Posts for Travel Blog Category

Enjoy Authentic Greek Cuisine at These 4 Destinations

Travel Blog, Travel Tips - Ross French - June 26, 2019

In Greece, both the sun and sea work together to open your horizons to all kinds of experiences; especially when it comes to discovering new tastes, aroma, and food combinations. Featuring a unique ensemble of Mediterranean cuisine, local produce, and fine spirits, the Greek archipelago offers an enormous repertoire of flavourful dishes that have evolved.

From traditional or modern, regional or Panhellenic, to sophisticated or straightforward, here’s are some places where you can discover authentic Greek cuisine in all its manifestations.

Combining the Flavours of Sun and Sea – The Aegean

The Aegean is one of the world’s largest island groups, each one of which features a specific microclimate.

The microclimate, in turn, contributes to the creation of a unique culinary paradise, not to be found elsewhere. We have the cuisine of the Cyclades, which is primordial and has a deep cultural connect. Some of the famous recipes with a distinctive character and heady aromas are:

  • Kassian pilaf
  • Aegean ‘makarounes’ (or hand-made fresh pasta with caramelized onions)
  • Sgardoumia (or offal soup from the island of Santorini)
  • Marathotiganites (or fennel rissoles from Serifos)
  • Dolmadakia made with herbs and vine leaves
  • Melitera (or sweet cheese pies with vanilla from Anafi)
  • Melopita (or the famous honey pie from the island of Sifnos)

A Taste of The Cosmopolitan – The Ionian Islands

The flavors at the Ionian Islands have distinctive characters and fascinating Italian origins. The trademark of the cuisine here is ‘savoro,’ which means sour and is a combination of rosemary and vinegar. Savoro is widely used to season and preserve both fish and vegetables.

Then we have the local favorite of ‘bourdetto,’ which is essentially the scorpion fish prepared in a red-hot spicy tomato sauce. When in the Ionian Islands, you can also explore other distinctively lip-smacking recipes including:

  • Strapatsada (or scrambled eggs with feta cheese and tomato)
  • Tsigareli (or cabbage/wild greens cooked in a spicy tomato sauce)
  • Ppastitsio this nonas (or mince and baked pasta with béchamel sauce topping)
  • Bakaliaros me agiada (essentially de-salted preserved codfish fillets prepared in a ‘skordalia’ garlic sauce)

The flavor of these recipes is increased tenfold with superb beverages such as kumquat liqueur and ginger beer. That said, don’t forget to finish off a delicious meal with mouth-watering Greek desserts such as ‘pantespani’ (syrup-soaked sponge cakes), ‘pasteli’ (sesame seed and honey bars) and ‘mandola’ nougat.

Experience the Elixir of Life – Crete

The island of Crete is a popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean, boasting of seductive natural landscapes and vibrant culture. That said, the island also features some of the most satisfying authentic Greek gastronomic experiences.

Therefore, when in Crete, be sure to discover the secrets of Cretan cuisine through a culinary tour of popular towns of Chania, Heraklion, Rethymno, Ierapetra, and Siteia.

Some of the most popular and authentic Greek recipes that you can relish in Crete include:

  • Chania pilaf rice (traditionally prepared with rooster)
  • Ofto (or roasted baby goat)
  • Fresh Greek salads
  • Dakos (or barley rusks cooked with soft white cheese, fresh tomato, and olive oil)

Enjoy the Magic of Cooking – The Dodecanese

At the heart of the Dodecanese islands, the culinary palette of Rhodes (the island of the Knights), Karpathos, Patmos, and Kastelorizo is a rich amalgamation of bold flavors and rustic origins. Over time, while the recipes have evolved to incorporate a variety of Eastern Mediterranean flavor profiles, they still have pretty straightforward preparations.

The real magic of authentic Dodecanese cuisine is best experienced through the following recipes:

  • Boukounies (or pork prepared in various herbs)
  • Xerotigana (or fried spiral pastries in honey or syrup)
  • Pastelaries (or dried figs with sesame seeds and almonds)

The Flavours of the Mediterranean are Best Explored in Greece

When it comes to combining quality ingredients with centuries of culinary knowledge, there is no match to the Greek cuisine. In Greece, dining is not just about having a multi-course meal. Instead, it is about coming together and sharing a meal with family and friends, in a casual and pleasant affair.

While there is no lack of fancy restaurants or exquisite seaside settings in Greece, some of the most authentic and flavourful food can be enjoyed inside no-frills places and humble downtown taverns.

