Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pura Vida

Next semester I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica and I’ve heard from several people how beautiful it is, how many awesome things there are to do down there, and how lucky I am to be going! Yes, yes, and yes. I absolutely can’t wait. 
I figured I would do a little research and I stumbled upon the 13 best things to do in Costa Rica.  Hopefully throughout my time there, I will be able to travel to a few of these places and I will certainly blog about it! 
To begin, this is the website that these things are coming from: http://travel.usnews.com/Costa_Rica/Things_To_Do/
#1: Nicoya Peninsula
It is recommended to go here because of it’s beautiful shoreline and beach, and dense forests. It is located in the northwestern tip and skirts out into the Pacific. It’s about an 2-3 hour car ride from San José. I might be able to go here because I will be living really close to San José.
#2: Arenal Volcano
Arenal is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. On the northern side of the volcano you can go to the Arenal Observatory Lodge and view the volcano.  It is recommended to go between February and April and you will have a better, unobstructed view. Perfect, because that’s exactly when I will be in Costa Rica! 
#3: Guanacaste
This is Costa Rica’s “Gold Coast” and it is one of the most interesting destinations.  It contains secluded beaches, dry sunny savannas, views of volcanoes and fishing villages. This hot spot is located on the North Pacific Coast. 
#4: Corcovado National Park
This 11,000 acre rainforest is a popular spot because of it’s diverse wildlife.  Some things you might see during a stroll though the rainforest are macaws, tapirs, jaguars, spiders and howler monkeys. It is suggested to visit in the mornings to see the most wildlife. 
#5: Manuel Antonio National Park 
This park is one of Costa Rica’s smallest, but within it’s three square miles there are untouched beaches and nature trails, beautiful rain forests and secret coves. This little paradise is located about 2 hours south of San José. I will definitely be trying to make a weekend trip here! 
#6: Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
#7: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#8: Jacó
#9: La Paz Waterfall Gardens
#10: Tabacón Hot Springs
#11: San José
#12: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
#13: Tortuguero National Park

My study abroad program has planned excursions on some of the weekends, I hope that we visit a few of these amazing places! I will definitely update this blog during my time in Costa Rica. 
Hopefully I’ll be sipping the most delicious coffee swinging in a hammock while a monkey plays with my hair.  That’s just a thought! 

It's Your City

Backpacking through Europe
Yes, I know it’s cliche, but who cares! Backpacking through Europe will always be that insanely cool thing that one of your friends did one summer in college. Well, that someone could be you! We’re back with EF College Break, but instead of a planned trip with them, we are going backpacking.  Why did I choose to go with EFCB? They hold your hand, but aren’t handcuffed to you.  EFCB includes tours and sightseeing of the biggest sights, but the remainder of your time is up to you. No curfews, no chaperones.  Backpackers spend lots of time trying to figure out where they’re going to sleep that night, but EFCB has your hotels and transportation taken care of so all you have to worry about is, wait.. NOTHING! All you have to do is explore, travel, immerse yourself! Backpacking with EFCB allows you to meet other travelers just like you.  Now you have friends to travel with and go clubbing with! Theres no restrictions on how much time you need to spend with EFCB so you can stay wandering around Europe after your EFCB trip has ended and use what you learned from EFCB and go backpacking alone.  And the part that all our parents care about, safety.  With EFCB it is nice knowing that IF anything were to happen, you have the support of EFCB and their staff to help you. 

This link (http://www.efcollegebreak.com/Backpacking/home.aspx) has tons of tips, stories, videos, pictures, and fun facts about backpacking with EFCB.  Take a look and I promise you’ll be looking for flights to Europe for the next 2 hours.

One of the greatest wonders of the world

The Great Wall of China: 

This wonder of the world is a must see on your China vacation! This huge dragon like wall slithers up and down mountains and across deserts. The Great Wall is about 5,500 miles long. 
Some of the sections of the all have disappeared throughout the years, but there are several sections that are still in tact and here is a list of some of the most famous sections. 

Badaling, Huangyaguan, Jinshanling, Shanhaiguan, Yanmenguan, Gubeikou, Jiankou, Juyongguan, Simatai, Yumenguan, Huanghuacheng, Jiayuguan, Mutianyu, Yangguan, Zhenbeitai

The Great Wall is a huge part of Chinese culture, mythology, and symbolism. So if you’re into soaking up cultures and traditions like I am, this would be a great place to visit and hear stories and traditions about the wall. 
There are so many tour companies that you can use to travel the Great Wall.  Spend a few hours or a few days hiking up and down the history filled dragon wall! 
Thank you Travel China Guide for the information! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Best Scuba Diving

#5 Greatest Place to Scuba Dive on Earth
If you’re an adventurous scuba diver, this is the place for you.  Belize is located in Central America and it’s caribbean coast is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving.  Belize is most famous for the Blue Hole which is an underwater sinkhole that drops more than 400 feet.  A variety of sea life is attracted to the second largest barrier reef located off the coast of Belize. The Western Hemisphere is home to four atolls, three of which are in Belize’s waters. Atolls shallow waters and deep walls offer leverls for all types of scuba divers. 
Blue Hole
A few of Belize’s best dive locations are
-Blue Hole
-Glover’s Reef Atoll
-Hol Chan Marine Reserve 
-Turneffe Atoll
-Half Moon Caye
The best time of year to go scuba diving in Belize is in late spring and early summer.  At this time of year, the risk of storms is low and the water is a perfect warm temperature! 
Here are a few links to some scuba sites in Belize!

