Tag Archives: Travel

Travel Feature: Ecuador

Today’s Travel Feature brings us south, all the way down to the Equator!

Travelers to Ecuador will find endless opportunities for exploration, relaxation, and having fun! The biggest draw to Ecuador is that it contains breathtaking mountains, dense tropical rain forests, and a beautiful South Pacific coast line, all in one country! Here is some information on Traveling to and around Ecuador. Have you been to Ecuador? Please give your suggestions in the comments!

Flickr Creative Commons:  David Berkowitz

Flickr Creative Commons: David Berkowitz

Getting to and around Ecuador

It is very important to pay a visit to a travel clinic a couple months before traveling. Traveling to Ecuador requires a couple vaccinations and a Tuberculosis test. The practitioner should also prescribe you altitude medication, and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) in case you eat something you should not have.

Flights to Ecuador occur relatively frequently (depending on where you are traveling from), but the prices are based heavily on the day of week you travel. Additionally where you are traveling from and how many layovers you are willing to endure will greatly impact the price of your ticket. Make sure you are watching ticket prices at least six to eight months before your trip. Play around with the dates if you are flexible. The day of the week you depart can change the ticket price by a couple hundred dollars, which is true for any destination.

You will most likely fly in to Quito, Ecuador’s capitol. Quito is centrally located in the country, making it an easy starting point. There is also an airport in Guayaquil, and if you are going to Ecuador for the sole purpose of exploring the Galapagos, then you will probably fly straight from Quito to Guayaquil.

Many of the flights to Ecuador get in at night when it is dark. If you are unfamiliar with the Spanish language, and have never visited a South American country before, then it is highly recommended that you arrange for your hotel or hostel to pick you up from the airport. This is more expensive than taking a bus, but much easier. And if it is clear you are not a local, a taxi driver will charge you a highly inflated price for a ride.

Flickr Creative Commons: mark goble

Flickr Creative Commons: mark goble

Many of the hotels and hostels in Ecuador have websites with email addresses listed. You can arrange a ride to where you are staying in Quito for $20-$50 by email. This is worth the price. Ecuador is relatively safe, but everywhere in the world is more dangerous at, especially when you are a foreigner. You will feel better knowing ahead of time that your commute from the airport to your hotel is taken care of. When you get off the plane, make sure you keep all your belongings with you at all times. Theft is the number one complaint by travelers to Ecuador. If you are a smart traveler, you will not have any problems.

Now for choosing a hotel. There are tons of places to stay in Quito. The city is vast, covering rolling hills and valleys. For tourists, the best place to stay is around the Foche in La Mariscal. Mariscal is an area flourishing with restaurants, bars, museums, city tours, bus stations, and more. While reasonably priced, the hotels directly in or surrounding the Foche will be more expensive than ones that are further out. The weather in Ecuador is almost always nice, with more rain depending in the season. Choosing a hotel that is further away from the city center will not make your trip less enjoyable, just make sure you bring a map!

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete

Hostels are a practical choice if you do not mind using a public bathroom. Many of the hostels offer both private rooms and dorm-style rooms. Unless you are going with a large group of people, it is highly recommended that you choose a private room. If not, you and your belongings will be exposed to strangers. Still, staying at a private room in a hostel allows you to meet a lot of fellow travelers, while maintaining privacy and security.

Staying few days in Quito will suffice, but where to go next? Popular choices are the cities of Baños, Montañita, Cuenca and Guayaquil. Taking buses across Ecuador is extremely cheap, and (mostly) reliable. There are two bus stations in Quito: Terminal Quitumbe and Terminal Carcelén. The buses to popular destinations listed above all leave from Terminal Quitumbe in southern Quito. As a rule of thumb, the cost of the bus ride in dollars is equal to the length of the bus ride. For example, Quito to Baños is a four hour ride, and costs $4.

You can take a taxi from anywhere in Quito to the bus stations, or you can take a city bus. If you have a lot of belongings, it is advised that you take a taxi. Theft is very common for tourists on city buses.

