The top 3 premium shopping streets in Barcelona

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/11/01/the-top-3-premium-shopping-streets-in-barcelona/

Barcelona may not be as well known as other European cities for its shopping hotspots, but if you’re looking for some retail therapy in a beautiful setting, then the Catalan capital will definitely have something for you. From unique boutiques to big brands, including some of the best designers around, here we give you the […]

The top 3 premium shopping streets in Barcelona is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post The top 3 premium shopping streets in Barcelona appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2016/11/01/the-top-3-premium-shopping-streets-in-barcelona/

Barcelona may not be as well known as other European cities for its shopping hotspots, but if you’re looking for some retail therapy in a beautiful setting, then the Catalan capital will definitely have something for you. From unique boutiques to big brands, including some of the best designers around, here we give you the […]

The top 3 premium shopping streets in Barcelona is a post from A Luxury Travel Blog

The post The top 3 premium shopping streets in Barcelona appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

My Favorite Travel Books of 2016

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/best-books-2016/

girl sitting outdoors reading travel books
Travel books: I love reading them! They keep me inspired and educated, and help me pass the time on long flights, bus rides, and train rides.

Actually, I just love reading. When I was a child, I was an avid reader but that fell to the wayside as the years rolled on. However, last year, I started a book club in an effort to keep me on track and force me to read more. Now, I average a book a week (sometimes two if they are short).

At the end of 2015, I shared a list of some of my favorite books. As we get into the last few months of 2016, I want to share some more of the great stuff I’ve read this year. Here’s what I recommend putting in your Amazon queue:

1. A Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell
A Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell This was probably one of my favorite books all year. When her husband gets a job at the Lego offices in Jutland, journalist Helen Russell, unfulfilled in her job, decides to head to Denmark with him, freelance, and try to figure out why the Danes are so happy. From childcare, education, food, and interior design to taxes, sexism, and everything in between (turns out the Danes love to burn witches), Helen’s funny, poignant story kept me enthralled from start to finish. It’s informative, funny, and self-deprecating, and it tells a great story of someone trying to fit in. As someone who loves Denmark, has lots of Danish friends, and thinks Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world, I couldn’t put this down. If you read just one book from this list, make it this one!

2. Eat Pray Eat, by Michael Booth
Eat Pray Eat: One Man’s Accidental Search for Enlightenment by Michael Booth I found this book while roaming a bookstore in Thailand and, in need of a new book for my flight to the Philippines, picked it up. I’d never heard of Michael Booth before, but I loved the title. In this book, Michael and his family travel to India — in part because he decided to write a definitive book on Indian food (slightly overambitious!) and in part because his wife said it was about time they take a family trip and he reconnect with his kids. Along the way, the jaded and bitter Michael loses his cynicism and discovers that it’s never to late to change. I read this at a time I needed a bit of encouragement and inspiration, and I found Michael’s transformation a mirror for my own personal struggles. But beyond my personal reasons for enjoying this book, his dry British humor and attention to detail were captivating, and I have since ordered his new book on Scandinavia!

3. A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise, by Alex Sheshunoff
 A Beginner's Guide to Paradise: 9 Steps to Giving Up Everything by Alex Sheshunoff I get a lot of random travel books sent to me by authors hoping they will end up on the website. Sometimes I read the books, most of the times I don’t, but I picked up this one because the author sent a coconut with it and the title and cover art caught my eye. This book follows Alex as he quits his job in NYC at the end of the tech boom, moves to the South Pacific in search of the perfect life, and lugs a suitcase full of books with him to pass the time. He roams from island to island trying to find that “paradise” that we so crave (spoiler: it doesn’t exist) until one day he ends up on Palau, meets a woman, and decides to stay for a bit. Along the way, they build a house, adopt a monkey, learn the culture, and figure out life. It’s a funny, witty, and inspirational memoir that I couldn’t put down.

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson Blogger, friend, and legend Mark Manson is one of the most well-known writers on the Internet. Chelsea Handler snapchats his stuff and Elizabeth Gilbert quoted him in one of her novels. Mark’s blog contains long articles on living a better life, relationships, and happiness. His new book bolted to the top of the best-seller list when it was released a month ago and still sits there today. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and really loved it. This book focuses on breaking down the myth that we’re all special, the illusion that we are owed happiness, and his plans on how to live a more stoic life — accepting things as they are, recognizing that problems can actually push us toward development, and becoming happy and better at the relationships we do have. This book is not about not caring, but about learning how to not sweat the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture.

5. The Backpacker, by John Harris
The Backpacker by John Harris I picked up this book at a second-hand shop in Vietnam years ago, and it intrigued me as I was backpacking around Southeast Asia. Amazon suggested it to me recently, so I picked it up again for another read and found it’s still just as enthralling! John travels to India, where he meets Rick, who then persuades him to go to the Thai island of Ko Phangan, where John, Rick, and their new friend Dave pose as millionaire aristocrats. However, after getting on the wrong side of the Thai mafia, they leave for adrenaline-fueled journeys to Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and Hong Kong. I’ve always wondered if this was a true story since so much of it seems far-fetched, but even if it’s all fake, it’s an entertaining read. Light, easy, and fun, it will get you excited for the road.

