Month: March 2017

New Orleans Jazz Fest: jazz everywhere you look in Nola

New Orleans isn’t just a Mardi Gras party town. Think jazz music everywhere you look! On street corners, in parks, on balconies and, of course, in clubs. Then there is the jazz highlight of the year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest in late April, a.k.a. just New Orleans Jazz Fest.

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Airfare Hack: Make any ticket refundable with travel insurance

Recently, travel news sites and blogs have been abuzz about the latest airfare hack – buying a non-refundable ticket and adding travel insurance instead of opting for the vastly more expensive fully refundable airline ticket. This little maneuver could save you significant sums of money if you want or need a refund.

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South Yuba River State Park: Bridgeport covered bridge and wildflowers

As spring cracks opens its doors, the multitude of wildflowers at South Yuba River State Park’s Bridgeport area pop up their heads. No time is better to visit the Bridgeport Historic Covered Bridge, take a hike along the river on the Point Defiance Trail, or enjoy a guided wildflower walk on the Buttermilk Bend Trail. We took that opportunity recently for the first time after a couple of years and thoroughly enjoyed the Point Defiance Loop Trail. The 1.2-mile Buttermilk Bend Trail is highly touted for its wildflowers, and docents conduct guided wildflower walks there every Saturday from mid-March...

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Vintage photo of St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow 1984

A chance to tour St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) and Moscow in 1984 while I was a student in Germany was not to be missed. Our group of students was led to museums, which I and a few others skipped to take in the REAL city sights. St. Basil’s Cathedral is of course THE sight in Moscow. The subject: St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, is what you think of when thinking of Moscow, right? A colorful and polished clump of towers and bulbs in vibrant colors, right? Red, yellow, blue, all looking good enough to eat,...

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Pacsafe Venturesafe X30: Versatile anti-theft adventure backpack

Daypacks are certainly comfortable and convenient to wear when traveling, but beware carrying anything valuable. You can’t see what’s going on behind you, and pickpockets know this. Which is why we typically opt for anti-theft packs like the Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 adventure backpack. The trouble too with many daypacks suitable for travel — and certainly most anti-theft backpacks we have reviewed — is that they aren’t so good at playing many roles – on urban streets, rural trails, and mountain peaks – i.e. from urban exploration to outdoor hikes. HI Travel Tales demands versatility from is goods to ensure...

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The best hike in Carmel: Palo Corona Park trails and views

When you are in Carmel on the Monterey Peninsula of California’s coast, the ocean and beaches are a huge draw. But don’t forget to seek out inland trails to find what may be the best hike in Carmel. Palo Corona Regional Park is nestled in the surrounding hills with pastoral views and sweeping ocean overlooks from on high. It is a great hiking destination for visitors and locals alike. What makes Palo Corona Regional Park so amazing is that you end up feeling as if you’re in a huge private playground. Due to parking limitations at both the east...

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Mallory Square sunset celebration captured in bright colors

Key West, at the southernmost tip of the United States below Florida (and only 90 miles from Cuba), can leave you getting sucked into one attraction or tourist shop after another. And that can leave a dent in your wallet. But there are a few things to do in Key West that are both free and amazing. Check out our story “4 Fun Free Things To Do in Key West (+2)” for more on that! One of those free things is the nightly Mallory Square sunset celebration. Mallory Square has existed as a gathering point for Key West’s social...

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Alhambra Theater: Travelers can find lost history in Sacramento

Once one of the renowned theaters and movie palaces in the 1920s and ’30s, the Alhambra Theater is an historic site in Sacramento that would be of interest to any traveler who is a movie buff. Unfortunately, the Alhambra, which opened in 1927, was lost to a wrecking ball in 1973. Only a nondescript national chain grocery store sits where the historic theater once stood. Sadly, the one wall and a fountain that were maintained in the theater’s honor are now subject to vandalism. It is that wall and fountain that caught my eye one summer day as I...

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Visit Antarctica – A bucket list destination for many travelers

Antarctica. That one word for many inspires dreams of fulfilling a traveler’s bucket list to visit Antarctica. Antarctica’s siren call has become the stuff of legend, pulling mariners and explorers toward her shores for decades. Add in an other-worldly landscape of mountains, sea and ice, killer whales, and herds of elephant seals, and there is little wonder so many of all ages jump at the chance, even with an other-worldly price tag to visit Antarctica ($7,000 to $15,000 for 13 days and up, and up to $35,000 for longer). And some find they are drawn back again and again.

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Discover Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang

The waters of the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang come from a spring fed by Jade Dragon Snow Mountain that serves as a picturesque and often-photographed backdrop to the pool on clear days. Within the park are ancient monuments such as the Longshen Temple, the Deyue Pavilion, the Suocui Bridge and the Hanyue Stage.

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Swiss Carnival parade a clean version just for kids

Carneval (a.k.a. Fasching, Mardi Gras, etc) is a time for debauchery in many locales where it is grandly celebrated. But in some small towns there are several days of parades, including ones just for kids – like this Swiss carnival parade I photographed.

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What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

Old town Lijiang is not unlike Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco in its tourist-trap draw; however, as you will see in this video, like Fisherman’s Wharf, if you look, you will find plenty of history and beauty amid the almost unimaginable concentration of shops and vendors. The maze of streets and canals of old town Lijiang invites you to get happily lost — and lost you will get. Hopefully, the sound of running water from the many canals will serve as a soothing backdrop to the press of tourism from mostly Chinese tourists. If you were wondering what to see in Lijiang, this video is a good place to start.

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What to do in Lijiang, China – 3 insider travel tips

Wondering what to do in Lijiang? Lijiang earned its UNESCO world heritage listing in large part because, until a massive earthquake in 1996, it was a picture-perfect example of a traditional Naxi village. However, the rebuilding process has taken its toll on tradition. Likely influenced by the money and tourist potential of its UNESCO designation, Lijiang old town has been rebuilt, with modern construction replicating traditional architecture. Still, as Lijiang continues its inexorable march toward embracing commerce at the expense of culture, there is magic and wonder to be found if you know where to look and what to...

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Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

It was while wandering old town Lijiang with iPad in hand that I became fascinated with the colors and textures of an old restaurant with the word “whiskey” emblazoned over its windows. I am not really sure what street I was on as I had been happily wandering for several hours in this tangled world of artistic inspiration.

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