Month: March 2023
Sleeping on a bench
It was the night before I was to leave for Amsterdam. I was in Antwerpen, Belgium at the train station. I really didn’t want to spend money on a hostel, because hell, that’s 45 Euros wasted. I am the Poor Travel Blogger after all, right?
The train station in Antwerpen is huge. I mean, it’s multi-level huge. They have three different levels of trains going anywhere in Europe you want to go. It’s a plethora of people and escalators taking them to the train they need. What does this mean for me? Plenty of benches to choose from. I needed a place to sleep. It was warm inside the train station and for the most part safe.
It was about 11 PM and I made my way down to the bottom floor of the train station. I had spent the day exploring the Diamond capital for all its glory, and frankly, I’d had enough of Belgium. I found a nice bench in a semi-enclosed glass area (I know, I should have taken a picture of it) and got to work making myself comfy. I set my backpack on the end of the bench, rolled up my jacket into a pillow, and laid down for the night. There was one other person sleeping there and for the most part, the place was empty. I had the thought to keep one eye open on this guy while I slept, but before I knew it, all was black and I was slumbering away.
Until that, I heard French being spoken to me. I opened my eyes, and there stood in all his glory, a police officer. I sat up immediately, shaking away sleep and I looked back at him and said “I am an American.” He nodded and instantly switched to perfect English. “Ah yes, I was just telling you that you cannot be in the train station after 1 AM, we close the station until 4:30 AM and it is not safe for you to be here,” he finished with a smile. Well well well, and for a second there I thought I was going to be in handcuffs. How fun was this? There were two police officers and one train security person that escorted me and the other gentleman that had been sleeping, out on the street. On the way, I made small talk with the officer and he was nice enough to tell me, after I asked him, that he personally didn’t care if I came back at 4:30 and slept until my train arrived. I laughed and shook his hand and walked out into the cold nightlife of Antwerp.
But what a great night it was. I was glad to have been awakened by the officer because I would have missed what this city had to offer at night. The town center was bustling with people from all walks of life, going from one bar to the other. I went to a nice little all-night diner and got a skewer with beef and veggies that were fried in oil first with a side of fruit (fries). While I sat there eating, a man complained to the cook behind the counter about not accepting his 500 Euro bill. I thought well duh, nobody accepts large bills like that, anywhere at night, unless maybe at a fancy hotel. The man yelled obscenities at the cook, which resulted in the cook vaulting over the counter and chasing after him with his shoe in hand. He must have really hit a nerve there with his words.
After my not-so-tasty meal, I sat outside of a bar and bundled myself up against the wind, and waited out the couple of hours I had left to wait. I watched people mill back and forth. One man asked me on three separate occasions if he could bum a Euro from me. I told him no, along with the other people he ran into. He was obviously in need of a fix. I had made sure to ask how long the bar was open, and the waiter just laughed with “sometimes until 6″. That was good enough for me.
It was close to 4:30 AM when I finally made my way back to the train station and I went back to my old spot, the hard wooden bench, and slumbered, somehow managing to wake up right before my 8 AM train arrived. What a fun night.
Things to Do in New Mexico
There are plenty of great things to do in New Mexico
That is the state question, of where I currently live, in New Mexico. If you go to most restaurants, especially a New Mexican restaurant, you will be asked this question. And it is basically asking about your preference for red chilies or green chili. If it’s your first time, ask for both on the side so you can taste them individually.
I’ve lived in the state’s largest city for a smidgen over four years now. And while I’m not thrilled with having been here that long, I still enjoyed New Mexico. There is a lot to do here in Albuquerque, much to the disagreement of some of the disgruntled locals. But they’ve never really been anywhere to appreciate what they have.
The city is fast growing and its youth crowd is bustling with artistic talent and new-age ideals. Culture is a huge mix of Spaniards, Mexicans, Germans, and Native Americans with lots of mixed races.
Variety in food is plentiful here with no lack of Mexican, New Mexican (there IS a difference!), Chinese, Japanese, and high-class multi-national restaurants. The top-rated restaurant in the area is “High Finance Restaurant”, but don’t let the name of the place fool you. While it’s the name suggests it is pricey, it’s not all that bad actually, but the food is delicious. It might also get its name from the fact it sits atop the peak of the Sandia Mountain Range. Accessible of course, by tram car or a long winding road. But if you’re in New Mexico, you have to take the longest tram.