So where are you going to go? Hopefully to all of them! To decide where, check out these helpful sites!

Briefly, Baños is great for outdoor adventurers and thrill seekers, but don’t forget the numerous spas! Guayaquil is perfect for scuba divers, nature lovers, and biology buffs. Cuenca is ideal for true outdoorsmen and explorers while Montañita is a popular destination for college students and party goers. The town of Canoa is a smaller surf town for those who want to go to the beach, but avoid all the college parties. Ecuador has something for everyone!


Flickr Creative Commons: Meredith Cook

Flickr Creative Commons: Meredith Cook

Things to be Aware of While Traveling

Altitude. Did you know that Quito is 9,350 feet? Follow the instructions for the altitude medication. For your first day in Quito, do not over-exert yourself. After 24-48 hours your body will be better adjusted for hiking and biking.

Again, watch out for theft. Keep eyes and hands on all of your belongings at all time. Be cautious of keeping everything in a backpack because you can’t see behind you. The goal isn’t to make you a paranoid traveler, or to keep you from traveling to Ecuador, just to make sure you keep your stuff!

ATMS: There are ATM’s in the major cities of Ecuador. It is rare that stores and restaurants accept credit/debit cards. Make sure your bank card will work at the ATMs Ecuador, and call your carrier to let them know you will be out of the country so they don’t suspend your card due to ‘suspicious’ activity. You should also have two credit cards (of different carriers) with you in the event that one does not work. It is important to take out cash before traveling to a smaller city – enough for your hotel, food, activities, and transport back to Quito, plus extra in case there is an issue and you have to stay extra days. If you can, avoid carrying all your money in your bag. Shirts with inside pockets or pouches that go around your neck under your clothes are good options to carry your money. Keep most of your cash on you, and some of it dispersed securely throughout your bags.

Street Food. It looks so good. But you should avoid it. Anything left out in the sun or washed with tap water can make you terribly sick and ruin your trip. Only eat fruit that you remove the outside peel before eating – bananas, mango, watermelon etc. Generally restaurant food is okay, but not always. This is what the cipro is for. Typically, if you abstain from eating all meat, even in restaurants, and street food, you can avoid getting a stomach bug.

Many Ecuadorians speak English very well, but many do not speak any English at all. You can almost always find someone to help you out with directions or instructions. It is still a good idea to brush up on some basic Spanish phrases.

Flickr Creative Commons: Stefan Krasowski

Flickr Creative Commons: Stefan Krasowski

SUNSCREEN. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are not from an area near the equator, you will need a LOT of sunscreen at a high SPF. Bring at minimum a large, full tube per week for each person traveling. This sounds excessive but fair-skinned people will want to apply sunscreen to every inch of exposed skin at least three times a day. The sun on the equator is strong, and severe sunburn can ruin a good trip.

There are many more aspects to traveling Ecuador that we are unable to cover here in one blog post. We hope this covers many of your major questions! Please leave comments and questions for us!


The 5 Most Unique Buildings Around the World

Ever come across dazzling architecture and think, “how?!”. Yeah, so have we.

Here we’ve gathered a list of buildings from around the world we thought were worthy to mention. Some even seem to be from the future!

1. Indira Gandhi Planetarium, India

From the exterior you can immediately tell this building portrays a planet-shaped like figure, specifically Saturn with a series of rings. The building was built in 1993, a bit before it’s time you could say. Definitely breathtaking.

2. Nautilus House, Mexico

Built 9 years ago by architect Javier Senosiain. The structure follow suit of its name, Nautilus. The buildings main purpose was to seem one with nature, which you could say was achieved. Even inside the building, you’ll find a garden.

3, Piano and Violin Building, China

This amazing building was built in 2007 and it’s located in Huainan City, China. This building required a team of people to design, and several students from the Hefey University of Technology. Truly charming, indeed.

4. PricewaterhouseCoopers Building, United Kingdom

Most green building on this list. Not literally, of course. PricewaterhouseCoopers’s building in the UK uses renewable energy sources with advanced technology. Almost a building of the future!

