKER’S TAKE ON CORONAVIRUS appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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TRAVEL BOOKS TO READ WHEN YOU CAN’T TRAVEL https://travelswithtalek.com/travel-books-to-read-when-you-cant-travel/ https://travelswithtalek.com/travel-books-to-read-when-you-cant-travel/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2020 12:00:14 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25676 When you can’t travel because you’re stuck at home self-isolating and practicing social distancing, pick up a travel book. Reading about travel may not be as satisfying an experience as the actual travel, but when you can’t travel, this is [...]

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When you can’t travel because you’re stuck at home self-isolating and practicing social distancing, pick up a travel book. Reading about travel may not be as satisfying an experience as the actual travel, but when you can’t travel, this is your next best option. Read about the places that move you. Allow yourself to be virtually transported to the villages of Southern Italy, the streets of New York City with its eclectic neighborhoods or Australia’s dynamic cities. A travel book can take you anywhere you want to go.

If you’re looking for the best books to read when you can’t travel, you came to the right place. We asked frequent travelers which books inspired wanderlust. Their answers are interesting and intriguing.

I love travel books. If you do too, you’ll appreciate these literary travel companions. Some are fiction books about travel, some are travel guides offering valuable travel tips and advice, but all are good books to read when you can’t travel. There’s something here for everyone.

Listening vs. Reading

There are times when you can’t pick up a book and read because it is inconvenient like driving (obviously), exercising, cleaning the house or falling asleep in the dark. Enter audible.com to the rescue! I banish boredom and restlessness by listening to a good travel book, or any kind of book.

I used to think that I wouldn’t appreciate listening to a book as much as actually reading. That I would miss the feel of a book in my hands. That I would somehow be betraying a precious, lifelong friend…a book. Actually the opposite happened. I started listening to books on audible.com and never looked back. I also saved a ton of money because audio books don’t cost as much as the real thing.

I recommend audible.com and for a limited time – actually until December 31, 2020- Audible.com is offering a free membership AND 2 free audio books of your choice. They know if you try them you will be hooked as I am. Use this link to get the promotion and tell me if I’m not right.

A styalized open book to read when you can't travel

Travel through a book

Eight of the Best Travel Books to Read When you Can’t Travel

*****

Ali and Nino

One of my picks for this list of the best books to read when you can’t travel is Ali and Nino. When I was a teenager in high school, I used to stop at a candy store that also sold paperbacks on my way to and from school. One day I found a book called Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. It was a Romeo and Juliet themed love story about a Muslim boy and a Christian girl. The story took place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. What impressed me the most about the book were the descriptions of Baku.  I felt I was inhaling the aromas of the roasting meats I was reading about and feeling the sun on my face in the plazas the author described. I fell in love with the place and determined to see it someday.

Years later I became a fan of Paul Theroux’s travel writing. His books on train travel fascinated me; The Great Railway Bazaar, Riding The Iron Rooster, The Old Patagonian Express and his most recent, Dark Star Safari.

Reading a small bio on Theroux I learned about one of his favorite books, Ali and Nino. He said this book made him fall in love with Baku, Azerbaijan and influenced his life-long passion for travel. I was amazed, delighted and intrigued that someone like Paul Theroux had the identical reaction to the same book as I did!…and around the same time too! It’s worth a read. Maybe you too will develop a passion for travel and fall in love with Baku.

*****

The Art of Travel

Popular sociologist, Alain de Botton tells us how and why to travel. With intelligence and wit, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in exotic settings as well as takeoffs at Heathrow.

Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book.

*****

A History of the World in 500 Walks

“I enjoyed reading it because it gives the reader so many great ideas of places to visit! My family and I enjoy hiking and this book has inspired me to learn about the history and culture of a destination by walking and hiking! Also includes great maps and important information to consider on each hike.”

