Marie Nieves

Marie Nieves

Marie Nieves is a travel blogger who loves unusual trips, active holidays, gadgets and creative ideas. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag.

Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences.

 

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Out & Around Downtown Sydney

If you love traveling around the world, visiting Sydney should definitely be on your bucket list. Despite its size and population, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate, and there are so many things to see and do. Visiting is bound to be the experience of a lifetime, so depending on your preferences, here are a couple of suggestions on how to spend your time in this beautiful city.

 

If you enjoy rides

One of the best ways to explore the city is through a Hop-On Hop-Off bus. It can take you to most of the city’s important attractions and tourist hotspots. Also, one of the most popular ways of appreciating Sydney’s coast is by taking a ferry ride, like the two-hour Sydney Harbour Sightseeing Coffee Cruise, for example. The ferries that depart from the harbor will take you to some of the prime tourist spots, like Watsons Bay and Taronga Park Zoo. So, whether you prefer land rides or water rides, you will surely enjoy Sydney.

 

Image 1 Sydney

 

If you like relaxing walks

Sydney has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, which is perfect for all the people who love taking long, relaxing walks. So, visit the Bondi beach and soak in the sun while taking a stroll along the coast. Or, if you’re more into greenery, you can visit Sydney Blue Gums and explore the breathtaking nature of the area, or you can check out the Royal Botanic Garden, which is a tranquil paradise located in the middle of the city. Also, if you consider yourself to be an experienced walker, consider the Berowra Waters to Cowan Station walking track. Just don’t forget to take your camera with you as there are many amazing views you will want to remember.

 

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If you like art

Sydney is home to some of the world’s finest performance art venues, and weekends are the best time to see a nice play, movie, or some other type of art event. For example, you can check out The Riverside in Parramatta or Glen Street Theatre in Belrose as you are guaranteed to find an array of interesting performances all year round. Also, don’t miss out on the chance to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales since it is one of the most distinguished art museums that has one of the largest collections of Aboriginal art in the country. Also, there is a beautiful boutique hotel in Sydney designed in Victorian style, in case you want your trip to Sydney to be all about luxury and art.

 

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If you are a night owl

If you’re more interested in Sydney’s nightlife, make sure to visit Newtown, as it has some of the best bars, cafés, and music venues. There are also many cocktail spots, pubs, jazz clubs, as well as many restaurants serving different types of food.

However, if you’re more interested in having a quiet evening with your family or friends, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Sydney Harbour. It is one of the most popular nightspots in Sydney, and it’s not hard to see why. There are waterside fireworks every Saturday and stunning views every night – it’s definitely something you should experience. Plus, thanks to the many bars and restaurants in the area, you will easily find a nice meal in case you get hungry.

 

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If you like food

Whether you prefer vegan food, gluten-free, or sweet, there are many amazing restaurants in Sydney that can cater to all your needs and wishes. You can enjoy a simple but delicious pizza in restaurants such as Lucio Pizzeria or Da Mario, or you can enjoy some of the best seafood in the country in Sake the Rocks or Bennelong. Moreover, if you’re into Asian cuisine, make sure to visit Chinatown where you will have a chance to taste all kinds of delicious Asian dishes. Regardless of what you feel like eating, have no doubt that you will find the perfect restaurant for you in this amazing city.

 

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Whether you are a foodie, an explorer, a night owl, or an artistic soul, Sydney has something for everybody. Enjoy your walks along the beautiful beaches, go on ferry rides, and enjoy Sydney’s rich nightlife. Have a taste of the city’s delicious food in some of the finest restaurants, and immerse yourself in its art scene. Make use of every moment in this breathtaking city, and you are guaranteed to have the time of your life.

 

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Why Spring Is The Best Time To Visit Paris

In all honesty, there is no such thing as the wrong time to stay in Paris. The snowy winters are enchantingly romantic, the soothing autumn palette feels like living in an impressionist painting, while summer is rich with festivities. However, spring is a special treat for spending time in this sleepless, timeless city. Drier than those autumn days, and much more pleasant than the summer sizzle, this is the season that makes Paris truly blossom!