 5. House Attack, Austria

Located in the Moderner Kunst Museum in Austria by artist Erwin Wurm. The story behind this building is simply a family hurtling themselves onto the roof, which is why building is called “House Attack”. Creative, don’t you think?!


Well dear reader this is where we end our post. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this list and would want to share it with your friends. Maybe you’ve seen a couple of this? Send us pictures. Let us know which crazy building you’ve seen.


Find the original article here




Best Countries To Travel To These Holidays


Caught the “traveling bug”? We caught it too! We want to invite you to look at the five places we recommend you celebrate your holidays this Christmas. Maybe you’ve been to a couple of these, maybe we caught you at just the right time. Let us know either way!



Do you believe in Santa Claus? Perfect, so do we! That’s why we’re recommending Amsterdam, where the Santa Claus, or Sinterklaas, legend remains strong. If you can, stay for New Years where Nieuwmarkt or Dam square is known for their fireworks and merry crowd.



Those who live in the Midwest or anywhere that snows have at some point or other have learned to love snow. Waking up to those snowy days when we feel like doing nothing but staying in and snuggling next to a blanket. Waking up to these winter wonderlands is breathtaking, and if you feel like waking up to this every morning take a trip to Lapland, Finland, because it’s totally worth it.



Like big, tall, bright, Christmas trees? Take a trip to Munich, specifically Marienplatz where you’ll see hundred-foot-tall Christmas trees, and  two dozen Christmas markets. Sounds magical, doesn’t it?



Imagine this: walking down a snowy busy road, Christmas music, trees, lights everywhere. Do you think you’d like that? Well, take a trip to Provence, France where you’ll feel like doing nothing but making snow angels and dance around, and break out in a musical. Please send a video if you do!



Maybe snow isn’t your thing. Maybe you want to take a break from anything that resembles cold weather. That’s fine. We know the feeling. If that’s the case, then Puerto Rico is where you need to be this Christmas, maybe stay for New Year’s too! Because why not? Once in Puerto Rico take a walk in El Yunque rainforest and enjoy the nature and warm breeze. Then cool off next to the ocean at night. Be sure that wherever you go you’ll hear music, maybe a “Jingle Bells” set to a salsa beat. If you do —send videos, please!


So dear reader, this is where we say goodbye. But, before you leave us, tell us what your plans for these holidays will be? Traveling? where to? Feel free to tell us where you’ve visited before during the holidays! Safe travels!!

Oktoberfest! The Ultimate Fall Activity!

Beer lovers rejoice as 2014 marks the 181st year of Oktoberfest! This 16 day festival is the world’s largest fair and attracts over 6 million people from around the world. The locals call it “Wies’n” or the nickname for Theresienwiese, the fairgrounds where the festival is held. While this festival has been taking place annually since 1810, here at RNR we began to wonder…why is Oktoberfest celebrated in September?


Believe it or not, Oktoberfest isn’t completely misnamed because the original Oktoberfest was actually held in October (Oct. 12, 1810, to be exact). In 1810 the residents of Munich were invited to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig—the future King Ludwig I—and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. It featured a parade, dancing, horse races and of course lots of beer drinking. Needless to say, it was such a good time that the tradition stuck, and as time passed the length of the festival increased from one day to two weeks. Additionally, a decision was made to celebrate the festival earlier in order to avoid a snowy Oktoberfest. Thus, morphing it into the festival we know today.

The Modern Festival

While many may forget or not even know about the origin of Oktoberfest, today it is all about the beer and the food. This year, the festival kicks off on September 20th when the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg. After that, a steady stream of beer keeps flowing as nearly 7 million liters of beer are served- which is almost enough to fill three Olympic sized swimming pools! Yet steins usually run around 9-10 euros apiece, so drinking is not cheap. However, at the festival not any run of the mill brew can be served. The beer must meet Oktoberfest criteria (i.e. it must be brewed within the Munich city limits, have a minimum of 6%alcohol by volume and be fermented for a minimum of 30 days). Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu are among the approved breweries that visitors can expect on site.