6. Walking the Nile, by Levison Wood
Walking the Nile by Levison Wood Adventurer Levison Wood has a dream: he wants to be the first person to walk the full length of the Nile. Like the author of the Amazon trek book I featured, Levison is looking to push himself to the limit and do something no one else has done. Starting at the source of the Nile (though this is very contested, since many countries claim to be the source), he starts walking… and walking… and walking. While not the most engrossing writer (side note: I feel this way about lots of adventurers-turned-writers: great stories, but poorly told), Wood still manages to weave a fascinating tale with plenty of insight into this part of Africa.

7. Backpacking with Dracula, by Leif Pettersen
Backpacking with Dracula: On the Trail of Vlad the Impaler Dracula and the Vampire He Inspired by Leif Pettersen Part travelogue, part history book, and part practical guide to Romania, this book recounts my friend Leif Pettersen’s travels through the country during his time as a guidebook writer for Lonely Planet. As someone who also loves Romania (it is such an underrated country. I don’t understand why more people don’t go!), I found his witty and funny retelling of Romanian history compelling and enjoyed all the travel tales he wove in between. I’m not sure some of practical tips still hold true but Pettersen’s book was a witty, funny, and good light read that will give a very good overview of the country! (There aren’t many books on Romania that do that!)

8. Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King
Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King This enthralling narrative recounts the experiences of twelve American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and taken on a two-month journey through the Sahara. This vivid account of courage, brotherhood, and survival was a page-turner. I’m not sure I would have survived similar circumstances. Based off accounts of the few survivors, it gives you a window in a part of the world and culture that wasn’t well understood during this period of time. I won’t reveal too much of the story (don’t Google it!), but this book captivated me from start to finish.

9. The Joys of Travel, by Thomas Swick
The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them by Thomas Swick Veteran travel writer Thomas Swick (who I also interview in my travel writing course) writes about “the seven joys of travel” through a series of personal essays that detail the author’s experiences visiting destinations across the globe, including Munich, Bangkok, Sicily, Iowa, and Key West. I dig this book because it talks about the personal journey and meaning travel has for us. You can really relate to Swick’s experiences about how travel has changed him. (Plus, Swick is one of the best travel writers out there, so you’ll find this book terrifically written).

10. Encore Provence, by Peter Mayle
Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France by Peter Mayle In his follow-up to A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle talks about how life has changed in the nine years since he wrote his original masterpiece. This book contains a series of essays and comments on the changes in the region, thoughts on the popularity of his first book, and a “how to guide” to visiting the area. Just as beautifully written as his previous book, I loved how he not only writes in detail on life in the region but also how he provides practical tips on visiting markets, what to buy, and where to eat, and even trashes a food writer for poor reporting of the food scene in the area! (It’s quite amazing!) This is a definite must read (after your read his first book!).

11. Getting Stoned with Savages, by J. Maarten Troost
Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost In this follow-up to The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Troost finds himself back in the South Pacific, living in Vanuatu and Fiji. Though they spent two years in Washington, DC, after returning from living in Kiribati, he and his wife move back to the South Pacific after she gets a job, he gets fired, and they decide it’s a better place to start a family. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles against typhoons, earthquakes, and giant centipedes and soon finds himself swept up in the laid-back, clothing-optional lifestyle of the islanders. The book is just as self-deprecating, funny, vivid, and interesting as all his others, and it cements Troost as one of my favorite modern travel writers.

12. Eating Vietnam, by Graham Holliday
Eating Viet Nam by Graham Holliday While I don’t love Vietnam (I didn’t have a great experience there), I do love Vietnamese food! Holliday’s awesome book about the history and culture behind the country’s street cuisine provides a unique perspective on the country. He lived in Vietnam for over ten years, devouring anything he could get his hands on. In this engrossing and hunger-inducing book, you’ll wander through the back streets of Vietnam, learning about street food, and begin to understand the country and its people through their first love. Though I thought the book got a bit tedious in the end, after reading it, this book managed to spark a desire to return to Vietnam that I didn’t think I would ever have again!

***

If you’re looking for some earth shattering books, consider some of these! Or, as the holidays approach, get them to share with friends and family!

And if you’re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send a list of the best books I’ve recently read. You’ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once a month! It’s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

And if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments, as I’m always looking to add books to my Amazon queue that I’ll binge-buy when I’m drinking!

P.S. – Want to meet some cool travelers? We’re hosting a bunch of meet-ups around the U.S. over the next few months! You can find out how to join one of them (they are free) by clicking here! We’re even giving away prizes to attendees!

The post My Favorite Travel Books of 2016 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/best-books-2016/

girl sitting outdoors reading travel books
Travel books: I love reading them! They keep me inspired and educated, and help me pass the time on long flights, bus rides, and train rides.

Actually, I just love reading. When I was a child, I was an avid reader but that fell to the wayside as the years rolled on. However, last year, I started a book club in an effort to keep me on track and force me to read more. Now, I average a book a week (sometimes two if they are short).

