Five Eco Wonders of the World
How To Be A Good Traveler
You may love to travel, but just because you enjoy taking vacations and visiting far-flung destinations doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Unfortunately, simply liking travel isn’t enough. There are a few traits that every good traveler should possess.
If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes, wonder no longer. If you know in your heart of hearts that you don’t quite qualify as an excellent traveler but would like to, then read on. And if you know you’re a badass traveler and just want to feel good about yourself, go home.
Good: You go with the flow.
Whether it’s a flight delay or a noisy hotel neighbor, so much is beyond your control when you travel. Letting go is liberating, and accepting situations for what they are is part of the fun.
While you might not always want to know the time, it’s essential to keep a time-telling device on if you’re going somewhere by public transportation. Don’t rely on your phone or something that requires charging. Wear a watch, or keep it in your backpack if you don’t want to look at it all the time. You will need it sometimes.
Why should you be? You might even make a new friend or a new discovery by asking someone the way.
You stick to one color palette so that all your clothes can be worn at any time, you learn the art of layering and you bring only walkable shoes. Basically, you “bring only what you need to survive.” and even better: You bring only a carry-on.
No matter how long you’re traveling, you don’t need more than what can fit in a carry-on. (Unless you’re skiing.) Of course there are exceptions, but you do everything you can to avoid the baggage carousel. It’s just not worth it.
When you visit a community, you don’t just take, you give back. Whether it’s volunteering, donating or simply connecting with people, you give back because you’re grateful to have the experience to be there in the first place.
How To Pack A Suitcase
There are those who fold. There are those who roll. There are those who stick their clothes in vacuum storage bags and press out the air. You can go online and watch suitcases being stuffed by Martha Stewart, or members of the military. Here’s how I do it: Lightly. Pack a bag to the gills and it’s unwieldy, incapable of accommodating gifts, and bothersome to repack. More significantly, it guarantees that your attention will be on schlepping rather than on soaking up new surroundings. I travel with a sleek Bric’s X-Bag 22-inch folding duffel ($120): It weighs little more than a pillowcase, fits into tight spaces and enables me to move effortlessly through crowds. You can line the bottom with shoes as travelers typically do, but I stack them on one side so it’s easy to find a pair to change into once my plane lands. I fold or roll clothes army-style into stacks adjacent to the shoes; no elaborate techniques like bundle wrapping (layering clothes as if making a sushi roll). Lingerie is in a zippered bag and tucked between the piles. Skirts and dresses are slipped into plastic dry-cleaning bags to prevent wrinkles (works wonders), folded over once, and laid across the stacks. An empty tote bag is placed on top so that when I arrive at my hotel — where inevitably my room will not be ready and my trusty duffel must be stowed — I can grab the tote, toss in a few necessities and hit the streets for a full day of sightseeing.
Hiking The West Coast Trail
Travel Blog to Bhutan and Beyond
A couple of days later I went off to the Himalayas. Bhutan is a tiny country between India and China, with a completely Buddhist population, and it is known as the happiest country in the world! Even flying in was exciting! I flew on this airline called Druk Air, which hires the best pilots in the world (in 2011 only 8 pilots were qualified to fly) as the Himalayan airstrips have the world’s most difficult takeoffs and landings. Once I got there, I knew why they called it Shangri-La. It is a pristine country untouched by the West, where kids hitchhike to school and the most important teaching is love. The population wears very colorful traditional dress, all the houses look like Asian chalets, and there are phalluses drawn all over the walls, as they are a symbol of protection and fertility. That gave me endless giggles everywhere I went. I visited these incredible Buddhist temples and monasteries high up in the mountains, which were probably the most beautiful places I have ever gone to. On the other hand, I must emphasize that altitude sickness is actually a thing. I got it big time on top of my chest infection and it was humiliating to go anywhere because I would nearly cough up a lung after walking up three steps. But it got better over time as I healed and got used to the low oxygen levels, it was like being drunk and out of breath all the time. After I got better, I actually managed to do the three-hour climb up to the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Palphug Monastery), which was probably the most breathtaking view in the world.