When people think of “High Desert”, they probably envision something closer to the deserts of Arizona, or maybe even Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner (we have real Roadrunners here!). But that’s what’s beautiful about New Mexico, the vast variations of climate and altitude. Albuquerque itself sits right at about 5,352 ft. (ABQ Int’l Airport), while the southern regions of New Mexico like Las Cruces are at about 3,908 ft. The “High Desert” here in Albuquerque is actually a varying temperate climate, 90′s Fahrenheit in the summer and 40′s down to 20′s in the winter. It rarely reaches 100F. People stay cool in late summer with almost daily thunder-showers and all-year-long winds and gusts. While the winds may stir up the dust when it’s been a dry season, people still enjoy the cooling effects.
Albuquerque is speckled all over with parks, playgrounds, and recreational areas. When you’re sitting in the cool grass under the shade of a great Bur Oak tree, you really can forget that you’re in the desert. One of the best parks in my opinion is Roosevelt Park.
If you’re planning on visiting New Mexico, make sure you stop by the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This is one of the city’s most famous events. Albuquerque is known for hot air ballooning, as the wind is quite calm early in the morning, you can usually see a few balloons dotting the sky on your commute to work.
One of the largest booming industries here in New Mexico is the Film Industry! Driving around town, you just might run into a movie being filmed right in front of you. Some note-able movies filmed here are Terminator: Salvation, Thor, In Plain Sight series, Crash series, The Spy Next Door, Crazy Heart, etc.
There are many other things to do in New Mexico and lots of cultures to experience. There are great photo opportunities of picturesque landscapes and mountains as far as the eye can see. As the main hub of New Mexico, be sure to stop by and enjoy the natural and man-made splendors of Albuquerque!
Best Sights in Cardiff
The tourism trade in Cardiff is big business and it’s now considered to be one of the best alternative cities to visit in the UK. It may not have the array of attractions in comparison to somewhere like London, but Cardiff definitely has its own distinctive charm.
Read on for information about the type of things you can see and do in the Welsh capital and when it comes to booking a hotel in Cardiff, consider the Ibis hotel Cardiff gate as it has located near excellent transport links and is away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
The Millennium Stadium
Considered to be one of the finest venues of its type in both Europe and the world, the Millennium Stadium is a feat of architectural brilliance. Time your visit to Cardiff to perfection and you may be fortunate enough to attend a major sporting event (possibly a football or rugby match or a motorsport occasion) or a major music concert as some of the biggest acts around regularly play gigs at the Millennium Stadium. If not, then fear nor because you can still go on a stadium tour and learn how it was built and come away armed with an array of useful facts.
Billed as Europe’s largest waterfront development, Cardiff Bay has enjoyed a dramatic transformation over the last few years and is now a thriving hub of hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes and even more fine pieces of architecture. The Welsh National Opera can also be found in Cardiff Bay, which is a short walk away from the city centre, as well as an arts centre, science discovery centre and a 500-acre freshwater lake with eight miles of waterfront.
The great thing about visiting Cardiff is that the main attractions can be found right in the heart of the city or a brief walk away, like the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Castle, which is one of the leading heritage attractions in the UK. A host of special events are staged here throughout the year, from medieval jousting to family picnics, and food festivals to special readings. Learn more about the rich history and heritage of Cardiff Castle and explore the beautiful grounds.
Last Minute Vacation Tips
Summer is right around the corner, so that just means one thing – it’s time that you take a break from your busy lives and get your well-deserved vacation. But where oh where are you going to travel to these days? Surely there are going to be a lot of people who would try to get their hands on the best travel packages that are up for grabs. Summer truly is a time for most of us to get up and about. It’s one of those seasons where you can spend countless hours under the sun, enjoying the breeze, getting a tan, and doing whatever you would like to do.
Since there are a lot of us who would be going after the best deals both online and offline, it would be great to get last-minute deals as these could be cheaper. After all, not many would offer cheaper travel packages during this season as it is passenger season. And as we all know, business is always booming during these peak seasons. So what’s a traveler like you and me to do? Well, it would be a good idea to check out the internet for a last-minute vacation.
