Archive for the ‘Best travel blogs’ Category

Best travel blog posts in May

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

May Best Blogs - Pulpit - Pommie 1

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

Guernsey, so close to our shores although not often mentioned when it comes to travel, but once you’ve read the post a Lady in Guernsey from the blog A Lady In London, you may well be tempted to visit. The post begins, “Flying into Guernsey, it’s hard to believe I’m on an island off the coast of Normandy. The water is so turquoise that if it weren’t for the fact that my flight from London took less than an hour, I would think I’ve landed in the Caribbean.” There is a good overview of the island including a little history, places to see and local food. You can follow Julie London @aladyinlondon.

Sometimes our surroundings can be a little dull, but not for the residents of Guatape in Colombia. Between a Rock and a Colourful Place: the Magical Realism of Guatape from the blog Flora the Explorer gives a wonderful idea of the town. Flora writes, “Guatape is like a Colombian take on Disneyland. A group of buildings accidentally ate too much sugar and spewed forth a collective array of colours that would probably be considered an eyesore in other places – but here, it works.” The pictures in the post highlight what a remarkable array of colours are on show and the descriptions of the locals enjoying “a lifestyle completely different to those in the bigger cities” give a good insight into life in central Columbia. However, Flora explains why Guatape might not be the top destination for a pizza. You can follow Flora @FloraBaker.

Those with a fear of heights may not be entirely comfortable reading the post Living on the Edge: Hiking to Pulpit Rock in Norway from Victoria Brewood’s award-winning blog Pommie Travels. Everyone else, especially those with an adventurous spirit, will probably put it on the ‘To do list’ once they have read the post. Victoria writes, “This massive granite cliff towers 604 metres over the Lysefjord in Norway, making you feel like you could almost reach to the heavens, or tumble down to the depths below.” There is great detail about the trip including where to stay, what to wear and how long to allow for the walk to Pulpit Rock. As Victoria says, “When you get to the top you are rewarded with phenomenal views over the fjords.”  You can follow Victoria @PommieTravels.

* Photo by Victoria Brewood

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has stayed at several hotels and since September 2009 has reviewed over 120 of them on Trip Advisor. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

Best Travel Blog Posts in April

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

101 Apr - Noordhoek Beach

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

The Blue Lagoon is a popular destination in Iceland and after reading Emma Gray’s post Relaxing In The Blue Lagoon you may be even more curious to visit, although I’m not sure I’d go during a blizzard. Emma writes, “As I got outside the blizzard was at the peak of its power and I searched for a sheltered spot because although the water was beautiful and warm, the snow and wind snapping in my face definitely wasn’t.” The post also set me straight about the origin of the lagoon, which is man made and the waters are “the excess created by the nearby geothermal plant”. You can follow Emma @scottishemma123.

You may expect the post A Drive Along the Western Cape Coast of South Africa from Mayssam Samaha’s blog Will Travel for Food, to deliver a long list of restaurants to visit, but instead you’ll be treated to the tale of a road trip that took in some spectacular beaches. Mayssam explains, “I have rarely seen more beautiful beaches and such a rugged and ever changing coastline.” The pictures on the post give a fantastic idea of what treats the coastline hold and the descriptions of Cape Point with “dizzying views of the rocky coast below” and Llandudno beach, “a small but gorgeous little bay where families, surfers, kids and dogs unite in a beautiful collage” make it sound as fantastic as it looks. You can follow Mayssam @mayssamaha.

The post Photos From The Road Through Patagonia is taken from James Ballardie’s blog Look At All The Poor People that I first recommended earlier in the year when James had just started his trip. The photographs in the post make it look as extraordinary as it sounds and the writing is amusing and frank. James writes, “As one of the lowest density population areas on the planet, when we did reach Patagonia’s rare outposts the most striking feature was usually that people had chosen to live there at all.” You can follow James @JamesBallardie.

Travel blogs are often professional, updated regularly and have plenty of new content. It is easy to forget how much work is involved for the writer, often while on the move, so you may be interested to read Christine Kaaloa’s very honest post Is travel blogging my unhealthy addiction? As Christine says, “Many assume that bloggers clock out of work, the moment readers read a post and walk away. Friends and family think all I do is write for a hobby.” You can follow Christine @grrrltraveler.

* Photo by Mayssam Samaha

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has stayed at several hotels and since September 2009 has reviewed over 120 of them on Trip Advisor. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

Best travel blog posts in March 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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Ben GreenBy Ben Green

Have you ever wanted to wash an elephant? You may do once you’ve read Audrey Bergner’s post A day spent feeding, bathing, and marvelling at Elephants from her blog That Backpacker. “With buckets in hand, we stepped into the shallow water, where we splashed around while the elephants gingerly munched on watermelons,” she writers about her experience in Thailand (pictured above). However, though tourists may visit, Audrey’s blog explains that whilst you get to spend time in close proximity to the elephants, this is primarily a rescue centre and a sanctuary where the majority of animals housed here have tragic pasts. You can follow Audrey @thatbackpacker.

Bhutan (pictured below) is not a regular destination for many travellers, so the post Bhutan: The Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery from the Traveling Solemates blog stood out. As the post explains: “Tiger’s Nest Monastery is believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan, making it the most sacred monastery in the country. Precariously perched high up on a sheer cliff a dizzying 10,000 feet above sea level … it has the most stunning and fascinating location.” You can follow Marisol and Keith @tsolemates.

Route 66 is one of the road trips I plan to take one day, so I was interested to come across the post Getting our kicks, on Route 66 from photographer James Tarry on his travel blog, that sits within his photography site. As you might expect, it is the photographs of the well-worn route that are of particular interest, as are the shots from Death Valley: Ghost Town, a post that comes later in the blog. As James says of the journey, “it’s historical, beautiful, sometimes sad but still one of the greatest drives ever.”  You can follow James @JT__photography.