ZAP THOSE GERMS ON THE PLANE
When traveling, keep a bottle of essential oil germ killing spray such as Thieves, or wipes that contain tea tree oil, or keep a handkerchief that has been soaked in essential or aromatherapy oils in a sealed bag. Use any of them to wipe your seating area before getting settled in.
The story of germs on planes:
When it comes to modern air travel, the biggest concern may not be what you carry on, but what you might be carrying off. New research found that infectious bacteria such as a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auras (MRSA) can live for up to a week on planes that haven’t been sufficiently cleaned. A team of microbiologists exposed actual airplane armrests, toilet flush handles, tray tables, window shades, and seat pockets to six types of bacteria, then stored them in conditions that simulated a pressurized cabin-75 degrees Fahrenheit and 20 percent humidity-to see how long the bacteria could survive. The germs lived longest on the most porous surfaces, such as seat pockets and armrests. For example, MRSA, which causes antibiotic-resistant infections of the skin, lungs, and bloodstream, lasted up to seven days on cloth seat pockets and six days on rubber armrests. Bacteria on less porous surfaces-like tray tables, toilet handles, and window shades-were far more likely to transfer to human skin.
Get Up And Travel
Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realized too late that there is so much more to living than this.
Pack Like A Pro
Summertime is a great time to take a dip in one of the 1,600 swimming holes in the US and Canada! Swimming holes are a refreshing natural place to cool off whether its a warming hot spring in a river, creek, spring or waterfall. Sounds heavenly!
How to Take Sustainable Living with You When You Travel –-contributed by Emma Wood
Seeing how different communities live around the world is one of the experiences that can inspire us to try to live better lives and to care for the world that we share, but the impact of travel can also be negative. In order to reduce the damage that our travel choices could have, we need to take our sustainable approach on vacation with us. Following tips for living sustainably at home is important, but it is also possible to live a more sustainable, greener lifestyle while we are traveling.
Choosing Your Destination
The distance you travel for your vacation, and the type of destination you choose, can have a big impact on the environment. You can minimize this impact by choosing to stay at a hotel, hostel or campsite that operates sustainably. Many green and eco tourism operators try to protect their environment while also helping to support local communities. Other accommodation options may also make efforts to recycle, use green power or otherwise reduce their impact, even though they do not market themselves specifically as “green”. You can often find information about environmental policies on websites that can help you to choose somewhere to stay that feels as you do about sustainability, or check a website like Go Green Travel Green for some interesting ideas for sustainable destinations. You should also consider how far you are willing to travel. As a general rule, the further you travel for your vacation, the more pollution your transport will be producing. If you can choose a destination closer to home, your trip will be more in keeping with the sustainable lifestyle. However, you should also consider the type of transport that you will be using.
How You Get There
It is not just how far you are going that matters, but also how you will get there. Different kinds of transportation can have different levels of impact on the environment, but it is not always easy to tell which form of transport will be the most sustainable option for your trip. For example, cruise ships are increasingly taking measures to improve their green credentials. IgluCruise provides a summary of the efforts that are being made to reduce waste and energy consumption, which suggests that if you are planning a multi-destination vacation, sailing might be a less harmful option than flying in between each stop. However, there are occasions when flying can be the right choice. Sometimes it may be your only option to reach a distant location. If you cannot choose to visit somewhere closer to home instead, you may find that flying will produce less pollution than taking a much longer trip overland by road or train. Avoiding air travel will still be the most environmentally option over short distances, but either way you might want to consider offsetting your carbon emissions in order to negate some of the environmental impact of your travel. The WWF’s Travel Helper provides a useful tool for calculating the emissions produced by your journey. Don’t forget to think about how you will travel while you are away. If you spend your whole vacation driving to different attractions, you could end up creating a lot of pollution even if you avoided flying to get there. Try to walk or use public transport as much as possible, and if you are renting, consider choosing a smaller vehicle, or even an electric car. Electric vehicles can even be a good option for longer distance travel within the US. You can now cross the whole country without relying on conventional fuels.