Credit: Jacki Dyrholm

*****
An open book with illustrations you can read when you can't travel

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

This is the diary of the author, Dervla Muphey’s bicycle trek from France, across Europe, through the countries of Iran and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and finally terminating in India. She ventures alone accompanied only by her bicycle, which she names Roz.

Murphy not only survives daunting physical rigors but truly gets to know the people. She carried a pistol, suffered the usual stomach disorders and endured bad accommodations but reaped much local hospitality, too. This is a journey you won’t soon forget and the ideal book to read when you can’t travel.

*****

The Worst Journey in the World

This is the story of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. The author – who survived the notorious Winter Journey—draws on his firsthand experiences to create a stirring account of Scott’s legendary expedition. He himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through the author’s insightful narrative and keen descriptions that Scott and the other members of the expedition are memorialized.

*****

West with the Night

Beryl Markham was one of the first bush pilots. A British-born Kenyan aviator, adventurer, and author, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. West with the Night is her memoir, a unique adventure of a remarkable woman.

*****

A styalized book with a waterfall in it. A travel book to read when yu can't travel

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

I love traveling by trains; as the author quotes “…I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I were on it”. His odd experiences and acquaintances reminded me of some of my own that I will never forget. This travel book really made me want to travel.

Gina Theodoropoulou’s blog is Traveling Soul.

*****

Ten Years a Nomad

Written by Matt Kepnes, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day who also runs the award-winning travel site, Nomadic Matt.

This book isn’t just for frequent travelers, it’s for everyone who wants pro tips on how to explore the world. The author explains just why he’s been exploring the world for 10 years.

The book helps you realize how important travel is and how getting out there can make the world a better place.

*****
Do you have a book to add to this list of the best books to read when you can’t travel? Let us know in the comments below.

If you liked this post, you may also like my interview with travel expert, Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. You should also check out Best travel apps for worldwide travel.

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post TRAVEL BOOKS TO READ WHEN YOU CAN’T TRAVEL appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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PUNTA CANA SAFETY CONCERNS: PERCEPTION VS REALITY https://travelswithtalek.com/punta-cana-safety-concerns-perception-vs-reality/ https://travelswithtalek.com/punta-cana-safety-concerns-perception-vs-reality/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2020 12:00:40 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=25322 Punta Cana safety concerns were the last thing on my mind as I strolled through the honey colored beaches of one of the many resorts in the area. Safety concerns in Punta Cana were also the last thing on my [...]

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Punta Cana safety concerns were the last thing on my mind as I strolled through the honey colored beaches of one of the many resorts in the area.

Punta Cana Beach

Punta Cana beach

Safety concerns in Punta Cana were also the last thing on my mind as I swam in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, sampled the local cuisine, dipped in the plunge pool or explored the dense, lush rain forests. This is a paradise.

Punta Cana, a tropical paradise

Punta Cana is an island nirvana in the Caribbean on the very tip of eastern Dominican Republic.  The area faces both the Atlantic and the Caribbean and has ideal weather created by the ocean cross-breezes. Ringed with 34 kilometers of pristine beach, Punta Cana is host to numerous boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts.

I recently spent time at several resorts in beautiful Punta Cana as a guest of a consortium of hotels promoting the Punta Cana Promise. This Promise is an eight point pledge describing resort food and beverage safety guidelines, policies and security measures detailing what guests can expect at Punta Cana properties.

I was invited because the hotels wanted to communicate the message that it is safe to visit. And it is.

The importance of tourism in Punta Cana

Tourism is certainly among the top industries of the Dominican Republic. This vital revenue generator saw a sharp drop in visitor check-ins last year after several American tourists died.  These unfortunate incidents resulted a frenzy of negative media activity. All the deaths were found to be accidental or due to natural causes. Dominican officials called in the F.B.I. to do their own tests which resulted in a confirmation of no foul play.  In fact, the tourists to tourist-death-ratio was found to be within the standard norm. With over 2 millions visitors a year, the deaths, although tragic, were not unusual.

