I recently had my 9th appearance on the Amateur Traveler podcast. This time I spoke about the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Canada. There are 17 and as of 2014 I have been to all of them.
- Nahanni National Park (1978)
- L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (1978)
- Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979)
- Dinosaur Provincial Park (1979)
- SGang Gwaay (1981)
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (1981)
- Wood Buffalo National Park (1983)
- Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (1984)
- Historic District of Old Québec (1985)
- Gros Morne National Park (1987)
- Old Town Lunenburg (1995)
- Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)
- Miguasha National Park (1999)
- Rideau Canal (2007)
- Joggins Fossil Cliffs (2008)
- Landscape of Grand Pré (2012)
- Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (2013)
If you’re like me before I visited Japan, Tokyo was pretty much the only city I’d actually heard of. So, if you’re curious what Japan has to offer beyond Harajuku and unusual vending machines (although these are both pretty awesome too), then this post is for you. This itinerary is for two weeks, since that seems to be roughly the amount of time most tourists spend in Japan, plus this gives you a rough idea of how much time to devote to each city. This route start towards the south, and gradually takes you north, so you can arrive at the airport in Osaka (Kansai airport) and fly out of Tokyo (Haneda or Narita airports) with no backtracking.Osaka – 3 days
I wouldn’t consider any of Osaka’s attractions to be “must-sees”, yet this city is more than the sum of its parts. Osaka is one of my favourite cities in Japan to just be in. It’s big, busy, friendly, and yet still charmingly unassuming about everything it has to offer.
Osaka is well-known within Japan for its unique and fantastic food. Particularly around Dotonbori, one of the city’s main downtown areas, you’ll see dozens of vendors using thin sticks to flip balls of dough on spherical-mold skillets. They’re preparing one of Osaka’s most famous dishes: Takoyaki. When I think of Osaka, I think of happily burning my mouth on the gooey, hot center of these pancake-like balls filled with octopus, while standing in the middle of the crowds rushing down the streets of Dotonbori.
If there’s one particular attraction in Osaka I recommend checking out, it’s the Osaka Aquarium. I wouldn’t say aquariums are usually my thing, but I was completely mesmerized by this place. The tour starts on the 8th floor and you circle downwards, looping around the same massive tank which is always found in the center. Along with seeing other tanks on each level, this means you get to see the same animals in the main tank from different perspectives, and the effect is really cool.Kyoto – 3 days
Home to literally thousands of temples and shrines, Kyoto is where most tourists go to experience old-world Japan. As Japan’s capital for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto is the birthplace of much of Japan’s traditional art, culture, and food. It’s definitely not some quaint small town, but the pace of life is gentler here compared to forward-thinking, modern cities like Osaka and Tokyo.
My biggest tip for Kyoto is to pace yourself with the temples and shrines. I’ve met people who hated Kyoto, and it’s generally because they burned themselves out by trying to cram ten different temple visits into a single day. My strategy was to choose one or two temples or shrines each day that I wanted to see, and explore them slowly. Some of my favourites were Fushimi Inari Taisha, known for its thousands of bright orange-red torii gates, which you’ve probably seen photos of at some point; and Kinkaku-ji Temple with its stark golden building looming over a pretty lake.Nara – 1 day
Kyoto’s temples and shrines are relatively spread out across the city, which means you end up spending a lot of time riding buses from one attraction to another. That’s why Nara is perfect side-trip from Kyoto, because its temples are all concentrated in one area: Nara Park. Nara is only a 30-minute train ride from Kyoto, so you can even keep your guesthouse for the night in Kyoto and just visit Nara for the day.
Wild deer roam freely in Nara Park, nudging tourists for food and playfully snatching maps and anything else they think could possibly also be food. There are a number of temples scattered throughout the park, but Tōdai-ji alone is worth making the trip for. The main hall of this temple is one of the world’s largest wooden buildings, and it contains a massive 15-meter-tall bronze Buddha.Hida-Takayama – 2 days
I’ll admit that I’m a little biased because I lived in Hida-Takayama for a year, but it will always be one of my favourite cities in Japan. It’s known for its Edo-period shop houses: Dark wood buildings clustered in narrow alleyways with noren curtains billowing in the entrance. Even after I’d lived there for months, the magic of this neighborhood never seemed to wear off for me.
