10 BEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN PARIS

In this block, I will list the 10 best arrondissements (a.k.a., neighborhoods) spread throughout the wondrous City of Lights.

1.BASTILLE

Interestingly, Bastille gets its name from the popular prison which used to occupy this neighborhood. Currently, the prison is gone, and this animated part of town has become known for its bars and clubs that are popular with the youth of Paris. So, in case you are looking for an enjoyable arrondissement to stay in, then I would recommend this one. Also, it is centrally located, and the tiny cobblestone streets give you that incredible Parisian feeling!

2. LATIN QUARTER

Now, the Latin Quarter is one of my own favorite spots in Paris. It is filled with narrow streets that turn at weird angles and open onto little café-lined squares. You would absolutely love wandering around in here. It feels like you are going back a few hundred years in history. It is a pretty busy area and not as quiet as other sections of Paris. Here, you will find a lot of restaurants, bars, and jazz clubs, and you will be in the middle of all the action!

3. CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES

Now, the Champs-Élysées is the most popular and upscale street in Paris. It is lined with cinema halls, cafés, luxury specialty shops, big brand-name stores, and chain restaurants. It is undoubtedly a fun place to go club-hopping at night or click pictures and shop during the day. Also, the area surrounding the street is one of the most upscale and luxurious in Paris. If you can stay off the main street, you will find it to be very sweet and silent.

4. LE MARAIS

The Le Marais has been revitalized over the last few years and is currently, a fashionable, lively area full of hip art galleries, boutiques, and cafés. And, the streets are lined with old architecture, half-hidden courtyards, and quite a few museums. You will also find some of the best restaurants and bars in town in here.. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in Paris. Moreover, it is the center of Paris’s gay life, so you will find a lot of gay bars, cafés, and shops here, as well as plenty of gay-friendly restaurants.

5. MONTMARTRE

Montmartre has been serving as a home to starving artists for decades. It offers a stunning view of Paris, stylish cafés and bars, cobblestone streets, and, the only winery within the city limits. It is one of the hipper parts of Paris, even if it has obviously lost some of its old grandeur. Also, it serves as a home to several students, as the rent costs in this part of town are considerably cheaper than anywhere else.

6. ÎLE DE LA CITÉ AND ÎLE SAINT-LOUIS

Now, these two islands in the Seine are basically the historic center of Paris. The Île de la Cité serves as a home to the Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, administrative buildings, and the Conciergerie. It is super loud, too. The Île Saint-Louis, on the other hand, is a pretty quiet neighborhood for the Paris’s rich and powerful, filled with well-preserved historic homes and streets. So, in case you want luxury and quiet, I suggest that you stay here. It has fancy hotels and little else.

7. MONTPARNASSE

Now, Montparnasse is one of the modern parts of the City of Lights, with a lot of office buildings, new apartments, and a more local feel to it. It is situated near the train station of the same name. Moreover, Montparnasse has cheap accommodations and a good number of restaurants. Granted, it is not as classically pretty as other parts of town, but it’s a lot more “local” than other districts.

8. LES HALLES

Now, this chic, bustling neighborhood is centered around Paris’s former central marketplace, Les Halles. The Les Halles was torn down in 1971. That market was “the stomach of Paris” for centuries. Currently, there is an underground shopping mall, and the surrounding streets are lined with designer stores, cafés, and artisanal food shops.

9. SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés used to serve as a home to artists, writers, and thinkers. Today, it is one of the most expensive and trendy neighborhoods in Paris. And, it is also home to celebrities, with high-priced art galleries, designer shops, and fancy restaurants. It is not cheap to stay here, but it is a beautiful spot to walk through and one of my favorite spots in town. It is most likely everything that you can imagine Paris to be like.

10. BELLEVILLE

The Belleville is undoubtedly one of the grittier parts of the town, with a busy Chinatown and a whole mixing spot of different cultures. It is the center of Paris’s immigrant community. It is slowly becoming famous among the hipsters and the younger kids. Some of the best ethnic food is available here, and, there is an awesome street market, that is right next to the Le Marais, enabling you to walk over at anytime and get some fancy French food.

NINE GREAT WETLANDS FOR WATCHING WILDLIFE

In this block, I will list the nine great wetlands for watching wildlife.

1.THE PANTANAL, BRAZIL

The Pantanal wetland is the world’s largest wetland and it covers over 70,000 square miles, most of which is in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, and also spreading into neighbouring Bolivia and Paraguay. The unique patchwork of lakes, lagoons, rivers and marshes brims with tropical flora and fauna, including rare and elusive jaguars, giant river otters, marsh deer and hyacinth macaws is easily one of the world’s best-preserved wetlands, even though less than two percent of it is officially protected, and the rest is privately owned.