Still, good news does not sell, and the tragic events caused a reaction totally out of proportion to the facts.   The hotels responded with a concerted and coordinated effort to communicate the reality of the resorts’ safety and security.

Resort pool at Punta Cana

The concept of the Punta Cana Promise was always in effect. Tourist safety and security was always a prime objective of the hotels and resorts. Now it has become more relevant and urgent to communicate the Punta Cana Promise to prospective tourists who have many options for where to spend their tourist dollars.

Safety protocols dispel Punta Cana safety concerns

One of the Punta Cana Promise participants is the Iberostar chain of hotels.

Deep in the resort’s kitchens, and dressed in sanitary whites, I witnessed the extraordinary measures taken to ensure food safety from sanitizing glass water bottles (the hotel uses no single-use plastic bottles) to their vendor sourcing protocol.  Vendors must be approved by several levels of authorities both governmental and independent agencies certifying the vendors’ sanitary and quality compliance.

The kitchens were spotless and are subject to surprise inspections by independent international agencies. The staff proudly displayed the many certificates of food safety compliance received from the corresponding authorities. All certificates must be renewed on a yearly bases.

And did I mention the food was amazing!!!!

Seafood Platter at Punta Cana Worth mentioning is the sustainable tourism measures many of these hotels undertake. The Iberostar maintains coral nurseries to safeguard the delicate organisms and ensure their beauty for years to come.

The Melia hotel chain is also a Punta Cana Promise participant and is equally engaged in the safety and security measures.   From onsite 24 hour multi-lingual medical assistance and ambulances to their own fire department – we were reminded several times that the best fire is the one that is never started – the security measures at this hotel chain were impressive.

The staff to guest ratio is very high and employee training extensive. One interesting little tidbit of back office information: any employee that interacts with a guest has a mirror at their desk. They look in the mirror when speaking with a guest to ensure they are smiling which is expected to communicate a pleasant tone to the guest.

RIU hotels made me realize how it is virtually impossible to enter a room without at least seven people knowing who entered and having a record of it.  In this day and age, in hotels the caliber of these Punta Cana resorts, the room entry systems are so sophisticated they are virtually impregnable.

All guests are given a bracelet with an electronic chip that opens the door.  There are no traditional metal keys or key cards involved. Whenever a guest enters the room all they do swipe their wrist at the door to open.  All room entries are immediately reported electronically to a central control point as well as to individual phones belonging to supervisory and security staff. Any entry not caused by the guest or housekeeping is a red flag addressed immediately.

The housekeeping staff uses cleaning solutions certified by independent agencies, rooms are sanitized regularly, there are anti-humidity controls in the air-conditioning for guest comfort and rooms are closed twice a year for deep cleaning.

Upside down bar in Punta Cana

Notwithstanding these super security and sanitary measures, the most impressive security measure I observed was the bar controls.  Rather than have liquor bottles that can be opened outside of a controlled environment, the bottles at the RIU sit upside-down in a locked cabinet. Shots are poured through measured dispensers. The only time the bottles are touched are when they arrive in the room sealed and when they are empty and replaced.  Genius!

Other hotels visited included the upscale Zoetry with its holistic wellness approach and the lovely Bahia Principe Ambar with their extensive list of activities.

Perception vs Reality

If there ever was an abyss between perception and reality it just may be the safety and security of resorts in Punta Cana and the misguided perception that it is somehow dangerous for tourists.  I found Punta Cana safety concerns to be unfounded. The resorts are super safe, all the more so now with the attention given to the Punta Cana Promise.

Things to do around Punta Cana

All the hotels offer aquatic sports either internally or through local providers. These sports can include kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, group boat tours, surfing, catamaran tours and more.

Cabanas in Punta Cana

Swim with sharks and manta rays

One unusual activity is snorkeling with sharks and manta rays.  I decided to try this thinking it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The guide assured me the nurse sharks were yay big – he extended his arms about two feet apart – and that they were not dangerous.  Believe me, no matter how many times someone tells you sharks are not dangerous, once you get close to them your adrenaline starts to pump.

