Argentina travel guide

Less Popular Sights in Buenos Aires

While there are certainly more visited places on earth than Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires remains one of the most popular stops on a trip through South America. You can certainly check off the must-see sights in the city, including repeated visits to the Milongas to watch (or dance) Tango or to parillas to gorge on some of the best steaks you’ll ever have – but why not explore off the beaten path in Buenos Aires, too?

A recent article on BootsnAll offers some ideas for seeing a less-visited side of Buenos Aires. These aren’t undiscovered spots, especially because they’re populated by locals, but they do give visitors a different look at a popular city. Among the ideas mentioned is to attend a polo match (soccer is huge in Buenos Aires, but polo is big among the upper crust of BA society), visit the theatre-turned-bookstore of El Ateneo, and relax with the locals at Palermo’s Park. Another funny note in the article is that while much of Buenos Aires is noted for its beautiful architecture, one of the prettiest buildings in the city is the one housing the city’s water department – El Sanitario.

Buenos Aires is regularly touted as one of the loveliest European capitals – despite the fact that it’s not in Europe – and travelers like to talk about how much cheaper it is to visit BA than it is to visit Paris. More recently, however, prices in Buenos Aires are starting to rise. They’re still no match for the prices in Europe, but people making return visits to Buenos Aires may be surprised to find the city impacting their wallets more than it used to.

Budget travelers may need to look a bit harder to find deals to Buenos Aires, then, or opt for hostels in BA as opposed to the hotels they stayed in last time – but as is the case with many off-the-beaten-path attractions, the less-popular BA sights listed in this article can help you save money on your trip to Buenos Aires.

photo by jvc

Articles Los Angeles

Visiting Yosemite National Park

Though Los Angeles is known more for crowds, traffic congestion and movie stars, within a few hours you can leave the urban sprawl of LA behind and find yourself in the middle of nowhere in Yosemite National Park. Fly from LA to Fresno-Yosemite, airport or make the five hour drive to the park’s entrance and the busy pace of LA will soon be a distant memory.

Long a popular summer vacation spot for families, Yosemite is also one of the best places to hike in the US. This giant park has dozens of waterfalls, hundreds of lakes, jagged mountains, quite meadows and even some relaxing beaches. And there are over 800 miles of trails that will take you past this beautiful scenery. From easy (and sometimes crowded) paved trails to challenging backcountry trails, there’s something for every hiker in Yosemite. Half Dome, Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls, and Mirror Lake are some of the most popular trails in the park. Be sure to stop by the visitors center when you arrive to get the scoop on current conditions int he park. There are also some national park iPhone apps that can help you plan your time according to your interests.

The Yosemite is one of the most well-touristed National Parks in the US, a visit doesn’t have to be expensive. Especially if you are driving yourself, it is easy to travel to Yosemite National Park on a budget. Camping or staying in one of the tent cabins will be the cheapest options for lodging. But you cann make reservations at only some of the campgrounds in the park, and those will book up fast in the high season. Booking about six months in advance (during high season) is ideal.

High season is during the summer, with June-August being the most popular times to visit. Opting for May-June or  September-October can mean lower prices and fewer crowds, just be prepared for unpredictable weather at these times.

Photo by Rennett Stowe

England travel guide

Two reasons to visit England: Stonehenge and Tyneham

Planning a vacation in England means you’ll be faced with a lot of decisions. London is easy to get to thanks to the many airlines serving its airports and cheap airfare to Europe is not hard to find either, especially if you plan in advance. And once in London, you’ll surely be tempted to spend as much time as you can here. I managed to see most of the city’s main sights during a four days trip in spring but if your time is limited, you can plan a marathon sightseeing experience during two days.

Then, travel to Salisbury. If you want to see the English country side, either choose the train, by bus or rent a car. Make sure to book one of the cheap hotels in Salisbury ahead of time. Its proximity to Stonehenge makes it a popular town and therefore not the cheapest alternative if you are after a hotel. But B&Bs are great choices as well and they offer good facilities at lower rates. Plan to spend at least half a day in the city and don’t forge to visit the Cathedral

Now it’s time to visit Stonehenge, the well-known Neolithic and Bronze Age stone monument. To get here, take the tour bus from Salisbury (the ticket is £18). Once there, choose one of the walking tours.

From Stonehenge, get back to Salisbury and then travel to Dorchester either by bus or by rental car. From here, drive to Tyneham, one of the famous European ghost towns . It is not open for the public all the time, so make sure you do your homework and know when the Lulworth Military Range is open for the public. You can spend at least half a day here but make sure you stick to the pathways.

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Argentina travel guide

Visit South America by bus

Located between the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the South Atlantic Ocean, South America is the wilder of the Americas and truly a continent of contrasts and of superlatives. It is the home of world’s biggest rainforest (Amazon), the largest river (Amazon), the highest mountain range outside of Asia (The Andes) , the world’s tallest waterfall (Angle Falls) and let’s not forget the stunning Galapagos Islands. The continent is also dotted with important historical sites, cosmopolite cites and colorful festivals.