At the end of 2015, I shared a list of some of my favorite books. As we get into the last few months of 2016, I want to share some more of the great stuff I’ve read this year. Here’s what I recommend putting in your Amazon queue:

1. A Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell
A Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell This was probably one of my favorite books all year. When her husband gets a job at the Lego offices in Jutland, journalist Helen Russell, unfulfilled in her job, decides to head to Denmark with him, freelance, and try to figure out why the Danes are so happy. From childcare, education, food, and interior design to taxes, sexism, and everything in between (turns out the Danes love to burn witches), Helen’s funny, poignant story kept me enthralled from start to finish. It’s informative, funny, and self-deprecating, and it tells a great story of someone trying to fit in. As someone who loves Denmark, has lots of Danish friends, and thinks Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world, I couldn’t put this down. If you read just one book from this list, make it this one!

2. Eat Pray Eat, by Michael Booth
Eat Pray Eat: One Man’s Accidental Search for Enlightenment by Michael Booth I found this book while roaming a bookstore in Thailand and, in need of a new book for my flight to the Philippines, picked it up. I’d never heard of Michael Booth before, but I loved the title. In this book, Michael and his family travel to India — in part because he decided to write a definitive book on Indian food (slightly overambitious!) and in part because his wife said it was about time they take a family trip and he reconnect with his kids. Along the way, the jaded and bitter Michael loses his cynicism and discovers that it’s never to late to change. I read this at a time I needed a bit of encouragement and inspiration, and I found Michael’s transformation a mirror for my own personal struggles. But beyond my personal reasons for enjoying this book, his dry British humor and attention to detail were captivating, and I have since ordered his new book on Scandinavia!

3. A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise, by Alex Sheshunoff
 A Beginner's Guide to Paradise: 9 Steps to Giving Up Everything by Alex Sheshunoff I get a lot of random travel books sent to me by authors hoping they will end up on the website. Sometimes I read the books, most of the times I don’t, but I picked up this one because the author sent a coconut with it and the title and cover art caught my eye. This book follows Alex as he quits his job in NYC at the end of the tech boom, moves to the South Pacific in search of the perfect life, and lugs a suitcase full of books with him to pass the time. He roams from island to island trying to find that “paradise” that we so crave (spoiler: it doesn’t exist) until one day he ends up on Palau, meets a woman, and decides to stay for a bit. Along the way, they build a house, adopt a monkey, learn the culture, and figure out life. It’s a funny, witty, and inspirational memoir that I couldn’t put down.

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson Blogger, friend, and legend Mark Manson is one of the most well-known writers on the Internet. Chelsea Handler snapchats his stuff and Elizabeth Gilbert quoted him in one of her novels. Mark’s blog contains long articles on living a better life, relationships, and happiness. His new book bolted to the top of the best-seller list when it was released a month ago and still sits there today. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and really loved it. This book focuses on breaking down the myth that we’re all special, the illusion that we are owed happiness, and his plans on how to live a more stoic life — accepting things as they are, recognizing that problems can actually push us toward development, and becoming happy and better at the relationships we do have. This book is not about not caring, but about learning how to not sweat the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture.

5. The Backpacker, by John Harris
The Backpacker by John Harris I picked up this book at a second-hand shop in Vietnam years ago, and it intrigued me as I was backpacking around Southeast Asia. Amazon suggested it to me recently, so I picked it up again for another read and found it’s still just as enthralling! John travels to India, where he meets Rick, who then persuades him to go to the Thai island of Ko Phangan, where John, Rick, and their new friend Dave pose as millionaire aristocrats. However, after getting on the wrong side of the Thai mafia, they leave for adrenaline-fueled journeys to Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and Hong Kong. I’ve always wondered if this was a true story since so much of it seems far-fetched, but even if it’s all fake, it’s an entertaining read. Light, easy, and fun, it will get you excited for the road.

6. Walking the Nile, by Levison Wood
Walking the Nile by Levison Wood Adventurer Levison Wood has a dream: he wants to be the first person to walk the full length of the Nile. Like the author of the Amazon trek book I featured, Levison is looking to push himself to the limit and do something no one else has done. Starting at the source of the Nile (though this is very contested, since many countries claim to be the source), he starts walking… and walking… and walking. While not the most engrossing writer (side note: I feel this way about lots of adventurers-turned-writers: great stories, but poorly told), Wood still manages to weave a fascinating tale with plenty of insight into this part of Africa.

7. Backpacking with Dracula, by Leif Pettersen
Backpacking with Dracula: On the Trail of Vlad the Impaler Dracula and the Vampire He Inspired by Leif Pettersen Part travelogue, part history book, and part practical guide to Romania, this book recounts my friend Leif Pettersen’s travels through the country during his time as a guidebook writer for Lonely Planet. As someone who also loves Romania (it is such an underrated country. I don’t understand why more people don’t go!), I found his witty and funny retelling of Romanian history compelling and enjoyed all the travel tales he wove in between. I’m not sure some of practical tips still hold true but Pettersen’s book was a witty, funny, and good light read that will give a very good overview of the country! (There aren’t many books on Romania that do that!)

8. Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King
Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King This enthralling narrative recounts the experiences of twelve American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and taken on a two-month journey through the Sahara. This vivid account of courage, brotherhood, and survival was a page-turner. I’m not sure I would have survived similar circumstances. Based off accounts of the few survivors, it gives you a window in a part of the world and culture that wasn’t well understood during this period of time. I won’t reveal too much of the story (don’t Google it!), but this book captivated me from start to finish.

