Tag Archives: tourist

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

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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 – 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.

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Lake Michigan

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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.

The Great Wall of China

Last Friday was the official start of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The holiday is a week long, and consists of festivals, traditional food, cleaning the house in preparation for the coming of the New Year, and the giving of gifts to family members and business partners. The Lunar Festival is a fantastic celebration that occurs every year in China, rocking the rest of the world by storm in a celebration that puts our New Years Parties to shame. So what better place to visit at this time of year, than the Great Wall of China?

great-wallFamous for its intense length, the original construction of the Great Wall of China was thought to be as early as the 7th Century BC. It is located across the hysterical northern borders of China and was constructed as a means to protect China from invaders. The Great Wall is a staggering 13,171 miles in length, and much of the original construction still remains standing today, although in various states of disrepair.

The Great Wall is a legendary hiking trail, as walking even part of the length of the Wall is considered to be a great feat, with certain sections of the wall thinning perilously out to only a few feet wide. Thousands of tourists attempt the walk every year, and there is even an annual event that has taken place since 1999, dedicated to running a marathon atop the Wall. It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

great-wall-2It is fascinating to see what areas of the Great Wall are oldest, as the Wall has been constructed of a variety of material, including bricks, and earth wood and stone, when bricks had not yet been discovered.  Later on larger stones cut into rectangular shapes were used, as they can hold under their weight for longer than brick. Walking across the Great Wall allows us to see the progression of construction types used in the history of China.

As well as being a rich cultural experience, walking the Wall is also a great way to see China from above, and a way to take in the stunning view of rugged mountains and beautiful woodland. The Mutianyu section of the wall is the most popular amongst tourists, and the walk across this section takes about a day. So why not? Next time you plan a holiday in China, definitely try to hire a car and visit the Great Wall!

 

Happy Chinese New Year!

January 31st marks the official Chinese New Year 2014. It is widely known as one of the most important traditional Chinese Holidays throughout and marks the first day of the Chinese calendar. The Chinese New Year festival celebration is known as the longest in the Chinese calendar, as it lasts from New Years Eve to the 15th of the first month, otherwise known as the Lantern Festival. That is over two weeks of celebration!chinese-new-year-celebration

There are a number of activities that most Chinese families partake in when celebrating the New Year. The coming of the New Year is a big event, one of new beginnings and of getting rid of the old, evil spirits in order to make way for better, brighter days ahead. If you’re planning on visiting China at all this year, make sure it is during this holiday! Or if you simply want to have a go at celebrating the Chinese New Year, why not try some of these to help bring in the New Year!

Cleaning

Chinese families give their homes a thorough cleaning in preparing for the New Year as this serves to ‘sweep’ or clean away the bad luck gathered over the preceding year, and to make their homes ready for good luck. Sweeping and cleaning instruments like brooms are kept locked away after the clean to ensure that the good luck is not accidentally swept away. Home altars and statues are also cleaned, and if any are adorned with decorations from the previous year, these are taken and burned as a way of cleansing the house of the bad luck of the previous year.

chinese-new-year-decorationsDecorating

Often Chinese Families will decorate their home with lanterns and paper cut-outs depicting Chinese good luck sayings and phrases to welcome in the New Year. Decorators and paper cutters are in high demand in the days preceding New Year, as many people also opt to give their homes and windows a coat of new paint, washing their windows and making sure that everything looks up to date and new.

Primping

chinese-good-luck-charmsFollowing on from the ‘new beginnings’ theme, purchasing new clothing and shoes in lieu of the New Year can also symbolise a new start, and many Chinese people also opt to get their hair cut before the New Year. Cutting hair on the New Year is considered bad luck because of the connections between the Chinese word for ‘hair’ and the word for ‘prosperity’. It is customary for families to send each other gifts of food to extended family members and business partners, and business partners will often endeavour to clear the debts that they have accrued over the course of the year.

Eating!

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And now the fun part! No Chinese New Year Festival would be complete without a selection of delicious traditional dishes. A fish dinner is normally eaten to bring in the New Year, considered as important as a Christmas dinner in the west. In Southern China they make a Niangao, a New Years cake, which is sent to friends and family, whereas in Nothern China, jiaozi or dumplings are popular to eat after midnight. After the meal the family will normally visit the local temples to pray for a prosperous year.

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.

50 States Road Trip – Wisconsin

Pack your travel bag, because Wisconsin is a relative treasure trove of hiking trails, adventure parks and fantastic locations ideal for fishing and camping holidays. Whether you love living in the great outdoors, or you just like visiting it on occasion, Wisconsin has so much to offer. Aside from the numerous hiking trails and camping locations, Wisconsin has a couple of other gems for those travellers looking for something a little different.

