Tips for Seeing Melbourne on a Budget

There is no doubt about it; Australia is an expensive place to holiday.

Flights to the continent at the bottom of the earth are costly and then there are accommodation and entertainment costs that will quickly drain a meagre travel budget.

But that is no reason to leave Australia and its second biggest city Melbourne, off your itinerary. We’ve got the tips for how to experience Melbourne on a budget!

No other city in Australia is so diverse and rich in different styles, cultures and lifestyles as Melbourne. There is a Mediterranean atmosphere in the metropolis, which is called the cultural capital of Australia.

Under the influence of the many immigrants who since the start have established in Melbourne, the city has become a melting pot of peoples and cultures. This population composition ensures that the young city in constant motion.

Let’s dive in.

Melbourne on a budget
Melbourne on a budget

Melbourne on a budget

Listed below are some tips for seeing the best that Melbourne has to offer on a tight budget.

Sport

Melbourne is obsessed with Australia Rules Football, a game, as the name suggests that is played only in Australia. A standard ticket to see a game costs more than $20 however at Melbourne’s biggest sporting ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the gates are opened at three quarter time, mainly to allow for the losing side’s supporters to make a humbled exit from the venue. For the budget savvy traveller this means that you can get in and watch the final, and most exciting quarter of a match for free.

Free tourist shuttle

Fancy a free tour around the city of Melbourne? The Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle is just that. This free jump on, jump off bus makes a trip around the city of Melbourne and includes sites such as The Shrine of Remembrance, Southbank, Docklands, The Melbourne Museum and Chinatown. The driver gives a short commentary as the bus makes its one and a half hour round trip and buses run every half hour.

Food at Queen Victoria Market

Eating in restaurants quickly eats up your travel dollars. Self-catering is the way to go if you are on a budget and a great way to combine sightseeing with shopping is by going to the Queen Victoria Market. The Queen Vic, as it is known to locals, has been on the same site since 1878. The deli hall has all sorts of goods from fresh made pastas, sandwich meats and homemade dips. The fruit and vegetable are also fresh and cheap.

Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, with over 600 traders selling everything the palate could desire, and shouting out their tempting offerings in traditional market style. On Sunday the produce stalls are replaced with clothing and knick-knacks – great for finding something weird and wonderful. In summer the market is open on Wednesday evenings from 17:30 to 22:00, when it features hawker-style food stalls, music and dance performances.

Explore the art scene

Melbourne is known for its vibrant art scene. A few of the free galleries to check out include the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, known by the cute acronym ACMI, which has changing displays based on digital culture.

Set in an imposing boom-style terrace, the Alcaston is a contemporary Australian art gallery, focusing on living indigenous artists. The gallery works directly with communities and is particularly attentive to cultural sensitivities. There’s also a space dedicated to works on paper.

However art is not just confined to stuffy galleries in Melbourne. Hosier Lane, near Flinders Street Station is an outdoor gallery of street art which is always evolving. Every available space in the laneway is spray painted, stencilled or postered with designs including the rubbish bins and metal bars of gates and because it’s a laneway it’s always open.

Swan around Albert Park Lake

Hundreds of elegant black swans and a plethora of exotic water birds including pelicans, cormorants and herons will greet you as you stroll around the 5km perimeter of this beautiful lake. Lakeside Drive was used as an international motor-racing circuit in the 1950s, and since 1996 the revamped track has been the venue for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix each March. The lake offers stunning views of down-town Melbourne, so worth the visit for a bit of camera action.

Chinatown for slug dim sum

The red archways across both ends of Little Bourke St’s Chinatown are your gateways to clattering woks, glowing neon, exotic aromas and shops with floor-to-ceiling chambers of medicinal herbs and tinctures. Melbourne’s Chinatown dates back to the 1850s when Chinese prospectors joined the rush to find gold. In the 19th century the single-storey brick buildings once housed brothels, opium dens and boarding houses. It’s the best place for yum cha (dim sum) or sea slug in Sichuan sauce for the adventurous eater!

Flinders Street Station for a schooner in a dirty old boozer!

Melbourne’s first railway station, Flinders Street, was built in 1854 and designed by two railway workers who ensured fabulous facilities for their fellow workers. Sadly the station is in disrepair but in its heyday buzzed with a concert hall, a library, and even a ballroom. Now it’s reportedly one of the busiest train station in the Southern Hemisphere!

Enjoy a schooner (slightly smaller than a pint) in the city’s iconic pub Young & Jackson’s, which sits opposite the station and has been in service for over 140 years. It’s also famous for the naked young lady who hangs around upstairs! The nude portrait Chloe, painted by Jules Lefebvre, caused an outcry in the puritan Melbourne of 1883. Public opposition saw the painting taken down from the National Gallery of Victoria and bought by the hotel in 1908.

Melbourne on a budget, Australia
Flinders Street, Melbourne, Australia

More typical Melbourne experiences

While there are loads of ways to experience Melbourne on a budget. If there’s a little bit of room in your budget to splash out…we recommend some of the below typical Melbourne experiences to add to your bucket list.

Eating and Drinking in Fitzroy Street

Melbourne was founded in 1835 after it was found in the area around the city of gold. The inhabitants of the city are proud. Much more than people from Sydney, they love their city.

The population of Melbourne loves the good life and loves to eat and drink. Throughout the city you can find cheap food and drink, but in some parts of Melbourne going out to eat can get pricey. In the district around Fitzroy Street bars and cafes are piling up.

Melbourne coffee in Brunswick

Around Brunswick Street are the best pubs and bars tucked away in the narrow alleys called laneways, that wind through the area.

Cozy little bars are filled with young and artistic city residents, getting together to the famous Melbourne to drink coffee. Many former residents of the city say they still miss Melbourne’s coffee times.

Federation Square

For a good cup of coffee, you can also go to the Federation Square. This square was built in 2001 to celebrate Australia and the centenary of the state.

The modern design of the square stands in stark contrast to the Victorian buildings that define the face of Melbourne. 

During the long summer evenings it is an ideal place to enjoy the view over the Yarra River and the Botanical Gardens. During the Australian Open tennis tournament, mad people of Melbourne follows the matches on big screens at the Federation Square.