9. The Joys of Travel, by Thomas Swick
The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them by Thomas Swick Veteran travel writer Thomas Swick (who I also interview in my travel writing course) writes about “the seven joys of travel” through a series of personal essays that detail the author’s experiences visiting destinations across the globe, including Munich, Bangkok, Sicily, Iowa, and Key West. I dig this book because it talks about the personal journey and meaning travel has for us. You can really relate to Swick’s experiences about how travel has changed him. (Plus, Swick is one of the best travel writers out there, so you’ll find this book terrifically written).

10. Encore Provence, by Peter Mayle
Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France by Peter Mayle In his follow-up to A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle talks about how life has changed in the nine years since he wrote his original masterpiece. This book contains a series of essays and comments on the changes in the region, thoughts on the popularity of his first book, and a “how to guide” to visiting the area. Just as beautifully written as his previous book, I loved how he not only writes in detail on life in the region but also how he provides practical tips on visiting markets, what to buy, and where to eat, and even trashes a food writer for poor reporting of the food scene in the area! (It’s quite amazing!) This is a definite must read (after your read his first book!).

11. Getting Stoned with Savages, by J. Maarten Troost
Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost In this follow-up to The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Troost finds himself back in the South Pacific, living in Vanuatu and Fiji. Though they spent two years in Washington, DC, after returning from living in Kiribati, he and his wife move back to the South Pacific after she gets a job, he gets fired, and they decide it’s a better place to start a family. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles against typhoons, earthquakes, and giant centipedes and soon finds himself swept up in the laid-back, clothing-optional lifestyle of the islanders. The book is just as self-deprecating, funny, vivid, and interesting as all his others, and it cements Troost as one of my favorite modern travel writers.

12. Eating Vietnam, by Graham Holliday
Eating Viet Nam by Graham Holliday While I don’t love Vietnam (I didn’t have a great experience there), I do love Vietnamese food! Holliday’s awesome book about the history and culture behind the country’s street cuisine provides a unique perspective on the country. He lived in Vietnam for over ten years, devouring anything he could get his hands on. In this engrossing and hunger-inducing book, you’ll wander through the back streets of Vietnam, learning about street food, and begin to understand the country and its people through their first love. Though I thought the book got a bit tedious in the end, after reading it, this book managed to spark a desire to return to Vietnam that I didn’t think I would ever have again!

***

If you’re looking for some earth shattering books, consider some of these! Or, as the holidays approach, get them to share with friends and family!

And if you’re a book junkie like I am, join our monthly book club where I send a list of the best books I’ve recently read. You’ll get a list of 3-5 suggested books sent once a month! It’s free to join! Just enter your name and email below to sign up:

And if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments, as I’m always looking to add books to my Amazon queue that I’ll binge-buy when I’m drinking!

P.S. – Want to meet some cool travelers? We’re hosting a bunch of meet-ups around the U.S. over the next few months! You can find out how to join one of them (they are free) by clicking here! We’re even giving away prizes to attendees!

The post My Favorite Travel Books of 2016 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

My Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka: Tips, Costs, Itineraries, and Favorites

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/sri-lanka-trip-planning-guide/

train station in sri lanka
Sri Lanka — a jewel–shaped country in the Indian Ocean — was an unexpected surprise. I loved every bit of it: the verdant landscape, the delicious food; the crumbling, overgrown ruins; the abundant wildlife; and (especially) the welcoming locals who took hospitality to the next level.

Traveling through the country is relatively easy, if just a little chaotic, with overcrowded buses moving along clogged roads where lanes are mere suggestions, and trains packed to the gills with people hanging off the edges (which actually is kind of fun). English is widely spoken, though, so once you get used the chaos, it isn’t too difficult to get around.

But there are a few things you should know before you visit to avoid getting scammed, overspending, and, like me, missing some of the scenic trains!