Being a Green Guest
Once you arrive at your destination, you can continue to make the same kinds of efforts that you do at home to reduce your impact on the environment. As when choosing your accommodation, you can look for ethical options when choosing tour operators, attractions, restaurants or other places to visit. You can also take the same kinds of measures to live a more sustainable lifestyle that you might already do at home. According to a survey reported by the National Geographic, many travelers fail to take the same measures to reduce energy consumption on vacation as they do at home. About 60% of the people surveyed said that they were more likely to leave lights on when leaving a room in a hotel than at home.
Many ecotourism operators will ask you to follow specific codes of conduct designed to reduce the impact of visitors, but you can continue to take these kinds of steps while you are away even if you are not required to by your hosts. Yale University’s tips for sustainable travel are a good starting point for thinking about how you can minimize your impact, but you can find more detailed information on the Green Passport campaign website. Many of the suggestions from these sites are as simple to implement when traveling as they are at home. You can try to limit your energy and water use, particularly if you are visiting an arid area. Dispose of your waste carefully, ensuring that you recycle trash where the option is available, and carry reusable water bottles and bags. Respect the natural environment by sticking to trails and avoiding potential harmful recreational activities or souvenirs made from animal parts that could have been poached or taken from endangered species.
Living Sustainably Wherever You Are
Taking a sustainable approach to travel requires consideration of a few more issues than trying to live a sustainable life at home, but many of the lifestyle choices that you make in your everyday life can be applied to your vacation lifestyle as well. You simply need to find the right destination for a sustainable lifestyle, and think about how to minimize the impact of your transport choices.
1. “Lifestyle Tips,” Priscilla Woolworth, accessed April 10, 2014.
2. “Destinations,” Go Green Travel Green, accessed April 10, 2014.
3. “How Green Is Cruising?” IgluCruise, accessed April 10, 2014.
4. “WWF Travel Helper,” WWF, accessed April 10, 2014.
5. Hamish McKenzie, “First Across the US by Supercharger,” January 28, 2014, Tesla Motors Blog, accessed April 10, 2014.
6. “Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel,” National Geographic, accessed April 10, 2014.
7. “Sustainability Abroad, Tips for Sustainable Travel Abroad,” Yale University Center for International and Professional Experience, accessed April 10, 2014.
8. “Green Passport, Holidays for a Living Planet,” UNEP Green Passport Campaign, accessed April 10, 2014.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views on men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain
Bahamas – Canada x5 – Singapore – India – Mexico – Switzerland x2 – France x2 – New Zealand x2 – Thailand – Poland – Latvia – Greece – Turkey – Israel – Fiji – Uganda x2 – Kenya – Tanzania (to be continued)
*disclaimer: I know many many people who travel and have traveled much more than I. This is just my own personal experience and story, I’m not making claims over anyone. I believe that traveling has more to do with your perspective on the culture you’re visiting than the amount of countries you’ve visited.
Travel well.”– Bekah Stewart
FROM TREEHUGGER: 12 Hip Green Hostels Around the Globe
© Deepdale Backpackers. Stay at a working farm in northern England.
Fancy spending some time on an organic farm, practicing yoga and taking long walks through the hills? Or would you rather stay in an art-filled old downtown warehouse, and maybe hire a bike to hit the city’s nightlife? Whether your traveling tastes run rural or urban, green hostels offer an inexpensive and character-filled — not to mention sustainable — alternative to bland hotels.
After picking a dozen of the best places in North America for backpackers to lay their heads, we start our international tour off in Ireland and the U.K., where budget travelers are downright spoiled with eco-friendly accommodations.
It’s a big world out there: What are your favorite green hostels? Let us know in the comments section.