Melbourne Sports City

Melbourne is a sports town as shown by the several major sporting events that are organized every year.

Besides the Australian Open there is also the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix held in Melbourne. The final of the long Australian Rules Football season is played in Melbourne too. Though, these are probably the least budget-friendly times to visit Melbourne.

The most important sporting event is the Melbourne Cup, the horse known as ‘the race that stops the nation’. Dressed in gala dress attracts everyone to the Flemington Race Track to gambling.

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Steps to St. Kilda Beach

Besides a sports city, Melbourne is also the cultural center of Australia. Every night of the week there are concerts, shows, club nights and festivals organized throughout the city.

The night is long in Melbourne. Only around sunrise are the young people of the city after a party night.

One of the areas holding many nightclubs is St. Kilda. An additional advantage is that just a few steps from the club, you can stretch out on the famous beach of Melbourne.

Budget-friendly accommodation in Melbourne

We’ve searched high and low for the best budget-friendly accommodation options in Melbourne – for all types of travelers!

Boutique Hotel: The Plough Hotel

Part restaurant, part bar, part hotel, this multitasking space was established way back in 1868, but came back on the scene after a heritage-friendly refurbishment in 2013.

Hotel: The Victoria Hotel

A hotel with all the features without a high price: onsite bar, restaurant, fitness centre, plunge pool, spa and sauna. Plus, it’s located in the highly sought-after Little Collins Street.

Hostel: Melbourne Central YHA

Centrally located with both shared dorms and private dorm rooms. If you want to splash out for a private room, you can get a balcony, en suite and coffeemaker (depending which tier you opt for).

Apartment: Cosmopolitan Hotel

A great option for families, offering spacious two-bedroom apartments with a kitchen, lounge area and space to chill out.

More into Airbnbs? Search for Melbourne Airbnbs below:

Interested in the big Australian cities? Check out these posts:

A Guide to the Best Cities in AustraliaA Guide to the Best Cities in Australia

A Self-Guided Walking Tour in Sydney

Reasons to Visit Brisbane, Australia


Best Places to Play Padel in Barcelona

When you’re in a park in Barcelona, you will quickly notice just how many people are staying active, either with running or working out.

The city is obsessed with it.

Over the years, the local councils and governing bodies have put a lot of money into ensuring that people can quench their thirst for exercise and maximise their potential. One of the other things that you will also realise in most parks, is that there are enclosed courts with people playing a sport called Padel.

This sport is one of the most famous in Spain and parts of Latin America. It offers a great alternative to tennis and squash in Barcelona. However, if you are from a country where Padel isn’t well-played, then you may have little to no knowledge on how to play it. Therefore, we thought best to shed light on the topic, so that you can…

Enjoy a game of Padel in Barcelona on your next visit to the city:

History of padel

The sport began in Acapulco, Mexico, by Enrique Corcuera in 1969. The idea was to make a new game that people could play instead of tennis. However, he wanted the sport to be played in an enclosed space that would enable two players to compete on the ‘same side’ of the court as they tried to out maneuver the opposition into committing an error. The sport would soon cross the atlantic, to parts of Southern Portugal and Spain, becoming very popular in the process. Corcuera mapped out a 10 by 20 metre court in his home, building enclosing walls along each side of this court. Shortly after the rules were finalised, padel was brought to Spain by Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe after spending a holiday at Corcuera’s house. Prince Alfonso made the game able to thrive at his Marbella Club hotel, spreading from here- Spain was hooked.

How to play

The first and founding set of rules were proposed by Viviana Dellavedova Corcuera, Enrique’s partner! The rules are basically the same as in tennis except serves are underarm and the ball can bounce off the walls that surround the court. Similar to tennis, volleys are encouraged to make a more exciting and competitive match! Point scoring is the same as tennis, meaning that the game comes very naturally to anyone with some familiarity with tennis! 

Where to play Padel in Barcelona: 

Fairplay Padel Club

The first of places to play padel in Barcelona, is Fairplay Padel Club of Montjuic, which offers eight courts where you can take classes, participate in leagues, events and tournaments. Whatever level you want to get to/experience, you can’t go wrong here.

Location: Carrer del Foc, 2, 08038 Barcelona

Club Natació Atlétic-Barceloneta

How does this sound, playing a game of padel right on the beach, not bad right? Well, let us introduce you to Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta! Offering four wonderful courts, it makes for the most ideal location to have a friendly game of padel whilst enjoying the ocean breeze. With flexible prices, you can be assured to find your match here!

Location: Plaça del Mar, 08003 Barcelona

Club Tennis De La Salut

Despite being known as a tennis club in Barcelona, Club Tennis De La Salut also offers 9 padel courts. You can even bring your kids here to have a go at a new sport in a friendly environment. As well as padel, this club offers fitness classes for members and non-members alike, giving you a chance to warm-up well before hitting the court!

Location: Carrer de la Mare de Déu de la Salut, 75, 08024 Barcelona

Meetup

Meetup is an app that gets people who share similar interests together. It is used for all things from art classes to book clubs, this app can also be used to connect people who want to play tennis or padel. Therefore, be sure to keep an eye out for a padel Meetup group to meet new people and improve your game on your next visit to Barcelona!


Offbeat attractions in Kalutara District, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known for its amazing beaches, but the lesser-known historic sites have been gaining popularity lately, for good reason too.

We have a few of the best picks on the island here for you:

South Bolgoda Lake

The Bolgoda Lake offers plenty of opportunities to have a fun-filled day, as water sports are quite the hit here. Being the biggest natural freshwater lake on the island, this lake spreads out across the districts of both Colombo and Kalutara with a mighty 350 square km to its name.

Canoeing and kayaking are favourite things to do for the people who visit the place, and you should try it too, as it can be a very calming experience to sit out on the lake with nothing but deep waters around you, as you make your way through the gentle waves.

Nachchimale

In a typical Kalutara travel guide, the next place on the list would be Nachchimale, the Buddhist hermitage that is also a meditation centre. Only people interested in actual meditation should visit the place though. If you are a noisy bunch travelling for joy, its best to forego this visit as the monks here are serious about the worship and meditation they do and can be quite offended if you cause disturbances in any way.

