8 Reasons We’re Mad For Macadamia

Macadamia nuts aren’t just a delicious add-on to your chocolate bar to give you that extra crunch but are nuts that have a large range of benefits. There are many macadamia nut varieties, of which only two are consumable, and these can be easily found in many grocery stores and supermarkets.

So what are the benefits of this amazing nut? Plenty!

Packed With Antioxidants

Macadamia nuts have a high flavonoid content, which is a compound that helps protect the body from environmental toxins, as well as prevention of cell damages. It also helps with cell repair. Research has proven that antioxidants have the ability to destroy free radicals in your system and this way it can help protect you from a variety of diseases including certain types of cancer.

Weight Loss

These nuts are rich and creamy and they are packed with omega 7 fatty oil that helps to curb the appetite and also positively affects fat burning, which reduces the body fat stored. The best part is you only need to consume a small amount (a handful works great) to not only keep you full but to get all the amazing benefits it has to offer.

Reduces Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol and need something to help keep it under control? Macadamia nuts may be your solution. As it is completely cholesterol free and has monounsaturated fats, this nut helps to lower your cholesterol levels when added into your daily diet. They also help unclog and clean the arteries, which reduces the risk of coronary and heart diseases.

Healthy Skin

Say goodbye to dry skin and hello to soft, supple skin. Macadamia oil works miracles in hydrating skin without leaving it oily or greasy. It absorbs into the skin easily and does not clog the pores, which means you skin gets to feed on the good stuff without having to worry about acne breakouts and such. This oil contains emollient properties which also help reduce wrinkles.

Anti-aging Properties

Macadamia oil when applied on skin helps to keep the skin looking young by providing it with the moisture needed, but the palmitoleic acid present also slows down the skin aging process. This keeps the skin smooth and gives it a youthful glow.

Hair Growth

With macadamia oil being non-greasy, it’s a highly recommended oil for conditioning and preventing dry hair. Adding some macadamia oil into your conditioner or doing a weekly hair oil mask helps keep your hair smooth and soft. The oil gets absorbed into the scalp easily which stimulates hair growth and helps rebuild elasticity, which stops hair breakage. You can also use it as a serum, to smooth out your hair and reduce frizziness.

Nail Care

Flaky, dry skin around the nails, as well as cuticles, are a common problem, especially for those in harsh weather conditions. As these problems can affect your nails, a little macadamia oil can make a world of difference for healthy nails. Just massage some oil onto your finger tips and cuticles to replenish and moisturize the skin.

Keeps Bones Healthy

Macadamia nuts have many different properties to help with keeping your bones healthy. It has phosphorus and calcium which keep the bones and teeth strong. By consuming macadamia on a regular, you can avoid bone health issues in the long run.

Packed with nutrition, these nuts are deemed super healthy but they are really high in calories so be mindful of the amount you consume – you can have too much of a good thing!

Stores in Hawaii Selling Macadamia Oil:

Oils of Aloha

Maiden Hawaii Naturals

Hawaiian Bath & Body

 

BEST SPOTS TO WITNESS A SUNSET ON THE BIG ISLAND

Hapuna Beach State Park

Often voted as one of the best beaches in the world, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is a half-mile stretch of white sand that runs nearly 200 feet wide during the summer months. With excellent water conditions and lifeguards on duty, it is the perfect beach to spend the day before settling in for a sunset picnic. The way the sun reflects off the water in this photograph by Sean Munson is truly magical, is it not?

Mauna Kea

Towering over the Big Island at 13,000 feet above sea level is Mauna Kea, home to sweeping panoramic views as well as multiple observatories. The sunsets here are second to none, as evidenced by this photograph taken by Joe Parks over some of the summits’ telescopes. If you have the time, stay past sunset – the mountain’s elevation and relative isolation from air pollution make the stargazing absolutely stellar.

Kailua-Kona Bay

Rated as the third best place in Hawaii for sunset viewing by Hawaii Magazine, Kailua-Kona provides a glimpse into old Hawaiian history, as well as stellar sunsets, made dramatic with the dark, volcanic rocks along the coast. This particular shot was taken by Steve Dunleavy at Honl’s Beach Park in Kailua-Kona.

Fairmont Orchid

Located near Waikoloa Village and Pauoa Bay is the Fairmont Orchid, a 32-acre oceanfront five-star resort popular amongst honeymooners. The sunsets from the grounds are simply breathtaking. I mean, can you imagine anything more beautiful than this fiery sunset shot by Andy Beal, of Go Visit Hawaii?

Travelling to Tanzania

Language

Tanzania has two official languages: Swahili and English. Swahili, which has its origins in Zanzibar, is the most commonly spoken language in both Tanzania and Kenya.

