Tag Archives: tourism

Penguin Bucket List Week 3 – Pig Island

Whether you are a fan of piglets, boars or just like animals in generals, today Penguin has an ideal Bucket list item for you. Pig Island in the Caribbean is a tiny little island where feral pigs live and breed in peace. This iconic island is full of pigs of all shapes, sizes and colours, and although the pigs are feral, they are pretty content with having human visitors.

Officially known as Big Major Cay, it is said that the pigs were originally dropped off by a group of sailors who wanted to eventually return and cook them, but in the end this apparently never happened. The pigs somehow managed to survive by scavenging, and now live happily while being fed by the islands tourists and nearby locals.

Making a Splash

As the island is surrounded by clear waters, most of the pigs learn to swim from a very young age, and even small piglets can be seen swimming easily around the coast. Many of the pigs are even strong enough swimmers that they are quite contented to swim alongside people.

They have even been known to swim out to approaching boats to greet newcomers, and to sniff out for a snack or two. With nothing else to do but lay around snoozing all day and catching the sun’s rays, these pigs certainly live the high life.

Not Camera Shy

pig-beach

The pigs are quite content to sit around, and don’t mind tourists taking a photo or two, they are even perfectly happy to swim alongside a camera, or behind it. There are a variety of tours available which will take you directly to Pig Island, and a variety of different natural wonders around, and are available at different times during Summer and Winter.

Take time out of your busy schedule to visit these lovely little porkers, and snap a shot as they bask and swim in the clear waters of the Bahamas by hiring a car in the Bahamas.

One Pig Happy Family

The island is said to be home to around 20 pigs and piglets of varying sizes and markings, and as well as feral pigs, there have also been sightings of a few stray cats and goats located on the island too. There are a number of freshwater springs on the island, and the pigs make a happy living scavenging food from locals of nearby islands, and being fed by tourists.

Did you want to create your own Bucket List? Why not have a look at ours for some inspiration!

Valentines Resort and Marina

It’s the 14th of February, and that means that it is Valentine’s day! One of the most celebrated and dreaded days of the modern year. Are you spending it with someone special, are you planning on confessing to someone today or are you just looking to spend a quiet day in alone? Whatever your plans for today, why not have a look at your next possible holiday destination!

Valentines Resort and Marina

Well known as being the most vibrant and engaging luxury resort in Harbour Island and also voted as ‘Best Island in the Caribbean’ by Travel and Leisure Magazine, the Resort boasts beautiful views, gorgeous beaches and huge luxury suites fit for a king. Plus because it is a smaller resort, there is no overcrowding that you would get at certain other resorts, and you’ll always have a place by the pool.

Facilities

The resort has a number of stunning restaurants including the Boat House restaurant which overlooks the bay, and a gift shop where you can buy a variety of snack, beverages and souvenirs for friends and family back home. Valentines Resort also boasts high speed wireless internet, as well as their own Dive shop, where you can purchase various packages in order to go diving in the beautiful reefs around the coast of Harbour Island.

Weddings

valentine

Valentines Resort is the ideal place to host your wedding, and the resort even offers a number of wedding packages for prospective couples, as well as having their own private wedding consultant on hand for all the wedding packages.

With all the awful weather and rain occurring in the UK in the recent weeks, it is not surprising that many people have decided to take a sudden early 2014 holiday, and now with regular flights across the world, it is even easier to go on an impulse holiday. Valentines Resort is incredibly popular all year round due to the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful weather, so why not enjoy it while you wait for the rain to end?

Take a relaxing trip away to Valentines resort and marina and enjoy the beautiful sun and sea air while relaxing in one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts. Harbour Island can be reached by taking a taxi or a hired car from the North Eleuthera airport, and then taking a short, 5 minute ferryboat to the island. Before you travel to Harbour Island, ensure that your passport allows you to travel legally to the United States.

 

50 States Road Trip; New York

New York State is home to the infamous NYC, a landmark in itself, with its countless coffee shops, high rise buildings, stock market and the Statue of Liberty herself, but this iconic state has so much more to offer than its capital city. That is not to say that you shouldn’t check out some of the fantastic haunts located in New York City, but there are a couple of other stops along the way before we get there.

current state

Niagara Falls

Consisting of three giant overlapping waterfalls; the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, the Niagara Falls are located along the Niagara river and are situated on the international border between Canada and the United States. They can be reached by a hired car in Niagara or by tour bus.