If you think about it closely, the best travel packages would most probably be given out around the end of the summer, so plan your vacation ahead. If you think that there would be crowds of people in a specific holiday spot that you would like for the summer then why not wait for the season to end? See if there would still be a lot of people enjoying the summer sun when the season is about to end. You’ve got higher chances of enjoying the holiday spot with a few other people, and not with a hundred people.
Sure, it’s going to be a fun experience having to party and spend your vacation and see lots of people celebrating along with you. However, not many people would want to be with crowds of people at the same time, especially when they are on their vacation as this would serve as their rest and relaxation period. Also, another reason that they could not want to be in a place filled with other people is that there would be fewer chances of having great rooms.
When on a vacation, most of us would want to get the best rooms. But sometimes, just so we could go on the said vacation, we would take the risk of camping out on the beach shores or staying in some mediocre apartments. It’s not that it’s a bad thing but we’re sacrificing our comfort for a few days of our holiday and vacation, which is why it is imperative that we plan our vacations ahead of time so we could get the best out of it.
In most cases, you may want to book tickets, hotel rooms, and the like a few days before the travel date. However, it would be a good idea to book way ahead of time. Just to be sure. And don’t forget the travel insurance or having the proper gear for your trip also.
Making the Best of a Family Vacation
Family holidays are what memories are made of – blue skies, sun-warmed skin, sandcastles and laughter. For a good, old-fashioned summer break, perfect for families and those seeking rest and relaxation, a great choice is Aguadulce. The good news is, it’s not too far away either, sat snug in southern Spain, so no long-haul flights or stressful transfers!
Low-cost airlines have made short-haul travel available to everyone, and costs are cut even further by taking full advantage of great-value airport extras. I recently used Manchester Airport parking and was really impressed with the service and price I got. This is a godsend for those travelling with children, as airport taxis can be expensive, not to mention stressful. If your flight is early, I’d really recommend an airport hotel, meaning everyone is chilled out prior to boarding and not ready to scream! There’s a great range of airport hotels to choose from a personal favourite of mine is the Jurys Inn at Heathrow Airport. I’d definitely recommend looking into it; after all, a good holiday deserves a restful start.
Once you’re in the resort, you’ll find it easy to get around, with a reliable bus network, however, I’d suggest hiring a car if possible, because the area around Aguadulce is really beautiful and worth exploring.
When I think back to my summer holidays, I always picture the beach, and even now this is where I centre my break. Aguadulce is blessed with a beautiful sandy beach – the perfect site for a day’s sunbathing. If you’re feeling the need for a cool down in the summer heat, then water sports are available too. Alternatively, for a less sandy, but no drier day out, nearby Roquetas de Mar has a water park and is a great fun day out for the kids, and big kids, alike.
For those that love architecture and history, nearby Almeria is the place to head. On the other side of the scale, nature lovers will love Cabo de Gata-Nijar, a nearby nature reserve, teeming with wildlife to spot.
Because this is a predominantly family-orientated, chilled-out kind of resort in Spain, you won’t find loud clubs and bars, instead, you’ll find laid-back bars and restaurants offering a peaceful type of entertainment. Food-wise, nobody will go hungry, as there’s a wide range of menus available, however, I’d definitely recommend trying some traditional Spanish cuisine whilst you’re in the homeland, and paella is the one to try.
Whether it be rest and relaxation or holiday fun with the family, I think Aguadulce ticks all the boxes. I’d really consider looking into airport extras to make your time away that extra special, and not travel headache-inducing, with airport parking and hotels making everything much less stressful. If you’re travelling from Heathrow the Crowne Plaza is a fantastic choice and offers great rates too.
Why not make some of those family summer holiday memories in Aguadulce?
Exploring Budapest, Hungary
Exploring The Historic City Of Budapest
The Hungarian capital is one of the largest and most historic in Europe, and it is no surprise that many people come to visit the city every year. Lying in Eastern Europe on the banks of the Danube down the way from Austria, Budapest has long been an important city in terms of the relationship between East and West, and the city was also an important power base in the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Today the city is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Europe, and it is a location that is well worth a visit.