English is widely spoken, however, you may wish to bring along a Swahili to English phrasebook to give you access to the basics. The locals are always appreciative if you know a little bit of Swahili!

Below you’ll find a few useful Swahili phrases to get you started.

Useful Swahili Phrases

  •  Karibu: Welcome
  • Habari/Hujambo: Hello
  • Habari?/Habari Yako?: How are you?
  • Nzuri: Good. The standard reply to how are you
  • Samahani: Sorry
  • Asante: Thank you
  • Chakula: Food
  • Rafiki: Friend
  • Hapana: No
  • Ndio: Yes

Time

Tanzania is in the +3 GMT time zone. The sun rises at approximately 6.30 in the morning and sets at around 18.45 in the evening.

The locals also use what is known as Swahili Time, which is quite a bit different from the conventional way of keeping time as we know it. 1:00 in the morning is the first hour after the sunrise (approximately 7 am) and 1:00 in the evening is the first hour after sunset (approximately 7 pm).

That being said, most businesses will operate using the standard way of measuring time.

Food

Tanzania’s tourism industry means that there is a great variety of high-quality food available. Hotels and restaurants provide cuisine from all around the world as well as local cuisine, so you can immerse yourself fully with Tanzanian food or sample the comforts of home.

Traditional Tanzanian food features plenty of meat (especially beef, chicken, and fish), rice, and vegetables. It’s simple, hearty food often accompanied by ugali, a flour, and water based dough similar to polenta and eaten by hand.

Tanzanian’s love seafood and Zanzibar is a culinary paradise for those who love freshly caught fish, shrimp, and the like.

You’ll also notice the Indian and British influences on Tanzanian cuisine, with everything from spicy curries to old British staples such as fish & chips popular with locals and visitors alike. In larger cities, you’ll encounter steakhouses, burger joints, and stores selling cuisine from around the world.

Vegetarians are also well catered for in Tanzania. With fresh fruits such as mangoes, coconuts, and pineapples available in abundance. With Tanzanian food so rich in vegetables, legumes, and rice – you’ll be able to find delicious vegetarian food without any trouble.

For the most part, food in Tanzania is perfectly safe to eat. It would be advisable to avoid eating cold, pre-prepared foods.

Water

It is not safe to drink tap water in Tanzania. In fact, it is advisable to use tap water only for showering or washing your hands.

To avoid health problems, use only bottled or filtered water for drinking and brushing your teeth.

Bottled water is cheap and readily available in Tanzania, and all lodges and restaurants will have it available. Shadows of Africa’s safari vehicles always come stocked with plenty of bottled water to ensure you remain hydrated while on safari.

Money, Credit Cards, Traveller’s Cheques, and ATMs

Currency

The official Tanzanian currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. They have coins for 50, 100, and 1000 shillings; and notes for 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 shillings.

The US Dollar is widely used, but may not be accepted in some establishments. It is also important to note that most businesses that do accept US currency will not do so if it is torn or wrinkled.

Notes must not be older than 2006, as local businesses will automatically reject these due to a past counterfeiting problem.

Banks & Currency Exchange

Currency can be exchanged at banks, currency exchange offices (which are plentiful in the city), and in most hotels. Hotels generally offer the least favorable exchange rates.

Banks in Tanzania are open from 9 am until 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 9 am until 11 am on Saturdays.

Tax

The tax rate in Tanzania amounts to 16% for most products and services. There is no process for reclaiming this amount upon departing the country.

ATMs

ATMs that accept both Visa and MasterCard are available in most cities. You will be able to withdraw from your accounts in local (Tanzanian shillings) currency by entering your PIN. The daily withdrawal limit amounts to roughly $300 USD.

Be sure to alert your bank that you will be traveling to Africa. Many banks will deem transactions made out of your native country as suspicious and may lock access to your accounts if you have not forewarned them.

Credit Card

International credit cards (especially Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Thomas Cook) are accepted in most stores, restaurants, hotels, camping sites, lodges, car rental companies, etc. Many smaller stores will not have EFTPOS facilities, so it is generally better to carry cash.

Credit cards typically attract a 5-15% tax.

Traveler’s Cheques

Traveler’s cheques are not accepted anywhere in Tanzania.

Visas & Passports

Entering Tanzania requires both a valid passport and a Tanzanian visa. While the information below is up to date at the time of writing, it is advisable to always check ahead to ensure visa processes or charges have not changed.

Who needs a visa?

With the exception of Hong Kong, Jamaica, Barbados, Malaysia, and roughly a dozen African nations; everybody entering Tanzania is required to have a tourist visa.

