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Visiting Vancouver? Check out the post I wrote for Round the World Experts, a specialist travel service by Flight Centre UK.
“With a picturesque oceanside location, fringed by emerald forests and mountain peaks, cosmopolitan Vancouver is high up on many travellers’ bucket lists. But with so many sights to see and activities to participate in, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.
Here, Vancouverite Claus Gurumeta shares his insights on how to explore Vancouver as a local.”
This article was commissioned by Round the World Experts, a specialist travel service by Flight Centre UK.
All words and credited photos by Claus Gurumeta.
Here are some more photos of our visit to Pamukkale, which literally means “Cotton Castle.” You can see why they gave that name to the area in the 20th Century, when tourism started to bloom!
Have you checked out the white cliffs of Pamukkale yet?
After our relaxing time along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, it was time to return to the interior to check out Hierapolis-Pamukkale, one of the country’s most incredible sites. Hierapolis-Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of two components: the ancient city ruins of Hierapolis, and the natural white terraces of Pamukkale.
Ruins of Hierapolis
The ancient city of Hierapolis was originally constructed as a healing Spa in the 2nd Century BC, taking advantage of the area’s naturally occurring geothermal hot springs. Having switched hands from the Greeks to the Roman Empire to the Seljuks, and survived through various devastating earthquakes over many centuries, the city has a mix of architectural styles from all periods.
Hierapolis is home to Turkeys best-preserved necropolis, which is home to over 1200 tombs spanning a variety of empires and periods. There are also many well-preserved bathing rooms, and a couple of triumphal arches.
The ancient city sits atop the white cliffs of Pammukale, so the visit to the site continues on to the top of the cliffs, which can then be climbed down to the bottom, and both sites are included in the same ticket.
White Terraces of Pamukkale
The name Pamukkale, which literally means Cotton Castle in Turkish, was adapted to the area only in the 20th Century, when the white terraces and hot springs became a famous tourist attraction. The name seems silly, but the cliffs really do look like a castle made of cotton!
The terraces have been created naturally over the centuries by mineral deposits from the hot springs which have made the area important for so many centuries. The ground inside the hot, milky water of the hot springs is a white, rough clay, the same material that over time has been solidifying to create the iconic terraces.
Coming from Hierapolis above, we walked down the white terraces toward the modern town of Pamukkale, with the warm flowing water of the hot springs (only trickling around the springs themselves about 2 inches deep in most places) guiding us along, just as the sun began to set. Even though the sunset made the cliffs glow golden instead of white, the sights of this natural wonder was outstanding.
Together, Hierapolis-Pamukkale are a must-visit attraction, but even on their own, each site would be worth a visit, as each one is impressive by itself. Hierapolis-Pamukkale is one of those unique sites that will impress for both their cultural background and the wondrous natural setting in which they are located.
Happy Canada Day 2015!
To celebrate this Canada Day, celebrated the 1st of July every year, here are some Canada Geese, hanging out by Burnaby Lake in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
I took this photo about two years ago now, as I went around the city with my friend Ryan trying to find new secluded places to hike and walk around the greater Vancouver area, before moving to the UK.
Happy Canada Day!!
The 15th of January 2014 marks the third anniversary since I got my own domain, specializing my blog into travel-only posts. And what a ride it’s been!
One year ago I set myself some goals when it came to my blog, with the most ambitious being writing three to four posts per week throughout the year. I started strong, staying true to that goal for the first half of the year (and I did accomplish writing 107 posts in 2013, so not too shabby), but then slowed down a bit, as changes came up.
Which changes, you ask? Well, the most important being my move to London, England, a move that I hope will allow me to travel much more over the next couple of years. With the move across the world, came the stress of finding a place to live, a job, and getting my bearings in a new city. On my way to moving to London, I also went traveling for about two and a half months… and we all know how lazy I get with my writing while I’m on the road!
The good news? I have now visited plenty of new places in six new countries, so I definitely have a LOT more material to write about, and a LOT of photographs to share… so keep tuned!