What makes it all the more appealing for first-time visitors is that during spring months of the year, you’re able to enjoy its streets and hidden nooks without all the tourist crowds that congregate during summer. You can forget about lengthy museum lines and waiting for hours for a famous French baguette sandwich while you take a stroll by the Seine at your own pace.

 

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Parisian art galore

Every year, the French capital opens its mesmerizing doors to everyone in Paris to experience their museums and galleries free of charge. The event is called La Nuit des musées and it takes place on the third Saturday of May, which means that there will be art lovers flocking to Paris on the 19th this particular year. While it’s impossible to sneak a peek into every major museum available, you can at least stop by some of their most world-renowned collections.

Since the Louvre takes weeks to absorb its wonders, you might want to dedicate the entire night for just this famous ensemble of art, but you can also leave it for another time and head to Musée d'Orsay and Palais de la Découverte instead. The list is practically endless, so it’s best to do your homework before you arrive and have a night of falling madly in love with all the artists hiding in this breathtaking metropolis.

 

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Wallet-friendly opportunities

Even though Paris is a favorite destination for travelers in spring, if you opt for mid-week getaways and book ahead, you will likely have a plethora of affordable accommodation options to choose from. Both hotels and private residencies cut their prices significantly during this pre-tourist season, and flights are even easier to come by if you look for them a few months in advance.

Due to the wonderful weather, you can visit some of the city’s most notable monuments and spots which are completely free of charge. Nothing sings Parisian life quite like a walk by the Seine or a sightseeing afternoon on Montmartre, where you can see the picturesque Sacré Cœur and a stunning panoramic view of the city stretching before your feet.

 

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Basking on the Seine

Since it’s impossible to catch a glimpse of every single architectural marvel around, Paris has come up with other creative ways for you to explore the city. If you want a unique vantage point of this European gem, opting for barge cruises in France is a seamless way to travel via Parisian waterways to discover this city’s immortal charms.

Now that its streets are in full bloom, the allure of everything on the sightseeing menu is all the more awe-inspiring. You can enjoy a slow-paced cruise down the Seine and the well-known Canal Saint-Martin, and immerse yourself in the ingenious creativity that surrounds you: the Eiffel Tower feels as if it’s at your fingertips, while Cathédrale Notre-Dame will take your breath away as soon as you lay your eyes on its towering beauty.

 

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The mecca of shopping

No place in the world screams fashion quite like the capital of France, hence the need for every fashionista to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the birthplace of haute couture, from Coco Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent, the city prides itself on massive shopping centers created for your ideal shopping spree, as well as vintage stores tucked away in the bosom of Paris.

Head straight to designer depots where you can find famous and less-known designer clothes for a bargain, such as the Priscilla Depot-Vente with a vast selection of classics such as Kenzo and Dior. For a complete shopaholic experience, head to some of Paris’s shopping streets where bags rustle and heels click-clack almost non-stop.

 

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French breakfast with a view

Couples will adore a brief escape from the city centre and into the Bois de Boulogne, the largest verdure-laden slice of Paris with so many romantic picnic spots that you’ll have a hard time settling for one. If you cannot stay still, then by all means, rent a boat on the lake, and enjoy your meal on its crystal waters. Wine aficionados will love that Paris hides in its embrace numerous boutique vineyards that are lesser known to tourists than you’d expect – consider trying Clos de Belleville’s Chardonnay, or another delicious vintage during your stay.

In the mood for a more urban breakfast? Then you can take your pick from a wide range of cafes and restaurants that serve incredible local delicacies. For those who have never had the pleasure of tasting Parisian culinary wonders, go to Colorova Patisserie for a classic toasty croissant with a fresh cup of coffee. Le Bal Café is famous for their pancakes, and their coffee also makes it to the top of the list of Parisian tastiest treats.