Fa Hien Cave

Yatagampitiya, the village in which Pahiyangala resides, is about 5km away from the town of Bulathsinhala in Kalutara. One of the more prominent places to visit in Kalutara District, the cave is frequented by school children for class trips and such. The place is also a popular picnic site; therefore, if you like the quiet and peace, visiting the cave on weekends and Poya days aren’t advised. The cave itself is about 400ft above sea level, the inner ceilings go up to 175ft height and the cave stretches out to a length of 200ft.

According to blogs, this is one of the oldest known places in Sri Lanka, and if the measurements are right, about 3,000 people can stay inside the cave at a time without it getting too uncomfortable. Divided into four parts, the cave has restricted lanes too, which are now blocked and not accessed by the usual visitor due to the dangers that lie within it.

The Archaeological Departments in Sri Lanka dug a pit and found human skulls that date back to about 37,000 years, based on the carbon dating available in the United States of America. A few weapons from the same era were found in the pit too, and it is believed that these weapons were made out of animal bones and heavy stones.

They were used to kill deer, monkey, porcupine and more animals that were easier to hunt down with minimal weapons. With the evidence collected from the pit, archaeologists also say that, apart from the meat, the people of that time also ate snails and wild fruits. The residents of the cave were known as Pahiyangala Manawakaya or Pahiyangala Man and are said to have prominent bone structures, like broad jaws, huge teeth, a short vertebral make-up and an immense palette.

Berwuala Light House

Located on the Barberyn Island this lighthouse is also known as the Barberyn Lighthouse. Built back in 1889, this structure has seen many a natural disaster, like the Tsunami in 2004 and stood tall through it all. You can reach the lighthouse by getting a fisherman with a ferry to take you there for a price.

It usually will not cost you more than Rs.3000 for a round trip, therefore, beware of being scammed with higher fares. The lighthouse itself is not accessible now, but you can walk around the tiny island freely and explore the place.

The island is not crowded during the off-season, and you are also allowed to take a dip in the sea and cool off if you want to. Camping on the island hasn’t been allowed in recent times, but if you are really interested, you can always ask around and see if it is possible to get a permit to camp overnight.


Christmas and New Year in Barcelona

Christmas is celebrated in its own unique way all across the world, with countless different traditions and cultures celebrating the festive season in its own special way.

Christmas and new year are one of the best times of year to visit Barcelona. From fireworks to Christmas markets, there is always something to get up to in Barcelona.

The Catalan capital knows how to get into the festive spirit, as there is a wealth of things to do this Christmas and New Year in Barcelona.

The Christmas Agenda

This year more than ever, we will have to say goodbye from our own homes, instead of at house parties or at the club until the early hours. But not to fear! There are still things on to get up to, and to get into the festive spirit.

La Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas Markets

The Market of Saint Lucia is Barcelona’s oldest Christmas market and dates back to the 18th century, taking place in the plaza in the front of Barcelona Cathedral. 2020 is the 234th anniversary of the Fira de Santa Llucia, and it will be open from the 27th of November until the 23rd of December. Here you will find stalls of handmade gifts, figures for nativity scenes, Christmas decorations, crafts, and much more!

The Three Kings Parade

The traditional Three Kings Parade, which takes place on the 5th of January, is usually a large tour of the city where crowds will come out to watch the Kings and their entourage pass through the streets.

The tradition of the Three Kings in Spain is when the three wise men, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar, accompanied by their entourage of fantastic creatures and royal mailmen, come to collect the letters from the children of their Christmas gift wishes. Children will be able to give their letters to the royal pages and experience the magic of the Three Kings at the Parque del Fòrum where there will be 10,000m2 construction that recreates the traditional floats and the Three Kings. There will also be the costumes, tools, a space to send and receive gifts, as well as a post office and box to send the letters to the Kings of the East.

Firework display from home

This year, the Barcelona council are putting on a firework display that will be able to be seen from all over the city. It will last for 15 minutes, so that the New Year can be brought in with a bang, and all from the safety of your own home so that there is no risk of crowds forming.

The fireworks will be initiated by 12 chimes, to mark the end of December 31st, and 12 bright palm trees will be launched in each of the ten districts of Barcelona: Ciutat Vella, L’Eixample, Sants-Montjuïc, Les Corts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Horta-Guinardó, Nou Barris, Sant Andreu and Sant Martí.

Catalan Festivities

Caga Tió

If you’ve never seen this festive Catalan character around Christmastime before, we’ll forgive you for thinking we’re joking when we explain this…

The star of every household in Catalonia is the ‘Caga Tió’ meaning ‘Poo Log’, and it is a small, wooden log painted with a big smiley face, dressed in the traditional red Catalan hat.

It is brought out on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, and the children ‘look after’ it until Christmas Eve, by wrapping it in blankets and feeding it Torró every evening. The idea is that by caring for him and making him full, he will then be able to ‘poo out’ their presents on Christmas Eve! No really…

After eating their main meal on Christmas Eve, the children start to hit Caga Tió with sticks while singing a special song to encourage it to give them their presents. Once the song has finished, they remove the blanket to find all of their Christmas presents underneath!

Caganer of the Nativity Scene

It is common in every household in Catalonia to have the nativity scene as a decoration up in the house, but there’s a peculiar addition in Catalonia to the scene that you will surely never have seen before…

The Caganer is an essential part of the Catalan pessebre (Nativity Scene), a peasant dressed in the typical Catalan red cap and is found hidden somewhere in the scene with his pants down, pooping in the stable!

This tradition is believed to have begun in the late 17th to early 18th century, and the Caganer’s poop was said to fertilize the earth and bring good luck for the new year. Nowadays it is more of a satirical joke for Catalans to include the Caganer in the Christmas scene, and the figurine is sold on the Christmas markets with the faces of politicians and celebrities on for fun.

New Year’s Eve Traditions

No matter where you may find yourself in Spain, the tradition on New Year’s Eve is to eat a grape with for each of the first 12 strikes of the clock at midnight on the 31st of December to welcome in the New Year.