Hida-Takayama has lovely morning markets by the riverside, and sake breweries where you can do tours and tastings. The whole town is sandwiched in the middle of the Japanese Alps, so there are also lots of places to go hiking, both in town and in the surrounding area.Tokyo – 4 days
I’ve met travelers who spent a week, two weeks, even their entire trip in Tokyo, and it’s totally understandable. You can certainly see the highlights in a few days, but the more you see, the more Tokyo’s complexity reveals itself.
One (perhaps somewhat obscure) thing I recommend doing in Tokyo is checking out a jazz club. Jazz is hugely popular in Japan, and one of the memorable experiences I had in Tokyo was seeing this shy, stick-thin Japanese women start singing Ella Fitzgerald in this impossibly-rich, soulful voice.Nikko – 1 day
Nikko is the city found at the entrance to Nikko National Park, where you could easily spend several days discovering waterfalls, hot springs, and hiking trails. It’s also possible, however, to see Nikko’s UNESCO World Heritage temples and shrines in a day-trip from Tokyo. I mainly went to see Toshogu, one of the most elaborately decorated shrines in Japan, which is reached by following a long path lined by massive, centuries-old cedar trees. Even if you’ve already seen dozens of religious monuments during your trip, Toshogu is still completely remarkable.
If you are from a big city, travelling to western Canada is a bit of an unreal experience. Suddenly beautiful mountains, fresh air and a sparkling ocean are right in front of you. And if you are a skier, that experience is even more shocking. For any avid skier who learned how to snowplow on small domestic hills, the first time you experience a more natural snowfall underneath your skis on a huge freshly-powered mountain, you probably had a pretty typical reaction; something like, “What the heck is going on?! This is awesome!” Now that you know what you’re missing, it’s time to take your skiing to the next level with a heli skiing vacation in British Columbia, the ultimate way to travel and see the slopes.Heli Skiing Vacation – The Slopes Like You’ve Never Seen Them
Maybe you’ve heard of this sport; maybe you’re still in the dark about it; or maybe you’re just plain skeptical, but regardless of where you stand, there’s a good chance that once you learn more about what the sport entails, you’ll be strapping on your skis and booking a plane ticket faster than you can say “powder.” So, what’s the big deal about helicopter skiing? And why should you consider it as your next epic winter vacation with your family or friends?
Quite simply, you get to be ferried via a helicopter to what essentially becomes your very own amazing natural slope. You’ll get flown to a region that is world famous for its quality and incredible terrain. Even if you’re not the most seasoned athlete, a helicopter ride across the BC wilderness will result in stunning photographs of natural wildlife. You’ll have access to an area that dwarfs the quality, size and landscape of any other North American or European resort, yet be secure in the knowledge that you are in the care of experts with decades of experience creating bespoke ski and snowboard tours for small, private groups. Plus, you’ll have nearly unlimited vertical, more than enough for a trip of a week or more. But, be sure that you’re ready for really serious powder and hip deep snow!
Of course, you’ll have to be prepared when you start planning the best heli ski trip, as heli skiing does require a few bits of gear that aren’t necessary when hitting the slopes at a resort. You’ll likely need even more layered clothing for sub-zero temperatures and a backpack fit for glacier travel equipment. Also, you’ll want freeride or “all-mountain” skis because they are less tiring and handle tough terrain more easily. The same goes for snowboarders, who will need similar wider powder snowboards. The whole point of trying out a helicopter trip to hit the powder is to lose yourself in snow (not literally!). Skiers and snowboarders who will get the most out of a heliskiing trip are the ones who go with the flow, forget work, day to day life and stress, while they carve out their own adventure in pure, unpolluted powder on Canada’s most pristine mountains.
And best of all, when you finish a day after getting dropped into the powder, you’re going to be tired…in a good way. And what better way to take care of that than a private cabin with a hot tub and amazing views of one of the most breathtaking natural scenes in the world? Have a soak, a drink and world class meal as you rest up for your next day’s adventure! If you love to travel and like seeking out unusual terrain, this could be the trip of a lifetime.
The post The Slopes Like You’ve Never Seen Them – Heli Skiing Vacation appeared first on As We Travel.
Some people come to Paris and try to fit in by wearing their best black outfit, staying in an obscure part of town and avoiding speaking English as much as possible. Sure, it’s fun to be a local, but at the end of the day, being a local also means working, cleaning your own bathroom, and perhaps spending hours waiting in lines at the tax office. Really, you’re better off embracing your status as a tourist.