Niagara Falls

Formed at the end of the last ice age, Niagara Falls are a valuable source of hydroelectric power as over six million cubic feet of water falls over the edge of the Falls every minute. This stunning set of waterfalls is incredibly popular with tourists and receives thousands of visitors every year.

The Falls are even famous with daredevils, and several people have attempted the Falls in various flotation devices, while in June 2012, high wire performer Nik Wallenda actually tightroped over the horshoe falls, where he had to present his passport to officials on entering the Canadian side of the falls once he reached solid ground again.

Roosevelt Baths and Spa

Located at the Gideon Putnam Resort, Roosevelt Baths and Spa is a luxury spa house like no others. With a huge variety of different treatments on offer, this spa house has everything you could possibly want for an evening or even a weekend of pampering. Plus with on site accommodation at Gideon Putnam Resort, it is easy to book a holiday weekend there. Roosevelt Baths and Spa has been listed in the Top 10 New York State Green Destinations, and so is the perfect place for a spot of relaxation on a stressful and busy road trip.

New York City

Lady_Liberty

Home to Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building, New York City has huge skyscrapers that will rival the tallest buildings in many great global cities. Both the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building are open to the public and you can purchase tickets to go up onto special observation decks. Take a look out into New York City, but be careful not to get vertigo!

Next Stop

We take a look at a couple of America’s smaller states next time, dropping off in Vermont, the current leading producer of maple syrup in the United States.

 

Winter Olympics 2014 Sochi

Last Friday marked the official start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, hosted in Sochi in Russia. Hosted every four years this sporting event draws tourists from around the world as they see famous athletes from their home country battle it out against the best of the best in a worldwide competition. Although the games are always subject to some controversy due to illegal bidding, arguments about the legitimacy of hosting the games, and on occasion the controversy of the laws surrounding the host country, ultimately the Winter Olympics, must like its Summer counterpart, does a fantastic job of bringing the world together to share the love of a common thing; sport.

winterolympicstamps

In the run up to the Winter Olympics, the Sochi Art Museum opened a history of Russian Sports exhibition starting from the 21st December. The exhibition was dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty and is the final event of the Year of the Museum of the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad. During the Cultural Olympiad, over 100,000 artists from across the country participated in over 3,000 different activities, garnering the support of over 3 million spectators from these various art projects.

Visitors can learn about the various Russian rulers and their dedication to various sports, from the chess loving Peter the Great, to Alexander II’s passion for cycling. The exhibition is open from the 21st December 2013 to the 23rd March 2014, at the Sochi Art Museum, which is located a short 5 minute drive away from Sochi city centre.

agurawaterfsllWhile you are visiting Sochi to take in the excitement of the Winter Olympics, don’t forget to take a look at the grand Agura Waterfalls, also known as Agursky, one of the most famous tourist attractions (aside from the Olympics) in Sochi. These waterfalls are staggeringly tall at just under a hundred feet and are a popular stop off the Agura Ravine hiking trail. The Agura Waterfalls are located just outside the city of Sochi, and provide beautiful panoramic views of the city and the Black Sea beyond.

For those into hiking, make sure to ta ke the Agura Ravine hiking trail, stopping at the Agursky along the way. This is great for people who want to forget modern day life and get back into nature, as this hike is pretty challenging. Best of all, because of its location, the Agura Waterfalls are not very densely populated, so you can really get in touch with nature as you watch the water cascade over the edge of the falls. Then it’s off back to the cosy hotel room to get ready for a jam packed day of sports and more sports!

For excellent car hire rates in Sochi, try out Penguin Car Hire. Our services are second to none.

50 States Road Trip – Michigan

With a population of around 9.9 million, Michigan is the 9th most populous of the 50 United States and has gained several nicknames over its lifetime, examples being ‘The Great Lakes State’ and ‘The Wolverine State’. One of Michigan’s most famous landmarks, and one of the most easily recognised, is the beautiful and vast Lake Michigan. It is one of five Great Lakes of North American and the only lake that is entirely located within the United States.

michigan

 

Lake Michigan

Lake_Michigan_Landsat_Satellite_Photo

Thought to have been named from the Ojibwa word ‘mishigami’ which means ‘great water’, Lake Michigan borders a total of four different states, and is 307 miles at its maximum length and 118 miles at its maximum width.

