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Experiencing Eje Cafetero (Coffee zone) in Colombia – Pijao & Buenavista

January 9, 2015

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The first thing anyone would think of Colombia is the coffee. One of the largest exporters of coffee in the world, Colombia’s Eje Cafetero (Coffee Zone) is a highlight on any traveler’s list. And although there are many operators and companies that offer tours to some of the towns or places in the coffee zone, we met Juan Agudelo in our hostel in Armenia, while a fellow backpacker was about to go on a tour with him to Salento and Valle de Cocora.

After a brief conversation with Juan, we found out that he has a company called ‘Experiencia Cafetera‘ that specializes in tours around the towns of Pijao and Buenavista, which are in the coffee zone. We immediately signed-up for a half-day tour to these towns.

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Bicycle tour & meeting a local artist in Popayán, Colombia

January 8, 2015

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Popayán is a quaint little town in the south of Colombia comprising of white-washed houses and small lanes within the old town. One of the best activities to do in Popayán (and highly recommended by TripAdvisor) is the “downhill” bike ride from the natural thermal pools up in the mountains to the town center.

This is where we dipped in thermal pools, had some delicious food and met a fascinating local artist who invited us to her home to have a look at the paintings she has created over the last 40 plus years.

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The countries with the best public wifi are…

December 17, 2014

bestwifi3Travelers love wifi hotspots and with a growing number of public hotspots in the world, it is extremely useful for business and leisure travelers because they do not have to pay for international mobile data.

But connectivity and quality of public wifi networks comes at low speeds and unavailability because of technical reasons. Moreover, the one city’s public WiFi does not reflect the whole country’s context.

Rotten WiFi users have measured and evaluated the quality of public hotspots in 172 countries worldwide, testing hundreds of networks. The collected data revealed Top 20 countries with best public WiFi in this infographic:

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Visas & passports – a rogue guide

December 16, 2014

Given the number of questions about visas and requests for detailed notes I have had over the last few years of my travels, I should have written this note ages ago.

My observations here stem from my own personal experience, ranging from the delightful to the tortuous, at embassies & consulates around the world.

I have been to over 200 embassies on my own during these last 7 years. Not counting visas & stamps obtained on arrival, I have been able to get around 90 visas of roughly 70 nations. At times, I will borrow from anecdotes related by others.

So here is the summary, from my experience of personally visiting around 205 embassies of 100 countries, in 70 countries:

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Make extra cash while traveling by carrying others’ packages

December 11, 2014

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How would you like to make extra money while traveling? We have all heard that and there are many ways to do that. Peer-to-peer services like Uber and Airbnb allow you to make some extra cash in your town, and now a new startup called Carry takes on the courier and package shipping industry to your doorstep.

Instead of using UPS, FedEx, postal services or similar, the company looks for people who need something delivered by travelers who are going to the destination. Some of the existing listings include taking an iPhone to Mexico from Los Angeles for $350, and bring medication from London to New York for $44.

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10 gorgeous places in Iceland that should not be missed

December 4, 2014

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[View of Reykjavik from top of Hallgrímskirkja church]

A lot of tourists visit Iceland for a few days or a long weekend of three days and cover the basic ‘Golden Triangle’. But driving around the country is the best way to experience this wonderfully marvelous country. And these sights make the trip worth-while. Every visitor must include these ten spots in their itinerary:

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Bangkok airport launches automated taxi kiosks

December 4, 2014

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport launched automatic queue-card kiosks aiming to improve travelers’ access to taxi services. Up until now, travelers have to approach the taxi counters for manual system where staff wrote down a passenger’s destination before handing it to a taxi driver.

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The ten new kiosks, found outside Gates 4 and 7 on the first floor of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s terminal building, are designed to cut waiting times by managing the lines and directing passengers to numbered taxi ranks. Passengers need to press a button on a touchscreen kiosk for service. The kiosk prints a ticket, which shows a queue number, parking lot number, where the assigned taxi parks, driver’s name, and license plate.

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Tsingy de Bemaraha National park, Madagascar

December 3, 2014

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Located inland about 70 km from the west coast in the northern sector of the Antsingy region of the Bemaraha Plateau, north of the Manambolo River Gorge, in Madagascar, much of the reserve integral to Tsingy de Bemaraha comprises limestone karst, delimited to the east by abrupt cliffs which rise some 300-400 m above the Hanambolo River valley and extend several tens of kilometres from north to south.

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Embrace the Holidays in NYC for Under $100

December 3, 2014

If you’re lucky enough to be in New York City during the winter holiday season, you’ll discover that there are holiday festivities around every corner. From the lighting of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, there is something for everyone! Check out some of the best holiday events in NYC for under $100*.

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In pictures: Dubrovnik, Croatia

December 3, 2014

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Find cheaper, ‘hidden city’ fares and save money

December 2, 2014

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The concept of “hidden city ticketing” is not new and if you do it right then you can save a lot of money on airline tickets. Basically, you book a flight past your destination, with your target destination as a stop on the route, and save more than what you’d on the direct route.

This means that users can book multi-stop flights and deplane before the flights reach their as-booked final destination. In its simplest form, a passenger purchases a ticket from city A to city B to city C but does not travel beyond city B. Sometimes a fare that travels through a hub city to another location can be cheaper than a ticket to the hub city alone.

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Get user-generated travel tips and suggestions at Tripinium

December 1, 2014

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We all know that getting suggestions and tip from other users for the next travel destination is always helpful. Sometimes these tips help us beat the tourist path and takes you to off-beaten paths for surreal experiences. Most of us head to TripAdvisor as our first choice, but this new website called Tripinium gives you upfront suggestions or tips for almost 200 cities or towns worldwide.

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Of Gods and Shadow: Journey into Mexico’s Mayan History

November 30, 2014

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Reaching the height of civilization between AD250 and AD900, the ancient Mayans were a sophisticated, advanced people, credited with developing their own systems of writing, art, mathematics and astronomy.

Occupying what is now the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala, their earliest settlements date back to 1800BC. As well as developing agriculture in the area, they also built pyramids, temples and palaces, and worshiped various gods related to the cycles of nature. Today, many of their constructs remain and a visit to Mexico is a real opportunity to step back in time.

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Al-Naslaa Rock Formation, Tayma, Saudi Arabia

November 29, 2014

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One of the many natural occurrences that puzzle any traveler is Al-Naslaa Rock Formation, located in Tayma oasis, Saudi Arabia. Recent archaeological discoveries show that Tayma has been inhabited since the ancient times.

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Travel photos: White Sands Monument, United States

November 24, 2014

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

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