Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bucket List: New Orleans, Louisiana

Although there are many places that I would love to travel outside of the United States, there are also a lot of places here that I would like to visit. New Orleans is one of my top choices for cities to tour. While many flock there for Mardi Gras each year, my preference would be to go to see some amazing blues and jazz music! I would also love to be able to visit the French Quarter and take a tour through one of New Orleans many cemeteries. My sister, who has been to New Orleans on a few occasions, also recommends a ghost tour for those who like a taste of the supernatural. The city sports a variety of neighbourhoods to cover nearly anyones taste, from the Garden District to the Warehouse/Art District. I've also been advised to leave me diet behind as New Orleans is a favorite for foodies.
(Famous Bourbon Street)

(Some of the beautiful houses from the Garden District)

(The grave of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau)

With a collaboration of cultures and a variety of activities, art and music, I am sure that I wouldn't have a dull moment in one of the favorite cities of the South.

For more information, visithttp://www.neworleansonline.com/

Bucket List: Tulum, Mexico

One of the more affordable options on my bucket list, Tulum, Mexico is said to offer some of the most well preserved Mayan ruins in the Western Hemisphere. Tulum has a variety of activities to offer tourists including Cenote Dos Ojosa, a famous reef that is known for good diving and snorkeling. There are also a selection of wildlife areas and stables to choose from if guests would like to play with the dolphins or go horseback riding. Going to one of the areas local spas is also a relaxing option for tourists.

Less expansive then a lot of my other picks, and a little closer to home, Tulum, Mexico is a great addition to my travel bucket list!

Bucket List: Greece

Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Having had a dose of the Mediterranean, I can understand why. I would happily follow the masses to take in the sites of Greece, whether I was able to stay inland or take a cruise through the islands.

(Santorini, Greece)

(Mykonos, Greece)

(The Parthenon)

I would love to be able to see the Delphi Theatre, dine on the streets of Mykonos and gaze up at the Parthenon. Between the history, architecture, and beautiful beaches, I may never want to leave if I found a way to get there!

For more information, visit http://www.visitgreece.gr/

Monday, 23 April 2012

Bucket List: Switzerland

Moutains, blue waters, castles, and beautiful churches; Switzerland sounds magical. Known for being a peaceful country, Switzerland is a display of both nature and art. Not only is the architecture in Switzerland, with it's churches and monasteries, but all of the major Swiss cities have some kind of symphony, opera, or theatre.

(All photos by Google Images)

Switzerland offers attractions such as the Chillon Castle, Swiss National Park, the Altsch Glacier, and Geneva Jet D'eau, one of the tallest fountains in the world (shown below). Switzerland is going on my travel bucket list!

For more information, visit http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/home.html

Bucket List: Bora Bora

Another island that I would like to someday travel to, Bora Bora is about a one hour flight from the island of Tahiti. Bora Bora is a wedding and honeymoon hot spot and offers a variety of activities for tourists. Some of the more popular activities include going to a pearl farm or shop, snorkeling, diving, and shark feeding. Visitors can also take advantage of some of the more luxurious activities such as island picnics in one of Bora Bora's many lagoons, helicopter tours, cruises, or a trip to the spa.

(All photos by Google Images)

 Although I could see this being a very pricey vacation, going to Bora Bora would be something I would be willing to save up for!

For more information, visit http://www.tahiti-tourisme.com/default.asp

Bucket List: New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the many places that I hope to be able to travel to someday. I didn't know much about New Zealand until I moved to England and met a lot of people who had been. After hearing them rave about the scenery and tourist attractions, I started to do some research on the small country.

New Zealand is a small island, about the size of Colorado. The temperature is usually around 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit (20-30 degrees Celsius) year round, one of the many reasons that it has become a popular place for tourism. Another great reason? The exquisite landscapes.

(All photos from Google Images)

If I was able to visit New Zealand, I would hope to take advantage of the islands beautiful scenery and have a very active vacation. Diving, hiking, and kayaking are among the many activities to choose from on the island. New Zealand definitely looks like a great place to have an unforgettable vacation!

For more information, visit http://www.newzealand.com/us/

Istanbul, Turkey

My visit to Istanbul was more for personal reasons then it was for site seeing. My best friend from college, Akin, is Turkish and returned after graduation. As a surprise, his girlfriend and I planned a surprise visit for his birthday last June. Flying there by myself and trying to navigate my way through the airport to get a visa was a big challenge since I didn't know any Turkish. Waking up the next morning and looking over the city from the couple's apartment, I wouldn't have traded the frustration for anything. I woke to Call to Prayer and a breath taking view from their balcony.