1. The UK (Rural): Deepdale Backpackers Hostel (Deepdale Farm, North Norfolk Coast, England)
Officially recognized as a “Walkers Welcome” and “Cyclists Welcome” lodging by VisitBritain for catering to the needs of people traveling under their own steam, the Deepdale Backpackers Hostel is set on a working farm, parts of which date back to the 17th century. Crops on the farm are minimally irrigated and rotated to reduce the need for chemical sprays. Solar hot water and efficient underfloor heating and motion-sensitive lights all help save energy, while showers and toilets have low-flow settings and some of the loos are even flushed with rainwater. Hostel staff — who receive help finding nearby housing to lessen their commutes — lead stewardship walks, conduct surveys of the local flora and fauna, participate in woodland-management projects, and are working with local universities to bring even greener practices, from straw-bale building to wind turbines, to the farm.
Honorable Mentions: The YHA Lockton in the North Yorkshire Moors has installed a living sedum roof and houses for bees, ladybugs, and hedgehogs to encourage critters to stay for a spell, while the Pembrokeshire Hostel Old School in Wales plants a tree for every bed booked and offers a discount to guests arriving by foot, bus, bike, or any other low-impact mode of transportation. As lovers of green beer, we’ve also got to give props to the YHA National Forest in Derbyshire for featuring local ales and organic wine in its restaurant, and to the Corris Hostel in Wales for its campaign to save an endangered species — the local village pub.
2. The UK (Urban): Liverpool International Inn (Liverpool, England)
© Liverpool International Inn. A basic, but tidy dorm room.
Appropriately for a hostel smack-dab in the middle of the city’s “cultural quarter,” the Liverpool International Inn, housed in an old Victorian warehouse, has commissioned local street artists to decorate parts of the building. The hostel has been awarded with silver certification by the UK’sgreen tourism board for its efforts to save energy, such as with efficient lights on timed-motion switches, and recycling — and encourage visitors to do likewise. “Green Guides” in each room spread the eco-gospel to guests, who can borrow canvas bags to do their shopping and take advantage of plentiful information on public transit and walking tours in the area.
Honorable Mention: The recently remodeled YHA London Earl’s Court in West London melds a modern look and conveniences such as Wi-Fi with energy-saving measures and a cafe serving locally sourced produce. Future plans include an organic vegetable plot, composting, and rainwater collection in the small courtyard garden.
3. Gyreum Eco-Lodge (Sligo, Ireland)
© Gyreum Eco-Lodge. Cozy accommodations.
Ireland’s first certified eco-lodge, the Gyreum (meaning “round place”) caters to trekkers, student groups, yoga and meditation practitioners, and people who want to have a rustic green wedding or commitment ceremony, complete with local food and fair-trade flowers. The unusual main building was constructed with sustainably harvested or scrap timber and has roof insulation made from a mixture of sheep’s wool and fiberglass from an old mushroom farm in the area. Gray- and toilet water is processed through a reed-bed system that breaks down toxic materials. The lodge is even hosting a “build your own wind turbine” workshop this summer.
Honorable Mention: The Sleepzone Connemara in County Galway, a 110-bed hostel in an 1800s hunting lodge, has cut its energy use 35 percent by installing efficient lighting and is working on incorporating solar panels, biomass fuels, and water-conservation tactics.
4. Adventurers’ Escape (Weem, Perthshire, Scotland)
© Adventurer’s Escape. Many hostels offer outdoor activities.
In a crowded field, the Adventurers’ Escape stands out for its green-from-the-ground-up construction. When rehabbing the hostel’s brownfield site — an old garage and petrol station — the owners used as much of the old building as possible and brought in reclaimed timber, locally grown wood, and stone from around the property. Passive solar heating and good insulation reduces energy needs, which are met by solar power and an efficient, waste-wood-burning boiler. Rainwater is used to wash vehicles and water plants and guests can takeclothes-drying lines and free bicycles for a spin.
