Enjoyable and Unique Things to Do in Jakarta.

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If you’re looking for an interesting, unique and vibrant place to explore in Southeast Asia, Jakarta in Indonesia might not be the first place that springs to mind, but perhaps it should be. Why? Because there are so many enjoyable and unique things to do there…

Flagstaff, AZ – The top 5 Attractions.

Flagstaff, Arizona, is a beautiful northern city that boasts a hippy/lumberjack feel in extremely cool surroundings. The city is around a 4 hour drive north from Tucson and a 2 hour drive North from the state capital, Phoenix. The city is at a much higher elevation than Phoenix and Tucson, so has a much greener environment with lots of forests and grasslands. Flagstaff is considerably colder than its fellow Arizonan cities, so you should pack some long sleeves and trousers!

Iceland Bound? Here’s Your Must See List.

If you like your holidays to be full of adventure, Iceland is the ideal trip for you. It isn’t your average sunbathing, sand and sea, and you’re more likely to have a hot chocolate in your hand than a cocktail, but it will certainly be an experience to remember. Iceland is one of those places you absolutely have to see at least once in a lifetime, and with so much to do there, it’s difficult to narrow down your sightseeing list. So, if you’ve got a short time frame in Iceland, here’s what you need to prioritise.

Game of Thrones Tour

If you’re a GOT fan, you’ll already know that part of the show was filmed in Iceland. You can now follow in your favourite characters steps and explore the land where filming took place. The tour lasts all day and you may learn some facts you didn’t know.

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The Northern Lights

Let’s be honest, most people go to Iceland in the hopes of catching a glimpse of The Northern Lights. The spectacle known as Aurora Borealis displays a natural phenomenon in the sky where you can see an array of different coloured lights. It really is breathtaking. You can book a tour from Reykjavik at night and you’ll spend a few hours looking at Iceland’s finest scenery. If you’re unlucky and don’t manage to see the lights on your tour, you can usually rebook for free.

The Golden Circle

Taking a Golden Circle day tour will stop you at three separate places: Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park. You’ll get to see some fantastic Icelandic scenery along the way, but your stops are what you’ll really look forward to. The Gullfoss waterfall is mesmerising to see and a true inspiration to anyone who loves nature. You’ll also witness bubbling pools and tectonic rifts. It’s a tour worth doing if you want to see something truly different and rarely found anywhere else in Europe.

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Blue Lagoon

The famous Blue Lagoon is one of the best ways to take in what Iceland has to offer while feeling totally relaxed. Take a dip into the warm water, enjoying the geothermal temperatures and all the spa has to offer. Sip on an Icelandic tea (hot or cold) while walking through the surface mist that the lagoon creates. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or solos holiday, the Blue Lagoon always fits the description. You’ll be surrounded by amazing scenery, most of which has been created by volcanic action. You’ll be able to spy lava creations from your cozy spot and it will definitely be a night to remember.

Snowmobiling

If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junky, you can’t leave Iceland without having a go at snowmobiling. Imagine jumping on a snowmobile for the first time and being guided through the glaziers of lush Iceland and you’ll have an idea of how wonderful this excursion really is. Fly at speed through the powdered snow and get the thrill of a lifetime. Remember to wrap up warm and follow your instructor’s trail.

 

The Top 5 Epic Destinations On My Bucket List.

Everyone yearns to visit certain destinations more than others. There’s a certain allure that places a destination in your mind and it never leaves. You always have that urge to visit there and dream of the time you will spend exploring the sights. These destinations can be on our minds for years, it’s just down to us to visit them! Here are my top 5, one may raise a few eyebrows!


Seattle

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The city of Seattle, Washington,  is nestled away in the north-west corner of the USA. The stunning city is full of glimmering skyscrapers, including one with a flying saucer on top 😉. The quality that sets Seattle apart from other cities for me, is not its skyscrapers, it’s the surroundings: the city is completely surrounded by turquoise waters, emerald mountains, and lush evergreen forests just begging to be explored. Within the city itself lie thousands of open green spaces making Seattle a haven for lovers of the outdoors and nature. I haven’t visited the city yet, but I know Seattle would easily be a city I could live in.


North Korea

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With everything that North Korea is involved in at the moment (the closest thing to nuclear war since the Cold War, in case you’ve been under a rock), you’re perfectly within your rights to question why the country is on my list. The simple answer is that I’m just so curious about it! Now, I know curiosity killed the cat, but It’s literally the most isolated country in the world and it is so unique due to its harsh rulers. Foreigners are only allowed to enter after strict checks. Once in the country, you can only move about while being escorted by guides who watch your every move! So few people have visited the country and we know so little about it that I think it would be the most eye-opening trip that I’d ever been on!


South Africa

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I’ve always admired South Africans; I’ve met many in my life and I’ve always liked them a lot. My physics teacher and my favourite swim coach were both South African. Not only are their accents epic, but I always felt a kind of ‘no bullshit’ attitude emanating from them, which I love. Coupled with having great people, the country itself is beautiful as well. Now, I know the country is not without its problems; a lot of houses have to have armed response security due to the risk of armed robbery. But despite these problems, many millions of tourists travel to the country due to its epic scenery and culture. Towering over Cape Town you have the world famous Table Mountain, and within the country’s grasslands lie some of the best safari experiences available in the world. This is the location I would want to do a skydive!