It is said to lead to a year of good luck and prosperity, and in olden times was said to ward away witches and general evil, although the ‘magic’ of the grapes is treated more as an old wives’ tale, whereas nowadays its simply viewed as a cultural traditional to welcome in the new year with friends and family.


Enjoy a Relaxing Beer Spa Experience in the Czech Republic

If you happen to be travelling to the Czech Republic, you have to try the beer spa experience

Did you say beer and Spa in the same sentence you ask? Surely you mean enjoying a relaxing beer whilst at a spa? 

After all, this is the Czech Republic we’re talking about here. 

In the Czech Republic, it’s possible to enjoy a relaxing bath in a tub full of beer

I kid you not; this is not an urban myth, if you visit the Czech Republic you can also enjoy this rather oddly relaxing experience of bathing in a whole tub of beer. 

After all the Czechs have plenty of beer to go around with a whopping 400 breweries on offer across the country. 

I’ve often seen beer cheaper than popular soft drinks in supermarkets, making it a refreshing beverage of choice to enjoy amongst the locals.

Fun Fact

The Czech Republic holds the title of being the most prominent beer-drinking nation in the world drinking a massive 191.8 litres per capita per year in 2018. That’s a whopping 2,033 million litres total.

After all, the Czech Republic is the birthplace of many styles of beer such as Budweiser and Pilsner and is home to countless breweries throughout the country. 

One thing is for sure, the Czechs know how to craft an incredible beer and the Czech Republic, in my opinion, serves the best beer in Europe for the price.

Being a big fan of beer, I’ve been on many beer trips to the Czech Republic. I love to enjoy the incredible craft of Czech Beer and the beer tourism scene. 

So, when it comes to enjoying a beer spa, simply put, where do I sign up? 

If any nation on the planet were serious about bathing in beer, it would be the Czechs for sure.

Beer Spa Experience

The whole process of a beer spa is rather bizarre from start to finish. 

You can book yourself a Beer Spa Experience pretty much across all of the Czech Republic; it’s a popular experience amongst locals and visitors to the country. 

However, the price will differ depending on where you go. I’ve seen prices in Prague for around the €120 for two people sharing and around €30 for one person where I was, in the Liberec region. 

For my beer spa experience, I went to the region of Liberec, surrounded by the Jizera Mountains, commonly called and nicknamed the Manchester of Bohemia. 

Here you can find the town of Harrachov which has a local brewery offering a beer spa experience. 

Sadly the beer itself in the tub isn’t drinkable, but I’m not sure you would want to drink a tub full of beer that you’ve been bathing in any way. 

It’s more the mash and ingredients that you would find in a beer. 

So yes, you can make beer with it, but it’s not as if you’re bathing in sticky carbonated liquid. 

It’s all the healthy ingredients that make beer to form some soothing bath mixture that’s good for your health. 

The beer bath procedure is prepared in a rehabilitative tub filled with natural, untreated mountain water (36°C) mixed with 5 litres of light and 5 litres of dark unfiltered non-pasteurised yeast beer, combined with crushed hops.

Of course, every beer spa experience wouldn’t be complete without an actual glass of refreshing beer to complete the ambience. 

Most packages will include a glass or two of beer and some even provide a beer tap next to your tub, so you can drink away to your heart’s content. 

Conclusion

I found the whole experience rather relaxing and enjoyed the entire concept a lot. 

It was like chilling in a hot tub full of beer, and I could feel the positive benefits of the beer ingredients working its magic on my skin, I can see the effect it can have on your health. 

However, I did smell of beer for the rest of the remaining day and did get a few funny looks. 

It’s something unique to try and enjoy in the Czech Republic and would highly recommend it if you have an opportunity.

Give it a go!

I’m looking forward to hopefully visiting the Czech Republic next year again and enjoy a refreshing Czech beer in a relaxing beer spa on my next trip.

Coronavirus – Are Travel Restrictions Ridiculous or Useful During Covid?

Why does the tourism industry and the politicians struggle with allowing consumers to travel during Covid times?

I’ve seen many strange regulations over the past few months.

Quite a few restrictions made me frustrated, as I feel it can be possible to let people travel safely, as long as general infection numbers remain low.

There are solutions to keep the risk low.

For example, it’s relatively easy to sell paperless tickets online for sights and activities, which limits the total number of visitors each day. Then for enforcing social distancing rules, provide limited entry to specific times, by providing extra time slots.

And if a Zoo in Cologne is capable of achieving this, others should be able to do this too. 😉

So there shouldn’t be pictures emerging online with visitors in super long queues, as you would only be allowed to turn up, when it’s your time to socially distance and to enjoy the attraction.

On the other side I think it’s essential to be strict on enforcing restrictions, as long as they make sense. If the local health system is struggling and new infections numbers are high, action should take place.

So as long the infection numbers remain high, it’s tough to recommend consumers to travel.

But what if the infection rate remains low and high-risk groups have been vaccinated?

Then we should find ways to make it possible, as we can’t let the tourism industry suffer for much longer, as local economies and job security rely on it.

Not to forget the fact that consumers might have missed out on a much needed holiday in 2020 and can’t wait to travel again, which is seen in advanced booking number figures and increased website traffic.

It seems that it’s all about testing and several times. 

Also, airlines and airports can work together with the government and health boards to provide quick test results to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

Those tests might not provide the best reliable results, but they add to a bigger and safer situation. One piece more of reassurance.

It makes no sense on arrival to lock down tourists for 14 days in a hotel room. I doubt tourists would be eager to do this. It doesn’t sound like a dream holiday situation and I wouldn’t do it.

Instead, why not allow guests access to the whole resort or specific parts until the PCR tests come back negative.

Hotel arrivals could take place on specific days, to allow hotel staff to take part in large deep cleaning operations and to avoid past guests mixing with new arrivals.

Hotels could choose the arrival day they prefer. Limited packages could be sold to control manageable visitor numbers and they could include a minimum stay of several nights.

Believe it or not, many tourists spend their holiday time at the pool or relaxing on the beach.