Paris of the Mayan World

Copan Ruinas
Copan is a colonial city in western Honduras, home to the famous Mayan ruins.  A trip to the quaint town of Copan may include spending time with the Mayan Chorit people, sightseeing, and drinking DELICIOUS coffee.
There are several small hotels throughout the town and other places to stay, but I’ve found some of the best hotels are; Marina Copan, Posada Real de Copan, Plaza Copan, Camino Maya, and Hacienda San Lucas. 
Our hotel bar/lobby
I have been to Copan before and we stayed in a small little family owned hotel, but I can’t remember the name of it! The coffee shops were amazing and the mojitos weren’t bad either! There are a few bars and nightclubs that are slightly sketchy, but still a good time. Throughout the day you can spend a few hours walking around and taking in the towns natural beauty.  Have lunch at one of the street vendors tents and then stroll down the main shop street where there are endless street vendors selling authentic handmade souvenirs.  I got this super cool handmade dream catcher that is hanging in my room! 
View of the street from our hotel 
Although the town is adorable, the main attraction would be the Mayan ruins.  Visiting these was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would go back in a heartbeat.  There are so many different companies that you can use to tour around the ruins, but we just bought tickets and a tour guide at the main welcome center at the ruins.  
The guide took us through the ruins and explained the history and every little fun fact she knew about the ruins.  She stopped and let us take as many pictures as we wanted, which we really appreciated.  She even took us off the beaten path (our friend had some connections) to this old town that had houses and complexes and even tombs! 
There was an extra fee you could pay to go under into the ruins and see the tombs and things, but we didn’t choose to do that.  Mainly because we were on a crunch for time, but if I could do it again, I would’ve ventured down there for sure! 
Here are some of the TONS of pictures I took at Copan!
Map Layout of the Ruins 
Sacrificial Rock 
Dinner time en la calle (the street)
Main Plaza 
Beautiful mural we saw as we were leaving. Great memories! 

VIP access to the Eiffel Tower


Everyone knows the most popular place to visit in France is Paris because of the Eiffel tower.  So, if it’s that popular, I bet that there is going to be super long lines to get to it and to go on tours... Not for us! We have Viator.com.
If you read my last post, you would know what Viator is.  A quick recap: It is a booking website that gives insider access to different events and destinations all around the world.  I chose to use Viator to visit the Eiffel tower to avoid all the lines and loads of people. Let’s explore our VIP options...
-Eiffel Tower, Paris Moulin Rouge Show and Seine River Cruise
-Skip-the-Line Eiffel Tower Ticket in Paris
-Skip the Line: Eiffel Tower Tickets and Small-Group Tour
-Luxury Paris Day Trip with Champagne Lunch on the Eiffel Tower
-Eiffel Tower Dinner and Seine River Cruise
-Eiffel Tower, Paris Cabaret Show and Seine River Cruise
-Behind-the-Scenes Eiffel Tower Tour Including Champ de Mars’ Underground Bunker

-Skip the Line: Eiffel Tower Behind-the-Scenes Theatrical Tour
The list goes on and on! Take a look at the website to find what interests you during your Paris vacation! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Travel like an insider

Travel like an insider
Viator is Latin for "traveler" 

Viator is this crazy amazing website that provides you with an inside connection to different places around the world.  The Viator team handpicks tours and activities for all types of travelers to choose from. They have photos and reviews from travelers who have used Viator's services.  Over 3 million people have used Viator and have interesting stories and advice to give, so the reviews are very helpful to read! 
Do you like to wait in lines?... Didn't think so.  With Viator, you can get VIP access to several events for incredibly low prices.  
Booking through Viator is SO easy.  You just choose a country, city or region and start searching for the activities that interest you.  There is a support team available to contact 24/7 if you have any questions or need advice from a Viator team member.  You can also use this hotline when you are on your vacation.  Someone is always there to help you. 
Each month, there is a selection of top destinations picked by Viator insiders themselves.  A few top picks for November are Sicilian Cooking Class, Historical Mansions of Newport, Top Day Picks from Taipei, Avignon Roman Sights, and How To Navigate Souks in Dubai. 

Take a peek at their site and book your stress free vacation today!