Great things to do in Auckland

Auckland is fantastic city with many diversions that both cosmopolitan and naturalistically oriented. Visitors to the city come here to enjoy the cities varied neighbourhoods and world class museums. When the delights of the city grow tiresome the bounty of New Zealand’s nature is usually just a quick car ride away. Whether it is exploring the volcanic mountains of Rangitoto Island or having a coffee over looking the city at beautiful Devonport there is always things to do in Auckland. A couple more of these activities include:

rangitotoislandRangitoto Island

1010 Rangitoto Island | Auckland

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Auckland it’s recommended that you hop a ferry from the Auckland Ferry Terminal over to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto is a volcanic island across the Hauraki Gulf. Visitors enjoy taking in its scenic beauty by hiking, fishing or taking a bus or train ride around its natural attractions. Hiking to Rangitoto Island’s summit to soak in the amazing views is well recommended by locals and other travellers. Ferry rides to Rangitoto Island islands cost $22 US dollars and leave regularly throughout the day.

Auckland Museum

Domain Drive, Parnell | Auckland

The Auckland Museum tells the story of the Auckland region through various artifacts, exhibits and art works. Separated into three floors, the first floor tells the story of the Pacific Island communities – mainly the Mauri peoples; the natural history of the North Island is on the second floor, and finally the regions military history on the third floor of the museum. A recommendation is to take in the Maori cultural shows that use actors to portray what ancient Mauri life was like. The museum is located in Auckland Domain Park and is open from 10 am to 5 PM with free admission though an $8 US dollar donation is strongly recommended.

Devonport 

Devonport, New Zealand

Devonport is one of Auckland’s most posh and most attractive suburbs. Filled with great restaurants and places to shop, Devonport is a great place to grab a seat and a bite to while enjoying the wonderful views over the city. People come to this area to wander around and look at the fantastic colonial architecture and quaint, peaceful beaches. Tourists wandering this area have said that sometimes it feels like going back in time in terms of the attitude of the locals, the store fronts, and old fashioned yet cozy looking homes that flank these idyllic streets.  A scenic way to get to Devonport is to ride the ferry across the habour. You can catch one of the numerous ferries from the down town Auckland ferry terminal.

Good Ways to Use Facebook Before a Trip

Facebook has become much maligned for wasting people’s time and disconnecting them from the travel experience. Definitely some of those complaints are valid, but what is also valid is that there are ways to use Facebook in order to best maximise your trip. Specifically, there are some things you should do on Facebook before you actually leave. The following tips will help you best connect to people in the place you are going and get as much information from people that have been there before.

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Post your specific travel plans and ask your network for advice

Most of the best things you can do in foreign countries can be found in the advice of people that have visited or lived there. So with that in mind, before you head down to Santiago, Chilie – or where ever else you are going – ask people on Facebook in a status update if they have advice on things to do, places to see, and places to stay. You will be surprised that when you request advice from others that they will be very inclined to give it if they have knowledge. This will generate a lot more useful tidbits than simply saying you are going somewhere. The personalized advice you receive will be better than that from a guide book or from online.

Use FaceBooks City pages to locate friends that know about the city you are going

By entering the name of any city in Facebook search bar you can – after sifting through some advertisements – on the lower left of the screen find an icon that says: Friends that have visited xxxx. Whatever the city you are visiting this will show you which of your friends have been there before.  Perhaps too they will have contacts they can put you in touch with when you get there. This type of highly specific information about a place can really add that cherry on top to your trip. When using this tool you can specifically inquire with these contacts using a Facebook message to ask the person about the place. Almost all travelers are more than happy to talk about a place they have been to others.

Use Face Book to reach out to weak connections

When you are about to head off on a trip the time is right to use Facebook to touch base with some weaker Facebook connections – people perhaps you only know a little bit – in order to make connections where you are going. I personally remember once using this technique to contact a guy I had met one night at a house party in Copenhagen. Not only did we meet for drinks three years later in Copenhagen, when we realized that we clicked as friends, I ended up spending a month living on his couch that summer. We are still close friends now. The moral of the story try reaching out to people in a polite way and just see what happens.

Neighborhoods of Berlin

One of the indelible elements of Berlin are all the great and varied neighborhoods that give the city its character and charm. With a metropolitan area that is nine times the size of Paris Berlin has many different areas to see and explore. Though many of the more note worthy neighborhoods are located in West Berlin the East has a few really authentic, less touristy neighborhoods as well to visit. Some of the more iconic neighborhoods of Berlin include:

Mitte_Berlin

Mitte

Mitte is perhaps the most central of the Berlin districts and contains many of Germany’s most iconic landmarks. Covering a huge swath of the city some of the attractions inside the Mitte district include: the Brandenberg Gate, the Tiergarten and the shopping street, Friedrichstrasse, hover near the Unter der Linden, Berlin’s main boulevard. Close as well to the Brandenberg gate is the famous, hyper modern Potsdamer Platz square as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Parliament buildings. If you are a lover of art you can also visit the Museum Island in this area too. Basically, if you visit Berlin you will spend a lot of your time in the Mitte district as there is so much to see.

