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Our Most Romantic Places in the World

New York, Paris, Tuscany, Bruges, Turkey and the French Alps all make it onto our list of most romantic places in the world to visit for Valentines Day.

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Most romantic cities in the world

I am the first to admit that I am not a romantic person. In fact I am probably the most unromantic person I know. It may come as a surprise to you considering Adela and I have been together for over 5 years. And 3+ of those have been travelling as a couple.

Luckily we have managed to keep the romance alive while travelling, mostly in thanks to Adela. And it certainly hasn’t stopped us from visiting some of the most romantic places in the world.

Our most romantic places in the world

Paris

This wouldn’t be a list about the most romantic places in the world if we didn’t include Paris.

 Most romantic cities in the world

Nothing beats a stroll through the parks in Paris or underneath the harsh lines of the Eiffel Tower. Blankets, flower bouquets  bottles of champagne and hands entwined litter every grassy patch.

While lovers locks clasp onto the bridge railings crossing the River Seine. Each inscribed with declarations of love. I wonder if the relationships have lasted as long as the locks? More than likely some have gone stale over the years.

Tuscany

Tuscany is definitely one of the most romantic places in the world. When we were driving a scooter in Tuscany we came across so many medieval villages with their stone towers reaching towards the sky. Each more gorgeous than the previous.

Once you add food and wine to die for, you have a winner. We even popped into a small locally owned winery on our scooter and stowed a bottle under the seat to saviour back at our romantic Tuscan Villa.

Most romantic places in the world

Turkey

If watching the sunset over a small island on a traditional Sail Turkey Gulet off the coast of Turkey isn’t considered one of the most romantic places in the world, then I don’t know what is.

Most romantic places in the world

8 days of sunshine, swimming and sailing = bliss. Especially after spending the winter hunkering down in Edinburgh. Turkey is a truly magical place and will melt the iciest hearts.

You can even visit a traditional Turkish Bath, or Turkish Hamam, to ease any aching bones and cleanse yourselves. Although the romance could be ruined by a hairy Turkish man in nothing more than a loin cloth.

French Alps

White snowflakes drifting down past the window, a roast dinner and a glass of champagne sitting in front of a blazing wood fire? These are the sorts of romanticised scenes you see Hollywood playing out on the big screen all the time.

Truth be told, they are not far wrong.

Most romantic places in the world

But the reason we love visiting the French Alps is because we both love skiing adventures. There are not many activities more fun, and romantic, than skiing all day before sharing a Vin Chaud (mulled wine) at some of the best hotels in France.

Being able to find someone that enjoys the same activities as you is priceless.

Bruges

I have written in the past how Bruges is a fairytale city. It is even referred to as “The Venice of the North” with its canals and bridges criss-crossing the narrow streets.

Most romantic places in the world

Bruges is also well known for its chocolate, beer and lace.

Three things that will have most girls swooning in your arms in no time at all. To top it all off, at night the city looks like a Roman candle with the buildings draped in decorative twinkling lights and couples stroll hand in hand huddling close together to stay warm from the winter chill.

New York City

While it may not immediately jump to the front of your mind as one of the most romantic places in the world, we sure fell in love with the Big Apple. Maybe because it was the biggest city we had ever been to.

But more likely it was the vibrancy of the city. We could feel its pulse beating beneath our feet as we arched our necks between the skyscrapers. No matter what time it was, the city was alive and kicking.

Our most romantic adventure in New York was taking a sunset cruise across the bay to the Statue of Liberty. The New York City skyline  will take anyone’s breath away.

Most romantic cities in the world

Tell us below what you consider the most romantic places in the world?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Europe

How to Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day in Iceland

Find out how all about How to Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day in Iceland, including visiting Geysir and Gulfoss and staying at Vatnsholt Hostel.

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Self Drive the Golden Circle with Icelandic horses

Everyone that visits Iceland cannot miss the Golden Circle tour. But the ultimate question is whether you should see the Golden Circle with a tour company or self-drive the Golden Circle in one day yourself? I highly recommend doing the latter.

And if you want to self-drive the Golden Circle, these travel tips will help you on your next adventure to Iceland.

Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day in Iceland

How to Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day

Tour companies can be significant. But being herded onto and off a bus all day as you try to get around all the sites along the Golden Circle route seems ridiculous. Wouldn’t you rather have the freedom to stop whenever you wanted to take some photos, go toilet, or chill out staring at a waterfall?

Visiting Gulfoss Falls Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day

Visiting Gulfoss Waterfall – Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day

What kind of rental car do I need in Iceland?

Depending on the time of year and your travel plans, you should be fine just getting a small sedan. We hired the cheapest car from Hertz, and it worked out perfectly. Since we covered a vast distance during our entire trip, we wanted to make sure it was fuel-efficient and comfortable.