In addition to enjoying liters of golden lager, visitors can also enjoy traditional German fare such as Würstl (sausages) Brezen (pretzel) and Knödel (potato or bread dumplings). But wait! There is more to this festival than brats and brews! For example, the Riflemen’s parade features horses, cows, goats as well as people dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes is a highlight of the event. Plus there are concerts, dancing, games and a host of other family friendly activities.

Luckily for those of us who can’t make it to Munich to celebrate, smaller Oktoberfests happen all around the world. And don’t worry, if you are of German heritage or not, its okay to let loose. If you are looking for more fun, try this quiz on 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Oktoberfest.  In the meantime, Prost! or for you non-German speakers “Bottoms up!”

Festive Fall Colors: Fantastic Foliage Drives

Each fall we can look forward to deciduous trees, or trees that lose their leaves seasonally to provide us with a dazzling display as the leaves change colors. Ranging from deep ambers to blazing reds, the vibrant display of colors never falls short of sensational. Luckily, we don’t have to travel far to see this striking phenomenon as it occurs from coast to coast. Because we don’t want you to miss out on this breathtaking event, we have mapped out the top ten fall foliage drives in the US. Who knows, maybe these scenic destinations may inspire your next road trip. So what are you waiting for? Hop in the car and go enjoy Mother Nature’s stunning colors! Find the full story including where to stay along the way and what to do here.

1. Aspen, Colorado

2. The Catskills, New York

3. The Berkshires, Massachusetts

4. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

5. Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

6. Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, New Mexico

7. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina & Tennessee

8. Upper Peninsula, Michigan

9. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Obviously these are just a few of the countless breathtaking fall foliage drives that our country has to offer. Again, for the entire list of the top 10 foliage drives visit fodors.com. If we missed one of your favorites, we would love to know! Give us your feedback in the comments section below!

Best Fishing Spots Near Louisville

You can read the full, original article here: Hook, line and sinker: 5 Best Places to Fish in (and around) Louisville | Insider Louisville.

Photo Credit: "Seven Swan A-Swimming at Taylorsville Lake" © 2009 by LouisvilleUSACE (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: “Seven Swans A-Swimming at Taylorsville Lake” © 2009 by LouisvilleUSACE (CC BY 2.0)

Louisville, Ky. might not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re thinking of outdoor summer fun and recreation, but it should certainly be on your radar. Not only was it named the Top Travel Destination in 2013 by Lonely Planet, but it has also been called America’s “Most Livable” large city. But don’t let that “large city” business fool you; Louisville still maintains the charm of a small, southern town with great local amenities and outdoor activities. The city is home to Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the upcoming PGA Championship, and so much more, including some of the best fishing spots outside of Minnesota (what can we say, we ARE the Land of 10,000 Lakes). Read all about those fishing destinations here, then let us know: have you been to Louisville? What was your favorite “catch of the day”? Shout ’em out in the comments!

Visit Duluth, the Best Outdoors Town in America

The full original post can be found here: Visit Duluth, the Best Outdoors Town in America – Minnesota Journeys – June 2014 – Minnesota.

Photo credit: "Sailing to Duluth" © 2010 by Randen Pederson (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: “Sailing to Duluth” © 2010 by Randen Pederson (CC BY 2.0)

Duluth was recently voted the best outdoors town in America, and it’s easy to see why. With 11,000 acres of green space, miles of trails, countless activities on Lake Superior, and so much more, the title seems quite fitting. The town is home to Minnesota’s largest 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and the city’s largest neighborhood festival, Spirit Valley Days, is coming up at the end of the month. Duluth is a true four seasons town and there is never a shortage of outdoor happenings for you and your family to enjoy.

Read more about how Duluth beat its competition here, then tell us, do you think Duluth deserves this honor? What do you love most about the lakeside town? Let us know in the comments!

The Do’s & Don’ts of Being a Tourist in Paris



The view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Look at all the tour buses down below! And yup, that tall black building in the distance is Montparnasse Tower.