Passport

To enter Tanzania, you’ll also need a passport with at least six months validity remaining. If you are planning to apply for a visa upon arrival, you will also need two free, adjacent pages remaining in your passport.

How to obtain a visa

Visas are available upon arrival in Tanzania, whether you’re landing at the airport or are making a border crossing.

The cost of a visa upon arrival is $50 for non-US citizens and $100 for US citizens. This should be paid in USD. Other currencies are not accepted.

If you have any further questions about the visa process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. That’s what we’re here for!

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Tanzania and is very much a part of the incomes of many people in the hospitality and tourism industry.

As a general rule of thumb, tipping for satisfactory service should be as follows:

  • Safari and Kilimanjaro climbing guides: $$20 per person per day
  • Cooks, Porters, Caddies etc.: $15 per person per day

Electricity and Electronic Devices

Tanzanian power outlets use 220-240V, 50Hz. If you are traveling from a country with a voltage less than 220V should check whether or not their electronic devices have a dual voltage power supply. If not, you may need to purchase a converter before leaving.

Generally speaking, most electronics (smartphones, digital cameras, tablets, and computers) work on a dual voltage basis. Electrical appliances such as razors and hair dryers do not

Tanzania uses the 3 pins ‘British’ plug, which is comprised of three square/rectangular pegs. Travel adaptors can be purchased at airports and at most larger department stores.

When on safari, it is advisable to bring along items that run on batteries. While most hotels and our Shadows of Africa safari vehicles do have power outlets in which you can charge your devices, in campsites or lodges that run on generators, you may not have access to electricity to charge your appliances.

Safety

Tanzania is one of the safest countries in East Africa, but you never can be too careful when you’re on the road. While safari areas are generally very safe, the country is no stranger to criminal activity. Like any other country in the world, there is always some risk of theft.

It is advisable that you listen closely to your guide’s advice at all times, and that is especially true in some urban areas. Either leave your valuables (such as many, electronics, credit cards, and documentation) behind in your hotel room’s safe, or carry them with you in concealed inner pockets.

Don’t flaunt your valuables in public, as this may draw unwanted attention to you. Pickpockets are particularly active in heavily touristed areas, so it pays to be cautious when in cities and areas popular with tourists.

It is always a good idea to make copies of all of your important documents and keep them in your luggage.

Health

As a developing country, Tanzania has issues with a number of potentially harmful diseases. Thankfully, many of these can be vaccinated against before you travel.

Before departing for your trip, it is advisable that you speak with your physician about getting vaccinated against the following:

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies

These are in addition to the vaccinations that all travelers should have up to date regardless of where they are traveling, such as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox, polio, and a flu shot.

It is also advisable that you speak with your physician about measures that you can take to minimize your chance of exposure to malaria and cholera.

Finally, if you are traveling from an area where yellow fever is a problem, you will be required to have a yellow fever vaccination as a condition of entry. If you are traveling from such an area and do not have a vaccination certificate, your visa application may be denied.

Malaria is prevalent throughout Tanzania, except in high altitude areas (above 1,800m) such as Mt. Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro. Malaria medications differ from country to country dependent on conditions, so be sure to advise your physician that you’ll be traveling to Tanzania. Saying you’ll be traveling to Africa is not enough, as conditions differ greatly between countries.  You should begin taking your malaria medication a few days before your trip and continue to take it for a short period after you have returned home.

HIV/AIDS are no more a problem here than they are anywhere else in the world. Provided you are not taking undue risks, you have nothing to fear.

When it comes to medical attention, nurses and doctors in Tanzania are highly qualified, especially in cities such as Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. Most camping sites, lodges, and hotels have on-site physicians and are in close contact with the Flying Doctors Service should an evacuation be needed.

Norway Travel Tips

Budget tips for Norway?

Given that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world (Oslo), I think I now have a very skewed perception of the word ‘budget’. But, for travelers, I would most certainly suggest not be coming to Norway to go on a drinking extravaganza, but rather to enjoy the free sights.

For more budget tips, visit our guide about how to travel to Norway on a budget.

The best free sight?

The incredible nature of course! Hiking does not cost travelers and you will get some of the wildest and rawest views in the world. I also suggest cooking. Restaurants here can easily burn up your money and in all actuality, the food is pretty subpar. You can still enjoy the Norwegian way of life and cuisine by cooking or eating at your hostel or hotel. Just grab some fresh salmon, hard boil some eggs, and buy some bread… and you have yourself a delicious Norwegian breakfast.

Favorite place or experience in Norway?