You may not want to read the final recommendation this month unless you have eaten recently. The post A Tapas Tour of Barcelona by Katie Collins from her blog An Unfamiliar Sky is a visual feast and Katie’s plan of “nibbling my way around the city on a self-guided tapas tour” is a good suggestion for any visitor to the city. The post covers five locations around Barcelona, notable for the fact that they are not venues catering to tourists, so you’ll need some Spanish (or Catalan) and a very good appetite. You can follow Katie @katieecollins.

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About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has stayed at several hotels and since September 2009 has reviewed more than 120 of them on TripAdvisor.

Best Travel Blog Posts in February 2014

Friday, February 28th, 2014
101 - Boy on Sri Lankan Train

Third-class train travel in Sri Lanka. Photo by Jayne Gorman

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

February means Valentine’s Day, which to many means showing affection to that special person in your life.  So I was amused to read the post Valentine’s Day: My Favorite Holiday… Except in Japan from Beth Williams’ blog Besudesu Abroad. As the title suggests, Beth is a romantic, but as her post goes on to describe there is little room for just the special person in your life if you are Japanese.  As Beth explains, “In Japan, women have the social obligation to give every man they know chocolate on this day.”  The post is more informative than opinionated, but gives a great sense of how things in Japan can be very different to the west. You can follow Beth @besudesuabroad.

Another recommendation for Jayne Gorman’s blog 40 Before 30, this time for her post First Impressions of Sri Lanka. I had been looking out for the post since I’d noticed on Twitter that Jayne had to buy a third-class ticket for a train ride, a trip which is described in the post: “In the non-air conditioned third class carriages you can throw open the windows and I hung my head out like on a dog on its first car journey”. It sounds like a third-class adventure I’d like to experience. You can follow Jayne @jayneytravels.

The snow on the US East Coast has been making headlines for much of January and February, especially for travellers, so I take my hat off to Katie Aune for being brave enough to visit Boston a few weeks ago. Her post A Winter Weekend in Boston has some great pictures of the city in the snow, which makes it look implausibly warm and inviting.  Katie’s commentary is well written and I found lines such as “I stumbled upon the gorgeous Memorial Hall and then the very Ivy League feeling Harvard Square,” enticing me to visit the city again, although I might wait until the snow has gone. You can follow Katie @katieaune.

My final recommendation for this month is the post The Week I Fell in Love With Seville from the blog Travels of Adam.  I always like to read a post that makes me want to visit somewhere I haven’t been to before and this one does the trick.  As Adam writes, “It’s a big city, yes, but it still feels like a small town.” By the time I had finished reading not only was I ready to book my ticket to Seville, but I was also beginning to think living there for a few weeks to learn Spanish would be a great idea.  You can follow Adam @travelsofadam.

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has stayed at several hotels and since September 2009 has reviewed over 120 of them on Trip Advisor. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

Best travel blogs in January 2014

Friday, February 7th, 2014

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Ben GreenBy Ben Green

Last month travel blogger James Ballardie started a 15-month trek. The difference? James is a backpacker in a wheelchair and the writing on his blog – Look At All the Poor People – is brutally honest and funny. His post Big Arses And Other Things To See In Rio De Janeiro gives a real sense of what you might see in the city and is backed up with real-life images. For once, a city I have always wanted to visit because it seemed so colourful and vibrant has taken a knock, but I’m grateful for the injection of realism and am still keen to experience the “busy, sweaty and noisy city” and “bulbous posteriors” on Ipanema beach for myself. You can follow James @JamesBallardie.

Just One Way Ticket is a popular blog written by Sabrina Iovino. Her post Postcards From A Forgotten Land – A Glimpse Of Life In The West Bank, Palestine initially caught my attention with the photographs of her two-day tour.  Sabrina says “This is just a photo essay of my two days in the West Bank. No discussion about the conflict. Just images of the people, the food and the places.” However, I liked the story of flying out to Israel and the text that accompanies the photographs is interesting. You can follow Sabrina @Just1WayTicket.

The Great Wall of China is a mind-boggling construction and the fact it still stands to this day is a testament to those that conceived and built it. Rachel Davis is The Vagabond Baker and her post The Great Wall Is A Mighty Dragon features some great pictures and made me want to go on a tour immediately when I read “From the high elevation of the wall it’s true magnificence could be seen, it snaked away from us for as far as the eye could see, over the mountain ridges, China to the one side, (Inner) Mongolia and the west to the other.” The post also includes useful tips if you don’t want to end up at the usual tourist spots. You can follow Rachel @vagabondbaker.

Sometimes you read a post and know that you’ll never visit that place, which is what makes it fun to read about.  Joshua Wilkie is the Engineer On The Road and earlier this month he posted The Best Bits Of Outback Life, which is about his time in Moura “a cow and coal town in rural Queensland” with a population of 1,774.  The thought of “running at sunrise or sunset, with cockatoos flying around or thunderstorms crackling overhead” creates a wonderful image and who knew that such a small town would have an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  You can follow Joshua @GI_Joshi.

Finally, a quick mention for the post How NOT To Photograph The Northern Lights In Iceland by Confused Julia. There are so many ‘perfect’ shots of the Northern Lights that it seems grabbing a quick picture will be simple, but of course it isn’t and there are plenty of points raised in this post that I had never even considered.  If you’re planning a trip to see the Northern Lights any time soon, this post is for you. You can follow Julia @ConfusedJulia.