We’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating that when in Paris, it’s OK to be a tourist. Book that charming hotel in the center of town, enjoy an outdoor table at a cafe, and stroll along the Champs-Élysées if you like. Over the years as a tour guide and correspondent, I’ve experienced lots of people who try, without success, to pass as a local. It’s just not necessary.
It’s normal that tourists want to fit in, but too often you end up adding too much pressure to the trip planning process and to the actual trip itself. Here are five ways I think tourists could relax about their trips to Paris:1. Don’t freak out about wearing the right shoes.
I always tell people I can spot a tourist by their shoes—but since they are usually in a touristy spot, like by the Eiffel Tower, I don’t think I’m really all that clairvoyant.
The bottom line on footwear? If you really think anyone in Paris cares what you are wearing on your feet, and if you’d rather spend more time shoe shopping than planning the rest of your trip, that’s your problem. Parisians wear boots, sneakers, flats, heels, loafers, Chucks and everything in between. And while they aren’t always practical, flip-flops do come out in the summer from time to time.
Related: 8 Paris travel myths debunked2. You don’t need to speak French like a pro.
You don’t know any French? Quel dommage. Enough websites (including EuroCheapo, for example) urge visitors to learn some basics—merci, bonjour, au revoir—and that’s all you’ll need to know.
It’s nice to know local lingo, but few waiters or bartender will expect you to whip out the conditional or future perfect tense while ordering a beer. Some Parisians speak English, and others who you will inevitably encounter are comfortable with tourists pointing, nodding and holding up fingers to signal numbers—if you’re polite about it. Get the bare basics down and then give it a rest. This isn’t a backwoods town where no one has ever met a foreigner.3. Visit museums that match your tastes.
Paris is a treasure trove of art, and travelers want to be very discerning when choosing their museums to visit, and often think that it’s better to go to one museum over another. In the end, if you really care about art, go to the museum that matches your taste. If you’re only going to the museum because you think you need to, then go when it’s convenient and just accept that yes, there will be tourists at places like the Louvre. Everyone wants to see the Mona Lisa, and no one knows why, so either just go with it or else pass.
Related: 7 tips for surviving the Louvre4. Relax about finding the “perfect” restaurant.
You only want to eat where the locals are eating? Sorry, I’m very selective about who can come over for dinner. Want to do what Parisians are doing if not dining at home? Have you seen the lines at McDonald’s?
Thinking that Parisians are all going to some quaint little, off-the-radar bistro every night is a good exercise for your imagination. There are plenty of great “local” places, but don’t think you’re going to unearth anything that hasn’t been dug up a thousand times already. Just try to enjoy your meal wherever you go, and don’t Instagram it—because real locals don’t need to photograph every goat cheese salad and glass of wine.5. Stay alert and stay safe.
Money belt, traveler’s checks, locked box in the hotel—check, check, check. You’re a tourist and you’re overly concerned about falling prey to pickpockets? While I applaud your caution, I wonder if you leave your phone laying on a table while you go to the bathroom at Starbucks. Do you often take candy from strangers? Do you leave your door unlocked at night?
For some traveling to Paris means leaving all notions of personal safety back in their home country—but Paris isn’t Disneyland. (Although there is one a few miles outside of the city.) It’s a real city with the same sorts of crimes that you find in other parts of the world, including America (without the fear of getting shot). If you’re walking around with a wad of cash in Paris, you’re asking for as much trouble as if you did that in Chicago, or London or Sydney—it’s not a good idea anywhere, so don’t do it.
Be vigilant and prepared, yes, but don’t overdo it. Keep your wits about you as I hope you do anywhere else in the world and you should be fine. Check out our article on popular “scams in Paris” so you know what to expect, but honestly, if a scruffy looking group of teenagers swarmed around you in Kansas City asking you to sign a dirty petition and give them money, would you really stop and engage them?Other things tourists should relax about?
Do you have something else to add to our list of things tourists should relax about when visiting Paris? Do you agree or take issue with any of the points above? Share with us in our comments section below.
The post 5 things tourists should relax about when visiting Paris appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.
Every so often I showcase the work of other travel photographers on my site. Today I’d like to introduce you to Laurence Norah. He has been traveling around the world since 2009 and blogging and photographing his travels since 2010. He is well known for his stunning landscape images which has garnered him a large online following.