Being upfront about the additional steps needed to make a trip happen, I feel many would still be interested in travelling abroad.

There could be 3-4 tests to be made by guests:

– one PCR test before arrival, usually 48 hours before departure

– one rapid test at the airport

– one PCR test on arrival 

– and one PCR test after 4-5 days before being allowed to leave the resort

If all tests are negative, the risk becomes low and avoids the chances of Covid-19 spreading further.

There is still a small chance that it can spread, but we should not forget that life itself is not completely 100% risk-free.

Washing hands, wearing a face mask, keeping socially distanced, all still help to reduce the spread of covid, we shouldn’t forget that.

With such a situation, it would be possible to allow visitors outside of the hotel and explore a destination, after a few days. Also, here again, you can define specific restrictions, which should be in place already anyway.

Destinations like the Seychelles, Barbados and Sri Lanka are good examples of how it could be done.

It might be easier for islands to manage arrivals, but I don’t see why it’s not also possible for other destinations.

Very important is that everyone sticks to the rules.

The visitors and the businesses need to play along!

The moment someone breaks the rules and refuses to follow guidance, they should be fined as they put the whole operation at risk.

Make customers sign waivers, so they’re aware of the risk. If they break the rules, send them home, allow no refund, let them pay for all extra costs as well as a fine.

If a hotel, airline or tour operator doesn’t play along, then close down the operation and add a fine.

Nobody is forcing anyone to open for business or travel. And if destinations and their politicians make it possible to travel again, everyone should appreciate this and play along to provide a safe environment for everyone.

Vaccines are currently being administered as we speak in many countries. And we will still have to deal with Sars-CoV-2 in the future, especially when we talk about international travel.

Communication is key!

When we ran the restart tourism recovery campaign with the UNWTO and Lanzarote in Spain, we got a lot of positive and interested feedback from travelers.

There was a high demand for seeking information. (Get in touch with us, if you are interested to get the case study.)

Travellers wanted to find out about the different restrictions, not really in detail, but more if it’s safe to travel.

Don’t show a post-Covid situation, as it’s not in operation yet.

Show that it’s safe and fun to travel, even with additional rules and restrictions. 

We should learn from the past and see what worked and adapt. Let’s remain sensible and respectful and most importantly keep safe.

Let’s also stay realistic and don’t create ridiculous rules, but be responsible for everyone.


Useful Things to Know Before You Travel to China

Travelling to China can be a rather memorable experience. It’s a destination that feels like you’re travelling to a whole other planet. Whenever I get asked, have I travelled to China, I’m always reluctant to say yes.

I have a love/hate relationship with visiting China as it’s not a comfortable place to travel around. But please, don’t let this put you off your trip entirely, it’s a good thing. 

I guess I love it more for this very reason, that it is a challenging country to travel around.  And it is for this very reason I’ve put together this blog post as I wanted to share my top Useful things to know before you travel to China. 

If only I had known these few things before I departed on my first trip to China, I feel I would have enjoyed my first trip a lot more. It is a country that grows with you over time. 

I do hope that this information helps you to navigate around China A lot better from the get-go.

China offers many incredible destinations to travel too, such as: 

  • See pandas in Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center.
  • Exploring the forbidden city of Beijing.
  • Taking on the dangerous challenge of the plank walk on Mount Hua.
  • Unearthing the Terracotta Army outside of the ancient city of Xi’an.
  • Walking along the Great Wall of China.
  • Exploring the busy hustle of Shanghai city.
  • Relaxing on the tropical island paradise of Hainan. 

Simply put, China covers a lot of ground for travellers with much to see and do.

After all, China is one of the world’s most populous countries. Did you know that you can find 102 cities in China with a population of over 1 million people? Now that’s a lot of people. 

Nothing wrong with a challenge, In fact, I would prefer a challenge whilst travelling, It’s always a nice change to get lost on your own without an understanding of where you might end up.  

Always be prepared before you travel, jump into the deep end and most importantly, have fun. However, I can give you a few tips I wish I knew before travelling to China. 

You will have moments throughout your trip to China when all you can simply say is “oh China”! It is a special place, and you will stumble across the most bizarre of situations. 

And a brief word of warning, health and safety is a whole different ball game in China. So do be on guard where ever you go and be sure to take out reliable travel insurance before your trip to ensure you’re covered. 

You will need to arrange a VPN before your trip to China 

The great firewall of china, nothing gets in, nothing gets out. It doesn’t bother locals that much that everything is blocked, as they have their own Chinese versions of popular services and apps. 

Blocked websites in China:

  • Facebook
  • Google (Gmail, Maps, translate)
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

ALL BLOCKED! You have been warned. 

Need not fear; you can quickly get around this blocking problem by downloading a popular virtual private network service called a VPN

It’s essential that you find a VPN that works in China, and you set it up on your laptop and mobile smartphone before you arrive. 

Once it’s set up, you can access all the above-blocked sites easily in China. Meaning you can stay connected with the outside world and carry on like usual. 

Don’t damage your electronic devices 

Make sure you have the correct voltage and adapters to charge your electronic devices. It’s a good idea to get a plug with a surge to be on the safe side. You have been warned. 

Stick with tea and bottled water in China

Coffee is not a good idea in China; after all, they do so well as a nation to create incredibly tasty tea, why would you drink coffee? 

Coldwater isn’t a thing; you’re more likely to see hot water on offer around China as many locals like to either add tea leaves or drink it on it’s own hot. 

Avoid drinking tap water at all costs and purchase sealed bottled water when you need. Instead, Switch your coffee for tea, and you won’t be disappointed. 

For an emergency brew, China does have Starbucks. Not that Starbucks is a great coffee, it’s just available just in case you do need your caffeine fix in the morning. 

Otherwise, I would get a flask to fill up with hot water to add your tea leaves to in the morning. Do as the locals do and enjoy the excellent tasting tea on your trip to China. 

You don’t need a Visa to enter China

Did you know that you don’t need a visa to enter China? I didn’t know this either, but British tourists flying from London to Hainan directly can enjoy a 30-day visa-free entry. 