2. EVERGLADES, USA

The Everglades National Park is North America’s most extensive flooded grassland, covering about 2,400 square miles of south Florida. Now, most of the park is only accessible by boat and you will be able to take tours through the mangroves from Flamingo and the Gulf Coast. Moreover, experienced canoeists can spend a week on the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, and rangers lead shorter canoes, kayaking and biking tours. You can even go off-trail hiking, known as slough slogging, to get up close to wading birds, turtles, even alligators.

3. THE CAMARGUE, FRANCE

Now, Camargue is consisting of saltwater lakes and marshland. It is also rich in wildlife and folklore. It’s a nesting ground for pink flamingos, and famous for two unique animal breeds:the Camargue bulls and the semi-wild white horses that have wandered the wetlands for thousands of years. The ornithological park north of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a nice place if you want to find flamingos, egrets and herons.

4. OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland delta. It starts in Angola’s western highlands and ends in Botswana, where it fans out into a maze of channels, lagoons and islands, covering 22,000 square miles in wetter years. Also, one- third of it lies within the Moremi Game Reserve, while the rest is divided into private concessions. The delta attracts a vast variety of animals, including elephants and lions. Also, one of the best ways to explore it is from a low-slung mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, and a mobile camping safari is usually a more wallet-friendly option than a lodge.

5. WALTHAMSTOW WETLANDS, UK

The Walthamstow wetlands are a haven for water birds, like the gadwall and shoveler. It is a stopover for migrating birds, such as, lapwings and sandpipers, and a breeding ground for kingfishers, too. This amazing site houses 13 miles of footpath and cycle track, a visitor centre and a cafe with a unique tower that serves as a house for nesting swifts and roosting bats, and a viewing platform on top of the Grade II-listed Coppermill Tower with views over the beautiful London.

6. KAKADU, AUSTRALIA

Now, one of the most popular landmarks of the huge Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory is the Yellow Water Billabong. This wetland is a part of the South Alligator River floodplain, and is one of the best places to take in the country’s wildlife in its natural habitat. You can take a short Yellow Water Cruise that departs daily from Jabiru to spot saltwater crocodiles, sea eagles, whistling ducks and buffalo. Also, you can visit Kakadu as part of the 456-mile Nature’s Way drive, which starts in Darwin and go through the wetlands, gorges and waterfalls across this land, that is so rich in aboriginal culture.

7. DANUBE DELTA, ROMANIA

Now, as we know, Europe’s second largest delta is created by the mighty River Danube, which flows about 1,800 miles from Black Forest of Germany to Romania, where it mixes into the Black Sea. This delta’s 2,200 square miles serves as a host to about 300 species of endemic and migratory birds, including white pelicans, pygmy cormorants and the red-breasted geese. Over 3,400 animal species can also be found here, as well as 1,700 plant species. And, the best way to experience this Danube delta is by a boat, whether on a passenger ferry, an organised excursion or you can also hire your own canoe.

8. BANGWEULU WETLANDS, ZAMBIA

The Bangweulu wetlands is a community-owned and protected wetland in northeastern Zambia, housing species, like the endangered black lechwe, a water-loving antelope. And its main attraction is its amazing birdlife; more than 430 species, including geese, pelicans, spoonbills, storks, herons, ibises and cranes. The star of the show is undoubtedly the stunning shoebill, which is a huge, prehistoric-looking bird with a striking similarity to the dodo, and Bangweulu is one of its last remaining breeding sites. Interestingly, since the NGO African Parks took over the wetlands in 2008, poaching has significantly decreased and wildlife numbers are slightly recovering.

9. KERALA BACKWATERS, INDIA

Now, the Kerala backwaters are a stretch of lakes and lagoons, linked by channels and fed by about 40 rivers, stretching for more than 900 kilometres. When the fresh water meets the Arabian Sea, it creates an ecosystem that provides for an amazing natural habitat for several unique species of aquatic life, including crabs, frogs and birds. The locals have used the scenic, palm-fringed waterways for centuries, for fishing, agriculture and transporting rice and spices. These waters also attract travelers, who cruise on kettuvallams, that are traditional rice boats turned into floating hotels, for a little taste of the rural Keralan life.

WORLD’S MOST INCREDIBLE RUINS YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF

Here I will list the less popular ruins that are incredibly beautiful.

