Tips for Buying and Using the Oyster Card in London

London Oyster Card

London is one of the top travel destinations in the world, but navigating this large city can be overwhelming for a first time visitor. Using an Oyster card, a credit card sized transport smartcard, is an easy way to save time and money if you are planning to use public transportation in London. An Oyster card can be used on just about every form of transport within London including public bus, tram, and rail services within the city. Our goal is help you decide if an Oyster card is a good fit for you and to help you effectively use your card on public transportation in London. First we’ll cover the main types of Oyster cards that are available, how to choose the best one, and how to buy an Oyster card. Then we’ll talk about where you can use them, how to use them for travel, how to recharge Read the Rest…

Hidden Edinburgh Attractions: 25 Lesser Known Things to Do in Edinburgh

Dean Village hidden top Edinburgh attractions Scotland

There are so many fantastic Edinburgh attractions and we keep discovering new ones as we delve deeper into this historical city. A first time visitor to Edinburgh will generally stay busy exploring the city’s many highlights such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, most of these main attractions are located within the UNESCO designated Old Town and New Town. However, for those visitors who have already seen the highlights, there is much more to see beyond these top Edinburgh attractions. So whether you have a long stay in Edinburgh or are visiting for the second or twelfth time, we’ll share some Edinburgh attractions we think are worth visiting that you may have not yet visited. These lesser known attractions include Edinburgh’s second castle, small museums on the Royal Mile, two National Trust sites, hidden gardens, walking paths, mysterious underground passages, local markets, and even a beach! We’ll also talk about lesser Read the Rest…

A Guide to Attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta New Mexico hot air balloon festival

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air ballooning event in the world and is said to be the most photographed event on earth! Each October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hundreds of balloonists and thousands of tourists from around the world flock to the Land of Enchantment for a chance to witness nine days of spectacular hot air ballooning events. Events include the mass ascension of hundreds of balloons, a gas balloon race, balloon glows, balloon competitions, and more! This is a dazzling event of colorful beauty and one of my favorite festivals in the world. I have had the pleasure to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta both in 2009 when I was living and working in Albuquerque and then again in 2016, so this post has been significantly updated with information from both visits! Interested in attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta yourself? Read the Rest…

Edinburgh Festivals in August: An Essential Planning Guide to 6 Festivals

Edinburgh festivals in August guide festival Edinburgh festivals in August guide

Edinburgh festivals are well-known around the world, lending the city one of its nicknames, Festival City. But did you know that six major festivals take place in Edinburgh during the month of August? Edinburgh is home to 12 major festivals each year, and half of these festivals take place in August. These six festivals celebrate art, theater, world cultures, books, and even the performance of military bands. Events range from the traditional (opera) to the intellectual (talks by famous authors) to the downright zany (performance of an acrobat doing handstands on eggs)! August is a busy but special time in Edinburgh as the historical capital city welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world! There are hundreds of events and performances each day in the city during August, and in one day we actually attended events from five different Edinburgh festivals! We’ll share our own experience of attending the Read the Rest…

Travel Jewelry: Handmade Travel Themed Jewelry for Travelers

coordinates necklace travel jewelry traveling inspried jewellery

If you love travel and jewelry you’re probably going to love this article on handmade travel jewelry. I fell in love with travel themed jewelry while searching for wedding rings last year and Laurence and I purchased custom travel themed wedding rings. I have since acquired more travel jewelry pieces and love using jewelry as a way of expressing my passion for travel. We’ve put together a list of a wide range of handmade travel jewelry items in this article for those looking for a way to express their own love for travel, searching for a gift for a special traveler, or just looking for inspiration about what types of travel themed jewelry are out there. We’ve put together a list of dozens of items that span the range of jewelry types, budgets, and fashion tastes. We’ve even included a few travel jewelry items designed for men and some products designed Read the Rest…

21 Things to do in Edinburgh Scotland: The Highlights

top 21 things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

There are so many things to do in Edinburgh Scotland! We have been living in a village near Edinburgh since February and are still discovering so many new things each time we visit. But I wanted to share a guide to some of the top things to see in Edinburgh for those planning a visit. A first time visitor naturally wants to see some of the highlights of this gorgeous city that holds two UNESCO designations for its higgledy-piggledy medieval Old Town and its well-planned Georgian New Town. Our recommendations include visiting the city’s iconic medieval castle, climbing an extinct volcano, visiting the world’s largest monument to a writer, seeing Scotland’s crown jewels, sipping whisky, going underground to explore some of the city’s medieval past, viewing world-class art, and paying homage to a famous little dog. If you have control over the timing of your visit, you may want to plan Read the Rest…

Bucolic Beauty in Scotland: Best of the Scottish Borders with Rabbie’s Tours

Scott's View Scottish Borders highlights travel Rabbies

A visit to the Scottish Borders is an easy day trip from Edinburgh, and allows visitors to get a glimpse into a relatively unknown region of Scotland. The Scottish Borders is region located in the southeast part of Scotland, with the Southern section forming part of the border with England. It is sparsely populated, largely rural, and covered with rolling hills, wild moorland and meandering rivers. Like in many regions of Scotland, you’ll find historic towns, ruined abbeys, castles, footpaths, gardens, and farmland. Just south of the Borders, you can also visit the UNESCO heritage site Hadrian’s Wall and loads of places steeped in Roman history. The Scottish Borders is well known for its agricultural and food products, often referred to as Scotland’s natural larder and fresh local produce and farm-to-table meals are easy to find here. Short and long distance walking paths crisscross the entire region and are a great way to Read the Rest…