While flying is the fastest way to get from one point to another, if you want to capture the beauty of the continent you have to travel on the ground. Driving can be a good choice but it’s definitely not for everyone, especially if the driving conditions are different than in the country you are from. So that leaves trains and buses to choose from.

Typically, buses are the cheapest way to get around any country in South America. Plus you can choose one (or more) of the amazing bus journeys in South America to do on your next vacation.

Argentina, the country of tango, soccer, excellent food and wine, can also be experienced on a bus ride. And best of all, you can spend time in the cities along the way and soak up the local atmosphere. Look for airfare to Argentina and fly into the capital of Buenos Aires. It is well served by airlines from all over the world, so finding cheap airfare shouldn’t be hard. Then, travel to Salta, either by plane or bus. Book one of the hostels in Salta because you will want to spend several days here. From here take the bus to Tilcara. Continue all the way to Iruya , stopping in Humahuaca.

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Planning a Trip Portugal

Learn to surf this summer in Portugal

When we think about surfing, images of Hawaiian and Australian beaches come to mind. After all, that’s what we are used with , particularly from the movies. But few travelers know what it’s possible to surf in places such as Portugal, Greece, South Africa, Canada and even China.

The list of unusual places to learn to surf includes Portugal, one of the best vacation destinations in Europe.

But Portugal is better known for unique culture, lively cities, diverse landscape, wine and beaches. It might just be the one of the best value destinations on the Continent. It’s mild climate makes it a lovely destination for those who want to travel during the winter as it offers a nice break from the colder northern climates.

While you are exploring the sights and cities, make sure to try the traditional drinks of Portugal . The most popular of them is Port, the fortified wine, and you can enjoy it at its best in Porto. You can also try Ginjinha – a liqueur made by infusing ginja berries in aguardente -, beer and Portuguese wine. Pair them with traditional food and don’t miss the cheeses either.

If you are already in Europe, airfare to Portugal is easy to find but not always very cheap. You should check out the special offers from various low cost carriers and book your ticket ahead of time. For example, you can fly from London to Porto in August for just £30 (taxes excluded) but you have to book the flight within the next two days. If you fly from other continents, consider making a stop in a large European hub – such as London or Amsterdam – and then book a connecting flight into Portugal.

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travel guide Vietnam

Train Travel in Vietnam

Train travel is the best alternative to bus travel in Vietnam. While it’s still affordable, traveling by train is definitely more comfortable than traveling by bus. Plus you can see the countryside as you travel. If you want to travel from abroad to Vietnam by train, it’s only possible to do so from China.

Traveling within Vietnam by train

Vietnam Railways System (VRS) is the main domestic service operator. The total length of railway is 2.652 km, connecting almost every province and city in the country. The main travel routes are from north to south (Hanoi to Saigon) and from Hanoi to the northwest and northeast. The train linking Hanoi to Saigon is often referred to as ‘Reunification Express’.

There are four types of classes in Vietnamese trains:

  • hard seat: it’s the good choice for day travel
  • hard berth: there are six beds in the compartment; the cheapest is the upper bed
  • soft seat: without AC in the summer, but more comfortable than the hard seat (benches)
  • soft berth: there are four beds in the compartment, which closes as there is a door. The price is the same for all beds

There are two major types of trains: SE and TN. SE trains have AC during summer and a restaurant car. TN are the slower, older trains, with no AC.

It is possible to book a ticket online. It’s also advisable to check the schedule and pricing before you make any plans (as they tend to change about twice a year). Tickets can be bought from travel agents and in the railway stations, as well. All trains require a reservation .

travel guide Vietnam

Bus Travel in Vietnam

Flying is the fastest way to travel within the country, but it’s also the most expensive (although compared to other countries, it’s still cheap). Traveling by bus in Vietnam is the most popular way to get around the country if you are on a low budget. You can stop wherever you want, stay there as much as you want and then continue your journey. Compared to the train, the bus hardly offers a comfortable trip (it most often is described as feeling like in a sardine can). However, it remains the cheapest way to get around Vietnam.

Getting to/from Vietnam by bus – from another country

There are boarding crossings with Cambodia, China and Laos. All can be used by foreign travelers. In general, traveling to Vietnam by bus can be just as uncomfortable as traveling within the country. But do add the facts that: you’ll be hassled by those who can obtain the visas for you (for money , of course), you’ll wait for hours at border crossings and you’ll travel with cargo (including live animals). There are VIP buses available as well.

Getting around Vietnam by bus – from one city to another

Long-distance buses connect most cities in Vietnam. Do plan to travel either early in the morning or during the night, in order to avoid both the traffic and the afternoon showers. The road speeds are low and you’ll end up traveling 8 hours to cover 276 km. Do remember that Vietnamese buses are made for the locals and Westerners might find them too small and uncomfortable.