14 tips for successful Sri Lankan travel

  1. Water: You shouldn’t really drink the water in Sri Lanka, so bring a reusable water bottle with a purifier. It’s really hot, so to keep hydrated, you’d probably spend 300 rupees ($2 USD) per day on plastic bottles of water at 60 rupees ($0.40 USD) each. But a water bottle with a purifier costs just $20 USD (though my preferred brand Lifestraw is slightly more). Over the course of a two-week trip, that’s an $8 USD savings (and you help the environment too)!
  2. Food: Outside of the major cities of Colombo and Kandy, you won’t find many non-Sri Lankan or non-Indian food options. What you do find is a poor excuse for Western food that is overpriced and often a chain. Stick to the local food! It’s super delicious. I never knew much about Sri Lankan food before hand but now I’m hooked! Just eat it all! Balaji Dosai in Kandy; Ahinsa in Sigiriya; Upali’s in Colombo; Hot Hut in Nuwara Eliya; and the restaurants across from the bus station in Anuradhapura were some of my favorite.
  3. More about food: Food, besides being crazy good, is also really cheap in Sri Lanka! Local food costs about $1-3 USD per meal for simple dishes of dosas (a kind of pancake), kottu (a dish made of roti (flatbread), vegetables, egg and/or meat, and spices), rice, chicken, and everything in between. At restaurants with table service, you’ll pay closer to $5 USD.
  4. Alcohol: Don’t expect too many chances to drink alcohol. Outside the coastal tourist towns and the capital of Colombo, there isn’t much nightlife or opportunities to drink. While you can always crack a beer at your guesthouse, Sri Lanka isn’t home to a big drinking/nightlife culture. Expect your nights to be tame.
  5. Tuk-tuks: You can hire drivers cheaply. Any tuk-tuk driver will let you hire them for the day. Expect to pay around $20 USD for the day. Moreover, tuk-tuk drivers are pretty honest, except in Colombo, where they will try to scam and overcharge you. Elsewhere in the country, you’ll get a fair deal. There’s no need to try to bargain hard.
  6. Airport transfer: There is a train to the airport you can take from Colombo Fort. It’s the cheapest way to get there, at 30 rupees ($0.20 USD). A tuk-tuk ride is about 2,500 rupees ($17 USD), and buses to the airport cost 110 rupees ($0.75 USD) and leave about every 30 minutes from Colombo Central Bus Station or Mawatha Bus Station.
  7. Trains: Train travel, while often slower, are the cheapest way to get around. Some typical routes: Colombo to Jaffna is 150-445 rupees ($1-3 USD), Jaffna to Anuradhapura is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD), Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is 85-280 rupees ($0.60-1.90 USD), and Colombo to Galle is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD).
  8. Booking trains: If you are taking the scenic train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or Ella (or vice versa) and want a seat, book it in advance through a travel agency, as tickets can’t be booked in person at the station unless it’s done four days before departure. You can always (and only) get a cramped second-class ticket (where you’ll learn the new meaning of a tight squeeze) on the day of departure. Many people will tell you to get to the station at 7am to buy a train ticket, but they don’t start selling them until 8am, so don’t listen to those people. Also, the concept of “sold out” doesn’t apply to “cattle class.”
  9. Sigiriya: If you are visiting Sigiriya, get there when it opens at 8am to avoid huge lines and crowds at the site. If you are there after 10am, the crowds are so overwhelming it’s not worth visiting. It takes an hour to walk up as it’s single-file all the way!
  10. Anuradhapura: If you are visiting Anuradhapura, tickets are $25 USD but are never checked unless you are entering the museum. (I also noticed Western tourists were the only ones ever asked to show a ticket at the museum.) Enter the site without paying by using the tiny road just southeast of the museum.
  11. Visiting temples: You’ll have to take your socks and shoes off before visiting temples, even if they are outdoors, so bring flip-flops to keep your socks clean!
  12. Hostels: Hostels are really basic (fan, mosquito net, electric shower) but at $4-6 USD per dorm bed, you can’t go wrong.
  13. Galle: Galle is only worth a day trip. Don’t stay over in the town. There is not much to do there at all.
  14. Accommodation: There are a lot of cheap accommodation throughout the country. You’ll usually get breakfast with your room too. Private rooms with with your own bathroom start at $10 USD per night. Add $5 if you want air conditioning.

Typical Costs in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya rock fortress in Sri Lanka
Overall, I would say you couldn’t need more than a budget of $30 – 40 USD per day. The country is very cheap, especially if you stick to delicious local or Indian cuisine (the food is so cheap there’s no reason to grocery shop and cook your own meals), avoid the overpriced Western style restaurants (local food tastes much better anyways), travel second class and on buses, and don’t go crazy with the accommodation. Ever though I was on a budget, I didn’t go as low as I could (dorms every night, only Sri Lankan food, minimal activities, etc) and still found it was hard to break the bank. The expensive days in which I took a tour or decided to try some fancy restaurant were balanced out on the other days I didn’t.

Here is a list of prices to help you get an idea of costs:

  • Airport taxi – 2,500 rupees
  • National Museum in Colombo – 600 rupees
  • Train from Jaffna to Anuradhapura – 340 rupees
  • Bottle of water – 60 rupees
  • Bus from Anuradhapura to Dambulla – 340 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Sigiriya – 1,000 rupees
  • Kottu chicken (and water) – 370 rupees
  • Lunch 2 – 500 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk – 200 rupees
  • Bus from Dambulla to Kandy – 98 rupees
  • Hostel in Kandy – 600 rupees
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy – 1000 rupees
  • Dosai dinner in Kandy – 200 rupees
  • Train to Nuwara Eliya, second class – 160 rupees
  • Beer – 500 rupees
  • Bus to Tissamaharama (Tissa) – 240 rupees
  • Bus to Galle – 307
  • Western lunch in Galle (burger and fries) – 1,200 rupees

Some favorites: For accommodation, I really liked the Kandy Downtown Hostel; Palitha Home Stay in Sigiriya; and Galle Fort Hostel in Galle. For restaurants, besides the bulleted list above, I would also recommend the Ministry of Crab. It’s an expensive seafood restaurant in Colombo but it’s delicious! Sri Lankan crab is famous worldwide and they have gigantic ones. It’s not cheap but sometimes, you just have to treat yourself. While I didn’t go out much, if you find yourself in Kandy, the Slightly Chilled Bar is a popular meeting spot and has wonderful views of the city (and the sunset).

My Suggested Itineraries

beautiful jungles in sri lanka
Most travelers focus on the southern half of the country, with its hiking and beach towns. After decades of war, the north has a legacy of destruction that has yet to go away.