It sounds so cliche, but driving around the fjords takes my breath away every time I do it. Nothing beats the peacefulness of the sea water while seeing the reflection of a glacier on it. Renting a car is expensive in this country, so if one is traveling here…taking the train is a totally viable and affordable option. And, it is known to be one of the most picturesque train rides in the world.

What is the food like in Norway?

Meh. It’s really not that good. With the exception of the seafood of course. The food is very traditional and full of potatoes and fatty meats. This is a very rich country that, in my opinion, eats like it is still poor. But it is slowly making progress. Norway has recently received a huge influx of immigration (and continues to), and the proof is starting to show in its food. This is an unbelievably good thing. Friday nights are ‘taco night’ and kebab is some of the most flavorful food you can get in this country. I’m fine with that. As for me, I just carry around a bottle of hot sauce and life is good.

My favorite Norwegian foods are pinnekjøtt (lamb/sheep ribs that is usually served around Christmas), the amazingly good bread, and mackerel on the grill. Contrary to what people may tell you, this is not a country for vegetarians.

Any dos and don’ts regarding customs?

A big ‘do’ in my opinion is to learn a few Norwegian words. At least your usual manners. Every Norwegian speaks impeccable English, but they will be quite impressed if you can thank them in Norwegian (takk) or order a beer in Norwegian (kan jeg få en øl?). I had a lady once thank me for learning her language despite everyone knowing English. She said it meant a lot that an American would put the energy and effort into learning her language and adapting to her culture. I just assumed this is what one should do when moving or traveling to a new land.

A ‘don’t’

Don’t be offended when no one says ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘please’, or ‘excuse me’ back to you. I took offense to this at first and after living here for over a year and a half, I have to just chalk it up to cultural differences.

Another ‘don’t’

Don’t complain about prices while you’re there. At least not publicly. Norwegians know their country is expensive and don’t need you whining about it and reminding them.

Favorite place to stay in Norway?

A hostel here can run a person upwards of $75/night. I strongly suggest Couchsurfing if meeting new folks is your cup of tea. But you are also able to pitch a tent or hike anywhere you’d like (as long as you don’t make your base in someone’s yard!) Pretty awesome if you ask me.

 

Reasons to Visit Valencia

It’s no surprise that Spain is one of my favorite countries. I’ve visited approximately one million times and returned to different Spanish cities on multiple occasions. In fact, Valencia was one of the first cities I visited on one of my earliest trips to Spain. I first visited on a backpacking holiday. Over four weeks in Spain, I opted for one full week in Valencia to relax on the beach, enjoy some quality local drinks (looking at you, horchata) and ride a rented bike through the city’s most unusual park—the former River Túria.

During that first trip to Valencia, I also discovered something unique about the city. The fact that their local food was a little bit different than other areas of Spain, that their green spaces were bigger and easily accessible, that their architecture was both weird and majestic—the city captured my innate interest for someplace unique. I was mesmerized by the creativity, by the specialness of the city.

Stumbling from cool café to cool café, I found Valencia to be one of those cities that had all the trendy trappings of a big city, but approachable and easy-to-discover like a small town. Even as Spain’s third largest city, after Madrid and Barcelona, and with its prime location on the Mediterranean, it offers the same pleasures of the other Spanish cities but often cheaper and more affordable. Magic.

Some of the world’s best food

Maybe it’s the fact Valencia is an unpretentious city—one that sits in the shadows of Madrid and Barcelona but with an equally important place in Spanish culture. With its location between rice fields and the Mediterranean Sea, fresh food comes easily to this unobviously large city. That’s probably why Valencia is home to Spain’s largest fresh food market, El Mercado Central. And because the city lacks the pretension of other large European cities, Valencia’s best restaurants are accessible to just about anyone. It’s possible to get Michelin-starred food for affordable prices from some of the world’s most renowned chefs. What a bargain!

Paella!

While Valencia’s most creative chefs are serving up new and contemporary meals at the city’s trendiest restaurants, the local cuisine still holds a special place here. Valencia is the birthplace of paella—that most quintessential of Spanish foods. With the nearby rice fields and the fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, it’s no surprise that the Valencianos put the ingredients together to make what’s arguably Spain’s most iconic food dish. Paella is a serious affair Valencia, usually eaten at lunchtime and shared between at least two people. The most typical Valencian paella includes meats like rabbit and chicken, plus snails and vegetables. Paella is widely available throughout Valencia (and Spain, for that matter), but this guide from Urban Travel Blog outlines some of the more popular local hotspots. In addition to paella, Valencia is famous for other traditional Spanish cuisines, including horchata and Agua de Valencia—a lethal cocktail of cava, orange juice, vodka, and gin.