* Photo by James Ballardie

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has stayed at several hotels and since September 2009 has reviewed over 110 of them on Trip Advisor. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

Best travel blog posts of December 2013

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Lee Abbamonte Pic

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

You may have seen the news earlier this month that Prince Harry made it to the South Pole. A mighty achievement, but what you probably wouldn’t have read about was how being a Royal can help put you at the front of the queue. The well-travelled Lee Abbamonte happened to be on the same flight to Antartica as Prince Harry. I found his post How Prince Harry Prevented Me From Reaching the South Pole both a fascinating insight into how you get to Antartica, what happens once you get there and who comes where in the pecking order for attempts to reach the Pole. Follow Lee @LeeAbbamonte.

Iceland is high on my list of countries to visit and I was very interested to read The Lazy Traveler’s post Driving the ring road: The great Icelandic roadtrip as it takes in an experience of the country after Reykjavik, which is something many visitors to the country don’t seem to do. There are lots of photographs including a gorgeous Viking foal, and also lovely nuggets of detail including this: “We ran almost the entire way from the car to the waterfall, and then, like little hobbits, ran into the cave BEHIND Seljalandsfoss and looked out into Iceland. And it was magical.” Follow the Lazy Travelers @lazytravelers.

Istanbul is a city that has always intrigued me. Tiffany Wüest has recently posted several pieces from the city on her blog World Meets Girl, but it was her perfect postcard picture of the Hagia Sophia in the post Inside the Mosques of Istanbul that initially grabbed my attention. However, with Tiffany’s great commentary, “Intricate mosaics turn the walls into artworks, blue and gold patterns sneak along the ceiling and domes and marble glitters in the dim light of the big chandeliers”, useful insights and atmospheric photographs I’m now very keen on visiting these sites when I make it to Istanbul. Follow Tiffany @tiffanywuest.

Finally if you, like me, have never visited a Christmas Market then you may well be tempted after reading the post The Magic of Brussels at Christmas, Part 2 from Travel With Kat. Although it is worth reading the Part 1 post, it was the photographs in the second part that drew me in (especially one of two ice skaters performing what look like insanely dangerous tricks). Follow Kat @TravelWithKat.

* Photos by Lee Abbamonte and Tiffany Wuest

Tiffany Wuest Pic

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has reviewed more than 110 hotels on TripAdvisor since September 2009. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

Best travel blog posts of November

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Romania-Turda-Salina-Salt-Mine-Rudolf-Mine-Overlook

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

Have you ever thought about where salt comes from? I hadn’t. The White Gold of Turda, Romania by Barbara Weibel from Hole In The Donut Cultural Travel is a fascinating read with facts, photographs (see above) and interesting observations including this: “As the temperature plummeted, the walls began to sweat, transforming them into black mirrors. Fascinated, I reached out to touch the slick surface and recoiled, repulsed by the clammy, oily feel of the weeping black salt.”  The attraction is not one I had ever heard of, but it is certainly one that I am now adding to my ‘must visit’ list. Follow Barbara @holeinthedonut.

Earlier in the month I read First (and second) Impressions of Porto by Frankie Thompson on her blog As the Bird Flies.  A few weeks on, the detailed and humorous post has stuck with me.  Porto had never crossed my mind as a city to visit, but as is the way with good posts, I’ve changed my mind and now want to go.  It’s not just the idea that it’s on the coast and sunny, but because someone as well travelled as Frankie writes, “…there was one observation that really sticks as my first impressions of Porto (or second if you must include my visit last year). This city is full of sociable people.” I love sociable cities. Follow Frankie @bushbirdie.

Next is a post about another place I’ve never considered visiting, San Marino.  The post San Marino – Micro-State Massive Views by The Travelbunny is a great recollection of her day trip from Bologna to the tiny Republic.  The post gives you a taste of what you can do in just a few hours and the pictures give you an idea of some of the spectacular views on offer.   I also like the down to earth nature of the post with interesting notes such as, “The prices for food and drink were reasonable and lunch was a tasty ham and cheese piadina (flatbread) with a beer for €4.50.” The detail of how to get there, with costs and timings, is also very helpful. You can follow Suzanne @thetravelbunny.

I have a certain jealousy of those who can keep travelling on a permanent basis, mainly because I’d love to do it, but know I haven’t got what it takes.  Dave Dean quit his job in late 2011 and gave in to his travel addiction.  In his post 42 of My Favourite Things From Two Years of Travel from What’s Dave Doing, he covers so much that it is tiring just to read it all, but it shows the amazing ground you can cover in two years if you want to. Dave’s recollection of his top three Beaches, Festivals & Celebrations and Surprising Places were my favourites to read. Follow Dave @DriftingKiwi.

Finally, I had heard about the Hello Kitty planes in passing, but read with interest the post Flying on the EVA Air Hello Kitty Plane to Taiwan by Backpacker Becki.  This is the first detailed post I have come across and was staggered to see so much branding on board and around the flight.  It is fascinating to read about the excitement a brand can bring to a regular flight, for the majority of passengers.  After reading this post I can tell these aircraft need to be experienced to be believed. You can follow Becki @BackpackerBecki.

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, marketing and communications consultant. Through work and pleasure Ben has reviewed more than 110 hotels on TripAdvisor since September 2009. You can follow Ben on Twitter @handbaggageonly.

 

Best Travel Blog Posts in October 2013

Monday, October 28th, 2013

roblutterturkishlightning1

Ben GreenBy Ben Green

Twitter is a great place to stumble across travel blogs. I’ll read a Tweet from someone I follow, which is about someone else they follow who has had (or is on) an amazing journey. If you don’t use Twitter, or you’re simply too busy to read lots of travel blogs, here are four posts from the past month that you may have missed and I think are worth reading.

