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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Depending on your taste there is scarcely a limit on the different things that you can do in Berlin. The city has a variety of different and vibrant sections for visitors to enjoy, a great art scene and plenty of modern and historic monument to visit. People who come to Berlin come here to see how this city, once divided in its middle by the Berlin wall, has fused itself together and become one of Europe’s, if not the worlds, most dynamic and cosmopolitan city’s. A couple more things to do in Berlin includes.
Pariser Platz 7 | Berlin 10117 |
Located in Pariser Platz, one of Berlin’s most famous squares, is the Brandenburg Gates one of Berlin’s most iconic monuments. The legend of this gate has grown since it was constructed in the 18th century as it has, almost inexplicable, been able to survive several invasions over the years including attacks by Napoleon and the aerial bombardment and shelling of World War 2, The original design concept of the gate was to be built like the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. Several guided tours meet at the Brandenburg gate daily for great guided walks around the city also.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Cora-Berliner-Straße 1 | Berlin 10117 |
One of the more harrowing sites in Berlin is the Memorial to Murdered Jews. This monument consists of 2,711 concrete blocks designed to represent the Jewish victims of the Third Reich. The blocks are made of varying heights that seem to loom over visitors to the monument coming in a sense coming in around them. People who are interested in more information about the site and its construction can visit the visitor centre to learn more. The memorial is in a square that is assessable 24 hours a day.
Große Sternallee | 12587 Berlin, Deutschland
Those looking for a respite from the pace of downtown Berlin often head to Tiergarten to relax in its green space. An expansive park, taking up 630 acres, visitors enjoy wandering through its meadows, tree adorned pathways and lakes. Tiergarten actually translates to animal garden and there is indeed a chance of running into some wild life inside of its confines. Also, if you fancy a bit of libation Tiergarten also has two beer gardens to sit back and enjoy a drink on a nice summer’s day.
One of the world’s most intriguingly diverse cities is Berlin. Berlin literally was divided across its centre for 30 years before the fall of the Berlin wall. As one might imagine in such a Calderon of difference there is a massive amount of art and culture to be found here in Berlin. Visitors to Berlin often enjoy visiting the remnants of the city’s checkered pass at Checkpoint Charley, seeing the remains of the Berlin wall and visiting the fantastic exhibits at Museum Island. Other ways that people spend their time in Berlin include:
The concept of Museum Island is to place five different museums together on a tiny island in the River Spree. Each museum endeavours to create an organic feel with the art that it showcases. There is the Old National Museum, the Old Museum, the New Museum, the Pergamonmuseum, and the Bode Museum. People describe the experience of visiting the museum island like stepping back in time as the buildings themselves are infused with a lot of columns and old world design. The favourite museum for visitors to see is the Pergamonmuseum.
Großbeerenstraße 52 | 10965 Berlin, Germany
Nestled away in the Berlin hipster and artists neighborhood of Kreuzberg is Viktoriapark which has become a vastly popular hangout for local Berliners. The park gets a great multi use with musicians playing, people kicking around a soccer ball, picnics with wine and drink and families enjoying a summer day. This park is a fantastic place to come and do a little people watching. When the chance arises climb atop of the parks hill for some great panoramic views over the city. At night time, and even during the day people bring their own drinks into the park… so if you fancy drinking cheaply this is a great place for that too.
Potsdamer Platz | Berlin , BE 10785
Prior to World War 2 Potsdammer Platz was a bustling square that was at the heart of Berlin life. Unfortunately this area was hit hard by the ally attacks and completely destroyed. After the cold way major companies like Sony and Daimler utilized the space and built their headquarters into the square. The result has been a revival of the space with some otherworldly, hyper modern architecture. Though some visitors to the city claim the square has no soul, it is still worthwhile to see in order to see the luminous quality that modern architecture can put on a public space. The iconic building is the tower like Sony Centre.
Cape Town is a city that is noted for its cosmopolitan delights, the iconic table mountain, and several nearby natural reserves. With all these varied things to do and see it can’t be that surprising that Cape Town, compared to the rest of Africa, is really expensive. With that said the crafty traveler finds a way to make it to cool locations like Cape Town and still manage to see things and have fun. The following blog is going to discuss how you can spend time in Cape Town without totally obliterating your travel budget.
When to Visit
The time that you come to Cape Town can have a large impact on the cost of your visit. In December and January, the South African summer, you will pay a premium for flights and hotels. A note for booking flights when coming to Cape Town always try to book your flight in the middle of the week as it will generally save you some money over flying on the weekend.
Where to Stay
The best that can be done for paid accommodations in Cape Town is to stay on Long Street which is full of different backpacker hostels. Located in a handy central location, also having a good array of bars and restaurants, Long Street will make an ideal location for exploring the city. Of course if you really want to save money, you could also explore options for doing couch surfing in Cape Town.
Where to Eat
If you really want to save on food you should probably buy some food and cook it inside of the hostel. Now of course when you are in a new city this is not always possible as you need to be on the streets exploring too. A few places along Long Street that can service your basic eating needs include: Arnolds, for a breakfast fry up, and Rafiki’s which does epic sized burgers and fries.
Walk the streets and hang out on the beaches
People travel the world over to enjoy the great beaches of South Africa and the great thing for the low budget traveler is that they are free. Be sure to check out nearby beaches such as Sea Point and Bantry Bay. Also, you can save money by just walking around areas of town and seeing how the locals are living. A good suggestion of where to go to do this includes the always bustling St George Mall and the Sea Point Promenade which has great views over the waters near Cape Town.