Weird but wonderful architecture

Valencia’s most famous tourist attraction is the weird-but-wonderful City of Arts and Sciences complex. The complex consists of several buildings for cultural and educational activities, including a science museum, aquarium, planetarium, and IMAX cinema. Designed by local celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava, it’s perhaps the most iconic symbol of the city. Inside the Turia river bed (now converted into a park), the City of Arts and Sciences towers over the city as this strange, alien-like series of structures. It’s free to wander around and great for a selfie, but if you want to see the inside, you’ll have to book a ticket to one of the different attractions.

Bike-friendly paths

So close to the sea, Valencia is a relatively flat city which makes it quite easy for getting around by bike. But perhaps the most bike-friendly aspect is the fact that Valencia has turned its dry riverbed into a 9-km green space through the city center, the Jardines del Turia, one of Spain’s largest city parks. The river was diverted after a disastrous flood in the 1950s and today the green space is home to sports parks, the City of Arts and Sciences, museums, children’s playgrounds, and a nature park—making it one of the best spots in Valencia for cycling, running or picnicking. There are a number of bike-rental places in the city center, especially in the Old City. Try Solution Bike Rental for 10€/day, 24-hour rentals, or the city bike-share system.

Two cities in one – by the sea and…not

Because of the city’s unique location near the Mediterranean, but not exactly *on* the Mediterranean, there are two very different vibes that you get when visiting. From the city center, near the main Valencia train station, to the beach is just a short 6km, easily accessible by bike, walking or on public transportation. But in speaking with locals, there’s a bit of a divide between the city and its beach. It’s like having two cities in one, with a beach city and the full-on beach vibe (sandcastles and cocktails on the beach)

10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO SHANGHAI

Traveling to China seem a little daunting? We hear you! With the city of Shanghai having the same size population as the WHOLE of Australia, an apparent cultural penchant for eating dog and the possibility of poisoning from air pollution it sounds a pretty fearsome place. But take a deep breath and relax. Shanghai is not as daunting as it sounds on paper. In fact, you will find it to be a clean city full of courteous residents and surprising amounts of greenery everywhere!

In 2015 the Shanghai government undertook the re-greening of 25 square miles of the city by lining the streets, freeways, parks and more with trees, shrubs and flower planters! And this is a part of an ongoing plan to further green the city to combat air pollution. In 2017 for our first week here we have definitely noticed the greenery everywhere we go! And no air pollution days in the danger zone yet! Read on for 10 real things to know before traveling to Shanghai.

10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO SHANGHAI

1. TAP WATER SAFETY IN SHANGHAI

Technically tap water in Shanghai is safe to drink, ie. it isn’t swimming with bacteria that will give you a good ol’ case of the squirts. It does, however, contain a high heavy metal content which can have very serious effects on health over a long-term period. Some people suggest boiling the water makes it safe, but if you’re concerned about heavy metals to make sure you stick to filtered water options.

2. THE TAXI COLOUR SPECTRUM

Ever hear that in color psychology red denotes danger? Well, this is somewhat true of taxi colors in Shanghai too! It is advised to not take the dark taxis those being dark blue, black or red, whereas white, yellow and varying shades of aqua/light green and light blue are said to be ok. That said we have taken both a dark blue and a red taxi without major incident. The suggested danger is that these color taxis tend to be more likely the unlicensed/uninsured drivers who may take you a longer route to demand a higher fare.

3. IF YOU LEARN ONE WORD IN CHINESE LET IT BE: BING!

Bing means cold in Chinese. This is a very important word to know, especially in summer, but any time of year really as if you go to the more local haunts you will very likely be treated to a local delicacy: hot water and warm beer… Yes if you don’t specify that you would like your water or beer cold (bing) then the beer will likely be brought out at room temperature and the water even boiling! Same goes for soft drinks too. And if you are planning on having a few beers don’t plan to have many more than about four of them in the one local restaurant: after about four beers, local restaurants have usually exhausted their supply of cold beer available. So here are two short phrases to memorize now: Bīng píjiǔ (sounds like bing pijjio) meaning cold beer; and: Bīng shuǐ (sounds like being way) meaning cold water. You’re welcome!

4. SPEAKING OF SUMMER: THE WEATHER AND TRAVELLING TO SHANGHAI

It’s a good idea to plan your trip to Shanghai around the seasons. Shanghai is known as the New York of Asia. This is of course due to its having so much cosmopolitan awesomeness to explore! But perhaps also due to the similar shared annual weather patterns. Shanghai like New York gets very cold (with occasional snow!) in winter and then very stinking hot in summer. Except that it gets even more stinking hot here than even New York does. In the summer months of July and August, the temperature in Shanghai gets above 30C every day and there is nearly 100% humidity. This is a killer combo! And on a blue sky day, you could very easily get sunstroke if you walk around in this heat for too long. In the winter months of December and January the pollution can also be at its worst here, so you can be in for some very cold, grey glum days. The best seasons to visit in are Spring (May and June) and Autumn (September and October).