Though I originally had planned to explore only the south due to my limited time there (just two weeks), I was offered the opportunity to talk to a member of Parliament in Jaffna up north and learn about the Tamil war, so I rearranged my route thus:

ColomboJaffnaAnuradhapuraSigiriya/DambullaKandyNuwara EliyaTissamaharama (Tissa) – GalleColombo

I was glad I did. Seeing the north gave me an added perspective on a portion of the country without hordes of other tourists. In fact, in my time up north, I saw only four Westerners.

And though Sri Lanka may look like a small island, there is a lot to see and do there! More than I imagined. Anuradhapura and Sigiriya both have amazing ancient ruins. Kandy is filled with hiking treks, a big Buddhist temple, and a butterfly garden. Nuwara Eliya is known for its hiking, Tissa is the gateway to Yala National Park (which has elephants and leopards), and Galle is a beautiful old Dutch fort town.

beautiful view of a tower in galle, sri lanka
Even though I covered a lot of ground in my two weeks, I still missed many places, including Ella (more hiking), Arugam Bay (beaches), and most of the southern coast (more beaches and nightlife). I raced through the country and crammed too much into such a short period of time. I wouldn’t recommend going at such a breakneck pace.

If I had to do it all over again, I would break Sri Lanka into two parts — the north/center and the south — and focus on one of those regions. There’s simply too much to do, and travel around the country is too slow to try to cover so much ground in a limited time.

If like me, you only have a couple of weeks, I would suggest just one of the following routes:

ColomboJaffnaAnuradhapuraSigiriyaKandy – Ella – Nuwara EliyaColombo

Colombo – Hikkaduwa – Galle – Mirissa – Tangalle – Tissa – Nuwara Eliya – Kandy – Colombo

(Note: This route is kind of quick too so if you’re pressed for time, you could cut out one of the beach cities.)

If you have a month, you could do both of these routes plus add in one or all of the coastal towns of Arugam Bay, Negombo, or Trincomalee.

One thing to know is that once you’ve done the major things in a city, there’s very little reason to stay. For example, Tissa is the gateway to Yala National Park. Tour operators run most tours in the early morning (a higher chance of seeing animals) so if you took one of those tours, you could be on a bus moving on to your next destination by lunch time. There’s really not much else in the town. The same could with Jaffna. Tick a few boxes and then move on. Galle is more a day trip from a nearby beach town than a place to spend a few days. There was so little to do there I just went back to Colombo instead of staying the night. Sigiriya and Dambulla can be done in two nights (though I added an extra night because I liked the family I was staying with). Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Kandy, Arugam Bay, Trincomalee – those places have more activities and are worth spending a longer time in.

****
Sri Lanka is an easy country to visit, and with a few tips, you can travel there with ease. This is a very budget-friendly country, even if you go nuts on the attractions and tours. I didn’t spend a lot of money, averaging just $35 USD per day. (Any expensive days will be balanced out with the cheap days where you just walk around, hike, or sit on the beach!)

Looking at the map of Sri Lanka, you might say, “Oh, it’s not that big. I bet I can cover a lot of ground in a short period if time.” You could, but you won’t “see” much. It will be too much of a blur.

Sri Lanka may be small but it packs a powerful punch. I loved it a lot. Take your time to see this land of jungles, waterfalls, monkeys, delicious food, and lovely people! I’m already planning my next trip back.

P.S. – Today is the deadline for the FLYTE Summer 2017 Program application! If you are a teacher or know a teacher who wants to take their classroom abroad (and have it paid for), head to our website to learn how to apply!

Photo Credit: 3, 4

The post My Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka: Tips, Costs, Itineraries, and Favorites appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/sri-lanka-trip-planning-guide/

train station in sri lanka
Sri Lanka — a jewel–shaped country in the Indian Ocean — was an unexpected surprise. I loved every bit of it: the verdant landscape, the delicious food; the crumbling, overgrown ruins; the abundant wildlife; and (especially) the welcoming locals who took hospitality to the next level.

Traveling through the country is relatively easy, if just a little chaotic, with overcrowded buses moving along clogged roads where lanes are mere suggestions, and trains packed to the gills with people hanging off the edges (which actually is kind of fun). English is widely spoken, though, so once you get used the chaos, it isn’t too difficult to get around.

But there are a few things you should know before you visit to avoid getting scammed, overspending, and, like me, missing some of the scenic trains!