Rob Lutter started a round-the-world cycle trip in September 2011. He has been recharging in Hong Kong and recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his 15,000-mile journey home to London (via Southeast Asia, Australia and the United States). Whilst waiting for the Kickstarter funds to come through, Rob has been writing up his journey to date and has just added Chapter 52 // Kahraman that documents the section in Turkey from Istanbul toward the Iranian boarder. Rob writes: “Stunning pastures spread out from the road like green deserts and it was impossible to tell if you were moving fast or covering distance.” Not only are the journal entries interesting, there are also some fabulous photographs (see above). Follow Robert @RobertLutter

Jayne Gorman, recent winner of Best Travel Blog at the Cosmo Blog Awards 2013, caught my attention with a post called A First Timer In Germany from her blog 40 Before 30. Germany is a country I feel I should spend more time exploring. Jayne’s entry takes in three cities – Cologne, Hamburg & Münster. Jayne writes: “I walked everywhere I could, from Cologne’s Belgian Quarter to the Dom, around Hamburg’s Reeperbahn and Münster’s weekly market. I found the best places whilst simply walking, happily lost. It seems this is what cities like these are made for.” Follow Jane @JayneyTravels

As a bit of a plane geek, My Flight: British Airways World Traveller Plus on the new A380 – LAX to LHR by Mrs O. Around the World caught my eye. Although the A380 has been in service for more than five years, it is new to the British Airways fleet. The post goes into great detail about the journey including check-in, seat, food and in-flight entertainment. If you are planning a long-haul journey on BA and are considering an upgrade (or downgrade) to World Traveller Plus, then information such as this will help you decide. What could be improved? “There is very little leg support – only a teeny tiny footrest which doesn’t do the job on a 12-hour journey at all.” says Mrs O. Follow Ana @MrsOaroundworld

Long journeys can be tiring enough if you are just looking after yourself, but if you are travelling with children they can change a lot of your travel habits (e.g. where you go, how long you stay) and one thing you must prepare for is illness. If you’re planning a trip away with your children soon (short or long), have a look at 5 Tips For Coping With Sick Kids on Vacation from Jetlag & Mayhem, a globe-trotting mum of two.  Having had a similar experience, my favourite tip from the post is: “Pack a decent medical kit with all your kids favourites. I remember running around pharmacies in the Philippines trying to find strawberry flavoured Calpol for my friend’s daughter as the hotel only had banana and she wouldn’t take it.” Follow Nicola @JetlagandMayhem

About our writer

Ben Green is a frustrated traveller, who has been to some beautiful places but only seen 20% of the world so far. Based in the Cotswolds with his wife and children, Ben recently started blogging at Hand Baggage Only and is also a freelance photographer, and marketing and communications consultant. If you think your blog post should be featured next month, Tweet Ben @handbaggageonly

7 best Japan travel blogs

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Tokyo shop Tokyo_noodle_wink

JamesBy James Mundy

Japan is one of the world’s most exciting destinations, and one of the most baffling for European visitors. So what you need if you plan to visit – or if you just want to learn more about this endlessly fascinating country – is to get the inside track from a local or expat blogger. Here, we’ve selected seven of the very best.

Rocketnews 24 Japan

What it is: a lighthearted collection of not-so-hard hitting Japan news from around the web.

Why we like it: With popping graphics and a fun outlook, this blog full of entertaining tidbits definitely has its own niche. It covers all the news you really need to know, from cases of the malady ‘smartphone neck’ to runaway vacuum cleaners. Whilst it may not be the first port of call for the big political stories, or the most comprehensive guide to travelling in Japan, it never fails to raise a smile.

http://en.rocketnews24.com/

TokyoBling

What it is: a tour of Tokyo in photos.

Why we like it: Like all the best concepts, this blog’s is a simple one: beautiful pictures taken around Tokyo from festivals to fashion, nature to food, people to architecture. It’s a feast for the eyes, and great for revving you up when you’re planning your own travels.

http://tokyobling.wordpress.com/

Just Hungry

What it is: a foodie blog packed with Japanese recipes and gastronomic features.

Why we like it: Tokyo born Maki’s comprehensive list of dishes make her blog a great resource for any wannabe cook with a love of Japanese cuisine. And the mouth-watering photos make it the perfect motivator to get yourself in the kitchen.

http://www.justhungry.com/features

Tokyo Food File

What it is: From cooking to eating, on his blog Tokyo Food File, Robbie Swinnerton reviews his way around the best of Tokyo’s dining.

Why we like it: As a food reviewer eating his way around Tokyo, Robbie provides links to his longer published articles along with every post, but the blog gives just a snapshot of each eating experience in (excuse the pun) easily digestible chunks. And, it goes without saying, each post is illustrated with appetizing pictures.

http://foodfile.typepad.com/blog/

Gakuranman

What it is: Michael Gakuran blogs about his passion for haikyo – the pastime of exploring abandoned buildings.

Why we like it: Oddly moving, the slightly eerie practice of exploring derelict and abandoned buildings turns out to be, well, pretty cool. Michael’s blog is something a bit different, packed with beautiful photos of ruins including a mysterious ghost island and an abandoned children’s tuberculosis sanatorium. The ‘journals’ of his other (non-ruins-related) adventures around Japan are also not to be missed.

http://gakuran.com/category/haikyo-ruins/

Tokyo Desu

What it is: A satirical take on Japanese news from the serious to the silly.

Why we like it: It has a distinctive tongue-in-cheek tone as it covers the important stories, like gun control, and the really important stories, like the appropriateness of tomato-flavoured beer. It also features tips and guides to the things you really need to know, like how to win at UFO catchers and stick it to the man.

http://tokyodesu.com/

Beer in Japan

What it is: Does what it says on the tin – real ale in Japan and where to find it.