For the majority of trips to China, you are required to apply for a tourist visa to enter. But there are few exceptions where UK passport holders don’t need a visa. 

Another example is an international traveller who is transiting through China within 72 hours. You need to reach another country within 72-hours to be eligible for the transit visa. 

I used this transit visa whilst on a trip from London to Bangkok via Beijing, and I went hiking along the Great Wall of China within 72-hours and was able to enter China without the need for a visa. 

Eat first, ask later, China will remain a mystery when it comes to food 

My best advice for eating food in China is to order the set meal or the recommended dish and then eat before asking what it is. 
Food in China can be an adventure in itself; the best advice is not to ask what you’re eating and just eat it. Eat first, then ask later. 

You might be surprised by what you’re eating. China is a fun culinary destination, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible dishes having no idea what it is. 

Also, Mock food is popular in China, such as Mock Duck or Mock Chicken as China perfected fake meat way before the impossible burger.  This is mostly down to cost as meat can be expensive for locals and the mock version is much cheaper and has a similar taste and texture. 

If you happen to have a dietary requirement, preference or allergy, it might be a little tricky to get across your requests in China. A good idea would be to translate these words in advance so you can have them on hand to work out with the restaurant what’s in the meal before eating. 

I must warn you that they may say that the dish doesn’t contain an item when it does. This is entirely down to the language barrier and the ingredient being more used for a stock than being a key ingredient. 

Jodi from Legal Nomad has put together some useful cards for those looking for Gluten Free options that will help with the translation issue. I’d highly recommend sorting this out before you travel to China. 

Make sure you carry cash whilst travelling around China

Most payments in China are made through QR payment with digital wallets using apps such as WeChat Pay or Alipay. 

It’s challenging to get a local sim card and activate these apps; travellers should withdraw local cash from an ATM as card payments such as American Express, Mastercard or Visa are not a common form of payment, especially for smaller transactions with local vendors, cash is your best option. 

I’d recommend trying to locate and find an HSBC ATM to withdraw your cash in China and be sure to inform your bank ahead of time that you’re travelling to China to avoid your account being cut off. 

Gobbing, Spitting and farting are all common practices in China

Trump, toot, bottom burp, One-Cheek Squeak or how about a Breezer? Fart to your hearts contents in China as locals don’t seem to mind openly in public. 

I don’t think I will ever forget the moment a local dropped a tune whilst standing next to me. It was like getting permission to finally allow my body to unleash the orchestra performance of a lifetime out in public without any shame. 

Please don’t get offended as it doesn’t fix anything, you’re in China now. Join in with the local customs. 

However, it was the sound of the gobbing noise on almost every street corner of China that got to me. It’s again, relatively common practice and one that can’t be avoided. 

Welcome to China, Spitting is relatively common; you will simply have to get used to it.

Another custom to get used to is the art of queuing. It doesn’t exist really; you might end up waiting a long time if you get in line.

A word of warning, Some toilets don’t have doors. Always carry a packet of tissues for when nature calls and practice the art of squatting before your trip to China, you will need to learn. 

You will stumble across a language barrier in China

Good luck trying to speak English, you will have to learn Chinese; after all, you’re in China now.  

Even some international hotels will struggle with language barriers so be prepared.

I’ve also noticed that some Chinese signs with English translations, usually don’t make any sense at all. You will be on your own when it comes to understanding the local language. 

My best advice would be to download a translation app before your trip to China. Write down essential landmarks and the name of your hotel on your phone to show to taxi drivers just in case you get lost.

Another idea to understand your destination a lot better, would be to hire a local guide to help you navigate around the language barrier and understand China a lot better.

Most importantly, Chinese locals are super friendly 

I first heard horror stories about how locals in China were mean and not friendly towards tourists; this was simply not the case from my experience.

I found China to be a friendly place to travel around and found locals filled with curiosity and interested in finding out more about your personal trip around China. 

Especially in the remote areas of China that hardly see any tourists at all, locals will want to know what you’re up to and stop to take a photo with you.

Embrace your visit to China, take photos on every occasion, learn a few essential words to allow a connection and a smile, randomly hold babies for selfies (This is a thing!) and be prepared for friendly nods and smiles all round.

China is incredible, and you have to take it for what it is. After all, this is China.


Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park in Winter

Home to a great collection of geothermal features, an abundance of wildlife, the most spectacular views and a thick blanket of snow – Yellowstone National Park in winter is an adventurer’s dream.

Plus, there’s less visitors – so you get to experience the true beauty of the park without the crowds!

So, if you’re brave enough to face the cold, windy and snowy days during the months of November through to April, you’re in a for a treat.

If you’re not quite convinced on experiencing a Yellowstone National Park winter, national park located in the western United States, here’s a few reasons why you should.

10 reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter

Yellowstone in winter is a true wonderland.

Here’s why:

1.      The snowy landscapes and geysers

The wintery landscapes in Yellowstone National Park are absolutely breathtaking! From the steam rising up from the geysers and hot springs to the bison trekking through the snow and the frozen streams.

Old Faithful, the nearly 500-year-old geyser in the park, continues to erupt. In winter, the near-boiling water hits the chilly air and falls down in tiny icy crystals and flakes. Watching the geysers erupt against the backdrop of the snow and stunningly blue skies is a sight to behold.

Yellowstone in winter - the geysers
Witness the Yellowstone geysers in winter.

2.      The winter activities

According to the locals, the best way to experience Yellowstone in winter is on a pair of cross-country skis! From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing – there’s plenty of adrenaline pumping winter-based activities to explore in the area.

You’ll find several places nearby who rent gear and several companies specialising in guided trips if you’d rather not go out alone (this is recommend unless you’re extremely experienced in navigating the snowy hills).

3.      Snowmobiling

In mid-December, many of the roads in the park are only open to oversnow travel, meaning that visitors may only enter the park via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

West Yellowstone offers 400 miles of snowmobiling terrain outside Yellowstone National Park on national forest service land. It’s a snowmobilers paradise, with loads of tour companies taking you into the park on the snowmobiles. The terrain caters to all levels, from beginners to experts.