Ah, Paris – the City of Lights, Love and…tourists!? That’s right, Paris is known for the hoards of tourists crowding the city sidewalks pretty much 24/7, any time of the year. But despite the millions of people that visit the city annually, there is still something magical about Paris, whether it’s the history, the sights, or – gasp! – the Parisians themselves. Whatever it is that draws people in, you don’t want to be the tourist that sticks out like the Montparnasse Tower. There are certain things you can do to blend in with the French natives, while still experiencing all of the “touristy” things the city has to offer. On the flip side, there are things you definitely should not do, lest you want to seem like the obnoxious, pesky tourist that Parisians have become so tired of encountering.


1. Do wear comfortable but stylish shoes.

Despite its size, the city is actually quite walkable, so make sure your shoes are durable and comfortable. But, considering that it’s Paris (aka the fashion capital of the world), try to avoid wearing clunky tennis shoes (or infinitely worse, Crocs). Instead, upgrade to a pair of quality loafers or flats, which are oh-so-chic. That way you can walk the city all day and night, and look good doing it! However, if your dogs do end up hurting by the end of the day, remember that the city has one of the most advanced mass transit systems in the world. If your feet are killing you, you can always hop on the Metro, RER or a tram, and get anywhere you need to go.


The Louvre, with the famous pyramid entrance out front.


2. Do take advantage of Navigo and museum passes.

Considering that you’ll soon be taking Metro and light rail everywhere, you’ll want to invest in a Navigo pass, which allows you an unlimited amount of rides on public transportation for your desired amount of time (a week, month, year, etc.). It will save you a ton of money in the long run. And since Paris is known for its multitude of museums (the Louvre, the Rodin, & D’Orsay were a few favorites), you’ll definitely want to get a Paris Museum Pass. Depending on the pass you can pick, you can visit the included museums unlimited times within a 2-, 4-, or 6-day period. Like the Navigo, it might seem a bit expensive at first, but once you realize how much you’d spend to visit each museum separately, you’ll see it’s well worth the money. Not all museums are included on the pass, but the ones that are validate how much you pay. And a few must-see destinations (Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame) are included on the pass, so those alone make the price worth it.

3. Do learn some French linguistic basics.

Parisians love their native tongue, and with good reason – it’s a beautiful language! But even if you don’t plan on becoming fluent before your trip, at least learn some rudimentary grammar. Trust me, a simple “s’il vous plait” and “merci” will go a long way. And from my personal experience, “pardon” will quickly become your best friend in the crowded city, and especially on mass transit. Check your local bookstore for a French pocket guide before you journey across the Atlantic.

4. Do explore the city on your own.

There is something so peaceful about strolling the city sidewalks by yourself (even as you make your way through the throngs of other tourists). The French have even coined a term for this idle wandering: “flânerie.” (Read more about that here). When you’re exploring Paris alone, you don’t have to feel rushed by anybody to get to a certain destination by a certain time. You can enjoy the sights, smells, tastes at your own pace and really take the chance to appreciate your environment. N.B. of course, you should have common sense about it (don’t go out at night by yourself, be watchful of your things at all times, and always be aware of your surroundings. Also, be particularly careful when visiting Sacre Coeur in the 18th district; it is notorious for its pickpocketers).


Moulin Rouge. It was a lot smaller than I imagined.

Moulin Rouge. It was a lot smaller than I imagined.


5. Do try to make it to each of the city’s twenty arrondissements.

Each district has its own distinct character and way of life. If you really want to get to know Paris, you have to see them all. A few favorites were the 7th (home to the Eiffel Tower), the 4th (also known as the Marais), and the 18th (where you’ll find the world-famous Moulin Rouge).


The town of Chartres.

The town of Chartres.


6. Do venture beyond the city limits.

The quaint town of Chartres, about an hour outside of Paris, is best known for its impressive Cathedral with some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in the world. Monet’s gardens in Giverny and champagne tasting in Reims are two day trips that are definitely worth the train ride.


Part of the Bastille Day military procession down the Champs Élysées.

Part of the Bastille Day military procession down the Champs Élysées.