Japan

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With its bright city lights, ancient traditions, great sushi, and advanced technology, Japan has always intrigued me. Tokyo is the largest city in the world and contains some of the most technologically advanced features in the world. Take The Bullet Train, this travels the length of the country at 200mph. Toilets in hotels will talk to you and put on a water display, the subway is super efficient (but super crowded), the people have amazing manners, and the nightlife is insane – check out the Roppongi district. Outside the bustling cities lie the Japanese countryside that is full of history and culture. Thousands of shrines and temples are dotted throughout the coutry accompanied by its majestic mountains terrain.


Antarctica

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Antarctica is the one with the penguins! I so badly want to go on a trip to this continent that I’m looking up cruises now! Whats better than visiting the region of the earth that is the least visited by humans and the most pristine. Here you see mother nature in all her glory; penguins darting in and out of the water, whales chasing their prey, and seals flopping around on icebergs. I mean honestly, what is better?! The main ways to see this continent are by cruise or air. On a cruise, you will likely be on an icebreaker that will navigate through the many icebergs and crash through the sea ice to take you to the action.

 

There are my top 5 destintions, what about you? Do you have any that may knock some of these off my list?

Michael x

Istanbul: The Best Off the Beaten Track Attractions.

Istanbul is located in the perfect place to enjoy a diverse mix of cultures and all the attractions that these cultures provide. Situated right in the middle of Europe and Asia, the country is a melting pot of huge civilisations. Imagine being on one continent, and then in an instant, you are transported to another one via a short boat or taxi ride. Its location makes Istanbul a very unique place to visit that very few other destinations can rival.

Istanbul’s major tourist attractions are the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and perhaps the Bosphorus River. It is possible to set sail on one of the Bosphorus cruise tours and discover this beautiful 30 km stretch of water which connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

While these are the attractions everybody knows. What other things could you do in Istanbul other than seeing the Istanbul’s historic centre? Well, I am glad you asked, let me give you some tips on how to explore the lesser known areas of this great city.


Fener & Balat Neighborhoods

Fener Balat Neighborhood

Istanbul used to be the capital of Ottoman Empire, a multi-national empire that lasted from the 1300s to the 1900s. Istanbul was at the heart of  this huge empire and had a large Jewish and Greek community

Fener (Phanar) was the major district for the Greek settlers who were living in Istanbul from the time of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Balat (Palation) was the place where the Jewish community of the city lived. There are still many synagogues around every corner of the neighbourhood. Both these districts offer architecture and food that has its roots in their respective native countries.

While cruising around the old and complicated streets of Fener & Balat neighbourhoods, it’s recommended to hire a tour guide in Istanbul.


Kadıköy At Istanbul’s Asia Side

Kadıkoy Local Markets Dessert

Kadıköy is a lovely spot for the locals to shop around. There are old dessert shops, fish markets, pubs and bars of the city. It’s a great area to walk around, observe the local life, and people watch. Modern and traditional lifestyle is blended in this nice district. If you are staying in a hotel at Istanbul’s old city, Kadıköy is accessible by a simple ferry ride only taking half an hour.


Sirkeci & Eminönü Neighborhoods

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Sirkeci Train Station used to be where Orient Express train arrived. It’s a special district where you can find some of the oldest Turkish Dessert shops (Especially Turkish Delight). A lot of shops in the area are very good for milky sweets: Hasan Usta, Hafız Mustafa, and Ali Muhittin Hacıbekir are all great sweet and chocolate shops that will surprise you with their fancy creations. Many historic sweet shops that are more than a century old Can be found in Sirkeci area.

Eminönü is known as the transport hub of Old Istanbul: People who want to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and other famous landmarks, first arrive at this sea-side district via ferry, bus, or car. Eminönü is famous for its vibrant Spice Bazaar (also known as Egyptian Market) and is one of the 10 must-see sights of Istanbul city.


Golden Horn District: Eyüp

Mosques of Istanbul

Eyüp is a holy place for Muslims due to the famous mosque (among Muslim World) located there which is called Eyyub Sultan Mosque. But Eyyub is not just for religious visits. There is a lovely hill near the mosque that is called Pierre Loti Hill. From here, you can enjoy the great views of Istanbul that are on offer at the top of the hill. A French Poet named Pierre Loti, spend the half of his life around this area and wrote his famous poems whilst looking at this view. Therefore local authorities named this beautiful area after him.

As well as the places listed above there is another very entertaining museum called Miniaturk. Miniaturk plays host to replica versions of many famous landmarks from Turkey. Small miniature models of Mosques, Early Christian Monasteries, Palaces, Temples and Ancient Cities can be found in the museum. Since Turkey’s land had been a cradle of civilizations, you may see what Turkey can offer by taking a tour through this modern museum. While seeing these beautiful places consider joining one of Istanbul guided tours to gain full knowledge and information about these sites.

 

The 5 Best Speakeasies in Chicago and How to Enter Them

We all love knowing that we’re visiting somewhere that not many people know about. You want to head off the beaten track, find a hidden gem, and go where the locals go. What’s better than doing this while also being immersed in some of America’s Prohibition-era history? Well, if you want to achieve this, then you need to head to one of a number of hidden speakeasy-inspired bars dotted around Chicago. Check out these five speakeasy bars in some of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods that offer that hidden gem feeling along with some of the best cocktails around.