14 tips for successful Sri Lankan travel

  1. Water: You shouldn’t really drink the water in Sri Lanka, so bring a reusable water bottle with a purifier. It’s really hot, so to keep hydrated, you’d probably spend 300 rupees ($2 USD) per day on plastic bottles of water at 60 rupees ($0.40 USD) each. But a water bottle with a purifier costs just $20 USD (though my preferred brand Lifestraw is slightly more). Over the course of a two-week trip, that’s an $8 USD savings (and you help the environment too)!
  2. Food: Outside of the major cities of Colombo and Kandy, you won’t find many non-Sri Lankan or non-Indian food options. What you do find is a poor excuse for Western food that is overpriced and often a chain. Stick to the local food! It’s super delicious. I never knew much about Sri Lankan food before hand but now I’m hooked! Just eat it all! Balaji Dosai in Kandy; Ahinsa in Sigiriya; Upali’s in Colombo; Hot Hut in Nuwara Eliya; and the restaurants across from the bus station in Anuradhapura were some of my favorite.
  3. More about food: Food, besides being crazy good, is also really cheap in Sri Lanka! Local food costs about $1-3 USD per meal for simple dishes of dosas (a kind of pancake), kottu (a dish made of roti (flatbread), vegetables, egg and/or meat, and spices), rice, chicken, and everything in between. At restaurants with table service, you’ll pay closer to $5 USD.
  4. Alcohol: Don’t expect too many chances to drink alcohol. Outside the coastal tourist towns and the capital of Colombo, there isn’t much nightlife or opportunities to drink. While you can always crack a beer at your guesthouse, Sri Lanka isn’t home to a big drinking/nightlife culture. Expect your nights to be tame.
  5. Tuk-tuks: You can hire drivers cheaply. Any tuk-tuk driver will let you hire them for the day. Expect to pay around $20 USD for the day. Moreover, tuk-tuk drivers are pretty honest, except in Colombo, where they will try to scam and overcharge you. Elsewhere in the country, you’ll get a fair deal. There’s no need to try to bargain hard.
  6. Airport transfer: There is a train to the airport you can take from Colombo Fort. It’s the cheapest way to get there, at 30 rupees ($0.20 USD). A tuk-tuk ride is about 2,500 rupees ($17 USD), and buses to the airport cost 110 rupees ($0.75 USD) and leave about every 30 minutes from Colombo Central Bus Station or Mawatha Bus Station.
  7. Trains: Train travel, while often slower, are the cheapest way to get around. Some typical routes: Colombo to Jaffna is 150-445 rupees ($1-3 USD), Jaffna to Anuradhapura is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD), Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is 85-280 rupees ($0.60-1.90 USD), and Colombo to Galle is 150-295 rupees ($1-2 USD).
  8. Booking trains: If you are taking the scenic train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or Ella (or vice versa) and want a seat, book it in advance through a travel agency, as tickets can’t be booked in person at the station unless it’s done four days before departure. You can always (and only) get a cramped second-class ticket (where you’ll learn the new meaning of a tight squeeze) on the day of departure. Many people will tell you to get to the station at 7am to buy a train ticket, but they don’t start selling them until 8am, so don’t listen to those people. Also, the concept of “sold out” doesn’t apply to “cattle class.”
  9. Sigiriya: If you are visiting Sigiriya, get there when it opens at 8am to avoid huge lines and crowds at the site. If you are there after 10am, the crowds are so overwhelming it’s not worth visiting. It takes an hour to walk up as it’s single-file all the way!
  10. Anuradhapura: If you are visiting Anuradhapura, tickets are $25 USD but are never checked unless you are entering the museum. (I also noticed Western tourists were the only ones ever asked to show a ticket at the museum.) Enter the site without paying by using the tiny road just southeast of the museum.
  11. Visiting temples: You’ll have to take your socks and shoes off before visiting temples, even if they are outdoors, so bring flip-flops to keep your socks clean!
  12. Hostels: Hostels are really basic (fan, mosquito net, electric shower) but at $4-6 USD per dorm bed, you can’t go wrong.
  13. Galle: Galle is only worth a day trip. Don’t stay over in the town. There is not much to do there at all.
  14. Accommodation: There are a lot of cheap accommodation throughout the country. You’ll usually get breakfast with your room too. Private rooms with with your own bathroom start at $10 USD per night. Add $5 if you want air conditioning.

Typical Costs in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya rock fortress in Sri Lanka
Overall, I would say you couldn’t need more than a budget of $30 – 40 USD per day. The country is very cheap, especially if you stick to delicious local or Indian cuisine (the food is so cheap there’s no reason to grocery shop and cook your own meals), avoid the overpriced Western style restaurants (local food tastes much better anyways), travel second class and on buses, and don’t go crazy with the accommodation. Ever though I was on a budget, I didn’t go as low as I could (dorms every night, only Sri Lankan food, minimal activities, etc) and still found it was hard to break the bank. The expensive days in which I took a tour or decided to try some fancy restaurant were balanced out on the other days I didn’t.

Here is a list of prices to help you get an idea of costs:

  • Airport taxi – 2,500 rupees
  • National Museum in Colombo – 600 rupees
  • Train from Jaffna to Anuradhapura – 340 rupees
  • Bottle of water – 60 rupees
  • Bus from Anuradhapura to Dambulla – 340 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Sigiriya – 1,000 rupees
  • Kottu chicken (and water) – 370 rupees
  • Lunch 2 – 500 rupees
  • Tuk-tuk – 200 rupees
  • Bus from Dambulla to Kandy – 98 rupees
  • Hostel in Kandy – 600 rupees
  • Temple of the Tooth in Kandy – 1000 rupees
  • Dosai dinner in Kandy – 200 rupees
  • Train to Nuwara Eliya, second class – 160 rupees
  • Beer – 500 rupees
  • Bus to Tissamaharama (Tissa) – 240 rupees
  • Bus to Galle – 307
  • Western lunch in Galle (burger and fries) – 1,200 rupees

Some favorites: For accommodation, I really liked the Kandy Downtown Hostel; Palitha Home Stay in Sigiriya; and Galle Fort Hostel in Galle. For restaurants, besides the bulleted list above, I would also recommend the Ministry of Crab. It’s an expensive seafood restaurant in Colombo but it’s delicious! Sri Lankan crab is famous worldwide and they have gigantic ones. It’s not cheap but sometimes, you just have to treat yourself. While I didn’t go out much, if you find yourself in Kandy, the Slightly Chilled Bar is a popular meeting spot and has wonderful views of the city (and the sunset).