Thank you again to all my loyal readers and all new visitors, for continuing to follow my blog. It brings me great pleasure to see every time someone visits my blog (and extra pleasure when readers spend a while going through some of my old posts).
Here’s to another year full of travel and adventure! x
The Sea to Sky Highway, which connects Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is one of the most scenic highways I’ve ever traveled.
The ride takes just over one hour since it was renovated for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but there are plenty of view points that will allow drivers to stop and really take in all the scenery in.
A couple of the stops look out into the ocean and the gulf Islands, but my favourite stops include Shannon Falls, near the town of Squamish, and Brandywine Falls, which my friend Ryan and I only just discovered on our latest drive up!
Vancouver’s iconic urban Stanley Park turns 125 years. An oasis of calm bordering the downtown of the city, Stanley Park is bigger in area than New York City’s famous Central Park, and is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, with over eight million visitors per year!
Stanley Park is surrounded by a large portion of Vancouver’s famous Seawall. The park is also home to other popular attractions in Vancouver, including the Vancouver Aquarium; the summer outdoor theatre series Theatre Under the Stars; horse-drawn carriage tours, the Stanley Park Train (which hosts the Christmas Bright Nights and the Halloween Ghost Train), and the summer outdoor movie series Fresh Air Cinema.
The park also boasts three beaches and a public swimming pool, as well as plenty of gardens, open spaces, picnic spots, and trails.
Happy Zoo Lover’s Day!! Yep, I guess there is a day for everything.
If you, like me, love zoos, I definitely recommend you visit the Melbourne Zoo in Australia at some point. The Melbourne Zoo is not only beautiful, but it is recognized for having great animal conservation programs (for local and international species).
One of its highest achievements is it’s Platypusary (yes, it’s a real word!), in which they conserve, protect, and help reproduce one of Australia’s most peculiar animals: the Platypus!
During my last visit to the Mayan Riviera in March 2012, I also took a day to go back to Xcaret Eco Park. I have been to the park three times as well, and really enjoy it.
Before we begin, yes, the park is pricey. The entry fee of US$79 is a little steep, especially considering you will spend even more money once you are inside (mainly on food and drinks, as it is not an ‘all-inclusive’ deal). Once you are inside however, you’ll be entertained for an entire day, with a full size zoo/aquarium housing local fauna, two underground river systems in which you can snorkel, and a variety of cultural shows throughout the day.
Most impressive is the ‘Xcaret Mexico Espectacular’ show, which showcases a musical-like story of Mexico, from pre-hispanic time traditions, to post-hispanic music and traditions, complete with traditional clothing, costumes, music and dances from different states around Mexico. The show itself is almost worth the entire entry fee (by North American standard prices, at any rate).
There are lovers and there are haters, but I do recommend you visit the park at least on your first visit to Mexico. For most travellers visiting in ‘all-inclusive’ packages, this is as close as you’ll get to see the culture of Mexico, so it’s well worth the trip!
As for me, been there, done that (multiple times now), and I won’t be going to Xcaret again this year when I visit Playa del Carmen in April; that’s simply because I just went last year, and I know US$79 can get me very far in Mexico!
Kitsilano, a neighbourhood located across False Creek south of Vancouver’s downtown core, is home to Vanier Park.
I only discovered Vanier Park in 2012, after returning from Australia (despite having lived in Vancouver for 14 years now!). I always saw the park across the harbour from Sunset Beach in downtown, but never actually made the track over.
As I took biking as a hobby last summer, I visited Vanier a few times over the summer, and got to really fall in love with it. While there isn’t a beach in Vainer Park, the park has a huge grass area perfect for playing sports, having picnics, or simply hanging out. The park also has amazing views of downtown Vancouver, and is home to some pretty cool museums, such as the Vancouver Space Centre, the Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Vancouver.
The park can easily be reached from downtown via a ferry from Yaletown right into the park, or by walking / biking along the False Creek seawall!