Sightseeing In Budapest
The city of Budapest was originally made up of two cities, Buda and Pest, with one lying on each bank of the Danube facing the other, but there are also seven islands lying within the Danube across the span of the city. There are several parts of the city that have been recognized by UNESCO as important sites, and the Buda Castle is one of the most important today, occupying a prominent position overlooking the river. The opulence of the interior and the wonderful castle chapel are among the main areas of the castle to explore.
Another of the impressive sights to be enjoyed in Budapest is St Stephen’s Basilica, which is the most important Roman Catholic site in the city, where the right hand of the first king of Hungary is kept. The basilica stands in a prominent square and is a truly beautiful place to visit. The Hungarian Parliament building is also an important site on the tourist trail in Budapest, which also has a prominent location overlooking the river. For those who are looking to find out more about the city’s history, there are over 200 museums available to visit.
Relaxing In A Thermal Spa
Another of the reasons that many people visit Budapest is to visit the luxurious spas that are located around the city. The thermal springs in the area have meant that there are a number of grand medicinal and Turkish baths that visitors can enjoy, and relax while they receive a luxurious treatment.
Accommodation In Budapest
As a cosmopolitan city catering to all manner of visitors, the city can boast accommodations ranging from the basic hostel up to luxurious hotels. Staying in one of the many fab hostels in Budapest makes for a great base from which to explore this historic city.
Transport Around The City
Getting around the city is quite straightforward, with a good network of buses, trams, and a metro system that is easy to use for visitors. The Danube is often used by container ships and for the transportation of goods, but in the summer there is also a hydrofoil service up the river to Vienna, for those looking to explore a little further.
Although it caters for only a very short journey, there is a funicular railway that can take passengers up castle hill, and offers some great views back across the city. When looking for a good European vacation spot, this should be high on your list.
Top 8 free things to do in Paris
Paris is one of the world’s most beautiful cities in the world and it offers quite a lot of attractions but most of them happen to be really expensive but we have compiled a list of free things to do in Paris, just to prove that money isn’t always needed to have a great time in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Pompidou Centre:- This is a great alternative if you find the museums boring. The square in front of the building is a great place to see the amazing street performers. So this is something entertaining to watch and enjoy for free.
Parc des Buttes, Chaumont:- It is one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Its spectacular view of the city beneath is something pretty amazing. This park created by Haussmann is set on a hill, and it is a favorite place of the Parisians.
Galeries Lafayette:- This place plays host to really innovative fashion shows of designers and Couturier collections on Fridays. The show is completely free but reservations are necessary.
Notre Dame Cathedral:- This is a really nice cathedral not only because of the prayers conducted here but also because of its architectural beauty. Beautiful bridges and the calm canal give it a really nice view. The entrance and services are completely free of charge.
Jardin du Luxembourg Puppet Show:- If you’ve ever been to a puppet show you’d know how entertaining it is and that too completely free is something to be happy about. So The ThÃ©Ã¢tre des Marionnettes is located in the southwest corner of this park. Although the play is in French its really easy to follow, so if you’re looking for free attractions in Paris, this could be of interest to you.
The Curie Museum:- Named after the famous Marie Curie, this museum is quite a wonderful place to visit. Museum, which is located in the Curie pavilion which housed Marie Curie’s laboratory until 1934. This place is open all weekdays and afternoons and there is a guided tour in English on Fridays.
Music at Showcase:- This music place in Pont Alexandre III, you’ll be treated to free entry if you enter before midnight. This place hosts a lot of shows from Jazz to Rock shows. This place also brings together many of the world’s best DJs. This place attracts a lot of people from around Paris. So if you wish to visit this place, the place would be full of energy.
Sacre Coeur, Montmartre:- This is a really amazing and beautiful stone church located on a hilltop. The views from the top are really wonderful and exciting. The design and the building of the church is something else worth checking out. Take some time off and sit near the grassy part near the church and you will surely have a great time.
So these are some really wonderful things that you could do in Paris for free! So there is no need to think that Paris is only for the rich, not every city has great places for free but you just need to do your research and find out. So Goodluck if you’re traveling to Paris.