4.      The wildlife

The Yellowstone National Park in winter is still home to a variety of wildlife. The less-crowded park means that you’ll get to observe the wildlife facing the elements of winter without hoards of other tourists surrounding you.

Against the snowy background, the animals are also much easier to spot and you can easily track them in the snow. Expect to see bison, elk, river otters, wolves and other Yellowstone National Park animals.

Plus, you’ll get to see the bison in their winter coats! Huge balls of snow dangle on their beards, making them look even more impressive.

5.      The cozy lodges in Yellowstone National Park

There’s nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a hot drink (or whiskey), a good book, a crackling fireplace nearby and view of a snowy landscape outside. That’s ultimate relaxation, right?

This is exactly what you’ll get when you visit Yellowstone in winter. Note that not all lodges stay open during the winter months (and due to COVID restrictions, a few more might be closed this year). Best is to check out the full list of Yellowstone accommodation to see what is available.

6.      The quiet, peaceful solitude

Not many people visit Yellowstone in winter, which means that you get to truly experience the natural beauty completely on your own. In the winter, the park is nothing but miles of peaceful solitude in the wilderness.

It’s the perfect winter escape if you want to disconnect from humans, unplug your laptop and switch off your phone.

And since the park is primarily accessed via guided oversnow transport, you get experience Yellowstone’s canyons, woods, wildlife and hydrothermal forces in a much more intimate way.

7.      The Yellowstone holiday traditions

If you love the traditions that come with the holidays, then you’ll still get to experience the magic of the season in Yellowstone. Some of the popular traditions include candlelight Christmas Eve services in the Mammoth Chapel, tree lighting on Officer’s Row and festive Christmas dinners held at the local lodges.

If you’re in the area for New Years, then you’ll get to ring in the new year at Old Faithful, where everyone heads out to the geyser viewing area shortly after midnight to watch the first eruption of the year.

8.      Practice your snow photography

With so much natural scenery around you, Yellowstone in winter is an ideal spot to practice your snow photography skills.

The landscapes are filled with contrasts – from clear blue skies to snowy fields, steamy geysers and woolly animals. You can shoot these images on your own or join one of the guide-led photo safaris on offer.

9.      Witness the star-filled night sky

Yellowstone comes alive at night – from the parks most well-known creatures coming out to play to the star-filled sky lighting up the land.

To witness this spectacular scene, you need to join one of the nighttime snowcoach tours. The tours take you past the hissing geysers and passing wildlife and eventually stops for you to get out and witness the beauty above you. The countless stars on display will leave you in awe.

10.  Take a dip in a hot spring

This one is for the true adrenaline junkies, or the people who just want to say ‘I took in a dip in a hot spring in below zero degrees’.

The naturally heated waters of the hot springs won’t freeze, even during the coldest of winters. Which leaves for a fun opportunity to take a dip any time of year! The water is so warm, that no matter how cold it is outside, you’ll be so comfortable that you won’t want to get out.

Look out for the spot where the Boiling River meets the Gardner River, about two miles north of Mammoth. This is a popular swimming spot during the summer months but is sparsely visited in the winter months – making it one of the more unique experiences of a Yellowstone National Park winter.

Ready to start planning your adventure in Yellowstone National Park in winter?


The Best American-Style Barbeque In Australia

Are you a lover of meat?

Does it make you salivate with the thought of slow-roasted beef or
dripping pork ribs?

This list is bound to make you very hungry and happy then!

We took the time to put together a list of restaurants in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and
Adelaide where you can get the best American barbeque.

They specialize in a range of southern
BBQ items from pulled pork, spareribs to fall apart brisket that will give a run for their money to
any BBQ restaurant in the American South.

Here are our favorite American-Style BBQ in Australia

Barbecue Bluebonnet and Loretta’s – Melbourne

The décor is what you would describe as American junkyard chic in this barbeque joint, tucked into the corner of a pub, worn plank doors serve as tables and rusty old power pole bits act as light fittings.

The food, meanwhile is epic. Various smoked meats are texturally perfect, and the meat comes in100g portion like most barbeque places.

The meat is not cheap, but with huge portions of the best sides in town, such as beetroot, barley and dill salad, giant deep-fried McClure’s pickles, miso-sweet Brussels sprouts, or apple, red cabbage and kohlrabi slaw.

Bring friends, when you have a large group to split and conquer, it works best here.

American BBQ Low and Slow – Adelaide

From their food truck days, Low and Slow has come a long way now they are based in the buzzy Port Adelaide.

Their menu includes ribs that have developed a cult, plus beef brisket, pulled pork and the standout in our eyes: hot wings with blue cheese sauce.

They are cooking beef like pros here. So if you’re unable to choose, order a banquet. You’ll get to try all the meats and a variety of down-home Southern sides at $35 per person.

Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint – Melbourne

The true American vibe of Fancy Hank’s nails is better than almost any venue in Melbourne.

Most people will be here for a great barbeque, and we can tell these guys to nail it after testing a lot of smokehouses around town. You can also get specialty cocktail tops and cocktail jugs.

The other drawcard here is the abundance of outdoor space on the open rooftop or on the huge balcony overlooking the markets, among the greenery of the courtyard.

Vic’s Market Meat – Sydney

At the Sydney Fish Market, fourth-generation butcher Anthony Puharich has opened a two-part venture (butcher shoppe and sandwich shoppe).

In rich smoky shreds, cut with a vinegary coleslaw, their pulled pork sandwich falls apart while the brisket is fatty and tender.

Not into gluten? They also provide options for smoked meat and side salads, so you can feel at least five percent healthy while ordering.

Old Faithful Bar & BBQ – Perth

Step into Old Faithful’s rustic interior and get ready for some quality American BBQ.

All the meats here are prepared and smoked in-house; rubbed with an expert blend of spices that try to taste the buds. Pick up some of their belly from the pig, ribs, beef brisket, or tasty chicken wings.

A must-have is their watermelon salad with jalapeño and lime cream. Is there room for dessert yet? Old Faithful got s’mores, a stout banana cream pie, and a honeycomb mudcake.