 

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Top 10 Wine Destinations Of 2018

 

 Image 1 Wine Destinations

In a simpler time, you had one or maybe two choices for a wine tasting adventure – France or Italy. Nowadays, it seems that quality vintages can be found in every corner of the world, with wine tasting becoming a vacation unto itself.

Prominent wineries offering tasting tours overlooking their magnificent, expansive vineyards along with impeccable service and fine-dining are growing in popularity among wine aficionados and travellers alike. So why dream about it when you can experience a wine adventure for yourself? Here are the world’s top 10 wine destinations you have to visit in 2018.

 

Tuscany, Italy

When you think of wine and natural beauties, Tuscany might be the first place that comes to mind, and rightfully so as this ancient Italian wine-making region still stands tall as one of the most prominent travel destinations for any wine connoisseur. Enjoy a glass of old Chianti while revelling in the beauty of the vineyards embraced by the sloping hills in the distance – truly an unforgettable experience.

 

Image 2 Tuscany Italy

 

Finger Lakes, New York

While the U.S. might not be the first thing that comes to mind, any avid wine lover will attest to the quality of the vintages stored and served in the wineries of Finger Lakes. Boasting an amazing array of over 100 wine houses spread across the hillsides surrounding the lakes, you will have the chance to taste the opulent aromas of a local Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Vidal Blanc.

 

Image 3 Finger Lakes New York

 

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Just north of the U.S. border, in Canadian British Columbia lies Okanagan Valley with more than 100 wineries and their signature vintages. This fertile land brings numerous varietals to life, including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. You will also get the chance to taste a variety of fruit wines as well.

 

Image 4 Okanagan Valley British Columbia

 

Bordeaux, France

Probably one of the most iconic wine regions in the world, Bordeaux is a true wine aficionado’s must-see. While France has more than several esteemed wine regions, such as Loire Valley, Cognac, and Dordogne, the famed Bordeaux wine tours will give you the chance to enrich your palate with wines from the venerated chateaux of Medoc, Saint Emilion, and Graves.

 

Image 5 Bordeaux France

 

Yarra Valley, Australia

Australia is slowly becoming one of the prominent wine countries of the world, with Yarra Valley situated near Melbourne being the most promising prospect for an upscale wine tour. Enriched with quaint villages, restaurants, and numerous wineries, the region’s own Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah can be enjoyed while relishing the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

 

Image 6 Yarra Valley Australia

 

Napa & Sonoma, California

Napa Valley is also one of the most famous wine regions in the U.S., with more than 450 wineries situated within its borders, offering a vivid and diverse display of vintages such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the neighbouring region of Sonoma, you will find similar grapes along with boutique hotels and quaint towns that have preserved the timeless aesthetic appeal.

 

Image 7 Napa Sonoma California

 

Cape Winelands, South Africa

Another wine region growing in popularity among connoisseurs and aficionados across the globe is the Cape Winelands in Cape Town, South Africa. The combination rich soils and a moderate climate allow the production of many fine wines, among which are Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Be sure to visit the famed wine routes of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Groot Constantia.

 

Image 8 Cape Winelands South Africa

 

Catalonia, Spain

Famous for its dry white wines and brooding red vintages, Catalonia is home to nine wine regions where you can find numerous esteemed wineries. The region is dominated by unique Catalan grapes such as Garnacha and Tempranillo, as well as Macabeo and Parellada. Be sure to visit Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia during your trip.

 

Image 9 Catalonia Spain

 

Mendoza, Argentina

Argentinian wines have long been established as some of the best wines in the world, with the palate dominated by Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Be sure to book your tastings in advance, as the region’s wineries require reservations, oftentimes being fully booked for months.

 

Image 10 author Chris Parker

 

Crete, Greece

Home to grape varieties unique to the region, Crete is truly a place to sip on exquisite wines forged from local Thrapsathiri, Mantilari, and Kotsifali grapes. The region proudly produces its magnificent white wines along with an array of opulent reds worth experiencing. Combining Cretan wines with their national cuisine is as close to a perfect seaside adventure as you can get.

