The Tallest Volcano in Europe
It is the tallest active volcano in Europe for that matter and is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 459 square miles with a basal circumference of 140 km making it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius.
I visited in 2007 and drove from Messina, Italy where my cruise docked. Usually a cruise will offer you a tour to see Mt. Etna and is probably the easiest way to see it. Included in the tour is lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant and then a tour of Taormina, a beautiful city that sits on the edge of Mt. Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re in the area of Messina or on the island of Sicily, Mt. Etna is a beautiful Volcano that shouldn’t be missed. Read more about my time on Mt. Etna.
images by: shawnvoyage
Offers Tours from Montego Bay
So I went with my brother and mom back in 2006 and had a really great time river tubing down the river. We purchased through the cruise line but I’m pretty sure it was Chukka Tours that helped operate the tour. This tour is based near Montego Bay, Jamaica however there are more tours in other major cities.
You can also do other activities like horse back riding, ATV, zip-lining and white water rafting.
I’ve also done ATVing, climbing up a hill to a church at the top (the church was destroyed in a hurricane prior). From there you have a view of the ocean and towns in the hills of Jamaica. It’s pretty easy to to do the ATV but may be harder for younger children.
For the river tubing there does have to be enough water to do the tour! The zip-lining is around the same area as the water rafting and river tubing you may see other people tubing down the river. To this day I’ve done a majority of these activities and they are all fun in their own way!
Please read my post on Jamaican safety if you have concerns.
Glide down a Volcano
One of the most epic bike rides. The journey takes you from the top of Mt. Haleakala at 10,023 feet all the way down to 0 feet at Paia Beach. I did this back in 2004 and had a really good time and would recommend it to anybody looks for adventure.
The whole ride is 38 miles long and if you go with a tour group there is food as well as bike rentals and transfer to the peak. Many people get up early to see the sunrise come over the clouds and get their first chance to see Maui from up above. My recommendation is to take the early tour to see the sunrise even know it’s hard to get up early.
The tour isn’t tough as you wind your way down through switch backs down to the valley below! Truly a once in a lifetime experience. Read about my experience here.
image by: stephanie
Strange 24/7 Internet Cafe
This is a strange Japanese internet cafe that I stumbled upon when I was in Japan for 23 hours. Not wanting to pay for an expensive Japanese hotel I decided to check on this 24/7 internet cafe where I would stay, relax and wait for morning until I had to be at the airport. I was surprised how cozy and comfortable this place was and how strange the whole idea is.
Many people in the cafe to escape from their own lives, pleasure themselves (I’m sure), or crazy tourist like me looking for a place to stay for a night. I didn’t want to stay outdoors for a night!
Entering Manboo! is strange. You first pay for a cubicle and you can stay for as long as you want. You can watch movies, look at manga, surf the internet and even shower. Free drinks are offered as well. I remember that it wasn’t even that expensive (less than 20 dollars) to surf the entire night and it was nice to have a cubicle with a comfortable seat and options to do basically whatever I wanted.
I heard people do all sorts of things there. Snoring and sneezing and god only knows. And the crowd ranges from all types of people. Whatever I wasn’t judging. I thought it was a great idea and the perfect plan for just one night in Japan. I originally wanted to go to a club but I was way too tired and wearing the wrong outfit.
If you’re looking to kill some time in Tokyo then I do recommend this strange internet cafe place. It’s nothing like you’ve seen in the states and totally worth the money. You will be tired and it will hard to get some sleep but you have internet, drinks and a shower for less than 20 dollars. One of the highlights of my trip…
image by: shawnvoyage
Gay Central for Chicago
Recently I wrote about the gayest spots around the world and Chicago is definitely ranked on the list. And central to all the gay activity is Boystown in northern Chicago. Boystown is home to 50 – 60 gay establishments and is where all gays go to dance on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.
My personal favorites:
Roscoe’s is more for the younger but chill and relaxed scene.
Sidetracks is for watching videos and has a mix of older and younger gays. It’s huge!
Minibar is definitely where all the pretty guys hang out.
Elixir is relaxing and more of the elegant bar to hang out
Hydrate is the after hours bar.
Charlies is the “country” / not really anything bar
Scarlet is the really loud bar but has a lot of people dancing. Small but fun!
Some restaurants to eat would be Wood, Jack’s on Halsted or Taverna but generally I haven’t eaten near Boystown. It’s more expensive and I wouldn’t say it’s better! But hey if you want to boy watch go for it!
Texas Wineries are Good
Not to far from Austin and through some farm roads lies Texas Vineyards. Many people don’t know that vineyards are even in Texas but they do exist and would be a unique experience. I went to two wineries on my last stay in Austin and found both very appealing.
On this trip I traveled with my boyfriend, Roman, and we first went to the Duchman Winery. It had a nice restaurant and a nice wine tasting but since we went on a Thursday there was nobody there! We felt alone but I kind of liked it. I stopped to take a pictures in front of the restaurant with a Spanish red wine.
Next was the Driftwood Estates located just west of the Duchman Estates. It takes about 15 minutes to travel there and you go through some scenic hills! It was quite a car ride. This one was my favorite and I recommend you visit this winery for sure. It sits on a hill overlooking the vineyard and feels like how a winery should be. Prices are pretty average and if you go on a weekday the wait is never long. There was a bunch of seating as well.