Walking around Istanbul, I was able to explore the shops and markets. We bought fresh food every day from the local market to cook with or went out to a restaurant. The food was fresh and delicious, although I found raki to be a bit strong for my taste. Raki is often considered to be Turkey's national drink and is often referred as "lion's milk." I found that it definitely has a bite!

I was able to visit several famous mosques and churches while I was in Istanbul, the architecture unlike anything that I have ever seen before.
(St. Anthony of Padua)
(inside of St. Anthony of Padua)

(The Blue Mosque)

(The Blue Mosque)

While some of the customs there seemed strange compared to what I am used to in the States, I did my best to adhere to them. In the Blue Mosque, the women were required to cover their heads. We were also required to be covered to our ankles and our arms covered to the biceps.

(Sign at entrance for The Blue Mosque)

(From left to right: Wynter, myself, and Brockell at The Blue Mosque)

I really enjoyed my time in Istanbul. I'm not sure that I would have chosen to travel there if I hadn't had someone that I knew to stay with and show me around, but I am so glad that I did. Istanbul is one of the more interesting places that I have had the pleasure of visiting.

For more information visit http://english.istanbul.com/

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Cafes aside, Amsterdam has a lot to offer as far as tourism is concerned. One of the most remarkable things about Amsterdam are the canals. I happened to take a walking tour through the city and was surprised to find (according to our tour guide) that Amsterdam has more canals then Venice! I would have loved to have gone on a tour of the canals, but as we visited in January, it was a bit too cold.

I was able to visit the Artis Royal Zoo. While it wasn't that much different from other zoos that I have been to, it was interesting to see an exhibit of raccoons in the North American section. My favorite part of the zoo was the aquarium.

The transportation in Amsterdam was also something new and different for me. Other than the tram, the main source of transporation appeared to be bicycles. They were everywhere! Our tour guide also told us that around 25,000 bicycles are fished out of the canals every year.

If given the opportunity to return, there are a lot of places that I would like to see that I wasn't able to the first time (mostly due to lack of time and money). Amsterdam has great places like the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank's House, and the Heineken Brewery that I would love to visit if I was able to return.

For more information about tourism in Amsterdam, visit http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Isle of Wight, England

One of my favorite places to visit when I lived in England, the Isle of Wight has several great attractions that I would highly recommend. A little over 20 miles across, this island features the Osborne House, the summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as miles of beautiful beaches. I was also able to visit several other interesting places such as the Ventnor Botanical Garden and Carisbrooke Castle.
(Carisbrooke Castle)

(The Osborne House)

(Part of the garden behind the Osborne House)

(Ventnor Botanical Garden)

If I was ever able to return, it would be for the Isle of Wight Festival. Dating back to 1968, this festival has had attendences surpassing that of Woodstock and has featured artists like Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Chicago, The Doors, The Who, and Joni Mitchell. This festival continues to attract legendary headliners like Jay Z, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, The Strokes, The Sex Pistols, and REM.

For more information about the Isle of Wight Festival visit http://www.isleofwightfestival.com/

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Winchester, England

I was 23 when I stepped onto my first air plane. I went from Kansas City to Dallas Fort Worth. Two hours later I boarded a nine hour flight to London. Lucky me. But what a first impression! There was something about the hustle and bustle that I loved. I walked around with a sleepy, star-struck gaze, trying to take it all in without losing my way. My first few hours in England were spent waiting for other international students being flown in. We would be shuttled to the University of Winchester. I was too jet lagged to do much more than get on the shuttle, put in my iPod and fall asleep for the hour and a half drive to Winchester.

When I woke up, I felt like I was in some kind of dreamland. Gone were the country houses, barns, and miles of crops. All I wanted to do once I had gotten my bags in my room was walk around. I was beyond surprised to find some of the amazing attractions Winchester has too offer.

(Winchester Cathedral)

(Bustling shops and cafes in the town centre)

(One of many beautiful gardens displayed in Winchester)

Winchester is picturesque to say the least. With great attractions like Winchester Cathedral (shown above), the Arthurian Round Table, and the grave of Jane Austen, Winchester was a great place to live, and will always be a on my top places to revisit!

For more information on Winchester go to http://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/