If you too wish to experience authentic Greek cuisines in their original setting, be sure to check out the archipelago of Greece in its entirety.

To maximize your trip experience, you can start with finalizing your itinerary and making a list of towns and cities you plan to visit during your trip. It is equally crucial to create a financial budget for the vacation and purchase an overseas travel insurance policy to extend an additional layer of financial protection against any contingency.

With the help of overseas travel insurance; therefore, you can not only tackle any unexpected medical treatment expenses but also avail benefits such as coverage of trip cancellations, the total loss of checked-in baggage and loss of passport.

Just like you have a delicious pie or refreshing ice-cream to finish off a satisfying meal, buying overseas travel insurance too serves as a fitting endpoint for your travel preparations.

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5 Unique Experiences You Can Find in Las Vegas

Travel Blog - Ross French - April 1, 2019

Though Las Vegas is famous for its casinos, Sin City is home to so many other amazing attractions. From shows and sporting events to five-star dining experiences and some really awesome museums, there are all sorts of things to do and see in Sin City. Throwing a few bucks in a slot machine is part of the Vegas experience, but that shouldn’t be the only thing you do while you are in town – especially when there are so many other interesting things to check out. Here are just a few of the many unique experiences you can find in Las Vegas.

1. The Neon Museum

Las Vegas is famous for the bright lights lining the Strip. Once an iconic sign is removed, though, it often makes its way to The Neon Museum. Founded in 1996, it is unique sport serves as a repository for all sorts of Sin City history. The Neon Boneyard is filled with old signs from famous places like the Stardust, Golden Nugget, and Caesar’s Palace – some of which are lit up during the evening hours. Tours are available seven days a week, and you can choose from a self-guided tour, an hour-long guided tour, or a private tour.

Be sure to check out the gift shop, too. There you will find all sorts of souvenirs inspired by the bright lights of Las Vegas.

2. Vegas Indoor Skydiving

If you’ve ever wanted to try skydiving but weren’t thrilled about the prospect of jumping out of an airplane, you have to check out Vegas Indoor Skydiving. There you can experience the sensation of freefalling without actually having to dive from a plane when you are thousands of feet in the air. It’s an awesome, adrenaline-pumping experience that provides all of the thrills with a lot less risk.

Once you suit up and complete a basic instruction course, you’ll be taken into a padded wind tunnel to take flight. Inside the tunnel, you jump over a powerful DC-3 propeller that creates wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. The powerful engine keeps you afloat and creates the sensation of freefalling. If you want to skydive while remaining a lot closer to the ground, Vegas Indoor Skydiving is a unique experience that can’t be missed.

3. The Barbershop

The Barbershop is a Las Vegas bar with a little something extra. Instead of just serving up tasty cocktails, it also provides stylish haircuts to its patrons. Located inside The Cosmopolitan, it’s part upscale bar and part barbershop. It has the vibe of a probation-era speakeasy and is home to some of the city’s best barbers and bartenders.

In true speakeasy fashion, the entrance to The Barbershop is tucked away out of site, and entry is elusive. Once you’re inside, you can enjoy a cut or a shave while sipping on your favorite beverage. Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail, craft beer, or whiskey, the skilled bartenders are ready to serve up exactly what you’re craving in an atmosphere that is truly unique.

4. Exotics Racing

A trip to Exotics Racing is a must for anyone who has a need for speed. The original, largest, and best-rated supercar driving experience allows guests to pick from more than 23 racecars and 50 exotic cars. Whether you’re in the mood to try out a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, or just about any other high-end car you can think of, Exotics Racing will let you get behind the wheel and live out your driving dreams.

When you visit, you’ll first attend a briefing and learn how to best drive on the track. Next, you will ride along with a lead instructor in a Porsche SUV to see the track in person. The instructor will demonstrate the techniques you learned during your training session to ensure that you know what to do when it’s your turn to get behind the wheel. You’ll then be introduced to your personal instructor, who will accompany you during your driving experience. He or she will be there to help you take full advantage of the car and ensure that you stay safe.

All participants receive a certificate of completion after their racing experiences. You can also choose to invest in extras like drifting ride-alongs, onboard video, and additional laps. If you have a valid drivers license and a need for speed, make sure Exotics Racing is on your Las Vegas to-do list!

