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A travel blogger documents his travels to various international destinations including countries that are not frequently visited such as North Korea and Lebanon.
Related URL: Cayman Islands Travel Blog

Documents the writers experience in the Cayman Islands, a country he now lives in.
Related URL: Volunteering with leatherback sea turtles

The writer documents his experience volunteering with tagging and assisting endangered leatherback sea turtles.
Blog Added: January 08, 2017 08:47:41 AM
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Blog Country: Cayman-Islands   Cayman-Islands
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Exploring Glaciers Near the North Pole

We booked a day trip from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, to visit a Russian village along with some stunning glaciers. Never did I imagine that I would eat a barbeque while approaching glaciers. The stunning beauty cannot be captured in words, instead I’ll allow the pictures to speak for themselves. This was approximately 800 kms from the...

We booked a day trip from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, to visit a Russian village along with some stunning glaciers.

Never did I imagine that I would eat a barbeque while approaching glaciers. The stunning beauty cannot be captured in words, instead I’ll allow the pictures to speak for themselves. This was approximately 800 kms from the North Pole in early May.

Below is a video that offers a first hand experience.



Exploring the Pitons of St. Lucia

St.Lucia had been on my to do list for more than a decade. The Pitons are the most iconic mountain range in the Caribbean, and I was looking forward to experiencing these mountains first hand. We started our trip by staying at an AirBNB that offered us a stunning view of the big Piton. Unfortunately,...

St.Lucia had been on my to do list for more than a decade. The Pitons are the most iconic mountain range in the Caribbean, and I was looking forward to experiencing these mountains first hand.

We started our trip by staying at an AirBNB that offered us a stunning view of the big Piton. Unfortunately, due to all the rain we were unable to hike the pitons which is something I was really looking forward to. Nonetheless, we did our best to take advantage of the nearby offerings.

On one of the days we had a gap in the rain to visit Diamond Botanical Gardens. This garden took approximately 45 minutes to visit, it’s not a huge garden but it was well worth it. At the end of the gardens there’s Diamond Waterfall, which is what the park is named after. The park is nice, and I recommend it for anyone staying near the Pitons.

Below is a view of the waterfall.

The other nearby attraction was the Sulphur Springs. This is basically what should be a road-side stop whereby you can take a few pictures, instead this was turned into a make work project. To visit, you disembark your vehicle, pay an entrance fee, drive up the mountain, watch a 10-minute video, drive back down the mountain, and have a “guide” escort you 30 feet down a staircase to a viewpoint.

From this viewpoint you then hear a brief history of the Sulphur Springs. This entire process takes approximately 30 minutes when it should take one minute. The scenery is nothing amazing, and I would recommend that you skip this attraction. I was even more shocked to learn that resorts shuttled people here from the other side of the island. If I had to be driven around 4 hours round trip, and pay a tour fee to see this, I would be upset.

These two activities are the main attractions in St.Lucia. Herein lies the main problem with the island, there’s not that much to do.

Afterwards, we decided to spend an afternoon at Sugar Beach. We were planning on visiting Sugar Beach and having lunch at the resort there. When we arrived we were informed that there’s a $50 per person fee to access the beach, and that you can then apply this “credit” towards food. We ended up spending $98 of our $100 credit on lunch and ended up walking the beach to take pictures afterwards.

The lunch was good, and we probably would have returned on a different day, but we didn’t feel like promoting this type of behavior by any resort. Not only this, but “day visitors” were sectioned off to a small portion of the beach with beach chairs that needed to be retired. I’m sorry but if you are charging people to use a beach, you should not treat those people like second-class citizens. We were told this policy was introduced to basically keep “undesirables” away, in other words locals.

Lucky for us, the sun made a rare appearance while at Sugar beach and we ended up getting some phenomenal pictures.

After this, we drove North through the Western side of the island to spend a few days in the North-Eastern section of the island at a all-inclusive resort called the Hideaway at Royalton, located in Cap Estate. We were here to attend a wedding. This was a very respectable wedding venue, and we spent 4 days visiting with friends. This section of the island is significantly less rainy than the area near the Pitons, which makes this area popular with all-inclusive resorts, as they can offer guests a higher probability of sunshine.

After spending time here, we drove back south the Eastern way to return to the Pitons. This allowed us to completely drive the entire island. Below is a nice view point that we found.

After seeing all of St. Lucia, I would recommend you stay at the Pitons. I found the rest of the island had nothing that differentiated it from other Caribbean islands, meanwhile the Pitons offered a jungle type environment that recalls sections of Costa Rica, or other lush jungle.

Our final stay was at Fond Doux Resort, a small boutique hotel, that offers tree-house type lodging. While the free breakfast was extremely disappointing, the lunch and dinner offerings were better. Staying in a tree-house, is by far what set this boutique resort apart.

On our last night we had diner at the Chocolate Hotel, and this was my favorite meal. The view from the restaurant is spectacular, as you are placed directly in front of a piton.

While happy I came, I probably would not rush back to St. Lucia as I feel that I have seen it all and there’s not that much to do. If you visit, make sure you do so during dry season, and that you stay near the iconic pitons.



Arches National Park

Arches National Park is the most famous of the National Parks in Utah. We came here after visiting the sensational Zion National Park, and the equally beautiful Capitol Reef National Park. To visit you can stay anywhere in the town of Moab which is only 8 kms (5 miles) away from the park. While people...

Arches National Park is the most famous of the National Parks in Utah. We came here after visiting the sensational Zion National Park, and the equally beautiful Capitol Reef National Park.

To visit you can stay anywhere in the town of Moab which is only 8 kms (5 miles) away from the park.

While people flock here for the arches, there’s a lot more than arches to see. There’s some phenomenal hiking trails to take. Unlike Zion National Park, you can drive yourself all over the park.