5. SHANGHAI TIME

All cities have their own rhythm when it comes to opening hours and eating times and so on, Shanghai is no exception. In Shanghai, shops don’t usually open until around 10 am! Fortunately, though they are usually open every day of the week and until at least 7 pm if not 9-10pm every night. As to nightlife, the typical Chinese dinner time is reasonably early: around 6 pm and restaurant hours can reflect this. Be aware if you are wanting to catch at a train home at night that most lines close at around 10 pm and don’t have trains running again until 5.30am the following day. That said there are still plenty of bars that stay open late (til around 2 am) and a few restaurants that will take orders until around 11 pm. Stay near to the Bund if you’re a night owl!

6. VPNS

Even with a VPN (Virtual Private Network), Google maps won’t work! Instead, if you have an iPhone use Apple maps. There are also several very good apps for navigating the Shanghai Metro available for download for both Apple and Android. To check out more about Metro use and VPNs in Shanghai see our post “7 Must-Have Apps When Visiting Shanghai”. If you’re going to travel to China without a VPN don’t worry, instead of Google, you can use the Bing search engine… For more on whether you need a VPN when visiting Shanghai see our post on What to Know Before Travelling to China.

7. HOW MUCH ENGLISH IS SPOKEN IN SHANGHAI

Yes, a lot of people speak English here… especially those under 30! But don’t totally change it, always have your address written down (at least in Pīnyīn – the romanized phonetic spelling of Chinese language, but preferably in Mandarin characters also) to show taxi drivers. As to restaurants and shops/general interactions, an “Nǐ hǎo” (hello – sounds like nee-how) and “Xièxiè” (thank you – sounds like sheer-sheer said fast!) goes a long way.

8. TEA SCAMS IN SHANGHAI

If a kindly local approaches you with fantastic English and after some pleasant small talk invites you to continue the conversation over tea so they may practice their English with you, be wary. It may be a tea scam! Tea scams are a common swindle played out on unsuspecting Western tourists in China. The swindler/s will take you to a tea house, insist on ordering the tea even if you have chosen another beverage and when the bill comes you will find it costs a surprising amount – anywhere between 400-2000 RMB! To put this in perspective a beer here in even the most foreign-centric craft-beer serving overpriced pubs is not likely to cost more than 80RMB.

9. RESTAURANT CLEANLINESS IN SHANGHAI

Dodgy restaurants are not denoted by the cleanliness of the floor/kitchen etc here. You will know a dodgy restaurant by whether it is or isn’t popular with the local people. If it does not then stay away as they may be using recycled oil for cooking (including sourced from drains!) or passing off the chicken with added flavor/ coloring as lamb….

10. IS DOG EATEN IN SHANGHAI!?

But contrary to popular belief the dodgy restaurants won’t be selling your dog (or cat)! Yes, some people still eat dog in Shanghai, but it’s not a “poor” meat that you may end up being swindled into eating unsuspectingly at a suspect restaurant! It’s a delicacy and as such is more costly than more traditional meats. So if you want to eat dog you will have to go out looking for it/ask for it. And if you don’t, breathe a sigh of relief – it’s extremely unlikely to happen by accident!

A Local Restaurant Sign in Shanghai

Dubai on a Budget

Oh wow, you are traveling to Dubai? But Dubai is so expensive! How can you afford this trip? These were the first reactions from our friends when we told them, we are traveling to Dubai. Isn’t it funny, how some destinations have a certain reputation of being expensive and that this is why some people don’t even bother to travel there? Luckily we like these kinds of challenges and if someone says expensive, we want to prove them wrong.

Well, traveling to Dubai can be very expensive, you are right, but if you don’t have the budget and still wish to travel there, don’t give up to fast. We have traveled to Dubai on a budget and we loved it!

5 travel tips to do Dubai on a budget

1. Budget plane tickets to Dubai

Your first priority for traveling to Dubai on a budget is your plane ticket. If you can get this for a good price you are almost half way there. As we are based in Europe, Dubai is very well connected with two low budget airlines (Wizzair and FlyDubai), but very affordable flights from Europe are operated by Alitalia, KLM, Airfrance, Emirates too. Follow the prices and as soon as you see a return plane ticket under 300 EUR, go for it!