The shores of Lake Michigan are home to over 12 million people, with a number of cities, towns and small villages setting up shop by its sandy waters. Seasonal residents may even have summer homes around the lake, with homes they can return to in the colder winter weather.

Mackinac Island

Said to be one of the top 10 islands in the world, Mackinac Island is an Island frozen in time, where you can spend a few relaxing nights taking in the sites, and engaging in calming activities such as carriage tours and walks along the beach. For the more adventurous out there you can also go horseback riding and hiking.

The use of automobiles is banned at Mackinac Island, excluding emergency vehicles, so the air feels fresher and cleaner, and it is a great way to get yourself out and enjoying the world at a leisurely pace, instead of trying to whizz past it from the seat of your car.

Grand Rapids

Heritage_Hill_2Between the cities of Chicago and Cleveland is a small urban city intermixed with a natural beauty. The Grand Rapids is built next to Lake Michigan and is known as ‘River City’ because of its location. It is home to a number of different theatres and stages, and is also the home of ‘Heritage Hill’ the country’s largest historic urban area, and contains over 1300 homes dating from 1848. Homes created from a variety of over 60 architectural styles, Heritage Hill is definitely a site to see.

Hire a Car for our Next Stop – NY or Bust

We travel way East to one of the most populous and famous states in America; New York. Famous for its landmarks and the bustling atmosphere of its token city, NYC, New York is a state that is steeped in its own traditional and cultural history.

National Corn Chip Day

Happy Cornchip day! A cornchip, otherwise known as tortilla chip, is a traditional Mexican food made from corn tortillas that are cut into triangle shaped wedges and then fried or baked, depending on the recipe. Made from vegetable oil, corn, salt and water, tortilla chips are used widely in nachos and as crisps, but they have always been considered a traditional Mexican food. Tortilla chips can come in several different colours, including red, blue and green, depending on the variety of corn used in the mix.

They were first created as a way of reusing the rejected, misshaped tortillas made by Ms Carranza and her husband in their Los Angeles tortilla factory. She found that by cutting the tortillas up and then frying them, they could be sold as a snack, and she made a great success out of selling them. Eventually tortilla chips were used in their own creative recipes, accompanied by salsa or guacamole dips, or slathered in cheese and called ‘nachos’. Nachos are an incredibly popular way to eat tortilla chips, and can be savoury or spicy. Nachos are generally a vegetarian dish, but chicken or mince can be chopped up and sprinkled over the tortilla chips to add flavour.

Nachos tend to be a pretty easy dish to make, but for such a simple recipe, many restaurateurs across the world have managed to add their own twist to the classic dish. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the more innovative ideas for nachos.

Steak Nachos

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Have your steak, and eat it! These nachos are a step away from the classic tortilla; salsa; cheese combo. These delicious nachos come peppered with slices of rich cooked steak, with a ranch style dressing drizzled over the top to complete the meal. Very American!

 

Popcorn Nachos

Sounds a little strange doesn’t it? Not to fear, for the recipe for popcorn nachos is exactly the same as your plain nacho recipe, just…substituting the tortilla chips for popcorn. It might make a healthier option, but then again, you wouldn’t be likely to make nachos in the first place if you wanted a healthy meal.

Dessert Nachos

dessert-nachosAnd now for some after dinner snacks. Dessert nachos are made with sugar and cinnamon in place of the salt content in the normal recipe. They work as like a deep fried crepe or pancake, and can be drizzled with chocolate, lemon, cream, various fruits or whatever sweet toppings you feel like adding that day.

Ham and Asparagus Nachos

Going down the healthy route, ham and asparagus is generally a very good combination. But added to tortilla chips with a sprinkling of low fat margarita cheese just doesn’t seem like the best way to eat it to us. Alternatively this could make an ice-breaking appetiser if you are planning on hosting a Mexican/Upper Class Britain themed party.

Ultimately it’s your nacho and your choice, but if you want a taste of the real thing, you can always head on over to Mexico to try traditional Nachos from the hilariously named Nacho Daddy Restaurant & Bar, located a short 6 minutes drive from Puerto Vallarta town centre.