I found that two full days in the park was more than sufficient, as you’ll be covering the same ground multiple times.

The Double O Arch trail is the best of these hiking trails. It’s a 6.8 Km (4.5 miles) round-trip hike, and while the destination is beautiful to see, the actual trail is much more impressive than the arch at the end. You’ll occasionally have to climb up and down on some rocks, but the views are simply incredible.

Below is the Double O Arch.

On route to the Double O Arch you’ll find other arches such as the following:

While these arches are great, they are nothing compared to some of the views.

While this was a great trail, we basically stopped at every opportunity while exploring the park. Below are some pictures from our trip.

I would absolutely recommend not only Arches National Park, but the entire state of Utah. The people were friendlier than I expected, and the state was well taken care of. It exceeded my expectations and actually ended up being one of my favorite states.



Capitol Reef National Park, a Must Visit in Utah

I had just spent 2 full days at Zion national Park, which was the adventure I was most anticipating on my trip to Utah. I expected the best to be behind me, and on this day I was simply planning on driving onward to Arches National Park. After researching Google Maps, we chose to drive...

I had just spent 2 full days at Zion national Park, which was the adventure I was most anticipating on my trip to Utah. I expected the best to be behind me, and on this day I was simply planning on driving onward to Arches National Park.

After researching Google Maps, we chose to drive a slightly longer route in order to hit Capitol Reef National Park. This is a park I had never researched or given much thought to.

The route consisted of 4.5 hours of driving, but of course ended up taking much longer due to the many stops.

Once I arrived at Capitol Reef I was amazed. I kept having to pull over to take in all of the majestic beauty that surrounded us. This park is simply stunning and should be on your radar. If you visit Utah, it’s a must to take this drive. It’s a tiny park and you can do it all in one day. There’s a small hike, but most of it can be enjoyed by driving.

Below are pictures from our various stops. I would absolutely recommend that you leave early if you are driving through this area in order for you to see it all before the sun goes down.

After we finished our drive we continued on to stay in the town of Moab, which is next to Arches National Park.



Zion National Park, in Utah

The best way to access Zion National Park, is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and to then drive to Springdale, Utah. This is what we did, and it’s an easy three hour drive.  Springdale is the town that borders the National Park. Springdale was a pleasant surprise with some nice cafes and restaurants. Completely...

The best way to access Zion National Park, is to fly into Las Vegas, Nevada and to then drive to Springdale, Utah. This is what we did, and it’s an easy three hour drive.  Springdale is the town that borders the National Park.

Springdale was a pleasant surprise with some nice cafes and restaurants. Completely by accident we ended up staying next to the best cafe in town, and we returned there three times, on three separate days. This was Cafe Soleil and they had everything that I want in a cafe, a nice selection of drinks, as well as healthy and tasty food options.

We stayed at the Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens, this hotel was well appointed, had fair prices, and best of all was in the best location. This hotel was next to Cafe Soleil, but most importantly was a five minute walk to the entrance of Zion National Park. The benefits of being this close are numerous.

During high season it is prohibited to drive your vehicle inside the park. What you need to do is take a hop-on and hop-off shuttle at different points in the park. The shuttles are frequent, and once you get used to the system are actually quite convenient. With these shuttles you can easily plan one-way hikes, and start hikes at one drop off point, to get picked up at another.

If you stay close enough to the border of the park to walk to it, you can avoid the high parking fees, and in some cases we were told that during high season it can become a chore to even find parking. This is why I recommend you save yourself the hassle and stay at the Cliffrose. More hotels are in the process of being built, but with the bulk of them you will need to drive to the park, and hence worry about parking.

I had seen pictures of Zion before but nothing prepared me for the beauty. The park was smaller than I expected, but everywhere I looked was eye candy. We stayed here two full-days and that gave us enough time to do several hikes and see most of the park. If you are the type of person that likes to do everything, you could probably do all of the major hikes in a four day period.

We started with the Emeralds Pool Trail which is fairly easy but offers stunning scenery and this hike is absolutely recommended. Another notable hike was the Observation Point hike which is a bit more strenuous but highly rewarding. I actually ended up doing less hiking than I wanted to as I was fighting a cold, what I missed and would have loved to see is the Angels Landing.

As you can see it’s difficult not to be mesmerized by the scenery. This was the start of our stay in Utah, where we hit three amazing National Parks. After this, we drove to Capitol Reef National Park and afterwards Arches National Park shortly.

 

 



Great Wall of China – Jinshanling Section

I had the pleasure of visiting 3 sections of the Great Wall of China. Jinshanling was by far my favorite, I was also blessed with perfect weather, and almost no tourists to share the wall with. This wall is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) North-East of Beijing. It took approximately 1.5 hours to drive to from our...

I had the pleasure of visiting 3 sections of the Great Wall of China. Jinshanling was by far my favorite, I was also blessed with perfect weather, and almost no tourists to share the wall with.

This wall is located 130 kilometers (80 miles) North-East of Beijing. It took approximately 1.5 hours to drive to from our hotel, but the effort to get here was rewarding.

The majority of tourists that visit Beijing flock to Mutianyu, the section of the wall that is closest to the city, but this section is overcrowded. I cannot imagine it is very enjoyable. Meanwhile Jinshanling is stunning, in some sections there were no humans to be seen.

Out of all the hikes, temples, and activities that I saw in China, this was my favorite.

It was a life long dream to hike the wall, and I can promise that it is absolutely worthwhile to visit.

The one-way hike from Jinshanling to Simatai west is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) which under normal circumstances is not that much… but there are a lot of stairs here.

My personal favorite picture is below.

 I hope you enjoy the remaining pictures, I look forward to returning to China.



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