My Suggested Itineraries

beautiful jungles in sri lanka
Most travelers focus on the southern half of the country, with its hiking and beach towns. After decades of war, the north has a legacy of destruction that has yet to go away.

Though I originally had planned to explore only the south due to my limited time there (just two weeks), I was offered the opportunity to talk to a member of Parliament in Jaffna up north and learn about the Tamil war, so I rearranged my route thus:

ColomboJaffnaAnuradhapuraSigiriya/DambullaKandyNuwara EliyaTissamaharama (Tissa) – GalleColombo

I was glad I did. Seeing the north gave me an added perspective on a portion of the country without hordes of other tourists. In fact, in my time up north, I saw only four Westerners.

And though Sri Lanka may look like a small island, there is a lot to see and do there! More than I imagined. Anuradhapura and Sigiriya both have amazing ancient ruins. Kandy is filled with hiking treks, a big Buddhist temple, and a butterfly garden. Nuwara Eliya is known for its hiking, Tissa is the gateway to Yala National Park (which has elephants and leopards), and Galle is a beautiful old Dutch fort town.

beautiful view of a tower in galle, sri lanka
Even though I covered a lot of ground in my two weeks, I still missed many places, including Ella (more hiking), Arugam Bay (beaches), and most of the southern coast (more beaches and nightlife). I raced through the country and crammed too much into such a short period of time. I wouldn’t recommend going at such a breakneck pace.

If I had to do it all over again, I would break Sri Lanka into two parts — the north/center and the south — and focus on one of those regions. There’s simply too much to do, and travel around the country is too slow to try to cover so much ground in a limited time.

If like me, you only have a couple of weeks, I would suggest just one of the following routes:

ColomboJaffnaAnuradhapuraSigiriyaKandy – Ella – Nuwara EliyaColombo

Colombo – Hikkaduwa – Galle – Mirissa – Tangalle – Tissa – Nuwara Eliya – Kandy – Colombo

(Note: This route is kind of quick too so if you’re pressed for time, you could cut out one of the beach cities.)

If you have a month, you could do both of these routes plus add in one or all of the coastal towns of Arugam Bay, Negombo, or Trincomalee.

One thing to know is that once you’ve done the major things in a city, there’s very little reason to stay. For example, Tissa is the gateway to Yala National Park. Tour operators run most tours in the early morning (a higher chance of seeing animals) so if you took one of those tours, you could be on a bus moving on to your next destination by lunch time. There’s really not much else in the town. The same could with Jaffna. Tick a few boxes and then move on. Galle is more a day trip from a nearby beach town than a place to spend a few days. There was so little to do there I just went back to Colombo instead of staying the night. Sigiriya and Dambulla can be done in two nights (though I added an extra night because I liked the family I was staying with). Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Kandy, Arugam Bay, Trincomalee – those places have more activities and are worth spending a longer time in.

****
Sri Lanka is an easy country to visit, and with a few tips, you can travel there with ease. This is a very budget-friendly country, even if you go nuts on the attractions and tours. I didn’t spend a lot of money, averaging just $35 USD per day. (Any expensive days will be balanced out with the cheap days where you just walk around, hike, or sit on the beach!)

Looking at the map of Sri Lanka, you might say, “Oh, it’s not that big. I bet I can cover a lot of ground in a short period if time.” You could, but you won’t “see” much. It will be too much of a blur.

Sri Lanka may be small but it packs a powerful punch. I loved it a lot. Take your time to see this land of jungles, waterfalls, monkeys, delicious food, and lovely people! I’m already planning my next trip back.

P.S. – Today is the deadline for the FLYTE Summer 2017 Program application! If you are a teacher or know a teacher who wants to take their classroom abroad (and have it paid for), head to our website to learn how to apply!

Photo Credit: 3, 4

The post My Ultimate Guide to Sri Lanka: Tips, Costs, Itineraries, and Favorites appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Oregon’s Cranberry Coast + Habanero Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Posted from http://www.everintransit.com/oregon-cranberry-field/

Habanero Cranberry Sauce RecipeIf you drive Highway 101 up the Oregon coast right now, you might notice an unusual fall landscape–shrubby and angular, brick red fields. This is where cranberries come from! These cranberry fields are also called a cranberry bog — a recessed rectangular pit, filled with a dense mat of cranberry bushes.  The berries grow on runners […]

The article Oregon’s Cranberry Coast + Habanero Cranberry Sauce Recipe originated at EverInTransit.com

Posted from http://www.everintransit.com/oregon-cranberry-field/

Habanero Cranberry Sauce RecipeIf you drive Highway 101 up the Oregon coast right now, you might notice an unusual fall landscape–shrubby and angular, brick red fields. This is where cranberries come from! These cranberry fields are also called a cranberry bog — a recessed rectangular pit, filled with a dense mat of cranberry bushes.  The berries grow on runners […]

The article Oregon’s Cranberry Coast + Habanero Cranberry Sauce Recipe originated at EverInTransit.com