Friedrichshain & Kreuzberg

East of the Mitte are the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg boroughs. These districts also have several World War 2 and Cold War landmarks, including Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror – the latter a museum that details the Nazi atrocities. Kreuzberg has long been the bohemian and artistic quarter of the city and is full of interesting galleries, cafes, and bars. Friedrichshain is home too much of city’s best and most thriving nightclubs, while also having the city’s most vibrant gay district.

Charlottenburg

Southeast of Berlin’s major park Tiergarten is the borough of Charlottenburg. It is here that you can find Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was bombed in 1943 then turned into anti war memorial. This area also has the Schloss Charlottenburg which is one of most enduring and oldest palaces in the city. Perhaps more infamously as well is the Nazi era stadium for the Berlin Olympics that can also be found near to here.

Pankow

Pankow is a quickly gentrifying area that is still filled with bohemian cafes and nightclubs. This area is filled with students and locals artists and is one of the best, along with Kreuzberg, people watching locations in Berlin. A walk around this area should include two of its best streets Kastanienallee and Oderberger Strasse which are filled with great boutiques and interesting people.

How much should you Rely on Lonely Planet

Sometimes you will see travelers with their nose inside a Lonely Planet while they are on a trip reading every little bit they can rather than just being out experiencing the city. On the other hand some travelers fly completely by the seat of their pants and can’t find accommodations when they arrive somewhere and have no clue what there is to see in the city. Obviously there is error in both positions of how to use a guide book that will most certainly affect the time those visitors have in a foreign location. This blog is going to talk a little bit about how to use your guide book as a tool while still soaking in the experience of the new place you are in.

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Get the Basics

Having been a traveler myself I can say that it is a daunting feeling having almost no knowledge of a city when you arrive. The first thing that needs to be done when you get to a new city is to at least plan a place you are going to stay. These days most people usually find a place and book it on line. A guide book can help you choose by giving impartial advice as to what hostel or hotel will suit your budget and needs. Importantly too, guide books usually give you instructions and maps how to get to the accommodations you have chosen. Without these crucial pieces of information you will feel completely disoriented when arriving.

Study before you get there, enjoy while you are there

A good tip is to spend time while in transit studying the place you will be visiting. This can be a great opportunity to read over interesting things you can see in the city you are visiting and finding out fun things that you can do. If you are a planner you may even start organizing your time as to how you will fill it. With that said, spend time getting acquainted with the place so that when you are there the guide book can just become a quick reference to direct you to the things that you want to do. What is to be avoided is doing research on the place while there instead of experiencing it as you probably only have a limited time frame.

Leave Room to Explore

Looking through the guide book will definitely highlight a few great things to do, but don’t let it dictate everything. Once you have arrived in a city a lot of options for things to do will appear that you never even read about. What I am saying is any plan you may have concocted from your guide book needs to leave room for spontaneity and flexibility. Stay flexible and be sure to spend time just getting lost on the streets of the city.

What to do in Mexico City Part 2

Mexico City is so often an untapped spring when it comes to enjoying a varied and unique holiday. There is much culture to soak in the city that showcases both Hispanic culture as well as Mexico City’s historic roots to the ancient Aztecs. Days wandering Mexico City will be certain to give its visitors a healthy taste of Mexico’s Aztec and Spanish origins. A day could be spent at Teotihuacan exploring ancient Aztec ruins and the next in the Cathedrals and Castles brought over by the Spanish empire. A few more of the different things you can see while visiting the capital of Mexico City include:

Teotihuacan_Mexico

Teotihuacan

Carretera MAxico Teotihuacan Km. 46 |

Around an hour drive from Mexico City Teotihuacan has one of the world’s best preserved Aztec cities complete with fantastic pyramids. The most popular of the buildings found in Teotihuacan is the Palace of the Plumed Butterfly, which not surprisingly pays homage to the butter fly, with columns designed in their likeness. At the heart of this ancient city is the Pyramid of the Sun. Be warned however that Teotihuacan can be crowded and some tourists complain that not enough site information is given while looking around. Still, this is a monument to a civilization gone by that really needs to be seen.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Plaza de la Constitución s/n, Colonia Centro | Mexico City 06010, Mexico

The Metropolitan Cathedral is Mexico’s national cathedral and a stunning display of gothic architecture. The Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1813 after the Spanish defeated the Aztecs and conquered Tenochtitlán. Standing in the ancient Aztec prescient, site of many of the Aztec’s religious rituals, the cathedral helped bring Catholicism to Mexico City. Many observers say that this cathedral stands shoulder to shoulder with the most opulent cathedrals in Europe. Highlights of the Cathedral include a system of underground catacombs, 14 chapels, 5 naves and many paintings by the famed Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

National Palace

Avenida Pino Suarez, Corregidora esquina Guatemala | Mexico City 06060

A massive ornate building containing several gardens, murals and fountains the national palace also holds the federal executive branch of the Mexican government. Situated next to Mexico City’s most well known square El Zocalo the national palace also includes some fantastic historical paintings by artists Diego Rivera that depict different stages of Mexican History. Admission to the palace is free, but you must have some form of identification to receive admittance.