The Winston – Tasmania

The Winston is also where Hobart’s best barbeque is to be found.

In Baltimore, co-owner Caroline Kiehne was born and raised and her influence is evident in the diner-style menu.

All excellent are the pit beef sandwiches, Buffalo wings and baby back ribs. From jalapeno poppers to pecan pie and Maryland-spiced blue swimmer crab, daily specials vary. It’s done exceptionally well with serious comfort food.

Up In Smoke -Melbourne

We always start with dessert, specifically the banana cream pie at Footscray’s American barbeque restaurant. Once you’ve had that, it’s all about the barbeque, a $20,000 barbeque that sits behind a glass window like a jewel.

The menu is full of by burgers, salads, sandwiches and tasty snackettes, and the smoked meats come out to play when the clock hits 6pm. A happy pile of sweet pulled pork, a pleasantly hefty jalapeno-and-cheddar sausage and shimmering beef brisket slices with a hint of smoke and a nice layer of fat.

So, say goodbye to your onion that is charred.

Sure, Australia has our own very distinct barbeque traditions, but Aussies are coming around to the Southern style of doing things all over the country so make sure you check out some of these places when you visit Australia!


Why You Should Visit Murcia, Spain

Located on the Mediterranean coast, the vibrant city of Murcia truly comes alive with the help of its lively architectural heritage and energetic cultural atmosphere.

Although it’s a lesser-known city of Spain, there are a number of memorable things to do in Murcia, things to see and several Murcia attractions that will prove that this city really is one of Spain’s most underrated gems.

So, why visit Murcia?

Here’s a few reasons…

Murcia beach, Spain
Murcia beach, Spain

Top reasons to visit Murcia, Spain

Your authentic Spanish experience begins now … and thankfully it comes without the usual tourist crowds. 

The beautiful Murcia beaches 

For those of you that consider yourselves to be sunshine lovers, you’ll be happy to know that Murcia experiences over 3000 hours of sunshine every single year. What’s better is that one of the main Murcia attractions is, without a doubt, its picturesque beaches.

Combine the glorious sunshine of Murcia with its unspoiled sands and refreshing turquoise waters and you have officially located paradise. 

With the glistening city sharing its glorious sunlight with you, meandering through the Cape Palos peninsular is a definite sun worshipper’s dream. For those looking for a picturesque leisurely walk, strolling through Cala Cerrada and Calarreona promises exceptional panoramic views of the shoreline.

If you have time, we also thoroughly suggest visiting the southern part of Costa Blanca that is delicately dotted with a number of energetic and colourful towns. Whilst there, make sure to head over to Torre de la Horadada where a number of quaint beaches await you.

The culinary delights

For all the foodies at heart, Murcia truly is your culinary haven

This city, with its labyrinthine streets, is heavily populated with a number of high-end dining experiences, Michelin-star restaurants and lively tapas bars that will tantalise those tastebuds. 

For those of you looking for a more authentic eating experience, you will appreciate that the city of Murcia also offers a number of local ‘holes-in-the-wall’ and cafes that serve traditional delicacies and dishes. From seafood stews and paella to old-style chorizo and fried squid, you’ll know that your food has been prepared following authentic generational family recipes. 

In short: homemade Spanish foods truly are a genuine Murcia attraction!

Now for some name-dropping!

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to sampling all the food Murcia has to offer, don’t panic, we’ve got you covered! We suggest heading out to Plaza de Las Flores. This square has a variety of diverse food selections that will appease even the pickiest of eaters. While you’re there, you have to try one of Murcia’s traditional pies at Zaher bar. Make sure to order your pie with one of their local ciders … you won’t regret it! And if you have a serious hankering for seafood, courtesy of the local nearby harbours, La Tapa restaurant is where you’ll want to be.

The vibrant villages

If you currently have a list of things to see in Murcia, your itinerary isn’t complete unless you have ‘visit local villages’ on it.

In a city where no one is ever rushed (note: it did take them 330 years to build their cathedral), you can see how their continued patience and dedication to exceptional detail has contributed to their picturesque villages. Known, and adored, for the whitewashed buildings that line the rugged hillsides, Murcia’s quaint and cobbled streets are just another charming attraction on offer.

One of the things you have to see in Murcia is the Ricote Valley journey from Archena to Blanca. This truly is where mother nature shows off with the help of her bold cliffs, luscious lemon groves and crystal-clear waters. But her visual riches don’t end there. Murcia also has historical beauties including its castles that can be found along Alamha, Mula and Lorca where their ancient charm and ruins remain intact. 

The main takeaway here: bring your camera and a few portable batteries – you’re going to need them!

The fresh produce

There may be a number of things to see in Murcia, but there are also a number of things that you have to taste too! And well, to the delight of many, Murcia has done away with the intrusive fast-food chains (you’ll actually have to search for a McDonalds) and embraced wholesome and fresh eating experiences instead. 

All of your culinary expeditions in Murcia will prove one thing: this sun-drenched city produces unimaginable amounts of fresh produce. In fact, picture your local food market back home and increase its size by 20 … that’s North and West Murcia for you!

Murcia’s agricultural lands offer locals an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. From oranges to lemons, tomatoes and lettuce, it truly is an agricultural utopia. For this reason, many locals have even referred to the lush and giving lands of Murcia as La Huerta de Europa, which translates to The Market Garden of Europe!

The many Murcia attractions

When it comes to finding things to do in Murcia, you are in for quite the selection. First up? Water activities. With warm waters that run along the Mediterranean, visitors to the city’s shoreline will be able to explore their more adventurous side, with windsurfing, jet skiing and water-skiing being on offer. 

For those of you that prefer the water from a safe distance, you will appreciate the conservational areas, including the Tenerife which is a must-visit of the Murcia attractions. You can also head straight for the natural parklands and follow the pine-scented walking trails or get your heart racing through the rosemary lined hiking trails of the Santuario de la Fuensanta that will feature perfectly on your current Instagram page. 

When it comes to finding things to do in Murcia, just know that this city is quite the show-off. If you are looking to experience exceptional natural beauty, taste authentic cuisine and take in various historical wonders – Murcia is the place to be!