On the boat the guide said to me, “OK, go over there where the sharks are and snorkle around them.” I heard myself say “OK” and then wondered what possessed me.  I soon found myself in a little alcove snorkling near the surface of the water and looking down on not one, but four sharks all of which were considerably over six feet.

I felt a primeval instinctive fear looking at those sharks swimming so close to me.  They’re in their own environment whereas I’m in theirs. What if they come in my direction?! How would I get away? If it is possible to perspire in fear while underwater, I did it. But the sharks ignored me as a food option and quickly dispersed.

We also swam close to two giant manta rays called Big Mama and Big Papa.  I’ve never had an experience like that and will cherish the memory.

Parque del Este National Park

This is a biologically diverse nature reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Park. It is a paradise of flora and fauna with over 500 species of plant and hundreds of species of birds and fish. The park offers an ideal opportunity for hikers to explore many loop hikes inland and along the pristine beachfront.

The park is the site of more than 400 indigenous cave paintings attributed to the Taino Indians, the original inhabitants.

Flamingos

Ojos Indigenas Ecological Reserve

This 1500-acre nature reserve is used for scientific research, nature conservation and recreation. The reserve has many beautiful trails and freshwater lagoons you can swim in. It is also home to a small petting zoo and an iguana habitat.

Saona Island

This island is part of the Cotubanama National Park located south of Punta Cana.  You can reach it via catamaran (2 hours) or speedboat (about one hour) from Punta Cana. There are several companies offering this service from Punta Cana. Your hotel can also arrange a tour for you including lunch.  It makes for a perfect day trip from Punta Cana.

As a protected nature preserve, the island is pristine with water in beautiful varying hues of blue, waves and waves of coconut trees and thick mangroves.

 Santo Domingo

Two hours to the west of Punta Cana, on excellent roads, is the capital city of Santo Domingo. This colonial capital is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and, similar to the colonial historic center of Old Havana, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Santo Domingo has excellent international restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and interesting museums.

 

How to get to Punta Cana

Punta Cana is one of the easiest places to get to from virtually anywhere in the world.

With over 2 million visitors per year, Punta Cana airport (PUJ) is the second busiest airport in the Caribbean. There are many direct flights from U.S. cities, think Boston, New York, Atlanta and DC. Canada is not far behind with direct flights from Calgary, Edmonton and Halifax. There are a surprising number of direct flights from Europe; Amsterdam Frankfurt, Madrid, as well as from Latin America from as far away as Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile and much more.

The airport is in the town of Punta Cana so transport from the airport to your accommodation is likely to take a maximum of 30 minutes but probably much less. Many hotels and resorts provide shuttle service so check with your accommodation. Otherwise there is taxi service at the airport.

What are your thoughts about Punta Cana safety concerns if any?

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

BTW, if you are getting ready for your trip, make sure to take advantage of these useful, money-saving links to book your trip:

  • Research and book your flight with Skyscanner. I have found them to be the best because they list all airlines including the budget ones. You are always sure of having researched all options. You can also book your car rental through Skycanner.
  • For car rental in Europe that has flexible pickup and drop-off options, I recommend Auto Europe.
  • Book your accommodation with Booking.com. I find they have the widest selection and a nice, user-friendly, transparent website.
  • If an Airbnb experience is more your style, book Airbnb here and get a $40 credit towards your first stay.
  • Protect your trip and, more importantly, protect yourself with travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have been very happy with them.
  • Looking for a small group tour to unforgettable destinations with top professionals? Intrepid Travel is your choice.
  • For more general tours to any destination or attraction, book with Viator. Check them out.
  • Need a visa? Get your visa for all countries with iVisa.

I personally use, and can recommend, all the companies listed here and elsewhere on my blog. By booking through these sites, the small commission we earn – at no cost to you – helps us maintain this site so we can continue to offer our readers valuable travel tips and advice.