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Cave of the Mounds

One of the most famous caves of America, Cave of the Mounds is a National Natural Landmark, created over hundreds of thousands of years to become the natural wonder you can go and see today. It is referred to as the ‘jewel box of America’ out of the major natural caves, due to its intricate and unique formations.

cave-moundsGuided tours of the cave are available all year round, and because the interior of the cave is always warm, the cave is a popular destination to take the family in the winter. Guests can wander around the intricate butterfly and prairie gardens, as well as participating in their own fossil dig. The gift shop of Cave of the Mounds contains rock and fossil specimens from all over the world, making it an essential tour stop.

Cheese and Wine

Wisconsin is a state famous for its dairy produce, its cheese in particular. With over 100 cheese factories, visitors are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to eating delicious cheese. For a unique experience, try the Cedar Valley Cheese Store where you can sample some 300 varieties of Wisconsin cheese.

Hire a car and drive south for around 20 miles where you will find the Cedar Creek Winery, a historic mill built in the 1860’s. This mill creates several award winning wines, made with a variety of spices and fragrances, ideal as an accompaniment to the beautiful cheeses of the Cedar Valley Cheese store, or on its own.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee-Art-Museum

A giant art museum that holds over 30,000 stunning pieces of art. Located by Lake Michigan in Milwaukee this art museum is visited by over 350,000 people a year, and has a self states mission to ‘collect and preserve art, presenting it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education’. The museum has also been praised for its extensive collection of individual architecture.

Various pieces of historical architecture include the 1957 War Memorial Centre by finnish-american architect Eero Saarinen and the Quadracci Pavilion created by Santiago Calatrava in 2001, a Spanish architect.

Next Stop…

Still heading East on our journey through the 50 states of America, we travel into Michigan next time, home to the largest crucifix in the world. Detroit, which is the state of Michigan’s most populous city, is also known as the car capital of the world.

Penguin’s Bucket List – Things to do and see before you die

By definition a bucket list is a list made by people – mostly when you reach your midlife crisis – who want to do certain things or visit certain places before they die. The phrase ‘bucket list’ takes inspiration from the saying ‘to kick the bucket’ because your bucket list wants to be complete before you ‘kick the bucket’. These lists can comprise of anything; see a long lost loved one, travel the world, even spend a day doing absolutely nothing. It all depends on the individual. However most people worldwide have a list of places they would like to see before they died. Other people want to make a bucket list, but aren’t quite sure what to put on there. Why don’t we help? With a collection of truly magnificent, memorable and beautiful places that you should really visit before you die.

Zhangye’s Colourful Rock Formations

zanghye-danxia-formationsKnown as the Zhangye Danxia, these mountains consist of over 24 million years worth of laying down different mineral deposits. The creation of these landforms is something so perfect, so beautiful, that only nature could have done it by accident. Over time the layers of mineral deposit were compressed into rock, and then undulations were caused by the collision of the Eurasian and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, resulting in the stunning landforms we see today. These collisions made by the same two tectonic plates would also create the Himalayan Mountains.

The contrasting layers of different mineral rock make the formations look as if bright white lines have been painted across the landscape. Considering that these fantastic mountains were once just sand blowing in the wind, the Zhangye Danxia formations serve as a great representation of the magic of time.

The National Park where these formations are located is about an hour’s drive from the city of Zhangye, and although no tour buses or coaches normally go there, it is easy to hire a car and drive to see these fantastic formations for yourself!

The Mysterious Moai Statues of Easter Island
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These statues were thought to be a monument to the seafaring skills of ancient Polynesian peoples, however little to none oral or written history has survived regarding the Moai statues. They were painstakingly carved and sculpted, then moved to the location in which they now stand, by the ancient people of Rapa Nui. Each head averages around 4 metres in height and weighs a staggering 14 tons.

The statues are situated in a nearly unbroken line around the island, and a further 600 more have recently been discovered in a quarry, all in various stages of completion. The overwhelming sense of mystery that accompanies this island is what makes Easter Island a frequent subject among historians. Nobody quite knows why the Moai statues exist or their relevance to ancient culture, but the stalwart design and eerie frequency of these statues makes Easter Island a must see on bucket lists worldwide.

Want to create your own Bucket List?

We will be focusing on ‘places to visit before you die’ throughout the coming months, so why not check back regularly for ideas?

 

Things To Do In Toulouse

Toulouse is one of the many beautiful classical French Cities of the modern world. Its’ cultural and heritage sites are located mainly in the Old Town, and there are countless things to do for any tourist looking for a culturally rich experience while holidaying in the south of France.