The open tour buses are run by many companies and are designed for travelers. They offer door-to-door service at very low prices (i.e.US$20-25 to get from Hanoi to Saigon). You can stop any time you want and resume travel at your own leisure.

Be careful and keep your eyes on your possessions at all time, especially on the night buses. Typically, a travel lock will do the trick. And try not to show your expensive items. Stick to the good old mp3 player or reading a book (during the day). When you arrive at the destination and you are asked if you have booked a hotel, the answer is always “yes” (in order to avoid the taxi scams).

Getting around Vietnam by bus- within a city

In Hanoi the public buses are cheap and scam free. But they are a bit hard to figure out at first. There are 60 bus lines and the flat fare is 3000 dong.

In Saigon there are 150 bus routes. All buses are bright green, so they are hard to miss. Public bus travel in Saigon is cheap, safe and not crowded.

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Planning a Trip Portugal travel guide

Train Travel in Portugal

Just like bus travel , train travel in Portugal takes time. Only several lines are high-speed or fast, the rest of the rail network is formed by normal lines. Although between the cities it’s usually easy and fast to travel by train, on some regional routes it can become painfully slow.

The country is well connected to the rest of Europe. There are direct trains from Spain, France and UK. Thanks to the European rail network you can get from any major city in Europe to Portugal by train (making stops along the way, of course).

The rail system in Portugal is State owned and is called “Caminhos de Ferro Portuguese (CP)”. Between Lisbon and Poro there’s an “Alfa” train (high speed). Travelers usually choose the second class (Turitica).

The intercity trains connect the rest of the cities and are comfortable but slower than the Alfa trains. Interregional trains cover the rest of the country, while regional trains stop in every village.

Generally, station facilities are below the European average and there are often long queues at the ticket counters. So either go to the station early or make a reservation ahead of time (20 days in advance for the Alfa and InterCtiy trains).

Train tickets in Portugal are affordable so you really don’t need a pass to travel within Portugal. However, InterRail, Eurorail, Eurodomino and Eurail passes are valid on Portuguese trains.

There are also scenic train journeys, run by the same State owned companies. Their website mentions them, along with the possibility to book adventure and other type of journeys offered. The northern region is definitely worth your time, as the scenic train ride passes through places where there are no roads.

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Planning a Trip Portugal travel guide

Bus Travel in Portugal

Portugal is very well served by low-cost carriers but when it comes to traveling within the country, unless you want to go to the islands, you are better off using the land transportation: train and bus.

If you are on a low budget, the bus is always a good option. Yes, it takes longer and not all roads are perfect, but if time is not an issue, this is the best way to explore the country. The bus network is well-connected but you cannot always relay on the timetables. Buses usually cover places which are not reached by trains.

Getting to Portugal by bus – from another country

The cheapest way to get to Portugal from another European country and vice versa is by bus. There are three companies, including Eurolines , which run services from other European cities to Lisbon.

Getting to/from Spain

The cheapest and fastest way to get from Lisbon to Madrid is by bus. Avanza Bus runs a service between the two capitals and there are two departures daily.

Getting around Portugal by bus –from one city to another

There are several inter-city bus companies offering connections in Portugal. All near-by cities as well as large cities in Portugal have direct connections to Lisbon. The main operator for long-haul routes is Rede Expressos . The company offers 300 routes within the country.

Getting around Portugal by bus – within a city

In Lisbon there’s an extensive bus service run by Carris . You can buy the tickets direct from the driver or from the machines in the bus, as well as from the outlets available in the city.

In Porto, STCP runs many buses on many lines, covering the city. However, the timetable is not very reliable. Tickets are €1.50 and can be bought from the newsstands.

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England travel guide

Going to the Glastonbury Festival

Summer is a time for all kinds of travel, and you don’t really need a specific excuse to take a trip – but if you’re looking for one, planning a trip around a summer festival is an excellent idea.

Many music fans are familiar with some of the best summer outdoor festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits in the US, but England has been home to the popular Glastonbury Festival since 1970. It’s not only the world’s biggest outdoor music festival, it’s also a combination of music and performing arts in a town that’s famous for being a spiritual destination. In other words, even if you’re not the kind of music aficionado who’d fly across the ocean for a festival, this is a festival that’s more of an event than just a concert.

Glastonbury is located in southwest England, and although the closest airport to the festival site is in Bristol it’s more likely that you’ll fly into London first. You can then choose to hop a short flight to Bristol, but even if you get as far as Bristol by plane you’ll still need to take a train or bus from London out to Glastonbury and the festival site.

There are coaches that run from London Heathrow or Bristol Airport directly to the festival itself, and coaches that connect the festival with other non-airport destinations (including area train stations). Find out all your options for getting to the Glastonbury Festival so you can see which one is best for you.

Going to the Glastonbury Festival in late June can be a great start to a longer trip through southwest England or Wales, or it can just be a long weekend getaway. Either way, it’s a great reason to plan a holiday.

photo by bobaliciouslondon