The post PUNTA CANA SAFETY CONCERNS: PERCEPTION VS REALITY appeared first on Travels with Talek.

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20 MOST SPECTACULAR PLACES TO VISIT IN ARMENIA https://travelswithtalek.com/20-most-spectacular-places-to-visit-in-armenia/ https://travelswithtalek.com/20-most-spectacular-places-to-visit-in-armenia/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2020 13:00:14 +0000 https://travelswithtalek.com/?p=20764 It is very difficult to narrow down the most spectacular places to visit in Armenia simply because there are so many. From the trendy capital city of Yerevan to the fascinating Armenian historical sites throughout the country, the country captivates [...]

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It is very difficult to narrow down the most spectacular places to visit in Armenia simply because there are so many. From the trendy capital city of Yerevan to the fascinating Armenian historical sites throughout the country, the country captivates and enthralls. There is something for everyone in Armenia where the people are friendly, the Armenian cuisine is unique and the landscapes are breathtaking. Come see this collection of the most beautiful places to visit in Armenia.

Armenian monastery, one of the things to see in Armenia

I recently spent several days in Armenia sightseeing in both the little known Armenian cities as well as exploring the top Armenia tourist spots. I didn’t expect to find so many things to do and must-see Armenia landmarks. I came away with a great appreciating for the country and the Armenian culture. As a result, I can heartily recommend a visit to Armenia. 

Before delving into the most spectacular places to visit in Armenia, I want to share some helpful Armenian facts and information.

Facts about Armenia

  • The population of Armenia is about 3 million with over one third in the capital city of Yerevan.
  • Armenia was the first country to accept Christianity in 301 CE preached by Saint Gregory the Illuminator.
  • Armenia is located the Caucasus region, between the Caspian and Black Seas, along with Azerbaijan, Georgia, parts of Russia and parts of Turkey.
  • Currency in Armenia is the dram. There are about 476 dram to the US dollar as of this writing.
  • English is frequently spoken in the tourism industry and hotels in major cities.  The younger the people the more likely they are to speak some English.  Older people are more comfortable in Russian.
  • ATMs are readily available in major cities, less so in the countryside.
  • The distance from the Yerevan airport to the city center is 14 kilometers, about 20 minutes.
  •  Charles Aznavour was French-Armenian. His real name was Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian and he is considered a   national hero in Armenia having assisted greatly after the earthquakes of the 1980s.

The Most Spectacular Places to Visit in Armenia

Yerevan 

This capital city of about 1 million residents is the type of place your could linger in indefinitely and one of the best places to visit in Armenia.  The city is beautifully laid out with excellent transportation options, a lively nightlife, good restaurants, helpful friendly people and a vibrant cultural life.

The must-see destinations in Yerevan are easy to find:

Start your Yerevan city tour at Republic Square, considered the center of the city. All roads lead from Republic Square.  Here’s where you find a good portion of the city’s cultural icons; the National History Museum and the Art Museum, conveniently both in the same building and worth a visit!

Another cultural icon is the Matenadaran, the nation’s repository of ancient manuscripts, gospels and other documents. Make sure to take the 30 minute tour!

A different cultural icon is the Ararat Brandy Company.  Brandy has a long cultural legacy in Armenia which is well represented here.  Take the tour, learn the history and taste the generous samples.  You will leave happy.

A fun place to hang out in Yerevan is the Cascade, a massive staircase rising to a view of Mount Ararat (don’t worry, there’s an escalator) and the Sculpture Garden below displaying sculptures for the likes of Botero and other prominent artists.

Sculpture garden in Yerevan, Armenia, one of the places to visit in Armenia

Mother Armenia, the statue of a woman holding a sword which looks over the city from a mountain top, is a beautiful structure as well as a national symbol. Make sure to see the small museum at the base.

Shop at the Vernissage market for local crafts and souvenirs and at the Gum Market to sample traditional Armenian delicacies. Yum!!