5. Shark Reef Aquarium

Get up close and personal with more than 2,000 creatures at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Home to sea turtles, a Komodo dragon, sharks, giant rays, and much, much more, this large aquarium also has an Animal Encounters program that allows visitors to get up close to feed stingrays, sharks, and sea turtles.
If you really want an exciting experience, though, you have to check out the Dive with Sharks program. This exhibit gives certified divers the opportunity to dive with a higher concentration of sharks than they would ever find in the wild. There are more than 30 sharks of various species, including sandbar, sand tiger, and white tip reef sharks. Participants in this once-in-a-lifetime dive get a guided tour of the aquarium, an exhibit and equipment orientation session with a dive guide, and memorable dive experience. Divers also receive a video of their dive and up to four guest admissions so friends and family members can watch.

Conclusion

Las Vegas may be well known for the glitz and glamor of the casinos, but they aren’t the only places worth visiting in Sin City. No matter what you are interested in, the city provides unique entertainment options for people of all ages. The unique experiences listed above are just a few of the many activities that you can enjoy while you are in town. There are countless things to do and sights to see. Stop by the concierge desk at your hotel to find out about the most unique things to check out on your vacation.

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5 Best Destinations to go Island Hopping

Caribbean, Travel Blog, Travel Tips - Ross French - January 24, 2019

Island hopping is a buzzing trend in the world of sea lovers where people go from one island to the other to reach the sea. The thrill of going from one place to other, covering all the islands in an archipelago, using different transportation systems – from boats to ferries, cars and airplanes – makes it a must-try for most lovers of the beach and sun. If you decide to go on an Island hopping holiday, make sure you choose your destination carefully.

Read on to know about five top places where you can do island hopping and have lots of fun with friends and family.

1. Greece

One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Greece works well for island hopping as well. The country comes with a number of beautiful islands like Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, Zante, Corfu, and so many more, which are bound to make your vacation prettier and happier. You can choose your itinerary as per your passions – go for the food or the iconic mythology – and enjoy the sun and the sea on one of the oldest civilisations in the world.

2. Caribbean Islands

One of the most popular destinations for island hopping, the Caribbean offers you a lot in terms of exploration. You can take a cruise or visit places like San Juan, Orcas Island, Guadeloupe and many more on your vacation. The sandy beaches and the turquoise water, mixed with the exquisite appeal of the local culture and traditions make the Caribbean a must add on your island hopping bucket list.

3. Fiji

No place in the world is better for island hopping than Fiji. Complete with over 300 plus islands, Fiji has a number of ferry/boat options to go through these islands and make your trip real fun. You can enjoy different cities and locales of the country if you opt for a combined set of places you want to visit. The blue, clear waters and the sand along with coral reefs make Fiji every bit as instagrammable as you imagine. You can also enjoy activities like snorkeling, surfing, etc. on your trip.

4. Florida

Florida Keys is the answer to all your queries if you want to go island hopping in the United States. The islands are perfect for a number of fun activities in the sea from scuba diving to snorkeling. The bonus are the beauteous Floridan sunsets. You may prefer to take a ferry which will make your trip even more magical. You can visit places like Islamorada, Dry Tortugas, Key West and Key Largo during your island hopping here.

5. Scotland

As with everything else in the country, the Scottish islands are a wonderful treat to all lovers of nature. There are around 800 islands, grouped in four parts – Shetland, Inner Hebrides, Orkney and Outer Hebrides, however, it is not exactly a tropical experience. The best thing about Scotland is the fact that you can drive around in your car, in some cases, from one island to another, which is good for travellers on a shoestring budget. Ferries also go from place to place, so be sure to check that out.

One of the best ways to enjoy island hopping and reduce costs is to have a big group. So, get out with your besties and go to the beach this year!

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Avoid These 8 Holiday-Destroying Mistakes Made by Miami Tourists

Travel Blog - Ross French - November 29, 2018

Whether you are planning a solo trip or a family trip, Miami has some unique experiences in store for you. However, to enjoy the experience, you need to be aware of some common mistakes that Miami tourists suffer for.

Booking Tours Without Comparing Packages

From water sports tours to Miami jet helicopter tours, there are a plethora of tours to choose from. Book a city tour for city sightseeing. Book a speedboat sightseeing tour, to enjoy the coastline. Book Miami jet helicopter tours to get an aerial view of both the city and the coast. When you book any tour, you should compare the tour packages of all the tour providers offering similar services. Check out their websites and book the tours in advance to get the best price. If you do not compare packages then you might be stuck with an underwhelming experience.