Honorable Mentions: Also in Perthshire, the Loch Ossian Youth Hostelrecycles graywater, uses oil-based “bat-friendly” paint, has one of Scotland’s first dry-toilet systems, and is close to many walking routes. In Aberdeenshire, the former lighthouse station turned Rattray Head Eco-Hostel captures rainwater, uses low-energy, motion-sensitive lighting, and is taking steps to make the area more hospitable to wildlife.
Find hip green hostels in Eastern, Southern, and Nordic Europe on here.
Woofing in Australia with Charlotte and Chanté
Taking off on New Year’s Eve 2013 for Australia, Charlotte and Chanté began their adventure in Sydney and spent the next 9 months exploring the country. Due to its vastness, Australia lends itself to backpacking and hitchhiking and attracts young travelers from around the world. Soon after arriving, the girls met up with some fellow travelers who like them, were on a budget, so together, they hitched their way up the east coast from a farm in Byron Bay to the Rainbow Temple where they set up their base camp and woofed it for 6 months.
“Woofing” is a worldwide work exchange where hosts offer work exchange opportunities. You can find them through (www.wwoof.org) the worldwide organization of farm owners. They provide free accommodation and in return, you help them-usually 4-6 hours a day, doing chores from helping in the garden, to cooking or cleaning.
Charlotte and Chanté helped out at the Rainbow Temple; in return received lessons in cooking and urban permaculture and in exchange, Chante’ was able to give art lessons.
The girls described the Rainbow Temple “as a giant tree house in the middle of the forest, where we were woken up in the morning by the comforting sounds of the Kookaburra greeting the sunrise.” They learned to get used to sharing their space with strangers, and dealing with the dreaded leeches that would stick to everyone’s toes. Chanté used essential oils to get rid of them and Charlotte even used perfume as a solution. They found out that some people use leeches to clean infected cuts, just like they did centuries ago!
They learned so much from being part of a community and living close to people. They realized that their skills have value and that they had something useful to offer. They learned how to be responsible for themselves and felt empowered by it. Chanté discovered what she is interested in from travel experience.
Advice from Chanté and Charlotte when traveling:
- Be open to opportunities that come your way
- Always be mindful of your environment and what is happening around you
- You don’t need a lot of money when you travel and can offer to help people in exchange from what you need
- Be aware of your own skills and abilities, which have value to someone else
- When hitchhiking, first ask where the ride is going and then chat with them a little to get a sense of what they are like. Follow your instincts.
- Don’t over pack. They brought way too much, especially since they were supposed to be traveling around Australia in a van, and brought enough to fill it up. A lot of their stuff had to be sent back home and a good amount of the rest, they swapped and traded for whatever they needed instead.
- You don’t realize when you are in your comfort zone and living at home how important it is to learn life skills.
- When living in a community away from home, you learn to face your fears and work through them. You only have yourself to depend on. Learn to be true to yourself by just being yourself. You realize that you are able to experience deeper and more meaningful interactions with the people around you and also feeling free to be out of your comfort zone. You feel so empowered and that is an amazing feeling!
- When traveling abroad, make sure you get the visa you need while visiting another country, as each one has different rules. When visiting Australia, and you are over 18, you can stay for 1 year on a work and holiday visa, which allows you to stay in the country for a year and get paid jobs. If you are under 18, you can only get a holiday visa, which is good for 3 months.
What’s next: Chanté is planning on returning to Australia soon, and going to an Ayurvedic school in Sydney and Charlotte is considering taking a yoga teacher training course, continuing her studies of yoga in India, while volunteering at an orphanage.
Charlotte is 18 and Chanté 21, and they are from Santa Barbara, California.
how many of you remember this MTZ show? “Cameron Diaz and a group of her close, personal friends think globally and act globally too as they travel to unlikely getaways…from Chile to Yellowstone, on a quest to safeguard the environment. No Hotel, no Pilates instructors…they will pack their own bags and carry them into the wild”…such a great idea…would love to see an updated version of this kind of show…any interesting eco-travel show recommendations?
