Summer Holiday Reviews: From the Travellers

In collaboration with our leading blog partners, travellers from around the world have contributed their reviews of locations and regions they managed to visit this summer, all on a reasonable budget. Top travel tip for next year? Send your luggage ahead via courier and make life easier by avoiding delays and excess baggage fees.

 

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1. Diane / www.travelfranceonline.com / Paris

Where are you and why?
Paris is my hometown, but after spending years overseas, I am currently living in the UK, simply because I like it here! The good thing about England is that it’s less then an hour from Paris, so going back home is fast and easy.

What is an absolute ‘don’t miss’ for Paris?
You obviously want to visit the main landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral and of course Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montmartre. That said, forget the crowds, forget the Metro, the best way to discover Paris is on foot! Stroll along Paris’ back streets; discover the architecture, the local bakery, the bistros, the tiny public gardens, and the banks of the Seine or Canal Saint-Martin… Paris is more than a tourist destination, it’s home to over 2.2 million Parisians and this is where you’ll meet them!

What is your number one ‘survival tip’?
Pack a book with the basic survival French phrases. Many French don’t speak a word of English, so they’ll get out of their way to help you if you try to speak their language

Cruise Miss 3
2. Danielle / @CruiseMiss /
CruiseMiss.com
Tallinn, Estonia what a destination! I could probably say it was love at first, even though at first I only set eyes upon it from the distance. The Old Town is incredible, it really does feel like you have stepped back in time and entered a land of fairytales and castles, and the best way to explore it is on foot. There are many restaurants, cafe’s and bars, along with little specialist shops selling local foods and crafts, but amongst all that you have a rich and deep history, and some of the most stunning buildings in Europe.

You haven’t visited the Baltic unless you have stopped in Tallinn. Spending some time in Finland? then consider taking the ferry across to Tallinn for the day. It is inexpensive, goes back and forth several times throughout the day and the Old Town is just a short walk from the ferry terminal. Some of my favourite things to see/do in Tallinn are: stroll around the Old Town (and visit the small market), explore the exhibits at the SeaPlane Harbour Maritime Museum (HIGHLY recommended) and nibble on Olde Hansa Sweet Almonds – you can buy these from many places in Tallinn, but look-out for them being freshly roasted on street carts.

Tarifa Horse

3. Joan Scales / irishtimes.com / joanscales.com/ Tarifa
The spectacle of hundreds of Andalusian horses and their traditionally dressed riders is an extraordinary sight.  Every September on the first Sunday of the month the denizens of Tarifa, the medieval town at the very tip of Southern Spain bring the Virgen de la Luz home.

The streets of the town are thronged with women and children in multicoloured Spanish flamenco dresses, the men and boys sport tight pants with cummerbunds and bolero jackets.  The town is awash with colours and sounds, it’s a noisy affair.

Hoisted on the shoulders of the faithful, the Virgen de la Luz, Our Lady of the Light is brought from her shrine eight kilometres from the town, escorted by a cavalcade of horsemen, women and children to the church of Saint Matthew.  Here she will reside in all her finery for the week of the Fiesta.

What a fiesta, there is dancing, singing, live bands, traditional music, carnival, all kinds of delicious food including the famous suckling pig and fantastic arrays of multicoloured sweets.  The huge tents welcome everyone to join in and the fun goes on until 6.00am every night for a week. The Tarifa Fiesta and Feria will be from September 6 – 13, 2015.

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4. Victoria / @pommietravels/ Texas / pommietravels.com
Austin Texas is my favourite place in the world. It’s a real foodie place, with world famous BBQ and lots of quirky food trucks scattered all over the city. The Tex Mex is also really tasty- there’s nothing like a giant margarita and a good breakfast taco to start your day off right! On a hot, sunny day I love hiking in the Greenbelt, taking a boat out on Lake Travis or swimming in Barton Springs Pool. Come night time, you have to head down to “dirty” 6th Street at least once to do a bar crawl. It’s loud, it’s chaotic but it’s part of the Austin experience.

