Category Archives: Africa

Holiday Malaysia

Hottest Vacation Spots for 2014 Holidays

Here we are – already at the end of the first month of the New Year – of course, it’s the Chinese New Year now, so one could argue that we are actually at the first day of the new year, but I don’t want to confuse things more than I already have.

2014 is shaping up into a great year for travel. The economies of the world seem to be picking up, currencies are relatively flat or low in the countries that are on the hot list, and there are more places to go than ever before thanks to further development of travel infrastructure, expansion of budget airlines, and the world wide boom in the tourist economy.

Without further ado – here are my top five recommendations for the trip of a lifetime in 2014.

Turkey
Holiday in Turkey
I make no secret of the fact that Turkey is my top destination in any year. Why wouldn’t it be? With a fascinating 5000 year old history, incredible foot, glorious architecture, more Roman and Greek ruins and either Italy or Greece, astounding museums, The Marmara, The Aegean, The Mediterranean, The Black Sea, The Bosphorus, The Dardanelles, Europe and Asia, Cappadocia, and Istanbul – there is something for everyone in Turkey from mountain climbing to the staff of Moses and the sword of the Prophet Mohammad. Turkey is awesome and Holidays to Turkey in 2014 are better than ever – the Turkish Lira is weak against most currencies right now, infrastructure is solid and safe, and the government is adept at weathering any difficulties.  All of this and more puts Turkey at #1 on my Hot List.
Hawaii
Vacation in Hawaii
Is there ever a bad time to go to Hawaii? Nope. Swaying palm trees, hula shows, poke (fresh marinated fish), the exploding Hawai’ian cuisine scene, surfing, and hotels that always seem to be offering something new and special. Hawai’i is the queen of tourism for a reason. Here’s a great Hawai’i tip for you – prices are lowest at the times that students are in school. If the kids are on holiday, prices go up.  Here’s another tip – Allegiant Air flies from US cities and during low times you can find round trips for as little as $150 per person – but here’s the catch – no baggage allowance. Who cares? Leave the clothes at home and wear three layers when you get on the plane. Bring your toothbrush in your pocket. It’s Hawai’i!
Malaysia
Holiday Malaysia
I love Malaysia. Nowhere else do you get the same mixture of cultures and histories that you find in Malaysia.  It’s a country with amazing beaches, exotic wild life, a booming high tech scene, scrumdiddlyumptious foods and more than it’s fair share of islands and resorts. Nearly everyone speaks English and you can find fish and chips, Indian food, Malay, Chinese, and good old fashioned milk shakes (if you ask – and since everyone speaks English, that’s easy).
Malaysia is an easy, affordable holiday waiting to happen.
The Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains
Pacific Northwest Vacation
Get ready for some high flying marijuana tourism in some of America’s most beautiful regions. The legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington State and Colorado means that you can get a Rocky Mountain High or just get stoned watching the gorgeous sunsets on the Pacific Coast. Whether you want to check out the food truck scene in Portland, the awesome coastal areas of Reedsport, or head to Boulder to get stoned – you can expect to see a lot of hippie vans and tie dye along with plenty of ‘square’ types sparking up bowls. (Note: While recreational marijuana isn’t yet legal in Oregon you can expect that to happen very soon – things just take longer when everyone is stoned.)
Morocco
Vacation in Morocco
If I didn’t mention Morocco, I would be doing a disservice to a fabulous country and a fascinating people. A trip to Morocco is the  trip you will never forget. Morocco is a fairly laid back Muslim country that will overload your senses and blow your mind. No marijuana needed. The old medina of Fez is the world’s largest car free urban area and the only inhabited Islamic Medieval city in the world. Get lost in the more than 13,000 streets and have a tajine!
Those are my recommendations for 2014 – What about you? Where are your travel holiday hot spots for 2014?
retire in Hawaii

Finding the Cheapest (and Best) Places to Retire

I’m only 42 and retirement might seem like it’s a long ways away, but let’s face it – I’m already retired and I’ll probably never have the luxury of stopping working. But that’s me -

The truth is, for most people retirement seems like it’s far away and then whammo – it’s on you and you don’t know how it came so fast. Unfortunately, the horrible truth for most people is that when the time comes, they find that they have to downsize and lighten the load because social security, 401ks, and retirement funds never seem to be as much as you expected and – let’s be honest here – life is getting more expensive all the time.

It might seem odd, that a travel blog would be delving into the best places to retire, but in truth – that’s sort of what started this blog in the first place.  I realized that I could either keep slaving away in the corporate world or I could find a place more affordable and conducive to the lifestyle I desired. It’s always been about finding the best place to retire for me.

No matter where you retire, it’s always a good Idea to make sure you will able to retire comfortably. Many of us (especially those in the their mid-20’s and 30’s neglect the idea that one day we will have to rely on the money we’re putting away now. That’s where companies like Suncorp Super and the like come in, who can help you consolidate and manage your retirement fund so when your do retire, you can travel the world.