Why we like it: This is a look into the weirdy-beardy world of real ale…but in Japan. Craft ales are of growing interest in Japan and there are lots of little bars and shops that sell it…..they are just difficult to find. This website opens up the world to the foreigner who fancies a beer after his sushi and can’t quite read those characters.

http://beerinjapan.com/bij/

About our writer

James Mundy is PR & Marketing Manager at Inside Japan Tours. He lived in Japan for four years and has led tours all over the country. As well as developing a love of sushi, karaoke and hot springs, he played football for Nakanojo town and took part in Japan’s only sumo contest for foreigners. Check out his own blog.

Ginza, Tokyokyoto

Best Travel Blog Posts in May

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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 By Kathryn Burrington

May has seen a wonderfully mixed bag of travel blog posts from the descriptive to the poignant, from the cute to the stunningly beautiful.

Iain Mallory shared an interesting post about his visit to Tanji fishing village bringing the sights and sounds of the Gambian coast to life. “Women wearing rainbows of vibrant shades barter on both sides of the tables attempting to secure the best possible price, men and women carry large bowls laden with today’s catch balanced on their heads from the vessels anchored just offshore and wheelbarrow boys cart heavy loads of fish between vendors … The sky is alive with the calls and acrobatic manoeuvrings of squadrons of seabirds swooping like feathered divebombers for anything that is dropped.”

He continues: “Not all of the vessels have gone to sea, there are regimented lines of dozens of traditional pirogues in a variety of sizes, their colourful painted patterns contrasting with the uniform orange of the sand. There is something which draws me to small fishing boats, they have the power to mentally whisk me away to an exotic destination. It is a romanticised and wholly inaccurate perception but it is difficult to resist the notion that they are vessels of adventure.” Read more and see Iain’s colourful photographs in his post A passion for pirouge: wolves of the waves. Follow Iain on Twitter @MalloryonTravel

Earlier in the month Madhu wrote a chilling article about her visit to Cambodia’s Killing Fields. She begins: ” ‘Why?’ a young American ahead of us asked his friend, ‘Do you get why this happened?’ His Cambodian friend started describing the events that led to his country’s descent into hell, but the young man interrupted him. ‘No, no…..I know what happened. WHY did it happen?’ ”

After considering this and sharing her experience of visiting the sight, Madhu raises another question, namely whether we should even be treating memorials to mass massacres as tourist attractions in the first place; a thought provoking question, open to much debate. To read more, visit Madhu’s post Why? Follow Madhu on Twitter @TheUrgetoWander

The monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar are the stars in Sat Nav and Cider’s post Cheeky Monkey where you’ll find a lovely collection of portraits of the macaques acting their hearts out: the aggressor, the aggrieved, the submissive and the beguiling. Follow Sat Nav and Cider on Twitter @satnavandcider

Freelance photographer, Gavin Gough, writes a blog on his website that is well worth checking out by anyone with an interest in travel photography. This month he covers a variety of subjects but I was particularly drawn to his imagery from a tattoo festival in Thailand and his strong composition and use of depth of field.

“This year was the third that I have photographed the Tattoo Festival and it was fascinating to spend the night before the main festival in the temple grounds. Tattooing takes place throughout the night. In contrast to the noise and chaos of the following morning, the night is peaceful with small groups gathered in rooms and halls around the temple, waiting for their turn to have a new tattoo and to have tattoos from previous years re-blessed, the magical power being replenished.” See Gavin’s photographs on his post Thailand’s Tattoo Festival. Follow Gavin on Twitter @GavinGough

To see some wonderful, ethereal images from Austria, where the subtleties of light and shade are superb, visit Beers and Beans’ post The Blue Danube in Black and White. Deciding to share these images in their monochromatic form was definitely the right choice, as Bethany explains “I just didn’t want the light to have to compete with the color.” The resulting images are simply beautiful. Follow Beth and Randy on Twitter @BeersAndBeans

* I’ll be looking out for more interesting and unusual travel blog posts throughout June. Please do let me know if you spot any great stories or stunning photographs from independent travel bloggers by leaving a comment below or you can send me a tweet @travelwithkat

** Photo by Beers and Beans

Best travel blog posts in April

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
holi-2013

Guess where this photo was taken…

By Kathryn Burrington

Some wonderful travel photography has caught my eye this last month from an energetic, multi-coloured Holi festival to a stunning sunrise over snow-covered mountains. I’ve also enjoyed reading about lovely but fairly familiar locations, in particular, Kyoto and Tuscany as well as places that have been completely off my radar as a potential travel destination, in this case Albania.

Nate Robert’s descriptive stories from travelling around the Balkans paint a mixed picture of natural beauty, neglected towns and of colourful local characters. “It was the first time tears had come to his eyes today, but it wouldn’t be the last … if I didn’t know him, my mind would have passed him off as an Albanian gangster. Under-stated dress, expensive watch, dark shades, superb beard. Not a high roller, but a class act all round. It took about twenty minutes of being with Petrit, to realise he’s a model citizen not only for his small village home of Tushemisht, Albania, but for the entire world.”