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5. Kach /
@2MonkeysTravel / twomonkeystravelgroup.com
Back in January we embarked on a two-week hitchhiking trip down the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia. Perfect blue-turquoise rivers and lakes flow between snow-capped mountains and through deep valleys as the many glaciers gradually melt away, forming crystal clear lakes and rivers clean enough to drink from.

The scenery is awe-inspiring in all directions and most of the people we met along the way were cyclists and other hitch hikers, including a German walking for four days towing a 20-kilo trailer behind him because his bike had broken beyond repair and he refused to give up on his epic journey!

We’ve hitched with pickup trucks, flat-beds, taxis, buses, giant freight liners and at times hiked for 15kms through the mountains in the wind and rain when no one would stop for us.

We met amazing people from all over the world; cyclists, motorcyclists, truck drivers, wild hikers and locals who took us into their home for days at a time to share with us their lives, food, farms and families. This was without a doubt the most remarkable part of Patagonia – the people, because without them it would be just another view!

globalhelpswap Kyoto
6. Paul Farrugia /
@globalhelpswap / globalhelpswap.com
Kyoto is one of our most favourite cities because it has the perfect mix of modernity and history. Throw in amazing food, friendly locals and great accommodation and you get one hell of a city. The nearby countryside is also spectacular. With so much culture and history to digest you will need to book at least a week here to soak at least some of it in. Don’t worry about trying to fit in everything, the city is vast and its attractions expansive – just take your time and come join the fun. What are you waiting for?

Wandering Mee
7. Dioni Zhong /
@meexia / www.wanderingmee.com / Cappadocia
My favorite region in Turkey is Cappadocia, for its unique landscape. Cappadocia is most well known for its balloon ride photos, but it also has many amazing walking trails. I went in winter time, so the after-snow path was muddy, icy and watery, and my shoes were in great danger of perishing, but the view was… priceless! I would love to go back again when it’s warmer, and stay longer to explore more of the region.

My top 5 things to do in Cappadocia: overnight stay in the fairy chimneys / cave (Göreme), Göreme Open-Air Museum for Byzantine monastic settlement, valley walk/hike, balloon ride, and underground city excursion.

borders of adventure
8. Becki /
@BordersofAdv / www.bordersofadventure.com/
Athens /
A city given no more than 24 hours of exploration time by most visitors, Athens remains one of Europe’s more misunderstood capital cities. While not exuding the typical charm most people expect of an ancient  city, there’s more to Athen’s then it’s gritty exterior which wraps around the golden hues of the historical sites. A place of creativity in the face of adversity, and in the process of a regeneration whose news businesses, nightlife and a cultural thriving cultural scene give it a new and unique vibe, Athens is a thriving and emerging European city more deserving of just a few hours.

Hostelling Int

9. Alex Durham: Hostelling International/ Delhi
Where are you and why?
I’m at the HI head office in Greater London, halfway between unpacking from Amsterdam and re-packing for my next trip to Vietnam in a few weeks. My laptop will come with me so I can write whether I’m on the road, on the sea, in the sky or here at base.

What’s your favourite city and why? It’s got to be Delhi. India’s insane capital is an assault on the senses for all kinds of travellers. Whether I’m eating fresh, chilli-tinged parathas from a street food vendor, gazing down at the city from magnificent minarets in the walled city, or buzzing across its ever-changing landscape on an auto rickshaw, Delhi has lodged a firm place in my heart.

Give us five things not to miss in Delhi:
Visit the Qutab Minar, one of the world’s tallest monuments among other ancient structures
Shop in authentic boutiques at Dilli Haat
Go to Pandara Road for some unbeatable late night eats (try rajma chawal and lassi)
Cool off in the National Gallery of Modern Art
Watch a game of cricket at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground.

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