7. Do celebrate Bastille Day.

If you’re in the city for the 14th of July (French Independence Day), make time for the holiday festivities. Get to the parade early, as you’ll want a good view of the military procession as it makes its way down the Champs Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe. And make a point to watch the fireworks show over the river. Set up camp early, and watch the concert in the Champ de Mars or view the awe-inspiring display from Trocadéro, across the Seine. Once it is dark enough for the spectacle to begin, you’ll probably have to stand up to see over the crowds. But the 45 minute extravaganza is unlike any fireworks show you’ve seen before, and you’ll realize that the 5-6 hour wait was totally worth it.

8. Do have a picnic (or two…or three) by the Seine.

Grab a warm, crusty baguette, some fromage (that’s cheese, for those of you who still need to brush up on your language skills), and a bottle of your favorite French wine and head on down to the river. Each night, the river’s banks are rife with people eating, dancing, frolicking, and just having a good time – tourists and natives alike. Make sure to wave to the many passenger-toting riverboats sailing past.


L'As du Fallafel, home to some of Paris' best falafels and beloved by Lenny Kravitz.

L’As du Fallafel, home to some of Paris’ best falafels and beloved by Lenny Kravitz.


9. Do be adventurous and try some of Paris’s (in)famous cuisine.

Escargot, frog legs, foie gras. You’ve probably heard of all of these, but have you ever had the desire to try them? Even if you haven’t, I would suggest tasting them at least once, just for the experience. You never know –they might end up being your new favorite dishes! And of course, you have to try some of their non-adventurous but delicious classics: you can never go wrong with a fresh baguette, Croque Monsieur, or crepes (the Nutella and strawberry variety are heavenly). Paris also has a large population of Moroccans and subsequently an abundance of Moroccan restaurants, so definitely seek out one of those (anyone up for couscous and chicken tagine?). Likewise, Lebanese cuisine has become quite a hit; my friends and I definitely returned to L’As du Fallafel a number of times (and if the sign out front is telling the truth, Lenny Kravitz is also a big fan).


The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Tons of mirrors and tons of tourists.

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Tons of mirrors and tons of tourists.


10. Do visit the “tourist attractions.”

They’re famous for a reason. The Eiffel Tower, which is arguably the most recognizable landmark in the world, may not be the prettiest or most practical piece of architecture, but once you are close enough to it to bask in its presence, you’ll understand why it’s as famous as it is. For a good workout, climb the 600+ stairs to the second level and take the elevators the rest of the way up (or just take the elevators to the top, we won’t judge you). Definitely make time to see Notre Dame; in person, it looks exactly the way it did in the Disney movie, and the gargoyles are pretty awesome. Not to mention, the top level of the towers offers one of the best panoramic views of Paris that the city has to offer. The view from the terrasse of the Arc de Triomphe also has an incredible view, with the Champs Élysées on one side, and La Défense, the business district, on the other.

And although the Mona Lisa may not be the most majestic piece of artwork ever made, I’d still suggest trying to take a selfie with the Louvre’s most famous lady, if you can get close enough (she was recently moved from the crammed Salle des Etats to her own private gallery, which should give you a bit more breathing room). And of course, you have to get to the Palace of Versailles. While you might not be able to afford a private tour of the grounds (ahem, Kim and Kanye), it will be worth it to fight your way through the crowds to see the splendor of the 550,000+ sq. ft home (which, of course, led to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s demise, but that’s beside the point). Take the ultimate mirror selfie in the famous Hall of Mirrors and leave yourself enough time to explore the expansive gardens and fountains, as well as Marie Antoinette’s private residence.



Would you just look at that majestic piece of steel? It's so much prettier when you can't see the masses of people gathered at the bottom.

Would you just look at that majestic piece of steel? It’s so much prettier when you can’t see the masses of people gathered at the bottom.


1. Don’t wait in line all day to see the aforementioned tourist attractions.

Listen very carefully to me: buy your museum pass IN ADVANCE, not on the day you plan to use it. This will help eliminate a ton of wasted time spent waiting in line to get tickets (since usually for attractions, there are two lines: one for getting tickets, and another for getting in). Furthermore, if you’re planning on going to some of the city’s most populated areas, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or Versailles, get there early to beat the crowds.