My own search has led me to some incredible places and not surprisingly, I always find a few retirees wherever I go. Here is a short list of some of the best retirement places I’ve found.

retire in Hawaii

1) Hawaii. Hawaii is great if you have money or you don’t have responsibilities. The weather is perfect, the people are cool, the culture is laid back and healthy – on the downside – it costs a lot to live in Hawaii. I loved living there as a single guy with no responsibilities, but I just can’t make it there with a family to support.

Morocco Retirement

2) Morocco. I’ve complained about it, but Morocco has a lot going for it. The food and rent are cheap and pretty good, the people are interesting and kind. The country is amazingly varied with the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Sahara, the Atlas Mountains, and astoundingly exotic cities and towns. On the downside, the religious nature of Morocco can be kind of a bummer. Still, where else can you buy a palace for $50k?

Turkey Retirement

3) Turkey. Beautiful country with fabulous beaches and mind blowing history. Great food, incredibly kind people, exotic culture, and open minded and progressive enough to satisfy anyone. On the downside – war in Syria next door and an increasingly religious oriented government that is curbing in freedom of thought and making things harder for the expat retirees who live there.

Retire on Oregon Coast

4). Reedsport, Oregon. I think my wife and I might be the only people in this town under the age of 65. Cheap, close to the coast, great beaches, abundant hiking and wild life, safe, and so far, the weather is fantastic. On the downside – we are the only people under 65 it seems and in terms of food and culture – there really isn’t any outside of our house.  Still, where else in America can you get a 3 bedroom house with a big yard, a garage and have access to a dozen lakes, beaches, three rivers, and more within ten minutes for less than $1000 – or if you have an RV for less than $300 per month?

What about you? What’s your favorite retirement city? Where do you want to retire to? What hidden gems do you love?

 

wonders of the world

10 Wonders of the World

The wonders of the world have been presented in various media with different listings, but there is a common agreement regarding seven of them, featuring in the “the 7 wonders of the world.”

However, taking the wonders of all ages into consideration, here are guest writer Gabriella Reznick’s top wonders of the world.

10. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

This is the only wonder of the ancient world that is still standing, and it is great in every aspect. Built over 20 years (2580-2560 B.C.), the pyramid held the record for the tallest man-made structure in the world (at 480.6 feet) for over 3800 years.
wonders of the world

9. Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Composing of large stones that are in a standing position, and form a circle, Stonehenge is believed to have been built around 2500 B.C. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Recent studies have led archaeologists to believe that it was used as a burial site in its time.

8. Golden Gate Bridge, USA

Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel for its times and can be considered a wonder of the world. Connecting San Francisco to San Marino, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by the Frommers Travel Guide as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed bridge in the world.”

7. Machu Picchu, Peru

The literal translation of Machu Picchu is “Old Mountain.” It is located 2430 meters above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is believed to be a Inca site.

6. Mount Everest, Nepal

Though not man-made, the absolutely amazing peak of Mount Everest certainly deserves a place in the top 10 wonders of the world, as a natural wonder. Standing at 8848 meters tall, it is the highest peak in the world above sea level, and was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

5. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Certainly one of the most known structures in the world, the leaning Tower of Pisa is indeed a leaning structure, standing at 55.86 meters tall. The Tower used to lean by 5.5 degrees, but restoration work carried out between 1991 and 2000 has reduced that angle to 3.99 degrees.

4. Chichen Itza, Mexico

Meaning “at the mouth of the well of the Itza”, Chichen Itza is a large site built by the Mayans, and consists of many stone buildings; all of which are under various stages of preservation. All structures are connected by a network of roads that were formerly paved, called sacbeob. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is monitored by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico.

3. The Coliseum, Italy

The Coliseum is a massive structure, which is actually an amphitheatre, and is the largest ever built in Italian history. The Coliseum is elliptical in shape and is capable of seating 50,000 people! Though damaged partially by massive earthquakes and stone-robbers, this marvelous feat of Roman engineering has stood to survive all the tough times, and is a must visit.

2. The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, meaning “crown of buildings”, is a breath-taking structure made of marble, and is located in India. Built over 30 years, the Taj Mahal comprises of a dome mausoleum, and also has the shrines of its creator, the emperor Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Begum, in whose memory the structure was actually built. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is a symbol of iconic beauty and love.

1. The Great Wall of China, China

This structure is also one of the most famous ones in the world. Built originally to protect the northern borders of China against attacks, the Great Wall is actually a collection of walls built across centuries by many dynasties. The whole series, collectively called the Great Wall, spans 8851.8 kilometers, and is a fascinating wonder.

Gabriella plans to visit all of the world’s wonders and blog about them at World Wonders but tells us that her site isn’t ready yet. If you would like to guest blog or submit your own list of wonders at Vagobond, submit your travel story, list, or tips for review using the button at the top of the page.