If you want to experience the Yerevan nightlife, go wander Saryan Street until you find your perfect wine bar or restaurant. This is where Yerevan goes to enjoy the evening in their beautiful city while they snack on “lavash” (goat cheese wrapped in Armenian bread with condiments), and a glass of wine. Saryan Street is the place to be in Yerevan for wine lovers.  And even if you don’t like wine, this is such a fun place to people watch, you shouldn’t miss it.

No matter what you do in Yerevan, no matter how long you are in the city, you cannot leave without visiting the Armenian Genocide Museum.  This well-curated museum explains the history of the Armenian holocaust at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.  It will give you insight into the culture and help you understand it.

Where to stay in Yerevan

Once you leave Yerevan, you begin to explore the Armenian countryside with its amazing landscapes.  One of the most beautiful sights is the view of Mount Ararat where, legend has it, Noah’s ark rested after the flood, with the Khor Viral Monastery in the foreground.  The view is picture perfect and a great photo opportunity.

Khor Viral Monastery View with View of Mount Ararat

Armenian monastery and Mount Ararat in background

Novarank Monastery

Two hours southeast of Yerevan is Noravank Monastery, clinging to a cliff, surrounded by rust-colored rocks.

This 13-century monastery is known for its carvings, one of which is believed to be the only image of god in the country. The monastery has served many purposes throughout the centuries. It was once the residence of high-ranking clergy which made the monastery a religious center. It was also a cultural center and even a library.

Novarank Monastery, one of the most interesting places to visit in Armenia.

Jermuk

Jermuk is the spa town in the area. During the Soviet Era Jermuk is where people came to enjoy fresh mountain air, lovely landscapes and “sanatoriums.” A sanatorium was a spa-type establishments that offered massages, steam rooms and saunas. The town’s principal draw has remained and flourished after the Soviets left.  Today there are some pretty good spas available at extremely reasonable prices. One example is the Grand Resort. 

Throughout the town you can see abandoned Soviet Era structures still standing like movie theaters and enormous hotels clinging from mountain sides.  It’s fascinating to see these relics of the past and imagine what life must have been like during Soviet times.

Another town draw is the health waters of Jermuk.  In keeping with the town’s reputation as a health resort, there is a fountain that sprouts what is touted as waters with health benefits from different sprouts. All the waters have different temperatures. Tourist drink the waters and have their photos taken in the arcade sheltering the fountain.

Salim Caravanserai

Between the towns of Jermuk and Noratus there is an ancient caravanserai.  A caravanserai is an inn used as a stopping point by the caravans as they worked their way across Asia.  The ancient caravanserai were instrumental in encouraging the flow of information, commerce, ideas and people along the trade routes of Southeast Europe, North Africa and Asia, particularly the Silk Route.

Today there are caravanserai that have been reconstructed and transformed into hotels serving the same purpose as they did over 1000 years ago. You can find many of them in Baku, Azerbaijan, once a central transfer point in the ancient world, similar to what major airline hubs would be today.

Doorway of Salim Caravanserai, one of the most interesting places to visit in Armenia Salim Caravanserai

The Salim Caravanserai in Armenia looks exactly as it did in the 13th century.  It is said that Marco Polo stayed there on his way to China.

What’s fascinating about this place is that you can see exactly what a caravanserai looked like and imagine how the people lived and travelled along the Silk Route.  There are separate rooms for the pack animals; camels, donkeys and horses.  The middle of the large room is reserved for cooking with an air chute still clearly visible above what was the cooking fire.  Directly in front of the animal stable section is the area where the humans slept and rested.

You can almost envision these long-distance traders wheeling and dealing and planning their next day’s journey by the light of the fire.  I found this to be one of the most interesting places to visit in Armenia.

Right outside the caravanserai an entrepreneurial couple sells souvenirs, Armenian delicacies and local flavored vodkas and brandies.