If the only free spot in your schedule is mid-afternoon, just be aware that that is the busiest time to visit, and you’ll most likely be waiting a very long time to get in. If you’re not going right at opening, though, make sure you leave enough time to wait in line and then actually have time to explore the site too. My friends and I made the mistake of going to the Catacombs only three hours before closing time – naively thinking that would be more than sufficient – and we had to wait in line for two-and-a-half hours! Luckily, they still let us in and we had sufficient time to explore the dark depths of the underground tombs. Lastly, dress accordingly as it can get very hot waiting in long lines during the summer: wear breathable clothing, slather on the sunscreen, and throw on a cute hat (but please, no berets – French people don’t really wear them).


Luxembourg Gardens.

Luxembourg Gardens. A beautiful place to practice your flânerie. 

2. Don’t be afraid to have some downtime.

I know it seems like there’s so much to do in Paris that you fear wasting any precious moment that could be spent exploring yet another tourist attraction. But I speak from personal experience when I suggest that you don’t have to have your itinerary planned down to the last second. Make some organized excursions, but also take the time to just stroll through one of the city’s many gardens or take a walk by the river (this goes back to the idea of flânerie). Part of the charm of the historic city is in just watching others pass by and imagining the thousands of places they could be going. Go to a quaint cafe, order a cappuccino, and just watch the rest of the world go by for a few moments.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.

If you’re not speaking French, people will automatically know you’re a tourist anyway, so you might as well just suck it up and ask them how to get to your destination. Just remember to pick someone who looks trustworthy to ask. Who knows? You might meet a lifelong friend or perhaps the love of your life just by daring to ask how to get to the nearest “toilettes.”

4. But, by the same token: don’t be afraid to get “lost.”

Okay, if you’re legitimately lost and find yourself in a seedy area, you’ll probably want to find someone decent to ask for help. But if you just got off at the wrong Metro stop or turned left when you should have turned right, savor it. You’ll likely discover something that you probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Some of my greatest adventures came when I couldn’t quite figure out which direction I was supposed to be heading.


Notre Dame. Quasimodo wasn't there, but the gargoyles were. And of course, there were tourists – lots of tourists.

Notre Dame Cathedral. Quasimodo wasn’t there, but the gargoyles were. And of course, there were tourists – lots of tourists.


5. Lastly, don’t be the rude, annoying tourist that French people hate but pretty much expect you to be.

They’re extremely protective of their culture, and want you to appreciate it to its fullest. Prove them wrong and show them that you’re not just another uncultured philistine, but rather someone who is genuinely interested in learning more about their country’s history and way of life.

Hopefully, these do’s and don’ts will help you navigate your way through the city and make the most of your time in the glorious city!

Have you been to Paris? Do you have any tips for fellow tourists? Let us know some of your most memorable moments in the comments!

Greek Isles

The full original article can be found here: Greek Isles, Best Family Trips – National Geographic by Kim Brown Seely

Postcard Favourite
Photo Credit: “Postcard Favourite” © 2006 by Domenico Salvagnin (CC BY 2.0)

Need to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Consider heading to the Greek Isles, located on the southern tip of the “Land of Gods.” The country’s nickname is apt, since you’ll feel like you entered an entirely different realm, surrounded by the beauty and history that Greece is known for, as well as the modern yet relaxed accommodations that have been developed. And there’s no need to worry that your kids will get bored; there’s plenty to do on a family vacation,  from visiting ancient ruins to sailing the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean to sampling the local cuisine, including fresh calamari and sweet, sweet baklava. For more information about where to go or which activities to do in the Greek Isles, view the original post here.

Highlights of a Visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Highlights of a Visit to Rio de Janeiro (via Finding the Universe)

As a big fan of killing two birds with one stone (figuratively), I am always pleased when travelling to a location coincides with something else I had wanted to do. Like visiting a friend or relative who happens to live there, or attend a conference…

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