Things To See In Moscow

Moscow is the capital of Russia, and the hub of much of the country’s financial and political activity. Along with St Petersburg, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia, and is known primarily for its long history, its spectacular architecture and its eclectic culture.

Moskva River

Moskva River

One of the first things you will likely see upon entering Moscow is the Moskva River, which flows through the centre of the city, followed by the famous ring road system with which you will need to acquaint yourself if you are planning on driving in Moscow, as much of the city’s layout is determined by these essential roads.

Red Square

Red Square

There are some beautiful sights to be seen in Moscow, and you’ll want to make sure you get as many of these in as possible. One of these sights you absolutely can’t miss is the Red Square, found at the very heart of the city. This is surrounded by some of Moscow’s greatest landmarks, including St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum and one of the walls of the Kremlin.

St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil's Cathedral

The 16th century St Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic sites in the entire country, and is breathtakingly beautiful. This Russian Orthodox building is highly characteristic with its onion-shaped domes, golden spires and vibrant colours, and it is thought that the influences for the building were primarily Byzantine and Asian in origin, rather than European as many people thought.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin

The Kremlin is another significantly important site in Moscow, and is well worth a visit. This historic complex overlooks the river, and is the official residence of the Russian president. The Armoury certainly shouldn’t be missed, especially for its stunning diamond collection. You may also like to attend the ballet to see some world class performances, go on a guided tour or take yourself off to wander at your leisure.

Museums

Tretyakov Gallery

If you are interested in museums, you’ll certainly be in the right place in Moscow. The Tretyakov Gallery is dedicated primarily to Russian art, featuring the work of famous Russians through time. The Pushkin Museum, in contrast, displays an impressive collection of Western art, focusing particularly on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. For Realism, the Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA) should be your first stop.

Summer Trips

Gorky Park

For summer visits when the weather is fine, take a trip to Gorky Park for a laid back afternoon of relaxing and exploring. There are cafes, open-air film screenings, public art projects and design and craft fairs taking place all the time in this buzzing park, and it’s a great place to sit and watch the residents of Moscow going about their daily business.

National Tempura Day – A Taste of Japan

Well yesterday was National Tempura Day! A traditional battered dish made in Japan, Tempura was originally brought over to Japan from Portugal in the sixteenth century. It is a popular dish because it is still delicious while being reasonably healthy.

fried-tempuraTempura is made by deep frying vegetables, fish, shrimp or egg in a light batter. The batter is made from cold water and wheat flour although other ingredients can be used such as eggs, baking soda, oil or spices depending on your taste to change the flavour of the tempura. It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish to a main course of noodles in soup stock or curry.

Because Tempura is only lightly fried, and the batter is made from a special grade of wheat flour which is normally low in gluten, it is still a healthy dish, while being delicious and easy to eat. If you are thinking of making your own tempura, why not try these few tips for extra crispiness and deliciousness!

Use cold or ice water when making the batter

As this prevents the batter from absorbing too much oil, which can lead to the tempura becoming soggy and greasy. Crispy tempura is better!

Make it up on the spot!

Sometimes it is good to prepare foods ahead of time. A lot of Japanese food has to be prepared beforehand so that it has enough time to mature, or so that the food is safe to eat. However with tempura, it is better not to prepare the batter beforehand. Making it right before you plan to cook it is best!

The ideal temperature for frying tempura is between 170 and 180 degrees Celsius (340-360 Fahrenheit), and a way to test this is to drop a little bit of batter into the oil. If the batter bobs down into the oil and then comes up, instead of coming straight to the top, it is at the right temperature.

The order and between batches

If you are frying vegetables and seafood it is better to fry vegetables first, then seafood. There will be leftover batter that will simply fry in the pan when you cover the vegetables or seafood. This is known as Tenkasu and should be scooped out with an Ami Jakushi or small strainer, in order to keep them from burning and thus ruining the flavour of the oil. These Tenkasu can be used in other noodle and soup dishes.