If you are heading there in winter (November – March), you may want to consider picking up a 4×4. Some roads can be closed, and the roads are very icy/snowy. Check the Iceland road conditions on this official website before heading out.

What is the best Golden Circle route I should take?

There are no set routes if you self-drive the Golden Circle. You either head clockwise or anti-clockwise. But the best part of the Golden Circle route is that you will have to try hard to get lost. That’s not saying it can’t be done because we somehow missed the turnoff coming out of Reykjavik, but you have to ignore all the big signs pointing out the attractions along the way.

You are starting from Reykjavik, head in a clockwise direction towards your first stop, which will be the Continental Divide between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You can go diving here and wander around for a good hour, exploring the many pathways.

Or if the wind is howling and it is freezing like it was the day we did it, run around for 10 minutes grabbing some photos, then bugger off again.

Silfra-Tectonic-Plates-splitting-in-Iceland.jpg

The next major stop along Highway 35 on your Golden Circle route is the Geysir minefield, aptly known as Geysir.

Stinking like rotting eggs, the sulfur and steam rise from the ground as you pull up to the information center and cafe. This is a perfect stop for a bit of coffee and a late brunch snack. If you do stop to warm your insides, then this also gives you time to judge your visit between any tour buses that might show up. Just wait half an hour, and they will all be herded back onto their diesel belching coaches, and you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity by yourselves.

Visiting Geysir during Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day in Iceland

Visiting Geysir – Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day

The final major stop around the Golden Circle is the cascading Gulfoss Waterfall.

We were a little underwhelmed as we were there at the end of the winter season, and a lot of the water was still trapped beneath the frozen lakes and glaciers to the north. Still, it was beautiful with the ice creeping up the frozen canyon walls from the bitter northerly winds while dripping icicles hung precariously over the waterfall’s lips.

Make sure you take the steps down into the canyon and walk along the river pathway. Well worth the mini-hike, and you can feel the spray from Gulfoss as you explore the path.

Gulfoss Waterfall Self Drive the Golden Circle in One Day in Iceland

While these are the three significant stops along the Golden Circle, these shouldn’t be the only reasons you stop.

Around every bend, along every straight, and over each hill, there are many photographic opportunities to snap. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. So while Adela was quite happy to keep her toes warm under the car heater, I was busy running around the car like photography loony.

Plus, have you seen how adorable the Icelandic horses are?

Self Drive the Golden Circle with Icelandic horses

Golden Circle Self Drive in Iceland

What time should I leave on my self drive around the Golden Circle?

Luckily as you are your boss today, you get to have a sleep-in and a leisurely start to the day. Most tour companies will leave before 8 am to have enough time to make it around all the sights and still be back in Reykjavik by 5 pm.

We left at 10 am, perfect because most tour buses were a couple of hours ahead of us. This allowed us to have a lot more space at the major attractions and not jostle elbow to elbow trying to get the best photographs. We also didn’t return to Reykjavik (see below), so we could take our time at each stop.

Where to stay if you self drive the Golden Circle in one day

While most people will base themselves in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, we decided we wanted to stay further along the South Coast as that was where we were headed next. Our choice was simple, the beautiful Vatnsholt Hostel in Selfoss. Plus, it is also one of the best places in the world to see the Northern lights.

Vatnsholt Hostel Review

Location

Vatnsholt is located just over an hour from Reykjavík off Highway 1. It is a perfect location after you have driven the Golden Circle as you don’t have to go back into the city.

The Rooms

Our room was private inside their old home, which had been renovated. There are other rooms there, with a big shared kitchen and lounge, but we were the only ones staying in Vatnsholt Hostel at the time.

Vatnsholt Hostel Review

The sunset from Vatnsholt Hostel

Other Amenities

The kitchen inside our apartment was perfect, and they had this crazy fancy shower with about 40 buttons inside. We spent ages just trying to figure out how to make it work! They also have free WiFi and are one of the best restaurants that I have ever eaten at. The breakfast buffet selection in the morning is never-ending (get the waffles), and make sure you eat dinner there at least once.

Staff

The owners are amicable and went out of their way to ensure we were comfortable, and well looked after. Make sure you ask Johann and Margret to show you the dancing goat video.

Social Atmosphere

There wasn’t much of a social atmosphere as it was the end of the winter season. A busload of tourists did show up around midnight to watch the Northern Lights one of the evenings, but we didn’t chat to them.

Cost

$60 US for a private room for two people.