Find out more by reading Nate’s post Pogradec and Tushemisht, Albania: Forget the Dead Dog, This is Better. Follow Nate on Twitter @yomadic

HDR (high dynamic range) photography is not to everyone’s taste, partly because it is often over used and the results extreme. Like Marmite, people seem to love it or hate it. Travel photographer, Valerii Tkachenko, however, uses it to great effect with both colour and black and white images. Two fine examples posted in April are his Sunrise over La Clusaz, France and his Sunset over Rovinji, Croatia. Follow Valerii on Twitter @Valerii9116

More colourful images, this time of a Hindu festival (above) in James’ post Celebrating Holi Festival of Colours also grabbed my attention, however, it was the location of this event that is really surprising, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, in Spanish Fork, Utah, USA. James’ photography captures all the fun and enthusiasm of what looks like an amazing day. Follow James on Twitter @EscapingAbroad

When Debra’s post Sunday lunch at a Tuscan vineyard, began, “When most people think of Italy I’m sure one of the first things that comes to mind is a long table groaning with food under an ancient olive tree, or in a beautiful vineyard, with happy people eating and drinking into the late afternoon. This is just what we did on Sunday…and it was good,” I knew I was going to enjoy reading more.

Debra was visiting the vineyard Fattoria del Teso in Montecarlo, near Lucca, where some excellent wines are produced and the setting looks perfect from a traditional Italian feast. “The entire wall of the building is covered in wisteria. As you can imagine, the smell was divine … We had antipasti, ribs with olives grown on the property, sausages with white beans special to the area, new potatoes and porchetta.”

Laura and Cipri’s have recently spent three weeks exploring Japan and have had a string of good luck, frequently discovering the unexpected. As their time in Japan was running out they still hadn’t seen a bamboo forest so a last minute visit was a must. They explain “Just as we entered the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, we stumbled upon this intriguing festival. We especially liked the little girls dressed in kimonos.

“Their wigs both made them look extremely cute and reminded us of certain Japanese horror movies at the same time … And though after taking a zillion photos of the festivities we strolled under the tall bamboo trees holding hands for a while, it didn’t last long, as we felt an irresistible urge to go back and see more of the festival.” Visit Arashiyama’s Famous Bamboo Forest Reveals A Colorful Festival to see their beautiful photographs. Follow Laura and Cipri on Twitter @TraveloCafe

I’ll be on the look-out for more interesting or unusual travel blog posts throughout May. If you spot any captivating stories or stunning photographs from independent travel bloggers please do let me know by leaving a comment below or you can send me a tweet @travelwithkat

10 best London blogs

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

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By Laura Porter

London has so much going on you really need to get a recommendation from a local and that’s what makes these London blogs so great. Whether you’re looking for a spontaneous idea for today, want the insider news of the latest pop-ups or an honest restaurant review these blogs are full of advice and inspiration.

1. Londonist

What it is: A multi-author blog covering literally anything to do with London.

Why we like it: Londonist produces 10+ blog posts a day from the early morning ‘things to do today’ to the daily London news round-up at teatime. The London-obsessed writers all have an opinion making the reviews honest and all London news is dissected with a critical eye. They share the most interesting things to do in town each week and mix in some well-researched London history pieces along the way.

Read Londonist. Follow @Londonist on Twitter.

2. IanVisits

What it is: Ian Mansfield shares where he has visited in and around London.

Why we like it: I doubt you’ll often find Ian at a major tourist attraction unless the temporary exhibition is exceptional. He likes the unusual things to do in town and will always take lots of photos to give you a real insight. Ian has that eye for detail that only the best geeks enthusiasts have and he gets invited to visit places the rest of us may never see without his blog. Trains feature quite regularly and the Events Calendar is full of quirky things to do.

Read IanVisits. Follow @IanVisits.on Twitter.

3. London On The Inside

What it is: Jules and Ben, and a team of contributors, bring us the latest cool things to know in town from recommended bands, the next pop-up and insider news on sales and eating out.

Why we like it: If there’s somewhere new opening and it’s going to be trendy then this is the place to read about it. The writers all have industry contacts (or are actually the industry contact themselves) so they really do hear about things before everyone else. There are also interviews, hotel tips and reviews, plus fashion news.

Read London On The Inside. Follow @LondONtheinside on Twitter.

4. Cheese and Biscuits

What it is: Chris Pople writes frank and entertaining London restaurant reviews.

Why we like it: If you want to know what a restaurant is really like check here first. Chris goes out to try as many as possible every week, mostly in London. He is a well-respected food blogger and steers clear of chain restaurants.

Read Cheese and Biscuits. Follow @ChrisPople on Twitter.

5. The Cocktail Lovers

What it is: Ms S and Mr G love cocktails and love London (and each other – they’re married).

Why we like it: They visit London bars and offer reviews and recommendations to help you plan a night out. They know the industry insiders and include plenty of recipes plus bartender interviews and product reviews.

Read The Cocktail Lovers. Follow @CocktailLovers on Twitter.

6. Going Underground

What it is: A look at life travelling on the London Underground. Expect an informed comment about tube strikes too.

Why we like it: There’s a daily post about something related to the tube, often with an amusing take. The author likes to snap photos of celebs on the Underground and the information on how to turn your Oyster card into a wand has been one of my favourites. With the London Underground celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013 this blog won’t be short on ideas to entertain and inform.

Read Going Underground. Follow @AnnieMole on Twitter.

7. Spitalfields Life

What it is: A detailed daily post featuring something or someone in this East End neighbourhood.

Why we like it: The Gentle Author seeks out the people who make this area so special. A book has already come from his interviews to date and he intends to write 10,000 posts, and is confident he won’t run out of people to talk to here. He takes the time to get to know the locals – especially those with a long family history in the area so the posts are accompanied by lots of black and white photographs and mesmerising tales.

Read Spitalfields Life. Follow @thegentleauthor on Twitter

8. Tired of London, Tired of Life

What it is: Tom Jones started writing the blog when he was felt he was becoming tired of London and he soon found he could offer a daily tip to give inspiration to others.