Ceylon Tea Trails in Sri Lanka: Luxury, Tea, and Colonial Ambiance

Ceylon Tea Trails Sri Lanka hotel resort Tea Country

Ceylon Tea Trails is probably the most coveted place to stay in Sri Lanka, and a perfect place for history and tea lovers like us. Nestled among the scenic tea-carpeted hills of the Bogawantalawa region, you’ll find five colonial-era tea planter bungalows which have been turned into a private luxury resort. Each of the historical bungalows has its own distinctive character and offers a boutique luxury experience in Sri Lanka’s Tea Country. Each of the bungalows offers 4 to 6 unique rooms and a dedicated butler, chef, and house staff. Ceylon Tea Trails was the first Relais & Châteaux property in Sri Lanka and remains one of only two in the country. A stay here is worry and bill free as rates include all meals, most drinks, laundry, taxes, and services. A typical day here includes waking up to a traditional Bed Tea each morning served by the butler, spending the afternoon by Read the Rest…

Planning a Day in Alexandria Egypt

Al-Haramlik Palace things to do in Alexandria Egypt

Alexandria Egypt has a very impressive and storied past, beginning with its founding by Alexander the Great around 331 B.C. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Mediterranean and affectionately referred to as Alex by locals, Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city and the second largest city in Egypt. During the Hellenistic period, it was home to both the legendary Great Library of Alexandria and the Pharos, a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexandria was the setting for the stormy love story between Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony as well as a cosmopolitan gathering spot for intellectuals in the early twentieth century. The city has definitely lost some of the grandeur of its past and today’s Alexandria is filled with concrete apartment buildings, office buildings, and traffic-filled streets. However, with a bit of searching travelers can still find bits of Alexandria’s glorious past, including Greco-Roman monuments, Read the Rest…

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado: History, Hauntings, & Whiskey

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado

The Stanley Hotel is best known for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s bestselling novel The Shining and the subsequent film starring Jack Nicholson as the slowly driven mad overseer. The Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park Colorado, the gateway to one of the most visited national parks in the United States: Rocky Mountain National Park. Set amidst the beautiful mountain scenery of Colorado, The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 as a grand summer resort that catered to wealthy travelers from the East Coast. The Stanley Hotel has a storied history that begins well before Stephen King stepped foot on the property, and the hotel once hosted guests like Molly Brown, John Philip Sousa, and Theodore Roosevelt. Today the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Visitors to Estes Park flock to the hotel to take Read the Rest…

Louisiana Plantations Guide: 12 River Road Plantations

Nottoway Plantation Louisiana Plantations River Road New Orleans Baton Rouge

We recently visited 12 Louisiana plantations along Louisiana’s River Road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Louisiana’s River Road parallels the east and west banks of the Mississippi River for about 70 miles (about 100 miles of actual road) through the Louisiana parishes of St. Charles, St. John, and St. James. Prior to the American Civil War, this river road was lined with approximately 350 antebellum plantation homes, from relatively simple farm houses to grand Versailles-like mansions. Many early Louisiana plantations grew rice, indigo, or tobacco, but by the mid-nineteenth century the majority were growing sugar cane, which became the most profitable cash crop in the state. Louisiana would become the most wealthy state in the country by the onset of the Civil War, made possible only by the forced hard labor of thousands of slaves who worked at these plantations. Not surprisingly, the Civil War and the end of slavery Read the Rest…

London Day Trip: Visiting Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds with Zestrip

Zestrip day trip from London Blenheim Palace Cotswolds Lacock Abbey

Recently Laurence and I were invited to go on a London day trip to Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds with ZesTrip. London is one of those cities in which you can keep returning and still find plenty of new things to do, but it is also a city that makes a great base for some really interesting day trips. We prefer to actually overnight in the places we visit; however, sometimes we are short on time and a day trip is a very convenient way to see places that you would not otherwise have time to visit. ZesTrip is a marketplace for tours in several locations that are designed and led by local experts, with activities ranging from city walks to hot air balloon rides to sit-down dinners. We were very excited to visit Blenheim Palace and a few of the Cotswolds villages on our private tour by car with Read the Rest…

12 Things to do in Marrakesh Morocco

Koutoubia Mosque things to do in Marrakesh Morocco Marrakech

Marrakesh is a sensory-rich city in Morocco where you can experience a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern conveniences. A city where donkey carts, spice sellers, and snake charmers intermingle with luxury spas, coffee shops, and tour buses. The city contains a number of culturally and architecturally important sites and Marrakesh’s medina was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Laurence and I recently spent almost 2 weeks in Marrakech, both visiting the city as tourists and using it as a base to catch up on some work. During our time in Marrakech we had ample opportunity to eat plenty of the local dishes, shop in the souks, visit the city’s museums and palaces, check out the world-famous Jemaa el-Fnaa, stroll in the gardens, and sleep in a riad. We also encountered getting lost, haggling in the souks, being scammed, and getting sick in the city, so we’ll Read the Rest…

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…