Tips on Using & Buying the London Pass: Is it Worth It?

buying The London Pass tips advice

If you are planning a trip to London and want to spend some time admiring great artwork and visiting grand royal palaces, you’ll likely save money and time by purchasing the London Pass. The London Pass not only allows for free admission to over 60 of the top-visited attractions in London (i.e., Windsor Castle, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey), but it also allows you to skip the long entrance lines at several of these attractions and includes a 1-day free Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour ticket. In many cases, the London Pass is a good value and will save you money; however, in some cases, the London Pass may not be a good deal for you, especially if this is not your first visit to London or you have very limited time in the city. We’ll help provide all the information you need to know to decide if the Read the Rest…

All your Essential Travel Photography Questions Answered by Photographer Laurence Norah

travel photography tips

Laurence is a professional award-winning travel photographer (and my husband!) and today he is going to answer some of those essential travel photography questions that we are often asked. If you have ever looked at other people’s photographs of a travel spot you’ve been to and wondered why their photographs were so much better that yours, this post will give you some helpful tips as well as point you to further resources if you are interested in taking your photography to the next level. This Q & A post is designed to share some of the basics on travel photography, including things like how a camera works, advice on camera gear, how to protect your gear while traveling, the essential basics of composition you should know, tips for mobile photography, best photography editing software, and even tips on how to take a better selfie! Laurence has been traveling as a Read the Rest…

Oak Alley Plantation: Our Overnight Stay at a Louisiana Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation tour overnight New Orleans Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation is one of over a dozen Louisiana plantation homes open to the public that line the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In the mid-nineteenth century, over 300 plantations lined the river in this area, most of the plantations growing sugar cane which became the principal cash crop in this area by the early nineteenth century. Oak Alley Plantation is often considered the Grande Dame of the Great River Road with a lovely Greek Revival style main house and a number of dependencies built between 1837 to 1839. Oak Alley is no longer a working sugar cane plantation, but the original main house and a few other original buildings remain on the property as well as the famous 300-year-old alley of oaks that gives this plantation its name and photogenic fame. It is also famous for being shown in numerous TV shows and films, including Hush Hush Read the Rest…

Inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence: Touring the Medici’s Secret Passage

Inside the Vasari Corridor Florence Italy Medici

We recently had the pleasure of touring inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence Italy. The Vasari Corridor is an enclosed private passageway built in the 16th century by the Medici family to connect the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. This narrow elevated passageway allowed the Medici family and their privileged guests to travel freely and unnoticed and to have advantageous views of Florence and its populace. The Vasari Corridor snakes across many of Florence’s most important landmarks as it makes it way from the Palazzo Vecchio to the Pitti Palace, including the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Felicita church, and the Boboli Gardens. The Vasari Corridor remained closed to the public until the 1970’s when it was restored and opened for select special openings and for group tours provided by specialist tour companies. Today, you too can enjoy the privilege of going inside the Vasari Corridor in Florence and Read the Rest…

Attending the Edinburgh International Science Festival in the World’s Festival City

street art Edinburgh International Science Festival City Festivals in Edinburgh

We recently attended the Edinburgh International Science Festival which kicks off the annual festival activities in Edinburgh. Scotland may bring to mind images of rugged castles, grazing Highland cattle, lush green glens, sheep, bagpipes, haggis, and men in kilts. However, Edinburgh, the country’s capital, also lays claim to being the world’s leading festival city. Edinburgh is currently host to 12 major festivals held throughout the year, celebrating art, music, dance, storytelling, books, military tattoos, science, and even the arrival of the New Year. The Edinburgh International Science Festival is the first of these festivals, held for 2 weeks each Spring, and was founded in 1988 as the world’s first public science festival! The science festival hosts a variety of fun and informative workshops, demonstrations, and talks celebrating science and technology with events geared towards both children and adults. We attended several festival events around the city during the science festival Read the Rest…

Planning an Oxford Day Trip: A Perfect Day Trip from London

Exeter College chapel Oxford day trip from London England UK

Oxford is a university city situated about 60 miles from London, making a Oxford day trip an ideal way to get out of the bustling capital for a day or weekend to explore this compact historical city. Nicknamed the City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford is best known as the home of England’s oldest university, the University of Oxford, which is still one of the most respected in the country. However, while a trip to Oxford wouldn’t be complete without touring a couple of university buildings, Oxford has much else to offer. A visitor might go on a walking tour of the downtown, browse for souvenirs at the Covered Market, go punting on the River Cherwell, take a tour of a medieval castle, stroll in a pretty garden, enjoy a drink in a historical tavern, or even take a short drive to visit one of England’s most beautiful and famous country Read the Rest…

A High Quality Wireless Router: Netgear Nighthawk X4 Review

Netgear Nighthawk X4 router review best wireless Internet route

As an ambassador for Netgear, I recently was sent the Netgear Nighthawk X4 wireless router to review. It was perfect timing as Laurence and I had just moved into our new apartment in Scotland and just had the previous owners’ very basic wireless router that was not designed for multiple devices or working for home on a daily basis as we do as travel bloggers. The Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 WiFi Router is a 1.4GHz dual core processor router designed for people who want to use their wireless connections for high-speed gaming, streaming videos and music, and/or connecting multiple devices, as well as those who want to maximize their Wi-Fi signal in large homes. It is also well-designed for those who want simple access to their network storage. This high-end wireless router also comes with features such as security protection, Dynamic QoS, and USB ports. Also, the device has a Read the Rest…