I love all these bookshops! I have to write down the names of the ones that are posted here and try and see them all. I think I’ve only been to Barts Books in Ojai so far…Have you been to any of these?
also, read about these EXCEPTIONAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCES FOR THE BOOKWORM from AFAR. Where are some of your favorite bookstores?
When in Paris on friday nights, do as the Parisians do, and strap on some rollerblades and join Pari Roller where you can skate in designated streets from 10 pm till 1am! To learn more: http://www.rollerblade.com/usa/news/events/pari-roller-paris-france/
For the frugal traveller:
1. Staten Island Ferry, New York City, USA
Cruises usually cost a packet. All right, this one only lasts 25 minutes. And thereʼs no quoits or cocktail lounge (though there is a bar selling beer). But it doesn’t cost a cent. Ferries have connected Staten Island and lower Manhattan since the 18th century. The tangerine-bright boats that run today have become NYC icons; one, the Spirit of America, is part-made of steel salvaged from the Twin Towers. And though the World Trade Center is now missing, the view of the New York City skyline – which shrinks as you pitch across the bay, and looms large as you return – is still world class.
Ferries run 24 hours daily, from South Ferry at Battery Park. See www.siferry.com.
2. City Bikes, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is the two-wheeled capital of the world: every day 37% of locals cycle to work, and there are 390km of dedicated cycle lanes. So really, it would be rude not to join in – a gesture made all the easier by Bycyklen, the cityʼs free bike scheme. Stacked at racks around central Copenhagen, these complimentary cycles are the perfect way to get around the blissfully flat capital. You can pedal from the cafes lining the brightly painted harbourfront to hippie-hangout Christiania, the kitsch-but-cool Tivoli Gardens and around the grounds of 17th-century Rosenborg Castle – without it costing a single krona.
A 20 krona coin is needed to release a bike, which is refunded when you return it. Bikes are available from March or April to November; seewww.bycyklen.dk.
Itʼs two for the price of none on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. This promenade at the tip of Kowloon hugs Victoria Harbour; it’s where modern shopping centres meet the old colonial Clock Tower, and where the Star Ferry chugs in. Itʼs also where, three mornings a week, t’ai chi gurus Mr Ng and Ms Wu lead free sessions of this meditative martial art against a backdrop of Hong Kong Island’s just-distant skyscrapers. Revisit at night for something less subtle: as the Symphony of Lights laser-sound spectacular sets the high-rises a-sparkle, Tsim Sha Tsui offers the best seat in the house.
T’ai chi lessons run from 8am to 9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The light show starts at 8pm daily. Seewww.discoverhongkong.com.
4. Walking Tour, Reykjavík, Iceland
Iceland sure ain’t cheap. Despite the economic meltdown, this almost-Arctic island is still going to test your bank balance. So freebies here taste all the sweeter – and Goecco’s Reykjavik Free Tours are as unique and feisty as a shot of brennivín (the local firewater – drink with caution…). These two-hour easy ambles around the secret sites of Reykjavík are led by ‘performance historians’. You’ll see the cityʼs maritime architecture, historical foundations, coolest districts and best bathing spots, accompanied by lashings of Icelandic quirk – stories told with actorly verve, which lift the lid on this inscrutable capital.
Tours depart Ingolfs Square at 1pm Monday to Saturday, from 15 May to 1 October. See www.goecco.com.
5. Tea, Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Pyramids of spices waft their pungent scents and cabinets of gold glitter and dazzle. Lanterns dangle, ceramics teeter and tourist tat triumphs – Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a retail blitzkrieg, an undercover labyrinth of endless stuff. Browsing the stalls is wonderful but exhausting, as is fending off a harem of eager shopkeepers. So give in and let the carpet-seller with the best lines lead you into his showroom, then sip small glasses of apple tea while roll upon roll of woven flooring is unfurled before you with hopeful theatrics and persuasive spiel. Itʼs Istanbulʼs most atmospheric freebie – as long as the salesman isn’t too convincing…
The Grand Bazaar is open 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. Take a tram to Beyazit, Üniversite or Sirkeci.