Below are some pictures I took during some of my adventures over to Vanier, so you can see why this park kind of stole my heart.
One of Vancouver’s top outdoor attractions is its famous Seawall. The best part of this attraction is that it is free and highly entertaining!
What started as a 7km walking / biking path around the perimeter of Stanley Park, has now extended to surround most of Downtown Vancouver, and extends from Canada Place, around the world-famous Stanley park, and all the way to the Southern neighbourhood of Kitsilano.
The 22km Seawall offers beautiful views of the waterfront and many different parts of the city, from the Central Business Area to fancy neighbourhoods, Vancouver’s chilled-out West End, parks and beaches. The scenery is so varied and beautiful, and can be enjoyed on walks, jogs, roller blades or bikes.
After visiting Mt. Field National Park during my last day in Tasmania, we made a stop at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located less than a half-hour drive from the Hobart Central Business District.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary takes in injured and orphaned wildlife and nurtures them to health to either be released back into the wild, or kept in the sanctuary for educational purposes. There is a nominal fee to enter the park, and it’s well worth it for visitors.]
At the Sanctuary, I was able to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies (something I’ve done before in Kuranda Village), pet koalas, and see other endemic Aussie wildlife such as echidnas and wombats. More importantly, you can see and learn about Tassie’s very own Tasmanian Devils!
The Tasmanian Devils are adorable (although seeing them chomp of chopped-up wallaby parts wasn’t too cute, as you’d expect). During my visit there was a mom with three babies that had been bred on-site – this is a great advance, as the number of these cool little guys in the wild has been deteriorating steadily over the past few decades.
If you like nature or are an animal fanatic, I recommend a visit to the Wildlife Sanctuary, as it is a very fun and educational experience!
On my third day in Tasmania, I went on a final day-long tour that explored Mt. Field National Park, a great nature reserve about an hour’s drive from the city of Hobart.
Mt. Field National Park is beautiful in its range of environments. Opposed to Freycinet National Park, on the Northeast coast of Tasmania, Mt. Field doesn’t have a coast line nor beaches. Yet, the landscapes of Mt. Field are still very varied, ranging from lush temperate rain forests at the base of the mountain to alpine regions in higher elevations.
Due to changing climates within the park, visitors can experience lush fern and eucalyptus forests (including some of the tallest trees in the world!), as well as crisp alpine areas where vegetation is very scarce, due to the cold.
Make sure you have a jacket handy when you visit: while the rain forests down below were warm and muggy, the higher areas reached 5 degrees Celsius even in the height of summer, when I visited!
Beautiful waterfalls, secluded hikes, lakes, and dense forests are plenty in Mt. Field National Park. We didn’t get to see any wildlife, but apparently wombats and platypuses are often seen in the wild in this park!
My first excursion out of Hobart to explore Tasmania was a day trip to the island’s famous Freycinet National Park.
Located on the Northeastern coast of Tasmania, Freycinet National Park contains scenery not seen anywhere else in Australia, including pink and red granite mountains, white sand beaches, and dense eucalyptus forests.
The natural setting of Freycinet is gorgeous. The Hazards, a chain of pink granite mountains, offer a great backdrop past the sea, and can also be hiked to see some beautiful views of wineglass bay from a lookout on top. Down below, Wineglass Bay (named after its shape), has often been called one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Orange granite beaches and hills in places like Honeymoon Bay or Sleepy Bay are also beautiful, and much different from the idyllic white-sand Friendly Beaches, which stretch for kilometres along the clear turquoise sea.
The weather during my visit was unusually cloudy, but despite the lack of sunshine the scenery in the park was no less stunning. The cloudy weather made our hikes a little less sweaty, and the sea was still warm enough for swimming.
If there is one spot in Tasmania I wish I had spent more time in, it’s definitely Freycinet. But words are not enough to describe its beauty, so how about some pictures of the varied environments of this National Park?