Exploring the Art at the Borghese Gallery in Rome

Apollo and Daphne Bernini Borghese Gallery Galleria Borghese Rome Italy

The Borghese Gallery is the perfect place for art lovers to admire art in a beautiful space without big crowds in Rome. While the Vatican Museums are filled with treasures and are a must visit site in the Eternal City, it is also one of the largest and most crowded museums on the planet! But luckily Rome is full of art, some contained inside museums, some tucked away in churches, and some weathering in its piazzas. The Galleria Borghese, or Borghese Gallery, features one of the world’s greatest private art collections assembled by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century in his Roman garden villa. The collection is particularly rich in ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art, with major works by Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, Correggio, Rubens, and Canova. A great thing about the Borghese Gallery is that it has a timed reservation system that keeps the crowds to a minimum; however, Read the Rest…

Discovering the Romantic Poets on our Grand Tour in Rome

Romantic Poets Grand Tour in Rome

During our modern-day Grand Tour in Rome this past October, we had the opportunity to learn more about the English Romantic poets and their history within the Eternal City on a tour with Context Travel. From the 16th century until the mid 19th century, many wealthy young English men would travel to Italy on a Grand Tour in order to finish off their education and gain a better understanding of art, culture, and history. However, many used it as an excuse to gamble, drink, party, and visit prostitutes. Three of the most famous English Romantic poets: George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats, would all visit Italy and the city of Rome would serve as a backdrop for significant personal events in the poets’ lives and as an inspiration for their poetry. The guided tour includes a visit to the last residence of John Keats, a wander through a Read the Rest…

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Train: A Luxury Train Journey from London to Venice

Belmond Venice Simplon Orient Express

This past October we had the pleasure of riding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train from London to Venice where we held our wedding ceremony. The original Orient Express train service ran from 1883 to 2009, and its name became associated with glamour, luxury, intrigue, and even murder! In its heyday, it was the most luxurious train in Europe and today this tradition lives on with Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE). The VSOE makes regular luxury train journeys across Europe, offering gourmet meals, private overnight cabins, and attentive staff within its wonderfully restored historical train carriages. The signature trip is the 36-hour luxury train journey from London to Venice which has to be one of the most elegant ways to arrive in Venice! We’ll share all you need to know to decide if this trip is a good fit for you, from the historical background of the Orient Express to how to book Read the Rest…

French Tea Time: A Guide to Afternoon Tea in Paris

Four Seasons Hotel George V La Galerie luxury afternoon tea in Paris

After many cups of tea, we’ve put together a guide to afternoon tea in Paris. People often associate Paris with outdoor cafés and coffee and wine culture, so you may be surprised to know that there are a number of great spots for savoring tea in Paris. The act of drinking tea in France dates back to the 17th century and it was long associated with being a pastime of the aristocracy. Whether you are looking for an indulgent afternoon tea served with a silver tiered tray of sandwiches and pastries at a grand luxury hotel or simply a cup of tea and a madeleine at a more casual spot, you are sure to find something that fits your taste and budget. We’ll also share some of our favorite French tea brands for those wanting to buy and savor tea at home. We are still exploring all the afternoon tea spots in Paris, Read the Rest…

How to Visit the Doge’s Palace & St. Mark’s Basilica Without the Crowds

saint marks basilica st. mark's basilica without the crowds

Visit the Doge’s Place and St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds? St. Marks’ Basilica and the Doge’s Palace are two of the most popular places to visit in Venice, and although they are must-see stops for travelers, they also tend to be very crowded. It can be hard to enjoy these historical sites as you are standing in lines, jostling elbows with fellow travelers, and trying to see around selfie sticks and flag-waving tour guides. Walks of Italy, an American-based walking tour company, has come up with an eloquent solution for this dilemma. They have designed a tour that allows late entry into the Doge’s Palace which is a time that the palace is typically quiet, and most importantly they have received permission to run exclusive after-hours tours inside St. Marks’ Basilica. So you get to experience St. Mark’s Basilica as very few people do, alone with only your tour Read the Rest…

Casanova’s Venice: Discovering 18th Century Venice with Context Travel

Rio dei Mendicanti Canaletto Ca' Rezzonico Context Travel

During our trip to Venice, we did a Context Travel walking tour themed around Casanova’s 18th century Venice. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was an Italian adventurer, author, and womanizer who was born and lived in Venice during the gilded and decadent eighteenth century. Perhaps best known for his daring and amorous exploits, Casanova’s autobiography is considered one of the best sources of European lifestyles and customs of the 18th century. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Venice had amassed significant power and wealth through trade although its power was rapidly fading by the 18th century as the republic was no longer a major center of international trade. In the 1700’s, or Settecento, Venice became known as a place for leisure and pleasure, with the 18th century being considered the most hedonistic period in Venetian history. This period is often symbolized by gilded palazzos along the Grand Canal, lavish fashions, elaborate parties, elegant cafes, mask-wearing Read the Rest…

Guide to Planning a Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 road trip

A Route 66 road trip is a driving adventure along what is probably the most famous road in the world. Historic Route 66 spans over 2,400 miles and crosses 8 states, starting in Chicago, Illinois and terminating at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. Given its “66” designation in 1926, it became a well-traveled highway, bringing together people from all walks of life. John Steinbeck would refer to Route 66 as “the mother road, the road of flight” for those trying to escape the Dust Bowl and ravages of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Later it would support a countless number of vacationing families from the Midwest heading to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. As more Americans took to the highway, a roadside culture would spring up along Route 66—motels, diners, gas stations, tourist attractions—to cater to a population that was increasingly mobile. Today it is that classic road Read the Rest…