2. Budget accommodations in Dubai

Traveling to Dubai on a budget has lots to do with accommodations too. We suggest you find yourself a hotel somewhere in Al Barsha. You can already get a very nice looking room for 67 EUR and up (price for 2+1 person). There are even some very affordable apartments for 4 persons, which will cost you around 80€. Al Barsha is mostly great because it is very well connected with a metro and the hotels are modern. You get the most for your money here.


If you think Al Barsha is still too expensive for you, your best bet to do Dubai on a budget will be choosing Deira, the most traditional area of Dubai. That is also why low budget hotels are mostly older and not as nice as in Al Barsha. The price for a 2+1 room starts from 42 EUR. (check hotels in Deira here)

If you can stretch out a bit more and are not interested to do Dubai on a budget, we suggest you stay at Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha hotel. Check out our review here.

3. Public transport in Dubai

If you want to do Dubai on a budget you will need to use its city metro. Don’t panic – it is easy to handle and it is very modern and well organized. The best thing is, it is super cheap. A daily ticket will cost you only 14 AED, what is less than 3,50 EUR. If you want to go somewhere where the metro line is not operating, your best choice is to take a taxi. Make sure the meter is on and avoid rush hours!

4. Budget Dubai tourist attractions

I guess you know that traveling to Dubai on a budget will not be possible without making some compromises. Tourist attractions in Dubai are pretty expensive, but hey, who said you have to see all of them, right! Just walking around Dubai’s shopping malls is out of this world.

To do Dubai on a budget, make sure you buy all your tickets for any tourist attractions in Dubai online as it will cost you less. But a must-see tourist attraction is Burj Khalifa for sure. Reaching the first observation deck will cost you at least 35€/pp (the price depends on the hour). Luckily the fountain’s show, just underneath the Burj Khalifa, is free of charge – be there early to have good views.

A pretty affordable tourist attraction in Dubai is its aquarium (17€/pp) and botanical garden (7,50€/pp). If you want to visit the famous hotel Burj Al Arab, prepare yourself 90€/pp (that is how much one cocktail costs and that is also a rock bottom line to spend there). You will also need to be properly dressed for Burj Al Arab (especially in the evening) – men long trousers, women something as a cocktail dress or elegant trousers/skirt with a fancy blouse/top. A nice view towards Burj Al Arab can be seen from a public beach, where also bikinis are allowed. Swimming there is free of charge, what is a good option (including for the views of Burj Al Arab) if you are traveling to Dubai on a budget.

5. Budget food in Dubai

You can spend all your money just for food in Dubai, as there are many high-end restaurants there. The selection is amazing, but if you are traveling to Dubai on a budget you will soon have to forget about them. Luckily you can still eat good and on a budget – due to lots of foreign workers from India, Pakistan, Philippines etc., there are many restaurants where these workers eat. Find a good Indian place and eat like a king for few Euros only! If you want some snacks, buy everything in a grocery store, including water and soft drinks. Groceries even sell some food as takeaway, which does not cost much and doesn’t taste bad either. If you want to do Dubai on a budget you will probably have to forget about alcohol, as it is only served in hotels and better restaurants. The price for a small beer starts at 7€ (the price depends also from the hotel).

Things to do in Morocco

  • #1 Visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca – Many travelers to Morocco leave out Casablanca city, as it is not offering so many interesting sights than some other places, but that does not mean you should avoid it completely. Casablanca is famous for amazing Hassan II Mosque, which is the highest building in the country. It is built above the ocean and when you walk inside, you can not only hear the waves but to your surprise, you can even see the waves – the floor in this third world largest mosque is made out of glass!

  • #2 Enjoy your walk around the white city of Rabat – Rabat is the capital of Morocco and also here you cannot see many tourists. Rabat is clean and modern capital and its medina is well worth your exploration. Don’t forget on the Udayas fortress (the city’s oldest part) and the white mausoleum of Mohammed V- the first king of Morocco. Opposite to the mausoleum is Hassan tower, the minaret of an incomplete mosque, which is under UNESCO protection now.

  • #3 Take a look at the magnificent Bab El Mansour doors in Meknes – the doors were built by the most powerful and cruel Moroccan ruler Moulay Ismael. Take an evening walk around the nearby square and enjoy its small, but lively medina. You can also walk to the Moulay Ismael mausoleum and see the high walls of the Royal Palace.