Why we like it: Yet another blog that has spawned a book deal, but the one suggestion a day idea is a great way to encourage Londoners out of the drudgery of the work commute and to see something new in this wonderful city. The blog posts are short but are usually suited to the day they appear, so it’s worth checking regularly.

Read Tired of London, Tired of Life. Follow @tiredoflondon on Twitter.

9. The Londonphile

What it is: London’s museums, heritage, architecture and culture.

Why we like it: The author clearly loves London and finds the quirky and interesting places to visit. There are always great photos and plenty of research and you’re bound to find somewhere nobody else has heard of, which will most likely be obscure but also wonderfully enlightening.

Read The Londonphile. Follow @Londonphile on Twitter.

10. Bollards of London

What it is: A blog dedicated to unusual bollards – those street furniture posts generally used to control traffic.

Why we like it: This is my wild card but it is one of my favourites. A London cabby had a bet with a friend that he could make bollards interesting and we’ll say he’s won the bet as the blog has a regular following and receives #guestbollards photos from around the world.

Read Bollards of London. Follow @BollardofLondon on Twitter.

About our writer

Laura Porter

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and fits in further freelance writing about London and UK travel while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s. She is @AboutLondon on Twitter.

Best travel blog posts in March

Friday, March 29th, 2013

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By Kathryn Burrington

It has been another great month in the travel blogging world that’s enabled me, virtually at least, to walk beneath Austria’s Hintertux Glacier, float above the wreck of the Titanic, enjoy the beauty of Washington’s State Parks and to visit a hospital in Malawi. Here are just a few of my favourite posts published in March.

Simon Falvo, in her article Nature’s Ice Palace: Discovering Wonderland Underneath the Hintertux Glacier  takes us on a literally breathtaking tour (due to the high altitude) to see… “Ice rooms, crystal chambers, stalactites, ice crystals and a glacial lake, the further we went along the walkway and up and down ladders, the greater was the awe … It was like adventuring in wonderland, through a magic landscape I thought existed only in dreams and fairy tales … I tried to imagine the sense of marvel felt by the ski guide Roman Erler when in 2007, by mere chance, he discovered  the crevasse and the ice masterpieces created by nature that had been hidden for centuries. ” Follow Simon on Twitter @1step2theleft

Jaillan Yehia’s Top Ten Things To Do In Belfast, has some great ideas to fill your time in this largely under-rated city. In particular, The Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience sounds fascinating. “You can virtually ascend the ship using the same 3D technology seen in Avatar, float on top of the wreck as it sits on the seabed, and take an internal cable car ride through the ship building process with which the city of Belfast is so proud to be associated … and we learn that tragically, staff on iceberg watch were too busy sending telegrams to earn money from rich passengers to listen to the 80 incoming iceberg warnings.” Follow Jaillan on Twitter @SavoirThere

Greg Vaughn’s blog, Wanders & Wonders, is about travel and photography, with ideas of places to visit and information to help you take better photographs while you are there. In his post, Washington State Parks Anniversary, he shares some really beautiful images from around these lovely parks. Follow Greg on Twitter @thatGregVaughn

Øystein and Otto are photojournalists, who are enjoying blogging the stories that, from experience,  they know won’t sell, but which are often the most interesting such as the moving story of Loida from Malawi. “The country girl is recovering from fistula, the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. She was 16 when it happened. Her mother didn’t want her to deliver in hospital, but rather use the traditional birth attendant in the village. Loida’s body was small and the baby was big; far too big for the girl to be able to deliver it.” Read Otto’s post A Question of Dignity to find out how Loida’s life was initially devastated, then turned around and how she is now helping others to do the same. Follow Øystein and Otto on Twitter @verdensglimt

I’ll be looking out for more interesting or unusual travel blog posts throughout April. If you spot any captivating stories or stunning photographs from independent travel bloggers please do let me know by leaving a comment below or you can send me a tweet @travelwithkat

* Photo of Dry Falls Lake, Washington, by Greg Vaughn

Best travel blog posts in February

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

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 By Kathryn Burrington

From a women’s co-operative in Jordan to a couple making a tandem bungy jump on Valentine’s Day, it has been an interesting and exciting month for the travel blogging community. Here are a few of the stories that caught my eye over the past four weeks.

In The Giving Lens Gives Back in Jordan Jenny Freedman describes her visit to a women’s co-operative group in Jordan. “Fifty women were originally chosen to learn the skills of weaving, paper work and pottery … In 2001, they became the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-Operative Society with the purpose of keeping their culture alive, protecting the environment and supporting the ladies from the village.” Her post is illustrated with some lovely photographs, especially of the village children. More photographs can be seen in a later post The Children of Jordan’s Al-Amir Village. Sadly, due to the drop in tourism to the area this fascinating and much needed co-operative is struggling to survive. Follow Jenny on Twitter @atasteoftravel

Andi Perullo recently posted a colourful description, with some interesting photographs, of Palermo Soho, one of her favourite neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires. Andi comments “In the 1980s, the area’s combination of cobblestone tree-lined streets and bohemian vibe was recognized and thus it was renamed after the entertainment district of SoHo in New York City … Palermo Soho is best described as creative, chic and cool. It is quite easy to lose several hours of your day simply people watching and window shopping in this barrio.” Follow Andi on Twitter @AndiPerullo

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“Here’s the surprising thing about bungy: it’s not anything like we expected. It’s a rush. We expected that. It’s terrifying. We expected that. But the bounce (it’s not a snap, by the way) at the bottom is soft and elastic and actually a lot of fun, particularly when you pop up and down a few times and realize that you’ve in fact survived and can enjoy an upside-down view of turquoise water and stunning ravine below.” See Daniel and Audrey’s full account of leaping from Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, in their post A tandem bungy jump on Valentine’s Day. Follow Daniel and Audrey on Twitter @umarket