Overall

We fell in love with Vatnsholt Hostel and would have stayed longer if we had the time. Unfortunately, we had to buzz off along the coast for a few days, but it would be the perfect base if you had an extra week or two in Iceland. The owners have also lived in the area for years, so they have plenty of local knowledge that you should use, such as finding the private geothermal hot pools up in the hills…

It is the best place to stay if you plan to self-drive the Golden Circle in one day and then explore the south coast afterward.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Vatnsholt Hostel, and thanks to HostelWorld for organizing, but as always, our thoughts are always our own.

Have you driven than the Golden Circle before? Or did you take a tour bus? What were your highlights?

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Inspiration

Minimize your environmental footprint when you travel

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adventure blur close up 346885

The world is full of so many miracles of natures, sites with history, and distant locales with simply delicious food. It’s no surprise that many succumb to the travel bug. Yet an appreciation of the world also comes with the need to take care of our planet, which is why many people are focusing now on their eco-footprint when venturing afar. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to help make an impact after the coronavirus. Likewise, click here to work on yourself in the meantime.

Our article describes ways to travel more ecologically friendly by being mindful of your transportation mode, switching to alternative power, reducing waste and carbon footprints, and choosing reputable and green-friendly travel providers.

Sail the Ocean Like Greta

This option may be more in line with some of our recent lotto winners, but it’s absolutely worth a mention. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg chose to cross the Atlantic ocean in an emission-free catamaran instead of flying by plane or other high-emission travel. While there probably aren’t too many catamaran’s and captains available, it’s still a great idea to remember that travel and vacation by wind power are an eco-friendly option.

Roccella Ionica

Replica Russian Viking boat

Go Electric for Roadtrips

Electric cars of old meant short trips, low power, and frequent plug-ins. But times have changed. Modern electric cars are packed with horsepower and have a lengthy battery life, making them fantastic cars for road trips. In fact, CNN notes that by 2040, more than half of new cars will be electric. Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels while you take in the scenery. Electric cars reduce noise pollution too.

Pack Light when Flying

If you must fly, reducing the weight you bring is a simple consideration that can help save in long-term greenhouse gas contributions. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. In addition to helping cut down on air pollution, you’ll also eliminate the risk of excess baggage fees or getting your bag rerouted.

Another friendly flying tip is to book non-stop flights when possible. Take-offs and landings are where the most fuel is wasted, so choose your flight path wisely.

What to pack for the Camino de Santiago?

Bring Your Own

When it comes to food and drink, you need to be strategic. You can’t bring a bottle of water through airport security, but you can bring an empty, reusable bottle. Simply fill this at a drinking fountain after you pass through the scanners and avoid plastic bottle waste as well as bottled water company ethics. On the other side of security choose food served with compostable plates or cutlery if possible. If you’re unsure of the food options coming up, pack some items that provide their own packagings – like a banana, apple, or avocado.

When you do eat and drink out on vacation, try to eat and drink local. Local foods create a lower carbon imprint since they don’t need to be transported as far. In addition, there is less difficulty in getting these foods to market, so they will taste fresher and require fewer chemicals and additives. If you’re shopping at a farmers market or just for souvenirs, bring your own reusable bag with you on vacation.

Check Your Hotel’s Reputation

Many hotels now are embracing green measures. Check to see if your hotel meets architectural LEED standards, or otherwise uses upcycled or recycled building materials. Look to see if they are associated with any environmentally supportive organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, or any of the local and national sustainability initiatives in their area. Look for the simple things, like if the hotel embraces smart laundry – avoiding fresh daily towels or linens without reason. Do they use single-serve shampoos, or offer bulk dispensers to reduce plastic waste. Last, see if your hotel participates in additional carbon offset measures, and volunteer to support these initiatives if possible.

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Travelling is good for the soul, but it’s time to make your travel good for the planet too. Choose your method of transportation wisely, traveling by ground or sea if you can. If you are limited by time or terrain and choose to fly in the smartest way possible, by reducing weight and excess plastic packaging. Select non-stop flights and shop smartly while you are away. Stay at green-friendly hotels and review their impact during your bookings. Every step counts when concerning the health of our planet. Your small choices can lead to big results long-term if you keep these eco-tips in mind.

 

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Inspiration

The Often Overlooked Benefits of Rail Travel

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Adventure Travel Tourism is Taking Off

Out of all the modes of transportation, planes, trains, buses, ships, rail travel might be the winner for long distance trips.

Why? Well, for one thing, there’s the sights that one can see, then there is the ability of the individual to meet others and enjoy a whole different experience while also potentially contributing to a cleaner environment as well by maximizing for efficiency.

Yes, trains could offer one of the most immersive travel experiences that you could enjoy in your lifetime.

Rail travel is great for a couple of more reasons as well. Think about it, once you are on it, you are good to go.