 

Image 11 Crete Greece

 

In every corner of the world, there is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered by an avid wine traveller. With these top 10 wine destinations in your itinerary, 2018 is bound to be remembered as one of the most exciting year-long adventures of your life.

 

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Long Cruises – The Real Pros & Cons

Whether you’ve already sailed the Caribbean Sea or you’re completely new to the idea of embarking on a voyage with your friends or family, cruises are a mixed bag of experiences. They can be delightfully simple, all-inclusive, superbly fun and diverse. The adventure, however, does come at a certain price. That being said, it may end up being your best vacation nonetheless, or something you’d altogether avoid for the sake of the traditional beach getaway for a week or two!

 

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Before you make up your mind, let’s take a look at the ups and downs of cruising your way through a vacation, and how you can make the most of the available options you have on the market.

 

Pro: Never a dull moment

It’s enough to see the destinations on the list, and you’ll likely be hooked – from roaming the numerous, exotic islands of the Pacific Ocean to various river cruises in Europe! These voyages are far from monotonous and slow; each and every itinerary has a unique set of activities that are offered on a daily basis, and most of them are included in the price of the journey. Although, it’s best to make sure beforehand so that you can count on certain expenses if you’d like to take part in specific activities.

Poolside hang outs, cocktail parties in the evening, dance classes, basketball or volleyball, rock climbing, various performances -- you name it! A certain cruise probably has it somewhere on its itinerary. Another thing worth mentioning is fine dining since you’ll have access to versatile meals you probably never had the chance to taste before.

 

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Con: The price tag

The main downside of this experience is that it definitely doesn’t come cheap compared to your standard vacation in a resort or an European city. While no one can argue that the price range is wide, and you can choose from the most affordable, but less luxurious cruising options to those that are designed to be as prestigious as possible, all of them are more expensive than a traditional vacation.

A possible solution to this issue is to start putting some money away on the side for a planned cruise a year from now, or you can join the mailing list of your favorite cruise lines to be updated on regular offers, in which case you’ll know when a particularly affordable option comes up.

 

Pro: Meeting new people

From small, intimate cruise ships that can accommodate no more than a few hundred people, all the way to massive ocean-conquering beasts that will carry you and several thousand other guests, you will constantly have the opportunity to meet new people on board. You can even take your pick from family-friendly, no-kids-allowed, and culture-rich cruise lines, and go from adventure to relaxation mode in no time.

For the busiest bees among you, you’ll be happy to learn that there’s the option of last minute cruises so that you don’t have to spend months planning with your friends. When everything is ready for you, simply set sail and have fun! With so many excursions, exciting harbor stops, classes and activities, you’ll likely meet new people in the matter of a single day.

 

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Con: Limitations

Yes, there are many destinations to choose from as well as a whole range of activities, but many can feel limited in space with so many guests roaming around constantly. When the ship travels at full capacity, it can get pretty crowded. And despite their best efforts, some activities and classes will constantly be fully booked, so you might have to settle for something a little less interesting.

Another limitation you’ll experience is time: whenever you make a stop at a new destination, you cannot explore to your heart’s content as you would be able to if you had visited the location on your own. You need to respect the timetable of the ship, and in order to visit many destinations at a time, you need to make some sacrifices.

 

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Pro: Many destinations on a single trip

What these cruises lack in focus, however, they make up for in diversity! While you might not be able to spend a week in each location on your itinerary (and you will want to!), you’ll get a taste of each culture and be able to decide whether you’d love to come back next year for the duration of your entire vacation, or if you’d rather skip the experience.

It’s a great way to scout for perfect travel destinations before you make a commitment all the while enjoying the comfort and luxury that you would find in any beachside resort. And finally, it’s a unique way to get immersed into various, authentic cultures and enrich your journey with many destinations.

 

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