I had a bubbly wine that was one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted. I’m not even sure if it was from the local vineyard but I loved it!
Driftwood Estate Winery
4001 Elder Hill Road
Driftwood, TX 78619
(512) 692-6229 Main Office
(512) 858-9667 Tasting Room
(512) 858-2020 Fax
Duchman Family Winery
13308 FM 150 W
Driftwood, TX 78619-9274
(512) 858-1340 fax
Enchanted Medieval Village
Looking for an unusual medieval village in Europe? Èze, France is in southern France, in the popular Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, and is a medieval village that sits entirely on top of a mini-mountain with commanding views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Charming, quaint and fully medieval; some of these buildings were built in the early 14th century!
Welcome to ShawnVoyage, where you can “Travel at the Highest Level!” My name is Shawn Blair and I travel the world, create, and write. Discover on the map by clicking on the red markers or the arrows. Each month I feature 10 – 15 listings about some of the places I’ve traveled to or future travels.
I also currently have an Frequent Flyer eBook out for sale. Teaches all about how to get frequent flyer miles and how to use them.
About ShawnVoyage and the creator.
image is of a Helsinki Sauna
Are you ready to freeze?
Imagine a place where -40 is common during the winter and wearing glasses could be dangerous. A place where schools don’t even close until it reaches -50 and even standing outside for a few minutes could result in frostbite.
Yakutsk is located in the Sakha Republic of Russia and is known to be the coldest inhabited city in the world. With an extreme subarctic climate, the city sees the harshest winter of any big cities. The region around Yakutsk is so cold that it has the coldest temperature ever recorded outside of Antarctica.
Yakutsk is surprisingly home to over 200,000 people, most came to the region for mining, especially for diamonds. During the early 20th century the city was used as a prison because Yakutsk is so remote. Even for Siberian standards Yakutsk is extreme and residents must have fur on all parts of the body as synthetic materials will not keep you warm. For most winter time means rushing in and out of their home only when it’s absolutely necessary.
How do the locals survive the winter? According to them the body can adjust to such temperatures. For them reaching -40 is brutal but it’s survivable and manageable. 0 degrees feels like a sauna by all accounts and you will see locals wearing no hats and jackets. In fact many look forward to the winter because the summer is filled with mosquitoes and temperatures around 80 degrees (most buildings do not have air conditioning).
So why travel to this remote freezing outpost? More like why not? I’ve always been fascinated by the cold and I’ve wondered what it would be like to feel -50. Yakutsk experience temperatures that are unique and not experience outside the region. Would it be difficult? No doubt part of traveling is to experience something that I have no experience with.
image by: CAFF
Lets Get Secluded
The Seychelles are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and for a long time I’ve wanted to visit. The islands offer some of the most deserted beaches, untouched by mainstream tourism. Mahé is the main island of the Seychelles and is home to 90% of the population with the capital being Victoria.
Interestingly French is widely spoken in the Seychelles because the French did have control over the island before being taken over by the British. Is it expensive to go to the Seychelles? Well like most islands nations, it’s not exactly cheap. Renting a car is a good idea as you can explore the islands on your own time. Food and hotels can be pricey and it’s not exactly the best travel spot for backpackers.
What is there to do? It seems, for the most part, that the Seychelles are all about the beaches. If you’re going to the Seychelles you are packing your bathing suit. And who is to say that’s a bad thing? Looking for more adventure? Perhaps you like to scuba or snorkel where it may be possible to see whales and sharks. Or perhaps you want to go view a tea factory or a botanical garden. All of the Seychelles Islands are quite small so it’s possible to drive around and site see in a day or two.
Some of the best off-beats ideas include Aldabra Atoll, the largest coral atoll home to the original giant land tortoise and tiger sharks and manta rays. Vallee de Mai is a national park and world heritage site, home to flora and fauna and apparently the worlds largest seed.
If you wanted there is always the option to enjoy water and land sports. Seychelles does offer golfing, tennis, badminton, horse-back riding, squash, biking, hiking, scuba, snorkeling, bird watching, boat rentals, and windsurfing.
I’m adding Seychelles to my list of near future destinations for it’s pristine beaches and because the islands are so remote!
images by: Federico
Gateway to the Himalayas
Kathmandu, for me, was an intense city. Crowded, dirty, hot, chaotic! Kathmandu is an ancient city and has deep roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. Both religions have symbols all across the city. Most tourist only come to Kathmandu to connect to the Himalayas and that can be understandable but Kathmandu has many temples to visit.
I would start at the Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath), just west of Kathmandu in the Kathmandu Valley and definitely hit up Durbar Square. Boudhanath Stupa is probably the most iconic part of Kathmandu and is located in the center of the city surrounded by crowded buildings. It is a UNESCO heritage site and has become a refuge site for Tibetans crossing into Nepal. I would recommend staying in Kathmandu for only a couple of days as you can knock out most attractions pretty quickly. Thamel is quite amusing because you can find many Tibetan souvenirs, Nepalese crafts and thousands of scarves. Kathmandu is relatively cheap and you will find that your money will go quite far. Never drink the water (always bottled) and learn that many people will try to scam you in taxis or when selling souvenirs. Kathmandu is intense, hot, polluted, crowded, etc. but if your adventurous its a great destination.
Click to read and view more about my time in Kathmandu:
History and Culture
History and Culture
Future, History and Culture
History and Culture