Toulouse is known as the Pink City or La Ville Rose, and this is because of the huge number of red brick buildings located in Toulouse. Although Toulouse is a beautiful city in itself, it is important to make sure that you check out all the best cultural and popular spots for tourists, when visiting Toulouse. We have compiled a list of some of the best things to do while in Toulouse, so that you are sure to find something for everyone in the family!

Toulouse_by_night_with_Basilique_Saint-Sernin

Toulouse By Night

Museum of Toulouse/Botanical Gardens

The Museum of Toulouse is Toulouse’s National History Museum and contains much of Toulouse’s cultural history and the history of France itself. With Study Days specially made for students, and exhibitions on the native animals of France and their habitats, the Toulouse Natural History Museum is a great stop for any animal lover wanting to know more about the wildlife of southern France.

Toulouse_Grand_Rond_05195Plus with the Botanical gardens right next to the Natural History Museum, you can come along and walk amongst a variety of beautiful flowers and several species of birds native to France. It is a public area, with free entry, and tourists can picnic among the flowers and the birds, for a truly magical experience.

 

Jolimont Observatory

A great place to visit at any time of day, and surrounded by the beautiful gardens of Toulouse, the Jolimont Observatory is best visited in the evening at winter time, as stargazing is available, and you can get a fantastic view of the night lit city of Toulouse from the observatory as well. There are several sessions of covering stargazing taught throughout the week with lessons tailored towards children, conducted by the Popular Astronomy Society.

Space City

Toulouse holds the role as a capital city of the European Space Program, so the Space City includes exciting sights to see including model displays of ships as well as life-size replicas that include the Mir Space Station and the Ariane 5 Space Rocket.

Plus with hands on interactive displays, there is plenty to see for both children and adults, and there is even a virtual reality space experience available, if you think you are brave enough. The Space City entrance fee is around twenty Euros, depending on the age of your children, and the City is open daily from 9:30 until 5pm. It can be accessed by bus.

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Farmers Market in Toulouse

If you want a more casual, light-hearted day, you could always go for a brief walk or wander around one of the many small markets of Toulouse, as it is a beautiful city. Toulouse also has a number of professional restaurants to offer, many of which are popular with both tourists visiting the city and the natives living there. A sign of a good French restaurant is to see lots of native eating there!

About the Author

This post was written by Amy Jenkins who writes for a number of online publications about European travel and has provided the article on behalf of SFHV, the number one site for holiday villa rentals in the south of France.

50 States Road Trip – Minnesota

The state of Minnesota has a load of hidden gems for tourists of all ages to enjoy, whether you have young children looking to visit some famous theme parks, you’re a budding artist looking for inspiration, or if you just really love Spam, Minnesota has it all.

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Nickelodeon Universe

Fancy a shopping trip and a half? hire a car and drive down to the Mall of America, located in the city of Bloomington, for a shopping experience like no other. A leading centre in retail, entertainment and attractions, Mall of America has a huge range of top brand shops, restaurants and cinemas. Plus it is also home to the Nickelodeon Universe, a unique theme park located inside the centre of the Mall.

Nickelodeon Universe

The park is a huge seven acres filled to bursting with unique attractions, entertainment and Nickelodeon characters. A number of themed rides will have your kids laughing and begging for more. Let them meet their favourite characters at character meet and greets, and get some fantastic souvenirs from the Nickelodeon gift shop. Plus there is always the rest of the mall to explore, if you wanted to leave Mum or Dad to watch the kids for a bit!

Franconia Sculpture Park

For a real hidden gem, why not drop by the Franconia Sculpture Park in the St. Croix River Valley region of Minnesota. It is a not-for-profits arts organization that encourages the participation of famous artists and sculptors across the globe in its 25 acre park in Minnesota. These artists will receive either a ‘fellowship’ or an ‘internship’ where they are given a budget, studio space, tools for creating the artwork and on site housing so that they can create their own masterpiece within the parks boundaries.

During your tour of the park you will meet artists at work, finished creations and artists in residence who are more than happy to answer your questions. It is a one of a kind  engaging, artistic experience.

Museum of Spam

Spam_wallHave you always dreamed of visiting a place where Spam reigns above all? Well now you can by visiting the National Museum of Spam, located in Austin! Packed with important information about the nations favourite blended meat, the Spam Museum includes a World War II Spam Exhibit, a Monty Python Spam Tribute, plus a gift shop where you can purchase every variety of Spam available on the market.

The Spam Museum is the self named most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artefacts all located under one meaty roof. Plus, admission is free! What more could you want, apart from maybe a fork…

Next Stop:

Our next destination in the 50 states is ‘America’s Dairyland’ made famous for its dairy producers and many different types of cheese. We are of course, talking about the state of Wisconsin.