Things to see and do

March equinox: new beginnings

 

The spring equinox, scheduled for tomorrow, March 20 2012, marks new beginnings in the northern hemisphere. Many cultures around the world have honoured the equinoxes since the dawn of time. Rebirth was important to the Mayan people, celebrated at the Chichen-itza pyramid in the Yucatan, Mexico by sacrifcing animals to the gods.

100 greatest travel experiences: what are yours?

 
Tasty Cambodian treats

Travel is about meeting new people, discovering new places and new parts of yourself and seeing the wonders of the world, while contributing positively to the people you meet and the places you are lucky enough to experience. Travel isn’t about …

Tips for a wonder-filled break in Rome

 

The Coliseum, Rome

Rome is a wonder of the world. Literally! Every corner you turn there is an architectural wonder, a gastronomic wonder, a religious wonder, a wonder of ancient Rome, or a view to wonder at (romantically or otherwise). However, if you are only visiting for a short break be sure to not try and cram in too much. If you do, things will pass by in the blurr, you’ll wear yourself out, and you will not appreciate one my favourite things to do in Rome – wandering the cobbled streets of the Centro Storico or Trastevere areas drinking coffee (or prosecco), snacking on arancini, and stumbling across yet another enchanting church.

Kendal call me call me anytime call me

 

Kendal Calling won best small festival of 2010 and in 2011 it was still small and perfectly formed. I much prefer small festivals, so that everything you do is not a mission … as is the case at somewhere like Glasto. Although the weather was scorchio on Friday and Saturday, being in the Lake District it inevitably became chilly with nightfall but it only took us 10 minutes to walk from the main arena to the tents to pick up the evening’s accessories.  Besides the main stage, hosting diverse acts like Blondie, the Lancashire Hotpots and Chase & Status, there were tents catering for drum and base, urban jazz, comedy, house, kiddie activities, and my highlight – a northern soul dance class. Plus food from every corner of the globe had made it to Cumbria so at lunchtime I picked a spot in the sun overlooking the main stage, which I didn’t have to fight for, and enjoyed a plate of nasi goreng, or falafel, or a full Indian thali, which I barely had to queue for. 

Benvenido a Miami

 

Will Smith’s party tune, Welcome to Miami, became my personal anthem for our big American road trip.

I sang it silently in my head in the queue for the aeroplane, hummed it as we picked up the Mustang and sang out very loud as we drove along en a 2000 mile route towards Miami.  Will told us to: ‘Party in the city where the heat is on. All night on the beach ‘till the break of dawn’. And we took his advice!

Florida road trip of a lifetime

 

Mustang Jo now baby

We’d been talking sometime about a road-trip across the States. The usual had come up: the north to south California coast road; east to west coast; and the infamous Route 66. Too predictable, too far, too obvious. If we were going to go to the States, we wanted to just make our own journey. And I wanted some nature, the great outdoors. Plus some of that musical Hispanic culture of Cuban dissidents and Latino immigrants. My partner requested roller coasters, shower facilities and the occasional cold beer.

N’awlins – that’s New Orleans to you and me

 

Apparently I am a disgrace, terribly unpatriotic and should be drowned in the Mississippi….. for leaving my country on the day of the biggest and most important wedding in history. A debatbale point of view but one which many Americans were quick to share with me because, on 29 April 2011, I was in New Orleans for a wedding much closer to my heart; that of my friend Erin (we met on the terrace of a bed bug-ridden filthy hole-of-a-hotel in Taipei and consoled ourselves, for having trusted Lonely Planet’s recommendation, by drinking enough tall boys until we didn’t mind that you had to put your hand right inside the grimy cistern in order to flush the toilet). And I think Rosy’s Jazz Hall is a much better location for a wedding than Westminster Abbey anyway.

V!VA Travel Guides creates new phone app

 

V!VA, the online travel community that won the 2009 Mashable award for Best Mobile Travel Site, has just released its first iPad and iPhone travel app for Ecuador - on sale for just $9.99, with sample chapters available for free. And you can get more food for your travel thoughts buy reading online interview in PC Mag with Viva’s editor-in-chief, check out Viva’s free online content for countries such as Guatemala, or buy value-for-money PDF chapters for others like Colombia or Nicaragua - all soon to be apps in their own right.

‘Remember remember the 5th of November …

 

gunpowder treason and plot’, as the children’s rhyme goes.

Bonfire Night is a great night in the UK to get out in the brisk autumn air, mingle with the locals, eat lots of sugary holiday treats (toffee apples, treacle toffee, candy floss) and see some impressive pyrotechnics.

The good life in Costa Rica’s blue zone

 

This time last year my boyfriend and I were sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. It was just coming to the end of the rainy season and subsequently there were still relatively few tourists around. Those that were there were surfers, typically North Americans or Europeans, who had rented a room for six months to take advantage of the cheap long-term ‘green season’ rates, the epic waves and the empty beaches. We were also coming to the end of our own six-month trip, during which I’d been working as a freelance travel writer in Ecuador and Guatemala. And Santa Teresa, on the Nicoya peninsular, was the perfect place to stop, re-group and take it all in.