Rail travel doesn’t really rush you from one location to the other like you are a part of a flock of sheep (looking at you, airplanes). Instead, it gives you ample time to kick back, relax and enjoy the extended time it takes to get you to your destination.

Due to that reason, tailor made train holidays have gained quite some traction among those who want to not only travel the world as much as they could, but actually explore all of what the planet has to offer in all its natural glory. You can’t argue with that approach either – I, for one know that when I travel with friends or family, my journey has to absolutely live by that motto.

Granted, rail travel might not be for the fast-moving business people that have to make it to important meetings in quick fashion, but it is definitely the right mode of transportation for those who have got some extra time on their hands either due to a vacation from work or a break from school – or just because they have taken a leaf out of Richard Burton’s book and decided to travel across the world as a way of life.

If you fall under any of those categories or are just an adventurous soul who wants to enjoy their time off of everyday chores, then rail travel might just be the experience that you are looking for.

Here are a few reasons why experiencing rail travel could give you a little – or a lot of – something that you would cherish for the rest of your life.

The Scenic Sights Are to Be Held With Awe

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park

Peyto Lake – Visiting the Canadian Rockies by Train

No matter how many flights you have caught within your lifetime, watching a sunset through a plane could never beat the same sight when it is witnessed through some luscious mountains on the ground (trust someone who has experienced it firsthand).

While this is mostly due to the extra time that you get to enjoy the sight while traveling by train, the “backdrop” aspect of the scenic locations is what makes it a thousand times more magnificent.

This added effect of natural sight staging is not only reserved to sunsets, but depending upon the route of your journey, could very well extend to you witnessing sparkling waters as your train jumps through bridges as well. You may find you are practically hugging the clouds as the train goes through highpoints of elevation; or you coming face to face with glaciers as the railroad moves inches away.

Simply put, by getting into a train for your journey, you sign yourself up for an adventure of exploration, something which a compactly packed airplane or a single-worldview cruise ship cannot offer.

The Food Provides an Unforgettable Gastronomic Experience

When you are traveling, and especially when you traveling abroad, having great food is one of the most pressing concerns that you may have in terms of adaptability to the new location.

While food travelers like the legendary Anthony Bourdain may have introduced an entire generation and more to come to the gastronomic offerings of different cultures, it still does not change the fact that your taste palette – and more dangerously, your stomach – might not be as adaptable to newer cooking techniques.

No matter how bland airplane food could be, you end up wolfing it down in fear of what you might be offered at landing, but that bland concoction of ingredients itself does not go very well with your system.

On the other hand, when you take a bespoke, well-designed journey through a train, you open doors to let yourself enjoy a wide variety of foods that could rival a Michelin-star restaurant (that is, at least by the opinion of those who travel frequently by trains).

The menu in extended-journey trains is designed in such a manner where you could try various dishes each day of your rail travel, and still end up with plenty of options that you could enjoy on your returning journey home.

This provides rail travel with some well-earned brownie points. It makes sense too – after all, if you have to live in the train for a few days, why not live your best life while doing so?

The Cabins, Seating, and Entertainment Offerings Could Rival a High End Hotel

And not a creepy hotel from American Horror Story that would give you the heebie-jeebies either, but something that could provide some serious competition to high end vacation destinations.

From well-decorated and comfortable sleeping cabins to one of a kind parlor seating, depending on the train you select for your travels, you could enjoy an array of comforting spaces that would make you feel like you are on a moving vacation.

The entertainment spaces in these trains also seem to offer the world to their passengers. The details that are present within is what really makes the trip.

Think about it, you can enjoy a cocktail in a more extravagant fashion when you see sip while looking upwards through the glass ceilings that let you have a clear view of the morning sky or starry night thousands of miles above. Being able to consume drinks at the well-stocked bar built within the train does not hurt the experience either.

Similarly, the parlor and other common entertainment areas in such trains could also provide you with customized entertainment options, where you could read a book while sitting by the panoramic windows or enjoy a movie through one of the screens within the train’s fixtures.

All in all, the entertainment options in these modern trains have the ability to transport you back to the glory of yesteryears without the added hassle of living without technology. Only those who have experienced this mode of travel could really resonate with these words – which is why, if you haven’t done so, then this would be the time to book your rail travel vacation.

Rail Travel Strikes the Perfect Balance Between Relaxation and Activity

Rail Travel is great because it incorporates technology and simplicity, one can find the perfect balance between rest and relaxation as well as the ability to be active.

So, if you are planning to take a vacation soon, make it one that is centered around rail travel. While you might not witness a murder on the Orient Express, you could still enjoy all the amenities which that train had to offer – actually, much more than that, minus the homicide.

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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