Laos is a mountainous and landlocked country located in the centre of Indochina. It has common borders with China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos is 236,800 sq. km in land area, the major part being mountainous and forested. Geographically, the country is divided into three areas: the North, the Central and the Southern parts.
Laos is an adventurer’s paradise, offering treks to off the beaten track destinations that few tourists get to. It’s a country that receives relatively few visitors and that is one reason why it is so special and why we love it.
The Apartheid Museum is not to be missed - you need at least three hours to get round and take in all the information. The museum is experiential - as you walk around you ‘live’ the experiences: walk through cages, past cells, around one of the riot tanks they used in Soweto.
The information is presented on panels, on TV screens transmitting key speeches and reports of events under apartheid, there are audio recordings, memory boxes, videos and audio tapes. There is an attempt to trace the origins of racism and apartheid back to the first settlers, but it is the lived history of apartheid and the bloodshed of the first years of liberation which leave the deepest impression and remind us that the torture techniques and tools of repression used in South Africa under apartheid are still being used today.
I left with many questions and a heavy heart, but full of admiration for those who resisted and their descendants who are trying to rebuild a country where the commonality of human experience is more important than difference.
We went on this fantastic bike tour last summer around Christchurch on these funky blue retro-style bikes. We even had bells! It was a great way to see all the secrets of Christchurch and lots of fun, took about two hours and included a walk in some native forest as well. We had a fantastic guide, a real gem of a chap.
Most Paris visitors obviously look for the essence of France as they wander the city, but I found something exceptional and different in the Monique Wells "Discover Afro-American History in Paris" tours.
The haunts of Josephine Baker and James Baldwin come to life, and you see the wonderful Chateau Rouge area - a brilliantly vibrant mix of colours and cultures, boutiques and restaurants. Paris' varied international and colonial history is brought to life.
A handful of rooms tucked behind the tourist agency in the old town square of the Turkish quarter, this place is small enough to feel like you're joining a family for a few days.
The war tour the hostel operates is a must (if not to be taken with a pinch of salt) and helps you truly understand the importance of the place.
The setting of the hostel is great, with a bakery next door and the markets and cafes sprawling off the square all close by.
The guests enrich themselves during the day and enjoy themselves in the evening - the hill behind the hostel, where the final scene of ‘Welcome to Sarajevo’ was filmed is a great spot for some alfresco rakia drinking.
My wife and I went on a 2CV (you know that old typical French car you see in the movies) car ride and I strongly recommend it to everyone. The driver was an authentic Parisian (except he was actually really friendly ahah) who told us random stories about the city and France in general.
They stopped in front of every main monument to let us take pictures or sometimes even took the pictures for us and the view was just breathtaking. We could stand up (even though the car is so cosy you don't feel like standing up) to take advantage of the view on the Champs Elysees etc... I mean it was such a great typical experience we actually decided to do it again.
So the next time they picked us up from the restaurant and drove us around (Moulin Rouge, the foot of the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame). There was literally no traffic, and we definitely appreciated that bottle of champagne they let us take in the car.
Finally they drove us around Montmartre in some tiny streets and places only locals know so I won't hop on any of those touristy buses ever again.
PS: The name of their website is parisauthentic.com but don't trust the website's bad quality, it doesn't reflect the quality of the service.
Trips n' Tramps run tours from Te Anau to Milford Sound picking up from your accommodation. They use mini-buses with no more than 12 people and stop at various places along the way for short walks, to explore the flora or for photo opportunities.
The guide is very friendly and informative and they will even make tea and coffee in a billy can using river water! Best drink ever!
Trips n' Tramps
PO Box 69
+64 3 249 7081
Kibera is the largest slum in the whole of Africa. Do not go there by the local taxi because you won't see much of it. A local who lives in Kibera should be your tour guide, that's what I did when I visited it in August 2007. Kibera is definitely a fascinating place. I have lots of pics from inside Goma, Soweto and Kibera.
I felt perfectly comfortable during my stay in Venice. We were a group of people and our trip was arranged by a local tour operator that I found surfing the net. I contacted them by email and accommodation and all ground services were perfectly organised (boat trip to the islands, restaurants, guide and museums). Since I was the leader of a group of 23 people I felt a bit stressed until our vacation was over, but now I can tell you that it was brilliant! So do not miss the boat trip to Murano, Burano and Torcello, and ask for a trip off the beaten track... far and away from the crowds. They can handle it!
Don’t miss a trip to the Half Moon brewery in the centre where you can take a tour and learn of the traditional brewing methods.
There are quite a few very steep steps so take the tour before sampling the beer but the added bonus is the fantastic panoramic view of the city from the rooftop. Included in the modest price (around €4) is a glass of the wonderful Zot beer. There is also a good café/bar. A Votre Santé!
The idea is to provide, in a few days, a deep understanding of the wine making regions of Mendoza, Argentina as a wine making area. To show the different enterprises dedicated to the production of wines representing each one of the sectors in the area.
They prepare these personalized wine tours for wine lovers from around the world get to know and enjoy the landscapes, vineyards, wines and food that make up Argentinian culture.
Tel: 0054 261 4239314
We're normally people who cringe at the idea of organised tours but after a couple of days touring the city by foot and subway, it was nice to let someone else do the work.
It's impossible to get a true handle of the neighbourhoods in an open top bus but it's a good way of getting your bearings and snapping some good photos.
The guys selling the tours are polite but really just after the sale so don't really offer much in the way of explanation or advice. I don't think English is often their first language but that's no reason to to be fearful as all the tours are totally legit.
I do recommend the Brooklyn Tour. Although the photo opps are less than in Manhattan, we were entertained for a good couple of hours by the guide (Mr Siegel, didn't catch his first name). A true Brooklynite, he regaled us with his own family history and his own upbringing outside of The City. It was refreshing to have someone combine the official tour script with his own political opinions, his feeling about Manhattan and his hatred of the LA Dodgers! Make sure he serenades the bus with the Frank Sinatra song or ask for your money back!
Get on the main city tour and then hop off at the South Street Seaport to get your connection. Watch your timing as the last tour to Brooklyn starts about 3pm.
Get on at 8th and 49th, or 45th and Times Square.
Connection at South Street Seaport.
Just returned from a lovely week in Seville. The highlights were a very informative and enjoyable walking tour of the city by a company called 'Really Discover'. Both Luis (the guide) and David (via email) were incredibly helpful and are definitely recommended.
Also visited a restaurant called 'Naranja'. A bit out of town up near the Almeda de Hercules but worth the effort. Delicious Andalusian food in a very contemporary setting.
Get a free (but make a donation) personalised tour of New York for your family/small group, led by an NY born citizen.
You can suggest some things you'd like to see, they'll show you how to use the subway and bus - or anything you and they like. Book well before you go. It made the rest of our stay so much easier - and we'll use them again.
I found this tour operator "Exotic Travel Agency". They have a fantastic tour that includes three different countries in which to explore beaches, the Maya's history and culture.
in Guatemala City: 54 calle 3-43 zona 11. in Livingston Guatemala: Calle del Comercio, Livingston Izabal. Exotic Travel Agency. 502 79470151. www.caribbeanguatemala.com
Livingston is a little town, a little like Jamaica. A very peaceful place, there is a big inter-cultural mix, you find the Garifunas, Quetchi, Ladinos and Coolis.
The people are very friendly and the place is relaxing. The nights are warm and there are partys on every street, in the day you can visit the most beautiful river in Central America "Rio Dulce" you can't miss the tour with Exotic Travel Agency who I travelled with and recomend to everyone.
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