This is a must on your list of places to visit in Armenia simply for its uniqueness and historical value.

Lake Sevan and Sevanavank Monastery

Next stop, Lake Sevan, the Pearl of Armenia and one of the largest high-altitude fresh water lakes in the world.

Lake Sevan is a popular getaway spot for Armenians.  There are restaurants around the lake offering fresh seafood and Armenian delicacies.

A short walk from the lake is the Sevanavank Monastery.  Climb the 200 steps of the monastery and be rewarded by a spectacular view of the shimmering lake.

Lale Sevan, one of the best places to visit in Armenia Sevanavank Monastery, a must-visit place in Armenia

The monastery itself is also impressive. It is part of a complex that dates back to the 4th century CE.

One of the many legends surrounding the monastery is that it was built by a princess who dreamt that the 12 apostles flew over the lake and indicated to her where the monastery should be built.

Since that time the monastery has been a rehabilitation center for misbehaving monks, a center for illustrating manuscripts, a writers residence and a summer retreat for high-level politicians.

The monastery was originally on an island but during an industrialization project the lake was drained of 65 feet and the island became a peninsula although the locals still refer to it as an island.

The monastery is worth a visit for its architecture and breathtaking views of the sparkling azure Lake Sevan.

Noratus and the Khachkars

Of all the places to visit in Armenia, the cemetery in the little town of Noratus was the most fascinating for me.

I love cemeteries. I believe they are perfect history lessons about the area you are visiting. Cemeteries reveal customs, attitudes and beliefs. The cemetery in Noratus was no exception.

The cemetery at Noratus is amazing for many reasons but mostly for the abundance of khachkars.

A khachkar is a carved memorial stone frequently used as a headstone or a memorial marker.  These stones, also called Armenian crosses, usually contain a cross design and are found throughout Armenia and parts of Turkey.

UNESCO has included the khachkars along with their craftmanship and symbolism in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Armenian khachkars at Novratus, one of the best places to visit in Armenia

Dilijan

Dilijan is a town with a lot going for it.  It is frequently referred to as Armenia’s Little Switzerland because of its spa areas, beautiful mountainous surroundings and main street, Sharambeyan Street, built to resemble a Swiss Village.

The town is situated within the Dilijan National Park and has long been regarded as an artistic center where artisans can work on their specialties and sell their creations direct to the public from their work studios.

The other big draw in Dilijan is the fabulous collection of ancient monasteries within the Dilijan National Park.

Haghartsin Monastery in Dilijan National Park, places to visit in Armenia

One of the monasteries in the national park that is definitely worth seeing and probably the easiest to access is Haghartsin Monastery, This ancient structure is said to have been originally built in the 9th century – no one is really sure -and renovated extensively in 2011. It is a large complex with hidden passages and soaring spires nestled on a leafy green mountainside. This is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Armenia and a photo opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Right outside the monastery is a gata stand.  What’s a gata? A gata is a traditional Armenian pastry eaten as a snack with coffee or tea. They are baked with flour, sugar and butter and stuffed with a variety of fillings like nuts, raisins or various fruits. A gata can be as small as the palm of your hand or as big as a car wheel.

Gatas are eaten during certain holidays or for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes a coin is baked into a large gata and whoever finds it is said to have good luck for the coming year.

Each Armenian region has its own take on gata. The gatas at the Dilijan National Park by the Haghartsin Monastery are representative of both the Dlijan specialty and specialties from various regions.

Batches of gata are made throughout the day and its fun to watch them bake the delicacies from scratch. It’s even more fun to taste them right out of the oven. I tasted the blueberry gata and it was outstanding!

Insider tip: Get there early to avoid the crowds.  This is a very popular tourist spot.

Where to stay in Dilijan.

Vanadzor

About 130 kilometers north of Yerevan is Vanadzor, Armenia’s third largest city, the capital of Lori province and a major former industrial center in the Soviet Era.