Following a number of recent tragic events, women’s solo travel has been a hot topic this month. Mariellen Ward’s post Ode to the lady traveller addresses some of the issues raised and promotes a new movement in support of women’s solo travel. “Women have been travelling and exploring the world alone for generations, maybe longer. Alexandra David-Néel walked into Lhasa, Tibet, disguised as a man in 1924, when it was closed to foreigners, and lived in a cave in Sikkim… In this day and age there are thousands, perhaps millions, of women travelling the globe solo, and many of them are travel bloggers like myself. We are the new ‘lady travellers’. But the recent tragic death of a young American woman in Turkey, and a vicious and much-publicized gang rape in Delhi, has some people wondering if women should be travelling alone. To this, we say WeGoSolo!” Read Mariellen’s post to find out more about this new movement, “and how it is supporting and encouraging women to travel safely. And why travel, and travelling solo, is not the problem.” Follow Mariellen on Twitter @BreatheDreamGo and the hashtag #WeGoSolo.

* I’ll be looking out for more interesting or unusual travel blog posts throughout March. If you spot any captivating stories or stunning photographs from independent travel bloggers please do let me know by leaving a comment below or you can send me a tweet @travelwithkat

* Photo credits: Jenny Freedman, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Best travel blog posts in January

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

 By Kathryn Burrington

From close encounters with wildlife on freezing Arctic ice floes or the heat and dust of Africa to some of the most unusual traditions and places we ever heard of, there has been a wonderful variety of interesting and quirky travel posts this month.

In her post An Arctic Encounter with a Polar Bear, Ruth Clifford describes her magical and surprisingly intimate encounter with a polar bear. “Slipping back into the water, it swims closer and closer, until it clambers out onto a large ice floe directly below the ship. I lean over the side and there it is. We stare at each other, this magnificent creature and I. Its black nose sniffs suspiciously and its long tongue flicks out to taste our scent on the frozen air. Every strand of its sea-slicked fur shines luminescent in the sunlight.” Be sure to visit Ruth’s post to see more of her lovely photographs. Follow Ruth on Twitter @ruthc88

If you were to tell your friends and family that you were going to visit the Indian/Pakistan border they’d probably tell you not to go. That was precisely why blogging duo Captain and Clark didn’t tell anyone before they went to do just that. As it turns out, the closing ceremony at the border is a fascinating, if somewhat bemusing, event to witness.

“It seemed like we were gearing up for an NFL football game, not an intense showdown between the two countries … Once we were seated, a line of flamboyantly dressed border guards appeared. Looking as stoic as ever, one approached the microphone … He took one deep, long breath … He screamed into the microphone for what seemed like ages … They were having a glorified scream off. If that wasn’t bizarre enough, the immense showcase of bravado that followed was almost unbelievable.” To find out just how bizarre the closing ceremony got, check out their video of an extreme showdown at the Pakistan Border. Follow Chris and Tawny on Twitter @CaptainandClark

Theodora, from London, has been travelling with her young son for the last three years or so. She recently wrote an interesting and honest post about how she found herself having a tricky conversion with her guide, on the trek back from Everest base camp. “We are on the last-but-one night of our trek … so, if I’m going to ask Nir any personal questions, I’m going to ask them now. ‘How old were you when you got married? ‘ Nir giggles. ‘Fifteen’ he says. ‘Oh,’ I say. ‘And your wife?’ ‘Oh,’ he says. ‘She was little! Eleven or twelve.’

Child marriage is an emotive subject and a very difficult conversational topic for two people from such opposing cultural backgrounds. You can find out how Theodora and Zac, who is just 12 years old himself, handled the situation by reading Theodora’s open and thought-provoking post, On Thin Ice. Follow Theodora on Twitter @EscapeArtistes.

It’s great to see that Zac is also blogging in his own right as the Kidventurer.

During a long, dusty and extremely bumpy motorbike ride, adventurer Brendan wonders whether his final destination will be worth the strain on his body and his bike, as recounted in his evocative post about Mole National Park. “Unlike the roads through rural Burkina Faso which were filled with holes and sections of sand, this dirt road is hard packed but lined with unrelenting waves of bumps. It’s the type of road that makes you long for potholes and mud. The vibration of the path has worn on my mood, my body and even on Anne Murray who has caught a serious cold, and is now surging along sporadically as if she is gasping for air or fuel.”

Brendan continues: “The gates of Mole National Park stand tall with paintings of elephants, warthogs and baboons … I immediately realize that this is somewhere special.” Find out why the ride was more than worthwhile in his post Poolside Elephants at Mole National Park. Follow Brendan on Twitter @brendanvanson

If you are a fan of the unusual or the macabre check out Hayley’s post, which is illustrated by some surreal photographs, about The Bone Church near Prague. “The church is extensively decorated with bones … it’s almost a morbid Christmas grotto; with chains of bones drooped across the walls like tinsel. The key feature is the impressive chandelier in the centre of the church, creatively made with every bone in the human body.” Well worth visiting if you are in the area. Follow Hayley on Twitter @xXFlutterbyXx

I’ll be looking out for more interesting or unusual travel blog posts throughout February. If you spot any captivating stories or stunning photographs from independent travel bloggers please do let me know by leaving a comment below or you can send me a tweet @travelwithkat

* Editor’s note: Kathryn is far too modest to mention her own blog, but check out her gallery of photos on the theme of Serendipity. Which is your favourite?

* Polar bear photo by Ruth Clifford via Bald Hiker

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