See all of New Zealand for nothing at Te Papa. Well, sort of – this beefy building on Wellington’s waterfront is the country’s national museum, where you’ll find its finest art, its history brought to life, and its Maori culture explained and celebrated. Given the wide remit, the gems inside are unsurprisingly eclectic – from pounamu (greenstone) clubs to stuffed kiwis, and from a pair of prosthetic cycling legs to a 1.4 billion-year-old stone. To learn about the Maori, start with the Treaty of Waitangi display, then visit the marae, a modern take on the traditional meeting house, designed to be used by all cultures.
Te Papa is open daily, including public holidays, from 10am to 6pm (to 9pm Thurs). See www.tepapa.govt.nz.
If only these walls could talk…theyʼd probably talk of walls. Not to mention suspected arson, air raids, Nazi zeal and ignominious decay – the German Parliament building has seen it all since its completion in 1894. But since the fall of Berlin’s infamous city-slicing concrete barrier, theReichstag has risen as dramatically as the eagle on the German flag. Architect Norman Foster masterminded a glorious resurrection, icing the ‘new’ edifice with a gleaming glass-and-steel cupola, commanding brilliant Berlin views. Best of all? A tour of all this history – including access to the all-seeing dome itself – is absolutely free.
Reichstag tours must be booked in advance; book online at www.bundestag.de.
It can be tough to get your head around Tokyo: itʼs the most populous city in the world, a seething megalopolis of over 30 million people rushing between canyons of skyscrapers. So get some perspective by looking down on it from 202m up – for free. The observatory of theMetropolitan Government Building looms amid high-rise Shinjuku, the district for gadget-shopping and bar-hopping (Shinjukuʼs ‘Golden Gai’ is a tumble-down shantytown of over 200 bars). Ascend the elevator to the 45th floor of the North Observatory to see the urban chaos below and, on a clear day, distant Mt Fuji making a stand for Mother Nature.
The North Observatory has a cafe and bar, and is open 9.30am to 11pm daily. See www.metro.tokyo.jp.
A Tube ticket might cost a small fortune in the British capital, but itʼs amazing how much there is to do for nowt. Some of the worldʼs best museums – such as the Natural History, the Victoria & Albert and the British – show-off their incredible collections for nothing. But for an even grander spectacle (and a glimpse of a world traditionally reserved for those with bigger budgets) head to Covent Garden’s Royal Opera Houseon a Monday lunchtime. This classical portico-fronted theatre, completed in 1858, runs special recitals, allowing cheapskates to hear top pianists tinkle and baritones bellow without paying a penny.
Some tickets can be reserved online nine days prior to concert; some are released from 10am on the day. See www.roh.org.uk.
Simply, the Musée du Louvre holds the greatest collection of art ever assembled, displayed in a building that is both a typical Parisian palace and a strikingly modern pyramid of glass. There are over 35,000 items in this matchless repository: from ancient Egyptian antiquities to Greek treasures, Persian trinkets and paintings spanning countries and centuries. Its depth and breadth is overwhelming; you really need more than a day. But if thatʼs all you have, make it a certain day: on the first Sunday of the month, the Louvre is free – something, surely, to make even the resident Mona Lisa crack a proper smile.
The Louvre is open daily except Tuesday from 9am to 6pm (to 10pm Wednesday and Friday); regular admission costs €10. Seewww.louvre.fr.
Travel by land or canoe
Westering by canoe and trail
some lakes half frozen, some clear
bleached grass underfoot
Afar shares some cool explorings off the tourist track in Istanbul.
Have you every wanted to see the world and do some good? TribeWanted offers eco-retreats that foster community while contributing to each locations’ sustainability -.