I’ve met Laurence several times at conferences in Europe and I’ve always been a fan of his work. He is one of a select group of online travel photographers who have had great success with his work.
Enough of me yammering, here are his photos….
 Fiordland National Park in New Zealand is home to some gorgeous alpine scenery. This shot is from the end (or beginning!) of the famous multi-day Routeburn Track, near Key Summit.
Italy is one of my favourite European countries. Here, the Molise region as seen on a late Autumnal day by train.
Hot air ballooning is a wonderful way to experience flight. For this shot I was part of a two balloon convey in Costa Brava, northern Spain.
 New Zealand isn’t well known for it’s beaches, which is a shame, as it has some lovely ones. This is on the East Cape of the North Island, a region that less than 1% of visitors to New Zealand come to. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, check out my guides to New Zealand here.
This is the Albanian coastline, as experienced from an 80ft racing yacht taking part in the yearly Brindisi regatta, which features all classes of sailing boats racing between Brindisi in Italy, and Corfu in Greece.
Around 60km south of Munich in Germany are the Bavarian Alps. This particular mountain is the Wendelstein, which you can either hike to the top of, or, if you’re not feeling energetic, you can take the cable car. Either option comes with gorgeous views.
New Zealand’s most famous day hike is the Tongariro Crossing on the North Island, a 20km walk across volcanic scenery. These are the so called Emerald Lakes at the top of the walk.
When you’re tired of sunsets, you’re tired of life. Ok, so I might have made that up. Here’s a sunset across the sea in Canoa, Ecuador, a gorgeous little beach town which is perfect for getting away from it all.
Australia is a country which is famed for its beaches, not surprising given it has 16,000 miles of coastline. This is Hellfire Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park, found in the southern corner of Western Australia.
Thailand has some spectacular natural scenery that is often overlooked by folks looking for a great value beach holiday. Here, the limestones karsts of the Khao Sok national park, where you can stay on a lake house and escape from the world.
The south island of New Zealand really is a photographers paradise. Here, the glacial waters of Lake Tekapo provide the foreground to the mighty southern alps.
Getting around the islands and waterways of Thailand inevitably involves spending time on a long tail boat. They’re a noisy means of transport, but great for taking pictures of!
Whilst the Tongariro crossing in New Zealand might be the most popular, in my book the best one day hike in New Zealand is up this mountain: Mount Taranaki. This can be found on the west coast of the North Island. Read why, here.
There’s a lot of space in the Australian outback, and some of it is filled with some deeply unusual items. This is the Planehenge structure, to be found off the Oodnadatta track in South Australia.
The red sand of Australia was one of my favourite colours out there, usually in contrast with the blues of the outback sky. Here, on the far west coastline, in the Shark Bay World Heritage site, the red sand meets the sea, creating this fantastic contrast of colours.
During my time in Thailand, I rapidly concluded that this part of the world is home to some of the most dazzling displays of natural light in the world. Here the sun ducks in behind the clouds at the UNESCO world heritage listed Sukhothai Historical Park, once the capital of Thailand.
When you think of Ecuador, you probably don’t think of train rides. Which is a shame, because to ride on the Devils Nose train from Alausi, is to experience one of the greatest rail engineering feats of the 20th century. With views to match.
Australia’s Great Ocean road
Venus sets across the ocean, as seen from Floreana Island in the Galapagos – an incredible destination for anyone interested in landscapes or wildlife. If you’re thinking of heading to the islands, I put together a guide to help with planning a Galapagos trip.
Not exactly a landscape, but I do love doorway shots. This one is of Wat Ratchaburana in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Thailand – once the largest city in the world!
As already mentioned, New Zealand has pretty much everything a photographer could want. Here, a waterfall cascades down the back of Mount Ruapehu, the north islands highest mountain.
Wave Rock can be found in the Australian outback, an incredible geological structure that looks, as the name suggests, like a giant frozen wave. The hardest part is getting a photo without anyone pretending to surf.
Laurence is a photographer, writer and traveller who documents his (usually fairly slow) journeys on his travel photography blog: Finding the Universe. Find out more about the photography gear he used to take these pictures here. Laurence also offers creative photography consultancy at Lightmoves Creative, plus you can reach him on both Facebook and Twitter.