  • #4 Get to know Fez and its traditional leather coloring – Fez is the symbol of Morocco and visiting its large Medina will surely take you back in time. Get lost in the narrow labyrinth streets and explore the world’s famous tanning pools, where leather is being colored throughout centuries. The work is all done by hand and without using any chemicals. You can watch men at work from leather shops terraces. Don’t miss out on the world’s oldest university Al-Kariauine, which you can also find in the middle of the medina.

fez morocco

  • #5 Take a scenic drive over the Atlas Mountains – The Atlas Mountains are divided to lower, middle and higher mountains and if you decide to cross them, you will be witness to one of the most scenic landscape on your Morocco travel. The landscape will be changing in front of you and until you reach the Sahara desert and its first sand dunes. If you like to hike, you might consider climbing the highest mountain in North Africa – Jebel Toubkal.

  • #6 Spend a night in the Sahara desert – Visiting Merzouga town is an absolute must on your Morocco travel, as here the Sahara desert begins. Take an organized tour for 2 days into the desert, which has a camelback riding included and spend one night in a Bedouins tent, circled with sand dunes. Climb on the highest sand dune and watch the sunset or sunset from it. Magical! This is the highlight of Morocco travel for many, including me.

  • #7 Walk around an oasis and admire one of the oldest technologies in the world – The best thing to do is to find a local, who speaks English and visit an oasis with him. He will teach you all about the centuries-old irrigation systems and shows you how it’s done. Amazing, how something so simple makes such a difference in the middle of a desert, where we see veggies like salad, cabbage, and spinach growing.

  • #8 Travel thru time by visiting the famous Kasbahs – Kasbahs is made out of mud and hay. In the past Kasbahs were used as storage for wheat or even as Koran schools. They are probably one of the most recognized buildings in south Morocco. These days Kasbahs are converted into hotels, museums and luxury restaurants. One of the most famous Kasbah stands in a small oasis town Skoura (we can see it also on the 50 Dirham bill).

  • #9 Get inspired by exploring the Morocco canyons – Morocco has many breathtaking canyons, which can be explored by foot or by rented vehicle. Some of them are even used for climbing. One of the most famous canyons is Todre des Dades, which offers some of the most spectacular views.

  • #10 Buy Argan oil and rose water – who has not heard for the famous argan tree, which is endemic to Morocco? Argan is world known as the natural Botox. Their healing features are being used in the cosmetic and food industry. Argan oil is good for your hair, skin, body and even for cooking. Beside argan oil, don’t miss Morocco valley called Kelaa M’Gouna, which is famous for its rose plantations. Roses are used to producing rose water, soaps, shampoos, lotions, shower gels, and body creams. If you are traveling to Morocco during May, you will see all the plantations in full bloom. Buying an argan oil or rose product will especially be welcomed by female travelers. I always buy them on stock!

  • #11 Go behind the movie scene in Ouarzazate – If you like the movie industry, you will love it here in Ouarzazate. The town is known for many film studios, where some of the world’s most popular movies were shot (The Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth, Lawrence of Arabia). Take a walk around the scenes and see how the movies were filmed.

 

THE DALMATIAN COAST, CROATIA

I’m not sure what it is at the moment, but the destination on everybody’s lips seems to be Croatia? Or maybe it’s just me?

Anyhow, my trip to Croatia couldn’t have come at a better time.
Two weeks ago I got the chance to go and explore what all the fuss was about.

Aside from a quick stop off at Dubrovnik when I danced on a cruise about 5 years ago, this was my first time in Croatia.

It was a press trip to The Yacht Week that had bought me out here, but I decided to come out a bit earlier to extend my exploring.

If you’re like me, you love discovering new places and are keen for a more active ‘on the go’ holiday, then there is only one answer for it, and you are in the right place…

A ROADTRIP.
Let me inspire you…

For my adventure, I simply hired a car from Avax in Split for a 1-day road trip. It cost $76 for the day including $13 for a portable wifi unit (google maps), which is pretty cheap, particularly when you split (Split get it, haha, okay I’ll shhh) it with your friends.

After road tripping’ for just a day, I realized how AWESOME it would be to have a road trip holiday here in Croatia.

I’ll show you what we managed to fit into our 1-day road trip, and then later in the post, I’ll give you some extensions if you fancy making a holiday out of it (which I fully intend to come back and do).

OUR ROADTRIP

Split – Stinice – Lozovac (Krka Waterfalls) – Šibenik – Primošten – Split

BREAKDOWN OF OUR DAY:

  • 08:00 Start in Split & pick up the wagon

  • 11:00 Arrive at Stinice (1 hour 40 minutes from Split)
  • 11.45 Arrive at Krka Waterfalls, Lozovac (20-minute drive from Stinice)

  • 15:00 Arrive at Šibenik (20 minute drive from Lozovac)
  • 16:30 Drive along coast – Brodarica & Grebaštica
  • 17:30 Primošten
  • 19:45 Split