1.KALEKÖY , TURKEY

Kaleköy is one of the Mediterranean’s truly delightful spots. It also serves as a home to the ruins of the ancient Simena and a brilliant Crusader fortress standing above the hamlet looking out to sea. Inside the beautiful fortress, the ancient world’s tiniest theater is cut into a rock, and nearby you will find ruins of many amazing temples and public baths. Moreover, from the top, you may look down upon a field of Lycian tombs, and the old city walls are also visible on the edges.

2. CHOQUEQUIRAO, PERU

The hike to Choquequirao is absolutely spectacular! The remote ruins are often defined as a mini- Machu Pichhu. More interestingly, archaeologists have only uncovered about 30% of it from the jungle. Not so surprisingly, these ruins are visited by only about a dozen visitors each day. They are not very popular and this would be the best time to go so as to avoid the crowd.

3. JERASH, JORDAN

Jerash is the largest and most interesting Roman site in Jordan. Jerash’s incredible ceremonial gates, colonnaded avenues, impressive temples and theatres all say a lot about the time when this was an important imperial centre. It is so striking, that even the most casual fan of archaeology will enjoy a half-day at the site. I would suggest you bring a hat and sunscreen in the warmer months, as the exposed ruins can get very hot to explore.

4. DELOS, GREECE

Now, Delos is one of the most important mythological, archaeological and historical sites in Greece. It is the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Athens. In the ancient times, Delos used to be a bustling commercial center and shrine. Delos used to be a major religious center and port during the 1st millennium B.C. The island’s ruins comprise of Doric temples, markets, an amphitheater, houses with mosaics and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues.

5. KOH KER, CAMBODIA

The Koh Ker is one of Cambodia’s most remote and inaccessible temple complexes. There are about 42 structures in Koh Ker and there are not many archaelogical records of this place, for which it remains an enigma. It was built around the 10th century.

6. PULA, CROATIA

Pula houses the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Pula used to be an important provincial centre during the later period of the Roman empire and its legacy of public buildings from that time is among the most impressive buildings in all of Europe. Now, the most interesting part of this place is the Arena, that was constructed between 27 BC-68 AD, and is the only Roman amphitheatre in the world with a full circle wall and one of Croatia’s architectural gems.

7. TONINÁ , MEXICO

Now, Toniná is a less popular pre-Columbian archaeological site and the ruined city of the Maya civilization. It is one of the best in the Mexican state of Chiapas. There are striking temples, statues, impressive stuccos and more in this ancient acropolis.

8. TUNIS, TUNISIA

Now, Tunis has some awesome Roman ruins. The city of Carthage used to be the center or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization. Carthage is the place where once the Zaphouan Aqueduct once filled the Antoine Baths. The Bardo Museum has some impressive mosaics that visitors can check out.

9. AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND

Ayatthuya was once one of the world’s greatest capitals. It used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. There are three striking stupas at Wat Phra Si Sanphet that are absolutely worth checking out. Also, the awesome crypt at Wat Ratchaburana is worth a visit.

TIPS FOR PLANNING AN AFFORDABLE FAMILY VACATION

Family running on beach at sunset, rear view

Family running on beach at sunset, rear view

In this block, I will give you 5 tips for planning an affordable yet memorable family vacation.

1.CONSIDER TIMING

Now, if you are planning to travel by aeroplane, airfare costs vary significantly on the basis of your days of travel. If it is possible, see if your kids can bring homework with them to make an off peak trip work. You know, by avoiding weekend travel, you can save your family a lot of money.

2. INVITE OTHERS

If you want to keep within your budget, then I would suggest that you consider inviting your friends or other families or your kid’s friends’ families. As a result, lodging and other activities’ costs can often be cut when you are splitting the bill with others.

3. PACK FOOD

Now, I know that it is nice to eat out all the time, but cooking your own lunches and on-the-go snacks for the beach, theme park or other day trips can really cut back on the spending. Plus, you can get the family involved and have the kids to help you plan a meal; they will likely get excited about their ideas.

4. SET A BUDGET

You can try giving your children each a daily budget for snacks, souvenirs, etc. What happens is if the kids want a treat while stopping by a store or at a gas station, they can decide if it’s worth it or not to spend their money, thus, improving their decision skills as well as helping you maintain your budget for the trip. You could set any budget that totally works for you. You will set your own limits.

5. RESEARCH

You should ask for discounts. Several tickets have coupons online or offer discounts to those who purchase in advance. Moreover, The American Automobile Association also offers discounts on a lot of hotels and attraction tickets. Also, do not be afraid or iffy to ask about special promotions during certain times of the day or weekday discounts. These will help you maintain your budget more than you think.