Sticking to South Beach

South Beach is where hordes of people go to sunbathe and enjoy beach activities. While you can enjoy activities at South Beach, you should also venture to other parts of the city. You can leave the beaches to visit Little Havana, the Art Deco District, and the Wynwood neighborhood and many more parts of the city.

Remaining in the City

While Miami city has its share of exciting places to visit, experiences are awaiting beyond city limits. You can visit the Venetian pools to enjoy the beautifully designed water park. A short helicopter ride can take you to the Bahamas for a day trip as well. Look for day trip options from Miami.

Depending on Public Transport

There are busses and a Metrorail system in Miami but counting on them can be dicey. The routes of the Metrorail are limited, and the busses are sporadic. Do not count on public transport, rent a car or hire taxis instead.

Tipping

When you pay your bill at a bar or restaurant an 18% gratuity is added to the bill. Most tourists remain unaware of the tip being included in the bill and proceed to tip their servers and bartenders twice. Always ask for a bill to check if you have already paid the gratuity or whether you need to tip separately.

Underestimating Costs

A night out in Miami can take a big chunk out of your budget. When you visit a bar or restaurant, you need to be prepared with extra cash. For a modest dinner, you need to budget $60-$70 per person. So, even with a well-planned holiday do not expect your vacation in Miami to be a cheap one.

Trying to Enter Famous Clubs

If you want to party at popular Miami clubs, then you might be in for a tough night. Getting into the hottest clubs in Miami can be an impossible task. If any famous DJ is playing at the club that night, then you might as well skip the club. Even if you do manage to get into the clubs, you will experience horrible service and a messy crowd.

Not Taking Enough Sun Protection

Whether you are chilling at the beach or taking Miami jet helicopter tours, sun protection is essential. Take the strongest sunscreen available and keep reapplying. Carry sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas to save your body from getting damaged by the sun.

Learn from the mistakes of tourists before you and enjoy an obstacle-free Miami holiday.

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Top Things to Do in Málaga

Italy, Travel Blog - Ross French - November 15, 2018

Located in the south of Spain, the city of Málaga is known for its beaches, beautiful cityline and a unique history. A centre of the Moorish empire, Málaga is also where Picasso took his first steps. All this cultural phenomenon has established the city as a global destination, making thousands of tourists visit the place every year. The city is quite tourist friendly, you can hire a car at the airport and getting around is thus quite easy. Read on to know more about the top things to do in Málaga.

1. Hang out with the local flamenco artists at Kelipe

In case you are a fan of the flamenco culture and want to explore the beauty of South of Spain, head over to this beautiful centre of art Kelipe. A tight knit community of musicians and dancers perform here, which means the audiences are a mix of locals and tourists, all of whom are in love with the folklores and the Spanish guitar. The place is located quite close to the city centre, and the ambience inside is finely curated to enable the visitors to feel the grace and frailty of this artform at its best.

2. Witness the regality of the Moorish empire at Alcazaba

Perhaps the most iconic structure in the whole of Málaga, this beautiful castle is so grand that its walls can be seen from the city itself. Many people prefer to walk up to Alcazaba, which makes for a picturesque trek. Its proximity to the historic Roman amphitheatre adds to the whole trip. Imagine courtyards, fountains and acres of lush gardens – Alcazaba has it all and much more!

3. Visit the iconic Catedral de Málaga

Another iconic addition to the beautiful city of Málaga, this grand cathedral is famous for its incomplete project – one of the bell towers which was never finished – which is why it is in fact named La Manquita (One-Armed Lady). The chapels and the domes full with religious art of the time make this place a must-visit on your trip here. You can also visit the museum housing several African artefacts of that period inside the cathedral.

4. Enjoy the early works of Picasso himself

Among other things, Málaga is famous as the birthplace of the iconic artist Pablo Picasso. You can pay a visit to his childhood home, where his parents lived before and after he was born. The city also is home to Museo Picasso, a museum housing many early works of the painter, especially in his early twenties. The museum itself is present inside Buena Vista Palace and holds several exhibitions from time to time.

5. Taste the authentic Asian in the middle of Spain at Óleo

After spending a day roaming in the streets of Málaga, one definitely needs a treat to rejuvenate. Enjoy a filling and delicious meal at Oleo, which is a minimalist restaurant located inside the contemporary art museum of Málaga. You can enjoy everything from sushi, sake, duck breast to unusual mediterranean food. The drinks and food here are sure a welcome distinction from the traditional Spanish fare.

So, how about packing your bags to jetset to Malaga on your next vacation!

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