Try your hand at cooking your own batch of tempura, or if you are planning a trip to Japan, it is certainly a simple dish that most will enjoy! There are several thousand great restaurants within walking or driving distance by a Shinjuku hired car in Tokyo and other main cities in Japan, and as Tempura is such an easy dish it is normally included in a main meal or as a supplement in noodle or Udon dishes. Itadakimasu!

tempura-dinner-miso-soy-rice

50 States Road Trip – Washington

So Washington is our first stop on our road trip/travelling trip across the United States. What is there to see in the state of Washington? With a population of 6.9 Million, and surprisingly not home to Washington D.C, Washington is famous for its beautiful coastline.

usa-map-washington

Olympic National Park

Washington is home to the Olympic National Park, often said to be 3 parks in one due to its immense size. Certain areas of the park are covered in snow throughout the year as its mountains are large and subject to extreme weather conditions, so it is quite possible to be able to see several seasons in one place at the Olympic National Park.

The Olympic National Park is host to a variety of wildlife, with nature trails and hiking trails and several places suitable for camping and caravanning. It is an excellent way to get in touch with nature in a protected environment, plus its beautiful landscape and stunning vistas will not go amiss in any traveller’s photo album.

olympic-national-parkThe Olympic National Park is a huge Nature zone, with a vast array of different species and plantlife. A full list of the species available to see in the National Park can be found here. Plus the Olympic National Park contains several historical relics that give visitors an idea of what it would have been like to live amongst the wilderness, with relics dating back as far as 12,000 years, where a spear head was found embedded in a mastodon.

Ghost Towns

ghost-town

The state of Washington has a huge number of Ghost Towns situated within its counties. Most of these towns were only around for 10-15 years and sprang up due to an abundance in coal, gold or oil. These mining towns were normally very small, and abundant in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, with normally one large convenience store and school for the miners children.

Bossburg Cripple

One of the ghost towns; Bossburg, was thought to be the home of a ‘bigfoot-like creature’ in 1969, when several hundred giant human-like tracks were found in the snow near the lake by Bossburg. They were thought to have been made by an injured Bigfoot, and was subsequently dubbed by locals as the ‘Bossburg Cripple’.

Next week, make sure to hire a rental car, because we’ll be heading a ways out east towards the state of Montana.

50 States Road Trip to start the New Year

As we say goodbye to 2013, the sun rises on a brand new year, and we look forward to bringing you all a fun filled year full of travel facts and useful information. We hope you’ll continue to choose penguin for all your travel needs and we are really excited about what 2014 will bring to the table!

So, how about a road trip across the USA?

With 50 states, over 3000 miles of open road and countless landmarks, all you can eat steakhouses and beautiful sunrises, the land of the free has so much to offer to both experienced country hoppers and new travellers. We here at Penguin hope to give you something memorable to do in each state of America, just to see how much culture and tradition you can experience while travelling right from the icy plains of Alaska all the way through to the jagged, rocky coastline of Maine.

map-usa-america-flag

The New World

Situated in the Western Hemisphere and covering more than 25% of Earth’s land mass, The United States have a population of nearly 1 billion. Although the Native Americans have settled in The Americas since 40,000 BCE, the modern USA as most people know it was colonised in 1500 from the voyages of Christopher Columbus and became independent on the 4th July 1776.

In a little over 500 years, the USA has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s most powerful and leading continents, paving the way in both technology and culture. However America still pays homage to its humble roots, and is very proud of its heritage, as is shown in its landmarks. From the countless war memorials situated across America to its truly recognisable Hollywood sign in L.A California, America is known for its loud, wild and often beautiful land marks.

Hollywood_Sign

What to look forward to

In the coming weeks we will be taking you across America, having a look at some of its iconic views, vistas and points of interest, historically, culturally and geographically, to see what makes America, and road trips across the continent, one of the most beautiful places to visit in the modern world. Whether you are hitchhiking, camping, or on a road trip across America in a hired car, be sure not to miss our upcoming blogs where we go into more detail at what to see when you’re travelling through all 50 States of the USA.

Get your cameras readycamera-and-batteries

As although a lot of these sites have already been documented, no doubt through professional lenses, it is always better to be there and experience the sights for yourself. Make sure to take spare batteries for these are experiences you don’t want to miss!

Where to start?

Normally lists for the 50 states of America are done alphabetically, so we’re going to do something a little different. Starting right in the North West with Washington, we are going to travel in a snaking motion, going across and then down as we visit each state in turn, finally ending up in sunny Florida in the South East.