10 OF THE MOST REMOTE GLAMPING SPOTS IN THE WORLD

Now, glamping, also known as luxury camping or glamorous camping, is basically an experience-based kind of travel that allows guests to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, only without the hassle of traditional camping. Here I have rounded up 10 of the most remote places to go glamping.

1.BOLIVIA’S UYUNI SALT FLATS

These salt flats are eternally captivating to travelers and now the Kachi Lodge allows you to stay in the middle of this gorgeous landscape. Adding to the brilliant views of the plains ahead, it is the perfect spot for stargazing, or just sitting at a 3.600 mt. elevation. Moreover, this lodge runs on solar energy, with its own water treatment unit for added sustainability.

2. LADAKH

Here you can really immerse yourself in the Buddhist way of living. Take in the picturesque monasteries of this region during the day, and in the evening you can enjoy private dining with ingredients picked from their own organic garden. Glamping here is open from May to October.

3. TREEHOTEL, SWEDEN

Now, the Treehotel in Sweden is an interesting and camouflaged cube of mirrors residing deep within a forest in northern Sweden. The owners were inspired by the film ‘The Tree Lover‘ by Jonas Selberg and with the help of some of Sweden’s brilliant architects, they were able to create ‘tree rooms’ that are aesthetically pleasing, and still respect the natural environment. There are other cabins that look like nests of birds, yet another that looks like a spaceship and even one that is inspired by the wings of a dragonfly.

4. SAL SALIS, AUSTRALIA

Now, the Sal Salis is a safari camp cushioned between the dunes of Australia’s Cape Range National Park, with spectacular views of Ningaloo Coral Reef. This camp is environmentally-friendly and uses renewable energy, plus, there is no internet or phone signal available there, thus, making it the perfect escape from the stresses of everyday life. White sands, crystal clear waters, and bright stars above your head …truly a paradise!!

5. CHEWTON GLEN, ENGLAND

Now, Chewton Glen is a luxury hotel with an arboreous twist, on the edge of Hampshire’s historic New Forest. You will be able to sleep like royalty in souped-up glass and wood tree houses, lofts and cabins, and every one of these being a calm oasis. Moreover, if you need a dose of civilisation, you can just meander through the trees to the main hotel, where you will find a first-rate restaurant serving modern British cuisine throughout the day as well as afternoon tea. Pretty perfect!!

6. ECO CAMP, TORRES DEL PAINE, PATAGONIA, CHILE

Now, this amazing resort right in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park is a perfect luxury camping paradise. Trust me, if you spend a night in one of these ecological geodetic domes, looking out to the dramatic snow-tipped mountains, fjords and glaciers just outside, you will never want to leave.

7. LANZAROTE RETREATS, LANZAROTE, SPAIN

It is a perfect retreat from city life. You can just head head for this eco-resort in the rural Lanzarote. You would be staying in yurts and eco cabins kitted out with Balinese furnishings, powered by wind and solar power and set amidst a mesmerising expanse of volcanic landscape. Plus, as a bonus, the Lanzarote Retreats is also very close to Arrieta Beach, which is basically one of the most unspoilt shorelines on this island.

8. TENA TENA CAMP, ZAMBIA

It is located right at the mouth of the Great Valley Rift in Lauangwa National Park, Tena Tena Camp’s lodge has treetops for a roof. The cabins of this safari camp could not be any more idyllic and you will absolutely enjoy being there whether you go in search of big game (you know what I mean) or not. If you have ever dreamed of having a house straight out of Out of Africa, then this is your chance to see what it feels like to live surrounded by the wild, with all the security in the world and a wonderfully pleasant bed, of course!

9. WHITEPOD, SWITZERLAND

These 15 igloos are as enjoyable in sunshine as in snow. They are located on a Swiss hillside, and they are a slightly off-piste place to enjoy nature as well as the commodities of a five-star hotel. Plus, if you have the vigour to do anything more than rest on the huge comfy beds in front of an Alpine view, then their outdoor activities programme will keep you busy all round the year. Activities like awesome mountain walks, paragliding and pony rides in the summer, and skiing and dog-sleds in the winter.

10. THE ROUNDHOUSE, ENGLAND

Now, this round cabin in the Cornish woods, was designed like those Iron Age homes. Its fireplaces, Egyptian cotton linens and canopy beds ease you into the pleasant holiday mode, and after that, there is nothing to do except enjoy the peaceful and calm sounds of the song of a bird outside your window. Then, after a refreshing bath, swap fresh for saltwater with a dip in the chilled sea at one of west Cornwall’s brilliant beaches, from St Ives to Botallack.