Category Archives: World Travel

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?

Vagobond in Bulgaria – Part 1 – Sofia Tourist Sites

During the time I traveled in Sofia, I managed to see and do a huge number of things. I can’t fit it all in one, two, or even three posts. To sum up, let me just say that Sofia was a great place for me to visit. On the one hand that’s cool, but on the other, when the first act of a play is awesome, it makes the rest a bit harder to appreciate.

I mentioned before that one of the cool coincidence’s about my host in Sofia was that he had a website and magazine called Vagabond. In fact, that’s a bit of a lie. It turns out that he used to work and is still associated and friends with Vagabond Magazine. Tim, left Vagabond to start his own company, Intercontinental Recruiting, which finds Bulgariand and other Eastern Europeans jobs in Western countries.

Tim and I hit it off immediately.

Communist Stadium Bulgaria
Apparently the communists liked Tennis a lot.
First of all, he had me watch the video about Sofia, then we went for a long walk through communist parks, into a communist hotel, and past all the great sites we’d seen in the video. Along the way, we mostly ignored the sites and talked about what had brought us away from the USA, how we liked the countries we lived in, what we wanted from life, and how cool it was to actually see the old communist stuff. I’ll do separate posts about statues and parks and the various churches and places of worship in Sofia, Bulgaria later.

Here is some stuff that is already written over at WikiTravel. The pictures are from Tim and my walk.

Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe with ruins spread across the city center. It was founded because of the quality of its mineral waters. In the city alone there are 7 independent mineral water springs. Bulgaria hot springsOne of the springs is in the central area of the city and is accessible for everybody – cross the square behind the mosque, next to TSUM (the intersection of Iskar and Ekzarh Yosif streets).

In the administrative center of Sofia the streets are covered with a specific yellow pavement. It was laid in the beginning of the 20th century and were a present to the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand for his wedding from the Austria-Hungarian royal family.

* National Assembly of Bulgaria, 2 Narodno Sabranie Sq., ? +359 2 939 39 (infocenter@parliament.bg, fax: +359 2 981 31 31), . edit

Sofia University in Bulgaria* Sofia University, 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., ? +359 2 9308 (fax: +359 2 946 02 55), . edit

* Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1 15 November Str., ? +359 2 979 53 33 (fax: +359 2 981 72 62), . edit

 Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Bulgaria, Sofia * Ivan Vazov National Theatre, 5 Dyakon Ignatii Str., ? +359 2 811 92 19 (info@nationaltheatre.bg, fax: +359 2 987 70 66), . edit

* SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library, 88 Vasil Levski Str., ? + 359 2 988 28 11 (fax: + 359 2 843 54 95), . 08:30 to 20:30. edit

* National Palace of Culture, 1 Bulgaria Sq., ? +359 2 916 63 00 (fax: +359 2 865 70 53), . The biggest congress center in the Balkans (a massive monolithic communist-style building). If asking for directions, ask for NDK (en-de-ka), as most Bulgarians refer to it by this acronym. edit

* Central Military Club. It`s a multi-purpose monument of culture building in the city center

Back at his place we had a delicious Bulgarian meal of chicken and potatoes and drank a bit of bulgarian wine with Bulgarian friends. I got to learn about some Bulgarian traditions, Bulgarian monsters, and Bulgarian customs.

The next day I wandered

Cultures of India- An Introduction

India is sort of an overwhelming assignment, but guest blogger Laura Rutgers is willing to give it a try. To find flights to India use our Vagobond Flight Tool and for the best deals on hotels, try our India Hotel Search Engine

India has always been a captivating destination for travelers from all over the world. The enticing unity of Indians reflects a diversity of religions, cultures, customs and languages. This diversity itself is the pride of the nation. The living styles of people, their clothing, thoughts, food and culture, everything has imprints of this diversity. So much so that all together they seem to be a part of an inseparable unit. A traveler can feel this inherent character of Indian culture by simply passing across these streets for its diverse heritage.

Bollywood IndiaIndia possesses one of the oldest civilizations and richest cultural heritages on the planet. It has experienced a multifaceted socio-economic development in the last 61 years after getting its freedom from Britain.

Today, the country has become self-sufficient in agriculture and is now the tenth most industrialized nation in the world. A unique geographical position has given India a chance to develop a unique culture of the Indian subcontinent and this uniqueness is a big ‘pull’ factor for travelers from different countries who visit this amazing country.

culture of IndiaThis cultural uniqueness has become a type of magic attraction for curious travelers visiting India every year. The people and their peculiar lifestyles, their folk dances and music, art & handicrafts. All of these have epitomized the nationality of the country. Be it a festive occasion or a moment of grief, Indians participate in every occasion with an open heart.

Wonderous IndiaPeople wonder how a rural Indian calls any stranger as brother with such an ease. Following the philosophy of “the whole world is our family” an Indian welcomes any guest and offers the best of his hospitality to the person coming to his door. These characteristics surprise anyone who is coming from a distinct culture.

The diversity of India in terms of languages, religion, ethnic origin and geography has led to the development of this distinct cultural structure that has enveloped all differences in a common identity and from Kanyakumari, the outhermost part of India to the peaks of the Himalayas, the country shows a bondedness that is rare in any nation today.

Eyewitness Travel Guide for India
Lonely Planet India
Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India
Culture Shock India
A Girl’s Guide to India
India the Culture

India, is known as the land of surprises, and that is why it is one of the most fascinating tourist countries in the world. Most surprisingly the country has preserved its historical uniqueness and regional differences in language, religion, ethos, customs, traditions, food and even costumes.. Its glorious forts, temples, mosques and churches; tasty foods, colorful and vibrant festivals, all are yet intact with the common lives of people. Travelers get surprised to see strangers pouring colors on each other in the Holi festival and nobody taking that otherwise.

Dancer in IndiaMost famous cultural destinations of India that are reputed for their cultural and architectural uniqueness are Rajasthan’s palaces, Tajmahal in Agra, and Delhi the capital of India, which embraces culture, ancient glory and architectural riches altogether.

But if someone is searching for the cultural uniqueness, the best place to visit is Banaras or Allahabad, where thousands of people take baths in the holy water of the Ganges and meditate and pray for the freedom of their souls.

The search for the end of desires ends here, where people of any religion, any country, or culture live together, die together, and worship their different idols in their own unique ways with a common notion of getting freedom from the circle of birth and death.

This is India and it is magical.

Laura Rutgers is a dancer and photographer who lives in Palm Beach, Florida, USA. She has take a journey to India and plans to take many more.