The Best of British Cycling Routes
When it comes to choosing a summer holiday, a week relaxing in the sunshine with a few beach books just doesn’t do it for everyone.
If you’re in search of a more active holiday and you’re planning to explore more of what the glorious British Isles have to offer, then a cycling holiday in Britain could be the perfect choice for you. Cycling holidays are affordable, easy to organize, and keep you in great shape – delivering you happiness, health, and relaxation from your holiday.
The choice of great cycling routes in the UK is pretty much endless, so this guide is by no means all that Britain has to offer when it comes to routes and trails. However, this selection has been based on some of the most popular and stunningly beautiful options. What’s more, these examples have been created to provide a comprehensive selection to suit cyclists of all capabilities and fitness levels. Hopefully, there will be something here that takes your fancy!
The Coast to Coast – Sunderland, Tyne & Wear to Whitehaven, Cumbria
It’s the ‘Holy Grail’ of cycling routes and the most popular choice for cycling holidays in the UK. The beautiful scenery of the Lake District and the numerous campsites, guesthouses, pubs, and cafes along the route is a massive pull factors for enthusiastic cyclists and the route attracts over 15,000 people every year.
However, no cyclist should underestimate the challenging nature of this 140-mile route, which takes you through the tough terrain of the Northern Pennines and reaches points over 2,000 feet high. It can leave you feeling as if you’re on top of the world – or England, at least – but the hills of this route shouldn’t be tackled without some sort of training.
If you’re in tiptop shape, it’s possible to accomplish the C2C in under 24 hours, although the majority of cyclists tend to travel at their own pace, enjoying the scenery and stopping off at places of interest. Whatever your fitness level, it’s important that you’re using a suitable bike for this type of route. A mountain bike will serve you well on short routes, but they’re too heavy for cycling of this sort. Opt for a road bike with a light frame, which achieves fast speeds with less effort. Check out the range of road bikes, available to buy online from Leisure Lakes Bikes to get an idea of what would be appropriate for challenging routes like the C2C.
The Camel Trail – Padstow to Wenford Bridge, Cornwall
For something a little bit easier on the legs, but with equally beautiful scenery, sample this 17-mile trail along the River Camel in charming Cornwall.
This disused railway line is a popular route that takes riders through some of the most stunning scenery in the South East and the majority of the trail is traffic free and flat, making it perfect for family cycling.
Highlights along this route include the picturesque town of Wadebridge. The town is the location of the Royal Cornwall Show, which takes place each June and is one of Cornwall’s biggest tourist attractions. As the name suggests, you’re likely to bump into a few members of the Royal family at this event, as they are known to enjoy the show’s horse-jumping demonstration.
The Taff Trail –Cardiff Bay to Brecon, Wales
If you’ve set your sights on a Welsh cycling holiday, look no further than the popular Taff Trail. Covering 55 miles along the course of the River Taff, this abandoned railway line takes in peaceful surroundings and the beautiful countryside of Wales.
A highlight along this route is Castell Coch: this unique example of 19th-century Gothic architecture is a Grade I listed building and will be recognizable to any fans of Merlin, Robin Hood, or Dr. Who, for which the castle has been used as a filming location. It’s open to the public, so remember to take your bike lock if you’re planning on doing some exploring.
This route is suitable for riders of all fitness levels, though parts of the route are made of up of rough terrain and rocky tracks, so using a mountain bike is highly recommended. Some areas are also quite remote, so it’s always a good idea to take things like puncture kits and a mobile phone in case you become stranded.
Top-5 Mistakes Avoid Trip London
Did you know that Victoria is the busiest of all tube stations in London? If you choose to stay at Central London hotels near Victoria Station, you can actually enjoy superb connectivity to the rest of the city. If you are in the city as a tourist, cheap and budget hotels in Central London prove to be ideal, not only because they offer a comfortable stay at reasonable rates but also because they are close to the prominent places of tourist interest. You can head to landmark destinations like the London Eye and Royal Albert Hall in a jiffy! Ideally, if you are visiting London for the very first time, studying the map of tube routes would be a great help. For instance, a Central London hotel near Victoria Station may also be close to other terminals like the Pimlico Underground Station. Unless you know the available options, planning your routes wisely would be difficult. Listed below are some of the other common mistakes you should avoid when in London for the first time.
Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Trip to London
Even before you plan what you will do on your vacation, make sure you book accommodation at one of the budgets and cheap hotels in Central London, like Sidney Hotel London Victoria, which offers you the best in comfort and amenities at the most affordable rates.
Apart from this, here are a few things to keep in mind during your trip:
- Paying for a Museum Visit is Sheer Wastage of Money: The best museums in London are free. So, paying to visit one is a costly mistake, literally! Head to the best of the best like The British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum, and National Maritime Museum and take a look at those splendid works of art without paying a penny.
- Never go to Buckingham Palace expecting to see the Queen: Simply because you witness the Union Jack Flag flying high does not mean that the Queen is in, waiting for you. You are unlikely to catch even the faintest glimpse of the royal family during your palace tour. The Queen is in only when you see more guards in red jackets and large hats around the palace. And even if she is in, it isn’t as though you would be invited to tea with her!
- Never stand on the wrong side of the sidewalk or the street: Cars drive on the left side of the road in this country and there may be signs telling you to “Look Right” or “Look Left.” However, pedestrian flow is always on the right. And when you are on an escalator, you need to stand right and walk left.
- The Tower Bridge is not the London Bridge: The original London Bridge is long gone. It was sold to Arizona long ago. There is still a bridge over the Thames but it is nothing unique and is much like any other bridge. This one is the Tower Bridge and not the London Bridge.
Now that the perspectives are clear, exploring London would be easier. There is the Gatwick Express for enhanced connectivity. You can also choose cheap and budget hotels in Central London that are close to other distinguished landmarks like the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, the Passport Office, and Harrods.
The Best British Beaches for Budgeting Travellers
The British coastline has been going through a period of regeneration in recent years with many of the top resorts upgrading their facilities and cleaning up the beaches in order to bring people back to the coast.
Staycations, where people choose to stay in Britain rather than jetting off to other countries, have become popular; especially since the public was forced to tighten their belts due to the recession. This has meant that the money has remained right here and the main tourist locations have reinvested that much-needed income into transforming the run-down coastlines into attractive destinations to attract families back.
During the 1990s the beach holiday was incredibly popular here in Britain, but by the turn of the century overseas holidays had become much more affordable and, because of the state of many of the beaches in the UK, more attractive. Something had to be done, and now, fortunately, it has been.
The British beaches are cleaner and much more in keeping with modern tastes and trends, and visitor numbers are rising year-on-year.
For someone who might be from overseas, however, deciding on which beach to go to might be difficult. After all, Britain doesn’t have its equivalent of Bondi beach, not unless you class it as Newquay in Cornwall anyway which attracts its fair share of surfers.
The one good thing about not knowing which beach to go to is that they’re all relatively easy to get to for tourists because you don’t really need to board a plane to go anywhere in the UK – you can do it all by road or rail. This means that all travellers looking to go to the beach, or anywhere in Britain, on a budget; are able to do so.
Great British Bingo, which compares the top online bingo sites in the UK, conducted a survey into the British public’s favourite beach, asking around 400 people for their preference in order to help people just like you to find your next ‘staycation’ or British beach break.
The results revealed that the most popular beach in the whole of Britain was Blackpool – by some distance. The town in the North West of England received 69 of the 412 votes in total, equating to nearly 17% of the poll.
Blackpool is famous throughout Britain for its Pleasure Beach and iconic Tower overlooking the whole town, even allowing you to see across to the Isle of Man and Ireland on clear days. It’s also famous for its illuminations, lighting up the whole coastline in the winter.
Blackpool came in ahead of Brighton with 43 (10.44%), Bournemouth with 20 (4.85%), Cornwall with 14 (3.44%) and, to round off the top five, Scarborough with 12 votes (2.91%).
When you break the survey results down into male and female votes, the top three remain exactly the same with women and Scarborough moves up to third in the male vote ahead of Bournemouth.
This proves that the results were pretty unanimous with both men and women in favour of Blackpool as the best beach resort in Britain, receiving 35 male votes and 24 from women in the survey. So the next time you’re looking for a few days away, don’t worry about breaking the bank to do it, get yourself to Blackpool!