As is the case with most of Armenia, Vanadzor is rich in archeological sites having been continuously inhabited since the Bronze Age. The city is decorated with lush gardens, pleasant pedestrian streets and broad plazas.

Vanadzor is also considered a major cultural center with many Armenians saying the country’s finest khachkars come from that vecinity.  Many artists make Vanadzor home including the inimitable Bogdan the khachkar carver who welcomes visitors into his workshop and regales them with his Armenian melody’s.

On the way back to the capital of Yerevan, two fascinating places to visit in Armenia are the monastery of Geghard and Garni. These two attractions can also be visited as day trips from Yerevan.

Geghard

If Geghard Monastery were in a country other than Armenia, it would be one of the top tourist attractions in the country. But  in Armenia, a country that is overflowing with UNESCO World Heritage sites, it is just one more must-see, jaw-dropping, amazing historical structure.

Geghard Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was actually carved out of the mountain!  When you see this place you can only imagine the effort that it took to accomplish this amazing architectural achievement.

Geghard Monastery, one of the best places to visit in Armenia

The legend is that the spear that pierced Jesus’s side was once housed at Geghard. This made it a major pilgrimage site. Today, Geghard Monastery is visited for its religious significance as well as its architectural achievement.

This site was built in the 4th century CE although the main chapel was built in 1215. What’s fascinating about Geghard and makes it one of the most interesting places to visit in Armenia are the adjacent chapels that were literally carved out of stone almost 1400 years ago with nothing beyond human and animal power.

Garni

A short distance from Geghard Monastery is the village of Garni with its magnificent temple.

Built in the 1st century CE, this ancient temple of Garni is the only Greco-Roman structure in Armenia.

There is speculation as to the temple’s original purposes. Some historians claim it was originally built as a temple to the local sun god.  Others say it was initially a tomb which is why it survived the destruction of the pagan temples when the area Christianized.

Garni temple, one of the best places to visit in Armenia

Whatever its origins, it is truly spectacular and a must-see site in Armenia. 

Where to stay in Garni

The Symphony of Stone

Nearby is one of the most interesting places to see in Armenia, the Symphony of Stones.

The Symphony of Stones are basalt column formations clinging to the cliff sides of the Garni Gorge.

Just before reaching the Greco-Roman temple, there is a road that takes you down to the valley. As you descend you will begin seeing the columns which continue to the valley floor.

This is a must-see natural phenomenon you will never forget.

*****

Armenian Cuisine

Armenian cuisine is not only about food, it is about culture.  Besides being delicious, many of the specialties have interesting backstories or are prepared using unusual methods.

Common ingredients in Armenian food include eggplant, lamb, cheeses -particularly goat, and bulgur or cracked wheat rather than rice.  These are not highly spiced dishes relying instead on the freshness of the ingredients for flavor.

The gatas mentioned above are very popular and after tasting one I can understand why. Biting into a freshly baked gata is a very rewarding experience.

Another amazing dish you will see at almost every meal is the lavash. Lavash is a thin flatbread cooked in a tandoor oven and eaten with various accompaniments like goat cheese, tomatoes, jams and herbs. It is frequently used to roll up the sides and eaten like a taco.

Just like a gata, a fresh-out-of-the-oven lavash is delightful.  Lavash is found throughout the Caucasus, parts of Turkey and Iran, but it is almost mandatory in Armenia.

The lavash and its preparation is such an integral part of Armenian culture that it was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2014.

Gata Armenian pastry Armenian lavash

The most interesting thing about lavash is how it is prepared.  The tandoor ovens can sometimes be underground. The dough is kneaded, placed on a cushioned platform and slapped onto the side of the oven. When it is retrieved, fully baked, it is hung to dry.  It’s quite a spectacle.

Does Armenia sound like a place you want to visit? Read more about this fascinating country in these guide books.


What are your thoughts on the best paces to visit in Armenia? Let us know in the comments which of these locations most impressed you.

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